January 31, 2020: Month Changeover, Fresh Chances, Achieving, and Falling Short

Friday, January 31, 2020
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, for my January wrap-up. I have mixed feelings about my progress. And then hop over to Affairs of the Pen to see a post about how writing about Sophie and her capacity for joy is such a pleasure.

Got some decent work done at the library yesterday, including getting the numbers put in on the US Numbered Format version of “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.”
Now, I have to do the same for “Pier-less Crime” and then send them off to the director, so he has the trilogy (since he likes “Horace House” so much).

Got a carload of leaves to the dump. Maybe this weekend, I can do some more yard work, if the weather holds.

Started watched THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW Season 2 last night. Not as tight and funny a group as on Season 1. Competitions just aren’t my thing. When I’m baking, I’m going to keep at it until I get it right, not be forced to do something new to me in a couple of hours. No, thanks. I like this show better than most competition shows (which, for the most part, I loathe). But I still disagree with a lot of the parameters.

Working on the BALTHAZAAR revisions. Tearing out a whole subplot section and rebuilding it, which is a challenge.

I have the short story in my head, clear as can be. But can the words find the page properly?

Absolutely disgusted with the GOP Senators. They all belong in prison. And so disappointed in the Chief Justice.

Today is Brexit, so now the UK economy gets to crash, too. Not a good day, all the way around.

How did I do on my intent for the week, for quiet?

I decided not to attend a networking event. Work prevented me from attending meditation group. I kept my mouth shut at work more than I wanted, but it made sense so to do. There were several online conversations I chose not to enter, because the people involved weren’t worth the aggravation. They didn’t want genuine answers to their questions; they wanted their own views reinforced. Not worth the time and energy. I refrained from responding to an insulting email from the potential client meeting last week, where I’d withdrawn from consideration because we were not a good fit. Wednesday, they sent me a rude email saying they were going with someone else. Of course they did — I already told them I wouldn’t work for them. What are they, six? All about control, yet another indication that we weren’t the right fit.

Lots of reading and writing again this weekend; yard work if the weather holds, purging the basement if it doesn’t.

Have a great weekend! I have a slew of errands and bill-paying, and then it’s back to the page.

Fri. Jan. 24, 2020: Gearing Up for A Busy Weekend

Friday, January 24, 2020
New Moon
Sunny and mild

There’s a new post on Affairs of the Pen, under the Ava Dunne name, about how we’re all kids eager to look for lost treasure.

Yesterday really felt like a lost day, work-wise. It was frustrating.

I got a little bit of writing done before the rental inspection. The inspection itself takes only a few minutes, especially since everything’s okay and we have an ethical landlord. But the timing of it means I couldn’t really start anything until it was over.

I managed to get to the library and get a few things done, but I was under time constraints. Couldn’t get anywhere near done what I needed to.

Dashed back, bolted down a quick lunch, and then took my mother to the doctor. Where we waited for an hour and a half for a five-minute appointment. So, basically, the afternoon was lost, too.

I got in some reading, and finished the book for review, and started reading a fascinating book on the literary world in 1922, where this author believes everything changed.

Had planned to take a walk on the beach, but by the time we got out of the doctor’s office, it had clouded up and gotten too windy.

Leftovers for dinner, and reading. I’m still working my way through my re-reads of Donna Leon’s Brunetti series.

I have to do some research on Chicago in 1856 to get the correct names of a few things for “A Woman for the Job.”

Started “A Rare Medium” — the next Kate Warne play, about a case of hers where she posed as a medium. I have to dig up my notes on names, but it’s percolating along nicely.

Working on revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Some of it is sticky work, but once I fix the first half, where I got off track (again), the rest should fall into place pretty nicely.

Unpacked and purged a few boxes, and sorted out some clothes. Figuring out what to donate, what to get rid of, what to pack away as stock, and what to keep in the closet.

Yesterday was the first day of full peaceful co-existence for all three cats since Willa and Charlotte came to live here. Even Tessa and Charlotte ignored each other, while being in the same room, which is huge progress.

If Charlotte had ended up in a shelter, she would have been marked unadoptable. Fortunately, MA has only no-kill shelters, or she would have ended up on death row. She can’t stand confinement or closed doors or chaos and doesn’t do well with strangers. I’m glad she’s here and I figured out how to work with her to make her feel safe. The sunnier, sweeter side of her personality is starting to come out.

Willa just kind of does her own thing. She likes company, but refuses to engage when Charlotte has a tantrum. She’s very, very smart, and keeps at something until she figures it out. And friendly. She’s a friendly, easy-going cat most of the time.

Tessa is getting used to them. She doesn’t assert herself enough with them, but there’s peaceful co-existence. As my vet in NY said, it’s healthier for them to be together in the same room and ignore each other than be alone. After all, we took in these cats because Tessa hates being an only cat.

We’re getting there. I hope we’ve turned a corner. There will be some regression here and there, I’m sure, but consistency, boundaries, and lots and lots of affection have brought them a long way.

I had a meeting with a potential client late in the morning, which is why this is posting so late. The conversation was fine, but we are not what each other needs right now.

Now, I’m off to the grocery store, and then back to write the review and start the next book for review.

The weather’s supposed to be bad this weekend, so I’ll stay in to write, read, and purge boxes from the basement. Maybe run the leaves to the dump tomorrow morning, if the weather’s okay.

With a new moon, Burns Night, Virginia Woolf’s birthday, and Chinese Lunar New Year all hitting this weekend, I will be exhausted.

Received the second invitation to work without pay this week, this time a speaking engagement. I gracefully declined. What gets me about both invitations was that it comes from people who are paid and who don’t work without pay — yet they want me so to do.

Put in my share of that.

I looked over my clips and what I use where. I realized that my unpaid clips for “exposure” only resulted in requests for more unpaid work. Clips from paid gigs led to more paid gigs. That’s important information. I will sit down and figure out the exact stats, but it was an important realization.

How did I do with my intent to listen this week? I definitely listened. I definitely did not like a lot of what I heard. The Senate Trial is enraging and disheartening. The Republican Senators are a disgrace.

I listened to a lot of incidental conversations around me. As a writer, I do periodic eavesdropping anyway, as part of my process to catch cadence. But I was discouraged by the amount of intentional stupidity going around.

So, yes, I achieved my “intent” for the week, but the consequences were not what I foresaw. I still have a couple of days to go on the week, but I think I will focus on listening to music!

 

Thurs. Jan. 23, 2020: Projects and Exhaustion and Frustration

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, where I talk about my dreams of gardens.

Yesterday was exhausting, partially because the day before the dark moon tends to be my lowest energy day of the month.

I’m working on a big project with a client, so that’s taking a lot of time and attention for the next few weeks.

I started the next Kate Warne play, “The Rare Medium.” I hope I can keep the opening two lines. They are some of my favorites among all my projects. No, I am not posting them. I don’t blow first rights by splattering something in draft on public platforms.

Working on the book for review, and the other book for review finally arrived. Will finish one today and get the review out tomorrow, and read the other one over the weekend.

Have roughed out the short story inspired by the news event in my head, and will start drafting it later today.

Have a meeting with a potential client late morning tomorrow, so tomorrow’s blog will post late. It’s on YET another platform, so I need to download YET another app and I’m sick of it all. I don’t want to run my life on apps.

The rental inspection was this morning. Of course, one of the carbon monoxide detectors decided to start squeaking “end of life” because why wait until an hour later, when the inspection was done? Will contact the landlord to get a new one. He’s really good about stuff like that.

Needed Google Hangouts Meet App for tomorrow’s client conference. What a nightmare getting that to work. I HATE having to use apps for everything. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Working on the revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too. I lost a few threads in this draft. Some of them I will remove completely — they’re bogging down the story. Others need to be reworked so they’re stronger.

Of course, scenes for GAMBIT COLONY keep forming in my head, when it’s not a good time to work on it. Because that’s the way it goes. Idea Cookies.

Some work at the library, then work at home, then taking my mother to her doctor’s appointment. Then home for more writing and reading.

Every one of those rude, corrupt GOP Senators walking out of the trial needs to be held in contempt, lose the right to vote, and be removed from the process (and office). No jurors are allowed to behave this way. Chief Justice Roberts’s refusal to actually behave like a judge during trial is equally appalling. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court is supposed to be a leader, not a milquetoast.

The whole corrupt sham is disgusting.

In the meantime, I’m going back to the page.

 

Published in: on January 23, 2020 at 11:37 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 23, 2020: Projects and Exhaustion and Frustration  
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Thurs. Jan. 16, 2020: Rain, Writing, Other

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Waning Moon
Rainy and cold

The temperature is dropping, It’s going to snow this weekend.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was exhausting with the client, and will be for the next few weeks, while we work on a big project. It’s fine, I’m just wiped out when I leave.

Home, worked with the cats. Charlotte was being difficult. But the Chewy order arrived, which put all three of them in a better mood.

Worked on contest entries, and am re-reading Donna Leon’s FATAL REMEDIES.

Up early this morning, took my mother to a medical appointment. Got some writing done. Off to two different libraries today, for resources that are unique to each.

I am determined to wrestle the end of “Trust” into something that works over the next few days.

Will start my next book for review tonight.

Hope to finish “Trust” and the Kate Warne curtain raiser, and also get some serious work done on BALTHAZAAR. That deadline is looming.

Hoping to get some more LOIs out today or tomorrow, and then polish some article proposals over the weekend.

At least there’s never a dull moment!

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 10:55 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 16, 2020: Rain, Writing, Other  
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Fri. Jan. 3, 2019: Short & Sweet Post (For A Change)!

Friday, January 3, 2020
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
9th Day of Christmas
Rainy and cool

Today’s post is short and sweet, in contrast to yesterday’s long and meandering. I have work colleagues coming over for some merriment in the afternoon, and I am running around doing last minute prep.

Make a chocolate rum cake last night – not sure I’m happy with it.

I have plenty of food, I always do. Yet I always worry, and I always worry I don’t have enough liquor.

Cleaned and tidied yesterday afternoon. Did some research for the new play (which I plan to finish this weekend). Started reading the next book for review. Worked with the cats. Tessa and Willa have made huge progress; even Tessa and Charlotte have made SOME progress. Charlotte is our Problem Kitty.

Wrote a few pages on the Winter Solstice romance.

Furious that the Narcissistic Sociopath with the Rapture Secretary of State are getting us into another war. Heartbroken at what’s happening in Australia, too.

This weekend, the tree comes down and everything is packed away, I finish the play, I work on the romance and the BALTHAZAAR edits, polish some article pitches, work with the cats, and read the book for review.

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, where I have my January To-Do List. I already have a few unexpected additions not posted!

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on January 3, 2020 at 10:19 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 3, 2019: Short & Sweet Post (For A Change)!  
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Tues. Dec. 3, 2019: Catching Up on the Dailies

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Nasty weather

It’s been nearly a week since I shared my daily life. And quite a week it’s been.

Tuesday night, we decided not to go to Maine for the big 60-people-for-dinner-at-the-rented-hall. Between plumbing issues and furnace issues and car issues and traffic issues and my back issues, it didn’t make sense.

They were disappointed, but they understood.

Wednesday morning, the plumber showed up early. Put a new faucet in the kitchen sink, new valves, worked on the toilet in the downstairs bathroom. I scrubbed out under the sink (where it had also leaked) and left it open, so it could dry

By the time he left, it would have been too late to get on the road anyway, and the traffic was dreadful. So was the weather. I was grateful to be at home. Popped out to get a couple of things we needed to cook the meal at home.

Managed to get out the polished version of “Pier-less Crime” out and the company is excited about it.

Watched ROMAN HOLIDAY with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. It’s been years since I saw it, and I’d forgotten a lot of it.

Sketched out some story ideas (in words, not actual sketches). Figured out more of THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, which is the play about Canaletto’s sisters.

Up early on Thursday morning. Made the stuffing, got the turkey in the oven. Wondered if maybe I went overboard buying a 20 lb. turkey.

For some reason, the meal prep upset Charlotte. She was very agitated. I wonder if she was moved after a large family meal more than once?

We had a high wind advisory with warnings of power outages, so I put it in a little early, to make sure the oven was on and we could actually have the meal. We had cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas with it. Tiramisu for dessert. We ate about a half hour or so earlier than normal (in Maine, we usually sit down around 1 PM).

The meal was excellent, absolutely perfect. The weather outside howled and was frightful.

I felt like I did dishes for hours, though. My own damn fault, because we used some of our favorite old pieces, all of which have to be hand-washed. Which is just fine.

Make stock out of the bones, and then turkey soup. We also have plenty of leftovers. Yum, yum!

Too tired to watch anything on Thanksgiving night. Read. My back was bothering me. Everyone on our little street was away for the holiday. It was blissfully quiet.

Up early Friday morning. Put in the Chewy order. That was the extent of my Black Friday shopping. Put away the washed dishes. Two runs to the dump, one for household garbage and one for leaves.

Got the decorations out of the Christmas Closet and sorted them. Got the tree down and put it up, just the tree and the lights. Tied in place, because we don’t know how Willa and Charlotte will react to it.

Switched out the fabric on the various surfaces to Winter Holiday fabric, everywhere but in my office. My office is where everything we don’t know where to put while we’re decorating goes, so it will be the last to be decorated.

Put up the musical instrument fabric over the fireplace. Put up the red ribbons around the doors and windows (we hang cards from the ribbons around the doors and the ribbons look pretty around the windows).

Got the Advent table set up with the wreath, four silver candle stands, and the centerpiece this year is the Broadway snow globe.

Believe it or not, that took all day.

In my NYC apartment, everything only fit one way. Here in the house, we have the option to do things differently from year to year, which is fun.

Fish and chips for dinner, which is always fun to make and eat.

Re-watched A ROOM WITH A VIEW on Friday night. Much more critical of it this time around, although the locations and the camerawork are gorgeous.

Up early again on Saturday morning. Paid some bills. Had to go to Home Depot for something I couldn’t get elsewhere, and was so disgusted I left without buying anything. I hate Home Depot. I don’t like to spend money there anyway because the owner is a rightwing lunatic, so I avoid it unless I have no other choice.

Went to AC Moore. Will be sad when they close after the holidays. I like them as an alternative to Michael’s. Found a few things I needed. Went to Trader Joe’s for a few things, and to Christmas Tree Shops, where I ended up spending more than I planned, but I would have done so over the course of the month, so might as well get it all done in one go.

Went to put gas in the car — and couldn’t get the tank flap unlocked. I still had a half a tank of gas, so no reason to panic yet, but I was upset. I can’t afford another car repair. Headed to Country Gardens to get the plain wreath for the front door, so I could decorate it. Then the hatch wouldn’t open. I was furious. That was just fixed a few months ago. I’m tired of them fixing stuff and then, a few months down the line, it needs to be fixed again.

Driving away, suddenly the tank latch worked. So I turned around, headed back to the gas station, and filled up, just in case. The hatch started working again, too. At no point in any of this did any warning lights come on.

Decorated the wreath for the front door. Finished decorating the fireplace mantel. We put the carolers up there again this year, against the backdrop of the musical instrument fabric. The blue poinsettia garland hangs below the carolers. We have gold bells hanging center top, and, above that, by the ceiling, holly and ivy and gold ribbon and a gold musical instrument swag.

Unpacked a few other boxes of ornaments, but it took a long time and not a lot seemed to get done.

Got four loads of laundry done, though, and outlined two novels. Decided an idea that was going to be a Thanksgiving story would really be a Solstice/Christmas/New Year story.

Worked on the book for review.

Instead of cooking what I planned to for dinner, Twitter pals raving about Turkey leftover sandwiches inspired me to make gigantic dinner sandwiches with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry. Delicious!

Read and made notes on a few projects.

Up early on Sunday. Worked on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT for a few hours, before I started back in on the decorating.

The Santa collection was set up on the Behemoth. Ornaments top the ribbons on the doors and windows. Pine cones will be added later. More ornamentation was added to the mantel. Most of the tree is decorated, but that usually is a work in progress until it comes down. But enough is on so that I could put on the tree skirt. The kitchen tree and the kitchen nutcracker are done, and I unpacked and washed the holiday mugs. Which means I have to pack away the same number of day-to-day mugs, so there’s room in the cabinet.

Turkey pot pie for dinner, a little reading and writing in the night. I was exhausted and my back hurt, so I went to bed early.

The weather turned on Sunday — rain, sleet, then back to rain by Monday morning.

Up early on Monday, morning routine and some writing. Getting ahead on blog posts. Writing a letter to fight for insurance again. It shouldn’t cost me several hundred dollars and begging in order to get onto insurance every year. Romney-care DOES NOT WORK. We need a single-payer system.

I’m updating my freelance contract, and will update the website to reflect that. Rates are going up for 2020. When the locals balk, I just add more remote clients, who understand that skill and quality are worth the money. I have never lived anywhere that skills are so disregarded as they are here. The only thing respected is coming in rich.

Working on the release information, media kit, excerpts, promotion, etc. for GRAVE REACH, which releases on Thursday the 5th. I’m very excited about this book. I achieved what I set out to do with it. I learned a lot from this book, and that will feed in to the rest of the books in the series.

Working on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, and also getting back into the revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Worked on the book for review. I hope to have the review out either later today or tomorrow, latest.

Was onsite with a client yesterday, getting into the holiday madness. Onsite again today. Finally got back to meditation group after missing the last two weeks. It was much-needed.

The sink is working just fine, but the toilet in the downstairs bathroom is still leaking, so the landlord is going to have to deal with it.

Still lots of decorating to do, especially in my office.

I’m enjoying the Advent calendars, though.

Need to start writing cards this week. The overseas cards need to go out on Friday.

One step at a time, one word at a time, one page at a time.

Wed. Nov. 27, 2019: Things To Deal With Before the Holiday

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune goes DIRECT today
Uranus retrograde

The last two days have been long days, in preparation for the holiday weekend. I’ll be offline (except for a bit of social media here and there) until next Monday. I need the break. I need to do a bunch of hearth-and-home stuff and enjoy the holiday.

The final proofs went out yesterday. What a relief.

Figured out how to finish “Pier-less Crime” yesterday. Let’s hope I can get it out today.

I figured out the titles for the seventh and ninth book in the Coventina Circle series. The seventh book, Hart’s book, will be called THE EARTH GOD’S TEARS. The ninth (and final) book in the series will be called GHOST SHARDS. I still haven’t figured out the title for book 8, Jake’s book. I don’t yet have the protagonist’s name for Book 9, but it will tie together the arcs of the series, and all of the Coventina Circle members will be included. It will be another theatre-centric book, bringing the series full circle. I’m working on the outline. I also have quite a few notes for Book 6, Diana’s book, DEADLY GROVE.

That means, I get back into the daily rhythm of THE BARD’S LAMENT, and I turn more attention to THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and the play about Canaletto’s sisters.

It will not be a weekend free of writing. But at least I’ve cleared off several deadlines ahead of the holiday.

Have a lovely long weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Published in: on November 27, 2019 at 6:18 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 27, 2019: Things To Deal With Before the Holiday  
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Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing

Friday, November 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

There’s a possibility we’ll get our first snowflakes today. I’m hoping it will be cool and dry the rest of the weekend, so I can work in the yard. In spite of taking 3000 gallons of leaves to the dump yesterday, the yard is full of more leaves.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about SAVASANA AT SEA being a case of writing the book I wanted to read.

Yesterday was busy. After two trips to the dump for leaves and recycling, and a massive grocery shop, we brought in some of the plants to overwinter, and put some of the big pots away. The garden ornaments are cleaned and put away for the winter. We have more plants and pots to put away today, and then I have to oil the teak.

I baked a chocolate chip raspberry cake, prepping the filling for chicken pot pie and for Indian stuffed eggplant. I didn’t hear from my friend until 3:30 that yes, we were still on for tonight, and she hadn’t gotten any of my emails in the past week, asking for information, so I could draft up the piece she needs help with.

Mercury Retrograde strikes again.

She got here, and we worked socializing the cats. All three did really well. Even Tessa came out for a bit. Willa was happy to have a playmate, and Charlotte handled having a stranger around really well.

The dinner went well, we discussed what needs to be done. I’m writing/revising the speech today and will send it off tomorrow. She’s giving it in NYC next week, as part of a fundraising conference.

This morning, I wrote the review for the absolutely delightful book I read, and will send it to my editor this morning, telling her I’m ready for the next one.

Driving from errands to the library on Phinney’s Lane, we were all stopped in our tire tracks as a flock of wild turkeys took their time strolling across the street. It was hilarious.

The bulk of the day will be spent working on the speech, but I had a few errands this morning, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and edits on another project. I’m hoping to sneak some work in to finish “Pier-less Crime.”

The weekend is about writing, reading, working with the cats, cleaning up the yard, cleaning out some boxes from the basement. I want to finish “Pier-less Crime” and get the opening of the play about Canaletto’s sisters right, along with finishing my edits, and continuing a decent pace on THE BARD’S LAMENT. My goal is only 2 pages a day for it, but I usually write 4-6.

I’d like to get some more of ELLA BY THE BAY typed up — I don’t have much more work to do on that first draft, but I need to see what I’ve got so far so I can wrap it up. Because I blank-paged it instead of plotting it, I’m in a muddle for this last third. The next draft will be a pretty major tear it apart and restructure it.

I’m hoping, by next week, to get back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

I also plan to work on the GDR questions for 2020, so I can post them next week.

Onward, one word at a time.

Published in: on November 8, 2019 at 9:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing  
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Wed. July 31, 2019: Learning, Growing, Planning

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury goes DIRECT today (thank goodness) — but it’s almost midnight by the time it does so
Hot, humid, storms in the evening

I don’t do well in this heat and humidity. I’m like the cats — all I want to do is lie around and do nothing.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the second chapter of Fred’s adventures trying to hire a writer for his small business.

Meditation was great on Monday afternoon. A big group, and a great session.

I’m reading Jean Claude Izzo’s Marseilles trilogy. It’s quite wonderful. His tone reminds me a bit of Ron MacLean’s in HEADLONG.

I’m learning a lot from reading these international novels in translation. Not books by Americans set overseas, but books by writers about their own countries. The tone, the pace, the structure is very different from what we consider the “formula” for the genre, and it works.

I hope my little tiny publisher grows to the point where it can sell/negotiate international rights. I already know my plays do better in the UK and Australia than in the US; my friends in France, Spain, and Germany think my books would do well there, if translated properly.

Up early on Tuesday. Great session on ELLA, mediocre one on GRAVE REACH, but I’m determined to get back into its groove. I need to get it out to my editor soon. Fortunately, THE BARD’S LAMENT and DEADLY GROVE are properly percolating, so I hope not to get behind on those. Although I have to jump right back into the next round of revisions for BALTHAZAAR and then for DHARMA when GRAVE REACH goes out.

I’ve figured out where I want the next two ELLA books to go (it was always meant to be a trilogy), and how to make each book stand alone, while the three will be satisfying together. After that, I can decide if I want to write more ELLA books, or if I’ve said everything I have to say. I’m nearly at the two thirds point with ELLA. It’s been fun to write steadily, but not have a daily quota or a deadline on it.

My friend was pleased with the blurb I wrote for his book. I’m glad; it’s a lovely book and deserves to do well.

Still trying to pull myself out of the mire of discouragement. Client work yesterday was challenging, and will be so today. I’m working on my article for Llewellyn — that will probably go out early next week. I’m polishing some pitches. They’re taking longer than I expected, but I’d rather do them well than rush them and alienate a potential new-to-me editor.

Tomorrow is Lammas, one of the biggest days in my personal calendar. I’m trying to decide if I want to take a few days to disconnect and focus on writing, yoga, meditation, and the changes I’m trying to make.

Next Monday, the upbeat authors posts start on inspiration for the month of August. Believe me, I have plenty to say about that!

Have a lovely day. If I do decide to take a break, also have a lovely weekend as we slide into August.

 

Published in: on July 31, 2019 at 5:13 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 31, 2019: Learning, Growing, Planning  
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Wed. July 17, 2019: Keeping Some Writing Consistency

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Last Day of Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Hot and humid

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where we start a saga of different business approaches. Sort of a serialized parable.

Good morning’s session yesterday on ELLA, although I’m using too many placeholders. Decent session on GRAVE REACH. It has its own pace and meets it, but I need it to happen more quickly.

Onsite with the client was what it was. Got some other client work done later on.

My friend’s surgery on Monday went well. He’s healing, although in pain. He’s got the determination to make a full recovery relatively quickly.

Monday night, I made crabmeat rolls, and cooked ahead to make a sausage/potato salad with mayo/mustard/paprika dressing for Tuesday night. This week is supposed to be hot and humid, and I wanted to get a bit ahead. The cats are miserable in the heat, especially Lucy, even with the fans.

I’m going to cook a few dishes in the coming weeks that are featured in ELLA, BALTHAZAAR, and DHARMA.

Finishing up some research on Venice from the Commonwealth Catalog books. I might have to reorder one of them, after I’ve sent it back. I need to start the play about Canaletto’s sisters by the end of the month. Not to mention the other radio play.

Prepping a few pitches to go out later this week, and reading submission calls to see if I have any short stories that might fit. My schedule’s too tight to write something new, especially with the #31Prompts.

I’m not writing a piece a day for #31Prompts, but I have a feeling all of them will eventually turn into something or be folded into something, which is a good thing.
I might keep up the #31Prompts page and update it occasionally with what each prompt inspired, and where it ended up.

I’m feeling stuck and discouraged on several fronts, which makes sense with all the retrogrades, but I also know I’m running out of time on several things, and I need to marshal some resources. I’m also angry at a lack of professionalism with which I’ve been met on several fronts, although I shouldn’t really be surprised.

Conversations are ongoing with several of my elected officials about situations where I have concerns. They can’t represent me if I don’t communicate with them. So I am.

As always, in times of stress, the GAMBIT COLONY pieces offer sanctuary.

But they are not on deadline, and I have plenty of other work that is, so I need to focus on that.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 17, 2019 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 17, 2019: Keeping Some Writing Consistency  
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Thurs. June 13, 2019: Writing, Garden, Rain

Thursday, June 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Raining and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the details about the garden and the mowing.

People are pretty sad around this area. The Bruins lost the Stanley Cup last night to St. Louis.

Yesterday, the guy came to mow, early in the morning. I’d let my neighbor know, so that he wouldn’t be rudely awakened (although he was probably up). In one hour, the guy did what usually took me several days. There’s a lot of relief in having this off my plate. I never found my mowing Zen, I hated the mowing part of having a yard. I struggled for years. This guy is nice, charges a price fair to both of us, and does a good job. If anyone decides to give me a hard time for not handling it myself, too bad. I’m not twenty any more. There are things I can’t physically do anymore, and things I don’t WANT to do. Mowing is both.

The lawn looks good (okay, I admit, I preferred it to look wild in the back), and now I can concentrate on the beds and plants, and putting down fertilizer to keep it green and healthy.

Client work onsite was fine. I’m prepping for next week’s big event. I’ll probably have to put in some extra hours in the next few days, remotely, but that’s fine.

Another client gave me the greenlight on the material I wrote, so now I’m getting it out to the press and up on event calendars.

Again, I got jerked around by the potential client in Boston. We’ve now had half a dozen conversations that I need advance notice to come up from the Cape to Boston. It is ignored. When I follow up on meetings they claim they want for confirmation, I get excuses.

So, it’s finally gotten through my thick skull that they’re not serious about hiring me. Somehow, they can use me as leverage against someone else. They’re stringing me along for whatever reason. But guess what? I’m not willing to be anyone’s second choice. And if so many red flags come up during our initial meetings, what would working with them be like?

I’m going to keep pursuing other opportunities. I’m going to keep keeping up with my other clients. I’m going to keep sending out LOIs and article pitches.

I’m disappointed, I’m a little angry, I’m insulted. But it’s best that I acknowledge those feelings, then drop them and move on.

I’m doing all kinds of research in Caribbean history. It’s technically for ELLA BY THE BAY, but some of it is useful in THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA.

ELLA BY THE BAY is going very well. I enjoy my daily writing session on it, in longhand. I like mixing elements of mystery, romance, and the character’s self-exploration.

GRAVE REACH is going more slowly, but it’s finding its way. I look forward to getting this draft to my editor. THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA both have new release dates, early next year, and I’m working on the revisions. The new track for both books is much better. I’d rather spend more time on the book than rush it and put out a lousy book.

I’m reading some material on Brighton Pier in preparation to write the next radio play. I’m looking forward to it. I might also contact the museum with some questions.

There’s still an awful lot that needs to be dealt with in the next few months, but I’m doing what I can each day to deal with it. Mercury in Retrograde for the bulk of July isn’t going to help.

Have to follow up today on an article I submitted a couple of weeks ago. It’s supposed to be paid on acceptance, and there hasn’t been any acknowledgement of it, much less acceptance, or payment. If this was the first time working with the publication, I would figure this is just the way they operate, but I’ve written and been paid for a half a dozen pieces over the years, so I don’t understand what’s going on now.

Will follow up on a couple of other things, too.

Fingers crossed, and then back to the page.

 

Published in: on June 13, 2019 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on Thurs. June 13, 2019: Writing, Garden, Rain  
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Tues. April 30, 2019: Conference Wrap-up and New Ideas

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ever so much to talk about, and some things about which I’m not yet ready to talk about, because I’m still mulling them over.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the April wrap-up. It should be up within a half hour of this post.

This past weekend, I was a presenter at the #NECRWA conference in Burlington, MA. It’s one of my favorite conferences, because it’s relaxed and upbeat. It always gives me a lot to think about.

I re-connected with some people I knew from before, met new people, met some people I knew from online and this was the first time we’d met in person.

The weather was awful on Friday. I had the car packed early, and left a little before noon. Usually, it takes me about 3 hours to get there (and it’s only outside of Boston) because of traffic. I’d managed to time it so it only took two hours.

My room was ready; I checked in and it took 2 luggage cart trips from car to room to get everything up. Made me think maybe I brought too much stuff.

The hotel had a renovation. It’s very upscale business traveler with dark wood and shiny counters and a huge TV. My room had a kingsized bed AND a chaise longue, with which I immediately fell in love. The bathroom was all shiny counters and frosted glass.

I unpacked, tried to rest up a bit, looked through the conference materials. I also worked ona book I have to review.

Freshened up and went downstairs for the cocktail hour. They served us a buffet dinner, too, courtesy of Red Feather Romance. That definitely got our attention — feed us! 😉

I had some interesting conversations. One with a writers’ group who’d travelled here together to attend — their members were from Western MA and upstate NY. I had another conversation with some early career writers who didn’t even try to hide their contempt that I’m with a small publisher and that I talked about craft and the importance of a good editor, and how much I value both my editor and my copy editor. They plan to self publish, and, according to them, “craft doesn’t matter, because Kindle readers don’t care.”

I beg to differ.

I found that arrogance rather off-putting, and wondered if that would be the tone of the conference.

The Literacy signing was after the dinner. I prefer it when it’s at the end of the weekend, when I’ve gotten to know some of the authors and have an idea of their books. I felt like I “should” buy a lot of books, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I felt guilty when I browsed a table without buying.

I went back upstairs to decompress a little and read more of the book for review.

I also set up my rolling rack for tomorrow, went over the presentation again. Second-guessed myself on every item I brought and every slide I chosen; wondered if I should revise the presentation. But that way madness lies.

Tried to watch television, but it was lousy. I’m not missing anything by giving up cable.

Got an email from that new-to-me editor who wanted yet more information about why the topic — an underused resource that can generate more income for freelancers — is relevant to his site, which is supposed to be about generating income for freelancers. I have now written more than twice the word count ABOUT what the actual article would run. For a publication for which I’ve written a half a dozen times, and where I never had to jump through all these hoops for the other editor.

Makes me think we are no longer a good fit, and perhaps it’s time to move on to another dance partner.

The bed had one of those pillow top or memory foam things. I felt like I sank so far down it would cover me and smother me. It was comfortable; I’m just used to a much firmer mattress.

I woke up once at 4 AM with a horrible headache, but got back to sleep, and got up just before 6. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. I like writing in hotel rooms. There aren’t many distractions.

On my way to the first session, I stepped outside for a few minutes — and the headache went away. I realized that I can’t open the windows in my room, and I always sleep with my window cracked. I’m not used to recycled air.

A few minutes outside, even in the rain, helped.

Before the first session, I talked to some people who live in Central MA about the benefits of living there. They love it, because one can get to anywhere from there. It was great to hear them talk about what they loved about the area, how it’s changing, what frustrated them. The arts community seems much more vibrant and able to earn a living than it is here.

The first session was great, about burnout. Emily Nagoski was the presenter. Her handouts and worksheets were great. The timing couldn’t be better, considering the crossroads I’m facing right now. I also want to get a quote from her for an article I’m writing.

Went outside for a few minutes in between sessions, then went to a panel discussion where the participants frankly discussed money. We all agreed not to share these authors’ actual financial details outside of the room. But some of their approaches and concepts were interesting.

I was surprised — at this panel and elsewhere in the conference — by how large a percentage of the incomes are via Amazon’s Kindle direct. I’ve always avoided them because I don’t like the contract. My small publisher distributes digitally through Amazon, but my contract is not directly with Amazon, but via my publisher.

Also, the volume at which some of these authors are turning out books. There’s one full-time author who has published 70 books in the last 11 years. She’s earning money, she’s winning awards. She’s turning out quality work. She’s got audio books and translations out.

I always thought I wrote reasonably fast, but I couldn’t keep up that pace, unless I had a full staff to run the rest of my life.

I’m wondering if I should run an experiment, and have something that is more typically genre run through KDP/Unlimited to see how the returns differ.

The downside to that (apart from the qualms I have about the KDP contract) is that having only one book in that pipeline isn’t going to do much. I’d need at least three.

Three books that are separate from anything I currently have on contract, when I’m already on a brutal contract schedule.

Of course, a new pseudonym and a new idea for a series, even its title, came bursting forth almost immediately.

Whether I choose to go KDP or not, I’m kind of in love with this idea. It fuses with a couple of other ideas I’ve been playing with, and mixes the mystery and romance genres in a beautiful location.

I even have the opening line, which is a kicker.

The problem is — when will I be able to write it? We’ve already rescheduled THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’m on track for GRAVE REACH, but I can’t let the other two fall by the wayside.

I have to get back into the Jain Lazarus Adventures later this year, revising CRAVE THE HUNT, and my editor and I have to go over the first two, seeing if we need to make any changes.

I have to get back on track with the JUSTICE BY HARPY books. The first book is in great shape; the second two, not so much. Since all three have to release close together, that’s a challenge.

I want to get THE FIX-IT GIRL out on traditional submission, and work on THE TIE-CUTTER.

And, of course, there’s always GAMBIT COLONY that pulls whenever I’m stressed to blow off steam.

I have a radio play going live in May. I have another radio play due in Florida in the next couple of weeks, and requests for more; I have ANOTHER radio play to send to MN as soon as I’m done with it.

I have a play due in NY at the end of May for a contest.

I have to get into the MFA to research Canaletto and the Bibiana families so I can start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters that’s due at the end of the year.

I have to finish the anti-gun violence play (because it’s not like that issue will be solved any time soon).

I have to keep working on WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, and test the monologues.

I have to write the play about the two infamous women authors.

I have articles to pitch and write, and other marketing writing that keeps a roof over my head. I have contest entries to finish, books to review, a couple of speaking engagements coming up.

I have to come up with a new marketing strategy for my books.

How do I make it all work? Especially when, right now, I’m exhausted? And deal with the garden? And I probably have to face some major life changes in the upcoming months.

I’m not sure. I have to take some time to sit and think. To prioritize. To push myself to get it all done.

To do it without killing myself.

Hence why the burnout workshop was so relevant.

Outside, took a few breaths of fresh air, then back in for a seminar on ebook pricing. Some of which directly contradicted what worked for some of the authors in the last seminar.

One interesting thing that came up was to set the first book in a series perpetually at 99 cents. I’ve played with that idea. I don’t want the people who are excited by a new release to feel screwed if I lower the price of the first book to 99 cents and keep it there. My publisher is open to discussing pricing changes, but is more in favor of limited-time discounts than a permanent change.

A few months ago, I was advised that I should lower the price of ALL the earlier books whenever I have a new release out. I balked at that idea, as did the publisher. Because then why should people order the book when it first comes out? They know it’ll come down in price a year later when the next one comes out. In the interim, I might lose them anyway.

It was also brought up that $1.99 is an awful price. I put my Delectable Digital delight shorts at 99 cents (making sure people understand they are SHORT). My publisher usually has novellas or short novels at $1.99 or $2.99 if they’re almost up to category length. Now I’m wondering if we should go up to some funky price like $2.09 or $2.49?

Yeah, this is just what my publisher wants. Me to come back from a conference full of ideas that aren’t new books! 😉

The lunch buffet was fun. I got to catch up with a friend who has nine books out under one of her names, and is about to launch a cozy mystery series under another. Can’t wait to read all of them!

Met another author, Jillian David, whose presentation I missed (and I felt guilty for so doing, because I really liked her). I now can’t wait to read her books, either.

The lunchtime keynote was Penny Reid, who was funny and heartfelt, and now I have another new-to-me author to read. That’s one of my favorite things about conferences — finding new-to-me authors whose work I can gobble up.

I found Kilby Blades, who was presenting the two sessions before mine in the salon we would all share, to ask if she minded that I brought my rack down and stashed it before her session started. She was cool with it. I didn’t want to just show up with a bunch of stuff and presume I could take up space.

I attended both of her marketing sessions which was useful. She navigates how to use best business practices in marketing and then morph them for the weirdness that is the book business. It helped me rethink some strategies, and I will have a lot to discuss with my publisher’s new marketing director soon!

There were some elements that gave me a headache. Charting daily sales–I know it’s useful, but I’d much rather look at weekly or monthly breakdowns. But as we work on new marketing strategies, the daily fluctuations and the importance of serious testing matters. The same way it does when I do it for other people.

I wish it wasn’t so much easier to market for someone else than to market myself!

Then, it was my turn.

My audience was great, but I was not happy with my performance. I talked too quickly. I didn’t share enough anecdotes from the set (only two or three). I meant to talk about heirloom pieces that are passed down and how they have meaning, and didn’t. I meant to tie in to some of the other sessions, and it flew right out of my mind.

I was frustrated with myself because it wasn’t as good as it could have been, and the only one to blame was me.

I shouldn’t have cut reading the passage from a friend’s book about how a couple of characters cleaned up for a funeral. That would have been a good addition. But when I timed a rehearsal, it made the session run long without time for questions.

As I said, my audience was great. I could have been better. I did not live up to my own expectations.

I packed up, took everything back up to the room, and changed for dinner. I wore Cupcake International pieces all weekend — I was a walking advertisement for them. But the pieces were fun and comfortable and flattering.

Dinner was good. I sat with some people who’d been in my session, and another woman from NH who was lovely. We had a great talk about life in New Hampshire and a whole lot of other things.

Sonali Dev was our Keynote, and she was wonderful. She said something that resonated. “We write because we refuse to be silent.”

Again, gave me a lot to think about.

I was exhausted and my mind going a mile a minute after dinner. I didn’t join the debrief sessions; I went upstairs. I finished reading the book for review, and made notes.

I made some notes on some new ideas. I tried watching TV, but there was nothing I wanted to see. Packed everything up.

I pondered all the information I’d gathered. It will take me awhile to sort it all out and decide how best to put it to use.

Woke up at 1 AM and got back to sleep. Woke up a little after six. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. Breakfast.

Had the car loaded and was gone a little after 8. There wasn’t much traffic, so I was home by 10:30.

Unloaded. Put stuff away. Unpacked. Sorted laundry. Unpacked the handouts and bookmarks and other things I picked up at the conference. It will take me a few days to go through them.

I usually go through them the day of or the day after. But I was too tired.

I don’t get why — I hardly drank at all. I usually spend more time at the bar at conferences, and I didn’t this time around. But I feel more worn out than when I spend most of my free time in the bar. Here I tried to take good care of myself and be healthy, and I’m still wiped out.

Probably because this was at the end of a long, stressful month.

Tried to rest on Sunday. Wrote the review. Read some other books. I gave myself the day off from contest entries.

Monday was back to the normal routine, although I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

Got some writing done in the morning, although it wasn’t very good. Played with my new idea. That world is coming into focus surprisingly clearly. Although I don’t want to be arrogant about it, so I ordered a bunch of research books from the library.

Returned what I’d borrowed for the conference. Spent time onsite with a client. Turned in my review.

Cancelled out of my mid-afternoon appointment because my brain was mush and I was making stupid mistakes.

I’d walked out of the house without my phone. Meant to pick it up after the session with my client and before leaving for meditation group. But, of course, I walked out without it — mostly because the cats caught a little, tiny mouse, and I felt horribly guilty about her demise. I mean, I don’t want mice in the house, and I’m glad the cats did their feline job — but I still felt awful about that poor little mouse, and buried her in the yard.

Meditation was good. I felt better and more focused after, although still tired.

Read a couple of Tracy Kiely’s Nic and Nigel Martini books over the past two days. They’re a lot of fun.

Went to bed early; overslept this morning.

Got some writing done, but not enough. Still mulling things over in my head.

Onsite with a client most of the day, then I have to get some work done at the library.

More contest entries to work on tonight, and I’m starting to enter the scores into the digital sheets.

Was assigned my next book for review.

I have to get going on the thank yous and follow ups from the conference today and tomorrow. I don’t want to let that slide.

And I have to get on a more productive writing schedule. I think I have to add a second writing session into the evening for the next few months. The morning at 1.5-2K is okay (although it makes me feel very slow). But if I can add in another 1K session in the evening, I should be able to get back on track. Maybe I can up it a little on weekends.

Mostly, though, I’m so, so tired. My body is tired and my brain is tired. I’m seriously thinking of taking a few days off this weekend, except for contest entries, and then starting up again with the new moon.

But the conference was great, and it gave me a lot to think about. Now, I have to sort through it, and, most importantly, APPLY WHAT I’VE LEARNED.

Because otherwise, it’s just time spent without gain.

Back to the page.

 

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!

 

Published in: on January 10, 2019 at 10:08 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan.10, 2019: Focus on Writing  
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