Tues. Dec. 27, 2022: Holiday Catch-Up

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Mars Retrograde

Chiron Direct as of December 23

Sunny and cold

Hello, my friends, and I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend.

Hopefully, the newsletter went out properly last Wednesday, and you enjoyed the holiday tale, “Comfort, Then Joy.”

I am still waiting for my computer, although supposedly it is repaired and on its way back. So my posts on all the blogs will be erratic this week; which is kind of okay, since I planned to take this week off anyway.

We had a big storm come in late Thursday, before the holiday weekend. It poured with rain all day Friday. I was very glad I didn’t have to go anywhere. I have the new, big coffeemaker set up, and I admit that waking up to the smell of coffee in the morning is glorious.

I did manage to get a whole lotta laundry done on Thursday morning, before the storm came in. I brought some ideas with which I’m noodling, but there were Other People there, so it wasn’t as useful a work time as it usually is.

I’m able to keep up with my email, for the most part, on the phone and the tablet, but when the storm came in, I shut everything down, to avoid power surges and other issues.

I started reading some mysteries, but didn’t like the writing and the protagonists definitely fell into the “too stupid to live” category, so those are going back to the library, and those authors are crossed off the list.

It snowed for a little bit at night, and quickly changed over to rain.

Rained all night. Friday, it rained all day, and it was windy. Chiron went direct during the day — Chiron is about the Wounded Healer. I definitely feel like a lot of this year has been about healing, or at least recognizing where healing needs to happen, and letting go. Pretty much feel like a limp dishrag from the work.

I played with several story ideas on themes I’ve worked with for years, but never quite made work. We’ll see.

I worked on my answers to the 2023 Questions on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. If you’d like to take a look at the questions to help you with your own musings, here is the link.

I read, a mystery by someone whose first book I liked, but thought this one was “meh.” I’m giving this series one more shot; if book three doesn’t work, I’ll give up. Book Two is problematic, no matter what.

I read the first book in another series that was a lot of fun. It’s Diane Vallere’s first Costume Shop Mystery, A DISGUISE TO DIE FOR, and I enjoyed it. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and she has several more series that sound like fun, too.

Christmas Eve, got up early to zero degrees, but at least a white Christmas. We were lucky; the power held. Wrapped presents. Read. Did some tidying up. Wrote a bit, in longhand, playing with some ideas.

Our big Christmas Eve dinner was a cod, mussel, and scallop paella. If you saw the photos on social media, it looks very dark. That’s not from squid ink; it’s from all the spinach in it. It took several hours to make and get done properly, but was worth it. Very delicious. Plenty of leftovers for the week. It’s a dish that needs time and care.

Willa is always fascinated, and loves to watch me cook.. She either sits on the bed in my mother’s room, which is off the kitchen, or on a kitchen chair. It’s hilarious.

We opened presents after dinner, which is always fun, and enjoyed the tree and the candles.

Christmas Day, we were up early (to the glorious smell of coffee and the prodding of the cats) and enjoyed our stockings. I made scrambled eggs to go with the panettone. The panettone was disappointing this year. I have a feeling I might need to learn how to make that, too.

Had a leisurely day. Read BORROWER OF THE NIGHT by Elizabeth Peters. How have I missed the Vicky Bliss series all these years? It’s a lot of fun, and I look forward to reading more.

The big Christmas Day meal was Coq Au Vin — another one that takes hours to do, because of the layering of flavors, but it was very good.

Honestly, I feel like I could just stay in bed and sleep the rest of the week. If I could afford to, I’d like to sleep through the entire upcoming Mercury Retrograde. We had four of the damn things in 2022, and I am over it.

Coffee and cats got me up early on Monday.  I got some writing done, in longhand, and finished a short story, and planned a couple more. I hoped to take care of a few things, but got caught up trying to download the photos out of iPhoto onto a backup device. I got about half of the photos moved, and then the old Macbook just wouldn’t let me copy to a device or even export to the machine’s own hard drive I have them on Time Machine; I’m just not sure how to get them off time machine and onto something I can use.

I have the original SD cards from everything I took with a camera. Maybe I’ll get a reader/adapter for the laptop and then download all of them onto flash drives and the external hard drive.

Another digital camera is on my list for this year. I HATE relying on the phone. I’ve lost so many photos thanks to the phone. I have an SD card in the current phone, thank goodness, but still.

Anyway, that took longer than I’d hoped, so I decided to put off the errands until today.

I did some work on LEGERDEMAIN and on ANGEL HUNT instead (gotta love flash drives and Word for Mac). I wrote thank you notes. I planned future posts for Ink-Dipped Advice and The Process Muse.

The first 44 episodes of ANGEL HUNT (22 weeks’ worth) are ready for the final polish and upload in early January, so the launch on the 25th should work. I won’t get the live link to the serial until the day it debuts from Kindle Vella, so I can’t work ahead scheduling the episode graphics to drop. What I CAN do is upload at least the first 2 months, and then create the episode graphics, so that when it goes live, I can just upload and schedule.

I also need to work ahead further on LEGERDEMAIN, and upload/do episode graphics and get ahead on that. I’m also working on a prize package giveaway for it, and looking at buying some ad time for it, probably later in January, or early February, and buying ad time for ANGEL HUNT in February, too.

I’d like, this week, to work ahead a bit on some of the blog entries, so that next week is more about uploading them than creating them.

I deleted a bunch of stuff from the Kindle, old contest entries and books I reviewed that I don’t need to keep, to make room for the incoming.

I’m trying to finish the first draft of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH this week, too. Not sure if I’ll meet that goal, but I’m giving it a go. I drafted Chapter 29 yesterday, just a smidge under 1900 words. I’m about to start the climactic sequence. Not sure if that will be three or four chapters. If I keep showing up at the page steadily, I should be able to get it done. Then it can rest for two months at least before I start revisions. I also need to do some more research before I start revision, to layer in more period details.

In those two months of rest, I want to finish the revision on CAST IRON MURDER and get the submission materials prepped. There are two, possibly three publishers to whom I want to query it, in addition to the small publisher who’s handled some of my other work.

I need to spend some time this week to sit down and really look at what writing projects NEED to get done this year, and mix them with the writing projects I WANT to get done. If I get THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH finished before January 1, I will have written only one novel this year, and that’s not sustainable. LEGERDEMAIN’s done decently (both creatively and financially), and I licensed some radio plays and wrote some other plays and short stories, but I didn’t have a real plan this year, and it shows. I need to come up with something more sustainable for 2023. This year was about healing and settling in to the new location. I did some good healing work (although there is much more to do) and I’m content and often happy here.

Now, I need to come up with a sustainable plan for the fiction, so that it’s in balance with the nonfiction and other writing-related work that I do. Everything has to earn its keep, and I need to get back into the 13-in-Play concept, where there are always at least 13 pieces out on submission.

This morning was about the errands I didn’t get done yesterday (and digging out the car from this weekend Was Not Fun). I also had to mail off a bunch of stuff at the post office, drop off books at the library, and upload all of this at the library. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off, and I’m waiting for my next assignments.

The plan for the afternoon is to write Chapter 30 of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and see how far into the climactic sequence that gets me. I don’t really like writing fiction in the afternoon, but that’s the way it shook out yesterday and today, so I’ll go with it.

The repaired computer is to show up sometime this week, and I figure it’ll take a half-day to get it set up again properly. I’m sure I lost a few things, but we’ll set up what we can. I was pretty good about regular backups, so I’d only have lost stuff from sometime in November that I hadn’t backed up anywhere else.

The first box of contest entries should arrive this week (I’m judging three categories this year). I’ll log in the physical books first and then start downloading the digital entries. Depending on how many are entered this year, it should be a busy reading time between now and May, between books to review, contest entries to judge, and the script coverage.

Which means the morning writing has to be focused and productive.

Hope you’re having a great “Betweenmas” as Dianne Dotson calls it, and enjoying some rest.

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

Charlotte and her banana. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Stormy and cold

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

Well, yesterday was A Day.

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

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

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

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

You back? Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri. April 8, 2022: Listening and Learning

image courtesy of El Caminante via pixabay..com

Friday, April 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Rainy and chilly

I managed to get my email Inbox down to something manageable, dealing with over 500 emails yesterday. I also wrote three pages on the psychological ghost story radio play. I have to figure out a “why” for one of the characters, and then the rest will fall into place.

I attended the first day of the Buddhist summit. The sessions were interesting, and I learned a lot. I learned some new meditation techniques, very different from the way I’ve worked before. Because I’m not tied to one particular school of meditation, I think it’s easier for me to flow between techniques and try new things than for some others who have had years of intensive training in a single, particular school. There was a session of Tonglen training, a technique completely new to me, and that kind of turns some of the other techniques inside out. Always good to expand one’s practice. There’s a lot to think about, and to wrestle with in terms of taking the practice out into the world. I think many of the tenets are naïve, when we are in a situation of fighting the evil we currently face.

The sessions were short talks, followed by practice. I liked that the workshop leaders led us into the practice, and then let us sit in silence. Too often, in group meditations, the teacher talks all the time. I like to be led into the silence and then left there for the remainder of the session.

Choreographer Arawana Hayashi’s session resonated the most strongly with me, and I look forward to exploring and experiencing more of her work, both as a choreographer, and in meditation. Pema Chödrön’s talk was both funny and gave me a lot to think about.

I’m looking forward to today’s sessions.

I still turned around a script coverage. I grabbed two more to read today, which gets me where I need to be, money-wise this week. I hope I can grab a script or two to read tomorrow, since I’m taking Monday off, post-vaccine. I’ll have to read on Tuesday no matter what, once I get back from the mechanic. I got out 4 LOIs, although one responded immediately with a demand for unpaid labor. So they are off my list of potential clients and on The List I’m keeping of red flag companies.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We spent a lot of time discussing the Supreme Court.

I am absolutely over the moon that we now have Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. I was terrified during the entire vote, worried that the racist GQP would somehow derail it. I was surprised that Susan Collins kept her word and voted for her. I’m glad Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney did, making Kirsten Sinema’s drama queen bid for attention irrelevant. It’s about time Sinema and Manchin were both made irrelevant. I cried with happiness when the confirmation went through. Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson give me hope.

Now, we need to get the seditionist’s husband, the beer-swilling rapist, and the handmaiden off the Court.

Read the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER as my treat at the end of the workday. I’m glad I’ve resubscribed.

I have writing, script coverage, and the summit on today’s agenda. The summit continues through the weekend and through Monday. I hope I’m feeling well enough after Shot 4 to at least listen. I also want to get ahead on next week’s work today and tomorrow, so I don’t have to stress about taking Monday off post-vaccine, and needing to take at least a half day on Tuesday at the mechanic’s.

We had an intense storm last night, with driving rain and high wind. The power flickered, so I turned off the laptop. Took 25 minutes to boot it back up, which makes me miss the Macbook all the more. But it’s working, and that’s what matters.

Got a lovely email from the place where I pitched for the summer radio gig, and I look forward to more conversations with them.

Made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning. Just the Pillsbury ones, not from scratch. I want to make a batch from scratch, and I want to compare them. I remember the first time I learned to make cinnamon rolls, in either 7th or 8th grade Home Ec. I also sewed my first skirt in that class, and discovered I liked making my own clothes.

Anyway, breakfast and then back to the page. I need to do a library run and swing by the fishmonger to see what’s fresh today. Have a good weekend, and we’ll catch up next week!

Wed. March 9, 2022: Stuff Around the House

Image coutesy of Open Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

There’s another storm coming in today, with accumulating snow expected. So glad I work remotely!

After breakfast, we got into the car and headed out for errands. It was the first time my mom had been out and about since December (without the car, she stayed home; although I can walk to do many of the errands, it’s too far for her). She said it felt weird to be out. The masking mandates have all been dropped, although most places still “recommend” it. More and more people are relaxing from wearing masks indoors, but I’m not yet. Maybe by late spring/early summer. Of course, they’re not releasing numbers anymore either, so there’s no real way to know if the numbers are going down. And since free testing has ended, many people who should be tested won’t be able to afford it. Because you know if the insurance company is supposed to handle it, they will deny every claim. So we won’t know anywhere close to the real numbers anymore.

Except I will use my secret weapon: The Post Office.

The Post Office is the hub of all knowledge in this community. I learn more standing in line talking to other people and/or talking to the clerks than anywhere else. So our information network congregating (safely distant) at the post office will be on what I rely. Actual people talking about what’s actually going on.

Speaking of which, we’re allowed 4 more free Covid test, so I ordered those. Through the Post Office.

Anyway, errands. Masked errands.

I had a list of stuff I’ve been meaning to get done since the car broke down in December. So yesterday, I started catching up. It was mostly home-and-hearth stuff I couldn’t do on foot. I got a new rug for the bathroom (it’s green and matches the shower curtain, which is green, burgundy, and gold, in an Art Deco pattern, which fits this house); I got some magazine organizers, so I can sort the food, garden, and yoga magazines properly and store them where I can actually use them; I got some more plant pots, and more, importantly, saucers to go under the plant pots, so I’m not using bits of saved containers or extra plates; I got 5 shelved rolling carts (2 small, 3 large). I need more than that, but that’s what the store had, so I grabbed them. They snap together easily, look good, and are easy to move around. I put them together and distributed them. One will be in the closet portion of the pantry; one in the laundry room; one in the bathroom; one in my office; one in my bedroom. I still need one for the sewing room, and I might get one more for the kitchen, if they come back in stock.

I unpacked a bin that’s been storing things in the bathroom and got it all on the cart. It’s perfect. The other carts are stashed in their new homes, and I will fill them over the next few days, as I sort things.

Because next week, the big spring cleaning begins. We’re starting in the kitchen and moving toward the front of the house. It will probably take about two weeks to get it all done, in and around everything else that has to happen, like working.

With the sun, it was warm enough on the porch to set out the seedlings for a few hours, and I even sat out there for a bit to read (George Orwell’s diaries. His diaries about WWII are an eerie echo to what’s happening now. His diaries about his garden and his chickens are quite something else).

Got out some LOIs, did some admin. Was disappointed when an organization to whom I’d sent an LOI sent an automated demand for unpaid work. Add that company to my list of places that demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process and move on. Ordered an ink tank for the printer (will need to order others soon, but they’re expensive, so I break it up). Ordered more seeds, completely forgetting that the reason I got on the site to order seeds is because I need more cat grass. Charlotte and Willa love their cat grass. Brainstormed on the shared world anthology. Covered a script. Made turkey meatloaf for dinner, which was excellent.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are already excited about Easter break. And, with mask mandates being dropped in schools, we are all relieved we didn’t send any of the kids back this year. In early May, we will have a big meeting and decide what to do next year. Some of the kids don’t want to go back to a traditional learning environment until college. A couple of them are going to college. A couple of them are interested in taking a year off between high school and college to do other things, provided the virus numbers are low enough for them to be able to travel or do an internship somewhere cool. We’ll have to deal with the safety issue of summer jobs for those old enough to have them this summer. So there’s a lot to consider. The one constant is that ALL of them have learned more and done better in this situation than they did in school. Having the online homework group (which evolved into an all-around support system) has helped, no doubt. But it’s also a wakeup call at how badly most schools are run (rarely the fault of teachers), and with QAnon morons getting on more and more school boards, it will only get worse.

Worked on contest entries until I was too tired to concentrate.

Some dumbass “writer” on social media made the blanket statement about how people who call themselves full-time writers have the “privilege” of other people paying the bills. She can fuck right off. Plenty of us have to pay our own bills. I made a note to NEVER buy anything of hers. I rarely say “never” but I will in this case.

I have nothing of value to add to the war coverage, except that it’s enraging to see how little anyone is doing to stop Putin.

Tessa got me up at four (is she already on daylight savings time)? I moved to the couch, dozed off, and woke up around six. I pointed out to the cats that if they’d just let me sleep until five, their breakfast wouldn’t have been an hour late. They were not impressed.

Charlotte’s newest thing is to jump on the long table in my office, where I have all the contest entries organized, and rearrange them. I keep putting them back in order. She keeps rearranging them.

Willa, who is not a lap cat, actually jumped up into my mom’s lap yesterday. For only about two minutes, but it’s progress.

I should go over to the college library today to get a few things out, but I’ll probably just stay home and work on The Big Project this morning, then get out some more LOIs, do script coverage, and work on contest entries this afternoon.

It will be interesting (?) to see how much snow falls today.

Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!

image courtesy of CDD20 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

New Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Venus Direct (as of Saturday)

Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Water Tiger

Sunny and cold

Time for our Tuesday catch up, so curl up with your favorite beverage and we’ll have a natter.

I have the January wrap-up over on the GDR site. I have a mistake in it – I said I wrote two short stories this month, but it turns out I wrote three. I finished the third (after I’d posted) and got it in a day before the deadline. So that’s three short stories, two poems, and a lot of words on The Big Project. I may have felt like I got nothing done in January, but it’s simply not true.

The weekend was quiet. Since we were prepared for the storm, we just sat and read and let it snow. We only got about six inches. We were nowhere near as slammed as they were on the coast. We also kept power, for which we were grateful.

Had we been in the old house, we would have been without power and had to rely on the woodburning fireplace. Plus, we would have had to try to dig out from two feet of snow on our own. I much prefer where we live now, where shoveling is handled by the landlord, not us.

I do miss having a woodburning fireplace, although I do enjoy our fireplace façade.

Venus going direct takes a lot of pressure off. There are still three days for Mercury to make everything go cattywampus, but I’m hoping I can proceed with caution and keep my head down.

I read a lot all weekend. I finished reading the last book in a series of 20 books, where I got tired of them about 10 books go, but kept hoping the protagonist might actually grow and change. No such luck. But they were quick reads, maybe an hour and a half to two hours per book, and I learned from them what I don’t want to do in my own work.

I read some contest entries.

I went through seed catalogs (I will go into more detail about that on Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post), and put in one of my orders.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s other series, the one that starts with THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and I really like it. I’m grateful to Ellen Byron for suggesting Cynthia’s work.

It was nice to have a full weekend of rest. No running around, no extra work, none of that. I’d worked late on Friday to finish off all the script coverage that was due through yesterday, just in case. It meant I had to bow out of a virtual poetry event in which I’d hoped to participate, but I couldn’t take the risk of a power outage and not getting the coverage in.

And, as I said, two whole days of genuine rest made a big difference. I need to stop admonishing myself that rest is a luxury.

Charlotte woke me up Way Too Early on Saturday morning, because the snow made it appear so light. Tessa let me sleep in until 5:30 on Sunday, which was fine, and I got up and baked biscuits after I fed them. They had me up at 5 yesterday morning, which was fine, because I use the hours from 5-7 for yoga, meditation, journal writing, writing in longhand, etc.

Got a couple of boxes unpacked in my office on Saturday. Once things are unpacked (even if I need to buy more things in which to put them), I’ll put the extra boxes up on Craigslist.

There are boxes that should have come up on the truck that didn’t, so I will have to dig around in the storage unit in spring, when we make our run to find them.

Yesterday, Charlotte and Tessa tag-teamed to get me up a little after 5, which was fine. I’d originally planned to do a library run, but it was -7F, and I was not about to go out in that.

I plowed through about 200 emails, and got out an LOI to a company who immediately sent an automated series of “tests” which they can shove right up their collective ass. I did some blog posts, for myself and a couple of clients.

I made another big batch of black bean soup for lunch, this time adding in corn, and it was delicious.

In the afternoon, I finished off the short story on which I’d been working, which took some interesting twists, polished it, and sent it off.

In the evening, I read a script coverage for which I’d been requested. The author took the notes and did a genuine re-envisioning, in an exciting way. I’ll write that up today.

It’s a little warmer today, so I will suit up and head to the library to drop off/pick up, then write up script coverage.

Today is Chinese Lunar New Year, and it’s the Year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am. It’s supposed to be a year of massive change. I just had two years of that, and I would prefer a year of peace and tranquility.

But I’m making Chinese food tonight, especially long noodles for long life.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and went back to sleep, in spite of their fussing. I dreamed of a renaissance of small presses and magazines, run by diverse individuals, who actually pay their writers and staffs a living wage.

That’s the future toward which I want to work.

Have a good one!

Published in: on February 1, 2022 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!  
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Wed. Jan. 5, 2022: And Then The Crows Came

image courtesy of kytalpa via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I think there’s a storm coming in. I hope I can coax the car to the grocery store and back. It’s too cold to walk, and I need to do a big shop, not a small one.

What happened around DC yesterday, with people being stuck in their cars on the road for 27 hours is not okay. This is where we need robotics; mechanized plows that understand the difference between stalled cars or life forms and snow, who can clear roads in bad weather and get people out when they’re stuck, so that emergency personnel can then follow in and provide assistance.

I managed a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I like what I wrote, but I needed to get double done.

Mailed some bills down the street at the mailbox in front of the college security building, and then went next door to see if Cumberland Farms had any eggs left. They did not.

Got some blog posts written, and then got into a container gardening discussion on Twitter. It hit me just how much I miss my beloved lilacs, some of which I raised from slips. But at least I gave them to avid gardeners, who will care for them, or pass them on to those who will.

Then, my murder of crows showed up, joined by two other murders of crows (I’m calling them a “murderati” even though it’s not correct).  One of the crows who usually visits me at the front of the house every day kept flying back and forth at the office window (which is on the side of the house). Very upset. All the crows were very upset. It’s not like them, especially at dusk, and they were joined by their friends, so something was up.

I excused myself from the conversation and bundled up (figured I might as well get the mail while I was out). The crows were really, REALLY upset, flying, swooping, screaming.

I think their behavior has more than one reason, although I don’t have all the answers.

There were some flocks of birds – I think they were starlings, but I couldn’t see, in the lack of light – flying over. The crows drove them away, but that couldn’t be the cause of the upset. I didn’t see any hawks, eagles, or owls. 

Back on Cape, when I had an owl living in the back yard for a few years, the owl kept to the back and territories past the backyard, while that local murder of crows hung out in the front. It was the blue jays who went back and forth, making trouble.

However, my direct downstairs neighbors had a visitor. The crows HATED him for some reason, and were dive bombing him. Which made me immediately suspicious of him. Had he hurt one of their group?

My dislike was supported when the dogs in the neighborhood all started growling at the guy. Now, my other downstairs neighbors have two guard dogs who don’t like anyone outside of their own people, although they’re starting to get used to me (especially since I always tell them how handsome and good they are, every time I see them). But the little mop dog across the street, who loves EVERYBODY, pulled on her leash and growled like she was going to rip the guy’s throat out.

In other words, this guy is bad news.

He scrambled into the house, and I hope he doesn’t stay long.

But the crows were still upset. They were flying around and screaming over by the library cattycorner from where I live. There’s some construction in a building near it, and I worried that maybe one of their group had gotten injured or tangled in something. I went over to the library parking lot to see if I could figure it out (and then call someone), But the crows took off from there, and went across the street, to the wooded area behind some houses, sort of in the direction of the lake.

I couldn’t follow them without trespassing. It didn’t seem like the behavior of crows having a funeral for one of their own (if you’re interested, there’s a good article about that here).

But they were very upset, and I didn’t like not being able to help them. They kept moving further and further towards the lake, so maybe it was some sort of predator (hopefully a four-legged and not a two-legged) and they were trying to get it out of their territory. I didn’t find any evidence that any of them were actually hurt.

I hope it’s not a fisher. I dislike fishers intensely. In Maine, they ate all the cats, and attacked dogs and some humans, too. But the fishers I’ve encountered have a distinct smell, sulphery, like rotten eggs, and I didn’t smell that at all.

I didn’t write up my coverage, so I will have to catch up today, along with the grocery store and some other things, and the next chunk of The Big Project.

Hopefully, the car will make it to the store and back. I’m going back to decontamination protocols for myself whenever I leave the house and come back after interactions. We’re not back to washing the groceries yet, but, if need be, we will.

Also, once I’m back from the store (hopefully, before the storm starts), I’ll take a tromp around the neighborhood to check on the crows. They did a fly-by this morning, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati. It was pretty much the morning hello.

Knowledge Unicorns started back up last night. The relief all of us involved have at the kids not being in school with all the chaos is huge. As is their relief not to have to deal with constant active shooter drills, in addition to worrying they might catch COVID from fellow students with anti-vaxxer morons for parents. We made the right decision. Everyone’s tired, but at least, at this point, still alive, which is more than can be said for several of their friends and their friends’ parents.

One of the fun things we did was to do a virtual tour of the Doges Palace in Venice, and talk about some of the art and the history.

I have to be off, so I can get everything done before the storm. Peace, friends, and let’s hope the power stays on, at least until I get my coverages submitted.

I really needed to take this week off, too, although I can’t afford it. Will have to consider that for next year, planning my time so that I take from the Winter Solstice off through the first week of the new year.

Published in: on January 5, 2022 at 8:38 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 5, 2022: And Then The Crows Came  
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Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Tues. Oct. 26, 2021: Ruled By Cats (and Words)

image courtesy of Mustafa Ezz via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

The other side of the state is getting pounded by a nor’easter. We have some heavy rain here, but it’s not bad. I like being tucked into the mountains.

Friday’s soul journey material was all about upselling to another class, which was a disappointment. There was very little real meat to the session, although the exercise for the day was about an affirmation to move forward. The live session in the afternoon was pretty much all recap/upsell instead of how to use the work done this week to move forward. There was talk about doing the work over and over again, in a circle/spiral, but, to me, it feels like it should be more of an elongated spiral, to make sure you wind up in a different place than you start, rather than going ‘round and ‘round like you’re in a washing machine.

But different people are at different points in the journey.

They run a business, and they deserve to be paid for all the work they put in. But the courses they’re selling are for those new to the work; but they want everyone to have similar training, so you can’t participate further unless you go through the basic courses. Which is perfectly understandable, but not where I am right now in my journey. I respect their work enormously; but our paths are separating. My way through the forest is different. I am grateful for the tools I gained through this week. I showed up and did the work every day, without whining or excuses, no matter what else was going on. Now I need to integrate what I learned and build on it.

Getting through to AAA was a nightmare; on hold for 40 minutes. What if I’d been roadside, in severe distress, without a fully charged phone?

Once I got through, I was given an ETA arrival time of just over an hour. Okay, whatever, there was stuff I could do on the porch while keeping an eye out.

The mechanic got there in about 20 minutes, which was great. I have a full-sized spare in the trunk; he switched them out. Easy peasy. For him, anyway. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.

He showed me the problem: a tack about the size of a dime. He said it was fixable. I thanked him, tipped him, he took off, I just made it to the live session of my class (although I missed the Sundance Collab session, and therefore, working on the plays).

After that, I looked through information, and found a highly rated mechanic not even 5 minutes away. I contacted them about the tire and an oil change. Heard back right away; they were very nice. I set up an appointment for Saturday morning.

The rest of Friday was finishing up the soul journey work, and finishing up the script coverages. Which I did, although it took me way too late into the night, and I still didn’t earn what I planned for the week.

But I was cooked.

I slept on the sofa bed in the living room on Friday night, so Tessa would have company. She was delighted; Charlotte, not so much. But I slept until 5:30 on Saturday, and woke up with an idea for a series of interlocked short stories. It’s an idea I’ve played with on and off for years, but which finally is coming together. I wrote up the notes first thing, so I wouldn’t forget them.

A couple of other ideas poked at me, related to other notes I’d started over the past few weeks, but I couldn’t yet connect the dots.

Saturday morning, I was out the door early to my mechanic appointment, with plans to continue up that same street to run some errands further along, once I was done.

Only there’d been an awful accident further up the road. It was blocked off, because a telephone pole had to be taken out and replaced. I was able to get to the mechanic – and then their power went out. It came back on pretty quickly, and the whole oil change/tire repair went smoothly. The woman who runs the place told me they do a lot of tire repairs, because the streets are always full of stuff causing punctures, due to all the industry here. So at least I know it wasn’t just me being careless!

I couldn’t run any of my other errands up that street, but I went back and around to go to the public library, who has a huge stack of books for me. Got those off their hold shelf.

Read and relaxed in the afternoon. Really enjoyed Elizabeth Flynn’s book. Read Maria DiRico’s LONG ISLAND ICED TINA. I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks, and it made me miss my Greek and Italian friends in Astoria. It’s such a good book!

Did some more decorating. I still have to run the last few strings of lights up the bannisters, but then the decorating is done!

Slept in my own bed on Saturday night, and Tessa let me sleep until about 5:30 again on Sunday.

Sunday was my “Just for Me” day, at least for most of it, so I puttered around, and read and relaxed and generally didn’t worry about a schedule. I had a live Shadow Work session at noon with the same group that sponsored the soul journey work. Their approach to Shadow Work is very different than the way I’ve been trained, and I got a couple of good tools I can use. But again, there was a lot of upsell, and a lot of first-timers who don’t pay attention to the session, yammer incessantly, but expect to be spoon-fed individually all the information that was just discussed. That’s just not where I am right now. Blessings to them all, but my path takes me somewhere else.

Read a book that was interesting, but not brilliant. Relaxed. Made ratatouille to go with the fish for dinner.

At one point, all three cats were sitting in different chairs in the sun on the porch, which has never happened. It was a big step.

Read four scripts Sunday night.

Tessa woke me a little after midnight on Monday. I got her settled, then she started up around 4:30, but I was out like a log, and didn’t wake up until nearly 6. She was not amused.

That put me back in everything for the day, which is okay, since it got done, just in a different time frame. I can’t be too tightly scheduled here, because everything runs on its own time.

Got some excellent writing done in the morning, especially on an outline for a piece whose characters and situations have been rolling around in my head since late August. It started to come together.

Had to go to CVS to try and negotiate my mom’s thyroid medication, since the insurance problems are still ongoing. The pharmacist who helped us before managed to pull the prescription from the Cape CVS and get a 90-day refill at a price I could afford. Thank goodness.

Dropped off books at the library. Came home and discovered a check from a client – more than double what I expected, which is great, because it takes off the pressure for end-of-month bills.

Got out a couple of LOIs.

Tried to work on “A Rare Medium” during the Sundance Collab time, but I absolutely lost the thread of where I was going with the next scene. Even though I have notes. I was completely baffled.

This is why I need to work every day on the first draft of something until it’s done, and not in fits and starts. I have to block out time to work on this play every day, even if it’s only a short session. I was so frustrated with myself.

Wrote up three script coverages in the afternoon, and read three scripts at night.

Charlotte woke me up this morning at 1 AM. She wanted cuddles and playtime. She was sweet and purry, but it was one a.m. I got her settled and dozed off again. Then, Tessa woke me at 3:27 with her howling. I grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, got her settled, and dozed off again. Willa woke me at 6:30, because she was Very Hungry and I was late feeding them.

Sigh.

Working on the outline this morning, for the piece that’s coming together, and then, hopefully, finishing the outline for CAST IRON MURDER. I want it to marinate (no pun intended, since there’s a lot of cooking in the piece) before I start writing next Monday. I will also block off some time to work on “A Rare Medium” and read over the source material, as well as working on the next scene. I have script coverage to write up, and more scripts to read.

I’ve done the meal planning for my friend’s visit this weekend; what we actually get up to (other than the Samhain celebration and giving out candy to Trick or Treaters), we will somehow play by ear, because so much depends on the weather. But it will be a lot of fun. Our first houseguest since before the pandemic, which means it’s a little over two years since I’ve seen my friend in person. My mom’s triple vaxxed, and my friend and I are both double vaxxed. Plus, we all still take precautions, so, fingers crossed, it will be okay.

Time to get back to the page.

Published in: on October 26, 2021 at 7:26 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 26, 2021: Ruled By Cats (and Words)  
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Fri. July 30, 2021: Sliding into the Weekend (Through the Rain)

image courtesy of Olmheidi via pixabay.com

Friday, July 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Raining. Again.

Everything yesterday took much longer than it should have. Some days are like that.

Meditation group was great, and it was a good way to start the day.

Wrote and submitted a book review; got my next assignment. Caught up on email, got out an LOI, wrote up a long script coverage.

Participated in Freelance Chat, where the topic was burnout, and it’s comforting to know we’re not alone in it. And again, the pandemic stress is layered on top of the burnout, which makes everything ten time harder. Or a hundred times harder.

My Broadway colleague is making progress in his fight against COVID. That’s at least, good news.

Wrote up another script coverage in the afternoon, and started a third. I’d hoped to write up four, but that wasn’t happening.

Participated in one of Creative Capital’s discussions, “Artist Roles in Reimagining the Social.” It was a terrific discussion, Kenneth Bailey, the head of Design Studio for Social Intervention, is interested in keeping the conversation going, and I have a few ideas, which I will write up and send off later today.

Leftovers for dinner, nothing interesting. Read two more scripts, which have to be written up today, in addition to the other one and a half scripts that need to be written up.

Big storm last night, with thunder and wild lightning. I’m getting a little tired of all the rain, and worried that the rivers will overflow.

Playing with some story ideas, seeing where they lead. One is well in my wheelhouse, but a different slant; another is a bit further out, but playing with characters and ideas similar to what I’ve done before; the third is pretty far out of what I usually do, which is part of why it’s interesting. It’s fun to noodle without pressure, and it’s leading me back to the work that’s on deadline.

We had to deal with a centipede in the bathtub this morning, which was NOT fun.

Getting back into daily yoga practice is good. Even only two weeks in, I can feel the difference. I may add in another yoga session just before bedtime.

Today is about finishing up the script coverage, so I don’t have to do any this weekend. I need to unpack over the weekend, and do some work on my class that’s next Friday. I also have to do a quick trip to Wild Oats to pick up a few things and put in my membership.

The new vacuum is supposed to arrive today. I’m excited to try it out.

I plan to do some writing over the weekend, but most of it will be devoted to unpacking, and to celebrating Lammas.

Have a good one, and catch you on the other side!

Fri. March 19, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 301 — I Need a Blanket Fort

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Friday, March 19, 2021

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

I’ve stopped the “MA Vaccine Distribution Failure” Tag, because it looks like we’re back on track; more doses, easier appointments. I will be eligible as of April 5, so I’m going to get my shot as soon as possible. Hopefully, the signup system will have eased. More and more people I know around here have been able to get a slot. I’m hoping I can get it up the street at the college, instead of driving to who-knows-where.

One last winter storm? High winds, not much snow, but kind of yucky out. I’m glad I got my grocery run in early.

I sent out a lot of LOIs yesterday. Had trouble with Comcast. Worked on the article.

Had some more disappointing/upsetting news.

Packing up the back room. It’s amazing how much things spread out and accumulate over time.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. I wasn’t on top of things, because I’m so stressed, and I felt guilty.

I did it again this morning – I turned on the coffee maker without putting the pot in. A big mess. I’m losing it.

I’m afraid I have nothing interesting to say. I’m under a lot of stress right now.  The weekend will continue it. I wish I could just hide in a blanket fort like the cat in the above photo.

Hold a good thought for me, friends.

Tues. Feb. 2, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 258/MA Vaccine Distribution Failure Day 6 — Rainy, Icy Imbolc

image courtesy of James DeMers via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Waning Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Rainy, icy, cold

GDR posts are up for both the January wrap-up and starting February.

Friday was a good kind of busy.

Worked on a client’s website first thing.

Addressed the questions my editor had on the article, which led me to send her questions on which direction she wanted to take the article in. She told me, and I went ahead and did the edits. She was pleased with the result, and so was I! This is why I love working with a good editor.

No luck scheduling my mom’s vaccine. It has not escaped my notice that Baker, a Republican, stopped actively working on any COVID anything except forcing everyone back to “normal” as soon as Biden was inaugurated. He’s just as tainted as the rest of the GOP. He was just better at the façade for longer. I try both sites every day, and no luck. We’re not IN Phase 2 of the vaccination process if there aren’t any vaccines to distribute. Again, it’s spin and lies to make them look good, without the actions we need to survive.

Saturday morning, I did an early grocery run to get in supplies for the incoming storm. Not many people, everyone following protocols.  Home, decontaminated, did a curbside pickup at the library.

Purged 10 boxes. Found some really cool stuff. Tossed a lot. Some books had water/moisture damage that couldn’t be saved. My childhood playing card collection, including some cards from Germany in the 1960’s, which can’t be replaced, were also lost.

Found and re-read FIFTY DAYS OF SOLITUDE by Doris Grumbach, and enjoyed it even more now than when I first read it.

Sunday morning did a dump/recycling run first thing. I couldn’t even fit everything in the car – my car is too small! In other years, I would have been able to do multiple trips, but now they charge by carload, so I’ll wait until next week for the next run.

Then, I purged another 13 boxes. It’s still barely a dent in what I have to go through. But I need to shush my inner voice that told me I should have started this as soon as we moved in. I didn’t, and I’m doing it NOW. So I have to deal with the NOW. 37 boxes down; 263 to go.

Again, tossed a lot, and found some really cool stuff, including an old-fashioned alarm clock, my hand-carved Rosewood chess set I bought in Edinburgh, some jewelry, various knick-knacks with lovely memories attached, and fabric. I also found my old Smith-Corona “memory” typewriter, a precursor to computers; and the silver-plated menorah I bought on 29th St. before I left NYC. I was afraid it had been lost in the move. It’s absolutely stunning, and I look forward to setting it up next holiday season along with the Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Solstice decorations. Even though I am not Jewish, it is a way for me to honor my Jewish friends.

I’m re-sorting the books, putting some of them in new boxes, and trying to sort by genre, instead of just tumbling them all into boxes to be sorted “someday.”

Sore as all get-out from lugging boxes around.

Up early on Monday, charging all the electronic devices ahead of the storm. Pushed to get as much work as possible done early.

Wrote 1K of fiction first thing (GAMBIT COLONY). It felt good to get back into that routine, after giving myself a break in January. I feel better when I do 1K of fiction first thing in the morning. Then, I’m ready to meet the day’s challenges. When I don’t do fiction first thing (or a script), I feel like I’ve failed myself. Blogging or client work that early doesn’t do it, even when I’m productive. The first 1K of the day needs to be fiction.

The bulk of my energy in the next few months is focused on moving, but that first 1K of the day fuels everything else, so I have to stay true to it. It’s not just about having to show up and get the work done because it’s my job as well as my passion. It’s about making the best decisions for my creativity possible.

Got out some LOIs, but the bulk of Monday’s workday was spent getting the client’s new collection up on the website. It wasn’t difficult work, just time-consuming. I was worried we might lose power at any time, or be without power today, so I kept pushing and did a full day’s work on the one project, just to get it done.

Did some work on contest entries. Didn’t get any boxes purged, so I will have to make up for it today.

Other areas got pummeled with snow. We started with snow in the morning. It changed over to sleet, and then rain with heavy winds. On the one hand, I’m grateful not to shovel. On the other hand, I wanted some snow. But the storm is supposed to hang around most of today; we’ll see what happens.

I wrote a bit this morning, again on GAMBIT COLONY. It felt good. I’m using that project to ease back into the daily early morning writing sessions.

I have some client work today, and have to send the PDF of last week’s article to those I quoted in it. I’m working on two new pitches for that editor. I hope to get them out today.

I need to finish the book for review, and get that out, so I can invoice.

And, of course, later today, get back down into the basement and purge more boxes. I have to make my quota, and catch up from what I didn’t do yesterday.

Let’s hope the power holds, but I have enough different options of projects to work on, no matter what happens. Might relax with a fire in the fireplace in the afternoon. I didn’t get to do that yesterday, because I was pushing to finish the work on the client website.

Have a good one. Blessed Imbolc! I’m looking forward to tonight’s ceremony.

Published in: on February 2, 2021 at 6:50 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 2, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 258/MA Vaccine Distribution Failure Day 6 — Rainy, Icy Imbolc  
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Thurs. Jan. 14, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 239 — Process & Project Outlines

image courtesy of chloestrong via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Uranus Direct

Cold and cloudy

Red sky in the morning – shepherd’s warning – I guess we are getting a storm today.

The latest on the garden and the weather finally turning to winter is up on Gratitude and Growth. I don’t write anything particularly profound over there, but I do enjoy putting together the posts. It makes me look at certain aspects of my life differently, more closely, and more gently.

Yesterday was stressful, but I got through it, and that’s what matters.

I was happy that I had a good session early on, working on the book proposal. In this particular proposal, for this particular organization, my synopsis/outline can only be 1000 words. It’s a good challenge to write a book outline that succinct. Especially for a book that hasn’t been written.

I often do what I call my “Writer’s Rough” outline early in the process. I’ll get an idea, I’ll write a few notes. I’ll write about three or four chapters into the book, to see if it can sustain (both in terms of plot and character, and my interest in writing it).

At that point, I’ll take a few days and write my Writer’s Rough outline. That’s made up of me telling myself the story, often with snippets of dialogue, and not necessarily in order. Most of the time, I’ll do this in longhand, scribbling, separating scenes or sequences by skipping a line here and there.

Once I’ve told myself the story, I’ll read it through a few times, and number the paragraphs, putting it in what I think is the order in which I want it to flow.

I also make notes of what needs research.

Then I’ll type it up (I don’t use numbers in this). My Writer’s Rough can run anywhere from two or three pages for an idea that needs more fleshing out, to twenty or more pages, similar to a script treatment.

This allows me to work on the piece whenever I can schedule it in, without sitting there looking at a blank page, wondering what I meant to write next in it. Juggling multiple projects (the only way to keep a roof over my head) means outlining saves me pain and time. It makes my writing life more efficient.

It does NOT interfere with creativity or spontaneity. The outline is a roadmap, not a prison.

When the book is ready to submit, after however many drafts I’ve done in order to make it feel submittable, I then go back through it and create the outline (I talk more about this in the Topic Workbook SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM, which should re-release in a few weeks).

Once I write the Submission Outline, I use that to write both versions of the synopsis.

With the series under contract, the process is a little different. My publisher is tiny, so it’s more informal, and there are fewer layers. While I landed the initial contract with finished manuscripts, the books to come are a little different. With the Coventina Circle series, I gave a rough overview of the whole series. It was originally six books, and will now be nine. I’d always planned four books for the Gwen Finnegan series, although I’m being urged to do more, if the next couple of books do well. The Nautical Namaste mysteries can go in many directions, but I did thumbnails of the first six.

At this point, I do a rough synopsis of where I see the book going, my editor and I have a conversation (in case she feels I’m going off-track), then I go and write it. I do my Writer’s Roughs for the books. The Coventina Circle books tend to veer off, although the other two series tend to stay pretty well close to the original vision.

In this case, I’m writing up an idea for a book that wasn’t even on my radar until I heard about this foundation’s invitation for proposals. They do mostly non-fiction, but are interested in looking at proposals for fiction, because they want something different. I’ve been in contact with them, because I wasn’t sure I’m appropriate (on any level), but they encouraged me to do it.  They want fresh perspectives on their topic. Most of those who pitch to them are serious academics. I’m the outlier. It’s a longshot, but the topic and the challenge interest me, and it’s not something I would have come up with on my own.

So I’m basically doing my Writer’s Rough and then transforming it into a Very Short submission synopsis without writing any of the book – and keeping it in their specific proposal word count and guidelines.

It’s a good exercise in being specific, but it means stretching my process within a finite time frame.

That’s what today is all about. The entire day is blocked off to devote to the proposal.

Yes, I’ll take breaks to do some admin work and read the book for review and attend the online meditation group. I might even answer some email and get out an LOI or two.

But my primary focus today is this book proposal. The deadline is Sunday, but I’d prefer to get it out earlier. I’ve been working on it on and off for weeks, and thinking about it since I first heard about it a couple of months ago.

If they like it, I land a contract that stretches me and challenges me in wonderful new ways, and I’ll be well paid for it. If I don’t land this contract, I still have an interesting book proposal I can use elsewhere – and sell.

That’s the difference between doing something like this and the unpaid, project-specific samples companies often demand. This is a project proposal that yes, takes work, and yes, there’s no guarantee the pitch will land me the contract and enough money so I don’t have to worry about freelance clients during its duration. But if it does not, it still opens the relationship with this organization AND I have something I can sell elsewhere. When you do unpaid labor as part of an interview for a company, they believe they have the right to keep and use your work without paying you for it in order for THEM to make a profit. Which is why I created my test/sample agreement.

That’s the next few days, in a nutshell. Once the book proposal is out, I turn my attention to finishing and polishing the article. I’m still missing two quotes, but I have plenty of material. That will go out on Tuesday.

The Sociopath was impeached again yesterday. Now, every death, either from violence or COVID, is squarely the fault of Mitch McConnell, who, as usual, is dragging his feet and trying to play both sides against the middle. McConnell needs to be prosecuted along with the rest of the corrupt and the violent.

I’m looking forward to today’s online meditation group. I definitely need it.

And, I’m looking forward to an entire day immersed in this book proposal.

Peace and health, my friends.

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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