Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Full Moon on the Equinox During Mercury Retrograde. Yeah.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a post about balance. Because, you know, Equinox, and why not make connections?

Client work was fine on Monday. We got a lot done. I learned I didn’t land a gig that I wanted, although I knew it was a stretch. But they were gracious and I’m going to keep in touch. I also got out a couple more LOIs. There was a third place to which I wanted to pitch, but their online process was insulting to anyone who has ever held a professional position, to I passed.

Meditation group was great. We have so much fun together, and make actual progress together.

When I got home, there was an email from someone “checking” something with me — only because that individual knew I’d find out about it, and if they hadn’t believed they’d get caught out and I would be angry, the individual would have tried to get away with it. Not amused. At all.

I’m going over the material today, either signing off or not, and will be gracious until the end of this project, and then I’m done with them, at least until there’s a major staff turnover.

The Women Write Change group helped me brainstorm the ending for “Smile” which wasn’t working. They had great ideas. I tried each one of them in a run-through. I thought I’d found what I wanted, a variation on a suggestion; yesterday morning, I made one little tweak and now it’s right.

“Quicksand” wound up being much weaker when I spoke it than it looked on the page. It needed major, major reworking.

But that’s why it’s so important to rehearse a reading, and not just stand up there and mumble.

When I was finished with rehearsal, I found an email from the director of the piece opening next Monday. She directed my last piece with this company, and she’s great. She had a question about an Elvis song and rights. I was really confused, because my piece is set in the 1920s, so Elvis isn’t appropriate. I gently pointed this out, and said I had no problem cutting the song, since I didn’t think it fit anyway. She then realized she’d contacted the wrong writer! (She’s juggling multiple projects). We had a good laugh over it.

Tuesday I tweaked the monologues in the morning, did some more work on GAMBIT, worked with a client, got out some more LOIs, and rehearsed. The stopwatch is going in these rehearsals, since I have only 5 minutes for both monologues, and I can’t rush through them or the beats and laughs won’t land. I had to finalize where to take a breath, where to let a beat land, etc.

Equinox ceremony as the sun came up. Great way to start the new cycle.

Today I’m with a client, and then I have some prep time before I go and read. I’m nervous, because I’m always nervous. I write words actors speak, not for me to speak. But, especially for the monologues, for anything that’s a script, I have to embody actorish techniques in order for the pieces to work.

And reading from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST in this part of the Cape, which is pathetically conservative, will be a challenge. On a full moon during Mercury Retrograde on the Equinox?

Challenge is an understatement.

Back to the page.

Wed. March 6, 2019: Getting Back on Track

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
New Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cold!

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I talk about guidelines.

Monday, I felt awful. I had both an old-fashioned tummy ache and an earache. I was not a happy camper.

After working with a client, I went to the library. I did some work in the front room, but it was chaotic, so I went in the back, in a big chair near the window. I read a bit, some authors who had been recommended to me, but who were new to me.

I also started working on ANOTHER, the strange idea that’s been pulling at me. I can already tell it’s going to be a book that doesn’t write quickly. No 1K daily quotas on this one. It’s going to be my reward when I finish what I have to do each day; then I get to spend some time on this novel.

I’ve brainstormed some of it with the Women Write Change group. They’ve been very helpful. Also gave some feedback on another member’s play.

The meditation group helped a lot. Gave me a chance to quiet down and focus on healing. There’s also a Wednesday afternoon restorative yoga class that I’d like to add to my schedule.

Came home and made scrambled eggs with spinach and corn for supper, which was perfect for a dicky tummy.

Yesterday, up early. Got some work done on pitches and a novel before I had to head out to work with the client.

I had weird dreams, Monday going into Tuesday. With an ensemble of characters with whom I was well-acquainted in the dream, but can’t identify when I’m awake. Part of a progressive dream series I’ve had about these people, although I have no idea who they are when I’m awake, or why I’d dream about them.

Then, picked up a few things at the grocery store before heading to the library. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, so it was pancakes for supper. I’m not a big pancake fan, but my mom loves them, and this seemed like a good reason to have some.

Today, I’m with a client, and then back to the page (unless I manage to get to yoga). I want to focus on the monologues a bit, and keep working on the pitches. I’d like to get a couple of them out tomorrow.

Back to the page.

 

Wed. Jan. 30, 2019: Preparation and Boundaries

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Waning Moon

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest business writing post.

Trying to catch up on a lot of things on the one hand, I’m doing a lot. On the other, I still feel as though I’m far behind.

Meditation group was good on Monday. There’s something wonderful about being quiet in company.

Had a decent writing session first thing Tuesday morning; then client work, then grocery shopping, then another appointment., and got out a few pitches. I had to put my foot down with a client who wants to change the parameters of a job into something that’s not writing. Sorry. No reason for me to be there if that’s what the gig is turning into. Today, I will be with a client for a few hours, and then hopefully back home to do some more writing. I have to prep some article pitches, too. I need to get them out by the end of the week. I’m also trying to write ahead on all the Upbeat Author posts for February, and the Ink-Dipped Advice posts.

I was delighted to receive a copy of the re-release of Ron MacLean’s novel HEADLONG, for which I wrote the foreword. It looks great, and it was such an honor to write the foreword for one of my favorite books.

I’m prepping some radio plays to go out this week as requested, while trying to get back on track with the novels, and juggling research for the plays. I have to work on some monologues this weekend, too. I hope I won’t be sick again and can try them out in February.

I want to get back to actual writing on the anti-gun violence play this weekend. I need to get the first act done sooner rather than later.

Plus, I’ve got cleaning and purging of unneeded papers and all kinds of stuff to do from the basement. Plenty to do, and it’s up to me to bend time to get it all done.

My hosting plan renews tomorrow with A2. I’ve been quite happy with them, and will stay. I’m still trying to wrest the registrations away from 1&1 and get them over to Name Silo. It will have taken over a year to get things straightened out, but the sites are much better, in a visual and a useful aspect, and more effective for my work.

Heads up — I have a morning appointment tomorrow, so the Thursday blog will go up late. Hopefully, there will be some good news in there!

I’m in a getting-things-in-order phase before my next leap. I just have to remember to keep things in order, and not get messy again. I tend to nest wherever I settle to work, and pile up project bits. Once I file something or put it in a drawer, my subconscious thinks it’s done. So if I put things away at the end of the day, my creative part of my brain moves on to the next thing the next day.

Published in: on January 30, 2019 at 6:35 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 30, 2019: Preparation and Boundaries  
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Tues. Jan. 29, 2019: Creative Weekend

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Waning Moon

Busy weekend, but in a good way. Not a lot of words down on the page, but plenty of project brainstorming and development.

Friday and Saturday morning were about cleaning and cooking ahead for the weekend. I’d just finished when my guest arrived.

Lucy, the newer cat, loves having company. More people to give her attention!

We had a good catch-up session over drinks and h’ors d’oeuvres. I roasted a chicken and we had rumbledethumps (a Moosewood recipe), and chocolate mousse for dessert.

We talked and talked and brainstormed projects. People who haven’t worked in theatre or other production don’t realize how much time it takes to develop projects and get them into production. YEARS.

We watched an awful movie about the Stork Club, although it was interesting to see details about the club, and the Edith Head costumes were great.

Sunday, we had a leisurely morning capped by Eggs Benedict and prosecco. Then, we headed out to see a bit of the Cape — some local shopping, a stop in one of the libraries, then out to Dennis to see the Cape Playhouse (where I worked a few years ago), The Cape Cinema, and the exhibits at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. There were several interesting exhibits going on, and they really do make use of every inch of possible space. A chorale concert was getting ready, about to start just as we were leaving. We took a scenic drive back along 6A and through Sandwich, for the old buildings and the lighted sculptures.

Back home for more conversation, maps and projects, cocktails and h’ors d’oeuvres, and then I made baked scallops with noodles and spinach for dinner. More conversation, more project brainstorming. Watched a few episodes of MISS FISHER (which is theatrical and fun and has brilliant clothes). More conversation, and a late night.

All in all, a creative weekend. I’ve been lucky enough to have some really good brainstorming sessions with people over the last few weeks. There’s a ton of information to process, and then I have to sit down and sift through it and apply it to projects. Who are the best producing partners? What other artists can be included? Where do we get the funding? Because WE ARE PAID TO CREATE. This is our business, not our hobby. Our vocation as well as our passion. Because without integration and application, it’s all just yapping.

I was up early, weight training, yoga, meditation, some writing. Prep for some meetings later this week. Writing ahead on some blog posts for various commitments.

Worked with a client yesterday for a few hours, then had some admin work to do and some pitches to get out, then meditation group.

Quiet evening at home, recovering!

Today, I’m with a client for a few hours, and then have some more pitches, etc., after my first writing session of the morning.

I can’t believe January is almost gone. I have so much to do. Being sick put me way, way back, and I’m scrambling to catch up.

Published in: on January 29, 2019 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 29, 2019: Creative Weekend  
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Tues. Jan. 15, 2019: The Waves of Different Opinions & Ideas

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Waxing Moon

There are several links for you to check out today.

Over on A Biblio Paradise, join the Reader Expansion Challenge, where we stretch each month to read beyond our normal genres and new-to-us authors, then share them. I hope you’ll join in.

Yesterday, on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, I talked about using each week as a building block on your goals, and, this week, to add one more thing.

Today, on the same site, I have my mid-month check-in up.

I didn’t feel well on Friday. It didn’t help that I had printer problems. I changed the drum, no problem. But now the paper won’t catch. I can’t be without a printer, and I can’t afford a new one right now. So, I’m basically screwed. I’m tired of disposable printers. I want my printer to work, for years on end. Or be fixable. Not with these crappy plastic parts that stop working if you breathe on them wrong, and then you have to buy a new printer.

Actually, this Brother laser has been great. I’ve used it daily for about seven or eight years, which is amazing. But I’m on deadline and need it working now. The first time it ever had a paper jam, it shouldn’t just give up the ghost.

Read FIT AT MID-LIFE: A FEMINIST JOURNEY. The book is very well done, and still depressed the hell out of me. All this talk about running and cycling and swimming and triathlons. I don’t want to do any of it. I hate running and cycling hurts. I can’t swim. So, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Deepen the yoga practice. Stay with the weights and add as I hit levels of fitness. Try other things to find something I like. I’d like to try the rowing machine (can’t swim, so can’t actually row on the water). But I have to be careful with my shoulder, from when it was dislocated and I still have issues. I HATE treadmill desks and standing desks. Not doing them. So, we’ll see.

I managed to finish the requested revision of the radio version of “Confidence Confidant” — so I can send it off this week. I cut one character, brightened some dialogue, clarified a few things, added some sound cues. I did not implement the sexist request to make one of the female characters more “likable.” That would change the point of her character and the piece.

I don’t like the particular way they need it formatted — between using multiple fonts in the script (something I’ve never encountered before, anywhere) AND using line numbers — adding in the line numbers, after reading it through several more times and making more tweaks, is the absolute last thing I will do, and takes the longest.

But, overall, I feel good about the revisions. I’ll probably update the BBC format and the stage play, and re-register/re-submit as necessary. I still plan to expand the stage version into a full-length, adding in active scenes of what happened in the New York jail.

So, yes, I still want to write more about Kate Warne. Next year, I might do another short play about another of her cases, where she posed as a medium.

I was also delighted that the proposal to write a play about Canaletto’s Sisters for 365 Women was accepted. I’m looking forward to that. Of course, the minute I announced it, some random guy started telling me what was wrong with the idea, since he’d done a dissertation on a contemporary of Canaletto’s. First of all, I’m still in the research stage — I’m sure I would have discovered the points on my own. Second, the classy thing to do would have been to say, “Hey, I’d love to be a resource” and then privately tell me where he felt I got off track. Instead, he chose public humiliation.

Not interested in dealing with him.

I’m tired of internet bullies. Not engaging.

I’m also tired of people who claim to defend others’ rights making demands that if I don’t do/like/say what they want, they’ll block me. I don’t care. I will do/like/say whatever I want on my own timeline; I won’t trash what you like, although I may say it doesn’t work for me if you’re inviting discussion. If you into something I’m not, providing it doesn’t hurt anyone else, I’ll just keep scrolling. It’s not my business.

But if you are inviting discussion, then don’t get mad when people have different opinions or experiences. There’s a way to disagree while being respectful and kind. Really, the stupid lately is off the charts.

I’ve barely been on Facebook for weeks, and, I have to say, I don’t miss it. I was offline almost all day again Sunday; when I checked the news, that’s when I found out about Stratford, so I kind of wish I’d stayed off all day!

I’ve let go of a bunch of people in my life lately, which was necessary. Last year, I did a lot of reconnecting and catching up. But I’m not doing all the heavy lifting any more. Hey, great, glad you’re doing well, and we can both continue on our separate journeys. I learned that the one I’d always looked upon as the “one that got away” was better off away; I learned that some people that were once important to me at a particular stage of my life are well and happy and creative where they are. That’s great for all of us. Want to connect further? Great Ball’s in your court now. I’ve opened the channel. What you do from here is up to you. But I’m no longer always going to be the kin-keeper, the organizer, the connector. Can’t make the time to stay in touch? Fine. Be well. I have people who actually do make time for me on whom I’ll spend my energy.

It’s official: I’m teaching a workshop on Character Closets: Wardrobe at a Character Development Tool at the NECRWA conference in April. You can learn more about it here and sign up here. I’m putting together a fun presentation, and I hope to reconnect with people from previous conferences and meet lots of new readers and writers! We’re finally allowed to promote our workshops!

I was heartbroken to learn that the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford burned down on Saturday night. That was such a huge part of my early theatre career, even though I never had the chance to work there. But I attended Shakespeare performances again and again and again, to learn. Christopher Walken as Hotspur, and, later as Hamlet, among other experiences. It was a beautiful, wonderful place.

The official line is that it’s devastating to the community, but I’ve heard rumors about the town wanting to demolish it or sell it to developers for years, so I’m suspicious about the cause. It’s just a little too convenient.

I was sick as could be on Sunday. I bundled up and read — worked on the book for review, read a book lent by a friend, and did research on the Algonquin Round Table for another project. That way, at least I didn’t feel like I’d lost a whole day.

Back to writing first thing Monday, which at least got my week off to a decent start. I’m so far behind where I want to be.

Had a great conversation with the director and the producer of the radio play – who totally backed me in what I felt were sexist notes. The director also asked that I put back a character the previous set of notes had asked me to cut. Easy fix.

Client work, and a quick trip to the library; then I had to skip meditation, because I was still coughing. I’m losing my voice, so I’m not going to be able to test the monologue on Wednesday, either. That’s frustrating.

But this desperation for rest that I’ve had for weeks has now manifested into illness to force me to rest. Only I can’t afford to let any of my deadlines slide right now.

Client work again today, and then rest. There are also still decorations to put away.

 

Mon. Jan. 14, 2019: Self-Care in Community #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 14, 2019
Waxing Moon

Since January is the Self-Care month for our group, let’s talk about self-care in community.

So often, we’re desperate for some quiet time, alone time, that we forget there can be power in self-care together.

That’s not as much of a paradox as it sounds.

My yoga instructor mentioned it last week, when a group of us began a season of Monday afternoon meditations together. This is in addition to my daily meditation practice in solitude. Once a week, a group of us get together to be quiet in company.

Fellow writers, you know how, during Nano, the write-ins are great, because you’re sitting in a group of other writers, doing your own thing, but being together?

That can work with self-care, too, in some situations.

Many of us in this meditation group were part of a 12-week session last summer of Savaskana/Savasana for 90 minutes, once a week. It was great to lie in a room with fellow mindful practitioners and not have any expectations. My yoga studio also does regular “sound baths” — where participants lie down in restorative positions while a variety of sound washes over us for an hour. As someone with extreme sound sensitivity, this is wonderful.

As much as alone time is vital to creative well-being, try something in company. Walk with a friend. Join a class in something you enjoy, or you think you might enjoy.

Care in company can play a wonderful part in healing and balance.

Namaste!

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 6:12 am  Comments Off on Mon. Jan. 14, 2019: Self-Care in Community #UpbeatAuthors  
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Wed. Jan. 9, 2019: Using Rest to Regain Balance

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Waxing Moon

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a post on Multi-Tiered Marketing.

I’m still tired, but I’m hoping today, my last day this week with this particular client, will go smoothly and then I can get a rest.

Got my review out on time, and will get my next book to review today.

I’m also going to try to fix my printer today; or else I’ll end up buying a new one on Friday.

Got some writing done, but not enough. However, I think I’m getting into the swing of it again.

STILL taking down decorations. I’m starting to think I’ll be taking them down until the summer solstice.

The new clothes are a hit; getting a lot of compliments. I feel better wearing them, and I wear them with more confidence, which helps, too.

Also got a request from a full script from a UK company to which I’d sent a pitch. So I’m on track with my resolutions. I know, I know, the year is young. But I’m not! 😉

The new meditation class on Monday was great. I hope I can make it every Monday for the next few months. It certainly helped me navigate yesterday.

I have to send my responses to the radio play notes today (for the one that’s being produced here), and then get to work on the revision. Which I have very little time to do, instead of the seven weeks I was supposed to have. Shall I have a little cheese with my whine? I’ll get it done. I might bitch and moan a bit, but I’ll get it done.

Working on the monologues, since I want to test it next week. I may draft two and decide at the last minute which one to test, taking the emotional temperature of the room.

Unless there’s a snowstorm next Wednesday, in which case I’m not going anywhere.

I think I’m going to write the emotional lifting and the civility monologues first, although the mansplaining one is also pretty insistent. I’ll play with them for the next few days, and see what works best.

Need to do some research on the Venetian Renaissance and also on the Round Table for two different projects. BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is pretty much back on track, but I’m behind where I want to be on DHARMA.

Somehow, it will all work out. If I can balance some really good rest over the next few days with the writing, I’ll even out and be productive again.

 

Mon. Jan. 7, 2019: Long Term Practice Pays Off #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 7, 2018
Waxing Moon
NO RETROGRADES

Can you believe it? Nothing is in retrograde right now. We get the chance to catch our collective breath!

This month’s topic is self-care, and the first topic I’m going to tackle is how commitment to a practice over a long period of time pays off.

I’m using two long-term practices from my own life — writing and my yoga/meditation practice — as examples.

I have a commitment to write 1K day on what I call my “primary project.” Of course, as a full-time writer, who writes for others as well as creating my own work, I have to write a hell of a lot more than 1K/day to keep a roof over my head.

But that 1K/day, first thing, builds up the pages and the chapters and the books. It is the foundation of my writing career.

Before you start whining, writing 1K/day doesn’t mean you never get a day off. The difference is that you CHOOSE when you take time off instead of just letting the writing slide until days and weeks of not writing accumulate.

Uh, uh! What did I say about whining? You have a full-time job, but want to be a full-time writer? How badly do you want this? Do you simply want the idea of being a full-time writer, or do you actually want to be a full-time writer?

If it’s the latter, then treat your writing as your second job until it’s your ONLY job. That doesn’t negate the passion, the fun, or the creativity. It makes you a professional.

The other thing that separates pros (especially in the arts) from the rest is that the only purpose of the day job is to support the writing. That is, if you actually WANT to be a full-time writer. It means you change day jobs whenever you need to, and whenever it gets in the way of the writing.

When I worked in theatre (and I wrote then, too), I’d take non-theatre jobs in between shows. A show closed, I’d take a job. Usually with something arts-related. Trust me, you never, EVER want me as your waitress. I waitressed for two days, swore off, and haven’t had to work that gig since. I leave that to actors, who, you know, actually like people.

Anyway, I’d take a day job, and when I landed another theatre job, either the day job would let me work a flexible schedule that didn’t interfere with rehearsals, techs, shows, matinees, put-ins, etc. — or I’d quit the day job.

Until I reached the position where there was no down time between shows. I went from show-to-show-to-show, and then, on Broadway, I was lucky enough to land slots on long-running shows, such as MISS SAIGON, where I worked the last five years of the ten year Broadway run. 8 shows/week. Nights, weekends, holidays. I took my two weeks’ vacation once a year (usually a week twice a year). A couple of times, I took a leave for a month when one of the shows I wrote was produced overseas. But I was there. 8 shows/week for five years.

Theatre (and writing) always came first. ALWAYS. The work must always be protected. ALWAYS.

“But I have a family! I have responsibilities!”

So do I. But my family and my partners needed to be fully supportive, carry their weight, too (although, most of my life, I have been the primary breadwinner in any relationship). Any partner who didn’t carry his share of the physical and emotional work? Or, more importantly, who got in the way of it? Gone.

Because the RIGHT partner doesn’t get in the way of the work.

For me, it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be single.

It paid off in theatre. I worked my way up to Broadway. And it was wonderful. And when it was time to leave and do something else, I accepted it, and did so.

It is paying off in writing (which is always a journey). Writing is my business as well as my vocation and my passion. It is not my hobby.

I am not rich (working on that–sort of a joke, sort of not). I’m not famous (thank goodness, and some of that is a choice, much of that is luck, and some of my decisions that may cost me cash that fame would bring, but buy me the peace to do the work — we’ll see how they’ve turned out at the end of my life/career).

I’ve given up plenty that society considers “normal.”

I don’t regret it.

I wanted it badly enough.

I show up and do the work.

I am relentless when I have to be. Ruthless when I have to be.

Long-term practice pays off.

Moving to the yoga/meditation practice, which I’m sure is more along the lines of what you expected from a self-care post, this past year of practice has caused a huge positive shift in my life.

Every single day of 2018, I did at least a short meditation. I admit, I skipped yoga on some days (and regretted it, every time).

But every single day, and often more than once a day, I maintained my meditation practice. Even when I had a session with a meditation group on any particular day. I kept up my own practice.

It helped my focus. It increased my concentration. It lowered my stress, which improved my health.

But I didn’t realize the full impact until New Year’s Eve.

This was the first New Year’s Eve in years where I wasn’t miserable.

I talk about that misery in detail in the January 3rd, post, so I won’t go back into it here.

I didn’t have it this year. I didn’t have the misery, the desperation, or any of that. I wasn’t happy and dancing around, but I was content. For the first time in years of New Year’s Eves, I was content.

Be where you are. Start where you are. You’re fine right now.

That’s what we work on at Kripalu.

That’s what I work on in the daily yoga and meditation practice.

It doesn’t mean to stop striving to be better or do more. But it means to stop hating yourself in the moment. It doesn’t mean give up and feel like nothing can or will ever change. It means taking stock of the moment.

Accept yourself.

Take care of yourself.

You are fine where you are.

Once you hit that point, then, THEN you can build something positive for the future.

Commit to something that makes you feel happy or content or serene or fulfilled. Do it, even for a few minutes every single day this year. When you’re tired, when you’re sick, when you’re overwhelmed.

Do one good thing for yourself for a few minutes every day.

Chart the difference until next year. You’ll be surprised.

You’ll be content.

You might even be happy.

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 6:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. Jan. 7, 2019: Long Term Practice Pays Off #UpbeatAuthors  
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Thurs. Jan. 3, 2019: A Year of Daily Meditation Paid Off

Thursday, January 3, 2019
Day Before the Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde

The day before the dark moon is always the lowest energy day of the month for me. Unfortunately, I’m with a client today, so too bad for me on the energy front.

New Year’s Eve wound up being better than I expected. I got exasperated with too many people determined to lash out at others and be snarky, especially toward artists. But, as I said in yesterday’s posts, those who don’t have the courage to follow their dreams always try to punish those who do.

Last year’s dedication to daily meditation paid off on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t miss a single day of meditation in 2018 (although I skipped yoga sometimes). Often, I meditated twice a day.

New Year’s Eve showed me the positive result.

New Year’s Eve is often difficult for me. I had many years of trying too hard to run around to parties and have fun. When I lived in NYC, I could see the ball drop in Times Square from my window, and had parties. That was fun, but then, even though it was a block away, it became part of the sealed-off area. People had to come in early, or not come. Arriving after the show wasn’t an option.

Then, it got stricter. Even if I lived there, if I left the neighborhood before 6 PM, I could not return until after midnight. So the years I had 8 PM shows, I was forced to go out after my show, until I could get home. Do you know how expensive it is to go out on New Year’s Eve in New York? Even when I was with people I liked, I was unhappy.

Then, I tried taking the day off, whenever possible. Sometimes I went out of town to yoga retreats or other things. But being with a bunch of strangers didn’t cut it, either.

Here on Cape, it’s been better. Quiet New Year’s, maybe with a few friends over (I make sure I’m off the road by noon, because people are already drunk).

But I’m still often attacked by both the Doubt Demons and the Ghosts of Past Failures. New Year’s Eve often finds me teetering on the edge of the Abyss of Hopeless.

Often, I welcome the New Year in with exhausted relief, and desperation for something better.

This New Year’s was quite different, and I credit the daily yoga/meditation practice with a lot of it. Yes, I got cranky at the whiners and trolls on Social Media. But there were also some wonderful people who came into my life through that (especially via Twitter) with whom I would probably not have crossed paths otherwise. They’ve been a source of inspiration and conversation and laughter and creativity.

I stuck to my practice, I did minimal socializing with a handful of people I wanted to be with, I cooked a great meal (we eat salmon for wisdom on New Year’s Eve). I tried a new side dish — scalloped potatoes and parsnips with thyme, which was excellent.

I’d made two kinds of devilled eggs — my infamous eggs, based on the recipe in THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK, and Ina Garten’s smoked salmon devilled eggs. I tried to make the devilled eggs with avocado in them per a Twitter pal’s recipe, but it didn’t work. They didn’t look right, they didn’t taste right. Either he’ll have to let me sous-chef when he preps his next party, so I can learn from him, or I’ll keep playing with the recipe on my own until I get it where I want it.

We had the traditional herring before midnight (don’t ask; seriously, don’t ask).

The bayberry candle burned merrily most of the day, and a little past midnight, to carry prosperity into the New Year. We had a nice fire in the fireplace.

Just before midnight, we opened the back door to let the old year out; watched the ball drop; then opened the front door to welcome the New Year in.

I stayed up a bit longer to babysit the candle and make sure the fire was properly banked.

The weather was awful; I felt sorry for people out in it.

I didn’t feel particularly unhappy or depressed or worthless. I wasn’t happy or joyful, but I was, at least, content. Which is a huge step.

Slept in until after 8 o’clock on the Day (which I rarely do). Did the annual Fire & Ice ritual, which I do every New Year’s Day — and this time, it felt peaceful and grounded. It was a much better way to enter the year. No sense of desperation due to the previous year’s failures, and the ghosts of the other failures lurking behind them.

It’s a nice change.

Yoga/meditation (start the year right, now, don’t lose ground). I’d started the weight training again on the Eve because my designated weight training days are Mondays and Thursdays, and I didn’t want to wait until Thursday. Even though I started slow (rather than starting too fast and giving up), I was still sore on the Day.

Long, hot bath in some of the treats from the Goddess Provisions box, dressed, and then it was Eggs Benedict for a late breakfast (with prosecco and cranberry juice, of course). Yummy.

So we had something from the pig before noon, another long-time tradition.

It was a really pretty day, so Dance Partner and I took a walk on the beach. He’s only around for another few days– he was on Cape for a few weeks visiting family, and he goes back to his life on Twelfth Night. We had a lot of fun together these past weeks, and I have no regrets. Besides, his entrance into my life gave me the idea for THE LINGERIE TRAIL, so how could I not be pleased?

Scored the ham, added the bourbon and molasses. The ham turned out really well. Will write the recipe down in the special recipe book, so I can recreate it.

Played with some ideas. I’m letting some things percolate; other things need more focus. I’m trying to see which of the ideas will take shape as the first monologue. Juggling other work.

Send out the proposal for the play set in Renaissance Venice. If it’s accepted, that’s four plays on the roster this year. Three novels releasing, and four plays to write, plus the novels for 2020 to write, so I don’t fall behind. Time management skills much?

Getting back to what still needs to be done on the BALTHAZAAR galleys. The next two books are too tightly scheduled, and then I have some breathing room to get ahead.

Client work yesterday – tiring, but it went well. Today, I’ll also be with the client (I’ll miss my favorite yoga class, sadly).

Weight training this morning, too. I’m getting back into it slowly, so I don’t overdo too soon and get discouraged.

I’m looking forward to getting back to a regular schedule next week. I need some uninterrupted writing time.

But then, I always do. I may start getting up even earlier than I already do to make up the difference.

 

Thurs. Aug. 30, 2018: Dissecting Creativity & Poor Business Choices

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

Long day yesterday, although I got good work done on RELICS. The heat and humidity are supposed to break a bit later today, thank goodness. I am not productive in this weather, and I need to be productive. This morning, the RELICS worked rocked! We are at the first of the double climactic sequence and barreling to the end of this draft!

Lots of work with the client yesterday, and next week will be long days of extra hours. But it’s all good. The work is interesting, and that helps.

Finished re-reading TENDER IS THE NIGHT (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Although there is a lot of beautiful language, it’s also a cruel book. It also keeps the reader at a distance, which I hadn’t noticed the first time I read it. I never felt that the POVs were close enough. It wasn’t quite third omniscient, but not really close third, either. That got frustrating after awhile.

It’s also interesting to speculate on how he used material and transformed it into fiction. I always wonder how much of that transformation is using a real-life inspiration as a jumping off point, and how much is exploring one’s feelings toward that inspiration? In my case, when I do my job properly, the inspiration evolves into a fully-formed individual/character very separate from the original inspiration. I know where they diverge. But I always wonder if and where it happens for other authors.

Nicole Diver reminded me, in some ways, of Sara Murphy. So many of her characteristics are similar to Sara’s. But her mental health issues reminded me of Zelda Fitzgerald. In the same way, Dick Diver seemed a combination of Gerald Murphy and Fitzgerald himself. Although the McKiscos also reminded me of the Fitzgeralds. The racism in the book also struck me. I think it was deliberate on Fitzgerald’s part, him pointing it out and depicting it, I mean. I don’t think it was thoughtless. I think he wanted a spotlight on how black individuals were treated in that time and place. There were many people in the novel where one could speculate the inspirations — especially because I’m re-reading the book about Sara and Gerald Murphy, EVERYONE WAS SO VERY YOUNG, at the same time. The first time I read it, I didn’t know any of the context. It was less distracting in some ways, but I was also less discerning.

It’s been an interesting experience.

I was absolutely shocked when I opened my email yesterday and there was an email from a startup wellness company attacking me for not buying their product. I’m not even sure how I got on their list in the first place. They asked if I wanted an invitation to subscribe to their monthly yoga box. I accepted the invitation for an invitation. That’s not a commitment. That’s saying I’m interested in hearing about it. When I received the invitation, it was for a limited time, and I was dealing with two deaths that happened in close proximity. I glanced at the invitation, I had questions about pricing — things were unclear and it looked like the pricing would fluctuate every month, which meant it wasn’t an option for me. And, frankly, their stuff was fine but it didn’t excite me. I put it aside. I CHOSE not to purchase it at this time. That is my right as a potential customer. To CHOOSE whether or not I buy a product.

Yesterday I got an email, berating me for not purchasing the product. Basically calling me too stupid to understand their offer.

I sent a strongly-worded email saying that I was dealing with two deaths at the time and not everything was about THEM, and sending an email attacking potential customers is not the way to grow one’s business. I then unsubscribed from the email list, too.

Of course, there was no apology. I felt like I’d been blindsided with a gut punch, and I wanted one. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it didn’t matter. Yeah, my ego wanted the apology. But there is no way I’d become a customer. There is NOTHING they could do or say — not an apology, not an offer of free or discounted anything — that would make me trust them enough to give them money. I’m done.

And this is supposed to be a company promoting the yoga lifestyle. Hypocrites.

I’m still hurt and angry, but I’ll get over it, I’ll move on, and I want nothing to do with them. I realize it’s hard to be a start-up, but walk your talk. And you’re NOT going to succeed if you abuse potential customers.

Roughed out the next month’s worth of Ink-Dipped Advice pieces. Uploading next week’s today; will write the next over the weekend and upload them next week. Also want to get ahead on the September postings for Upbeat Authors.

Working on calendar articles.

Have to get the balance back between working on RELICS and DHARMA. This draft of RELICS will head off to the editor as soon as I can finish it (hopefully this weekend).

Working on the piece about Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow mysteries, which should go up on A Biblio Paradise next week.

I have errands this morning, and writing, and web stuff (have to get the new website offline properly so we can work on it). Because it takes place behind-the-scenes on a television series, my editor and I are also discussing how the #MeToo movement will affect the plot. When I started writing it, we dealt with the issues differently than we are trying to deal with them now. So, as we work through this next draft preparing for galleys, we have to figure out how to acknowledge how things have changed and figure out where and if they affect the plot.

I’m hoping the weekend will be a combination writing retreat/meditation/purge-the-basement/yardwork event.

I’m not going anywhere. The Labor Day Tourist Insanity was already in full swing yesterday. I’ll do some grocery shopping tomorrow, and some errands, and then I’m in for the weekend.

Back to the page.

Mon. May 28, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Pleasurable Indulgences

Monday, May 28, 2018
Day Before Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Memorial Day

It’s fitting that today’s post for #UpbeatAuthors should be about pleasurable indulgences.

In the past two weeks, I met four major deadlines. My pleasurable indulgence is doing exactly what I want this weekend! 😉

What gives me pleasure and makes me feel indulgent?

Writing always gives me pleasure. I prefer the writing to the “having written.” Of course I have difficult days, but they make the good ones even better. But an indulgence is to work on an undeadlined project. I’ll be doing that on two projects this weekend, a novel and a play.

Reading gives me pleasure. I read widely, both for research and for pleasure. I have a stack of books in my TBR pile, including Amanda Quick’s newest, and one from Marshall Ryan Maresca.

Gardening — there’s a case where the “having gardened” gives me more pleasure than the actual gardening. I especially hate to mow. But I will garden and then indulge in the pleasure of a beautiful space.

Cooking — I love to cook.

Yoga and meditation — although those are not indulgences for me, but necessities.

Unstructured time is my favorite indulgence. I need it in order to create. I seek some of it every day.

I hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

 

Published in: on May 28, 2018 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 28, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Pleasurable Indulgences  
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Mon. April 2, 2018: Relaxation #UpbeatAuthors

Mon. April 2, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Relaxation is important for us to keep healthy, both mentally and physically, especially during retrogrades. Mercury Retrograde is always a mess, with communication, travel, and electronics going wonky, Jupiter is a heavy planet, and planet of expansion, so when it goes retrograde, everything is harder. Plus, we have a Pluto retrograde coming up.

I find the most important part of relaxation is disconnecting. Turn the damn phone off. This idea that we have to be reachable 24/7 is ridiculous. There is always a way you can be reached in an emergency, even if your phone is off. Cell phones are a fairly recent invention.

I try to have one day a week that’s a “day of disconnect.” No internet, no phone, no social media. I loathe the phone anyway. I find it an intrusive device that destroys my creativity. In the days pre-cell phone, I had an answering machine and screened my calls. There were plenty of time, during my writing times, when I unplugged the phone.

When I am writing, as far as I’m concerned, the only acceptable excuse for interruption is a major emergency such as death or hospitalized illness. Anything other than that, wait until I’m done.

Where I live now, on Cape Cod, is a beautiful place. But, in summer, when so many other people come here to enjoy the beauty, it’s stressful. I’m lucky to have a big backyard (currently in need to post-storm cleanup) and a covered deck with beautiful skylights. Every spring, we build an enchanted garden on the deck, full of our container plants, and we have lilacs and beds of beautiful plants throughout. We eat as many meals as possible out there, and I do a great deal of writing.

If I’m working in my home office, I stop and have a glass of wine before dinner, out on the deck. Or a cocktail, in summer (we’ve reinstated cocktail hour here). I do the same when I get home from working on-site with a client. I even did it last week, after an afternoon of yard work! I poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the steps (since the furniture isn’t out yet; it’s still too cold).

For me, a glass of wine in my garden is one of the most relaxing and restorative things I can do.

I have a daily yoga and meditation practice, and that’s the other way I relax. Savasana is important. When you practice yoga, don’t skip Savasana!

In my yoga/cruise ship mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA, Sophie, my protagonist, doesn’t let her students leave class early to skip the pose! It’s a wonderful way to release and restore.

Relaxation allows you to appreciate the good things in your life, and paves the way for happiness.

So take some time for yourself, and relax!

Published in: on April 2, 2018 at 5:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 2, 2018: Relaxation #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. Feb. 19, 2018: “Be Kind To Your Mind” #UpbeatAuthors

The topic today is “Be Kind to Your Mind.”

I find that works in multiple parts.

Meditation
The first part has to do with making the time for meditation. Quiet time, to “just sit” and let the detritus of the day drop away is vital to mental health. When I find myself unable to concentrate, it’s usually because I haven’t taken the time to meditate.

I meditate every morning, after my yoga session. I started adding an additional meditation at night, right before bed. It’s helped my sleep patterns. Nights I don’t meditate, I tend to wake up around 1 or 3, my head filled with worries about the past day or the coming day, have trouble falling asleep again, and then struggle the next day. Nights when I stick to my meditation schedule, I can usually sleep through until about 5:30. I usually get up around 5:30 or 6 anyway.

Mindfulness
Studies prove “multi-tasking” is both a myth and detrimental. I’d rather do one thing well than five things half-assed. This is especially true when I write. I need quiet; if I have music on, it’s music without lyrics. I NEVER have TV or a DVD on when I write or edit. I can always tell when a student does that; I can usually even tell which program was on, or what was listened to. It infects the text.

Be kind to your mind by doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. You will do it well, you will complete it more quickly, and you might even enjoy it.

Instead of Negative Self-Talk, Positive Action
The other part of being kind to your mind is to stop the negative self-talk. Stop beating yourself up for a thoughtless comment or a mistake. When you make a thoughtless comment or a mistake, apologize and move on. Make sure it’s a genuine apology, without qualifiers. “I’m sorry IF I upset you” is NOT an apology. It’s not taking responsibility. “I’m sorry I upset you” is an apology. No excuses. An attempt to make it right.

“I’m sorry I made a mistake. I will be more careful moving forward.” In most work situations, that suffices. You and your supervisor or co-worker can build on that.

Also, stop qualifying when you say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you say “no,” you don’t have to explain why, or flounder to come up with an explanation you think will be acceptable to the person you refused. You said “no.” That’s enough. If pushed, just remind that person, “I don’t have to explain. I said no.”

When someone criticizes you or blindsides you, yes, it hurts. It’s upsetting. Admit your feelings, to yourself if not to anyone else. Don’t repress them. “Yes, this person hurt me.” “Yes, I am angry.” Your feelings are your feelings.

Then, break down the feelings. Was the criticism justified? Is it something you want/need to address? Who is this person in your life? Someone important? Someone you need to remain cordial with? Someone who really doesn’t matter (such as an online troll)? Figure out the person’s place in your universe. If necessary, ex-communicate them from it. There’s nothing wrong with ending associations with toxic people.

If it’s justified criticism, and it’s something you need to address, admit your anger and upset, and then figure out why the criticism is justified and what you want to do about it. Do you need to think before you speak? Do you need to adjust your attitude in a certain situation? Are you behaving in a toxic way to others and it’s time to change? Figure it out and then take action.

Once you’ve made a decision and acted on it, you can stop replaying the incident over and over in your mind. Forgive yourself. Forgive the other. Move on and work on living a better life.

New Experiences/Artist Dates
Another way to be kind to your mind is to experience new things. Don’t just go to work and go home and turn on the TV. Read a book by a new-to-you author. Check a DVD out of the library of a type of movie you hardly ever watch. Pull up your local events calendar. Libraries often have programs free to the public. Art galleries have receptions for new shows, free to the public. At least once a week, go out and do something out of your ordinary schedule. As awful as the news is right now, find a trustworthy news source (not just one that reinforces what you already think, but one that shows multiple, well-sourced facets of a situation) and keep up. Let yourself do something fun and silly that you don’t usually do. Take a class. Play miniature golf. Go on a garden tour. Visit the small, local museum you drive by on the way to work. Volunteer at the nature sanctuary to help them put in a butterfly garden. Work in your own garden — without your phone nearby. Just take an hour and work in the garden, focusing on each task you do as though it’s the only task in the world.

Julia Cameron calls this an “Artist Date.” Many of her techniques don’t work for me, but this one does. She suggests doing your Artist Date alone. If you’re constantly surrounded by people, that’s great. It helps you hear your own inner voice and figure out your responses. But for many writers, who spend the bulk of their time alone (or with the myriad of characters that exist in our heads), a mix of solo Artist Dates and Artist Dates with people you don’t see often works better.

Get Rid of the Phrase “Guilty Pleasures”
I do not feel guilt in my pleasures. I don’t care if other people like them or approve of them or laugh at them. As long as they don’t hurt anyone, they are MINE, and I revel in my pleasure.

Keep a Journal
One of the best ways I’m kind to my mind is to keep a journal. Yes, there’s this blog, which talks about my process and how I try to integrate writing and life, and how they influence each other. But I also keep a private, handwritten journal where I am free to say anything. I can be my best self. I can also be my worst self and then work my way back to a better self without inflicting harm on anyone else. I can work out what I really think and feel about things that upset me, and figure out the actions I can take to live a better life, a life that inflicts as little harm as possible on those around me and on the environment.

Integrate
Keeping up the meditation practice WHILE you do these other actions becomes a self-supporting loop. It’s a step toward a more holistic life.

 

Published in: on February 19, 2018 at 7:43 am  Comments Off on Mon. Feb. 19, 2018: “Be Kind To Your Mind” #UpbeatAuthors  
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