Thurs. Dec. 15, 2016: Writing, Baking, and Get Your Jingle On!

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy few days. Ever so much of the week has been taken up by the holiday baking. But now, the baking for other people is done, and deliveries have started.

This is the last year I do the Lemon Sugar Cookies. They are too much of a pain in the butt. The recipe needs modification, and I haven’t had the time to tweak it.

I’m behind on JUST A DROP, because I’m working on a story that has an earlier deadline. I’ve got a really cool cover for it. Now the story just has to live up to it! But I’m not where I want to be on that one. Go figure. Somehow, it will all happen, although I’ll be exhausted.

And, I’m behind in my cards. Oh, well.

I helped count tickets for Spectacle on Monday, which took most of the day. Sunday was baking. Tuesday, I had appointments all over the state, and then there was more baking. Yesterday was decorating and baking.

This morning, we were up early to take the car to Plymouth for inspection – and give the auto body shop their holiday treats! They were thrilled. Also dropped off platters at NMLC and at the fire station in Falmouth where I always stop for directions. They were delighted. Gave my hometown firemen their platter, and the library.

I’m putting together the neighbor platters and delivering them this afternoon, and then, the last few, tomorrow. I want to get everything done before Mercury goes retrograde on Monday!

So, on Saturday – please come and participate in Get Your Holiday Jingle On, a Facebook party. The party itself runs from Friday night through Sunday. My slot is on Saturday the 17th at 1 PM for a half hour.

Everyone who attends will get a coupon for a holiday short story. One person will win a set of signed Jain Lazarus books. I have a fun game that will end in a participatory project. And, if I can get my act together, there will also be another surprise. So, please come! Facebook event link is here.

I can’t believe Christmas is just over a week away.

As of today, it’s legal in MA to have pot for home/recreational use and grow it, but not buy or sell it. Yeah, figure that one out! 😉

I’m not ready! Usually I’m disgustingly filled with holiday spirit, but I’m having to work at it this year.

Be well.
Devon

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Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 11:55 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 15, 2016: Writing, Baking, and Get Your Jingle On!  
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Dec. 7, 2016: Stories from Spectacle

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Waxing Moon
Anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Rain/sleet/cold

Somber day, and important to remember what happened. Also important that many people within the US suffered from the consequences of things like internment camps, and that must not happen again.

On a happier note, yesterday was my shift at Spectacle of Trees. It was so much fun. It was wonderful to be reminded that there still is kindness in the world, in spite of Paul Lyin’ Ryan and what he plans to do to destroy people who aren’t rich.

The trees make people happy, and ticket money goes to the great causes of each tree, which is a wonderful thing. That, and the fact that they’re beautiful. 100% of each ticket purchase goes to the organization in whose box it is placed. When so many organizations talk about their donations “buy this ornament for $5 and $1 goes to charity” or “buy this magazine subscription for $10 and $1 goes to charity”, when you buy a $10 ticket and the whole $10 goes to the charity, that’s something to celebrate.

There was a couple from Texas there, a tiny town outside Austin. They loved the trees; this was their first time on Cape. They didn’t want to actually win a tree, but they bought tickets in order to make a donation.

Other people put a ticket into every single box, along with multiple tickets for “their” organization.

One of the things we politely ask is that people don’t touch anything (too easy for something to tip over or to walk away). That’s always tough with little kids. One year, they had a train running on a track around the bottom of the tree, and that was nearly impossible to keep kids off.

Anyway, this year, a guy came up to the library tree. Adult, who should know better. He grabbed a beautiful edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL that was with the tree and started flipping through it. I asked him to please not touch anything. He then spun me a line about that he was “only checking to see if it was signed by the author.” Now, it’s a gorgeous edition, but it’s pretty obvious it is NOT one that was printed in Dickens’ lifetime. Ergo, he could not have signed it.

My response, with a perfectly straight face, was, “We didn’t have time to set up a séance this year and get him to sign it.”

“Oh, maybe next year, then?” He asked hopefully.

People. I tell you. Either he really was that out there, or he was trying to play me so he could walk off with the book. He struck me as someone who’s used to getting away with things because he’s good looking and knows how to charm.

That’s where working in theatre comes in handy–I’m used to recognizing actors. Not as celebrities (if I haven’t worked with someone, I don’t recognized them), but I can recognize when someone’s wearing a false face, at least a good portion of the time.

There was another woman who was so fascinated with the library tree that she photographed every ornament separately.

A little old Irish lady who’s a big Kennedy clan fan came in (the event is in the JFK Museum), and we had a long chat about the Kennedys.

A couple of people came through who only put tickets in the boxes that had the most “stuff” that went along with the tree.

One woman wanted information about one of the organizations. I couldn’t remember exactly what she needed, so I hunted down the information and gave it to her. She then asked what organization I was with, and when I told her, put eight additional tickets in our box!

Anyway, the shift was very interesting — lots of material for future tales.

Grabbed a pizza on the way home. Didn’t get a chance to work on the play, so must do the final polish on it so it can go out, and then turn my attention back to JUST A DROP. Also, have to finish our own trees here. And write cards! I’m behind on the cards. And the baking!

Lots to do, but the writing can’t suffer for it. I have another play to finish and a short story to write by the end of the year.

I’m also researching some towns in New Brunswick as the setting for a possible project.

I hope it clears up in the next few days. The front is raked and ready for winter, but I still have to do the sides, the terrace, and the meadow.

Devon

Published in: on December 7, 2016 at 10:27 am  Comments Off on Dec. 7, 2016: Stories from Spectacle  
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Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play

Monday, December 5, 2016
Waxing Moon
Rainy/Snowy/cold

I had to rest my foot most of the weekend. I paid for the vanity of four-inch heels on Thursday night. But it was worth it.

I’m binge-reading Vicky Delany’s Constable Molly Smith books and really like them. So well written! They’re set in British Columbia, and I like the sense of place I get from them, as much as I enjoy the characters.

Playing with ideas, seeing what works and doesn’t. Finishing the play about the 14th Century pirate, and trying to find a better title.

Reading PISTOLS AND PETTICOATS, a research book that I decided I needed to own, and therefore ordered, I got an idea for a pilot script/series that I will then adapt to books. I wrote the first thirteen pages, and like it a lot. If I can keep the novels nice and lean, but inspired by a lot of the real detail, I think I’ll have something worthwhile.

Did some work on the TAPESTRY revisions. It needs a big re-envisioning, not just tweaking, before it’s ready to go out. I hope I can get it done by mid-January.

The focus right now, however, needs to be on the two plays that need to go out, and on the short story that’s due at the end of the month. I have another invitation to submit to an anthology, but that’s not due for a few months. It’s up my alley, so I’m percolating ideas.

I should be decorating, but I don’t feel like it. I ‘m lacking holiday spirit this year. But it may well be the last holiday in this house, so I want to make the most of it. I’m just so weary, and I have so little hope for the future in this country.

The weather is lousy today. I want to focus on writing and decorating.

Tomorrow is my shift at Spectacle of Trees, representing the Marine Life Center. So I’ll write in the morning, and spend the afternoon there. Saturday is the big drawing, Sunday is the clean-up, Monday the ticket count.

Somewhere in all of this, I need to write holiday cards and do my baking!

Somehow, it will all get done. Although I’d rather stay in bed until about 2020. Although I doubt we’ll have a country left by then.

On a positive, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been successfully blocked through Native lands, at least for the moment. I hope this isn’t a ploy to get everyone to clear out and then they start up again. At least there’s one victory to give us hope.

Back to the page. Tomorrow morning, I have to run errands before my shift at Spectacle starts, and I have to write. Wednesday morning, the first play has to go out.

Tonight is St. Nicholas night — put out your shoe!

Onward!

Devon

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 10:03 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play  
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Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career

Friday, December 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, I got some errands done and then started on the rewrite of TAPESTRY, which needs to be done in mid-January. I had forgotten how much fun that book is; definitely quirky and breaks formula a lot. Some of it I can make work; some will have to be rewritten, because there are logistical problems. I’ve tweaked the frame of the piece a bit, which I think works better, but kept the action in the mid-1990s.

I’m also starting a binge read of the books by Vicki Delany. I read her Constable Molly Smith novel NEGATIVE IMAGE and really liked it, so I’ve ordered everything else I can find by her from the library. And then, yes, I’ll be BUYING her work, because I believe in supporting living authors with my dollars. Dead ones, not so much. It’s not my job to support their descendants. Living authors — we all need to support each other to make sure we can continue writing.

It took awhile to get gussied up for the Spectacle of Trees party, but it was worth it. Used every Broadway wardrobe trick in the book on myself, and it worked. The party was a lot of fun, the wreaths went for good sums of money. I helped clean up, got home, and got right into my jammies. We needed something sparkly and joyful after the month we’ve lived through. And I got the sweetest thank you from the event organizers this morning for all my extra help.

The last of the books I need to finish the play arrived, so I can dig into that either later today or tomorrow. I want the play (with a new title, I hope), out the door by next Tuesday. Then, the attention goes back to JUST A DROP, and also to the short story I have to submit for inclusion in the anthology.

Yet my mind is churning with creative ideas; I want to keep WIPs on track, so that there’s material ready to launch as other pieces fall into place, especially where the various series are concerned; I want to revise, polish, and get out some of the projects I put aside out of frustration, but which have potential.

It’s about finding the right people to partner with, not just trying to change material to please them. If I’m going to do the latter, it’ll be a for-hire contract with a big paycheck up front; if it’s going to be MY vision, then I need to be true to it and not compromise on elements that dilute the work. The work needs to be as strong and unique as possible, and that’s what will enchant the reader.

If all I do is try to conform to formula, it will dilute my unique, quirky characters and stories, go against the themes I’m trying to explore, and not engage the readers I want to engage. Readers who only enjoy tight formulas and want the comfort of knowing the ending when they start the book aren’t the readers who will respond to the themes, characters, and situations I write anyway. Rather than trying to please them, it’s far more important to please myself (within the context of always improving my craft).

Every book or story I write needs to be better than the previous one, on a craft level and every other level. If I don’t like the other books an agent represents, it’s probably not the right agent for me; same thing with a publisher.

I’ve been truly lucky in most of my editors with my published work. They’ve understood what I was trying to achieve and guided me to make the material stronger without losing what makes it unique. I am so grateful to my editors.

I want the security of a traditional publisher with a recognizable name, only that security doesn’t exist any more. I watch the authors I like reading best dropped from their Big Five contracts, and authors whose work I don’t like (because they’re bland, lack craft, and, in some cases, the protagonists are bigoted, racist fools, and not because the author is trying to communicate that’s a negative) being heavily promoted.

The books I enjoy are, for the most part, coming out of small presses and, in some cases, independently published. Indie publishing is always hit and miss, because so many of those books are so published because the author lacks the craft to land an agent or a traditional contract. Yet, more and more ARE well-crafted, and have more interesting characters and situations and a broader context than that coming out of traditional houses.

Small presses are great because they are small, and they’re willing to take chances on the unusual. If you find the right small press with which to click, everything is possible. Of course, because they are small, even if you, as an individual, do your part, if every other author in the stable isn’t holding up their end, the publisher can burn out.

There’s a difference between incorporating notes/feedback into a manuscript to make it the best it can be, and changing it to fit someone else’s formula. If all they like and all they can sell is X, and I’d rather do Y, then I have to have enough savvy to realize that when they want it to conform to X, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to make it better. It’s to make it fit. I don’t have to fit, if I’m willing to put in the thought, time, and effort, to do something else. It means not signing with them, but so what? The advances have gone down considerably in most cases, and few traditional houses are putting effort into promoting anything that doesn’t have to do with manipulating the so-called “best seller ” lists.

It wasn’t until I worked in a library that I realized just how much manipulation goes into those lists, and how little has to do with the actual worth of a book.

All of that has to be taken into consideration as I make my decisions in the coming months. I also want to redefine how I promote my work. I don’t WANT to do the same thing everyone else does — there’s a saturation of desperate promotion that works for very few. Instead, I want to craft campaigns that are as unique and quirky as the material I’m promoting.

The next couple of years should be interesting, craft-and-career-wise.

In the meantime — I have a play to finish!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 10:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career  
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Thurs. Dec. 1, 2016: Keeping on Top of Writing Deadlines

Thursday, December 01, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Most of this week is spent at the JFK Museum for Spectacle of Trees. As usual, it’s a lot of fun, and a great community-building experience. The party is tonight – I’m wearing the Calvin Klein dress I bought earlier this week.

Writing-wise, there are now four novels out on submission, so I’m getting caught up on that. I have to finish the last scene of the 14th century pirate play, do another pass, and that goes out next week. I’d hoped to get it out this week, but that’s not happening. It’s not due until the end of the month, so I’m fine.

Then, I immediately switch back to the play JUST A DROP, to finish that, and get it out by the end of the month.

I’m juggling MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC and will shortly add THE FIX-IT GIRL to the WIP queue. I have to get back to SONGBOUND SISTERS, but I’m not sure when. I’ve misplaced the notes, and I’d been pretty specific about where I wanted to go with it, so I don’t want to start over.

I’m working on the short story for the anthology that’s due at the end of the month. I’m worried it’s going to be too dark for the collection, but I won’t know until I’m further in to it.

Anything that doesn’t go out on submission by December 12 can’t go out until the new year, (except for the pieces with the December 31st deadline). I think I’m in decent shape for all of it.

It’s good to be so deep in the writing, but skipping National Novel Writing Month was the correct choice. Quality was key for November – if I couldn’t focus on the quality, no matter how long it took, rather than a set word count each day, I would be up the creek, no paddle.

There’s no point In submitting something that’s not ready for submission.

I still managed 1K or more almost every day, so I’m happy with that, but some projects I’d hoped to be further along on fell by the wayside due to contracted projects. I will pick those back up as soon as the plays and the short story go out.

FIX-IT GIRL only needs another 100 pages or so to be a complete draft, and then I can figure out how I want to change it and if I want to go even more noir with it. That’s my instinct.

The world may be falling apart, but at least I’m getting some creative work done. Eventually, I’ll figure out how to encompass the anger and despair at the country’s situation into art; right now, I need to focus on what pulls most strongly – and what has the earliest deadline!

If I don’t get a chance to check in tomorrow, have a great weekend!

Don’t forget, I’m doing the Get Your Jingle On Party on December 17th at 1 PM, over on Facebook. I’m giving away a signed set of HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the first two Jain Lazarus novels, to one lucky winner. I’ll also have a coupon for a holiday story digital download for anyone who comes to the event. It’s a Facebook Event, and I’ll post a link closer to the day.

Devon

Published in: on December 1, 2016 at 10:32 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 1, 2016: Keeping on Top of Writing Deadlines  
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Fri. June 10, 2016: So I Wrote

Friday, June 10, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy yesterday. It’s especially difficult, because I’m split – I’m doing what I have to do to function, but there’s a solid part of me that’s living in the writing. No matter what I’m saying or doing, there’s the part of me that’s working on plot, character development, scenes. It’s not my preferred way of working – whatever I’m doing, I like to DO, to commit to fully – but the writing consumes me, and must come first.

Wrote on my lunch break, which gave some relief and some focus.

Spectacle of Trees meeting in the afternoon went well. It’s such a wonderful group of people, and working on this event is so life-affirming every year. It makes you believe that there are still good people around.

I didn’t have to go back to work after, so I went home – and wrote. Wasn’t in the mood for television last night. So I wrote.

Didn’t sleep well last night, but up early this morning. And wrote.

Just as I walked out the door to the meeting yesterday, a large shipment of books arrived. So my day today will consist of processing/receiving new books and getting them out on the shelves or ready for Tuesday release.

Tomorrow will be double my normal Saturday “on” because there are two events here, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

In and around that – I will write.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on June 10, 2016 at 8:08 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 10, 2016: So I Wrote  
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Wed. Dec. 9, 2015: Fun All Around

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Waning Moon
Cloudy and mild

I’m grateful we don’t have snow yet, but I’m a little worried that we’re supposed to hit 60 this weekend. A little too warm for this time of year!

I’ve been going flat out all week. Friday and Saturday I zombie’d through work – barely made it through, but I did. I had plenty to do at home around work. Sunday I baked, and then attended the Marstons Mills Stroll.

The Stroll was fun – it was simple – start at the Community Church, pick up the brown bag with the list of places participating, and follow it around town. It was just enough, not too much, and I didn’t know several of the businesses before – but I will certainly go back to them and shop!

The Church rang their bell, we gathered around the tree for the lighting and to sing carols. It was nice. Simple in the right way, and a lot of fun.

After, I took my mom for a drive along 6A, so that we could enjoy the large light sculptures that various businesses have commissioned. They were beautiful. In previous years, they’d only used white lights – now there are a combination, and it is wonderful!

Home, some more baking, and even a bit of writing.

Monday, I was up at 4:30, so I could get my yoga and meditation practice done before I had to leave for the NMLC Board Meeting. Had the Board meeting, came back, and headed over to Titcomb’s Bookshop for the Ann Hood event. She’s promoting her newest book, KNITTING PEARLS. Several knitting groups attended – there were about 60 people there! I brought my mom along, and both of us knitted along. Yes, even I knitted – my mystery project – -and it was fun.

I was wearing one of the sweaters my mom knitted, and she got many compliments –and an invitation to join the Titcomb Bookshop knitters! It’s good for her to get out and do stuff like that.

Ann’s presentation was lovely and fun, and I got a chance to chat with her for a bit at the signing.

We came home, and I started baking again. I didn’t finish baking until after 11 at night – but – the holiday baking is done – at least, for the cookie platters.

Yesterday morning, we took a carload of leaves to the dump – and gave the guys their cookie platter – and delivered some of the other cookie platters, to the firehouse, etc. Home, early lunch, and then over to the JFK Museum, because it was my NMLC shift for Spectacle of Trees. The trees are all so beautiful and unique. It was a joy to spend time with them. We had more people come through in the first hour than in my entire shift last year. People were nice, they were excited, and, importantly, they bought Tree Bucks and put them in boxes. Which is great, because each organization gets 100% of their Tree Bucks.

So tired when I got home that I barely made it through dinner and couldn’t even read.

Up early this morning to do some more cookie platter deliveries. Long day at work, and then I have to do the platters for the neighbors.

I’m at a conference tomorrow (local, but still a conference), then working Friday, then doing Spectacle on Saturday, and Saturday night is the drawing.

Sunday, I may help with the trees, and I have to spend most of the day writing. Monday and Tuesday are errands and writing, because my play needs to go out on Thursday – so next week is shaping up to be busy.

And Solstice and Christmas are in, what, two weeks? Hannukah is already happening.

I want to keep the holidays simple – of course, I still have to write my cards! I’d rather it was about food and friends than stuff.

I haven’t put many words on paper, but I’m doing a lot of “writing in my head” as I run around, which, when I actually do sit down, makes it flow more smoothly.

Devon

Published in: on December 9, 2015 at 11:16 am  Comments Off on Wed. Dec. 9, 2015: Fun All Around  
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Friday, July 10, 2015: Interlude Before Rest

Friday, July 10, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

Yesterday was busy. We had a meeting to plan Spectacle of the Trees (in-house), and there were eight cartons of books going out and six cartons coming in. That kept us busy for awhile!

The painters only got the taping done, but not the painting, so we’ll have to close on the 22nd for them to actually paint.

Processed books, DVDs, periodicals. Finished my report for the BOT. Set up for tango, although I wasn’t feeling well enough to actually go.

Went home, relaxed for a bit, got some reading done. Watched the movie 5 FLIGHTS UP, which was kind of cute, but I kept getting ahead of it.

Up early, usual yoga/meditation routine. Made some notes on the contemporary theatre piece. Ran errands on the way to work.

Today will be another long day. I’m back on bedrest for the weekend. The mowing is caught up, so, hopefully, that won’t be an issue.

Next week will be quite the busy week, so I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend!

Have a great one.

Devon

Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 8:22 am  Comments Off on Friday, July 10, 2015: Interlude Before Rest  
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Fri. Dec. 13, 2013: Friday the 13th!! Yay!

Friday, December 13, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy day yesterday. Wheldon library in the morning, lots to do online. But worked through the list and got it done.

Home, quick bite to eat, and then it was my turn to help out at the Spectacle of Trees in Hyannis, at the JFK Museum. Every participating organization gets a shift, and today was NMLC’s. There were four of us staffing the place, which was fun.

I was amazed by how many people came through. 17 non-profits have trees up. People buy tickets, see what’s on the trees and by which organizations, and place tickets in the boxes. Each organization gets the $ amount from the tickets in that box, and one person wins the entire tree and all the prizes with it. You can win $10,000 of stuff for a $10 ticket. And everyone’s decorating designs are very creative.

I met a woman who’s a first grade teacher in Chicago. Her class just did a project on marine life, so I’m sending her the NMLC link, so that her class can follow the Center for the rest of the year.

Most people were lovely. Some were grabby, and had to be spoken to. And one group had a toddler who was very grabby and they would only watch him if one of us stood right there and made sure he didn’t touch anything. It wasn’t fair to the kid, either — he doesn’t understand why he can’t play with everything. Some people just don’t think.

Went over to work at Hyannis library after my shift, but there was no room for me, so I had to dash to Sturgis and grab a few minutes there.

Home, chicken with gravy and rice for dinner, baked a chocolate sour cream cake, and then read, before going to bed early.

Busy day to day — storm’s coming in this weekend, so we have to batten down. I plan to get a LOT of writing done.

Packed up some gifts that have to go out today. I’m so far behind on cards, I may send them out for Valentine’s Day instead.

So happy with the work on the Sparkle and Tarnish series – both the novel (and the prose series development) and the television pilot.

Off to work.

Devon

Tues. Dec. 3, 2013: Fun Trees and Lack of Sleep

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowing

Lovely little flakes.

Very tired and frustrated. I’m at the end of my rope about a couple of things, and don’t see an end in sight. I just don’t know what to do.

Got work done in the morning, something stupid came up at the last minute, and then I headed off to the JFK museum in Hyannis to help out setting up the NMLC tree for Spectacle of the Trees. I’d never been to the museum before, so that was interesting. A group of non-profits set up trees and sell raffle tickets. The winner gets all the prizes under the tree and the decorated tree!

Ours was an exercise in logistics because one of the prizes is a boat. We had to get it off the trailer, into the narrow doors of the museum, and into our designated spot. A woman walking past on the street stopped to help. We wrestled it into the museum, but it didn’t fit in our designated space. After some negotiation, we swapped spaces with another organization, and were able to prop the boat upright, put our tree IN the boat, and tie it to the ceiling. It looks great. All the trees look good. What a fun event!

If you want to buy a raffle ticket, you can go here.

I was exhausted and sore by the time I got home, and then had to deal with more crap (nothing to do with the above adventures), which looks like it’s only going to escalate over the next few days.

Had to cut off negotiations for a potential gig because the client won’t be upfront about money. There’s no point in “getting to know each other” if you’re not going to be upfront about the money. That means you don’t plan to pay a fair rate. Professionals say, “This is the budget, this is the rate” and work from there. Having “getting to know you” conversations means you plan to offer different people different rates, if you are actually planning to pay at all.

Or those who say, “I don’t pay a deposit.” Well, honey, I don’t work without one. I’m not going to put in the time and effort into the job and then you vanish into the ether with it. Professionals pay deposits. Scam artists expect the work done with nothing upfront and then run off with it.

Or those who say, “I don’t want to pay for the edit.” Then it’s not “hiring” an editor. Then it’s getting someone to do a free read for you. You don’t contact a professional editor with whom you have no previous relationship and demand that individual work for free. It’s inappropriate on many levels.

It’s amazing how many fraudulent “clients” are out there.

What it does, though, is make you appreciate your good ones! I will certainly be sending warm and fuzzy holiday greetings to the clients of which I’m fond!!!

Couldn’t sleep, was up by five. Sent out some pitches, wrote and submitted an article that’s due this week.

I’ll be working offsite at the Writers Center for most of the day, which will be both fun and productive.

Hopefully, I can get things back on track over the next few days.

If you haven’t signed up for Organize Your Writing Life, please do so here. We’ve got a great group, and it will be tons of fun.

Devon

Published in: on December 3, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 3, 2013: Fun Trees and Lack of Sleep  
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Monday, Dec. 2, 2013: Adventures in Maine

Monday, December 2, 2013
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sleety and cold

Don’t forget to sign up for the “Organize Your Life” Workshop on Sat. December 7. A few hours on Saturday afternoon, and your writing life is sorted out for 2014! The techniques will serve you well beyond the class and the year. Information here.

We haven’t had a good sit-down for quite awhile, and that’s because I haven’t been around.

Monday night, during the 11 PM news, it became clear that Wednesday was going to be a stormy, difficult travel day. So, we stayed up until 3 AM baking lemon cupcakes and preparing beef stroganoff and putting together everything else we needed to take to Maine. We caught a few hours’ of sleep, called Maine at 8 AM and asked if we could come up a day early. The answer was a resounding “yes”, so I did as much work as possible, and we were on the road by 11 AM.

The drive wasn’t bad — a little testy around Boston, but, otherwise, traffic wasn’t bad and roads smooth. We made a couple of favorite stops up in Kittery and York, but made decent time, and arrived near sunset a little after 4 PM.

We were staying at my great-uncle’s house — a place we’ve visited since the mid-1970s. Many memories tied up in that house. But my great-uncle was moved to a nursing home a few months ago, so the house is mostly empty. Before that, he wasn’t able to do much, especially not cook. In other words, in addition to bringing up all the food we expected to need for the week, we also brought up pots and pans, and, from my writing bag, I had my wooden spoons, can opener, and wine opener.

We relaxed on Tuesday night and went to bed early. I slept like someone knocked me unconscious.

Up early Wednesday — and it was a miserable, stormy day. We were so glad not to be on the road. We hunkered down in the little house. Maine can be spooky, with the dark and the fog and the silhouettes of trees. There’s a reason a lot of horror and thriller writers live in Maine! There’s no internet access there, so I got as much done as I could, then hopped over to the library in the early afternoon, set up there, did what I needed to do online, and came home.

My job on the big Thanksgiving holiday is to make Wednesday’s dinner for the family members who work all day setting up the Hall for the holiday feast. Hence the stroganoff. The stove in the house is AWFUL — a very old electric thing. I was glad I’d done the cooking ahead of time on my good gas stove. It took over 40 minutes to heat the meal up. And no, it couldn’t go in the microwave, it would have tasted disgusting. But we had the meal and the wonderful Portuguese bread and the dessert I made, so it was all good, not to mention the chance to sit around and talk at the meal.

The Big Day consisted of writing in the morning, and then going over to the Hall to set up. We have so many people for dinner that we rent the Legion Hall every year. Everyone tosses in a few bucks for the rental and the food. I help set up, and am in charge of the mashed potatoes and the sweet potatoes. We’re taking vats with 20-30 pounds of potatoes in each, mashed with a four-foot tall masher. Not for the faint of heart.

We had 53 people for dinner this year, of all ages. The tables are in a “U” formation, and there’s the dinner buffet set up on one side, and the dessert buffet on the other. Great food, good company, no egos or drama. The rules are, if you show up, you treat everyone with kindness and respect. Those rules are always followed.

After the dinner, the clean-up crew moves into the massive kitchen and starts washing and drying the dishes. Yes, I help with that, too. I’m on the drying team. Dishes and pans from the Hall are washed, dried, returned to their shelves; personal pans and platters are washed, dried, and set out on the counter for pick up. We all split the leftovers and then go home in a turkey coma.

Shortly after getting back to the house, my cousin (well, not sure how the permutation works, but I call her my cousin) came over and we drove into Portland to visit my great uncle. He’s in an amazing rehab/nursing facility — brightly painted walls, an outstanding, enthusiastic and very kind staff, and it smells fresh without the scent of decay or chemicals.

My great-uncle is now in a wheelchair. His memory’s fading, but he recognized us still, and lit up when he saw us. We took him down to the very cheerful dining room so he could have his dinner, and met some of the friends he’s made at the facility. It’s amazing how they all light up the minute you treat them as an individual, with kindness and dignity. Some of them are fading, mentally, but their bodies are still going strong. Many of them are still sharp as tacks, but the body hasn’t kept up. But everyone was worth spending time and few words with.

My cousin goes every day. By this point, she knows most of the staff and the other residents. She’s practically an additional staff member. She’s also an amazing human being, and I admire her enormously. A lot of it, though, is just talking to the residents like people, which is something all of us did, asking questions, listening to their stories (many of their anecdotes are hilarious — a lot of these were quite the hell-raisers, back in the day, in the best possible way).

We got my great-uncle settled for the night after dinner, and went back to the house, and packed for the trip home. My cousin feels a lot of guilt about my great-uncle being in the facility. However, it’s as good as it gets for that kind of place, and so much better than any other facility of its type I’ve ever seen. He gets excellent, round-the-clock care, which he needs. He also has interaction with other people, more so than when he was home alone, getting checked on several times a day by the family. The family simply can’t take care of him at home, because he needs round-the-clock care, and hiring three shifts/day of in-home care would still mean numerous trips to the ER whenever something went wrong — as it does, unfortunately, quite frequently at this stage in his 96 year old life. He truly has a better quality of care in the facility, and family members visit him every day. In this particular case, it was the right choice.

This is probably the last time we will be in the house. It holds many wonderful memories. There were still some things there from my grandmother (she died four years ago), which my cousin gave me — little mementoes that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else but me, because they hold specific memories.

It’s an emotional threshhold on which to stand.

We drove back on Friday. Very smooth drive. Everyone was far too busy shopping to be on the road except around the malls. Since I don’t shop on Black Friday on principle, I was happy to have clear roads.

I don’t believe stores should open on Thanksgiving itself. I think it’s disgusting. I also believe that stores that encourage brawls — and, let’s face it, the brawls happen in the same stores every year, such as WalMart, because that’s the kind of individual those stores attract — should forfeit their right to open on both Thanksgiving and the following Black Friday, if there is an altercation in the store. The individuals involved in the altercations should be banned from the site for 18 months, so they can’t come back the following year and behave badly again.

Exhausted when we got home Friday, but got some work done Friday afternoon, and more work done on Saturday, although a lot of things went to hell without even the handbasket. I managed, however, to upload all the topics for next week’s class. All I have to do next Saturday is show up and teach. Caught up Friday night with some episodes I’d missed earlier in the week, but what is the use of On-Demand when the show is only available for three days after broadcast? WTF?

By Sunday, I felt like I’d been run over by a steamroller. I got some work done, fretted a lot, tried to rest. It was the first of advent. We managed to get the tree into the stand (the stand SUCKS and is so poorly designed, don’t even get me started). The lights are on, some ornaments are on it, the festive fabric is mostly in place, and some of the decorations are up. It will be a work-in-progress for the upcoming weeks.

I re-watched THE ITALIAN JOB last night (such fun), THE TOWN (I like it better every time I see it), and sobbed my way through ANGELS IN AMERICA. It was a brilliant piece of theatre and translated into film wonderfully.

I’m exhausted and spent, but I have work to do this morning, then I’m helping set up NMLC’s tree at the JFK Library for the Spectacle of the Trees event, and then, who knows? Maybe I’ll get to bed early.

Right now, I have to try and get some work done, and hustle more work for the coming weeks.

Devon