Fri. Oct. 15, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 149 — Baking and Song

image courtesy of Aline Ponce via pixabay.com

Friday, October 16, 2020

New Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday seems far away, for some reason.

But it’s amazing how much calmer the household is, now that each cat has her own catnip banana.

Meditation group was great. It’s such a wonderful way to start the day.

Headed off to Trader Joe’s. Bought more than I planned, but that’s pandemic life. Because I don’t go that often, I buy more when I go. Dashed next door to Target to stock up on a few things I can’t get anywhere else.

Home, full decontamination procedures. There was most of the morning gone, and I was exhausted.

Freelance Chat was fine, and I did some Yoga Nidra work.

Got out some LOIs, worked on some pitches. Got TRINITY OF TEASERS, the promotional package that contains the first three chapters of PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA done. It’s taken months to get done because of formatting issues, but I finally got it. Everything took six steps instead of three, but it worked.

I have to check the different formats (PDF, epub, mobi) and then put it up in the media room on the website for free download. Hopefully, that will generate some book sales.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Everyone’s tired. They’re feeling the stress. But all their parents filled out the Census, which is a good thing. As early voting starts, their parents are voting.

I listened to the CD of the original Broadway cast of HADESTOWN, which I’d ordered from the library. It is amazing. Transcendent. I just loved it. I sat and listened and was transported.

I liked it so much, I ordered my own copy!

The music Is outstanding and the voices spectacular.

One of my pet peeves around here is that they keep producing musicals, but hire too many performers who can’t sing. They’re sharp or flat, they sing around the note, but rarely hit the actual note.

It was nice to hear a glorious score sung truly.

Today I’m finishing the article that requires me to pull examples from different drafts of a stage play and its radio adaptation. I also hope to finish the pitches for the other new-to-me editor. I have some blog posts to write and schedule for posting.

I managed to sleep through the night until 5 AM, and then baked raw apple muffins. I used currants instead of raisins (I love currants), and added allspice, nutmeg, and clove instead of just using cinnamon. It’s based on the Marion Cunningham recipe, and is basically chunks of apple held together with a bit of batter, but I love it.

I’d like to get TRINITY OF TEASERS up and start that promotion.

I also want to work on the novel, and to get started on the Susanna Centlivre play.

Tomorrow, we have to start bringing plants in to overwinter; over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking everything off the deck and putting it away for the winter.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Create with joy.

Tues. May 26, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 8

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Foggy and humid

I feel much better after taking some time off. Not that I was sitting around doing nothing. It was a busy few days. But it was a good few days, with fewer external pressures than internal ones, and it helped me get clarity on a few issues I needed in order to move forward.

I have new covers for all six Topic Workbooks. New editions are coming out over the next few months. I’m in the process of updating the information. Instead of uniform covers, each now has a unique cover with a Topic Workbook logo. I am going to take the old workbooks off Smashwords as the new ones are revised, and put the new ones up through a different distributor.

I’m working on the update for the Submission Systems workbook. With the way publishing has changed over the past few years, it needs updating, especially when it comes to things like online portfolios.

I’m hoping I can start rolling them out by the end of June or beginning of July. That will depend on how fast I can update them, because they need two full weeks pulled from distribution before I can release them via the new distributor.

The 99 cent sale is still on for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. That will be on until May 31, and I have promotions up via Tweetdeck every day.

Worked on some fiction writing, but didn’t push. Have to start pushing again this week, because there are deadlines, expectations, necessities. I have to keep the long-term balls up in the air while also pushing harder for short-term, immediate income balls. So it means longer hours and cutting more frustrations out of my life, unless they pay a lot in the immediate short term.

Got out a few LOIs, in spite of being, technically, on break.

It was pretty out on Friday, so I got some flower planting done. Cleaned out some boxes in the basement, got some files organized, tossed a lot of stuff I no longer need or can use. Sat on the deck for a bit.

One neighbor, who’s been sick with the virus, had a party on Friday night. He’s still sick, lost half his body weight, but he had people over, no masks, no social distancing. The wind carried over the part of the conversation about “catching it from those Chinese people” he works with. I’m disappointed in the ignorance.

The neighbors on the other side had company in and out all weekend, too. For some reason, they seem to think if they sit outside in the driveway, they won’t get sick. So they set their cars up like a barrier to the street, and put plastic tables and chairs out in the driveway, in front of the garage, and have people over. Now, they have a large yard and a deck. So I have no idea what the reasoning is. But hey, if it works for them, great.

Saturday, I lost count of the loads of laundry I did – mattress pads, blankets, winter stuff along with the usual sheets, towels, and clothes. Laundry all damn day. It was cold and rainy. I also baked tollhouse cookies. Cleaned out some more boxes. Progress is slow on purging the basement. There’s an overwhelming amount to do, and there’s also the psychological aspects of letting go of parts of my past that have often defined me.

But it’s time I redefined myself.

Kripalu is closed to visitors for the rest of the year, which had to be a difficult decision for them, but the right one. The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe is also cancelled in August. Again, a tough decision, but the right one in the long run.

Did some of my Susanna Centlivre reading, so I can start forming the play in my head before I try to write it down. I have some characters and scenes percolating, but I’m still trying to find a catalyst and a plot.

Read Deanna Chase’s WITCHING FOR GRACE, which was fun. Read two other mysteries, by different authors, which I found sort of “meh.”

Tessa, Charlotte, and Willa all spent some time in the same room without grumbling at each other, which was excellent progress. Tessa and Willa can manage quite well, and Willa and Charlotte are fine, but Tessa and Charlotte still have issues most of the time. But we’re working on it.

There’s so much talk about opening businesses “safely” but it’s just not happening. People are travelling in just for the day or the weekend. They’re not quarantining. They’re not wearing masks. There are no immediate consequences against them for being irresponsible, and it puts the rest of us at risk. It’s infuriating.

So I’m just plugging along, doing the best I can to keep my family safe.

I have a confession to make: I haven’t ordered on Amazon thus far, except eBooks to support fellow authors. But I broke down this weekend and ordered bamboo sheets. We need some new sheets, and I wanted to try the bamboo ones. I also ordered a “playpen” so I can take Willa and Tessa out on the deck (though not at the same time). But the latter was from Chewy, not Amazon.

Scored two absolutely adorable, padded ice cream parlor chairs on Craigslist from a place in Cotuit on Sunday morning. It was a no-contact pick-up. I was geared up and sanitized when I put them in the car, then disinfected them and myself when I got home. They are adorable and a perfect addition to our enchanted deck garden.

Yesterday, got some writing done in the morning. Did admin work, and prepped some paperwork that has to go off today.

Working on a big website project, and also working to update/cleanup/bring in new content on all my other websites. AND do new editions of the Topic Workbooks. AND work on the old Llewellyn material. AND get back on track with the books.

A lot to juggle.

Trying to figure out how to up the stakes on the book I’m working on (the untitled one, in longhand, that’s my first writing session of the day). I’m in the second third of it, and need to raise the stakes and make it more active. I’m trying to keep this book fairly lean. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to put everything in this book. Keep it simple. Deal with the main plot and a couple of subplots that are setting up longer arcs. Originally, I was going to have the plot thread through a long-term piece in which the protagonist was involved. Now, I want to compress the coming action in to the next few days. I think that will help pace.

I have a telemedicine conference with my doctor this morning, and then I have to go onsite for a client. Supposedly, I will be alone in the office today. Let’s hope it’s true. I have a mask, etc. anyway, just in case. Although this client does the whole passive aggressive mask thing “I can’t understand you when you wear a mask.” Well, then, let’s go back to fully remote. There is NO reason I need to be in the office more than an hour a week to download photographs that I then use in the materials. EVERYTHING else I do can be done remotely. If you’re going to force me into the office, then you can damn well wear the mask and not bitch about it.

This week is going to be challenging, on multiple levels. I’m trying to keep my cool, without letting myself be a doormat.

I am so sick of assholes.

 

Thurs. May 21, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 3 — Frustration and Burnout

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the garden over on Gratitude and Growth. We’re making some slow progress.

Yesterday was a nightmare. It is inappropriate to go into public detail here, but it was a nightmare. I’m working on the necessary changes.

At least I had Remote Chat in the afternoon, although I had a martini in my hand by 1:30 PM.

Got some writing done, did client work, sent out a couple of LOIs, worked with my editor on an article that needed some reformatting.

Read a book I was sent for review. My editor hadn’t had anything for a few weeks, so I was glad to get it. Even happier that it was delightful, although the ending was sad, and I was Big Weepy Mess for a bit after finishing.

Working on the review today to send off.

I’m hoping my migraine will ease up.

Will do some client work, get out some LOIs, work on the websites. I did not have a good writing session this morning, which was disappointing. But I’m going to cut myself a break, because I’m physically and mentally exhausted.

The sale for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA is still on. You can find details here. Each book is only 99 cents.

The library is going to be open for curbside pickup starting next week, by appointment. That’s good news. We can also bring back the books we’ve had during the StayAtHome. I filled two bags with books and one with DVDs and took them to the book drop this morning. It’s maybe half of what I have, so I’ll bring down another load tomorrow. The pick-ups are limited to what is in that home library, and I’m not sure anything I ordered is actually based there, but that’s okay. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of books to read of my own. And I am happy they are safely easing back into operation. Some of the stuff I had here all this time is based out of that library, and other people might want it, so I wanted to get it back as quickly as possible.

The Recycling Stations open next week at the dump. I will wait until the end of next week to take the first carload in. We have a lot of recycling stacked up in the garage, and it’s getting full. Everyone is supposed to be masked to drop things off; I wonder if they will actually enforce it. People weren’t masked during the StayAtHome when they dumped garbage, in spite of the staff being masked.

It’s supposed to be a nice weekend, and I intend to enjoy it. I have the “out of office” going up first thing tomorrow, lasting through Monday. I’m not answering emails or dealing with anything else. I’m going to enjoy nice weather and only do as I wish.

Because the next few weeks will be difficult, while I work on necessary, long-term changes.

I may do a short post tomorrow morning, before sign off for the weekend. In any event, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Thurs. Sept. 27, 2018: Getting Out of Your Own Way

Thursday, September 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

It’s hot and humid and yucky again. Urgh. On the one hand, it’s good, because then the heat doesn’t kick on (although it did earlier this week), and I don’t have to worry about heating bills. But I’m tired of the heat and humidity.

I’m tired, in general, feeling exhausted from the last few weeks, but too bad for me. There’s still a lot to do.

And I wish the damn tourists would go home already. I’m glad people come and enjoy the beauty of Cape Cod, and spend money, but they’re rude, with false senses of entitlement, and trash the place. Go home already!

Even though I was exhausted, I got up early, put myself together, and got out (in the rain) to the Hearth and Kettle in Yarmouth for the CCWA Coffee Chat meeting. It was a lot of fun. There were about thirteen women there, all interesting and passionate about what they do. It was great to talk to them, learn about their different businesses, and exchange information.

I’m following up with everyone I met this morning; a couple of people wanted more information on my marketing writing services, so that will go out. We’ll see what happens. There’s a lack of follow through here on Cape, so I just do what I do, and see what happens.

I also got invited to a couple of events hosted by other members, and they sound cool, so if I can fit them in, I want to go. I talk about reciprocity a lot — part of that is also doing my bit to accept invitations and get out there.

Made it to my client’s office on time. I’d brought a weekend bag with a change of clothes, so I changed, got some marketing/promotional material posted, and then went out back to the warehouse to help with some inventory and get some samples out for a big sale on the West Coast.

Some of those pieces are great for auditions. I talked to an acquaintance of mine who’s a casting assistant and described the pieces. She’s going to tell me if they show up on actors auditioning! It will be fun to hear about it.

Dealt with some frustrations during the day that only reinforce the decisions I’m making. I still have things to put in place, puzzle pieces to set, but there’s a lot to get done in the coming months.

When I finally got home, I should have dug into the RELICS revisions, but I was just too damn tired. There’s a point where pushing through no longer works.

I also have to stop beating myself up about being tired. I am no longer in my twenties. I am in my mid-fifties. This is what it is. I still do more and get a lot more done than many people around me. I have the right to admit it when I’m tired, and to do what I need to in order to recharge, so that I can continue, instead of just pushing through until I collapse.

I have an appointment this morning, and then I have to head back; they’re cleaning the furnace for the upcoming winter. The afternoon MUST be spent in revisions and working on calendar articles.

I’m also going through material for my Idea Bazaar speech at the human rights conference. The flow seems like tangents, but when I really look at it, I can rearrange it so it builds and is of a piece. I’m starting to look forward to it.

When I was so nervous about speaking at the Provincetown Book Festival, an actor friend in the UK said, “Do you trust the work?”

I did. The monologue is part of a play that was produced twice, and the monologue has been performed internationally on stage and radio. The prose scene was from TRACKING MEDUSA, a book in which I have confidence. So my answer to the question was “yes.”

“Then get out of the way and let the work speak.”

Which is what I did. And it worked.

Even though I was nervous about giving the acceptance speech at the award ceremony on Tuesday, it wasn’t about me. It was about my client, who received the award. So by getting out of the way and speaking from the heart, I could honor her properly.

The speech for the human rights conference is again, not about me. It’s about a much larger issue that we must all be invested in, or we will ALL suffer.

Which is one of the things that drives me nuts about this area of the country. Unless it’s a personal threat, too few people around here give a damn. I am done with those people.

Digging in to DAVY JONES DHARMA again this morning, and then working on some articles to post. Somehow, it will all get done.

Back to the page.

 

Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

Wed. April 11, 2018: Visions and Re-visions

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to the Fearless Ink site for the latest post on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Busy couple of days. I’m prepping a presentation for a client. The opportunity came in on Monday, and the presentation is next week; today is my last day with the client before the presentation. And so it goes. But it’s an interesting project, and I enjoy the process as much as the result — which is why I do this in the first place.

The work on SPIRIT REPOSITORY is going very well. I did six chapters on Monday morning before my client meeting and four more that night. That left me only six more chapters to do. I got up at 5 yesterday, to get at it. Two seriously rewritten chapters in the morning, another at night.  I have to add an entire section to the last chapter to plug a hole and had to rewrite one of the earlier chapters in a different character’s POV. But I think I can send it to my editor either tomorrow or Friday, so we can get into galleys.

The glitch with Amazon for both PLAYING THE ANGLES and TRACKING MEDUSA has been solved, and they are both available for Kindle. Big relief. I’m pleased that all three books are selling steadily on Kobo and B&N, too. I’m amazed and delighted by the positive difference the new websites on the better host make. Learn from me, my writer friends — the website matters! Do your research, invest the money. It’s worth it.

Need to polish up the first chapter of RELICS & REQUIEM to include in the back of SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Need to polish the book-exclusive article on genius locii. Need to finalize both the Acknowledgements and the Dedication. Then, put it all together, and off we go. This phase of the book is always exciting and terrifying.

Back to the page! With relish today, instead of dread. I prefer it this way, and, more often than not, that’s what I feel. I am a writer who loves WRITING, not just HAVING WRITTEN. Big difference.

 

Published in: on April 11, 2018 at 2:34 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 11, 2018: Visions and Re-visions  
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Thurs. April 4, 2018: Brief Sun Before More Snow

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

They’re predicting another snow storm this weekend. Enough!

Tired, on many levels right now. I’m struggling.

Onsite work with one client was quiet, but busy this week. I’m behind where I want to be on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but that seems to be a theme for the book. I’m working on the outline for the serial, and need some more time for it. I’d like to get it out at some point next week.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest.

Working on next week’s post for Ink-Dipped Advice, next Monday’s #Upbeat Authors post, and for a guest post over for Writer’s Worth month on Words on the Page.

Need to get back on track with MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, too, although we’ve come up with a potential cover image to start building its cover. We also found some great stuff for the cover of RELICS & REQUIEM, and possibly even GRAVE REACH. SPIRIT REPOSITORY will have its cover reveal tomorrow. My newsletter subscribers got it first!

Working on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA (since the one I’d worked on dumped last week, and I’ve had to start from scratch). I still have a good deal of work to do on the Jain Lazarus site.

The main focus right now is finishing SPIRIT REPOSITORY so it can release on schedule, and get back in gear with both MYTH and RELICS & REQUIEM. I have to get started on DAVY JONES DHARMA pretty soon, too, to keep that on track.

I read Alice Hoffman’s THE RULES OF MAGIC. It’s about the early life of the aunts in PRACTICAL MAGIC, which is one of my favorite books. I loved a lot of this book, but I got frustrated with the characters sometimes, their refusal to learn more about what they are, the lack of curiosity. It also made me think about the thread throughout many books, of the healers in a community who are shunned by day, but people creep to the door for their help at night. Not just in this book, but in literature in general, across genre. It makes me wonder why characters and authors allow characters this type of hypocrisy without consequence. Yes, it happens in life. But I would also like to see some characters, sometime, somewhere, refuse to condone and enable it. It’s gotten me thinking, in a good way. Which means the book touched on something deep in me, even if every reaction to it wasn’t positive, and the book did its job of getting me to think, to feel, and to ask questions. So my final response is positive.

Today, I have to run some errands and go grocery shopping, do some more research on ANCESTRY, do some yard work (if the weather holds), and, most importantly, WRITE.

I feel like I’m juggling two-ton dictionaries right now.

Back to the page.

Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the latest post for business owners on how to write an ad that attracts the right writer.

I’m clipping along on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It’s great to be back with Gwen and Justin. Keeping in mind what my editor and I discussed about the outline helps me keep it moving without it getting too unwieldy. After all, this is a between-the-books-novella, not the second book in the series.

The fact it’s not the “second book” is probably part of why I’m not struggling to write it (so far, anyway). I struggle with every second book in a series, it seems, and wind up unhappy with it. The outline helps a lot, too.

Breaking this section off and developing it, keeping it separate from BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, was the right decision.

The notes are due back from my editor on SPIRIT REPOSITORY today, and I’ll have to start digging in to make our release date. I’m nervous about the notes.

Working on the Writer’s Rough Outline for the serial project. It’s coming along more slowly than I would like, but it’s coming. Even if the pitch isn’t contracted, it gives me clarity on where I want to go with this piece, and that’s a good thing.

Working on the Writer’s Rough of another outline for a piece that’s been bugging me. I want to get the notes down so it will leave me alone, but when I decide to go back to it, the bones are there.

The work on the outline is making me refine the pitch, which is a good thing.

Client work the past few days has been challenging. Not the work itself, but some of the personalities. All in day’s work. Especially when both Mercury and Jupiter are retrograde.

I did some promotion on both Facebook and Twitter for all the novels in all the series yesterday. I usually don’t do batch promotions like that, but I had the chance, and I did it. I’m not too worried about it; I spent a LOT of time promoting, re-tweeting, and encouraging other authors.

With all the anger at Facebook for the way they sell data on their users (well-placed anger, I might add), I’ve been looking at other social media possibilities. I prefer Twitter to Facebook for many things anyway. But I wanted to see what else is out there. So, far, not impressed by what I’ve come across. Again, they want too much control over my content and too much information.

I had a typical Mercury Retrograde experience on Monday. I spent hours on a supposedly stable computer reconfiguring the TRACKING MEDUSA media kit, tweaking content, adding content, switching out some of the excerpts, etc. And the damn computer crashed, so I lost the new material. I’m frustrated. But then, that’s what I get for working on a PC. It seemed it would make more sense to work on it than on my aging Macbook, but it wasn’t.

More on-site client work today, and then, I’m sure I’ll have the notes for the final big REPOSITORY edit waiting for me. Once I get over the shock of all the red marks (because, no matter how hard I worked on the draft, there will be plenty of red marks), I’ll get to work and make it better.

To the page.

 

Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 2:28 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other  
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Tues. March 27, 2018: Multiple Writing Tracks

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Yes, Jupiter went retrograde on March 9 (I’ve been in denial). And now Mercury is retrograde. It’s like walking on eggshells.

Busy weekend. Spent the bulk of it working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can finesse it into a synopsis for the project going out in a few weeks. Nowhere near done. Also made notes on another project pulling at me.

Any minute now, I’ll get back the edits on SPIRIT REPOSITORY and have to dig in, so we stay on track for it.

Worked on the newsletter; worked on the new media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. Pondered new content for the Jain Lazarus site.

The new websites are working, though; people are finding them and, therefore, finding the books, the stories, the workbooks. It’s so good to have working sites again that support what I do.

Saturday, I had to take my mom for an ultrasound, but it came back clear. But we were still exhausted. The timing of the test meant I had to cancel my plans to join the March for Our Lives, which disappointed me. I am in awe of these teenagers who refuse to be murdered by special interests and refuse to let corrupt politicians look the other way. Maybe there is hope for our country, after all. If we can take it back before the authoritarians destroy us all, in order to line their own pockets. We are, sadly, living a portion of a dystopian nightmare. The lack of action by those who put their hands over their ears and sang, “lah, lah, lah, it doesn’t affect me” is coming back to bite us all in the butt.

Worked on contest entries. Can’t believe it’s already another week, and the last week of March.

Client work yesterday, and client work today, both onsite.

Continuing to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION and the outline. Hoping the weather will hold this week, so I can get out there and clear up the debris from the last four storms we’ve had.

Onward.

Published in: on March 27, 2018 at 5:38 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 27, 2018: Multiple Writing Tracks  
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Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend

Friday, March 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, Mercury is retrograde. In Aries. Ick.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive writing-wise as I wanted, but it was productive in other ways. I finished the book I had to review, and will polish the review and send it off today. I worked my way through several contest entries.

The big deal, for me, was that I figured why the contact form wasn’t coding in properly on my websites, and fixed it. Now the websites have contact forms, rather than stating my email or writing out the email so I’ll get a lot of spam.

I cleaned up my new mailboxes. I am in the process of unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff, on all my email accounts. There’s too much crap coming in.

I figured out how to reconfigure my menu bars so I can use drop-down features where appropriate.

I have three different WordPress books checked out from various libraries in the system. In order to figure this out, I had to read the relevant sections in all THREE and then do something slightly different, based on what I read. Because heaven forbid, any ONE of them should have had the complete, correct steps.

I worked on the newsletter. I worked on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. I may do the cover reveal for SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the newsletter.

I got ahead on some blog posts.

I’m working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can distill it down to a synopsis and get the submission packet for the last big project out in the next couple of weeks. I have another project to get back out on submission, but I will wait until after Mercury goes direct. I want to do another pass on it and make some cuts.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, then a meeting, and then I’m digging back to drafting the books that are waiting rather impatiently for attention.

And, of course work on the Writer’s Rough/synopsis.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend  
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Wed. March 7, 2018: Techno Milestone and Yet Another Storm

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Waning Moon

I moved the Cerridwen’s Cottage website all by myself. I’m so darned proud. For me, a non-IT person, it was a big deal. It’s a big personal milestone for me.

Yesterday, I started building it live. I’m hoping to move the Fearless Ink site late this week, and then maybe get to build it early next week. And then I’ll be done with 1&1 as far as hosting go. They still hold my registrations for the moment.

I also finally understand why I’m having the problem on the Welcome page of the Devon Ellington Work site. Even better, I understand how to fix it!

Now, I still have to learn how to do a drop-down menu . . .

There’s a storm coming in, so I might not get to post tomorrow, although I hope to do so on Friday. I hope it won’t be as bad as they say; I’m getting a little weary of the storms. As long as the power holds . . .

Working steadily on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Playing with ideas to finish POWER OF WORDS. Got re-ignited for NOT BY THE BOOK — there are good bones there. If I can pull it off, it will be a worthwhile book. Working on FIX-IT GIRL revisions.

It’s a good busy.

A potential client liked my pitch, but wanted me to do a proofreading test before talking any further. I did. It was a timed test, full of the errors that set my teeth on edge. So, we’ll see. The money would be great, but I need to know more about the parameters.

My flash drive is full, so I started a new, 32GB drive. I moved over pertinent files from the old drive and sorted them properly. Let’s hope I can keep this drive organized.

I’m reworking the media kits for TRACKING MEDUSA and the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and looking for some fun, additional material to add to the Jain Lazarus site.

I need to put together some more material for the Coventina Circle site, and put together the pieces for the SAVASANA AT SEA giveaway I want to do in a couple of months. I’m also working on some ads for the different books and stories. I want to see if they make a difference. Friends of mine tend to have good luck with Facebook ads, and they’re usually reasonably priced, so we’ll see.

I’ve had a terrible headache for the past few days. I hope it lets up when the storm moves in.

Published in: on March 7, 2018 at 2:47 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 7, 2018: Techno Milestone and Yet Another Storm  
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Thurs. Feb. 22, 2018: Stresses and Deadlines

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Wacky weather.

Check out the latest post on Gratitude and Growth here. I’m trying to revive that blog, along with everything else.

I’m weary. There’s some stuff I can’t discuss publicly that has to be thought through and decisions made. It’s been a rough week. Especially since the bulk of the unpleasant chaos was unnecessary and caused by someone who is manipulative and a nasty piece of work.

On a happier note, the Devon Ellington Work site is coming along nicely. I’m pleased with the design; no muss, no fuss, easy to read. There are still a few glitches, some more material to add. But the host moved happened, and it’s just about ready to announce — once I figure out why the pages I trashed show up published under the home page!

I’m working my way through the emails, getting all the necessary accounts re-set, too.

The Coventina Circle site is also coming along well. It’s about halfway there, and should be ready for its live announcement in a few days. I’m building all the subdomains live, which is risky, but necessary.

Nautical Namaste, Gwen Finnegan, and Jain Lazarus all have temporary landing pages. I hope to have them finished next week, and then I’ll start on Cerridwen’s Cottage, get that moved, and then, last but not least, do Fearless Ink.

On a writing front, I’m frustrated with myself. I haven’t been pitching enough articles; I haven’t been sending enough LOIs; I am pushing to get THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY done on deadline, but I’m struggling.

Between the web host stress and difficulties on another front, I am worn out, physically and emotionally. But deadlines aren’t suggestions; they’re deadlines. So I’m pushing through. Once I get this book off my desk and to my editor, I’ll feel better.

Of course, then I’ll be focusing on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and starting RELICS & REQUIEM. And finishing FIX-IT GIRL so it can go out on submission and getting back to NOT BY THE BOOK. But REPOSITORY must get the bulk of my writing attention now. I’m in the last few chapters. It’s just making them work, and picking up the pace.

We have some more cover discussion for SPIRIT, too, coming up.

Once the websites are live, then we can start putting our marketing ideas into play and get some promotion done on these books.

I found the photos for the special page on the Gwen Finnegan site, where I got inspirations for TRACKING MEDUSA. I’m excited, when I get to the point where I’m building that site, to put those up and share them.

Working steadily on the books submitted for the contest. I finished the first batch of mysteries, and I’m working on the fantasy genre now. I’m glad that the entries are so strong this year.

I’m looking forward to a productive few days, and then, maybe, maybe, just focusing on hearth and home issues this weekend!

Published in: on February 22, 2018 at 9:45 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 22, 2018: Stresses and Deadlines  
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Tues. Feb.6, 2018: Same Location, Distinct Voices

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Waning Moon

I’m in a juggling act right now. I’m working on books in different series, but I’m working on them at the same time.

One of the challenges, is, of course, keeping the voices distinct. Especially since two of the books take place in contemporary New York City, and their circles of influence somewhat intersect.

The Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels take place in contemporary New York City. Well, sort of contemporary — based on my last visit there after the move away. Things change all the time, so it’s a recognizable New York City, while still serving the fictional needs of my plots and stories.

The Gwen Finnegan mysteries have a longer reach, because Gwen and Justin’s adventures take them all over the world. After all, TRACKING MEDUSA had sections set in New York, London, Lindisfarne, Ayrshire, Greece, and Marseilles.

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second Coventina Circle book, is set in New York again. Most of it is in Greenwich Village, a place I’ve known and loved for years. Some of it takes place on the Upper West Side, where Bonnie, the central protagonist of this book, has sublet the apartment from Morag (the central protagonist of PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first book in the series). And part of it is set up in Inwood, near the Cloisters, where one of the secondary characters lives. The third book in the series, RELICS & REQUIEM, with Amanda as the central protagonist, will focus mostly on the Upper West Side and on Midtown East, where the Phineas Regan lives.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION, which lands between TRACKING MEDUSA and its locations, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which is mostly set in the Bahamas, but with some sections in New York and in the UK, is completely set in New York. Okay, Justin makes a foray to Princeton in New Jersey. But the focus is in New York.

Both deal with paranormal. Central characters in both are witches.

So it becomes an interesting challenge to keep the books from intersecting. The voices must be different. The issues the members of the Coventina Circle face in their lives and loves are quite different from the issues faced by Gwen and her archaeological clan. Yet the frequent some of the same places — libraries, museums, restaurants, and the like.

When I lived in Manhattan, I was involved in a variety of different circles, although my primary one was theatrical (since if you work in the theatre, you spend 90 hours or more a week in the theatre). I also moved in publishing/literary circles, in the wellness/spiritual circles, in academic circles, in art and music circles. It was always interesting to see where they intersected and where they did not.

Applying that in a believable way while keeping both these series’ voices distinct is an interesting challenge. If the deadline pressure wasn’t so severe, I’d probably enjoy it more.

Some of it means writing fast and then breaking down sentence and paragraph structures as I rewrite, to fit the cadences already set up in the first book of the series. That’s easier to do in the Gwen Finnegan mysteries, because Gwen is central to each book. It’s more of a challenge with the Coventina Circle books, because each book has a different set of central protagonists, each with their own distinctions.

I’m also taking a risk, putting in a site and a small group of characters into both SPIRIT REPOSITORY and into MYTH & INTERPRETATION that make a bit of a crossover, although Bonnie, Rufus, Gwen, and Justin won’t meet and/or interact.

It’s similar to some of the in-jokes and crossover Jenn McKinlay’s done between her Hat Shop Mysteries, her Cupcake Bakery, and her series set in Maine.

Hopefully, I can pull it off!

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle mystery is available digitally here for $3.99.

Witchcraft, politics, and theatre collide as Morag D’Anneville and Secret Service agent Simon Keane fight to protect the Vice President of the United States — or is it Morag who needs Simon’s protection more than the VP?

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second book in the series, will release in May 2018.

Tracking Medusa Cover 1

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, is available digitally here for $3.99.

Archaeologist Dr. Gwen Finnegan is on the hunt for her lover’s killer. Historical researcher Justin Yates bumps into her, literally, on the steps of the New York Public Library, and comes to her aid when she’s attacked, sparking an attraction between them in spite of their age difference. After avoiding a cadre of pursuers at the Met Museum, Gwen impulsively invites Justin to hop a plane with her to the UK. The shy historian, frustrated with his failing relationship, jumps at the chance to join her on a real adventure. That adventure takes them through Europe, pursued by factions including Gwen’s ex-lover and nemesis, Karl, as they try to unspool fact from fiction in a multi-generational obsession with a statue of the goddess Medusa.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION, a “between the books” novella, will be available digitally in July 2018.

 

Published in: on February 6, 2018 at 6:28 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb.6, 2018: Same Location, Distinct Voices  
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