Tues. April 17, 2018: Staying on a Tight Contract Schedule

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Direct (as of 4/15)

Even though the Mercury Retrograde echoes, I’m glad it’s gone direct. Not happy about Saturn and Jupiter being retrograde, though, and Pluto piling on at the end of the week. But, it is what it is.

The area is still in mourning for Sean Gannon, and will be for a long time to come. Hopefully, that gives some help and comfort to his family, although I’m sure everyone would simply rather he was still alive. Nero survived surgery and is recovering.

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY is in galleys — I got them on Saturday. Yesterday, I started work on them. I’m starting to feel good about this book again, although, by the time I finish galleys, I’m always sick of whatever book’s in galleys! Part of the process!

I finally cracked the first chapter of RELICS & REQUIEM, and polished the excerpt that will go in the back of SPIRIT REPOSITORY. So that can progress on a steady pace, as it needs to.

Most of the weekend, however, was spent working on the serial. I’m putting the scenes on index cards, teleplay style. Even though I don’t like working that way, for this piece, I feel I need to. I need to weave a couple more lines together and figure out the big climactic sequence. Then I can pull out the points most necessary, do the outline, and get the piece off to the producer. They’ll either want it or they won’t. If they do, we go into development and see what happens; if they don’t, I’ve got a good start on the book itself, although when I’ll be able to slot it in, who knows?

The fifth POV muscled in, and I wrote a chapter from that POV, to see if it truly was necessary. It is. It made a lot of the rest of the outline click.

Worked on contest entries as well; some good ones. Enjoyed them very much. Picking the winner and the top five finalists will be even more of a challenge than usual this year. It’s exciting that there’s so much good writing out there, and that those good authors are no longer limited by the Big 5. Small presses that do actual print runs — not PODS, but print runs — need to start flourishing again, because they are the ones that will turn the industry around.

Sunday is usually my “day of disconnect” from social media, et al. I didn’t take it this weekend, what with all the corruption and the bombing of Syria and James Comey trying to save his legacy with his book and interviews. So I didn’t get the silence on that front I needed. However, I got into some lively conversations about process and art, which made up for the news feed chaos.

I didn’t take Patriots’ Day as a holiday yesterday; I worked with a client. I felt bad for the Boston Marathon runners. It was a nasty day.

I got back to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, RELICS & REQUIEM, and the outline for the serial. And contest entries and a book whose review deadline is coming up quickly. I hope to get the serial pitch out this week. Fingers crossed.

The updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA is up. I’m working on the updated kits for HEX BREAKER, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and the Jain Lazarus series.

They are pushed back a bit, because I have to do the media kit for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY first, and then create one for the Coventina Circle series in general, so I can get those uploaded by the end of the week.

I’ve run across some interesting people I’d like to host for A Biblio Paradise, and I’m getting the invites out over the next few days. And talking to my distributor about a special promotion when SPIRIT REPOSITORY comes out, so I can do a promotion.

I need to get some LOIs out this week, and also do some more purging in the basement. And, you know, yard work whenever the weather lets me.

Oh and hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, to see where I am on this month’s list!

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing!

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Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 5:18 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 17, 2018: Staying on a Tight Contract Schedule  
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Wed. April 4, 2018: Writing and Family History

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for some of the answer’s to “Where’s The Work?”

Monday’s snow gave me the grumpies. I have yard work to do and other things to do, and don’t have time for any more bad weather. In the snow, I had to take 14 bags of leaves (420 gallons) to the dump at 7:30 AM, or I wouldn’t have been able to get my car out of the garage. Not exactly how I’d prefer to start my week! But it’s a part of the responsibility of stewardship of a yard, and it’s really not that big a deal. I’m just tired, on all levels right now, so everything is a bigger deal than it should be.

Some douchebag ignoramuses who don’t understand the first thing about citizenship or the Constitution are at it again. They’re not even worth the rant. Zero tolerance for stupidity and chosen ignorance.

Another coffee maker bit the dust. During a Mercury Retrograde. This one last only six months. At least the other one lasted six years.

Client work was fine the past few days; another day on site today and I’m wrapped with this client for the week.

A couple of LOIs went out this week, which is a good thing. I need to sit down and work on some article pitches next week. I also need to follow up with a publication for which I used to write (for a long stretch) — we talked about working together again, and they told me to get back in touch in April or May. I’d rather wait until Mercury goes direct to sign any contract, so I might wait until next week.

Edits on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY are going slowly. I need to stop beating myself up for not seeing certain problems in the heat of the writing (or even the first couple of drafts) and just get it done now. What matters is to get it done.

Working on the outline for the serial (so that I can distill it down into a synopsis). One of the other characters wants to have sections in his point of view now. I’m worried it’s too many points of view, and too hard to switch back and forth. But, if I keep the story moving forward and not backtrack each event through multiple points of view, only have a little overlap, it might open the piece out in a positive way.

I need a day or two where the serial is the only thing I need to focus on or worry about. And it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

I found out some interesting information about one branch of the family tree, and, on Monday, after I wrapped with my client for the day, I went to the library to dig into Ancestry.com and see what I can find. It’s my great-grandmother’s family, my mother’s father’s mother. Turns out she was one of nine children — which my mother never knew (seven survived). I’m tracing each of the kids, and trying to trace back even farther, back into Belgium, where that family originated. My great-great-grandfather was a clockmaker. I wonder if that has anything to do with my fascination with clocks!

I’ve traced back into Belgium to 1782, and will see if I can go beyond that. I also want to trace her siblings and their families to find out if and where the connection that was brought up this weekend fits in.

It’s interesting, and as relevant or irrelevant as I choose to make it.

On top of that, last night, I took apart my favorite clock that wasn’t working and figured out how to fix it. Coincidence? Or channeling the ancestor? You decide!

Hopefully, the weather will hold and I can work on the yard, the ancestors, the outline, and SPIRIT REPOSITORY over the next few days. Oh, and do my taxes.

Back to the page.

Published in: on April 3, 2018 at 11:50 pm  Comments Off on Wed. April 4, 2018: Writing and Family History  
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Tues. April 3, 2018: Snow and Second Thoughts

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Snow yesterday. Not a happy camper.

The weekend wasn’t good for writing, but good for home and hearth. I started spring cleaning; I got yard work done.

I found out some interesting information about one branch on the family tree. I need to verify the information; if it’s true, I’ll share it. If not, it was still an interesting possibility.

Yet another coffee maker bit the dust this Mercury retrograde. This one last six months. That makes me grumpy.

Having second thoughts about the serial pitch. Not the worth of the pitch or the project, but I’m hearing people talk about the company, and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not. Not sure the financials would work out, and the more I hear, the more it sounds like the company expects the writer to bring the audience instead of working with the writer to grow the audience. My interest is in GROWING my audience, not handing my readers on a platter to someone else for THEIR profit. So, we’ll see.

Digging into the SPIRIT REPOSITORY edits. There’s a lot of work to be done. Instead of beating myself up about it, I need to buckle down and do it.

The retrogrades are weighing on me.

Published in: on April 3, 2018 at 1:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 3, 2018: Snow and Second Thoughts  
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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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Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the latest post for business owners on how to write an ad that attracts the right writer.

I’m clipping along on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It’s great to be back with Gwen and Justin. Keeping in mind what my editor and I discussed about the outline helps me keep it moving without it getting too unwieldy. After all, this is a between-the-books-novella, not the second book in the series.

The fact it’s not the “second book” is probably part of why I’m not struggling to write it (so far, anyway). I struggle with every second book in a series, it seems, and wind up unhappy with it. The outline helps a lot, too.

Breaking this section off and developing it, keeping it separate from BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, was the right decision.

The notes are due back from my editor on SPIRIT REPOSITORY today, and I’ll have to start digging in to make our release date. I’m nervous about the notes.

Working on the Writer’s Rough Outline for the serial project. It’s coming along more slowly than I would like, but it’s coming. Even if the pitch isn’t contracted, it gives me clarity on where I want to go with this piece, and that’s a good thing.

Working on the Writer’s Rough of another outline for a piece that’s been bugging me. I want to get the notes down so it will leave me alone, but when I decide to go back to it, the bones are there.

The work on the outline is making me refine the pitch, which is a good thing.

Client work the past few days has been challenging. Not the work itself, but some of the personalities. All in day’s work. Especially when both Mercury and Jupiter are retrograde.

I did some promotion on both Facebook and Twitter for all the novels in all the series yesterday. I usually don’t do batch promotions like that, but I had the chance, and I did it. I’m not too worried about it; I spent a LOT of time promoting, re-tweeting, and encouraging other authors.

With all the anger at Facebook for the way they sell data on their users (well-placed anger, I might add), I’ve been looking at other social media possibilities. I prefer Twitter to Facebook for many things anyway. But I wanted to see what else is out there. So, far, not impressed by what I’ve come across. Again, they want too much control over my content and too much information.

I had a typical Mercury Retrograde experience on Monday. I spent hours on a supposedly stable computer reconfiguring the TRACKING MEDUSA media kit, tweaking content, adding content, switching out some of the excerpts, etc. And the damn computer crashed, so I lost the new material. I’m frustrated. But then, that’s what I get for working on a PC. It seemed it would make more sense to work on it than on my aging Macbook, but it wasn’t.

More on-site client work today, and then, I’m sure I’ll have the notes for the final big REPOSITORY edit waiting for me. Once I get over the shock of all the red marks (because, no matter how hard I worked on the draft, there will be plenty of red marks), I’ll get to work and make it better.

To the page.

 

Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 2:28 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other  
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Tues. March 27, 2018: Multiple Writing Tracks

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Yes, Jupiter went retrograde on March 9 (I’ve been in denial). And now Mercury is retrograde. It’s like walking on eggshells.

Busy weekend. Spent the bulk of it working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can finesse it into a synopsis for the project going out in a few weeks. Nowhere near done. Also made notes on another project pulling at me.

Any minute now, I’ll get back the edits on SPIRIT REPOSITORY and have to dig in, so we stay on track for it.

Worked on the newsletter; worked on the new media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. Pondered new content for the Jain Lazarus site.

The new websites are working, though; people are finding them and, therefore, finding the books, the stories, the workbooks. It’s so good to have working sites again that support what I do.

Saturday, I had to take my mom for an ultrasound, but it came back clear. But we were still exhausted. The timing of the test meant I had to cancel my plans to join the March for Our Lives, which disappointed me. I am in awe of these teenagers who refuse to be murdered by special interests and refuse to let corrupt politicians look the other way. Maybe there is hope for our country, after all. If we can take it back before the authoritarians destroy us all, in order to line their own pockets. We are, sadly, living a portion of a dystopian nightmare. The lack of action by those who put their hands over their ears and sang, “lah, lah, lah, it doesn’t affect me” is coming back to bite us all in the butt.

Worked on contest entries. Can’t believe it’s already another week, and the last week of March.

Client work yesterday, and client work today, both onsite.

Continuing to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION and the outline. Hoping the weather will hold this week, so I can get out there and clear up the debris from the last four storms we’ve had.

Onward.

Published in: on March 27, 2018 at 5:38 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 27, 2018: Multiple Writing Tracks  
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Mon. March 26, 2018: Maximizing Efficiency Without Adding Stress #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, March 26, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

The solution to this is a fairly simple, three-pronged approach.

Prong 1: Break Away From the Myth of Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking gives the illusion of productivity. In reality, it means fracturing your attention over a wide range of tasks, none of which get your full talent and attention. Studies prove that it is unhealthy, which is the biggest reason to stop.

Yes, you have to juggle many things in your day. But when you focus on each one, or break it down into a step that you can do with complete attention before moving on, you will get more done and feel better about it.

Prong 2: Learn to Say “No.”
I talked about this in another post, back in January, about balance. Far too many people want you to perform at their convenience, on their schedule, further their agenda — with no positive result for you.

Learn to say “no” politely and pleasantly. Remember, you are not required to give a reason. If someone demands it, say, “Because I said no.” That’s the end of it.

It culls those who are trying to add their load to yours simply because they don’t want to pull their own weight.

Prong 3: Get Off Your Damn Phone
Who has to be on call all the time? First responders. Caregivers. The rest of us, with the rest of the distractions? We don’t have to be reachable all the time.

If you want to be productive, you need uninterrupted time to give a task your full attention (see Prong 1). Turn off your phone. Close the door. If you work in a bullpen-style set of cubicles and someone tries to interrupt, say “Not right now” (see Prong 2) or “Give me five minutes to finish this and you’ll have my full attention.”

The transition to the above three steps is stressful in the short term. People don’t like it when you set boundaries and hold them. But when you do so, you will garner more respect, be more efficient, and experience less stress.

Published in: on March 26, 2018 at 4:54 am  Comments Off on Mon. March 26, 2018: Maximizing Efficiency Without Adding Stress #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend

Friday, March 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, Mercury is retrograde. In Aries. Ick.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive writing-wise as I wanted, but it was productive in other ways. I finished the book I had to review, and will polish the review and send it off today. I worked my way through several contest entries.

The big deal, for me, was that I figured why the contact form wasn’t coding in properly on my websites, and fixed it. Now the websites have contact forms, rather than stating my email or writing out the email so I’ll get a lot of spam.

I cleaned up my new mailboxes. I am in the process of unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff, on all my email accounts. There’s too much crap coming in.

I figured out how to reconfigure my menu bars so I can use drop-down features where appropriate.

I have three different WordPress books checked out from various libraries in the system. In order to figure this out, I had to read the relevant sections in all THREE and then do something slightly different, based on what I read. Because heaven forbid, any ONE of them should have had the complete, correct steps.

I worked on the newsletter. I worked on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. I may do the cover reveal for SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the newsletter.

I got ahead on some blog posts.

I’m working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can distill it down to a synopsis and get the submission packet for the last big project out in the next couple of weeks. I have another project to get back out on submission, but I will wait until after Mercury goes direct. I want to do another pass on it and make some cuts.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, then a meeting, and then I’m digging back to drafting the books that are waiting rather impatiently for attention.

And, of course work on the Writer’s Rough/synopsis.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend  
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Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect

 Thursday, March 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Snowing

Yup, Mercury is retrograde, and, once again, I can’t hide under the covers for three weeks, gosh darn it.

We’re in our fourth nor’earter of the month (hence the reason this is going up late). I have storm fatigue. It’s not as bad as predicted, at least so far, but I’m still over it.

Long day onsite yesterday, but, for the most part, an interesting one.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION is chugging along. I’m gearing up to start RELICS & REQUIEM. I’m behind on that, and I need the first chapter polished and ready to go for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY’S release. NOT BY THE BOOK is getting some love, too.

I got two of the three pitch packets I wanted to get out before Mercury went retrograde out. The third requires more work. I have most of the pieces, but I don’t have the synopsis they want. It’s for a piece that’s yet to be written (although I wrote the first four chapters of it to get them out of my head a few years ago, and then put it aside for contracted work). I’d re-read the piece a few months ago and liked it a lot, but didn’t see a way to get it back into the schedule in the near future. It was more of a “someday” piece. But this opportunity came up, and, of all the ideas I’ve been playing with, this seemed like the best fit.

But they want a synopsis.

I have several ways I work on a book. Sometimes, characters start talking to me. I wind up outlining most of the book in what I call my Writer’s Rough Outline, and then write a few chapters to see if it’s viable, tweak the outline, polish the pages and then decide if it’s something I can sell on a pitch/sample, or if I need the whole thing written and polished. If it’s the latter, then it’s a case of deciding how to work it into the schedule. Right now, I’m scheduled tightly, and I have other potential pieces circling like planes stacked over LaGuardia.

Contracted, paid work comes first. After that, it’s whatever pulls hardest, which eventually becomes contracted, paid work.

The other way I work on a book is that characters start talking to me. I sit down and write my way into a piece, jotting notes along the way. Usually, it’s the first four chapters. Then, I stop and do a detailed Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, when I go back to it in order to work it into the schedule, I have the notes, the vision, and I’ve captured some of the energy of that first excitement.

With this particular piece, I wrote the first four chapters. I loved it, but it was during a time when I was overscheduled, so I put it away without writing the Writer’s Rough Outline.

I know I have some jotted notes. I remember the overall shape I want. But I need to sit down and work out the Writer’s Rough. From the Writer’s Rough, I need to distill and then polish a solid synopsis that works for the specific format/medium this outlet looks for.

That’s going to take a few weeks.

Fortunately, this pitch doesn’t have to go in on deadline. It gives me the room to do it well, but I still have to sit down and DO IT, rather than just letting it slide.

And I have to do it while working on contest entries, while keeping up with the books sent for review, while keeping up with client work, while anticipating the next round of edits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, while staying on track with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

Dropping any of these balls is not an option.

On a more wearying note, I had a rather nasty run-in yesterday. Someone wants me to co-author a book with her. No contract, no payment, no publisher lined up. All on spec. I told her that kind of work goes through my agent. She called me “stupid” and said I’d lost an opportunity.

I don’t consider working for free a lost opportunity.

This is my business, not my hobby. I am paid for what I do, especially when it’s work for someone else.

It would be stupid for me to accept something that will be a lot of work for no return, while putting aside my own work.

I was polite (although I didn’t want to be) and firm. It still left a bad taste in my mouth, especially about this individual. Unfortunately, it is not someone I can avoid interacting with in the future. Yet.

At every business networking event and far too many dinner parties, some yahoo comes up with the “oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t have time” or “I have a great idea for a book. You should write it and we’ll make a lot of money.” Both of those comments are complete and utter b.s.

First, there’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s writing. There’s not writing. We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. It’s how we CHOOSE to use them that define us.

Second, writing is a business like anything else. Professionals aren’t going to put aside paying work for your vanity project.

I don’t meet a surgeon and say, “I’d love to start cutting people open, but I don’t have time” or “operate on me for free on YouTube and we’ll make a packet.” I don’t say to lawyers “I’ve always wanted to persuade a jury to see things my way, but I don’t have time.” It’s offensive.

So stop insulting writers.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out and get a few things done later today. I need to do some work on the websites, work on the newsletter, and get out some LOIs.

Plus, of course, work on the fiction and the synopsis.

Never a dull moment, for which I am grateful.

 

Published in: on March 22, 2018 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect  
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Tues. Dec. 5, 2017: And We’re Definitely in Mercury Retrograde

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Yeah, Mercury’s Retrograde — AGAIN, and it looks like it’ll be a rough one.

Hop over to the GDR site for the November wrap-up.

Hop on over to the Kemmyrk site for some background on today, one of my favorite days, St. Nicholas Day.

I’m still recovering from the events of Friday and the car. I contacted my regular garage, and they’re putting together an estimate for me. I contacted a friend who knows the best places to get tires around here, and he gave me some suggestions.

Got a bunch of admin stuff done Friday, and then I went off to Nirvana in Barnstable to meet a friend for coffee. And was stood up. I had to dig deep — I don’t like that type of disrespect, and it’s a pattern between this individual and me.

But instead of sitting there feeling angry and hurt, I acknowledged I was both of those things, and I sat and enjoyed my mocha latte for a half hour. It was quiet, it was pretty, it was a nice atmosphere. Why shouldn’t I enjoy myself, since I was there? So I did.

Then, I went next door to Barnstable Market, and I found the plum pudding, Dresden stollen, and leibkuchen I wanted for the holidays.

I let the person know I’d waited for a half hour and then left. I didn’t hear anything until mid-morning on Saturday (since I know this person is intimately connected to mobile devices at all times, that didn’t help my attitude). She claimed she’d sent me an email, because a crisis at work came up, and she hopes to reschedule. Well, I never got it (Mercury Retrograde), and it is what it is. These things happen, and things get mixed up. Later in the afternoon, she forwarded the missing email — it had never left the Inbox. If she’s serious, she can contact me after the holidays.

This is huge progress for me, acting like a grown-up in this situation. I’m not striking out in anger. I’m also not committing to putting myself into a situation again that’s bad for me. I’m being polite, and giving the benefit of the doubt to a point, adding it to the balance sheet.

It builds on removing myself from a work relationship that had been toxic last year, where I’d done the equivalent of $150,000 of pro bono work over several years for an organization that repeatedly refused my professional suggestions because they were “too New York” (um, no, they’re “professional” which is why they WORK in New York) and then turned around and paid someone else to do the exact same thing I’d been doing for free. Truly a case of “why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?” And yet, without that client, my life contains much less stress and unhappiness, although there are aspects of the work with them that I miss.

But aren’t balance sheets in relationships always uneven? To a point, yes. Relationships, friendships, the like, all go through cycles where one party tends to do more of the heavy lifting. If and when it gets out of balance, that’s when the relationship has to be reassessed. Either there are ways to get it back in balance, or it needs to end. And only the individuals within the relationship understand its unique balance.

In January of 2016, my promise to myself was “reciprocity” — because I feel that in this area of the country, most interactions lack reciprocity. One party demands everything and gives nothing in return. In New York, believe it or not, there was far more reciprocity, especially among professionals. Cape Cod is the epitome of how and why the “Trickle Down” fantasy the GOP keeps pushing DOESN’T WORK. It doesn’t let people break the cycle of poverty (on either financial or emotional levels), and, after awhile, people start living a “gimme” life. What the GOP claims is created by social services (such as SNAP and Medicare) — laziness, refusal to work, grabbiness, expecting handouts — is actually CREATED by THEIR policies when they remove those safety nets. But, because they’re being paid off to push the policies, they don’t care.

It’s been hard work these last two years to put the Reciprocity Model into action in my life. I often fail. But I’m more aware of it now, I’m better at saying “no” upfront when an unequal demand is made, or, once I realize it’s getting way out of whack, trying to rebalance and/or make the decision that is best for ME and walk away.

There’s definitely more work to do, but I’m making progress. Not the least of that progress is not letting the hurts and anger fester and dwell on them, rather than letting go and moving on. I remember, and I use what I’ve learned to make better choices.

Anyway, Saturday was about finishing up both a review and an article. I also raked another 270 gallons of leaves — still in the front. I haven’t made any progress anywhere else yet! Got a bit of decorating done, but there’s still so much more to do.

Thought about SERENE AND DETERMINED, but didn’t get anything written on it. I tried to make up for it yesterday and today. I don’t know why I’ve had such a difficult time getting the play on paper this year.

Thought about a few other things I want to create next year — long-term business plans.

I sent out a bunch of questionnaires to potential web hosts. My current web host 1&1, did nothing but insult me and give me the runaround instead of taking 15 minutes to answer my questions. I need a new web host!

Behind on TRACKING MEDUSA, too. Behind on “Miss Winston Apologizes” — release date moved back on that. Although the new cover is pretty cool.

My mom’s foot is taking a long time to heal. We still have a lot of post-op care.

Outlined two new ideas. Don’t know when I’ll get a chance to work on them, but the premises intrigue me.

Over the past month, my mom and I have read all of Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop Mysteries and her Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. They’re fun, and I like the way she grows the character relationships from book to book, so they’re all of a piece. That’s what I’m trying to do in the Nautical Namaste and the Picaroon Island mysteries.

Tessa loves the Christmas Tree. She’s very gentle with it, but she loves to spend time under it — especially when it’s lit.

Session with the client went well yesterday. Hopefully today will also be great, and forward progress.

A lot of deal with this week. During Mercury Retrograde. I’d rather hide in my bed, but I guess that’s not an option!

 

Fri. Dec. 1, 2017: Early Mercury Madness

Friday, December 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I’m already having Mercury Retrograde issues, and all I want to do is hide until it’s over.

Yesterday, I did some running around and bill paying. I should have done yard work, but I was too tired.

I did manage to get some work done on the tree, though. It’s almost decorated. Of course, we still have to do the rest of the hosue! 😉

This morning, I had an early appointment for a basic, no frills oil change. Then, they try to pressure me to get the inspection done. I said no. They said they were doing it anyway. Then they tell me I need new wipers and two new tires, or they won’t give me a new inspection sticker. I told them the only thing happening today was the damn oil change. They gave me a quote in writing which sounded ridiculous. I got my damn oil change and left.

I hate being bullied, and when I say “no”, it means no. Can I just say how tired I am of male mechanics treating me like I’m a moron?

I emailed my regular car people up in Plymouth, the three generations of family who always look after four generations, and asked them for another quote. I’m also doing some other research. I’m not going to be pressured or bullied.

I am, however, angry.

Then, hit with a pending car expense I wasn’t expecting, I still had to run the rest of my errands. Got my 2018 calendars, thank goodness, because there’s stuff to write in them.

Went to another store to do a bit of shopping, and, although I bought stuff clearly marked “Buy One Get One Free”, it wasn’t ringing up. The cashier sent me to customer service, who tried to sell me that I’d Buy One Get One Half Off. But that’s NOT what the sign said. I am fully capable of comprehensive reading. It’s what I do. We took a walk, I pointed out the sign, she agreed, and then tried some weird math, which I corrected, and then she nearly “forgot” to refund the difference. Um, no. I may not be a math genius, but I can figure that out.

Took an hour, but it got sorted.

A full moon meditation is going up on the Cerridwen’s Cottage site for this weekend.

Let me re-emphasize how much I am NOT looking forward to this Mercury Retrograde.

Have to double down on yard work, decorating, and writing this weekend.

On top of that, I have a client who just went into breach of contract for a payment not arriving. This is the one where, every month, I’m tapping my foot wondering if and when it will come in. Within the next few months, I plan to replace this unreliable client with a reliable one.

Think good thoughts for me.

If I let myself, the upcoming Mercury Retrograde will be one furious howl. So I’ll try to restrain myself! 😉

Published in: on December 1, 2017 at 11:34 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 1, 2017: Early Mercury Madness  
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Fri. Aug. 25, 2017: Thoughts on Forced Extroversion by an Introvert

Friday, August 25, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ten more days of Mercury Retrograde. Ack!

Sent out some pitches and an initial step of a proposal for a project I’d really like to do. I only heard about it very close to their deadline, so they may already have hired someone, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it’s in my wheelhouse, right on target (to mix metaphors), so I gave it a shot.

Worked on “Labor Intensive”, which lived up to its name.

Worked on the revisions for SAVASANA AT SEA. I thought I’d done so much, because I’m in serious beat-to-beat change territory, but it was only a few chapters. A little discouraging, but slow progress is better than no progress.

Got another round of copy edits back on PLAYING THE ANGLES. I don’t understand all of them — some of them refer to changes I made — so I have to go over it with the copy editor. Not sure if the changes didn’t save properly, or if I have to enter them differently in the document or what. We’ll get it sorted out.

Sending back some research books for projects that are farther out in the schedule, because I can’t effectively use them in the current timeline. Noted them, so I can order them again when I need them.

Did some promo for the Topic Workbook The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects which holds up well. This fall, I need to apply some of the techniques, as I reschedule projects for 2018.

Getting the balance right between the fiction and the nonfiction is always tricky. That and deciding where and how to use the peak of my creative energy on any given day.

There was a fantastic piece posted on Facebook, leading back to an article about introverts. As an introvert, it resonated. One of the things I deeply resent about living here is that I’m constantly forced into extroversion, which is painful and makes me miserable. In NY, you were who you were, and, as long as you did your work, no one cared. Here, the pressure to be constantly extroverted — and always to someone else’s convenience — makes me both miserable and furious.

I feel like I’ve lost a vital part of what made me good at what I do, living here. On the one hand, the place itself — the ocean, the land — have definitely helped my work, and in some ways, the quality of life is better. But the constant intrusions into my personal space and needs and the demands that I change the core of who I am to “fit” — well, guess what? I won’t. “Fitting in” has never driven me. I tried to be a civilian and a part of community life, and the prevalent “gimme culture” here doesn’t work, along with the lack of support for the arts (in spite of pretending the opposite). So I’m redrawing boundaries, and I don’t really care if it suits anyone else.

The theory that one can’t have privacy or a personal life if you work in the arts or set foot in social media (or even outside one’s own door) is ridiculous. I get to decide what to share with others. They get to decide what to share with me. The only exception is if any of us are involved in something that actively hurts those around us, instead of peaceful co-existence.

Remember, fellow female travelers, all those times you walk down the street, minding your own business, mulling over whatever needs attention and some jackass calls out, “Smile, honey!”

Forced constant extroversion is the same thing.

I’m not going to damn smile if I don’t want to. Not then nor now. (Which, since I usually am smiling, if I’m not, you can be sure there’s a reason for it, and back the eff off).

I’m not going to be forced into being someone I am not, and someone I do not wish to become.

Nor do I have to explain WHY I don’t want to do something or go somewhere. If I say “no” it is no, and I don’t need to qualify it.

I’m going back to being who I am.

Wherever that may lead.

That’s how I got to Broadway and lived my dream. That’ll work moving forward.

In any case, have a great weekend! I have lots of hearth-tending to do this weekend, along with A LOT of writing.

Best wishes to those in the path of Hurricane Harvey. I hope something happens and the storm weakens and it’s not anywhere near as bad as predicted.

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 8:49 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 25, 2017: Thoughts on Forced Extroversion by an Introvert  
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Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write

Wednesday, April 23, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Lots of ground to cover. Lots went on.

Friday was a prime example of Mercury Retrograde. The negotiations broke down with the gig I’d been offered and the offer was rescinded. It could have been worked out, but the other side’s position of not allowing disagreement or discussion made it impossible. Although the whole situation left me feeling bruised, better to know early on and not go on than be mired in it and have it worse later on. I also found out something, that, had I known it about the company, I wouldn’t have pitched to work there in the first place. That is totally on me — I did not do my due diligence on the company. I looked at the parts of the job that appealed to me, rather than looking at the whole thing.

Mercury Retrograde is a time when people are likely to mis-communicate and mis-understand each other. It is also a time when one is supposed to avoid signing a contract. I’d hoped I could circumvent the possibilities with it this go-round and it didn’t work out.

I did some research for another publication with whom I’m in discussions. Coming up with suitable pitches for them will be an intriguing challenge.

Worked on the proofs for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Grateful to the copy editor for the catches, and annoyed with myself that I didn’t catch them. But that’s why one puts another pair of eyes on it, isn’t it? Also, reading the digital proofs on the Kindle, and then looking at the manuscript/Track Changes made me realize more than just looking at the manuscript on the screen.

I’m learning a lot with this process, which is great. Each book should teach something. The craft in each book needs to build on the previous books.

The cover for “Labor Intensive” is done — finally, I think we’ve hit on the style and tone for these covers. The cover of “Plot Bunnies” was then re-worked, to fit the series.

Now I just have to finish the damned piece! I’m cutting it a little too close for comfort.

Friday night into Saturday morning, we were woken by the most intensive rainstorm we experienced since moving here. Torrential. By the time we got the windows closed, water was across half the room. Dried pretty quickly, thank goodness. But it was hard to get back to sleep.

Saturday was the counter protest to the so-called “Free Speech Rally” in Boston. After Charlottesville, and the Narcissistic Sociopath’s response on Tuesday, supporting the white supremacists, I was worried that the violence would be worse in Boston than it had been in VA. I was wrong, and glad to be so proven.

100 people showed up for the rally. 40,000 showed up in an anti-hate counter protest. The “rally” lasted a little less than an hour. There were some arrests — 33 was the last number I heard on the news — and protestors were afraid of people playing the tuba.

The counter-protest had music (tuba, drums, bagpipes), dancing, and anti-hate chants. Had the rally ACTUALLY been about “free speech” and not “hate speech” — the organizers would have welcomed the counter protestors and invited some of them to speak at the “rally”.

I felt the mood was much darker and more cynical than at the Women’s March in January — or maybe that’s because my mood is so much darker and more cynical. Still, I think we can all be proud of how Boston behaved — a mostly peaceful protest standing against hate.

The Narcissistic Sociopath tweeted against the march at first, calling it “anti-police”, and then somebody changed his tune, and he started praising Boston. There was a lot of discussion on social media about mis-spelling “heal” as “heel”. Yes, it could have been a Freudian slip; it could also have been Auto-Incorrect. I certainly struggle with that enough when I’m typing on my phone. Even when I check it before hitting send, Auto-Correct sometimes changes it just as I hit “send.” So the spelling is not an issue where I feel I have any right to criticize. Content, yes. Spelling — when I’m able to overcome Auto-Incorrect on a regular basis, then I can.

I read over the short story I’m not sure where to place, the one where a friend thinks it’s the germ of a novel. I see possibilities. At the same time, I wonder how I can possibly expand a piece intentionally tightly written to be under 8K to novel length. With a good plot and outline. Strengthen the supporting characters. Add a couple of subplots. The potential is there; it’s just making the time in the schedule to get it all done without dropping the ball on anything else. I’ve already pushed back several manuscripts that I fully believed I could have out the door this year.

I put in the changes to PLAYING THE ANGLES — it can go back out today. I still want to look at it again before it goes to publish.

Monday was my “day off” — just like in theatre days. I enjoyed myself, preparing for my trip, and reading E.J. Kahn’s memoir of his years at THE NEW YORKER, and having fun, both virtually and in real life, with the eclipse. We only had a partial here, but it was interesting — the birds upset, the cats restless, everything going quiet except for the crickets, the quality of light all wispy, shadowy, and textured. Eerie silence. Then, getting brighter — Bratty Bird, our resident nuthatch, was the first to start yelling. When I stepped onto the deck, the Murder of Crows who hangs out around here came right up to tell me all the news. They are so funny!

Things brightened up quickly, and, of course, the damn neighbor started right back up with their damned power tools. Could we have 24 hours without them once in awhile, please?

There was a passage of only a couple of paragraphs in Kahn’s memoir, but it sent me on a fun “what if?” for either a section of a piece I’m already outlining (mostly likely) or its own piece.

Making time for all of this is the key.

Tuesday, we were up at 4:30 AM and out of the house by 5:30. After a bit of parking lot kerflamma, we were on the 6:30 AM ferry to Nantucket. It was great — only about ten people and a dog on the whole big ferry. Mostly truck drivers, who settled themselves onto the benches and went to sleep. Beautiful and quiet.

I meant to write on the 2 hr. 45 minute ride — I got about a page written. But it was so beautiful that I just sat back and enjoyed it.

A friend met us at the dock. We went to breakfast at Met on Main, which was terrific. We sat outside and I had the enormous and delicious “Met Muffin”. We toured around the town — too many tourists, to which we helped contribute, I’m afraid. Library, Whaling Museum, Oldest House and its Kitchen Garden, etc. Drove around the island, seeing the sites. Spent the afternoon at the house the friends rented for their vacation, sitting out on the deck, looking at the water, and talking. It was fun.

Steven Axelrod’s books will make ever so much more sense now! 😉

5:30 PM ferry back — many more people this time, and lots of dogs. Among the passengers was a pack containing 5 standard poodles — one white (the King), one black and white, one black, and two brown. They were gorgeous and regal and beautifully behaved — better behaved than some of the children on that boat, that’s for sure.

It was still a decent ride back, although not as good as the ride out. The crew on the ferry is always terrific, and boy, they sure know their stuff.

Home a little after eight. The cats were upset, and relieved we were back. Although we had to grovel appropriately.

Hard to get back into the swing of things today. I liked having a couple of days off. I was disgusted by the rally in Phoenix last night. Others are articulating the event far better than I can, so I’ll leave them to it.

I’d really like a few more days off.

But, the manuscript needs to go back to the publisher with the accepted changes. That’s the most important.

I also have to withdraw from consideration for a gig. It sounded like a fun topic and steady work. I was asked for my rate, and gave them a range for the range of work they claim to want. They came back with an offer that’s 1/3 of the lowest number of my range, and said they assign articles to those with the lowest rate first, and higher-paid writers get assigned anything “left over”, while insisting they hired “fantastic writers.”

Um, no. First of all, I don’t know ANY “fantastic” writer who would work for the rate quoted. “Fantastic” writers are paid professional rates and have enough self-esteem not to work for rates that are barely above content mill level. Second, I don’t work for 1/3 of what I told you was my lowest rate. Third, if you’re going to put me on staff for “steady” work, I don’t wait around for the leftover crap assignments, simply because I get a decent rate.

Buh-bye.

On to other pitches.

I’d like to take a few more days off, but work (especially “Labor Intensive”) dictates otherwise.

Onward.

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write  
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