Thurs. March 19, 2020: It’s Not All Working in Pajamas and Drinking Wine

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Waning Moon
Ostara – Spring Equinox

Today is when the hours of daylight balance the hours of dark, and daylight lengthens until Midsummer. May that be a good omen for the coming months!

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for a garden update.

I am grateful that the bulk of my work can be done remotely. I am a skilled and experienced remote worker, productive and reliable. I am lucky enough to live in a space that has a covered deck and a yard big enough so I can get out in the fresh air. If I was still in my 42nd Street NYC apartment, it would be quite different.

We’re all having different kinds of stresses, and I’m going to talk about some of the ones that I’m facing as a freelancer, and stresses some of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are going through.

The worst stress in this situation, for me, comes from the clients who demand that I work onsite. I’ve ended relationships with some of them. I doubt we’ll work together again after this is over. One client is away this week; I’ve been able to work in an empty office. The other in-office person and I are staggering hours and disinfecting doorknobs, surfaces, etc. when we enter and leave. But next week, when she’s back and doesn’t believe a virus would ever dare attack her? Or that she couldn’t possibly be a carrier? We have a problem.

Stresses are added as other small business clients cancel upcoming projects. I totally understand. I’ve offered to help them craft and send their COVID-19 policy email blasts or web copy at a reduced rate and then, if they need remote help during the quarantine, or getting back up to speed at the end of it (whenever that will be), we can work out a rate that works for both of us — so I’m not hurting myself, but not taking advantage of them, either. Most of them don’t want to craft a policy statement — they just want to stop it all and throw up a few words on their website or in their auto-response. I understand that reaction, but I believe a thoughtful, well-crafted statement will serve them better in the long run. Keep communication open. Let your customers/audience know you care, wish them well, and look forward to hosting them again when it’s safe and possible.

Stresses are added as non-clients, who’ve always sneered at what I do, saying, “I don’t pay for that” (meaning writing and marketing) are now coming to me DEMANDING that I write copy and market their business FOR FREE so they can stay afloat. I’m being told I “owe it to the community.”

No, I don’t. Especially not to people who never took what I did seriously. I, too, have bills to pay. Plus, a lot of the strategy they want is fear-based and predatory, and I won’t participate in that.

Stresses are added when people contact me and DEMAND that all my books be available for free. My publisher and I considered doing that with the first book in each series. It would take at least two weeks to put the change through in a normal situation, with the distributors. It would take longer now, with people not being able to go into work, and not every system being set up so that it can all be done remotely. I heard a rumor that Amazon’s not filling Kindle orders, and that they’re only shipping physical orders they deem “essential.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

But with all these demands that all of my books are up for free? John Scalzi and TOR can afford to put up RED SHIRTS for free as part of their book club. Believe me, I’m glad they did. Other authors are putting up their books for free. Great. They have the resources. I don’t. The books that sold in the last few months (whose royalty check should be coming through shortly, because it’s 45 days after the end of the half-year) will pay my utilities. I hope. Or maybe my mother’s health insurance next month, when I might not have the money coming in the week I usually do to pay for it.

Stresses are added when clueless recruiters contact me, having found my profile on LinkedIn. One recruiter told me that if I “really wanted” to work for the company he represented, I would be willing to commute in to Boston during the pandemic, because “it’s not killing as many people as the flu does.” This is for copywriting. There is no reason copywriting can’t be done remotely.

I told him to grow up and stop watching Fox News.

When I asked another recruiter who approached me what their COVID-19 policy is, I was told, “We don’t have one. We don’t need one. People don’t come in, they’re fired. When this is all over, the unemployment rate will be 20% and we can hire anyone at half of what we’re paying them now.”

Again, this is for copywriting. No reason it can’t be done remotely.

Stresses are added when idiots on social media rant that it’s “obvious” that any job that can be done remotely isn’t “real” or “necessary” and only those done in-person are. Um, no. Both kinds of work are essential, in different ways. What it does is spotlight HOW MUCH work could and should be done remotely, but how little employers trust the people they hire. It spotlights that workers that we need to be onsite — in the grocery stores, truck drivers, gas station attendants, sanitation workers, and all kinds of health care professionals and first responders, deserve a living wage and benefits. It spotlights that EVERY company, no matter what size, MUST give their workers paid sick leave, including part-time workers, and that health insurance cannot be tied to one’s job. On top of that, it feeds into the whole myth that artists shouldn’t be paid for their work because it isn’t “real” work and they should be doing it “for the love of it.” No, it’s a valid profession.

It’s stressful to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, for obvious reasons, between people panic buying and the worry that we could all infect each other. Someone actually said I was “lucky” to have an elderly parent, so I could take her along and take advantage of the grocery store’s special hours for the elderly. Um, no. She’s staying HOME. I can go shopping an hour later, and then scrub down and disinfect when I get home.

The actual part when I’m home, plugging along at my work? Is pretty normal. I enjoy the work, as I said, I’m skilled and productive in remote work. I’m trying to offer advice and support and resources to people trying to adjust to working for home. I love working remotely, I always have. I take joy in what I do. I’m an introvert, so not socializing for weeks is fine — I’m fine interacting on social media. I miss going to museums and the library, but I’m not having a hard time in the same way extroverts are struggling. I’m lucky that I know how to keep myself occupied and engaged. I’m lucky that I need a lot of solitude.

Parents are under huge stresses with kids home. If they can’t work remotely, who looks after the kids? If they can work remotely, it’s about figuring out how to get work done while also trying to keep school-age kids learning, and younger kids occupied. I’ve heard that some of these online sessions demand up to seven hours a day of “monitored” learning by the parent. WTF?

When I was in fourth grade, I had to travel with my family from New York back to Chicago because my dad had a special surgery there. My teacher sent me with an entire suitcase full of schoolbooks (no internet at that time). I sat, in the hotel room, for six hours a day, and did my work. Quietly. Because once my dad was out of the hospital, he was resting in the other part of the suite, and I had to be quiet. I mailed my assignments in once a week. I had other books to read when I wasn’t working, and board games. Cards. Lots of cards. I remember playing so many card games. That serves me to this day. My mother and I went to museums and the zoo and walked around when we could (which was lucky — we didn’t have to isolate). But my mother wasn’t “monitoring” my schoolwork. She had to deal with hospital issues and field questions and issues from my father’s office. She was pretty fed up we had to lug an entire suitcase of books to Chicago, and she felt six hours’ worth of work a day was too much, but it was up to me to get it done. Granted, I was nine at the time, and able to take on that responsibility. If I was younger, it would have been harder. If I had been older, we’d have had to deal with bad attitude on my part, probably.

I was lucky growing up. I had more freedom than a lot of my peers, and lot more than most kids get today. But there were two things absolutely forbidden in the house. You never, ever, ever were “bored.” No such thing as boredom. The world is an interesting place, and if you’re bored, that’s on you. Engage. The other thing was I could never ask for something because “everyone” had it or did it. I had to present reasons why I wanted it that were separate from the herd.

Name actors who make millions per movie are fine, with all the entertainment shutdowns but the regular working actors? The tech crews? Musicians? They’re all suffering. This is the time the unions could step up and prove why they’re necessary, but all I hear is silence. I’m not hearing much from producers, either.

Marriott is laying people off, but there was a story that when workers file for unemployment, claiming they’re not “laid off” but their hours are cut back — to zero. Why are they getting away with that? They can afford to carry their employees for a few weeks.

Cruise ship bailouts? Really? The cruise industry makes enormous profits. It’s one of the most profitable industries out there. I don’t have the current figures, but when I started shopping the Nautical Namaste Mysteries several years ago, the cruise industry brought in $37 BILLION dollars in profits a year, and it’s only grown. These ships fly under international flags to avoid paying US taxes. So why are they bailed out with US tax dollars because their admin offices are in Florida, California, and New York?

I don’t want to see airline bailouts, either. They didn’t “trickle down” their tax cuts. They’ve raised fees, fought raising pay and benefits for workers, and done stock buybacks instead of investing in their workforce. That shows they don’t know how to manage money. Don’t give them more to mismanage. Make them EARN it. Some airlines need to go under, so new airlines who actually treat both customers and employees right can emerge.

We do need Universal Basic Income right now. Desperately. Not maybe by the end of April, but by the end of next week. Much more than bailing out huge corporations that squandered everything they keep getting handed and screwed their employees. UBI would keep food on the table and a roof over my head. It would allow me to support individual businesses by buying from them rather than big box stores (which I try to do anyway) and maybe allow some of them to hire me for remote writing work. While we’re saving our lives and those of the people around us by not infecting each other.

We need to make sure the health care professionals have what they need to protect themselves and stay healthy and to care for people coming in sick. That has to be a priority. That and testing EVERYONE. So we can get real numbers. Up manufacturing what we need. Get the supplies to the medical profession.

It’s not at all surprising that this administration has failed on such a large scale. The arrogance, the greed, the grift, the racism, has been on full display since the 2016 campaign. Now, they ALL need to be removed, as issues of both public safety and national security. Policies that save lives and get people back on their feet need to be put in place.

Then, when we are up and running again, the corruption needs to have consequences. Or this will all just happen again.

So those are some of what’s happening in my world. I’m deeply grateful for what is working right now — the remote work I have (such as reviewing books and contest entries, articles, the clients with whom I’m still working). Plenty of people are under much worse stress than I am, especially if they’ve got underlying health issues. I’m lucky that the health crisis that could have killed me was handled before the pandemic hit. I’m worried because my mother is in the highest risk category, and I have to do whatever protects her — even if it means losing clients. There are going to be some nasty scenes in the upcoming weeks, because there are still people acting like it’s not a big deal, and/or it won’t happen to them, so why can’t they go about their normal routine? Why can’t they put lives in danger because they “feel fine.”

The arrogance of it all is unbelievable.

Today, I intend to enjoy Ostara, and have a solitary ceremony, on the deck if the weather is good enough. I made some rune eggs yesterday that we’ll eat as egg salad for lunch. If the weather holds, I’ll do yard work.

Tomorrow was supposed to be my surgery, so I cleared it. I’m taking it as a rest day. Extra yoga and meditation. I might read books for review or contest entries, but I intend to enjoy the day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mon. Oct. 14, 2019: When Stress Manifests Physically #Upbeat Authors

stress-1837384_1920
image courtesy of johnhain via pixabay.com

Monday, October 14, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Have you ever noticed that when you’re under a great deal of stress, it manifests physically? Your resistance is lower, you’re more likely to catch whatever’s going around. Or you suddenly get a pain in a particular area of the body.

It’s important to listen to pain. Chronic pain is a different arena, and that needs specialized treatment, which it too often doesn’t get. I’m talking about unusual pain that crops up when something is wrong.

If you look at the word “disease” and break it down it is “dis” and “ease.”

The ease has been removed.

Take the time to do some self-assessment. Where is the pain located? How is it manifesting?

What is going on in your life? What worries you? What fears have cropped up lately?

Different astrological signs are connected to different parts of the body. I’m a Pisces. That sign is connected to feet. When I’m tired or stressed, it often affects my feet. I have to make sure I have comfortable shoes (outside the house; I don’t wear them inside), and warm, dry socks in winter. I do not do well in cold, wet socks.

I get migraines. I hold tension in my neck and shoulders. Lately, from all the sitting I’ve been doing, I’ve had problems in my lower back. To the point where the lower back and the hip sometimes “freeze.”

That tension in the lower back and hip joint, for me, indicate feeling stuck — and I’m going through a “stuck” period, where I know I need to make changes, but I’m not sure of the details. The days when I’m confident about what I’m doing and the direction I’m taking — no lower back pain.

Earlier in my life, when I was in a toxic situation, I suffered stomach problems constantly. Once I was out of the situation, no more stomach issues.

Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Too often, we don’t seek help for our health needs. Sometimes it’s an insurance issue. We can’t afford to get help, unless we give up something else, like food or paying the electric bill. The entire health industry in this country needs to be ripped apart and rebuilt from scratch, but that’s a different conversation. Sometimes, it’s because we’re not listened to when we ask for help.

“It’s all in your mind,” says the doctor.

“Yes,” you say, “and now it’s manifesting in my body. So please help me find the root cause so we can treat this holistically.”

For me, acupuncture is the best for pain management. Daily yoga and meditation practices help keep energy flowing, and help me discover causes and possible solutions.

It’s different for everyone. The human body is amazing, as is the human mind. We take both for granted. The more you learn to trust yourself, the better you are at self-advocating.

Because the industry itself is about how much money it can get out of YOU, and how little money insurance can get away with paying. It has nothing to do with actual health. Know that.

Know, also, that there are ways you can make the system better by making the time to argue for your rights. When you dispute an unfair decision by your insurance, copy your Senator, your Rep, your State Attorney General on the correspondence. Go to the top executives in the company. Don’t use the excuse that you “don’t have time” for that. It takes a few minutes to type a letter, run off copies, put a stamp on them and mail them to those who can do something. And yes, do it in writing. They want you to talk on the phone because their “notes” of the conversation have little to do with your rights or what you actually discussed. DO EVERYTHNG IN WRITING.

When your elected officials have town halls, make the time to go. Ask them what they’re doing to make things better. Make an appointment at the local office and discuss your situation with one of the aides. A good aide is dedicated to listening to constituents and weighing in on policy. MAKE the time.

And vote. Vote for candidates who want to rebuild the health care system so that it’s actually about health care and not about personal or corporate profits.

You do have power. If you choose not to use it, it’s on you.

It’s tough to do that when you’re not feeling well. Being sick takes a lot of energy. But you can’t expect “others” to do it. Your activism, based on your direct experience, will change things.

Remember that figuring out the cause of the stress doesn’t mean an instant fix. You might be facing a major life change. It won’t happen all at once. Try to find one small thing you can change that will help you mentally and release some of the physical pain. Integrate it into your life.

Then try the next small thing.

Small changes add up to big changes. Our individual rhythms are unique. We’re often pushed into situations at a rate that ‘s unhealthy for our individual rhythms. We need to be kind to ourselves, give ourselves time to adjust, and decide how to regain control and make the next change when WE want it.

It’s a lot of moving parts at any given time.

But the more you learn to listen to that inner voice, to trust YOUR instincts, the more your decisions will help make you a whole, healthy person.

Published in: on October 14, 2019 at 6:56 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. July 23, 2019: Physical Manifestations?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

The weekend was brutally hot. It was bad. Difficult to get anything done.

I also fretted and stressed all weekend about this week with one of my clients, which I knew would be off-the-charts stressful. It’s easy to say “don’t think about it” or “detach” — but it doesn’t work that way, at least not for me.

I worked hard in the early mornings (usually up by four) to get the fans going and cool down the place. I had to shut everything by 7 AM, and then keep fans going inside. The humidity and lack of breeze kept everything heavy and oppressive.

Of course, there were power outages. Why should Eversource actually provide the services for which they exist and overcharge?

Read a lot. Jean-Luc Bannalec’s THE MISSING CORPSE, set in Brittany, which was interesting. The way the book is structured is so different from the way an American or British or Australian mystery is constructed.

Re-read Susan Cheever’s AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY, which I enjoyed even more this time around.

Tried to stay quiet and cool, and keep the cats the same.

I’d done some research on Friday about possible article markets, and I’m working on pitches. I hope to get at least some of them out this week.

The 2020 SPELL-A-DAY ALMANAC author copies arrived. They look wonderful! My work is in there under the Cerridwen Iris Shea byline. I’ll have to do some updates on that website, and on the blog.

I’m still waiting for payment for a freelance job for a local client I did nearly a month ago. It was invoiced on July 1. On July 15, the client apologized for the delay and promised to take care of it. It’s still not here. That is not okay. That money is marked for specific bills that need to be paid.

I’m sick of the attitude in this area that paying for work is optional. That, along with the attitude of hiring the cheapest person who is also the least threatening, instead of the best person for the job has gotten real old real fast.

I got out some LOIs. There was a communications job at a theatre in Maine that looked interesting. Unfortunately, instead of accepting a resume and letter, they demand filling out a specific application that is one of the most insulting things I’ve ever read. Some of the questions are also now illegal. So I’m not even going to pitch to them.

I had to go onsite at my client’s early yesterday and stay late. Same today. It went better than expected, but was still a tough day.

I’m having terrible trouble with my back. Every movement causes pain. I’m wondering if my frustrations from the past few weeks are manifesting in this particular type of “stuck” pain.

Meditation was much needed.

Between the heat and the stress, I’ve lost some of the momentum on GRAVE REACH. I hope to regain it in the next few days.

Awakened last night by tornado alerts. Got things together in case we had to go down to the basement. Lots of thunder and lightning, but it passed.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 23, 2019 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 23, 2019: Physical Manifestations?  
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Monday, July 17, 2017: Breaking Points and New Covers

Monday, July 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, hot

Sometimes you go through a rough patch, which is what is happening right now.  It will cycle through, but it’s not fun while I’m in it.  This post is a bit on the downside; feel free to skip it.  Tomorrow, hopefully, will be a more upbeat day!  But it does deal with some of the more stressful and unpleasant realities of the freelance life.

Stressful weekend. The life stress has been very, very bad, ramped up to a height where I’m ready to break under it, and, added to that, the last few days were filled with creative stress (the wrong kind) as well.

Some creativity in there, too, but stressful.

Two of the interview subjects (with big name associations) who’d promised to have their information back to me by Friday for one of the articles didn’t. Which meant on Saturday, I had to nag — something I hate. Because let’s face it, it’s not “follow up”, it’s nagging, and if you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, do it. Don’t just not get in touch. One of them suddenly said she was too busy to take the TEN MINUTES to answer the questions. No, honey, you’re not “too busy”. You either don’t want to share your knowledge, or you suck at time management.  Either one is your choice, and I respect it; perhaps you’re trying to be polite with the “too busy”, but I read your subtext.  Moving on!

The other sent the answers, and they’re very good, so they go in to the article.

Three other interview subjects never bothered to get back to me. Two of them were businesses related to the topic of the article with whom I considered doing business in the next few months. I’ve changed my mind. If they can’t answer a few basic questions, they’re not getting any dollars from me.  The third non-response was rather expected; it was a stretch, and I had the feeling that organization wasn’t about to share information. It proved something I suspected.

I thought the cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES was all set, but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m afraid the cover is too bright and peppy for paranormal romantic suspense. The cover has to properly represent and support the story; the image was more appropriate for one of the pieces in development.

The designer and I worked up a new cover this morning, and I like it much better. So that’s a load off – it combines theatre, moonlight, and gives a sense of suspense.

I did some work on the galleys; I’m working on the series bible as I work through the galleys, so that I’ll have it ready when I go back to finish SPIRIT REPOSITORY.  Tracking details is so important.  This past weekend, I saw a post from a writer who asked her readers a consistency question because she couldn’t remember and didn’t feel like looking back through her own work.  I was shocked.  That’s the WRITER’S job — keep a Series Bible, for crying out loud.  I was further surprised because it’s the only series this particular writer works on; I’d understand more if she was juggling multiple series.

Worked on SAVASANA AT SEA. While the pace of the last draft is decent, I had to dumb down a bunch of stuff in the previous draft for the previous team, and I want to figure out a way to put back some of the more interesting items I was forced to cut. The new editor and I are working on that together. The manuscript, as it stood, was only 70K, so there’s room for a few thousand more words, as long as they don’t hurt the pace.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I’m getting an idea of the characters I want to include. So much of her life was handled by men; even though she is the central character, there will be a lot of male roles in the piece. I need to find at least one patron or wife of a patron so she’s got a good female character to play off of.

Outlined a new idea and wrote about twenty pages on it, so that the characters would shut up and let me think about other things. There’s potential in the piece, but I’m not sure when or how to fit it in. There are several pieces with potential that have to get back on the schedule and have to get finished, polished, and out.

“The Ramsey Chase” media kit is almost ready to go. PLAYING THE ANGLES media kit is almost finished. I updated the Q & A to reflect what’s changed in the re-release. I finished drafting the fiction section of the overall Devon Ellington media kit. I’m about to start work on the nonfiction section.

I have to figure out how to do subdomains for both the Coventina Circle series and the Nautical Namaste series. I have the right to the subdomains from my host, but I can’t use the website builder for any more projects without being charged extra — and they just raised my hosting fees AND told me that I have to pay every month, instead of quarterly. I’m out of available web pages to add on my main Devon Ellington site — unless I agree, again, to a higher monthly fee. Not that they’re giving me the services supposedly included in my package. But I can’t afford to switch hosts right now. I should be able to create pages and upload them as ftp files, except the host won’t give me the correct code to get into my ftp manager. Because 1and1.com is one of the worst hosts out there. I’ve been talking about moving hosts for years; as soon as I have enough money so to do, I have to do it, because they are costing me so much in lost revenue every single month and they REFUSE to provide customer service when something goes wrong. They are just awful. Unfortunately, right now I’m trapped. I have to stay, because I can’t afford to move, even though staying is costing me lost income. They know it, and they’re screwing me even worse than usual.

Sunday, I worked on the article and its sidebar, and worked on a couple of pitches that have to go out today. Most of Sunday was devoted to the article. The initial draft, with all the information waaaay above my allotted word count. I cut nearly 1000 words, and I was still over, by a good deal. I contacted my editor and asked if there was wiggle room — and got it. While I don’t want to take advantage, and will try to cut some more, I am grateful that she trusts me so much.

I think I found a new market for a rejected short story. I’m irritated that there’s been no response to a follow-up I sent on a couple of pitches, where I’ve worked for the publication before and the editor seemed to like me. I’m even more irritated that now I have one late payment that’s a month late and another going on two months. Not acceptable AT ALL. I have bills to pay; I need to be paid on time, PER CONTRACT, not if and when you happen to get around to it.

Did several loads of laundry on Sunday, too.  Carry wood, chop water.  It keeps things in perspective.  Managed to deadhead some of the tiger lilies, too.

This morning, I mowed, did a grocery store run, finished a review and submitted it, submitted two short stories and a pitch. I have to write some follow up letters that might negate my original pitch, but I can’t wait any longer for an answer. I can’t be in limbo any longer with vague, “yes, you’re hired and we’ll get back to you.” To top it all off, I have a migraine.

I’m supposed to do something for a pro-positivity site I was invited to join, but I’m not finding much that’s positive right now. I’m being run into the ground, without recompense.

I posted a couple of upbeat things on Facebook and Twitter in honor of the day’s theme, but that’s all I can do.

However, the new cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES has cheered me up.

I just have to dig deeper and find a way to make things work.  Maybe I’ll sing the “Cranky Pants” song and it will help me get over myself!

Tomorrow will be better!

Tues. May 23, 2017: Personal Scale, Grand Scale

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy/sunny/cool

Yesterday was a day. The stress is getting to me. I’m getting tired of the platitudes people offer. This isn’t about attitude, this is about situation, trying to change the situation, and setting fresh boundaries. I realize people mouth platitudes because it makes THEM feel better (and has little to do with the person to whom it’s being offered), but, really, if you can’t offer useful action, just back off, please.

There have been times, over the last few weeks, where I’ve felt as though I was on the brink of collapse. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of that type of indulgence, so I have to carry on, no matter when I’m feeling.

Frustrated with the pages for the play proposal. They’re not doing what I want/need them to do. I’m running out of time, so I have to figure out how to make them work.

Played with some other ideas. One mixes two genres, fantasy and mystery. We’ll see. The other is a contemporary piece, set in, of all places, Washington DC. The focus of it won’t be political, although one can’t set something in DC without politics affecting it.

Read an early novel of a writer whose work I’ve read quite a bit of. I see the seeds of how far she’s come, but boy, that book needed an editor. Copy editing mistakes up the ying yang, inconsistencies, and so many exclamation points the characters all sound breathless. But the characters, dialogue, and plotting are all solid, and I can see how that one-off book set the foundation for her other books. It’s also wonderful to see how much she’s grown.

The attack in Manchester is awful. Words fail. I have to say, I’m not impressed with the reaction so far from Ariana Grande’s camp. Yes, it’s a shock, and yes, it’s devastating. But for the reports to merely say she’s “inconsolable” and she’s cancelled concerts because she “can’t perform” — honey, this isn’t about YOU. This is about the people who died or were injured, and their families. Of course upcoming concerts had to be cancelled, out of respect. On top of that, come out swinging. A strongly-worded statement against this type of attack, and providing actual HELP to the injured and families of the dead. Not platitudes. Not acting like this is about you. Not hiding in one’s room crying and being “inconsolable”. It’s time to show public strength and class, and be devastated in private. As an artist whose venue/work was chosen as the site of the attack, it’s necessary to be a warrior in response, not pose as another victim.

Errands to do today. I wish I could get the damn mower fixed so that the yard wouldn’t look like a vacant lot. Hopefully, by tomorrow. I’d like to get the yard handled over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Finally heard from the editor who supposedly hired me several weeks ago. Looks like I’ll be getting my first assignment in the next few days. I’m ready to dig in.

Doing research and getting price quotes on several fronts in order to implement the writing plan worked on last week. I have to keep reminding myself to break things down into manageable steps. Having some interesting discussions with distributors, and also with swag providers.

In the next few months, I’d like to do some general swag for Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington site, and the Fearless Ink site. There’s also some generalized swag I can do for the Topic Workbooks. Then, I can do book-specific swags for releases.

I’m also in the process of doing a general Devon Ellington media kit, along with the media kits that are project-specific. I should probably do one for the Topic Workbooks as well.

It’s hard to keep everything balanced, since the marketing uses different parts of the brain than the writing or editing.

All I’m craving lately are fruits and vegetables. I can’t seem to get enough cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, peppers, and the like. Well, if I’m going to stress eat, better a cucumber than a doughnut, right? 😉

Getting some pages done on several projects in the exploratory stage, so that I can see which will catch fire and should be pursued. Researching the next part of the FIX IT GIRL, so I can get the changes into the next chapters on the revision. Working on the short story I’d like to get out the door sooner rather than later.

Feel like I need to sleep for about a week, but not an option.

Onward!

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 23, 2017: Personal Scale, Grand Scale  
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Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
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Fri. March 14, 2014: Stress and Work

Friday, March 14, 2014
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop over to Adventures in Vineland to read about one of my favorite bottles of wine thus far.

Yesterday, it snowed far more than predicted. I was glad I could work from home.

One role is cast in the play; I’m waiting to hear back on another; and I’m setting auditions up for the third. We have to dive in to rehearsals next week.

Saturn is kicking my ass right now. I am listening, believe me!

Reworked the NMLC Media Kit yesterday and sent it off for the next round of feedback.

Finished another really good book for my editor. Will do the review today. Worked on contest entries. Worked with students (they frustrated the hell out of me yesterday, but we all have those days).

Started the next round of revisions on the play. Hope to have them finished by tonight.

Got a lovely note from a UK book packager who liked my proposal. He doesn’t need additional writers at the moment, but promised to keep me in the mix for future projects. It was a really lovely letter, with specific information that’s helpful to me on several levels, and we hope we’ll be able to meet at one of the upcoming conferences. These are the kinds of people with whom one hopes to do business. Plus, I really like what they do.

Tomorrow, I’m helping out with the Tomorrows Writers Today at the middle school, and, hopefully, finalizing casting, and getting a few other things out of the way.

Stressful stuff going on. But, somehow, I’ll get through it.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on March 14, 2014 at 7:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. Feb. 26, 2014: Ready for Mercury Retrograde to Be Over!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re supposed to get another storm today, but instead of 12 inches, it’s only supposed to be about 2.

New post up on Gratitude and Growth, about what’s surviving and what isn’t.

Worked yesterday, but wasn’t happy with the result, although I finished, reviewed, and sent off the review of the book I liked a lot to my editor.

Pitched for a part-time job that sounded like a ton of fun, but they are unwilling to have ANY flexibility in days or hours EVER, which simply doesn’t work for me. Oh, well. I can’t imagine that, as months and years go by, there’s never a day when something happens and someone can’t come in. That’s what they claim they need, though, so therefore, we are not a good match.

Mermaid Ball Meeting last night, and sorted things out for the play. I hope to get it finished today.

Excited to do some work on both the ferry girl novel and BALTHAZAAR TREASURE in the next few days.

Some of the stress may have lifted for the week, but I’m still trying to chase down payments, the typical dirge of a freelancer’s life. It just astonishes me how many people think writers and editors should be grateful to work on material for free or substandard fees, when they’d never expect a doctor, lawyer, or plumber to work that way. And, of course, those who are the most strident about not wanting to pay and the most paranoid that someone will “steal” their ideas are the ones with the weakest and most derivative material.

I am glad that Mercury goes direct on Friday. This has been a rough one.

Back to the page.

Devon

Thurs. Oct. 17, 2013: Stress and Migraines

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Day before full moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was a difficult day, very stressful. I managed to get some work done on the novella, and a nice bit of work done on the screenplay (I love writing the screenplay), but not enough.

I’m tired of unreliable clients. Therefore, I decided to raise my rates as of January 1. I’d rather have fewer clients, but ones that don’t nickel-and-dime, and try to play me for a fool whenever I try to cut them a break. It should also, once and for all, sweep the wanna-bes, who pretend they want a writing mentor, when they really don’t want to put in any work.

I have no doubt the next few days will also be difficult and stressful. The migraine isn’t helping, although it’s better today. I desperately need a few days off, but I can’t afford it right now.

At least Congress finally did their job. That delusional fuckhead Ted Cruz is still nattering on, and Speaker of the House Bonehead needs to be removed, but at least the government is up and working again, albeit temporarily.

Devon

Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 7:11 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. Oct. 15, 2013: Stressed, but Writing

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a very stressful day. I may have two new client; hopefully, they will make a decision soon. However, I’m not waiting. I’m pursuing other opportunities. If they wait too long, the slots will be full. I have bills to pay. Either you want to hire me, or you don’t. It’s not brain surgery. If you do, put down the deposit and we’ll get to work; if you don’t, don’t string me along with “someday-maybes”, because I have no time for you.

I got only a little bit of work done on the novella, and I’m not happy with it. Because I didn’t seed in the subplot — in fact, I didn’t think I needed one — it’s come back and bitten me in the butt. But I will push through the draft as though I seeded it in and finish it, and then, in the revision, smooth it all out.

Had a breakthrough on one of the two screenplay ideas that’s been eating away at me. Figured out what the heroine’s throughline was, and suddenly it all opened up. Managed 19 pages last night.

So it wasn’t a totally wasted day.

Today will also be very stressful, but that’s the way it goes.

I am desperate for a vacation, and there’s no chance of taking any time off any time soon. I don’t need to go anywhere — I just need time off.

Devon

Published in: on October 15, 2013 at 7:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. March 25, 2013: Sprouting Seeds and Scheduling Dilemmas

Monday, March 25, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Friday was a difficult day, and, frankly, there were times when I just wanted to give up. But I made it through. This week will be tough, but, hopefully, I will get through this, too.

I don’t remember much about Friday, except it was a blur of stress and pain.

Friday night’s rehearsal was a nice break, though. The actors are doing well, although they still have work to do. Friday was the painful rehearsal for them, where they realized that, in spite of all the good work they’ve done, there’s still more to do.

Came home late, exhausted.

Up early on Saturday. I filled in as the set-up person for the Tomorrow’s Writers Today program for teens at Barnstable Intermediate School, set up by The Cape Cod Writers Center. The people at the school were great, the teachers were great, and the kids were great. Terrific all around. At 10 AM, I handed off the program to the Executive Director.

The only thing about the experience that sent a chill through me was the postings, in every classroom, on “lockdown procedures” and “safe spots” set aside in every room. This is what it’s come to? It’s heartbreaking.

Came home, set up for the online Query Clinic, ran that.

Dealt with scheduling issues for the show. MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL is sold out, and we want to add a second show, but it’s getting it scheduled with the company that’s a challenge.

Received the grant money for SEVEN OF SWORDS, my other play, which just made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s not the amount (which was small, but fair), it’s the fact that we were respected enough, as playwrights, to be awarded money for our work.

Sunday was supposed to be my day off, and one that was badly needed, but it didn’t work out that way. Dealt with show stuff nearly all day, searched for stuff I needed for various projects, which led to reorganizing the storage unit over the garage. It looks great and I can get at everything, but I still didn’t get my hands on what I needed. So tired, I was shaking and dizzy.

The mesclun greens, bok choy, buttercrunch lettuce, speckled lettuce, and radish seeds all sprouted over the weekend. Very exciting! The tulips I planted in pots and overwintered in the garage are also blooming — lovely!

I have a meeting in Brewster this morning, and then have to deal with show stuff and the book. I’m supposed to have another meeting this evening, but there’s no way I can do all of it.

Didn’t get enough work on the book done, which upsets me. Worked with students, sent out a lot of pitches.

Have a blasting migraine, but have to work through it.

Devon

Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 7:12 am  Comments (3)  
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Fri. March 1, 2013: Stress and Prep

Friday, March 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Not feeling well. Managed to get some work done yesterday and go to my meeting, but feeling pretty bad. A lot of it is stress-induced.

Managed to write another article. I wanted to let it sit overnight, before editing and sending it out.

I’m supposed to be on Nadia Kim’s blog today — I checked this morning and don’t see it up yet, so I will check back later on and post the link.

Tonight, my play SEVEN OF SWORDS will be read as part of the Play With Your Food series at Tilden Arts Center. I’m looking forward to it, and to the other plays with whom I’m on the bill!

I’ve got a minor rewrite to do on MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL and a lot of writing to do today and tomorrow, along with prepping for Sunday’s rehearsal and doing a final polish on Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series. Registration closes today at 5 PM, and it’s the only time the course will be offered this year, so don’t miss it! March 4-8. Full information here.

Colin — you’re right — it’s wonderful to see actors bring the words to life, and the characters evolve.

Lots to do today, and not much time, so I better get going!

Devon

Mon. Dec. 3, 2012: In NYC for Costume Imp’s B-day Bash!

Monday, December 3, 2012
Waning Moo
n

Can you believe it’s December already?

I’m the featured artist over on Weekly Artist — check it out! Drop a comment, so they know you stopped by.

I am in NY today, for Costume Imp’s birthday. Left yesterday, will be home tomorrow night.

Friday was busy and stressful. Had to do some errands, fretted a lot.

Started doing my coursework for the Introduction to Astronomy. I’m not going for certification, just auditing. I like the class a lot, but the math is beyond me. If I was willing to put in about 30-40 hours at the outset catching up, I could learn it and do it, but I don’t have those hours and the access to a tutor, so I’m just auditing, taking notes, etc. I’m still getting a lot out of it, and I’m not sucking away time from anyone who is going for certification.

This class will be a huge help in the aviation mystery, since, especially at that time (late 1940’s) a lot of night navigation was still done by stars.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

After watching some of the lectures, I went out to “look up” and put what we discussed into practice — but since it was getting ready to snow, I didn’t see much!

Will have to remedy that later this week.

Saturday was better, although I’m just so fatigued all the time lately. There was a line at the post office — looks like everyone’s got their cards done and their decorations up already. And it’s only December 1! I always felt so organized in NY, and I feel so behind here!

Finished making Costume Imp’s present. It was lots of fun. Hopefully, he’ll gt a kick out of it.

Sunday morning, the newsletter went out for December, and then, off I went!

I’m looking forward to celebrating Imp’s mega-birthday!

Devon

You can still sign up for the Flash 7 Workshop — write, revise, submit 7 Flash Fiction pieces in 10 Days, Dec. 7-16. Info and registration here.