Tues. Aug. 27, 2019: Trying To Get It All Done

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not very productive. I didn’t get anywhere near as much writing done as I needed to, especially not on GRAVE REACH. ELLA was in fits and starts. The main focus was on the article for Llewellyn, which I polished and sent off yesterday.

Saturday morning, friends stopped in on their way back from Nantucket. I had baked a chocolate sour cream cake on Friday night, and put on the brown sugar frosting on Saturday morning. It was supposed to be a 7-minute frosting, but took 27 minutes, as it does.

I read some of Elaine Viets’s books in her Dead End Job series and really enjoyed them. I finished reading a biography of Wendy Wasserstein, which got me thinking about my early days in professional NY theatre.

I did some research for a client meeting I have this afternoon. I did my paperwork for jury duty, and some other paperwork that needed attention. Got some bills paid and some errands run. Caught up on things like laundry. Cleaned the house.

Saturday was my last day on the antibiotic. I forgot that coming off an antibiotic is even more unpleasant than going on one, so I felt pretty miserable on Sunday and Monday.

Sunday evening, a friend came in on her way back to Nantucket. Brought us some fresh peaches. We’ll eat some and I’ll put the rest into a peach tart.

A lovely little black cat strolled through the yard, exploring. I’m not sure if she’s new to the neighborhood or lost. She was too shy to let me come close. I tried putting food out for her, but Che Guevera Chipmunk was all over it right away, so that didn’t work. I don’t want Che to think he gets room service. But I do want to find out if the little cat is lost and needs help finding her way home, or if she needs a home.

I made a Crockpot chicken tomatillo chili with cornbread, which was pretty good. Drove my friend back to the ferry.

Up early on Monday, writing and getting things done. Worked onsite with a client, prepped for today’s meeting, did some work at the library, went to meditation.

Have to run some errands this morning on my way in to the client’s. Then, I have to dash back to my home office for my conference with my potential client, then to the library to get some work done.

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to show up for jury duty, unless I hear otherwise by 5 PM tonight. Not sure how much I’ll be posting for the rest of the week.

I seriously doubt I’ll get put on a jury. They don’t want someone who is experienced in jury service to actually serve. Someone who might actually understand the way the law works and not be manipulated by lawyers. I’m sure I’ll get kicked out of contention tomorrow.

But it’s important to show up. Vote. Serve jury duty. It matters. It’s part of the responsibility of citizenship. I have no respect for people who try to wiggle out of jury duty. And I loathe people who don’t vote.

I’ll see what happens and think on my feet. All I can do is the best I can do.

 

Tues. Aug. 13, 2019: Keep on Keeping On

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (As of Sunday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy few days.

Got some stuff done at the library Friday morning, then went to the yoga studio. Class was packed (I usually can’t take that session). In fact, there was someone I hadn’t seen in about three years there.

I was a little too relaxed when I got out of yoga class. I still had a lot to do that day, and all I wanted to do was nap!

Friday afternoon was about housework and cooking. The downstairs is quite tidy now.

Saturday, I finished up some more food. We had company in the morning, from Greenwich, and a nice catch-up. I drove them to the ferry — they’re on their way to Nantucket. After years of summer rentals, they actually hope to buy something.

Read in the afternoon and evening, and percolated a bit on some stories that want to be told.

Heard about the Jeffrey Epstein “suicide.” Yeah, right. Just way too convenient, especially for the Narcissistic Sociopath. And Barr in charge of the investigation? What a joke. The whole thing is disgusting.

Finished reading a thriller trilogy. I absolutely loved the first book. I got ahead of the story a bit on the second book. It happened even more in the third book, and I anticipated the ending I hoped wouldn’t wind up the way it did. I was disappointed. I feel the author cheated his trio of protagonists (and his readers) from the ending they earned. While the first book was fantastic, the trilogy as a whole left me depressed and unsatisfied. It was a very male ending, meaning that it was what I expected from a male writer, and disappointed when it happened. It was what all those middle-aged male writers trying to be hip do to punish their characters (especially their female characters) and act like they’re creating great fiction. Would a female writer have made the same choices with that plot? Possibly, but most of the women writers in the genre I admire would have done it differently, I believe, and in a more satisfying way.

Also read a book by an author about whose work I have mixed feelings. I’ve read several of her books, and every one leaves me with mixed feelings. They’re a little too cutesy-wootsy for my taste. Her protagonists rely on being rescued by men too much, instead of saving themselves or the partners working together to survive . She’s a writer, but with such a limited vocabulary that she misuses words like “witch” — if you use “witch” to mean a nasty woman instead of a spell-caster, you’re knocked off my reading list. It’s insulting and careless. It’s bad writing. Also, in this particular book, she had characters who were supposedly involved in theatre. She might have gone to one community theatre production in her life, but she sure as hell didn’t do any research. She knows nothing about how theatre works and nothing about actors or tech people. Her tone in writing about them was condescending — along with not having done her research. I have one more book ordered via Commonwealth Catalog that I can’t cancel. I’ll try a few pages before I send it back. But I am DONE with her.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Saturday night into Sunday, I had a nightmare about a mass shooting. I’m not going to detail the dream here, but it unnerved me for the rest of the weekend. in my personal journal, I wrote about it in detail, and I intend to use bits of it in a new piece I’m developing. But I would have rather never had the dream in the first place. It was too vivid. Too many sensory details.

Worked on the article for Llewellyn. That will go out in a couple of days. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on ELLA. It’s slowed down, and I have to figure out a few things to make this last third of the book work. Played with some ideas for DEATH OF A BROKEN MAN, which has a very broken (female) protagonist who relates to the dead body she trips over a little too much.

Getting some good work done on GRAVE REACH. I need to get this draft done this week and off to the editor, so we can go into galleys.

Playing with the first chapter of THE BARD’S LAMENT, which has to go into the back of GRAVE REACH.

Worked on the book I’m reviewing. I’m also reading the book for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Need to spend more time on Ello this week.

Working on a couple more article pitches. They’re not quite where I want them in order to go out. But I hope to get them out this week.

I can’t seem to shake this lethargy and exhaustion. All I want to do is sleep, but I don’t feel refreshed when I wake up.

I had terrible allergy problems on Sunday with the ragweed and goldenrod coming into bloom. Constant sneezing, runny eyes. I finally broke down and took a Benedryl, which knocked me out and I slept for 11 hours. Felt a little better on Monday. Even non-drowsy anti-histamines knock me out.

Monday was fine onsite with a client, and I expect today and tomorrow will be challenging.

Monday afternoon’s meditation group was much-needed.

Back to the page.

 

Thurs. Aug. 8, 2019: Writing or Not Writing

Thursday, August 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

If you haven’t hopped over to Ink-Dipped Advice to read the post on Fred’s Interviews, as part of the ongoing freelance parable, hop on over.

There’s also an update on the garden.

Plodding along on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH. I’m happy with what’s happening in both of them; it’s just not happening in the latter quickly enough.

Onsite with a client was fine yesterday. Got a lot done.

The #RemoteChat was excellent. I have such fun with that group.

Two of the research books I ordered arrived (from two different sources). Unfortunately, one of them was the wrong book. I’d ordered a Caribbean cookbook and they sent a library discard Secret Service memoir. Alibris was a nightmare to deal with. I’m more annoyed with them than the actual bookstore, because Alibris kept trying to get me to create a new account in order to report it. No. Don’t force me to create a new account to report a mistake on an existing order. No. I contacted the bookstore directly, too. Mistakes happen, but don’t make me jump through hoops in order to fix them. We’ll see IF they respond, either one of them.

Several people on social media who call themselves “writers” are talking about how they’re not writing and how much freer they feel. We all need breaks, and I’m all for vacations, even when it comes to writing. But if you keep making excuses not to write, if you feel better when you’re not writing — maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe that’s not the creative outlet for you (or the profession for you). Maybe it’s time to hang up the keyboard and spend your time doing something you ENJOY. Maybe it’s time to stop wasting professionals’ time and expecting them to create your career FOR you (these individuals have also made unfair demands of professional, published writers in the past).

Friends of ours are visiting Saturday morning, on their way to Nantucket. They’re planning to buy a house there (after visiting for decades) and will spend more time in this neck of the woods. I’m looking forward to seeing them and catching up.

Decent morning’s writing this morning, on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH. Working on my article for Llewellyn, getting out a couple of article pitches and LOIs.

Spending some time this afternoon with a travel writer friend, catching up on his recent trip to Calgary, before he takes off for Japan. Then, I’ll take a look at another friend’s radio play, and work on some reading for review pieces.

Tomorrow, I plan to get some work done at the library in the morning, then yoga, then house cleaning and cooking in anticipation for our friends.

I also have some dealings with my elected officials this week into next week, to discuss the chaos and corruption and let them know how I feel about it and what I’d like to see done. Our elected officials can’t represent us if we don’t’ tell them where we stand on things.

A lot of the work I’m doing now is internal, which is not particularly interesting to write about or read about. Things will ramp up in the coming weeks, I’m sure.

In the meantime, stay safe, keep doing your creative work, stay kind, and don’t stay silent in the face of inhumanity.

 

Published in: on August 8, 2019 at 9:07 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 8, 2019: Writing or Not Writing  
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Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I had trouble getting going yesterday. Eventually, I did, and sent off the edits for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Got a couple of pitches out. Heard back from an LOI I’d sent to a company that sounded interesting, but I don’t think we’re the right match.

Read a JD Robb novella, featuring Eve Dallas. Those are the science fiction/mystery/romance novels Nora Roberts writes. I enjoyed it; I’d read more. I like how she works with elements of all three genres. Structurally, I found it very strong, and I like the characters.

Got some work done on “Labor Intensive”, but not enough. That piece has to be ready to go next week, and I’m dragging my feet. I have to buckle down and get it done. I need to do some work on the essays, and get both FIX-IT GIRL and SAVASANA AT SEA revisions back on track.

One of the elements I’ve found most time-consuming in preparing these manuscripts is the back matter — excerpts from other books, additional material relevant to the books, etc. I enjoy writing and researching and sharing these materials, but it takes time, which means it has to be carefully built into the schedule.

I’m feeling creatively drained and fallow right now, without the usual stories and characters buzzing around in my head. Those are the stretches were one has to lean on craft first, and hope the creativity comes out of that. The foundation in craft is vital for a sustainable writing career. It also makes me very grateful for tools like my Writers Rough Outlines. They keep me on track, even on the rough days.

Alyssa Maxwell (a fellow Sister-in-Crime who writes the mysteries set in Newport) recommended the Hattie Darvish books written by Anna Loan-Wilsey. Hattie is a private secretary, earning her living, so each book is in a different location and different professional setting. I started with the first book in the series, A LACK OF TEMPERANCE. She’s very good with historical detail, makes it come alive well.

Several things are in limbo right now, and I’m trying to get things ready for my mother’s upcoming surgery. It’s in October, but there’s a great deal to be done before then, especially since she’s in her nineties, and any surgery can have difficult consequences.

Plenty to do today — research-wise and writing-wise.

One of the many good things about the trip to Nantucket is that it solidified my decision to set the whaling mysteries in New Bedford. I wasn’t sure which location I should pick, although I leaned toward New Bedford. What I need to serve the story makes more sense to put in New Bedford than on Nantucket, although, with its importance in the whaling industry, I’m sure there will at least be scenes set there.

Setting is so important to me, in what I read and what I write. Yes, the fictional elements of a setting are important, but they need to be grounded in reality if it’s in a real place or near a real place, and has to be believable as that area, not generic “small town” or “coast town” or “Southern town” or “English village” or whatever.

As I’ve spoken and taught for years, emotional geography matters.

In September, I really need to get to work writing the Lavinia Fontana play (it’s due in December). Some of the scenes are starting to take shape in my mind, but I still lack the throughline. I have themes, but not yet a plot. I’m character-building, and I may write one or two of the scenes to see how I can get a plot to emerge. The social structure of Bologna, especially amongst the noblewomen, will be an important part of that, and how Lavinia navigates that, with the burden of being the primary breadwinner for a large family, and the fact that she was constantly pregnant. It didn’t slow down her painting, though.

I feel like I’m using so much creative energy with the writing that pays the bills, it’s much more difficult to find the energy for the percolating time I need. The fiction and the non-fiction usually feed each other well, but, right now, I’m creatively weary and I don’t have the luxury of taking a break. X amount has to go out regularly, so X amount of dollars come in.

Smashwords has started paying monthly. Honestly, I prefer quarterly and/or twice-a-year payments for royalties.

In any case, I need to dig down and get back to work.

Buzz is starting to build for Nano again. With a book releasing in November, I don’t think this is a good year to do it. I might “write along with” Nano, riding the energy wave to finish THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but I don’t think I should “do” Nano, as in starting a new book on November 1. I have to say, though, the tandem Nano I did two years ago was a good thing, winding up with DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and a good chunk done on THE TIE-CUTTER (which has to go back on the schedule soon).

Preparing for the weekend, lots of reading and writing needs to happen (I have a reviewing assignment I need to finish), plus it’s toxic disposal day at the dump, so I can get rid of used batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, etc.

And, of course, I need to catch up on mowing. I’m sure you can all feel the eye roll, even though you can’t see it. 😉

Back to the page.

Published in: on August 24, 2017 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again  
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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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