Wed. Nov. 30, 2022: A. Day. And then Another. Day

Charlotte and her banana. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Stormy and cold

Here’s a picture of Charlotte and her banana, because someone should have a good day.

Well, yesterday was A Day.

Sorry this is late, but today is shaping up to be A Day Again.

The transit chart warned me this would be a week of chaos and conflict influenced by the heavens, and drawing the Nine of Swords as my Advice Card for the day was another warning.

On the positive side, we talk about The Right Form For the Story over on the Process Muse.

I also posted a Holiday Mindfulness Oracle Reading over on Ko-fi.

You back? Good.

The worst thing that happened yesterday was that my giant Brother Color Laser Printer, which was expensive and so heavy it needs two men to life it, died. It turned itself off in the morning, and the power won’t go back on. You can tell Twitter is dying, because I posted a request for troubleshooting suggestions there and it was silent. Normally, I’d have a mix of actual help and mansplaining. CounterSocial and Mastodon offered suggestions, but most of it was what I tried, and both that and the stuff I hadn’t tried but then did, did not work. But I appreciated that people saw the post and genuinely tried to help. That’s always appreciated, and I made sure to thank and acknowledge them.

I will be heartbroken if a printer that was that expensive and under warranty at only two years old is dead for good.

Now, of course, I have to fight to get them to honor the warranty.

It’s not like I can load it up into the car and take it for repair. The tech has to come here.

So, no printer yesterday, and research for a small interim printer until we figure out what to do with the laser printer. I was going to buy a small printer anyway, that I could take with me on residencies. I just didn’t expect to get it right now, and lose the big laser printer, which is a necessity for my work.

I had A LOT of stuff I needed to scan this week, along with the regular printing, so it’s an issue.

I did the rounds to promote Legerdemain, and check in and interact here and there. Making the rounds of all the sites takes from 1 ½-2 hours, which I now need to build into the workday. Whether or not I “have” time doesn’t matter. It’s a necessary part of the job. People running around saying they “don’t have time” or “the spoons” to learn these new platforms are speaking from a place of privilege I do not have.

Twitter is mostly screaming right now, anyway. It makes me sad.

I turned around two script coverages in the afternoon. We got an issue with a misplaced synopsis sorted out, which I will deal with today. I have to sit through another “evaluation” soon. My numbers have gone up in the last months, I have a 100% on time rate, and I’m requested 5% more often than the average for readers, so what is there to talk about? Leave me alone to do my work or give me a raise.

I found out that library holds expired yesterday. I contacted the library to ask them to hold them over until I could pick them up this morning, but didn’t hear back. With the library closed for four days over the holidays, we should get a little extra time. All the same, my world will not stop if I don’t get a library book I ordered. I can order it again.

Centerville Library’s staff would just check them out and send me a note telling me they were ready whenever I wanted to pick them up, but then, I built relationships with those librarians over ten years. The turnover at this library is much higher, and while all the librarians know me, sort of, by this point, they don’t really know me. It’s whatever. I will cope.

A colleague asked for recommendations on something, and, having dealt with her requests before, she wants me to do initial introductions and labor on it, which I won’t do. I’ll give her the information. Someone else is nagging me to review her book, which I just received – give me a minute, would you? Paid work comes first.

I’m behind on getting out some other admin stuff that needs to be done this week, and I don’t want to let it slide.

It took me 45 minutes to upload my profile picture on Hive, between my tablet being slow and the site running slow. Hopefully, everything will even out soon.

On a happier note, I received a tax refund from the state. In this state, when there is a surplus of taxes collected, they don’t sit on it. They are required, by law, to return it to the taxpayers. So I got an unexpected refund check. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to cover the little interim printer I have my eye on. That little thing made me feel cared for by the Universe.

As far as writing went, I chose not to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH yesterday, because I was working on the holiday story instead. However, as I passed the 2K mark and realized how much story there still was, this is not appropriate for the newsletter subscribers. So I have to come up with something else that can be a flash (I already have the idea) and switch over to writing the flash for the Ko-fi page in the next couple of days (that idea is a little weird, but fun. Ko-fi is where I do weird and fun).

This morning, I only did 1151 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but they’re decent. I have to come up with a few more pages tomorrow morning to round out this chapter, and then we are where we need to be for the chapter I wrote last Friday, and that sends us careening toward the climactic sequence and resolution. It will come in short, on word count, for this draft, but as I revise it next spring, I will layer in the necessary period detail so it will hit the count organically (hopefully without info dumping).

I’m finishing NaNo at 59,736 (part of me says, come on, write another 300 words before midnight and hit 60K), but we’ll see.

I did not sleep well, between worrying about things and the cats being impossible.

Up a little after 5. Tessa is doing a Houdini act. I heard rummaging, and found her in a closed bureau drawer (that has not been opened for months). How did she get in there when there are no holes in the back of the bureau? It’s a mystery, but I’m glad I was home to get her out.

My back was spasming when I woke up, but a longish yoga session (under Tessa’s supervision) helped.

I dashed out early when the store opened that carried the printer I wanted. In and out in a few minutes with the printer, a 2-year warranty, and a hole puncher (I can’t find my other one, and Staples sent me the wrong case of paper).

Wolfed down breakfast and headed out again, just as the storm started. Hit up the library – they’d held my books for me, knowing I’d show up when I said I would. I am very grateful. Liquor store (gotta stock for a storm). Bank, to put in the refund check I’d just spent on the printer.

All the errands done in 20 minutes and home. Car safely slotted. Back to work. The winds are supposed to pick up seriously over the next few hours and be high until tomorrow night. The temperatures are in the 40s now, but will drop into the 20s tonight, so the rain might switch over to snow. They are positioning plows and utility trucks around the city.

Lots to do, so off I go. Have a good one.

And hey, all you who busted your ass for NaNo – good work! Cheers to you!

Tues. Nov. 8, 2022: Dumfungled

(image courtesy of Mohamed Hassan via pixabay.com)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Full Moon (and Lunar Eclipse)

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and Windy

Election Day

Will this be our last election? We’ll know in a few days. Let’s hope not.

Pull up your favorite beverage and we’ll sit down for our regular longish Tuesday natter.  

Today’s post is titled thanks to Melissa Amateis, who shared “Dumfungled” with me yesterday. According to Melissa, SCOTS MAGAZINE, and Susie Dent, it means “mentally and physically worn out” and “used up, in a near state of imbecility” to which I can relate right now. According to the Urban Dictionary, it can also mean “being unproductive, hitching a ride on the back of an assumption” which fits the current situation in so many aspects. But I choose the first definition as the title for this post.

See, Melissa? I kept my promise to you!

If you didn’t see the post over on the GDR site yesterday, you can hop over now.

I got a lot done on Friday: 2223 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH for Nano, an episode and a bit for LEGERDEMAIN, caught up on some email, turned around two scripts. I was tired by the end of it, and read for pleasure, rather than doing the other reading I should have done.

The paper I ordered from Staples arrived; but it was the wrong kind. Regular paper, not 3-hole punch. I’m not going to fuss. I’ll keep it, invest in a new 3-hole puncher (I can’t find the one I own; it might be in storage) and punch the holes myself. I draft on 3-hole punch paper, so I get it in by the case. Usually.

I spent far too much time on Twitter, upset at the way Yegads Muskrat is intentionally destroying it. Lilith St. Crow calls him “Melon Husk” which is another good handle for him, What a disgusting human he is. Destroying something people value because he can afford to do it.

Stayed up way too late reading Ann Aguirre’s EXTRA WITCHY, which was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, I slept later than expected, because the cats tried to roust me early, I refused, and fell asleep again. Got in 2412 words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I’m having a lot of fun writing Rita’s youngest son, Doug.

Once the words were out of the way, I went to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, restocking a bunch of staples that we used up, and getting the fresh stuff we’ll need for the week. Came home, put it all away, and off we went, gallivanting, because it was a beautiful, sunny day, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

We drove up through Bennington and over into NY through Hoosick Falls (which is an interesting little town) and to Hoosick, and our favorite Treasure Hut, which we hadn’t visited all summer. We didn’t find any of the furniture pieces for which I’m looking, but I found an Inkberry Pfaltzgraff platter that matches some of my other dishes, a tiered silver serving tray (Irwin ware), vintage glass poinsettia ornaments, a cute ceramic piece of two kids getting ready to skate, and yes, another brass trivet. You know me and trivets. I think I have 20 now?

On the way back, we stopped at a favorite thrift store in Bennington. We found 2 dinner plates that match the soup bowls we bought last year, a lovely blue and green bowl, another little figure of a kid walking dogs for Christmas, and a gorgeous tapestry runner for spring.

Picked up a pizza on the way home and had a late lunch. Washed what needed washing, and put the rest away, after doing some research on maker’s marks.

Hung out and read a bit. Turned the clocks back before we went to bed.

Tessa tried to get me up at 5, insisting it was breakfast. I thought my phone hadn’t fallen back yet, so it was really four, and rolled over, not getting up until 6. Tessa didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. She tried going to my mom for comfort. By accident, my mom called her “Charlotte” and Tessa, insulted, stomped off and wouldn’t have anything to do with either one of us all day.

It was raining and kind of yuck, so instead of being out and about again, we stayed home. I wrote the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, at 2938. A character repositioned himself in the story earlier than I expected from the outline, but it worked, and I can cut some info dump out of the first chapter, because it’s actually integrated here. But it took damn long to write those words.

I’m fighting the book’s natural rhythm to make word count. It wants to grow at around 1000-1200 words a day. But I need to push it to make the Nano wordcount, to meet my expectations for myself for participating. So I’m forcing it at an unnatural rhythm, which will bite me in the ass during revisions. The chapters are also very uneven, which is a problem, Because structurally, it does matter in the genre.

I spent too much time mourning Twitter in the afternoon instead of reading or doing something worthwhile. I also wasted too much time struggling to set up an account on Mastodon. The first two servers I tried wouldn’t send me the confirmation email, no matter how many times I requested. I finally got an invite from a screenwriter on Twitter who set up his own server, and that went through. Once I was in, setting up is pretty easy. Finding people is harder, because of the different servers, but it’s possible. I was also invited to a screenwriters’ Discord group, and, much as I dislike Discord, I like the person who set it up, so I’ll give it a go.

But if you want to find me on Mastodon, I’m at @devonellington@bbq.snoot.com.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, so the whole house smelled wonderful. Made stock from the carcass.

Went to bed ridiculously early.

I had some sort of bad dream, from which Charlotte woke me up around 3. It fled as soon as I woke up, but the adrenaline spike was nasty. Tessa was all like, “well, since you’re awake” but I ignored her and fell back to sleep.

I dreamed about going to listen to jazz at a place with wonderful food and interesting people. No COVID in the Dreamscape, and I have quite a good social life there, so it will have to do until I can actually socialize when I’m awake, if the pandemic is ever under control.

I was all set to sign up for an in-person yoga class the Sunday after Thanksgiving and realized everyone there would have been unsafe all weekend and shedding virus, so I think I’ll pass.

Up at a reasonable time on Monday. Wrote 2337 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It was a fun chapter with good dynamics and finally, FINALLY, I’ve dropped the first body. I usually drop it much earlier. And I had to change a relationship from cousin to brother-in-law to make the logic work. But it was fun, and I’m feeling more hopeful.

Posted on the blogs and made the SM rounds – which took two damn hours. But I need to establish myself on the platforms and interact and build different communities. Some I’ll phase out. Others I’ll continue to build. Different platforms work for different things. As someone who makes a living in the arts, I don’t have the LUXURY of not MAKING the time to find out which platforms do what best, and I don’t have the LUXURY to whine that’s too hard and I don’t have time. I’ll lose my livelihood if I don’t do it. Getting my work out to the widest possible audience is part of my job. I don’t get to whine (okay, maybe I’ll whine a little bit, but you know my rule: pity parties can’t last longer than 15 minutes). Most importantly, I don’t have the option of not learning and changing and growing as the industry does.

Tribel is about branding and marketing, so even though I’ve met the largest amount of creepy dudes sending me inappropriate messages there thus far, I might have to stay. Cohost talks about being “cozy” but so far, it seems like a platform for hobbyists rather than professionals. There’s no reason a platform can’t support both, but if Cohost gets squiffy about me linking to projects that pay the bills, they are not the right platform for me.

We’ll see.

It’s exhausting.

Necessary, but exhausting.

Twitter dystopia was a hellscape, and I spent very little time there. Yegads Muskrat is openly telling people to vote Republican. Bite me, asshole.

It was a glorious, sunny day, so I walked to the post office to mail some bills.

Only turned around one script in the afternoon. Had trouble concentrating.

Took Jeremy Rock Smith’s virtual cooking class. He’s doing a soup class for the next few weeks, and I love it. He has such joy in both the cooking and the teaching that it makes every day better.

I also learned where I can improve my technique on several things, so my upcoming soups will be even better.

Went to bed early, because I was so exhausted. Between the full moon, the eclipse, the retrogrades, the election, and Twitter’s destruction, it’s a lot.

In the Dreamscape, I taught a class, did a reading/book signing at an adorable library, and baked a ham. It was a busy night. There are no Republicans in my Dreamscape (along with no COVID), so it’s a nice place to spend time.

Tessa woke me up at 4. I refused to get out of bed until nearly 5, but then went to start my day. I went onto DystopTwitter, which was a mistake. In addition to the destruction, there are people boasting about not voting. Of course, that makes it easy to unfollow/block them. Some of them are people I’ve interacted with for a long time, and didn’t know they were that stupid. But when people show you who they are, believe them. I’ve always lost respect for people who choose not to vote; in the past few elections, that’s turned into genuine loathing.

I’m too old and tired to argue with people. The great thing about social media is that it’s easy to cut off contact.

I tried to sit down and write, wondered why I was struggling, and then realized I was still in my pajamas. Changed into writing clothes, and there were the words, waiting for me.

Wrote Chapter 8, coming in at 2118 words. Lots of dialogue, so a typical chapter length, but fewer words. It looks like I’ll break 20K tomorrow instead of on Thursday; if that’s the case, I will feel like I’m really on track.

I have to do the rounds to promote the episode of Legerdemain that drops today. And, you know, do some work on Legerdemain itself. By the end of next week, I need to put up the episodes through the end of the year, and then, hopefully, by mid-December, I can get all of the second arc up and scheduled. I’d like to get another chapter of ANGEL HUNT adapted today, too, before I have to switch over to script coverage.

No post on Ko-fi today. With Election Day chaos, it makes no sense. I’ll do a tarot post next weekend, and I’m working on a weird little flash fiction piece for Thanksgiving week.

Fingers crossed things get better after today, not worse. I want to be hopeful, but I’m afraid to be.

Take care my friends. VOTE.

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Trying To Cope Without the Car

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Snowy and cold

I talk about snow and some of the decorating over on today’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I finally got a response from the VW dealer in Pittsfield. The earliest they can see me is next week, and they still haven’t given me the estimate I requested. Only the estimate for a diagnostic. So I will be in touch with them again.

It will mean, by the time it’s fixed, I’ve been without a car for nearly a month, in an area that’s not great on public transportation. This is not okay.

I don’t get the garages who say they “can’t” fix this issue. I remember voting on a bill – which passed – several years ago that gave all garages access to dealer information to fix any issue.

Anyway, more stress on that level.

After going back and forth with the dealer to get an appointment and try to get an estimate (there will be another email going out from me today), I decided to go ahead and get the groceries delivered. Stop & Shop sends us a circular every Wednesday, touting their delivery service in this region. So I had to go on the site, and get an account set up, which took way more steps than it should, especially since I’ve had a Stop & Shop card for years.  They had my zip code for the setup, everything seemed fine. I went through the onerous searching for the items on my list, putting them in my card, or when they were sold out, trying to find something else I could use (I need to do my holiday baking this weekend). Went through all the steps for the delivery – only to have them say they don’t deliver to my zip code. Which makes no sense, since they send me a weekly flyer to my address IN MY ZIP CODE encouraging me to try their delivery service. And the store is less than 3 miles away IN MY ZIP CODE.

They could have told me this when I set up the damn delivery account.

Totally ridiculous. And, of course, there’s no customer service email, because Stop & Shop actually providing customer service is way too out of the ballpark.

Only curbside pickup.

If I had a car I could drive to the curb, I’d go in the damn store and get the groceries myself!

Big Y (which is closer) doesn’t deliver, although they’re connected with Instacart, and, after Instacart’s assurance they could deliver in an hour, they can’t deliver to this address. The garbled message made no sense.

Hey, assholes, how about this: Don’t advertise delivery service when it doesn’t exist? How about not lying to your customers?

After that whole debacle, I wrapped and packed the packages that need to be mailed, and packed everything in a bag I can carry down to the post office tomorrow, along with the cards.

After lunch, I participated in Remote Chat, bittersweet, since it’s the second-to-last one. These colleagues helped get me through the pandemic. I will miss them.

Once Remote Chat was finished, I did some more work on the newsletter, then wrapped up and went down the street to Cinnamon Girl Apothecary, where I found the last couple of gifts I have to mail out. Brought them home, wrapped them, packed them, added them to the Post Office bag.

We received a lovely package from friends in Kentucky, of cheeses and spreads and yummy things we will enjoy.

Read three scripts, which I will write up today, once I get back from the post office and the library. I’m looking forward to this morning’s meditation session; goodness knows I need it. Although my extended yoga practice this morning and early morning meditation session went well.

Off to do some work on The Big Project. Hope I can get in some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY later, too. I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read/write up, and a book to finish and review. Plus, I’d like to finish/test the newsletter draft and to get the ads up for the holiday shorts.

I think I’m going to break down my grocery list into two or three smaller chunks. I’ll walk to Big Y, dragging my upright cart, and buy what I can carry, and spread the shopping out over a few days.

Because the baking has to get done.

It already looks like I can’t make stollen this year, because I can’t get the mixed fruit peel I need. That’s a disappointment.  But I’d started stockpiling non-perishables in late October/early November, so I don’t have that much to still buy.

Fingers crossed.

Keep a good thought that the car repair is actually within my budget.

Peace, friends.

Tues. Nov. 9, 2021: Music, Cats, and Sleep Deprivation

image courtesy of cottonbro via pexels.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Last week, the prediction was that we’d have our first snowfall by yesterday. Instead, we’re having gorgeous weather. Frosty nights and glorious days. I’ll enjoy every one we get.

Catch-up time from the weekend, huh? I’d miscalculated how much time I needed for the script coverages, and ended up reading/writing up coverage all weekend. I have a feeling I’ll be doing so until Thanksgiving, so that I can take a four-day break without worrying.

Work on CAST IRON MURDER for Nano was steady. Friday-2439; Saturday-2574; Sunday-3008; Monday-2121; this morning-2584. Part of Sunday’s was doing an insert to the previous day’s work, where I’d forgotten to write a rather important scene. Yesterday was a bit of a slog, but the second week of Nano is always the hardest for me. Today, I had a late start, but it went well.

Friday was an absolute debacle of a day. It was gorgeous weather, and we planned to go to Holyoke and South Hadley, about an hour and a half away to the east, to hit up some stores we don’t have around here. I’d printed out the directions, planned the route, all good, right?

Only it wasn’t.

The drive across to Northampton was lovely. They’re just hitting peak color there; we peaked Halloween weekend. Northampton is kind of an odd, funky city, and I hope I get to spend more time poking around at some point, when the pandemic is more under control.

But once we got to Holyoke, the directions had little to do with the map, and neither of them had anything remotely to do with the signage. We couldn’t find any of the stores, and there was no place to stop and ask for directions.

We found 91, and took it down to the Mass Pike, and back west to Lee. Lee was busy, and there was no parking, so we decided not to roam around Lee, but keep going.

To my delight, the Berkshire Atheneum in Pittsfield was having a book sale. The sale was gigantic (and everyone was masked and following protocols). I was overwhelmed, but not so overwhelmed I didn’t buy a stack of eight books, two cookbooks, and eight classical music CDs.

So the day wasn’t a total wash. Because, book sale.

Their next sale is my birthday weekend, which means I’m less upset about having to cancel the planned trip for That Big Birthday than I was a few weeks ago.

We stopped at a market in Adams we’d been wanting to try. They have some stuff I can’t get anywhere else, but no staff and few patrons masked, so I won’t be going in there often or for long. One of the few places around here that’s lax on masking.

We stopped at Burger King on the way home, because it was late, and we were hungry. Bad idea. We had the chicken sandwiches, which were basically carboard slabs on other cardboard slabs. And felt awful after. We know better.

The month’s Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it was a delight of crystals and a mug and a window hanging and all kinds of fun stuff. A bread cookbook I forgot I’d ordered also arrived.

Was up way too late doing script coverage.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:22 on Saturday, a real gift.

Wrote my quota on the novel, and then we headed to Job Lot, where we got a few things my mom wanted, and a draft blocker for the back door, and a snow shovel. Because if a plow pushed snow against the back of the car in the parking lot in winter, I’m going to have to dig it out, and I gave away the snow shovel we had on the Cape before we moved.

Since we were up that way anyway, we stopped at a favorite thrift store. I got another Santa for my collection (this one with little gray kittens who reminded me of my beloved Iris and Violet), some jingle bells, and another metal deer. For Five bucks, for all of it.

To CVS, where it turns out my mom’s new prescription insurance hadn’t come through as promised, so I’m back to working on that.

The library, which was busy, to pick up and drop off books. The Saturday librarian with whom I often talk books in detail was busy, so I just waved to let him know I saw him.

Script coverage in the afternoon and evening. Also finished reading THE LOLA QUARTET, which was interesting, but I got frustrated by the way the characters didn’t learn from their mistakes. The writing’s beautiful, though.

I’m enjoying Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen mysteries. They are light and fun.

Saturday was the last sunset after 5 PM until February 3, according to local weather people.

Turned the clocks back, and Tessa let me sleep until 6:30 on Sunday, which was a win, all the way around. However, we had a Serious Conversation. Tessa sat in front of me and told me that they elected her Spokes-Cat, and they would very much like it if I fed them BEFORE I started the coffee in the morning, not after.

Not happening.

Frost in the morning on the cars. I didn’t miss scraping the windshields when I had a garage, I’ll tell you that much. But it only takes a few minutes.

Wrote my Nano quota, more script coverage, some reading for fun.

Discovered I can’t have Bach’s harpsichord music on when I’m trying to do anything else. It’s definitely not background music, but listening music. I also enjoyed Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” which is one of my favorite pieces.

Sunday night into Monday, Charlotte was the one who was impossible. She woke me up every two hours, all purry and cuddly, wanting attention. By 3 AM, Tessa began singing her arias.

I grabbed the feather bed and moved into the bed in the sewing room. Tessa quieted down. Charlotte joined me for a few minutes. Charlotte’s catnip banana was under my back, so I pulled it out and threw it on the floor. Charlotte and Tessa fought over the banana, and then over Tessa’s catnip carrot.

I told them I didn’t care anymore; I just needed some sleep.

I dozed off again, and was woken up a little after 6 by a cold kitty nose. It was Willa, saying, “Please, could you get up and feed us? I am very hungry.”

Since she asked nicely, I did.

AFTER I started the coffee.

I was grumpy most of the day. I did my Nano words, and even came up with titles for the next two books in the series.

Wrote up a script coverage. Got out some LOIs.

I’m so behind on email, it’s not even funny.

Spent a good part of the day trying to sort out my mother’s insurance again. Elizabeth Warren’s office has been a big help. Hopefully, it’s done this time. I need to pick up her medications.

Big grocery shop over at Big Y, then over to Wild Oats for a few things, and Stop & Shop on the way back for stuff I couldn’t get at the other two places.

Read scripts in the afternoon and at night, which I will write up today.

Roasted chicken thighs with both sweet potatoes and Yukon golds, served with creamed spinach. It was yummy.

Up early this morning, even before the cats, and over to the laundromat by 6 AM, even with scraping off the car windows. My mom came along, wanting to know what it was like. We had a lot of laundry, because I procrastinated, and we had a houseguest, and we had all the fabric from Halloween. So it was two loads in the big industrial machines and two loads in the smaller commercial machines.

We were still washed, dried, folded, and home before 8. And I got a couple of pages done on the outline for the second book.

I made an egg, leek, chevre, and tarragon scramble for breakfast (Kripalu recipe), and put some potatoes, carrots, and pork chops in with barbecue sauce in the slow cooker for dinner. The house smells great.

Did my Nano words (went well today, unusual for week 2). Writing this, then catching up on email and doing script coverage. Oh, yeah, and putting all the damn laundry away.

I have two new review assignments, so I have to get started to those, too.

Maybe a nap in the afternoon, or at least 20 minutes or so on the acupressure mat.

We’re ready for winter (I think), but we’re enjoying every beautiful autumn day we can get. The front porch is still great in late morning well into the afternoons. Tessa has taken over the porch. Trying to get her in when it gets dark is getting more and more difficult. But it’s great to sit out there and read or write, while the cats watch the world go by.

Willa was excited by the birds having a meeting on the back balcony. I put up the blinds a bit in my mom’s room, so she could watch a squirrel dancing around in the tree out there. She is just fascinated.

Tessa always liked my bed to be smooth and clean (no lumps). Charlotte moves around the covers and blankets every day to build little nests.

No wonder Tessa spends most of her time on the porch.

Back to the page. I still have to finish “A Rare Medium” in the next few days, too.

Tues. Oct. 12, 2021: Am I Really Doing This?

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Saturn went DIRECT on 10/10/2021

Foggy and mild

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Big Project for the Winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or would the WANT TO writing fuel the SHOULD?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t have the answer. Yet.

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

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

Good first writing session, good early morning yoga.

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

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

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

–What’s your day job?

–What’s your favorite hobby besides writing?

–Writers are your competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you have a good week, friends. Peace.

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

Fri. Sept. 24, 2021: Apples, Books, Learning

image courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Rainy and warm

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Meditation was great, of course.

Then, I hauled the heavy, flawed bookcases down the stairs and got them loaded into the car. We drove to Target in Lanesborough, and the return was drama-free, thank goodness.

Since we were almost in Pittsfield, we continued on to Re-store, looking for bookcases/shelving. As we entered, the manager was yelling at someone to get out and off the property, for being inappropriate with a female employee. The manager later came around to apologize for the ruckus. While I’m grateful he stood up for her and kicked the guy out, it was still unsettling.

But there wasn’t anything that was what we were looking for, so that was that.

We went to some of the box stores on Hubbard Street – I popped into Barnes & Noble to take a look, we got a small picture frame at Michael’s, and we did some shopping at Price Chopper. I’d never been in a Price Chopper before. Some stuff is good, but most of the low prices are for their generic store brand. Otherwise, prices are similar to Big Y and Stop & Shop here, although Price Chopper has Stonewall Kitchen products. I got a Rewards Card to use there, just in case.

Home, unloaded. In the afternoon, I wrote up some coverages. I still have a lot to write up today, the thought of which is a bit overwhelming. But I will just work my way through them. Read scripts later in the day; one was a stage play that was quite good.

It started raining in the evening, and poured all night. I’d like to run a few errands today, but don’t want to be out if it’s bucketing.

I do, however, like to lie in bed or on the couch and listen to the rain. It’s soothing.

Charlotte was the catalyst of being up way too early this morning, setting Tessa off. So I fed them at 4:30, and then curled up on the couch to doze for an hour or so, before starting my day.

Good first writing session, and spinning some ideas for what to teach at the conference next summer.

There are times when I skip scenes as I write the novel. Not because I’m working out of order, but because the reader doesn’t need them. Normally, I’d write them, and then cut them; in this particular book, I think them through, so I know what happened, but the reader doesn’t need the scene, so I move on to write the next scene the reader needs, and then integrate any information necessary from the unwritten scenes into the upcoming scenes, but without info dumping.

Knowledge Unicorns went well last night. We’re going to do some work with virtual museum tours around the world, to discuss the art and then create stories, poems, dance, etc., inspired by various paintings.

The kids who are now homeschooled are much calmer and more focused than the ones who are doing online learning with their schools. As one of the homeschooled kids said, “I don’t have to worry about dying from the virus because some classmate has a stupid, selfish, anti-vaxx relative. I don’t have to worry about being shot at school. I can actually LEARN.”

The kids who are doing virtual learning through their school are under a bit more pressure, both to return in person, and because the hours are set for schooling, whereas the homeschooled kids have a more flexible schedule based on the day, and on the remote work their parents are doing. Every style of learning has its challenges, but I’m glad we’re all sticking to the decision that NONE of them are going back in person this year.

I should be able to get my mom set up for her third Pfizer shot right up the street soon.

I hope I can get a bunch of unpacking done this weekend. I’m getting a little tired of my bedroom and my office being stacked with so many unpacked boxes.

I want to do some more world building and work on the outline for the piece I’ve been developing. It really wants to start spilling out.

If the weather’s nice over the weekend, I hope to spend some time at the lake, too. Take a book, take a notebook in which to do some writing.

I got a nice big bag of apples yesterday, so I’ll probably make an apple cake, too, this weekend. And I’d like to make bread.

Have a good one, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on September 24, 2021 at 6:45 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 24, 2021: Apples, Books, Learning  
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Thurs. July 15, 2021: Creating New Routines

image by StockSnap courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and humid

The rain continues. There was a bit of sunshine yesterday, followed by more thunderstorms.

Got out some LOIs and worked on script coverage yesterday. Participated in Remote Chat, which was fun. I missed everyone there.

Haven’t gotten any unpacking done for a few days, which has to change, but I have to do the work that earns money first, and the unpacking when that is done.

I’ve lost a lot of flexibility through abandoning the yoga practice, so I’m working slowly, slowly to get it back.

Looking at the Topic Workbooks. I need to get back on track with their revisions and re-release. The Topic Workbooks have always sold steadily, and I want each edition to be better than the previous. I’d started the revisions back before I got sick last year, and got sidetracked with, well, being sick.

I also want to revise my Fearless Ink brochure. Once I have it where I want it, I’ll upload a PDF to the website again, and then run off some copies on the laser printer and send them to local businesses with an LOI. The North Adams Chamber hasn’t responded to my outreach (it’s now been two weeks, nearly three), but 1Berkshire, the organization that handles tourism and relocation and business for the whole area, has been more receptive. I’m not ready to attend events yet (it’ll be months before I feel comfortable being in a room with strangers, even though I’m vaccinated).

Starting to make lists: what I need from storage, what I need to replace because I put it in the dumpster and now wish I hadn’t. What I didn’t need at the other place, but need here. I believe trips to Home Goods and Michael’s are in the not-so-distant future. I know where Home Goods is in Pittsfield, but not sure I can find Michael’s.

I’m rejoining the online meditation group out of Concord Library this morning. I’ve missed them, and look forward to it. Later, I have to go to the library to pick up a book that came in, drop off a book I’ve finished; then I’ll swing by the liquor store to pick up some more wine. Maybe some vodka. If it’s hot, I might want martinis on the porch or the balcony.

I have more script coverage to do today, and some more work for Llewellyn. I want to get out some more LOIs.

Getting back into the dailiness of yoga and meditation is helping. The morning journal writing is helping me ease back into a creative headspace. Now, I need to rebuild a work schedule that also works for me, while getting the unpacking done. Living in chaos isn’t helping us get over the exhaustion. Once everything’s put away and we’ve decorated a bit, we’ll feel better.

As I said, the feng shui on this place is difficult. But we’ll get there.

The cats are happy (although they got me up before 5 this morning). That’s the most important, isn’t it?

One step at a time, and we’ll build what we need. Patience has never been my virtue (except working with the cats). But I need patience with myself over this summer.

Published in: on July 15, 2021 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 15, 2021: Creating New Routines  
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Wed. March 11, 2020: Another Birthday. Who’d’a Thunk?

cake-3163117_1920
image by manfredrichter courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Waning Moon

Today is my birthday. Considering a few weeks ago, it didn’t look like I’d have another one, I’m pleased I got here.

Monday was irritating at my client’s, because people there are not taking the Corona threat seriously. The sheer arrogance and selfishness sickens me.

I seem to have gotten the issues sorted out with Tweetdeck, and I’m using it to schedule posts for both myself and one of my clients. I’m also going to expand to Hootsuite, and see how I like them. Buffer comes highly recommended, but won’t give a free trial without a credit card. Having been burned too often by companies who claim they won’t bill if you cancel before the end of the trial period, and then randomly remove whatever amount they want whenever they want,I don’t do that anymore. Should one of my clients want to put it on their company card, fine. But I’m not taking on that burden. If it winds up making sense for me to run multiple accounts for social media on a paid site, I will build it into the billing, but right now, it doesn’t.

After work, swung by Trader Joe’s for a couple of things, dropped off and picked up library books.

Started cleaning the windows from the inside when I got home. It was such a lovely, bright, mild day. I opened windows and doors, and managed to clean the windows in the living room. It’s a bit of a slog, because they are sectioned into six pieces on the top, six on the bottom. The outside storm windows need a good scrub, but that’s for a later day. Yesterday, I did the windows in my office, the back bedroom, the downstairs bathroom, and the kitchen. Today, I’ll do the windows upstairs.

Excellent writing sessions both Monday morning and Tuesday morning; hope that’s true today, too. It sets a positive tone for the day when that happens. We’re trying to figure out what to do with the Nautical Namaste series — it’s hard to promote it with people quarantined on cruise ships. And is it even ethical to promote it? An ongoing discussion.

I had a good evening yoga session on Monday night. A good hip-opening sequence. Last night, I was a little smarter about the every-other-day core work I’m working up to. I’m feeling better with the weight I’m dropping, but I need to get the fitness and the stamina up. I know it won’t be my 30-year-old self, but I want to be appropriately fit for my this-age self.

Client work was okay on Tuesday; then it was a quick trip to the library to drop off and pick up, and picking up my birthday cake.

I’m going to have a low-key day today. A client wanted to take me to lunch, but I asked to postpone it. The medication I’m on leaves me in a constant state of mild nausea, and I can’t really enjoy meals right now. So I’ll go to work, lift a glass in the afternoon, have a little cake. I’m going to do what I want, as much as possible, and enjoy the fact that I’m around to do it.

I will have to do housework today, although the big push is tomorrow, since the Annoying and Unnecessary Home Energy Assessment happens first thing on Friday.

Tomorrow’s post is shaping up to be a long one, where I share some of the musings and sortings-out I’ve been working on. Friday’s post will be short (and is scheduled already) because of the Annoying and Unnecessary Home Energy Assessment and the follow-up appointment with the specialist.

If the weather is nice, we might go to Truro on Saturday. We’re playing it all by ear.

Next week is all about prepping for the next surgery. I hope it’s the last one. I need to get back on track with a lot of different things.

We’re working on Charlotte’s fear of garbage trucks. I’m trying to teach her that the garbage truck goes to other houses, and only drives by, making noise. If I’m next to her when it goes by, she’s okay. If she’s on her own, she gets upset.

Tessa is thrilled with her catnip carrot and guards it from everyone else.

And so we go on.

Published in: on March 11, 2020 at 6:04 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Jan. 17, 2020: But Was it A Creative Week?

 Friday, January 17, 2020
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

We’re finally getting the cold weather we need for the garden and to kill off the bugs. Supposedly, a storm coming in, too.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the Ava Dunne blog, where I talk aboutSecond Book Syndrome.It was supposed to post this morning, but I think I inadvertently posted it yesterday.

I couldn’t get a parking spot at Centerville Library, so I went to the Sandwich Library first. Dropped off books. Used the computer there. Got out some LOIs. Found some great books about books and writers that I checked out and am eager to read.

Circled back to Centerville Library, where I dropped off and picked up.

Did some grocery shopping.

The wind was awful all afternoon. I didn’t dare work on the computer. I did some work in longhand and read, mostly.

We worked for a couple of hours socializing the cats in my room. Willa, Charlotte, and Tessa, all together, hanging out calmly. It worked for nearly two hours, until Charlotte tried to bully Tessa again. But it’s progress. Willa and Tessa are doing pretty well. Willa and Charlotte are doing well, most of the time, because Willa stands up to Charlotte.

Chicken pasta Alfredo with broccoli for dinner. It was good.

Started reading a book and it just didn’t do it for me, so I stopped. Since it wasn’t a contest entry or a book for review, I had that option! Started another book, which intrigues me, but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. The writing is very good, the situation is interesting, but tying it to a well-known figure was unnecessary, in my opinion. I’m getting a little tired of that trope.

How did I do with my week of the intent of creativity? Honestly, I did better last week. This week, I was slow in the writing (although I plan to make up for it this weekend, with a writing immersion starting this afternoon). I wrote, but not as much or as well as I wanted. I was very creative when it came to client work and LOIs, but not as much as I wanted on my own work.

I did, however, pay attention to everything that was in front of me and give it my full attention. In that respect, I fulfilled my intent. I came up with some new approaches to several different topics, although I did not have the chance to implement them.

I felt tired, emotional, and off my game.

But the week isn’t over, yet, and I hope to steady on.

Today, I have to take my mother to get her blood pressure checked at the firehouse, go to the library, pick up my mother’s medication at the pharmacy, and then home before the storm.

For an immersed weekend of reading and writing, as the storm rages outside.

Have a great weekend.

 

Published in: on January 17, 2020 at 9:55 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 17, 2020: But Was it A Creative Week?  
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Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Lousy weather

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I talk about one of my favorite Winter Holiday books.

Busy few days. Sorry I didn’t post at all on Friday. I was up at 5:30 and out of the house by 7. Put gas in the car, then drove up to Plymouth, to my regular mechanic, to give them their holiday treats and get the yearly inspection done.

The car passed. All those things the place that replaced my battery told me I had to pay $1800 to get done or else not pass inspection — NONE of them were true. Which makes me both angry and relieved.

I’ve spent the past nearly three months in agony fearing the car wouldn’t pass, and I couldn’t afford the additional work. Because I was lied to.

Stopped at Market Basket on the way back to pick up a few things. Swung by the library to pick up a book and talk to the librarian who took her first trip to NYC this past week, and I wrote up directions to the stuff she wanted to see. She had a great time.

Then, I just hit a wall. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I couldn’t do much more than play with the cats, do some more decorating, and read.

I managed to pull it together in the late afternoon to put together and deliver the cookie platters to the neighbors. It was fun — a chance for us to catch up. We are all friendly in passing and help each other when we need it, but every now and again, it’s nice to spend some time in actual conversation. We are lucky in our neighbors. Most of them, anyway.

It looks like my health insurance might be sorted out for the next year. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?

On Thursday night, we watched the version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL starring Alistair Sims, which is still my favorite. Friday night, we watched HOLIDAY INN, which I had ordered from the library by accident, thinking it was the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye version later named WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Well, it wasn’t. It was a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film in black & white — also using the song “White Christmas” — and what a horrid movie. The racism — especially against blacks, with an entire musical number in blackface, and the awful way the black characters were written, anti-Semitic comments, the misogyny, and the fact that the characters are all so mean to each other. Awful. On so many levels. Some of the dance numbers are good, but the plot, characters, and viciousness of the movie are hateful. To think that, at any point in our history, that was considered “okay” much less acceptable, is discouraging.

Saturday morning, woke up to a bad storm with pounding rain. Made it through the flooded streets to the store to pick up a few things, and barely made it home. If I’d waited even a half hour more, some of the streets would have been impassable.

Made stollen, the traditional Dresden stollen recipe, from Mimi Sheraton’s German cookbook. Upped the almond extract a bit.

The recipe took me 8 hours to make last year, but only 6 hours this year, with the mixing and the rising. The yeast was fresher, and it rose faster.

This recipe makes 3 loaves of about 3 pounds apiece. When you think that a single pound of it from a store or ordered online costs anywhere from $9.99 to $34 and tastes like cardboard or could be used for a doorstop, this is a much better choice. In addition to being absolutely delicious. It’s an all-day project, but worth it.

Just about finished my cards on Saturday night, except for a few where I need to hunt down addresses.

Worked on the books for review. Started preparations for Winter Solstice, which is next Saturday. Got some writing done.

We put up the reindeer collection and the nutcracker collection, and cleared out my office, so that we can put up the tree in there. I cleaned up the roll-top desk, and I want to clear off my computer desk, so I can start the New Year and the new decade, with a clean desk.

I will have to make the next batch of stained glass cupcakes either today or tomorrow, and another batch of tollhouse cookies. I’m still making deliveries.

Sunday, I was up early and creating a new muffin recipe with orange, cranberry, and chocolate. It turned out well, although I think I will add some cloves next go round.

Got some writing done. Put up the tree in my office, and started decorating the rest of the office.

Watching THE QUEENS OF MYSTERY. There’s a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, but sometimes I feel it tries to hard to do too much and gets a little unfocused.

Monday, it was off to my client’s early (since we’re leaving early for our holiday lunch together). On the way, made some more cookie platter deliveries. Client work was okay, albeit a bit chaotic. Headed to the library after, to get some other work done, and send off one of the reviews.

Early at my client’s today, and then a couple of other appointments after. Decent first writing sessions of the day both days. THE QUALITY OF LIGHT is chugging along, and it will get to where it needs to go on time.

I’m working on my next essay for Medium, which I hope to post this week sometime.
Planning to finish up the reviews, so I can get them out and invoiced, either today or tomorrow.

This year, I’m very much hearth-and-home for the holidays. I’d rather do cards and cookie platters than running around to all the holiday networking events. My focus needs to be on other things right now, focused on the home front and the upcoming changes, not on socializing.

Published in: on December 17, 2019 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All  
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Wed. May 29, 2019: Project Juggles

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not sure at what point this is going up today; if it’s late, I apologize.

Worn out.

Yesterday, I was up early, getting some work done before I had to drop off my car at the shop at 7:30 in the morning. I spent most of the day with a client, working on an event that’s coming up in about three weeks.

The mechanic kept calling and calling and calling while I was in the middle of something that involved other people and couldn’t be interrupted. I was terrified that they’d found something else wrong and I’d be screwed. Plus, they know they’re supposed to text me or email me, not call. I finally got a message — the car was ready earlier than expected!

Once the adrenalin rush dropped, I was toast for the day. I struggled through the rest of the day. They picked me up at the end of my day, I picked up the car. I have to go back later in the week to get a new hubcap they ordered. Thanks to the tariffs, the hubcap has now DOUBLED in price.

Should have stopped at the store, but I was too wiped out.

But I managed to get one of my articles out to the editor, and chased down payment for the radio theatre who still hadn’t paid me — the latter even showed up in PayPal the same day, which was nice. I heard from my editor at Llewellyn. She liked one of my ideas and wants to contract it for 2021. So that’s good news!

Information on an interesting new-to-me company looking for a remote writer landed on my desk, and I’m going to send them an LOI. I like their tone and the philosophy they claim to practice. I’d like to know more about them.

Worked on some ad copy for the “assessment.” I’m doing what I think best serves the work, instead of trying to second-guess what they want to hear. Either they like it or they don’t. I’m happy with what I’ve done on it. Off it goes.

Most of today will be spent on-site with a client, then I have to swing by Trader Joe’s to get some basics. I’ll know by noon whether or not I’m going in to Boston tomorrow or Friday for a meeting with a potential client. I’m sure they will contact me at the end of the day or tomorrow, expecting me to drop everything and rush up there, and then it will be a no-go. The lack of respect for my time and that I put the clients with whom I already have commitments ahead of those who are simply trying to jerk my chain sends up red flags for me.

We’ll see. I read an interesting article on negotiating offers yesterday, which gave me good points to consider.

I need to do a polish on the play, so it can go out tomorrow or Friday (Friday is the last day of the submission period).

I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped with the car repair. I will post information via an update on what information I need, in order to send out the books.

Onward.

Published in: on May 29, 2019 at 8:54 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 29, 2019: Project Juggles  
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Thurs. Dec. 27, 2018: Hypocrisy & Artistry

Thursday, December 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Second Day of Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Solstice was a little more drama-ridden than I would have liked, and I was under more stress than I wanted, but it all worked out.

Nice ceremony, starting at dusk, when the house went into full dark. Then, the fire lit first, then the candles in each room, then the tree and all the lights I have around the windows, then the outside lights, then the ritual, followed by a nice meal.

The Narcissistic Sociopath shut down the government, screwing 800,000 federal workers right before Christmas. Typical. He’s such a vile and disgusting pretension of a human being, and those around him, like Ryan and McConnell, who enable him, are even worse.

Saturday was the full moon. Again, more drama than I would have liked (and less writing). More cookie platter deliveries, a few errands and things I had to get done.

Trader Joe’s was a zoo. People screaming into their cell phones and acting like it was the bumper car ride at an amusement park. I met a lovely elderly man there, clutching his list, his cane, and his cart. I walked through the aisles with him, more to keep him from getting knocked over than anything else. His wife was sick, and the family coming in, so he decided to take over cooking the dinner. He was a WWII pilot in the RAF; he guessed he could figure out how to cook a turkey.

What a contrast to that awful man at the library, a week or so ago, whining that his wife was recovering from surgery, couldn’t do anything, so his meals weren’t on time and the house was dirty? When challenged he should step up and help he said, “That’s not why I got married.”

I will use the lovely ex-RAF man in a book as a positive character, and kill off a character based on the nasty man.

Worked ahead on Sunday on a bunch of articles and posts I’ll need in the new year. Didn’t get enough work done on any fiction. But even writing non-fiction helped a lot. Steady writing helps me keep my equilibrium.

Started a proposal for one of the plays that will have to go out the first or second week of January.

I’m under enormous deadline pressure for the next few months, so I have to step it up. The emotional exhaustion of the past couple of months has led to physical exhaustion. I’m sleeping, but I’m not getting any rest.

I also had a chance to sit with a stack of books on Degas and Sargant, and figure out which painting I want to use as a clue in DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’ve got it — it’s a lovely painting of a dancer in an aqua-colored costume. That will be perfect for the Scavenger Hunt clue.

Woke up to a bit of snow on Monday, not quite a white Christmas Eve, but still pretty. Read and wrapped packages and wasted time on silly things and spent time with the guests.

Dinner was the traditional pork roast, with mashed potatoes, green beans with hollandaise sauce, and red cabbage. It was very good. We had home-made stollen for dessert.

Quiet evening, talking, burning down the advent candles and the bayberry candle. Sent some good wishes to friends and cyberfriends.

The hypocrisy of the so-called “Christians” is in even starker contrast this year than in previous ones. Going to church, talking about God and love, and then supporting the policies of this administration, the racism, the sexism. It’s sickening. I’m at the point where, when someone starts the whole “Jesus” tirade, I ask them what they’re doing about the wall, about the children in cages, about homeless veterans and homelessness in general? When they start to sputter, I say, “Live your path and then come tell me what you’ve accomplished. Not doing anything? STFU and get out of my face.” I’m done with these hypocrites.

Up late with the candles, then filled the stockings. Up early the next morning (the cats won’t have it any other way).

We opened the stockings, then I made our traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs served with thick slices of panettone. Then I stuffed the turkey and got it into the oven.

Then, we did presents. We usually do them on the Eve, but this year, we did them on the day.

Settled down to read, while the dinner cooked. Turkey with all the trimmings. It was delicious. Read, talked, listened to music for the rest of the day.

I read two theatre-oriented books: UNMASKED, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir, and SOMETHING WONDERFUL, about the Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership. Both books talk a lot about process, which I loved. It got me thinking in terms of structure and possibilities for the three plays I’ll write this coming year: the anti-gun violence play, the play set in Renaissance Venice, and the play with the two women authors central to it.

I need to figure out where to submit the other plays I’ve got. I haven’t been active enough about submissions in 2018. That changes in 2019. I need to get back to the Thirteen-in-Play, where there are always at least thirteen pieces out on submission or pitched. Separate from the client work pitches.

Someone told me about a production company that’s looking for new film scripts, but I don’t think what I do is in alignment with what they want. The two film scripts I have that are ready to go are very different: an action/adventure and a drama. I’ll do some more research on them, but why send them something they’re not looking for? Unless they’re on the hunt for good writers? But if I don’t like writing what they like producing, it’s a waste of both our time.

I’d like my client work in 2019 to have more script work for clients involved. I have to research companies that specialize in that kind of work and pitch to them, rather than to the corporations/small businesses directly. All I want to do is write the scripts for them, not produce the segment or any of the other production work that goes with it.

I spent most of yesterday onsite with a client. I’ll be with that same client today. Tomorrow morning, I have to take the car in over the bridge to Plymouth — in bad weather, and I’m worried the repair will cost more than I can afford. If it’s simpler than I fear, I’ll spend some time with my client. If not, I’ll do what needs to be done.

2018 was definitely better than 2017, but 2019 needs to put them both in the shade.

 

Published in: on December 27, 2018 at 6:13 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 27, 2018: Hypocrisy & Artistry  
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Fri. Dec. 1, 2017: Early Mercury Madness

Friday, December 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I’m already having Mercury Retrograde issues, and all I want to do is hide until it’s over.

Yesterday, I did some running around and bill paying. I should have done yard work, but I was too tired.

I did manage to get some work done on the tree, though. It’s almost decorated. Of course, we still have to do the rest of the hosue! 😉

This morning, I had an early appointment for a basic, no frills oil change. Then, they try to pressure me to get the inspection done. I said no. They said they were doing it anyway. Then they tell me I need new wipers and two new tires, or they won’t give me a new inspection sticker. I told them the only thing happening today was the damn oil change. They gave me a quote in writing which sounded ridiculous. I got my damn oil change and left.

I hate being bullied, and when I say “no”, it means no. Can I just say how tired I am of male mechanics treating me like I’m a moron?

I emailed my regular car people up in Plymouth, the three generations of family who always look after four generations, and asked them for another quote. I’m also doing some other research. I’m not going to be pressured or bullied.

I am, however, angry.

Then, hit with a pending car expense I wasn’t expecting, I still had to run the rest of my errands. Got my 2018 calendars, thank goodness, because there’s stuff to write in them.

Went to another store to do a bit of shopping, and, although I bought stuff clearly marked “Buy One Get One Free”, it wasn’t ringing up. The cashier sent me to customer service, who tried to sell me that I’d Buy One Get One Half Off. But that’s NOT what the sign said. I am fully capable of comprehensive reading. It’s what I do. We took a walk, I pointed out the sign, she agreed, and then tried some weird math, which I corrected, and then she nearly “forgot” to refund the difference. Um, no. I may not be a math genius, but I can figure that out.

Took an hour, but it got sorted.

A full moon meditation is going up on the Cerridwen’s Cottage site for this weekend.

Let me re-emphasize how much I am NOT looking forward to this Mercury Retrograde.

Have to double down on yard work, decorating, and writing this weekend.

On top of that, I have a client who just went into breach of contract for a payment not arriving. This is the one where, every month, I’m tapping my foot wondering if and when it will come in. Within the next few months, I plan to replace this unreliable client with a reliable one.

Think good thoughts for me.

If I let myself, the upcoming Mercury Retrograde will be one furious howl. So I’ll try to restrain myself! 😉

Published in: on December 1, 2017 at 11:34 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 1, 2017: Early Mercury Madness  
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