Thurs. Oct. 3, 2019: Perhaps a Moment of Respite?

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto DIRECT
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Drizzly and chilly

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to catch up on the latest with the garden.

If you didn’t get a chance, hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for yesterday’s post about trusting your instincts in early meetings/job interviews.

I had a bizarre experience on Tuesday night going into Wednesday. I was awakened by odd music a little before 4 AM. I could have sworn someone was on the deck. At first, I thought someone was stealing my wind chimes, but it sounded like playing a pennywhistle or something. Came up on the deck for a bit, then moved away. I should have gotten up and checked what it was, but it was too creepy.

When I came down in the daylight, everything was fine.

It was disturbing.

Yesterday was busy at my client’s. She’ll be away next week, and right before she goes is always chaos.

The Remote Chat was fun. It always is.

Came home exhausted. Tessa was busy and kept us going. We have a lead on an adoption that I hope will happen over the next week or so. So far, the conversations have been really good.

I’ve been lucky to have steady, good writing sessions every day, in and around client work. That always helps keep me on keel. Show up at the page; do the work. Stay creative.

I had a good first writing session. I haven’t worked on ELLA for the past few days, because I’m on deadline with another two projects, which had priority. I’m looking forward to getting back to it early next week, though.

I’m working at the library for a bit, and then I’ll go back to my own desk (where I’m most productive), and get back to the page. I want to get the radio play polished and out.

There’s still high stress in certain other areas of my life, so, of course, I use GAMBIT COLONY to ease it. It’s not time that would be spent on the deadlined work; it’s time I’d spent fretting. Instead of fretting, I’m creating.

I’m absolutely dreading the upcoming Mercury Retrograde at the end of the month, especially combined with the ongoing Neptune and Uranus retrogrades. Plus, the whole being in my second Saturn Return.

All those people who told me in my first Saturn Return that the second one would be easier? They lied.

Tomorrow’s post will be late, because I have to take the car in for an oil change.

Anyway, one word in front of the other, and, eventually, it gets done. Back to the page.

Tues. May 28, 2019: Hit The Stress Running

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

So much for having five days off. When the best laid plans go awry, and all that.

Wednesday morning, I’d had a brief conversation with a potential new client. This would be a big deal. Good money. The conference went well, and the person with whom I spoke wanted the next steps up the food chain to happen on Thursday morning, via Skype, and Friday, in person in Boston.

Only I never got the necessary information by end of day on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, I let her know that I hadn’t had any information, and I would not cancel my Friday and go into Boston, on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. That’s just nuts. I said I could arrange to go up next Thursday or Friday, but I needed to know by next Wednesday noon. I’m getting a little tired of this attitude that I’m supposed to be at their beck and call when they’re not paying me.

I got a message back stating that the Thursday morning conference couldn’t happen, could we do it in the afternoon?

Good thing I hadn’t booked office space at Cape Space, as I originally planned. Or I would have had to pay for it, even if I canceled. They seem to have difficulty understanding that I actually work for a living; I’m not lounging around the house in pajamas waiting for their summons.

The Skype meeting went well, although it was 45 minutes, longer than I expected. I haven’t heard anything about whether or not the meeting in Boston is on for next week. If I don’t hear by my deadline, it won’t be.

They requested writing samples, which I provided from my portfolios. On top of it, they want me to do a project-specific “assessment” — which, if they weren’t such an established company with a good reputation, I would refuse to do without pay. But again, I’m losing billable hours for AN INTERVIEW. Red flags going up.

In the meantime, I had a very, very busy Wednesday with a client, and was exhausted by the time I got home in the afternoon. But glad that I had five days away from clients. We have a big project coming up that’s more difficult than it needs to be, because the other party responsible for organizing it is clueless.

I was supposed to have five full days off. However, once the Thursday Skype meeting was moved, I got some other work out of the way in the morning, and then mowed the front yard in the afternoon before my meeting. It looks pretty darn good. The push mower does a far better job than the gas mower ever did.

I finished the final polish on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and sent it off to the producer.

Started plotting the next Frieda/Lazarus radio play, which will take place on the Brighton Pier — provided I can get the research in. I’ve been in Brighton, but I need to do some of the historical research. It’s hard to find books in the MA library system on historical Brighton, England.

Working on the stage play that’s due next week.

Friday, I ran some errands, including stopping by the mechanic to make arrangements for the rest of the car repairs, which are happening today. Downloaded the materials for the “writing assessment” and did a couple of other things.

Managed to get some decent work done on ELLA BY THE BAY throughout the weekend. I find it relaxing to do a few pages with my morning coffee, even before I do yoga and start the rest of the day.

Finished a chunk of research on forensic psychology, so I can draft Sam’s professional scenes in GRAVE REACH.

Mowed the side yard.

I’m taking as much time as possible to enjoy being on the deck. I rubbed the wooden furniture with teak oil; I’m starting to put out the garden ornaments.

I managed to get a lot of reading done: MURDER AT OCHRE COURT and A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE, both by Alyssa Maxwell, although each is from a different series; THE LOST CAROUSEL OF PROVENCE and LETTERS FROM PARIS, both by Juliet Blackwell. Started reading a serial killer novel, but the cat was murdered, so I’m done. I’m tired of pets and women constantly brutalized in fiction (not to mention real life).

Saturday, I ran some books back to the library, and got out a pitch for an opportunity that landed on my desk late Friday night.

The stage play I was writing took a turn to the more dramatic; I started another, more comic play that I think will work better for the piece I have to submit at the end of the week.

Mowed No Man’s Land and about half of the terrace back part of the yard. An enormous tree limb crashed down in the meadow, and I’m not sure if I should be worried about the rest of the tree. Not to mention that I don’t think I can move the tree limb by myself.

Cooked a lot and ate too much on Saturday. Complete indulgence. A Spanish-style tuna with relish, olive, and tomato along with an Italian anti-pasto plate, French bread, and French wine for lunch (and a sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries). A French bistro recipe for chicken, shallots, tomato, and tarragon for dinner.

The hordes of tourists have descended and Cape Cod is a nightmare. They are rude, they are arrogant, they drive on the wrong side of the road while texting on their phones. They are sloppy and they litter.

Sitting on the deck on Saturday afternoon, it smelled like Cape Cod, but with the noise of traffic and sirens, it sounded like New York City, and I felt claustrophobic.

A thunder storm woke me overnight Saturday into Sunday, but it passed quickly. It was the first night we left the plants out, and they seem to have survived.

Up early on Sunday, reading and writing. Especially on ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s got a nice, steady pace. I need to transfer some of that pace to GRAVE REACH, and up it a bit.

I should have mowed, but I didn’t. Instead, I tried to enjoy the day.

I am, however, worried about a tree in the backyard that’s leaning. Only I’m not sure if it’s on my property or my neighbor’s. So I will have to ask the landlord. But I’m worried that it will come down and hurt someone or something.

Wrote and polished an article which will go out today. Worked on the “assessment” assignment for the potential new client. Read Tami Hoag’s DUST TO DUST, which was quite good.

Noodled with some ideas for stories and for plays (different ideas). We will see which ones work and which ones don’t.

Got an idea for a short play, which I think will work better for the play on deadline than either of the ideas with which I’ve been playing.

Monday, morning, up early. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on the new play, called “Qualified Personnel.” Got the first draft done. Will let it simmer for a day or two before I revise it and then I want to get it out by Thursday, if possible.

Got more stuff out on the deck, to build our enchanted garden there. Put in the solar stakes. Started mowing the meadow, which is a nightmare, because it’s uneven. Wondering if I’ll have to get in someone to do it for me, at least mow it down the first time.

Reading about the history of Havana. Fretting about the “writing assessment.” I should have simply stated I was away for the weekend, and had the initial interview, etc. this week. It’s my own fault, but I didn’t get the rest I needed, and am still feeling cooked, instead of revived and ready to face the hell that is summer on Cape Cod. It should be wonderful because it’s so beautiful, but it’s not.

Just when I hit a low point, a friend sent me a link to his new song, which is quite beautiful. That cheered me up.

Thought I’d bought ground lamb for dinner, but it was beef. Made burgers for dinner. They were very good, but the last few times I’ve eaten beef, I’ve felt awful, and this wasn’t much different.

Up early today, stressed, and off to get the car fixed. Hope it stays within the estimate and can all get done.

Exhausted and out of sorts, when I should be renewed and ready to face what’s coming. Not a good way to start the coming months.

Mon. July 9, 2018: Say “Yes” — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, July 9, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

 

There’s a saying I’ve heard about both opportunity and the Muse: that when it knocks, you better answer or it will move on to someone else.

I believe that.

Of course, there are those who will insist they are “offering” you an “opportunity” to try to get them to work for free while they do nothing. Laugh and walk away. That is not something you to which you want to say “yes.”

But say “yes” to new experiences that are out of your comfort zone, but that you might enjoy. I did that with Argentine Tango – I said “yes” to taking classes for a few months. Not only did I have the chance to do something I hadn’t done in years – dance – I met new people, learned about a world-wide community, and gathered material for at least three new books. I even put a tango scene into my radio play “Light Behind the Eyes” which was produced this past March.

I said “yes” to attending my very first Bouchercon way back in the mid-1990s, and that was the catalyst to writing novels again. I said “yes” to my very first Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which led me to an invitation to participate in the Adelaide Festival Fringe, which meant I got to go to Australia, something I’d always wanted to do. And I got to go there as a working artist.

In Australia, I said “yes” to a local networking meeting someone I’d met in passing invited me to, which led me to saying “yes” to a curator for the library, who invited me to see an illuminated manuscript, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen in my life. I said “yes” to doing a promo on a local radio show – which got such a positive response that I wound up co-hosting the show while we were at festival. I said “yes” to an invitation to an art gallery opening, where I was exposed to stunning work by Aboriginal artists depicting the sections in Australia where the ozone layers are burned all the way through. I said “yes” to an invitation to join a group of Aborginal women artists for their morning coffee – a rare honor, since they didn’t mingle with the other festival participants often – and learned a whole new way of communicating and relating.

I said “yes” the first time I was invited, in my first theatre lighting class in college, to working on the crew of a show – and that, eventually, led me to my career on Broadway.

I said “yes” in high school, when I was starting to learn cello, but they needed more viola players and asked me to switch. And I learned the viola (not that I remember it after all these years, but still . . .)

I said “yes” when I was just getting back into thoroughbred racing to work on a benefit to help racetrack workers have access to childcare and ended up with lifelong friends among trainers, jockeys, backstretch workers, which led me to pitch (and accept) a job covering the Triple Crown for thirteen years, and go to races in England and Scotland.

I said “yes” when given the opportunity to write about ice hockey and spent months with a minor league time; I said “yes” when given the opportunity to cover America’s Cup and learned about sailing and those beautiful old Newport yachts (even though I can’t swim). I said “yes” to covering Highland Games and local sports and lighthouses and restaurants and anything else that sounded interesting.

I can’t even count the times I’ve said “yes” – because I say “yes” more than I say “no” – especially if it means a new experience. I trust my gut – if something seems off about the offer, or I figure it’s dangerous in the wrong way, I decline.

But I trust my gut, and saying “yes” means I had opportunities and experiences many others around me haven’t. I ask questions. I’m interested in the world. So when someone offers me a chance to do something unique, especially by someone who is passionate about their interests, I try to say “yes” and then enjoy it!

 

Nano Prep: Oct. 24: Music

I used to write to music.

However, when I write, it needs to be instrumental, or the lyrics distract me.

One of my favorite procrastination techniques is to create Character CDs – a CD for each of my main characters, filled with the music to which I think that character would listen.

I’ll play it before I write about the character; or, if it’s instrumental, while I write about the character.

Writing the romantic suspense novel Assumption of Right(as Annabel Aidan), I told the tale in chapters from alternating points of view. Each day’s chapter was from one or the other’s point of view. So I’d pop in that character’s CD, listen to it for a few minutes, and I’d be in the right mindset to write.

That was when I lived in New York, and it was noisy and full of interruptions. Once I moved to Cape Cod, for the most part, I stopped writing to music. Weather-permitting, I have the windows open and listen to the birds and the wind and sometimes, even the rain.

If someone’s running a leaf blower or some other power tool, and I’m ready to strangle them with their own cord, I’ll put on the iPod and crank up the tunes.

But, still, it has to be instrumental.

I never, EVER use a soundtrack from a play or movie. That music was created and assembled to support someone else’s creative vision. It bleeds into your writing. When students turn in work that was written to soundtracks, I can tell exactly which ones, because it shows up in the writing.

Published in: on October 24, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 24: Music  
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

Spent a great deal of yesterday on conference work, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, it took much longer and was frustrating because the conference site kept kicking me off, and then, when I tried to post, it said I was flooding the site and would be banned. Excuse me, I’m doing my job! After several hours of it, I was ready to say, “No more.” I did sent a relatively polite email to the conference organizers asking for ways around it and expressing my frustration in (for me) relatively mild terms. They’ve tweaked something so the threat doesn’t appear, and now I’m only booted off every half hour instead of every five minutes.

It definitely makes tomorrow’s live chat a challenge, and makes me even more grateful that I have Optimum at home and not Comcast, like I have here, because Comcast isn’t as good or as reliable. Who would have ever thought I’d find a reliable provider? Now, if I can only wrestle away the websites to a new host, I’ll be all set.

Finished reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER, which is lovely. I highly recommend it.

Will go back to THE MANUAL OF DETECTION later today, in and around conference work.

Looks like I will be here until Monday, after all, which is a good thing, although Monday is turning out to be chaotic. I thought I’d have a full eight hour workday here before heading back to NY, but, although I’m still heading to NY in the late afternoon, my workday is truncated because someone else is coming in during the afternoon. I can’t change my ticket — they’re still trying to catch up on the cancelled transportation during the snow — so I have to either try to work elsewhere or do other research, et al for a few hours before coming back, picking everything up and leaving. I will probably do the latter.

Went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping — it was packed. Seems no one went to the store before the storm hit, so they’re all going now that they’ve emptied the larders. But I can cook and eat properly here now, instead of opening cans or putting something in the microwave or eating out all the time.

A family member in Maine has been diagnosed with cancer — that will change this year’s schedule quite a bit, as I’ll travel back and forth to help out as needed, and we’ll all do what needs to be done so he can recover.

About a block away is a music studio. They’re rehearsing with their windows open, and, due to the direction of the wind, I can hear the pieces. It’s quite lovely. Lots of french horn. Although the 34th time you hear Ravel’s “Bolero”, it gets a little old!

Conference is going well. We had to get some specifics sorted out — things that, to me are common sense, and, had the students pulled that at ANY of the writing programs in the country, they’d have been bounced. But, as a friend reminded me, this is the first conference many have attended, and they don’t know. To me, it’s common sense, and, even when starting out, I wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling such a stunt. But, for the moment, I clarified the position and will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’m even taking a workshop in a genre out of my comfort zone to push me a bit.

I miss the cats, and, from what I hear, they are being spectacularly rambunctious in my absence, but I’m settling in a bit and getting down to work.

Back to the workshops.

Devon