Fri. Sept. 30, 2022: Inner and Outer Fog

Image by Joe via pixabay.com

Friday, September 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cold with dense fog

I could not shake the sadness triggered by the dream yesterday, to the point where getting through the day was a struggle. It was a case of actual reality not aligning with my emotional reality.

Meditation was lovely (Charlotte participated). I then had time to bolt breakfast and head for MassMOCA for the Working Artists Group, which was also good. They’re talking about moving sessions to after traditional work hours, which does not work for me. I can go to the next meeting – I think –even though it’s at 5, but if it moves to evenings, I will have to give it up. These meetings are part of my job, not a hobby; and if people are going the “day job comes first” route, then it’s not the right group for me.

Got the newsletter out. I like using MailerLite. The newsletter has a good feel to it. Of course, since that newsletter is out the door, it’s time to start the document for December’s newsletter!

The missing piece for one of the script coverages arrived, so I read that, updated the notes and sent it off. Started to turn around another coverage; it was missing a piece. Sent off the note. Received an “updated draft” that was still missing a piece, so I asked the support team for guidance. I have a feeling this particular author does not know the difference between a “preface” and a “synopsis.” Did half of the big coverage that’s due today, and will finish the rest this afternoon. That piece is pretty good.

Got 3 writer satisfaction bonuses, so at least the feedback’s been helpful.

Finished the book for the review that’s due today. I’ll write it up and get it out this morning.

I’m woefully behind in what I needed to get done this week, especially when it comes to Legerdemain and the next radio play. However, I have a lot of bills that have hit and need to be paid, so the script coverage has to take priority. But I’m discouraged with myself. I just don’t have the stamina and the mental capacity for long days that I used to.

So I have to adjust.

I’ve been invited to three events next week. I’ve already bowed out of one, because it will be inside, a large group, and unmasked. Nope. Not with the way the numbers are going up. I’m not yet sure about the other two.

I’ve also made peace with the fact that it might be years before I go to another in-person conference, if at all. If they’re not going to have safety policies and enforce them, I won’t be there.

On this morning’s agenda are the book review, Legerdemain, some blog posts, hopefully some work on “Owe Me.” The afternoon is about finishing the large script coverage and doing a shorter one. And that’s the pay period.

I’m trying to get in touch with various friends and colleagues in Florida, to make sure they are okay.

This weekend, I hope to get some more work done on Legerdemain and on the outline for the Retro Mystery. We’re also turning over the curtains/fabrics to October and getting out the decorations.

I am so ready for Mercury Retrograde to be damn over.

Have a good weekend, my friends.

Tues. Sept. 27, 2022: Walking the Project Talk

image courtesy of Rafal Chudoba via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy, mild, humid

Pour yourself a favorite beverage and settle in for a natter. This weekend had a lot going on.

I’ve posted the questions to help you create and plan your 2023 over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

I managed to get them up early this year. I don’t know about you, but I already have the urge to plan next year, process this year, and build on it. We’ll ponder the questions between now and the end of the year, and then post what we’re comfortable sharing in January over on the GDR site.

Friday felt like a lost day, even though it wasn’t. I mean, I did stuff, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped to get done. I scheduled the episode ad postings on the LEGERDEMAIN site to release all the way through October. I still have to add some content to the site before I’m comfortable with it going live, but that should happen this week, so next week, I can start promoting the site.

Newsletter subscribers will get the link early, when the newsletter goes out later this week. Have you subscribed to my quarterly newsletter yet? If not, you can do so here.

I did some work on the Topic Workbook graphic, and I’m still not happy with it. I need to play some more. I also started the media kit for the Topic Workbook, and I’m pondering the media kit for LEGERDEMAIN.

I looked at running ads on Amazon for LEGERDEMAIN, and the prices are just way out of my budget at the moment.

I ordered a set of signed books by an author whose work I adore for a friend I think would really love them. I bought them directly from the author, and she already shipped them to my friend, and I am so excited.

I covered two scripts in the afternoon. I should have done three, but I was just too tired. And, when I cover the script, I want to give good, focused attention to the writer. That is the respect each writer deserves.

Canva won’t let me design a bookmark that’s horizontal instead of vertical, and I don’t like the way the verticals look. However, the print store I want to try out lets me design horizontally on their site, and I think I will do that. I will initially order a small batch; if they look good, I’ll order more. I may have them do my direct mail postcards, too, if I can ever get a design on those I can stand.

The Fresh Grass Music Festival was over at MassMOCA this weekend. Can you say super-spreader much? Especially now that Rochelle Wollensky of the CDC has gone full genocidal eugenics on the country. She needs to be removed. And yes, I contacted both my Senators and my Representative yesterday so to do.

But the upside of the music festival is that, at night, when the wind is right, I can hear some of it. Which is kind of cool. The venue is only 5 blocks away, so it makes sense.

Had kind of a slow start Saturday morning. We ended up putting on the heat on Friday – I’m already cringing, because not only has the gas company jacked up my bill over the summer, here in this state, they are telling us to expect a 64% increase. My income hasn’t increased 64%, so why are they allowed to do this?

Yes, that was another set of contacts to the Senators and Reps, on both federal and state levels.

I did not go to the market, or even the grocery store, because with all these people in for the festival, ewww, germy strangers probably not masking shedding virus. Nope.

Played with some ideas for upcoming Ink-Dipped Advice posts, and hope to write them up and schedule them to post this week.

I’ve basically given up on all the short stories I’d hoped to write the second half of September. I need to focus on other work first. Some of the ideas I might still play with and write, and look for other markets. But I can’t look at Sept. 30 deadlines for anything right now, other than already contracted work.

I did rough out a short story outline that was inspired by a call to submission, but they wanted flash fiction and this will be 3-5K. But I love the idea, and it will be fun to spin out.

So, yeah, not given up on the short stories, just on the deadlined submission calls!

It’s been dipping down into the low 40’s,/high 30’s F at night, so it’s time to take in the plants. We took in a bunch, some inside for good, some to the front porch. I will go into that in detail on Thursday’s garden post.

Once that was done, the light was good enough so that I could sew the October-themed curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Willa, who hardly ever comes on the couch, sat along the back of it, alternating watching me sew and looking out the window. I did this, too, by hand.

In the afternoon, I turned around the script coverage.

After that, I downloaded the scriptwriting software DramaQueen (the company is based out of Germany). Right now, I can’t make the time to sit with Scrivener. I’ve tried Trelby and hated it. Eventually, I will invest in Final Draft again, but not right now.

It was kind of a PITA to download, but I have no doubt that’s more about my computer than their software. Once it was downloaded, though, and I started playing with it, it worked well.

I imported VISCERAL INVISIBLES into the software and started working on the new draft of that. This will be the 7th draft. Because I’m going to keep at it until it’s right before I submit. The import was wonky from PDF, but just fine out of .doc, so that’s good to know. The software wonked some of the formatting, but not badly, and it’s very easy to adjust with the highlight and tabs.  I later realized it was because I hadn’t used the standard Courier format, but whatever it was I drafted in, so when it converted to the correct format, some of it wonked.

So far, so good.

I rewrote the first 23 or so pages. I’m rearranging a few things, and deepening a few things. That’s what this draft is about. And then I’ll do another pass, and make cuts. According to the software, the page count is 120. However, I think some of that is format wonk, since none of my drafts were ever that long, page-wise. Once I do the rewrites and fix the wonks, I will check the page count (I expect it’s around 115) and then cut, because it needs to hit the sweet spot for the genre, and not be more than 110. So I’ll tighten and cut until I get there.

I knew I had another script I wanted to import – but I couldn’t find it on any of my drives. I nearly panicked, until I realized I’d sent it to my friend Paula for critique a couple of years back. I went back into the emails, found the attachment, downloaded it, and converted it to .doc. I tried importing the PDF version, but it wonked again, so I imported the .doc, and it looks okay.

On the fence about importing STALEMATE DEATH. It might be worthwhile for the portfolio, but I doubt it would go out often. I think it’s just about served its purpose. There’s also the pilot of THE BROWNSTONE and of TALENT. Those need to be reworked, and maybe put into the portfolio. I will use and apply what I’ve learned as a script analyst these past couple of years to make my own scripts stronger.

The one I really need to concentrate on this winter is the pilot for THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT. That’s the one I’m truly excited about, and need to get back to.

I also found a script roster of loglines and information on scripts that all sound good, but according to the document they are written and I look at them and don’t remember some of them. So I’m not sure if that’s a document I wrote as an exercise, or if there’s more spelunking to do in old flash drives.

All of the above is a combination of leaning into the energies of the retrogrades, which is about going back and reworking or finishing older projects, rather than starting something new. This is something I talk about and share techniques for in THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Unfinished projects drain energy. I need to clear the decks to make room for new work. To do that, I have to decide which projects to revive, get into the schedule, and finish; which projects to put in stasis, because it doesn’t make creative or financial sense to deal with them right now; and which ones I need to retire.

That will make room for the new work. It’s also using the information and energy of the retrogrades as something positive, rather than using the retrogrades as an excuse.

I’ve made a rough plan for the marketing of the Topic Workbooks (and including 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS with Nano coming up soon) for October through December. If I can ever get the danged graphic right, I can upload and schedule that. I also figured out the next couple of months of the LEGERDEMAIN campaign, more than just the episode-specific ads. So all of that has to get uploaded and scheduled in the next couple of weeks, in an around all the other stuff.

I also saw that I need to update the buy links on several Topic Workbooks. I thought I’d kept up with that, and am annoyed with myself that I did not.

DramaQueen has several levels of software, but I think I’ll be okay with sticking with the free version. Anyway, so far, so good.

I’ve dumped all the “project management software” programs with which I experimented. None of them have the range I need. I do better with the old-fashioned desk blotter calendar and colored markers. I’ve also kept up with the Work Wins Daily Journal Challenge set out by a colleague. I’m learning that some of the categories he set up don’t work for me. That’s going to be the first October blog post for Ink-Dipped Advice – what I learned from this challenge, and what I’m changing to suit my needs. So much of all these tools and platforms and systems is about compartmentalizing instead of making it holistic. For what I do, that’s detrimental to my productivity, my creativity, and my mental health.

Sunday, I was up at a reasonable time and baked biscuits.

I’d hoped to get the history of Legerdemain written and up on the website, but I don’t know what made me think I could create two thousand years’ worth of a country’s history in a couple of hours. So that’s taking longer than I planned.

In the afternoon, I switched over to plotting and working on my Writers’ Rough outline for the Retro Mystery. I had to keep stopping to look things up, which was frustrating, but better to have that happen now and jot down those details, than to get stuck when I have to draft at speed in November.

So neither project was finished, which left me frustrated.

I created an ad for 30 Tips for 30 Days, and got it uploaded/scheduled through October. November needs a slightly different take; I will either upload/schedule half the month today and half tomorrow, or all today and December tomorrow. Probably half today/half tomorrow and then December on Wednesday. Each month needs a slightly different slant, and there’s a lot to do this week.

I actually did a To Do list for the week, which sets my teeth on edge. To Do lists make me feel constrained, and then I sabotage myself, but there was simply too much for me to be able to look at the calendar and get it done. Urgh.

Read a book on Sunday by a well-known author which came highly recommended, and I was left with “meh.” I am glad to see the author try to tackle social inequity, racism, and domestic abuse in a genre that usually ignores it. But in so doing, she flattened out her central protagonists to make sure they were righteous, and that didn’t quite work. But at least she’s trying, in this genre, which is more than most attempt or fight to do.

Up at a reasonable hour on Monday morning. Good journal, yoga, meditation, and tarot sessions. Came up with a mantra for my intent for the week: “I thrive in situations where my work is respected. I remove myself from situations where it is not.” I will use that this week.

Posted the blogs, posted in the Marketing Game, made the social media rounds. Drafted Episode 42 of LEGERDEMAIN, which came in just under 1300 words, and was more fun than I expected.

Did the rounds of the library, the grocery store, the liquor store.

Adapted Chapter 4 of the third draft of ANGEL HUNT into 7 serial episodes, and smoothed out a few things. The chapter was 6500 words. So that was a lot of words handled, all told, yesterday.

Turned around 3 script coverages. One is missing a piece, and I sent in the information. I read what I had, and commented; I just need the missing piece to finish it.

Made turkey Bolognese for dinner, a different recipe than I’ve used before; I like it a lot.

Tired. Tired, tired, tired.

Woke up 2 minutes before the alarm went off, did the morning routine, and was out the door before 6 AM and over to the laundromat when it opened. Back by about 7:30. Still have to finish folding the sheets and put them away.

I did a few chapters of the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The book is good. I just wish publishers and agents weren’t so determined to ignore the pandemic and racism, which are two very important themes in the book.

I’m going to work on Episode 43 of LEGERDEMAIN. I have to be at the TV station across town by 11 AM, so I have to pull myself together for that. But I’m looking forward to seeing the facility and percolating ideas.

Williams College music department has tightened up the COVID protocols for their performances – proof of vaccinations and masking are again required. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to go and listen to some music over the coming months!

There’s a big push in the area to get everyone boosted with the bivalent formula. They’re setting up a lot of free clinics all over the place this week. That, too, makes me feel better. You can tell the tourists have left, because almost everyone in the grocery store yesterday masked.

Off to folding laundry and back to the page.

Episode 19 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today. Enjoy!

Have a good one, friends!

Thurs. Sept. 15, 2022: Organization is Key

image courtesy of Karolina Grabowka via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Waning Moon

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

Sunny and cooler

It’s finally starting to feel like autumn. Doesn’t quite smell like it, though. There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the garden.

We went over early to Stop & Shop for my mother’s bivalent booster. Good thing we did, because they claimed they “only got the first page of the paperwork” and we had to fill it all out again. So sick of filling out forms.

While my mom got her shot, I picked up a few things we needed. She didn’t have to sit and wait for 15 minutes, like we had to for the other shots. It was stab and go.

She had zero side effects yesterday at all, to the point where she worried she’d gotten a placebo. This morning, she has a little soreness n the arm. That’s it.

I finished reading a second book for review. I will write and submit both reviews today, submit my invoice, and ask for my next assignment.

I spent way too much time building my profile on Creative Ground, but it needed to get done, since the launch party is tonight (virtually), and I’m invited.

I set up an appointment at the law library next Tuesday to do the research on banking laws here in MA in 1957, for the retro mystery that will be drafted during Nano this year. The librarian is looking forward to it (and so am I). Since the state banking association and the banks themselves refuse to answer my questions. I’m batting around potential titles with some trusted friends, and realizing just how much I need to get back to the outline, so it’s ready to go before November 1. I have character sketches, locations, situations, but I need to, you know, actually plot the murders and the rest of the book.

Did some research on local radio stations, and on the community television/radio station that’s here in North Adams. I might need to make an appointment to go and check out the facilities.

Got my instructions for next week’s conference sessions down in Lenox. I’m worried that people won’t be responsible about masking; if that is the case, I will get up and leave the session. Not taking the risks.

WAM’s next show is in October, and tickets are available. I’m not going in person, since their audience already proven they won’t keep up their end of the masking bargain (even though a caveat of ticket purchase is to remain masked). I may buy a ticket for the virtual performance. At least they have that option, and I know their work is excellent.

Starting to figure out the autumn into winter schedule, which looks to be intense. I have 4 radio plays to write, for specific producers; I have to write the next 2 arcs of LEGERDEMAIN, polish them, and get them up; I need to revise “The Little Woman” and “Inspired By” so they can go out the door when appropriate calls open up; I have a handful of short stories with which I’m noodling; I need to outline the retro mystery so it’s set to go for Nano; once the first draft of that is finished, I need to draft THE KRINGLE CALAMITY and then the third book of the Hearthstone Mysteries, so that all three of those are ready to go out the door by early summer. And I need to do the first draft of the full-length play FALL FOREVER. I’d like to get ANGEL HUNT finished and broken down into episodes, so that can launch in January.

Which of course means having to keep up the content calendar on LEGERDEMAIN, the Topic Workbooks, and, if ANGEL HUNT goes live, the ANGEL HUNT content calendar, and it’s a lot.

Plus, you know, client work and script coverage, and next year’s contest entries will start arriving before the end of the year.

So I guess it can snow, because there’s plenty to do at home!

But it’s nice to feel creative again. In late winter, early spring, decisions will be made on the current series, as to whether I feel up to starting up again, and if my publisher wants to keep carrying them.

I haven’t spent the time on the Cerridwen’s Cottage website that it needs, so that has to be folded in there somehow, too. Plus organizing the almanac articles whose rights have reverted, so I can turn those into eBooks and sell them.

I might need a larger desk blotter calendar!

Anyway, I have meditation this morning, and then getting the reviews done and out, and invoicing. I have to pay my quarterly taxes today (argh), get everything to the post office, pick up my mom’s prescriptions, take a couple of checks to the bank. This afternoon, I have two more scripts to cover, finishing out the pay period, not terribly, but still below what I’d hoped.

What I do hope is that my bivalent booster tomorrow won’t take me out. I’ve blocked off the weekend to rest. If I feel up to it, I’ll do some work on LEGERDEMAIN, and maybe turn over the closet from summer to winter. Otherwise, I’ll stay in bed, or read on the couch.

Episode 16 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

The next two weeks are busy, but filled with good stuff.

Peace my friends, and enjoy!

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!

Tues. May 17, 2022: This, That, and Other

image courtesy of monicore via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and cool

So it was Mercury Retrograde chaotic. Friday morning, after my first writing session on the porch, I decided to do the script coverage in the morning, so I’d have a longer weekend, but it all took longer than expected. Plus, it took an hour to get the computer limping along again. I also cleaned out the refrigerator, which was a bigger job than I expected, but it’s clean and shiny and we got rid of those bits and bobs that tend to take up residence in the back of the shelves and morph into scary monsters.

By afternoon, I was tired, even though the work wasn’t that difficult. I read on the porch, played with the cats, fussed over the plants. We’re having wasp issues this year, again. I managed to kill one of them; according to MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL, I can use sugar water to get rid of them. If it continues to be an issue, that is what I will do.

I was actually happy for most of the day. I’ve been almost afraid to be happy since the move, afraid the other shoe would drop and something else awful would happen. But we are happy here. This was the right move. We love the home, we enjoy the city, there’s a lot for which to be grateful and to enjoy every day. I need to allow myself to experience that instead of being afraid of it.

My mom turned over her winter clothes for her summer clothes. Willa “helped” – which was pretty hilarious.

I made a simple dinner of breaded flounder, rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner, and we had gelato for dessert. Time to stock up on the gelato!

Rough night again of strange dreams and waking up with stress memory. Charlotte has decided she prefers to sleep either stretched out along my back or curled up against my chest. Which is sweet, except it’s a little too hot for that. That’s more of a winter thing!

Up early on Saturday, another sunny and hot day. I wrote on the porch, with Tessa for company. After yoga, I switched out the flannel sheets for bamboo sheets, and switched out the comforters.

McAfee forced me to renew the virus protection (nearly a month early). They gave me a “discount” and then I had to uninstall the old version and install the new version and restart the computer (which was having screen freezes anyway). When it all got fired up again – every screen looks completely different. Every feature runs differently. I assume that’s part of Windows11. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet – I mean, it’s a sleeker, more modern look – but it’s different and I have to get used to it.

Did a bunch of paperwork that had to go out on Monday. Signed up for Counter Social. I’m @DevonEllington over there.

Usual Saturday housework stuff.

If you missed the Self-Care for Mercury Retrograde oracle spread over on Ko-fi, you can find it here.

Made potato salad and put some chicken in the crockpot with honey barbecue sauce. Switched from flannel sheets to bamboo sheets, and put away the winter comforter for the summer, rose-patterned one (Charlotte’s favorite). Fussed over the plants, including changing the water in the birdbath. Put together two of the three small shelf units I bought. They’re much nicer in person than they look on the package. The third unit is missing a shelf, so I had to return it yesterday.

These two small units are for my tarot cards, only I don’t think they will all fit, and I’ll still need to use some space in the blue bookcase (where they all used to live, in the other house, but where I also have writing books and poetry books now in my office).

Finished repotting the rest of the plants bought last week, repotted the last Cape Cod geranium, and planted some more seeds: the new morning glory, cat grass, some marigold seeds sprinkled in with the ruby cherry tomato we bought.

The college across the street had their graduation on Saturday, and it was a beautiful day for it. It was joyful in the neighborhood, although one young woman, wearing shorts and a tee shirt under her robe (and high heels), walked by and said, “Oh, my God! I just realized it’s all over. What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

As someone who knew what I wanted by the time I was six, that made me laugh.

The neighbor across the street put rows of solar lights along the path to the front steps. Which is great, I love that they’re decorating. However, at night, it kind of looks like a landing strip!

We discussed the various road trips that have been on the table, that we hoped to do this summer. We decided to cancel the trip to Ithaca. It was supposed to be a pilgrimage to Moosewood Restaurant, but they keep having to close for a few days here and there as their staff tests positive for COVID. Which means their patrons are being selfish and going out to eat while positive. Even with outdoor seating, it’s not worth the risk. We’ll put it off, and see how things are in fall, or next summer. We’d also considered doing a quick hop to York, Maine, just for an overnight. But, with the variants being more dangerous for those over 60, even with double boosting, we’re not comfortable doing an overnight in a hotel, even if we can get our favorite pizza in the area as takeout. So that’s cancelled (although we have the sneaking suspicion we’ll have to head that way for a funeral at some point over the summer; a family member is not doing well).

I still hope to do a back-and-forth with friends to Beacon. I’d like to visit there, and would love them to visit here. I’m still hoping to do a day trip over to Saratoga during race season to visit with friends there whom I haven’t seen since before we moved to the Cape.

My mom really wants to do a couple of small trips, since she’s basically been in isolation for going on three years now. So we picked a few places nearby and will do short day trips. And I’ve got a book of unusual places right here in the Berkshires we can visit. We didn’t really get a chance to explore much last summer, because we were so traumatized and exhausted by the move.

Plus, with a season pass for Windsor Lake, we can pop up there whenever we want.

If we take our jaunts midweek, it won’t be as crowded. We won’t eat indoors; we’ll get takeout and eat in a park or something. The great thing about freelance is that if I take off a day midweek, I just work a weekend day, and, as long as I meet my deadlines, it doesn’t matter when the work is done, as long as it gets done. When we return, we will follow decontamination protocols, and we will continue to mask indoors. I mean, not at home, but I’m still masking at the grocery store, library, anywhere else I go inside. And when we travel, we will do the same.

So that discussion and those plans took a lot of stress out of the mix. We won’t be able to get a storage run in before Memorial Day, so maybe we’ll do one in early June, and then nothing until autumn again. I’m hoping I can get enough work this summer so I can afford to rent a storage unit up here and move everything up. If I can even find a storage unit up here. But the prices listed are much less than I’m paying on Cape, and it certainly would be easier to get at things. And maybe store things seasonally.

Dug into my Elizabethan theatre research again, for a long-time idea that might, later this year, be ready to form, if I tweak it into an alternate universe, instead of making it historical. An idea on a book about Jonson and his masques gave me an idea for an arc for The Big Project, should I decide that the initial arcs are strong enough to support continuing. (That will all make sense when I publicly announce what The Big Project actually is).

I have to figure out when I can make an appointment at the Williamstown Historical Society so that I can do some more research into the history of The Spruces for the Retro Mystery. I’m pretty sure I want to write it for this year’s National Novel Writing Month in November.

The eclipse energy started hitting me in the evening, and my emotions were all over the place.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:30 Sunday morning, which was wonderful. It’s light enough and warm enough now to do my first writing session of the day (in longhand) on the front porch, and once she’s had her breakfast, Tessa joins me. The scout crows stop by and we all have our morning chat. Tessa has developed a really strong relationship with the two scout crows. They chat every morning. And it’s not like the birds she wants to catch, out back, with the swishing tail and the predatory body language; it’s a chat.

Still having trouble with the computer. It takes an hour to boot up every morning, even from sleep mode. Then it takes about 20 minutes to start running properly, without freezing screens. If I take a break for a few minutes, with the laptop lid up and it goes into screensaver mode, it takes 20-40 minutes to rev back up. Usually, if I take longer breaks, I put the lid down to protect the keyboard from cats and dust, but then I have to start the whole hour boot-up process again.

This is not okay. It cuts in too much of my workday. How is this an “improvement” or an “upgrade”? I have PLENTY of space on the hard drive for this upgrade.

I got the email for the World’s Largest Poem, giving me the heads-up that I will get my prompt in 7-10 days. So excited to be a part of this.

Edited three chapters on CAST IRON MURDER. The pace, the flow, the story, are all working, thank goodness. Updated my tracking sheets, too.

Took “Personal Revolution” down and will revise it so it can work on more platforms. Since it’s set around the 4th of July, I want to make sure it’s clear of all the previous outlets before the re-re-release. Looking at it, it needs more revision than I’d hoped.

Updated the Devon Ellington Work site.

Finished reading TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters, which was kind of fun. The theatre/backstage scenes were done particularly well, and I appreciated that.

Started John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY, which promises to be one of his typical wild rides.

We had thunderstorms, so I took down the hanging baskets, worried they would get pounded. Students are moving into the ground floor unit across the street; I wonder if they’re there just for the summer, or are staying all year.

Up early on Monday, thanks to Tessa. The computer actually booted up pretty quickly. Got some blogging done, and put up the GDR post for the week, which you can read here. Started revisions on “Personal Revolution.” It needs more work than I’d hoped, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Revised three more chapters for CAST IRON MURDER. Got the inbox down from over 1000 emails to just over 200. Looked at some calls for submission. Did some admin.

The morning was gorgeous, and I got out and did errands: returned the shelf unit missing a shelf for a refund (they’d sold out of the units, so I couldn’t just swap it out); dropped off/picked up books at the library; went to the liquor store.

Found out that Berkshire Gas is doing their inspection of the lines today (the one where I’d been trying to get actual information for weeks, and finally just turned it over to the landlord). They may or may not have to come into the apartment. Which meant I spent the afternoon cleaning instead of working. Not that the place is dirty (I mean, I cleaned over the weekend). But still. I wanted it to be even better. I mean, we still haven’t unpacked everything yet, and we’ve lived here for nearly a year.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESEERVATION SOCIETY, which was a wild ride. I don’t know how he does it, but that brain of his is certainly unique. Read THE AMBER CROWN, by Jacey Bedford, which was a much grittier alternate world fantasy than one usually gets. Started THE BONE ORCHARD by Sara A Mueller, which is fascinating.

Thunderstorms and intense rain came through in the afternoon and evening. But it’s absolutely gorgeous this morning.

The MADE IN MARSEILLES cookbook arrived yesterday. The jerk of a postman (I think our former, lovely postman retired) also left a package for 10 numbers down the street with my package. So I went down the street (in the rain) to make sure they got it. Our former postman loved his job and all the people on his route. This one doesn’t give a crap about any of it, and doesn’t even pretend otherwise.

Doing some last-minute cleaning this morning, and taking the garbage out. Then, it’s back to the page in the morning, knowing I could be interrupted at any point for the inspection. We’ve closed the doors to the bedrooms and the laundry room, and the cats are very confused.

I hope to work on revisions for CAST IRON MURDER, The Big Project, and the radio plays today, along with some script coverage. Tomorrow morning, the car goes back in, hopefully, to be fixed once and for all.

I’m hoping to even work outside on the back balcony, in one of our enchanted garden spots. I’m pretty sure if I do, Willa will want to come out, and we’ll put her in her playpen for safety.

I’m not talking about the three mass murders by gun over the weekend, or how the Supreme Court continues to force its ideological agenda on the country. This post is long enough. That will wait for a different day.

Have a good one, friends.

Thurs. March 31, 2022: For Love of Radio

image courtesy of Lubos Houska via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Dark Moon

Rainy and mild

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty productive day, because I sat down and damn well did the work, without letting myself wander too much. It never feels like I’m doing enough, but that emotional reality is far apart from the actual reality.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about all the seedlings and my experience with my new Rose of Jericho plant. I even have real photos, not stock photos! Hop on over.

There’s also a new post up on Ink-Dipped Advice about a spring refresh on one’s websites/social media/clips/etc.

Anyway, yesterday morning, Charlotte woke me around 3:30, wanting attention, and Tessa stomped in like, well, if she is getting attention, then I want some! So I moved to the bed in the sewing room and dozed off again until about 5:30.

Got some article work done. Wrote the next section of The Big Project. Revised three more chapters on CAST IRON MURDER. I have to update my tracking sheets for both of those, but I have a feeling that won’t happen until tomorrow or Saturday. Did some more research for the retro mystery, but didn’t go down the rabbit hole. The bank I contacted told me that banking was “uniform” at the time, but they “couldn’t” tell me what the laws were. Why not? That bank was around at the time. What were their policies? Useless. Let’s hope the Banking Association is willing to actually give me information.

Managed to book my mom’s 4th Covid shot for today, thanks to Ellen Byron mentioning she just got hers. I can’t get mine yet; I have to wait about another month, because I got mine after Thanksgiving, and it’s too soon. But my mom goes in this morning, and then I will take care of her for the rest of the day, in and around the work that needs to get done. it will be a relief for me to have her protected.

The newsletter went out. I have to check the MailerLite dashboard and do admin on it; remove bounced addresses, check open rates, etc. I’ve already started the document for the June newsletter and will just add information, and then all I have to do in June is edit it down and shape it.

I worked on the grant proposal. I’d hoped to get it out yesterday. In fact, I’m pretty pleased with the answers to their questions, and just need to massage the opening and the final paragraph.

I realized that I need my stage plays and the radio plays up on a website. It’s not appropriate to put them on the business site (except for mission-specific entertainment pieces). I started to put them up on a new page on the Devon Ellington Work site. I copied information that’s on my resumes, and then realized I have to add to it on the site – loglines, how many actors, length, etc., which takes time. I realized even further that it doesn’t make sense to put it on the Devon Ellington website at all. So I started a subdomain under Fearless Ink called Pages on Stages. That’s the link I will put into the grant proposal, and then I’ll build the website this weekend. I uploaded WordPress to the new site, so it’s more about choosing a template and building. Which takes me for-damn-ever because I’m slow. But I can do it.

I just have to sit DOWN and DO it.

The focus today, for all that, though, is to polish the grant proposal and get it out the door. That means walking the talk of the Ink-Dipped Advice post and freshening up my resume. I realized that it’s missing THREE of my produced productions, and I am angry with myself. How did they just fall off my resumes? The audience was full, the response was positive.

The programs, reviews, and other materials are in storage, so I will have to do the best I can from memory and from what I have on the flash drives to put it in the resume and build the websites.

I’m so frustrated with myself.

I turned around two script coverages. I need to do three today, but the grant proposal is the priority. Between the grant proposal and my mother’s booster, I have a feeling neither The Big Project nor the CAST IRON MURDER revisions will get much attention today.

I heard back from Cape Cod Writers’ Center. I am only teaching one class (virtually) for this conference, Developing the Series. It will happen on Sat. Aug. 6, from 2:45-4:45 PM. Of course, I got the information AFTER the newsletter went out, but it will go in the next one, along with the link for registration. I’ve taught this course before, although not at CCWC, so I will look over my notes and prepare a fresh slide presentation for this version. And I’ll have a new Topic Workbook out on the subject by autumn, then.

That’s another thing on the list – get the Topic Workbooks revised and reprinted. Possibly doing a portion of them in print, as well as virtual, and filling orders, if I can figure out how to store them properly in my office. Which would mean building a storefront, which might not be worth it. But at least I can get the digital versions in new editions and out again. Those are steady sellers.

More good news this morning: the producer to whom I submitted the radio plays in early February got back to me and LOVES them. He wants to read all the comic noir pieces, too, so I will get those out to him today. The pay is decent, so if any of them go to contract and get produced, I will be a happy camper. Besides, radio is my favorite format.

It also makes me consider writing a comic horror radio play for my Dramatists Guild project in April. Since, you know, pens up happens tomorrow, and I still have no idea what to write about.

So that gives me a cheerful start to the day, in spite of all the awful things going on in the world, and all the cowards who refuse to do anything about it.

I’m off to meditation, and then it’s back to the page until I take my mom for her shot. Then, it’s back to the page until I get all my work done!

Have a good one!

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 29, 2022: Washer Woes

image courtesy of Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Fairly quiet weekend. There’s a March wrap up over on the GDR site, posted early, even though we still have a few days left in the month, and I’m just trying to steadily do the work.

It wasn’t a good writing day on Friday, sadly. Oversleeping threw off the morning for me. But I did write and turn in another book review, and cover a script. Did a bunch of admin work. Put the seedlings out on the porch. It’s still too cold at night to leave them. I received an internal promotion and a pay bump from a big client.

Tessa woke me early on Saturday. I moved to the couch and overslept. The sun overcame the clouds, so we could put the seedlings on the porch, at least for a few hours. More seeds are germinating (more on that in Thursday’s garden post.

Had to go to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s prescription. Because the weather was good, I went on foot, and then I took a different route from there to the library, to learn more about the town. I found some interesting restaurants and stores that I will visit at leisure in the future.

Dropped off/picked up books at the library.

In the afternoon, I tried reading a book that was supposed to be an exciting, twisty thriller getting a lot of buzz. I figured it out less than a third of the way through, and lost patience with the characters for not catching on. Checked the ending, to make sure I was right (yes, I was). That’s back in the return pile. Tried another book that came highly recommended, but it’s written in present tense, which I loathe, and, since I’m not being paid to read it, it goes back in the return pile.

Returned to reading contest entries, which was fun. It started raining in the late afternoon, so we brought the seedlings in. Crockpot chicken was a good choice.

Up early on Sunday, baked biscuits. Charlotte, or maybe Willa, chomped on some of the cucumber seedlings, so I’m trying to recuse them. A member of the extended family in Maine is very ill. I’ve kept a distance since the lack of support around the move last year, but I don’t want this person to be ill.

It snowed off and on all day. Sometimes flurries, sometimes intensely. In a break between it, I did a run to the liquor store and to get burgers. Bad choice on the burgers, and I was miserable all afternoon. Red meat and I are no longer friends. And yet, every few months, I crave it. But fresh trout for dinner was a better choice.

I covered a script in the afternoon, and then returned to working on contest entries. I ordered snapdragon seeds and marigold seeds. That means I have to go out and get more pots and soil next week, when I go to get the tomato cages. I set up the acknowledgements file for CAST IRON MURDER and for the retro mystery. Starting a document for acknowledgements early in the process saves a lot of panic later on.

Tessa woke me on Monday at 5:30, which is a perfect time. The usual early morning routine of writing in longhand, yoga, meditation. Blogged.

It started sunny, but too cold to put the seedlings out. More seedlings are sprouting, which is lovely. I got through some admin work. Didn’t get much done on The Big Project. Revised the next three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER. Worked on the grant proposal. I need to flesh it out some more today, and put material connected to the proposal up on one of my websites. I don’t have information on the stage and radio plays up on a website, and I should.

I also played with the MailerLite site, and worked on the newsletter, which will go out in a day or so (since it’s the end of the quarter and all). If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, newsletter signup is here.

Received the next book for review. Started a script coverage. There’s not much in the queue, which worries me a bit, but also takes off some of the pressure. Worked on contest entries.

Noodled with some ideas for the play I have to start on Friday as part of the Dramatists Guild project. Noodled with some ideas for the Monthology story.

The Tamed Wild box arrived. In it, was a Rose of Jericho plant. I’ve put it in water, and it’s unfurling. Fascinating. It’s not a plant with which I have much familiarity.

Up early this morning, before Tessa even got started. Was out of the house and on the way to the laundromat early. Ended up spending more time there than planned, because the machine I used was stuck on “rinse” for 15 minutes, and then didn’t spin out properly, so the wash was soaking wet (no sink in the building, no techs). I had to have it in the dryer on high for an hour. I put a note on the machine, so that no one else has to go through this.

I brought the pages done so far on The Big Project with me, and worked on them while at the laundromat. I got a lot done.

Home to find more seeds are sprouting. It’s very exciting.

Today’s list items include work on The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, another revision of the grant proposal, putting information up on the website, a polish on the newsletter, and a script coverage. I might do some more contest entries, if I get the chance.

It’s supposed to start warming up again over the next few days. Let’s hope this was winter’s last gasp, and I can get the seedlings out on the front porch, and set up the enchanted garden on the back balcony sooner rather than later.

Have a good one.

Thurs. March 24: Digging into the Creative Work

image courtesy of prettysleepy via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Rain/sleet/snow

Wacky weather this morning. It keeps switching from rain to sleet to snow and circling back through. The grass and rooftops have a glaze of white, while the streets are shiny and wet.

There’s a longer than usual post up on Gratitude and Growth, because I was very busy with soil and seeds this week. And here is the corrected link for Ink-Dipped Advice.

After returning from the laundromat yesterday, I sat down and started the second draft of CAST IRON MURDER. I rewrote the first three chapters and printed them out. Of course, I found errors when I read them over to update the tracking sheets that will become the Series Bible. But it’s a good start.

I used that momentum to do a bit of work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I thought I’d written 50 pages on it. I wrote 5. I guess what I remember is the outline I wrote. So I have to get back on the stick with that.

I did a little work on The Big Project, but nowhere near enough.

Still, it was a solid, creative morning, and for that I was grateful.

I did some admin in the afternoon. I was delighted that the cat grass seeds arrived. I think this time, I’ve ordered enough to get us through the summer.

Moved seedlings back and forth from the porch as needed. I took the laptop out on the porch and did script coverage out there, because it was so pleasant. Pleasant surroundings mean a higher quality of work.

I signed up for the Dramatists Guild’s End of Play event in April. The last thing I need is to add another deadline to my plate. However, this is when the opportunity came up, and I don’t want to pass on an opportunity to work in company with other playwrights via the Dramatists Guild. I have no idea what I will write yet; be it a stage play or a radio play. I could write the next Kate Warne play; If I read the research material on Squire and Marie Bancroft between now and April 1, I could write that play (which I’d hoped to write for 365 Women this year). Or I might write something completely different. I wasn’t planning any playwrighting in April, so I need to adjust my mindset.

Again, as with Nano, I already know I can write a play in a month. I do so regularly. But this broadens my network of colleagues, and makes me sit down and write it. Whatever “it” will turn out to be.

I still have to balance The Big Project, the rewrite of CAST IRON MURDER, the draft of THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, the research for the retro mystery, and the first draft of the anthology story. Along with the client and script work that’s paying the bills.

It should make for an interesting April. I will have to be ruthless and brutal about protecting my time. Fortunately, that’s easier as a remote worker.

I also have to get my initial grant materials out early next week. The grant application and my taxes need to be my primary focus this weekend.

I spent some time trying to learn a graphics program last night. I know how to create the visuals, but I have trouble understanding how to use the program. The way it’s set up doesn’t make any sense to me.

Tessa let me sleep until a quarter to six this morning, which is a luxury.

I wrote two sections on The Big Project this morning, and now have to update my tracking sheets.

Meditation was great. This morning, I will revise the next section of CAST IRON MURDER, write a book review, enter some contest scores, and work on some information for the shared world anthology. In the afternoon, script coverage and client work. I need to do a grocery run, but will probably leave it until tomorrow.

Have a lovely day!

Published in: on March 24, 2022 at 8:09 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 24: Digging into the Creative Work  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wed. March 23, 2022: Edits and A$$hats

image courtesy of Memed Nurrohmad via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Partly sunny and cold

Yesterday was a mixed day. I did a bunch of admin work once I got back from the laundromat. Then, I headed out to the library. I got the file again on The Spruces and photocopied a bunch of information out of their original brochure that I will use as research/background information for the retro mystery. They also had six books waiting for me.

Planted the tansy seeds into two pots, so I can have one pot in front and one in back. Planted some saved seeds, and did some repotting. All will be discussed in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post.

In the afternoon, I covered a script. There wasn’t anything in the queue when I was finished, so I switched to working on contest entries (but later, got two more scripts in the queue, that I will start today). I worked on the porch, because it was so beautiful. I’m having weird pains in my left ear. I hope I don’t get another ear infection.

Got an email from my Monthology editor. It’s time to start writing, and we have a deadline of June 24 for the first round. People with multiple monsters can either write 1 story of up to 5K with one monster and save the other for the future, integrate the monsters into a single story that fits the wordcount, or write two shorter stories. At this point, I’m going to integrate the monsters into one story, with the Gorgon being the primary protagonist and the Valkyrie being the secondary protagonist, and then, if there are future anthologies, I can shift them. The Gorgon story is almost fully formed in my head, and the Valkyrie was going to be a secondary character in it anyway, so this choice supports what I’ve been spinning, and also sets the foundation for future stories, should I have that opportunity. I think it’s a stronger choice than to have them crossing back and forth between two shorter pieces. It will also support what I hope will be a moving subplot.

If you want to learn more about this shared world anthology, you can explore it here.

Started reading Ngaio Marsh’s ARTISTS IN CRIME. I haven’t read her books for years, and I forgot how good they are.

The bank has marked the check they accused me of scamming by depositing it as “doubt collectability.” Mofos. They were dumb enough to send me a “customer experience survey” and I did not hold back. I tried to enter the virtual annual meeting – but they didn’t send a link for it, one had to access it via typing in my social security number. No. Just no. Yet more proof that NONE of this is about security and everything is about misogyny and economic discrimination.

The Republicans aren’t even pretending they’re not all paid up members of the KKK anymore. Their behavior at the SCOTUS confirmation hearings is disgusting. Of course they fear an intelligent, ethical Black woman after ramming through a Handmaiden and a sexual predator beer bro.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are so smart and engaged and compassionate. Amazing how not going to a place where they have to worry about being shot or getting COVID enchances the ability to learn.

Tessa woke me up at 4:10 AM this morning. I will be wrecked by noon. Since I had to be out the door early to go to the laundromat again, I didn’t dare go back to sleep.

Took another trip to the laundromat on foot this morning. Moon up when I left, and it was only 26F. Brrr. But I had sheets and comforters to wash, since the linens are moving toward spring, and I wanted to get caught up.

I’m starting to really enjoy my sessions at the laundromat. I get a lot done. I finished the first editing pass on the draft of CAST IRON MURDER. I went back and made notes where I want to layer in other information. Since I cut out one subplot, that would not work unless it was a central plot, I dropped another body, and I have to set up the conflict and layer it in. There were also some references that needed to start earlier.

So this means I’m ready to start the second draft of the book! I hope to work in sections of 3-5 chapters at a time. I want to say “a day” but I’m not sure I can commit to that. I hope that will also give me the momentum to get back to the first draft of THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, which has to get back on track.

After breakfast this morning, I will work on the first three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER, then take a quick break and switch to The Big Project. The afternoon is about script coverage and, if there’s still time in the workday, contest entries.

It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week, and then plunge back into the twenties over the weekend. At some point in the next few days, I’ll do a grocery run, but, for the most part, I’m going to stay home and work, with breaks to spring clean. And try to get an appointment with the mechanic. The internet was down for a little while this morning, but it seems to be sort of working again.

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.