Fri. May 6, 2022: In the Midst of Creativity, Loss

image courtesy of strikers via pixabay.com

Friday, May 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

It was a beautiful spring day here in the mountains. Just gorgeous.

Charlotte sat with me for the regular Zoom meditation group,

I got some admin work done. I need to spend some time over on Ello this week; I’ve been lax about that.

I pitched myself for a large creative project that will happen in July.

I did some brainstorming on the Monthology with fellow creatives who wanted to know if they could use something in one of the organizations I created, and we figured out how to make it work.

I did a drop off/pickup at the library – there were nine books waiting for me! I had to pick up a few things as the pharmacy. They had aloe plants there, so I grabbed one of those, two. The aloe plant we had in the kitchen on Cape died about two years ago, and I’d never replaced it. We’d bought it when we first moved there, so it had a long life. I did a big grocery shop (five bags’ worth). I stopped at the liquor store, because I was out of red. I got another bottle of red, found a bottle of interesting rosé on the sale shelf, and, in the back of a shelf, another bottle of the Pomelo sauvignon Blanc I like so much.

Getting everything upstairs and put away was a bit of a chore, but I got it done. The latest NEW YORKER has graphic photos of the Russian atrocities in Ukraine. I was worried it would bring back nightmares for my mom, after what she went through with the Russians in WWII, but she wanted to see the magazine anyway. The fact that the world hasn’t banded together to stop this is despicable.

I turned around two scripts in the afternoon, and went back to contest entries. I’m doing a big push today and tomorrow, and hopefully can make my final decisions by tomorrow.

I was accepted for the creative project and can even say what it is: I’m participating in Word X Word’s “World’s Largest Poem” event. 50 of us will write an ongoing poem (we get the last word of the previous writer’s poem, we write 3-5 lines, and the next poet starts with our last word) over the next two months, and we perform it at Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount, in Lenox, on July 23rd. I’m very excited. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but something I wanted to try. We each have 24 hours to write our lines, once we received the prompt from the previous person’s poem.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun, with a lot of laughter. We are enjoying our remaining time together.

Then, I had some shocking and heartbreaking news. I found out that my friend, Thalia Proctor, had died on April 2nd of cancer, and her memorial service was on May 4th. I found out on Facebook. I hadn’t even known she was sick. We’d exchanged cards at Christmas, and I was planning to spend time with her in London next spring, provided it was safe enough to risk the trip. In additional to being a wonderful editor, Thalia was one of the kindest people I know. We met in Nottingham, at one of the first mystery conventions I ever attended, back when I was just starting to get my feet wet in the convention scene. We hung out together at conferences (including the year Bouchercon was in Omaha, of all places) on both sides of the pond. When I was in the UK, we visited. She visited me in 2013 on Cape, which was the last time I actually saw her, although we kept in touch for birthdays and Christmases. She was a steadfast friend during one of the worst romantic relationships of my life, and had a mix of kindness, humor, and common sense that was a joy to be around. We’d been friends for nearly thirty years. In addition to the heartbreak of the loss, I feel guilty that I didn’t know she was sick, and hadn’t supported her more during her illness. But mostly, I’m devastated that the world has lost such a beautiful and graceful person.

Today is about writing and working on contest entries. Tomorrow is the farmer’s market, and finishing contest entries, and making the decisions in the final category. Tessa woke me at three. I moved to the sewing room and dreamed I was at a luncheon with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and she decided to introduce me to Kathy Griffin, because she thought we should know each other. Which is very much like Senator Warren. She got me involved with the Small Business Administration when I first moved to MA, and involved with the state arts organization who advocates for arts funding.

But, throughout, I will take the time to mourn the loss of my friend.

Fri. April 29, 2022: Extricating from Tracfone’s Harassment

image courtesy of Alexander Andrews via Unsplash.com

Friday, April 29, 2022

Dark Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Sunny and cold

The Retrogrades are starting, and Pluto goes retrograde today, and stays retrograde until October 8. Pluto’s retrograde works to reveal what’s hidden and force us to face fears, causing long-lasting transformations. Tomorrow is Beltane Eve with a new moon and a solar eclipse, so there’s a lot going on, and if you’re wondering why your emotions are all over the place, take a deep breath and a nap.

I had high hopes for yesterday, which were quickly dashed. I had trouble focusing in meditation. Charlotte had no such issues, spending most of the session quietly on my lap.

Then, Tracfone started again. First, they sent a text saying the phone number transfer was happening. Then, they began a series of phone calls in escalating harassment along the lines of “this is our number and we decide when and if it transfers.” They kept demanding a series of “press this key and that key” – which wasn’t possible, because one of the issues with that smartphone is that the dial pad was dumped and couldn’t be retrieved. Basically making the phone useless. Which has been explained to them, in detail, over a dozen times. Anything that they deemed wasn’t used “often enough” (which, by their definition, is multiple times a day) was removed from the phone. My mom is 97. She doesn’t need to dial her phone every day. So the dial pad was removed and the phone was even more useless than possible. In addition to the whole thing that she doesn’t need a smartphone and it was too difficult for her to learn. They were also trying to force another month’s payment while they ‘considered’ whether or not to release the number.

I turned off the phone, went back to Consumer Cellular, cancelled the transfer and got a new phone number. I was able to end SIX MONTHS of torment and harassment in five minutes.

Tracfone could have solved this issue six months ago in fifteen minutes and kept a customer they’d had for a decade. Instead, they chose harassment, believing if they harassed long and hard enough, we would just cave and pay them whatever they demanded and do whatever they demanded.

As much of a pain in the ass it is to let everyone know her new number, it’s better than Tracfone’s unacceptable harassment. Not to mention the literally thousands of dollars I’ve lost in billable hours/work time because of this.

The service ran out at the end of the day, and we are done with Tracfone. I am filing a formal complaint with the state’s division of public utilities, under which cellphones fall, but at least they’re not getting anymore money out of us, and can’t call anymore.

The new number needs a bit of time to settle down. In the first 12 hours, we had to block 4 scam calls.

At least they’re not like Verizon, which demanded a $4.99 charge every month for every number blocked, so one really couldn’t afford to block numbers.

I was exhausted by the end of that debacle, but also relieved that we’re done. And my mom has a simple flip phone that she can actually use, and that works.

I lost all the time blocked off for writing.

Freelance Chat was a lot of fun. It’s such a great group.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage for something on which I’d been requested, and grabbed another script to read today. I’ll be a little under my nut for this pay period, but I need to focus on the contest entries over the weekend, and possibly into part of next week.

I spent some time on Ello, and put up a tarot post over on Ko-fi.

We did some Monthology brainstorming for a project logo, which we can slap around all over the place on websites and stickers and whatever. I mean, there are 50 of us, we can have an impact and get people interested and excited about the project.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We’ve set our final virtual meeting date for late May, before Memorial Day weekend. More of an online party than anything else, to celebrate what we’ve built over the past two and a half years, and that we survived, at least so far.

I keep talking about how great Ello is, but friends are having trouble signing up. I feel bad about that, since I’ve been hawking the site. But the numbers I get on it are high – well over 100 for most posts, and over 1000 for others. In addition to cross-posting content, I also need to create specific content for that platform. Just not sure what yet.

Speaking of trouble signing up, Prime Storage, which bought the CubeSmart storage facility on Cape, is ignoring my requests for customer service and assistance setting up auto-pay. Their website will not acknowledge me as an existing customer or allow me to sign up as a new customer. It just keeps booting me out. I have no doubt this is intentional – they are trying to make sure there are late payments, so they can charge late fees. So I have to write a check and send it express mail to make sure it gets there on time. And you better believe I’m going to make them sign for it. AND send them the tracking number.

Another hateful company.

Worked on contest entries last night. I’m a little behind where I hoped I’d be, so I have to push hard this weekend. But that’s okay. Everything will get done by deadline, and it’s always exciting to read such a wide range of new work.

Going to hit the page this morning. I need to finish the first draft of the radio play by tomorrow for Dramatists Guild’s End of Play event. I have a seminar with them this afternoon, which should be interesting, on curating one’s archive.

I have to make the rounds of the library, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the post office, and the liquor store.

This afternoon, I’ll turn around another script and go back to the contest entries.

Tomorrow, we’re switching out the winter curtains to the lace panels, swapping out some early spring fabric for more summery fabric, and doing other houseworky things that have somehow become part of Saturday’s routine. I also have an online yoga session tomorrow afternoon.

I’ll have to finish the first draft of the radio play and do contest entries.

Saturday is Beltane Eve, the new moon, the eclipse; Sunday is Beltane and the start of May. Another month whizzing past.

April definitely was more chaotic and less productive than I’d hoped, but I’m looking forward to May and spring and plants and all that good stuff.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Wed. April 6, 2022: Room For the Writing I Love

image courtesy of Adina Voicu via pixabay.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy/Rainy/Chilly

It was supposed to rain yesterday. Instead it was sunny, so people ran around enjoying it! I did a large grocery shop in the morning, to get us set up for the next couple of weeks. I also bought a pot of multi-colored pansies and a bunch of lavender tulips. Flowers for spring. I love pansies, because they’re so cheerful.

All the seedlings were moved out onto the porch, so they could enjoy the day, along with the cats (who moved themselves).

I finished the set of bios for Monthology celebrities tied to the Playhouse, the Gorgons, and the Valkyrie. I’d promised them to the collaborators, as fodder for the City’s tabloid. If none of this makes any sense, you can read about the shared world anthology here. It was fun, and these characters are for everyone to play with and have fun with. They are, at best, tertiary characters in my story. I felt bad that I was so late getting it in, although everyone in the group is great.

I wrote four pages of the radio play tentatively titled “Owe Me” that’s part of the Dramatists Guild project, with an eye toward sending it to the producer with whom I’ve been negotiating. It’s different from the comic horror; it’s more of a psychological ghost story. That went well. I’m letting the dialogue/plot flow, and then I’ll go back in and layer more sound cues (in radio, you have to figure a sound cue about every 30 seconds, approximately one cue every half page or so). I sometimes have clumps of sound cues to drive the plot, but then I have to layer in other cues when they get to talking, that either underline the dialogue or contradict it.

I’m percolating on the comic horror play that went off the rails. I think I will draft “Owe Me” first, and then go back to it, once I figure out how to get it back on track.

I pitched for a radio writing job that would run from May through August, and pays well. I’m sure the competition is fierce, but nothing tried, no chance at all. Plus, it was fun to include the new Pages on Stages website. I have to add in my bio page today.

The Conference wants me to take on some mentoring slots, and I’m not sure if I can take that on. A lot depends on how the upcoming negotiations for a couple of gigs go.

I covered two scripts in the afternoon. I started reading Deanna Raybourn’s newest Veronica Speedwell, AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER, which is a lot of fun. Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun, although everyone is eager for Easter break.

I signed up for a Buddhist series of seminars for the next five days, based on the work of Pema Chödrön, whose work I like and respect a lot. The rage I feel at fellow humans for allowing the slaughter in Ukraine to continue, and allowing the radical right to overtake this country, combined with the sense memory of the stress I underwent during this period last year, desperately searching for a place to live and organizing the move, is interfering with my ability to function well, and I’m hoping to learn some techniques that will help. Passivity is not an option, and there are so many people for whom I’m losing all respect. And yes, I am fully within my rights to judge those who allow genocide through inaction, or because the images make them uncomfortable. They are a threat to ALL our safety.

Had nightmares again last night, but I am privileged to only have them as nightmares, and not have to live them. Yet. If the GOP regains control, it’s game over for anyone with a brain and a heart.

I have to go and pick up one of my mother’s prescriptions today. It would have been nice if I’d known about it yesterday, when I was at the grocery store right next to the pharmacy, but that’s the way it goes.

More work on the radio plays, work on The Big Project, hopefully, more editing on CAST IRON MURDER, script coverage and contest entries are all on the agenda for today. Along with some admin. I need to clean out the Inbox.

Have fun, people!

Wed. March 30, 2022: This & That

image courtesy of Bongkarn Thankyakij via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Partly cloudy and milder

I spend a good portion of each day fussing over the seedlings. It’s a little much, but I enjoy it. It was too cold to put them out on the porch yesterday, even with the sun. Hopefully, it will be warm enough today.

Once I got the laundry back and settled yesterday, I did another section of The Big Project, about 1400 words, which was good. I did a bunch of admin. Now that the 4th vaccination shots have been approved, I have to get that sorted out, and hope our insurance covers them.

I covered a script in the afternoon, which took longer than I expected. Some people are already submitting their Monthology stories (the deadline isn’t until the end of June), which means they probably started writing them during the brainstorming. Good for them, and I can’t let what works for them put me under more pressure.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. They’re already looking forward to Easter break. They’re working hard, and deserve to play.

I have no idea what I’ll write about for the play I’m signed up to write in April. I have a character and an idea tickling at me, but I have no idea if they will work. Well, I can always start and then switch course. Or, I could do another Kate Warne play. I have at least two more one-acts planned (that will then be adapted with some of the other one acts to make a full-length) and one more full-length, although I have to do more research for that one. Frankly, I don’t think I have the time for the research.

Didn’t manage to get in any work on the CAST IRON MURDER revisions, but I hope to do so today.

I need to buy a sketchbook so that I can draw maps of various areas in The Big Project, and keep things consistent.

I fell down a retro research rabbit hole trying to find the banking information I need. I finally contacted a local bank and the MA Bankers’ Association, so see if they know of any banking historians who could answer the specific questions. Everything I’m finding online is too vague. There’s a law library in Pittsfield. Once the car is fixed, I can set up a day and time to go and research in there, if needed.

I was worried about not having enough scripts, but I have two in today’s queue and two for tomorrow. I’m still under what I’d hoped to earn this pay period, but I’m climbing toward where I need to be again.

I’ve been invited to two local art happenings over the next couple of weeks. On the one hand, I want to go, because I’m interested in the work, and I want to get more involved in the local arts community. On the other hand, the very thought of being around other people, especially if they are unmasked indoors, is overwhelming and exhausting. I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel like I can safely socialize again. When I think of how often I was out and about in the NYC years, even working full-time in theatre, taking advantage of everything on offer, it’s quite the contrast. I wonder if we, as introverts, only have a certain amount of energy available for social situations, and when it’s used up, that’s it? There isn’t any more social energy left? Would I have rationed it out, had I known? I doubt it. And I’ve never been that social anyway. Part of it, I think, is because so often I felt forced into social situations on Cape that I didn’t want and that made me miserable, and part of my current exhaustion is backlash from that.

Or maybe it’s because the social contract of trust and community care has been so broken during the pandemic.

Anyway, I haven’t committed to any of the invitations. I will make the decision closer to the events themselves. If I decide to go, yes, I will mask.

I caught up on this week’s issue of THE NEW YORKER (I started up my subscription again). There was an interesting article by Nick Paumgarten about the Margaritaville retirement communities in Florida that serves as additional color to my research on things up here for the retro mystery. The sheer sociability of these communities is exhausting. But it does give me ideas on how to structure social activities in the fictional community. He admitted to running around down there without a mask and then caught COVID. Um, what did he think would happen? I also didn’t find mention of diversity in the communities, which makes me figure there isn’t much. I could be wrong about that, and I’ll go through the article again with a research eye instead of a reading-for-pleasure eye to make sure. But if the claim is they don’t “pay attention” to politics, it indicates they lean right and uphold the white supremacy status quo, so I doubt there’d be much diversity within the community. Again, this echoes the research for the retro mystery; it is highly unlikely that the fictional community would have been diverse. I came across a report on diversity in the area earlier in the research process; I have to look at it again. It was part of a bigger study. I might get in touch with those who created the study to see if there was any way I could have some sort of diversity in my fictional community, or if that just wouldn’t happen in the area in 1957.

The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, a final polish on the newsletter to send it out the door, and a final polish on the grant proposal to send it out the door. Then, it’ll be time to cover two scripts. That’s today’s agenda.

I also have to update my website, and work on new business cards. And do the quarterly postcard, although I might put that off until next week.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. March 29, 2022: Washer Woes

image courtesy of Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Fairly quiet weekend. There’s a March wrap up over on the GDR site, posted early, even though we still have a few days left in the month, and I’m just trying to steadily do the work.

It wasn’t a good writing day on Friday, sadly. Oversleeping threw off the morning for me. But I did write and turn in another book review, and cover a script. Did a bunch of admin work. Put the seedlings out on the porch. It’s still too cold at night to leave them. I received an internal promotion and a pay bump from a big client.

Tessa woke me early on Saturday. I moved to the couch and overslept. The sun overcame the clouds, so we could put the seedlings on the porch, at least for a few hours. More seeds are germinating (more on that in Thursday’s garden post.

Had to go to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s prescription. Because the weather was good, I went on foot, and then I took a different route from there to the library, to learn more about the town. I found some interesting restaurants and stores that I will visit at leisure in the future.

Dropped off/picked up books at the library.

In the afternoon, I tried reading a book that was supposed to be an exciting, twisty thriller getting a lot of buzz. I figured it out less than a third of the way through, and lost patience with the characters for not catching on. Checked the ending, to make sure I was right (yes, I was). That’s back in the return pile. Tried another book that came highly recommended, but it’s written in present tense, which I loathe, and, since I’m not being paid to read it, it goes back in the return pile.

Returned to reading contest entries, which was fun. It started raining in the late afternoon, so we brought the seedlings in. Crockpot chicken was a good choice.

Up early on Sunday, baked biscuits. Charlotte, or maybe Willa, chomped on some of the cucumber seedlings, so I’m trying to recuse them. A member of the extended family in Maine is very ill. I’ve kept a distance since the lack of support around the move last year, but I don’t want this person to be ill.

It snowed off and on all day. Sometimes flurries, sometimes intensely. In a break between it, I did a run to the liquor store and to get burgers. Bad choice on the burgers, and I was miserable all afternoon. Red meat and I are no longer friends. And yet, every few months, I crave it. But fresh trout for dinner was a better choice.

I covered a script in the afternoon, and then returned to working on contest entries. I ordered snapdragon seeds and marigold seeds. That means I have to go out and get more pots and soil next week, when I go to get the tomato cages. I set up the acknowledgements file for CAST IRON MURDER and for the retro mystery. Starting a document for acknowledgements early in the process saves a lot of panic later on.

Tessa woke me on Monday at 5:30, which is a perfect time. The usual early morning routine of writing in longhand, yoga, meditation. Blogged.

It started sunny, but too cold to put the seedlings out. More seedlings are sprouting, which is lovely. I got through some admin work. Didn’t get much done on The Big Project. Revised the next three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER. Worked on the grant proposal. I need to flesh it out some more today, and put material connected to the proposal up on one of my websites. I don’t have information on the stage and radio plays up on a website, and I should.

I also played with the MailerLite site, and worked on the newsletter, which will go out in a day or so (since it’s the end of the quarter and all). If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, newsletter signup is here.

Received the next book for review. Started a script coverage. There’s not much in the queue, which worries me a bit, but also takes off some of the pressure. Worked on contest entries.

Noodled with some ideas for the play I have to start on Friday as part of the Dramatists Guild project. Noodled with some ideas for the Monthology story.

The Tamed Wild box arrived. In it, was a Rose of Jericho plant. I’ve put it in water, and it’s unfurling. Fascinating. It’s not a plant with which I have much familiarity.

Up early this morning, before Tessa even got started. Was out of the house and on the way to the laundromat early. Ended up spending more time there than planned, because the machine I used was stuck on “rinse” for 15 minutes, and then didn’t spin out properly, so the wash was soaking wet (no sink in the building, no techs). I had to have it in the dryer on high for an hour. I put a note on the machine, so that no one else has to go through this.

I brought the pages done so far on The Big Project with me, and worked on them while at the laundromat. I got a lot done.

Home to find more seeds are sprouting. It’s very exciting.

Today’s list items include work on The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, another revision of the grant proposal, putting information up on the website, a polish on the newsletter, and a script coverage. I might do some more contest entries, if I get the chance.

It’s supposed to start warming up again over the next few days. Let’s hope this was winter’s last gasp, and I can get the seedlings out on the front porch, and set up the enchanted garden on the back balcony sooner rather than later.

Have a good one.

Fri. March 25, 2022: It’s All About the Writing

image courtesy of Ciker Free Vector Images via pixabay.com

Friday, March 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cool

Another solid, creative morning, which was very welcome.

I wrote two sections on The Big Project (a little over 2K). Once I updated my tracking sheets, I put that aside and switched back over to the edits for CAST IRON MURDER. I edited three chapters, around 9K worth. This was a section where I had to rip out the subplot that wasn’t working and replace it with new material from the fresh subplot which will result in another body drop. So that took some time. As in, the rest of the morning.

After I revised, proofed, and printed those sheets, I had to update the tracking sheets for that project, too. Being conscientious about keeping up with tracking sheets now saves a lot of time and pain later on. An accurate series bible is a necessity, especially when juggling projects.

In the afternoon, I wrote and submitted a book review, and turned around a script coverage. In the evening, I read most of another book for review, which I will finish and write up today.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We discussed, in detail, the travesty by the Republicans in the SCOTUS hearings this week, the overt racism and misogyny shown to one of the most qualified judges we’ve ever seen. And how Justice Clarence Thomas needs to be removed from power because his wife is an insurrectionist, and should be in prison. When the heck is Merrick Garland going to step up and do his job?

I received an internal promotion from one of my big freelance clients, along with a pay bump, which is welcome. I should be delighted, and yet, I’m not, and not sure why. I have to figure it out.

Today, I need to do a grocery run, probably in the late morning. First, though, I want to do more on The Big Project, and then the next three chapters of edits for CAST IRON MURDER. I need to finish the book for review and submit it, and turn around two script coverages.

This weekend, it’s supposed to go back down into the 20s. I’ll hunker down and work on the grant application, taxes, and some information I promised for Monthology. I have admin work and cleaning to do, and I might have to run out and buy a couple of tomato cages, since the cucumbers are growing so quickly. I hope to maintain my momentum on The Big Project, but I’m not sure if I’ll take a break on the CAST IRON MURDER edits, or keep going, since I’m in the flow.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

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Wed. March 23, 2022: Edits and A$$hats

image courtesy of Memed Nurrohmad via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Partly sunny and cold

Yesterday was a mixed day. I did a bunch of admin work once I got back from the laundromat. Then, I headed out to the library. I got the file again on The Spruces and photocopied a bunch of information out of their original brochure that I will use as research/background information for the retro mystery. They also had six books waiting for me.

Planted the tansy seeds into two pots, so I can have one pot in front and one in back. Planted some saved seeds, and did some repotting. All will be discussed in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post.

In the afternoon, I covered a script. There wasn’t anything in the queue when I was finished, so I switched to working on contest entries (but later, got two more scripts in the queue, that I will start today). I worked on the porch, because it was so beautiful. I’m having weird pains in my left ear. I hope I don’t get another ear infection.

Got an email from my Monthology editor. It’s time to start writing, and we have a deadline of June 24 for the first round. People with multiple monsters can either write 1 story of up to 5K with one monster and save the other for the future, integrate the monsters into a single story that fits the wordcount, or write two shorter stories. At this point, I’m going to integrate the monsters into one story, with the Gorgon being the primary protagonist and the Valkyrie being the secondary protagonist, and then, if there are future anthologies, I can shift them. The Gorgon story is almost fully formed in my head, and the Valkyrie was going to be a secondary character in it anyway, so this choice supports what I’ve been spinning, and also sets the foundation for future stories, should I have that opportunity. I think it’s a stronger choice than to have them crossing back and forth between two shorter pieces. It will also support what I hope will be a moving subplot.

If you want to learn more about this shared world anthology, you can explore it here.

Started reading Ngaio Marsh’s ARTISTS IN CRIME. I haven’t read her books for years, and I forgot how good they are.

The bank has marked the check they accused me of scamming by depositing it as “doubt collectability.” Mofos. They were dumb enough to send me a “customer experience survey” and I did not hold back. I tried to enter the virtual annual meeting – but they didn’t send a link for it, one had to access it via typing in my social security number. No. Just no. Yet more proof that NONE of this is about security and everything is about misogyny and economic discrimination.

The Republicans aren’t even pretending they’re not all paid up members of the KKK anymore. Their behavior at the SCOTUS confirmation hearings is disgusting. Of course they fear an intelligent, ethical Black woman after ramming through a Handmaiden and a sexual predator beer bro.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are so smart and engaged and compassionate. Amazing how not going to a place where they have to worry about being shot or getting COVID enchances the ability to learn.

Tessa woke me up at 4:10 AM this morning. I will be wrecked by noon. Since I had to be out the door early to go to the laundromat again, I didn’t dare go back to sleep.

Took another trip to the laundromat on foot this morning. Moon up when I left, and it was only 26F. Brrr. But I had sheets and comforters to wash, since the linens are moving toward spring, and I wanted to get caught up.

I’m starting to really enjoy my sessions at the laundromat. I get a lot done. I finished the first editing pass on the draft of CAST IRON MURDER. I went back and made notes where I want to layer in other information. Since I cut out one subplot, that would not work unless it was a central plot, I dropped another body, and I have to set up the conflict and layer it in. There were also some references that needed to start earlier.

So this means I’m ready to start the second draft of the book! I hope to work in sections of 3-5 chapters at a time. I want to say “a day” but I’m not sure I can commit to that. I hope that will also give me the momentum to get back to the first draft of THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, which has to get back on track.

After breakfast this morning, I will work on the first three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER, then take a quick break and switch to The Big Project. The afternoon is about script coverage and, if there’s still time in the workday, contest entries.

It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week, and then plunge back into the twenties over the weekend. At some point in the next few days, I’ll do a grocery run, but, for the most part, I’m going to stay home and work, with breaks to spring clean. And try to get an appointment with the mechanic. The internet was down for a little while this morning, but it seems to be sort of working again.

Have a good one, friends.

Wed. March 16, 2022: Research Day

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mild and cloudy, supposed to turn sunny and gorgeous

In spite of a rocky start to the day, yesterday morning went well. I dealt with some email. I worked on the next section of The Big Project.

I headed up to the library to do some research in the local archives on The Spruces, a self-governed community in Williamstown begun in the 1950’s that has fascinated me since we moved here. It took a bit to track down the material, but once I had it, I sat and took plenty of notes. I have some names to research further. I have physical details of the layout, looked at photos.

I think I will use it as the inspiration for what I want to write based on a place very much like it, set in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. I need to do more research, but as I walked back from the library, the core ensemble of characters, and the two protagonists who will drive the piece and/or series became clear.

Some of the names, and that people in positions of authority were married couples holding multiple positions in the community cause questions. And also open opportunities for the kind of conflict I want to create here.

I also want plenty of cocktails, chain smoking, and cool clothes.

I’ve set up the physical file folder to keep the notes as they evolve, and any additional research I come up with.

The sweet pea and mallow seeds arrived. I need more pots and soil in order to plant them. I need at least a half a dozen more pots, and probably three more bags of soil. Hopefully, the tansy seeds will show up today.

Ordered more ink for the printer. Then I’ll have a full complement of color tanks. I think I can wait to order more black ink for about another month or so. The tanks are good for about 1300 pages; while I go through a lot with the black tanks (and tend to order the ones that can run more pages, when I can afford to), the color tanks last me nearly a year.

In the afternoon, I went down another rabbit hole of research on The Spruces, thanks to the Williamstown Historical Society’s online archives. I found some wonderful photographs and got some more names to research. The Society has a DVD about the place, which, once the car is fixed (again), I will make arrangements to go over and view.

The characters are telling me their stories, and I am taking notes. Out of this will come the conflicts that I need to create the mystery, and then I can outline. I need to do some more research, especially in newspaper archives. I have to find out if The Berkshire Eagle’s morgue is online, or if I have to go and visit them in person.

Reading newspaper files will also help me decide in what year I want to start the series. It will be sometime between 1957-1960.

I also found out (again, thanks to the Berkshire Eagle, who will be thanked in the acknowledgements, no doubt), that there used to be a horserace track over in Hancock, Berkshire Downs, in the 1960’s. I will have to find a way to incorporate that, if I can.

I got my script coverage done, and I worked on a grant proposal. I also worked on contest entries.

It was a pretty good day, all around.

Charlotte woke me up at 4 this morning. I refused to get up, but then I overslept until 5:30, which meant I had to scramble to get out the door to the laundromat. I went on foot, with the rolly cart. It was open on time, and the machines worked, but they didn’t have the lights over the washing machines calibrated to the time change, so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Why yes, I will be getting in touch. It was a little creepy.

But I got 60 pages of CAST IRON MURDER revised.

If it’s as mild as they predict, I’ll put the seedlings out on the porch for the day. I need to go over to the college library to get some art books out I need for the series of short projects. I plan to work on The Big Project, maybe put in some of the fixes I caught on CAST IRON MURDER, and do more research, in and around script reading and going to the library.

I’m watching the news on Ukraine, and donating what I can to World Central Kitchen, which, for me, is the best place to put my funds right now. One of the most important things we have to do NOW, not months down the line, is to remove the Russian assets in Congress and prosecute them.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The seniors are already talking about how this would be spring break for them next year. I wonder how fast the new cases will rise in the next two weeks? Since we’re not getting real numbers. Supposedly, the transmission rate in the Berkshires is down to 1-1/2%, and new cases have gone down by 34% in the past two weeks, but with free testing stopped, who knows how accurate that is? I am still masking indoors in public spaces (like the library, the grocery store, etc.).

The Ipsy bag arrived, full of great stuff for a fun spring look, including lipstick from one of my favorite brands. I started cleaning, by giving the copper molds a good scrub in the kitchen, because I’ve decided I want to hang them up around the stove. If you’ve ever been to the Cape house, they were on the wall by the door to the garage, next to one of the cookbook bookcases (yes, I have two tall bookcases full of cookbooks in my kitchen, and two shelves of a bookcase in my office are also full of cookbooks. And there are more in storage). Hanging up the molds and tidying up the now three bookcases in the kitchen (two with cookbooks, one with bins of different flours, etc.) is on today’s list. I have to figure out how to get the red wax off the window (long story). Looks like someone met with a fatal accident in the kitchen.

If you’re curious about the shared world anthology I keep mentioning, the Monthology website is now live here. You’ll find my Valkyries in the District of the Dearly Departed, and my Gorgons running a theatre in The Amalgamate. There will be lots of fun blurbs and ads and all kinds of information coming out about it in the coming months.

Have a good day, my friends.

Tues. March 15, 2022: Don’t Get All Stabby On Me

Image courtesy of Thomas B via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

If you’re familiar with Julius Caesar and The Ides of March, you’ll get the reference.

The March mid-month check-in post is over on the GDR site.

Anyway, on Thursday, I got some work done in the morning. I then did the rounds of the library, picking up my birthday cake, post office, liquor store. I participated in Freelance Chat. As I did, I realized that everything I HAD to do before Monday was. . .done.

I’d expected to be working until well into the evening to “justify” taking a three-day weekend. But there wasn’t anything in my script reading queue, I was waiting to hear back on a few things, I’d written my reviews. I could have started the next book for review, or worked on contest entries.

But I didn’t want to.

So I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon. I read books I wanted to read, including THE LOFT GENERATION by Edith Schloss, about abstract and modern artists who started living and working in lofts in NYC in the 1940’s. Excellent book.

Friday morning, we had smoked salmon Benedict as my birthday breakfast, which was excellent. We got into the car to head out for the birthday adventures. One of the windshield wiper blades snapped off, and the check engine light came back on. Really? The car only worked for four days?

I was not a happy camper.

We decided to truncate the day’s plans. We only went to Pittsfield, to the big book sale at the Atheneum. People were still masked, thank goodness, but it was very crowded, and I was uncomfortable. We didn’t stay very long. I bought some jazz and world music CDs, and a couple of books. My mom bought a few books. I couldn’t get near the older, interesting books, because a triad of dealers were there, scooping them up and blocking regular buyers from them.

On the way back, we stopped to get some cleaning supplies, more pots, potting soil, and some groceries to get us through the stormy weekend. People were talking about this storm with more concern than any of the storms so far this winter.

Home and settled in with the new books. I started reading a mystery, didn’t like it after 50 pages, read the ending; liked it less. It was everything that doesn’t work for me in a mystery: a dumb, nasty protagonist; smarmy, vicious ensemble of characters who don’t support the protagonist nor deserve the protagonist’s help; used “witch” as a slur against women; and an undercurrent of racism that I found sickening, like how dare the few black characters encroach on this safe white world. The book goes into a bag of donations I’m putting together for another book sale, and someone else can have it. It is not staying in this house, and I will not read something by this author again.

I had to wash my hands after putting it in the box, to get the stench off me.

I read the other book I’d bought, a paranormal urban fantasy with romantic elements. It worked better. It was a several books into a series I haven’t read, but it was clear about the story (without info dumping on the past). I read the blurbs for the next several in the series; not sure I’ll read them, because I don’t really like the overall series arc. But at least this was a few hours of reading pleasure.

Then, I started THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan. Wow. Just wow. I read it Friday and finished it Saturday, even though it’s a pretty big book. But the writing is gorgeous. So beautiful. The worldbuilding, the characters, the storytelling. All wonderful. It’s a completely unique fantasy novel. The copy I read is from the library, but I think I will buy my own copy, because this is a book I will re-read.

I’d been stressing out about what to order for dinner on Friday night, worried I’d be disappointed in it. The restaurant I’d planned to order didn’t have anything on its changing menu that I really craved. So, instead, we ordered from the Freight Yard Pub, which isn’t far from us at all, and a couple of people have recommended it to me. My mom ordered her favorite fish & chips. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and roasted vegetables. The portions were huge, and it was quite good. Not a brilliant, life-changing meal, but good. I had prosecco with it, because it’s my birthday and I will damn well drink prosecco.

Although I’m seriously considering making like a Venetian and drinking prosecco regularly when the lunch is fancy enough.

I got so many lovely and loving birthday wishes via social media and email. It really made the day special.

Tessa got me up around 6 on Saturday. It was raining, but quickly changed over to snow. I thanked people for their good wishes, and answered birthday emails.

I spent the day going through books. Reading or rereading some, when I’d finished DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS. Going through some research books I’d gotten out of the library; I extracted what I needed, and they’re in the pile to go back.

I went through some of the art books that are here (I will have to retrieve others from storage, if and when the car is fixed so we can do a storage run). I’m looking for pieces that will inspire the short pieces under the three categories I’ve set aside for them. I looked at some terrific work – I’d forgotten how much impact Judy Chicago’s work has – but nothing that was a catalyst for any of those pieces. I’ll get some books from the college library this week, and see.

The snow kept pounding down, a heavy, wet snow. One of the books I’m assigned for review arrived, and it looks wonderful. I’m eager to dig into it this week.

I rested a lot. It’s a combination of birthday blues, stress about the car, worry about work, and general burnout.

I got a rejection on a short story, which was not unexpected, because it was a stretch market for me, and they were very nice in the letter. I’m going to take a look at it, see what needs to be tweaked, and find another market for it. Because I like it (or I wouldn’t have submitted it anywhere in the first place). It’s a combination of speculative fiction & mystery, with a dose of humor. But not a flash piece, it’s too long for that. And most of the paying markets now seem to want flash.

Had to change all the clocks before bedtime on Saturday, which made me grumble. I hate springing forward. When we fall back, I have extra energy for weeks. When we spring forward, I drag for days.

Up around 6 on Sunday, regular morning routine. Traditional eggs Benedict for breakfast, since it was still birthday weekend.

I rewrote a short story which had been rejected a few weeks back for being “too genre.” Hmm, when the submission call says they read regardless of genre as long as it fits the theme, then say something is too genre, gives me important information.

Anyway, I like the story, it’s a ghost story set in a theatre. I rewrote it a bit, to move it away from the submission call’s theme, and changed the protagonist’s name (which was part of the guidelines, and it didn’t suit her). I was looking for another market for it, but it seems ghost stories are now considered horror. This is more of a traditional ghost story, more paranormal with touches of mystery, than horror. I don’t think it’s dark enough for the horror markets I researched. I could go a little darker, but going too much darker would go in a direction I don’t really want.

However, there’s a middle section that’s set outside of the theatre (the beginning and end happen in the theatre). It underlines a theme and places a red herring. But maybe if I change that and keep all of it in the theatre, it might work better, and skew dark enough to fit some of the horror submission calls without going darker than I want for this particular piece.

I have to percolate on that a bit.

A friend sent me a list of markets, and, researching through those, that might be the way to go, so that it’s still within my vision, but still suited to one of these paying markets.

There’s no deadline on this, so I can let it simmer for a bit.

Did a little bit of work on Gambit Colony. If I get pulled down into that rabbit hole again, it will throw too much other work off track, but, as is typical, when I’m under stress, that’s the piece that soothes me best to work on. I’m writing a section set in Venice right now, which makes me happy.

Started work on a short piece that’s been rolling around my brain for a bit, inspired by a submission call. Not sure where it’s going yet. I want it to be short, no more than 1500 words, but it’s hitting the right 1500 words that’s the trick. 1000 words would be even better. The deadline’s not for a couple of months, so we’ll see.

I put together chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. I’d forgotten to start it right after breakfast; it was late morning before I remembered, but that’s what the “high” cooking speed is for, right?

I planted the cherry tomatoes and the mini cucumbers directly into their final pots. No need to transplant. I’m going to have to get more potting soil, because I still have hollyhocks, four o’clocks, nasturtiums, tansy, sweet peas, and mallow to plant. And the night-blooming jasmine coming in at the end of the month or early April, which will need repotting. I also planted more cat grass, since Charlotte and Willa only have a few stalks left. I put them in a different pot; I will alternate between the two pots, but I need to order more seeds for that. I’ll order the bigger batch this time.

There’s a new combination of plant center/art gallery opening up next month on Main Street, in walking distance. I am very excited.

The afternoon and evening were spent reading contest entries, with Norah Jones on the CD player. Finished the bottle of birthday prosecco, too, that I opened on Friday.

Charlotte started poking at me around 5, but Tessa was quiet until 6. Because it’s darker now in the morning, she’s staying quiet. Although that doesn’t explain why, so often, she woke me at 4 over the winter, because it was darned dark then.

Good yoga session. I’ve been hit and miss on the morning yoga the past few weeks, and need to get back into that routine. I feel better when I stick to it.

The side table to the left of my desk, in front of the large windows, has always been one of Charlotte’s favorite’s hangouts, but Tessa has discovered it. She can see more birds from it, and she is very excited.

I sent out some LOIs; got back some auto-responses for tests, which meant I shrugged off those companies and put them on The List. If they’re not going to read my cover letter, where I clearly state I don’t do unpaid labor as part of an interview or pre-interview process, and that I have a specific contract for it, then it’s not a company with whom I want to work.

Did some work on The Big Project, but not enough. I feel I’ve lost the tone of the piece, and I need to get that back.

It was warm enough on the front porch to move out the seedlings, to encourage them.

Took a big load of books back to the library; they only had one for me to pick up. It was bright out, and things are melting. We’re supposed to actually move into warmer weather this week, in the 50’s and 60’s, which would be nice.

Made my favorite comfort Chinese peanut butter noodles for lunch. I’m so grateful not to have nut allergies.

In the afternoon, I did some brainstorming on the Monthology piece, caught up on some emails, did some client work. Stepping back from interacting with someone online, because she continues to make harmful decisions, then whines about them, in spite of having a network of professionals around her giving advice on better decisions. I can’t participate anymore. She’s made her decisions; they are hers to make; I’m not spending time putting together ideas and resources that she won’t bother to use, but will whine about being exploited, because she went against advice and made those choices. It’s a never-ending circle of frustration, and I don’t need to participate. I no longer respect her, and I’m beginning to actively dislike her, which is not a relationship worth maintaining. “Oh, she’s young” is not an excuse, because one of my editors is several years younger than this individual, but several decades smarter.

 I re-subscribed to THE NEW YORKER, which I’ve missed since my subscription lapsed last July. They offered me a great rate, so I was delighted to accept it. Which means I need to get some more magazine holders.

Turned around a script coverage. I should have started the spring cleaning, but I did not. I’d hoped to put in about two or three hours each weekday, and then three or four on the weekends, but I don’t know how that will shake out. The Chewy food order arrived early, and the cats were happy to play in the box. A pair of Nine West flats I’d bought on sale also arrived, earlier than expected. They look much better in person than they did in the picture, thank goodness, and fit. I still need a good pair of cross trainers in which to run errands on foot, and walk in the various parks, but the flats will be good for going to museums, networking events, etc.

Read contest entries in the evening. It will take me several hours today to enter the scores.

Tessa woke me at 4:30 this morning. I moved to the couch, dreamed about some sort of undercover operation where I had to be a flower arranger (if you know how bad I am at that, you’ll see why there’s no way I could pull it off). I overslept until seven, which put back my day.

I might rearrange my day anyway today, to go off and do some research later this morning. I want to work on The Big Project first. Then, I ‘ll go do my research. I have another script to turn around this afternoon, and more contest entries. And I need to get in touch with the mechanic about the next appointment for the car. I’m dreading that, but it needs to be done.

Almost all the snow has melted, so let’s hope this is it for the winter. Yeah, we’ll move into mud season next, but that’s still better than snow.

Lots to do today, so I better get to it. Have a good one!

Tues. Feb. 15, 2022: Murky Obstacles

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

First Day of Full Moon

Cold and clear

Tiring weekend.

Friday, it was mild and bright. I got some work done early, and then packed up the rolly cart and headed to the grocery store. There were lots of empty shelves, again, mostly national brands. Also, because both the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day fell this weekend, a lot of people were looking at it as a long holiday weekend and stocked up.

The sidewalks were messy, but mostly slush, not ice. However, with the snow banked on either side of them, and the middle melting, there as no place for the water to drain, so a lot of it was walking through ankle-high slush. When the next storm comes in, it will freeze over and be ice rinks again. Because the Cape was so sandy, the ground absorbed the water until it couldn’t (by about March), and then it got all squishy. Here, there’s no place for the water to drain, and the ground isn’t sandy, it’s loamy and hits capacity quickly, so the ice layers.

It was not easy to hump the cart full of groceries back, although it would have been impossible without the cart.

Got everything put away, rested up a bit, and then headed back out to the liquor store to re-stock. It was busy, because people were prepping for football and Valentine hopes.

Decided to give myself the afternoon off. It went up into the 50s. You can always tell we’re in New England, because the minute the temperature goes above 35, the guys go back to shorts and hiking boots. The front porch was sunny and pleasant. I cut back dead growth on some of the plants. I’ll detail that more in Gratitude and Growth on Thursday.

Charlotte was delighted to be back out on the porch.

Read for a bit. Over the weekend, I re-read the two books released so far in Kit Rocha’s The Mercenary Librarians series. Looking forward to the third. I rarely read dystopia (I mean, we’re living in it), so it’s unusual that I would like this series. But I do.

Some family conflicts exhausted the hell out of me Friday night, not to mention depressed me.

Saturday morning, it was raining, so I decided not to go to the library. Instead, I got the script coverages done. And then was requested for another coverage, so I didn’t have to worry about taking on a script whose logline didn’t particularly excite me, just to make my nut for the pay period. And I finished reading the book for review.

Went to bed very early Saturday, and slept 11 hours. Even the cats couldn’t get me up.

Sunday was a good writing day – 3K on one project, a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I planted the first seeds. I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and raspberry liqueur. Made pork chops for dinner in a mushroom-thyme gravy, with red cabbage and leftover mashed potatoes. Planted seeds.

I used to give a Super Bowl party most years; it was the only game of the year I watched, because football just isn’t my thing. But I stopped doing that when we moved to the Cape. Most of the time now, I don’t even watch the game, just try to catch the half-time show and some of the commercials. Or focus on the Puppy Bowl. This year, it was more fun just to watch different reactions to whatever on Twitter. I saw clips of the half-time show, and it looks like it went well. Still, for me, nothing has yet beaten the grace, style, and professionalism of Prince’s half-time show.

All the photos I saw from the game show 70K people in close quarters unmasked. So we’ll have mini-surges of the virus all over the country in the next two weeks. Why would I applaud such reckless, thoughtless behavior? Not doing it. Even if being vaccinated was a requirement for entry, we are not at a point where being that packed in together is rational.

I usually love the Winter Olympics, but didn’t watch them this year, either. I think they should have been canceled, due to the pandemic.

I’m not going to rant about either of those things on social media. Why bother? But I’m going to place my time where I feel it earns it, and neither of those two events did this go-round.

The cats woke me around 5, a reasonable hour, so I got up and started the day. Was at my desk by 7, which helped. It was snowing. Hopefully, this is the last storm of the winter. The cats are shedding like crazy and running around for no reason at all hours, so spring is coming.

Wrote another section on The Big Project. It will need some tweaking, but you can’t tweak what’s not on the page.

Tried to head for the library, but it was snowing and intensified, so after a couple of blocks, I turned back.

Slogged through a bunch of email. Got out an LOI to something that sounded kind of interesting, but we’ll see. Another job description landed in my inbox calling for an experience science writer and scriptwriter willing to both write and do research – at $8 an hour. Nope. So insulting on so many levels.

Downloaded the first set of digital contest entries, cross-checked the list. Caught up on entering scores for what I’ve been reading. Caught up with the Monthology posts, so I don’t fall behind. How other people are crafting their monsters, and the mapmaking that’s going in will affect how I develop my piece. Plus, it’s a wonderful community.

Started reading the script for which I was requested. I will finish it and turn in the coverage tomorrow.

The problem with a big client is not going to go away, unfortunately, so I have to look at alternatives. A possible other big client is on the horizon, but if the pay is too low, that’s not going to be possible, especially for the amount of work involved. I don’t want to take on something that will break me, physically or psychologically. At the same time, I need to expand the clients with which I’m working, and ease away from this big client, because the longer I work for them, the more red flags are popping up. They were a life saver around the move, in a very real sense, but in the long run, they are just not working out. I am very displeased by an email from them that landed in my box this morning.

Wrote up the book for review; got two more assigned. One I will download; the other is in print, and being sent.

Tried reading an eBook I’d bought a few weeks back, that looked interesting, but I’m frustrated with it. I’m getting a little tired of all these authors jumping on the magic bandwagon for the cash, not doing any research on how magic works, not being creative enough to design their own system, and just echoing right wing crap, pretending that their protagonist is, actually, magical.

Switched back to contest entries instead.

Spent longer than I planned cleaning up my Twitter account, on the “Following” side of the equation. Dumped about 400 accounts that I’ve followed at one point or another. A lot of them started as mutual follows, especially among other writers, who then unfollowed when I wasn’t an ATM for their books, or because my posts go beyond writing. Some were politically-oriented mutual followers, who don’t feel I’m political enough, and unfollowed. People get to follow or not follow whomever they please, for whatever reasons they please, so I cleaned up that side of the equation to suit what I want/need right now, and will work on the other side of the equation later on.

I’m feeling rather discouraged about everything right nw. But it’s sunny, and I have to head for the library today. I have 8 books to return and 13 to retrieve. All on foot. Sigh.

I’d rather just go back to bed.

Weird dreams last night, about being in an apartment on Central Park West in NYC, and a small, yappy, brown and white puppy escaped from its apartment and I was trying to catch it.