Wed. December 24, 2020: Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Waxing Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Stormy and mild

Big storm coming in today. I’ll have to take in some decorations, and be prepared for power outages.

I have a post over on Gratitude and Growth about birch and holly – since it’s the first day of the month of birch and we love holly this season. Well, I love it all year, but. . .

Yesterday was more stressful than it should have been, and I have to have an uncomfortable conversation with a client in the next few weeks that will not end well. But it is necessary.

I was happy to get home, decontaminate.

Remote chat was fun.

My flash fiction “Holiday Transformations” is up, both as a podcast and in transcript form, as part of this year’s Weird Christmas anthology. It’s a great group of flash pieces – I’m so delighted to be part of it.

Spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the book for review. I will write it this morning and get it off.

The order I was waiting for – the last gift – arrived. The quality is quite wonderful. I considered re-thinking my decision to stop doing business with that particular vendor/artist – when an email came in. It was supposedly to thank customers; what it actually contained was a self-congratulatory, delusional, and arrogant diatribe, claiming the vendor’s “ambition” was at the root of the lack of customer service (say what?) and how she was ignoring criticisms because they made her feel bad.

You do you, honey, but I’m no longer a part of that journey.

Unsubscribed from the mailing list and unfollowed on social media channels. I realize she’s young and it’s rough to run a small business, but wow. Not going to be around that.

I found my recipes for bath salts, and I can adapt it to bath bombs. I can get molds from craft stores, and re-stock essential oils, source small crystals, and go back to making them myself. It’s not like I’m doing them for anyone except myself and friends who might like it. And I won’t have to worry about the stress of poor customer service and all the hypocrisy and bombast. A much better choice all around.

Another order arrived – a treat for myself that I wasn’t expecting until New Year’s.

Got the last present wrapped and under the tree – with help from Tessa and Willa. Charlotte’s not into wrapping gifts, but the other two love it.

Woke up a little after two this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Fretting too much.

But planned the next section of the ghost ship story, and some upcoming blog posts, so that’s all good.

Today, I’m sending off the review, doing some edits on one, maybe two stories, writing the next section of the ghost ship story, and seeing what else I feel like doing. I am safely home, prepped for the storm, and planning to enjoy the holiday.

Although I don’t celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas anymore (since my spiritual beliefs have taken me down a different path, and Solstice was my big celebration), I enjoy family traditions and joys of the season.

Dinner tonight is cod paella – it’s been marinating in wine and spices overnight. I’m also making a layered parfait of chocolate and lemon mousses for dessert.

We don’t have Panettone for breakfast tomorrow – I couldn’t find one in the store that didn’t look leftover from last year, and I used the only fruit peel I had for the stollen. So I will make scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast. The big meal is Cornish hen with all the trimmings. If the power is out, I will have to figure out how to do it on the stove top rather than the oven.

Whichever way it works out, it will work out.

We open our gifts on the Eve and have stockings on the Day.

Tonight, we observe the Icelandic tradition of reading books! One of my favorite additions to the holiday.

I wish you peace, joy, safety, and comfort – both physically and emotionally. Peace, my friends, and I’ll catch up with you again next week.

Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. December 24, 2020: Merry Christmas Eve!  
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Tues. June 25, 2019: Weird Weather & Rest

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

June is such a short month, but, for some reason, this year, it feels long.

Basically, I took the weekend off. I needed to, or else I would be ill, on multiple levels, and not be able to function.

The Solstice as good, although it rained all day and into the night. But it was still possible to honor the hours of daylight, and realize that now it starts to turn.

Saturday dawned clear and beautiful. I got some errands done in the morning. I ran some books down to the library in the late morning, which was a mistake, because the Congregational Church next door was having a tag sale, and there was no place to park. I had to park in the lower lot by the ice cream shop and walk several dozen steep steps back up the hill to the door. But it worked out.

I wrote a little bit, but my neighbor across the street was busy making noise and cutting down two perfectly healthy trees (again). All he ever does is destroy. And the noise was awful. For someone who suffers from hyperaccusis, like I do, it nearly killed me (literally).

I spent as much time on the deck as I could, mostly reading. I read Ellery Adams’s THE WHISPERED WORD, which was quite lovely. I read a book by someone who is a mild acquaintance. I wanted to support the work. Unfortunately, there were a lot of copyediting errors and misused words, and there were some major logistical lapses that took me out of the story. I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s CITY OF GIRLS, which I thought was well done. I had mixed feelings about it at several points in the story, but I wound up liking it.

I had an idea for a novel, which grew out of my frustration at someone’s hypocrisy. This individual has positioned herself as almost a cult-like figure, and pretends modesty when, in actuality, there is a lot of manipulation and she craves attention. Her work is good; I just don’t like or respect her as a person. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with her, so it’s none of my damn business.

But it got me thinking. What if? What if? What if? What if she used that manipulation and glory to commit a crime and blame someone she felt wasn’t giving her the attention she desired? I wrote a rough outline. There are still questions to answer, but I have the bones of it, and it’s rather interesting. The character has evolved quite far from the individual who inspired it, which is a good thing and means I’m doing my job as a writer. It’s something I want to explore.

I don’t know when, but it’s something I want to explore.

Not much work on ELLA. I’m at the point where I need to make a final decision on certain key place names and draw a map of this fictional Caribbean island.

I meant to work on the Brighton Pier research so I could start that radio play this week, but I didn’t. The big book has to go back at the end of this week, so I better get to it.

Worked out some obstacles in GRAVE REACH, so hopefully, I can get back on track with that, and get to work on THE BARD’S LAMENT (Sylvie’s book, #5).

My next book arrived for review, a book of poetry, and it’s quite wonderful.

We had weird weather on Saturday. Thunderstorms. It would rain in the backyard, but be clear at the front of the house. Very odd.

Sunday was a pretty day, albeit a bit humid. It was quiet, thank goodness. I got some writing done. Not enough, but I decided I needed the rest more.

Managed to get the garbage to the dump, though. Always a good feeling to get that out.

Read Val McDermid’s BROKEN GROUND, which was excellent. I really enjoy her work.

Started reading another book on the Kindle I’d recently downloaded, from another acquaintance. It was fun, and upbeat, but the Kindle ran out of juice, so I have to finish it another day.

The grass is growing — definitely ready for the guy to mow it this week.

Treated the deck with the tick repellent on Sunday, so it could really soak in and not get washed away by the rain.

Che Guevara Chipmunk was on the rampage on Sunday, complaining about everything. We have three bunnies now in the yard. I keep patches of dandelion and purslane that they like, and they leave the lettuce alone. They rest and enjoy the twilight at night, knowing they are safe here. It’s fun to watch them.

Monday, they were next door, making noise again with heavy machinery. As if last week’s septic tank replacement wasn’t enough. They destroyed the beautiful garden that my neighbor worked on for years. Now they’re dumping a bunch of dirt back on it.

With a client Monday, then off to do work for another client, get out some LOIs, get some writing done, and meditation. Today, I’m onsite with one client, then off to work with another client. I was invited to a wine event tonight, but I’m just not up for it. I’m really tired of networking events where 60% of the attendees are solopreneurs trying to sell supplements. They don’t want to pay anyone for the marketing materials they need — they want to provide supplements instead.

Yeah, no. Eversource, National Grid, and the landlord want cash. Not pills.

And I don’t trust anyone who hawks something I’m supposed to take every day for the rest of my life.

Let’s hope this is a strong writing week. I’m in limbo on a couple of projects, and wish we’d get them sorted, so I can plan the next few months.

Back to the page.

Published in: on June 25, 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments Off on Tues. June 25, 2019: Weird Weather & Rest  
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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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Tues. Dec. 19, 2017: Holiday Hamster Wheel

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not as productive, writing-wise, as I wanted.

I wasn’t able to get the rest of the cookie platter deliveries done on Friday, due to weather. I knew most people wouldn’t be around over the weekend, so they’ve been bumped to this week.

I was exhausted by the car repairs Friday, even though it went well. I find it stressful. But the car purrs like a tiger, and is happy.

I turned around the proofs for TRACKING MEDUSA, and have the next set to proof. Hopefully, we’ve caught everything. I should have done them this weekend, but I wanted to come back to the text with fresh eyes. Yeah, right. I needed a break and procrastinated!

Continued decorating Friday, Saturday, and it was Sunday by the time the decorations were all up and the boxes put away. Took me a month to decorate the house, but it looks great! It feels good, too, and that’s so important. For all I love to travel, I’m very much hearth and home.

Friday afternoon, I finished the gifts that had to be mailed and got them to the post office. We are so lucky — the people who work at Centerville Post Office are amazing!

Saturday, I sat my butt in the chair and wrote the holiday cards. Once I actually sit down, I enjoy the process. I love to reconnect with people; while I send cards to many of those with whom I interact regularly, there are also those where we only connect that once a year.

I realized I should do a direct mail piece, once the two novels move distributors and the new websites are up, about my books to this targeted list. They know I write, but I haven’t given them enough information.

Because my webhost,, is so slimy — I mean, have you ever heard of a webhost that won’t allow simple jpgs to go up on a site without additional charge? Anyway, it’s put the kybosh on the holiday promotions I’d planned. I lost the holiday market this year, because I couldn’t properly promote. Because of the distribution move, I need to be able to have the information, along with the covers and media kits, ON MY WEBSITES. And my host won’t allow it. The repeal of net neutrality early for their customers, I guess.

I didn’t expect to make a gazillion dollars on holiday sales, but I usually make a reasonable amount that helps push me through January and February. Not this year.

I’m going to demand my money back for this final quarter. They did not deliver the services promised in the contract.

Anyway, once everything is moved, I’m going to do a direct mail promotion to my holiday list, and then I’m also working on some other cool promotions winter going into spring, with a nice big one for the Coventina titles while THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY releases, joining PLAYING THE ANGLES on the shelf.

I ran out of stamps on Saturday — I’d miscalculated. Well, math has never been my best subject. The post office was open an extra hour and I ran down to re-stock. Well, the line was out both doors into the parking lot! I couldn’t believe how many people were mailing stacks and stacks of packages! Most people mailed at least five; many mailed at least ten! Everyone was in a good mood, though, and we were laughing and joking and talking about how great our post office is, and how we love supporting them.

Came back, finished the cards. One mail carrier took the first batch when he dropped off a package; our regular guy arrived just a few minutes after I finished the last card. All good!

Did some work on the aging novel. I’m going to add menopause into that. Too often, it’s depicted as cute and funny when, in reality, it’s miserable and interferes with life.

Sunday, we finished decorating and put things away –which took nearly all damn day.

In and around that, I wrote the first chapter and a half of a piece I’m playing with — it could be a valid novel in its own right, but it also serves a more personal purpose, as in trying to figure a few things out.

Yes, I SHOULD have worked on other things, but I needed the break.

Monday, was back to work on SERENE AND DETERMINED — I’ve figured out at least part of the second act, and where I want to go with it, but I need a good ending. I have to trust that, as I write, I’ll get there. This play has been quite a challenge. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s amazing how every play, every script, every novel, takes on its own life and demands its own process. If I tried to force everything into the same process (which I have tried — and it’s failed), it takes the life out of the work.

I needed an infusion of Janet Malcolm’s writing. I like her work. Over the weekend, I re-read THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER, and am reading THE SILENT WOMAN. Both fascinating, and both bring up issues about journalist and subject that are more relevant today than ever.

I’m about two issues behind on my NEW YORKERS, but I’m hoping to catch up next weekend! (When I’ll be three issues behind).

One client meeting was cancelled yesterday, so I was on site with another client, and then has some other meetings.

I’m working on a proposal for a workshop — they might have their full roster, but just in case, I’m going to pitch to this organization.

This is a busy week, especially with the Solstice on Thursday, and Christmas next weekend into early next week!


Wed. June 21, 2017: Work & Solstice

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Summer Solstice

Managed to get a few things done yesterday; several pitches out, including a script pitch for something that would be really fun. But I don’t know if they’re willing to work with someone clear across the country. Did some article work and some research.

Read Barbara Ross’s second Clambake Mystery, BOILED OVER, which was also really good. Also read a book about a woman who took a 100 day Zen retreat in a cabin, as background for an idea with which I’m playing.

Trying to figure out the shape of the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story, so I can write the opening and put it in to “The Ramsey Chase”. Then, of course, I have to write the rest of it!

Still having trouble finding the right images for the cover of Playing the Angles. I need to find my photos of the Belasco — I think I have some interesting ones that have the unlit marquee and the fire escape in them, and that might set the right tone. Nothing that’s already out there is quite working; unfortunately, at this point, I can’t hire a fine artist to paint something from the photographs.

I know there’s a whole industry in “pre-made covers”, but most of the ones I’ve seen are awful, and don’t speak to the content of the book. I want to find a series of strong images that reflect the book and give them to the cover designer.

I’m REALLY happy with “The Ramsey Chase” cover. I’d do a cover reveal, but I don’t want to interfere with the PR for “Personal Revolution”.

Mowing this morning, and then the library, errands, more pitches, more writing. I have to put together some additional paperwork for a grant. This afternoon, I get to drive to the elbow of the Cape, to Orleans, for a project meeting. I’m looking forward to it.

I need to get back to the assignment from the editor-I’m-currently-frustrated-with. I’m dragging my heels, but I need to get over myself and get it done. This will be the “midpoint” assignment in my imaginary trial period. I will see how much frustration this one generates, do one more, than make my decision to stay or go. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put effort into the remaining assignments. It still might work out. I think I’m being highly optimistic, but I decided to give it a chance, and I will.

Tonight is the Solstice ceremony, which should be fun.

I’m struggling with the fiction, because I don’t feel particularly creative right now. Since my income depends on my ability to be creative, that’s an issue.

That’s when one has to rely on craft, and why it’s so important to build craft. Work on the craft so that, on the tough days, when inspiration is minimal, the craft sees you through.

Off to mow.

Published in: on June 21, 2017 at 8:58 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 21, 2017: Work & Solstice  
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Mon. Dec. 23, 2013: Solstice and Writing and . . .

Monday, December 23, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Still dark out

Busy weekend. I don’t even remember Friday, although I suspect I worked flat out. I haven’t been getting enough of my own writing done, which is frustrating. I have a big deadline coming up in early February for a large package of projects, and that’s my main focus, around the freelance jobs that are paying the bills.

I’m disengaging from several clients who have proven to be unreliable and difficult in the wrong way. I don’t mind precise with high standards — that’s a good thing, and something I appreciate and respect. I mind legends in their own minds, without the goods to back it up. It amazes me that the lowest and most unreliable payers are often the biggest pains in the ass, and the ones most worried about other people “stealing” their material are the ones who have the weakest and most derivative stuff that no one would want to poach anyway.

The ones with the best material are the most prompt, pay fairly and on time, and the easiest to work with.

Saturday was the Solstice, a lovely holiday for me. I finished decorating (about time), although the outdoor trees don’t have lights this year, because I pulled the outdoor cords for something and didn’t put them back — I have no idea where they are. Got some of the holiday cards out (late) and will do New Year’s and Valentine’s cards for the rest. Tried ecards for some people, too — not quite as satisfying as paper cards, but better than nothing.

Sunday, I spent the morning writing a half hour teleplay. It turned out better (and different) than I expected, and is printed out and in the editing queue. A character walked in for the cliffhanger who I wasn’t expecting, and I think will be a good fulcrum/cause of conflict in the series. I set it at a friend’s Brooklyn brownstone (a place that’s often used for location shooting anyway, so . . .). Pitched for some jobs.

Some neighbors stopped by with cookies! So thoughtful. I haven’t gotten my usual holiday baking done, so it was nice to have treats.

Re-read HOGFATHER, one of my favorite Terry Pratchett novels, and relevant to the season. As usual, I laughed out loud at portions. Wrote, polished, and scheduled my Boxing Day post for Writers Vineyard, and updated my 2014 calendar on a few things.

I have to get back to work on a couple of scripts today, work on the novella, maybe work on the holiday piece that was supposed to be a short story but has turned into a novella that I would like to finish and submit by February. I also have to get the car inspected and run some errands to a few libraries. I may have a quick turnaround proofreading job, if the guy coughs up the deposit, as has been emphasized now in a half a dozen emails. I do not do a job without a deposit. When the deposit shows up, I will do the job. It’s very clear in the LOA.

I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve! I am unprepared!

Back to the page.


Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 7:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. Dec. 20, 2013: Solstice Blessings

Friday, December 20, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy day yesterday, working on the novella and a couple of scripts. Got some reading/research done, client negotiations, grocery shopping, and finalizing the insurance switch. This insurance plan will serve me much better than the previous one.

Have to finish decorating the house for the holidays — I’m behind on EVERYTHING. I’ve done some ecards, but the bulk of the cards will be for the New Year rather than Christmas/Yule.

The NMLC got a grant to partner with me on the play. So that’s two yeses on grants for this project, one no, and one from whom I’ve yet to hear. Looks like it will be happening. Now I have to write the darned play! 😉

This morning, had to be out of the house early to take my mom for her bloodwork, and then head further into Falmouth to the Credit union, picked up a few things on the way back, and hit the library. We are so blessed to have such wonderful, vibrant libraries on the Cape.

Looking forward to the Solstice tomorrow, and having a thoughtful, creative weekend.


Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 11:41 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 20, 2013: Solstice Blessings  
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Fri. Dec. 23: Tis the Season

Friday, December 23, 2011
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday was the Solstice. Yoga was good; we’ve got a merry group. The next assignment from Confidential Job #1 arrived, and it looks AWESOME. I can’t wait to get into it.

Picked up the new microwave to replace the one that kicked the bucket during the last Mercury Retrograde. We’d looked and priced the previous day. There were piles of them. When I returned yesterday morning, only TWO of the style and color I really wanted were left. So I grabbed it. It’s red, it’s pretty, it looks good in the kitchen, and it works. I don’t use it that often — but I missed it when it didn’t work. Hate giving up the other one — the blue one — it was a good workhorse — but it smoked every time I used it, and it was a disaster in the making.

Took my mom for her pre-surgery consultation. The surgery itself has been moved back AGAIN, and I’m getting a little cranky about it. She has another consultation in late January, and then the surgery will be in late February. But everyone is very nice, and they’re calmed her worries.

The house looked lovely, candles all lit for the Solstice, the twinkle lights on, inside and out. I’ve got candles in the fireplace right now — will actually use it to burn logs in January. It’s the safest place to have lots of candles with people and cats roaming in and out right now.

The cats LOVE the holidays, and, really, they’re pretty good. They don’t yank things down or break things. They do want to be included in everything. If I include them early on, as I unpack and put things up, or with the wrapping, etc., then they’re satisfied and don’t get into trouble once it’s all done.

I’ve got to get the party invitations out this weekend. I’m going out to lunch today at one of my favorite places, and I’m stopping by a friend’s for a quick drink tomorrow night. I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve! AND the new moon!

I read HEART’S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier yesterday. Really liked it — couldn’t put it down. I picked it up somewhere with a gift certificate a few months ago because it looked interesting — now I want to read more of her books!

Most of the weekend, in and around holiday festivities, will be spent on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. That needs to be whipped into shape and out the door on January 2, and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK needs to go out a day or two later. I’m going to keep working on the harpy trilogy, too, because I don’t want to lose momentum.

And I’m writing up a business plan for 2012. I need to shift around a few things. I need to spend more hours per day actually writing on the novels, and not on other people’s projects. That’s gotten a little out of balance in the past months, and I need to get it back in balance. The books are getting contracted — I can’t lose that momentum. At the same time, I need the shorter term projects to pay the daily bills. It’s a case of finding the RIGHT shorter term projects, so that I’m working smarter, not harder.

But for the weekend — I’m enjoying the holidays!

Part of me misses the Broadway hustle and bustle of being in a show, but the rest of me is so happy to not have to dash around and plan holiday festivities around a show schedule any more.

Being here, now, is the right choice.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 9:54 am  Comments (1)  
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Fun things I forgot to mention yesterday:

— I found genuine Czech beer at one of the local grocery stores, one of the brands we drank in Prague. So I bought some. Yeah, expensive, but a nice treat. It makes me happy (I rarely drink beer) and brings back happy memories.

— I tracked down an old friend and we started emailing again and catching up. We’d both worked on WICKED. She left to teach in Thailand for a couple of years, and is now in Munich. Good for her! So we’re having fun catching up. (waves, thrilled to reconnect).

Looks like I’ve got three deconstruction seminars booked — one on a fantasy novel in September, one on a steampunk film directly after it in September, and one on a paranormal mystery in late November. I will post the details when I have them, in case any of you are interested in taking it. I am going to start working on the seminar in the next week or so, re-reading/watching the material, taking notes, and sketching out the lectures, which I can then flesh out over the summer and be ready to go without a last minute scramble.

Not as icky as they threatened yesterday. Ran my errands. Hung out with the neighbor’s cat — who made his little sad face when I left and I felt guilty. Took care of Elsa. Got some admin work done. Got some cleaning and purging done. Unfortunately, not much writing done. The job boards sucked, but I have some other proposals that need a bit of polish.

My friend and I sorted out the travel arrangements. She wound up taking the train into the city from upcounty and then switching to take the train out to our town (she and her husband actually lived in this building when they first married, although I was living on the West Coast at that time). I picked her up at the station and we drove across town to the spiritual center. It’s beautiful — an old manor house on the water, with rolling lawns, etc.

Turns out there was a talk/presentation before the walk. Had that been in the information or in any of the many communications I had with the admin person over the past week and a half, we’d have been there on time for it. It was identical to the woman’s presentation last August — which, in some ways, was a bit unfortunate, since many of the people were regulars. She read from the handouts rather than using them to supplement her talk, and seemed unfocused and disorganized. I remember her being a little flighty last summer, but nothing like this. It was a fairly large group, and people kept drifting in, probably because none of us had been told that there was a presentation before the walk, and every time more people drifted in — and, I have to say, they all floated in as ubostrusively and respectfully as possible — it completely threw the presenter. She called for more chairs, which one of the maintenance guys brought. Then, he stood at the back, laughing and talking loudly into his cell phone, which I found incredibly disrespectful to all of us. Just because you’re speaking in a different language doesn’t mean we can’t hear you — nor does it mean we don’t understand the gist of what you’re saying.

Some of the people were regular labyrinth walkers, but many weren’t, and she was so distracted, she didn’t explain now to pace one’s spacing in a large group or how to exit the labyrinth once we’re at center. So, people got bunched up and trapped, which rather negates the spiritual element.

The labyrinth itself is lovely and walking it — even with a lot of people who are looking around, worried they’re not doing it “right” and, somehow, although there is only a single route with no false paths (unlike a maze), getting LOST in it — it’s still always lovely.

When we came out, we were asked to “share.” Um, no, I don’t know any of you, and, if I had a profound experience rather than trying to help the confused, I prefer to think about it for awhile or it’s diluted for me. Give her credit, she did not put anyone on the spot.

Unfortunately, those who stood up to share all started with something to tell us how important/rich/etc. they are: “I was looking through my 500 piece collection of sacred art this morning . ..”, “I realized I deserved the diamond bracelet my husband gave me this morning . . .” The kindest thing I can say is that they are on a vastly different journey than I am. And the only reason I can phrase it that kindly is because that’s what my friend pointed out, and she is far more generous about people than I am, especially when our bullshit detectors were going off so badly I’m surprised lights and sirens weren’t flashing over our heads.

My purpose in spiritual work is direct connection with the Divine, and to work on my flaws (of which there are many) in order to leave this place better than I found it — and not, necessarily, in a loud or look-at-me-I’m-leaving-immortal-work-behind way. Life as a metaphor for camping — leave it better than you found it, clean up your mess, try to create some happiness for yourself and others. The purpose of almost everyone I’ve ever encountered at this particular center’s events (I’ve attended a half a dozen over the years) is to find justification and receive absolution for the monied life they lead without actually doing any work or making any changes to foster or create positive change.

The thing is, you don’t need justification or absolution for having a nice house or jewelry or a good life, provided you didn’t get them by hurting someone else (which probably negates most of these women’s husbands, who work in the financial sector and have made their money by screwing people, so, yeah, I see why they want justification and absolution). But having a good life is nothing to feel guilty about. Nor do you have to give every cent to a charity or give away all your belongings and live in a tent or whatever. Just — be nice to people. Smile. Be welcoming. Let someone with fewer groceries get ahead of you in line. Let someone make a left turn in front of you when the light changes.

Someone’s dog wandered over and started to explore the labyrinth, and, honestly, it was one of the high points of the evening. It was adorable.

And — this is AWFUL on my part, if I believed in Hell, there’d already be a seat with a plaque on it waiting for me — the potential for a comic mystery in this whole thing is HUGE.

People started to drift to the ritual space. The guy with the art collection who was trying to pick up an earnest, pretty, striving-to-be-spiritual married woman (and, bless her, she was trying to be kind and gracious and not run into the bay screaming) asked about the ritual, and she mentioned it was a fire pit, dancing, and drumming ritual. She was excited and brought her drum. Um, why did the admin person not tell me when I asked what to bring six times and got no response? I don’t know if I would have brought my drum, but I’d have liked to know about it. And I prepare for a drumming ritual differently than for type of circle they’d posted as the event. As I mentioned, I’d asked a half a dozen times what to bring, should I bring something for a feast, etc., and receieved no information. Someone else mentioned they were keeping the cafe open. Now,there’s nothing wrong with the cafe on the premises; however, open rituals are about community, Solstice in particular is about community, and one of the most important aspects as the feast. And there wasn’t one here. Not only that, but I since found out that, since most of the attendees are “on a diet”, they don’t have food in their circles.

Okay, it’s fine, run it any way you want BUT LET PEOPLE KNOW AHEAD OF TIME.

I’ve run dozens of open rituals over the years and attended hundreds. Whether the substance of the ritual is what you’re looking for or not, there are certain elements I’ve found are important — make everyone feel welcome, take the time to explain how it will work so no one feels confused or like they’re doing something “wrong”, sprinkle the regulars among the newcomers so the newcomers have someone close by who can guide them, and feast. “Feasting” doesn’t have to mean a big spread — it can be handing around a basket of cookies or carrots or something. But the connection through shared sustenance is important.

Oh, yeah, and ask five people to bring matches, because four of them will leave them in the wrong bag, and, somehow, yours will have gotten wet in transit.

Anyway, there was no sense of welcome or inclusion or warmth or organization. I could imagine that the first three would build over the course of the ritual if the last was in place. And I’ve been to plenty of totally disorganized rituals that were so warm and inclusive that it didn’t matter how disorganized they were, because we were all laughing so hard and having so much fun that we could be spontaneous and figure out the organization as we went. Not only were we on very different paths, there was no interest on the part of any of the “regulars” to welcome or connect any of the new people, who wandered around confused and lost. Which is fine, it’s your space, run it however you want, and it describes this town in a microcosm (if you’re not white and rich, they can’t be bothered), but this is a big holiday about community, and I didn’t want to spend it with people — okay, I’ll say it — people I didn’t like, and more importantly, didn’t respect.

So my friend and I split during the transition from one space to another.

I turned to her ad said, “Let’s go to the Tiki bar.”

“Tiki bar?” She lit up.

We took some photographs on the beautiful grounds, got into my car and drove over to the 1920s art deco amusement park in town, parked, and went to the new Tiki Bar that recently opened on the pier. It’s run by the same people who ran, for many years, one of the best restaurants in the area (which is now a bank).

It was packed — on a Monday night no less, but a good packed, not a nasty packed. We got a table right away. We were just going to have a quick adult beverage, but since I was driving, we decided we should take our time and maybe have an appetizer. My friend had a margarita and the calimari. I had blue Sangria — I’ve never had that, it’s Sangria with Blue Curacao, and I’ll drink just about anything with Blue Curacao — and the mussels.

The portions were HUGE. My plate of mussels could have fed four (but I ate them all anyway) and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen my friend not finish her portion. We sat there, watching the sky over the water turn from blue to lavender to periwinkle with a bunch of people just hanging out enjoying the evening, and it was more of a celebration than standing around a fire pit with people I don’t like.

Food and drink were excellent and reasonably priced. Service was good. People were nice. I did offer (threaten) at one point to rip the speaker over our head out of the wall when the DJ got a little too carried away with his very loud bad 80’s flashback, but it was sorted out. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the Solstice.

We wished our lovely waiter many large cash tips for the season, and left him one to start. We took pictures of the lit-up ferris wheel.

I drove my friend home, turned around and came back, and was home a little before eleven. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and the large moon lit up parts of the roadways that didn’t have streetlights. Started plotting the story I’ll write based on the evening.

Lovely gift arrived in the mail, perfect for Solstice: Barbara Ardinger’s FINDING NEW GODDESSES, which is a playful look at modern needs and life. One of my favorites is “Our Lady of Perpetual What’s For Dinner”.

Tended to Elsa and went to sleep.

I head off to acupuncture today — yeah! She’ll need to use ice picks and knitting needles, and I’m having separation anxiety, because I won’t see her again until the fall. Plan to get in some writing. It’s supposed to be hot, humid, and stormy. Will hang out with my neighbor’s cat early in the day, and then check on him later on – if it’s very hot, I’ll put the air conditioner on for him for a bit.

Got a stack of new paperwork from my editor on the mag where it was just bought by someone else, etc. Payment times are MUCH longer with these new folks — it used to be that I’d email the invoice and get a check the following week. The new people are now saying 4-6 weeks. I may have to re-think my relationship with them.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I was up and out the door so early that I’m back at my desk by 5:30 this morning, showered and all! If I keep getting out there earlier and earlier, I will have run the night before!

But it was great — no one around, a periwinkle sky. Lovely.

After the Solstice, when the days start getting shorter, I’ll have to adjust, because I have no intention of running in full dark. And Solstice is not the “start of summer” — it’s midsummer.

Elsa showed some real improvement yesterday. I hope it’s solid progress, not just momentary. She’s eating well again, and there’s a minimum of sniffling. She’s back on the Candida cleanse and the hydrocortisone, along with the ParaClenz I found for her and the digestive enzyme, but that’s it. If she continues to progress for about a week, I’ll try to add the olive leaf back in as a liquid, and ask the vet what we should do next about the nasal infection. But first, I want to build up her strength and make sure she’s not getting nauseous. All the BHI medications make her nauseous, including the anti-nausea, so I’m not forcing them on her.

Worked on POWER OF WORDS yesterday, and napped most of the afternoon. Went to my friend’s place for dinner — she lives upcounty on the Hudson River. We haven’t actually seen each other in awhile, and there was a lot of catching up, including on the backstage goings on. So that’s all good.

Driving back on the Taconic Parkway at night is a nightmare, though. Lack of visibility plus a high rate of crazy people makes it a challenge. Got home safely, though. Elsa had taught my mom the routine — let her know what she was supposed to do when while I was gone, and was all perky and happy when I got back. We both slept through the night well, and she’s eating well this morning. I’m trying a gluten-free organic cat food, and she seems to respond well. I wonder if part of the problem is she’s developed a sensitivity to wheat?

Going to do some writing, and then, maybe nap this afternoon, if the construction noise isn’t too bad.

I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, and that Elsa is well enough on Sunday so I can go to a Tony Awards party.


Published in: on June 11, 2010 at 4:51 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Christmas Eve
Sunny and cold

For the curious, yes, I can celebrate both the Solstice and Christmas if I want, and it doesn’t mean I’m being hypocritical to either. The former is my chosen path in my adult life. The latter is a nod towards happy family traditions and memories, since I am one of those freakish individuals who experienced a decent amount of happiness while growing up. And I will celebrate as many traditions as I wish! So there! 😉

There’s a giftie waiting for you under the virtual tree, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the post to retrieve it.

Wow! Natalie Bahm gave me a Kreativ Blogger Award. I am so honored! Thank you so much! Part of this honor is to thank her, and I do.

Part of this honor is to pay it forward to 7 other bloggers and to write post 7 things others might not know about me.

Okay, choosing only 7 is hard, I read more than that on any given day, but here’s an attempt:

Lori Widmer — Words on the Page — she’s an amazing writer and human being, a dear friend, and one of the most spiritually aware and emotionally grounded people I know. She gives back constantly.

Diane Parkin — another amazing writer and good friend. She gets more done in an hour than I can get done in a week.

Michelle MilesYe Olde Inkwell — terrific balance of blogging between writing and life.

Lara Stauffer Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom. A daily must-read from a good friend whose life is very different from my own!

Colin GalbraithFreedom From the Mundane — another good friend and fellow writer, whose blog is a daily must-read.

Brandy Book Mom — because she loves books and cats.

Margaret FinneganFinnegan Begin Again. I just found this blog the other day, and it is amazing.

Okay, now for 7 things:

1. I developed a deadly allergy to shrimp. I used to love shrimp and now I’m horribly, horribly allergic. As in vomiting-for-18-hours-straight-and-going-to-the-hospital allergic.

2. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals, and I trust them even less if the animals don’t like them back. In my experience, the animals are usually right! 😉

3. Three things on my Must-Learn Someday List are: Learning to play the piano; taking a pottery class; learning to paint.

4. Even though I spent over 20 years in theatre, the period where I wanted to be an actor was very short-lived. I don’t like that much attention focused on me. Although many actors look at playing characters as getting to be someone totally different, for me it was always about bringing forward different aspects of my personality, and I like to choose for whom I do that.

5. I loathe tabloids and gossip magazines. Having worked with lots of actors over the years and feeling protective of the ones I like and admire, I am enraged to see such lies printed — and 90% of what goes in those rag sheets are lies. They are lies that hurt people, and for the general public to think it’s “fun” to feed into those lies by purchasing the magazines, reading, and even believing the crap makes me sick. Not only that, they are poorly written. If house guests leave one of the mags behind, I literally remove it from the premises with tongs and scrub the place down.

6. I get twitchy if I walk into someone’s house and there aren’t any books around. I try to get out of there as quickly as possible.

7. I am better at crochet than I am at knitting. I’d love to be a better knitter, but I’m awkward and clumsy at it. For some reason, I find crochet easier and more logical.

On to other things. I realized that I don’t have enough dishes for left overs (I’m taking left overs with me to the site), so I have to dash out today and get some more.

Yesterday was fine. I wrote. All day. Over 6K. Until nearly midnight. Edited, polished, et al, this morning.

So, here’s your giftie:

JUST JUMP IN AND FLY: a holiday tale by Ava Dunne.

When two men have an accident with eight no-so-tiny reindeer on her front lawn, Susanna Wright has to balance thinking they’re delusional with keeping in the spirit of the night and getting them back on the road.

The story pulls from a mix of myths and traditions, sprinkled with a few of my own “what ifs”. Although it’s just over 10K, it’s a fast read, and, I hope, a funny one.

To read an excerpt, visit the Ava Dunne page. The download link is also on the site. It downloads as a PDF.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

This is the Solstice Trifle. It is sooooo good. Very rich, but very good. I made it up myself, and will write down what I did in case I ever want to recreate it. Short version: layer of lemon sponge cake soaked in port, covered with a layer of strawberry mousse (yes, made from scratch because they don’t sell it in packets anymore), covered with a layer of those chocolate/hazelnut/almond cookies that wouldn’t hold their shape and were the inspiration for the trifle, covered with a layer of dark chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream.

In my new Trifle dish that I found by accident in Pier 1 a few weeks ago!

No hot water this morning. Again. Gee, now there’s a surprise. Guess who’ll be on the phone to the Buildings Department again when they open?

Quiet day yesterday. Writing, a few errands. Back to Michael’s — they know me. Bought some felt and got a nice, hefty coupon to use when I go back to get some other stuff I need for upcoming projects that won’t be on sale!

I’d hoped to find some of the metal candle-holder cups — I want to make a centerpiece and just need the candle cups, not an entire holder. I’d hoped Michael’s carried them, but no luck. I’ll try AI Friedman; otherwise, I’ll have to look online. It’s not for Christmas or New Year’s, it’s for Imbolc, so I have a few weeks, and can order if I need to.

Solstice Ceremony was lovely and I felt a real sense of peace and renewal afterwards.

Dinner was great — scallops with mushrooms and peas in a cream sauce over pasta, and the Trifle for dessert. And a nice, quiet evening. That’s what I need around the holidays — a few days of quiet. It feels weird not to be rushing around, but nice.

I actually set the alarm this morning for 6 AM, because I’ve been sleeping through until 7 lately. I need that hour between 6 & 7 for yoga and meditation, so I can hit the desk by 7. If I don’t hit the desk until 8, I feel time-pressured and not as focused. Of course, in the ideal world, I’d be getting up at 5 and doing TWO hours of yoga and meditation, but I’m not quite there yet! 😉

Good writing session this morning. I realized I’ll be living with Christmas/Yule stories all year, getting those I started this season prepped so they can publish by next season (and probably also the one after — I’ve got a batch).

I want today to be quiet. I have a couple of things to mail, I have a check to deposit at the bank, I want to look in the new French bakery which opened down the street and see if they have an affordable Buche de Noel (because I chickened out and didn’t try to make one). I have to start on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and finish planning out the New Year’s menus. I’d like to get in an hour or so of rune study.

I came up with a new oil blend for the aromatherapy lamp today — pine, tangerine, and clove. It’s quite lovely. I’ve been burning a combination of fir needle, eucalyptus, and tangerine, which is also lovely, but the pine and the clove are a little heavier and make it feel more traditional Christmas-y than Solstice-y.

Every time I put the lights on the tree, Iris climbs into the chair on one side and Violet climbs into the chair on the other, and they sit there, staring at the tree. It’s hilarious.

Have a good day, all!


Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 8:37 am  Comments (11)  
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Detail of living room garland

Monday, December 21, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Yule — The Winter Solstice
Sunny and cold

I have to take a minute to rant about yet again about how much 1and1 WebHosting sucks. They forced a mail upgrade RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS, a busy, stressful enough time as it is, with no instructions, and I can’t do anything. I had the newsletter all set to go == finally — and can’t add in any of the addresses. I am sick and tired of them taking my money and NOT GIVING ME SERVICE.

I wound up hand-entering every address for the newsletter. Of course, the site boots me off it every 3 minutes, so I couldn’t even get a decent amount of addresses in at any given time — because it won’t let me copy and paste or click and add or anything that it is supposed to do. Tech support’s instructions have nothing to do with what is actually on the screen.

I have GOT to take another iWeb design class as soon as possible to answer my last few questions, get the sites redesigned, and then get them the hell off that host. Right now, FAT COW and GREEN GEEKS are my top contenders.

It also means sorting through all the mail and pulling the files, which is a huge job( since I have to get and file approximately 500 emails per day pertaining to various projects), and something I haven’t had the time to complete, which is why it’s taken me so long to dump this awful web host.

Other than that, it was a decent day. I dug out the car — the snow was light and powdery, so it was no big deal. I took it easy, because I’m tired — a little writing, a little reading.

I must be dreaming about Christmas at night, because for the past three mornings, I woke up thinking it was Christmas Day. And, on Sunday morning, I woke up at 2 AM, absolutely convinced I forgot to put the turkey into the oven. I dashed into the kitchen with Elsa faithfully following behind me (Violet glanced up and said, “You’re kidding, right? I’m not getting up at 2 AM”). When I saw there was no turkey in the fridge to go into the oven, I realized I must have been dreaming!

I have a contract to sign and get back in the mail. The rights on the PERFECTLY PLUM anthology are expanding to include digital, so they sent me an addendum — seems perfectly fair, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a go.

I’ve got to run to the store today to get some more heavy cream for the trifle, and a few other things, but, for the most part, I want to concentrate on getting back into the writing groove today and work on the stories due in (gulp) less than two weeks.

As I look over the projects and deadlines and ideas for 2010, I realize that, not only do I have to up my quality, I have to seriously up my quantity. That’s always a tricky tightrope — the bulk of the writers who swear they can write four articles in an hour for mill content sites (thereby selling work for $15/article, (when if they put in a few more minutes, they could sell it for 10X that much in legitimate publications AND retain reprint rights) focus on quantity. They have to — they can’t earn anything if they’re not turning out bulk content. And they’ll burn out pretty damn fast — no one can retain that kind of pace for long and keep up a high quality. In fact, of the writing I’ve read by some of the loudest defenders of the content mills — bluntly, their quality is non-existent, and there’s a reason they’re not hired by higher paying publications. I see why some of my clients have come to me begging me to clean up mess created by mill content writers. I do it, but the price is high. By “clean up”, I don’t mean revise — I mean I throw it all out, start from scratch, and create a piece of solid writing that draws in customers for my clients. The “clean up” part comes because the previous writer not only turned in poor quality, but turned it in late, which means I’m working on a truncated deadline. And there’s a price on that.

Quality is always the most important, but, in order to both achieve what I want to achieve and earn the money I need to earn to make a living at this, I have to up the ante in every possible way. I have to find a way to up the quantity, retain (and improve) the quality (because if you don’t at least strive to make every piece you do better than the last, you are doing a disservice to yourself AND the writing), and not burn out. I have to be much more focused and disciplined with my time than I’ve been the past couple of months. This year, in general, I’ve gotten way behind on a couple of things, and there is simply no excuse. Either I want it enough to do what needs to be done, or I shouldn’t be in the business. Period. We all have twenty four hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us. Since I choose to define myself as “writer”, I damn well have to make some changes in how I structure my day.

I leave for a site job the day after Christmas Day, so I have to be packed and organized for that, too, by Christmas. AND friends are coming into town just for a few hours that day, so I’m trying to coordinate at quick visit. I’ve also got to get New Year’s sorted — New Year’s Eve will be stressful because I have to be on the road at night (hopefully I can get going early enough to avoid the bulk of the drunks), but New Year’s Day should be a pretty wonderful start to the year.

I’m ready to start a new decade. This one’s certainly been a challenge! Lots of wonderful things in it, too, but I’m ready to attack the next decade with vigor!

Back to the page.