Thurs. Aug. 10, 2017: Female Geeks are the Best Guides for Technology Upgrades

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, the Coventina Circle website went live. You can visit here. I’m happy with it. I’ve still got more material to upload in the coming weeks, but I think it has interesting information to keep readers and potential readers engaged in the content of the books.

PLAYING THE ANGLES went off to the publisher yesterday; I’ll have final galleys coming soon, and then, we’re off!

I also built my author page on the publisher’s website. It needs some more work, but there’s a good start.

I tried to get a new assignment from the publication I want to leave, since I’d like some overlap, but there weren’t any available. Not only that, but I haven’t had any response from the past three I’ve requested. AND, when I look in the payroll status, one assignment is in the queue for payment and the other two are listed as “Maybe”. Maybe? No. I did the work; therefore I will be paid. This waiting two months or more to “decide” to pay me isn’t working.

On the upside, the material for the new publication I’m “auditioning” for — with a paid assignment — arrived. I’m eager to dig in and turn it around quickly for editor feedback, so I can learn the publication’s quirks. I also like that they pay on the 5th of the month for every assignment completed the previous months. That’s the kind of place for which I like to work. So fingers crossed I do well on the audition and land the gig long-term!

I had to get a new phone. It’s a better make and model, with more storage, and the capacity to expand storage. I had to go to the local mall to get it, not my favorite thing to do. I went to the big Best Buy in the mall. It’s staffed by young guys who descended like locusts to “help”. Sadly, they didn’t listen to a thing I said about what I wanted and needed, and kept pushing phones on me that I had no intention of buying.

Honey, I do my research BEFORE I arrive. Also, when you don’t even let me finish a sentence, and run right over top of what I’m saying with what YOU want — doesn’t work for me. I am the customer. I am not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, but I have a good idea of what I want, what I need, and my budget. I do my homework. I expect you to LISTEN to what I have to say and RESPOND to the information I just shared, not ignore it.

So I walked out, without buying anything.

I went to the smaller store in the mall, also a Best Buy, but a Best Buy mobile. One of the female crew members came to help me. She listened. We had a discussion. She explained a couple of things to me and gave me information I did not have before (and appreciated). She helped me pick out the phone, got ALL my information transferred (last time I switched phones, the guy just shrugged and moved the SIM card; the rest was up to me, and I wound up losing all my contacts and all my photos on the other phone). When I said, “This is the way I need X, Y, Z set up,” she showed me how to do it, instead of what the guys do, which is shrug and say, “can’t do it” because they don’t feel like it.

It took awhile, but everything got done, and it looks like I have a piece of equipment that will actually meet my needs, which is the whole point of buying it. I don’t need toys; I need technology that works for me.

Changing technology is always stressful for me, and, as relieved as I was to have it done, I also came down with a migraine. We have company coming in, so I’m also doing a big houseclean (I’m thinking of it as a headstart on my fall cleaning).

I wrote in my head quite a bit, so hopefully, today, I can get it on the page.

I ordered toner for the laser printer, too, so that should arrive today.

Already did two major dump runs, one for household garbage, one for recycling. Chop wood, carry water. Makes the writing more relevant and visceral.

Wed. Aug. 9, 2017: Building & Happiness

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy day yesterday. Early morning errands and bill paying, including a major grocery shop. I love grocery shopping. I love looking at what’s fresh and in season, and, because I cook, I can make up recipes as I shop.

Built two websites yesterday, one for the Coventina Circle series and one for the Nautical Namaste series. They’re not live yet; I want to get most of the material on the site before I send it live.

At first, it looked like the host wouldn’t let me build any more without yet another fee, but then I figured out how to do it. As usual, customer disservice was useless.

I’m happy with the look of both sites, although I need to wrangle the graphics on the Nautical Namaste site a bit more.

Finished the last piece of backmatter for the PLAYING THE ANGLES manuscript. One more major proofread, and off it goes. I need to get it out the door before Mercury goes retrograde! I have to change a few links, since I directed readers to the web PAGE for the Coventina Circle series on the Devon Ellington site, whereas now they will go to the web SITE dedicated to the series. And I’ve got some fun stuff going on the site, too!

I had a lovely wine/cheese/gab session with someone yesterday afternoon. Good catch-up. And, for dinner, baked chicken with Thai sweet chili, basil, and garlic, along with mashed potatoes and spinach. Yummy! And I baked chocolate chip cookies, because I wanted to.

It was nice to spend a few hours relaxed and happy after the unrelenting stress of the past few months.

Today, it’s getting the manuscript out the door, uploading more material to the Coventina Circle website, getting in cat food, and probably buying a new phone.

I’ve been having trouble with this phone for months now. It’s constantly telling me I’m “running out of internal storage”. I’ve taken out almost all the apps; I have about 11 emails in my inbox. And it keeps “running out of storage”. That’s because the manufacturer, BLU, is trying to force me to buy a more expensive phone. I may well do that, but it won’t be from this company. It stopped letting me take photos months ago, claiming there wasn’t any room; and the camera isn’t anywhere near as good as it was on the other phone. The other phone wasn’t very good, either (Alcatel), and I won’t buy another of those. BLU was useful in the transition from T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile was a crap carrier; AT&T serves my needs much better. But this particular phone causes me grief on a daily basis. I need a smart phone for email and to do internet research. I never TALK on the phone — my hyperaccusis makes it painful. I don’t do business by phone. But I need something reliable for email and social media, and so I can look things up when I write. So I’m off to hunt down a new, affordable

And it all needs to happen before Mercury turns retrograde, or I’m really screwed.

I’m still not back into a good writing rhythm, but I hope to get that handled later today.

“Labor Intensive”, SAVASANA AT SEA, and SPIRIT REPOSITORY are the priorities here.

Onward.

Thurs. Aug. 3, 2017: Too Much Drama, Too Many Guns

Thursday, August 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Too much drama, too many guns.

On the positive side: I got hired for a freelance gig I really, really wanted. Flexible hours, steady work, steady monthly pay with regular chances for promotion. They offered me the gig yesterday morning, I accepted, did the paperwork, got my first assignment.

Once I get the rhythm set with this new job, I can give notice at the other freelance gig I’ve held for the last few months that has given me nothing but grief. I was “hired” quickly, but it was over a month before my first assignment, and there’s a delay in payment by two months. Additionally, I am regularly asked to compromise my ethics. In small ways, but I believe digging away at the small stuff leads to bigger stuff. I spend too much time uncomfortable and/or frustrated. I knew I couldn’t stay much longer; at least this means I can both replace and increase the lost income.

A pitch I sent to a new-to-me publication was rejected, but nicely. In fact, the editor was intrigued by a throw-away line in my credits and asked for a pitch built around that. The new pitch goes out today.

An historian whose work I like and respect a lot put out a call for sources for an article he’s working on. I immediately thought of someone I knew years ago, who I thought would have an interesting perspective. She’s still alive (thank goodness — sad we have to check that first, isn’t it?) I’m trying to get updated contact information, remind her how we know each other, and set up a virtual introduction. I think she’d find his work interesting, and he’d find her a good source.

I have one more piece of back matter, an article on theatre ghosts, that I hope to finish today, and then PLAYING FOR ANGLES can go to my editor!

On the frustrating side, I’m dealing with far too many insurance companies right now. Does HR intentionally hire the least competent, least intelligent, most likely to commit acts of willful cruelty, or is that just the type of individual who seeks work in the industry? That’s been my personal experience since I started temping and was sent to insurance agencies back in high school, not to mention dealing with them. The only exception is the guy in my hometown who handled my mother’s car insurance for over 30 years. He was actually smart, compassionate, and had integrity.

Still having trouble with the web host. I’ve put together a document that’s almost a questionnaire that I will submit to the web hosts that SEEM to offer what I need. Their answers will have a lot to do with which company I move my business.

I’m reading Christopher Isherwood’s diaries. I realized I know ABOUT him (after all, his play I AM A CAMERA was the basis for CABARET), but I don’t actually know his work directly. There’s a great passage about LA haunted by the ghosts of failure that I copied out, and there’s also a lot of talk about impending WWII (the diaries begin in 1939). The way history is taught in school, I had the impression that the US basically ignored the war until Pearl Harbor. Of course, it was far more complicated than that, and it’s interesting to read the first hand accounts, especially when actual dialogue’s been recorded. Yes, diaries filter through a subjective point of view, but such a personal viewpoint of world-changing events is both fascinating and necessary.

We watched TO WALK INVISIBLE, the drama about the Brontes, which was interesting and well-done.

However, during that, came the scary stuff: we heard something we assumed were yet more idiots setting off illegal fireworks, which happens a couple of times a week in the neighborhood.

They were gunshots.

I didn’t know that until this morning. I SHOULD have — I know enough about guns, and I should be able to discern the difference between a gunshot and fireworks. Yet another example of dangerous assumptions. But a few minutes after the quick succession of noises, a quartet of helicopters with search lights hovered over the neighborhood. So low I was worried they’d tangle in the trees.

I posted on social media, asking about it. A friend a couple of miles down the street had heard about a police car involved in a major crash while en route to respond to report of shots fired a few miles away in the next town over. We figured it was probably that. As an aside, I believe that’s the third police vehicle involved in a MAJOR accident while responding to a call in a month around here.

I knew I wouldn’t get any answers if I called the police — it’s not NY, nor do I have the contacts here that I had there. I considered calling the fire department, but decided not to. The helicopters hovered for about a half hour, and then there was that eerie silence that rolls in after a commotion.

We locked the doors early last night, just in case.

I woke up at 4. Something that sounded like it was out of a horror movie was on the deck — nails clattering, vocally chattering, skittering around. It was a drawn out, high-pitched, single-note call, followed by a series of short, staccato sounds over about an octave’s range (still pretty high). I was actually more scared of that then the possibility of a gun-toting moron with a sub-par IQ. No, I did not go out and investigate. I sincerely hope I never hear that again — although I’m sure I’ll use it in a book at some point. I checked the deck this morning, but couldn’t figure out what it was. The older cat slept right through it (she slept through the gunshots, too). The younger cat wasn’t going anywhere near the doors or windows. I decided to pay attention to her instincts. Whatever it was, it was not friendly.

The morning news feed had the news of a shooting — a BLOCK AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. Not many details, but this was definitely NOT the shooting to which my friend referred. Too many morons with guns out there. Two incidents, around the same time, about three miles apart. One of which was way too close to my home for comfort. I’m pretty sure I know which house — there are only 3 on the block mentioned in the article. I’m going to drive by this morning. If it is them, I’m not surprised, but I am angry. If it’s the house on either side, I’ll be worried.

I’m exhausted and on edge this morning. I’ll do what I need to do this morning (which includes a visit to the fire station to find out what the HELL was going on last night), get out some pitches, hopefully finish the article so I can do a final proof and send out ANGLES tomorrow, and then nap.

Or I might send out my pitches and nap before I try to do a final proofread. I’ll miss less that way.

Onward.

Tues. Aug. 1: Cover Reveal, Death, Bullying, and Lammas

Playing the Angles Cover Choice 3

 Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and humid
Lammas

Cover reveal for PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense mystery! Yes, it was planned to do the reveal on Lammas! 😉

Witchcraft, politics, and theatre collide as Morag D’Anneville and Secret Service agent Simon Keane fight to protect the Vice President of the United States — or is it Morag who needs Simon’s protection more than the VP?

Digital Release date: October 1, 2017
Print release date: TBA

Visit the Coventina Circle webpage on the Devon Ellington website, and the Coventina Circle Romantic Suspense Facebook page for further updates!

The media kit is up. As usual, 1&1.com, which is the WORST webhost on the planet, has failed me as far as being able to post either the cover or the excerpt. I’m going to move hosts as soon as I can get it sorted out.  I can do most of the basics, but there’s some information I don’t know how to retrieve, and I’ll hire someone more websavvy than I am to grab it before the move. If you’re looking for a webhost, AVOID 1&1.com.

Back to the rest of life:

Didn’t get much work done at the library yesterday. There’s an old white man who comes in, wearing a MAGA hat (of course), who sits and live chats with hookers and watches porn. Which, of course, is illegal on a public computer. But he’s of the Narcissistic Sociopath’s caliber — after all, he is a supporter — and believes the rules don’t apply. It’s not my business when he’s at some other computer; it IS when he’s being revolting while sitting next to me.

However, I got my review out and requested my next assignment; hopefully, I’ll get it today or tomorrow. I sent out a couple of pitches.

Had a bit of a set-to with someone on social media. It was another bullying post “I bet 95% of you won’t repost” — that type. No, I won’t. Only this time, I posted WHY I wouldn’t repost — because it is a bullying post masquerading as something “doing good”. It doesn’t change the bullying factor, and I will not repost or endorse posts that bully, shame, guilt, or try to manipulate people, while pretending to “do good”. I don’t care what the cause is — how you ask affects the response you get. If you’d posted the same information and said, “It would mean a lot to me if my friends would repost this” — hey, no problem. But by trying to bully and shame people, with the phrasing “I bet 95% of you won’t” or “I bet I know who will and who won’t” — damn right I’ll be one of the ones who won’t.

I’m not even going to comment on the chaos in DC. I want to go back to the days when I could focus on my work, and on conversations about art on social media, and cat videos. Unfortunately, our lives depend on being politically engaged on a daily basis.

The news of Sam Shepard’s death hit me hard. We both worked in San Francisco in the mid 1980s, although at different theatres. But our paths crossed, as it does in the theatre community. I liked and respected him a great deal. We didn’t agree on many things, and we approached life from very different perspectives. But we could always have a lively discussion. And laugh.

His death and John Heard’s death both hit me hard. On a logical level, it doesn’t make sense — I hadn’t talked to either of them for years. But they were kind to me early in my career. We were colleagues. Respected colleagues. They are part of the weave that made me the artist I am today. Their loss affects me, and I grieve.

I came home and finished a polish on a short story that goes out today, and did some work on another story that has a deadline today — still have a polish to do on it before it can go out. Finished the media kit for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Planning the posts leading up to the release. I’m going to plan them out and then upload them as is appropriate, rather than scrambling at the last minute. Some will be theatre-oriented, some will have to do with the paranormal and circle aspects of the novel.

I now have two essays to re-slant and one essay to write from scratch, all of which I hope to get done this week. Essays are a stretch for me, a bit out of my comfort zone, which is why I’m stretching in that direction right now.

First Lammas ceremony this morning, including baking the cornbread. The big ritual will be tonight. Looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, back to the essays that need attention, back to writing “Labor Intensive” (which drops at the end of this month), and finishing off the back matter for PLAYING THE ANGLES, so it can go out to my editor and copy editor.

Once all that is done, which I expect will take the rest of this week, I turn my attention back to SAVASANA AT SEA. We’ve got a good cover design for it, so I’m getting excited, although re-constructing it fast enough to meet the deadline, and writing the first chapter for next year’s book, will be a challenge.

I’m chasing down payments — the two large payments. The big one, that was supposed to cover all of the summer’s bills, is now TWO MONTHS LATE. The other one is only a week late, but still, since the other payment is so overdue, this one needs to show up NOW. That’s the frustrating side of freelancing — deadbeat clients who don’t think the work should be paid, or at least, paid on time.

The upside is being able to live many lives and write about a world that is brilliant and interesting, even when it’s infuriating.

Mon. July 31, 2017: Author, not “Author”, Women’s Memoir Cliches, and Unfair Expectations

Monday, July 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It definitely smells like autumn. Tomorrow is the first harvest festival, so it makes sense.

The cats and I were up most of the night because a neighborhood dog was crying. We couldn’t figure out where it was, or I would have comforted it. Poor thing!

I gave myself the weekend off, mostly. I needed to recharge; I was mentally exhausted, even more than physically.

I did some yard work. I read a lot, which was hit and miss. I read a mystery that was set “backstage” in a “professional” theatre. Yeah, right. The performers went around quoting the Scottish play without comment or consequence. DOESN’T HAPPEN. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t be an “author”. Be an author or a writer.

I read another mystery, first book in the series, where the characters were okay, but the plot forced to fit into a tight formula that didn’t work for the premise, and the writing weak.

I read Val McDermid’s OUT OF BOUNDS, which was excellent.

At least it was nice enough to read outside most of the time. A little cool, but nice. I prefer cool weather to hot, anyway, which is why I live in a place with seasons.

I’m reading a stack of books and memoirs about the NEW YORKER magazine, as background for a piece. Hit and miss interesting. I’m looking more for the daily-ness of working at the publication set against the historical backdrop, and what made the people tick, not the navel-gazing.

I’m so tired of memoirs by women who spent the whole book “finding” their “independence”, only to get married (or get married again). Basically, they’re just circling back to where they started, but with a different guy. But people buy into all this “I’m now an independent woman” — um, no, you’re still acting like a 1950s college grad with her MRS degree. Leaving one guy, “travelling” mentally and physically, in order to wind up with another guy, doesn’t make you “independent”. It makes you a cliché.

Worked on notes for a couple of projects.

Finished the next book I have to review. I want to get the review out today, and then request the next book. Hopefully, it won’t take them two weeks to assign it this time. To me “steady work” means the next assignment arrives when I turn in the previous one. They still owe me for the last two reviews, too.

I have two essays and two short stories to finish, plus a couple of pitches to get out. I SHOULD have done them this weekend, but the quality would have been crap. I’m still within my deadline, so it was a better choice to give myself a break, and then be able to attack them with fresh eyes this morning.

I already did a pre-tourist grocery run, so I’m doing okay! 😉

Little annoyed with a friend. I didn’t hear from him for about six months; fine, no problem. But I received an email from him late Friday night, and another one early this morning, berating me for not instantly getting back to him. Um, no. This was a “hey, how are you?” email, not an emergency or a question that required immediate response, and taking the weekend off-line is something he KNOWS I do. Not answering until this morning (just over 48 hours later) is not too long, especially since the last contact was at Christmas. I don’t say “how high?” when someone says “Jump”. I’m more likely to tell that person to eff off. 😉

Tomorrow is the cover reveal for PLAYING THE ANGLES. I’m nervous!

July wrap-up is over on the GDR site.

Back to the page.

Fri. July 28, 2017: Progress, Prep, and Difficult Weekend Ahead

Friday, July 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Didn’t get a chance to post yesterday; apologies.

Some good work done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I’m reshaping the opening a bit — I want it more atmospheric, and I’m getting rid of some lazy language. That’s delayed sending the final edit of PLAYING THE ANGLES back to my editor and copy editor, since they have to edit and copy edit my back matter, and the first chapters of both SPIRIT REPOSITORY and SAVASANA AT SEA are included. I’m also working on a back matter piece about theatre ghosts, which I think readers will enjoy.

I have plenty to say about the health care issue, but it’s going into an article, not on the blog. Last night’s vote was a relief; I’m spending far too much time trying to sort things out for my mother’s upcoming surgery, and correct errors by both providers and the insurance company. (hint: double-dipping by some providers involved).

Sent off the contracted article Wednesday morning. Also wrote, polished, and sent off an essay for a new-to-me site with whom I’d had a discussion last week. The email kept bouncing back. When I went back to look at the site, turns out they’d gone out of business over the weekend. So why did they say they wanted to hire me? Frustrating.

Fortunately, I can re-slant the piece slightly for another, higher-paying market. That will go out early next week. I have another essay that also needs to go out next week, to another new-to-me market.

We’re reworked and simplified the cover for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Much better now.

The cover reveal for PLAYING THE ANGLES will be August 1.

I finished the media kit for PLAYING THE ANGLES, and I’ve created a Facebook page for the Coventina Circle series. I hope you’ll hop over there and “like” it. I’m going to invite people to the page on the day of the cover reveal, and I’m going try to post interesting tidbits on theatre and healing circles between now and the release date.
I’m going to sit down and figure out the posts and schedule ahead of time, so as things get busy, it doesn’t fall by the wayside.

Had a good meeting in Harwich yesterday; should hear by early next week. It’s a situation that requires close proximity, so the client has to choose the person with whom she feels the most affinity and alignment with what she wants.

Got some good work done on the latest book sent for review. I will finish it today, and the review will be ready to go out on Monday.

This time of year is always a challenge. Tomorrow (the 29th) is the anniversary of my father’s death. Yes, it was a long time ago, but still reverberates. The 30th is the anniversary of my own serious surgery — again, a long time ago, but it’s amazing how the body captures sense memory. Then, we upswing to the 1st of August — a big, positive day on my own personal calendar.

Watching a documentary about some of the great houses in Scotland sparked an idea last night, so I took some notes. This morning, I’m also working on the flash fiction of the butcher and his vegetarian customer. I like these characters; they have a good sense of humor, along with common sense, even though they approach the world from very different places.

I’m going to try to get some rest this weekend. I overworked last weekend, and it set me back during the week, because I was mentally exhausted. I need to rest the mind as well as the body.

Have a great weekend!

Wed. July 26, 2017: Articles and Stories and Edits

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It smells like autumn this morning. The days are also noticeably shorter.

Yesterday’s post didn’t go live for some reason; apologies, it’s below this one.

Yesterday proved that if I don’t get going early in the morning, I lose the day. I overslept and never caught up.

I had a wonderful time with my friend, though. I love it when she’s back in town.

I tried to work at Mashpee Library, but people were too noisy, and the computer area was so open, I couldn’t really concentrate. Also, the computer didn’t have all the programs I needed.

Finished another proofread of PLAYING THE ANGLES. I have one more piece of back matter to draft and a couple of links to check, and then it goes off for a final edit/proofread pass.

Finishing the article that needs to go out today, and the press release for the PLAYING THE ANGLES media kit. I want to upload the media kit to the website by next week. We’re also going to do the cover release next week.

I have two more articles to finish this week, plus my next review assignment. After trying for two weeks to get another assignment, they finally gave me one.

Disgusted by the Senate Deathcare vote yesterday. John McCain has ruined a once-noble legacy. I expected the other corrupt Republican senators to dance on all our graves, but I thought McCain would at least retain a shred of decency, especially since his survival is thanks to my tax dollars paying for his health care.

Tomorrow is a project meeting in Harwich; hopefully we’ll like each other and can start working together soon.

Back to the page!

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Mon. July 24, 2017: Time in Fictional Dimensions

Monday, July 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Intense weekend. Still dealing with personal issues.

Worked on the article; it should be ready to go out tomorrow. Roughed out two more articles and two flash fiction pieces I hope to get done this week.

Most of the weekend was spent working on the Coventina Circle series. I’ve got the edits done on PLAYING THE ANGLES. I have a bit more backmatter to add in over the next few days, and then it goes to my editor and copy editor.

Worked on the information for what will be the Coventina Circle Series Bible. I have most of the character information in there; now I need to do the place information.

We’ve roughed out the cover for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second book in the series, too. The central protagonists are Bonnie and Rufus, and it deals with both contemporary times and with New York City’s history as New Amsterdam. The first chapter of SPIRIT REPOSITORY will be included in the back of PLAYING THE ANGLES.

I re-read what I have on the book. I thought I was nearly finished with it, but it’s really only about a third. I have to get cracking, since we now have a May 2018 release date for it. But I got a good sense of it, and have to sit down and work out some plot complications. It will take a few days to finish outlining it and then I can get back to work on it. That book has to go into the regular, daily writing schedule.

I also spent time doing Writers Rough Outlines on other books in the series. I have basic notes on the Lesley/Sam book and the Diana/Greg book. I spent most of my time focusing on Book 3 in the series, which has the tentative title of RELICS & REQUIEM. That book focuses on Amanda and Phineas.

Because the lives of these characters are so entwined, and I’ve set up some strong relationships in ANGLES, I find I need to work on the outlines in tandem. Things that happen further down the line need seeds planted in the earlier books. Each book stands alone, and has a different central pair of protagonists, as paranormal romantic suspense does, but they feed on each other.

It’s an interesting process, and I understand so much more about structure than I did when I first wrote ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Growth in a writer is a good thing.

Started reading WORDS ON THE AIR, which is the collected letters of poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. It’s gotten me thinking about writing an epistolary novel. Supposedly, that’s out of fashion, but it’s a style I enjoy. Made some notes. I think I want it to cover several decades of history. The characters are talking to me, telling me about their lives and how they want it to work. It will take quite a bit of research, I think.

Getting back into writing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY means re-visiting some of New York City’s earliest history. I ordered some books from the library, then looked up and realized I owned one of them. When I first percolated the novel, I used Washington Irving’s diaries. I also bought a good biography of him, but didn’t read it. It’s sitting on the shelf next to his diaries. Time to read it.

One of the late payments arrived; the smallest one (of course), and only part of it. But better than nothing. The other payment better arrive in the next few days. This is ridiculous. “Processing” means the check will be written and mailed, not that you’re deciding to maybe someday pay or not pay. Use the right language.

The actor John Heard died. I was sorry to hear it. We worked together off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club on an Arthur Miller play quite a few year ago. He had a meticulous process approaching his work. He had the reputation for being difficult, but we got along well.

Watched PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES again this weekend. I liked it better this time around. My favorite scene is still the Bennett girls getting ready for the ball, hiding their weapons in their gowns. My 94 year-old mother, who doesn’t like paranormal movies, loved it. She’s re-reading Jane Austen right now, and we’re watching all the movies, and I wanted to see this one shortly after seeing the definitive PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Colin Firth.

Lots to do today. I’d like to stay in the cocoon of the Coventina Circle books, but I have to deal with the real world in order to keep a roof over our heads. I have a project meeting on Thursday that I’m looking forward to.

I have to do some rearranging of front matter for a play that a producer is interested in; more to do with renumbering the pages than anything else. I gave it a proofread yesterday, and it holds up better than I remember, which is a good thing.

Already did a grocery run this morning (to avoid the tourists), and wrote two drafts on a flash fiction piece I’ve been turning around in my head for a few days. I hope to get it out the door soon. While I drove to the grocery store, I had another flash fiction idea about a butcher and his vegetarian customer who shops for her elderly neighbor. Will work on that when I’m done with the articles.

Because, you know, ideas come in batches.

Fri. July 21, 2017: Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Balancing Act

Friday, July 21, 2017
Day before Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Back to our regularly scheduled balancing act.

Lori Widmer kindly referred to me in one of her posts on Words on the Page as an example of busting a freelance writing myth. I’m honored to be included. I’m in a rough patch now, and that mention makes me realize that I’m further along than I often feel.

I’m having trouble with the mower again, which is hurting my ability to get the meadow finished. That was one of the worst purchases I’ve ever made, certainly the worst house-related purchase. Poulan Pro not only has substandard equipment, they don’t honor the warranty. I spent far too much on this piece of garbage, and it’s never worked properly. Very frustrating. At least I won’t make the mistake of doing business with Poulan Pro again.

Worked on the article on deadline. I’m waiting for one more quote, will integrate it when it arrives, and then off it goes (probably on Monday).

I have to figure out where to pitch next. I’m feeling a little burned out, pitch-wise, and I need to get back on track with a couple of short stories that need to go out.

Pitched for a project out of San Francisco that sounds like great fun; I’d love to be part of that team, if they’re willing to work with someone remotely.

Working on the PLAYING THE ANGLES galleys. Still trying to figure out how I can get the right Facebook page up. The one for Delectable Digital Delights and Jain Lazarus work well; the Gwen Finnegan doesn’t. But I can’t find in the settings what page I chose when I set it up. All very frustrating.

Working on the adjusted outlines for the “between-the-books” novella MYTH & INTERPRETATION and then, BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Prepping for my project meeting next week. I hope we like each other and it works out. The company interests me.

I’ve been reading about web design, trying to figure out if I can create GOOD ftp files for subdomains and uphold them to my current website. I’m intimidated. What I need to do is take a course in all this. I need a structured environment to learn how to do it. It’s a different language; rather than just saying, ” I don’t get it”, I want to find a way to learn it.

The books on Hearst Castle came back, so hopefully, I can dig into them and get that section done on FIX IT GIRL in the next couple of weeks. I’m behind where I want to be on that.

I hope, this weekend, to do a big chunk of work on “Labor Intensive” as well.

Hopefully, the humidity will lessen; I don’t do well in this weather and neither does the computer. I’d like to be clear-headed and productive.

On author Trish Milburn’s recommendation, I’m reading THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin. I’m thinking about doing an essay on it for Biblio Paradise next week. There are things I really respond to in the book, and things I don’t. But then, the book is about HER happiness, not mine.

The day before the dark moon is always my lowest energy day of the month, so I’m dragging today. It’s an effort to dig down and focus. Layer on the life stress, and today is a challenge.

Back to juggling burning chainsaws.

Have a great weekend.

Tues. July 18, 2017: Trying to Tread Water

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, foggy, hot, humid

I wish I could say everything worked out yesterday and today is brilliant, but no such luck. The life stuff is still crushing me.

However, I got a review and two short stories out, along with a couple of pitches. I prepped some more pitches that will go out this morning.

The only thing left to do on the PLAYING THE ANGLES cover is to see if I want to add in the image I’m using to tie together the entire series, or if I’ll only use it on the website. I have to add some links into the media kit, and then that’s done. I did a few chapters on the galleys. Mostly, it’s tightening the writing, replacing some vague language with sharper, more specific. Unlike print galleys, where, by this stage it’s about correcting errors and maintaining consistency, because it’s being prepped for digital formatting, I have more room to fix problems. Then this will be used as the basis for the print edition galleys, which means I have to get it right NOW, and the print galleys are only about minor, final changes.

Polished the big article that’s going out today. Tried to set up some project appointments, but the other party was vague, which is frustrating, because I don’t have time for vague right now. I need definites.

Tried to read a mystery, but the protagonist was so annoying that I stopped. I sort of liked a book by this author in a different series, but this book turned me off completely.

Being on the second day of a migraine isn’t helping.

This morning, I did some trimming and pruning in the front yard. I have a lot of admin work to do today, and then more writing and edits. I also got notes from my editor on the review I sent in. I resent the fact that this is the third review I’ve done and I’ve yet to be paid for the first one.

I need something good to break my way.

Digging down and moving on.

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 9:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 18, 2017: Trying to Tread Water  
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Monday, July 17, 2017: Breaking Points and New Covers

Monday, July 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, hot

Sometimes you go through a rough patch, which is what is happening right now.  It will cycle through, but it’s not fun while I’m in it.  This post is a bit on the downside; feel free to skip it.  Tomorrow, hopefully, will be a more upbeat day!  But it does deal with some of the more stressful and unpleasant realities of the freelance life.

Stressful weekend. The life stress has been very, very bad, ramped up to a height where I’m ready to break under it, and, added to that, the last few days were filled with creative stress (the wrong kind) as well.

Some creativity in there, too, but stressful.

Two of the interview subjects (with big name associations) who’d promised to have their information back to me by Friday for one of the articles didn’t. Which meant on Saturday, I had to nag — something I hate. Because let’s face it, it’s not “follow up”, it’s nagging, and if you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, do it. Don’t just not get in touch. One of them suddenly said she was too busy to take the TEN MINUTES to answer the questions. No, honey, you’re not “too busy”. You either don’t want to share your knowledge, or you suck at time management.  Either one is your choice, and I respect it; perhaps you’re trying to be polite with the “too busy”, but I read your subtext.  Moving on!

The other sent the answers, and they’re very good, so they go in to the article.

Three other interview subjects never bothered to get back to me. Two of them were businesses related to the topic of the article with whom I considered doing business in the next few months. I’ve changed my mind. If they can’t answer a few basic questions, they’re not getting any dollars from me.  The third non-response was rather expected; it was a stretch, and I had the feeling that organization wasn’t about to share information. It proved something I suspected.

I thought the cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES was all set, but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m afraid the cover is too bright and peppy for paranormal romantic suspense. The cover has to properly represent and support the story; the image was more appropriate for one of the pieces in development.

The designer and I worked up a new cover this morning, and I like it much better. So that’s a load off – it combines theatre, moonlight, and gives a sense of suspense.

I did some work on the galleys; I’m working on the series bible as I work through the galleys, so that I’ll have it ready when I go back to finish SPIRIT REPOSITORY.  Tracking details is so important.  This past weekend, I saw a post from a writer who asked her readers a consistency question because she couldn’t remember and didn’t feel like looking back through her own work.  I was shocked.  That’s the WRITER’S job — keep a Series Bible, for crying out loud.  I was further surprised because it’s the only series this particular writer works on; I’d understand more if she was juggling multiple series.

Worked on SAVASANA AT SEA. While the pace of the last draft is decent, I had to dumb down a bunch of stuff in the previous draft for the previous team, and I want to figure out a way to put back some of the more interesting items I was forced to cut. The new editor and I are working on that together. The manuscript, as it stood, was only 70K, so there’s room for a few thousand more words, as long as they don’t hurt the pace.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I’m getting an idea of the characters I want to include. So much of her life was handled by men; even though she is the central character, there will be a lot of male roles in the piece. I need to find at least one patron or wife of a patron so she’s got a good female character to play off of.

Outlined a new idea and wrote about twenty pages on it, so that the characters would shut up and let me think about other things. There’s potential in the piece, but I’m not sure when or how to fit it in. There are several pieces with potential that have to get back on the schedule and have to get finished, polished, and out.

“The Ramsey Chase” media kit is almost ready to go. PLAYING THE ANGLES media kit is almost finished. I updated the Q & A to reflect what’s changed in the re-release. I finished drafting the fiction section of the overall Devon Ellington media kit. I’m about to start work on the nonfiction section.

I have to figure out how to do subdomains for both the Coventina Circle series and the Nautical Namaste series. I have the right to the subdomains from my host, but I can’t use the website builder for any more projects without being charged extra — and they just raised my hosting fees AND told me that I have to pay every month, instead of quarterly. I’m out of available web pages to add on my main Devon Ellington site — unless I agree, again, to a higher monthly fee. Not that they’re giving me the services supposedly included in my package. But I can’t afford to switch hosts right now. I should be able to create pages and upload them as ftp files, except the host won’t give me the correct code to get into my ftp manager. Because 1and1.com is one of the worst hosts out there. I’ve been talking about moving hosts for years; as soon as I have enough money so to do, I have to do it, because they are costing me so much in lost revenue every single month and they REFUSE to provide customer service when something goes wrong. They are just awful. Unfortunately, right now I’m trapped. I have to stay, because I can’t afford to move, even though staying is costing me lost income. They know it, and they’re screwing me even worse than usual.

Sunday, I worked on the article and its sidebar, and worked on a couple of pitches that have to go out today. Most of Sunday was devoted to the article. The initial draft, with all the information waaaay above my allotted word count. I cut nearly 1000 words, and I was still over, by a good deal. I contacted my editor and asked if there was wiggle room — and got it. While I don’t want to take advantage, and will try to cut some more, I am grateful that she trusts me so much.

I think I found a new market for a rejected short story. I’m irritated that there’s been no response to a follow-up I sent on a couple of pitches, where I’ve worked for the publication before and the editor seemed to like me. I’m even more irritated that now I have one late payment that’s a month late and another going on two months. Not acceptable AT ALL. I have bills to pay; I need to be paid on time, PER CONTRACT, not if and when you happen to get around to it.

Did several loads of laundry on Sunday, too.  Carry wood, chop water.  It keeps things in perspective.  Managed to deadhead some of the tiger lilies, too.

This morning, I mowed, did a grocery store run, finished a review and submitted it, submitted two short stories and a pitch. I have to write some follow up letters that might negate my original pitch, but I can’t wait any longer for an answer. I can’t be in limbo any longer with vague, “yes, you’re hired and we’ll get back to you.” To top it all off, I have a migraine.

I’m supposed to do something for a pro-positivity site I was invited to join, but I’m not finding much that’s positive right now. I’m being run into the ground, without recompense.

I posted a couple of upbeat things on Facebook and Twitter in honor of the day’s theme, but that’s all I can do.

However, the new cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES has cheered me up.

I just have to dig deeper and find a way to make things work.  Maybe I’ll sing the “Cranky Pants” song and it will help me get over myself!

Tomorrow will be better!

Tues. July 11, 2017: More Freelancing Than Fiction

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where Colin Galbraith talks about his latest release, GATECRASH.

Yesterday was not a good writing day. That was frustrating.

I was reasonably productive, at least in the morning: mowing, errands, final polish on the essay.

Send out questions to two potential project partners (two different projects); followed up on some pitches where I haven’t yet heard back; sent off the essay; sent a thank you & goodbye to a collaborator where our contract is up tomorrow, and I’m not extending it; sent out a query and sample pages for another book project; posted a call for questions in one of the groups in which I participate (and will do the same in another group); promoted “The Ramsey Chase”; sent out some more pitches.

The cover designer and I worked with some of the images that are possible for the new PLAYING THE ANGLES cover, but we don’t like it. I wish I could find the photos I know will work. Also playing with images for another project (which will be revealed shortly). We’re closer there, which is worrisome, since it’s not releasing until after ANGLES.

The editor with whom I’ve had a rocky relationship really likes the last piece I sent in; maybe we’re on the right track. The lag in assignment and pay, however, still bother me. I’ll have to weigh them against each other.

Read a bit; it’s an author’s new book. I have mixed feelings about the author. She’s got a huge following, but a lot of her writing doesn’t work for me. I appreciate that she’s trying something new here, but it doesn’t quite work, in my opinion. However, her fans will love it and she’ll make a packet of money, so good for her.

Still waiting on those two late payments, which I need this week in order to pay the bills. One changed the terms of the agreement (which means he is in breach of the agreement, since I did NOT agree); the other is simply not responding. Very frustrating.

On the positive side, last night, I heard back from a publication for whom I’ve written before, and to whom I pitched a couple of weeks ago. They like my article and want to contract it (sold on query again, not pre-written), AND they’re going to pay me more than the usual rate. I’m pretty happy about that. It will be a month or so before I’m paid (the article will take between one and two weeks), but at least I know that’s on the horizon. Plus, I have good clips and always been paid on time from this publication, so that’s all good.

Unfortunately, the fiction suffered — a LOT — yesterday, and I didn’t work on the media kits, either.

Today, I’ve already done a Trader Joe’s run. I have to get all my article questions out this morning, a few more pitches, and hope I hear back from the places I contacted yesterday, so I know which projects are moving forward.

I hope to have an exciting announcement in a week or two, but I don’t want to count my chickens too early, and all that stuff.

I’m in the final edit of PLAYING THE ANGLES now, taking my time to make sure I hit all the points and get all the editorial notes handled. If we’re going to adhere to the October release date, I have to be thorough, but also can’t take too long. Then, I’ll have to edit the first chapter of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY so it can also go in. What a relief not to battle this “one-book-in-a-series” lack of commitment that far too many of the smaller publishers are currently doing. I understand that far too many of the writers are unreliable and can’t deliver regularly, but if the publishers were paying them proper advances, there’d be more motivation to get things done on time.

I’m frantic to get the story for the sick teen finished, too, and feeling the time pressure there. Every day that passes where it’s not done means more suffering for her.

Plus, the life pressures this week are at an almost intolerable point. Most of them would be solved if those damn late payments would show up.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 11, 2017 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 11, 2017: More Freelancing Than Fiction  
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Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing

Ransey Chase Cover 2 Small

Monday, July 10, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

“The Ramsey Chase” releases today, and I’m excited! Read an excerpt here. Buy links here.

Busy weekend.

Friday, I worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. I wrote about 2500 words, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the piece. Originally, it was supposed to be 500 words, but it grew.

Saturday, I sat down after breakfast to write 1000 words on INITIATE, before getting back to everything else I needed to do. When I next looked up, it was dinner time and I’d written nearly 30 pages (about 7500 words). But then, that’s what this particular piece does to me. Whenever I work on it, it becomes an all-consuming obsession.

I also managed to do some work on the proposals that need to go out this morning, and on the new essay that’s also going out. I’m frustrated because now two payments (one quite large, that I need for July’s bills) are now nearly three weeks late. At least I have a good shot at an interesting project meeting next week, that could lead to something long-term.

Sunday morning, I wrote another 15 pages (approximately 3750 words) on INITIATE. I finished a challenging section, and can now move on to the next section, which will also be a challenge, in its own way. Two more big chunks, and the part of the tale that will be broken down into WRAIG MATURE will be drafted. Then comes the INITIATE section that inspired the title, and then the KNIGHT WITCH section, which is a huge and complex undertaking.

I drafted an essay, which I polished this morning, and off it goes. I found a new market for an essay that was rejected, and that goes off; I have questions that need to be answered before I can polish and send off the serial pitch. I have questions and follow-ups on several fronts. A contract expires in the next few days, and I won’t extend — I want to take the work in a different direction.

Still need the Hearst Castle books, but can’t extend them any further, so have to send them back and then re-order them.

Worked on the Devon Ellington media kit and the “Ramsey Chase” media kit. Worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. Worked on scheduling issues for PLAYING THE ANGLES, the Gwen Finnegan books, and the Sophie Batchelder books. Prepped some queries to go out for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Made lists of everything that has to get done today.

And, of course, I have to mow!

Had weird dreams last night, about helping someone move. We kept having to cross through a narrow, brick-lined courtyard filled with garden gnomes. Wonder what the heck that means!

Mowing, admin work, and then, back to the page. I want to finish the story for the teen in the next day or two and send it off. I’m feeling the time pressure, because I want it to do her some good. However, it also has to be good quality to be worth anything.

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing  
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