Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!

Wed. March 30, 2022: This & That

image courtesy of Bongkarn Thankyakij via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Partly cloudy and milder

I spend a good portion of each day fussing over the seedlings. It’s a little much, but I enjoy it. It was too cold to put them out on the porch yesterday, even with the sun. Hopefully, it will be warm enough today.

Once I got the laundry back and settled yesterday, I did another section of The Big Project, about 1400 words, which was good. I did a bunch of admin. Now that the 4th vaccination shots have been approved, I have to get that sorted out, and hope our insurance covers them.

I covered a script in the afternoon, which took longer than I expected. Some people are already submitting their Monthology stories (the deadline isn’t until the end of June), which means they probably started writing them during the brainstorming. Good for them, and I can’t let what works for them put me under more pressure.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. They’re already looking forward to Easter break. They’re working hard, and deserve to play.

I have no idea what I’ll write about for the play I’m signed up to write in April. I have a character and an idea tickling at me, but I have no idea if they will work. Well, I can always start and then switch course. Or, I could do another Kate Warne play. I have at least two more one-acts planned (that will then be adapted with some of the other one acts to make a full-length) and one more full-length, although I have to do more research for that one. Frankly, I don’t think I have the time for the research.

Didn’t manage to get in any work on the CAST IRON MURDER revisions, but I hope to do so today.

I need to buy a sketchbook so that I can draw maps of various areas in The Big Project, and keep things consistent.

I fell down a retro research rabbit hole trying to find the banking information I need. I finally contacted a local bank and the MA Bankers’ Association, so see if they know of any banking historians who could answer the specific questions. Everything I’m finding online is too vague. There’s a law library in Pittsfield. Once the car is fixed, I can set up a day and time to go and research in there, if needed.

I was worried about not having enough scripts, but I have two in today’s queue and two for tomorrow. I’m still under what I’d hoped to earn this pay period, but I’m climbing toward where I need to be again.

I’ve been invited to two local art happenings over the next couple of weeks. On the one hand, I want to go, because I’m interested in the work, and I want to get more involved in the local arts community. On the other hand, the very thought of being around other people, especially if they are unmasked indoors, is overwhelming and exhausting. I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel like I can safely socialize again. When I think of how often I was out and about in the NYC years, even working full-time in theatre, taking advantage of everything on offer, it’s quite the contrast. I wonder if we, as introverts, only have a certain amount of energy available for social situations, and when it’s used up, that’s it? There isn’t any more social energy left? Would I have rationed it out, had I known? I doubt it. And I’ve never been that social anyway. Part of it, I think, is because so often I felt forced into social situations on Cape that I didn’t want and that made me miserable, and part of my current exhaustion is backlash from that.

Or maybe it’s because the social contract of trust and community care has been so broken during the pandemic.

Anyway, I haven’t committed to any of the invitations. I will make the decision closer to the events themselves. If I decide to go, yes, I will mask.

I caught up on this week’s issue of THE NEW YORKER (I started up my subscription again). There was an interesting article by Nick Paumgarten about the Margaritaville retirement communities in Florida that serves as additional color to my research on things up here for the retro mystery. The sheer sociability of these communities is exhausting. But it does give me ideas on how to structure social activities in the fictional community. He admitted to running around down there without a mask and then caught COVID. Um, what did he think would happen? I also didn’t find mention of diversity in the communities, which makes me figure there isn’t much. I could be wrong about that, and I’ll go through the article again with a research eye instead of a reading-for-pleasure eye to make sure. But if the claim is they don’t “pay attention” to politics, it indicates they lean right and uphold the white supremacy status quo, so I doubt there’d be much diversity within the community. Again, this echoes the research for the retro mystery; it is highly unlikely that the fictional community would have been diverse. I came across a report on diversity in the area earlier in the research process; I have to look at it again. It was part of a bigger study. I might get in touch with those who created the study to see if there was any way I could have some sort of diversity in my fictional community, or if that just wouldn’t happen in the area in 1957.

The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, a final polish on the newsletter to send it out the door, and a final polish on the grant proposal to send it out the door. Then, it’ll be time to cover two scripts. That’s today’s agenda.

I also have to update my website, and work on new business cards. And do the quarterly postcard, although I might put that off until next week.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. March 22, 2022: Challenging Start to the Week

image courtesy of Paul Barlow via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the GDR site about being the architect of your life.

I hope you had a good weekend, and a blessed Equinox. Now, we’ll really see the gains in daylight, since it’s tipping toward longer light.

Friday was a mixed day. Very foggy in the morning. Not fun to make my way to the mechanic when I couldn’t use the broken windshield wiper. But I got there.

The wiper was easily fixed. But the engine light issue, not so much. As long as the light stays steady and doesn’t blink, I can continue to drive short distances. The mechanic thinks it’s a fuel pump issue, but they can’t even get me in for a diagnostic for another month. They suggested a mechanic in Williamstown, who specializes in foreign cars. It’s the second time that mechanic has been suggested to me. I am trying to get an appointment.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and restocked our food supply.

Moved the plants back out on the porch, and even opened the windows once it warmed up enough.

Did some client blogging, and roughed out the next edition of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which should go out this week. I think I wrote too much, so will probably edit it back.

Worked on a recipe for strawberry-vanilla mousse. It tastes quite good, but doesn’t look appealing. Nor did it set properly. Ever. I think the acid from the fresh strawberries had something to do with it. So I need to adjust the recipe, and figure out how to make it look better without using artificial colors.

In the afternoon, one neighbor was working on a new piano composition. Another neighbor was on her front porch, playing her guitar. I worked on script coverage. It was a great vibe. Everyone in their own space, but knowing people around them were doing creative work.

Fresh cod for dinner on Friday night, with rice and steamed spinach. Yummy.

Throughout the weekend, I did some cleaning here and there, but nowhere like the intense spring cleaning I planned. The Plan was to start in the kitchen and work forward doing intense deep cleaning. But I spent more time unpacking and organizing things than in deep clean mode.

It kept raining and then not on Saturday, and I didn’t feel like going out, so I didn’t. I did regular housework and changed the beds and did some unpacking and organizing. I made more vegetable stock. I finished reading a novel I’d started that was recommended by an acquaintance over at VOGUE. I liked a lot of the book, especially relating to the characters and what they were going through. I got ahead of the plot a little too quickly, and there were some chapters where way too much backstory was info-dumped, instead of being integrated into the overall story. I liked more than I didn’t, but it’s not a book I’d rave about. Went through some other books for research on various projects, and put them back in the pile for the library.

Percolated on the retro mystery for a bit. I’m creating a new name for my fictional community and putting in some lines as to how the creator of it is in competition with The Spruces. This will give me the flexibility I need for plot and character and even some geographic deviations. The application for The Spruces was careful and thorough. I want my fictional community to be a little more raucous and freewheeling. On Monday morning, I did some research on different mobile homes, and I found the one I want for my central protagonist: a three bedroom, with a second story for her main bedroom and a roof deck, with a patio downstairs, two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, and the living room. I need to go back to the library and look at the dimension widths for the homes that remained in the park. On the road, they could only be 8’ wide, but if they weren’t meant to move? Could they be 10’? When I did my research, I wrote down the length, but not the width.

Sunday was the Spring Equinox. I kept the celebrations simple. It was cloudy most of the day, so I decided not to run errands that day, either. I did some more unpacking and organizing.

I spent a good portion of the day going through a research book I’ve had out of the library for months (I am allowed 99 renewals on it). But I felt like I should go through it thoroughly and return it. I got 9 pages of notes on one project, and images that are relevant to three projects, so it definitely was worth taking the time with it.

I did a chipotle chicken in the crockpot, which was yummy. I do love my crockpot.

I’m slowly working my way through ATLAS OF THE HEART, which was recommended by the leader of the Thursday meditation group. It’s not an easy book. There are things which resonate strongly with me. There are other things with which I disagree. The third category is the most problematic because they resonate, even though I don’t like them! But they make sense. Definitely a worthwhile book, albeit not an easy one.

Up early on Monday, on my own. Got the morning routine going, in spite of going down another research rabbit hole with The Spruces.

I had a long list of errands that needed to happen. On the way to the first set, I stopped at the credit union to make a deposit for my mother, in the joint account, on which I am named with Power of Attorney. The teller and the teller supervisor accused me of trying to scam my elderly mother. Even though I have POA, and my mother signed the check (since it was made out to her), and marked it for deposit. Because I am named for my mother, and therefore must be trying to scam her, because heaven forbid a daughter have the same first name as a mother. If I was a man named for my father, this would never be a problem. Because misogyny. I had to go home, get the check stub and the letter that came with the check TO MAKE A DEPOSIT INTO A JOINT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. On top of that, they’re going to hold the money until the end of the month “to make sure the check is real.” It’s from a major company in the Midwest. On top of that, they said she should have come in to make the deposit herself. First of all, she’s 97. That’s why it’s a joint account and I have POA. So that she doesn’t have to come in herself. Second, none of the staff is masking. Why would I put her at risk in a pandemic? As usual, they are inappropriate.

EVERY interaction with Greylock Federal Credit Union since we opened the account has been unnecessary drama. Why would I want to keep our money in an establishment that treats me like a criminal instead of a customer? The whole point of being with a credit union is because their mission is to treat their members like individuals.

Not Greylock.

As soon as I can legally move the money, I will. It will be a nightmare to open yet another account and switch everything over.  I’m starting the research now. But it’s necessary. Because my mother is 97. I hope she’s around for a long time, but when she does go, how much you want to bet they’d refuse access to the JOINT ACCOUNT so I could pay the bills for the funeral? What about when I start traveling again? How much do you want to bet they’ll leave me stranded somewhere, even though I will have given them the information about the trip in advance? Not to mention that, as a legal adult (for decades now), I shouldn’t have to get the bank’s “permission” to travel.

NONE of this is about security. ALL of it is about control.

The Annual Meeting is tonight. Part of me is exhausted at the very thought of attending. Part of me wants to go in there and tell them off. Yet again. I have brought up these issues before, and they “feel bad” that I have a bad experience with them, but never adjust their behavior.

I have ALWAYS been polite in dealing with them, even when they frustrated and insult me. And EVERY transaction is an absolute nightmare of unnecessary drama.

If I was rich and laundering money through them, they’d let me do anything I want.

Part of being the architect of my own life is only dealing with businesses that treat me with basic human respect and decency. The credit union does not. Therefore, I need to take my business (small as it is) elsewhere.

After it took the hour plus to get sorted what should have been a basic deposit, I did the rest of my errands: the liquor store, the library. Did a pass through the thrift store, hoping for some cute plant pots, but they didn’t have any in stock. Went to another store, where I found pots, potting soil, and even got some morning glory and moonflower seeds.

It meant I didn’t have to drive to another store I thought I’d have to visit, for the soil and the pots. So that saved time, energy, and stress on the car.

After lunch, I planted eight pots with seven kinds of seeds (I’ll discuss it in detail in this Thursday’s post on Gratitude and Growth). It was lovely out on the porch, so we moved all the pots out there in the sun. I updated the plant journal. I’m trying to be more consistent with it. Keeping it in a 3-ring binder instead of a spiral-bound notebook makes it easier.

There were plenty of things I “should” have been doing in the afternoon, although I was well in the zone, deadline-wise. So I cut myself a break, read a book I really wanted to read for fun, and watched the clouds roll by. Being up in the mountains is fun, because the clouds are low enough to really observe.

Tessa started howling as soon as I went to bed. I got up, sat with her while she ate her bedtime snack, and waited until she fell asleep before sneaking off to bed. I was awake on my own just before five this morning, and she was happy.

Took the laundry to the laundromat in the rolly cart. The moon was still out and shining brightly when I left. They’d adjusted the lights to the time change, finally, although the clock is still an hour behind. Got a nice chunk of edits done on CAST IRON MURDER, in spite of some guy coming in to do his laundry who kept trying to talk to me. What is it about men that they can’t stand to see a woman involved in something that isn’t them? I had my folder open with a full manuscript of several hundred pages, I was editing hard copy in red pen, it was obvious I was working. Basic greeting and acknowledgement make sense; trying to engage me in conversation when I am obviously working is not. I was polite, but minimal, and made it clear that I WAS WORKING, and not there to hang out and socialize.

I mean, it’s a lot better here than it was on Cape, but still. Read the room, guys. Not everything is about you.

Home, put the clothes away. I only have about two chapters left to edit on CAST IRON MURDER, so I might just go ahead and do that, and then put in some of the fixes I noted in pen this morning, before switching over to The Big Project, and then client work in the afternoon.

Trying to decide if I want to do a run to the library – six books came in after I had done my drop-off/pickup yesterday.

The tansy seeds finally showed up after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago back to the Berkshires. I hope to plant them today. Otherwise, I have to wait until Friday, which is the next planting day.

By the way, any business that is running around with an unmasked staff behaving like the pandemic is over does not get to use “the pandemic” or “supply chain issues” as an excuse for not being competent or fulfilling their responsibilities. Either they acknowledge we are still in a pandemic and follow protocols, or they forfeit the right to use it as an excuse. It doesn’t work both ways.

The Republican racists are in full sail in the hearings for our new SCOTUS. People need to believe them when they show who they are, and remove them.

The week has barely begun and I’m exhausted.

I will make the time for extra meditation today.

Tues. March 15, 2022: Don’t Get All Stabby On Me

Image courtesy of Thomas B via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

If you’re familiar with Julius Caesar and The Ides of March, you’ll get the reference.

The March mid-month check-in post is over on the GDR site.

Anyway, on Thursday, I got some work done in the morning. I then did the rounds of the library, picking up my birthday cake, post office, liquor store. I participated in Freelance Chat. As I did, I realized that everything I HAD to do before Monday was. . .done.

I’d expected to be working until well into the evening to “justify” taking a three-day weekend. But there wasn’t anything in my script reading queue, I was waiting to hear back on a few things, I’d written my reviews. I could have started the next book for review, or worked on contest entries.

But I didn’t want to.

So I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon. I read books I wanted to read, including THE LOFT GENERATION by Edith Schloss, about abstract and modern artists who started living and working in lofts in NYC in the 1940’s. Excellent book.

Friday morning, we had smoked salmon Benedict as my birthday breakfast, which was excellent. We got into the car to head out for the birthday adventures. One of the windshield wiper blades snapped off, and the check engine light came back on. Really? The car only worked for four days?

I was not a happy camper.

We decided to truncate the day’s plans. We only went to Pittsfield, to the big book sale at the Atheneum. People were still masked, thank goodness, but it was very crowded, and I was uncomfortable. We didn’t stay very long. I bought some jazz and world music CDs, and a couple of books. My mom bought a few books. I couldn’t get near the older, interesting books, because a triad of dealers were there, scooping them up and blocking regular buyers from them.

On the way back, we stopped to get some cleaning supplies, more pots, potting soil, and some groceries to get us through the stormy weekend. People were talking about this storm with more concern than any of the storms so far this winter.

Home and settled in with the new books. I started reading a mystery, didn’t like it after 50 pages, read the ending; liked it less. It was everything that doesn’t work for me in a mystery: a dumb, nasty protagonist; smarmy, vicious ensemble of characters who don’t support the protagonist nor deserve the protagonist’s help; used “witch” as a slur against women; and an undercurrent of racism that I found sickening, like how dare the few black characters encroach on this safe white world. The book goes into a bag of donations I’m putting together for another book sale, and someone else can have it. It is not staying in this house, and I will not read something by this author again.

I had to wash my hands after putting it in the box, to get the stench off me.

I read the other book I’d bought, a paranormal urban fantasy with romantic elements. It worked better. It was a several books into a series I haven’t read, but it was clear about the story (without info dumping on the past). I read the blurbs for the next several in the series; not sure I’ll read them, because I don’t really like the overall series arc. But at least this was a few hours of reading pleasure.

Then, I started THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan. Wow. Just wow. I read it Friday and finished it Saturday, even though it’s a pretty big book. But the writing is gorgeous. So beautiful. The worldbuilding, the characters, the storytelling. All wonderful. It’s a completely unique fantasy novel. The copy I read is from the library, but I think I will buy my own copy, because this is a book I will re-read.

I’d been stressing out about what to order for dinner on Friday night, worried I’d be disappointed in it. The restaurant I’d planned to order didn’t have anything on its changing menu that I really craved. So, instead, we ordered from the Freight Yard Pub, which isn’t far from us at all, and a couple of people have recommended it to me. My mom ordered her favorite fish & chips. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and roasted vegetables. The portions were huge, and it was quite good. Not a brilliant, life-changing meal, but good. I had prosecco with it, because it’s my birthday and I will damn well drink prosecco.

Although I’m seriously considering making like a Venetian and drinking prosecco regularly when the lunch is fancy enough.

I got so many lovely and loving birthday wishes via social media and email. It really made the day special.

Tessa got me up around 6 on Saturday. It was raining, but quickly changed over to snow. I thanked people for their good wishes, and answered birthday emails.

I spent the day going through books. Reading or rereading some, when I’d finished DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS. Going through some research books I’d gotten out of the library; I extracted what I needed, and they’re in the pile to go back.

I went through some of the art books that are here (I will have to retrieve others from storage, if and when the car is fixed so we can do a storage run). I’m looking for pieces that will inspire the short pieces under the three categories I’ve set aside for them. I looked at some terrific work – I’d forgotten how much impact Judy Chicago’s work has – but nothing that was a catalyst for any of those pieces. I’ll get some books from the college library this week, and see.

The snow kept pounding down, a heavy, wet snow. One of the books I’m assigned for review arrived, and it looks wonderful. I’m eager to dig into it this week.

I rested a lot. It’s a combination of birthday blues, stress about the car, worry about work, and general burnout.

I got a rejection on a short story, which was not unexpected, because it was a stretch market for me, and they were very nice in the letter. I’m going to take a look at it, see what needs to be tweaked, and find another market for it. Because I like it (or I wouldn’t have submitted it anywhere in the first place). It’s a combination of speculative fiction & mystery, with a dose of humor. But not a flash piece, it’s too long for that. And most of the paying markets now seem to want flash.

Had to change all the clocks before bedtime on Saturday, which made me grumble. I hate springing forward. When we fall back, I have extra energy for weeks. When we spring forward, I drag for days.

Up around 6 on Sunday, regular morning routine. Traditional eggs Benedict for breakfast, since it was still birthday weekend.

I rewrote a short story which had been rejected a few weeks back for being “too genre.” Hmm, when the submission call says they read regardless of genre as long as it fits the theme, then say something is too genre, gives me important information.

Anyway, I like the story, it’s a ghost story set in a theatre. I rewrote it a bit, to move it away from the submission call’s theme, and changed the protagonist’s name (which was part of the guidelines, and it didn’t suit her). I was looking for another market for it, but it seems ghost stories are now considered horror. This is more of a traditional ghost story, more paranormal with touches of mystery, than horror. I don’t think it’s dark enough for the horror markets I researched. I could go a little darker, but going too much darker would go in a direction I don’t really want.

However, there’s a middle section that’s set outside of the theatre (the beginning and end happen in the theatre). It underlines a theme and places a red herring. But maybe if I change that and keep all of it in the theatre, it might work better, and skew dark enough to fit some of the horror submission calls without going darker than I want for this particular piece.

I have to percolate on that a bit.

A friend sent me a list of markets, and, researching through those, that might be the way to go, so that it’s still within my vision, but still suited to one of these paying markets.

There’s no deadline on this, so I can let it simmer for a bit.

Did a little bit of work on Gambit Colony. If I get pulled down into that rabbit hole again, it will throw too much other work off track, but, as is typical, when I’m under stress, that’s the piece that soothes me best to work on. I’m writing a section set in Venice right now, which makes me happy.

Started work on a short piece that’s been rolling around my brain for a bit, inspired by a submission call. Not sure where it’s going yet. I want it to be short, no more than 1500 words, but it’s hitting the right 1500 words that’s the trick. 1000 words would be even better. The deadline’s not for a couple of months, so we’ll see.

I put together chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. I’d forgotten to start it right after breakfast; it was late morning before I remembered, but that’s what the “high” cooking speed is for, right?

I planted the cherry tomatoes and the mini cucumbers directly into their final pots. No need to transplant. I’m going to have to get more potting soil, because I still have hollyhocks, four o’clocks, nasturtiums, tansy, sweet peas, and mallow to plant. And the night-blooming jasmine coming in at the end of the month or early April, which will need repotting. I also planted more cat grass, since Charlotte and Willa only have a few stalks left. I put them in a different pot; I will alternate between the two pots, but I need to order more seeds for that. I’ll order the bigger batch this time.

There’s a new combination of plant center/art gallery opening up next month on Main Street, in walking distance. I am very excited.

The afternoon and evening were spent reading contest entries, with Norah Jones on the CD player. Finished the bottle of birthday prosecco, too, that I opened on Friday.

Charlotte started poking at me around 5, but Tessa was quiet until 6. Because it’s darker now in the morning, she’s staying quiet. Although that doesn’t explain why, so often, she woke me at 4 over the winter, because it was darned dark then.

Good yoga session. I’ve been hit and miss on the morning yoga the past few weeks, and need to get back into that routine. I feel better when I stick to it.

The side table to the left of my desk, in front of the large windows, has always been one of Charlotte’s favorite’s hangouts, but Tessa has discovered it. She can see more birds from it, and she is very excited.

I sent out some LOIs; got back some auto-responses for tests, which meant I shrugged off those companies and put them on The List. If they’re not going to read my cover letter, where I clearly state I don’t do unpaid labor as part of an interview or pre-interview process, and that I have a specific contract for it, then it’s not a company with whom I want to work.

Did some work on The Big Project, but not enough. I feel I’ve lost the tone of the piece, and I need to get that back.

It was warm enough on the front porch to move out the seedlings, to encourage them.

Took a big load of books back to the library; they only had one for me to pick up. It was bright out, and things are melting. We’re supposed to actually move into warmer weather this week, in the 50’s and 60’s, which would be nice.

Made my favorite comfort Chinese peanut butter noodles for lunch. I’m so grateful not to have nut allergies.

In the afternoon, I did some brainstorming on the Monthology piece, caught up on some emails, did some client work. Stepping back from interacting with someone online, because she continues to make harmful decisions, then whines about them, in spite of having a network of professionals around her giving advice on better decisions. I can’t participate anymore. She’s made her decisions; they are hers to make; I’m not spending time putting together ideas and resources that she won’t bother to use, but will whine about being exploited, because she went against advice and made those choices. It’s a never-ending circle of frustration, and I don’t need to participate. I no longer respect her, and I’m beginning to actively dislike her, which is not a relationship worth maintaining. “Oh, she’s young” is not an excuse, because one of my editors is several years younger than this individual, but several decades smarter.

 I re-subscribed to THE NEW YORKER, which I’ve missed since my subscription lapsed last July. They offered me a great rate, so I was delighted to accept it. Which means I need to get some more magazine holders.

Turned around a script coverage. I should have started the spring cleaning, but I did not. I’d hoped to put in about two or three hours each weekday, and then three or four on the weekends, but I don’t know how that will shake out. The Chewy food order arrived early, and the cats were happy to play in the box. A pair of Nine West flats I’d bought on sale also arrived, earlier than expected. They look much better in person than they did in the picture, thank goodness, and fit. I still need a good pair of cross trainers in which to run errands on foot, and walk in the various parks, but the flats will be good for going to museums, networking events, etc.

Read contest entries in the evening. It will take me several hours today to enter the scores.

Tessa woke me at 4:30 this morning. I moved to the couch, dreamed about some sort of undercover operation where I had to be a flower arranger (if you know how bad I am at that, you’ll see why there’s no way I could pull it off). I overslept until seven, which put back my day.

I might rearrange my day anyway today, to go off and do some research later this morning. I want to work on The Big Project first. Then, I ‘ll go do my research. I have another script to turn around this afternoon, and more contest entries. And I need to get in touch with the mechanic about the next appointment for the car. I’m dreading that, but it needs to be done.

Almost all the snow has melted, so let’s hope this is it for the winter. Yeah, we’ll move into mud season next, but that’s still better than snow.

Lots to do today, so I better get to it. Have a good one!

Fri. Feb. 18, 2022: Spiro Squirrel Is A Brat

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pxabay.com

Friday, February 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowing

Yesterday was another somewhat scattered day. It was in the 50’s, mild, and raining all day. It was supposed to be mild today, then temperatures drop tonight with another storm coming in, but it was already snowing before 8 AM this morning.

Meditation was good. Charlotte sat in my lap the whole time.

Smoked salmon Benedict on brioche for breakfast, which was yummy.

Got the next section of The Big Project done, at just over 1600 words.

It was raining and windy, so I put off my errands.

Got some admin done, did some background research on some companies I want to pitch, participated in Freelance chat. Got an idea for a series of interlocked short stories, inspired by something I read in the book club book.

Spiro Squirrel knocked on the back window at lunchtime, as though he expected me to hand him my sandwich through the window, the little brat. It’s squirrel mating season, and they’ve decided the back balcony is their lovers’ lane, so there’s that going on.

The Chewy order arrived, with the treats and the new toys, including Robot Mouse. I want to give the cats some interactive toys to keep them busy. I figured Willa would like Robot Mouse, because she’s such a good mouser.

She does. She thinks Robot Mouse is excellent fun, and chases it, catches it, and plays with it. Since it’s a robot, she can’t tear it apart, the way she does with real mice.

Charlotte is curious, but cautious, and keeps a safe distance. Tessa Is Not Amused.

The afternoon was split between script coverage and collaborating on the anthology. I also got some reading snuck in for book club (I need to catch up online with everyone). I got some good ideas for my anthology story, based on our discussions. We’re doing detailed world building, amongst all of us, that I want to make sure that richness is part of the piece, not that the world is a backdrop. It needs to be integrated.

I rearranged a single shelf in my office. A baby step, but it makes me feel like I got something done.

Unpacking one of the boxes of books that wasn’t supposed to come up; it’s mixed books, rather than project books. However, some of them are relevant to new projects, so I’m sorting and shelving them, and it’s all working out.

Pasta with sausage and tomato for dinner. Yummy.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are excited for the winter break next week, so no sessions. Not that any of them are going anywhere, but there won’t be classes; it’ll be books read for fun and games and videos and puzzles, and stuff like that.

Today, I was supposed to do errands, but if it’s snowing, I’ll limit them. Tomorrow’s supposed to be bad out, so I’ll just have to cope with whatever. If I can’t do errands this weekend, I can’t do errands, and they just have to be pushed back until next week.

I have to clear off some script coverage, and I’m done for the week with that. I am way below what I’d hoped to earn there this week, but I’ve been burned out, and I’d rather do less coverage, but give each script the time and attention it deserves, then rush through it and not give each one a fair shot.

Work on the Big Project today and all weekend, plus working on contest entries. I need to catch up with some admin, and do housework this weekend, too. I hope I get some rest in there.

Charlotte woke me at 1:30, but I managed to fall asleep again, and then overslept until nearly 7, so it was a rocky start this morning. But bagels will make everything better, so I’m off to eat my bagel for breakfast, and then return to the page. Peace, friends, and see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a good one.

Published in: on February 18, 2022 at 8:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 18, 2022: Spiro Squirrel Is A Brat  
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Fri. Jan. 28, 2022: Blizzard Warning

image courtesy of WildOne via pixabay.com

Friday, January 28, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Charlotte sat on my lap for meditation yesterday. It was funny.

After breakfast, I bundled up and headed out. It was all the way up to 9 degrees. Ashland Street was better, except for a few difficult spots. The ice mounds that are at property lines on the sidewalks make it difficult to navigate.

Mailed a big stack of cards and notes. Headed up to the library, where I picked up my books, and got an extension on a book I need for a project. Piled all the books in my backpack and walked back on Church Street, literally in the street, because the sidewalks were so bad. When cars came past, I stepped as close to the curb as possible and stopped until they were past. Once I hit college property, the sidewalks were walkable again.

I’ve craved peanut butter for lunch for the past couple of days, and have indulged myself. I’m grateful that I’m not allergic to nuts. I love them.

Got some reading and research done, and some script coverage written up.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. Because of the book banning insanity, now they all want to read MAUS (as they should). Some of them have read it and want to re-read it. So that is our next group project, along with juggling the individual homework assignments.

Tessa woke me at 2:45 this morning, but I fell asleep on the couch again almost immediately.

Today, I’m doing a run to the liquor store, and will stop at Cumberland Farms for a loaf of bread (although I also hope to bake a loaf or two). I want to get it done before the storm stars, and finish writing up my last coverages for the week. I may have to bake bread, if the store is already sold out.

They’d walked back storm predictions yesterday to 3-5 inches for this area. This morning, they are back up to at least a foot, with up to three feet further east and blizzard warnings. People are out and about doing storm prep. I have my pre-storm headache, so although it’s not supposed to start snowing until 11 PM tonight, it might start earlier, according to the pressure in my head.

Venus goes direct tomorrow, thank goodness. Then we just have to hang in there for a few more days of Mercury Retrograde. Once that goes direct, we actually have a little bit of breathing room until April.

Tuesday is Chinese Lunar New Year. Because I worked on so many shows with Asian or mostly Asian casts, that’s become an important day in my personal calendar. This is the year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am, so let’s hope that bodes well!  Wednesday is Imbolc, and I have to decide what will be planted as part of the ritual.

Next week is supposed to be in the forties, so hopefully I can dig out the car, and also get down to the grocery store and do a decent sized shop (although we don’t need that much).

Meanwhile, this weekend, I’m cleaning things up and hopefully getting some more unpacking done. Also working on contest entries, and maybe reading the book for review. I have a stack of books from the library that I want to read just because I want to read them.

I’m worried about the power going off, since we have neither a working fireplace nor a generator. On Cape, we were the only house on our street without one (landlord didn’t feel it was necessary), and National Grid’s attitude was that if we didn’t have a generator, that was on us. Since we haven’t lost power here since we moved in (except for about 5 minutes during a storm), I have no idea how it’s handled. Technically, the gas stove should work, even if the power goes out (It did on Cape). But who knows?

I guess we’re about to find out.

Plenty of blankets and books at the ready. I will adjust what I write to whether it has to be in longhand or can be on the computer.

Have a good one. Catch you next week.

Wed. Jan. 19, 2022: Enjoying The Hermit Energy

The Hermit card from The Zenned Out Journey Tarot by Cassie Uhl, Quarto Publishing

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and milder (still cold, but not frigid)

Got some client blogging done yesterday morning, and some admin work. I need to move the admin work back to afternoons, because it interferes too much with create work. The wind picked up, so I decided to skip going to the library. I have to go to the public library today to pick up books that have come in. It’s all about the weather at this point.

I got out some necessary correspondence. I ordered the set of 4 free Covid tests from the post office. Although we are a multi-family dwelling, each apartment has a different street number, so we will all be able to order tests. Still, it’s very messed up. It should be every individual getting tests (and not just 4), not every address. Again, it discriminates against multi-family households, or roommate situations. And lets people who have more than one house get more than their share of tests (which they could afford to buy anyway).

TracFone is still trying to force my mother to buy a new smart phone instead of replacing her phone as they promised. I’m filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s office.

I wrote up two script coverages and read three more scripts, which I will write up today. Knowledge Unicorns was fine. They have a bunch of projects and papers coming up over the next few weeks, so we will do some more discussion on primary and secondary sources, how to research in libraries and archives, and how to critically read sources and check the backgrounds of the sources. And yes, they’re all already smart enough to know that Wikipedia is not a reliable source or can be used in bibliographic references. We’re also talking about what museums we want to take virtual tours of next. Because that’s kind of fun. One of the kids, who’s going to start college in fall, is now thinking of majoring in art history because of these tours.

I did some work with the Journey Tarot. At first, I wasn’t sure I connected with the deck, mostly because the card stock is so flimsy, and I was worried it wouldn’t hold up. But the more I work with it, the more I like the deck. It’s joyful, but honest, and reads well.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me at 4:30 this morning. I refused to feed them that early, although I moved to the couch and dozed off again. They woke me again, just before seven, grumbling at each other. They were grumpy and hungry. I pointed out that they would have been fed on time, had they not woken me too early. That does not fit in with their Cat Logic, but too bad for them.

Hopefully, the sidewalks are clear enough for smooth going to and from the library. Then, I’ll decontaminate, and get back to work. If the weather is okay, I have to walk to the grocery store tomorrow for a few things before the next storm coming in.

Between the Venus and Mercury Retrogrades making it make sense for me to stay home and quiet, the bad weather, and the virus requiring more isolation, I’m enjoying The Hermit vibe. Pulling The Hermit card out of various tarot decks and using them in meditation and pathworking.

The Medium Project is starting to percolate, but it’s still in the asking questions and choosing possibilities, kind of like cleaning out one’s closet.

Have a good one.

Published in: on January 19, 2022 at 9:07 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 19, 2022: Enjoying The Hermit Energy  
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Tues. Oct. 12, 2021: Am I Really Doing This?

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Saturn went DIRECT on 10/10/2021

Foggy and mild

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Big Project for the Winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or would the WANT TO writing fuel the SHOULD?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t have the answer. Yet.

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

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

Good first writing session, good early morning yoga.

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

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

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

–What’s your day job?

–What’s your favorite hobby besides writing?

–Writers are your competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you have a good week, friends. Peace.

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

Thurs. Sept. 16, 2021: Emotion is a Weird Thing

image courtesy of Arek Socha via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a hot, summer-like day. Enjoy them while we have them, I guess. I hear winters are miserable here.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the start of the autumn colors.

Greylock Federal Credit Union is, once again, making life difficult. There’s no reason for everything to take 10 steps instead of 2. I should be able to deposit a check without it being a production. I should be able to write a check without it being a production. I shouldn’t need FIVE security questions for everything, and constant haranguing by their staff on issues we’ve already settled.

Obviously, I made a mistake choosing them as my bank. I’ve always preferred credit unions, because the reason for their existence is to treat their members with dignity, not have the traps and fees commercial banks use, and to smooth the financial path for their members. Greylock does the exact opposite.

I can’t switch banks again for 90 days, but I’m looking into other banks. I may actually go in and interview them.

Because I am not putting up with this shit.

I went down a research rabbit hole for a project, which was fun, but set me back on a few other things.

Remote Chat was fun, although I was still in Grumpy Pants Mode from dealing with Greylock.

Windows keeps telling me I need an update, and then the update “fails”. I’m frustrated.

I unpacked a few things from the last storage run. One of them is an original sketch, signed by the artist, done in 1969. I’m trying to decipher the artist’s name so I can research the artist. I think it was a gift from my uncle, who was a well-known artist in Europe, done by one of his colleagues, because the name I think is one the sketch comes up connected to Hamburg, near where my uncle was based. I might post the signature on Twitter, so see if anyone can help me decipher it, so I can do the proper research. It’s a very atmospheric black and white sketch, and I want to find a place to hang it here. But I also want to know about it.

Found out that the house in which we lived for the past 10 years is on the market. For a lot of money. The landlord repainted the inside (which it needed, because hey, ten years) in sterile colors downstairs, and didn’t repaint the upstairs bedrooms. The old carpets are still there, and the lawn’s been mowed, but where’s all this “landscaping” he talked about? The broken boards on the steps of the deck where replaced, and the deck washed, and the back windows repainted (which he did while they were still there). But that’s it. So all the fussing at me, about how the work was going to take him six months and I’d put him so far behind wasn’t true. It took six weeks to slap on some paint and put the house on the market.

None of this should matter. But it’s still a wrench, because that place was my home for a decade, and, with all the ups and downs, I did love the house. But he was never going to sell it to me, even if I could have or wanted to buy it. And, with the way the neighborhood was changing, and how the Cape is changing, it’s not where I wanted to live out the rest of my life.

Yet, there are still complex emotions.

I sat with them in meditation last night, which helped a lot.

I do wish whomever buys the place is very happy there, because the house itself encourages happiness.

Meditation this morning, and then it’s back to work. I need to write up the scripts I read last night, and grab some more to read today, write some short articles, and start the next book for review.

And, of course, unpack.

Have a good one!

Published in: on September 16, 2021 at 7:30 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 16, 2021: Emotion is a Weird Thing  
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Wed. March 10, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 292/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 42 — Another Day, Another Stress

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Waning Moon

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was up, down, and all over the place.

I woke up a little after 2 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Got some writing done in the morning, client work, LOIs out.

Took my mom to the doctor in the afternoon. The doctor is pleased with her progress, and delighted that she’s on the road to vaccination.

It was a lovely day, so people were out and about in force, and NONE of them wore masks. It was enraging. And, of course, the leaf-blowing assholes were out in force, because heaven forbid anyone should be able to actually enjoy the nice weather in peace and quiet.

I did, however, open the windows and doors for a bit, to get in some fresh air. It got cold quickly again in the afternoon, and went back down into the 20’s overnight.

The bubble wrap that I ordered arrived. It’s, um, a much bigger roll than I expected. But I’m sure we will use it all!

Worked on research for my article. Wrote a couple of blog articles. Set up some marketing posts for Fearless Ink, more introductory than anything else.

Heard back from a potential script reading job to which I pitched. I’m supposed to do a free sample – um, no. And then, the per script rate is ¼ of my usual rate. So that’s not going to work out. A disappointment.

Should have purged boxes in the basement, but didn’t. Stressed and fretted about several issues, and didn’t come up with any answers.

Worked on some contest entries.

Was wiped out early, and went to bed early, completely spent.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun, but everyone is stressed and exhausted. Trying to force onsite learning before people are vaccinated causes way too much unnecessary pain. It needs to stop.

Managed to sleep until 3:30 this morning, which I guess is an improvement?

Something woke me, something outside. Not sure what it was. It might have been coyotes calling, but far away? I’m not sure. It was a weird sound. Eerie.

So, the House passed the PRO Act. I’m assuming the ABC test was not stripped out? That was the problem with the bill. The rest of it was pretty good, but the ABC test destroys a lot of lives.

Will do some remote work for a client this morning, and then I’m taking my mother to get her second vaccine dose. I’m almost afraid to say so, afraid that something will go wrong. So, fingers crossed it all works as smoothly as it did three weeks ago. We’re leaving early enough to take into account the road work on Rt. 6. The traffic is already as bad around here as it usually is in late May.

Because yes, we are driving to Orleans, and she’s getting vaccinated at the dump.

The rest of the day will be about taking care of her, post-vaccine. We may be in for a rough couple of days. But if all goes well and she actually gets the shot, it means she is fully vaccinated as of March 24, and I don’t have to worry as much every time I leave the house. I still have to worry about myself and follow protocols, but not worry as much about her. I mean, she’s 96, there’s always an element of worry.

But getting vaccinated is a good step towards the next chapter.

I just wish I knew where the next chapter would happen.

Wed. March 3, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 285/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 35 — Steady On, Now.

image courtesy of vertvhul via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Waning Moon

Windy and Cold

Yesterday was busy, but a steady, good busy. I got some writing done in the morning, and got my article off to my editor.

Had to venture out into the world for a basic grocery shopping, put gas in the car, and a curbside pickup at the library. It was too windy to go to the dump; I’ll do that run at the end of the week.

Home, full decontamination protocols.

Lost the daily cage fight to get my mom’s second vaccine appointment. The message came up that “all appointments next week are full.” So what the hell am I supposed to do? She needs to get her second dose next week.

None of this chaos is necessary. I’m so tired of incompetents running the show.

I had to do some online research, got out some more LOIs. The “additional information” the prospective client wanted was, basically, an unpaid proposal of how to revamp their site. In detail.  No, honey, if I’m revamping your site, you’re paying me.

Next.

Got another request for more information from another LOI that was actually a request for more information, so we could have a good conversation. That went out this morning.

I re-read some of the blog posts of where I was at this time last year, when we were just starting to get the information on how deadly the pandemic was, and everyone was scrambling to figure out what to do, and I was just past the first surgery. The level of stress was pretty high, and it actually made me feel better about the level of stress I’m experiencing right now, in a weird way.

Got my review out. Turns out I’d gotten the deadlines for the two books mixed up. The book I reviewed had a deadline near the end of the month; the other one is due at the end of this week. So I started THAT one, and will get in the review on time. Did a bunch of client work; trying to work ahead on a few projects.

Got a quote back from a source after I’d turned in my article. It’s good, so I asked my editor if I could add it in and tweak the article (I wanted to reach her before she started work on it). She’s cool with it, so I’ll get that turned around to her today.

Started working on an article pitch for a magazine that’s a profile of someone about whom I want to write.

Since I surpassed my box purging quota on Monday, I didn’t have to feel guilty about not purging yesterday, and working instead.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Everyone is tired, and there’s huge pressure to go back onsite, but we are all holding steady. Not this year. The kids are doing very well, and, more importantly, it’s safer.

I actually slept through the night last night. This morning, I’m up early, writing and trying to turn around my article.

We have to be out of the house just after 7 AM; I have to take my mom in for bloodwork, then drop her off and head for the client’s office for a few hours.

Remote Chat this afternoon, and then more article work, LOI work, and finishing the book for review.

Hopefully, it will be another “good busy” day.

Published in: on March 3, 2021 at 6:14 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 3, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 285/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 35 — Steady On, Now.  
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Wed. Feb. 10, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 266/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 14 — More Snow

image courtesy of Suzanne Stockli via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Dark Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Snowy and cold

There’s a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about how words are used (and mis-used) in job descriptions.

I was up way too early yesterday, but I got a lot done. I got some photo stuff done for a client, which will be built on today. I have to go in and actually look at the pieces before I can get them up on the client’s website, so that’s on the agenda for today.

Got the second part of the article into PDF format and sent it to those quoted in the article.

Did some research for the next two articles I was assigned. Interview requests start going out tomorrow.

Got out some LOIs.

Have a preliminary meeting (virtual) tomorrow at noon with a potential new client.

Had some good exchanges with some people from high school, in preparation for the upcoming 40th reunion.

Noodled a bit with stuff for the proposal. Will sit down and do some serious writing on that tomorrow and Friday. There’s another grant proposal coming up for which I want to apply, too, and I have to research budget figures for that.

Worked on contest entries. I have all the print books done in the first batch of one category, and am moving to the next category. I will do the digital entries when I’m finished with the print entries.

Got an email that there were two vaccine clinics this week here on Cape. Went to the site – no information live. It kept saying the clinics didn’t exist. But the email link kept sending me to the page that said the clinics didn’t exist. Kept going back over and over all day. Suddenly, there’s a statement that they’re all full.

If I’m not fast enough signing up, that’s luck of the draw. But when the site isn’t even live – how is it getting filled?

The disorganization and incompetence are enraging.

And Governor Baker, smirking in his briefing with “Hang on until you’re a priority.” Fuck you, Baker. People are DYING.

The Senate trial for the Sociopath’s conviction started yesterday. The Republicans have already decided not to convict, and that makes them as traitorous as the Sociopath. All of this, “oh, they’re scared and if it was a secret vote they’d convict” is complete and utter bullshit. They are NOT doing this because they are afraid of retribution or violence from the Sociopath’s supports. They are doing this because they AGREE with him. They wish the insurrection had succeeded the first time, and that their colleagues had been murdered. They have to ALL be removed.

We do not negotiate with terrorists, and they are terrorists, and must be so handled.

Snowed yesterday, but not enough so I have to shovel again. Managed to do a quick run to the library for curbside pickup.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. The kids are doing really well. There’s some confusion about whether or not there will be a break next week, or if there’s going to be classes/homework group. We’ll have more details tomorrow.

Today will be stressful in the morning, but hopefully, I can join Remote Chat this afternoon, and then have a productive afternoon. It was too cold to scrub the basement floor yesterday, so I’m going to try to do that this afternoon. I need to have that space to move the newly sorted boxes.

Lots to get done, in a short period of time, and I need to stay focused.

At least I got some good work done on GAMBIT COLONY the past few days. That serves as a springboard to loosen creativity on other projects.

Published in: on February 10, 2021 at 7:31 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 10, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 266/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 14 — More Snow  
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Thurs. Feb. 15, 2018: Back After A Tough Few Days

Thursday, February 15, 2018
New Moon
Cloudy and mild

It’s been a rough few days. I’ve been out of town, which is one reason why I skipped the post yesterday and on Tuesday.

On Saturday night, we learned a second family member had died, also up in Maine. This was more expected, after a year-long illness. And on Sunday, I learned that an actress I’d worked with as we both made our way up the ladder to Broadway, had died of cancer. Three deaths in about two weeks. It was rough.

On Sunday morning, we packed the car and headed up to Maine in the rain. It wasn’t too bad of a drive, and we made better time than we thought. We made a few stops in Kittery to pick up some things we needed. The hotel we originally planned to stay in was undergoing renovation; even though they were taking in guests, the added stress of the noise and the overall creepiness was more than we could cope with at the moment.

We kept going until we hit the Ogunquit Resort. They had a room at a good rate, we booked in. It was a wonderful room. Bigger than most New York City apartments. Great beds, a desk, a table and chairs, plenty of floor space. Enough floor space for me to roll out my mat and do yoga without hitting anything.

We settled in and tried to have a relaxing afternoon. Reading and research for me. I read Ann Hood’s THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST. I like her writing. I also did some research on New Amsterdam for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I knew I lost writing days, so I wanted to make some use of the time. Pizza from a favorite local joint for dinner, watching the Olympics at night.

Monday morning, up early and into Portland for the memorial service for the family member who died unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. The funeral home and its staff were lovely, although I couldn’t help but think of SIX FEET UNDER. Members of her knitting group were there, telling funny stories. In spite of the sorrow, it was uplifting. Too much religion for my taste, but then, it wasn’t about me, was it?

After, we convened at a brew pub in Scarborough for lunch and to catch up. We raised a glass to the family member who died on Saturday; he gets a graveside military funeral, so he’s on ice (literally) until the ground is soft enough to dig in spring.

Back to the hotel, exhausted. Read a bit, researched a bit, played with the opening to a short story. I have two openings for two different pieces rolling around in my head, and I’m trying to see if they are two sides to the same piece (doesn’t seem that way) or two different pieces (more likely). Also have a story idea spinning based on the past few days (although it will take a different direction, with higher stakes or it wouldn’t be worth reading. Or writing).

More Olympics, which is really the only thing worth watching.

I am sickened by how many commercials for drugs are on TV. And in magazines. And they wonder why people are addicted. It also enrages me that most of these drugs are supposed to be taken “with” another drug that isn’t effective enough. No, dumbass, you don’t take four different things to “help” whose side effects make you nauseated, dizzy, and break out in rashes and could kill you. It means the initial medication ISN’T WORKING and the damn doctor needs to find ONE medication, the RIGHT medication, that solves the problem without side effects.

I am convinced these drugs are created not to work completely, to force people onto multiple medications with horrible side effects, so they have to take even more medications to counteract those effects. Pharma is a scam. It’s not about making people healthy; it’s about keeping people sick in order to make money off them.

Up early and out the door on Tuesday, headed back to the Cape. I tried to time it so I got through the Big Dig in Boston after rush hour, but before the noon traffic. It was still awful, with slowdowns and crashes and roadwork.

I was a wreck with a migraine by the time we got home. We unpacked, comforted the cats (who were upset we’d gone), paid some bills. Did some stretches. Tried to rest.

I was in bed by 8 PM. Woke up with a migraine on Wednesday and felt awful, but dragged myself to work with a client, dropped off/picked up some books at the library, and came home.

Finally started feeling better in the evening.

Today, I have to get some writing done, work on the website (I hope to start the move tomorrow or Saturday), and work with another client. I also have to take down the February decorations and start putting up the spring decorations.

Both the snapdragons and the sweet peas I planted in pos are coming up. I’m going to start the tomatoes and the lettuce soon.

I need to get it together on SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

I also need to buy a new drum for my laser printer. The thing I ordered was the wrong piece. That’s what I get for trying to cut corners.

Onward.