Wed. Jan. 25, 2023: ANGEL HUNT Launch Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2022

Waxing Moon

Virginia Woolf’s birthday

Burns Night

ANGEL HUNT:

ANGEL HUNT launches today, with new episodes dropping on Wednesdays and Fridays. The episodes are intentionally short, usually less than a thousand words. I hope you check it out and follow it. The first three episodes are free, so you can read for free until the middle of next week.

A witch.

An angel.

An impossible task.

A devil calls in a marker, forcing witch Lianna Maplethorpe to hunt a renegade angel. It gets even more complicated and dangerous when the renegade turns out to be Lianna’s own Guardian Angel, who she believed abandoned her. As magical conflicts escalate in 2004’s New York City between differing factions, deeper and darker magic than Lianna has ever faced force her to grow – or die.

Urban Fantasy set in a slightly alt-New York City, beginning in 2004.

Direct Link Here.

Back to the Regular Blog:

The newest Process Muse post, talking about “Mindful Work” is here.

Wrote the loglines for the new LEGERDEMAIN and ANGEL HUNT episodes. Did the social media rounds promoting yesterday’s episode of LEGERDEMAIN. Created a double graphic for LEGERDEMAIN/ANGEL HUNT.

I need to get #28Prompts uploaded and scheduled soon, too. February is just around the corner.

Dug my car out. It wasn’t fun, but not as bad as expected. And I didn’t clear out all the space between cars, either, because I’m tired of being the only one who ever does it. But I made a nice little bowl around the car, so that I can run some errands this morning, before the next storm comes in.

Put up the Valentine’s decoration on the front door. I like having something fun up on the front door all the time, and switching it out every month or so.

Turned around 5 coverages and one score sheet in the afternoon. One of the coverages is for one of the best pieces I’ve ever read anywhere. What a delight! I can’t give more details, because NDA.

Worked on contest entries.

They’re backing off on how much snow is coming in. I might not do errands today, and do them tomorrow and Friday instead, although I need to mail a few things and get eggs. I might tromp down to the mailbox at the end of the street and then hit up Cumberland Farms and see if they have any eggs.

Pulled myself out of a weird dream last night. It wasn’t bad, just busy, and I realized it was the third time I’d been in the same dream in the same sequence (three distinct parts). Once I pulled myself out, I realized I should have stayed in it, because if I’ve had the same exact dream three times in a row, my subconscious is trying to feed me information I’m not getting. Go figure.

Discouraged with all social media platforms right now. February will be dialed back somewhat, focusing on the promotion drops and the #28Prompts. Then I’ll reassess. But I need to get the Topic Workbook promos going again. When I do those properly, they sell steadily.

I also need to figure out how I’m going to do wider promotion (paid advertising) for both Legerdemain and Angel Hunt (once there are more AH episodes live). I’m putting together a giveaway package of Legerdemain, and will probably do a series of bookmarks for it that will be a more general giveaway. I have to figure out what kind of giveaway I could do for AH.

Creating the giveaways isn’t that hard. It’s getting the material and getting them made up. Without the laser printer, I’m struggling. I wanted to do transfers of the logos so I could put them on bags and tee shirts, but this little printer isn’t gonna cut it. Maybe I can get them done at a print shop.

I have to do research for the next section of the Heist Romance script. Some of it is on Monte Carlo, where it takes place. The rest is on old German books containing woodcuts. I know a little bit about German woodcuts, because it was one of the things my uncle the artist was known for (along with stained glass windows, carved altar triptychs, and giant bronze sculptures), but I still need to refresh my memory on some details.

Writing this morning, script coverage, article work, and contest entries this afternoon. And so it goes.

Hope you have a good one, and please check out Angel Hunt. The first three episodes are free!

Tues. Jan. 3, 2023: Getting Started For the New Year

image courtesy of Engin Akyurt via pixabay.com

Tues. Jan. 3, 2023

Waxing Moon

Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy and freezing rain

I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend, and that you took off yesterday as part of it, too.

I’ve spent so many New Year’s Eves being unhappy that a quiet one was just what I wanted. I did some noodling on two projects as I try to find out if they are viable. I uploaded what I feel comfortable sharing with my 2023 Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions over on that site.

I cleaned the house, vacuumed, changed the beds, did the dishes, mopped the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, granite counters (with its special cleaner) and stainless steel (with those special wipes). I like going into the New Year with a clean house.

I made devilled eggs and small rum cakes with rum glaze. I was worried I’d put in too much rum (I tweaked the recipe), but it came out just right. I put the rum IN the mix and the glaze, rather than soaking the cakes later. I like it better the way I did it.

I’ve been asked, over the years, why I bother putting up a lot of decorations and doing big meals and cleaning for the holidays when I don’t have lots of people over. I do it for us. I do it because the years I haven’t done it, I was unhappy. Making the places festive for various holidays makes me happy, so why not do it? Why must everything always be for someone else?

I made the salmon with cumin glaze, and we had sweet potatoes with it, for the Eve meal. We stayed up, watched the ball come down in Times Square (to think, I used to be able to watch from my apartment window, I lived so close; glad not to be in that madness now). It was very discouraging to see all those people crammed in there unmasked.

I stayed up until a little after one. Tessa was delighted. Charlotte and Willa were confused. It is lovely to live somewhere that locals aren’t setting off illegal fireworks in the streets and putting us in danger.

Up early on the Day. Did the fire and ice ritual. Noodled a bit on the two projects with which I’m playing.

I made traditional Eggs Benedict for breakfast, which was good.

I set up the new, small inkjet printer. Finally. It took 3 damn hours. It should have taken 20 minutes, but the printer drivers wouldn’t load properly, and the laptop wouldn’t recognize the printer, even though it was connected by USB. What a nightmare. It’s such a lightweight piece of lousy plastic, I’ll be lucky if it lasts a week. But the scanner works well, and it’s better than not having a printer at all.

I printed out the last three chapters of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, so at least that’s all in the binder, and I can put it aside to rest for two months, while I work on other things.

I had to rearrange my office space to fit the second printer (the big laser printer is sitting there like a lump until I can get someone over to fix it). At first, I hated the rearrangement, but now I kind of like it. I still have to find a convenient place to put the file folders I need regularly, but I can make this configuration work.

Started reading a book that I hoped would be wonderful, by a Very Prominent Author. The premise sounded great, and it started off well. Then, a few chapters in, for no discernable reason, it switched into present tense and stayed there. I hated it, so I stopped reading.

So much for the first book of the year holding deep meaning. I thought I’d chosen so well!

Started reading one of the books I received as a holiday gift, and that was fun. Read the next book for review, which was interesting, but completely shifted genres for the last third of the book, and structurally couldn’t support the shift.

I have a few scripts in my queue to start the week, but not enough, so I hope more will come in.

Slept in a bit on Monday. Technically, it’s a holiday, but I needed to get some work done.

Many of the businesses and organizations around here close for the first two weeks of January, and I fully support that. Everyone is tired. It’s winter. We need rest.

I did some work in longhand on two projects: one I’m writing the actual story, and the other, I’m making outline notes. The second is pulling to start “writing into” so that I can finish the outline, but I want to do the other one first.

Posted the “Intent for the Week” here. Polished the Ink-Dipped Advice post that goes live tomorrow, and the Process Muse post that does the same, and wrote the Process Muse post for next week. It’s up and scheduled.

Did a quick round of the social media sites.

Revised, polished, uploaded, and scheduled Episodes 49 & 50 of Legerdemain, which go live next week. They needed a good bit of work, as, I believe, the next episode will.

Swung by the post office to mail a few things, and then the liquor store to stock up. In the afternoon, I turned around a script. In the evening, we had the online soup class with Chef Jeremy. Good thing it’s online, with the number of attendees who “got COVID for Christmas.”

Class was fun, and there are techniques I can and will use when I make the bouillabaisse later this week.

Did not sleep well, because Charlotte woke me up every two hours (including throwing up in the bed at 2:30). So that was a lot of cleanup and comforting her. I tried shutting her out of the bedroom, but she had a panic attack.

I had a series of weird dreams – in one, I was lost in a large school in which I’ve had dreams before; another was about writing a rent check to a person I know only from online, because I was subletting from him; the third was kind of a mess; a fourth had to do with an important scene for the outline I’ve been working on in longhand (which I wrote up this morning).

Which meant I overslept, and am getting a late start this morning.

The plan is to work ahead on Legerdemain today, first. On the social media rounds, I will post links to the regular Tuesday material, including the episode of Legerdemain that drops today, and one of the Topic Workbooks. I also have to work on some interview questions that need to go out this week for an article, create the episode graphics for the episodes that uploaded yesterday, and turn around two scripts. I hope I’ll get out a few LOIs, too. I have to swing by the library, but it’s just a quick drop off/pick up, nothing major.

I need to buckle down and focus today. Which is difficult, because I’m sleep-deprived. But we keep on keeping on, right?

Have a good one.

Tues. Nov. 22, 2022: Of NaNo Wins, Social Media Platforms, and Holiday Prep

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Dark Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and a little warmer

Curl up with your favorite beverage, because we have a long catch-up this morning, over a wide variety of topics.

If you missed my post on the GDR site about the reminder that holidays are supposed to be fun, you can read it now.

Everything took longer on Friday than I wanted. It was frustrating. But I got my words in, and then we headed out to errands.

I had quite the stack of books waiting for me at the library. Of course, as soon as I got home, I got the notice that there were more. Because that’s how it works. We headed off to the local Toy and Candy shop in Norad Mill, to get ideas for holiday shopping. It’s very cute, and I ended up buying one of my mom’s gifts there, but it didn’t solve this year’s gift-giving challenges.

Then, it was off to Wild Oats. A local coffee company had a tasting, and the guy running it was really nice, enthusiastic, and a fellow French Press enthusiast. So we had a good conversation, and then I got the rest of what I needed.

Hit Stop & Shop on the way back for a few things, and it was disgusting. Hardly everyone masked, and everyone sneezing and coughing all over everything. I stayed about 10 feet away and got out as fast as I could. Ick.

If I end up getting sick, I’ll know where it happened.

Negotiated a contract for a new-to-me publication. It’s still not the fee I wanted, but I really want to do the article, the timeline works, and, while it may be a one-and-done for me, it will also be a good opportunity to get my byline in front of a different audience.

Struggled with the script coverage in the afternoon. I’ve gotten used to the shorter write-ups, so doing a longer one was a challenge. I only got one done, not two, which meant I had to do another one over the weekend.

Gathering contact info and saying goodbye on Twitter is sad. Maybe it will course correct, who knows, but it will never be what it was. Not that it was perfect. There were plenty of times it was a toxic hell site. But it was an important marketing outlet, and a place for people to find each other, and come across fun, weird little pockets of interest. While the positive is that it gives one a chance to build something new, it’s still sad. Recognizing the grief and allowing ourselves to mourn is vital.

The people who are screaming how it negatively affects their income are going to have to buck up and learn other platforms, or lose that income permanently. People can moan that Twitter is similar to a public utility all they want, but the fact is that it is owned by an individual who takes glee in destroying it for his own ego. Either you put in the time to learn other platforms, and see what serves your business best, or you lose your income.

I’m as frustrated as anyone else. The Topic Workbooks were steadily paying the electric bill. Other sales were growing, and filling in other expenses. Legerdemain was gaining traction. A solid section of that audience came via Twitter. Since Yegads Muskrat started destroying the company, my sales took a 75% hit.

I have to absorb that and recalibrate over the next few months, until I figure out which platforms do what the best and can aim my marketing appropriately.

If all I do is scream that I’ve lost sales, I won’t learn what I need to learn, and can’t regain them. So it’s been a case of rolling up the sleeves and getting to work.

Do I “have” time? Of course not. But if I want to sustain and grow my writing business, it’s necessary. It means working even longer hours right now, and too bad for me.

The platform doesn’t “owe” it to me to stay the same because I’ve gotten used to marketing a certain way and making use of it.

There’s a learning curve with these other platforms. I’ll make mistakes, and will pay the price in lost sales. But I have to put in the work and learn.

Even if another company tries to put together a replacement platform, it will be different. This was something unique in its space and time, for all its flaws. We mourn, and we rebuild.

Things don’t stay the same in life. That’s reality. I mean, I was on the platform for 13 years. That’s centuries in tech terms.

Whining doesn’t change it.

I’m sad. I’m angry at Yegads Muskrat for taking glee in destroying something that was important to thousands or tens of thousands of people. I also think the Board shouldn’t be let off the hook. They didn’t HAVE to sell to him. They CHOSE to, out of their own greed. I want their names, and I don’t think any of them should be allowed to ever be in a position of authority over something like this again. Let them live off their spoils of this. Don’t allow them another penny again.

How does that affect my signing up as a beta for Bluesky? Because I don’t trust Jack Dorsey farther than I can throw him, even though he left the company in 2021, and the BOD earlier this year. I want to see what he’s built, and make my decisions from there, knowing that it’s likely he will throw everyone under the bus again. Will it be free? I heard rumors it will be tied to crypto. No, thanks. Will it be a useful marketing tool? Who knows? Once it goes live, I’ll try it out, weigh the pros and cons, and all of it against my opinion of Dorsey, his ethics, and what we know he’s capable of doing.

But Twitter’s demise changes the marketing game for all kinds of companies and creators. Anyone who’s positioning themselves as a transition guru is lying.

Enough about that. In the evening, I read for pleasure, and played with the cats. I finally unpacked the tote bag of toys we brought up from storage. Charlotte doesn’t understand how to play.

Didn’t have a good night Friday into Saturday. Weird dreams, and Charlotte kept waking me up. Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny, cold day, and it would have been perfect to drive down to Great Barrington. But I couldn’t get it together to get it done. I was absolutely exhausted. So we decided not to go.

The words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH were a struggle. Not to mention there weren’t a lot of them. 1672, so I hit the day’s necessity with a handful over, but not my personal goal.

I stitched the fleece curtain for the back door. It’s amazing what a difference it makes, between the door curtain and the heavy drapes from the 1950s we put on the windows. It keeps the place warmer by several degrees, which means the heat doesn’t have to work as hard.

I did some stuff around the house. We can’t find what we hoped to find to send out as gifts this season, so we have to figure something else out. We think we have another option; hopefully, I can make it work.

The poor coffeemaker I ordered is shipping out of Buffalo – who had 5 FEET of snow. So that’s not showing up anytime soon. Those poor delivery people. This is why I ordered early. I don’t need it for another month. It’ll get here when it gets here; if it’s late, that’s the way it goes.

There were so many things I should have done, and just didn’t.

I did read IRON AND VELVET by Alexis Hall, which was a lot of fun. How have I missed this series?

I checked into Twitter a few times, but it just made me sad.

I helped a friend set up on Mastodon. I don’t find it the be-all and end-all some do, but the instance on which my friend and I signed up is primarily screenwriters, so we can talk projects together. It’s harder to come across random cool people with different interests, but I am blocking whiners and screamers and bullies much faster on this platform.

I still like CounterSocial for in-depth conversation. There are Twitgees trying to scream and bully. When they scream, they are ignored. When they bully, they are removed. But I’m also quick to block there.

I’m not a muter. I’m a blocker. I’m either all in with someone’s different facets, or all out.

But I spent very little time on SM. I want to try to cut back severely on weekends.

Up early on Sunday, mostly because Charlotte was impossible. I made the cinnamon honey coffeecake with orange marmalade filling from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. I didn’t have wheat flour, so I substituted rye, which made it a little too dense. I should have stuck with all white flour. But it’s still good.

The day’s words went better with THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. 1928 words. Still under what I hoped for my own personal goal, but I’m on track. I doubt I’ll hit 50K before Thanksgiving, but I will by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

It snowed on and off, mostly off, although we kept getting Winter Advisory Alerts. All around us, it was much worse, but in this little bowl in the mountains, we were protected.

Did some hearth and home stuff. Turned around a script coverage (the one I hadn’t done on Friday). We sat down and wrote the overseas cards. There aren’t a lot anymore; so many people have died. I’m still waiting for a couple of requested addresses, but if they don’t arrive, I’ll just let it go. I have way too much to do over the next few weeks to chase people around begging for addresses; if they don’t want to hear from me, that’s fine.

Checked in with Twitter again. It’s glitching like crazy. People are screaming about how “ethical” creators and companies have to pull their ads. Boo, if you’re running around to conferences unmasked and on airplanes (whether masked or unmasked) and eating indoors unmasked, STFU, you ableist hypocrite. You’re in no position to talk ethics with anyone.

I tried to get on in the evening to join ScriptChat, but the glitches were too much.

Death throes.

As far as my own strategy, I’m holding course with the promotions planned/scheduled through the end of the year, and then reassessing. There isn’t a platform that promotes the way Twitter did to the audience Twitter did, so I have a feeling, at least for the first few months, promotions will be piecemeal and staggered across platforms. As I learn what works where, I will re-align as needed. Most of my audience has fled Twitter, but there are still some stalwarts, and they might find something they missed in the noise of a busier platform.

If someone whines it’s not behind a content warning, I’ll just block them.

The whiners tend to fall into two groups: those who have a huge, well-paid marketing machine behind them, and those who can’t get published because they never finish anything, but keep talking about “someday.”

Dianne Dotson suggested Hive as a good platform. They look like fun, and if she’s comfortable there, it means it’s a good place to promote work (she’s excellent at promoting her work). It doesn’t look like I can do them from the desktop, which would knock them out of contention. I don’t have the capacity OR the desire to do all of this from my phone.

I resent having to have a phone in the first place.

I looked at POST, but basically, they want people to create content for them without pay. Which is part of what social media is, but they want long and short form articles on the site itself, not links driving traffic back to one’s work on other sites. I think I’ll pass.

Started reading the next book for review.

Also read MURDER BY THE BRUSH, S.E. Babin’s first Psychic Cleaner Mystery, which was a lot of fun. It’s a novella, not a novel, but I liked the energy and the characters and the plot and the heart of it. I liked it so much I went and bought the second novella in the series, MAID FOR MAYHAM, and read that. Like I said, novellas. Quick reads. The climactic sequences tend to be a little rushed, but other than that, they are a lot of fun. I’d read more in the series, when they release.

It’s interesting that there are so few category mysteries anymore, in the 50-60K range. Most of them are 80K+.

These novellas ran around 135 pages, which brought them in around 33K. So, while I read for fun, I was also learning.

More snow overnight, but nowhere near as much as predicted.

Monday, I overslept because Charlotte kept waking me up. It was the day before dark moon, which is my lowest energy day of the month anyway. I had weird dreams about working on a project with David Tennant (which would be great, I’ve always wanted to work with him) and discovering what an intense listener he is. I mean, that’s obvious from his work, but being on the receiving end of it in the dream was interesting.

Had trouble getting going, but once I got myself to the page, the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH trundled along decently at 1951 words. I broke 48K, so if I keep going the next few days, I can hit 50K and then drop back to whatever the natural pace is for this book, which I think is around 1200 or 1300 words/day. As I said, I’m figuring the sweet spot is around 82K, but this draft might have fewer words, and give me room to layer in details in full drafts.

I’m kicking myself for leaving the box of costume books in storage over winter. I only have a couple up here. Although I took out a bunch of relevant fashion books from the library, I’ll have to get them out again when I do revisions.

Bibliographic notes are a must.

After breakfast and blogging, I headed out for errands. Library first, to drop off and pick up. The one day I’m in a time crunch, they have a line of people who want the librarians to look things up for them, instead of going to a terminal and doing it their damn selves.

But it was fine. I got my stuff and got out of there in longer than usual, but not too bad an amount of time. It was a bright, sunny day. Although it was cold, people were in a pretty good mood.

Big Y next, for Thanksgiving shopping. I was happy to see that almost everyone was masked. It took a lot of stress out of shopping.

Post Office, where I bought more overseas stamps, mailed the cards we’d written, and got stamps for the domestic cards. (The Elves, in case you’re curious).

Liquor store, and then home. Hauled everything up the stairs. Put it all away, made lunch, did the SM rounds. Being on Twitter made me sad.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. Another one, that had a problem with additional materials, was cleaned up, and that will be my one for tomorrow. I have two for today, so I’m okay. I have three days in the pay period next week, after the holiday, so as long as there are scripts to grab, I’ll be okay.

Soup class with Jeremy Rock Smith last night. Tons of fun, as always. I learned a lot, and got a lead on where to get my knives sharpened around here.

Got the wonky tablet up and running, because I should be able to run Hive off the tablet, since I don’t want it on my phone. I downloaded the app and established an account, but have to figure out how to get the photos I want on it. I was too tired to do much more than establish an account. And I have no idea how to find anyone. I’ll learn. Enough writers are migrating there that it sounds like it’s viable, if I make the time to figure it out. I still wish it had a desktop option.

I have to charge the tablet through my phone cord, because the charger that came with it no longer works.

Up early, although out the door later than usual to the laundromat, just in case they haven’t yet adjusted to the time change. They had. The washing machines were fine, but the dryers not only ate up double the money, but didn’t dry properly. So we have laundry draped all over everything.

Tessa disapproves. She likes things tidy.

I managed to get a good chunk of edits done on the next section of Legerdemain, which as to be uploaded and scheduled this weekend (or, at the latest, early next week).

It was later than usual when I sat down to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but it went pretty well, the chapter coming in at 2287 words. That brought me over 50K, which means I’m an official NaNo22 Winner, a nice boost to my ego. And a relief, because I can do the remaining 30K at a slower pace. And I hit my personal goal of hitting 50K before Thanksgiving.

So this is up late. There will be a whacky little piece of Thanksgiving flash fiction up later this afternoon on Ko-fi.

Don’t forget, the latest episode of Legerdemain drops today. Enjoy!

Fri. Nov. 18, 2022: Words, Grief, and Mars Retrograde Influences

image courtesy of Enrique Meseguer via pixabay.com

Friday, November 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cold

Yesterday was just kind of weird and all over the place. Meditation was good, and Charlotte was thrilled and sat on my lap the whole time. Between meditation on Thursdays and soup class on Mondays, she feels very well adored. Because, of course, Zoom is all about her.

I was late getting my Nano words in on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but managed 2051, with an interesting twist to the story. I’m veering farther from the outline, which is why an outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I’m not thrilled with that day’s work, but it opens up some interesting arcs. I will have to decide if they all need to be wrapped up in this book, or some of them go a few books into the series. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Over 40K now, so the finish line is in sight. About halfway through the book’s sweet spot for the genre.

Did the social media rounds to promote Legerdemain, and to interact. Because they both go hand in hand.

Put in the Chewy order. Ordered the new coffeemaker in a pre-Black-Friday sale.

One of the things I don’t miss about Twitter that I liked about other platforms is that we are more responsible for curating our own feeds. I was so sick of the “if I haven’t followed you back, give me a shout” or “prove you’re not a bot”. No, bitch, I’m not your administrator. Fix your own timeline. I’ve got enough work handling mine. I’m not doing unpaid labor on your accounts.

Of course, the bullies and the trolls are trying to invade the other platforms, demanding what others can and can’t post about and how. Counter Social handles it well. Mastodon, because it’s so many different servers, and each has different protocols, is harder to navigate.

However, one thing I am firm about is not putting “content warning” on something because it’s a project I’m talking about or promoting. While I am more than my work, being on social media is about the work. If you don’t like it, we’ll just do a mutual block and not come up on each other’s timelines.

One traditionally published author was ranting about how writers “have to” put content warnings on anything that might sound like promotion (which is, basically, any time a writer talks about their own work), because she “didn’t want a timeline full of promotions like on Twitter.” Then curate your timeline, you dumbass. Again, don’t expect other people to do your work for you. You don’t want to read promos? Filter, block, mute, or hey, JUST SCROLL BY. Don’t bully others who are trying to keep a roof over their heads because you have a traditional publishing PR machine behind you.

Blocked. Noted the name so I NEVER buy or take one of her books out of the library. I rarely say never, but in this case? Never.

I completely forgot it was Freelance Chat day on Twitter and missed it.

In the afternoon I saw a post asking if anyone knows a video editor to “chop up” a large block of video into chunks.

Bitch, that’s not what video editing is.

How insulting to anyone who is an actual editor. Video editing is about nuance and precision timing, and restructuring the smaller blocks so they stand alone while feeding the whole arc.

Mars Retrograde much?

The Mars Retrograde definitely influences me wanting to punch so many people in the throat right now. And I have to watch myself.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon, not three. One has a problem, which I hope will be fixed. Grabbed a couple more for early next week. I have two very long coverages to do today, but I’ll do what I need to do.

Got the next two books for review.

Twitter is in its death throes. A lot of us were on there last night, saying goodbye. Some people I’m okay with letting go. I figure the ones with whom I’m really tight, we are already connecting through other means.

There’s talk about creating “another Twitter” but I don’t think that can be done. It was unique. For all its flaws, it did a lot for connection and communication. I’ve been on there since March of 2009, for goodness’ sake. That’s 13 years, which is a long time.

Other platforms are different and serve different purposes. Sarah Kendzior pointed out how this is different than other platforms fading away because this is intentional destruction. I’m sad I couldn’t save my Fearless Ink archive (I have my DE archive). But if I sign out of the DE account, I won’t be able to sign back in, and I won’t be able to sign into the FI account anyway.

I’m sad. It’s definitely meant my sales take a hit, as far as the Topic Workbooks, the Delectable Digital Delights, and the serial. But I will figure out other marketing paths and regain lost ground.

There are things I won’t miss, but there’s a lot that I will. But this is what happens when it’s owned by someone else, and why it’s so vital to have one’s own website and space, apart from social media.

With all the grieving, I also look forward to trying to create something different elsewhere. I will probably try and leave several platforms, or have to use different platforms for different things. But the work will continue.

Former clients are contacting me in a panic, wanting consults on what to do next. I’m telling them to hold tight, because entire marketing strategies will have to be re-devised, and we’re all making it up.

This morning, the cats let me sleep until a quarter to six, which was nice. The work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH took longer than I would have liked, but came in at 2831 words. It’s a complicated ensemble chapter, but sets up some necessary dynamics, and I’m pleased with the bones of it.

I was supposed to be part of a state legislative session on the arts this morning, but they didn’t send me the link, and I’m not chasing it down, so there’s that.

I need to pick up a lot of books at the library, and head out to Wild Oats to pick up a few things. Script coverage this afternoon. It’s snowing and not every few minutes, so hopefully the weather won’t be too bad for errands.

I hope tomorrow’s weather is good enough for the jaunt down to Great Barrington. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week.

Have a good weekend, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Tues. Oct. 18, 2022: Riding a Creative Wave

image courtesy of Kaneori via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Ready for our long, Tuesday natter? I also have the Mid-Month check-in up on the GDR site.

Decent weekend. Friday was a little all over the place. It wasn’t focused writing time, which was frustrating. Lots of admin work. Wrote and submitted a book review, and received the next two books to review. Wrote 2 ½ blog posts for Ink-Dipped Advice, working ahead. Poked around on Substack, honing my plan. Covered a script. Started another coverage.

The inspiring thing I did on Friday afternoon was to put on real people clothes and makeup and go to MASSMoCA for the Boiler House Poets reading. I met Joanne, the poet who invited me to the reading, and several of the others. Eight poets were on this year’s retreat, working together. The voices and experiences were all very different, but there was still a flow to the overall reading. It was exciting, and I’m so honored I was invited to it. I’m looking forward to next year’s reading already!

Home, made dinner, read in the evening, for fun. Read a new book in a series where I’ve read most of the series. This one was just too formulaic and similar to the others to be satisfying. I mean, I enjoyed it, it worked as relaxing brain candy for the night, but I didn’t love it, and some of the other books in the series I really loved.

Slept well Friday into Saturday, mostly because Charlotte stayed on the couch until nearly 5 AM. It was Tessa who jumped on the bed in the morning to wake me up – the first time she’s been on the bed since we moved here. Charlotte came in a little later and was horrified.

I drafted a short play in the morning, “My Side of the Bed” which was fun. I unpacked more boxes from the storage run, washed some pieces, and finished the last script coverage of the pay period. I made some notes on a couple of projects, where the ideas are flowing.

The tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs arrived. We’ll plant them in a week or two, and hope for the best in spring. So I guess the tussling with John Scheeper’s worked. Still not sure I’d deal with them again.

Forced myself to read the book I’d put aside from the author whose series I’d previously liked until she used “witch” as a slur in this one. I didn’t like it for more reasons than the slur. Overall, it was bland. On top of that, the protagonist, in the last few books, is regressing. I was drawn to the series because the protagonist was smart, resourceful, strong, and fun. She paired up with a romance-worthy guy, and the first few books post-marriage were fun. But in the last few, she gets weaker and weaker and more and more dependent on him and frantic/anxious, in a way that doesn’t make sense the way her character was established in the previous books. It’s like the editor encouraged the writer to make the character more “relatable” by giving her more anxiety when there’s nothing to worry about.  I’ve lost respect for the character, and not just because of the witch slur. Instead of growing, she’s regressing, into a state of helplessness beyond where she was in the first book. So, I’m done with the series and the author. It’s not like losing me as a reader is going to make a dent in her sales. I am no longer her target audience.

Tried to start another book that came highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, and I’m not being paid to read it, so it’s going back to the library unread. I loathe novels written in present tense. I want to hurl them against the wall. It’s the author standing between me and the text screaming, “Look at me! I’m such a brilliant stylist!” when they’re not, instead of letting me experience the story. Again, I’m not the target audience. If a writer believes that’s the best voice in which to tell the story, they should absolutely do it. But I am not the audience for it.

I’m reading a few nonfiction books right now, which I enjoy. One I did not, too much religion and not enough about what it claimed the book was about, so that’s going back.

Started the next book in the Elantra series, and I’m enjoying that.

Alternated reading and unpacking in the afternoon.

Charlotte woke me up too early on Sunday morning. But I got up, fed everybody, and wrote two episodes of LEGERDEMAIN, about 3K all told. Updated the Style Sheet and the Series Bible. I bitch and moan to myself (and the cats) about updating the sheets after drafting every episode (for a novel, I’d wait until galleys to update the Series Bible). But it sure as heck saves me a lot of time and frustration as I move forward.

I did some puttering and reading, and planning for a project I realized has to go live next week (just after the new moon). I meant to just create the opening for it and jot more notes, but I wrote the first four pieces. This will all make sense later this week, when I formally announce the project. Until I upload it and schedule it to post, I don’t know if I can promote it before it goes live, or if I have to wait. I hate vague-posting, and apologize. I’m also not talking about it on social media, because I hate it when people say they have good news, but can’t share it yet. STFU until you can.

Crankypants much? I better sing myself the Crankypants song until I laugh and get over it.

All told, I wrote a little over 5K on the new project and 3K on LEGERDEMAIN, so I wrote nearly 8K on Sunday. I haven’t done that in a long time, and I was tired and achy by the end of the day.

To my horror, when I was looking at the content calendar of scheduled upcoming posts, I realized that I have not uploaded/scheduled the episode ads for the final 11 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN’s first big arc. So that’s on the list for this week. I’m behind in the overall series marketing, and I have to update the Topic Workbook links before the new project drops next week, because I link back to the Topic Workbooks. I also have to create a newsletter blast so it’s ready to go when the new project goes live.

And I’m way, way behind on LOIs. As in, hadn’t sent any this month. Which I didn’t realize until I compiled the information for the Mid-Month post over on the GDR site on Monday.

But the writing itself felt good, and that’s what’s important.

I joined #scriptchat on Sunday night, and it was fun. Sunday nights are usually bad for me to do stuff online, but I’d already blown the attempt at a day of disconnect, so why not do something fun?

Monday morning, I was irritated by the amount of email that piled up. I have a lot of admin to catch up on this week.

I wrote another episode of LEGERDEMAIN, which is a good thing. But I’m pretty sure this arc will run closet to 40 episodes than 30, as originally planned. But the structure of the arc has embedded in me as I write, which will make the revisions and edits easier.

I got an email for my editor with the suggestions for the article that will be in the 2024 Llewellyn almanac. She loves the piece, which makes me so happy, because it’s one of the riskiest and most personal pieces I’ve ever written, and I worried I screwed it up. Her suggestions, as always, are right on the mark. I’m so grateful to have her as my editor.

Payment came through from the last two weeks’ of script coverage, and I transferred that over to the bank.

I think I figured out a solution for the LEGERDEMAIN ads which won’t be too much of a PITA. On some platforms, it’s just about adjusting dates. On channels that don’t allow edits, it’s about adding in the correct episodes on the correct dates, and having more overlap between episodes. It will be a slog, but it’s fixable.

The hardest thing was to take a breath and not berate myself for the mistake. I’m human, I made a mistake. It wasn’t huge, it’s fixable, it didn’t hurt anyone. It was on my own work, not client work. Mistakes happen.

I updated the links on the Topic Workbooks on the Devon Ellington site, so those are all current. Since the workbooks are steady sellers, I need to stay on top of that. I still have to create, upload, and schedule the marketing campaign for that through December. And upload/schedule the ads for 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS during November and into the first week of December (October is done and dropping on time).

I did another piece for the project launching next week, because I was in its groove. I can start uploading/scheduling on Thursday, I think. I also created the announcement in MailerLite, which will either go out this week (preferable) or on the day of the launch, depending on when I can get a legitimate link.

I turned around one script coverage, and started a second. I realized I was behind where I hoped/needed to be, so I withdrew from an online event I was scheduled to attend.

However, while I was cooking dinner, I got an idea. The title came first (which is unusual for me). Originally, it was going to be a piece of flash fiction, a ghost story with humor and maybe a touch of horror. But as I percolated, I realized it make more sense as a play.

After dinner, instead of returning to script coverage, I sat down and wrote the first draft of “Paranormal Paraphrasing” which turned out to be a 10-minute play.

As I finished the draft, an email came in from my friend Paula, who’d come across some more play submission calls, and one of them looks like it will be a good fit.

I was so tired by the time I was finished that I was shaking. But I’m glad I rode that creative wave.

I didn’t sleep well; too many different ideas mashing, but not meshing, in my dreams.

Up early. One of the cats was hurling, but I haven’t stepped in it yet, which means I haven’t yet found it.

Got into a lively Twitter discussion about being baffled when people refuse to wear clothes more than once. For me, it’s not only a sustainability and an economic issue, but also, when I love a piece of clothing, I take good care of it and keep wearing it. I mend it. I clean it the way it needs to be cleaned. I honor it. Most of us on the thread felt the same way, thank goodness.

I also sew, and can build my own clothes. I realize not everyone can or wants to do that, but basic mending is a necessary life skill. It’s worth MAKING the time to learn.

Anyway, I actually have to leave the house today. I should have gone to the laundromat, but the weather is too yucky. I’ll go tomorrow. I do, however, have to return a stack of books, hit the grocery store, pick up my mother’s prescription, mail some bills, hit the liquor store.

I need to get some writing in before I leave, help a friend with her website, and then, later on, finish the coverage I started yesterday and turn around another one. There hasn’t been much in the queue this week, which concerns me.

Time to get out some more LOIs. I’ve been lax on it for the past few weeks.

Have a good one! The next episode of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

Fri. Aug. 19: Migraines and Tension

image courtesy of Kerbstone via pixabay.com

Friday, August 19, 2022

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and warm

I had a migraine yesterday, but not the option to lie down until it passed. You can yammer about self-care and health all you want, but the reality, for many of us, is that we can’t just stop whatever we’re doing. Fortunately, since I work remotely, I could at least be grumpy and miserable at home.

The major need was to get the next batch of LEGERDEMAIN episodes edited, uploaded, and scheduled, and get the ads done. Although I’m still behind in the general ads from the last batch.

I’d hoped to get episodes 21-30 done. I got through episode 29. 30 really launches that last act of this first large arc, and it makes more sense to do it with the last batch of episodes. That last batch needs a lot of revision, and will probably wind up broken down into shorter episodes with more drive, which then puts the first major arc over 40 episodes. Which means the initial offering will go over 100. So much for that pretty 90 number! Oh, well. Needs must.

I changed the episode title of one of them. I’m overusing “Welcome” in episode titles.

Anyway, in spite of numerous computer crashes, one of which messed up the dashboard badly and I had to do a lot of work to get it untangled, I got all nine episodes revised. That was nearly 11K words, and I did about 3 drafts on each episode.

I wrote the episode loglines for the nine new episodes, and got to work on the episode ads. I only got five done before I ran out of steam.

Freelance Chat was fun, although I was distracted and a little grumpy. I had rehearsal stuff to deal with for a radio play. I worked on the Shakespeare horror story which has to get out the door this weekend. I’m struggling, because it keeps taking a comic turn, and they were very clear about not wanting comic horror, but horror-horror.

I got some admin done, but not enough. I got a little more done this morning. The Chewy order arrived, so there’s cat food for the next six weeks. And I ordered the tulip bulbs we’re going to try to plant in troughs overwinter and leave on the porch, and then put out on the balcony in spring.

Berkshire Gas hit me with an enormous “settle up” bill for the end of the balanced billing year, and raised my monthly rate yet again. Which is going to make the next few months difficult. So much for thinking I could ever get ahead or get any time off. They also shouldn’t be allowed to double the price per unit IN THE SUMMER, and then probably double it again in the fall, making sure they screw us all to the wall.

Today, I have to run errands. I meant to run some of them yesterday, but never left the desk, so they all have to happen today. It’s supposed to get very hot again during the day, but cool off at night, so we’ll see if I stay here all day to work, or pack up and go somewhere cool.

I need to get the ads done and finish a draft of the horror story. I should turn around a script or two, since I only read two days this week so far, and I have that big ass gas bill to pay. And I need to get the cats to the vet to get their shots updated. And, you know, establish with a vet here.

So I’m feeling stressed and overburdened right now. It will right itself, especially if I make the time over the weekend to get some rest.  But once I get this first big arc uploaded and scheduled, I can focus on writing the next arc. Episode 29 takes me through November 1, releasing twice a week, and the last episodes will get me into December. So that gives me some breathing room to do the next arc, but I also can’t drag my feet.

I also need to do some more work on the Legerdemain website this weekend. I want to be able to start promoting it, but I can’t do so unless there’s fun content on it, not just the episode releases and loglines.

I also need to read the next book for review, so I can send off the review on Monday.

The Topic Workbooks are chugging along nicely, and doing the content calendar/scheduling the ads has taken a lot of pressure off me. Being able to upload some of the Legerdemain ads has also been a help.

I need to get back to work on the next three radio plays, too. One has to go out by the end of the month, and the other two are due in September.

One thing at a time, right? All I can do is the best I can do. But it all has to get done, and I have to be ferociously protective of my time and energy right now.

I’m also not going to chase people down for stuff. I said I could do X within a specific time frame, and needed Y by Z. You don’t get it to me, it’s not happening. You’re not paying me. I said I could help out, but only within a specific time frame. I am not nagging or begging or “sending reminders.”  Be a fucking adult and do what you said you would do when you said you would, or communicate so we can adjust the schedule. Don’t just not do it or makes excuses or  ghost, and then expect me to jump when you get back in touch. I have paying work that takes priority. We set dates. Cough up or shut up. I am moving on to people and projects where any other parties involved step up and supply what’s needed with in the time frame. And pay.

Obviously, I need to make some serious meditation time this weekend.

Back to the page (and later, to the library). Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on August 19, 2022 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 19: Migraines and Tension  
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Fri. July 29, 2022: A Good Friend With a Beautiful Garden

image courtesy of Tim HIll via pixabay.com

Friday, July 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE has released, in its new edition. It helps get and keep projects on track, and teaches techniques to build a calendar that works. You can learn more about it here.

LEGERDEMAIN launched yesterday. The first two episodes are free on Kindle Vella. The story link itself is here.

It would be helpful if you like the free episodes, if you can upvote them and also leave a short, positive review. And, of course, tell everyone you know. If it’s not your thing, spreading the word to those who might like it would be really helpful.

My father died on this day in 1972. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it. But the day still has its challenges.

I had a great time with my friend in upstate NY. The ride there on Wednesday was okay, up until the last stretch on I-84, which was rather chaotic. But it was a short stretch, and I found her place just fine. She lives in a town that’s similar to where I live here in the Berkshires, in that it’s a former factory town now populated with artists.

We know each other from working in theatre, film, and television production. There are several studios popping up in upstate NY, because of the demand for streamed programs, so she doesn’t even have to commute to the city for everything, which is great.

Doesn’t make me want to start up in production again, though. Those days are done for me, except for script  coverage and creating budget estimates.

We had iced tea in the wonderful, naturalized pollinator garden she’s built, then when into town to a taproom, where we ate outside. First time I’ve eaten at a restaurant since COVID. The tables were far enough apart that it was comfortable. It was delicious, and I had a local beer called “Marlowe” that was pretty good.

We went to the gallery where she’s part of a group show. Her piece was wonderful, and there were all kinds of interesting pieces in the show. We visited a friend of hers who has a fabric store, and there are terrific pieces there. The museum we planned to visit was closed on Wednesdays, so we went to a shop called Notions and Potions where I picked up some incense and a few crystals.

My friend is a cat person, and she has a group of rescued cats living with her. Many of them are old and had spent years either on the streets or in shelters. Bob even has his own Instagram account. I bonded with Ben, a lovely 15-year-old cat who loves the other cats (especially Bob), but doesn’t like to be touched by humans. Once he realized I would respect that boundary, he stayed close for most of my visit. He investigated all my bags, and left messages for my cats. He hung around. Griddle is a lovely black cat, who is very social and liked to come and be petted. There’s a kitten in search of a name who’s very smart and friendly, and looks like my Willa’s baby brother. One-Eyed George is kind of shy (because he can’t see much), but he was around. The tortie, Star, got more and more curious, the longer I was there, but not close enough to be petted. She kept walking through the room and staring, as though she was on her way to some other appointment. Calamity Joon was shy, although she peered at me from a safe distance. I didn’t meet Bertie, who stayed in my friend’s room, and I didn’t see Slick, the outdoor cat, although his empty bowls assured us he was around.

Anyway, my friend and I had a good catch up, and then got pizza for dinner we ate at home. I slept well, although Tessa has me so well trained, I woke up at 5 anyway. I’d woken up a couple of times in the night because I Was Being Stared At, but whomever did the staring fled as soon as I looked at them. Anyway, once Griddle realized I was up, she came for a petting session. George came to check things out, and then fled. I dozed off again for a bit.

When I woke up later, and went to take my shower, I found Bob stretched out in the doorway to the room, with the other cats looking at me hopefully from a distance.

After the shower, Ben came in to help me pack, and to make sure I put everything in properly.

I brought my bags downstairs, and most of the pride trotted down hopefully with me to the kitchen, and then were very disappointed when I failed Breakfast 101. I don’t know the medicine/food routine.

Bob forgave me and sat on my foot, with Ben right next to him, and Griddle came in to get some extra petting action, and my friend came down soon after, so all was not lost.

Morning feeding happened; we went out to get bagels with everything on them, and came back to the house to eat. Real New York bagels! I mean, the Berkshire bagels are better than the Cape bagels, but nothing beats a real New York bagel.

My friend gave me a small lilac, and a tansy plant to replace the tansy that Spiro Squirrel destroyed. She also gave me some mugwort slips and some cut mugwort. And she gave me some small pink flamingos who will dance in the pots on the back balcony.

Driving back was smooth. I got caught up in the horse trailer traffic going north on I-87, because the Belmont/Aqueduct barns are sending them up to Saratoga for the big races this weekend. But it was really a smooth ride back. Much less traffic than going down the day before. And it was so nice to spend time with my friend in her amazing house and yard and with those wonderful cats.

Unloaded the car. The lilac will be okay in its pot for now. I repotted the tansy and the mugwort.

I did some promotion for LEGERDEMAIN, did my Italian lesson. I’m learning random words, and I can figure out the phrases by process of elimination, but I’m not learning structure. And that frustrates me. There’s no context for anything.

Had a quiet afternoon. It was hot.

My mom had been sick the night before (she ate too many hotdogs in my absence). I have threatened her with kale smoothies. But the cats took good care of her.

Tessa was fine. She was very interested in all Ben’s messages, and told me everything that happened while I was gone. Willa was chill, as usual. Charlotte was upset because I had the scent of other cats on me. It took her hours to calm down.

Slept decently, although Charlotte woke me around 4:30 wanting attention, and then Tessa chimed in. So I was up at the usual 5 AM to feed everyone and start the routine.

I’m getting ready to go down to MASSMoCA to attend the artist working group to which I was invited. When I get back, I have to get a lot done this afternoon, and then there’s yoga tonight. Tomorrow morning is the farmers’ market, and then I have to finish my Llewellyn article and get it off to my editor. I’ll probably work on Sunday, too. There’s something I want to go to at The Mount in the late afternoon, but if I can’t get my work done, I can’t go.

Monday is Lammas, a big holiday in my personal calendar. And then we’re in both another week and another month.

Have a good one! See you on the other side.

Wed. July 27, 2022: Clearing The Desk

image courtesy of donterasse via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST releases today. I’m excited to have these Topic Workbooks going back out into the world.

Yesterday was busy, although I didn’t get as much done as I hoped.

Worked on CREATIVE STIMULUS in the morning. It needed more rewriting than I’d hoped. Wondering if I should move the release date.

Got rid of a massive amount of email.

Ran an errand at Wild Oats, dropped off/picked up at the library, mailed some stuff at the post office, went to the bank,  put gas in the car, and hit up Cinnamon Girl Apothecary for a few necessary crystals.

Turned around three coverages. Wrote and sent in a book review. Found out the artist working group to which I was invited is Friday, not Thursday, which means I can go! I’m delighted. And it’s outside, even better. It means being up very early on Friday, to write before I leave, and getting a lot of work done in the afternoon, before I head off to yoga that evening.

I’m playing with an idea for a short story submission to a Shakespeare horror anthology, which is right up my alley. I sent them an email, because I would like to try something that might push the guidelines a little too far. I’ve got a handful of ideas, so if they don’t want me to do that which I’m asking permission, I have some others to play with. I want to work with some of my favorites, who aren’t as well-known as, say, the characters from MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. I’m sure there will be many entries tied to that. But no. . .I have other ideas! (And those of you who know me well are laughing, because you know exactly who it’s going to center around).

It’s due in mid-August, so I want to get it drafted next week, as soon as I get my article off to Llewellyn.

The producer who’s doing “The Collector” radio play let me know they’re going into casting for it, which is very exciting.

I’m playing with an idea for a poem for one of the upcoming Word X Word events. Not sure I’ll get in, but I pitched. That’s also in mid-August. I’d actually started playing with the idea driving back from Saturday’s event. If they don’t have room for me, I can massage it into flash fiction.

We’re eating leftovers out of the freezer right now until I can get to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday. I’m looking forward to weather cool enough to I can do up another batch of Moosewood’s mac and cheese and Moosewood’ ratatouille, two of our standbys around here.

Chef Jeremy at Kripalu posted a recipe for a watermelon gazpacho that I just might have to try. I’m excited to be in his class again next week. In addition to being a magnificent human, he’s a wonderful teacher.

Finished packing/repacking my bags in the evening. This morning, I did a few things out and about online, like the prompts and my Italian lesson. And now, I am on the road!

We’ll catch up when I get back!

Published in: on July 27, 2022 at 4:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 27, 2022: Clearing The Desk  
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Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Thurs. July 21, 2022: Trying To Keep It Organized

image courtesy of Andreas Lischka via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Hazy, hot, humid

There’s a post about the garden over on Gratitude and Growth.

We’re in typical summer weather. We haven’t been hit as hard as a lot of other places, but without air conditioning, it’s still a challenge. It’s supposed to break on Sunday, though, and be down in the 80’s next week, so there’s that to look forward to.

Of course, Word X Word is Saturday, in the heat.

We’ll see, by next week, if I calculated that risk properly. We are outside. We are all vaccinated. We are kept a safe distance from the audience. The organizers are taking steps to protect us. But the event still involves people.  So, we’ll see.

I’m supposed to go and visit a friend next week in upstate New York. You can be sure I’ll test the morning before I go, to make sure I’m not putting her at risk.

Other than the library and taking my mom to the doctor, I haven’t gone anywhere this week. I cancelled out of everything, because I wanted Word X Word to be the only risk, and not go in there having taken other risks. I’d like to get my hair cut before Saturday, because it’s back to being pandemic hair, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to, both because places are booked, and, if they’re not masking, I’m not going to be inside with them.

I’m skipping the Farmers’ Market on Saturday, which I will miss, but I want to make sure I’m not exposed there and then expose anyone at the event.

When I get home, I’ll do the decontamination protocols. I mean, I’d be so sweaty and gross after performing four shows outside that I’d hose off anyway. And I’m putting a bottle of prosecco in the fridge before I leave!

In the meantime, I need to rehearse my lines, few as they are. Performance is not natural to me, and I want to hold up my tiny little end of it.

Yesterday seems far away, somehow, probably because it’s so hot. ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE got proofed and is headed for release on July 29. I got about 75% of CREATIVE STIMULUS rewritten. I’m still stalling on SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM, but I’ll get there.

I discovered I have to resize all the ads I did for LEGERDEMAIN so they work on Instagram, which is a PITA, but necessary.

I will have some interesting metrics to share in early August about the 31 Prompts, and the responses to them on various social media channels.

I’m keeping up the Italian lessons. I’m retaining the vocabulary, although most of it is understanding what I see, not necessarily what I hear. But I don’t understand the declensions, although I can usually figure them out through process of elimination.

Had to run the repair twice on Word yesterday, because I’m having problems with it, mostly the keyboard. I’m so frustrated.

Also, gave the computer a rest during the hottest part of the afternoon, because it was overheating.

I did a bunch of work on the Legerdemain website. There’s still plenty more to do, but I’m getting there, and will share the link when it’s ready.

Turned around a script. I wanted to turn around two, but I was too damn tired. I’m still well within the deadlines, I just wanted to get ahead a little for myself.

The cats are little fur puddles. I’m not much better. I am not a heat-and-humidity person.

The chair I usually sit on in the kitchen came apart, so it’s in pieces in the sewing room to be fixed. I’m a little garden chair, making me feel like a toddler at the Grown-Up table.

I’ve got the online meditation group this morning. I need to upload the content calendar promoting ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE, and then get back to revising STIMULUS. I also have to start the article for Llewellyn. I want to get that out to my editor early, next week, before I go away, so it’s not hanging over my head when I come back.

A local arts organization sent me information on a paid residency they thought I would be interested in, so I will start the proposal. The process is simple, but the proposal has to be strong. I also need to photograph some of my work. I hope the pieces I need are here, and not in storage.

Saturday is all about Word X Word, but I’m working on Sunday, so that I can truly enjoy visiting my friend next week, without worrying about deadlines. I just have to space out my work in the heat and stay hydrated.

I keep thinking today is Friday, but it’s Thursday, so I better make full use of the day!

Published in: on July 21, 2022 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 21, 2022: Trying To Keep It Organized  
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Wed. July 20, 2022: TypeTypeTypeTypeType

image courtesy of Nattanan Kanchanapratt via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy, hot, humid

Since yesterday was the big reveal for LEGERDEMAIN, today is the usual natter we have on Tuesdays.

Chiron went retrograde yesterday, too. The Wounded Healer.

Quite the weekend! There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site from Monday.

Friday was good; I got the prompts posted, and did a big chunk of work on the new edition of ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE,  then headed down to Pittsfield for the book sale at the Atheneum. The weather was warm and gorgeous.

Even though I got there just after the doors opened, I had to park waaaaay down the street (around the corner from the Colonial Theatre – that far)! But it’s such a pretty street, with graceful, old, multi-family houses that have all done lovely, cheerful, whimsical things with their gardens.

I met a woman exiting the parking lot, with a huge bag of books clutched to her chest. “Good haul,” I said, and she grinned. “They’ve got great stuff this time around,” she told me.

I grabbed a basket as soon as I went in. Almost everyone was masked, which made me more comfortable, and, even though it was crowded, people were respectful about distancing. I did the rounds of the main room. The back room, with the older, larger nonfiction was too small and crowded for my comfort, even though people masked. A business called Blue Q donated zippered tote bags made out of recycled plastic. The bag is bigger than it looks (which meant I only needed a single bag for my haul). I bought 13 CDs (a mix of jazz and replacements for stuff I had on cassette and then tossed in the move, when I should have kept them), some research books, some fun books, and a stack of books for my mom. The total was just under ¼ of what I’d budgeted for the day.

Dropped off the books at home, picked up my mom, and we headed to Wild Oats, where the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership did a cheese tasting, featuring Von Trapp Farmstead cheese. I’m not that into cheese, but my mom is, and I figured it would be something fun for her. She’s not comfortable being out and about much, even masked, but the co-op is good with safety features (such as the tasting being in the outer portion of the store, so people could actual step outside to unmask and taste).

The cheese was amazing. I even thought so, and, like I said, I am usually not that thrilled by cheese. My mom, of course, loved the bleu cheese. I preferred the Mt. Alice (kind of like a soft brie) and the Oma cheese (soft and like nothing I’ve tasted before). So I bought blocks of all 3. And blueberries (which are so, so good). And coffee. Rolls. Wine. You know, the essentials.

Our lunch consisted of the rolls with butter, the cheeses, and the last of the Red Shirt Farm huge tomatoes. And a glass of rosé, because hey, my weekend.

I gave myself the afternoon off to read a book and play with the cats. I enjoyed the book up until the character got pregnant after one night with the love of her life Yes, I understand biology and know this happens. But, come on, people, birth control. Especially since the character was established as sexually active. I know that might not be a realistic choice in the future, if the GOP has their way, but this book was published several years ago. Birth control. And I’m over the trope of the only way to happiness and family for a woman is to breed. I want some HEAs where the couple chooses not to have children. Really sick of the accidental pregnancy trope. The book worked for me up until that point. But after it, I resented the rest of it and felt cheated.

Saturday morning, I was off to the Farmers’ Market, for my usual rounds. I had a delicious haul, and, of course, all the good conversations that make going to the Farmers’ Market so much fun. In early August, after I teach at the conference, I’m going to sit down with a couple of people and help them brainstorm on grants.

Got the revision done of the Topic Workbook ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE and uploaded it. It needs the final proof, but should be good to schedule for next week’s release.

The woman running for re-election for D.A. stopped by the house in the afternoon, and we had a good chat. She’s doing a lot to counter what the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS is doing, and has my firm support.

Read a fun book in the afternoon/evening. Some of the author’s style was a little annoying, but the overall arc of the book was a lot of fun.

Sunday was all about LEGERDEMAIN. I drafted the last 7K of the serial’s first big arc. There’s one episode that I’m going to break down into 2 episodes, because it’s going on too long, and the climactic fight scene has more comedy in it than I expected, but it’s fun. The first big arc runs 38 episodes (it’ll be 39 when I break that other episode up). It does what I want it to do, winding up the murder/theft arc, and launching the next arc. I’d hoped to get it all into 30 episodes, but too much had to be established and integrated, and seeds had to be dropped for the next two big arcs, and for things that might or might not grow into future arcs (should the serial run beyond its initial 90 episodes).

I also worked on episode ads for the first four episodes.

It was a lot. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was a good tired. I went to bed ridiculously early, and slept straight through the night.

Up early on Monday. Did yet another layered revision on the first six episodes of LEGERDEMAIN. Set up the serial on Kindle Vella. Uploaded,  proofed, fixed, proofed again, fixed again, wrote the author notes, and sent them off. They cleared the content review within a few hours (I have specific, odd spellings and was worried I’d have trouble; ergo, I created a Style Sheet).

I did the episode ads for episodes 5 & 6 (I’m particularly proud of the ad for #5). I did tag lines for the first 6 episodes. I did an episode tracking sheet (because Vella doesn’t show the schedule once things are uploaded). I uploaded and scheduled the posts for the first six episodes. I might modify some of those post, should I ever get a direct link to them. But at least they’re up. I started the email blast that will go out on Monday, specific to LEGERDEMAIN.

I update the Series Bible as I draft each episode, which is unusual. But because each episode has to be built properly before I can draft the next, each episode goes through what would normally be a 3-draft process as its first draft. Once I get to the uploaded draft, I check and make sure to update anything necessary in the Series Bible, so that’s consistent.

I also have a style sheet, because there are unusual spellings, and I want to keep them consistent.

I set up an episode tracking sheet, so I know when I’ve uploaded and when an episode is scheduled to release. I also keep final word counts of each episode in there. My ideal episode target is 1K, but most episodes run around 1.3K, and some a little over.

I wanted to go ahead and start the website, but I forced myself to stop. I had to turn around two scripts in the afternoon/evening (which I did). Again, I then had to stop myself from going back and working on the website. Hyper productivity can end in a crash, and I have too much to do this week to crash.

I made myself rest.

That’s progress.

I kept up with posting the 31 Prompts, and with the Italian lessons.

We got the sad news that a member of the extended family in Maine is coming home for hospice care. This is a case where COVID was the final straw for him. He’s elderly, 4x vaxxed, always masking, very careful. But he had to go into the hospital a few months ago, for something non-COVID related, and then into rehab. He caught COVID in rehab, and, although he technically “recovered” from COVID, it made his other issues worse.

Up early on Tuesday. It’s more seasonably hot and humid than it’s been. Tessa is busy shedding the winter coat that she grew in a few weeks back, when it was cooler. In other words, lots of vacuuming happening in this house.

And lots of fur balls.

Started building the website for LEGERDEMAIN. Cycled through at least a dozen templates. The one I really want doesn’t post the newest posts firsts unless I buy an upgrade. So I went back to a template that I don’t really want, but have used on other sites – and it won’t post the newest posts first. This time, the person I landed at A2 hosting was not helpful. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s configured exactly the way it is on the site where it’s working. Very frustrating.

Worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM revision/update. Getting the examples into JPGs and inserting them is a major PITA. I’ll get there, but it’s not fun. Today, I have to do the final proof/changes on ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE, so it can upload for release.

Took my mom to her new doctor, over in Williamstown. It’s taken us a year to find a new doctor. But they are very nice, the building is clean and comfortable, and masks are required. She likes her new doctor, which is good. The doctor is worried about her blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are too high. So some medication adjustments are coming. She misses going to the firehouse to get her blood pressure taken every week (they don’t do that here).

Turned around a script in the evening. Made myself stop for the night.

Up early this morning, woken by a thunderstorm, rather than cats. It didn’t do anything to break the humidity. Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the next few weeks.

We have our final instructions for Saturday’s performance at the Edith Wharton homestead. I have to find my poem and rehearse. Let’s face it, even if I mess up, it’s only 3 lines/30 seconds. It’s not about me. It’s about our collective experience creating something, and then sharing it.

But I still want to hold up my end.

Back to the page with revisions today, mostly on the Topic Workbooks. I have to do a library run and pick up a prescription and a new blood pressure monitor for my mom later, and then a script coverage or two in the afternoon.

Have a good one.

Fri. July 15, 2022: Of Books and Cheese

collage by Devon Ellington from stock photos

Friday, July 15, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, and pleasant

Meditation was good yesterday morning. Charlotte enjoyed it, too!

Got the ads for THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS and THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST scheduled to post/run through the end of September. Created the ads for the other five workbooks, so as soon as I have buy links going live, I can add them into the content calendar, and we’re good to go through August and September. In early September, I’ll decide what I want to do through the end of the year.

I might put some of those ads and some of the ads for The Big Project into an updated marketing portfolio, because they are fun. The ads for the Big Project, in particular, have a rather wacky sense of humor to them, which I think will engage readers.

Did a library run, and dashed into the grocery store to grab some Lysol spray since I can’t find ours. Really excited about some of the novels that arrived. I’m looking forward to reading them.

Spiro Squirrel climbed the kitchen window screen, trying to get in this morning. Willa chased him off. We’ve started closing the kitchen window at night. All we need is for him to figure out how to remove the screen and get inside.

Freelance Chat was fun.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon.

Skipped Open Studios as MASSMoCA. I needed to focus on my work. Also, the though of getting dressed, putting on makeup, and pretending I wasn’t feral for a couple of hours was overwhelming yesterday. I’m not sure if masking is still required (the email was unclear), and if it’s not, I would have had to leave anyway, because they get crowded. I’m going to have to play each month by ear, and see how what they’re doing fits in with what I’m doing, and with what I need to do to keep us safe.

I’ve done more content calendars than I can count for clients over the years, but doing one for my own work has been invigorating. Having it all there on the calendar inspires me to get it done. It also helps to track the ebb and flow of projects, so I can see where I have room to do more, and where I can pull back a little and not overdo.

Buckle up, my lovely buttercups: The last week of July and the first week of August are going to have a lot of promotion going on!

A Twitter pal and her husband is taking their first ever trip to NYC for 5 days, and I sent them a boatload of suggestions for weird little fun stuff. I really love New York, and I’m so grateful I lived there the years I did. Even though it’s not where I need to be right now, I do love it.

The sentence about the children’s screams cut out from the Uvalde videos released will haunt me the rest of my days. For the parents, who are going through more pain than any of us can imagine, I hope this helps them (rather than insults them, and different parents will feel differently). For those who stood around and did NOTHING while those children were slaughtered, may they never be free from the screaming. May they be haunted the rest of their miserable lives for this, and may they suffer in eternity beyond their own deaths. May they never, ever rest in peace.

I intentionally cleared off the script reading early this week, because I wanted to have three days without it. I’m headed to Pittsfield to a book sale at the library this morning, then taking my mom over to Wild Oats, where the Von Trapp Farmstead is doing an event around their cheese. I never thought I would build time into my schedule focused on cheese, but there you have it. My mom loves cheese, so we are going.

Then it’s back to work, on The Topic Workbooks, and finished the first big arc of The Big Project, so that the next parts of the process can hum along on time, and I can actually make the Big Announcement and The Big Reveal next week, and all of this will make sense.

Then comes the Big Marketing Campaign, which will last for months, so. . .be warned!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side! The weather has been just gorgeous here, and I hope it is where you are, too.

Thurs. July 14, 2022: Of Scheduling and Tools

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Bastille Day

A very long time ago, back in the 1980’s, when I was living on the West Coast, I claimed July 14, Bastille Day, as my personal independence day. So I always acknowledge the day, in whatever way is appropriate that year.

Gratitude and Growth has the latest on the Squirrel Shenanigans, and Ink-Dipped Advice has a post on writing about your ideal workday, which we will use in autumn for another exercise.

In spite of the computer issues, I managed to get the Topic Workbook page on the Devon Ellington site updated. All the new covers are up. As buy links release on pre-orders and closer to release date, those, too, will go up.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS and THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST went through final proofreads and some more tweaks, and are up for pre-order. I can start scheduling the marketing ads on social media channels, so they can run and I don’t have to think about them too much. I downloaded some calendar sheets with “hour” slots from General Blue. The Google calendar stuff wasn’t working for me, and doing what I wanted it to do. I run ads at different times on different days; since the Topic Workbooks are releasing close to each other, I want to make sure I don’t schedule two ads on the same day at the same time. There will be enough overlap for the promotion on The Big Project.

Having the content calendar as something on the computer isn’t working, so I have my handy dandy printed out calendar sheets, so I can look at it as I work uploading the actual content.

The plan is for all the Topic Workbooks to re-release in early August, and have the workbook tied to the class release the week after the class (class participants get a copy, free, with the class). Once I catch my breath, I can decide how I want to fit the new workbooks into the workflow.

I had a good conversation with an editor about a project both of us are no longer connected with, and not being a part of it is the right choice for both of us. Trusting my gut was the right choice. Onward.

As part of updating another workbook, I’m playing with project management software. I loathe Trello, so that is not an option. Trello fractures things too much for my liking. I’ve used Click up with clients, but, looking at it, it doesn’t give me enough room for the number of projects I’m juggling, unless I lump them into categories. I decided to do a comparison/contrast with Todoist and Asana. I have colleagues who adore each of them, for every different reasons.

So I signed up for both, and I entered information on both, to see how they work, comparing the same tasks in the two different platforms.

Todoist is too much like the traditional “To Do” list, which makes me feel restricted. I ditched the daily list, because all it did was make me feel like a failure, and even crossing items off gave me no pleasure or sense of accomplishment.  Todoist also suggested that I vacuum the house today (Thursday: vacuum through all the rooms), which is really not its business, and not something I entered. What I like about Asana is that I can color code projects (like I do on my big desk blotter calendar), break projects down into pieces while still keeping the bigger picture in view. So it doesn’t feel fractured, the way Trello does. I had used Asana for some client work at one point, and wasn’t all that thrilled with it, but it’s letting me set things up the way I like it, at least so far.

I may ditch both of them, and just stay with my desk blotter calendar. You know, the tool that’s worked for decades.

But since I’m writing about tools, I want to give those readers options and experiences.

Working with that, and handling incoming buy links going live put me behind in the script coverage. I managed to cover three scripts, although I was working until 11 PM. But I’d decided I don’t want to do coverage on Friday, and I have limited time today, between meditation, Freelance Chat, and Open Studios, so I piled on more yesterday.

I did my Italian lesson, keeping up the streak. I’m learning vocabulary, but don’t feel like I’m getting an understanding of the grammar or why sentence construction is the way it is. I need to head across the street to the college library and find a textbook to fill in the gaps.

I was also looking at beachfront hotels for October. The prices are ridiculous for the mediocre. I planned to spend more on the hotel, since we are staying put and making use of it, but I’m not seeing the value I’m looking for in what’s on offer. Plus, with virus numbers on the rise again, and those who should have never told us it was okay to unmask telling us to mask up again, it’s probably not worth the risk. Instead of going on a midweek oceanside vacation, I can do a long weekend home disconnected retreat and not put us at risk. I’ll keep an eye on prices and possibilities, but if it doesn’t make sense, on either financial or health levels, we just won’t do it.

I took a break for a Grace and Gratitude yoga/meditation session online with the Stressed Out Professional Women Without Children group, and that was excellent.

Slept well, up early. Online meditation group this morning, then hitting the page for a few hours, and doing a library run. I have two scripts to turn around before Open Studios tonight, and then I’m done with coverage for the week.

I am working this weekend, on the Topic Workbooks, the Big Project (so that everything is in place to make the announcement next week), and starting the article for my Llewellyn editor. I want to get it out the door and onto my editor’s desk a few days early, before I go to visit my friend. Setting up the content calendar for upcoming releases, and uploading/scheduling the content. That way, I can enjoy my time away.

I had a wonderful aha! moment on the next big arc of The Big Project, which excites me to work on.

Have a good one!