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

image courtesy of Rafal Chudoba via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy, mild, humid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the afternoon, I turned around the script coverage.

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

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

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

So far, so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So neither project was finished, which left me frustrated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tired. Tired, tired, tired.

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

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

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

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

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

Off to folding laundry and back to the page.

Episode 19 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today. Enjoy!

Have a good one, friends!

Fri. Feb. 11, 2022: Uphill

image courtesy of Pezibear via pixabay.com

Friday, February 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a good, solid, creative day.

Meditation was excellent, and Charlotte sat on my lap for most of it.

I worked on The Big Project, getting the next section done and catching up on my tracking sheets, so I don’t get tangled up further down the line. It was a good chunk of work, although in the editing pass, I need to tweak the voice a bit, so it matches the rest of the piece. But I feel like I’m getting back on track with it.

Worked through the Scrivener tutorial. Only when I try to start one of my own projects, outside of the tutorial, what comes up on screen has little to do with what’s in the tutorial. So far, I don’t just hate Scrivener, I fucking hate it. And, if it won’t let me draft in Standard Manuscript Format (right now, it “compiles” the file in it once it’s done), we’re done. Drafting in standard manuscript format is non-neotiable for me. Not writing and then converting. DRAFTING. Much as I hate Word, I’ve managed to create templates for the way I need/like to work. I was promised I could do the same in Scrivener, I talked to them about it at length, but so far, it won’t let me create the templates as I need them. And yes, when I found out how much the novel templates SUCK, I started with a blank template, which gives me less flexibility, not more.

It promised I could have virtual index cards to do as I wished – yet, when I try to compile characters as index cards, it won’t let me do that, either. I thought maybe I could use it as a research depository, even if I chose not to write in it.

Nope.

On top of that, it doesn’t save as it promises in the tutorial. Any time I close out of a Scrivener file, it dumps it onto the OneDrive Recycling Bin—even when I save it to the hard drive. Then it has a zipped file named for the project on the hard drive – only when I try to open it, and the material I’ve saved INTO THE FUCKING FILE, it claims the file is empty, but then navigates to Scrivener online (NOT on the hard drive AS I WAS PROMISED IT WOULD BEFORE I BOUGHT THE FUCKER) to sort of put me somewhere in a file that was several saves ago.

So yeah, not happy.

Especially since I have the manual up, I follow the directions exactly, but what is in the manual doesn’t come up on the screen. I’ll keep trying for a few more days, and I’ll also try working on it earlier in the day, when I’m not tired.

But so far, the way it breaks everything down feels more like something out of Ira Progoff’s AT A JOURNAL WORKSHOP that fractures everything instead of letting it flow and being organic and holistic. Which I thoroughly hated, when I tried it, back when it was a Big Deal in the 90’s.

Read a problematical script for coverage, and have to figure out a way to give notes that are actually helpful. Hadn’t planned on covering another one, but one came up that was on one of my favorite premises, so I had to.

So I guess I’ll be doing script coverage well into the evening tonight.

Because I’m doing the next section on The Big Project first.

Tried to start reading two books yesterday. One was in present tense, so that’s going back without being read. I loathe novels written in present tense. I have yet to read one that I didn’t want to throw across the room by the end of the first page. The sensation is that of the author standing between me and the text screaming, “Look at ME! I’m such a great stylist!” instead of letting me experience the text directly. I especially loathe it when it’s historical fiction.

Sometimes it works in short stories, but in my opinion, not in novels. Therefore, I do not read novels written in present tense when I have the choice.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t write their novels as they believe best serves their vision. I’m saying I’m not the audience for those in present tense.

The other book had a fun premise, which is why I wanted to read it, but the writing was shallow, weak, and passive. So that’s going back.

I started reading Georgette Heyer’s BEHOLD, HERE’S POISON. I’d forgotten how good she is at wit and layers of meaning in her storytelling. Stylistically, it takes more time to establish the players and the story that is now considered the best way to launch a story (although not as long as many cozies take). But, ultimately, she’s a damn good storyteller.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Again, we’re all relieved, with all these places dropping in-school masking requirements, that we’re keeping all the kids out of school, even though they’re vaccinated. Plus, they are learning much more, and material that will have much more value to the rest of their lives, especially now that the MAGAs have hijacked most of the schools to literally whitewash history.

I think enough ice has melted, in spite of yesterday’s on and off snow, for me to make a run to the grocery store on foot. There’s plenty we need. So, I will head out shortly for that.

I may need to do another run to the liquor store; can’t do it all at once, because I can’t carry it all, even with the rolly cart.

Then, it’s back to the page for The Big Project first, and then to script coverage. First, I have to rewrite a bio for the conference that needs to come in a little shorter to fit the space in the program.

Have a good weekend. I plan a busy one, although I hope to take it off from coverage, once I finish today’s two scripts. I have writing and housecleaning and unpacking and planting to do.

Peace, friends.

Published in: on February 11, 2022 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 11, 2022: Uphill  
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Thurs. Feb. 10, 2022: Flexibility is Key

Image courtesy of studioone via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

It snowed unexpectedly overnight, so I guess I’m not walking to the grocery store today! Well, that’s why I freelance and work remote, so there’s the capacity for flexibility. Good thing I ordered in extra Chinese food yesterday!

There’s a post about the first seeds that arrived and my plans for them over on Gratitude and Growth.

I cut myself a break yesterday. I got some blogging done in the morning. I stomped to the library – it was more like skating without the right equipment, because the sidewalks are so bad – to drop off/pick up books.

I made a detour to the college library, because a book I was going to pull through Commonwealth Catalogue is supposedly at the college library, and I figured I’d save us all some paperwork and having it move through the system by walking across the street. Only that book is missing from the library, and because I have a Community Card rather than a college card, they can’t get it for me. So I have to pull it through Commonwealth Catalogue anyway.

Tried to find the college bookstore and couldn’t, which was frustrating. I kept following the map directions and ending up in the Athletic Department. They are supposed to be in the same building, but I couldn’t find a hallway or doorway to elevator or anything to get me there.

In the afternoon, I read and wrote up a script, then gave myself the rest of the day off.

I noodled with some outline notes. I need to spend some serious time over the weekend on Scrivener. I’ve picked two projects to use as learning tools to figure out how to navigate my way around. Neither are on hard deadline, so I can relax and take my time with them. They are all projects For the Future.

Finished reading THE MALTESE MANUSCRIPT and read DEATH WITHOUT TENURE. I really like this series.

Started reading a book by a new-to-me author, and am not sure about it yet.

Charlotte didn’t sleep on the bed last night, and she and Tessa came to wake me up at 5:30, which is just perfect. Of course, reading academic mysteries, I dreamed about research in a library all night, and felt like I’d put in a full day by the time I woke up.

Since I’m not going grocery shopping today (can’t maneuver the cart over the snow and ice until they plow), I can use that time to write, after meditation.

The conference needs a new bio, and they are going to be the first people to get the news of The Big Project (which should be available by the time the conference starts).

I have a lot of email, admin work, and correspondence to do today and tomorrow, so I want to get a handle on that. I have one more script I have to cover today, and then I’ll grab one for tomorrow. I also need to read the book for review and get back to contest entries.

The situation with the car weighs heavily on me, but all I can do is the best I can do.

Have a good one!

Tues. Feb. 8, 2022: Fingers Crossed For the Car

image courtesy of pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

It was a scattered weekend, although I spent most of it at home. Local authorities were worried enough about the ice storm that on Friday, the college campus, the public library, city hall, etc,, were all closed. It kept moving from freezing rain to sleet to snow to sleet to freezing rain and back again all day. Not much accumulation, but treacherous.

I finished the second radio play, give both a good polish, and got them out the door. I received a very nice acknowledgement from the producer, so I’ll know something in a few weeks.

My reward was to buy Scrivener (using the discount coupon I’d earned by finishing Nano). Purchase went through, and I got a complicated, two-page email about how to install it. When not even the first step of downloading it worked. I kept getting a message that it couldn’t be downloaded securely.

I was ready to ask for my money back and to hell with Scrivener.

But two writing friends made a suggestion to download the trial version (which is the full version) and then, when I opened it, enter the license number and I’d be all set.

Which worked.

So why sent the more complicated instructions with a broken link?

By the time support had gotten back to me, it was, at least installed. I have to block off time to learn how to use it, because I hear it takes a while. And since software is a foreign language to me, it takes me longer than most people. Although, a few years ago when I looked at it, it was basically Mac’s Pages on steroids, and I had Pages, so I didn’t bother. But Apple has steadily stripped all the stuff I liked best from Pages, and hopefully Scrivener hasn’t. Plus I’m on PC now, and so unhappy with Word.

Wrote up a script coverage, read another script.

I meant to write up the second script coverage, but got sidelined into a discussion on a collaborative project, and then another work-related thing came up. I missed the live stream of my friend’s play, which I was sad about. But I had to stop everything and create something that was needed within a couple of hours, instead of by the beginning of the week, as I’d initially thought.

By the time it was all done and out the door, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t write up the coverage as well as it deserved to be written, so I put it off until Saturday morning.

The cats let me sleep until nearly 6:30 on Saturday morning. It snowed lightly on and off all day.

I finished reading THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn (love this series).

Dealt with some stuff on the collaborative project.

Worked on script coverage.

Which meant the time I’d blocked off for Scrivener tutorials was eaten up by script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, which was great, except it was a different mail carrier. Instead of dropping the box at the door because it’s too big to fit in the community mail slots at the curb, he shoved it in from his side of the box, which is wider than the side where residents remove the mail.

Which means I couldn’t get the box out.

I had to come upstairs, get a pair of kitchen shears, go back down, cut it open, take everything out and dismantle the cardboard box while it was still in the mail slot. In 8-degree weather without gloves, because I couldn’t maneuver in gloves.

Not a happy camper.

Anyway, the stuff in the box was good.

The first seed order arrived; I’ll talk more about that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post.

Finished reading the Cynthia Kuhn books I had, and started re-reading Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier series, which I love, starting with QUIETER THAN SLEEP.

Slept in on Sunday morning. Can you imagine? The cats let me sleep until nearly a quarter to seven. Finished QUIETER THAN SLEEP and started THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, which is one of my favorites.

Stopped to do some script coverage, and also start reading the Scrivener manual. It will take a few weeks of poking around to feel comfortable, I’m sure.

Did a little brainstorming on the anthology, but I need to spend less time on that, until we have more information about deadlines and structure, and things. I turned in the material that was needed up until this point, so once we get more information on the overall structure, and start working with deadlines and word counts, I can get back to it. I’m still making my own notes, reading everyone else’s brainstorming, and seeing if/how that affects my piece.

I got one of the rudest rejection notes I’ve ever seen for a short story I submitted last week. Wow. It’s fine not to want a piece, but no need to be rude. I’ve made a note in my submission log, so that I don’t submit anything to them in the future.

Had to get my mom a new phone, because TracFone is being such a dick. Decided I’d buy her an inexpensive smartphone through them, and then, if we decided to change providers a few months down, when the car is fixed, it’s not icy, and we can actually get somewhere, we would. Put the order through, and they stepped up and she is getting it for free. Now why didn’t they just say so at the beginning? That the phones are all listed with a price (even though the offer is a free phone), but when you actually put through the order, it goes through as free?

Anyway, she should have it within three days.

My 97-year-old mother is getting a smart phone. She doesn’t want one, but that’s the only choice she had.

Worked on script coverage; wrote up a coverage, read two more scripts, started one of the coverages. Since I’m taking the car in today, I didn’t want anything due today or too early tomorrow.

Went to bed early on Sunday night. Charlotte woke me up at 1:30, then again at 3:30. Tessa was so happy I was awake that I moved to the couch and fell asleep again, oversleeping, and waking up with a migraine. Weird dreams the whole way through. Not bad ones, not stress dreams, just weird ones.

Got the list of grant possibilities out that I’d promised to a colleague.

Slogged through some emails. Wrote up a script coverage and got it out the door. Bundled up and headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. Mailed some bills. Picked up some wine. Grabbed some fast food to bring home for lunch (brought an insulated bag). Grabbed a few things from Cumberland Farms.

Got back just before it started snowing again.

Poked around Scrivener some more. I have to pick a project not on deadline to use to get familiar with it.

Wrote up another script coverage.

The fast food was good to eat in the moment, but I felt lousy afterwards, so we had fried eggs sandwiches (the old college standby) for dinner.

Finished THE NORTHBURY PAPERS and started RAVEN AND NIGHTINGALE. I love this series. I’m so glad I’m re-reading it.

Stayed up way too late reading, but it was fun.

Charlotte woke me at 4, but I rolled over and went back to sleep until Tessa woke me at 6. Fed them, yoga, writing, reading, the usual morning routine.

I have to figure out how to get the car out of the ice the plow put up against it. I have the morning to dig out, and then hopefully the car will start, and I can get it to the mechanic. They’re going to do an hour and a half diagnostic this afternoon, and hopefully, I can afford the repair. Step by step, right?

I’m taking a bunch of work with me: reading, writing, editing, including the Kindle holding the next book for review. I want to finish it before I start downloading the digital contest entries I need to read. And I want to do a readthrough of the first draft of CAST IRON MURDER, to see where I need to go in the second draft, and to support what’s going on in THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get back to work on The Big Project. I’m waaay behind where I need to be on that, and I need to catch up.

I have a script coverage to finish this morning before I go to the mechanic. I have two scripts to read (one for which I was requested), but they aren’t due for a couple of days. I can choose to read or not read tonight when I get back, depending on how wiped out I am after the ordeal at the mechanic’s. Hold a good thought for me.

Fri. Feb. 4, 2022: Let’s Hope Freezing Rain Doesn’t Freeze My Brain

image courtesy of adege via pixabay.com

Friday, February 4, 2022

No Retrogrades!

Freezing rain, temperature dropping

Can you imagine? No retrogrades!

It rained all day yesterday, and now, as I type this (in the morning), it’s switching over to sleet/freezing rain and rather nasty out there. I need to dash to the mailbox at the end of the street (not going all the way to the post office) at some point to mail more bills, but that will be the extent of leaving the house today.

Yesterday was another mixed day. I finished one of the radio plays. I worked on, but didn’t finish the other, and I need to get that done, because the two have to be submitted together. And that damn well needs to happen today. As it is, I might have missed my window.

I spent too much time brainstorming on the anthology, and need to curb my time on that a bit, because it’s interfering with The Big Project and a couple of other things I have going. I need to write up my proposal, draw up a floorplan for a building that can be shared space in the anthology, and then not spend several hours every day on it until we have more parameters and deadlines.

I finished THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Very well-written, and gave me a lot to think about.

Worked on script coverage, but didn’t get as much done as I hoped, so I have to buckle down today, once I finish and submit the radio plays.

I also want to buy Scrivener today and get that installed. I had hoped to start learning how to use it (I think it will be helpful for The Big Project), but I’m not sure I can make the time, with everything else that needs attention.

There were a couple of communication snafus (typically as Mercury is retrograde and stationing direct). One of them is a big red flag, client-wise, and I’ll have to see if it straightens out appropriately, and make decisions from there. The other was just one of those things, and totally not about me, although, exhausted, after a 16-hour day, it was difficult not to take it that way. But it wasn’t, and I put my ego aside, and acted like a decent human being. Because we’re all stressed and struggling, and doing the best we can.

I had hoped to have a very productive week and take the weekend again, but I’m behind where I want to be on a few things, and need to use the weekend to make it up. I still had a productive week, especially when it came to my own work; now I just need to balance it with work that brings in money immediately, not a few months down the road.

Had a discussion with another writer on social media about serials. I love writing them and reading them. However, I’m not all that thrilled about a writer who simply releases chapters of a book over time and calls it a “serial.” No, you’re just charging per chapter, and I’ll wait for the damn book. Serials require a slightly different structure, within each episode, and also driving the overall narrative. Yes, they can be released as books once they’re complete (hopefully, quite a bit of time after they’re complete), but they usually need a little tweaking to smooth them out as novels.

So when a writer is on social media talking about how they’re releasing their novel as a serial, I’m not all that interested; but if they’re actually talking about writing and releasing a serial as a serial, I am.

That’s just me. Writers need to do what they want, but how it’s framed affects whether or not I’ll buy it. And if I feel lied to, I’ll just cross them off my purchase list for the future.

Anyway, the freezing rain is pounding against the windows, and I need to get as much done as possible in case the power goes out.

Have a great weekend!

Thurs. Jan. 27, 2022: Mail, Stories, Storm Prep

image courtesy of Ekaterina Belinskaya via pexels.com

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the incoming storm and turn of the season.

One of the things I have not yet discussed on the blog is Thich Nhat Hanh’s death last weekend, which saddened me deeply. I never had the chance to study with him directly, but I do read his work, and it is regularly discussed in meditation groups.

Yesterday was a better day, as far as getting things done. I was up early, got to the desk early. I worked my way through a bunch of emails. I dealt with blog posts. I mulled over the situation with the large client that bothers me. I don’t have any solutions yet, but I’m pondering.

A submission call landed on my desk, for a publication into which I’ve always wanted to break. The theme is right up my alley, and it can be fairly short, so I started a draft. I had to stop and fact check something, and went down a research rabbit hole for about an hour, which kind of threw off my productivity. But I hope to finish the story today or tomorrow, polish it over the weekend, and get it out by Monday.

In the afternoon and evening, I read three scripts, which I will write up today. I also worked on the redesign of the covers for the Topic Workbooks. They’re much simpler and make more sense, I think, while still being eye-catching. I’m trying to decide between completely plain, with color and text, or adding a small image to it. But I want to keep the covers in the same style, so they all tie together.

I’m doing a major overhaul on the Series Bible workbook, which will add in using Scrivener. The original plan was to have that be the first Workbook to relaunch, but until I get comfortable with Scrivener, I don’t see how it can be. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS will probably be first.

I got a delightful card in the mail painted by Helen Whistberry. It’s a beautiful teapot. I’m going to frame it and hang it in the sewing room.

I finally got an appointment to get the car diagnosed for the repair, by a local reputable garage, for Feb. 8.

I made chicken pot pie with leftover chicken in my new Pyrex pie plate, and it made me happy (in addition to being delicious).

We’re about to get into another Supreme Court Justice fight. The Dems better not let the Repubs walk all over them yet again. I’m sick of excuses. They have the WH, House, and Senate. GET. IT. DONE.  The Republicans do whatever they want no matter how many votes they have or lack. So the Dems need to step it up.

The problem isn’t that the Dems are “too progressive” as the media misleading frames it. The problem is that the Dems aren’t progressive enough and don’t stand strong. They cave and cave and cave and keep moving to the right.

I don’t want bipartisanship. I want progress.

There is nothing the Republican party can or will offer me that makes my life better.

Charlotte woke me up at 3:30, and Tessa joined the chorus by 4. I moved to the couch and dozed off again, and didn’t wake up until after 7:30. They were grumpy that their breakfast was late. Well, then they shouldn’t wake me up in the middle of the night. Yesterday afternoon, Charlotte got upset that Willa sat on Charlotte’s pink blankie. They fussed at each other, and Willa ran away (no bloodshed). Charlotte, victorious, sat on her blanket for a bit, until she got bored. Then she tried to intimidate Tessa off the couch, but Tessa wasn’t having it. So Charlotte retired to the kitty condo like the trope of a Southern belle having the vapors. It was pretty funny.

Headed to the library. Eight books waiting (won’t that be fun to carry over the ice mounds?) and I want to get them back before the storm. I have a few cards to write and mail, so I’ll either drop them in the box at the post office on my way to the library, or in the mailbox down the street. Yes, we actually still have a blue mailbox just over a block away, and things put into the box arrive at their destinations in a timely fashion. Most of the mailboxes on Cape, at least in my area, were removed years ago. But the postman was nice enough to take the mail when he dropped mail off (If one couldn’t get to the post office), so it worked out. And the post office was close to the house, so I could walk if I had to (although I usually drove). But I like having a reliable mailbox close by. I also like walking to the post office here and catching up on everything that’s going on. It’s the major source of information in this area.

Have a good one!

Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: Planets, Cards, Pages

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

Uranus goes direct today. Uranus is “the Awakener” energy, so when it’s retrograde, things that need to be shaken up in your life are stymied. It also is about what makes you unique. While having it direct helps you get out of your own way, shaking things up in the already chaotic Venus/Mercury retrogrades isn’t fun. The full moon was in Cancer last night, which meant emotions were heightened.

Friday morning, the two scout crows from my local murder were in the tree outside my office window, telling me the news. They’re very chatty. The squirrels were running around, too, preparing for the storms. They are constantly knocking down the bird feeder, and I keep moving it and trying to figure out where I can put it where it won’t be taken down and dragged all over the balcony, but so far, no luck.

I got some work done early in the morning. Later in the morning, I layered up and did the pre-storm errands: dropped off/picked up library books; mailed bills and cards, and bought stamps; picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the liquor store. We may live in a city, but it often feels like a small town, because people like to chat (masked and at a safe distance).  I always know that if I head out for errands, I’m going to have to talk to people. Which is fine, because they are interesting and nice, and, let’s face it, everyone’s felt so cut off and isolated going onto three years now, they just want to know there’s another human being out there who’s not a complete and utter jerk.

But errands aren’t something I can do if I’m in a rush. I build time to chat into all the errands time. And, even though I’m an introvert instead of an extrovert, I don’t mind. Like I said, the people are nice, and they’re interesting.

I was looking at the artwork on various tarot decks. I don’t need any more decks, goodness knows, but I still love them. Three decks in particular have my attention right now: Ask the Witch Tarot, Tarot de la Nuit, and the Gilded Tarot.

I was scrolling through social media and saw a book cover – that was almost exactly like one of the tarot cards in the Tarot de la Nuit deck, although the blurb had nothing to do with tarot. I pulled up the image of the deck and put it next to the social media post. The only difference was the way the man’s hand wrapped around the sword. Other than that, the cover artist had used the tarot image. Now, maybe the artist had permission. Or bought the image. I don’t know. But I still found that disturbing. The tarot artist’s style on the deck is very distinctive. It’s not like the typical stock Rider Waite image that’s widely available. The tarot image I used for the collage at the top of this post is a typical Rider Waite free image.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat in the afternoon. Wrote up two script coverages and answered some questions on another one. I’m below my nut for this pay period, but that’s the way it is. I’ve just been too exhausted to take on more.

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

Was up until nearly midnight, and then had trouble getting to sleep. Tessa would rather I stay up and play with her, but at least I slept in until after 7 on Saturday.

Mercury has gone retrograde in Aquarius. In my birth chart, Mercury sits in Aquarius. Aquarius is about independent thought, and Mercury is about quick thinking. So when it’s retrograde in the place it sits in my birth chart, no wonder my brain is mushier than usual. Layer pandemic brain over that, and it is not a good thing.

Saturday was sunny, bright, and cold.  I polished the short story and got it out by deadline. I’ll hear by May if it’s what they’re looking for or not. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off. I worked on contest entries.

I made colcannon for dinner, adding leeks, Canadian bacon, and shredded cheese to the traditional cabbage and potatoes. It was wonderful.

Weird dreams lately, set in a city I don’t recognize as knowing in real life, but it’s where I live and work in the dreams. They are busy dreams, not stress dreams, so by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve put in a full day.

Tessa got me up before 6 on Sunday. I made muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, refining a recipe on which I’ve been working, and they turned out well. Which is good, because some days I feel like I’ve forgotten to how cook or bake properly.

Worked on contest entries. It was sunny and cold. I’d prepped as much as I could for the incoming storm, so I just rested and worked on the entries. I did take out the garbage, so we wouldn’t be stuck with garbage in the house during bad weather, but that’s as ambitious as I got, as far as going out and about. Read a script.

Charlotte woke me up before 4 AM on Monday. I think the storm upset her. Tessa was in the doorway with her, “You’re up? Do I need to start vocal exercises?”

I got up and fed them, then grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, where I fell asleep again. It had snowed quite a bit by then. I woke up a little after 7, and the snow was serious.

Still, people were out with shovels and plows, getting things done. Men shoulder their portion of the work better here than they did on Cape. The Cape was full of white men who would moan that they “couldn’t” shovel or carry groceries or do anything because they had a “bad back” and then immediately go play golf all day.

The past few weeks, I’ve landed in the same place in my dreams, as I mentioned above. I don’t remember much about the dreams, but I do know they take place in the same location. It’s a small city, that I don’t recognize when I’m awake, but is my home city in the dreams, and I’m comfortable. Lots of brick buildings, three and four stories. Coffee shops, restaurants, bookshops, small theatres, museums, a library, etc. No virus, as far as I can tell. The me inhabiting that dream space is a younger me (thirties?), and I’m happy there, with friends and work I like, although I don’t know what my work there is (I suspect it’s similar to what I do here, or I wouldn’t be happy). So far, I only recognize one person in that circle of people from my circle of people on this side of the dream scape, and that’s someone I knew when I first started working on Broadway, and who has since died. The dreams are pleasant, although they are busy, so I always feel as though I’ve put in a full day by the time I wake up. I’d like to try entering the space in lucid dreaming, so I have a better idea of where it is and why I keep visiting.

Eggs Benedict for Monday’s breakfast, because why not on a cold, snowy day?

I’m thinking of investing in Scrivener, after all these years. As long as I can save into .doc, .rtf, PDF, and create script templates, I should be fine. I’m unhappy with Word. I have a 50% off coupon from Nano, so I might as well use it. Not until Mercury goes direct, though, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Spent Monday morning working on The Big Project, and got two sections done.  I need to catch up on the tracking sheets for this piece (I’m now four sections behind) or I will be in trouble moving forward. In the afternoon, I worked on writing up the script coverage for the script I read the night before, and then, in the evening, I read two scripts for which I will write up coverage today.

A Twitter pal and I talked about a tarot reading she did, and the deck she used was so pretty that I ended up ordering it (Mystic Mondays Tarot, in case you’re wondering). I don’t need another tarot deck, goodness knows, but this one called to me.

It might be time to sit down and write my tarot book. I’ve been working with the cards for nearly forty years now.

Had good yoga and meditation sessions this morning. When I make the time to sit for a decent stretch, it starts the day in a more focused, grounded way.

I’m debating whether or not to head over to the college library later this morning. There aren’t a lot of students around, so it seems like a good time to poke around and find the materials I need to develop two different, but art-related projects.

I will do some more work on The Big Project this morning. I have contest scores to enter, script coverages to write up, and a couple of client blog posts to write. I might try to get some LOIs out, too, and I have two more scripts to read.

A friend has a new call for submissions out that got me thinking, although she works in a genre that would be a stretch for me, especially as I don’t read much in it. But I like the premise of the anthology call, and it’s only a 1K piece, so it’s worth thinking about. The deadline is the end of the month, which is do-able, if I find the right story and characters.

Had an idea for another piece in the same general family as The Big Project, only it wouldn’t be as big (The Medium Project as a working title?). The central protagonist and the premise came to me when I was writing in my journal this morning. At first, I thought it could be a spin-off to The Big Project, but it insists that it inhabits its own world, and I need to trust the work.

The power held, and I’m glad the storm wasn’t as severe as predicted. We’re supposed to get another one this coming weekend, so I have to figure out when to go out and about to take care of whatever needs out-and-about-ing, and then hunker back down next weekend.

Which suits me just fine.

Wed. June 27, 2012: Busy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus DIRECT
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Wrote 3 PSA scripts, two press releases, outlined two articles, sent out interview requests, distributed a press release, pitched a series of articles, and worked on the ebook. Assisted in setting up a shoot for Thursday for one of the PSAs I wrote. Found out that the check that’s two weeks late probably hasn’t even been mailed yet. Frustrated with one organization — they have an exclusivity clause, so I don’t teach the same class for X months on either side of my commitment to them anywhere else. Totally understandable. Yet, they are booking instructors with classes similar to each other (and mine) very closely together — and there are even people using the titles that I originated. Without paying for the class, I don’t know how similar the material is to mine — I’m sure all our teaching styles are very different. And yes, all my materials and handouts are copyrighted. In the classes I’ve taken there, there’s not much writing involved. In the classes I teach, I demand that they write every day. But I’m not happy abut the whole situation. It’s not good for any of the teachers — it dilutes all of our classes. Offer one of each type of class per quarter, not a half a dozen of the same type of class. Saw somebody listed to teach a class on juggling writing and life — who couldn’t keep up in one of my classes and dropped out. The fact that someone who couldn’t successfully juggle is teaching a class on the topic just floors me. Not fulfilling one’s commitment does not equate with successfully juggling, in my eyes. But, that’s the way it goes. You gotta shrug and move on, or it’ll drive you crazy.

Reading a trilogy by another writer and the inconsistencies are driving me batty! Even if the writer didn’t catch all the logistical errors, where were the editors? Someone needs my Series Bible class! 😉

Revised three chapters of HEART SNATCHER. This is a quick revision for reshaping — I’ll go back in August and do another one in more detail. This revision makes it more of a paranormal mystery, a tighter-paced, tighter-focused read, and I have to decide if that’s what I want for the trilogy, or if I want to go back to the bigger canvas of social and political issues. It’ll be interesting to read the two drafts side-by-side and see which is the stronger book.

We had some cracking good thunderstorms here yesterday afternoon. The cats weren’t too happy, and some of the smaller plants needed to be rescued, but, overall, I love being inside with a good Cape Cod storm outside!

My computer was a little unhappy — making noise and getting hot — so I shut it down for the duration of the thunderstorm. Gotta keep the Macbook happy!

Poked around in Scrivener. Basically, it’s iPages on steroids with spiffier graphics. In other words, I don’t need it. And there’s no reason why material done in Scrivener can’t be posted in Standard Manuscript Format — you can set up the template to work in it. Yet again, more excuses without foundation from students (not in the year-long, though, they’ve all got the finish line in sight and are doing a great job at this point).

Meeting last night was good — lots done in an hour, just the way I like it. Came home and watched NEWSROOM again. Still loved it, although I caught a couple of continuity errors this time around and the music swelling under some of the speeches didn’t work for me. But I still can’t wait to see the next episode. And I don’t often say that about something on TV!

Up early this morning. Wrote a few pages in longhand on the magical realism piece (with Tessa on the deck) and then wrote a little over 2000 words on a contemporary piece. I like the contemporary — I find it both exciting and restful to work on. Am about to tackle three more chapters on HEART SNATCHER revisions, and then go back to the articles, pull some stuff together for tomorrow’s video shoot, and draft a cover letter for a client. Before looking around to see if there’s anything else worth pitching towards. I’m tempted to throw my hat in the ring for an editing job, but not sure I have the patience to work in the genre they need. Depends on the money — they meet my rate, I’ll give it a go. They try to lowball me and I refuse.

Back to the page!

Devon

Learn how to create focused scenes with impact in the Scene Meat workshop, July 9-13. Learn how to create and maintain a series bible in a one-day seminar on July 14. Take both classes together and save $15!

And don’t forget — “Town Crier” is available, as a free download, on the Jain Lazarus site until July 9.