Wed. Oct. 14, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 147 — Cooking Gives Hope

image courtesy of Barbara Rosner via pisabay.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Day Before Dark Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

We needed the rain yesterday. We’re supposed to get more later in the week, and maybe even snow by the weekend.

There’s a post on more career re-shaping over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

On other levels, the dumbfuckery never stops, does it?

Landed in my inbox: an “opportunity” to write 3-5 articles A DAY for $1000/month. Um, no. That breaks down to fractions of a penny per word or per hour.

Another thing that landed in my inbox: someone is looking for a person to write/send the emails to the client list. Great, no problem. Only, the description adds “must be willing to work outside in extreme weather.” Now why would I have to work outside in “extreme weather” to WRITE EMAILS?  If you’re hiring a WRITER for EMAILS, that is not being done outside in bad weather.

Having both hardware and software problems with the nearly-new laptop, because Mercury is retrograde and PCs suck.

On a happier note, I got information about some editors in search of additional freelancers. I pitched myself to two; one responded within 15 minutes asking for specific article pitches; I’m working on a pair to send her. They will be fun, if I get to do either of them.

Switching between script drafts on the screen to look at examples isn’t working for the other article. I’m going to have to print them out.

So that won’t be done until Thursday.

I got a fun ad done for a client for next week’s campaign.

Got my mom’s RMV appointment scheduled for next week, and also her bloodwork before her next medical appointment. At least that means we get it all out of the way next week.

The cooking demonstration with Jeremy Rock Smith from Kripalu was spectacular. He is such a wonderful teacher, and his sense of humor, his skills, his ability to teach, and his joy give me hope.  I look forward to studying with him more intensively in the future.

Knowledge Unicorns was great. Everyone’s hunkering down, doing the work, trying to stay alive until election day. Even though none of them can vote yet, they’re keeping up on things and making sure their parents do. I always rode herd on my godkids to vote, because some of their parents couldn’t be bothered. It’s kind of fun to see their own children doing the same thing.

But I was definitely worn out by the end of the evening.

The package with stuffed orange raccoon toys arrived today, and the catnip bananas are set to arrive on Thursday, so some of the Kitty Drama is alleviated.

On today’s agenda: I have to go onsite for a client, have to do a curbside pickup/drop-off at the library, and there’s Remote Chat.  Will also try to get some more LOIs out, and work on the article with which I’m struggling. I’d like to get it out the door tomorrow.

The weather is supposed to be nice the next few days, so maybe I’ll get some yard work in.

I do love autumn.

Wed. Feb. 27, 2019: Gigs, Etc.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Waning Moon

Monday’s windstorm was a little scary. We didn’t lose power, thank goodness, but driving was tough.

I got caught up in a work thing and missed meditation group, which was kind of a bummer.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where we’re working on the personal strategic plan.

Worked on contest entries, the book I’m reviewing, wrote some more on GAMBIT COLONY. Figured out a conflict that needs to deepen in one of my other books. I need to compare the numbered and unnumbered drafts of “Horace House Hauntings” before I send the unnumbered draft to another radio production company. They’re in completely different areas of the country, so there’s no conflict.

Didn’t get a particular gig for which I’d pitched, but it was a stretch, and no big surprise. I’ve got some other irons in the fire in that particular direction; one of them will hit true.

Saw an ad to ghostwrite romance novels. They pay $15 per 1000 words. That works out to one and a half cents per word. That’s beyond insulting. Especially in light of the controversy where a “romance author” was accused of plagiarism and then said it was her ghostwriter’s fault.

I’ve always wanted to write juvenile series fiction (like Nancy Drew) for a book packager, but I sure as heck wouldn’t do it for rates like that.

Worked on an ad campaign and a mailing for a client. Did some more work on one of my own promotional campaigns. Gotta say, I’m loving the Twuffer platform. Also pleased that the campaign I’ve been running for one of my clients on Twuffer is getting about a solid, daily return.

I had trouble booking the room online for the conference at which I’m teaching, so I sent them a letter with a check for deposit instead. Hopefully, that will work.

We’re supposed to get more snow tonight into tomorrow. Tomorrow’s post may be late, depending on how much snow we actually get and how long it takes me to shovel.

Totally loving watching THE WEST WING for the umpteenth time. Those little detail moments between the characters are brilliant. I love the fast delivery and that they’re smart.

I always learn so much from watching well-written, well-acted, well-produced shows.

Back to the page.

Published in: on February 27, 2019 at 6:01 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 27, 2019: Gigs, Etc.  
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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

Fri. Oct. 13, 2017: Lucky Friday & Trying to Make Sense of Things

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles available now!

Friday, October 13, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I love Friday the 13th!

Yesterday was difficult, but ultimately worked out. I realize yesterday’s blog was focused on the feigned outrage in the entertainment industry rather than on the writing life, but it affects my writing life, and affected my work life for decades.

Difficult few days; not happy with the writing progress. Plenty of pitching. Frustrated at the usual lack of professionalism here in this area.

Absolutely horrified by the wildfires in California. I spent a great deal of time in Santa Rosa and Calistoga and Sonoma when I lived in San Francisco. How can we help? Not just with the physical rebuilding, but how can we help the trauma of those who’ve lost everything? For the lives, both human and animal, that are being consumed?

And what’s this about giving Puerto Rico “loans” to rebuild while awarding “grants” to Florida and Texas? Oh, yeah, Puerto Rico isn’t white. I’m tired of this racist government.

The world is falling apart, and those in DC just laugh and grift more to line their own pockets. It’s disgusting.

Sold an article yesterday on the basis of its pitch. Wrote it, will give it a polish, and it goes out today. Waiting to hear back on a couple of other things.

Fighting with the insurance company again about my mother’s upcoming surgery. I sent a fax from the library. The machine at the library had the wrong date, so the insurance company THREW THE FAX AWAY. Didn’t look at the contents or the signature or the fact that it came out of their fax machine on the right date. Not only that, they couldn’t be bothered to let me know, so if I hadn’t nagged them about where the answer was, I wouldn’t have known, the paperwork wouldn’t have been done, and we would have been screwed when we showed up for the surgery.

The insurance industry is the biggest fucking scam in this country. Again, let me re-iterate that one of my first temp jobs, many years ago, was typing jewelry policies for an insurance company. They were delivered to my desk via handtruck, several hundred at a time. This was in the days before computers, when I used an IBM Selectric.

The agents who worked around me had, posted above each desk, the direction, “Always Say No the First Time.” They were instructed to refuse EVERY claim the first time it was sent in. They were told not even to read it, just to say no. The theory behind it was that 75% of the people refused wouldn’t fight it, and the company would save millions of dollars a year. Only if a claimant challenged the refusal would anyone bother to read it. How is that legal or ethical? It’s not. That’s yet another reason why all insurance companies should be non-profits. CEOs of insurance companies should not be making millions of dollars a year and bonuses off of other people’s misfortunes, especially when their sole purpose is to refuse claims.

The entire industry needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

That won’t happen in this corrupt administration.

Pleased that this next book I’m reading for review is very, very good. Probably the best I’ve had to review from this publication since I started working for them.

Got my next round of proofs back on SAVASANA AT SEA. Will have to go over them again this weekend. I’m so grateful to my copy editor!

Need to do more promo on PLAYING THE ANGLES and start the promo for SAVASANA. Have a very long list of other things that “have” to be done as well.

Playing with a story idea that’s more blowing off steam than anything else. But, if it releases stress, it’s worth taking some time over. I like the idea and the characters and situation — it makes me feel like there ARE solutions to all the horrible things happening in the world. Solutions that don’t just benefit the corrupt, racist grifters at the top.

I’m feeling a little more optimistic today than I have the past few days. Hope I can ride the wave and make some good things happen.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Tues. April 8, 2014:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Worked on the short turnaround script yesterday, wrote two reviews, sent them to my editor, invoiced. Worked on client projects. Pitched for a couple of quick turnaround projects — since my schedule is changing, if these clients don’t book in the next couple of weeks, it’s not going to happen.

Got an absolutely ridiculous demand from a potential client — wanted me to line edit a 300 page novel in less than 24 hours, but he felt he shouldn’t have to pay for it because he’s “an undiscovered genius.” Go find yourself a disciple, pal, because I’m not doing it.

Had a question on the short turnaround script on a passing reference that didn’t quite make sense. Glad I asked, because the information was needed to set up a major plot point. So that will be integrated into the next set of revisions.

Headed to the Marine Life Center. Had to get the room re-set for rehearsal. We got the computer/Power point prop set up. I realized I have to edit down the slides from the real presentation to the five or six we need for the show.

Rehearsal went well, although we didn’t get in all the tech we’d hoped, and the person who was supposed to start as the SM flaked out, and is now on my list of those to never deal with again. It is not acceptable to string me along for a week, not communicate, and then flake out. I don’t what the excuse is. You are not someone I want to deal with. So I’m still looking for a stage manager. But the actors are doing really well! 😉

Looks like the good news will be ready to share by the end of the week. It means I have to pull out of a different gig that was supposed to start next Monday, too. I will go in person to withdraw — they were kind enough to take a chance on me.

Today will be flat out busy, and I’ll be working well into the night. I have to miss Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Marine Life Center in order to meet my deadlines.

I better get to work!

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2014 at 7:39 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 8, 2014:  
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014: Decisions and Dithering

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Supposedly, we’re getting hit with a blizzard tonight into tomorrow. The very thought of it makes me want to stay in bed.

Busy day yesterday. Wrote/rewrote the first chapter of the ferry girl novel yesterday and sent it off to my critique partner. Always scary. Went to work with students, but they hadn’t posted. Pitched for some jobs. Got the information on the film press kit job — it looks wonderful, and I’m so excited about working on it. Finished the next book for my editor, and have to write the review today. Worked on contest entries. Worked on a rewrite of a script. Moved an interview for a gig I’m excited about from tomorrow’s snowstorm to Friday morning. Nervous about whether or not things will be cleared up enough for tomorrow night’s rehearsal — we really need it before the presentation at the Grant Reception on Thursday.

Had to run errands in Falmouth and Sandwich, which took up most of the afternoon.

Dithering about whether or not to accept a job as a stopgap for the next few months at a lower rate, but would be steady money. I can already tell that the time/money ratio will be frustrating, but it would help pay off some bills. I have to make a decision today, even though I won’t hear about a couple of other things until later in the week. Saying yes means I’m making a decision out of fear, and that’s usually a bad thing. I have to dither for a few more hours, and then either suck it up and say yes, knowing it’s not a good choice, or say no and take yet another risk. I’m trying to figure out possible repercussions of each choice, and there are positives and negatives on both roads. I’m usually a decisive person, so when I dither, I get annoyed with myself.

I really want to spend time on the ferry girl novel and BALTHAZAAR today, but don’t know if I’ll get the chance. The rewrites on the script have to go out first.

Devon

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 7:54 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Nov. 22, 2013: Mourning and Writing

Friday, November 22, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cold and rainy
50th Anniversary of JFK’s Assassination

Yesterday was busy: worked with students, worked on the script, worked on pitches, worked on the paperwork for the script packages I’m preparing. Got some grocery shopping done — my job is to make dinner for the family the night BEFORE Turkey day — beef stroganoff this year.

The script took up most of the day. I’m into the final act now, and this one’s been humming along nicely. There is a character that wants to enter, but I want him to have more of a purpose than he’s currently demonstrating. I might let him in, with the caveat that if he becomes too much of a deus ex machina, he gets cut.

Today is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I was too little to remember it – -although I remember Robert Kennedy’s assassination clearly. Day of mourning.

But along with that, for me, a day of writing.

Devon

Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 22, 2013: Mourning and Writing  
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Thurs. Nov. 21: Writing and Critiquing

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Worked on one of the screenplays yesterday (it’s coming along well) and also the paperwork I have to get ready for the packets going out in January. Get a jump on that, prep each project, and then it’s just a case of assembling and making sure it’s all put together.

Got out some pitches.

Most of the day was spent finishing a large critique project. Got that done and out — I was there at the project’s inception, so it’s exciting to see how it’s grown.

Busy day, trying to get everything done before the holidays next week.

Stay warm!

Devon

Published in: on November 21, 2013 at 8:14 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. Sept. 28, 2012: Organization and Freelance Roller Coaster

Friday, September 28, 2012
Waxing Moon (nearly full)
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Managed to get some good work done yesterday afternoon, but, alas, not enough. I’ve really got to focus today to get a lot cleared off before I leave tomorrow. At least I had a good start to the day — I have a spice cake in the oven and the first load of laundry in, and it’s not even 8 AM!

Also, found out that a grant deadline is Monday. Turns out there are two separate grant councils in the area — one has a deadline of Monday, the other the 15th. I thought they were one and the same. I’m going to pull together a proposal because I’ll regret it if I don’t at least give it a shot. Plus, you usually have to go through several proposal cycles before you’ve actually got a shot at landing a grant. Meanwhile, while I’m out of town next week, I’ll put together the proposal for the other grant. The last time I applied for a grant in NY, I was one of over 690,000 people applying. I think the application pool is probably a little smaller here. It also means putting together a new version of the resume for the grant.

I am teaching a three-day Supporting Characters workshop at the Muse Online Conference Oct. 9, 10 & 11. There’s more information here. (You have to scroll down pretty far to get to it). The Muse Conference, in general, is a great experience. I’ve developed several novels and had the chance to test drive some fun classes there.

I need to finish an article and schedule a blog post for next week while I’m gone. I got an idea for a new article that I’ll pitch to a publication, and I owe another publication (who, thankfully, finally got around to paying me) another batch of ideas. I’ve still got one outstanding client payment — the final ghostwriting payment, which is not at all a surprise, but a disappointment. Another client is being dithery, and I just don’t have time for it — will be easing away from that one. I’ve said, bluntly, that the dithering has to stop, especially at the distance that separates us. If i have to travel several hundred miles, the dates have to be set and fixed. Got out another project early, that I wanted to clear off before I left, and will finish that client’s batch of work today. Pitched yesterday for a job way out of my wheelhouse, but I’m just different from the people who’d apply for it to be the right choice. One of my editors has also asked me to do an interview with someone (as the interviewer), which will be fun, although her publicist is about 12 and needs to learn how to check her facts.

The reading of my play is tonight. I’m interested to see how it goes. My notebook is ready.

I’m packed for tomorrow’s trip, except for the stuff that’s still in the laundry, and the food that has to go in the cooler in the morning. This time tomorrow, I will be on the road.

Lots to do between now and then!

Devon

Wed. Dec. 14: Cookie Platter Day


Tessa loves to decorate

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Only one retrograde. Yee-hah!

Worked online yesterday morning, including pitching for a couple of small jobs that sound like fun.

A Budget van pulled into the driveway and I thought, “Now what?” Turns out, Fed Ex had to rent extra trucks! It was a Fed Ex delivery!

Took the packages to the post office — they’ll be delivered latest by Monday. All the overseas cards are out. Now, I just have to finish the domestic cards. I need to put together a “Yuletide Plan” for next year, so I can start things a little earlier and get them done a little more smoothly.

The eggnog icing for the cookies is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that, when I had some leftover, I baked a spice cake and used the rest on the cake. Which is out-of-this world. What a terrific combination. The nutmeg in the eggnog icing compliments the nutmeg and other spices in the cake, and it’s fantastic And it uses shortening rather than butter — huge difference. Definitely something for the “keeper” file!

Unfortunately, the lemon glaze for the lemon mini-bundts didn’t work. It tastes wonderful, but doesn’t drizzle properly. The cakes are too delicate to allow spreading — they’re lighter than an angel food. I probably should have used the recipe with yogurt in it, for smoothness. Thinning it with more lemon juice and/or water keeps it from hardening into glaze properly. So, I’ll just sprinkle the cakes with powdered sugar right before I put together the plates and get them out the door. I’ll bake a pound cake later this week and use the glaze on that instead.

Writing was okay yesterday, but not great. I’m struggling with the changes in the story. I have to sit down and chart things — I’ve written myself into a corner, because I’ve gotten some logistical lapses that have snowballed, and I need to sort them out, or it will only get worse.

Today, I print the holiday tags and cheat sheets for the cookie platters (I always do a page with pictures of the cookie and a description, in case someone doesn’t like something, or has an allergy), wrap them and deliver them. So, today is Cookie Platter Day.

I poached sole last night. I haven’t had sole in years, so I was very excited when I came across it at the store. It turned out really well. I always stress about how to cook fish, but a little butter, a little garlic, and little white wine, and you really can’t go wrong.

Tonight is the writers’ holiday party. Can’t wait — and I’m usually not a party gal.

Devon

Friday, September 11, 2009

Disk 3 Excerpts 006_2_2
Montauk, NY

Friday, September 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto DIRECT
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

A sad day for everyone, but especially for those who lost people in the 9/11 attacks eight years ago. I encountered a woman in the post office yesterday who was having a hard time — she lost two daughters that day. Everyone in the facility did what they could to comfort her, but this time of year will always be tough for her.

On the news yesterday, they were blabbing that no one pays attention to 9/11 anymore and it no longer holds meaning. Of course, every single individual they interviewed was a tourist, not someone who lived here or lost someone. Those who did have chosen their own ways to mourn, out of the spotlight.

And, to me, the most important and moving moments of the day are the reading of the names.

I think I’ve mentioned a few times how worried I’ve been about some of the bridges and overpasses in the area, to the extent that I avoid some of them and I’ve called in my concerns a few times. Well, a lot of construction workers have been around, with those green-and-white Recovery Act stickers. On my errands the other day, I walked under the I-95 overpass, which had worried me and where debris had fallen several times. They’ve been working there, and one of the guys pointed out the new plates fastening the sections back together and the new supports. Very cool. I actually drove over it a few hours later, and it feels much better. Now THAT’s the way I want my tax dollars to work! Not bailing out corporate executives, but putting people back to work on projects that actually keep people safe and make a difference.

A video clip both highly entertaining and somewhat ironic was broadcast last night. I thought it was sadly hilarious. Some of these anti-education, anti-health care wing nuts were waving around signs calling people “Morans.” I’m assuming they meat “morONs”; they can’t even be bothered to spell their message correctly. You wanna see a moron? Look in the mirror, sign-waver! I sure as heck know a lot of wonderful people in the clan of MorAN and I’d be PROUD to be lumped in with them! 😉

I had to pull clips of my work off a site that’s going dark today — just what I needed right before I leave, especially since it won’t print the articles cleanly without superimposing text on other text (I could then scan the clips back in and create PDFs in my clip file) or print/save as PDFs or even copy and paste. No luck with any of them. While I appreciate that means no one could co-opt the work, it makes it a damned sight harder to have usable clips, and I’d rather not lose three years’ worth of clips. I asked a few people and put the word out on Twitter. We came up with a few possible solutions. I tried them all, so I should have the clips saved several ways! Whew.

Also found some interesting possible prospects. I hate to pitch right before I leave, but I’ll be upfront about my schedule. If it knocks me out, then that’s the way it is; if they like my work enough and we can work around each other’s schedules, I think it would be fun.

I’m happy with my decision to skip Nano this year. I think it’s great and I encourage people to participate, and do it more than one year, because one can learn so much each year. But this year, I’m juggling deadlines and publishers and I’m getting my toe into the foreign rights waters and the websites are undergoing a massive overhaul and all the rest, so for me, this year, it would be the wrong choice. I may do it sometime again in the future. I’ll be cheerleading all my friends and colleagues from the sidelines. No challenges, no Nano, just focusing on clearing up unfinished projects, getting the backlog out, and landing better and higher-paying gigs.

I plateau’d there for awhile, and it’s time for the next leap.

I’m reconfiguring what I want to do and what I need to do in order to pay the bills, and getting them more in tandem with each other. And because I want to take some interesting creative risks next year, I have to figure out how the months around the months in which I take those risks will pay for everything. And still be open to new opportunities.

The plus side of the economic problems is that it proved I was right to remain the Anti-Niche. Except for February, which was a scary month, I managed to make steady gains in clients and income every month by being able to do a wide variety of writing. I miss the Broadway money, but I don’t miss the work in the way I thought I would. I miss some of the individuals, but not the politics of backstage. Income will be frighteningly low for September because I’m not here for a good bit of it, and more will go out then comes in. However, the content of the time away will pay off, both literally and figuratively for years to come. The trade-off’s worth it.

My mom went to the doctor yesterday, and she’s having thyroid problems. Then, she cut her leg this morning, which is a little worrisome. I’m going to cook all weekend and prepare meals she can heat up while I”m gone (because I know she won’t eat properly if I don’t). She’s looking after the cats, so they have their second-favorite human on the planet with them, catering to their every whim.

I did three loads of laundry yesterday and I’m going to do some ironing today and maybe even pack. I have to find the jeans i want to wear on the plane, and pick up a few things at the drug store, but, other than that, I think we’re okay.

It’s in the 40’s here today, and rainy. The cats are much perkier in the cooker weather. I certainly slept better. Autumn is my favorite season.

I’ve got most of my holiday cards sorted out and worked on the Christmas list, so I can tackle that when I get back and get things done ahead of time.

I have my eye on yet another sofa. I’ve got to stop buying sofas or I’m going to need a 16 room house just for the sofas. As comfortable as that red microsuede is when it’s unfolded into a bed, it’s far too small and low for an adult human to actually sit on. It’s the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

I’m at a stopping point with AMENDS. I tried to push through, but without sorting out what I’ve got and plotting the middle, it’s merely getting muddled. I’ll read it over before I leave and let it percolate while I’m gone.

Errands, pitching, ironing, packing today.

Devon
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Violet on the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 7:41 am  Comments (6)  
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool
IMG_0500

The Adelphi Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY.

I was in the Query Zone yesterday afternoon. I think I got out about a dozen queries. Hopefully, they all find their mark. I also got some pitches out to potential clients.

Got some client projects cleared off, have another to finish today. Got a lot of work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. I think I can finish it and submit it (and the invoice) by Monday. I’d like to get the check before I leave for Prague.

Spoke to my currency exchange person. Hard to get Czech kronas because they’re about to switch to Euros, only haven’t set a date. Some businesses take euros, some kronas. Oy.

With our luck and Merc retrograde, we’ll arrive on the Big Day. Whatever, right?

Sent off some photos I promised. Have to burn a CD of the Botanical Garden photos for my friend — I didn’t realize I took so many!
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Racetrack in the morning.

Dealt with some nasty emails from people who tried to censor my Twitters — the usual crap — attacking my values, my lifestyle, tarot, the desire for health care reform, etc. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it, unfollow me, don’t read the blog, whatever. If you want to enter into actual discussion, fine, but don’t demand that I change what I write to please you, because I’m not gonna. Even if you offered money — which, of course, you don’t, because you’re a bully, not an entrepreneur, who tries to force his own twisted beliefs on everyone else. I will not be censored.

Let me put it this way — if one of us is set for Eternal Damnation, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be YOU.

And if and when I’m up before a Big Kahuna of the Afterlife who wants some answers about my choices, I’ll give ‘em.

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National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, NY

Had a great morning’s work on AMENDS. Slid right back into it as though I’d never been away from it, which is great. I know the premise and the ending, but I haven’t outlined this one. I’m discovering it as I go, which is a nice switch.

I find I don’t need outlines as much when I’m working with material set in contemporary, more realistic settings than in created worlds or historical fiction. Good to know. Of course, the next time around, I’ll probably have to outline. I needed an outline for the Helena Francis mystery — which still needs a title, by the way. But I don’t need an outline for this one. As I’ve often said, every novel is a bit like reinventing the wheel.

Paid some bills. Now I have to run some errands and then make sure the car is on higher ground before Tropical Storm Danny hits. We’re on flood watch. Again.

So I guess I’ll boil some water while I’m at it, just in case. We have plenty of supplies. I just have to get some more coffee!

Back to work.

Devon
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The grounds of the Gideon Putnam Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

First of all, Melissa Donovan has a great article on “How Poetry Writing Improves All Writing”. Check it out.

Second, today should be an interesting day. Landlord scum is turning off the water all day (at least they warned us), so I am taking myself and my writing into exile elsewhere. Not sure where yet – I have to see what I can carry with me and work on in longhand.

Urgh.

But a change of scenery usually works well for my writing, so I’m not going to fret too much. Just whine a lot. 😉

And, of course, it’s rainy, cold, and icky, so it’s not like I can go to the beach or the park or the Nature Center and write there for a few hours.

I signed and returned my contract to The Ranfurly Review. I’m very excited that they accepted a story of which I’m quite fond for their June issue. I went through my Pitch Log for January to see what needed follow-up. I was quite surprised by: The amount of pitches I’d made in January that turned out to be scams or bait-and-switch rates (so I refused them) and the amount of pitches I wasn’t really interested in following up. I only followed up on three, and one of those now has an invalid email address. Sigh. Two more pitches will get follow-up next month – they’ve got longer response times.

The job boards have just sucked lately, as far as anything that really ignites my interest. So I’m looking elsewhere and polishing some more proposals – this time with more careful proof-reading.

Disappointed with Castle last night. Especially since last week’s episode was so strong. Still love the actors, but the script was weak, and the “B” story line ex-wife character was so badly written I gritted my teeth every time she came onscreen. This was not the actress’s fault – it was the script. There was nothing for her to work with. There were so many ways to cleverly get across the same information, and they chose not to. Come on, people, you can do better than that! Give us a person, not a cipher!

Skipped my workout last night because I was reading a book – and regretted it. Skipping the workout, I mean, not the book. The book was fun. But I was out of sorts for the rest of the night, and I didn’t do my evening yoga. I had trouble getting to sleep, odd dreams once I fell asleep, woke up too often, and am grumpy and out of sorts today.

Sometimes, you just have A Day.

Mediocre writing session this morning – too many interruptions, due to the impending water shut off. So, I’ll pull together my stuff and decide where to hole up for most of the day. I’m sure the change of location will improve my mood, once I find a good location!

Hope you’re all having a GOOD day!

Devon

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 8:11 am  Comments (5)  
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