Tues. April 19, 2022: Stormy Weather

image courtesy of Andrei Kuleshov via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and cool

My brain wanted to take Friday off, although I had a good early morning writing session out on the front porch. But I slogged through a bunch of emails. There are some places to which I want to send an LOI, but it would have been stupid to send it on the Friday of a holiday weekend, so those go out today. I also have to find a way to get in touch with this mysterious garage who supposedly can fix my car but has no website in the 21st century. And mail my state quarterly taxes.

I did write, polish, and send off my book review before deadline. The only book they had to review was one I’m not qualified to review (it’s on early childhood education), so another thing on today’s list is to get back in touch and see what else has come in.

It was lovely and sunny, although cooler.

I turned around a script coverage, and decided to start my weekend.

Saturday, I rested and read a lot. I needed the time off. It was raining pretty hard most of the day, and I was glad not to have to go out. I’d hoped to walk down to the coffee shop opposite MassMOCA and give it a try, but that’s put off until it can actually be a pleasant walk.

I set up the ironing board and the craft paper and spent a couple of hours lifting wax out of various tablecloths and altar cloths. It takes a good bit of paper, and one has to work fast, so it doesn’t absorb through the paper and onto the iron. But I got it done, and then slowly started handwashing the fabrics. Some of the dyes from the candles will need to be taken out with the bleach pen, but most of it came out well.

Only people who haven’t worked in film and television think it has nothing to do with actual life skills.

Noodled some ideas in my head for various projects and let them percolate. Percolation time in necessary.

By Saturday afternoon, we brought in all the plants, because the temperature dropped hard and fast. Vacuumed, washed floors, changed beds, the usual Saturday housework.

Baked biscuits early Sunday morning. The weather kept cycled through accumulating snow to sun to rain to accumulating snow all day. I was glad to stay in.

Although we no longer celebrate Easter, my mom wanted baked ham for mid-day dinner, so that’s what I made. I thought it was too sweet (even though I hadn’t put anything on it). That’s the second disappointing ham we’ve had (Christmas ham was okay, but not brilliant), so I think/hope we’re done with it for a while. We have enough for some leftovers, and I’ll make a ham pot pie in a couple of days. I made soup with the bone, adding in garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, and spinach, so we’ll have that for a couple of lunches this week. I’d made chocolate mousse for dessert, so at least we had that.

Read a couple of Ngaio Marsh books, and an art mystery by Iain Pears set in Venice.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of decorations that had been in my office in the other house. Most of them have various new homes; some of them will be repacked into the box of decorations that we aren’t using right now. The “New Orleans Aunties” set of dolls I brought back from the Crescent City years ago now have their own shelf on the front porch, with their beads and the little chest of Crown Royal.

But mostly, I rested. I still feel the aftereffects of Shot 4.

Yesterday was a holiday here in the state, and I was damn well going to take it! It was sunny and cold.

I took some bills, including the federal quarterly taxes, and headed for the post office to mail them and buy stamps. Then, I headed over toward Mass MOCA, to try out the coffee shop. Which is no longer there, and the space now holds a Mexican restaurant. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no independent coffee shop in walking distance of the house. In a college town. Which makes no sense to me at all. Cumberland Farms and Burger King don’t cut it.

I’m not someone who goes out and buys a cup of coffee every day (I make excellent coffee at home), but sometimes, when I’m out and about, I like the option.

Makes me think I should bring up the espresso machine on the next trip to storage.

Picked up a few bits and bobs on the way home – some plant stakes, some hair elastics, some highlighters for the upcoming multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. That type of thing.

It was warm enough to move the plants back out to the porch. I worked on contest entries out there, too. I also started oiling the porch furniture with the teak oil. I don’t have the room to spread everything out and do it all at once, so I’m doing one piece, letting it dry, then moving on. I got one of the Adirondack chairs done. I’m also cleaning and polishing the wooden sills around the windows, with another kind of oil. They are in desperate need of some TLC.

The tabletop fountain I ordered arrived, much more quickly than I expected. It’s simple, but nice. I set it up, put in the batteries, put in the water. It’s a little noisy for the size, but looks good and works well. I put a plate of crystals in front of it. And there’s the healing/meditation altar, inspired by the Twitter pal who said a blessing for me at St. Anthony’s Well last week.

The check arrived for the radio play in Minnesota. That was quick. We only talked about it a couple of days ago.

I saw an email from the potential client with whom I had the video conference last week. I fully expected it to be a “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, it’s a contract and an NDA. I’ll read it and see if there are any points to negotiate before I sign, but it looks like I’ll be doing some freelancing for an agency. That will expand my parameters and skills a bit, no doubt.

I’ve been giving feedback on a friend’s synopsis for a TV pilot. It’s so good. I’m so excited for her. She’s entering it in a contest.

I’d been playing with the idea of taking a short trip this summer, to dip my toe back into the traveling waters, and even looked at flights. But with the inept Trump-appointed judge striking down the mask mandate on public transportation, that’s off. It also means it’s unlikely that I take the bus down to NYC for a quick museum trip, which I’d also hoped to do. It’s just not worth the risk. I’m glad the conference at which I’m teaching stayed virtual.

The storm woke me at 4 AM. In upstate NY, they were told to expect up to a foot of snow. Here, they keep changing their minds as to whether it’s snow or rain over the next few days. So far, just rain. I have to dash down to the post office to mail my state quarterly taxes today, but that’s my only foray out. I’d hoped to go to the laundromat, but not in this weather.

I have a lot of admin to handle today, and turn around the contract, check in with my editor to see if there are any new books to review, pitch to my Llewellyn editor for 2024. Work on the radio plays. Work on the Big Project. Turn around two scripts. Fight with Tracfone about my mom’s phone. Try to get in touch with the mechanic who supposedly can fix my car. Work on contest entries.

I’d better get going, hadn’t I? There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site. And I have a Dramatists Guild virtual event tonight (which I can actually do, since Knowledge Unicorns is on Easter break).

Have a good one!

Thurs. April 7, 2022: Websites and Politicians

image courtesy of 200degrees via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Rainy and chilly

Things are growing, and there’s news over on Gratitude and Growth!

Yesterday was another of those days where I felt like I didn’t get anything done when, actually, I did quite a bit.

I wrote a bio and uploaded it to the “About” page for the scriptwriting website. The tone is more of a story than typical market-speak bio, but the scriptwriting is a storytelling format, so the tone fits the site and the work.

I also updated the Fearless Ink site, based on conversations last week in the Freelance Chat group. I hadn’t realized that I needed to update my location; I thought I’d fixed all of that last July when I updated the resumes and put the address changes in everywhere. But I hadn’t.

I took off the social media packages. I no longer want to run social media accounts for clients. I’ll supply copy, but I don’t want to do the graphics, the scheduling, the uploading, and the interactions. It’s not where I want to put my energy. I also added, per the chat last week, a list of some of the things I don’t do, for which I keep getting emails, and/or which clients keep trying to sneak into their scope creep. This is why a strong contract is so important.

I need to update my contract with COVID protocols, too. Since on-site meetings are being pushed again, I’m adding in a clause that I will only attend on-site meetings if all parties are vaccinated and masked. Frankly, I don’t need to be onsite for business clients. ALL of that can be done virtually. The only clients I’d need to go onsite for are museums and performance venues, and they’re all vaccinated and following masking protocols anyway. It’s only businesses who are lax. And those are not businesses with whom I want to interact. I’m also thinking of adding a liability clause – if I get infected, the business is responsible for paying for all COVID care. Since funding for testing, etc. is being dropped, I think that’s important. And, since I won’t book onsite meetings closer than typical quarantine times, it’ll be pretty easy to trace where I got infected, should I get infected.

They can avoid all of that by simply keeping everything remote.

Speaking of reduced funding, as soon as the Republicans blocked the additional funding for vaccines and research yesteray, I was contacted to move up my 4th shot. I’d planned to get it at the end of the month, or early in May, because when I tried to book it at the same time I booked my mom’s shot, I was told it was too soon for me. But now, they want to do it as soon as possible. There was an opening on Sunday afternoon, so that’s when I’ll get it.

It also means I don’t have the luxury of prolonged side effects. The mechanic appointment that it took me over a month to get is on Tuesday morning, and I can’t change it. So I have a day and a half to recover It’s Pfizer, so here’s hoping. My mom only had slight fatigue for about a day. My 1st Moderna shot took me down for 4 days; the 2nd Moderna took me down for 6; the Pfizer booster took me down for 2 or 3. Let’s hope 1-1/2 works.

And, it means I have to finish my taxes on Saturday. I’ve figured out my quarterlies, so it’s just about filling out the slip and writing the check. But I have to do last year’s mess.

I don’t write a lot about the regular interactions I have with my elected officials, although it’s several times a week. Writing about every interaction would be like listing every time I brush my teeth, because it’s that steady. Generally, I try to keep on top of whatever votes are happening on local, state, and federal levels, and weigh in. They can’t represent me if they don’t know how I feel about something. I don’t expect them to vote my way every time, but I do expect them to listen. When I have a concern about something, I express it, AND offer potential solutions. The response to that is either pointing out the flaws in the argument, or asking for more information, because it sounds interesting. When it’s the latter, I work on a detailed proposal, including how to fund it, and send it off. After back-and-forth with various aides, some of it is actually incorporated into legislation, although that can take months or years of regular contract. But that’s how I do it. There’s quite a bit about which to be concerned right now, so I do spend quite a bit of time on political activism, but not in the way a lot of other people are doing it.

It’s when people complain, but aren’t willing to do anything to change it that I lose all patience.

I didn’t get any work done on any of the plays, or The Big Project, or CAST IRON MURDER. I did turn around two script coverages. I have one more script in the queue. I need three more this week, so let’s hope something comes up. I might read Saturday, too, and take off Monday instead.

I need to get out some more LOIs, too. I hated the design for the marketing postcard, so I trashed that and will start again. I need to do some promotion for content and copywriting, along with the scriptwriting.

Turned down a script gig yesterday where the pay was mediocre and the demand was to write “at least 1500 words a day.” I can and do write more than that a day, but scripts aren’t judged by word count, but by running time. So companies that talk about scripts in terms of word count are Big Red Flags. Next!

Early this morning, the neighbor across the street was taken away in an ambulance. I hope he’s okay; he’s a good guy. Hospitals are still on COVID protocols, so his partner couldn’t go along.

Meditation group this morning, then to the page, then some time at the Buddhist summit, then script coverage and other work. I need to make sure I work ahead, so that the beginning of next week, post-shot 4 is as stress-free as possible, even with the car repair.

Have a good one!

Tues. July 7, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 50: My Neighbors are Pyros (though not professionals)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy and humid

The past few days have been hell, because of dumbass “neighbors” setting off illegal fireworks all the time.

They’ve gone off every night since the beginning of the month. And every weekend since the Stay at Home. It needs to stop.

When it’s someone local, with whom the cops grew up, it’s “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know how unreasonable people are” and they’re let off with a warning. And, as soon as the car pulls away, they set the fireworks off again. They’re not confiscated, as required by law. They’re not fined, as required by law.

When it’s tourists, the cops do nothing because, you know, tourist dollars.

On the 4th of July, it started at 4 in the afternoon and went on until 2 in the morning. People were going up and down the street, setting off fireworks in front of other people’s houses. One set of neighbors next door did a production in his little backyard.

The houses here are just too close. There’s shrapnel everywhere, they’re gong to set someone’s house on fire.

Not to mention that Tessa was so terrified I was sitting in a corner of the room, holding her while she tried to burrow under my skin. I was afraid she’d die of fright.

It wasn’t cute little sparklers. It was the big boomers. It was like being under mortar fire for 10 hours, and the cops did NOTHING.

This state has specific and strict laws about illegal fireworks. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, not ONCE have the cops ever done a damn thing. The illegal fireworks have gotten exponentially worse every year.

Instead of pounding on peaceful protestors, how about going after those who are actually breaking the law and causing harm? Just because you grew up with them isn’t an excuse. Nor is that they’re tourists. Those aren’t the tourists we want visiting.

It’s not “harmless fun.”

I also noticed that EVERY person doing this belongs to the same group who refuses to wear masks – again, something that the state mandates.

Gee, people hurting other people in the name of their own “freedoms.” What a surprise.

It was hell.

Why should I pay taxes in this community? They charge me an “excise tax” because I own a car. They’ve upped the rates to get rid of garbage and punish me for wanting to recycle. They allow people to set off explosives every week “for fun.”

Especially since some of these fireworks are set off by those in illegal, short-term rentals. It’s not like they give a damn if they set the neighborhood on fire.

The Town Manager and my district’s Town Councilor are a complete and utter waste of space, both of them, but you better believe they’re getting strongly worded letters. It won’t do anything, but it will go on record in the town archives. Maybe, at some point down the line, it will be useful to someone who will actually do something.

And the fireworks are still going on EVERY DAMN NIGHT. I’m not going through this all summer.

Sunday, I was a complete wreck. I hadn’t gotten any sleep on Saturday night. I had to clean up shrapnel on Sunday. I tried to take a nap in the afternoon, but I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep.

At least Saturday and Sunday, I got some work done on GAMBIT COLONY. I’m nearly done with Book 4 – I figure I have three more chapters or so. The chapters run long, so I’m figuring another 60-70 pages. I have a bunch of material I wrote intermittently for Book 5, which is an interlude volume (figuring that to run 100 -150 pages), and Book 6 is outlined. I’m hoping to get drafted through Book 6 by the end of the year, and then start on the serious edits, at least for 4-6. The first three books are in good shape; they’ve had countless drafts.

I re-read two more Donna Leon books and BODY ON THE BAYOU by Ellen Byron, all of which were good. I also read AMERICAN SPY by Lauren Wilkinson, which was excellent. I had no idea what to expect going in. It’s a hell of a wonderfully written novel, strong voice, very different structure than usual, but different in a way that works.

I was left both wanting to know what happened next to these characters and feeling it ended at the perfect spot. So often, I’m unhappy with how and where novels end. Too often, it feels post-modern just to try to show off “style” instead of giving the book the unique ending it needs. But this was perfect.

I also read the book I was sent for review. It’s a solid fantasy novel. Not brilliant, but an enjoyable read, and will get a good review.

We had a wonderful, vicious thunderstorm on Sunday night. I loved it, especially since it cut short the illegal fireworks. I’d hoped for a good storm; it was even better than I expected.

I wish the weather would be horrible every weekend for the rest of the summer. Tourists are flooding in, bridges are backed up the way they usually are in summer, and we’re all being put at risk, because the tourists aren’t following the state-mandated protocols, and the businesses just shrug and let them get away with it.

Because, you know, if we’re not rich enough, we “deserve” to die for tourist dollars. That’s the attitude around here.

Client work yesterday – I’m creating more ads for this client. 6 LOIs out. Work on fixing BARD’S LAMENT – I’m about to enter the bit that’s a real mess. I need to fix it so I can move on. The deadline looms.

Did the whole week’s course work on THE BOOK OF KELLS class. It was fascinating, talking about scribes and how they created the book. Gave me ideas (always dangerous).

Managed to sleep through the night last night, for once (once the fireworks stopped).

This morning, I’m going to do some work on BARD, record a podcast for THE MERRY WRITER, do some client work. I think I need to go to the grocery store – it’s been about 10, 12 days, and we’re out of some basics. So I’ll gear up and go.

I have a Zoom call with my primary care physician, which I’m dreading. We will talk about the mixed results from the surgery, and work out a plan. I do not want more tests. I want to be left alone for the next six months until the next procedure.

I have a feeling this will continue to be a difficult week.

Hope your week is better.

Published in: on July 7, 2020 at 5:06 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 7, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 50: My Neighbors are Pyros (though not professionals)  
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Thurs. April 12, 2018: Evolving Process

Thursday, April 12, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Garden update on Gratitude and Growth goes up tomorrow, because I’m performing the tasks I’ll write about later today!

If you didn’t stop by Fearless Ink yesterday to read my post on “Morning-After Networking,” please do, and leave me some comment love!

This week, I pushed hard to create and hone a presentation for one of my clients. She got a great opportunity to pitch her product to some decision makers with access to a 2-million person client base next week. So we dug in and did it. I did the design AND the text, we used a mix of photos, and it can be used as PowerPoint/Keynote, a handout, or a PDF. She’s thrilled, and I’m pleased by the whole thing. I have samples for my sample book, and it’s all good. It was a lot of concentrated work, but the result was worth it.

There’s a marketing piece I worked on for another client, and he stubbornly insists on using language that makes him sound down-market in a completely different field. I’m debating whether I should even use samples of that in my portfolio.

I have one more big project for another client, and then we’re done until autumn. I have to finish up a couple of small things for another client, and then I want to cordially move on. That client uses some business practices that make me uncomfortable, even though they are technically legal.

I have a bunch of LOIs out, I’m waiting to go to contract with a company for whom I used to do a lot of work, and I have some meetings coming up.

I cannot emphasize what a big, positive difference having the redesigned websites on the new web host have made. I’m shocked and horrified by how much business the old host cost me, because they kept making sure the sites didn’t work properly. Learn from my mistakes, my friends.

I’m doing the last pass on this draft of SPIRIT REPOSITORY today, and adding in the back matter, which includes polishing the first chapter of RELICS & REQUIEM, adding a short article on the concept of “genius locii” and putting in the information for the other books. Tomorrow morning, it will go off to my editor, so we can go into galleys.

The major attention then turns to the drafts of MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELLICS & REQUIEM, both of which have to be juggled in tandem. NOT BY THE BOOK is sneaking in there, too, and finishing up the rough outline for the serial, so I can distill it down into a pitch-worthy synopsis.

A note on evolving process: as much as I hate working on index cards to sort scenes, for this serial, I find I need to. I have plenty of background notes and other stuff as well, but I need to work the beats of each chapter/episode on cards, and then shuffle and re-shuffle. Some of that will further change as I actually write the chapters, since each chapter is in a different character’s POV. I think I need to write one more round in each POV, and I’m wondering if I should add another character’s POV. It would open up the world, but it then feels out of balance. As it is, the title has a “Three”in it, and I’m writing in four points of view. To expand it to five — not so sure it will work.

I’m eager to get some admin stuff out of the way and get back to the page.

Not so eager to finish my taxes this afternoon! This year, especially, I resent it. I do not want to give a single penny to this corrupt administration of grifters.

Onward.

 

Published in: on April 12, 2018 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 12, 2018: Evolving Process  
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Wed. March 9, 2016: Excellent Writing Weekend

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy few days! It was nice not to work on Saturday. I ran errands and did research, and, generally, gave myself a day off.

That meant Sunday morning was for research, and then back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I went over the whole book, fixing things (my process is completely different with this one) and then wrote about twenty additional pages.

Monday, I wrote another chapter. Yesterday, another chapter. I’m past the 300 page mark. I figure I have, at the most, five chapters left. I can see the end. I know where I’m going, although I don’t have all the details about getting there. I’m excited! I’m at the point where I don’t really want to talk about the details, because I’m worried that it will derail the momentum.

I also woke up in the middle of the night with a solution to a logistical problem that’s bothered me in the book, that will also solve a second dilemma. It will mean quite a few tweaks in the revision, and I don’t want to put them in now, but it’s important, because that particular lapse in the story left the reader (me, at this point), with the feeling of something not adding up properly. And, in a mystery, everything has to add up — that’s the comfort of it. A thriller can get away with loose ends, or a fatalistic ending. A mystery has to give the reader comfort that justice was served.

I got the next batch of books for the contest. More mystery, more novella, more fantasy. Considering how many strong contenders were in the mystery category in the first batch, it’s exciting.

I’m finishing up the handouts for my talk on the 16th. Nowhere near as detailed as the ones I had for the script topic, but that’s what happens when you switch things out on me after I’ve done my prep. A friend told me I should have just refused to change topics, or, if they didn’t want the topic, withdrawn from the event. She’s probably right — I’ve spent too much time being a “good sport” with these people over the years, and it’s yielded absolutely nothing. It certainly hasn’t garnered book sales.

Got in a good bit of reading, too, this weekend. Reading I WANTED to do, rather than HAD to do. My favorites were TO HELVETICA AND BACK by Paige Shelton, a surprisingly good cozy, and Stephanie Barron’s latest Jane Austen mystery, JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP. I read several mediocre books, too, but I’d rather applaud the books I enjoy than trash ones that aren’t really worth the time.

Nasty dream last night about a home invasion — this home. Not a good dream.

Long day at work today. I have a lot to get done. I finished my taxes last night, so that’s something off my plate, thank goodness.

And got another chapter written on the mystery before I left. End is in sight!

Devon

Published in: on March 9, 2016 at 10:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 9, 2016: Excellent Writing Weekend  
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Wed. April 15, 2015: Tax Day Taxing Not Just For Taxes

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

Hectic and difficult few days. Lots of good stuff going on, but it’s been rough. I’d swear more than Saturn was retrograde. I’m overworked, overtired, and my patience is non-existent.

As tempted as I am to go into detail, it would not be wise. Let’s just call it a clusterfuck and leave it at that. I do find it totally unacceptable that everyone vanished after one of the programs and my 90 year old mother was hauling chairs around so we could get out of there at a reasonable hour.

I would like to thank both TAPS and Moments in Time Vintage Dance for their wonderful, beautiful, fascinating presentations.

I was sick on Sunday, so I wasn’t very productive. Read a little bit, but couldn’t really function on any of the things I was supposed to get done.

Monday I got some yard work done and finished the last two microfilm reels for the historical play. I got some relevant information. It’s interesting how much contradictory information there is, but the incident I want to use for the play is starting to form in my head.

Tuesday, I still felt lousy, but was looking forward to most of a day off. I got my taxes done and mailed. I mailed back the microfilm. I found out that I had to cover a meeting for work – which turned out to be fine; I’m glad I went. But I couldn’t help resenting giving up yet another day off.

Came home, packed the baked goods, had a quick bite, headed back for an evening program. It was lovely. We also all worked together to set up the space for today’s large program.

Got home, baked more cupcakes and more muffins. Fell into bed. Slept badly, nearly overslept, but was up at 5:30 to bake scones and frost the cupcakes.

Was going to wash and pack extra china for today’s program, but, honestly, I don’t trust these people not to break it, and it’s not like I’d even get an apology. I’m not risking pieces that each have a personal story attached and can’t be replaced.

We’re short staffed today and it’s busy, but we’re getting by.

I’m very, very, very tired, and looking forward to getting some rest this weekend. I also have deadlines looming and need to get to work on them. But I’m practically incoherent with exhaustion, so it has to wait a few days.

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 10:43 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. April 15, 2013: Back in the Groove of the Book

Monday, April 15, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Ugh. The day we mail our taxes. Hate it. There was an article in the Sunday paper how writing the checks for taxes should be a matter of pride. Honey, when Congress stops pandering to special interests and does the work for which I pay them, I’ll take pride in it. When Congress behaves the way they have lately, especially the GOP and Democrats too cowardly to stand up to anyone, no dice.

Don’t remember much about Friday, except I know I worked and ran errands and dealt with bills and all sorts of other things. I’m trying to wind up the paperwork from the play, but getting what I need from the people who still have stuff outstanding is like pulling teeth. And I’m still waiting on the sign-off for a press release that needs to go out TODAY. Hate that.

Saturday, I got back into the groove on the book, working on Chapter 8. Felt good. Yesterday was all about newspapers and taxes. And four loads of laundry, including show laundry. I’m trying to get stuff from the show sorted out, so I can return what needs to be returned, and properly pack and store the rest for October’s gig.

This morning, I finished Chapter 8 and wrote Chapter 9. Fifteen pages (approximately 3,750 words). The flow is going well, and that’s a huge relief. I have a lot of business and admin stuff to take care off, and to make sure I get the damn taxes mailed and date-stamped properly, but I’m glad to be back in the rhythm of the book, and into the rhythm of other articles I’m working on. Will finish up the contest entry paperwork today and get that off this week, along with some other errands. Time to make a clean sweep/fresh start on the desk, and to go after the next higher tier of client.

Happy start to a productive week, I hope!

Devon

Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 7:57 am  Comments (2)  
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Thurs. April 12, 2012: Flurry of Paperwork

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Lots of computer work yesterday, working with students, admin for Saturday’s workshop, polishing lectures, getting the pages ready for ebook conversion, admin in other areas of my life, gathering papers for taxes (I was more scattered than I should be this year keeping track of receipts, and I’m paying the price). The only day I have to finish my taxes is today. Tomorrow, I’m going out and I have to do the final prep for Saturday’s seminar; Saturday I’m teaching all day. I COULD have done them on Sunday, but here Monday is a holiday (Patriot’s Day) so the post office isn’t open. MA taxes aren’t due until Tuesday, but the Federal have to go out by Saturday. That means finishing them today.

We’re in the revision process in the year long (while working on the next novel), and the One Story Many Voices first stories were due yesterday. For some reason, it’s a shorter workshop this time around –3 weeks instead of the usual four, so I’ve done some rearrangement. The afternoon sprints in company are working well for me (heck, I wrote a little over 1800 words yesterday and I even like most of them). The revisions on Book 1 make Book 2 much easier.

I need to focus on taxes and the workshop for the next few days, and then get back to novel deadlines.

This is the last chance to sign up for the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions Workshop (and the only time it will be offered online this year), so please do so here.

Dates will be announced for Amazing Antagonists and Setting Up Your Submission System early next week, along with those registration pages.

I’ve got to run to yoga (I need it), but then it’s a frenzy of paper all day long!

Devon

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 6:23 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. April 9, 2012: Dialogue and Tulips and Taxes

Monday, April 9, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Billy Root’s blogging over on his site about auditions and how he wound up on the film that’s the backdrop for HEX BREAKER. Check it out here, and drop a comment so I know you visited!

Things are going well for the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions Seminar on Saturday, April 14. At this point, it looks like it’s the only dialogue workshop I’ll be teaching all year online. So if you missed the others, or if you want some new information, make sure to sign up here.

The dates for the next Fast and Fun workshops will be finalized in the next couple of days, and then pages will go up with the registration information. Unfortunately, 1and1, yet again, won’t let me put buttons on my site via Mac, so I’m going to go to the library and use a PC every time I need to put in a button. Definitely time to move hosts, once I get the webmail they’re holding hostage away from them. I was lucky last time, because I was working somewhere where I had access to a PC. The webhost shouldn’t dictate what type of computer I can use. I can’t even put in a “tweet this” button!

My “One Story, Many Voices” class starts today, and I continue as a student in the steampunk class.

I don’t know if I remember all the way back to Friday — I know I didn’t feel well, and that I did a lot around the house in preparation for the weekend’s company — tidying, washing floors, vacuuming, rearranging, that kind of thing. The house looked great, but I still want to do more with the front yard. However, it has to be inexpensive, whatever I do.

Had a good writing sprint with the students — it’s working better, on this book, to write in company.

Saturday was fun — long-time friends from CT came by for a visit and lunch. I hadn’t seen them in years, so it was good to catch up. I actually fell asleep in the late afternoon for awhile, while doing some research for a project.

Sunday, I slept in, then spent most of the day catching up on the computer with what I hadn’t gotten done on Saturday. I like Sunday to be my day offline, but, oh, well. The work has to get done, and I wasn’t up to it on Saturday after company left. I worked with students, did some research for some proposals that will go out this week, got out some interview questions for a piece, and did some promo work. I had a weird dream about an old friend on Saturday night into Sunday, and woke up with an idea for a tweak on a piece I’m getting ready to send out.

I’m glad Mercury went direct, and I’ll be glad when Mars goes direct at the end of the week. However, Pluto goes retrograde tomorrow. THAT always brings some interesting revelations!

Lots to do today, both writing and administrative, so I better get to work. This will be a busy week – but then, lately, every week is busy. Fortunately, it’s “good busy”. But I’ve got to deal with the taxes this week — ick. Not so bad because I do quarterlies, but still, gathering all the paperwork (I was bad about keeping up all year) is a pain in the butt, and I just don’t feel like it. Too bad for me! 😉

Some of my tulips are already blooming — isn’t it a bit early?

Devon

Thursday, April 14, 2011


If this path leads away from the taxes, I’m on it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I’m glad yesterday is over, that’s all I have to say. Taxes for another seven hours, but they’re finished, and I’m mailing them today. New York State f—ked me, as usual, but everything else worked out fairly. The MA taxes made no sense, but I filled them out as best I could, wrote a cover letter, etc. The Federal Taxes had eight schedules with them this year, and a three page cover letter to explain different points.

Last year, I was sure I’d get in trouble, because a theatre company that produced some of my plays listed the money as something other than royalties, but I noted it in the cover letter, and there was no problem.

But it was torture, with a lot of swearing on my part. That should be the most complicated year of taxes, having to file with two different states and the federal. Next year, it should be just straight up Federal with about six schedules, and the MA taxes, which, for full-year residents, is much more straightforward than the partial year.

Paying quarterly taxes helped a lot, as it will this year, because the income is more straightforward. I prefer paying as I go.

Done. Out. Exhausted.

It stormed and rained all day yesterday (appropriate to what was going on inside the house), and the internet went out for most of the day. I could hop on and off for about a minute here and there. So I gave myself the evening off, and will have to catch up with my workshop today.

The rain was good for the garden, and all the plants, trees, and shrubs look much happier.

Today, I’m returning some books to the library, mailing the damn taxes, and I have to return something to a store in Sandwich that I didn’t realize was broken when I bought it. I also need to get buckets, so I can start digging the excess sand out of the vegetable bed as soon as it’s dry enough. I’m gong to start my new friend’s manuscript, which I look forward to reading. I need to finish up a piece for Confidential Job #1. I’ve spent a week trying to be positive about the latter, but the truth is, the material didn’t work for me, especially not in the style the writer chose to present it. I mean, when it loses me in the first sentence because it does EVERYTHING I tell my students not to do, that’s not a good sign.

The second round of edits for ASSUMPTION should land soon, so I want to knock out a few chapters of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY before it gets here.

Ah! The sun is breaking through the clouds! Maybe I’ll be able to clean up the front beds later this morning. I’m still optimistic that maybe I can put the pansies in this coming weekend.

Devon

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 7:02 am  Comments (6)  
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Monday, April 11, 2011


Violet and Iris at the kitchen door

Monday, April 11, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I spent 16 hours doing my taxes on Saturday. I was ready to kill myself. The Federal weren’t that bad — eight additional schedules, but it all made sense. The NY State — they’re just out to screw people, that’s all. And I’m clueless what to do about MA — had to contact them again. They’re pretty good about getting back to me.

So I didn’t get out into the sunshine AT ALL. Very depressing. And I’m still not done. No, it wouldn’t help to hire someone to do it — I’ve yet to meet a tax preparer who didn’t screw it up so royally it took me years to sort things out with the IRS. Preparers work in offices — they are incapable of understanding how it works for people who don’t.

Caught up on the workshop on Saturday. Did some more edits. Edited on Sunday. The edits are coming along well — my editor is awesome — but they’re slower than I’d like. Instead of dumbing down the manuscript, as I’ve had editors do with my work in the past, this editor has encouraged me to take it farther, to make REAL edits, not just copyedits, change and deepen and make it a better book.

Sunday was a lovely day. I got out early to get the papers, and I put out the table and chairs on the porch, topping the table with the lantern I bought in Old Saybrook a few weeks ago.

I worked on the edits some more, commented on student work, and then, after lunch, we got in the car and drove towards Falmouth, in search of Mercury Retrograde bargains. We found one: a beautiful bench that compliments the table and chairs for the porch — well made, in our budget, and it fit in the car as though it had been custom built for us to transport.

Of course, that called for some rearranging of the furniture, so we did. We now have enough seating so we don’t have to panic this summer. I’ve got some other folding chairs we can use, if we need to. And now, we can look for the arm chairs and/or rocker we REALLY want, and not buy something just because we need another piece of furniture.

In other words, now I can relax!

I did some more work on the workshop last night. Teaching on an email loop is very frustrating, and I don’t think I’ll agree to do it again. I think it works for a lecture with questions and answers, but not for a writing-intensive workshop — the yahoo coding messes with the formatting, there are delays in me getting the materials, I don’t get them when I can work on them, so it gets pushed back even further, and it takes me double the time to read and comment than it should, because it’s difficult to read, AND I have about three times as much admin time attached. Whereas most of the time, teaching invigorates me, doing it on the loop drains me. What I’m paid for the class doesn’t balance the additional frustration. The students are trying, there’s some good work happening, but it’s awfully hard to get to it through the problems caused by the loop. If I diluted the class to fit the formatting problems, the students wouldn’t get anything out of it.

On a happier note, the negotiations for me to teach live at a writers’ conference this fall are going well.

The mainland is supposed to get up to 80 today, but we have 50 and rainy. The ground needs the rain, I need to finish my edits, so it’s fine. I have to return a plant stand that has a broken wheel (I should have seen it when I bought it and didn’t — don’t know if they’ll let me switch it out), return a library book, and get some buckets so I can start digging the extra sand out of the vegetable beds and add in more soil. My neighbor, who’s a wonderful gardner, is out every day; he’s put in his lettuce, but it’s too cold, and it’s struggling, poor thing.

Back to my edits.

Devon

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 7:20 am  Comments (6)  
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The Elsa Memorial Orchid reblooms

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

In the 30’s today, but at least the sun is out. Maybe I can get out this week and clean up some of the beds. And I have to get that lawnmower — not the best thing to do during a Mercury Retrograde, but it’s a small lawnmower, not a car or a refrigerator, so I’ll consider it a small purchase, not a major one!

Went to acupuncture yesterday morning. He worked on my back, and needled me for the cough. Buh-bye, cough. I have what’s more like a deep throat clearing once or twice a day, but the cough is gone, which means the back can heal, and I’m back to regular stretching and strengthening exercises. Carefully, but consistently.

I’ve got a new post up on Gratitude and Growth about what’s going on in the garden, and the Ever-Growing Eggplant.

Grocery shopping and resting to let the treatment set for awhile yesterday, then commented on exercises in the workshop, posted the new one, and got started on the edits for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I like my editor, which helps a lot. She’s got great ideas, and she’s very enthusiastic about the book. I’ve also got to get back into the rhythm of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and I have an idea for another Annabel Aidan book, which has nothing to do with these characters. I need to organize my time. And not neglect the taxes,which hang around and are just a major magilla this year. I have something like eight extra schedules to file this year. Hopefully, next year’s taxes will be easier. At least I won’t have to file in NY State, which is just one of the meanest state tax organizations with whom I’ve ever dealt. Nothing like systematically cashing checks without applying it where it’s supposed to be, right?

I have to do the write-up for Confidential Job #1 today, too.

Got a few errands to run, but I want to get some good time in at the desk first, and, once I come in from the garden this afternoon, some quality time with edits.

A dear friend’s cat died, and I just hurt for him. I know how awful those last few hours are, with the animal in pain. It’s heartbreaking.

Devon

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold
International Women’s Day

Yup, here we have it, International Women’s Day. I wish I’d been able to put together a project this year like I did the year my friend Avonne and I set the creation atmosphere for MOON TRIBE TALES. I say “set the creation atmosphere” because the actresses who spent months developing material for the piece are equally a part of it. It was a wonderful experience for both those participating and those who attended, and I wish I’d been set up to seek funding for it to be an ongoing project. When I look back at the script, little has changed in the intervening years. If anything, women’s rights and progress are regressing.

Actress Allison Scagliotti, whose work I throughly enjoy in WAREHOUSE 13, has a great piece up here about looking for role models in her industry. It’s difficult to find strong, complex female characters in media right now, although I think there are more of them on television than in film. Too often, they simply behave like men would, but they’re played by women. While to a point, a strong person is a strong person no matter what the gender, since biology influences a lot of how we deal with things, I’d love to see a wider range of representations in film and television.

I think women are making inroads behind the scenes — although probably not enough. You look at writers like Jane Espenson and directors like Kate Woods, and there’s progress.

I think the rise of urban fantasy in literature has created some great female characters. Look at Diana Bishop in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES — she doesn’t fit any mold but her own and is fascinating and complex. Look at Camille, Delilah, and Menolly in the Otherworld Series — along with most of the female characters Yasmine Galenorn writes. They don’t fall into cliche, they’re certainly not perfect, but they’re strong, intelligent, and interesting. Or the characters like Ann Aguirre’s Corinne Solomon. These women are all very much women, not girls acting the way men might act in this situation, and they are very resourceful and approach the world with unique viewpoints.

To me, that’s part of what a feminist is — a woman who is strong, intelligent, and interesting, and who won’t keep anyone — male, female, Republican or alien — from allowing her to fulfill her potential to its fullest. Can a man be a feminist? Yes, if he’s willing to support the choices of the women around him to be the best and most they can be, even if it’s inconvenient to him personally! 😉

Got out the write up for Confidential Job #1 and that’s off, and got out my column. Got word this morning that they’ve already sent the next assignment. Caught up on commenting on the student work — some of the comments have been helpful, and they are diving back into the material with fresh enthusiasm, which is what I’d hoped.

MA Dept. of Revenue emailed me my quarterly vouchers, the little dears. Considering the NY State Tax Dept. could never be bothered to provide correct paperwork, nor have they ever posted a payment correctly in the years I lived there, and they generally feel they can remove any money they want from anyone because they don’t have to answer to anyone, the MA attitude is quite refreshing.

Responded to student work. They have a deadline today, so there will be a lot of work on which to comment. Also received materials from a partner for the tele-seminar, so I need to go over that. A big stack of errands to run today, but then they will be done, and I don’t have to worry about them later in the week.

Had a good morning’s work on the play — I’m having fun with it. It wants to have more characters than I’m allowed, so some of the actors may have to double. Or, I just have to keep it lean and cut them in the rewrite. I’ve written for a finite amount of characters before — I know I can do it. Want to do some more work on the play before I switch back to everything else that demands attention. Fortunately, the company wants a piece with high verbal dexterity, and those are the kinds of characters I enjoy writing.

Devon