Tues. Nov. 12, 2019: Yes, the Weather is Changing

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not as productive, writing-wise, as I hoped. Mostly because I was exhausted. Hop on to Kemmyrk, for some thoughts about a full moon in Mercury Retrograde.

We got everything in from the deck, except the big round table that overwinters there. The plants that need to overwinter are in the garage; the other pots have had the annuals pulled out and been put away. The furniture was oiled, dried, and put away — some in the basement, some used in the house during the winter. I have a couple more things to put away that are still on the table, and decide when to bring in the chimes.

The landlord is having someone coming to look at the back of the house to see what needs to be fixed. A few boards on the deck need it, but I bet they take the whole thing out. I don’t want to lose the covered part of the deck. It’s wonderful. But who knows what the landlord will decide?

Anyway, all of that took much longer than I hoped, but it’s done. It needed to be done in decent weather. I did a little of the pruning, but I have a lot more to do. Plus, we have all the leaves. So, every dry day, we’ll be doing some raking. It’s supposed to be miserable today, rain switching over to snow.

Ran some errands. Did laundry.

Wrote and sent off the speech I was asked to do. I’m pleased with it. It was carefully structured to fit the event.

Did a lot of work with the cats. They are getting better. Tessa’s spending more time out, but there’s still suspicion between Tessa and the others, especially with Willa, whose the noisiest of the three. Charlotte is settling in the best. Considering she had the most, noisiest tantrums when she came in, that’s interesting. Yesterday morning, we had major progress — all three sitting with me in my office while I wrote. Napping. Peaceful co-existence.

Re-read THE TIE-CUTTER. Every time I look back at it, I love it more. I have to find a way to get back to work on it, when these next deadlines are cleared.

I’m re-reading Donna Leon’s mysteries set in Venice. Re-read DEATH AT LA FENICE. It was excellent. Read a biography of Maggie Smith, which was interesting, but a little too fawning.

Got some ideas for a couple of sequences in GAMBIT COLONY.

Worked on edits. Gave myself a break from THE BARD’S LAMENT.

Did three loads of laundry.

I got fed up on social media (for a lot of reasons). Specifically, there’s an unpublished author working on a piece that’s so long it should be broken up into a series, and she’s telling published authors who earn their living at it how to write. Fuck off, kiddo. Try listening and learning something.

Went in, yesterday, to my client’s, although it was, technically, a holiday. It was not as productive a day as I wanted.

Worked on “Pier-less Crime” and the edits, mostly. That’s what I did this morning, too. I hate to break the rhythm I’m building with THE BARD’S LAMENT, but I need to get these two pieces done first. Excellent editing session on Monday morning, though, which set a good tone for the week.

I also need to take a look at the stage plays I’ve written and decided which ones to submit where. I’m thinking of putting together the short Kate Warne play and the short Jeanne de Clisson play with a third play about a strong woman as an evening. Or maybe do another Kate Warne? I was originally going to do three short Kate Warne plays, about three of her cases. Not sure. But I have a stockpile of scripts from the past few years, and they need to go out and earn their keep.

Worked on the GDR questions.

Mostly, I’m exhausted. I need a break. I need a real vacation, where I can rest and restore. Not just a day off here and there, but genuine time off, where I can rest and not worry about money. Which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

 

Published in: on November 12, 2019 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 12, 2019: Yes, the Weather is Changing  
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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. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I had trouble getting going yesterday. Eventually, I did, and sent off the edits for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Got a couple of pitches out. Heard back from an LOI I’d sent to a company that sounded interesting, but I don’t think we’re the right match.

Read a JD Robb novella, featuring Eve Dallas. Those are the science fiction/mystery/romance novels Nora Roberts writes. I enjoyed it; I’d read more. I like how she works with elements of all three genres. Structurally, I found it very strong, and I like the characters.

Got some work done on “Labor Intensive”, but not enough. That piece has to be ready to go next week, and I’m dragging my feet. I have to buckle down and get it done. I need to do some work on the essays, and get both FIX-IT GIRL and SAVASANA AT SEA revisions back on track.

One of the elements I’ve found most time-consuming in preparing these manuscripts is the back matter — excerpts from other books, additional material relevant to the books, etc. I enjoy writing and researching and sharing these materials, but it takes time, which means it has to be carefully built into the schedule.

I’m feeling creatively drained and fallow right now, without the usual stories and characters buzzing around in my head. Those are the stretches were one has to lean on craft first, and hope the creativity comes out of that. The foundation in craft is vital for a sustainable writing career. It also makes me very grateful for tools like my Writers Rough Outlines. They keep me on track, even on the rough days.

Alyssa Maxwell (a fellow Sister-in-Crime who writes the mysteries set in Newport) recommended the Hattie Darvish books written by Anna Loan-Wilsey. Hattie is a private secretary, earning her living, so each book is in a different location and different professional setting. I started with the first book in the series, A LACK OF TEMPERANCE. She’s very good with historical detail, makes it come alive well.

Several things are in limbo right now, and I’m trying to get things ready for my mother’s upcoming surgery. It’s in October, but there’s a great deal to be done before then, especially since she’s in her nineties, and any surgery can have difficult consequences.

Plenty to do today — research-wise and writing-wise.

One of the many good things about the trip to Nantucket is that it solidified my decision to set the whaling mysteries in New Bedford. I wasn’t sure which location I should pick, although I leaned toward New Bedford. What I need to serve the story makes more sense to put in New Bedford than on Nantucket, although, with its importance in the whaling industry, I’m sure there will at least be scenes set there.

Setting is so important to me, in what I read and what I write. Yes, the fictional elements of a setting are important, but they need to be grounded in reality if it’s in a real place or near a real place, and has to be believable as that area, not generic “small town” or “coast town” or “Southern town” or “English village” or whatever.

As I’ve spoken and taught for years, emotional geography matters.

In September, I really need to get to work writing the Lavinia Fontana play (it’s due in December). Some of the scenes are starting to take shape in my mind, but I still lack the throughline. I have themes, but not yet a plot. I’m character-building, and I may write one or two of the scenes to see how I can get a plot to emerge. The social structure of Bologna, especially amongst the noblewomen, will be an important part of that, and how Lavinia navigates that, with the burden of being the primary breadwinner for a large family, and the fact that she was constantly pregnant. It didn’t slow down her painting, though.

I feel like I’m using so much creative energy with the writing that pays the bills, it’s much more difficult to find the energy for the percolating time I need. The fiction and the non-fiction usually feed each other well, but, right now, I’m creatively weary and I don’t have the luxury of taking a break. X amount has to go out regularly, so X amount of dollars come in.

Smashwords has started paying monthly. Honestly, I prefer quarterly and/or twice-a-year payments for royalties.

In any case, I need to dig down and get back to work.

Buzz is starting to build for Nano again. With a book releasing in November, I don’t think this is a good year to do it. I might “write along with” Nano, riding the energy wave to finish THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but I don’t think I should “do” Nano, as in starting a new book on November 1. I have to say, though, the tandem Nano I did two years ago was a good thing, winding up with DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and a good chunk done on THE TIE-CUTTER (which has to go back on the schedule soon).

Preparing for the weekend, lots of reading and writing needs to happen (I have a reviewing assignment I need to finish), plus it’s toxic disposal day at the dump, so I can get rid of used batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, etc.

And, of course, I need to catch up on mowing. I’m sure you can all feel the eye roll, even though you can’t see it. 😉

Back to the page.

Published in: on August 24, 2017 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again  
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