Fri. May 6, 2022: In the Midst of Creativity, Loss

image courtesy of strikers via pixabay.com

Friday, May 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

It was a beautiful spring day here in the mountains. Just gorgeous.

Charlotte sat with me for the regular Zoom meditation group,

I got some admin work done. I need to spend some time over on Ello this week; I’ve been lax about that.

I pitched myself for a large creative project that will happen in July.

I did some brainstorming on the Monthology with fellow creatives who wanted to know if they could use something in one of the organizations I created, and we figured out how to make it work.

I did a drop off/pickup at the library – there were nine books waiting for me! I had to pick up a few things as the pharmacy. They had aloe plants there, so I grabbed one of those, two. The aloe plant we had in the kitchen on Cape died about two years ago, and I’d never replaced it. We’d bought it when we first moved there, so it had a long life. I did a big grocery shop (five bags’ worth). I stopped at the liquor store, because I was out of red. I got another bottle of red, found a bottle of interesting rosé on the sale shelf, and, in the back of a shelf, another bottle of the Pomelo sauvignon Blanc I like so much.

Getting everything upstairs and put away was a bit of a chore, but I got it done. The latest NEW YORKER has graphic photos of the Russian atrocities in Ukraine. I was worried it would bring back nightmares for my mom, after what she went through with the Russians in WWII, but she wanted to see the magazine anyway. The fact that the world hasn’t banded together to stop this is despicable.

I turned around two scripts in the afternoon, and went back to contest entries. I’m doing a big push today and tomorrow, and hopefully can make my final decisions by tomorrow.

I was accepted for the creative project and can even say what it is: I’m participating in Word X Word’s “World’s Largest Poem” event. 50 of us will write an ongoing poem (we get the last word of the previous writer’s poem, we write 3-5 lines, and the next poet starts with our last word) over the next two months, and we perform it at Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount, in Lenox, on July 23rd. I’m very excited. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but something I wanted to try. We each have 24 hours to write our lines, once we received the prompt from the previous person’s poem.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun, with a lot of laughter. We are enjoying our remaining time together.

Then, I had some shocking and heartbreaking news. I found out that my friend, Thalia Proctor, had died on April 2nd of cancer, and her memorial service was on May 4th. I found out on Facebook. I hadn’t even known she was sick. We’d exchanged cards at Christmas, and I was planning to spend time with her in London next spring, provided it was safe enough to risk the trip. In additional to being a wonderful editor, Thalia was one of the kindest people I know. We met in Nottingham, at one of the first mystery conventions I ever attended, back when I was just starting to get my feet wet in the convention scene. We hung out together at conferences (including the year Bouchercon was in Omaha, of all places) on both sides of the pond. When I was in the UK, we visited. She visited me in 2013 on Cape, which was the last time I actually saw her, although we kept in touch for birthdays and Christmases. She was a steadfast friend during one of the worst romantic relationships of my life, and had a mix of kindness, humor, and common sense that was a joy to be around. We’d been friends for nearly thirty years. In addition to the heartbreak of the loss, I feel guilty that I didn’t know she was sick, and hadn’t supported her more during her illness. But mostly, I’m devastated that the world has lost such a beautiful and graceful person.

Today is about writing and working on contest entries. Tomorrow is the farmer’s market, and finishing contest entries, and making the decisions in the final category. Tessa woke me at three. I moved to the sewing room and dreamed I was at a luncheon with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and she decided to introduce me to Kathy Griffin, because she thought we should know each other. Which is very much like Senator Warren. She got me involved with the Small Business Administration when I first moved to MA, and involved with the state arts organization who advocates for arts funding.

But, throughout, I will take the time to mourn the loss of my friend.

Tues. April 5, 2022: Curl Up & Catch Up

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and cloudy, and chilly

I hope you all had a good few days. Grab a favorite beverage and curl up for the catch-up.

Thursday wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped, but I got the most important things done. I got a wonderful email from a producer to whom I’d submitted some radio plays. I wasn’t sure if what I submitted was dark enough for what he was looking for, but he said he loved the pieces, and wanted to read the comic noir mystery plays, too. In other words, he’s willing to expand his original guidelines because he enjoys the writing. Which thrills me. He sent me the link to the first broadcast. I have it on today’s agenda to listen to, because that gives me more of an idea of material to pitch to him, too. Yes, he pays. And he said he’s planning to make me an offer.

It also made me wonder if maybe I should try to write a comic horror play as my Dramatists Guild project this month. Then, of course, some characters started wandering into my brain. . .

While that all started percolating, I went to the online meditation group I attend on Thursday mornings. The regular leader wasn’t there; the sub kept using computer lingo, like “downloading inspiration” which really annoyed me. I am not a computer. I am a human being. One of the reasons I attend meditation is for a break from technology. I believe tech-speak in the space is destructive, not “relatable.”

By the time breakfast was over and I’d gotten some admin done, it was time to take my mom for her 4th vaccination. We left early enough so I could dop off and pick up books at the library. We were early to the pharmacy, and I felt bad, because CVS corporate cut staff there, and they were run off their feet. They are the best CVS staff we’ve ever known, and it’s so unfair to them (so yes, I will complain to corporate that an excellent staff is being punished for their skills). The pharmacist who gave her the shot was lovely.

While my mom was under her 15 minutes of observation, I dashed next door to Big Y to pick up a few groceries, including a Boston cream pie that I couldn’t resist.

Took my mom home. She barely had any side effects. Her arm was a little achy, starting about 7 hours after the shot. If anything, it was more like I had the side effects, while she had the shot. I felt like absolute crap all day.

However, I pulled myself together and did a script coverage. I have a nice long list of scripts in my queue, so after a couple of months of worrying and not making my projected income from this client, I think the first pay period in April will be close. March’s second pay period is lower than I’d hoped, but still a decent number. And it means my quarterly taxes won’t be so high.

Participated in Freelance Chat, which was fun.

I polished the materials for the first round of the major grant proposal. I was actually pretty happy with the quality of the materials. I also added the three missing productions to my theatre resume (will have to add them to my writing resume soon).

Of course, the actual application asked for additional materials that weren’t in the informational handout, so I had to take time to create and polish those, which meant the application timed out and I had to start all over again, even though I’d saved it as I went. Which was frustrating.

But I finally got it all entered, and submitted it. I got the confirmation.

By then, I was completely wiped out. I have to remember how much writing a good grant application takes out of me. As in a good piece of writing or performance, I leave it all out there and am spent. If I leave out the passion and commitment behind, under, and around the words, then the energy of the piece is lost, and there’s no way it can get funded. The language is clean and professional, but the subtext has to have energy.

Ordered pizza, because I was too tired to cook. I’d also expected my mom wouldn’t feel like eating, as neither of us have the day of the shot, but she was in good appetite, and I hadn’t planned anything except maybe scrambled eggs. So I ordered pizza. We’re lucky in that we have three excellent pizza parlors within 5 blocks. We ordered what I call the “comfort pizza” from the place about 3 blocks away.

Read a little in the evening, but was wiped out. Knowledge Unicorns was fine; even though it takes plenty of energy, so much energy is created and exchanged, that it’s worth it.

Was awakened about an hour after I went to bed by an enormous crash. At first, I thought it was thunder, since there was an intense rainstorm happening. But there was only one clap and no lightening. Then, I was worried part of the building had collapsed (not that there’s any reason for it). But everything seemed fine. No idea what that was all about.

Tessa got me up early on Friday. I stayed off social media most of the day, because I hate the way cruelty is dressed up to look like humor on April Fool’s Day.

What I did instead was build the Pages on Stages website, for the scripts I write. It took all day, with only one 20-minute break for lunch. It took 9 templates until I found one that I could make do what I wanted and needed. I hunted down as much information on the older productions as I could. A lot of it is in storage, not digitized, and I don’t have access to it right now. But there’s enough on the sites to point grant makers and producers toward it. It’s not a site I plan to heavily promote, the way I do the fiction sites. It serves a specific purpose for the scriptwriting.

I still have to add bio information on the “About” page and add contact information, but I will do that next week.

I managed to start the comic horror radio play for the Dramatists Guild End of Play event, and wrote about a page and a half. It’s out there, even more me. But the beats are building and the jokes are landing the way I want them to, so we’ll see how it goes.

The only side effect my mom had from her second booster was some fatigue toward the end of the day. She’s never had particularly strong reactions to the shots, but this was the lightest yet.

I missed going to the art opening Friday night. By the time it started, I’d just finished the day’s work on the website and hadn’t even showered yet, much less put myself together mentally or physically. The exhibit runs for about a month, so I’ll stop by later in April. I hadn’t promised anyone to attend, so at least I didn’t let anyone down.

Tessa woke me up before 5 this morning out of dreams about Greek myths and peeling potatoes for Thanksgiving with one of my cousins. The brain is a weird instrument.

Caught up on some of the 500+ emails which had come in on Friday.

I walked down to the Farmers’ Market in the morning. It’s still on winter hours, which means that it’s only the first Saturday of the month still for April and May, and it’s indoors, with a limited number of vendors. But such wonderful vendors! I wish I could have bought from everyone.

I bought from three of them, had conversations with several, and next time I go, I have to carry business cards, because they were interested in my books (which came up in conversation when I signed up for the various mailing lists).

I was thrilled with the bounty from the market. We immediately ate the espresso coffee cake muffins from Bohemian Nouveau Bakery, which were outstanding. For lunch, we had slices of baguette with butter, fresh spinach, and sliced radishes (with just a hint of salt and pepper). I don’t know the name of the artisan who baked the baguette, but it was the best I’ve ever had – perfect crumb, lovely crust, and there was a little bit of salt in the crust that was exquisite. The spinach and radishes came from Red Shirt Farm.

For dinner, I added some spinach to the sausage pasta I made, and we finished the rest of the baguette. Because baguettes only last a day.

I took it easy on Saturday. I needed to rest. I did a little bit of noodling on the comic horror radio play, mostly planning rather than writing. I read books I wanted to read, and didn’t worry about any sort of work for anyone else.

There’s so much atrocity happening in Ukraine. The Russians are behaving just as badly as they did in WWII to the citizens. The world stands by and allows the slaughter. And these spoiled brats on social media, who’ve never experienced anything worse than a hangnail, are whining about being “triggered.” They have the privilege to look away, and they are part of the reason this is happening. We need to be riding our elected officials every day about doing more to stop the atrocities AND remove all the Russian assets in Congress. World War III started when The Narcissistic Sociopath was installed as the GOP nominee. The war has a different trajectory than previous wars, but we are deeply, deeply in it. What is happening to citizens in Ukraine WILL happen here if the GOP is allowed to continue. Remember people in cages? Migrants chased on horseback and whipped? Rapists given control of their victims’ bodies? All of that is part of the same playbook.  ANYONE who has the privilege to look away contributes to the problem. We have to look. We have to feel the horror. And then we have to do something about it.

Tessa woke me around 5 AM on Sunday. I got my act together and was out to run errands early, including getting more potting soil and pots. And the tomato cages.

We repotted the peace lily. My friend and I bought the peace lily at Stop & Shop on the Cape in a 4” pot for the very first party in the Cape House, way back in 2011. I just repotted it into a 14” pot. Let’s hope it can thrive in this pot for the next few years!

In the afternoon, I read for pleasure, and did a little bit of research for a couple of different projects. I took a break from the comic horror play, and the other writing. I read THE VANISHING MUSEUM ON THE RUE MISTRAL by M.L. Longworth, set in Provence, which I really enjoyed.

Tessa was such a drama queen on Monday. I didn’t get up fast enough to suit her. My mom finally got up to feed all of the feline monsters. Tessa wrestled the bowl away from her in the pantry and insisted on eating right there (instead of on her little Sherlock Holmes pub towel in her room). She was So Hungry she could not wait one more second. It was hilarious. Like they’re not fed regularly twice a day.

Did some admin work and paid some bills. Headed to the bank (never fun) to make a deposit. Let’s see how long they keep this one. On to the post office to mail the bills and a birthday card for a friend. On the way back, stopped at the liquor store. Dropped everything off, picked up the two bags of books that had to go back to the library, and drove there. Dropped off/picked up books. Home. Moved the seedlings out to the porch. It was sunny/cloudy every few minutes, but at least they’d get more light out there.

Elon Musk bought a stake in Twitter, so my time there is probably drawing to a close. Which is a shame, because it’s my favorite platform. But it’s already gone vastly downhill in the last few weeks, pushing right-wing crazy posts from people I don’t follow into my timeline (which I immediately block). And I’m finding way too much emotional labor on there, thanks to a lot of the privileged spoiled brats. Cutting back my time there is necessary anyway. We’ll see how the next few weeks play out and what changes happen. I highly doubt they will be positive. I’ve cut back my FB time; I’m only still on it because of a few people with whom that’s the main way we stay in touch. Instagram is my playground, but there are so many creeps on there lately that I’ve considered changing how I use it, or leaving entirely.

We’ll see what happens. If it becomes only a work-related set of interactions, then so be it.

As corporate greed destroys what is good about social media platforms, new ones will spring up.

Covered two scripts in the afternoon. Read for pleasure. Wrote a few pages on the comic horror play and tossed them, because they don’t work. No, it’s not a case of temporary insecurity. I’ve been doing this long enough to know when something like that doesn’t work. It took a turn that’s not appropriate for the genre or the other parameters needed in the script to fit the target market. Therefore, it has to go.

Got another idea for another radio script, more psychological ghost story. I might alternate between the two pieces and see which one flies.

We’re still eating the fresh spinach from the market, because it was a lot of damn spinach. But it’s good.

Charlotte woke me out of nightmares around 1:30. Around 3, as I was finally getting back to sleep, Tessa started in. I moved to the bed in the sewing room so that she would quiet down, and then had a series of dreams set backstage, in a hair salon, and in a pet salon. Go figure. But at least they were positive.

Hitting the page first thing, then a big grocery run, then back to the page, and more script coverage and contest entries in the afternoon. It was supposed to rain all day, but the sun is peeking out, so maybe I’ll put the plants out on the porch. I need to oil the teak furniture soon, and keep going with the spring cleaning, which moves forward erratically. I have to spend some quality time with the inbox, too. It’s well over 600 emails again that didn’t have to be answered quickly, and I have to get it down.

My experience moving the newsletter to MailerLite has been positive so far. They sent me a report on the mailing – good open rate, good click rate, and they’re not micromanaging contacts. So that’s all good. I’ve started the document for June, so I can add information as it comes up, and then rewrite it so it’s pretty when it’s time to send it out.

That’s what’s going on in this neck of the woods. We’re in that between-times of seasonal change, where it’s too warm for the heat to kick on regularly, but too chilly to be really comfortable without layers. I’m excited for my first Berkshires spring.

I hope there are lilacs.

Wed. March 16, 2022: Research Day

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mild and cloudy, supposed to turn sunny and gorgeous

In spite of a rocky start to the day, yesterday morning went well. I dealt with some email. I worked on the next section of The Big Project.

I headed up to the library to do some research in the local archives on The Spruces, a self-governed community in Williamstown begun in the 1950’s that has fascinated me since we moved here. It took a bit to track down the material, but once I had it, I sat and took plenty of notes. I have some names to research further. I have physical details of the layout, looked at photos.

I think I will use it as the inspiration for what I want to write based on a place very much like it, set in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. I need to do more research, but as I walked back from the library, the core ensemble of characters, and the two protagonists who will drive the piece and/or series became clear.

Some of the names, and that people in positions of authority were married couples holding multiple positions in the community cause questions. And also open opportunities for the kind of conflict I want to create here.

I also want plenty of cocktails, chain smoking, and cool clothes.

I’ve set up the physical file folder to keep the notes as they evolve, and any additional research I come up with.

The sweet pea and mallow seeds arrived. I need more pots and soil in order to plant them. I need at least a half a dozen more pots, and probably three more bags of soil. Hopefully, the tansy seeds will show up today.

Ordered more ink for the printer. Then I’ll have a full complement of color tanks. I think I can wait to order more black ink for about another month or so. The tanks are good for about 1300 pages; while I go through a lot with the black tanks (and tend to order the ones that can run more pages, when I can afford to), the color tanks last me nearly a year.

In the afternoon, I went down another rabbit hole of research on The Spruces, thanks to the Williamstown Historical Society’s online archives. I found some wonderful photographs and got some more names to research. The Society has a DVD about the place, which, once the car is fixed (again), I will make arrangements to go over and view.

The characters are telling me their stories, and I am taking notes. Out of this will come the conflicts that I need to create the mystery, and then I can outline. I need to do some more research, especially in newspaper archives. I have to find out if The Berkshire Eagle’s morgue is online, or if I have to go and visit them in person.

Reading newspaper files will also help me decide in what year I want to start the series. It will be sometime between 1957-1960.

I also found out (again, thanks to the Berkshire Eagle, who will be thanked in the acknowledgements, no doubt), that there used to be a horserace track over in Hancock, Berkshire Downs, in the 1960’s. I will have to find a way to incorporate that, if I can.

I got my script coverage done, and I worked on a grant proposal. I also worked on contest entries.

It was a pretty good day, all around.

Charlotte woke me up at 4 this morning. I refused to get up, but then I overslept until 5:30, which meant I had to scramble to get out the door to the laundromat. I went on foot, with the rolly cart. It was open on time, and the machines worked, but they didn’t have the lights over the washing machines calibrated to the time change, so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Why yes, I will be getting in touch. It was a little creepy.

But I got 60 pages of CAST IRON MURDER revised.

If it’s as mild as they predict, I’ll put the seedlings out on the porch for the day. I need to go over to the college library to get some art books out I need for the series of short projects. I plan to work on The Big Project, maybe put in some of the fixes I caught on CAST IRON MURDER, and do more research, in and around script reading and going to the library.

I’m watching the news on Ukraine, and donating what I can to World Central Kitchen, which, for me, is the best place to put my funds right now. One of the most important things we have to do NOW, not months down the line, is to remove the Russian assets in Congress and prosecute them.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The seniors are already talking about how this would be spring break for them next year. I wonder how fast the new cases will rise in the next two weeks? Since we’re not getting real numbers. Supposedly, the transmission rate in the Berkshires is down to 1-1/2%, and new cases have gone down by 34% in the past two weeks, but with free testing stopped, who knows how accurate that is? I am still masking indoors in public spaces (like the library, the grocery store, etc.).

The Ipsy bag arrived, full of great stuff for a fun spring look, including lipstick from one of my favorite brands. I started cleaning, by giving the copper molds a good scrub in the kitchen, because I’ve decided I want to hang them up around the stove. If you’ve ever been to the Cape house, they were on the wall by the door to the garage, next to one of the cookbook bookcases (yes, I have two tall bookcases full of cookbooks in my kitchen, and two shelves of a bookcase in my office are also full of cookbooks. And there are more in storage). Hanging up the molds and tidying up the now three bookcases in the kitchen (two with cookbooks, one with bins of different flours, etc.) is on today’s list. I have to figure out how to get the red wax off the window (long story). Looks like someone met with a fatal accident in the kitchen.

If you’re curious about the shared world anthology I keep mentioning, the Monthology website is now live here. You’ll find my Valkyries in the District of the Dearly Departed, and my Gorgons running a theatre in The Amalgamate. There will be lots of fun blurbs and ads and all kinds of information coming out about it in the coming months.

Have a good day, my friends.

Fri. March 4, 2022: Working Through The Weekend

image courtesy of Annie Spratt via pixabay.com

Friday, March 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly sunny/cloudy and cold

I dug the car out yesterday morning, and then it snowed again. I nearly cried. But it was only flurries, so it wound up being no big deal.

I couldn’t concentrate because I was so worried about the appointment at the mechanic. I managed to deal with nearly 400 emails and do some research for a new market to submit a story that was rejected. I really like the piece, but it may have been too genre for that first submission. I also might do another editing pass; I truncated some of it to fit the wordcount for the original market, and I think I might expand some of the sensory details before I re-submit.

The anthology editor was pleased with the materials I sent, so that’s a deep breath released. I’m going to write up plot points for each of my two stories; we’re not at the point of writing them, but since I’ve spent so much time in these worlds and collaborating to create for these characters, I want to get the shape and drive of the stories down. Then, when it’s time to write, I can drop back into the worlds and flesh out the stories. I don’t usually outline for short stories, but I think, in this case, I should.

Took CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on at the mechanic’s while he diagnosed the car. Couldn’t really concentrate. Only got about 30 pages done, and I’ll have to look at them again, because I’m not confidant in the work I did.

The car needs a new crank, and the dashboard computer isn’t communicating properly with everything else, but the crank should fix it. The car’s at the garage for a few days. He was nice enough to give me a ride home. The estimate is in my budget, so as long as nothing else goes cattywampus once he gets his hands on the part and gets to work, everything should be sorted out in a week or so.

I hope it’s all fixed by my birthday, so we can go to the local places we want that aren’t in walking distance.

But I guess I’ll be getting groceries on foot again this weekend.

Was wiped out by the time I got home. Heated up some homemade mac and cheese out of the freezer. I think I’ll have to make another big batch; it’s handy to be able to take out portions and they re-heat well.

Started reading the next book for review. I’d given myself off from script coverage yesterday, but I’ll read through the weekend, and ramp up the reading early next week so I can take a three-day weekend next week for my birthday.

Ordered tansy seeds and a night blooming jasmine plant. I wanted to order a patchouli plant, because I love the scent of patchouli, but it was part of a “bundle” that I didn’t want. And then I discovered it grows in zones 9-11. I’m in zones 4-5, so it wouldn’t work unless I built it a mini greenhouse.

Fell into bed exhausted early, which meant, when Charlotte woke me at 3:30, I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ll pay for that later, but will make use of it now.

I’m going to work on the Big Project this morning, then run some errands. Script coverage and contest entries this afternoon. The second shipment for the contest is on its way, and I want to make sure I get as many of the digital entries from the first batch finished before the second batch arrive.

I’m frustrated at NATO’s lack of action. If they let Ukraine fall — and it will very much be NATO letting it happen – it’s too late. And that opens the path for the Russian assets in the GOP to make their next move, because Merrick Effing Garland won’t do what’s necessary to stop it.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. In addition to the regular work, we discusses the State of the Union, and how it’s possible to disagree with class, and not act like GOP trash.

I’ll be grumpy working through the weekend, but it will be worth it to take a three-day weekend off next week.

Have a good one, and see you on the other side.

Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

We had some more snow, which means I have to dig out the car again before taking it to the mechanic this afternoon. There’s news about the sprouting seeds on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday morning, I caught up on some stuff. I’m so far behind in dealing with a lot of emails, it’s ridiculous. I run my eye down the list several times a day, dealing with what needs quick response, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need quick response, but needs to be dealt with at some point. And those emails are stacking up.

I ran errands in the morning: library run to drop off/pick up books; post office to mail bills and buy stamps; hit up another store in walking distance for some plant pots and organizational supplies; pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

I wasn’t careful enough and ingested something that triggered a minor food allergy, so that slowed me down, too.

In the afternoon, I finished up the materials the editor needed for the anthology (one set of lore on my new clan, and two sets of organizational points). That took all afternoon, because I had to cross-check what’s been established and make sure I was working within that.

I also wrote up the review for the book I enjoyed so much and sent it to my editor. Culinary noir is becoming a favorite genre.

I covered a script in the evening. I’m so grateful that my schedule is flexible so I can decide what to work on when my energy is best suited to specific kinds of work.

I’m keeping an eye on the coverage of Ukraine and getting frustrated at countries talking about sending help, but not getting things there and not stepping up and stepping in with manpower. We ARE all at war. At this point, it’s a race to stop the guy before he hits the button. Standing by isn’t going to help.

Continuing to give The Narcissistic Sociopath and his cronies a pass will not end well for us. He and his cohorts need to be indicted and neutralized BEFORE the midterms.

I am so tired of stupid people who appease until it’s too late.

Today, I will work on The Big Project in the morning, dig out the car, and then spend the afternoon at the mechanic’s. Fingers crossed I can afford the repair. I’ve put aside a good chunk of cash these past few months, but I also was too burned out to push hard in February and hit the earnings goals. I hope that doesn’t come back to smack me.

Back to the page.

Published in: on March 3, 2022 at 8:13 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility  
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Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered

image courtesy of ulleo via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Dark Moon

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Cloudy and cold

The weekend was all over the place. The February Wrap-up post is over on the GDR site.

Was disappointed at a submission call on Friday. I loved the theme. But they want 6-8K words, on “revenue share” which means, basically, the writers will never get paid. If it was a shared royalty after the initial payment or just a one-time payment, that would be one thing; that’s hit or miss. But the whole thing being revenue share? Nope. On top of that, there was a bitchy comment about how revenue share will only happen if the authors put in the work. So unpaid labor for writing a longish piece that’s close to novelette length, and then additional unpaid labor to do the publisher’s work? I think I’ll pass.

I managed to get about 3K done on The Big Project, some of which was tearing apart and re-structuring the last couple of sections before writing the next one. This is a strange project in that I can’t just write the whole first draft and then go back and edit, which is the way I prefer to work. Because each section of the project builds the next, in a different way than a traditional novel or novella or short story would, it has to be strong, structurally, and with details, before I can move to the next section. That’s part of the reason I’m behind where I want/need to be at this point. The other element is slowing it down is word choice. I’ve never worked on something where the exact shade of meaning to a word choice is so important. I can’t put in a place holder and move on. I have to find the right shade-of-meaning word before I can move on. It’s a different way of working, and a little disconcerting at times, but it is what serves this particular work the best, and therefore, that’s how it has to be done.

So, I roll with it. Every project demands something different in order to be something different; if all you do is scream “that’s my process” and aren’t willing to grow and change, you miss out on a lot.

It snowed and snowed and snowed on Friday, so it was nice not to have to go out. Since the town declared a snow emergency, public buildings and a lot of businesses were closed, and people were advised to stay home.

Saturday was cold and clear. I suited up and packed the backpack to head up to the library, with 10 books to drop off and 5 to pick up. The sidewalks were pretty clear; the sun’s higher angle means it’s melting better, even when it’s cold. When I came back, I shed the books, picked up a shovel, and dug out the car.

Yeah, definitely not in my twenties anymore. Couldn’t work as hard and as fast as I could when younger, but slow and steady got it done, and it clear all around the car, so it can’t freeze in again.

Spent way too much keeping an eye on the news from Ukraine. My mom has firsthand experience with the Russians, having escaped from a Russian prison camp during WWII. She knows of what they’re capable. The GOPers who went to Russia on July 4 a few years back need to be barred from security briefings, because they’ll report to their handlers. They, along with anyone else who backs Putin, needs to be removed from government and prosecuted for treason. Or we’re going to have firefights in the streets here, too.

Between family-related stuff (some of which I’m just discovering through genealogical research), international arts colleagues, and what I learned from studying the ICC a few years ago, it’s all far too complex on both intellectual and emotional levels for a simple blog post.

I am grumpy about going out of my way for someone (not involved with the anthology) and writing up a big ole patch of background information, turning it around in less than 24 hours when I had other deadlines, and not even getting a thank you. Learned about this individual, and won’t make the same mistake next time. Because it takes 10 seconds to type “Thanks” in a DM or an email.

Sunday was again sunny. It was supposedly warmer, but felt colder. I ran some errands, but mostly I took it easy. I did break my “day of disconnect” rule, because I wanted to keep up with what’s going on in Ukraine. I couldn’t pull it together to cook, so ordered pizza.

Tessa woke me up at 2:30 (out of a dream about colonoscopy, so no loss there). I got back to sleep. She woke me again at 4 (out of a dream where I worked on the set of an action heist film starring Dame Maggie Smith, which was very cool). I moved to the couch and dozed off, only to wake up again a little after 6 from some other weird dream that had to do with books and cannoli. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

I had a LOT to do, since I took the weekend off, and I also had cut back on some work in February, and therefore made less $$.

I still spent too much time watching the news out of Ukraine, but that’s necessary. If the Narcissistic Sociopath had his way, we would now be aligned with Russia, and with the rest of the world against us. I talked about that during the past few years, when he was intentionally shredding our international alliances. He and the GOP may have given Putin overblown promises about how much of the US would just roll over even now. Or Putin plans to continue the push into the Ukraine and further (it will always be further) until the Republicans are back in power. They will simply hand the country over to him.

Which is yet another reason we have to make sure that they don’t get back into power in November.

I’m glad the ICC is taking action. There’s more information here.

Hey, Merrick Garland, when are you gonna get off your ass and do your job? Look how fast the ICC is moving.

I managed to work on The Big Project, somewhere around 1600 words. I’d hoped each of the three major arcs would take up a specific amount of space; I think I have to expand on that a bit.

In the afternoon, I answered some questions from a writer whose script I’d covered, and read/wrote up coverage on another script. We’re getting a raise, which is nice, and hopefully better lines of communication are opening.

Ordered Chinese food for dinner. Door Dash “adjusted” the order so many times, I had no idea what would show up. The right items showed up; today, I have to check the bank account, to make sure I was only charged once. I was involved in various conversations on Twitter while I was waiting, and inadvertently got several people heavily invested in my dinner. On the one hand, I felt frivolous with everything going on. On the other hand, I think the people who joined the conversation needed the distraction.

Math. I have to do math today. (Shudder).

I got another monster in the shared world anthology, and another organization. I have to write up the information and turn it in by tomorrow.  

This morning, I was up and out of the house early, humped the laundry to the laundromat, and was back with everything washed, dried, and folded before 7:30. I’m getting it down to a system.

I edited about 70 pages of CAST IRON MURDER at the laundromat. This is a first pass edit, not the deep edit. I have, however, decided to cut a subplot. While it served the murderer, I cannot do it justice in the book without putting that plot front and center, and that’s not what I want to use to drive the book. So I’m cutting it, and adjusting the murderer’s motivation accordingly. It affects a few places in the book, where I wound it through, so I have to make sure I’m consistent.

A friend sent me a new tarot deck as an early birthday present. The Rackham deck. Very different than the others I have, and it will be interesting to work with it.

It looks like it will either rain or snow today. I’d considered doing some errands, but I might just stay in and work on the Big Project, the materials for the anthology, the grant proposal, and more script coverage. I need to get out the vacuum, too. The cats are shedding like crazy.

When I woke up, Kyiv was still holding on. I hope the supplies promised come in fast enough to deter the 40-mile Russian convoy headed their way to destroy them.

Let’s all do what we can on every front that we can. If we sit and do nothing, we will fall next.

Published in: on March 1, 2022 at 8:04 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered  
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Fri. Feb. 25, 2022: Snow Emergency

image courtesy of cocoparisienne via pixabay.com

Friday, February 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowy and cold

It wouldn’t surprise me if we got more than a foot of snow today. It’s coming down hard, and the city is on snow emergency, so most places are closed, and people are staying off the streets.

Yesterday, I spent the morning working on material for my friend’s grant proposal, and the turning around the edits for the 2023 Spell-A-Day. I thought it would take all day, but it didn’t. It was mostly proofing, and clearing up language on a couple of pieces. One had to be completely rewritten, and another, the editor and I went back and forth a couple of times to get it as specific as possible. But it’s all done, and ahead of the March 1 deadline.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage.

We didn’t do much anthology brainstorming, because everyone’s affected by what’s going on in Ukraine. The world needs to do more, instead of standing around with thumbs up collective asses and talking sanctions. Putin needs to be crushed immediately, or it will just get worse. The Putin assets in the US need to be jailed and cut off at once, and then prosecuted for treason.

The Ukraine soldiers and people, who actually have courage and heart, make the MAGA QAnons look even more like pathetic cosplayers.

This is all hard on my mom, who escaped from a Russian prison camp in Czechoslavakia in WWII. She knows of what they’re capable.

I went to bed ridiculously early last night, and Charlotte woke me up a little after 5, because the snow made everything look light.

I should push hard today on a few things, but I just don’t want to. I will watch the snow. I will work on my grant proposal. I may do some work on the Big Project. If a script comes up that looks intriguing, I might cover it. Or I might give myself the day off from it. This weekend, I want to work on The Big Project, and on contest entries.

I can’t believe it will be March next week. I’d rather hibernate for a couple more months.

One day at a time. One word at a time.

Published in: on February 25, 2022 at 8:07 am  Comments (5)  
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Thurs. Feb. 24, 2022: Storms, Clocks, and Plots

image coourtesy of brenkee via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Yesterday, the temperature was in the mid-fifties. By evening, mid-thirties. This morning, sixteen. I wish the snow would come through today and be done by tomorrow, instead of the predicted all day tomorrow. I talk about the new shoots coming up over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday, I wrote up some information on a topic I know a good bit about and sent it off as background information to another author I’d met via Twitter. I hope it’s helpful.

I sent email thank you notes to the presenters and organizations from Tuesday’s Zoom events. I finished up one script coverage and did another. I’m so far behind in where I should be, financially, this pay period. But I just haven’t had the mental energy to give the proper attention to two scripts per day. I’ll have to ramp it up again next week, but these past two weeks, I’ve just been tired.

The weather was all over the place, so I didn’t go out to run errands or do laundry. I did some brainstorming on the anthology. I did some work for the grant proposals.

I started thinking about what I want to do for next year’s International Women’s Day Project and then realized THIS year’s IWD is about two weeks away, and I haven’t done anything. I thought of a good project I can do in that time, and also made notes for a bigger project I want to do for next year. If I can get some funding for next year, I’ll open it up to contributors, but I want to make sure I can pay anyone who wants to participate.

I can put together my more personal one for this year within the time frame. And then I was stymied by the simplest of questions – whether to post the project here, on this blog, or make it a more permanent tribute on the main website.

I do not understand why, since the pandemic started, the most basic decisions I used to make without difficulty, have become overwhelming. I don’t like it. My “normal” is to be decisive, not waffle. But it’s as though I now only have the capacity to make a limited number of decisions across the board, and once I hit that number, I can’t make any more.

I have to figure out how to work past that.

I also haven’t figured out what to do for World Theatre Day.

The pendulum clock that I got in that funny little Treasure Hut store behaves as though it’s haunted. Which can be kind of fun, and I can build a good piece of fiction around it. But sometimes, it’s odd to live with. It keeps time just fine, but sometimes it gets chatty and noisy. Then it settles down. Then it gets chatty again. I need to name it.

My Llewellyn editor sent me the edits for the 2023 Spell A Day. It’s got a tight turnaround, so that will be the focus of today’s work, after meditation group. I was thinking of trying to do a library run up and back, but I don’t think I can make it before the storm starts.  The prediction is that it starts tonight, but the way the sky looks, and my head feels, it might start earlier.

I was sniffly yesterday, so there was also that layer of is this a seasonal cold, or did I catch The Plague? I feel okay today. If I feel bad a few days in a row, I’ll take the home COVID test, and, if necessary, get a more in-depth one. But I’m hoping it’s the seasonal change/housecleaning/unpacking.

But I felt well enough to dance around the kitchen listening to death metal while I cooked dinner, and figured out several plot points in the anthology story. Yes, I listen to everything from Mozart to Celtic rock to death metal, and most things in between. Except country.

The situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and infuriating. The world better ally against Russia. Because Putin won’t stop at taking back former Soviet bloc countries. He’ll keep going into Europe. Stop him now. And remove those in Congress (and on Fox News) who support him.

I hope to get some work on The Big Project done. I think I have to break some sections down into smaller sections, in order for the rhythm to work.

Back to the page.

Wed. Feb. 23, 2022: Mix and Match Creativity

image courtesy of Leolo212 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and mild

I forgot to mention the post over on the GDR site about one’s practice; and later today, there will be a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about being “Invited to apply.” The latter was supposed to post last week and didn’t. There’s a glitch with the scheduling tool, but I think it’s fixed.

I haven’t talked about the Ukraine situation because there’s nothing of value I can add to the conversation. Of course I’m upset at another war, especially one started by Russia. And I think the Congresspeople who pander to Putin (especially those who visited him on July 4th a few years ago) should be prosecuted for treason and face the ultimate penalty for it. Nothing short of that will stop them. That’s all they understand.

The entrepreneur meetup was interesting. Cool project, I’m looking forward to trying it. I didn’t say much, because there wasn’t anything to say; the presentation was clear, it’s an interesting piece, and now I need to interact directly with it. Any speaking I did would have been for the sound of my own voice, and that’s not necessary.

Part of the difficulty with networking (apart from the whole pandemic/isolation bit) is that I have to balance the need/ability to network with protecting the work. The work has to always come first, the writing. Things like The Big Project and the plays and writing/editing the books. Everything else has to build around it and feed into it, being “in addition to” not “instead of.” Sometimes that’s a difficult balance to strike. At other times, it’s impossible.

Headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. By the time I got home, it was raining, and kept raining, harder and harder, all day and into the night.

I renewed my Boston Public Library eCard, so that I have access to all their digital resources, which includes access to work via the British Public Library. That will help in my research.

Spun out some ideas for two grant proposals (one for one of my projects, one for a friend who’s got a big project). Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script for which I was requested (although I have to finish writing it up this morning).

In the evening, I attended a virtual author talk between Nina de Gramont and Wiley Cash about THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. It was sponsored by Titcomb’s Bookshop. It was a lovely event. She’s a gracious and interesting speaker. Wiley Cash was lively and asked great questions, and I want to read his new book, too (I haven’t read any of his work before). There was a discussion about themes built around the different marriages in the book, and how unwed mothers were treated in Ireland at the time, which was very interesting, since so much of the press around the book focuses on Christie’s disappearance, and on the mystery side of it (and there are mysteries within mysteries in the book, too).

I started reading THE DECAGON HOUSE MURDERS by Japanese author Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong. It’s inspired by Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. It’s very clever and well done.

Although not a lot of words got onto paper, it was still a creative and interesting day, which is always a good thing.

Charlotte woke me up at 2, wanting attention. By 2:30, Tessa was howling, because Charlotte was getting attention and Tessa wasn’t. I moved to the couch, but couldn’t get comfortable. I finally dozed off and woke up around 6:30, completely disoriented.

But I have to “pull up my socks” as they say, and get moving. Lots to do today. Too messy out to hump the laundry to the laundromat, but I may go over to the college library and hunt down some research materials for various projects. And then, of course, more script coverage.

Have a good one!