Tues. Feb. 7, 2023: Variety as Spice and Obstacle

image courtesy of Reimund Bertrams via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Last Day of Full Moon

Sunny and cold

Well, that was quite the weekend. Let’s sit down and have a catch-up, shall we?

Friday, I did the blogging. I drafted two episodes of Legerdemain. That felt good, and the arcs I have intersecting and weaving in this second big arc are coming together. I’ve adjusted the outline slightly. I know where I’m headed; I’m just not sure how many episodes it will take to get there. I’m also using Legerdemain in the Writing Wonders game over on Mastodon, which is fun.

I took care of a bunch of admin. I finished a script coverage and did a scoring sheet on another project. I did some research on some residencies, and there’s one for which I’d like to pitch, but I have to decide which of my projects makes the most sense to apply there.

I finished reading a book in the late afternoon/evening that was recommended, but I lost patience with the self-sabotaging protagonist who wasn’t very bright and didn’t grow. She wasn’t someone I wanted to spend that much time with, and she wasn’t interesting enough to hold my attention once she lost my respect.

Started re-reading Anne Truitt’s DAYBOOK. If you’re not familiar with Anne Truitt’s work, she was a visual artist/sculptor/painter/writer. I was first introduced to her work through her books, published diaries and musings about her relationship to her art in the 1990s, when working on a collaborative theatre piece about women’s diaries. I re-read her books DAYBOOK, TURN, and PROSPECT regularly. If you do any type of creative work or enjoy others’ creative work, I recommend these books. They will give you a lot of insight into process.

On a trip to Washington, DC, a few years before moving to Cape Cod, there just happened to be a retrospective of her work at one of the museums along the Mall, and I was thrilled to spend quality time within the physical pieces about which I’d read over the years.

It was -10 when I went to bed on Friday night and -17 when I got up. The power held overnight, but the internet fluctuated (which was fine, because I slept through the whole thing).

I made vegetable stock on Saturday morning. I did the rounds putting up the day’s prompt, and then I sat down and drafted a couple of first drafts of short stories inspired by the prompts. Most under a thousand words.

I had three ideas for the first one, at the airport bar. The first two worked pretty well (especially the second one, set in the TWA Sunken Lounge). The third, I literally lost the plot. I had an idea Friday night, and lost it, although I remember the opening. The story for the second prompt used a character from one of the first stories, and had a unique twist, but I haven’t yet decided where I want to do with it. The third prompt was a lot of fun, kind of a sweet story, and the 4th is okay, but needs more of a climax. But that’s what first drafts are for, for me. To figure out what I’m trying to say.

I don’t know if I’ll use all the prompts, but these were fun. If I can take the character in the middle story I wrote for Prompt 1 and used in Prompt 2 and come up with fun interlinked stories all month (aside from whatever else I do), that would be a good challenge.

A lot of paying markets now want speculative and horror, and, of course, none of these so far are that. Oh, well, it just means looking at the markets. The linked stories are action/thriller; the others are contemporary women’s fiction.  They’re under three different bylines, at this point, because the tones of the pieces fit those bylines.

I’m writing all month, then going back to rewriting, and not even thinking about submitting until later in the spring. I doubt I’ll do something for every prompt, but it’s a nice warmup.

Turned around three coverages on Saturday. Read one of the books for review.

Went to bed early, because I was tired. Slept decently, and up at the usual time on Sunday. I went out a did a big grocery shop in the morning, restocking staples we’ve used up, and getting stuff for recipes I want to try this week. Five overflowing bags. That should keep us going for a while.

I read up on Corsica, which is where the next section of the Heist Romance script takes place, with the focus on the romance portion, rather than the heist portion. I realized  that they can’t take the ferry out of Nice, it has to be Toulon. Researching Toulon, I found out about Mont Faron and the cable car ride, and used that as a setting for a couple of scenes. Wrote 8 pages, and they’re on the ferry to Corsica now.

I have more research to do on Corsica (and I watched a bunch of great videos) before I can write this section. I came up with a way to tie it in to the main plot at two points, too, and I might even send them across to Sardinia for a day or two.

Obviously, I am doing this script as high-concept, big budget and not limiting my parameters at all. Which is kind of fun.

Turned around three coverages. Spent some time on Spoutible. When it runs, I have to say I enjoy it. It’s like Twitter without all the screaming and trolling, although I suspect that will change when it opens up to the general public this week. There are still some glitches, and it’s clunky moving between screens, but they fix problems and listen when people bring something up. So we’ll see. And I’m having a lot of fun on the Writing Wonders game over on Mastodon.

As I’ve said before, Twitter mostly makes me sad now. The algorithm hides followers from each other, unless they pay the monthly fee. There are a few people I regularly interact with, and I just go to their feed and see what they’re up to, but it’s even making that more difficult. Of the “writers” that are still there, most of them are posting either faux engagement questions they got off a clickbait list,  or expecting other writers to do their work for them. I’ll have the data by May or June to see if the promotional posts are even driving traffic anymore (I doubt they are), and then I’ll make my decision.

Because, for me, social media can’t just be about hanging out. It’s part of my business. It needs to drive traffic back to the websites, and translate into purchases or other forms of mutual support. Sites that don’t do that need to fall off the daily rounds, because my time and energy needs to be spent elsewhere. I love hanging out and chatting with people on a wide variety of topics, but when it’s all one-sided (as in chatting, and I’m supporting their projects, but they’re not supporting mine), it becomes an unbalanced relationship. Since I”m being far more careful to avoid those in real life, I also need to avoid them virtually.

Started reading the next book for review.

Honored the full moon.

Slept reasonably well, was up earlier than usual on Monday, and had to override the automatic start time on the coffeemaker because I couldn’t wait that long.

Drafted an episode of Legerdemain.

Revised/edited the next four episodes of Legerdemain, with the multi-colored draft, followed by two more rounds of revision and a polish. Uploaded those four episodes, which gets me to the beginning of March. Now I can draft a bigger batch of episodes, and that will help, if, in revisions, I have to plant something earlier than I thought.

Put in a couple of big orders for things I need (cleaning supplies, etc.) shipped. Still waiting for the Midnight City Tarot that should have arrived last week, but the “tracking” doesn’t show where it is; just says “moving through network.”

I hate DeJoy and he should be in prison, not running the post office.

Picked up the stack of books waiting for me at the library.

I got a coverage turned around and was almost through the second when I was hit with a bunch of admin stuff that had to be done immediately. Some of it is tax-focused (a company for whom I’ve freelanced a lot this past year is screwing me on the 1099 – I really need to find a replacement for that client). And there’s other paperwork that’s come through for a big project, and I’ll share details as soon as I’m allowed and everything is signed.

Of course, the printer ran out of ink during all of this.

I was too out of sorts to go back to coverage. I made Eggplant Mykonos for dinner (from Moosewood, of course), using graffiti eggplant rather than the usual dark eggplant, because that’s all that was in the store. I really liked it.

I read more of the book for review in the evening. I couldn’t settle back into coverage, and I’ll pay for that today. It means I have 5 coverages that HAVE to be turned around today, AND I have soup class tonight.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s wonderful.

Slept well until Charlotte woke me at 1, then had trouble getting back to sleep, and had stress dreams until the coffee started. Hauled the laundry over to the laundromat and got that done. I did some work in longhand on a project – I’m a little over 50 pages in to that one. I need to type it up and then outline, because I’m flailing, and it needs an outline. Also read some of Victoria Glendenning’s biography of Edith Sitwell.

I have to give tomorrow’s Process Muse post a polish and get it up, work on Legerdemain, and do the social media rounds. Then, I’ll spend the rest of the day on script coverage, and finish the admin work tomorrow.

Hope you had a good weekend, and are having a good start to the week.

Newest episode of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it.

Tues. Jan. 31, 2023: Starting With More Snow

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

This won’t be as long as our usual Tuesday morning chat, because I just don’t have that much to say.

The month wrap up is over on the GDR site.

I wrote two book reviews on Friday morning, sent them in, invoiced, was paid, did a library run, came home. The weather was yucky. I had some scoring sheets and some pitches for coverage, that was it.

I have to say, these scoring sheets where the instructions are only to read the first page of the screenplay and score on that are teaching me a lot about how to open my own scripts.

I was done by mid-afternoon. My back hurt a lot, so I moved to the couch with the heating pad, and stayed there, reading for pleasure, pretty much all weekend. The weather was gray and icky.

Saturday’s reading was re-reading the 4th book of my own GAMBIT COLONY project and what I have of the 5th, on which I wanted to figure out and rework a few bits. I made some notes and did an insert scene. It’s not traditionally viable, so I’ll have to pitch it to a small publisher, and I have to make sure I have all the ducks in the row for the series. There’s a lot that works in it, and there’s also a lot that pushes boundaries. And there are cuts that need to be made, or information integrated differently, in order to let the focus remain on the large and ever-growing ensemble.

But in the late afternoon/evening, I switched over to reading for pleasure, and basically read all day Sunday.

There were some books that I started and went back in the return stack for the library after a few chapters because they just didn’t do it for me. But I read LAST TRAIN TO MEMPHIS by Elizabeth Peters (another Vicky Bliss), Lana Harper’s BACK IN A SPELL (which is really good), and AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS by M.E. Hilliard, which I think I’ve read before, but it was a pleasure to re-read (and order the next books in the series), and an early book by an author whose work I’ve read a lot of under various names; this one was a little on the cutesy side for me.

I should have dived into the books on Malta’s history for the Heist Romance screenplay. I did look through the travel guides and watched some local videos, and decide where I’m putting some of the key scenes, though. I should have worked on contest entries.

But I was in pain and feeling grumpy and unsettled, so I didn’t. I did, early on Saturday morning, dash out to get more ink. Getting in and out of the car was hard. But it had to be done.

Monday I had to get up and actually function, so I did some prep for Imbolcc, blogged, worked on Process Muse posts, and took the car in for inspection in the morning – new-to-me place, in and out in 12 minutes, which is less time than it took to drive there. But I’m all set until next year.

I only had a stack of scoring sheets to do in the script coverage, so I did that, and started working ahead on the Process Muse posts.

I have an idea tickling at the back of my brain. I thought it was going to be historical alt-fantasy or epic fantasy, but the characters have decided it is urban fantasy romance, so that’s what it will be. If I ever figure it out. Because some key scenes basically dropped into my head, and I have the story with the emotional arcs for the two protagonists, but not the plot. So I’ll make notes on the scenes (or maybe write them, there are not many of them), and let it percolate on the back burner of my brain to see if a plot evolves. All of last night’s dreams were in the world of that story, and through those characters’ experiences (rather than me being myself in one of my Dreamscapes), so there’s obviously something in there my subconscious believes is viable.

I ordered the Midnight City Pocket Tarot and am very excited to get it. The artwork is based on NYC locations, so it will have a resonance for me.

Soup class was fun – we did mulligatawny soup, and it was great. I missed the last couple of weeks of class, and missed the camaraderie, as well as the skills I’m learning. Once the food is created, everyone just hangs out and chats, and it’s fun. The best of Zoom (and makes Charlotte so happy).

I did a reading with the Spirit Allies Oracle deck, which came in the Goddess Provisions box a couple of months back. I don’t know why I’m surprised when it’s so accurate. It’s a terrific deck, by the way.

Anthony Lemke talked about a book he read that he really loved. It’s been on my TBR list for awhile, but I’m moving it up, because he’s never steered me wrong when it comes to books or good work!

We had a little snow overnight, maybe just over an inch. We have an ice warning out, and it’s kind of flurrying. I’ll wait until mid-day to do my library-grocery-liquor store run. I need more coffee. And I have to put in a Chewy order for cat litter.

The cats have adjusted to the whole not-being-fed-until-coffee. But the second the coffeemaker starts (it’s set for a specific time the night before) and the smell wafts through the house, all of them are making demands that I Get Up and Feed Them. It’s kind of hilarious.

I need to get my act together and focus today. There’s writing to do, interview questions to create and send off, contest entries to read, a book to start reading for review. No scripts in the queue, at least so far. I’m not in terrible shape this pay period, but I’m under what I hoped, and I’m very, very frustrated at the pressure to “double volume” when there aren’t enough scripts at a decent rate in the queue. So I need to add in other options.

#28Prompts starts tomorrow. I hope you have fun with it. I had fun coming up with the prompts. It will drop on Twitter at noon EST every day, and on the other social media channels (where I can’t schedule ahead of time) whenever I can get on them.

The next episode of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it. Be well, my friends.

Wed. Jan. 18, 2023: Trying to Move Past the Lethargy

image courtesy of David Mark via pixabay.com of a painting by Franz Winterhalter

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Mercury goes Direct today

Rainy and cold

The week’s post is up on The Process Muse, and it’s about building the ensemble. It was hard to write, and it still wasn’t where I wanted it when I ran out of time. But it’s there. I have to finish the Ink-Dipped Advice post and get that up this morning.

Because it was sunny, once I got The Process Muse post up, I pulled myself together and did the errands: library drop-off/pickup, pharmacy, grocery store, liquor store. People were cheerful for a brief respite of sun in between storms, and soon after I got home, the sky darkened, and it began to rain again. I bought two small pots of primroses, which made me happy.

Home, got everything unpacked, realized I forgot to get potatoes and orange juice, so I guess I’ll be going out later this week again. Finished the book I’d been reading the previous day. It’s pleasing the writer’s fanbase, but it’s a little too formula for me, in spite of being a page turner. I respect what she’s done, but some of her other books have had a much stronger impact, both for pleasure and in engaging my emotions.

Turned around two scripts and some scoring. One is missing materials, so I can’t finish the coverage and submit until I get the missing material, or am told not to worry about it.

Did the social media rounds to promote Episode 51 of Legerdemain.

I’m spending less and less time on Twitter, because it just makes me sad. The feeds are all screwed up. I’m tired of people whining about the feeds being screwed up and demanding everyone else provide free administrative labor on their timelines. Do your own damn work. If you have “too many followers” to be able to deal with it, maybe you haven’t earned them. I have my hands full adminisrating my own feed. I’m not working on other people’s because they think they’re so important. There are also too many right-wing trolls. My time is better spent elsewhere.

I’m skipping spending time on Cohost until February, when I’ll put up, daily, the #28Prompt posts. And then I’ll probably stop spending any time there. Tried navigating Hive on my poor old tablet (which now has a cracked face) and it’s just so frustrating.

I did not work on any of the scripts, because everything else took too long. Nor did I draft on Legerdemain or adapt any of ANGEL HUNT. Which is frustrating. I was logy and frustrated all day.

Started the next book for review. The premise is interesting, but so far, I’m less than thrilled with the execution. Put it aside to read a book for fun, the second in a series by an author I like, and it’s fine, but I couldn’t concentrate at that point, because I was too tired.

Fell into bed, tired. Slept decently, but was busy in the Dreamscape, everything from attending a writer’s conference to redecorating a house, so I woke up tired. Well, Tessa and Charlotte woke me up, once the coffee started burbling.

Wrote a couple of pages in longhand on a project, and then came up with a working title for the piece whose outline I started (eleven pages’ worth) on Saturday. Went down a fun research rabbit hole about women writing speculative and science fiction in the so-called “golden age.”

We’re under all kinds of weather alerts today, it will switch between snow and rain, although we don’t get much accumulation until tomorrow, where 3-6 inches are predicted. I’m hoping I can sneak out between the switch tomorrow morning to get potatoes and orange juice.

Today, I have to shake off the lethargy and focus. I have a lot on the agenda, both for myself, and script coverages.

I’m glad Mercury is going direct today, but the transition day is always a slog for me. Plus, tomorrow is the day before dark moon, always a low energy day. Still, needs must, and I needs must get my act together and get to work.

Have a good one!

Wed. Jan. 11, 2023: Steady Progress

image courtesy of Piyapong Saydaung via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Waning Moon

Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Over on The Process Muse today, I talk about “Getting Back on Track” with my writing.

With Mars stationary, preparing to go direct tomorrow, it’s like wading through molasses while furious. Not fun, and I constantly remind myself that reacting rather taking a breath and a step back is an unwise choice right now.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did about 1K in longhand while at the laundromat. After breakfast/putting everything away, I drafted another episode of LEGERDEMAIN. A character who was supposed to be rather one-dimensional and start as a comic red herring is turning into someone more complicated. I guess that’s a good thing, fully developed characters are always a better choice, but I have to make sure this character still works, in the plot, the way I need him to.

I adapted another chapter of ANGEL HUNT into four episodes. I then “created” the story on Kindle Vella, uploaded the series logo and the blurb, and polished, uploaded, and scheduled the first 16 episodes, which gets me through St. Patrick’s Day in March. I updated the Episode Tracking Sheets as I went, to make sure I know what’s going out when. I wrote the episode log lines.

But the more I think about it, the stronger the instinct NOT to do episode-specific graphics. LEGERDEMAIN episodes drop on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with episode-specific graphics. ANGEL HUNT episodes will drop Wednesdays and Fridays. The series logo is striking. I’m worried that too many different graphics will get confusing to potential readers. The episodes are short, by intent. Few are over 1K words. The narrative drive of this piece is narrower, without the sprawl that makes all those LEGERDEMAIN graphics both necessary and fun.  Individual graphics don’t make sense, unless I was good enough to draw original art, or rich enough to commission an artist. The style of graphic that’s been working for LEGERDEMAIN won’t work for ANGEL HUNT, and, frankly, along with not having it in the budget to fairly pay an artist, I’ve left it too late to commission. I would like to get ahead on promotion, but Kindle Vella doesn’t give me the link until the story goes live on launch day. They really sabotage their authors, between not allowing gift cards used as tokens, or allowing authors to put tokens in giveaway packages, or allow authors to put the serials on their author pages. I don’t think BookBub allows the serials on their author pages either, which is annoying. I know it’s because Amazon wants authors to buy ads on the Amazon platform, but I mean, come on, give us some support over here.

At least for the first few months, I’m going to continue with episode-specific graphics for LEGERDEMAIN (along with increasing the general graphics, as I expand the website), but use a consistent graphic for ANGEL HUNT. It’ll give me a chance to compare promotional styles, although the two serials are a bit of apples and oranges.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted, with a blasting headache from it all.

I didn’t work on the script, although I was trying to figure out how to write myself out of this corner. Then, I realized, that I really don’t need to. This is a first draft, and I plan to cut the scene anyway in the next draft. I can make a note to that effect in the “Action” line and just move on. Duh.

I finished reading a book by a new-to-me author, recommended to me by an author colleague I like and respect. The book understands the genre and puts interesting twists on it, although I did manage to get ahead of the plot a few times, and had to wait for the characters to catch up. I like the writing. But then, a minor character used the term “witch” as a derogatory against other women, and I felt slapped in the face. This author, particularly, knows better. I was also a little thrown because the flap copy has incorrect character names. In other words, I’m on the fence about whether or not to read any other books by this particular author. I may try the first book of one of the other series, and see if I encounter the same type of issues.

No scripts in the queue, which has me worried, but I have books to review and will get on the stick about that. Plus contest entries, which I need to start. And I’m behind in reading the book for NYU’s virtual book club.

I did the social media rounds to promote the episode of LEGERDEMAIN that went live yesterday. I’m definitely seeing where I want to scale back on some of the platforms over the coming weeks.

An “offer” landed in my inbox to ghostwrite. $15 for 1500 words, minimum requirement 10 chapters per week (meaning 15,000 words). Yeah, no. Not worth it to work on someone else’s ideas for so little money. If I’m going to write 3K a day for someone else, it’s not going to be for a penny a word.

Slept reasonably well, woke up to coffee. Only got about 500 words done in longhand. I’d lost the thread of that particular story, getting wound up in the other stories on which I worked yesterday. By the time I got back into it, the time I had to work on it was up.

The morning plan is to take some Excedrin for my headache, draft another episode of Legerdemain, adapt another chapter of ANGEL HUNT to serial (it’s so weird, going from serial to chapter back to serial format), promote the new post on The Process Muse, work on my article, hopefully get some scripts in my queue, work on the next book for review, start contest entries. I’d like to work a little ahead on Process Muse and Ink-Dipped Advice, too, but that may get pushed off until the weekend.

Next week, I have to look at the short stories that do not have a home and the plays, and decide where to submit. I need everything out the door by early March (I will wait to start submissions until Mercury goes direct). I looked at my submission and pitch logs for 2022, and I was lax. Time to make up for it this year. If it’s not out there, it can’t find the right match.

What’s on your agenda today?