Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m pacing myself today, because I don’t want to completely give in to being sick (tomorrow’s the conference and there’s plenty to do before then), but there’s also stuff that needs to get done. A steady pace, taking breaks, and it will all be good. It’s a head cold, and I don’t feel all that bad — except every time when I sneeze or cough (as one does), my back seizes.

Yesterday morning, as we had the news on for weather reports, they all kept saying it wasn’t snowing. Really? What would you call that cold, white stuff pelting the house and the yard? Last time I checked, it was called “snow.”

Costume Imp was kind enough to shovel us out before he left (since he’s dealing with the incapacitated). I am just so bored with the back problems — I hope we get them solved soon.

We hit the road at 10 AM. It snowed until we hit Fall River, and then cleared up for the rest of the trip. Picked up something I’d had my eye on in Old Saybrook, dropped Imp at the station, and headed back. We made great progress, getting home just after 4 PM. Somewhere along the way, I lost my voice — so it’s a good thing I’m presenting online tomorrow and not in person! It was snowing again from Fall River back to the Cape, and snowed well into the night, but didn’t sitck.

That’s another great thing about online courses and conferences — not only can you attend from anywhere you have an internet connection, you hop on and off as it suits you, and, in my case tomorrow, I can do my work without exposing anyone to my germs! 😉

Note to self: When the NyQuill capsules have turned black, it means they are too old. Time to get rid of them and get new ones! (Because nights are all about masking symptoms to get some sleep).

Further note to self: Make batches of remedies AHEAD of time, because when you’re not feeling well and you stand in the door of your still room staring at shelves of herbs, it’s a little overwhelming!

I don’t feel that bad, although I sound like I’m at death’s door (again, good thing it’s online tomorrow), so I’m just going to slowly go about my day, getting things done, and taking regular breaks to rest and dose. The horehound/coltsfoot blend is keeping the cough out of my chest, but it’s stuck in my throat (and I can’t find my slippery elm), so that’s the next step. I’ll probably steam a bit later on (rosemary, sage, chamomile, and rose petals — good for skin AND congestion, why not go for a twofer?). I haven’t had a cold since I stopped working on Broadway (where every illness is passed through the entire company at least six times, because it’s like working in a petrie dish), and I forgot how gosh darn annoying they are!

In any case, I am really, REALLY looking forward to tomorrow’s online conference, The Confident Freelancer. I hope a lot of you will join us. Hop on and off all day, read the session lectures, ask questions, network, enter to win either a free ten page fiction critique from me or a free ten page non-fiction critique from Lori. You have access to all the seminars all day — come in and out as much as you wish, keep asking questions as you think of them, chat with other attendees and us, etc., etc.

Our conference is also unique because, not only are we giving SPECIFIC ideas you can implement immediately as far as looking for work, creating and maintaining your clip file, and red flags to watch out for in ads, we aren’t trying to reel you in at a high price to talk vagaries at you and then part you from more money. A few months ago, I was invited to poke around a one day conference that promised to help freelancer writers find work. It was over $200 for the day. When you clicked on a session, you had to pay an additional fee of over $200 to actually read the lecture. The lectures I read (I had a invitation to look around, I wasn’t paying for each session), were extremely vague, poorly written, and error-filled. And then they wanted you to pay more money for one-on-one mentoring. Hmm, let’s see, I’m supposed to pay a large fee to be “mentored” by someone who can’t get published? I don’t think so. To me, that seemed like a rip off They wanted me to join their “faculty” — which, as far as I could tell, did not include anyone who’d worked at anything other than a content mill. I said no, and I told them I thought the set-up ripped off participants. Needless to say, they got a little huffy. Because, as we all know, don’t ever ask me a question unless you want a direct answer, and diplomacy is not my strong suit.

If people are taking the time and spending the money to attend a conference, they should come away feeling freshly inspired and motivated to pursue their dreams, and have received some specifics they can implement to get them there. That’s what Lori and I are doing — giving attendees specifics. They can start applying what they’ve learned immediately. A colleague of mine said, “that’s gonna scare people.” Well, yeah, what a student does with the actual information (or doesn’t do) is up to the individual, not us. But, hopefully, the bulk of them will dash back to their keyboards and get to work.

Because there’s no such thing as too many GOOD writers!

So come join us on The Confident Freelancer tomorrow!


Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 7:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Still snowing

I shouldn’t complain. Really, I shouldn’t. But I am anyway. Yesterday’s snow was steady, but it stopped sticking after awhile, so I didn’t have to shovel, and for that I am deeply grateful. This morning, it is flurrying, so it’s really not that big a deal.

I spent most of yesterday catching up on paperwork, bills, correspondence, administrative stuff, etc. My desk is relatively cleaned off, and what’s left is tidy, and I know why everything is there. I did three loads of laundry. I started reading applications for the year-long intensive. I think the class is going to fill pretty darned fast. And they will be an eclectic and talented group. Which is a good thing!

In the afternoon, I headed to one of the Borders in the area which is closing. It’s always hard to find a parking spot — it was completely impossible. I had to park up the hill in the lot for a big shopping complex and walk down. The store was absolutely packed. I can’t believe they’re closing this store — it’s typical of Border’s Corporate Management’s stupidity. This store is ALWAYS packed, and if they claim it’s not making money, either they can’t read a spread sheet, can’t negotiate a decent rent deal, or someone’s cooking the books on the corporate end. On any given day, there are at least 20 people ahead of me in line. Yesterday, there were 65. I had six books, three puzzle books,and four magazines, and I had the smallest stack of anyone in line. There is no reason to close this store, except that Corporate is manned by morons.

When I got home, I realized that I’d bought the wrong Audubon Guide –for the Mid-Atlantic states instead of New England. I’m so used to living in a “mid-Atlantic state.”! Still, I can use it when I’m in that area, and some of the plants, trees, and animals are up here, too. I also got two books I need for a class I’m teaching in May. I just have to get the third of the trilogy, and I can start reading and breaking it down. Someone else was supposed to teach that particular deconstruction, but stepped out, so I’m stepping in.

My next assignment for Confidential Job #1 was in the bag that was mis-delivered, which means I have two days instead of two weeks to complete it. Since it was not their fault, I’m not putting a rush fee on it. They sent it to the right spot, but from there, the person who was supposed to get it to me screwed up. Not a problem — I can sit and do it today and tomorrow.

Comcast got the bill wrong AGAIN. Gee, there’s a surprise. Not. They’re always charging for things that don’t exist, and they’re the only choice on the Cape, which is ridiculous. The State should not allow that kind of stranglehold monopoly, and that’s what I’m communicating to my legislators.

Later this morning, I’m headed out to the bank, the post office, and the library. Shouldn’t take too long (famous last words). But it’s all in the same direction.

Reworking the book, which now even has a title (HISTORICAL INFLUENCES), and the changes are getting it flowing again. It’s becoming the book it wants to be. Amazing what that small shift did to open it up and get it flowing.

Working on the structure of the play, which I will probably start next week. It’s due the end of March, but I want to actually write it early in March (I like to write scripts in large chunks), put it away for a few days or a week or two,and then revise it before I send it off.

Back to the page.


Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 8:13 am  Comments (3)  
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February 3, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde

Yep, it’s snowing agian. Just flurries, it’s pretty, but I am over it.

Unfocused day yesterday, although I managed to track down the address of someone I used to work with a long time ago and send him a “hey, how are you” missive. He’s been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I’d reconnect and wish him well.

I didn’t post in the garden journal because “It’s snowing again” just didn’t seem worth a post.

I found some of the really intense, handwritten writer’s rough for CRAVE THE HUNT — thank goodness. I was worried I’d lost it. I still have to find the rest of it, which somehow got separated in the move, but at least I have this in hand, which will help with the next sections, and, if I have to, I can always rewrite the rest of the outline, because I remember where I was going with it. Once the first draft is written, I’ll probably have to do some massive cuts, but I’m just following all the threads here until I see what I have. It’s a complex story, and Billy Root’s fans will be thrilled with the way his character grows — plus there are great arcs for Jain and Wyatt, both as individuals and with their relationship.

Water coming into the basement via the bulkhead, so I had to put a tarp over the top of it, use the wet vac (which the owner left, fortunately), and check every few hours. Had to weight the tarp with the new planters — nice to know they can multi-task.

Found POWER OF WORDS, and re-read the parts of that I’ve written so far. It holds up better than I remembered, although it needs tweaking and cutting. Unfortunately, in the move, the 200+ pages of notes I’d written for it — which CAN’T be recreated — got separated — I’d gone as far as to mapping and the series arc of the piece they’re filming within the piece, and even production schedules, all of which I need handy in order to keep writing. So I can’t do much more on that until I find it in the boxes.

Got out a couple of queries yesterday, which was good, and got paid for an article (day after I sent the invoice — love that) and a workshop. That means I’ll be able to pay some bills before I leave on the site gigs.

Finished the reading for Confidential Job #1 (it’s wonderful); just have to do the write-up, send it off, and send off the invoice.

Decided that the exercises I created for the Setting as Character Workshop aren’t challenging enough, so I’m working on a new set.

Did some Tower of London research,and am finding ways to integrate some of the “fun facts” that even I didn’t know into the scene of the WIP.

My back is getting worse instead of better, which is worrisome. It’s annoying to be limited in what I can do, and being in pain drains away energy that needs to be used for writing. I might have to book an acupuncture appointment here and not wait until I see my regular acupuncturist in NY at the end of the month.

Watched HUMAN TARGET to get my Jackie Earle Haley fix. In spite of the problems with the series, he finds the core of his character, adds specific details, and stays true to the integrity of the character. He can do more with a tilt of the head or an inflection of a word than most people do with a whole page of dialogue, and in a way that enhances everyone’s performance around him, so it’s always worth tuning in for him. The show itself, though, is struggling, and it wouldn’t surprise me if next week’s season finale is also the series finale. The vision feels unclear, like there are too many notes coming in from too many different directions. Now that they’ve added two female series regulars, the writing for them is much weaker than the writing for the female guest stars last season (who were given stronger and more interesting characters to play–even on Monday’s episode, the female guest star had a better-written role than the series regulars, and her chemistry with Mark Valley was off the charts), the creators are not developing them, the creators are diluting the wonderful chemistry between the three male leads, and there’s a lack of balance between the A & B episode storylines and the overall series arcs. Last season definitely had its problems, but it also had an element of fun and a lot of potential; this season just feels unfocused and panicked from the creative aspect of it. I hurt for the people working on it — I’ve worked on shows that are struggling, and it is hard. You want it to work, you have a loyalty to it, you care about what you’re doing, but the people making the decisions and supplying the cash aren’t capable of making the types of decisions that would actually help the show. Every day you go in to work hoping there’s a breakthrough; every day, you get your heart broken. I certainly hope this experience doesn’t turn JEH off from doing television ever again.

My fun lunch was cancelled — the weather’s caused a domino effect, but I’ll have to get out when the roads de-ice a bit to get ink at Staples and print off those manuscripts. They need to go out the door tomorrow.

I’m going to try for a few really focused days at the page — I want the first draft of this book done before I head for CT, so I can spend time down there on revisions.

Back to the page — with an icepack against my back.


February 1, 2011

More views from the deck

Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Imbolc Eve

Yep, it’s snowing. AGAIN. I’m a Winter Girl, and even I’m over it! We’re supposed to get two storms back-to-back, pounding us until tomorrow night, so I’m just sitting tight with a stack of good books, some wine, my writing, and the cats!

Yesterday, I ran some errands, had to go to both my little local library and the Cotuit Library to return books. I could have returned them all locally, but I wanted to see if Cotuit had a book on the Tower Of London, because all mine are still packed. They did, so I can use it to jog my memory of my own visit and write the scene for the book due at the end of February there.

Spent most of the day re-reading what I’ve got written on the third Jain Lazarus, CRAVE THE HUNT, and making some continuity notes on OLD-FASHIONED DETCTIVE WORK. They’re both holding up pretty well as far as character, dialogue, setting, plot, stand-alone arcs and series arcs. I need to smooth out some logisitics and get rid of some sloppy writing.

POWER OF WORDS is also giving its siren call, and wants some attention, but I have deadlines, and have to put CRAVE THE HUNT aside until the WIP and the upcoming play are done and out the door. OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK needs to be prepped and ready in the next few weeks, just in case.

I’m kind of using the Jain Lazarus books as my carrot — once I’ve finished my quota for the day, I get to work on them for a couple of hours.

Got some correspondence out and have another big pile on my desk to tackle. Have the possibility of an essay — if I can write it and get it out of the door by Feb. 15, it might be an interesting opportunity.

Did some marketing research for another project yesterday.

Read Susan Wittig Albert’s HOLLY BLUES yesterday, which was pretty good.

I’m hoping the snow will be light enough so I can use the electric shovel every few hours and save my back.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions — I’ve got my February To-Do List up there!

Back to the page.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Waning Moon

With the snow coming down, it feels much warmer than it did yesterday — well, it IS much warmer than it was yesterday. It’s not much — sort of like a giant is sifting powdered sugar over us. Very pretty.

I had a good writing day yesterday on the manuscript due at the end of February. A couple more weeks of that every day, and I’ll be there. The manuscript has to be mailed to Scotland, so I have to send it a little early. I caught up on the workshop — can’t believe this is the last week! A lot of really good work has been created. Several students have several different pieces each they could submit, which is how it should be.

The rest of the day was spent packing the rest of the Yuletide decorations and arranging what I’ve designated as “The Christmas Closet”. It almost all fit — four boxes had to go into a different one, but once I do some rearranging in the spring, they’ll fit. It took almost the whole day, but it’s done. And I had to rearrange some furniture, because it looks very bare where the tree stood.

Finished PD James’s TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION. It’s interesting. It makes me want to go re-read Wilkie Collins’s THE MOONSTONE, and revisit some of the old-time mystery authors I haven’t read for about twenty years or so. I’m making a list to take to the library!

Somehow hurt my knee (the “Broadway knee”) — iced it, took ibuprofen, kept it warm last night. It’s better, but still aches. I’m looking forward to acupuncture towards the end of next month, with my regular acupuncturist back in NY. She’s going to have to use a chisel!

Today, I’ve got writing to do, the final exercise to post for my students, exercises on which to comment, and a plant identification seminar up at the Green Briar Jam Kitchen in Sandwich. I want to dash to my local library, too, to take back some books, get my mom set up with her library card, and take out some of the books on the list I’m making, if they’re available.

As usual, I’m very busy! 😉

Saturn goes retrograde tomorrow — ick. If I haven’t learned a lot from the last retrograde and applied it, I will get my ass kicked. So I better proceed with caution.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Scheduled to post — so it must be still dark!

It’s been a challenging few days, to say the least. By Sunday night, I was completely overwhelmed. I’m packing and packing and packing and packing and PACKING and it doesn’t look like anything is getting done. I painted the window sills. They look better, but need a couple more coats.

Got the car loaded up early on Monday and headed back to the house. Driving through SNOW. Yes, the radio chattered chipperly about “light snow showers” — let me tell you, where we were driving, the snowplows were on the road, and it was SERIOUS. Not fun driving, to say the least. I was having fits because I have a perfectly good snow shovel in storage in NY — which doesn’t do me any good on the cape.

Fortunately, it was raining, not snowing on the Cape, so it was all good. Unloaded, unpacked, had a nice restful lunch. I baked an apple galette in the afternoon (we’d bought a big bag of apples and hadn’t had the chance to use them yet). I made up the recipe, and it turned out quite well, if I say so myself! It was a raw, blustery day, very good to stay inside a cosy house baking and reading, which is what we did. I had the stuff with me for Confidential Job #1 and got some good work done on it.

Had an easy pizza for dinner, some nice wine, read some more. Went to bed early. It was a nice, restful afternoon, and much needed.

Definitely ready for the furniture to get up there, though; camping out is losing its luster.

And, of course, no word on delivery on the split box spring from Sleepy’s. Am I surprised? No. Each day that passes just convinces me not to do business with them again. Everything they’re doing is legal — but it’s not, in my opinion, good customer service. They’re no LL Bean, that’s for sure! 😉

Woke up very early, thinking about the garden, on Tuesday morning. Since I’m renting, I don’t want to put too much inground, but I want it to be very distinctive, very much US, and show that, although we may not have a lot of knowledge, we have a lot of love.

And, of course, there will be lots of herbs!

The still room looks great — I have most of my herbs in place, and the oils will go up today.

Yoga, meditation, even had a couple of hours to read before heading back on Tuesday morning. Turns out the Westie who lives across the street also has a Scottie living in the house — saw them walking by this morning. If it wasn’t raining and I wasn’t still in my pajamas, I would have dashed out to play with them. The Hounds of the Baskervilles were reasonably quiet in the night.

We have dogs all around us — the cats will be the Queens, I am sure, of the neighborhood!

Stopped in Mystic on the way back. Got some great condiments at Franklin’s General Store — I fell for their Fudge, big time, it’s different but equally as good at the fudge in Sturbridge — and beach plum jelly, and a few other things. Looked in the garden store — I want to get a few statues in the spring. Picked up a few crystals and some amber oil at Mystical Elements.

Came back to the usual chaos and drama here — the noise, the dust, the harassment – off the charts. Un-effing-believable. No wonder the cats and I are all wrecks every minute we’re here.

Spent (wasted) the afternoon on the phone with this and that service. The renter’s policy we have won’t transfer to MA — Hartford Insurance, totally useless. Car insurance stays with AllState, because we liked them, and wanted to start renter’s insurance with them, too. The woman I spoke with initially was lovely and got the car stuff set up, and then tried to transfer me to someone licensed in MA to handle the homeowner’s who said she’d call me back and well, one knows how well that goes. IF she ever calls back, we’ll see what she offers; in the meantime, I’m looking elsewhere. Set up the new bundle account with Comcast — my only option on the Cape. Actually, they were very nice, offered me a decent deal, are coming to set up when I asked, I have my new landline phone number, pretty happy about it, great number. It’ll be weird not have the phone number that’s been the “Home” number since 1968, but it’s time.

Cablevision was its usual nightmare. I have to TAKE back my box, router, etc. and the damned place is only open 4 hours a day! They can bite me — their customer service just gets worse and worse. They owe me over $300 and now they’re telling me I will owe them a balance? We’ll see what the BBB and the Attorney General has to say about that. I’ll be glad to be rid of them. And to think, when I first started with them, they were awesome. They grew too fast and stopped giving a damn.

Paid some bills, went back to packing like a madwoman, because this morning, it’s another carload up to the house, an afternoon of errands, and, if the weather permits, raking.

M-Day in 8 days. Can’t wait.

I dread driving up –we won’t be able to leave NY until after dark, with screaming cats and a full car — so it’ll be around 10:30 or 11 when we arrive. I don’t like driving at night, but I’ll just do the best I can. And let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Busy weekend ahead — I have a job.

Onward and boxward, right?


Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 1:10 am  Comments (7)  
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