Thurs. Jan.10, 2019: Focus on Writing

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was a long, damn day onsite with a client. It was a good day, a productive day, but a long one. I couldn’t face cooking when I came home, so I picked up a pizza on the way.

And I’m still trying to take down decorations!

Put in my responses for the notes on the radio play. Called out the comments I felt were sexist — they’re not happening. But most of the other ones make sense, and I will implement them in the new draft. Of course, this company uses a format completely different from any other radio format I’ve ever worked in, but hey, gaining an additional tool is always valuable.

Got the next book I need to review. And the first shipment of books for the contest arrived. I’m excited to dig into them. They look good. Every time I pick up a book, either to review or for a contest, I want to fall in love with it. Doesn’t always happen, but I’m always excited and optimistic.

Tried adding the exercise bicycle to the fitness routine. I’d tried it a few years ago, and it caused so much pain in my knees, hips, and back that I stopped. But I need more elements in the routine, so I’m trying again. Just a short stint, but I was in pain a good portion of the night and this morning. I’ll give it a week of daily attempts; if it doesn’t feel better, I’ll stop.

Meanwhile, my 94-year-old mother does 20 minutes every day of the week on the bike! That’s her preferred form of exercise.

I’ve stuck to the weight training, though, and that feels good. I even upped the repetitions on one of the lifts. I’ve also added plank position every day back into the yoga sequence. I hate it, but I need it for the core. So I’ll deal.

I have some admin work to do today, and some LOIs to get out. Hopefully, a pitch for an article, and also work on a conference proposal I want to send out tomorrow. I also have a detailed proposal to go to my representatives on the federal level about the government shutdown. This crap has to stop, and if Mitch McConnell won’t do his job and let votes come to the floor, then remove Mitch McConnell. Even if it’s unprecedented. This administration has set the precedent that rules don’t count.

On today’s writing agenda: THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, start revisions on the radio play, and work on the first of the monologues. And write ahead on some blog posts. I’m going to introduce a Reader Expansion Challenge on A Biblio Paradise next week.

On the life agenda: Get the rest of the decorations down from the tree. Fix the printer, if possible.

Have a great Thursday!

 

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Tues. Jan. 8, 2019: Please, Just Let Me Rest

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
No Retrogrades

I’d forgotten what it feels like not to have retrogrades.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise for my take on “The Book Boyfriend Dilemma.”

Busy few days, and it was a little overwhelming. Friday morning was stressful with a client, then I had some errands in the afternoon. I ended up buying some clothes to freshen up my wardrobe, some pants and skirts. I need to have a bit more of a polished look this year.

When I’m writing at home, I can wear whatever I want (usually yoga clothes, never pajamas. I can’t write in pajamas). But when I actually have to leave the house, I need and want to look professional, even if it’s not to a formal meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived on Friday, a day early, so that was a fun treat.

Saturday morning, I had errands — and wound up doing more clothes shopping — more pants and a few jackets. So I’m all set for the coming season.

Got two sets of notes on the radio play — which they claim they originally sent early in December, and I never received them. I had a conversation months ago, when they claimed they’d sent me something and I had never received it, which is why they didn’t get a response — if I don’t respond in 2-3 business days, it means I didn’t get it, and please follow up. I can’t respond if I don’t know they need something. Which they did not do, again. Now, they want a new draft in a little over two weeks. When I should have had seven.

I’m all signed up for a conference at which I’m a presenter — the schedule hasn’t officially been released yet, so I can’t give out the details. I will, as soon as I get the okay. Got a pitch for another radio play out (to a different company).

Started taking down the decorations. It took me a month to get them up; I don’t know why I thought I could get them down in an afternoon. And I used enough florists’ wire to build a small city.

Got some writing done, and some work on galleys. Not enough, I’m behind, and it frustrates me.

Got yet more contradictory information on my health insurance. I now have four sets of documents, all which contradict each other. I’m turning the whole mess over to Elizabeth Warren’s office. Don’t ever believe the marketing crap that health coverage in the state of Massachusetts works. It shouldn’t cost me several hundred dollars in repeatedly having to send documents via certified mail (which they always claim they never received, even when I have proof) and dozens of lost work hours every year to sign up for health coverage — all with the threat that I’ll have to pay a fine WHEN THEY SCREW IT UP EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Single payer. Anything else is just stupid.

Exhausted on Sunday. Had trouble getting going. Working on finishing up a book for review. Had to do some client work that I couldn’t get finished last week, and which had to be done by Monday.

Worked on taking down decorations. Still not done. The tree only has lights left on it, but it will be another day or two before I can get them off and take the tree apart. I haven’t even stripped the tree in my office of ornaments yet.

I’m just unbelievably exhausted, and don’t see any option for rest coming up. It’s not about sleep. It’s about rest.

Sunday night was a fancy dress party. The reason I’d been shopping earlier in the weekend was to find a dress for this party. I didn’t find one, although I found pieces to freshen my wardrobe. But it turns out that I could fit into my favorite navy blue velvet evening gown. I paired it with my new blue suede pumps, thigh-high stockings (I’m sticking to my resolution not to wear pantyhose anymore), a multi-colored velvet wrap, elbow-length red velvet gloves, and I had my hair up with a tiara. I was pretty pleased with the effect.

The party was fun. It was at a restaurant in Hyannis. There was live music, a dance floor. I had a few glasses of Prosecco, danced, talked to people I knew and didn’t.

When I got home, I changed into pajamas and made scrambled eggs and ham for a late, light supper.

Monday was spent in client work, a couple of other appointments, and then a new meditation class. I desperately, desperately needed it.

I was exhausted when I woke up on Monday, but proud of myself for sticking to the weight training. I do the weights before I do yoga, and that works much better. I used to do it the other way around, and it didn’t work.

My printer is acting up – just when I have A LOT that needs to be done in the next few days. I’m trying to replace the drum and hope that solves it; otherwise, I have to buy a new printer.

With a client today and tomorrow. Thursday, I start digging into the radio script revisions, and focus on some of the other writing.

Usually, even when I’m too tired to physically write much, I can work out plot points and story themes. But I’m so physically and mentally spent that I can’t even string two silent thoughts together. It’s very hard to be vocally coherent with clients.

And maybe, MAYBE this coming weekend, I can get some rest.

I’m going to figure out where I can take a few days off, either later this month, or early next month.

I still have two books coming out quickly that need to be marketed; and get back in the groove of GRAVE REACH, which comes out near the end of the year. And the plays. This year is about a lot of scripts.

I also have to get the registration of the websites shifted over to Name Silo. That means the sites will probably go down for a bit, as 1&1 tries to sabotage the transfer. But I’m happy with A2 as my host, and I want Name Silo to hold the registration. I want to finally be free of 1&1 for good. I wish I’d had the courage and the knowledge to leave them years ago. It’s cost me thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

But most of all, most of all, I am desperate for some rest.

Wed. Dec. 19, 2018: Regain the Balance By Writing

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Hop over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the final business post of the year.

Yesterday was challenging. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Today will be as well. I will just have to make like a hockey player and dig deeper.

By the end of the work day, I was very discouraged and disheartened. Change will happen, not as fast as I want it to, but it will. I have to be patient and smart. But it was one of those situations where I wanted to just sit down and cry, only there was no guarantee I’d stop any time in the foreseeable future.

Behind on where I want to be with deliveries and finishing the cards. I’m close to the end of the cards, but I’ve been so wiped out when I get home that I’m practically babbling.

Working on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and starting to get back to fixing the problems in DAVY JONES DHARMA.

I’m brainstorming an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for years, which is demanding attention. It’s most likely to be a play, with two infamous female writers at the center of it. That’s all I’m going to say for now. Doing some brainstorming in the Women Write Change forum.

I’m not going to work on the anti-gun violence play until after the holidays. There’s too much going on for me to go deep enough, and then be able to come back and deal with life stuff that needs handling. I’ll need to block off some quiet, depth time. But I am working on the proposal for the play I want to write about Canaletto’s sisters.

Also toying with the idea of a novella (? Not sure there’s enough for a novel) about a charming guy who entices women he meets online to support his expensive lifestyle, and how he gets his comeuppance. If it remains as light and comic as the initial notes, I’ll keep it as an Ava Dunne piece; if it goes darker, it’ll go out under the Devon Ellington byline. I probably won’t get to it until about spring anyway.

Yeah, I can hear you guys from here, telling me of course it will go dark. Because, hey, who’s got a trilogy coming out next year called “Justice by Harpy”?

I might just surprise you all!

Or not.

I’ll trust the characters to lead me to the best format.

I have a lot to do over the next few days, but I’m also looking forward to Winter Solstice on Friday, full moon Saturday, and celebrating a (hopefully) quiet Eve and Day early next week.

I love those moments at the beginning of the Winter Solstice ritual, where the house goes to full dark. Then we light the fire in the fireplace, and then light all the candles, and then put on all the twinkle lights. It really does make me feel like things will turn for the better.

I need rest, which is different than sleep.

But before then, I need to get things done.

Hopefully, yoga is on tomorrow. I need to be back in class.

I need some good writing time this week – which I will get in, around the Solstice and Christmas prep and some friends coming in with whom I’ll brainstorm the new plays.

 

Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend. I was lucky enough to focus on the writing.

I finished the 4th draft of HEART SNATCHER on Sunday morning, after spending part of Friday and most of Saturday on it. I wound up cutting seven chapters, doing a lot of tightening. It’s now back down within an acceptable range for genre, although I’d like it to be even leaner.

But I love Max and Valerie, and what they’re dealing with. The characters are well-developed, the plot moves.

I made some changes in the first third of HEART BINDER, the second book in the trilogy, and then went over the outline for books two and three, and made some changes to support the revisions in book 1.

I also found a place where I need to add a few words of description to an object that makes an appearance in Book 1 and then becomes vital to the plot in Books 2 &3.

I wrote another chapter on HEART BINDER on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll send HEART SNATCHER to my editor after the Thanksgiving holiday. I want it to marinate, so to speak, for a few days, and then I’ll do one more pass before I send it off. She liked the synopsis and sample chapters, and in the current climate of a toxic administration, it’s relevant.

Along with the discussions I’ve been having with editor and publisher, we are moving the release of DAVY JONES DHARMA into February, rather than December. I can’t get it into the shape I want by the end of this week. I need to tear it apart and reconstruct it. The contract schedule this year was just too tight for me.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes more sense to release a book set on a cruise ship in February, during the height of cruise season, so that all works.

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is on track, and retains its late January release date.

We may push back the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and the future of the Gambit Colony series is up in the air, as far as when it will release.

That’s all dependant, of course, if the publisher wants the Justice by Harpy trilogy. If not, we still have to rearrange some of the schedule, so that each book we release is the best I can make it, within the time frame, and the time frame is realistic so it doesn’t suck.

I’m also at that weird stage I hit with certain books, where I don’t like to be physically separated from the manuscript.

Got a few pages done on the suicidal veteran piece.

Friday night, there was an NBC news piece about teaching kids to triage each other in active school shootings. Right, because the adults refuse common sense gun legislation.

But that got me thinking about the anti-gun violence play. I wrote a new opening, and I have the notes for a new closing. They will echo each other, without boring repetition (if I do it properly). Instead of writing this play linearly, the way I usually do — start at the beginning, write it through, and then revise — I’m writing it from both ends to the middle. It’s a variation on a technique I learned in a playwrighting workshop I took with the National Theatre when one of my plays was done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I found out about the deadline to submit the application on the last day. I went to the Fringe office to apply. A scene had to accompany the application, so I sat down and wrote one. When I turned it in, they asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the instructor said, “You wrote this just now? It’s not part of something else?”

I said, “No. I can’t use anything from the piece that’s running, because it would hurt both processes.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re in.”

It’s one of the best classes I ever took in my life, and I still use what I learned.

Anyway, I rewrote the opening scene. I sent it off to my UK actor pal (the one who told me to get out of my own way in the reading). He’s one of the few who sees an early draft of anything; he’s both supportive and critical. I asked him what it needed. His reply: “To be on stage. Now.”

So I’m on the right track.

Yard work suffered this weekend, but too damn bad. I was so sick and tired of all the damn leaf blowers. It’s autumn in New England. Leaves fall down. The lawn doesn’t have to be immaculate every moment.

It was a Twitter pal’s birthday yesterday. I sent him good wishes; but, because I wasn’t close enough to buy him a drink in person, I went to a local bar where veterans hang out (he’s a veteran) and anonymously bought a round for a table of them in his honor. I left before the bartender could point me out. Because none of this is about me.

The rest of this week’s posts are placeholders and good wishes for the holidays. The next post with teeth in it is next Monday, the Upbeat Authors post wondering if authors can have friends, since everything is material.

Back to the page.

Published in: on November 20, 2018 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements  
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Tues. Oct. 20, 2018: The Wrong Tired Early in the Week

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Day Before Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Busy, busy weekend.

The Global Human Rights conference was intense. Fortunately, I can catch up on sessions I missed over the next couple of weeks. So much material on so many levels. A lot that I can use as jumping off points for creative work.

By Saturday, I was worn out. I gave myself the second half of the day off. I went grocery shopping, did laundry, made parsnip-carrot-leek soup, roasted a chicken.

Read more than I wrote: LARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING by Donna Andrews, which had me laughing out loud. It’s nice to see how Andrews developed the community, and how the time and energy Meg has put into it is now being returned.

Also read SHELTER IN PLACE by Nora Roberts. This is one of her better books, in my opinion. Relevant and sad, dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting, and how the survivors’ lives evolved. Not all of her books work for me, but this one did, on multiple levels. Well done.

Read a nonfiction book that came highly recommended, from other people and in reviews. Found it very disappointing. The narrator meandered around, being ungrateful for her opportunities and blowing them, and the “memoir” had very little point, other than making me not like or respect her very much. The constant tense shifts and second person gave me a headache. The framework of the piece made sense, but too much of the internal structure within that framework didn’t support the narrative, in my opinion.

Author Lauren Dane turned me on to the poetry of Warsan Shire. Wow. Just wow, on so many levels. One of the most powerful poets I’ve read in a long time.

I needed to take in work this weekend, rather than spewing it out.

But by Sunday, I was back on track with DAVY JONES DHARMA, and that draft is humming along nicely.

I also did another round of copyedits on RELICS. STILL finding errors that I know I changed. Still finding things that, when I changed, the “auto correct” on the machine changed back, and then I changed them again, and so forth and so on. It also angers me that the latest version of Word’s Grammar/Spellcheck doesn’t recognize “it’s” and always wants to change it to “its.”

I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POSSESSIVE AND A CONTRACTION. STOP TRYING TO CHANGE IT TO THE ONE I DON’T WANT.

Yes, I am screaming.

Worked on site with a client, which had its challenges. This week and next will be difficult, with this particular client.

I have another round of copyedits to do on RELICS. This damn well better be the last one; we’re getting way too close to the release date, and it’s hurting the pre-orders.

But once this releases, I can get back into splitting my writing work between the latest draft of DAVY JONES DHARMA and the latest draft of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Although, because I’m so deep in RELICS right now, I want to slide right into GRAVE REACH.

Prepping for the next revision on HEART SNATCHER, which I will do during the Women Write Change project.

Gathering research for both the anti-gun violence play and the multi-media performance piece.

In despair about the corruption of the US government right now. Voters better turn out.

Trying to schedule a bunch of appointments, and it’s all chaos.

Tired, tired, tired.

 

Wed. Aug. 29, 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Blisteringly hot & humid

Hop on over to the Fearless Ink Site for the latest on Ink-Dipped Advice.

I’ve been onsite with a client the last few days, doing studio/design work. She leaves for Thailand early in September and needs to get this done. It’s interesting work, the way she designs clothes, and very different from costume design in theatre.

I’m re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s TENDER IS THE NIGHT and wallowing in the beauty of the language. Which is weird, because when one breaks down certain sections of it, it shouldn’t work. But when you put it together, it does.

Since I’m reading EVERYONE WAS SO YOUNG, which deals with the inspiration for TENDER IS THE NIGHT, it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Ari Meghlen invited me to guest on her blog (it will go up next year) and I said yes. I also invited her onto Biblio Paradise. I need to get the next few dozen posts on that sorted this week.

Working on the calendar articles. The first book for my new reviewing gig arrived, and I really like it. I hope to finish it this weekend and get the review out early next week. Worked on the newsletter, which will go out early next week.

Shameless promotional note: If you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter yet, you can do so here.

This newsletter has a triple cover reveal: RELICS & REQUIEM, DAVY JONES DHARMA, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Pushing for the end of this draft of RELICS. Behind where I need to be on DHARMA. But BALTHAZAAR is where it should be, and CRAVE THE HUNT needs to get back into the mix once RELICS is in galleys and the next draft of DHARMA is done.

Right now, the goal is a minimum of 2500 words/day on RELICS (more if I can) and 1K on DHARMA, but that doesn’t always happen.

Getting more comfortable on Tumblr; loving Ello; joined Triberr, and we’ll see how that goes. I’m ready to give up on Vero — if I’m having trouble with even the sign-up, a client less IT fluent won’t like it at all. Their support people have been lovely, but the problem’s not solved. We’re going on a week here. And it’s just about signing up and my email address (that I use a dozen times a day) coming up in the sign-up as invalid. It’s not.

I have to start rehearsing the material for the Ptown Book Festival Reading and put together a flyer/handout for it.

Discussions on the Jain Lazarus covers with that cover designer. The cover I want to go back to was not by that designer — paint me mortified! I have to figure out what to do about OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. CRAVE THE HUNT is more important now.

We got the new subdomain for the new series set up and WordPress on it. Now, I have to take it offline so we can build privately. The first three books in the series are in good shape. The cover for the first is great; we have to tweak the second a bit. The fourth book is almost ready; the fifth is partially done, and the sixth outlined and has to get back into the writing roster. How the next few books in the other series stay on track and what goes on with CRAVE THE HUNT will decide a lot about the schedule for this series.

It’s a juggling act.

The cleanout of the basement is going more slowly than I’d like. The heat and humidity has a negative effect.

Last night was our last session of Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki for the season. It’s been a beautiful experience, and I am glad I made it to every session.

Today, I’m with a client for most of the day, and then I hope to get more basement cleaning done. The humidity/heat is set to break either tomorrow or Friday, so maybe I’ll have a productive weekend.

Back to the page.

Wed. Aug. 22, 2018: Creative Expansion & Annoyance at Forced Terms

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Today would have been my father’s birthday, if he was still alive.

Hop on over for the latest freelancing advice over on the Fearless Ink website, Ink-Dipped Advice. I’ve tweaked the look of it a bit, too.

I hurt my back on Monday, and it’s still bothering me. On top of it, yesterday, I had an awful headache.

I’m surprised by how upset I am at Facebook’s new terms, where authors can’t talk about their books on their personal pages. Because talking about them IS promoting them — it’s all integrated. My work is deeply entwined with who I am — even though my work is public and my life is private. My reason for being on social media is to talk about the work (and watch food porn and share pet photos, but that’s secondary). To force authors and all artists to move their work to business pages in order to force all of that to be paid promotion — I’m angry.

I’m also disappointed in Mark Zuckerberg, and his journey from creative entrepreneur to greedy corporate owner. People don’t change (although one hopes they grow), so it was always there. I had hoped it wouldn’t be what he leads with, but now it is. It’s bad enough he sold out his country to foreign entities, fake news, and hate groups. All these changes, which he claims are part of controlling that are crap. All he’s doing is hurting the small businesses and individual artists.

So, yes, I’m putting up a Devon Ellington Author page tied to my other pages. For the moment, I am still on FB. But if I’m kicked off, while I will miss some of my FB-only contacts, I’m going to shrug and move on.

I signed up on Tumblr, and you can find me here. I’m still figuring out how to use it.

I signed up on Ello, and you can find me here. I’m digging the creative energy over there, and I think I’m going to like it.

Once I upgrade my phone, I might join Vero, but the jury’s still out on that.

I’m thinking about reviving my old My Space account, even.

It all has to evolve, doesn’t it?

I use Twitter differently than I use Facebook. Facebook is more for hanging out. Twitter is more hard-edged and focused. Although I’ve gotten some of my highest-paid gigs off Twitter.

I might have to suck it up and try to be active on Goodreads, although I can’t stand the thought of it. But I need to be able to connect with readers and potential readers.

The whole thing is discouraging, depressing, and dispiriting. As usual, it’s about screwing the individual artist.

Negotiations for the gig are ongoing. I’d like to land it, but we have a few things to work out. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll shrug and move on.

Lucy loves to sit in my lap as I type. Lucy loves to sit in my lap no matter what. It makes Tessa grumpy, so I make sure to give Tessa plenty of extra attention.

Needless to say, I really, really needed Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki last night!

Continuing on with RELICS, happy that I see the end in sight for this draft and moving toward it.

DHARMA is heating up; once that moves back into the primary position, I think it will cook along fine.

BALTHAZAAR is also taking shape nicely, and I’m eager to get back to that, and to CRAVE THE HUNT.

We’re working on the relaunch of the Jain Lazarus books. My editor has asked me for a few tweaks, especially when it comes to OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. And I’ll have to do some major work on the website. I’m going to get it more in alignment with the other series sites.

We’re also talking about the series POWER OF WORDS is evolving into. The cover for the first book is stunning. I’m so happy with it. The second still needs some more tweaks, but it communicates what the book is about. We should see some proofs for the upcoming books shortly. We’re still tweaking titles on some of them, and starting to build the website.

Client work today; I’ll be late getting posts up both Thursday and Friday, because of things that have to get done in the morning before I can post. I hope to spend most of the upcoming weekend writing and working on the house and garden. With any luck, it will be cool enough and dry enough so to do.

I’m absolutely delighted that I was chosen to read at the Provincetown Book Festival on September 15. We’ll be in the Marc Jacobs room at the Provincetown Library, from 10-11:30 AM. Can’t wait.

Back to the page!

 

Thurs. July 26, 2018: And Mercury Goes Retrograde, Too!

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Day Before Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

I’m tired of everything being perpetually warm and damp.

Mercury goes retrograde today, with all these other retrogrades, and right before a full moon with the longest lunar eclipse of the century.

Yesterday was not a productive day on RELICS, and I’ll have to make it up this weekend. I have a deadline looming (although my editor let me push it back a few days). But this new deadline still must be met. I have Amanda and Phineas’s first real love/sex scene to write, and it’s tricky. I haven’t been in the right headspace to write it, and I can’t just skip it, move on and go back, because how it plays out influences the rest of the book. I know the focus and drive of it and what happens after, but the nuances I’ll discover when actually writing the scene will make a big difference.

Review out, a few blog posts ahead on some other blogs. Worked with a client on a batch of blog posts. The new hire at that client’s place is working well, so far. We’re finding lots of mistakes from the person that left. I also got a raise at this gig, without having to be the one to say, “I’m raising my rate.” Which is nice.

Got some work done restructuring THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, so I have an idea of what I have, how much, what needs to be tweaked since I split out the material that grew into MYTH & INTERPRETATION. Behind on where I want/need to be for DAVY JONES DHARMA, which will also have to get caught up this weekend.

The consensus on the DAVY JONES DHARMA cover was that it was too cutesy. Since the Nautical Namaste mysteries intentionally break some of the cozy formula rules, the covers can’t be entirely cozy, although they are more light-hearted than the ones for the other series. My cover designer showed me two other options. My editor, publisher, and I all liked the same one best, and I admit — they were right, I was wrong. The new one fits the tone of the book and the theme of the series better. We’re still debating whether or not to have the figure seated in lotus position, as we did on SAVASANA, to keep it consistent. But it looks wrong, so we might go without.

Also saw a rough of the cover for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which I love, love, love!!!! Completely different direction than I expected, and much better.

And the cover for RELICS & REQUIEM is beautiful. We also have a rough of the fourth boo in the Coventina Circle series, GRAVE REACH, which is lovely. The image was originally one of those proposed for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It wasn’t right for that book, but was compelling and fit more in the style of the Coventina Circle books.

So all of those covers are done ahead of time and are in good shape. I’ll be working with my other cover designer on the covers for the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures for next spring, and the next set of covers we need to worry about are those for what used to be POWER OF WORDS, but is now going to be called something else, and get its own logo and subdomain and website and all the rest, so it’s a lot.

I have a few things to do this morning and the library, and then it’s back home to write, write, write!

 

Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 8:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 26, 2018: And Mercury Goes Retrograde, Too!  
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Thurs. July 12, 2018: Clown Semen & Other Creative Adventures

Thursday, July 12, 2018
New moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see why loving your job does not forfeit your right to earn a living at it.

The impromptu artists’ retreat with my friends last week gave me a lot to think about, and it will take me some time to work through it all. While I didn’t get a lot of words on paper during that time, I refilled the creative well, as we all helped each other refill our creative wells.

I helped brainstorm their creative projects; because that work is not mine, I can’t discuss it here, in a public space. The results of the brainstorming are theirs to use or not use, discuss or not discuss as they see fit. But I find helping others sort their way out of creative obstacles always teaches me a lot about my own work.

As far as my work, I now have:

— a clearer idea of how to proceed on the anti-gun violence play;

–a stronger thread for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (breaking MYTH & INTERPRETATION out of it helped, but now it’s even more focused);

–a clearer idea of CRAVE THE HUNT, which needs to go back into the queue in late summer;

–how to incorporate the editorial notes I received recently on the two manuscripts in a way that solves the problems the editors pointed out without diluting my vision for the books. The only way I could see on one of them was to dumb it down, but now I know how to make what the editor feels is missing work while still driving the book’s unique edge, the thing that makes it different from other books in the genre;

–a new determination to work, in and around other projects on what I’ve called THE POWER OF WORDS, so the first six books will be ready to release one-a-month next spring or summer;

–a new determination to get back to THE FIX-IT GIRL edits (the book set in 1930s Hollywood), so that can go out on submission;

–the problem that had me stuck on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS is untangled, and I can fix that; when, I’m not sure, but the “how” is handled;

–the outline for the first book in a more traditional mystery series that has a good chance of finding a home in a more traditional venue — if I can work in the time to do a good job on it;

–ideas for a couple of radio plays, and new venues to send existing radio plays;

So I would say it was a productive few days.

I went to Falmouth Art Center to the opening of an exhibit where a friend of mine had a couple of pieces. The drive was a nightmare, but the exhibit was lovely. Her pieces (ceramics) had a wonderful sense of fun. Of the other pieces, I found myself especially drawn to the oils. I loved their depth. It reminds me of the difference between film and video.

Came home to discover other family friends had stopped by, although they hadn’t been able to stay.

Once the last of the guests left. I did laundry and some tidying up, but cut myself a break to process ideas and read and rest. I felt a huge need to rest.

Part of me worried that I’m getting too far behind on the word count for RELICS; more of me felt I couldn’t put words of any value down, and it was better to rest.

One of the books I read was THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis, which I really liked.

I tried to read some books by an author whose latest book I loved, but they were written in present tense, and I couldn’t. I loathe novels written in present tense. I don’t care how much praise they get. I find them unreadable. It’s the author getting between me and the story, screaming in my face about what a cool stylist the author is, instead of letting me experience the story.

A writer friend is coming to the Cape to teach at the Conference next month and wants to get together. I’m delighted.

Monday morning, I woke up early with a blasting headache. I ended up drafting most of a flash fiction piece — I still have to figure out how to end it. That alleviated the headache somewhat.

Client work, prepping and getting out a marketing campaign for an event the client has in August.

Steady work on RELICS, getting back into the groove with DHARMA. Researching my almanac articles. Getting ready to re-read HEADLONG this weekend so I can write the foreword. I’m so thrilled my friend asked me to write the foreword. What an honor. It remains one of my favorite books ever. I have to put some material together for a couple of proposals in the next few days, too.

I’d sent a pitch to a potential client through a recruiter — who sent it to THE WRONG COMPANY. My pitch was to join the marketing team for a company that promotes wellness in the workplace. Instead, the recruiter sent the pitch to a different company with the same first initials/acronym located in a different town. This one is a fast-paced, very corporate organization. I was puzzled at first, when the corporation contacted me to set up a meeting. Because I knew I hadn’t sent them anything. Then I did some research and realized what had happened. Then I did some research on the company and — no. Just no. We are not a good fit. The “leaders” stay in the shadows and the double-speak made me question their ethics. Plus, they’re looking for entry level to groom. I’m not entry level. Too many decades of work under my belt for that. I sent a polite email thanking them for their interest, explaining the mix-up, and withdrawing from consideration.

Savasana/sukasana/reiki was great. I love spending an hour a week lying in a quiet room with no expectations.

Then, Wednesday, there was some unpleasantness at one of the client sites. Unnecessary, manipulative unpleasantness. I was onsite, working on the client’s campaign for an upcoming event. However, another person in the workplace specifically sparked an incident that she knew would set off my client to go on a rant to which I would have to respond or be the type of compliant spineless moron I despise.This individual did it because she thought it was “funny.”Now, my client and I wound up being fine by remaining cordial and listening to each other, and giving each other respect for our differing views.

My fury (and believe me, it was fury) was at the person who sparked the incident, who threw me under the bus because she thought it was “funny.” My client left and I was finishing up what I needed to get done until I go back onsite next week. I was seething, but I figured I’d let myself cool down and then, if it was relevant, have a quiet word with the instigator next week.

But no, this one had to start joking about how funny it was. I told her to never put me in that situation again, and that I was angry, and didn’t appreciate she threw me under the bus. I have covered her ass plenty of times in that place. Then she denied that she “knew” it would cause a problem which either a flat out lie or she has cognitive issues, because we’ve discussed this more than once. Then she started the whole thing about how my anger “hurt her feelings.”

Too bad, bubbelah, maybe you should have considered that before deliberately stirring the pot. Her actions and her words are too far apart for me to believe her words. Anyone with a grain of common sense, consideration for someone else, and basic reasoning skills could have predicted what would happen.

Walk your fucking talk or get out of my life.

Of course, this is the same person who, last week, during a discussion about human rights violations, said she “doesn’t do politics. Besides, none of this affects me because I have white skin.”

Which just tells all of us all we need to know, right?

I’d much rather know someone’s true colors sooner rather than later. Now I know what I’m dealing with.

Fortunately, I got to have fun on Wednesday night, which is where the clown semen comes in.

My friend, author Ray Bartlett, did an event with another author, Mary Hart. I saw his post on Facebook about it, and hadn’t seen him in ages, so I figured it was a good time to get together, come out and support his book (I’d put together the launch party for it when it originally came out), and meet a new-to-me author. All good.

It was at Hyannis library, and tons of fun. Ray read from SUNSETS OF TULUM, and Mary read from SOME HORRIFIC EVENING. The audience was engaged, there was a great talk/question & answer session, and, best for them, the audience members bought books. It was lively and fun and creative.

I’m also looking forward to both of their next books.

After, we went to a nearby bar to chat and catch up. We ordered our various drinks. Mary ordered an IPA called something like “Clown Shoes”. It was clown something. Well, when it arrived at the table, it looked kind of like milky orange juice.

You get where I’m going with this, right?

We asked the waitress if it was supposed to look like that; she didn’t know, but suggested an app that has pictures and info on different beers. Mary pulled it up on her phone.

Uh, no, it wasn’t supposed to look like that. All the pictures were very different than what was in the glass in front of us. In the photos, it looked like beer.

What was in the glass didn’t look like beer.

Which is when the comment came up about it looking like “clown semen.”

Which quieted the men at the table into shocked silence for about 20 seconds.

Anyway, she sent it back and got something drinkable. But we started doing jokes about clown semen. Because it was just that kind of night.

We decided that it should be the title of her third book (because the title of her upcoming second book is already really cool). And if she doesn’t use it by her third book, I will.

I promised her I’d write about this today, so Mary, this one’s for you! 😉

And there was other laughter interspersed with the creative conversation, and it was fun. Also, when you go to one of Mary’s readings, ask about the story of how her parents met, because it’s really lovely.

Came home later than expected and puttered around.

This morning, it’s yard work, some remote client work. I need to up my game on RELICS & REQUIEM to make deadline, and I have to make sure I don’t drop the ball on DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Plus, you know, the novella, MYTH & INTERPRETATION, releases on Tuesday, so I better up the PR.

I need to prepare an international proposal for a play that needs to go out tomorrow, and two radio drama pitches to go out next week. I also want to get out some more LOIs this week.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some Adventures in Wildlife we’re having around the yard.

Back to the page!

 

Wed. June 27, 2018: Trying to Balance the Writing

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Day before full moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

The retrogrades are stifling.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for my piece on billing for phone time.

Mowed the front lawn on Monday afternoon. Still don’t love it, but the reel push mower works better for me than the gas mower.

But then, of course, it was cocktail time!

MYTH & INTERPRETATION is going through the publication process. I should have the Universal buy link and pre-order information up soon. It releases on July 17. I’m finishing up the media kit for it, and then I’ll do the series media kit.

I have to up my game with RELICS & REQUIEM. I often say that every novel has its own innate rhythm. This one’s is slower than I need it to be in order to meet my deadlines. I have to up it by at least two pages a day. Not quite sure how I’ll do that yet.

Another Gwen Finnegan between-the-books novella has started churning in my head. This would be between Book #2, BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, and Book #3, SANDOVAHL SECRET. It puts them in competition, when they are hired by different teams after the same object. Given where they are at the end of BALTHAZAAR, it might be a fun piece. I may do an outline and give it to my editor, to see what she thinks.

Watched NATIONAL TREASURE for about the fortieth time on Monday night. I have such fun with that movie.

RELICS & REQUIEM, finessing the DAVY JONES DHARMA outline, client work. I got some LOIs out, and one of them already wants additional information, so that’s good.

Lost respect for several people because they don’t care enough to take action against the human rights violations done by our own government, because they don’t believe it affects them. I have no place in my life for cowards or appeasers.

There was a beautifully written editorial in the NY Times by Michelle Goldberg. The content was superb (unusual, because for months the NYT has been the Paper of Appeasement). But the writing, the sentence structure was glorious. I loved it, and tweeted about her.

I shouldn’t have been shocked that those who derided the writing – not the content, but the quality of the writing – were white men.

It’s a gorgeous piece. The use of language is the best of what being a writer can be.

Today, one of my clients is taking her team out to lunch overlooking the water. That should be fun. Depending on my schedule after that, I might to go Green Drinks in Mashpee later. Never a dull moment, and that’s the way it should be!

 

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 2:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 27, 2018: Trying to Balance the Writing  
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Tues. June 26, 2018: Good Writing Things While the Country Burns Down

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

Five retrogrades. That’s a lot of weight.

Turned around the galleys for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. The book will be ready for pre-orders soon. I’m happy with it.

RELICS & REQUIEM is steaming along nicely. I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night, so I spent several hours lying in bed refining plot points and making mental adjustments to the Writers Rough outline. I’ve started putting those adjustments into practice. It makes a big adjustment to the romantic part of the romantic suspense arc, and I’m not quite sure it will work, but I’m going to give it a shot.

This week, along with RELICS, I get back into the saddle with DAVY JONES DHARMA, the second Nautical Namaste mystery. I need to re-read the material and take a look at the outline to get back into that headspace and voice.

The anti-gun violence play is going along slowly. But that’s okay. Every piece has its own innate rhythm. I don’t yet have a title for it, which is making it more difficult.

I received the check from the radio play. Always great to get those checks.

PJ Friel, the cover artist, is going to stay on as the cover artist for The Jain Lazarus Adventures, which is a relief. She created a specific look for the series, which I think works. My publisher agreed. I’m very proprietary about Jain, and I’m lucky that my publisher is giving me more leeway than is usual.

I’m also reading PJ’s debut novel, A TWIST OF WYRD, and loving it. It’s a terrific urban fantasy with a strong romance at its core. I’m looking forward to more in the series. PJ was a guest of mine on A Biblio Paradise when the book came out, a few weeks ago.

Friday night, I went out with a friend I haven’t seen in person since last fall, right after PLAYING THE ANGLES released. We went to Embargo, a tapas place in Hyannis. The food was surprisingly good, and we had a great catch-up. She invited me to participate in a fundraiser for a mutual friend of ours, which will happen in August. I’m going to write a new monologue for that, which I’ve started percolating. She is a ceramic artist, and is participating in a show in Falmouth opening in a couple of weeks, so I will go to that. And she’s encouraging me to apply for a reading slot at a local festival this fall. She’s right. All they can do is say no. But they can’t say yes if I don’t let them know I’m interested.

So it was a good, creative shoring up of each other’s work.

Saturday was a rainy day. I like listening to the rain here. I gave myself the day off. I needed it.

Sunday, I was back in the saddle for RELICS & REQUIEM, and got some solid work on it in. I also read over what I’ve got on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, now that I’ve cut out the material used for MYTH. It’s much tighter and more focused. I’ll have to massage a few things for the timeline and then move forward; I’ve lost several chapters of the material that was the foundation for MYTH. But now BALTHAZAAR has its necessary pace and focus, and I can move forward.

Re-read what I’ve got so far on CRAVE THE HUNT, the third Jain Lazarus. It’s a little more than the first quarter of the book, a little less than the first third. I like it. I found most of my outline notes, so I know where I’m going with it. I think I can whip it into shape for its release in March.

IF I stay focused on everything else that’s already contracted.

Yesterday was about client work and continuing to work on the media kit for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I had trouble getting my head back into RELICS, for some reason; but eventually, I got there.

Some idiot yesterday, here on Cape said, “I don’t have anything to worry about with politics. My skin is white.” And THIS is why we now live in a fascist dictatorship. The ignorance and lack of care is appalling.

Today is about more client work. I’m hoping to get to Reiki tonight. Because believe me, I need it!

 

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 1:44 am  Comments Off on Tues. June 26, 2018: Good Writing Things While the Country Burns Down  
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Wed. June 6, 2018: One Project Out, Another Moves Up

Wednesday, June 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to read why “My Rolodex Isn’t Free.”

MYTH & INTERPRETATION went out to my editor yesterday morning. I look forward to her comments. It’s a fast-paced novella that seeds conflicts that will grow in BALTHAZAAR.

On Monday afternoon, we looked at the four cover choices. They were all wildly different and quite beautiful. Each evoked something different. After much discussion, we decided on what will be the cover — both eye-catching and supports the novella.

So now, the primary focus goes back to RELICS & REQUIEM, and I’m excited. I love Amanda. I think she and Phineas will make an odd, if good team. GRAVE REACH (Coventina Circle #4) is already spinning, and I’m making notes in and around RELICS, because things from SPIRIT REPOSITORY and RELICS cause incidents in GRAVE REACH.

I have most of RELICS outlined; I’m going to write a few more chapters, then finish the outline and send it to my editor for comments as I draft; I hope we’ll have some of the same process to streamline as we did for MYTH.

I’d like both RELICS and GRAVE REACH to be close to 80K. And I’d like to keep Sylvie’s book lean, too. When we hit Diana’s book, it will sprawl a bit — I have a lot to weave in there. So the vision for Coventina Circle is pretty clear, with room for inspiration.

I want to get a lot of RELICS under my belt, because pretty soon, it’s time to turn attention to DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Never a dull moment.

Exhausting day with the client, doing IT work above my pay grade. I look forward to yoga tomorrow.

 

Published in: on June 6, 2018 at 2:32 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 6, 2018: One Project Out, Another Moves Up  
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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.