Wed. Oct. 13, 2021: Outlines, Energy, Supplies

image courtesy of Charlotte May via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday turned into a temperate and gorgeous autumn day.

My initial productivity, writing the outline at the laundromat, sadly, did not transfer into much productivity the rest of the day.

I’m happy with the work on the outline, although it still needs more. I have to type up the notes, and organize some of the paragraphs; I jotted down bits and pieces as I thought of them, not necessarily in the order they need to flow for the story. I need to arrange them now, see where the plot holes are, and fill them with things to at least try in the first draft.

After the laundry was put away, some email dealt with, and some breakfast, I headed off to Wild Oats and to Stop & Shop for a grocery run. Stop & Shop is definitely having supply chain issues, mostly with big brands. It shouldn’t affect me too much, but as they are getting things in that I need (that aren’t perishable), I’m grabbing a couple extra, so that we’ll be all set through the winter. That way, if shelves are empty due to supply chain issues, we are still covered; if it’s just that we can’t get anywhere because of weather, we’re still covered. I will need to do a Target run soon for cleaning supplies. We have about another 4-6 weeks’ still left from what we brought up with us from my pandemic stash; I’m going to stock up to get us through the spring.

I bought more than I planned, at Stop & Shop, because I am doing some of that stocking up on canned goods and staples. There’s still no apple cider vinegar, although I found molasses and bought enough for the holiday baking and some other recipes. Frozen vegetables and pasta were just about wiped out. Frozen vegetables are more of a convenience than anything else; the farmers’ markets and the co-op can keep us supplied with fresh, although we might have to eat things we don’t normally eat. Chance to expand the palate. Eat whatever’s in season. We try to do that anyway, but I usually keep a few bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer for when I’m tired or haven’t had a chance to hit the market. While the Big Box pastas may be out of stock, the local fresh pastas are well stocked in both Wild Oats and Big Y. There don’t seem to be issues with flour and yeast this year, so I should be able to bake bread. Although I’m going to grab another jar or two of yeast in the coming weeks.

We are fortunate that we have so many choices in close proximity. And, as I said, it’s mostly big box brands that aren’t getting restocked. Those are my backup, not my go-to, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m keeping an eye on things. We have enough stocked in our pantry to get through a couple of months, and as long as I can replenish as we use things up, we’ll be fine.

But it’s noticeable.

There wouldn’t be supply chain issues if someone wasn’t making a profit from it. It’s being spun as a labor problem, but I think someone’s figured out how to profit and blame labor.

Really weary on multiple levels. I did my Soul Expedition journal work, which was interesting, and then spent some time on the acupressure mat. I’m getting headaches from all the screen time. I need new glasses at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Got out the two script coverages on the tightest deadline. Read two more scripts.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. They are bright and curious, and this type of learning allows them to actually learn, not just prep for standardized tests. I’m grateful to the Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for all their educational resources. Last night, we took a virtual trip through the Louvre, which was tons of fun, too. I need to do a virtual tour of some Venetian museums, and they thought that was interesting, so that’s on tomorrow’s agenda.

I was assigned my next book for review.

I have an ethical dilemma with one client; that client’s priorities have shifted in a way with which I disagree, and to the point where it may not be a good fit any longer. I’m debating whether to take a break with that particular client or just leave altogether. Usually, I’m all for a clean break, but I also know I’m suffering from burnout and pandemic brain, so I don’t want to make a mistake. I have to ponder this a bit, as I finish off some work for this client.

Stuck on one of the plays. I’m going back to the source material, hoping I can shake free of the stuck. I didn’t write enough notes on the project when the idea originally burbled up, and I’m paying for it now. It’s on deadline, so I don’t have time to faff around.

Hoping it clears up a bit, so that I can walk to the post office and library later. I hope the walk will clear out some of the cobwebs.

I didn’t get any of the short articles done yesterday, so I have to make up for that today, and also do more script coverage. I’m close to what I hoped to earn for the week, so I don’t have to stress.

I got pinged that UPS delivered a package yesterday afternoon. I don’t know where they delivered, but it sure as heck isn’t anywhere around here. I let the shipper know, so it can be either refunded or replaced. This morning, I found the package tucked under the mat, which means it was misdelivered elsewhere in the neighborhood, but, because I have excellent neighbors, someone took the time to drop it off. Because it wasn’t there when I checked at 9 PM last night.

Saturn going direct lifted a huge weight off (even though I’m tired). Having Jupiter and Mercury go direct next week will feel like a new lease on life, I hope.

Exhaustion kept me from concentrating well and getting things done yesterday in an efficient manner. I hope to make up for it today.

Tessa woke me at 4:30. I moved to the sofa for a bit, but was up and working by 5:30. She keeps coming into the office and yowling at me, then running around. I think she wants to play. Maybe if I give her a good, dedicated playtime session, she will let me work. Here’s hoping. Charlotte fell asleep during morning meditation and is still zonked out. Willa is busy in the kitchen.

Because, you know, it’s all about the cats.

Tues. Oct. 12, 2021: Am I Really Doing This?

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Saturn went DIRECT on 10/10/2021

Foggy and mild

The weekend turned out quite differently than expected, but I’m doing my work on flow and flexibility, and grateful that my work allows it.

The plan, since it was supposed to be a warm and sunny day, was to go to Holyoke and Hadley (about an hour and a half away) to hit some stores we don’t have around here and stock up on a few things, and check out a few places to see if they’re worth a return visit. It wasn’t that warm, and it alternated between clouds and sun.

But the big thing that jettisoned those plans was that Tessa was limping, badly. Her right front paw was the problem. She wasn’t happy about me checking it, but it wasn’t broken, and she didn’t have anything lodged in it, and it wasn’t an ingrown nail. I figured she landed wrong on one of her jumps, or when she raced up and down the stairs, playing, in the night.

We decided to stay home and watch her, and keep Charlotte away from her, in case I needed to book a vet visit in the next couple of days. She didn’t want me carrying her, and insisted on jumping up and down, even though she still limped. But we managed to keep her quiet most of the day. I stayed next to her on the sofa, and even, sometimes, down on the floor.

Snuck off while she napped to send off my last script coverages for the week, and made my nut and a little over, so I could relax.

Got my book review sent off, but it was too late to get another assignment, so I’m hoping that will come through today. Managed to catch up on a bunch of emails, too, and designed a new ad for Fearless Ink which I will probably launch next week, after both Jupiter and Mercury go retrograde.

Did some research on William Morris Hunt and the female painters and sculptors he trained, in preparation for the steampunk piece.

Over Friday and Saturday, I read WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS by Stacey Abrams. It’s an excellent legal thriller. If Stacy Abrams can be such a purposeful activist to save democracy and still manage her book deadlines, I can shut up and get back on schedule. I enjoy a good legal thriller, and oh, so many fall short, but this exceeded my expectations. Incredible plotting. Just masterful. Along with characters and storytelling and great settings. Top notch in every way.

Friday night, I set up the sofa bed, brought in Tessa’s food, water, and a litter box, and shut everyone else out of the living room. This way, I could be nearby if Tessa needed something, and could make sure she had uninterrupted rest from the others, so her paw could heal. She was pretty happy about it; Charlotte, not so much.

Slept through then night and got up a little before 5 on Saturday. No howling from Tessa, which proves it’s not about food, it’s about loneliness.

Tessa was much better on Saturday, but it was rainy and yucky, so we didn’t go anywhere. We’d hoped to go to Great Barrington, but that will have to wait for a sunnier day. I finished reading WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS, and then made vegetable stock, and hunted down the box of Halloween treat bags. I was sure I’d brought it up, but couldn’t find it the last few days, and was worried I’d have to do another storage run between the time Mercury goes direct and Samhain. But I finally found it, so it’s all good.

Unpacked some of the boxes in the sewing room, filling the new dresser with fabric.

Signed up for a weeklong course called “Expedition to the Soul” by The Sisters Enchanted. I figured that would work well with the whole Chiron/healing theme. They give you a workbook to download, and ideas on putting together an “Quest Pack.” At first, I rolled my eyes, but reminded myself that I’m the one who signed up for it, so I should do as they ask, because there are reasons. When I teach a class, one of the rules is that you do all the assignments as asked, even if you decide to never work in that way again. So, as a participant, I need to show the same respect to my instructors.

 Once I started putting it together, I had a lot of fun with it. It contains items from Goddess Provisions and Tamed Wild that didn’t have placements yet, and were just sitting around until I found something for them to do, but they’re perfect for this.

Worked on some notes and background for a couple of writing projects, but nothing too major.

Made a quick mac and cheese lunch from Annie’s Organic in a box. It’s been a few years since I ate it, and I was not impressed. The sauce mix was lumpy and wouldn’t dissolve into the milk and butter, and, overall, it was too salty. In a week or two, I’ll have to make up a big batch of Moosewood’s cheese sauce and do their mac and cheese from scratch, and freeze a few packets. I used a Campbell’s sweet and sour skillet sauce with leftover chicken (and made rice) for dinner. Again, not impressed. Somewhere, I have the really good sweet and sour recipe my mom’s best friend gave me (she grew up in Macao, and we took a Chinese cooking class with her a looong time ago, but I kept all the recipes). Foodwise, Saturday was a bust.

I couldn’t find any photos of my dad for the Ancestor Altar we’re building, which is really frustrating. I was sure the big box with all our photo albums and scrap books went on the truck, but can’t find it. That’s upsetting; it better be in the storage unit and not lost for good.

But I have the box that was sent after my uncle, my father’s younger brother, died. Going through that, I found a great, happy photo of my dad from 1965 in Chicago, so I’ll use that. I also found photos of both his older and younger brothers (both of them were artists in Europe). And found a bunch of letters and ancestry research. Most of it is in that difficult-to-read German script, so it will take some time for my mom and I to interpret it. Most of the letters are typed, so my mom is going to work on the translation.

A Big Project for the Winter.

My mother’s father had done a lot of ancestral research on that side of the family, but I have very little information about my father’s side.

I slept in the living room again with Tessa, and slept through the night until nearly six in the morning. Heaven. By this time, Charlotte’s separation anxiety was in high gear, so it took a couple of hours to get her calmed down.

Tessa was running and playing at top speed, so it was just a bad landing on a jump, and nothing that needs a vet visit. Sometimes she forgets she’s not still a kitten.

Dreary day on Sunday, weather-wise. Spent the morning writing six short almanac articles, which was a lot of fun. Spent some time with the Quest workbook. Unpacked a tiny bit, and found some stuff for the Quest Pack.

In the afternoon, I read three scripts for coverage, which I wrote up on Monday.

Worked on an outline for a piece that is taking shape in my head. Those characters that were in search of a story? Found one for them. I’m starting to think it would make sense to work on it during Nano. Yes, the siren song of Nano calls. On the one hand, it’s a chance to write an entire project in a condensed period of time, and get back into the groove, and to connect with local chapter writers. On the other hand, I have three plays due at the end of the year in New York, and I need to get back on track with the series books, keep up with the script coverage and the copywriting, and other “in progress” things. Also, in previous years, I found those who quit before the end of the month were exhausting. They were always the ones pulling the most energy from everyone else, and then they quit anyway.

I’m worried that if I do Nano, I’m doing it for ego. I realize there’s a certain amount of ego involved in writing any book. But as much as I’m trying to justify that it’s about finding my rhythm again after stalling during the early part of the pandemic and while I was sick, there’s also ego involved.

Because, let’s face it, I regularly write more than 50K in a month, although not necessarily on one project. And I don’t have to interact on forums – in fact, the last time I did Nano, I found the moderators snippy and awful towards professional writers.

And doing Nano simply because of ego is not the right reason for me to start writing a book.

Writing because I’m pulled by the story and characters (which I am, especially if I can craft a tight outline between now and November), and writing a whole book from start to finish (which would spill over past Nano, because this book needs to be at least 70K. I’d need to keep writing it into December, while finishing off the plays. And juggling everything else.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use that time and put that energy into something that I SHOUILD be working on?

Or would the WANT TO writing fuel the SHOULD?

If it’s the latter, I can work with the ego elements, ignore the energy vampires, and just write.

I don’t know. I’m having an internal debate. Maybe the Soul Expedition will give me some answers.

I know I CAN write 50K on a project in 30 days; it’s just a case of getting back to doing it, and then continuing it past November 30, to get back to my normal rhythm between 1.5-2K/day on whatever is the “primary” project of the moment. Can I use Nano to fuel it, even with a new project? Or will it just become another obstacle?

I wouldn’t mentor this year; Let 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS take care of that. I’m promoting it all over the place.

Of course, the site’s not letting me sign in, so it might be moot anyway! Update: I managed to get in, under my old password (wrote down the new one, just in case). Updated the profile, set up the novel. Switched regions. Looked at the forums, which gave me a headache. I can still always change my mind.

Then I look at my intent for the week and wonder, is Nano a bad habit I have to break, or is the uneven writing rhythm of the past few months the bad habit I have to break?

I don’t have the answer. Yet.

Did some work on the Fearless Ink ad. I might do two ads. I create a tagline and am sourcing the right images, and I found an image and can create a good tagline.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up a little after 4:30, because she was lonely (Charlotte was thrilled I slept back in my own bed and she could snuggle all night).

Good first writing session, good early morning yoga.

Barbara Moore’s THE WIZARD’S TAROT arrived, and it is spectacular. Looking through the deck gave me chills in the right way. I plan to use this deck and her STEAMPUNK TAROT together on Samhain, when I do the year’s monthly action/energy reading. It takes both decks out of regular usage for the upcoming year, but I think I can do a lot of work with them in the coming year with them as that foundational reading.

(This year’s deck were the Pagan Tarot as the action deck and the Sacred Circle tarot as the energy deck. Pretty accurate throughout the year, although not necessarily in the way they were originally interpreted).

Did another pass through the Nano forums. Some very toxic topics like:

–What’s your day job?

–What’s your favorite hobby besides writing?

–Writers are your competition

So, yeah, not participating in those. Whenever “what’s your day job?” comes up on something like Twitter, I respond “writing” and then wait a day or two to block the toxic poster. Or just skip the question and block.

And other writers are NOT my competition. That’s something the industry promotes to keep writers “in their place” and too many of them underpaid, because traditional publishers only have a finite number of slots. But the reality is that you can’t have too many good writers, because humans have an insatiable need for stories.

I admit it; I was tempted to be an asshat and post a snide response. But then I didn’t. Because I’m a grownup, and I don’t have to give in to these impulses. Being snippy is not in the spirit of Nano, which is for everyone to try to find their way to a regular writing rhythm. I can avoid the toxic, the whiny, and the dilettantes, without being mean.

Wrote four more short almanac articles. Wrote up three script coverages. Used the rest of the slow cooker pork to make pork Lo Mein, which was good, but, for some reason, the sauce turned out spicier than I expected. I’ll have to cut back on the red pepper flakes next time I make that sauce. Spent a couple of hours on the prep for the Soul Expedition stuff, using the journal prompts.

Read four scripts last night, which I will cover today.

Tessa let me sleep this morning until just before 5, but she is now insisting that, when I wash her bowl in the morning, I put the food into a WARM bowl. Okay, Tess, whatever you say, you’re the boss.

Headed over to the laundromat first thing, got both loads done and was back by 7:30, which was pretty damn good.

I used my time at the laundromat to work on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER, the working title of this piece. I wrote about 5 pages (I already had jotted about 3 pages of notes). I have the characters (the ones who were in search of the plot a few days ago). I have the situation. I know the murderer. I know why the murderer did it. I even have a couple of red herrings, and some good situations as my characters work to solve the mystery. I need more clues and red herrings, and to tighten it all up, which might not happen until the second draft. I need enough in the outline so I can get the first draft down quickly for Nano, and then, starting next spring or so, massage it and hone it and tone it. I want it to be fairly short – around 70K.

I’m finding I have to do some research, like do persimmons grow in the Berkshires? (They do). And about the casinos in Springfield. I really hope I don’t need to do a research trip, because I loathe casinos.

I feel pretty good about the piece and the prep. What I hope is that the energy used to drive this piece in Nano will spill out to the other pieces on which I’m working, and have a ripple effect. So that I’d work on CAST IRON MURDER first thing in the morning (after the longhand session on the other project, so, well, second thing in the morning), and then, later in the day, work on the plays. Maybe I’ll leverage the Sundance Collaborative writing sessions for that.

Anyway, I need to start my day. I have to do a grocery run in the morning for things like oat milk, eggs, wine, and coffee, and then get back to the almanac articles and the script coverage. I’d hoped to get LOIs out today, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. Working on the ad, too, for Fearless Ink, and the blog for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

So it’s a busy day. Might put off the library and the post office until tomorrow.

Most of the students were away for the weekend, it being a long one, so it was nice and quiet. They’re really not bad, and when there’s noise, it’s for about 20 minutes or so. But there is a difference when they’re not around. I like both ways – the energy when they’re around, and the quiet when they’re not.

Hope you have a good week, friends. Peace.

If you want to grab a copy of the free 30 Tips for 30 Days, you can get the download links here. It’s not on Amazon; they blocked it because they don’t allow free downloads that don’t originate/aren’t exclusive to them. If you need a mobi file, contact me through the website, and we’ll set it up.

Tues. Sept. 7, 2021: Back At It

image courtesy of chezbeate via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Hope you had a good weekend.

Thursday’s meditation group didn’t happen, because there was a miscommunication between the organizers and the teacher. No big deal. I sat on my own.

Most of Thursday was about baking and cleaning for me: baking banana-oatmeal-walnut-chocolate chip cookies, regular chocolate chip cookies, orange rye bread, Portuguese sweet bread, Swedish visiting cake, and an apple galette. Making up the guest bed. Vacuuming, mopping, dusting.

Friday morning, I had to go in person to Greylock Federal Credit Union. Our checks aren’t here (they were ordered August 13). I tried to pay the rent online & couldn’t. It would take TEN DAYS to transfer the money from my account to an account at the same bank. Unacceptable. There’s no real office where I could drop cash. So I went to the bank and had them transfer from my account to the landlord’s account, and asked them why the checks weren’t here.

Turns out the check order never went through. The bank apologized and promised to put in a rush order, paying for everything.

I’ll believe it when the checks arrived.

Meanwhile, I was getting texts from my friend, who was supposed to come up for the weekend. Amtrak cancelled all trains, because Hurricane Ida dumped ten feet of mud onto the tracks. Metro North is out. It’s a disaster area.

Of course, they didn’t tell her until she was at the station.

She tried to switch over to a bus, but so was everyone else. She tried to get a bus to Springfield, but that wasn’t working, either.

So the trip was cancelled. We’ll reschedule for October.

Meanwhile, I had all this organic food I’d bought, to show off our local produce, etc. It still had to be eaten this weekend, so that it wouldn’t spoil, so I cooked all the recipes I had planned: chicken in tarragon white wine vinegar and potatoes au gratin (Patricia Wells recipes); Indian stuffed eggplant (Moosewood recipe); Hunter’s pasta with four kinds of mushrooms & prosciutto (from a cookbook specializing in regional Italian sauces). We ate the devilled eggs (not hard).

I spent most of the weekend reading. I read a book from the library that’s gotten a lot of buzz. The writing was strong, the setting was fantastic. But I hated the characters, and by the time they started to grow and change, I didn’t care. I read a book by a new-to-me author, the first in her series, sort of chick lit. I liked the characters, but there’s too much religion (they go to church and pray too much, no thanks, not for me) and disparage black cats. So that author’s off my list. I read a book by another new-to-me author who jumped on the cozy Witch mystery bandwagon, only couldn’t be bothered to do any research into what modern witchcraft actually is all about, had no internal logic to her created world, had no pacing, and a boring plot. Another author crossed off my list.

Read the next two Wonky Inn books, which I enjoyed.

Started re-reading some GAMBIT COLONY, but it felt too much like work, and I promised not to work this weekend, so I stopped. Of course, I went back to it, eventually, but by then, it wasn’t feeling like work anymore. I could just enjoy it.

On Saturday, we drove down to Pittsfield to find the Re-store. I made a wrong turn on the way and found a bunch of box stores, like Barnes & Noble and Michael’s and Price Chopper, so that’s good to know where they are. We went into Michael’s. it’s a good one, very clean, better merchandise than the one on Cape. Didn’t buy anything, though. All the autumn stuff is already on sale.

The Re-store is just up the street from the complex with the box stores, and it is huge. So much stuff that it’s overwhelming. We found a replacement glass bell for the small red lamp. It was a great price to start, and then 50% off, so, even better.

Got home, washed it, set up the lamp. It fits perfectly. The lamp is now all set up in the living room and looks great.

I finished unpacking and reorganizing all my CDs. I have a wide range of music. I need to start playing them again, because there’s good stuff on that rack.

Spent a lot of time sitting on the porch, enjoying watching the world go by. Ate too much, but that was the plan for the weekend, anyway.

I expected to feel much more rested and restored, but oh, well.

This is a busy week. Since I took four days off (of which two would have normally been workdays), I have to make up for it this week. I still have to make my nut by the 15th, in order to pay this month’s bills.

So, then, I better get to it, hadn’t it?

I wrote my first 1K of the day every morning, throughout. It wasn’t always 1K, it waved between about 750 and 1200. But I kept up the steadiness.

I’m trying to work on an outline for a piece. I have a strong catalyst, setting, characters, but I haven’t nailed down the plot yet. Without a good plotline, there’s no purpose to the piece. I have to ponder it.

Hope your weekend was terrific, and that it sets you up for a great week. I love September!

Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!

image courtesy of Open Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

It’s September! I love autumn!

The contrasts are so different. On Cape, people put on shorts as of April 1, even if it was still snowing. They’d march around in shorts and Uggs, if necessary, from April 1 until November. Here, this week, people were already wearing jackets. It’s entertaining.

I’m pleased with the work I did on the outline yesterday morning at the laundromat. There’s too much distraction to actually write scenes, but I can read there, and now I found out I can outline. Because I’m going to make use of the time.

I like how this piece is shaping. I’m working on outlines for three very different pieces, although all in the same genre, while getting back on track with the other pieces, and continuing to work on the novel-out-of-my-wheelhouse first thing every morning. I’m getting back into my creativity.

I slept better last night, because I wasn’t reading scripts up until bedtime. When I do that, there’s too much noise from other people’s work in my head, and it gets in the way of my own. So I need a longer stretch between stopping my reading for the night and sleep. Perhaps I’ll add in a creative session of my own (longhand, not screen).  I need my own work to have room to breathe and percolate overnight as I sleep.

I can read finished, published work up until I sleep, no problem. But drafts, where I’m supposed to comment, or work for review — I need a gap, or something different, between finishing that work for the night and going to sleep. Or it interferes with my work. And protecting my own work/voice/creativity is the priority.

The rest of the morning was spent in bureaucracy. Necessary, but annoying. Lots of paperwork to do, connected to the move.

Headed out to the post office to mail the bureaucracy, then to the library, to pick up a book on hold. Once there, I discovered that I’d walked out of the house without my wallet AGAIN. I offered to go back to get my card, but they let me check out the book without it.

I leave my wallet at home too often lately. That has to stop. Once is a genuine mistake. Multiple times is carelessness and stupidity, and I don’t have room for those kinds of errors. I keep things in the same place, and have a preparation ritual to go out the door, so it is inexcusable to have left my wallet home, now, multiple times.

Headed for a big grocery shop to Stop and Shop, getting in what I need for the cooking/baking for my friend’s visit. Headed to Wild Oats for a few more things. Will have to do a trip to Big Y tomorrow for some stuff I couldn’t find, and then another swing by Wild Oats to get some stuff I want fresher than sitting around from Tuesday to the weekend.

My downstairs neighbor-one-over gave me some produce from her garden, and it is yummy! So, when I bake cookies tomorrow, I’ll make some extra for her.

Read for about an hour in the afternoon. Was supposed to attend a virtual networking event, but couldn’t get the Zoom link to work. Turned out it was a Spectrum problem – there were trucks on the street. I’ll have to send an apology to the organizer today.

I have a lot of script coverage to complete today, and a couple of writeups. Tomorrow is my last day to get anything written up, so that I have the whole weekend off. I’m looking forward to the break.

This afternoon, I’m looking forward to Remote Chat!

Published in: on September 1, 2021 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!  
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Fri. June 2, 2017: Reading, Writing, Recalibrating

Friday, June 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Got quite a bit done, including mowing the terraced back part of the yard yesterday, although the mower fought me the whole time. Today, I’m going to do the side yard and another part of the back near the deck; tomorrow, I’ll start on the meadow.

Didn’t get much writing done, which was frustrating. I’m trying to outline the piece inspired by the abandoned town, because I’m at a point where I need to set some plot markers, not just make it up as I go along. I’m having trouble answering some of the questions that are vital to structuring the rest of the plot. Until I can answer them, I’m moving forward blind, if I keep writing.

Play proposal was acknowledged by the organization. Now, it’s a waiting game. It’s either what they’re looking for, or it’s not.

Got a thoughtful, kind response from a novelist who I’d contacted for some information. It wasn’t writing-related, but something about which he has strong knowledge. We’d only met once, so it was a reach to contact him, and he was kind enough to respond. It was much appreciated.

Re-slanting a pitch for a different market.

I have to go and buy cat food today, because, well, cat food is necessary for everyone’s well-being! Have a few more errands to do, too, and want to do one more pass on the assignment for the new editor before I send it off.

Still searching for the right cover images for PLAYING THE ANGLES. So much cover art is so poorly done; if I’m going to do this, do these re-releases properly, I’m going to take my time and make sure all the elements for the re-release work. The editing, the cover art, the media kit, the marketing campaign.

Roughed out the outline for the Devon Ellington media kit. I’m not sure in what order to put it. Right now, I have the non-fiction, then the series/novels, then the shorts, then the anthologies, then retired info/”other”. Really, the only way I’ll know if it works is to put it together and read it for flow.

I’ve got the basic design for the Topic Workbook bookmark, and what I want to do for the blog bookmark, the DE work bookmark, and the Fearless Ink workbook; but I’m having trouble finding the right template.

It was warm enough and pleasant enough to have both lunch and dinner out on the deck yesterday; a nice change from the cold, wet weather.

I’m reading MISS TREADWAY AND THE FIELD OF STARS by Miranda Emmerson. I enjoy it. It’s literary fiction with mystery elements. Can’t tip all the way into mystery novel, because of the forays into many different characters that keep it from having the pace of a mystery or suspense novel. The third person omniscient narration, which moves from character to character within scenes doesn’t always work for me, but I like most of the characters, the plot, and the story.

This weekend, I want to work on the FIX IT GIRL revisions, the short radio play, and a short story. Also will prep some more article pitches to send out next week.

Never a dull moment. Which is a good thing!

June’s To Do List is up on the GDR site here.

So the Narcissistic Sociopath is pulling us out of the Paris Climate Accord. Playing to the stupid and ignorant, while making personal profit. Yet again. He’s supposed to be a public servant, yet he’s never done anything to serve anyone but himself. The fact that anyone is stupid enough to believe him is appalling. What a loathsome individual, and what an embarrassment to represent the country on a world stage. People keep saying, “this is not who we are.” Obviously, it’s what we’re becoming, or someone would DO something to remove the corrupt and the stupid. Yet no one is. The whole situation is revolting.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on June 2, 2017 at 9:50 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 2, 2017: Reading, Writing, Recalibrating  
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Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades

Monday, April 10, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Spare me from the retrogrades! No such luck.

Busy weekend. I started the LA section on POWER OF WORDS, and did some work on the Orient Express section.

I did some further plotting for the revision of FIX-IT GIRL — I have to figure out where I need to put the new material, then write the first draft inserts, then I can go back and start a genuine revision. I’m keeping the ending where it is, on the train from LA to New York.

I did a lot of research, relevant to both projects: books on the studio system, books on various actors and directors, costume research. Also read Joe Eszterhas’s THE DEVIL’S GUIODE TO HOLLYWOOD: THE SCREENWRITER AS GOD. I don’t particularly like him or his work, although I respect what he’s accomplished. I don’t like the arrogant, swaggering persona he projects. I disagree with a lot of what he says — his contempt for many people in the business, and dislike of many manifestations of collaboration.

On the other hand, he has a point, and everything starts from the script. He believes one must fight for the script. I agree, to a point: I think a lot depends on the project. When the script originates with the writer — in other words, as he so often does, the writer writes the script from his own idea/something he wants to do and sells it — then, yes. Defend away, fight, be careful where you compromise. But when you’re brought in to write from an idea or a scenario or a treatment — then you’re hired to bring to life someone else’s vision, and I think you have to be more flexible. Of course, he loathes the idea of rewrites or script doctoring. Again, I understand his position, not messing with another writer’s work. But there are times when it’s the wrong writer for the project, or the notes have gotten things so muddy no one can see or think straight anymore.

Good for him that he’s earned the right not to be flexible, but I think there are plenty of cases where one has to be flexible. Especially when one is paying dues and building credits.

I disagree with many, many things in the book, but his actual advice on the process of writing — six script pages every day on the first draft, how to set work aside and go back and rewrite, that the “first draft” that is shown to anyone is really at least the third draft, writing every day and so forth and so on — that’s all great. It’s such a tiny part of the book — he knows he’ll sell more copies with the more controversial stuff about what he has fun with and/or loathes in the industry — but when he talks about the actual writing, he’s got good, useful stuff to say.

Read some Adrienne Rich poetry and prose, both in honor of National Poetry Month and in preparation for a piece on A Biblio Paradise, which will post tomorrow.

Have working title for the Lavinia Fontana play, but still don’t have the catalyst that will actually put the play into motion. More research required.

In the shower this morning, I had an idea for a new screenplay, set in the late 1930s, as the country comes out of the depression, but before the start of WWII. I’ll have to do some research for it, but I liked the idea — it plays against a lot of the noir ideas of the late 30s/early 40s, and some of their hypocrisies, and yes, the lead role is a woman. A very smart woman. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the outline already this morning, a quick paragraph for almost every scene — a couple of places where I need to figure out where the plant a couple of things.

So, I guess, between the errands and the yard work, and 1K on POWER OF WORDS and 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK and figuring out where to plant additional scenes in FIX-IT GIRL, I better get six pages of script done!

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades  
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Fri. Nov. 13, 2015: Sad News and Rebel 2 Writing

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and windy

Busy day yesterday. We had computer issues at work, which put us in a muddle all day, and limited what we could do. We did a lot of work on the tree.

When the computers finally came back up, we were short-handed, I was trying to catch up, and it was a challenge. But we got a good bit done. I couldn’t get anything catalogued, though; even though the circ computers worked, I couldn’t get Sierra up on my computer to receive books. I couldn’t commandeer a circ computer, because it was busy and they needed them.

I got some sad news in the afternoon – a colleague at the Marine Life Center unexpectedly passed away overnight. He’d just been at the Board meeting on Monday. It’s a shock. We’re all reeling. He was committed, dedicated, funny, and kind, and will be very, very missed.

I was exhausted by the time I got home. Dinner, reading. A novel that was highly recommended, but didn’t do it for me, and another one where the heroine is supposed to be goofy and sweet, but is, in reality, an idiot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a mystery, so I couldn’t even hope she’d be the next victim.

Overslept this morning, but managed a thousand words, on an outline for the piece that’s been niggling at me. Still, I wrote, so it’s going into Nano total as “Rebel 2”.

Weary and sad. The weekend will be busy, hopefully good busy. I need to run errands and do yard work and write.

I’m getting into my Nano Week 3 head a little early, where I resent anything that takes time from my writing. Oh, wait, I usually do that anyway. 😉

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Published in: on November 13, 2015 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?

There are two traps here: one is to over-outline and use that as an excuse to not get down to writing. The other is to blank page (also called “pantsing”, an expression, which, to me, means “lazy amateur who doesn’t care”) and then not know what to do next.

There is nothing wrong with either technique, unless it prevents you from doing the actual writing.

If you have tight deadlines or juggle multiple projects, I suggest that you outline. That way, you can sit down each day and have an idea of the day’s work, thereby meeting your quota. When you Blank Page, it’s very easy to sit down, be overtired or unfocused, say “I can’t”, get up and walk away. Do that for a few days, and you’ve blown your goal.

You’re not in competition with any one except yourself, but unfinished projects drain creative energy. In fact, I teach a class called “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects”. Make the commitment to do this, fulfill the commitment during the month, go past it if you need to in order to finish, and THEN decide where you’ll take it.

Remember, you are under no obligation to ever publish this. So don’t look at it and think, “it sucks, no one will ever want it.” If you choose to keep working on future drafts, it will have a life beyond the first one. If you choose to stick it in a drawer and use what you learned on a different project, that’s fine. It’s your CHOICE. But make sure it’s a CHOICE and not a cop-out by not finishing.

If you decide to outline, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I do what I call a “Writer’s Rough”, which is basically a scene list with a sentence or two of description or dialogue about each scene. When I sit down to write, I fill it in. For me, that is the best of both worlds – I’ve got a framework, but I’ve got room to explore.

There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it all in your head, if you’re good at that. Sometimes, writing it down dilutes the creative pressure, and you need to build it in order to have the momentum to carry you through.

Don’t be afraid of tangents – the focus of a first draft is words on paper. You cut and shape in the next draft(s).

Published in: on October 28, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 28: Outline or Blank Page?  
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Thurs. Jan. 10: Time Wasted Due to Coporate BS

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

I actually had a positive experience with Comcast yesterday. I’ve bashed them frequently over the years here, especially with problems in the Philadelphia area, but yesterday, we were able to have positive contact, intelligent discussion, and able to SOLVE the problem in a way that benefit both of us. In other words, actual customer service and negotiation. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. I thought it was worth a public mention, and I thanked the person who was so helpful.

Verizon, on the other hand — well, we won’t even get started there! They really need to be slapped around by the regulators, because they treat their customers like dog poo. I have a neighbor who works for them, and they pretty much treat their employees just as badly, but someone needs to get them in line. Hopefully, I can wrap everything up with them soon and not have to deal with them anymore. You’d think, after being a customer for a dozen years, they’d give a damn. But what do you expect from a company that funds crazy, right-wing political candidates and finds it acceptable for employees to THROW THE PHONE at customers who come in to ask questions?

Still feeling under the weather. Boston has declared a health emergency, due to the flu. I’m one of the small percentage allergic to the flu shot, so I can’t get it — the shot could kill me. The flu itself just makes me feel like crap for a week.

Worked with students, wrote a pitch, got some writing done, but not enough. Never enough, which is discouraging. I had to waste far too much time and energy fighting with Verizon when I should have been doing income-earning work.

Spent some time on school work, too. I’m trying to catch up in the Astronomy class — the sheer volume of lectures each week makes it tough. There are fewer lectures in the Galaxies and Cosmology class, which started this week, so I’m in pretty good shape on that. The math is far beyond me, but the quizzes on theory I’m doing quite well in (even though I don’t have the science background).

Struggling to finish the proposal for my agent. I haven’t hit quite the right tone for the sample. The proposal itself is very strong, but the writing that the proposal is ABOUT has to sing, and there’s a metaphorical frog in its throat right now.

Also, on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE, I’m over 80 pages in and have to stop and write the outline. I’m getting unfocused.

Have to put some material together for a meeting this afternoon at the Marine Life Center. Also have to remember to take my camera to do some promo shots of Townsend and Major Margaret. MM is healthy enough to be released this weekend!

It looks like the only class I’m teaching in February is going to be a three-day seminar called “The Graveyard of Unfinished Projects.” More details to follow. Should be fun.

So much to do, hard to focus. But, somehow, it will all get done.

Devon

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Tues. July 31, 2012: It’s Cooling Off . . .and not Even August

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s gosh-darned chilly here at night and in the mornings!

Yesterday, I got some work done, but not enough (familiar refrain lately). I’m finishing up an article today, and knocking out a couple of blog posts. I had a chat with the client for whom I’m ghostwriting, and the client is thrilled with the work we’re doing, which is nice.

Finished chapter-by-chapter outline for first book of trilogy and it vanished into the ether somewhere. That’ll teach me to skip printing out a day’s work!

Making plans with the students who are coming in for the conference, getting my materials together, finishing up what I have to do for the auction on the civic activity I’ll be missing, cutting back the faded blooms on the hostas, cutting back other things that are already dying back early.

Tessa is obsessed with Twitter now, because new tweets make noise and pop up!

Costume Imp got home safely. I picked up a new shower curtain liner and some more DampRid for the basement (because mine is all used up).

I’ve got two books to critique this week, so I need to get going, and am distracted by a fascinating novel called THE DEATH INSTINCT by Jed Rubenfeld, set against a terrorist attack/bombing on Wall Street in 1920.

It’s cooler, so the cats are all Very Busy.

My yoga article is up here. Check it out.

There are still a few openings in the three month intensive Tarot for Writers. Well, I was going to promote it, but I can’t get the link on the Savvy site. Sigh.

Back to work — at least I have more energy today and feel there’s a chance of some genuine creativity!

Devon

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments (2)  
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sleeting and cold

Quick check-in. I have to go to Trader Joe’s, Staples, and Mrs. Green’s as soon as they open. We weren’t supposed to get the sleet storm until tonight, according to the weather folk — so, of course, it’s started NOW.

Good day yesterday — got the laundry done, got a submission out, checked in with another editor who likes my work, revised a short story. Didn’t get any work done on the play, unfortunately. It’s still taking form. I’ve got the basic structure figured out, and it’s only got three characters, but the comedy isn’t yet flowing naturally.

Working on an outline of a piece based on the dream — whose intensity still sits with me — only I’m working the outline kind of backwards. I’ve got the ending; I’ve got the opening. And I’m working back from the ending to get to the opening, at least in the outline. Characters for another piece are also talking, a piece that started percolating last week. So it’s a little noisy internally right now. Fortunately, with the long weekend, there’s a decent amount of external quiet.

I may be working out of town towards the end of the upcoming week — I was asked on Friday night, supposed to get all the details by Saturday morning, and still don’t have them, but I’m getting the week sorted as though I’m going. If I go, then there won’t be a crunch at the end of the week; if I don’t, I have a bigger swatch of unscheduled time to devote to the writing. Either way, it’s a positive.

And I have clean clothes for the trip! 😉

Back to the page to get a little bit done before I head out on errands, then hunker down inside for the rest of the day.

Devon

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 8:52 am  Comments (2)  
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Thursday, December 10, 2009


Elsa is in the doghouse, metaphorically speaking

Thursday, December 10
Waning Moon
Uranus Direct (oh, so many dates were given for this one)
Sunny and COLD!

I never got around to posting yesterday, but you had the Tuesday update, so I didn’t feel too guilty.

I’m really tired of feeling nauseous all the time. Wish the stomach bug would clear up. I still have an appetite — it’s just the consequences kind of suck. I’m a little better today, and hope that means I’m on the road to feeling like myself again.

Got the assignment for Confidential Job #1 finished and out the door. Phew! Now, I have to drive to the public library in Greenwich today so I can invoice them, since they only take invoices over IE, and I can’t run IE on this machine without major re-arranging. So I send the invoice from the library computer, which runs IE. Yippy Skippy.

Got quite a bit of writing done, although it always feels like it isn’t enough. I let the pressure build on the Apocalypse story so it would flow well this morning. There’s more of a fractured fairy tale feel to it than anything else. I suppose one could argue that the Apocalypse isn’t funny, but one has to find humor in tragedy, and sometimes, you get the point across better. That’s what I hope to pull off, anyway.

I got an idea for a thoroughbred-oriented tale for another anthology percolating, too. I was going to pass on that deadline (again, the end of the month), but this morning, the idea started going, so . . .if I can clear the Apocalypse tale off the desk by next week, I’ll go for it.

Did a lot of work on the outline I mentioned the other day. However, I don’t know how I want it to end. I may have to write my way into it in order to find out.

Had a good writing session this morning.

To answer some of the comments on the Tuesday update, no, telling the characters to shut up doesn’t work. But at least I feel like I’m being active, rather than just letting them muck around inside my head too much. I’m trying to prioritize projects for 2010,while still leaving room for the unexpected — the unexpected opportunities, for me, tend to be the ones that pay off both in financial and creative terms, so I don’t want to lock myself in to too much.

Sent out nearly two dozen pitches/queries for the plays whose rights are now coming available. They don’t do any good just sitting in the drawer — they need to get out in the world and earn their keep.

Perhaps I’ve simply gotten addicted to royalties! 😉

Longing for the days when there were so many magazines publishing fiction one could make a living at it,

Read some of the reviews for ALICE. I’m surprised that a lot of the reviewers think TIN MAN was better; I think ALICE was. It was tighter, more focused, and the chemistry between Scorsone and Potts worked really well, in my opinion. In particular, Potts is completely present and committed in every moment of every shot he’s in, whether the focus is on him or not, and that brings out more from those around him. You can tell he was trained in the theatre, and it serves him well.

Well, that’s what reviews are, aren’t they? Opinions. I’ve certainly read some reviews on my work and wondered what they hell they watched/read, because it had nothing to do with what I believe I wrote!

On the agenda for today: writing, baking, a few errands, working to get the decorations up. I feel a little better, but sill not great.

Annoyed at FedEx — they delivered a package, but not only did they contact a neighbor instead of me, they left the cardboard package out in the pouring rain. I am NOT amused, and I have let them know my lack of amusement.

Very tired. Was woken up by a disturbance at 3:30 this morning, and, after that, the cats didn’t let me go back to sleep. Ah, to live in a place where the doors actually close, and the little darlings can be locked out! All the doors in the apartment have so many coats of paint on them that only the front door actually shuts. In general, the cats were difficult anyway — running around squeaking all day, Elsa got out and had to be chased down the stairs before she could get out of the building (she was so proud of her adventure; she boasted to the others for the rest of the day); they were all rummaging all the time. It was like having a trio of two year olds in the full throes of “The Terrible Twos.”

Speaking of which, as I wrote the above, Elsa jumped on a table (where she shouldn’t) and knocked over a candleholder, breaking off the head of the figure and smashing the glass insert. That cat is in the doghouse today!

I cleaned it all up, I’m posting this, and then it’s back to the page. I put the figure’s head back on and fixed another ceramic piece Elsa knocked over and injured a few days ago. Sigh.

Devon

PS. I heard a shriek from the kitchen. Iris investigated the repaired ceramic figures. She’d someone managed to knock the head off one figure again, and it was stuck to her tail with the wet glue. I had to chase her through the apartment to get it off before the glue dried and repair the figure again and well, you can imagine . . .