Fri. Oct. 15, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 149 — Baking and Song

image courtesy of Aline Ponce via pixabay.com

Friday, October 16, 2020

New Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday seems far away, for some reason.

But it’s amazing how much calmer the household is, now that each cat has her own catnip banana.

Meditation group was great. It’s such a wonderful way to start the day.

Headed off to Trader Joe’s. Bought more than I planned, but that’s pandemic life. Because I don’t go that often, I buy more when I go. Dashed next door to Target to stock up on a few things I can’t get anywhere else.

Home, full decontamination procedures. There was most of the morning gone, and I was exhausted.

Freelance Chat was fine, and I did some Yoga Nidra work.

Got out some LOIs, worked on some pitches. Got TRINITY OF TEASERS, the promotional package that contains the first three chapters of PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA done. It’s taken months to get done because of formatting issues, but I finally got it. Everything took six steps instead of three, but it worked.

I have to check the different formats (PDF, epub, mobi) and then put it up in the media room on the website for free download. Hopefully, that will generate some book sales.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Everyone’s tired. They’re feeling the stress. But all their parents filled out the Census, which is a good thing. As early voting starts, their parents are voting.

I listened to the CD of the original Broadway cast of HADESTOWN, which I’d ordered from the library. It is amazing. Transcendent. I just loved it. I sat and listened and was transported.

I liked it so much, I ordered my own copy!

The music Is outstanding and the voices spectacular.

One of my pet peeves around here is that they keep producing musicals, but hire too many performers who can’t sing. They’re sharp or flat, they sing around the note, but rarely hit the actual note.

It was nice to hear a glorious score sung truly.

Today I’m finishing the article that requires me to pull examples from different drafts of a stage play and its radio adaptation. I also hope to finish the pitches for the other new-to-me editor. I have some blog posts to write and schedule for posting.

I managed to sleep through the night until 5 AM, and then baked raw apple muffins. I used currants instead of raisins (I love currants), and added allspice, nutmeg, and clove instead of just using cinnamon. It’s based on the Marion Cunningham recipe, and is basically chunks of apple held together with a bit of batter, but I love it.

I’d like to get TRINITY OF TEASERS up and start that promotion.

I also want to work on the novel, and to get started on the Susanna Centlivre play.

Tomorrow, we have to start bringing plants in to overwinter; over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking everything off the deck and putting it away for the winter.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Create with joy.

Fri. Aug. 7: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 79 — Of Notebooks and New Ideas

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image courtesy of FreePhotos via pixabay.com

Friday, August 7, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday seems like a long time ago, somehow.

It was a quiet day. I did the grocery run to Trader Joe’s in the morning. Everyone masked, but too many people allowed in the store, which meant distancing was a challenge. But people tried, and worked together.

Home, full disinfectant protocols, exhausted.

Some client work, an LOI. Freelance chat was fun. I didn’t realize I had so much to say about virtual networking, but I guess I did.

I’d love to find affordable VR software to set up a virtual writers’ café where people could send little icons in that write and read in the virtual space while they’re doing sprints on their actual screen.

But Grief to Art has to be finished first. I hope to get some good work done on that today and over the weekend, and get the article for Llewellyn done, and the book read for review.

Working on the play, tentatively called “Rest Not in Peace” and having fun with it.

Finished my coursework on the introduction to educational neuroscience online with Central Queensland University. Passed the exam (with flying colors, if I might be so self-congratulatory) and received my certification. I definitely want to study more about neuroplasticity. What we discussed about how fear and stress impair learning and shrink the brain is relevant both to me personally during the pandemic, and on a larger scale for schools and the educational system, both in terms of the pandemic and in terms of active shooter drills.

Thinking about years of frustration with cozy mysteries, spurred on again after the stack I got sick of and dumped back into the library’s book deposit. How, in the 90’s, as more women were recognized in the field, they took this wonderful leap into strength and adventure, and how, after 9/11, so many became more and more narrow-minded and about protecting white privilege. It used to be that the protagonist was a misfit who found community with people accepting her for who she was; more and more, the protagonist started conforming to be accepted by the community, and I don’t like that.

Not to mention all these celibate relationships between supposedly healthy adults that are both boring and don’t make any sense.

Partially, I wrote SAVASANA AT SEA, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, as a response to the way yoga instructors were far too often treated as freaks and flakes, the locked-room aspect a cruise ship has, and the fact that I wanted to see characters in a mystery with healthy sex lives, even if every detail wasn’t on the page. Which is why they are marked as “not quite cozy” – because they don’t fit all the restrictions of the cozy. I went with a small publisher for the series because the bigger publishers wanted to edit out all the things that made me write it in the first place.

I will have to deal with the issues the pandemic bring up at some point in the series, and my editor and I are talking about how to handle it and when to handle it. Right now, I have to make the second book in the series work, and that’s a struggle. Although class structure and white privilege are coming more to the forefront with it.

I’ve been thinking about what I’m looking for in a mystery series with an amateur sleuth protagonist, one who is closer to me in age than a younger one. I’ve played with some ideas over the past few months, and some of them are coming together as being possible in the same series, rather than everything being so separate. While there’s definitely a need for simple stories that offer structure and comfort, I want something else.

I found a central point around which I want to start building (it’s at too delicate a stage to write about publicly). So, I’m percolating.

Then, of course, the dilemma was what kind of notebook do I use for the draft and development? Because this is not something I want to type directly into the computer, at least not initially. I need to play with it, to draw it, to sketch it, to write bits and put them aside, to create building blocks. It won’t work to create it on the computer.

I haven’t gone out and bought the “back to school” notebooks I usually get at this point in the year because I still have notebooks left over from last year.

Only none of them are right for this project.

I thought about buying a set of journal books specific to the project, but that’s expensive and feels too formal.

I finally realized (because I AM that bad at math) that it probably makes more sense to buy two five-subject notebooks for the project than six or seven single-subject notebooks. Duh.

I want to keep a diary of the process as I develop it. Eventually, it might be rather Steinbeck-esque, writing the diary on one side of the page and the novel on the other. But I think I’ll do the diary part in green ink, and the novel in black ink.

All of this means I have to actually leave the house and get the supplies. If I order online, it will take about 3 weeks to get here. So I guess I’m going out today, masked up, and trying to avoid the Covidiot tourists, who aren’t paying any attention to travel or quarantine restrictions.

If I can time it properly, I’ll minimize the risk.

I’m also about to finish the latest volume of my personal diary – I have one more matching volume, which I doubt will get me through the year, but I’ll worry about that when I’m closer to the end of the new volume, which I’ll start tomorrow.

My office has gotten cluttered again, so I’ll need to spend some time this weekend tidying it up, so that I can metaphorically tidy my brain. Hopefully, that will give me physical and mental space to work on the book for review, the article, “Rest Not in Peace”, BARD’S LAMENT, Grief to Art site, and any noodling I decide to do on this project development.

I haven’t decided if it will be literary fiction with mystery elements, or a mystery novel that expands genre restrictions.

I’ll develop it for a bit first, spin the ideas out like spun sugar to see what happens. Maybe I’ll find it doesn’t work, and it will be relegated to the Graveyard of Abandoned Projects (the updated Topic Workbook will be released soon). Or maybe it will become a viable project.

Have a great weekend, my friends. I wish you peace and health.
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image courtesy of igorovsyannykov via pixabay.com

Tues. May 26, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 8

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Foggy and humid

I feel much better after taking some time off. Not that I was sitting around doing nothing. It was a busy few days. But it was a good few days, with fewer external pressures than internal ones, and it helped me get clarity on a few issues I needed in order to move forward.

I have new covers for all six Topic Workbooks. New editions are coming out over the next few months. I’m in the process of updating the information. Instead of uniform covers, each now has a unique cover with a Topic Workbook logo. I am going to take the old workbooks off Smashwords as the new ones are revised, and put the new ones up through a different distributor.

I’m working on the update for the Submission Systems workbook. With the way publishing has changed over the past few years, it needs updating, especially when it comes to things like online portfolios.

I’m hoping I can start rolling them out by the end of June or beginning of July. That will depend on how fast I can update them, because they need two full weeks pulled from distribution before I can release them via the new distributor.

The 99 cent sale is still on for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. That will be on until May 31, and I have promotions up via Tweetdeck every day.

Worked on some fiction writing, but didn’t push. Have to start pushing again this week, because there are deadlines, expectations, necessities. I have to keep the long-term balls up in the air while also pushing harder for short-term, immediate income balls. So it means longer hours and cutting more frustrations out of my life, unless they pay a lot in the immediate short term.

Got out a few LOIs, in spite of being, technically, on break.

It was pretty out on Friday, so I got some flower planting done. Cleaned out some boxes in the basement, got some files organized, tossed a lot of stuff I no longer need or can use. Sat on the deck for a bit.

One neighbor, who’s been sick with the virus, had a party on Friday night. He’s still sick, lost half his body weight, but he had people over, no masks, no social distancing. The wind carried over the part of the conversation about “catching it from those Chinese people” he works with. I’m disappointed in the ignorance.

The neighbors on the other side had company in and out all weekend, too. For some reason, they seem to think if they sit outside in the driveway, they won’t get sick. So they set their cars up like a barrier to the street, and put plastic tables and chairs out in the driveway, in front of the garage, and have people over. Now, they have a large yard and a deck. So I have no idea what the reasoning is. But hey, if it works for them, great.

Saturday, I lost count of the loads of laundry I did – mattress pads, blankets, winter stuff along with the usual sheets, towels, and clothes. Laundry all damn day. It was cold and rainy. I also baked tollhouse cookies. Cleaned out some more boxes. Progress is slow on purging the basement. There’s an overwhelming amount to do, and there’s also the psychological aspects of letting go of parts of my past that have often defined me.

But it’s time I redefined myself.

Kripalu is closed to visitors for the rest of the year, which had to be a difficult decision for them, but the right one. The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe is also cancelled in August. Again, a tough decision, but the right one in the long run.

Did some of my Susanna Centlivre reading, so I can start forming the play in my head before I try to write it down. I have some characters and scenes percolating, but I’m still trying to find a catalyst and a plot.

Read Deanna Chase’s WITCHING FOR GRACE, which was fun. Read two other mysteries, by different authors, which I found sort of “meh.”

Tessa, Charlotte, and Willa all spent some time in the same room without grumbling at each other, which was excellent progress. Tessa and Willa can manage quite well, and Willa and Charlotte are fine, but Tessa and Charlotte still have issues most of the time. But we’re working on it.

There’s so much talk about opening businesses “safely” but it’s just not happening. People are travelling in just for the day or the weekend. They’re not quarantining. They’re not wearing masks. There are no immediate consequences against them for being irresponsible, and it puts the rest of us at risk. It’s infuriating.

So I’m just plugging along, doing the best I can to keep my family safe.

I have a confession to make: I haven’t ordered on Amazon thus far, except eBooks to support fellow authors. But I broke down this weekend and ordered bamboo sheets. We need some new sheets, and I wanted to try the bamboo ones. I also ordered a “playpen” so I can take Willa and Tessa out on the deck (though not at the same time). But the latter was from Chewy, not Amazon.

Scored two absolutely adorable, padded ice cream parlor chairs on Craigslist from a place in Cotuit on Sunday morning. It was a no-contact pick-up. I was geared up and sanitized when I put them in the car, then disinfected them and myself when I got home. They are adorable and a perfect addition to our enchanted deck garden.

Yesterday, got some writing done in the morning. Did admin work, and prepped some paperwork that has to go off today.

Working on a big website project, and also working to update/cleanup/bring in new content on all my other websites. AND do new editions of the Topic Workbooks. AND work on the old Llewellyn material. AND get back on track with the books.

A lot to juggle.

Trying to figure out how to up the stakes on the book I’m working on (the untitled one, in longhand, that’s my first writing session of the day). I’m in the second third of it, and need to raise the stakes and make it more active. I’m trying to keep this book fairly lean. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to put everything in this book. Keep it simple. Deal with the main plot and a couple of subplots that are setting up longer arcs. Originally, I was going to have the plot thread through a long-term piece in which the protagonist was involved. Now, I want to compress the coming action in to the next few days. I think that will help pace.

I have a telemedicine conference with my doctor this morning, and then I have to go onsite for a client. Supposedly, I will be alone in the office today. Let’s hope it’s true. I have a mask, etc. anyway, just in case. Although this client does the whole passive aggressive mask thing “I can’t understand you when you wear a mask.” Well, then, let’s go back to fully remote. There is NO reason I need to be in the office more than an hour a week to download photographs that I then use in the materials. EVERYTHING else I do can be done remotely. If you’re going to force me into the office, then you can damn well wear the mask and not bitch about it.

This week is going to be challenging, on multiple levels. I’m trying to keep my cool, without letting myself be a doormat.

I am so sick of assholes.

 

Thurs. May 21, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 3 — Frustration and Burnout

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the garden over on Gratitude and Growth. We’re making some slow progress.

Yesterday was a nightmare. It is inappropriate to go into public detail here, but it was a nightmare. I’m working on the necessary changes.

At least I had Remote Chat in the afternoon, although I had a martini in my hand by 1:30 PM.

Got some writing done, did client work, sent out a couple of LOIs, worked with my editor on an article that needed some reformatting.

Read a book I was sent for review. My editor hadn’t had anything for a few weeks, so I was glad to get it. Even happier that it was delightful, although the ending was sad, and I was Big Weepy Mess for a bit after finishing.

Working on the review today to send off.

I’m hoping my migraine will ease up.

Will do some client work, get out some LOIs, work on the websites. I did not have a good writing session this morning, which was disappointing. But I’m going to cut myself a break, because I’m physically and mentally exhausted.

The sale for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA is still on. You can find details here. Each book is only 99 cents.

The library is going to be open for curbside pickup starting next week, by appointment. That’s good news. We can also bring back the books we’ve had during the StayAtHome. I filled two bags with books and one with DVDs and took them to the book drop this morning. It’s maybe half of what I have, so I’ll bring down another load tomorrow. The pick-ups are limited to what is in that home library, and I’m not sure anything I ordered is actually based there, but that’s okay. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of books to read of my own. And I am happy they are safely easing back into operation. Some of the stuff I had here all this time is based out of that library, and other people might want it, so I wanted to get it back as quickly as possible.

The Recycling Stations open next week at the dump. I will wait until the end of next week to take the first carload in. We have a lot of recycling stacked up in the garage, and it’s getting full. Everyone is supposed to be masked to drop things off; I wonder if they will actually enforce it. People weren’t masked during the StayAtHome when they dumped garbage, in spite of the staff being masked.

It’s supposed to be a nice weekend, and I intend to enjoy it. I have the “out of office” going up first thing tomorrow, lasting through Monday. I’m not answering emails or dealing with anything else. I’m going to enjoy nice weather and only do as I wish.

Because the next few weeks will be difficult, while I work on necessary, long-term changes.

I may do a short post tomorrow morning, before sign off for the weekend. In any event, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing

Friday, November 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

There’s a possibility we’ll get our first snowflakes today. I’m hoping it will be cool and dry the rest of the weekend, so I can work in the yard. In spite of taking 3000 gallons of leaves to the dump yesterday, the yard is full of more leaves.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about SAVASANA AT SEA being a case of writing the book I wanted to read.

Yesterday was busy. After two trips to the dump for leaves and recycling, and a massive grocery shop, we brought in some of the plants to overwinter, and put some of the big pots away. The garden ornaments are cleaned and put away for the winter. We have more plants and pots to put away today, and then I have to oil the teak.

I baked a chocolate chip raspberry cake, prepping the filling for chicken pot pie and for Indian stuffed eggplant. I didn’t hear from my friend until 3:30 that yes, we were still on for tonight, and she hadn’t gotten any of my emails in the past week, asking for information, so I could draft up the piece she needs help with.

Mercury Retrograde strikes again.

She got here, and we worked socializing the cats. All three did really well. Even Tessa came out for a bit. Willa was happy to have a playmate, and Charlotte handled having a stranger around really well.

The dinner went well, we discussed what needs to be done. I’m writing/revising the speech today and will send it off tomorrow. She’s giving it in NYC next week, as part of a fundraising conference.

This morning, I wrote the review for the absolutely delightful book I read, and will send it to my editor this morning, telling her I’m ready for the next one.

Driving from errands to the library on Phinney’s Lane, we were all stopped in our tire tracks as a flock of wild turkeys took their time strolling across the street. It was hilarious.

The bulk of the day will be spent working on the speech, but I had a few errands this morning, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and edits on another project. I’m hoping to sneak some work in to finish “Pier-less Crime.”

The weekend is about writing, reading, working with the cats, cleaning up the yard, cleaning out some boxes from the basement. I want to finish “Pier-less Crime” and get the opening of the play about Canaletto’s sisters right, along with finishing my edits, and continuing a decent pace on THE BARD’S LAMENT. My goal is only 2 pages a day for it, but I usually write 4-6.

I’d like to get some more of ELLA BY THE BAY typed up — I don’t have much more work to do on that first draft, but I need to see what I’ve got so far so I can wrap it up. Because I blank-paged it instead of plotting it, I’m in a muddle for this last third. The next draft will be a pretty major tear it apart and restructure it.

I’m hoping, by next week, to get back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

I also plan to work on the GDR questions for 2020, so I can post them next week.

Onward, one word at a time.

Published in: on November 8, 2019 at 9:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing  
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Fri. Sept. 27, 2019: Heading Into a Busy Weekend

Friday, September 27, 2019
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about the romantic entanglements in SAVASANA AT SEA.

Got some writing done in the early morning — a good session on ELLA BY THE BAY. Got some work done at the library, although it was so chaotic there, I left earlier than I’d planned.

Home, prepped for my big noon meeting. It went really well. We are going to do a follow-up meeting in the next couple of weeks and see where to go from there. It would be an exciting project. There are a lot of people who are pitching for it, so let’s hope I’m the right fit.

I’m frustrated and fed up with A2 hosting. It shouldn’t be this difficult to fix the problem in the contact form and add in the recaptcha. It’s not working, and they basically shrug and tell me the same thing over and over again, stuff we’ve tried that doesn’t work, instead of doing something that would actually fix it. This should not be brain surgery. It should be a 10 minute fix. I guess that article a techie contact on Twitter sent me is true — both their security and their customer service have gone into the toilet over the last few months.

I’m going to start talking to other hosts again. I’ll grit my teeth and deal for now, but when it comes to renewal time in January, unless things get a lot better FAST — I’ll move all my sites to a new host. I bet I wind up having to build everything from scratch, since I’m not uploading FTP files, but working on the WP platform itself. Right now, Site Motion looks like the best fit for what I need.

Fortunately, my registrations are with Name Silo and they’re fantastic, so it’s only the hosting.

Read TERNS OF ENDEARMENT by Donna Andrews, which is really funny. I thoroughly enjoy that series. That series has one of the best growth curves of any series I’ve read. Both the central cast and the supporting cast have had terrific arcs over the years.

I’m learning so much re-watching the entire MARY TYLER MOORE show, all seven seasons. Again, the character arcs grew a lot over the years. As the ensemble got more connected, the show took more risks. The comedy beats, the detail work, when to be broad, when to be subtle, how to write a joke so the actor can make it land well — I am learning SO much.

Couldn’t sleep last night. I finally gave in to the insomnia and got up at 4 AM to feed Tessa, make coffee, and write. The deadline for GRAVE REACH looms.

The next couple of months will be hugely stressful. All I can do is deal with each piece as it comes.

Not sure when this will get posted. There are a ton of errands to do this morning. If I don’t get gas in the car first thing, it will be bad. I have to pick up my mother’s prescriptions, take the garbage to the dump, come back and take the recycling to the dump, run some errands in Sandwich, go grocery shopping, get some work done.

At some point, due to lack of sleep, I’ll have to give it all up and catch a few hours’ worth of nap, but I also don’t want to be up all night again tonight.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I guess. Have a great weekend. It’s supposed to be beautiful around here. I wish the damn tourists would leave.

 

Published in: on September 27, 2019 at 9:01 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 27, 2019: Heading Into a Busy Weekend  
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Fri. Sept. 20, 2019: Commitments

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What I WISH I was Doing
image via elle_kh courtesy of pixabay.com

Friday, Sept. 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I have a commitment this morning. I’m not sure how long it will last, so I’ve scheduled this to post, rather than worrying about when I’ll get a post up.

Please hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the blog under the Ava Dunne name, where I talk about building the passenger ensemble for Savasana At Sea.

Have a lovely weekend. It’s supposed to be beautiful here, and warm. Monday is the Autumn Equinox.

Published in: on September 20, 2019 at 8:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 20, 2019: Commitments  
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Thurs. July 26, 2018: And Mercury Goes Retrograde, Too!

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Day Before Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

I’m tired of everything being perpetually warm and damp.

Mercury goes retrograde today, with all these other retrogrades, and right before a full moon with the longest lunar eclipse of the century.

Yesterday was not a productive day on RELICS, and I’ll have to make it up this weekend. I have a deadline looming (although my editor let me push it back a few days). But this new deadline still must be met. I have Amanda and Phineas’s first real love/sex scene to write, and it’s tricky. I haven’t been in the right headspace to write it, and I can’t just skip it, move on and go back, because how it plays out influences the rest of the book. I know the focus and drive of it and what happens after, but the nuances I’ll discover when actually writing the scene will make a big difference.

Review out, a few blog posts ahead on some other blogs. Worked with a client on a batch of blog posts. The new hire at that client’s place is working well, so far. We’re finding lots of mistakes from the person that left. I also got a raise at this gig, without having to be the one to say, “I’m raising my rate.” Which is nice.

Got some work done restructuring THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, so I have an idea of what I have, how much, what needs to be tweaked since I split out the material that grew into MYTH & INTERPRETATION. Behind on where I want/need to be for DAVY JONES DHARMA, which will also have to get caught up this weekend.

The consensus on the DAVY JONES DHARMA cover was that it was too cutesy. Since the Nautical Namaste mysteries intentionally break some of the cozy formula rules, the covers can’t be entirely cozy, although they are more light-hearted than the ones for the other series. My cover designer showed me two other options. My editor, publisher, and I all liked the same one best, and I admit — they were right, I was wrong. The new one fits the tone of the book and the theme of the series better. We’re still debating whether or not to have the figure seated in lotus position, as we did on SAVASANA, to keep it consistent. But it looks wrong, so we might go without.

Also saw a rough of the cover for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which I love, love, love!!!! Completely different direction than I expected, and much better.

And the cover for RELICS & REQUIEM is beautiful. We also have a rough of the fourth boo in the Coventina Circle series, GRAVE REACH, which is lovely. The image was originally one of those proposed for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It wasn’t right for that book, but was compelling and fit more in the style of the Coventina Circle books.

So all of those covers are done ahead of time and are in good shape. I’ll be working with my other cover designer on the covers for the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures for next spring, and the next set of covers we need to worry about are those for what used to be POWER OF WORDS, but is now going to be called something else, and get its own logo and subdomain and website and all the rest, so it’s a lot.

I have a few things to do this morning and the library, and then it’s back home to write, write, write!

 

Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 8:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 26, 2018: And Mercury Goes Retrograde, Too!  
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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

Wed. March 7, 2018: Techno Milestone and Yet Another Storm

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Waning Moon

I moved the Cerridwen’s Cottage website all by myself. I’m so darned proud. For me, a non-IT person, it was a big deal. It’s a big personal milestone for me.

Yesterday, I started building it live. I’m hoping to move the Fearless Ink site late this week, and then maybe get to build it early next week. And then I’ll be done with 1&1 as far as hosting go. They still hold my registrations for the moment.

I also finally understand why I’m having the problem on the Welcome page of the Devon Ellington Work site. Even better, I understand how to fix it!

Now, I still have to learn how to do a drop-down menu . . .

There’s a storm coming in, so I might not get to post tomorrow, although I hope to do so on Friday. I hope it won’t be as bad as they say; I’m getting a little weary of the storms. As long as the power holds . . .

Working steadily on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Playing with ideas to finish POWER OF WORDS. Got re-ignited for NOT BY THE BOOK — there are good bones there. If I can pull it off, it will be a worthwhile book. Working on FIX-IT GIRL revisions.

It’s a good busy.

A potential client liked my pitch, but wanted me to do a proofreading test before talking any further. I did. It was a timed test, full of the errors that set my teeth on edge. So, we’ll see. The money would be great, but I need to know more about the parameters.

My flash drive is full, so I started a new, 32GB drive. I moved over pertinent files from the old drive and sorted them properly. Let’s hope I can keep this drive organized.

I’m reworking the media kits for TRACKING MEDUSA and the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and looking for some fun, additional material to add to the Jain Lazarus site.

I need to put together some more material for the Coventina Circle site, and put together the pieces for the SAVASANA AT SEA giveaway I want to do in a couple of months. I’m also working on some ads for the different books and stories. I want to see if they make a difference. Friends of mine tend to have good luck with Facebook ads, and they’re usually reasonably priced, so we’ll see.

I’ve had a terrible headache for the past few days. I hope it lets up when the storm moves in.

Published in: on March 7, 2018 at 2:47 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 7, 2018: Techno Milestone and Yet Another Storm  
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Tues. Jan. 16, 2018: Steady Writing Gets There

 

Tracking Medusa Cover 1

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
New Moon

Busy few days.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my article over on Write Naked, about being an “Anti-Niche Writer,” you can visit it here. And leave a comment!

TRACKING MEDUSA (above) has re-released digitally. New buy links here and on the Books page of this blog.

There’s also a piece about the re-release over on A BIBLIO PARADISE here.

Because of issues with my old webhost, I can’t upload either the new cover or the new media kit to the website for the Gwen Finnegan mysteries or on the main Devon Ellington Work site (although the buy links will go up); when the webhost move is complete, a newly designed site with all the relevant information will go up. I thank you in advance, for your patience.

PLAYING THE ANGLES has moved distributors, and the new buy links are here. The information is up on the Books page of this blog; I’m updating the links on the Devon Ellington and the Coventina Circle site. Again, because of the webhost issues, the cover and the media kit will not be available until the host move is complete.

SAVASANA AT SEA will complete its distribution move and be available here as of today. Again, I will update the links on the Books page and on the Nautical Namaste website, but the cover and the media kit will not be available for download until the host move is complete at the end of the month.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

I will be boosting posts for all of the above on FB once the website moves are complete, because I want to send readers to the websites, which have all kinds of fun stuff and cool information — which will actually be accessible, once the web host move is complete and the new websites are built and go live.

So, this month is frustrating, but will ultimately be worthwhile.

Re-building the Fearless Ink site is going well, albeit more slowly than I would like. I like the new logo a lot. It’s clean and simple. The site will be much the same. No need for a lot of bells and whistles. The words are what matters.

I was feeling miserable on Friday; well enough to whine, so I obviously wasn’t THAT sick. After working on the website building for a few hours, and posting the details about the TRACKING MEDUSA re-release, I went home. Scratchy throat, achy, headache, tired.

I read; some for my own research/pleasure. The first batch of books arrived for contest judging, so I’ve also started on them.

One of Janet Malcolm’s pieces in FORTY-ONE FALSE STARTS: ESSAYS ON ARTISTS AND WRITERS inspired a new piece, set in the 1990s in the New York City arts culture, with the protagonists a painter and a choreographer. I don’t know when I’ll get time to WRITE the damn thing, but I made notes for the outline.

Friday night, the storm came in. It was unnaturally warm for the season, but the rain pounded and the wind howled. More naturally, the power went out, so we went to bed early.

It was restored pretty quickly, but the weather was still vile on Saturday. I put a pot roast in the crock pot and settled in to work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I’m behind where I want to be on it, and wanted to catch up.

Saturday, I was sick and miserable. However, I managed to run some errands, and then wrote two chapters on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. That felt good, being back in the world.

In the evening, I had a glass of wine by the fire and read. I’d made pot roast in the crackpot, which was good.

I’ve started reading the books submitted for the contest. They are good. This year will be fierce competition. Which is great. But it also means, when I go back over the books I think are the best, it’s going to be the details that decide which book is chosen.

Sunday, I was truly sick and miserable. I got the laundry done, but the rest of the day, I was huddled in bed, reading. Which is not a bad way to spend the day, but not the way I wanted/needed to spend it.

One of the books was one for review; big disappointment. The entire book was “telling” narration without active scenes. It was impossible, as a reader, to engage or care about the characters. It read like the outline for the novel, not the novel itself.

Yesterday, although it was technically a holiday, I was onsite with a client (even though I felt awful).

Got some more work done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, though, early in the morning, so I don’t lose that momentum. I have a draft due on February 15, and I can’t drop the ball.

This will be a busy week, including the weekend, with two big events coming up.

All I really want to do is curl into a ball and sleep!

Not an option. Not right now.

Onward.

Published in: on January 16, 2018 at 1:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 16, 2018: Steady Writing Gets There  
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Thurs. Jan. 11, 2018: Stress For A Cause

Thursday, January 11, 2018
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold (but milder than the past few weeks)

The past few days have been stressful.

Signing with a new webhost and getting oriented has been tough. But I believe, in the long run, it will work better.

The Fearless Ink website is the first one undergoing the overhaul and move; I’m hoping, as I learn my way around, each site will get easier. And I’ll get faster at putting things together.

Fearless Ink is also getting a new logo.

Because I’m under a time crunch (everything has to move by the end of the month), I’m worried it won’t be as good as it can be. But I need to get something up and moved, and THEN I can tweak and hone. So it might be awhile before I do a big reveal on any site, although it may go live sooner.

Tomorrow is the re-release of TRACKING MEDUSA. As soon as I’ve verified the new buy links, they will go up. I also have to tweak the media kit.

PLAYING THE ANGLES is moving through its new distribution channels, and as soon as I have the buy links, I will make the appropriate changes, on the websites, here on the Book page of the blog, and in the media kits.

SAVASANA AT SEA goes off to the new distributor today, and will follow the same process.

1and1.com’s extortion (telling me the only way I can have book covers and downloadable content on the websites is to pay an extra $140/month on top of my plan) and my refusal to cave in to them has hurt my sales — I lost ALL my holiday sales, and, since I can’t put the new media kits up or the new covers up — I won’t see decent results until the website/webhost moves are complete. Because the Devon Ellington site is the most complicated, with all the subdomains, that will be the hardest. I have a feeling that once the main DE domain moves, the subdomains will all disappear, so I’m trying to get them as streamlined as possible before.

It’s overwhelming if I look at all of it, so I’m looking at it one piece at a time.

Lots of client work this week, and trying to support a colleague who’s going through a challenging time. I feel a little guilty, because the situation has inspired a piece of writing. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to write it, but I’m working on the outline. I’m going to change enough to make it stand apart from the personal information, but it’s also one of the dangers of knowing a writer. Everything is material.

Managed to go out yesterday afternoon and spend time with a friend I hadn’t seen for awhile, and catch up on life, the world, and everything. That was fun. We went to the Dolphin, in Barnstable, which was the perfect place for our chat.

Had to try to explain creative process to someone who didn’t understand why people won’t just “create” in front of him. Because it’s intimate and comes from a private place. Otherwise, you’re just taking down dictation. Too many people around here claim they want a marketing professional when what they really want is a secretary.

I’m supposed to go out tonight, too, but I woke up with a scratchy throat, so I’m going to have to see how the day goes. I’ve been feeling off most of the week, trying not to get sick. I might have to take some time to rest.

The first shipment of books has arrived for judging in the contest. I’m very excited. I’m reading three categories again this year. I also have three books to review in the next three weeks, so I better get to it!

Trying to get back in the groove of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY along with everything else.

If I can get some rest this weekend and not get sick? That would be a good thing.

It’s supposed to be a miserable day tomorrow, so I’m trying to stack all my errands in today, and not have to dash around in the bad weather tomorrow.

Onward!

Published in: on January 11, 2018 at 9:38 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 11, 2018: Stress For A Cause  
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