Friday, October 28, 2011

Tessa reaches for the stars

Friday, October 28, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cold and sunny

I hope you’ll give a very warm welcome to Mary Abshire, my guest on A Biblio Paradise today. She’s talking about the fourth novel in her series, called LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL. Stop by and give her some comment love!

It’s anything but warm here. Parts of Mass have snow already. Boston might get 2-5 inches over the weekend. Supposedly, we’re not getting any on the Cape, but there are some icy roads this morning, and it’s darned cold.

I was out of the house yesterday at 7:30 AM and didn’t get back until 2 PM. Yoga was fun — different teacher, but she was really good. Circled back just long enough to get my mom and take her to the eye doctor. The appointment took nearly two hours, and I’d brought my materials from Confidential Job #1 (assignment due today) and worked during her appointment. She will be prepped for her surgery just before Christmas, and probably have it the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The doctor was great, the staff was great, and she’s a lot less anxious about it then she was.

Plus, she passed a vision test so she could get a restricted driver’s license. She hadn’t been able to get her full license when we moved, and it depressed her a lot. But she passed the special screening, the doctor gave us the paperwork, and we headed to the DMV (sorry, called RMV here). She got her MA license, and was registered to vote. All in time for her 87th birthday, which is tomorrow! It’s lifted her spirits a lot. Once she’s had the surgery done on both eyes, we can go and update her license. We’re lucky, here. The people who work at the RMV are both efficient and pleasant. How often does one have that experience?

I found a good pumpkin at a garden center in Yarmouth, and it wasn’t very expensive. I’d visited this huge “pumpkin patch” on the lawn of a local church — hundreds of pumpkins, it looked great. Unfortunately, when you got up close and personal, a lot of the pumpkins were already rotting or had holes. This center had some really great ones, at a fair price. The kitten is fascinated!

Spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up Confidential Job #1. I will do the write-up and get it out this morning. Spent the evening on student work. Didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight, which means I woke up with eye strain and a stress headache this morning.

I need to reconfigure my time. I’m only spending about an hour and a half to two hours WRITING every day. The point of being here and creating my own schedule is to be able to spend five to six hours writing fiction, and then building the freelance assignments around that. I’ve hit a point where I need to look at my time management, my energy biorhythms, and readjust.

I’ve hit a point in the book where I have a pivotal chapter — where the two main characters are partially lying to each other because they don’t trust each other in spite of their attraction. I have to sort out what and how much they reveal to each other, and it’s not something I can blast through with placeholders and come back and fix. What happens in this particular scene informs the rest of the plot revelations. I’ve rewritten the crucial scene six different ways so far, and STILL don’t have it right.

So I’ll just keep at it until I do. Word-count wise, I’m fine in terms of deadline. I just hate hitting these bumps in the road, trying every trick I know, and still not finding my way through it.

Time to try some new tricks! 😉


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I forgot to write about a little adventure I had on Tuesday evening. I saw a posting on Craigslist about free pots and ornamental stone available at a house nearby who recently redid their garden. I jumped into the car and tootled over, but, of course, I was too late! Still, it got the adrenalin going for a few minutes!

There were all kinds of Earth Day events going on around here yesterday, which made me think I forgot Earth Day (although, when I looked it up, it’s actually tomorrow). I said something to one of the cashiers about forgetting, and she said, “Every day’s Earth Day on the Cape. We don’t need to set aside a special day.” Which is true, and pretty cool. Even little kids are environmentally aware, and excited. It’s so much fun to see the little kids at the recycling center. They’re so excited. The other day there was a toddler in pig tails whose Dad (with firm grip on her) let her put the newspapers into the big bin. When she was done, she jumped up and down, clapping her hands, saying, “I saved the Earth!” It was so cute!

One thing for which I have no patience is when people whine that they “don’t have time.” We all have exactly the same amount of hours in the day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us. It’s not that the whiners “don’t have” time, it’s that they can’t manage the time they’ve got. If you freelance, you have to be great at time management or you’ll starve. If you want a writing career, you better learn how to manage your time, no matter what other demands there are on it. You make, steal, wrestle, and demand it. If you don’t, it means you don’t want it enough. Very simple. If you have to have a day job while you launch your writing career, you treat your writing as a second job, until it can replace the day job and be your only job. But, without making the commitment and seeing it through, it won’t happen. “Writing in batches” for a few days every few months isn’t going to build a career. You need consistency. You need stamina. You need to keep your name and your work out there in the form of smaller projects in between big projects. But, most importantly, you have to be willing to give up the time wasters you have in your life (and we all have plenty of those) and WANT it badly enough to stop procrastinating, sit down and DO IT. Don’t use that old excuse of not being able to do anything without a deadline. Set your own deadlines and stick to them. Because if you don’t commit and follow through, you won’t earn your way into a position where there’s an editor regularly cracking the whip. And, quite frankly, they get tired of it after awhile and expect you to act like a grown-up and a professional. No one owes you anything, because you say you want to write. You have to earn it. Part of that is making the time to actually sit down and write, no matter what.

No one will treat you as a professional unless you start acting like one. All of it — the creativity, the craft, the attitude — have to start with YOU.

One of the things that I love about living where I do now is that no one whines about time. No one says “they don’t have time”. They shut up, go do what they have to do, and then have the time to hang out with a glass of wine or do something else fun. It’s that typically Yankee mentality that I love so much — get it done and then have fun. No one’s rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. There’s “service with a smile” (and usually a conversation) at the stores. No one is rushing, yet everything gets done efficiently, and people are pleasant. That’s the way it should be. Don’t get me wrong — most people here are wildly eccentric in their own unique ways. But individualism is prized, except among the snobby enclaves of “summer people” in the million dollar houses, and everyone’s happy to peacefully co-exist and enjoy each other’s eccentricities. AND they keep their word. It’s a nice change, and the kind of place I want to live.

Caught up on a lot of admin, especially for upcoming classes. If I’m not paid for the last class by today, I’ll have to send a (hopefully) diplomatic inquiry. Ran some errands, got the boxes that held the patio furniture to the dump, picked up cat food (biggest priority), and some groceries. Grabbed some Chinese take-out. That restaurant just cracks me up — the staff is so funny!

The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 arrived. I sat down, planning to just flip through it, but read the WHOLE THING — just over 300 pages. It was fantastic. I couldn’t put it down. So I’ll write it up and send it back, nearly a full two weeks before it’s due. After the last few assignments, which were kind of a slog, this was wonderful!

It’s sunny today, so I might actually get to clean up the back bed today, which would be lovely. I’ve got to figure out what to do with the small strawberry plants. I don’t want to kill them, they don’t really like to be transplanted, but I can’t put them into their final pots yet.

Back to the page for now — got some work to do on SPIRIT REPOSITORY.


Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 7:12 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and mild

The good news is that most of the exercises sent back to students for revision came back and were awesome. They not only took the notes but went even farther and raised the scenes another level. I”m proud of them.

The bad news is that students are still pouring in, in spite of a supposedly “full” and locked class, some are late with assignments, not paying any attention to the requirements and whining that they “don’t have time”. Now, I’m pulling 18 hour days to keep up with three times more students than expected PLUS deadlines PLUS being the only breadwinner in the family/one who runs the house PLUS caring for an elderly relative PLUS dealing with scumbag landlords PLUS dealing with the relative going through chemo. I am not sympathetic to their lack of time management skills, not to mention the huge level of disrespect that type of a whine shows towards both me and the wonderful students who are busting their asses with commitment and dedication.

We seem to be settling in a bit, so I hope the ones who don’t care enough and want to wander in and out at will and pick and choose which bits of the class to participate in will leave.

I only watched one hour of TV last night because my eyes hurt so badly from the workshop. It was my guilty pleasure, HUMAN TARGET, which, unfortunately, didn’t give me what I needed last night. The backdrop was against elite fighting, which is not something I enjoy or am interested in. I found it too geared to the show’s male audience, and placing a female sports handicapper in there just wasn’t enough to include me. It’s the first time since the show debuted that I really felt excluded from the piece. Even though there’s no regular female series character, I never felt unwelcome as an audience member before, and I did with this episode. The psychology B story line was well done, the fight scenes were shot well, but some of the other camera angles bothered me, and overall, it wasn’t what I needed as a distraction, which is on me rather than on them. Jackie Earle Haley played well off one of the guest stars, some lovely light touches in most of his scenes, but I wasn’t satisfied by how that whole aspect was set up. And I kept getting ahead of the script.

I couldn’t even read because my eyes were so tired. I put on the iPod and listened to music, which helped. My eyes still hurt today — I guess I’ll be using the rest of the Magic Eye Drops I got in Prague.

Good morning’s work on POWER OF WORDS. I’ve smoothed out some rough patches, made the adjustments that the earlier changes required. Can’t put it in the computer because my eyes hurt too much. So I’m continuing in longhand. I’ll have to back up using Time Machine today — it’s been too long since I did that — and maybe start printing out what I’ve got so far.

I have deadlined work that should receive attention, but the workshop is just weighing too heavily on me. I’ve learned some safeguards to put into the teaching contracts moving forward. The other side has not reneged on anything — I simply did not ask for the right things. I know better now, but I still have to keep this commitment as it was made, although for me, the consequences are negative. Live and learn, right?


Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 8:41 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Waxing Moon
Sunny, windy, and cold

I’m about to hit the “send” button on the final (for now) revision of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. That’s always terrifying, for some reason.

I had a good weekend of work. The site jobs between which I bounced back and forth were busy, but also fun. And I got a LOT of writing done – another complete revision and polish on OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the Jain Lazarus’ New Year’s story, a partial outline for something I’ve nicknamed “The Lucy Gothic” until I can think of a better name for it, and about 1700 words on that. I need to write my way into it for a bit before I can finish the outline.

OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK is now 65K, which means I took my editor’s advice to expand the piece and added about 10K. It’s much deeper and sharper, and also gives more information about both Wyatt’s past and Jain’s past, and how they tie into their future together. I did something in the final revision (before the polish) I’ve never done before – I worked backwards, starting with the last chapter, and revising chapter-by-chapter, from back to front. It made a huge, positive difference, and caused me to catch a bunch of things I missed in the previous revisions by working continually front-to-back. It’s a technique I’ll employ in novels during late revisions from now on.

I feel good about the book (although I’d keep rewriting it for the next ten years, given the chance); Wyatt, Jain and the gang are amongst my favorite characters ever, and I’m still nervous about hitting the “send” button.

We had a few dodgy moments last night, as I neared the end of the final polish and the computer started going wonky again. If I lost all that work, I’d have gone ballistic. Fortunately, I made it through to the end, made several back-ups and stashed them safely, and, by midnight, it was done.

Out it goes today.

The enhanced productivity I had this weekend made me realize how much time I fritter away in my home office, and I have to figure out a way to cut back on it. The work completed in three and a half days on site equaled about a week’s worth or more that I get done at the home office. And here I thought I was such an efficient time manager. Always room for improvement, I guess. And I’m determined to improve.

I’ve got to frost the cake for the show and get that done, then transport the cake into Manhattan on the train and get it to the theatre intact. I’m meeting Costume Imp there for a quick catch-up before I head back to prepare for tomorrow, and he heads home to prepare for the next leg of his tour.

I’m so deep into the world of Jain and Wyatt, and so deep into the unique world of the Lucy Gothic that dealing with actual reality is a shock.

When I get back, I’ve got to do more work on an article that’s due (I’m having a hell of a time with the file), get the Jain Lazarus New Year’s story into the computer and up, and pack for the New Year’s escapade. I’m going to a different location this year, and, although yoga will be a huge part of it, I’m in charge of the food. Mostly because I’ve eaten the cooking by the others included, and, well, I’d rather be in charge of the food. I found a good price on a duck yesterday, so that’s the big meal for New Year’s Day, and I’ll poach salmon fillets in a white wine and mustard sauce for the Eve, along with a variety of h’ors d’oeuvres.

In any case, I’ve got to get this cake frosted and head into Manhattan. I hope you had a lovely weekend.