Mon. May 20, 2019: Inner Peace in Times of Adversity #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, May 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Hey, when you have a handle on today’s topic, share, will you?

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with this. I had an unexpected car repair, and I had to ask for help, including starting a Go Fund Me. I was worried I couldn’t get the car back on the road, or that it wouldn’t survive long if I did, and I didn’t know what to do.

If it wasn’t for my daily yoga and meditation practice, I would have had a complete breakdown.

I came pretty darn close, as it was.

But every time I was sure I would lose my grip on “the edge of the verge” as a theatre colleague used to say, I would go to the mat or I’d go to the zafu and try to find a few minutes of peace. Those few minutes of either movement or stillness helped me steady. Helped me refocus. Helped me think clearly, so I could do what was necessary to take action and make decisions to deal with the situation.

I still had sleepless nights.

I still had days when I fell into bed early, because I couldn’t function any more.

There were tears and fears.

But, with the help of friends and colleagues, and the help of my daily yoga and meditation practices, I survived.

It clarified a few harsh realities of my life, and means the upcoming changes for this year may need to happen sooner rather than later.

I wouldn’t say I found “inner peace” — but I found a few moments of reprieve, and those helped me cope.

How do you cope when life throws adversity your way? How do you try to achieve “inner peace?”

 

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 5:32 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. April 30, 2019: Conference Wrap-up and New Ideas

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ever so much to talk about, and some things about which I’m not yet ready to talk about, because I’m still mulling them over.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the April wrap-up. It should be up within a half hour of this post.

This past weekend, I was a presenter at the #NECRWA conference in Burlington, MA. It’s one of my favorite conferences, because it’s relaxed and upbeat. It always gives me a lot to think about.

I re-connected with some people I knew from before, met new people, met some people I knew from online and this was the first time we’d met in person.

The weather was awful on Friday. I had the car packed early, and left a little before noon. Usually, it takes me about 3 hours to get there (and it’s only outside of Boston) because of traffic. I’d managed to time it so it only took two hours.

My room was ready; I checked in and it took 2 luggage cart trips from car to room to get everything up. Made me think maybe I brought too much stuff.

The hotel had a renovation. It’s very upscale business traveler with dark wood and shiny counters and a huge TV. My room had a kingsized bed AND a chaise longue, with which I immediately fell in love. The bathroom was all shiny counters and frosted glass.

I unpacked, tried to rest up a bit, looked through the conference materials. I also worked ona book I have to review.

Freshened up and went downstairs for the cocktail hour. They served us a buffet dinner, too, courtesy of Red Feather Romance. That definitely got our attention — feed us! 😉

I had some interesting conversations. One with a writers’ group who’d travelled here together to attend — their members were from Western MA and upstate NY. I had another conversation with some early career writers who didn’t even try to hide their contempt that I’m with a small publisher and that I talked about craft and the importance of a good editor, and how much I value both my editor and my copy editor. They plan to self publish, and, according to them, “craft doesn’t matter, because Kindle readers don’t care.”

I beg to differ.

I found that arrogance rather off-putting, and wondered if that would be the tone of the conference.

The Literacy signing was after the dinner. I prefer it when it’s at the end of the weekend, when I’ve gotten to know some of the authors and have an idea of their books. I felt like I “should” buy a lot of books, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I felt guilty when I browsed a table without buying.

I went back upstairs to decompress a little and read more of the book for review.

I also set up my rolling rack for tomorrow, went over the presentation again. Second-guessed myself on every item I brought and every slide I chosen; wondered if I should revise the presentation. But that way madness lies.

Tried to watch television, but it was lousy. I’m not missing anything by giving up cable.

Got an email from that new-to-me editor who wanted yet more information about why the topic — an underused resource that can generate more income for freelancers — is relevant to his site, which is supposed to be about generating income for freelancers. I have now written more than twice the word count ABOUT what the actual article would run. For a publication for which I’ve written a half a dozen times, and where I never had to jump through all these hoops for the other editor.

Makes me think we are no longer a good fit, and perhaps it’s time to move on to another dance partner.

The bed had one of those pillow top or memory foam things. I felt like I sank so far down it would cover me and smother me. It was comfortable; I’m just used to a much firmer mattress.

I woke up once at 4 AM with a horrible headache, but got back to sleep, and got up just before 6. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. I like writing in hotel rooms. There aren’t many distractions.

On my way to the first session, I stepped outside for a few minutes — and the headache went away. I realized that I can’t open the windows in my room, and I always sleep with my window cracked. I’m not used to recycled air.

A few minutes outside, even in the rain, helped.

Before the first session, I talked to some people who live in Central MA about the benefits of living there. They love it, because one can get to anywhere from there. It was great to hear them talk about what they loved about the area, how it’s changing, what frustrated them. The arts community seems much more vibrant and able to earn a living than it is here.

The first session was great, about burnout. Emily Nagoski was the presenter. Her handouts and worksheets were great. The timing couldn’t be better, considering the crossroads I’m facing right now. I also want to get a quote from her for an article I’m writing.

Went outside for a few minutes in between sessions, then went to a panel discussion where the participants frankly discussed money. We all agreed not to share these authors’ actual financial details outside of the room. But some of their approaches and concepts were interesting.

I was surprised — at this panel and elsewhere in the conference — by how large a percentage of the incomes are via Amazon’s Kindle direct. I’ve always avoided them because I don’t like the contract. My small publisher distributes digitally through Amazon, but my contract is not directly with Amazon, but via my publisher.

Also, the volume at which some of these authors are turning out books. There’s one full-time author who has published 70 books in the last 11 years. She’s earning money, she’s winning awards. She’s turning out quality work. She’s got audio books and translations out.

I always thought I wrote reasonably fast, but I couldn’t keep up that pace, unless I had a full staff to run the rest of my life.

I’m wondering if I should run an experiment, and have something that is more typically genre run through KDP/Unlimited to see how the returns differ.

The downside to that (apart from the qualms I have about the KDP contract) is that having only one book in that pipeline isn’t going to do much. I’d need at least three.

Three books that are separate from anything I currently have on contract, when I’m already on a brutal contract schedule.

Of course, a new pseudonym and a new idea for a series, even its title, came bursting forth almost immediately.

Whether I choose to go KDP or not, I’m kind of in love with this idea. It fuses with a couple of other ideas I’ve been playing with, and mixes the mystery and romance genres in a beautiful location.

I even have the opening line, which is a kicker.

The problem is — when will I be able to write it? We’ve already rescheduled THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’m on track for GRAVE REACH, but I can’t let the other two fall by the wayside.

I have to get back into the Jain Lazarus Adventures later this year, revising CRAVE THE HUNT, and my editor and I have to go over the first two, seeing if we need to make any changes.

I have to get back on track with the JUSTICE BY HARPY books. The first book is in great shape; the second two, not so much. Since all three have to release close together, that’s a challenge.

I want to get THE FIX-IT GIRL out on traditional submission, and work on THE TIE-CUTTER.

And, of course, there’s always GAMBIT COLONY that pulls whenever I’m stressed to blow off steam.

I have a radio play going live in May. I have another radio play due in Florida in the next couple of weeks, and requests for more; I have ANOTHER radio play to send to MN as soon as I’m done with it.

I have a play due in NY at the end of May for a contest.

I have to get into the MFA to research Canaletto and the Bibiana families so I can start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters that’s due at the end of the year.

I have to finish the anti-gun violence play (because it’s not like that issue will be solved any time soon).

I have to keep working on WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, and test the monologues.

I have to write the play about the two infamous women authors.

I have articles to pitch and write, and other marketing writing that keeps a roof over my head. I have contest entries to finish, books to review, a couple of speaking engagements coming up.

I have to come up with a new marketing strategy for my books.

How do I make it all work? Especially when, right now, I’m exhausted? And deal with the garden? And I probably have to face some major life changes in the upcoming months.

I’m not sure. I have to take some time to sit and think. To prioritize. To push myself to get it all done.

To do it without killing myself.

Hence why the burnout workshop was so relevant.

Outside, took a few breaths of fresh air, then back in for a seminar on ebook pricing. Some of which directly contradicted what worked for some of the authors in the last seminar.

One interesting thing that came up was to set the first book in a series perpetually at 99 cents. I’ve played with that idea. I don’t want the people who are excited by a new release to feel screwed if I lower the price of the first book to 99 cents and keep it there. My publisher is open to discussing pricing changes, but is more in favor of limited-time discounts than a permanent change.

A few months ago, I was advised that I should lower the price of ALL the earlier books whenever I have a new release out. I balked at that idea, as did the publisher. Because then why should people order the book when it first comes out? They know it’ll come down in price a year later when the next one comes out. In the interim, I might lose them anyway.

It was also brought up that $1.99 is an awful price. I put my Delectable Digital delight shorts at 99 cents (making sure people understand they are SHORT). My publisher usually has novellas or short novels at $1.99 or $2.99 if they’re almost up to category length. Now I’m wondering if we should go up to some funky price like $2.09 or $2.49?

Yeah, this is just what my publisher wants. Me to come back from a conference full of ideas that aren’t new books! 😉

The lunch buffet was fun. I got to catch up with a friend who has nine books out under one of her names, and is about to launch a cozy mystery series under another. Can’t wait to read all of them!

Met another author, Jillian David, whose presentation I missed (and I felt guilty for so doing, because I really liked her). I now can’t wait to read her books, either.

The lunchtime keynote was Penny Reid, who was funny and heartfelt, and now I have another new-to-me author to read. That’s one of my favorite things about conferences — finding new-to-me authors whose work I can gobble up.

I found Kilby Blades, who was presenting the two sessions before mine in the salon we would all share, to ask if she minded that I brought my rack down and stashed it before her session started. She was cool with it. I didn’t want to just show up with a bunch of stuff and presume I could take up space.

I attended both of her marketing sessions which was useful. She navigates how to use best business practices in marketing and then morph them for the weirdness that is the book business. It helped me rethink some strategies, and I will have a lot to discuss with my publisher’s new marketing director soon!

There were some elements that gave me a headache. Charting daily sales–I know it’s useful, but I’d much rather look at weekly or monthly breakdowns. But as we work on new marketing strategies, the daily fluctuations and the importance of serious testing matters. The same way it does when I do it for other people.

I wish it wasn’t so much easier to market for someone else than to market myself!

Then, it was my turn.

My audience was great, but I was not happy with my performance. I talked too quickly. I didn’t share enough anecdotes from the set (only two or three). I meant to talk about heirloom pieces that are passed down and how they have meaning, and didn’t. I meant to tie in to some of the other sessions, and it flew right out of my mind.

I was frustrated with myself because it wasn’t as good as it could have been, and the only one to blame was me.

I shouldn’t have cut reading the passage from a friend’s book about how a couple of characters cleaned up for a funeral. That would have been a good addition. But when I timed a rehearsal, it made the session run long without time for questions.

As I said, my audience was great. I could have been better. I did not live up to my own expectations.

I packed up, took everything back up to the room, and changed for dinner. I wore Cupcake International pieces all weekend — I was a walking advertisement for them. But the pieces were fun and comfortable and flattering.

Dinner was good. I sat with some people who’d been in my session, and another woman from NH who was lovely. We had a great talk about life in New Hampshire and a whole lot of other things.

Sonali Dev was our Keynote, and she was wonderful. She said something that resonated. “We write because we refuse to be silent.”

Again, gave me a lot to think about.

I was exhausted and my mind going a mile a minute after dinner. I didn’t join the debrief sessions; I went upstairs. I finished reading the book for review, and made notes.

I made some notes on some new ideas. I tried watching TV, but there was nothing I wanted to see. Packed everything up.

I pondered all the information I’d gathered. It will take me awhile to sort it all out and decide how best to put it to use.

Woke up at 1 AM and got back to sleep. Woke up a little after six. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. Breakfast.

Had the car loaded and was gone a little after 8. There wasn’t much traffic, so I was home by 10:30.

Unloaded. Put stuff away. Unpacked. Sorted laundry. Unpacked the handouts and bookmarks and other things I picked up at the conference. It will take me a few days to go through them.

I usually go through them the day of or the day after. But I was too tired.

I don’t get why — I hardly drank at all. I usually spend more time at the bar at conferences, and I didn’t this time around. But I feel more worn out than when I spend most of my free time in the bar. Here I tried to take good care of myself and be healthy, and I’m still wiped out.

Probably because this was at the end of a long, stressful month.

Tried to rest on Sunday. Wrote the review. Read some other books. I gave myself the day off from contest entries.

Monday was back to the normal routine, although I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

Got some writing done in the morning, although it wasn’t very good. Played with my new idea. That world is coming into focus surprisingly clearly. Although I don’t want to be arrogant about it, so I ordered a bunch of research books from the library.

Returned what I’d borrowed for the conference. Spent time onsite with a client. Turned in my review.

Cancelled out of my mid-afternoon appointment because my brain was mush and I was making stupid mistakes.

I’d walked out of the house without my phone. Meant to pick it up after the session with my client and before leaving for meditation group. But, of course, I walked out without it — mostly because the cats caught a little, tiny mouse, and I felt horribly guilty about her demise. I mean, I don’t want mice in the house, and I’m glad the cats did their feline job — but I still felt awful about that poor little mouse, and buried her in the yard.

Meditation was good. I felt better and more focused after, although still tired.

Read a couple of Tracy Kiely’s Nic and Nigel Martini books over the past two days. They’re a lot of fun.

Went to bed early; overslept this morning.

Got some writing done, but not enough. Still mulling things over in my head.

Onsite with a client most of the day, then I have to get some work done at the library.

More contest entries to work on tonight, and I’m starting to enter the scores into the digital sheets.

Was assigned my next book for review.

I have to get going on the thank yous and follow ups from the conference today and tomorrow. I don’t want to let that slide.

And I have to get on a more productive writing schedule. I think I have to add a second writing session into the evening for the next few months. The morning at 1.5-2K is okay (although it makes me feel very slow). But if I can add in another 1K session in the evening, I should be able to get back on track. Maybe I can up it a little on weekends.

Mostly, though, I’m so, so tired. My body is tired and my brain is tired. I’m seriously thinking of taking a few days off this weekend, except for contest entries, and then starting up again with the new moon.

But the conference was great, and it gave me a lot to think about. Now, I have to sort through it, and, most importantly, APPLY WHAT I’VE LEARNED.

Because otherwise, it’s just time spent without gain.

Back to the page.

 

Wed. March 27, 2019: Gearing Up for the Right Kind of Busy

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde

No post today on Ink-Dipped Advice.

I had the worst headache on Monday. Meditation helped, but it kept threatening on Tuesday.

I heard from the production in Florida that the night went well and the audience loved the play. They said there was “one big acting gaffe” that they’d fix in post-production before they uploaded the audio file. I’m not sure what that means, but I have to trust them to do their thing.

Production-wise, my attention is now focused on the piece that runs in Boston the first two weekends in April.

Worked on books for review Monday night and Tuesday. Did a little writing Tuesday morning and some editing.

A potential client wanted to have a phone conversation yesterday or today, but the only available times where when I was onsite, and I felt that was inappropriate, so I requested to set it, at their convenience, Thursday or Friday. She was happy to do so. I’m looking forward to it, tomorrow morning, but it means tomorrow’s post will go up late!

Got the proofs from my editor from the almanac articles. She’s asked for a couple of tweaks. No problem. I’ll work on them in the next few days, and turn them around.

Client work onsite yesterday, and then other writing and review work, to try to keep on top of deadlines.

Tired. Client work today. Then, if the weather still holds, maybe some yard work. It might get as high as 70 degrees this weekend, which means definite yard work.

But for now, it’s back to the page. And waiting to hear what’s going on between the WGA-ATA conflict.

 

Published in: on March 27, 2019 at 6:24 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 27, 2019: Gearing Up for the Right Kind of Busy  
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Tues. March 26, 2019: WGA & Writing Intensity & Creative Vampires

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Only a few more days until Mercury goes direct. The last week of it is always difficult for me. I’m just trying to keep my head down and keep going.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read my essay on how the wonderful book SCRATCH, essays and interviews where writers talk about money, had a strong impace.

If you ever dream of writing for film or television, I hope you’ve kept up with how the WGA is fighting to make sure agents avoid conflicts of interest with their “packaging”. I’ve always hated it. Michael Ovitz talks about how he came up with the idea in his memoir. Agents are supposed to represent their clients, not act like additional producers. If they want to produce and create art, then they should switch jobs. But representing both sides of a negotiation — no. We’ll never know how many mediocre projects could have been stellar if the best people for the job had been hired instead of the project “packaged.” There’s a balanced post with both sides of the argument here. I’m also sharing a post by David Simon, who created Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire, who has a great piece about his personal experience with  the practice here.

Friday was about running errands, getting some writing done, working on books for review, and reading contest entries.

We had some snow on Friday night into Saturday, just enough to look like someone dumped powdered sugar over everything. I wrote in the morning, then we took the recycling in to the dump and ran more errands, then wrote more.

Sunday, more writing. Which was upset by the jackasses using leaf blowers. Leaf blowers should be banned on Sundays. Period. Unless it’s clean up after a hurricane or something.

I took a social media break for most of the weekend. I checked in now and then, mostly due to the Mueller Report. But there were too many early-career writers having the same questions, refusing to do any homework, the same arguments over and over and over again.

Everyone needs to start somewhere, to find community, to find encouragement, to learn. But all this repetition shows that people AREN’T learning from each other or researching answers. They can’t be bothered. They’re too in love with the sound of their own tweets, obsessing on how many thousands of followers they can accumulate, or why they lose followers.

But they expect and demand writers with more experience to take away time from their own work to answer questions easily answered by a Google search or by picking up any of the writing magazines. And then, instead of thanking the experienced writer for the time — they start arguing.

Shut the hell up. Say thank you. If you choose not to use the advice, fine. But don’t waste our time and throw our generosity back in our faces by arguing. Every minute spent answering a newbie question is a minute spent away from our own work. Time we can NEVER get back. Most of the time, we are happy to help. Hey, if we can spare someone pain from our own experience, of course we’ll do it. We don’t expect groveling. We don’t expect everything we suggest to work for you. But we expect basic courtesy. Act like the professional you claim you want to grow into. Learn the protocols of your industry, and behave with grace. Because professionals in any industry talk to each other, and remember the asshats. Don’t be a creative vampire.

Sunday into Monday was a challenge. Bad dreams, lonely coyote howls, strange night-calling birds. Awake by 3:30, couldn’t get back to sleep before the alarm went off.

Monday was mostly onsite with a client. A big marketing package I worked on was approved and will now go out. I’m getting us on some additional influencer channels. Meditation group was a much-needed relief.

Monday night was the performance/broadcast of “Horace House Hauntings” in Florida. I look forward to hearing how it went.

Today and tomorrow will be with clients, and then it’s down to another few days of intense writing.

April is going to be a busy month, and I have to work to make sure it’s a good busy.

 

Published in: on March 26, 2019 at 5:32 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 26, 2019: WGA & Writing Intensity & Creative Vampires  
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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.

Published in: on March 20, 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments Off on Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Full Moon on the Equinox During Mercury Retrograde. Yeah.  
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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.

 

Published in: on March 6, 2019 at 6:41 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 6, 2019: Getting Back on Track  
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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.