Thurs. Feb. 6, 2020: Up, Down, Frustration, Joy

Thursday, February 6, 2020
Waxing Moon
Raining and mild for February

Well, it’s been an interesting few days, that’s for sure. And I use “interesting” in multiple connotations.

First, I have a quick post on Gratitude and Growth about my concerns that it’s not cold enough this winter.

Back? Okay, let’s settle in and talk.

I didn’t write about Tuesday evening’s meeting, because I needed to think about it and get over my anger by the end of it. Although the conversation went well, and I enjoyed the person with whom I spoke, there were red flags: a 12-hour day instead of an 8-hour day (but at 8-hour rates), no mention of a relocation package, it not being the position or the organization I expected the meeting was about. Then came the “next steps” part of it. Testing, which I don’t do for free. I understand needing to check someone’s proofreading skills, but you’re going to pay me for my time. Typing? Excuse me? I’m not 20 looking for my first job. Plus, typing accuracy is not necessary on a computer, because you fix your mistakes otherwise. Again, since it’s uncompensated labor, no.

But the deal breaker, for me, was the insistence on taking a DISC personality test — again, unpaid time. Above and beyond the unpaid time, any organization that uses a “personality test” as part of the interview process is not a place with which I want to be associated. Of course, it was presented as a “way to look at communication skills” — which isn’t what DISC or any of these other “personality tests” are AT ALL. They are a way to dehumanize candidates and sort them into single categories, denying complexity, individuality, and creativity to limit one into test boxes. It is data that is weaponized by employers to manipulate employees.

Here are two articles that support my position,“How Accurate are Personality Tests?”and “A Warning Against Using Disc/Briggs-Meyer in the Workplace.

Take your test and shove it right up your ass, honey. I don’t care that “everyone” in the company has to take these tests, and that you have taken them. The mere fact you asked means I’m no longer interested.

I sent a polite refusal, to which I got a link “explaining” what DISC is used for — a load of marketing crap I recognized, because I worked for the American Management Association back when these tests came into more prominent use. I know how the sausages are made. And why.

I was asked to “reconsider” and agree to take the tests. No. I said no, and I mean no. What part of “deal breaker” is too complicated for you? I’m not asking for an exception. I’m STATING, clearly, that any company who demands this of ANY potential employee is not a place I want to work.

I was so angry by the end of the night. Just furious

Another useless third party yakker wasting my time and energy.

So, that was that.

Wednesday was busy at the client’s. Still working on a big project. She’s all set to sign a set of contracts on a project that will be a disaster. I pointed out the contract language that needs changing, and she just shrugged and said the contract is meaningless. She’s wrong, but it’s her decision. I’m not cleaning up the mess.

I was disappointed to learn that one of the radio production companies on the west coast with whom I’d hoped to work this year is on hiatus. They liked the play, but aren’t in a position to produce it right now. I’m sending them a potential funding source later today that might interest them.

I also didn’t get chosen for a regular article gig for which I’d pitched last week. They liked my samples, but felt my voice was too unique. Well, they’d asked for samples in MY voice, not ghostwritten samples. Still, they were nice about it, and at least they gave me an answer. So it’s disappointing, but not devastating.

Add to that, the travesty in the Senate yesterday, with most of the Republicans voting to acquit the Narcissistic Sociopath.

We are truly in dark times.

Then, a bolt from the blue! A major publication for whom I’ve wanted to work FOR YEARS accepted one of my pitches! It’s a tight turnaround time, but completely do-able. The contract is on its way, and I’m sending out my requests for quotes. I’m excited!

I’m working on revisions the next few days, the short story, and two big grant proposals that need to go out next week. I’d like to curl up and sleep, but, right now, that’s not an option.

I also need to purge boxes from the basement. I’m way behind on that.

Finished watched Season 3 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. What a great bunch they were! I liked them all so much.

I’m experimenting with a cake recipe this afternoon. It’s using the basic yellow cake recipe again, but making some more changes.

I did a gigantic grocery shop yesterday morning. That should keep us going for a bit. Making pork bahn mi for lunch. Can’t wait.

Charlotte continues to be a lot of work. She doesn’t connect behavior and consequences. She knows certain things result in getting what she likes, but hasn’t connected that other things result in results she doesn’t like. Plus, this morning, she walked over one of the CD/tape players and set off a fast forward button and it scared her. Poor thing. It’s hard to be Charlotte.

I have a lot to do, so I better get to it.

Have a great day!

Fri. Oct. 25, 2019: Optimism

Friday, October 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

If you haven’t been over to Affairs of the Pen for the latest Ava Dunne post, please hop on over. It’s about how Sophie walks her talk.

Charlotte stayed in my room last night, just Charlotte, and was a little angel. She was even less aggressive this morning. Willa is still grumbly, and Tessa is avoiding both of them. So we have made progress, even though there’s a long way to go.

Had a great revision session at 5 AM this morning on a novel. It’s coming together, finally, and I’m so happy. Had to run errands, and everything took longer than it should have, so this post is late.

Dropped off a housewarming present for a friend.

More revisions this afternoon, reading a book for review, some writing. Tomorrow, I have writing and yard work, and then a sound bath session in the afternoon. Sunday will be about writing and yard work. The garden needs to be put to bed.

A friend is coming in next week. I hope she realizes just how much of her time will be spent working with the cats! 😉

We’ll have fun, no matter what.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on October 25, 2019 at 10:06 am  Comments Off on Fri. Oct. 25, 2019: Optimism  
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Thursday, October 24, 2019: Backwards and Forwards

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was up and down at the client’s. I’m working on the campaign through the end of the year, and prepping the Fall 2020 collection for photographs. We also have an issue with FedEx — they lost over a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff, and don’t want to pay the claim. They have been a nightmare. I’m putting together all the case notes and going to the Vice President in Corporate who was helpful last time we had an issue.

Remote chat was a lot of fun. It always is. I learn a lot.

Came home, worked with the cats. Charlotte is aggressive with both Willa, and especially Tessa, which is not good. She and Tessa were on the road to being friends, so I don’t know why that changed. Tessa is unhappy that Charlotte no longer recognizes her as dominant cat. We’re working on it. It takes time.

When Charlotte has company and plenty to do, she’s fine. I have a feeling, when she got aggressive before, she was shut away and isolated, which makes her frantic and even worse when she gets out. So we’re working on them associating good things when they’re all in a room together.

Charlotte and Willa learned fast that if they want their bedtime snacks at night, they can’t fight or fuss at each other. So they always call a truce for bedtime snacks.

We will get there. But it takes time, work, and patience. Patience I’d never have with humans.

Finished a novel draft yesterday morning, and got to work on the next one in the queue. Yes, they’re contracted, and I’m behind where I need to be.

I have some serious revisions to turn around this weekend, and then it’s off to galleys. Then, I go back to finishing “Pier-less Crime”, working on the Venetian play, and going back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

I’m working on THE BARD’S LAMENT (Coventina Circle #5) and I don’t want to lose momentum on that, either, but BALTHAZAAR and DAVY JONES DHARMA have to take priority.

My morning meeting was moved to the afternoon, so I got a chance to post this earlier than I thought, and get some other work done.

After my meeting, I have to clean the house — the new cats’ first encounter with the vacuum, which will not be pretty — and then back to revisions.

I also have a book to review this weekend.

I got one of the rudest responses to an LOI this morning. It was from a company out in Utah that claimed they were willing to work remotely with a writer. I was chastised for not doing “the exercise” (it was an LOI; no exercise involved. Plus, I don’t do unpaid labor); I was chastised for not including samples (the LOI includes links to both my Clippings.me portfolio and to the Clients/Publications page on my website. Plus, hey LOI); they stated “we are not thrilled with your work history.”

Really? You’re “not thrilled” that I have twenty-nine years’ worth of credits as a published writer? Take your lack of thrills, and you know where you can shove them.

I don’t disagree that we are not the right match. I do disagree with the lack of professional courtesy in the response. And the admission that it was an automated response, which means they never even read the LOI.

Now, why would there be an automated response like that to an LOI?

Put them on the “No Way in Hell” list, unless there’s a change of leadership.

Yesterday’s security breach in the Congressional hearings need to have consequences. Instead of shooting unarmed people of color for merely existing, how about law enforcement growing some balls and arresting those old white men (and a couple of women) who put our national security at risk? As in, actually PROTECT us?

It is disgusting that there continue to be no repercussions for continually breaking the law. It’s flaunted. Step up and take down these traitors already.

This country has turned into a sick joke. And those who can stop it lack the courage and the backbone so to do.

Back to the page.

Published in: on October 24, 2019 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Thursday, October 24, 2019: Backwards and Forwards  
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Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend. I was lucky enough to focus on the writing.

I finished the 4th draft of HEART SNATCHER on Sunday morning, after spending part of Friday and most of Saturday on it. I wound up cutting seven chapters, doing a lot of tightening. It’s now back down within an acceptable range for genre, although I’d like it to be even leaner.

But I love Max and Valerie, and what they’re dealing with. The characters are well-developed, the plot moves.

I made some changes in the first third of HEART BINDER, the second book in the trilogy, and then went over the outline for books two and three, and made some changes to support the revisions in book 1.

I also found a place where I need to add a few words of description to an object that makes an appearance in Book 1 and then becomes vital to the plot in Books 2 &3.

I wrote another chapter on HEART BINDER on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll send HEART SNATCHER to my editor after the Thanksgiving holiday. I want it to marinate, so to speak, for a few days, and then I’ll do one more pass before I send it off. She liked the synopsis and sample chapters, and in the current climate of a toxic administration, it’s relevant.

Along with the discussions I’ve been having with editor and publisher, we are moving the release of DAVY JONES DHARMA into February, rather than December. I can’t get it into the shape I want by the end of this week. I need to tear it apart and reconstruct it. The contract schedule this year was just too tight for me.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes more sense to release a book set on a cruise ship in February, during the height of cruise season, so that all works.

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is on track, and retains its late January release date.

We may push back the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and the future of the Gambit Colony series is up in the air, as far as when it will release.

That’s all dependant, of course, if the publisher wants the Justice by Harpy trilogy. If not, we still have to rearrange some of the schedule, so that each book we release is the best I can make it, within the time frame, and the time frame is realistic so it doesn’t suck.

I’m also at that weird stage I hit with certain books, where I don’t like to be physically separated from the manuscript.

Got a few pages done on the suicidal veteran piece.

Friday night, there was an NBC news piece about teaching kids to triage each other in active school shootings. Right, because the adults refuse common sense gun legislation.

But that got me thinking about the anti-gun violence play. I wrote a new opening, and I have the notes for a new closing. They will echo each other, without boring repetition (if I do it properly). Instead of writing this play linearly, the way I usually do — start at the beginning, write it through, and then revise — I’m writing it from both ends to the middle. It’s a variation on a technique I learned in a playwrighting workshop I took with the National Theatre when one of my plays was done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I found out about the deadline to submit the application on the last day. I went to the Fringe office to apply. A scene had to accompany the application, so I sat down and wrote one. When I turned it in, they asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the instructor said, “You wrote this just now? It’s not part of something else?”

I said, “No. I can’t use anything from the piece that’s running, because it would hurt both processes.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re in.”

It’s one of the best classes I ever took in my life, and I still use what I learned.

Anyway, I rewrote the opening scene. I sent it off to my UK actor pal (the one who told me to get out of my own way in the reading). He’s one of the few who sees an early draft of anything; he’s both supportive and critical. I asked him what it needed. His reply: “To be on stage. Now.”

So I’m on the right track.

Yard work suffered this weekend, but too damn bad. I was so sick and tired of all the damn leaf blowers. It’s autumn in New England. Leaves fall down. The lawn doesn’t have to be immaculate every moment.

It was a Twitter pal’s birthday yesterday. I sent him good wishes; but, because I wasn’t close enough to buy him a drink in person, I went to a local bar where veterans hang out (he’s a veteran) and anonymously bought a round for a table of them in his honor. I left before the bartender could point me out. Because none of this is about me.

The rest of this week’s posts are placeholders and good wishes for the holidays. The next post with teeth in it is next Monday, the Upbeat Authors post wondering if authors can have friends, since everything is material.

Back to the page.

Published in: on November 20, 2018 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements  
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Wed. June 13, 2018: Creative Changes and Challenges

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Busy times. Revisions are going more slowly than I’d like for MYTH & INTERPRETATION, but I like how the book is taking shape.

RELICS & REQUIEM is moving forward very well. I’m happy with the pace and the way the book is taking shape.

There are negotiations about how the Jain Lazarus Adventures will move forward, and I will make the announcement as soon as that’s finalized. But it had me re-reading what I’ve written on CRAVE THE HUNT. There are definitely things I want to change/improve, but the bones are solid.

Some dumbass drove into the Centerville Library parking lot the wrong way up the one way exit and slammed into the building. I have never lived any place in the world where people are so stupid they regularly drive into buildings. I’m over it.

Weed whacked the back terraced area on Monday. I still have to mow, but it looks better. Slowly but surely, we are getting there.

Bought a plant to cheer up my elderly neighbors.

Client work yesterday and today (today will be challenging). It’s hard to switch away from my fictional worlds at the moment. Necessary, but difficult.

But it keeps my brain flexible and my thoughts fresh.

Published in: on June 13, 2018 at 4:21 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 13, 2018: Creative Changes and Challenges  
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Wed. Sept. 14, 2017: Balancing Act

Wednesday, September 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a long day of admin, filing paperwork, updating links, et al.

PLAYING THE ANGLES is now live on Google Play, ready for pre-order.

My article “Tracking Your Banged Buck” is live on WOW-Women on Writing, and I want to thank K.R. Conway, Jessica Glenn, Goddess Fish Promotions, Arlene Kay, Alyssa Maxwell, and Barbara Ross for their quotes. I made a document for their clip files, and sent that, along with the live link and a thank you, to them. I heard from the editor last night that the article is getting positive feedback, so I’ll pass that along today, too.

Exhausted by the time I got back, and came down with a migraine. However, I didn’t have the luxury of taking an afternoon off, so I kept working.

I did some work on the FIX-IT GIRL revision. It’s going slowly, and I’m frustrated. I’m not quite sure how to solve the frustration, which leaves me more frustrated, and so it goes. The first eighteen chapters of the revision sailed along well, but this is a tricky part, a turning point. I have to get it right, or the book falls apart.

I’ll just keep at it until I do.

Also did some work on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN, the literary fiction. This first draft will need a lot of revision, a lot of making scenes active that are now too narrative. But I need to set out the narration for myself first, and then pick which scenes to dramatize, and what to leave as narration. Because the book is quiet and introspective, rather than an action-driven piece, it needs a different approach. Too much action, and I lose the tone and the reflective quality that is the reason for the book’s existence. Too much narrative and it’s telling rather than showing and just plain dull.

We need to make some solid decisions about “Labor Intensive”, and I also need to get back to the draft of SAVASANA AT SEA, so that can go off to the editor, and she can catch me out on my bad habits again. 😉

As much of a slime pit as social media can sometimes be, through all this political chaos, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some wonderful people from all over the world, in all walks of life, with whom I might not have otherwise crossed paths. They are intelligent, creative, and committed to making the world a better place. I hope we’ll stay in touch if and when things settle down.

It looks like I didn’t land two gigs I’d really hoped for this week. One of them would have been well within my wheelhouse, but the people making the top decisions have proven, over the past few weeks, to be consistently disorganized. On the other, it would have been a physical challenge in some respects, but the company’s lack of basic business protocol makes me wonder if the listing was scam. One can put up a slick website and still be a con. More research done, and perhaps I should be grateful not to be associated with either organization! Only time and what happens next will tell.

My editor asked for some revisions on a review; I have to get back to work on the next book, which is one of the most sloppily written pieces I’ve read in a long time. I need to work on some article pitches that I’d like to get out before the end of the week, and expand an essay where there’s interest, but it’s too short.

Whenever the days are nice enough to be outside, I’m trying to work at least for a few hours at a time on the deck. Pretty soon, everything has to come back in for the winter.

Speaking of winter, yesterday I worked on a section of THE MARRIAGE GARDEN taking place during a blizzard, while we had lovely, sunny, warm weather. It was an interesting exercise in sense memory for writing.

 

Mon. July 24, 2017: Time in Fictional Dimensions

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

Intense weekend. Still dealing with personal issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because, you know, ideas come in batches.

Published in: on July 24, 2017 at 9:13 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 24, 2017: Time in Fictional Dimensions  
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Thurs. July 13, 2017: Writing Despite Building Stress

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and muggy

Got a lot done yesterday. Worked on the YA story for the sick teen, spent a lot of time working on the article — thanks to all the sources who got back to me so fast!

Worked on three chapters of revisions of something I hadn’t planned on working on quite yet, but it pulled at me, so I did. I think I might collapse the second and third chapters together to get the first body drop in at the end of Chapter Two. But Chapter One is still one of my favorite chapters I’ve ever written. It’s important to setting up the character and situation, and it hurt the book when it was cut. There’s plenty of other unnecessary stuff that I think I can cut, but that chapter’s too important to who Sophie is and why. But right now the body drop is at the end of Chapter Three, and I’m worried that it’s too far in.

We’ve also gotten the cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES done! I’m happy with it. It doesn’t bow to genre tropes in that, although it’s paranormal romantic suspense, it’s bright colors instead of dark. But it clearly states that it’s a Coventina Circle Romantic Suspense, and the texture in the photo supports the story better than the more conventional cover images did. That’s a relief; now I can get back on track with the galleys. I’ve signed the digital contract, and we’re still in negotiating the print details.

I’m trying something new to me here; I’m doing the digital version with one company, and a traditional print run with another. Neither has a problem with it. It’s a risk, and there will be a lag between digital and print release, but, I think in terms of long-range vision, it will work better.

Today will mostly focus on article work, but I want to work on the YA story, the PLAYING THE ANGLES galleys, and maybe even get back to FIX IT GIRL.

I’m beginning to despair the late payments ever showing up, which puts me in deep trouble for July’s bills.

I’m scrambling to make it up with other freelance work, but even when I land something, the payment contract schedule doesn’t solve this immediate problem.

I’m also irritated that the doctor hasn’t bothered to call to schedule my mother’s surgery. Does he expect we can just show up the morning after the call? I am so sick of the lack of “care” in the healthcare system.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 13, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 13, 2017: Writing Despite Building Stress  
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Fri. June 23, 2017: Spinning The Freelance Plates and the Threads of Inspiration

Friday, June 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and muggy

Got a section of meadow mowed yesterday morning. It’s starting to look like actual progress. It looks like it will rain any minute this morning. I should use that as a reason to rush out there and mow, like my neighbors are; instead, I’m dragging my feet, hoping it will rain and I can’t.

I was in a lousy mood for a good part of yesterday. I tried to tease myself out of it with the “CrankyPants Song”, but it didn’t work. That’s a song I made up when I worked backstage. When a colleague or I was overtired and grumpy, I’d sing it to make fun of the grumpster (or myself), and we’d all laugh and get over ourselves. But it didn’t work yesterday.

Turned in the latest set of revisions to the new-to-me editor. Let’s hope he’s happy with this set. Also called him out on the contradictions. I hate working in their automated system that won’t let me do what supposedly needs to be done. At this point, it’s a toss-up about whether I’ll be fired or whether I’ll walk. I wonder if this is the norm, and that’s how they get out of paying writers?

Working on a pitch for a publication I hope to finish and send out tomorrow. I’ve written for them several times; it would be great to do so again. I’ve gotten decent pay and some solid clips from them in the past.

Pitched for another gig that sounded like fun; we’ll see if my samples are what they’re looking for. Again, money might be an issue. They pay “per word”, but haven’t said how much per word, or talked about volume and turn-around time. Heard back from them this morning — as I suspected, the per word rate is so low, I couldn’t even fill the gas tank with an assignment. For something that requires A LOT of technical craft, is for-hire with no royalties, um, no. I will send them a refusal today.

Press releases went out for “Personal Revolution”. I finally wrestled the website so that I could add the “Personal Revolution” information into the Delectable Digital Delights, the Media Room, and the Bazaar pages of the Devon Ellington site. No thanks to the webhost, but in spite of them. That webhost is useless. Not only are they unreliable, their customer service is non-existent. I’m starting to think most hosts are. But, by poking around and swearing a lot, I managed to figure out workarounds that got up the information I needed to add. I really need to take some classes in website coding and design. But it’s the usual dilemma — when the time exists, the money doesn’t. When the money’s there, it’s there because there’s a heavy workload in, and the time doesn’t exist. And anything web-related has to be something I can handle, update, tweak, and rearrange myself, not hire in a webmaster. The amount of attention my different sites need would mean I need someone weekly, and the cost (because the webmaster DESERVES to be paid for all this, and deserves a good rate) is out of my range right now.

The press releases also have the information for upcoming projects, which means I have to get my ass in gear and meet deadlines.

I have a good idea about the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story. I had to have the title for the press release, and came up with “Miss Winston Apologizes”. And then I figured out who Miss Winston was and why she apologized, and there was the premise for the next piece. It’s still set in Cornelia’s time period. I decided I’m going to set three stories there, then have her go with Roman when he next time travels, and they can have adventures elsewhere (that all tie in to the main arc). Now, I need to write the opening, so I can pop it in with “Ramsey Chase” and get going on the proofread. The July 10 release date will be here before I know it.

I’ve also got the opening of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern mystery, set around Labor Day (which is set to release just before Labor Day weekend, so I better get on with it).

With Playing the Angles hoping to release in October, we really need to find the right cover image. And I really need to do a final proof on it, and settle on the name for the series (even though each book will have a different pair of protagonists).

Think there’s enough to do? Along with keeping up a constant stream of pitches and freelance pieces so I can keep a roof over my head.

A royalty check from the Topic Workbooks and “Plot Bunnies” cheered me up. I certainly can’t retire on it, or even pay next month’s bills, but it helps tide me over a bit, and just getting the royalties makes me feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

The last research book I need for the Lavinia Fontana play arrived, thank goodness, because I have to start writing it at the beginning of July.

Got a rejection on an article pitch for a new-to-me market. I’m going to re-slant it to send elsewhere, and then submit something new to this market. I’m determined to crack it. Some of the content puzzled me; then I got an apology from the editor, saying the email had gone off before he was done, and he hoped I’d pitch again.  I told him no worries, I had every intention of so doing, but I’d let him rest over the weekend!  😉

Heard back from another place I pitched. They loved my samples. They want to know how good my French and/or Spanish are. Um, what? Why wasn’t that in the ad? I read French reasonably well (I read Moliere in French, because it’s funnier than any English translation I’ve yet found), and I can read newspaper and magazine articles and basically figure them out. I can get by in French, and I’ve got a little German. But I’m not fluent. So that might knock me out completely, which would be a shame. I’d love to get my French back up to speed, but I doubt they want me learning on the job.

I’m playing with yet another new idea, this one with a pair of older protagonists. I think it could be interesting. I’m trying to decide if I want to set it in Cornwall or in Ayrshire. I know both, but I know Ayrshire better, and, as I’m working on the outline, it seems to naturally gravitate to Ayrshire. I’ve set several things in Ayrshire, stretching it to add additional towns and do mix-and-match with real places. I’ve even added additional Scottish National Trust properties when Culzean Castle (where I’ve rented an apartment on more than one occasion, and which I know VERY well) didn’t quite fit the plot. In this particular piece, I’m adding a street off the main road to Culzean (halfway between the Castle and Little K’s Kitchen, where I used to get my newspaper and the racing form every morning), and that’s where my protags have rented a house.

I also figured out what I need to shift in another piece I’ve been noodling with, to get the opening different from yet another piece, whose opening I like, but was too similar to this one. The settings are similar — one at an artists’ colony, one at a meditation retreat. But the characters and situations and what I want to explore are very different. Interestingly enough, though, the protagonists for both pieces share some of the same titles on their bookshelves! Such as the Complete Works Of Shakespeare and Louisa May Alcott’s diaries.

Speaking of Louisa, a tweet from the lovely folks at Orchard House got me re-reading her. They were talking about Rose in Bloom, so I ordered that and Eight Cousins (which happens before RiB) from the library and read them this past week. From a critical, feminist perspective, there are plenty of problems. Yet it was still, in some ways, ahead of its time (although highly romanticized). It got me thinking of Fruitlands, which is where I always imagine those two books set, rather than Concord. In fact, I had an exchange with another Orchard House follower about that, when she was puzzled about “rolling hills” she didn’t remember around Concord, and now she’s going to visit Fruitlands!

It got me thinking that I would like to set something in a family compound in that area (Harvard, MA, which is different than where Harvard U. is in Boston). Somehow, I came up with a set of sisters (inspired by the great aunts in Maine), and their patriarch/matriarch based in the compound, but set in the early 1900s, and somehow, from there, I leapt to the opening taking place in San Francisco in 1904, pre-Earthquake, but just at the end of the “Barbary Plague” where so many of the Chinese immigrants died in SF from bubonic plague from 1900-1904, and that led to a stack of research books about that time period, so who knows how the piece will end up? Right now, I see it starting in SF, moving by train eastwards, with a stop in Chicago, but I have to figure out why, beyond simply changing trains.

1904 Newspaper archives, here I come. I think I can read some at local libraries, and probably access some via Boston Public Library’s digital files (I have an e-card from them); when in doubt, I can always contact my stalwart NYPL and Library of Congress.

But it’s amazing how re-reading a childhood book can set off a new train of thought.

I’ve just received Under the Lilacs and An Old-Fashioned Girl from the library to re-read. I remember reading both at my grandmother’s house in Foxboro, under an actual lilac hedge, when I was little.

Who knows what they will inspire?

This weekend, I have to dig in to FIX IT GIRL, because all those books on Hearst Castle have to go back to the library next week. They can’t be extended any more!
Besides, I want to get this draft done and the submission packets ready. I want to start querying after 4th of July, but have to get everything out before mid-August, or I might as well wait until mid-September, because few places actively read by mid-August, and right back from Labor Day, they need a couple of weeks to catch up.

I think I’ve got a handle on how I want the First Big Love Scene to go. Since this isn’t erotica, but historical fiction, the style is gentler, and I have to get it just right. Things were often down and dirty in 1930s Hollywood (as they often are everywhere in every time period), but my protag is neither a goody two-shoes nor a nymphomaniac. Nor is this a category romance where she’s only allowed to be attracted to one man. She’s an intelligent modern woman of her time, and slightly ahead of it, breaking new ground, fighting sexism, but also following her heart (and her passions). I’ve got that balance right in most of her scenes; now I have to get it right in the love scenes, too.

In general, I want this to be a fiction weekend. I’ve spent so much time on articles in order to pay the bills that the fiction has suffered, so it’s time to give it some more attention.

This is a great June for the roses — they’re blooming like crazy. And the petunias in the barrel out front have grown enough so they’re sticking their heads over the rim and peeking out. It’s very cute.

Have a great weekend!

Tues. June 20, 2017: Market Choice/Writing Choice

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, foggy, muggy

Today, I’m going to spend some time on choosing the right market, and then backtrack to the daily details of my constant striving (and strife) to balance the freelance writing life.

Last week, I struggled over an article, but was ultimately satisfied I’d done good work and sent it to a new-to-me market that pays fast. I specifically crafted an article I hoped would hit their sweet spot because they pay fast. I don’t like their style or their content. I don’t like writing on spec (and in many cases, I won’t). But I didn’t expect the piece to take as long as it did to write and research, and, as I’ve said numerous times, I liked the fact that they pay fast.

I woke up this morning to a rejection.

I knew it was well-written, carefully proofread. The fact checking sheet was solid, with reliable sources. But they wanted more National Enquirer and less New Yorker. Basically, I hadn’t dumbed it down enough for their readership. I’d hoped I’d mimicked their style; I’d tried to mirror it as much as possible, without making myself throw up. I cared about the topic, and wanted to do it justice. I had hoped to find a balance between an interesting, well-written piece and the pandering they often do to their readership.

The market was the wrong choice for me. Does that mean I’m not “professional” enough to be able to write for them? Some would say yes. I say I wrote to the limit of pandering my gag reflex would allow, and hoped it would fit what they were looking for. It didn’t.

I should have stopped writing as soon as my gag reflex engaged. Hey, it would be great to detach myself from the content and not give a damn. Write whatever the market wants, take the money and run. Well, if I turn down corporate gigs for companies whose missions I believe are unethical, and they are offering me enough so I could buy a house in a year, and I still say no, why would I do the same for an okay-but-not-brilliant rate? There was only so far I could go.

I’ve worked hard on my author’s voice; I’ve worked hard so that when I ghost, I can mimic the “author’s” voice. I’ve worked hard building craft over a long period of years. Perhaps that means I should be able to bend the craft to fit any market; or perhaps I should just write for those markets I respect.

I liked the idea of the piece. In fact, I loved it — the topic was something I cared about. The research was interesting, and I was sorry I had to distill the piece down as much as I did to fit the market’s parameters.

The topic was part of the problem. Although it was, technically, in one of the arenas the publication claimed it wanted, it was something that would appeal more to the literate than the reality-show crowd.

Basically, I attempted it to appeal to a wider audience, when the market appeals to a narrow (and often narrow-minded) audience. Once I knew the idea was for a literate audience, I should have re-slanted it and aimed it at a different publication.

I followed the formatting guidelines exactly. I had the proofreading, the links, the format — exactly. But the content was off.

In my classes and in the Topic Workbooks, I harp on the necessity of following submission guidelines EXACTLY. An acquaintance of mine is handles submissions for a monthly publication; they get between 800-1000 submissions per week. 85% of them are pitched unread because they don’t follow submission guidelines. Of the other 15%, 75% are then rejected because of sloppy writing and lack of proofreading to such an extent that it would take the editors too long to fix the errors. Massive editing doesn’t fit the production schedule of the publication. 10% don’t fit the focus of the publication (probably a great many of the 85% that were rejected also did not fit the publication, but they never got that far). The remaining submissions make it to the editorial meeting for possible inclusion.

So, let’s say, that particular week, they got 1000 submissions. 850 are chucked out for not following guidelines. That leaves 150 — not too shabby. 75% of those are so badly written, they’re out. That’s 113 badly written pieces that are chucked, and another 15 that don’t fit. That leaves 22 possible pieces. Not bad.

This is when it gets really competitive. 22 viable pieces come in once a week for a limited number of slots free every month. 22 pieces a week x 4 weeks — 88 pieces per month when there are probably only 20-30 slots available.

The competition is keen.

From what my rejection letter stated, it looks like I at least made it to the round where it passed guidelines, format, and craft, but they felt it didn’t fit their focus. In other words, it was one of the 10% chucked out for not fitting the publication neatly enough. Which is a perfectly legitimate reason for it to be rejected.

I knew the finished article was a risk, because it wound up being more “literary” than I expected. At that point, I could have decided not to submit. But, I decided to take the risk, just in case they’d pick an occasional piece that was a bit more literary.

I wanted the money. Nothing wrong with that.

They didn’t want the piece. As is their right.

Now what?

I still like the piece. What I’m going to do is reformat it and re-slant it a bit. Some of the fact-check links that the original market demanded will be transformed into a sidebar for additional information. I’m going to re-shape some of it and add some of the content I liked, but knew I had to cut for the particular market (both word count and content restrictions). And I’ll pitch it to a different publication. A publication that wants more New Yorker than National Enquirer.

It also means that two other articles I have pending with this publication will probably be rejected for the same reason. In which case, I won’t keep submitting, quick pay or no, because my time is better spent working on pitches to publications that pay $1/word, where I like their content and they like mine.

It was a gamble that didn’t pay off. I submitted to a publication that left a bad taste in my mouth, whose work I don’t like, and I wasn’t willing to match enough of their writing style to get in. Some would say that means I’m not “professional” enough, not detached enough. Definitely not detached enough. Others would say I’m not a “hack”, and I shouldn’t have tried hack writing. I don’t happen to think there’s anything wrong with hack writing. Many a writer who went on to public works we still read was known as a hack in their own time, churning out stories for pulps, and articles and reviews for anyone who would pay them enough to keep a roof over their heads.

“Writing to market” is an important part of selling one’s work. Since this is my business, not my hobby, I better write material that sells. I better also choose my markets by what they actually publish, instead of what I think they should publish.

So, onward.

Yesterday was one of those days that no matter where I worked, the work didn’t flow well. My hyperaccusis/misophonia was bad (as it is when I’m under severe stress) and almost any sound caused pain.

I took my mom in to the doctor, and she had a biopsy. Fingers crossed it turns out well. I had trouble writing anything by the time we got back. I tried working at the library, but it was too noisy. I came home and did some research and noodled with a few ideas.

I sent off my requested revisions to my new editor, explaining nicely that if he wanted something first thing Monday, it needed to be on my desk before noon on Friday, not at 9 AM Sunday morning. If I get fired for that, so be it. They don’t pay enough for me to compromise my Day of Disconnect.

I will have quite a bit to say tomorrow on the Shakespeare idiocy that the ignorant and stupid are currently engaging in (since most of them seem to think he’s alive and can be bullied). But that’s another piece for another day.

Today, I have errands to run, and I’ll try to work at the library for a bit. I’m having trouble finishing the short stories that need to go out, but I just have to buckle down and do them. I have some more article pitches to send out, and others to work on and/or follow up.

And I can’t neglect the longer fiction, which has gotten the short shrift the last few weeks, replaced by articles that are on a quicker pay cycle.

Tomorrow, the weather’s supposed to be clear, so I have to get back to work mowing (the terrace is looking like a vacant lot again). I also have a project meeting way down the other end of the Cape that I’m looking forward to. I don’t want to get my hopes up, and it’s out of my usual client range, but I like the company, and I like the person I dealt with so far, so fingers crossed it will all be good.

Tomorrow is also the Solstice, and I have to get ready for that celebration. I’m not feeling much like celebrating, but it will make me feel better.

Back to the page.

Fri. June 9, 2017: Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out

Friday, June 9, 2017
Full Moon
Jupiter Direct
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I pitched five script jobs and an editing job yesterday morning, back-to-back, and was exhausted. Wasn’t able to do much in the afternoon; it felt like I ran out of words, although I got all the background research I needed for my article.

Managed to revise and put in the changes for the next three chapters of FIX IT GIRL. In the upcoming chapter, I have to add The First Big Love Scene of the book, which wasn’t in the original draft, so I’m turning over, in my mind, how to do that in a way that’s appropriate to the context and time period.

This morning, I put some fixes into a few scenes in the first part of PARALLEL-O-GAME, where I’d rushed things near the end. I also started Part II. I’d say I wrote close to ten pages.

Had my meeting. Love the project, the people, the organization. We can’t make the money work. I’m a little heartbroken. But, as is typical in this area, they don’t want to pay for hours worked or work done. So, no matter how much I like them, I’m not doing it.

Came home and cried.

Pulled myself together and got back to work on the article. I need to get it out today, and then figure out some more to pitch. Then, it’s back to FIX IT GIRL, and to the next assignment from my new editor.

I’m feeling about as creative as wilted lettuce right now, and the last thing I’m up for is crafting a romantic love scene, but too bad for me.

I hope you have a good weekend. I will be working.

Published in: on June 9, 2017 at 10:57 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 9, 2017: Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out  
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Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Direct
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off, a long weekend off, starting on Friday. I read, puttered, refilled the creative well.

It must have been a good choice, because yesterday, I wrote 13 pages on the screenplay, wrote the first third of a new, short radio play, and did most of the revision on a one act play that needs to go out this week.

I got through a big stack of research books (which have to go back to the library today), and did some work on the outline of the other new script. I’m still doing research on it. I’ve got about the first third outlined.

I tracked down and reconnected with an old friend from my off-Broadway days; looking forward to catching up with him.

Saturday was a big day of trauma, for the cats, anyway. I haven’t been able to land an appointment with the regular vet, and it’s time for the girls to get their rabies shots. The Rabies Clinic was in Sandwich, so I stuffed them in their carriers (an ordeal in itself) and off we went. Iris yowled non-stop, as usual. Tessa had fought so violently, I wasn’t sure what would happen when they tried to give her the shot.

But they were both very good. We were in and out in no time, shots updated, paperwork complete, back home.

Tessa was SO relieved. I realized she thought she was being dumped, poor thing. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to reassure her that wouldn’t happen, and she stuck close. Once a rescue, always some issues.

Iris had forgotten everything within fifteen minutes, of course, the little princess.

I HAVE to get some yard work done today. The neighbors have been puttering around, and I’ve been neglectful. I just have to stick to the schedule of doing even just a little bit on every reasonably nice day, and, eventually, it will all add up. I just don’t have the stamina to put in eight or ten hours at a time, nor do I want to give up that much writing time.

I didn’t work on any contest entries over the weekend — I wanted to read only what I WANTED to read — so I have to get back on it today. I want to get the contest wrapped up sooner, rather than later. There’s a much larger gap between the strong contenders and the rest of the pack this year. It’s been interesting to see how the entries evolve. Some writers, who enter on consecutive years, have grown beautifully. Others spin in their same mire, no improvement, no attempt at learning craft.

I’m just past the half way point on the script. Looking forward to digging back into it. The short radio script is trying to go in a different direction — looks like the antagonist is not who I expected, which, if I can surprise the audience in the same way, is a good thing. And I’m so relieved the one act is salvageable.

I’d written it and it got into a local reading series a few years ago, a place that was supposedly “safe space” for development. I wanted to take advantage of it. Of course, the other entrants were polished, sometimes produced scripts, honed over years, not early drafts, like mine was. That was fine; we all learned from each other (there were plenty of so-called “polished” drafts that needed a lot more work). What disillusioned me about that particular environment was that there was a REVIEWER there, and REVIEWS were printed in the newspaper. You don’t REVIEW works in development. That completely negates the point of having the development atmosphere safe space in which to experiment. I wasn’t attacked in the review or anything, but it pointed out that the script needed work, without giving any useful feedback. I already KNEW the script needed work; that’s why I was there in the first place.

When I set out my response to the organizer of the event, and my sense that the “safe space” we’d been promised had been violated — she never spoke to me again. Not even to explain why she invited a reviewer. I understand why she wanted publicity; but we should have been warned. Not blindsided. And, when unhappiness with the choice was brought up, an actual discussion (even if the result wasn’t what I wanted) was the correct response. So much for professionalism.

Anyway, the experience left a sour taste in my mouth about the play. I put it away and never looked at it again until this weekend. I’d planned to junk it. But, with the objectivity and with what I’ve learned in the last few years about craft, I can see flaws, and, more importantly, I see ways to FIX them. Ways to make it better. It still might (will) need more work, especially once actors are involved, but I think I can fix the things that made it veer off course originally and the last third turn into a giant mess. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see if it works. This draft might not work, either.

If it remains a mess, I won’t submit it. If I think there’s something worth working on, I will. If it’s used in the series (at a different theatre) and put on its feet, it gives me a chance to see what additional work it needs, or if I should put it on the compost heap permanently.

I’m going to write to another college friend (with whom I reconnected last summer) and see if he can help me untangle the problems I’m having with the Lavinia Fontana play. He’s always been good at figuring out where I’m focusing on the wrong thing, and get me pointed back in the right direction. I STILL haven’t found the dramatic catalyst yet, and pretty soon Research Time for this play is over and Writing Time has to start. I’m also going to contact curators at the Met in New York (my go-to for art questions, and see if they can point me in the right direction).

Need to get out a query to a company in Paris, and get another script off to Ireland, all in the next few weeks.

Busy. The RIGHT kind of busy.

April’s mid-month check-in is over on the GDR site. WordPress is refusing to add the link, which is irritating. It’s the midmonth post on http://goalsdreamsresolutions.wordpress.com (you can cut & paste the link, sorry for the inconvenience). I should have had a poetry essay ready for A Biblio Paradise, but I don’t. I wanted to do something on Shakespeare’s sonnets and got all caught up (as I always do), following this thread and that thread and the other thread, that the actual essay didn’t get done. The Adrienne Rich essay is still the latest one.

Have some issues to discuss with my senators and reps today. I have an idea for a couple of bills I’d like them to propose. Which means I have to write coherent proposals for them to propose. Never a dull moment.

Now — my day’s quota on the screenplay, and then out in the yard.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 10:28 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing  
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Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!

Monday, November 14, 2016
Full Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. It sure wasn’t a holiday for me.

On Thursday, I started the fifth draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I finished it on Saturday. It’s still got a higher word count than I hoped, but under the absolute “no way in hell” count it had before.

But I’m happy with it. I wrote the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

I have a few sentences to tweak, but it’s ready for submission. I wrote the blurb, the query template, and the synopsis. I didn’t even mind writing the synopsis this time, and liked the outcome. I must still be feverish. 😉

But doing all that means I didn’t get JUST A DROP done. Actually, the play about the female pirate (due the same day as JUST A DROP) is pulling me fairly hard. So I might do that one first — I think that will be a one act, and JUST A DROP is definitely full length.

However, the opening of a new play — not connected to any of my deadlines — came to me and I hurried to scribble it down. The working title is IDEAS AND IDENTITY. While that reflect the theme of the play, I think I have to come up with a better title! The rest of the play is percolating — I hope I can keep up!

I got some yard work done — although not enough. Never enough, is it? I painted some more planters and two more tables. The problem with painting is that one thing looks great, and everything else looks dingy, so you keep going.

Most of the pots are put away; most of the outdoor furniture is oiled and put away. I have a few more bits and bobs to do this week, and one more shelf to paint, and then, other than mowing and raking, we are set for the winter.

I have every intention of enjoying the last holiday before the Apocalypse!

Today, I start the mowing, do some more painting, work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC (it takes place over Christmas, and I always write better about a season when I’m in it), work on the fantasy novel that came in a dream, and the plays. Plus, I have more edits to do on PLAYING THE ANGLES, so that, too can go out this week.

I made cranberry walnut bread first thing this morning. Hopefully, that’s a positive, productive omen for the coming week. And there’s an amazing full moon tonight. I intend to take advantage of it!

I went back to keeping the phone/social media/email, etc. turned off on Sunday, and it was great. I’d cheated the last few weeks. But the quiet time was wonderful. I want to hold a day of silence each week as long as I can. It lets me refill the creative well, and tap into creativity that gets tamped down by the constant noise.

Have a wonderful week.

Devon

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!  
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