Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde

I have not been this sick in a long time, so I’m offline today. If it was just the cold with the fever, chills, etc., it would be annoying, but not that big a deal. Unfortunately, every time I sneeze or cough (as one does with a cold), It feels like someone’s ripping apart my lower back and insides with talons. Seriously, getting eaten by coyotes would hurt less and be quicker. We considered going to the ER on Sunday morning, but really, what the hell were they going to do? Give me a muscle relaxer and tell me to sleep sitting up.

The Confident Freelancer was great on Saturday. Good, lively, interesting mix, and lots of lively interaction. A ton of fun, and the day flew by. Sunday was about finishing up the admin, getting the coursebooks out, helping a straggler, generating the contest winners.

Today, I plan to stay in bed. I still have a play that has to get to London by the end of the month, supposedly I’m supposed to turn around revisions on the book (although I have yet to hear boo from my editor), and I’m sure my students would like to “see” me. But that’s it.

The cough medicines don’t do a damn thing, so I’m going to have to pull out the books and find something that will not just keep it out of my chest, but get rid of it once and for all, so I’m not practically passing out every few minutes when I cough.

Have a good start to the week, all!

Devon

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 1:18 am  Comments (6)  
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It’s here! The Confident Freelancer. Invest in your career, meet people, and learn. You can still sign up and hop on and off the conference board all day, as suits your schedule. Sign up here.

Yesterday, unfortunately, I was too sick to do much. I did some final work on the conference, managed to spend time with my students (not enough, but at least they know I’m not neglecting them). My back is causing more problems than the cold.

Today, I’m on the conference board for most of the day, bopping over to spend time on student work otherwise.

Tomorrow — I sleep and finish the play!

Devon

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 6:26 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m pacing myself today, because I don’t want to completely give in to being sick (tomorrow’s the conference and there’s plenty to do before then), but there’s also stuff that needs to get done. A steady pace, taking breaks, and it will all be good. It’s a head cold, and I don’t feel all that bad — except every time when I sneeze or cough (as one does), my back seizes.

Yesterday morning, as we had the news on for weather reports, they all kept saying it wasn’t snowing. Really? What would you call that cold, white stuff pelting the house and the yard? Last time I checked, it was called “snow.”

Costume Imp was kind enough to shovel us out before he left (since he’s dealing with the incapacitated). I am just so bored with the back problems — I hope we get them solved soon.

We hit the road at 10 AM. It snowed until we hit Fall River, and then cleared up for the rest of the trip. Picked up something I’d had my eye on in Old Saybrook, dropped Imp at the station, and headed back. We made great progress, getting home just after 4 PM. Somewhere along the way, I lost my voice — so it’s a good thing I’m presenting online tomorrow and not in person! It was snowing again from Fall River back to the Cape, and snowed well into the night, but didn’t sitck.

That’s another great thing about online courses and conferences — not only can you attend from anywhere you have an internet connection, you hop on and off as it suits you, and, in my case tomorrow, I can do my work without exposing anyone to my germs! 😉

Note to self: When the NyQuill capsules have turned black, it means they are too old. Time to get rid of them and get new ones! (Because nights are all about masking symptoms to get some sleep).

Further note to self: Make batches of remedies AHEAD of time, because when you’re not feeling well and you stand in the door of your still room staring at shelves of herbs, it’s a little overwhelming!

I don’t feel that bad, although I sound like I’m at death’s door (again, good thing it’s online tomorrow), so I’m just going to slowly go about my day, getting things done, and taking regular breaks to rest and dose. The horehound/coltsfoot blend is keeping the cough out of my chest, but it’s stuck in my throat (and I can’t find my slippery elm), so that’s the next step. I’ll probably steam a bit later on (rosemary, sage, chamomile, and rose petals — good for skin AND congestion, why not go for a twofer?). I haven’t had a cold since I stopped working on Broadway (where every illness is passed through the entire company at least six times, because it’s like working in a petrie dish), and I forgot how gosh darn annoying they are!

In any case, I am really, REALLY looking forward to tomorrow’s online conference, The Confident Freelancer. I hope a lot of you will join us. Hop on and off all day, read the session lectures, ask questions, network, enter to win either a free ten page fiction critique from me or a free ten page non-fiction critique from Lori. You have access to all the seminars all day — come in and out as much as you wish, keep asking questions as you think of them, chat with other attendees and us, etc., etc.

Our conference is also unique because, not only are we giving SPECIFIC ideas you can implement immediately as far as looking for work, creating and maintaining your clip file, and red flags to watch out for in ads, we aren’t trying to reel you in at a high price to talk vagaries at you and then part you from more money. A few months ago, I was invited to poke around a one day conference that promised to help freelancer writers find work. It was over $200 for the day. When you clicked on a session, you had to pay an additional fee of over $200 to actually read the lecture. The lectures I read (I had a invitation to look around, I wasn’t paying for each session), were extremely vague, poorly written, and error-filled. And then they wanted you to pay more money for one-on-one mentoring. Hmm, let’s see, I’m supposed to pay a large fee to be “mentored” by someone who can’t get published? I don’t think so. To me, that seemed like a rip off They wanted me to join their “faculty” — which, as far as I could tell, did not include anyone who’d worked at anything other than a content mill. I said no, and I told them I thought the set-up ripped off participants. Needless to say, they got a little huffy. Because, as we all know, don’t ever ask me a question unless you want a direct answer, and diplomacy is not my strong suit.

If people are taking the time and spending the money to attend a conference, they should come away feeling freshly inspired and motivated to pursue their dreams, and have received some specifics they can implement to get them there. That’s what Lori and I are doing — giving attendees specifics. They can start applying what they’ve learned immediately. A colleague of mine said, “that’s gonna scare people.” Well, yeah, what a student does with the actual information (or doesn’t do) is up to the individual, not us. But, hopefully, the bulk of them will dash back to their keyboards and get to work.

Because there’s no such thing as too many GOOD writers!

So come join us on The Confident Freelancer tomorrow!

Devon

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 7:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, March 24, 2011


One of the Alberta Spruces by the front door

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowing – a lot

I’ll be off line most of the day, hurtling through the snow to take Costume Imp home.

My back’s been crippling me, unfortunately. Tuesday, we didn’t go out and about much, because I couldn’t do much; same with Wednesday. I have an appointment on April 5, but that seems very far away right now. AND I’m coming down with a cold. I haven’t had a cold in ages — I forgot how inconvenient they are. I don’t feel that bad — it’s at the annoying stage, and I’m at the whiny stage, so I know I’m pretty much okay.

Finished the layout for the course ebook; it still needs final proofing and page numbers, and then it’s ready for participants. I’m looking forward to Saturday — it will be a really fun day. I hope lots of you will join us! Hop on over to The Confident Freelancer page to register.

Got some correspondence done. Have to fight with Comcast yet again — the only bill that was correct was the very first one.

Most of the day was spent on conference work; the rest was spent on student work. And laundry. I find the homework for the class I’m taking a little puzzling, but I’m in someone else’s playground and it’s their rules. I’m rolling with it and seeing what I can learn.

Started reading a book that looked interesting in the library. It lost me by page 8.

Finished Allan Lacy’s THE INVITING GARDEN. I like most of it, but his contemptuous disdain for the meanings of plants and their folk uses offended me, so it’s not a book I’m looking to add to my permanent shelf. Plants DO have meaning; yes, they are imposed by humans (duh), but usually it has a relevance to something a human has learned from or about a plant. And there’s a reason herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years — when used correctly and respectfully, they work.

Take, for instance, my cough concoction — it’s a tea that includes horehound and coltsfoot and a few other things. When Imp arrived, he had a bad cough. I whipped some up, made him down a great, big cup, and he’s fine. I had a cup myself last night, to prevent the cough from migrating down into my chest. I forgot how vile it tastes (extra honey helps), but the cough is staying out of my chest, just tickling my throat. If the throat tickle continues, I’ll do some more with horehound and probably slippery elm. It won’t mask the symptoms, the way a prescription or over-the counter drug would (and, yes, sometimes even I just want it masked, especially at night to get some sleep), but this remedy will actually get to the cause of the problem and remove it. I have a six hour drive in a snowstorm ahead of me — cold medicine that’s going to make me drowsy is not an option.

When we went to bed after last night’s news, the weatherman said that the storm lost its bite and we’d just have a coating. It’s coming down pretty heavily, and it’s a good deal more than a coating, so it will be interesting to see what happens by the time we have to leave.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join us for The Confident Freelancer on Saturday for a full day of motivation and inspiration and just plain writing fun. Information and registration here.

Devon

The Confident Freelancer — Join us on March 26!

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome in creating and maintaining a successful writing career was the “crisis of confidence.” Was I good enough to pull it off?

We’ve all had the moments where we’ve read something (sometimes put out by major publishing houses or on a well-known network) and think, “I can do better than that.” The trick is to actually go do it.

Without a foundation of confidence and self-esteem, you start a bunch of projects and put them away in a drawer. They remain, sad and unfinished, for years, dragging down the rest of your creative energy. Every time you pull one out and look at it again, you may feel a rush of creative energy with “it’s not so bad; I bet I could do something with that”, but, far too often, at the first obstacle to either time or story, it goes back in the drawer. Even worse, you might wind up in the career-killing abyss of content mills, writing scads of articles quickly for a pittance, work that you can’t use as samples, for a place that, if a well-paid potential employer saw it on your resume, would cause the employer to toss it without even reading your samples.

The harsh reality is that there are very few writers would can write batches of twenty or more articles a week at a high quality with proper research and sourcing. You burn yourself out and don’t leave any time or energy to seek out work that will actually pay you a living wage. The only place quantity over quality is appropriate is Nano.

Life is not Nano.

I’m a huge fan and supporter of Nano. I think every writer should do it at least once in their lives. It’s fun, you’re riding on the energy wave of writing with tens of thousands of others, but you can’t live your life in a perpetual state of Nano. You’ll burn out.

The way you build confidence and self-esteem in your writing, both internally and externally, is by learning the craft inside out, so that when you want to do something differently, it’s a choice, and not simply carelessness. You build confidence by writing strong pieces and doing the market research so you target markets that pay decently, or you choose a non-profit about whose work you’re passionate and take them on as a pro bono for a while, building their business and your portfolio. You find other writers who are supportive of your vision for your career, and yet will be gently honest with you when you go off the rails. You keep at it, because writing is what you must do. It’s not only the way you want to make your living (so you have to acquire business savvy in order to survive), it’s what you love to do.

In the US, more than many other countries I’ve visited, there’s an attitude that, if one has a “job”, one can’t enjoy it. So many people are toiling in soul-sucking environments for a variety of different reasons — everything from that’s all they know how to do right now to being afraid to change, preferring the devil they know to the devil they don’t. Because so many people hate their jobs, they resent it when they meet someone who loves their job (the way most full-time writers love their jobs on most days). By seeing someone who loves what they do, they’re forced to face their own fears. For some, it might be a positive motivation to make necessary changes; for far too many, they feel a need to punish the person who loves their job, in order to feel better about hating their own. Snarky comments, lack of respect for writing time, being dismissive or showing contempt — the writer has to develop a strong skin to deflect all of that, decide which toxic people need to be removed from one’s live, and move forward, keeping the vision intact.

All of that takes time and experience, and a little mentoring doesn’t hurt, either. I lacked mentors in the sense of actual people to whom I could go with questions. My mentors were the favorite authors I read and re-read, trying to figure out what they did and how they did it.

The more I make my living doing this, the more I want to encourage other writers. That’s why I started teaching — to show students some of the possibilities as they try to build their writing lives. I don’t have “the” way, but I have learned a few things – often the hard way — and, if people can learn from that, and it makes their roads easier, I’m all for it.

I do not see writers as being in competition with each other. Publishers, editors, agents, marketing people all tizzy about limited slots and finding audience. Yes, there are limited slots — publishers can’t publish an unlimited list of titles; they have to decide in which ones to invest. But the audience — the truth of audience is the only limitations are the amount of people in the world, individual likes and dislikes, and getting them the information that the piece exists.

People are hardwired to want and need stories. Before books, there were storytellers and bards. People need stories, people desire them. When one writer succeeds, it helps everyone. It opens more doors, it makes more people more aware. I thoroughly lose patience when a writer gets “depressed” upon another writer’s publication. Publication is something to celebrate; it helps everyone, and, especially if the published writer is someone you admire, it raises the bar for you, and should motivate you to work even harder. Stop sulking and get writing!

Lori Widmer has been helping freelance writers for years on her blog, Words on the Page. She walks her talk, and she’s very business-savvy. We’ve been talking for awhile about doing something together to motivate and inspire writers.

We figured The Confident Freelancer was a good venue to share, motivate, inspire, and help writers reach higher levels of productivity. You’ve heard of pop-up stores around Christmas time?

Think of The Confident Freelancer as a pop-up workshop, where you get nine concentrated lessons that talk in specifics. HOW do you create and maintain a clip file, so it’s easy to put together proposal packages? We walk you through it, step-by-step. What are some of the red flags that should warn you to run from scammer ads? We point them out and help you hone your bullshit detectors. When you’re having one of those days where you feel as inspired as wilted lettuce, how do you get the idea juices flowing again? We give suggestions. Why is it important to work on short stories AND novels? We explain it and show you how to make use of both forms so that they feed off of each other. What’s the difference between legitimate follow-up and nagging? We’ll teach you. How do you decide which projects to pick, and what’s a healthy mix? We give you some suggestions, and ways to tailor it to your specific interests and needs. Is there a way to write an article quickly and still sell it for a good price? Yep, and we show you how.

In addition, Lori and I will be around to answer questions all day. You’ll have the chance to exchange information and links with fellow conference members. You’ll be able to browse some of our recommended reads and add your own. You can win a 10-page fiction critique from me or a 10-page non-fiction critique from Lori. You’ll get a course e-book with the lectures in it (which isn’t available outside of the course), so you can refer to it when you need your motivation replenished.

It’s a good day at a reasonable price. Because it’s online, you can hop on and off all day as you wish. You don’t have to chain yourself to the desk between certain hours — you have a whole day to meander in and out!

When I’m a student, I want specifics I can put into practice. I don’t want to be “talked at”. I want information I can apply. I want interaction. I want to ask specific questions, and I want specific answers. As a teacher, that’s the way I try to create material.

So, check us out on Facebook, come over and register on The Confident Freelancer page. Come play with us — and watch your confidence and your productivity soar!

Devon

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 8:06 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The Confident Freelancer is a lively, information-packed day of sessions to motivate, inspire, and boost writing productivity. Join Lori Widmer and me this Saturday!

I’m looking forward to some percolation time next week. I’ve gotten so excited about all there is to do here that I’m not being protective enough of my writing time, much less the percolation time. I need a lot of time doing what looks like nothing. It’s vital to my creative process. I’m still learning how to structure my day to have that, do my writing when I’m freshest, and yet not let the other commitments fall by the wayside. I’ve also got to be careful not to get locked into anything, and remain flexible, while still protecting the time I need to make things happen.

I felt groggy and somewhat unfocused (probably because I took something for the back pain the previous night). But I commented on student work (the work perks me up, they’re making wonderful progress), worked on the layout for the ebook, revised the exercises for the next Dialogue workshop taking place in April. We have only two weeks instead of four, and it’s on an email loop instead of a board, so I have to modify the way I “usually do things.”

Started the steampunk workshop, which I think will be really fun. It’s always good to take classes and see how other teachers do things, as well as simply getting new information.

Imp and I dashed out to the grocery store to get a few things, and it was seriously snowing by the time we got back. I gave in and took the Canadian pain pills — helped my back, but I was high as a kite (which I hate). Made an appointment with an acupuncturist not too far away April 5, but I might have to try and get in somewhere sooner.

Imp made a peach/blueberry cobbler. It snowed well into the evening, but didn’t stick.

I tried to finish the material for Confidential Job #1. It’s well done, but not enjoyable, so I struggled to get through it. A fair and objective write up will be a challenge. Did some promotion for The Confident Freelancer.

Watched some TV at night. Woke up around 2:30 with a scratchy throat, and the downstairs toilet is being cranky. So I’ll have to deal with both of those. I’m pounding back the echinacea and the cranberry juice (since I’m allergic to citrus and zinc just makes me sicker). I’ll have some horehound tea with lemon and honey later, too.

Out this morning for coffee/early lunch with a friend, and then an intensive day of work on my workshop, the one I’m taking, and The Confident Freelancer. You can visit us on Facebook as well.

Devon

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 6:55 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, March 21, 2011


Violet is curious about the kitties in the mirrors

Monday, March 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy, cold, chance of snow

I hope you’ll join Lori Widmer and I for The Confident Freelancer seminar this coming Saturday, March 26. We’ve got seminars sure to inspire, motivate, and boost your writing productivity, Q&A sessions, networking opportunities, and you can win a free fiction critique from me and a free non-fiction critique from Lori. More information and registration is on the link above.

Busy, fun weekend. I worked on Saturday morning until Costume Imp got up. We decided to skip the Eco-Toilet Summit on the Uses of Human Waste and go to the farmers’ markets instead.

Somehow, we missed the market in Marstons Mills without ever finding it (or the turnoff to Main St.). We continued up to Sandwich, where we found the combined market/antique show, but didn’t see any food, and, even though there were nearly two hours still scheduled, everyone was packing up.

So we had lunch at the Beehive Tavern instead — lobster quiche, which was great.

Stopped at Lavender Moon, went to the Borders in Hyannis which is about to close and stocked up on a few things, picked up some essentials at Trader Joe’s, came home to read and hang out.

Cooked dinner, then, when the sun was down, headed out to see the “Super Moon.” We drove to the lake up the street first — it was beautiful, and several people had come out with the same idea. The moon over the water was just stunning.

Then, we drove to Covell’s Beach in Craigville. The moon wasn’t positioned over the water there, and people were driving in, turning around, leaving, and one woman in an SUV was literally just driving in circles. We weren’t sure if it was catching, so we left pretty fast.

There was a point in the night where the moon was positioned so it came in through the glass panes at the top of the front door– really cool.

It was cold, though — in the 30s.

Up early on the Equinox, performed my sunrise ceremony in the cold on the deck. Very nice, with all the birds chirping and the sun coming up and all of it. Iris and Violet stood at the kitchen door, with their little noses pressed to the glass, watching. They’re used to being in the middle of it all!

I started the Racer pumpkins and the Chucky pumpkins in the seed starter pots. I’m very confused — the seed packet says to start them in May or June, but Cape dwellers say they have to be started on the Spring Equinox inside, then moved out later; I got emails from the seed companies telling me to start the eggplants and tomatoes now, but Cape dwellers tell me to wait until Memorial Day. So I’m very confused!

Caught up on student work, emails, teleseminar business, etc. Read the papers. Saw two of my courses listed — for the wrong dates (July and August instead of June and July). That’s been fixed. Sorted out everything for the class I’m starting to take (as a student) today. Received some materials from a place to whom I need to make a pitch.

Made Eggs Benedict for brunch, which we had with Prosecco. Lovely way to start the season!

In the late afternoon, we went to Hyannis to a jazz jam at a local restaurant, to which I’d been invited during Thursday’s horticulture outing. The musicians were outstanding, and some teens showed up to play a few numbers — love the fact that they’d rather be out jamming with a bunch of professional musicians on a Sunday afternoon rather than playing video games. They’re good and have a lot of potential, and it will be exciting to see how they progress. There was a sixteen year old near the end who is the real deal. You could tell he had a lot of commitment to the craft by the way he listened to others before he joined them, and when he did — he’s got a lot of talent, the poise of someone much older and more experienced, and the commitment not to let other people’s agendas for him get between him and the music. There was also an older gentleman on coronet, early on — he was excellent now, and I can only imagine what he was like when this was the central focus of his life. If I have half the verve he has when I’m his age, I’ll consider myself lucky!

The singers on the other hand . . . not impressed. Of course, Costume Imp and I are more critical of singers than most people, due to our years on Broadway, listening to (mostly) excellent singers eight times a week. And Imp toured with one of the greatest singers of all time, so . . .

I think it’s great that they got up there and did it. If they sing again another time I attend and they’ve shown improvement, I’ll be pleased for them. If they just get up and do the same numbers in the same way making the same mistakes, I will retain my jaded outlook. 😉

It was a lot of fun, good company, good music, a great way to spend the afternoon into the early evening.

We grabbed a bucket of KFC on the way home and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I had to deal with a bunch of admin for the seminar, but it was all fine and got sorted out. There was also some tech issue with a blog post for another place that had to get sorted. Jeez, and Mercury doesn’t go retrograde until the 30th!

I went to bed early – I was exhausted from being up at dawn, and I’m having a lot of trouble with my back again. I’ve got numbers of some acupuncturists and I’m going to see when I can get an appointment.

It’s supposed to snow later today, so I’m going to stay in, write, work on the play, work on the layout for e-book for the seminar, keep up with the registrants to make sure they’re getting everything they need, spend time with my students, finish the material for Confidential Job #1, and start the steampunk workshop I’m attending as a student. I’ve also got to get some business correspondence out, and a couple of other places have asked me for proposals for this, that, and the other.

So it’s all good, I just have to stay on top of it all!

Devon

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I am so tired I could just fall over, and I’ve got a six hour round trip today. But it will all be good and all be worth it.

I’m stumbling around incapable of forming coherent sentences, yet I’ve already had to get out a pitch and a follow-up to a pitch before 9 AM! Ah, the life of a freelancer. Gotta love it,and I’m not being sarcastic!

I had trouble sleeping Wednesday night into Thursday, dropping off shortly before the alarm went off. Yes, I set the alarm — I hardly ever do any more.

Morning routine, a few minutes with students, and a friend picked me up to take me to the meeting point. We were a merry band of 13 in a small van, headed to Boston.

I’ll write about the Flower Show in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post, but it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot, I met a lot of great people, I got some business done (surprising how many writers turn up at gardening shows — I mean, writers who don’t primarily write about gardening), I bought some little plants and some lovely pottery, and I brought back a bag full of information that I have to sit down and sort out, because it will be helpful.

Yes, it’s true nothing can go in the ground until Memorial Day. Well, perhaps the radishes can go directly into the ground a week or two before. And, since none of our cats have started shedding yet, holding onto their winter fur, it will probably snow on Easter!

Okaaaay. 😉

Came home, had to immediately repot the small plants because the roots where coming out of the drainage holes — they are so much happier now.

Ran out of soil and had to make a run to get more.

Spent time with my students, caught up on email, hopefully straightened out a link kerflamma, and took care of some other stuff that needed to be handled because I’ll be offline most of today soon. The poor play is suffering — that’s going to be my priority this weekend. I’ve put it off and let other things take priority, but this play has to wing across the sea by the end of the month no matter what, so I can’t anything else push it aside.

Caught part of POSSESSION on HBO. I loved the book, movie left me feeling kind of “eh?” It felt a little heavy and precious, without enough shading. Every beat was Very Important. I liked the script — which, it happens, is by one of my favorite writers (both as a writer and a person) and with whom I worked on Broadway — but the direction was too heavy.

Reading THE INVITING GARDEN and studying the plant physiology textbook I picked up — because I better learn from the absolute foundation up.

Off to get Costume Imp — we’re meeting in CT, hitting some of our favorite places on the way back.

Devon

Join Lori Widmer & me on March 26 for The Confident Freelancer for inspiration, motivation, and ways to boost your writing productivity!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Grassy Pond at Ashumet Holly Sanctuary

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and milder

Hop over to Gratitude and Growth, where I talk about patience and share photos of the crocuses and of the birdhouse.

Got some work done in the morning, set things aside as planned, and, in the sunshine, headed out to Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. It was beautiful — Grassy Pond was wonderful, I visited my favorite holly trees and the other favorite trees, and, basically, got to spend some wonderful time out there. I just adore the place. I hope, when the days are a bit milder, I can take a notebook out and get some writing done there.

On the way back, I stopped for gas, and then went grocery shopping — spent more than I wanted, but am stocked up for the start of Costume Imp’s visit. Unloaded everything, had a late lunch, started getting stuff in order for Imp’s visit. He’s going to have my room, so he can sleep in, and I’ll take the back bedroom, since I’ll be up and rummaging much earlier than anyone else in the house. I was making up the bed, and that’s when it turned to an I LOVE LUCY episode.

I needed a blanket — it’s still cold here. I dug through the boxes and found a lovely pink blanket. My grandmother gave it to me when I lived in NYC — she loved pink. It had been in storage for awhile, so I decided to run it through the washer and the dryer, finish making the bed, go back and spend time with my students, then start the moussaka. Sounds simple, right? Especially since I read the washing directions on the tag.

Well . . .

The washing machine sounded rather odd, and, when I came down, I found the blanket had entirely disintegrated in the washer, leaving about a foot and a half of pink sludge in it.

Scooping it out , scrubbing it, and flushing the lines took the rest of the day. Yes, I wore a mask. I have a garbage bag of pink sludge — they’re gonna love me at the dump — ahem “Transfer Center.” Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

This is what happens when you store non-natural fiber for too long! It’ll be in the landfill for damn ever, but it won’t stay in a usable form elsewhere!

The moussaka took longer than it should have to prepare, especially since I cut my finger and, well, it really IS rather rude to bleed onto the eggplant, don’t you think? 😉

We tried to hang one of the mirrors over the fireplace, but the shape and the size are out of proportion. The more we think about it, the more we’re going to look for a seascape painting to hang there instead. No, we wouldn’t put the TV over the fire place — the television represents fire, and to place it over a fireplace is AWFUL feng shui — practically begging for a chimney fire. Every time one of those faux “designers” does that, I want to toss ‘em off a cliff! The water imagery of a seascape will still be there for the feng shui, and it will look pretty. No, it won’t be a shipwreck — who wants that kind of energy in the space? And we need some sort of English country cottage-type landscape to go over the sofa. Maybe from someplace we’ve visited. Because the modern and abstract paintings I had in New York (yes, originals, by artist friends) just don’t work in this space. At some point, in some space, they’ll be perfect again — just not here and now.

And then — the day was over!

This morning, I have to be extraordinarily organized — catch up with my students, work on the play, prepare the materials for the dinner, do some stuff for the workshop, and get out the door by 10:30 AM. I’m going to a lunch/lecture in Cotuit given by an author who writes mysteries featuring one of my heroines, Nelly Bly. Then I’ll be back for about two hours, before heading out to a writers’ group dinner. And then, I have to prep for Thursday, where I’ll be out the door a little after 8 AM.

And so — to work!

Devon

Don’t forget to join Lori Widmer and me on March 26, 2011 for The Confident Freelancer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
The Ides of March
Sunny with frost on the ground.

It snowed. I cried. I had a glass of wine.

That nowhere near sums up the day! 😉

I spent the day on the Tele-Seminar. First, I realized I had to move the conference board, because, on the site I originally placed it, when you clicked to register, everything was in Swedish. Now, I enjoy Swedes and Swedish as much as the next one (especially Swedish hockey players), but that is not the most user-friendly way to deal with seminar participants who pay to attend a conference.

So I moved it somewhere that “English” was the default language.

Then, it turns out the subdomain I set up for it via 1and1 — I couldn’t embed the code for the registration button. Oh, I COULD — if I “upgraded” my package and paid the additional monthly equivalent to my three month fee every month. I think not.

I designed (again) a page on iWeb, and I was pretty happy with it.

HOWEVER — since 1and1 won’t give me access to the FTP –for which I PAY — in order to upload the site, I couldn’t upload it. They gave me every excuse under the sun from “technical difficulties” with the FTP to everything else slimy. Now, realize, that if they actually give me access to the FTP — for which I pay — that means I can download the web files they’ve been holding hostage for the past three years. Once I have the web files, I can move hosts. I can’t lose over 10K of emails including contracts and business correspondence, and that’s what would happen if I switched hosts without being able to download the web files to my hard drive. Nor can I forward everything. I’ve tried. And if any of you dare mention “Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Explorer” I will drive a stake through your heart, because you ARE the most evil vampire — I’m on a Mac, damn it, and I’ve been trying to find a way to download since I switched (not that they let me download my files to an FTP when I was still on PC with access to Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Explorer anyway — they had excuses for that, too).

1and1.com should not be allowed to do business, because all they do is cheat you.

Anyway, I whimpered to AppleCare, who taught me how to upload the site to Mobile Me (guess I’m renewing that in April).

And, Ta-Da, here is the site for the Confident Freelancer. I hope you’ll come join us and get inspired!

Now, that took me from the time I logged on to the computer in the morning until dinnertime, along with going back-and-forth with my lovely partner and making sure we both ok’d copy before it was posted anywhere. She was working her ass off on other aspects of the project, too.

On the upside, it was the best possible day for this to happen. We’ve troubleshot as much as possible in advance, and now people can register and have a great experience. Yeah, I didn’t get to do other stuff I would have liked to get off my list — but I’m not behind, and I’m not scrambling. So it’s fine.

It’s the only day all week I could spend a big chunk of time on it, because I actually have to be in specific places at specific times every other day this week, meaning at X time, I have to walk away from the computer, no matter what is going on, come back later for a bit, leave again at Y time, etc.

Managed a quick trip down to the library to return some books due and get out another interesting stack — three Cape-centric mysteries and a book about Van Gough and Gaugin sharing a studio for nine weeks in Arles. Started one of the mysteries — hideously written. All telling, no showing, sloppy writing, cliched characters. I’m taking all three of the books in the series back today. I only managed to get to page 28 of the first one, and my time is too valuable to spend with that kind of bad writing.

In the library, I found a “biography” “written” by an actress I worked with on Broadway. Of course, I had to flip to the sections dealing with the shows on which we both worked. Wow. I don’t know if she’s delusional or trying to rewrite history to look more kindly on her or that’s the way she really thinks it happened. My diary entries for that same time period are VERY different (and no, I’m not mentioned in it by name — we were on the same show, but I was working directly with other actors).

I’ll only be on line briefly today — a little this morning (after I work on the play) to comment on student work (they have a deadline today), work on the conference board (I need to make postcards to take to the dinner tomorrow), start getting ready for Costume Imp’s visit, go to the grocery store, and, possibly, get to Ashumet, if it stays sunny. And I’m going to start the layout on the e-book.

Gotta love Canon customer service. I forgot something really basic on the camera last night (and needed the answer before the Flower show on Thursday). My instruction manuals are still packed goodness knows where. Shot them an email; got a response in under two hours — at night! Now THAT’s service! As frustrated as I’ve been with this last generation of printer, in general, they’re a fantastic company.

There’s frost on the ground this morning, which means I’m glad I didn’t put the rosemary plant out last night. It’s not happy inside, even in full sun, but I think it’s still too cold to set it on the back porch.

So that’s that, and the play needs attention, or it won’t get out the door by the end of the month.

Devon