Wed. Aug. 9, 2022: Just Chugging Along

images courtesy of Wikilimages via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was another hot day, although the temperature started going down later in the day. But I hadn’t slept well, which was not a good way to start.

I had trouble getting going in the morning. I had to deal with stuff on the personal front, of course, with everything going on. I managed to get the book review written and out, and was assigned my next two books for review. I worked on catching up with emails, and handling a bunch of admin. I pushed back the release date for DEVELOPING THE SERIES so that I can finish proofreading it and make sure the students really get it well before it goes into general release. I did the promotion for Episode 5 of LEGERDEMAIN that dropped yesterday, “The Luminous Lady.” The ad I made for it is one of my favorites.

I worked on the poem a little.

I let myself grieve when I needed.

There was a thunderstorm in the late morning, which helped break some of the heat and humidity. But then, it was warm and sunny again.

We headed back to the quilt shop in Williamstown. And ran into a detour, because there was a gas leak, and a big chunk of Rt. 2 was blocked off by the fire department. So I had to take back roads. The fact I knew which backroads to take pleased me.

Anyway, we went to the quilt shop, and I picked up some fabric to make holiday-themed curtains for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because this weekend, when I’m working on seat covers and kitchen island curtains, I might as well do all of them at once.

A big guy working the lines came into the quilt shop, curious because his grandmother used to quilt, and he was interested in looking at the quilts. That, of course, triggered a story idea for me, so those characters are percolating. Now, the question becomes are they their own set of characters in their own world, or do I fold them into one of my other worlds?

On the way back, we did a stop at Wild Oats for a few things, and I paid my next year’s membership. I got to introduce my mom to the general manager, who is a sweet, smart, wonderful guy, and that was good.

Did a script coverage in the afternoon. Then, it was cool enough to prepare the rest of the Farmers’ Market vegetables as roasted vegetables, and served it over couscous. The rest of this week will be leftovers from the past few days of crockpot, primavera pasta, and roasted veggies.

Right after I finished, it was time for the cooking class with Chef Jeremy over at Kripalu (via Zoom). He’s moving into a full-time faculty position, after being the Executive Chef there for 12 years (which, as he said, is “like 187 Chef years”). He’s such a brilliant teacher, and he loves it so much, I’m glad he has the opportunity. And I’m excited to, at some point, study with him again in person.

Anyway, class was tons of fun. As usual, I learned a lot (like the difference between a tian and a gratin).

After class, I had another script to cover, but I got everything done.

It was the first night in weeks where it was cool enough to sleep, and I slept. Although I had a nightmare, and Charlotte woke me up at 3 AM. But I managed to fall back to sleep, and got up a little after six.

The damn computer took nearly an hour to do an update, and then none of the programs talked to any of the other programs, so I had to go in and wiggle things around until it worked again. I am not an IT person, and I shouldn’t have to fake being one just to get the computer up and running every morning. Especially since it’s still under warranty (although no one has any interest in honoring the warranty). And I’m only using 25% of the computer’s capacity.

I did not have these problems with my Mac.

Anyway, I have a meeting to prepare for this morning, the workbook to finish proofing, the poem to polish, and then three scripts to cover this afternoon, so it’s another busy day. But good busy.

Spiro Squirrel tried to remove the kitchen window screen again yesterday afternoon and Willa was right there, letting him know that was not an option. When I heard her scampering down the hallway early this morning, I was sure he’d somehow managed to get in and she was chasing him around the house, but she was just running up and down the hall because it was cool enough to run again. All the cats were perky this morning, because it was cool enough to feel like themselves again.

Hope you’re having a good one.

Published in: on August 10, 2022 at 7:15 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 9, 2022: Just Chugging Along  
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Fri. Aug. 5, 2022: Ebbs and Flows

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pixabay.com

Friday, August 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Hazy and humid

Definitely tired and feeling the effects of the week. But I’ll do a big push this weekend, and, hopefully, next week will be a little easier.

Had a story rejected by a publication (I wasn’t sure it was the right fit, but gave it a shot, so it wasn’t a complete surprise). Got a rejection on a big grant application I put in earlier this year – again, not a surprise, because it was a stretch. They were encouraging and made suggestions on where to beef up certain sections of the application, and to reapply next year, so that is what I will do.

Got the SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM workbook uploaded and out, but there’s a problem with a couple of things. The issue with the cover I understand – I think I uploaded the wrong version, so I’ll fix that. I don’t understand the other note, about “mentioning competitive markets in conflict with the distributors.” It’s about how to set up a submission system. I don’t mention any publisher or distributor by name. I do have links to resources, so I wonder if that’s the problem. I have questions in, and we’ll see.

Did a run to Wild Oats for a few things in the late morning. The heat and humidity were oppressive. I managed to turn around two scripts, and also to finish a book for review, but I was wiped out by the end of the day.

We had a cracking good thunderstorm with bucketing rain, so I spent a good portion of the evening lying on the sofa, watching the storm.

It didn’t get comfortable enough to sleep until about 3 AM, so I’m a little slow today. But I had good coffee, which makes a big difference.

I worked on the latest draft of the radio play with the producer, and finalized virtually attending Tuesday’s rehearsal, which will be fun.

On today’s docket is finalizing the PowerPoint for tomorrow’s Developing the Series class, and getting both versions of the Workbook proofed. Class attendees will get a copy of the workbook as part of the class; it will release for sale next Wednesday.

If there’s time, I need to start uploading/scheduling the next set of episodes for LEGERDEMAIN, but that might happen on Monday.

Tomorrow morning, it’s Farmers’ Market Day, and then I teach in the late afternoon (at the worst possible time for me biorhythmically, but I’m prepared, so it will work). Sunday is a day of fun for me. I have two events at the Edith Wharton manse – I’m going to see a play by a local theatre (stage managed by a fellow poet from a few weeks ago), and, after that, there’s a poetry event inspired by the sculptures in the garden. It should be a fun day.

Next weekend will be busy, between script coverage and LEGERDEMAIN and a cooking class and the radio play rehearsal and participating in Poets in Conversation, but it should be fun, too.

Have a good one, friends, and we’ll catch up on the other side.

Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022: Different Paths

image courtesy of succo via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hot, humid

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

Yesterday wasn’t as hot as expected, although today is supposed to be brutal. I managed to get the revision done on the SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM workbook. I had to do the sample pages in Publisher then save them as JPGs  to insert them, and some of them still aren’t right. I think I will print sheets, scan them, see if I can save them as JPGs and insert them, and see if that fixes the problem. Then I’ll do the final proofread, so it can release on time tomorrow.

In the afternoon, I turned around 4 scripts. It was a lot, but it takes pressure off me for the rest of the week.

This morning, I have meditation. Then, I have to dash out to Wild Oats for a few things (like coffee. I’m out of coffee after making this morning’s batch). Proofread the workbook. Work on the PowerPoint for class. Answer some questions on the radio script that’s in rehearsal. I have only two scripts to turn around this afternoon, which is good.

The workshop leader for the journaling workshop, after dissing daily journal practice as meaningless, offered techniques that have been used since the journaling explosion back in the nineties. I’m not going to comment other than to say, once again, my path is different from this group. There are other practices they have in place that I disagree with and find exclusionary rather than inclusionary, especially since it’s all based on money, but that’s a different conversation.

My path is different.

Back to the page. Plenty that needs to happen today. I’m enjoying it all, even while being tired. I hope it doesn’t get as hot as it threatens today, and I hope it starts cooling off at night soon; it’s hard to sleep in the humidity.

Have a good one, friends.

Published in: on August 4, 2022 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022: Different Paths  
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Tues. Aug. 2, 2022: Creative Busy-ness

image courtesy of Hans via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hazy, humid

The weekend was kind of all over the place.

The artists working group that I was told met Friday morning, of course, met Thursday morning. The organizers really need to get their communications cleaned up. Especially since I specifically contacted them to ask for clarification and they still gave me the wrong information.

I picked up a few things at Wild Oats market instead.

I spent Friday revising CREATIVE STIMULUS and THE SERIES BIBLE. I was behind where I wanted to be, but between the humidity and ongoing computer kerflamma, it was exhausting.

Attended an amazing yoga class on Friday night. It was a wonderful restorative class and I slept very, very well after.

Up early Saturday morning. Went to the market. Didn’t buy much. The lines were so long as some of the stalls, which is great for the farmers, but I didn’t have the energy to stand in the sun. Picked up my mom’s prescription at the nearby CVS and came home.

Should have done a lot of stuff, but I was hot and tired and didn’t. We did hang up some of the artwork, although we haven’t found the right spot for oh, too many things. But some digital artwork by a friend went up, and the mosaic by my uncle. I put up the sketch of Paris – which I bought on my first trip to Paris when I was 11 years old for 2 francs – but it’s not in the right spot. When I find the right spot for it, I will move it.

Read in the afternoon and just relaxed.

Up early on Sunday. Charlotte and Tessa were both being pills. Made biscuits. Sent off an LOI. Did some blog work. Finally got the materials for a magical journaling class I’m taking this week with the group with whom I did Expedition to the Soul last year.

Worked on my Llewellyn article and got it done. It took a good portion of the day, since it was 2800 words.

I’m reading the biography of Emily Mann. The first time I met her was when I was working at the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, and she’d just been named the Artistic Director for the McCarter Theatre. I always admired her, and wish I’d gotten the chance to work closely with her.

Played with ideas for my poem, and for the story for the Shakespeare horror anthology. I want to keep my poem short, between a half a page to a page (even though I have a longer slot). I’m learning how to do this, and I’d rather keep it shorter and work on technique and rhythm and performance than use up the whole slot just to use it.

Monday, I was up and at it early. I made the social media rounds to thank those who participated in #31Prompts. Ello, by far, had the highest rate of engagement, both on and offline. Counter Social was second, by quite a big gap. Then, there was another big gap, and it was Twitter and then Facebook. Trailing the pack was Tumblr.

The metrics come from both engagement on the platform, and from contact individuals made with me privately about which prompts they liked and the types of pieces those prompts inspired. Because I don’t want anyone to post the actual work online and blow first rights.

I posted the July wrap up on the GDR site, and you can read it here. I had a pretty creative month.

I rewrote my Llewellyn article pretty extensively, and got it in to my editor. I still haven’t hit the sweet spot with it, except in word count, so I’m eager for her feedback.

I did the marketing content calendar for the CREATIVE STIMULUS Topic Workbook, which dropped yesterday, and got that uploaded and scheduled through the end of September.

Then, I tackled episodes 7-10 of LEGERDEMAIN. Even though I’d done a couple of revisions on them, they needed more. The world count is a little higher than I want for these episodes, but I had to set foundations for a few things, so there we were. The text got two pretty massive revisions, and then tweaks once it was uploaded and previewed. But I got them up and scheduled.

Then, I created episode loglines and episode-specific ads for them. I uploaded and scheduled those around the episode releases. I have to do the big weekend ad schedules, but I’ll do those in a day or two.

After that, I created three more quirky general ads (well, four, because I had an idea for something coming up, but it won’t release for a few more weeks). I got those designed, uploaded, and scheduled around the relevant episodes.

I read the revision of my friend’s radio play and it is wonderful! I love what she’s done. It’s so good, and such fun!

I did some work on the grant proposal. I need photographs. I’m not sure I have photographs of the relevant work, and I’m not sure I have it up here rather than in storage so I can take new photographs. I’ll cross that bridge next week,

I did my Italian lesson. I listened to the first session of a journal workshop on journaling with intent. I was put off by the way she was so condescending to a regular journal practice. As someone who has kept up a journal practice for FIFTY YEARS, and who has found the practice helped me navigate plenty of difficult stuff, I was annoyed by the attitude that a journal practice was “meaningless” and one just writes in a book and puts it away. Nope. Not the way I do it. This after the whole “I’ll never tell you that you HAVE to do something.” Yeah, but you’ll be patronizing when someone does something differently.  I was also annoyed by the whole “Oh, a bunch of us are doing a trip to Salem, so we won’t have live sessions for the next few days, just pre-recorded ones.” I don’t mind pre-recorded sessions, I don’t need to see the running comments in the live sessions. However, it’s kind of insulting when students have put aside the time to attend the workshop to blow them off. Just set it up so it’s “work at your own pace, here are the sessions.” I’m also really irritated at the pressure to download their app. I do not run my life from apps, nor do I want to.

My path is different, especially right now.

I was very tired by the end of the day. Between 2800K in revisions on the article, nearly 8K in the episodes, and then creating the ads, yup, I was tired. I also have 9 scripts in my queue, to read by the end of the week, so I have to push today and tomorrow, so that I’m not overwhelmed at the end of the week, before I teach.

Today’s priority is uploading and scheduling the content calendar for THE SERIES BIBLE Workbook, which drops tomorrow, and finish the revisions on SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM. I also want to finish the slideshow for the class I’m teaching Saturday.

I think that’s all I can get in during the morning. In the afternoon/evening, I have to cover 3 scripts, and I’m taking a break in the evening to attend Chef Jeremy’s cooking workshop from Kripalu online. Plus the day’s Italian lesson and journal workshop. But it’s the right kind of busy.

I heard from a grant for which I’d applied that I’d made it to the next round. I’ve heard that from them before. I make it close to the end, then they give the grant to someone who never finishes anything and is never heard from again.  But they tell me to keep applying. I’d already decided that if I don’t get it this year, I’m done with them. Not worth the work putting together the grant, when all they do is string me along, and then give it to someone who doesn’t deliver. In the years I’ve applied, I went from never working in the genre to regularly publishing in it, so I guess I don’t need it. But it would sure give me some breathing room.

Anyway, back to the work that needs to be done. Hope you’re having a good start to the week.

Wed. July 27, 2022: Clearing The Desk

image courtesy of donterasse via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

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

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

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

Got rid of a massive amount of email.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll catch up when I get back!

Published in: on July 27, 2022 at 4:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 27, 2022: Clearing The Desk  
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Wed. July 20, 2022: TypeTypeTypeTypeType

image courtesy of Nattanan Kanchanapratt via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy, hot, humid

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

Chiron went retrograde yesterday, too. The Wounded Healer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I made myself rest.

That’s progress.

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

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

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

And lots of fur balls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I still want to hold up my end.

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

Have a good one.

Fri. July 15, 2022: Of Books and Cheese

collage by Devon Ellington from stock photos

Friday, July 15, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, and pleasant

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

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

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

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

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

Freelance Chat was fun.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tues. July 12, 2022: Building a Sense of Creative Community

image courtesy of ds_30 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, humid

There’s a quick post over on the GDR site about how too many prompts, etc. can be counterproductive.

Friday was actually pretty fun. I wrote the first draft of the one act in the morning. I did my errands: gas station, couple of stores to get hardware and more pots, library, wine store. Ran into my friend the baker at the library, and made plans to get together at the Farmers’ Market Saturday.

Home, and got everything unpacked.

Did my first Duolingo Italian assignment. I’m keeping my expectations low, just 10 minutes per day. The first lesson breezed right past. Having a little bit of French definitely helped. I could see correlations. What I’m not sure about is if I’m actually learning the vocabulary, because a lot of “writing the sentences” was about choosing the words that made the most sense. But am I really learning them? Still, it was fun, and if I feel comfortable with the Italian lessons in a few months, I might see if I can level up my French with them, too.

I kept up with the Duolingo assignments every day all weekend. I enjoy them, but I also need an Italian textbook to understand some of the “whys” behind the choices.

Saturday was Farmers’ Market Day. The weather was gorgeous, the stalls filled to bursting with glorious offerings. I stocked up on large tomatoes, cucumbers, baby red potatoes, fennel, sugar snap peas, lemon basil, eggs, espresso coffee cake muffins, banana bread – just wonderful. It’s as much as social/community experience as a shopping one. The regulars chat with each other, it’s full of friendly dogs making friends, everyone is cheerful and happy to be there. I look forward to going there every week.

I talked to my friend the baker about commissioning her to make the cheesecake for my mom’s 98th birthday in October. Cheesecake is my mom’s favorite, and she should have a good one. I always buy one (because I am terrible at making cheesecake), and I’d rather the money go to a local, small business, really talented baker.

I popped into the grocery store to build around the FM finds, then headed off to Wild Oats, the co-op, to fill in a couple of other things, and then to another grocery store on the way home to pick up something I knew they carried.

The stores have put the signs back up “recommending” and “requesting” people masks again, regardless of vaccination status. Locals have been good about it throughout, but it’s tourist season, and while it’s nowhere near as whackadoodle here as it was on Cape, there are still germy nasties roaming around.

At one of the grocery stores, a white (of course) woman whined to the manager, “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to wear a mask, and I shouldn’t have to look at anyone else wearing a mask. Maybe I’ll just take my tourist dollars and go home.”

I stopped my masked ass the requisite social distance from her and said, “You’re gone, we’re alive, sounds like a win to me.”

She did that guppy face thing, and the manager cracked up.

Because fucking tourists.

The Cape’s COVID numbers have gone way up (of course). Makes me glad I’m not there anymore; makes me worry about friends and colleagues living/visiting/working there.

We were considering taking our two-day autumn break at the tip of the Cape, on the beach, but my mom said, “No way am I going to Cape Cod when they continue to behave like selfish idiots.” And then I got an email from the state health whatever about how the highest rate of monkeypox in the state is in Provincetown, so yeah, we’ll skip it.

So we will go elsewhere. Maybe the coast of Maine or to Newport. I just want to sit somewhere overlooking ocean and read books for two days. No sightseeing (which is why it makes sense to go somewhere familiar). No indoor dining. A room/cottage with a deck, an ocean view, and books. A room with a fridge, and we’ll do takeout. If there’s a kitchen, I can cook. Although, hey, vacation, maybe I’ll stick with takeout. If the virus numbers keep going up, we aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of cooking (note the segue way), I used the lemon basil from the market and made pesto, because I do love pesto, and I love Full Well Farm’s lemon basil, so lemon basil pesto it is.

I made vegetable stock in the crockpot, which worked well. I’ll freeze one jar and keep the other two in the fridge to use up.

Saturday afternoon, I could not put it off any longer, and finished the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because the directions are so bad, I had to take something apart, do the next step, then do the thing I had to take apart, because if I did it in the order of the directions, I could get at the bit that needed to be done next. But by flipping the order, I could do both. Also, they kept instructing work done on it when it was sideways on the floor, when it made more sense to work on the bottom when it was upside down, and I could use my bodyweight. It was impossible to tighten the top the way the instructions ordered – there was no way to get in a tool to do it in that space. I’m trusting gravity, and, if need be, later on, Gorilla glue. The piece for the back wasn’t cut square, but I managed to nudge it to at least cover what needs to be covered. The doors splintered when the hardware was fastened. So they are put aside. I found one of my old tension rods, and I’m using the sewing mouse café curtains that always adorned my offstage workstation off-Broadway at theatres like the Variety Arts. They’re a little long and wrong, but until I can make other curtains (I have good fabric in my stash), they will do. I will also get some fabric for the back of the cart, because it’s so darn ugly I can’t stand to look at it. I will trim it and Velcro it onto the back, so that I can wash it when needed.

But the drawer (I built a drawer; I’m so proud) and the shelves  and the top are fine. The Tupperware is in the bottom, and the baking pans I had stacked over the cabinets nearest the kitchen window all fit. Now I have room, on that cabinet top, for the teapots I’m bringing up from the next storage run. The top is a good workspace, and I always need more workspace.

But I was achy and tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, temperate day. The wreath we bought the weekend after Thanksgiving, hung on the door for the Winter Yule season, then stripped of ornaments and hung on the living room since, just started drying up. So I stripped the wreath. I have one jar of small needles/twigs for Winter Solstice. I have 5 jars of pine needles stripped from the rest of it.

What would you use pine needles for? Glad you asked. Incense, sachets, charms, bath mixtures, and potpourri. For instance, for this holiday season, I’ll pour pine needles in a bowl, take an orange, stud it with whole cloves, toss in some cinnamon sticks, and there’s a holiday scent without anything perfumy. I can take a cheesecloth or linen bag, put in pine needles, rosemary, and orange or lemon peel, and put it in the bathwater. (Trust me, you want it a bag you can soak and then dump, not loose in the water. Learn from my missteps. There are places on the human body in which pine needles should never venture).

I’ll keep the frame, in case I want to build some other kind of wreath using it.

Tessa helped. She loves anything scented (and I think she misses my stillroom as much as I do). Willa watched from a safe distance. Charlotte slept through the whole thing.

But most of Sunday was mellow, enjoying reading, being on the porch, playing with the cats, etc. The neighborhood was quiet, because people took advantage of the nice weather to go out and do things Elsewhere. Which meant Here was quiet.

I finished the Shirley Jackson biography and read Thomas Lynch’s wonderful poems WALKING PAPERS. He is a poet who is also an undertaker. I have several of his books to read.

Sauteed fresh trout from the local fishmonger in butter, with salt and pepper, boiled fresh red potatoes (from Red Shirt Farm) and served them with butter, and blanched sugar snap peas (from Full Well Farm) in boiling water, then tossed them with sesame oil and parsley. Absolute bliss, tasting real flavors.

I’m enjoying the kitchen island cart. The additional workspace is wonderful.

Went to bed ridiculously early. Woke up at 1:30, but went back to sleep, until Tessa and Charlotte rousted me out of bed around 5:30.

Got the email box down from over 700 emails to 67. Worked on my day’s Italian lesson. Created interview questions for a project. Did a run to the library and the grocery store to pick up something forgotten over the weekend. Worked out a visit in a few weeks to a friend I haven’t seen since before I moved to the Cape (although we always kept in touch).

I’m having trouble with my keyboard. It’s only working on the top half of the screen. More Windows 11-HP-McAfee miscommunication, no doubt.

The dickhead postal carrier AGAIN put my box in the mail slot, where I can’t get it out because the residence side is 1” smaller than the postal slot. Seven fucking months this has gone on. So I wrote it all out in a formal letter to the postmaster. If it continues, I’ll file the complaint through the main USPS system. I was polite in the letter and asked for better training, even though I know, after seven months of conversations and notes with this guy, he’s just being a dick.

Read a script in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the analysis. I will do that today, and read another script that came up in the queue, only the file was corrupted, so I had to request a new copy. That came through, so all good.

In the early evening, I went over to Greylock Works, the converted mill, that’s a really cool space now. The Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup was there, coordinated by several groups. It was a mixed experience. Cool space. But indoors, and not everyone was masking (I, of course, did). With food and drink, even those masking had to remove them sometimes. More people in the space than I was comfortable with, although the fans and ventilation system was strong.

Some very cool people. I met an older artist who calls works in “oversized political origami” and married to a guy who was a Madison Avenue adman in 1960’s NYC. I met a filmmaker/sculptor/teacher. I met a guy who moved up here from DC with his poet boyfriend (I told him about the World’s Largest Poem). And, in passing, a bunch of other people. One chick announced, “Oh, my husband just tested positive for COVID. Maybe I should wear a mask?” and started giggling. No, hon, you should LEAVE.

Everyone near by stepped back, and those who weren’t masking scrambled to put theirs on. Fortunately, she was way more than 6 feet away (more like 12 or 16, but hey, airborne). I stayed away.

The new director of MASSMoCA, Kristy Edmunds, was the guest speaker, sharing her views on sustainable creative practice, and her vision to help artists shape and live sustainably creative lives (in other words, paid for their work and supported). She takes the time to get to know people in the community as individuals, not just the big donors. That makes a huge difference. She was really interested in talking to us, and in continued conversation. Several other organizations/agencies distributed information and resources. There’s a lot to tap into, and a lot of sharing of resources going on.

I left soon after the talk and those conversations. I would have liked to stay and listen to the music, but too many people indoors and, I’m not yet comfortable with that. As it is, I’m going to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 10 days, watching for symptoms. But, as the friend who worked on the vaccine pointed out, I’m probably exposed to just as much virus every time I got into the grocery store. I need to keep masking, remain cautious, and let the vaccines do their job.

I was masked. Let’s hope this wasn’t a miscalculation. I’ll know soon enough, right? When I came home, I went through the old, pre-vaccine decontamination protocols, just in case.

I didn’t get much sleep, thanks to Charlotte and Tessa hurling furballs all night. The cats have shed their summer coats already, and are growing in thick winter coats. The squirrels are putting things away for winter (destroying a lot of the plants on the balcony). It bodes for a tough winter.

Up early this morning (because it’s hard to sleep through hurling furballs). Off to the laundromat. Worked on the multi-colored draft of The Big Project. I’d like to work on revisions for the one acts, but I have to get the Big Project where it needs to be, so the announcement can go out next week, and the marketing push can begin. I will also follow up on the cards/postcards/contacts I collected yesterday.

I may, however, need to take a nap somewhere in there. The cats, of course, are all fast asleep.

I have some bills to drop in the box at the bottom of the road, but I’m going to spend the morning on Topic Workbooks and The Big Project, and the afternoon on script coverage. This evening, I will start reading the next book for review.

That’s the catch up. Hope you’re having a great week.

Tues. June 7, 2022: When You Break The Important Bowl

image courtesy of Chuttersnap via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Partly sunny and warm

Talk about a weekend that was all over the place.

Mercury went direct on Friday, thank goodness, so there was a huge burden lifted. Don’t talk to me about the shadows of the retrograde; we’d spend far too much time in trouble if we had to tack on two extra weeks at each end of already too many Mercury Retrogrades every year.

But, of course, as Mercury turned directed, Saturn (the planet of life lessons) prepared to turn retrograde on Saturday, and they squared. Which caused tension.

Did a library run to drop off/pick up books, and then out to Wild Oats for eggs, guacamole, wine. You know, the basics. Turned around two scripts.

Read a book from an author whose work I’ve read a great deal of, over a great many years. Wasn’t that thrilled with this one. It was within her formula, but missing the sparky quality that usually sets it apart in the genre. It felt like she dampened it down to please a more conservative audience, and it didn’t quite work.

Up early Saturday morning, fussing over the plants. First thing, when they opened, I went to the Farmers’ Market, which is now in the outdoor location, and weekly through October. Got some great stuff, enjoyed talking with the vendors and the other shoppers. One woman starts at the Williamstown market, then hits North Adams, and keeps going. Saturday is her Farmers’ Market day.

Since I was out in that direction, I hopped into Big Y and filled in the other groceries I needed for the week’s meals, built around what I got at the Farmers’ Market.

Good thing I’d decided to drive.

Hauled everything home and upstairs, and put it away. Made a big salad for lunch.

Turned around two more scripts in the afternoon, and played with the next Monthology section. Had to deal with an issue with the storage facility on Cape.  They tried to put through the autopay early and whined that it was refused. Yup. That is correct. I put in a safeguard so it can’t be pulled early. The new owners suck, and I need to make arrangements to get things moved up here as soon as I can afford it (and find a storage facility not too far away. They are not plentiful here).

Read REAL MEN KNIT by Kwana Jackson, which is delightful. THE ENCHANTED MAP ORACLE arrived, which I like, although it’s very different than I expected, when I ordered it.

Dinner was salmon with softened onion, tomato, and red pepper aioli on romaine, with buttered steamed spinach. It was good.

There was an extra Zoom meditation session this week with Be Well Be Here, and I practiced with the group. Definitely helped me sleep.

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.  Breakfast consisted of delicious blueberry muffins from Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery. But we also were out of the house early to visit Natural Bridge State Park, which is only a couple of miles away (and in the same town). The park entrance is right next to a mill where I’d attended a chamber event a few months back.

It’s absolutely beautiful. I posted some of the photos on my Instagram feed. It used to be a marble quarry. I hadn’t realized we had marble quarries here in New England, and I don’t even think I’ve ever seen marble out in the wild. Pretty stunning. The dam and the waterfalls are lovely.

The bridge itself is shut off right now, awaiting inspections. I assume there are safety issues. We’ll go back another day, when it’s all opened back up. A conspiracy of ravens was in one of the large trees on the cliff. They didn’t mind when we walked past first (as the only humans around), but when some others arrived, they were carrying on like they were having a group nervous breakdown. I guess they’ve learned humans are bad.

They were definitely ravens and not crows; much bigger than my local murder of crows, and the call is different.

Read Fiona Leitch’s MURDER ON THE MENU, the first book in her Nosey Parker series set in Cornwall. Although it’s set in a fictional town, there were also lots of familiar touchstones from places I’ve visited. The writing is great, the characters are fun, the plot is good. I wanted to read more in the series. Turns out, although it was only released last year, the whole series undergone a rebrand. This book is now THE CORNISH VILLAGE MURDER and all the covers are redone. The whole series has new titles and new covers to play up the Cornish village aspect. I wound up buying the whole series for Kindle, and pre-ordering the 5th one that will come out in August.

I’m noticing how the traditional authors are being pushed to release multiple books a year, often several in the same series within just a few months of each other. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re being paid less to work harder. Even before I got sick, that was one of the things that was killing me with my small publisher – being pushed too hard to write too much too fast for too little money. Pay writers enough and let them keep a sane schedule.

The publishing industry needs to make a lot of changes in order to be sustainable. Part of that is getting the corporate overseers out, and having a renaissance of smaller publishers with actual vision, who also have enough resources to pay their writers, editors, production people, artists enough on which to survive.

Started reading Jennifer Weiner’s THE SUMMER PLACE, which is a different style than many of her other books I’ve read before. Good for her, not sticking to formula, but writing what interests her.

The big drama for Sunday was a fire across the street, in the historical building that houses student apartments. There was a kitchen fire in a supposedly empty apartment. A couple of guys showed up and tossed burning things onto the pavement and poured water on it, and didn’t want the fire department to show up. But someone called them, because two cars of cops, and EMT, and two fire trucks showed up. The firemen were not amused by the way the guys packed smoldering materials in garbage bags and just poured water on them. Everything had to be undone and checked to make sure it didn’t catch again, thank goodness. And the fire department went in and brought out the blackened stove and several rods’ of burnt curtains. How did it even start? The apartment’s been empty since late May.

The building itself has Historic Preservation status, having been built in 1899, and it’s gorgeous. But this is the third time since we’ve lived across the street that the Fire Department has had to visit.

Dinner was chicken with honey barbecue sauce, in the crockpot, and potato salad.

The cats got me up before 5 on Monday morning. I was not amused. All three of them ganged up on me. At least there were lemon muffins from the Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery to which to look forward!

Slogged through a bunch of email, blogged, did the rounds, wrote a little over 1K on The Big Project, worked on a social media ad, worked on a blurb and log line for a project. Turned around only one script, not two, which means I have three to turn around tomorrow, because I can’t turn any around today.

Broke a beautiful vintage bowl from the 1950’s, the one I use to let the bread rise. I’m furious with myself, and have no sympathy for the fact that my hands are banged up. “Oh, it’s an accident, these things happen” doesn’t cut it. It was my responsibility to take special care of that bowl. And I failed, after making sure it was safe for decades. Which is unacceptable. I’m going to try to piece it together again; I think I’ve retrieved all the pieces.

Today will be challenging, and there’s no use talking about it ahead of time, so we’ll catch up tomorrow. Spare a good thought my way if you can, and we’ll catch up soon.

Thurs. May 19, 2022: Decent Day, Creatively

image courtesy of Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and cool

The latest on the garden is over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday turned out to be a strong day, creatively. I wrote a flash fiction piece while I ate breakfast (which I don’t usually do, but I didn’t want to lose the idea). Yes, it was in longhand.

It has characters with whom I might do more. I’m kind of test driving these characters, and will probably post the piece on my Ko-fi page in a few weeks, after it’s gone through some revisions.

I was out the door by 7:30 and over to the mechanic’s on time. They had the part, and got it into the car within twenty minutes or so. The car feels like itself again. Fingers crossed the car is really fixed this time, and nothing else goes wrong.

On the way home, I stopped at Wild Oats, the co-op where I’m a member-owner. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go there since December. Stocked up on some of my favorites. Stopped at Stop & Shop, where I rarely shop anymore, for a few things I can only get there. In both stores, everyone was masked by choice, which made shopping much less stressful.

Got everything home and put away. Went through emails. Did the last four chapters’ worth of revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, finishing this draft. It came in just over 63K, which is around where I want it. I’m going to let it sit for a bit, and next week, start the multi-colored draft.

I contacted the Williamstown Historical Museum about a research appointment that will feed into the Retro Mystery. I’d like to go in this Friday morning. Fingers crossed that I can. I caught up on Ello and am getting more comfortable on Counter Social, where I’m having actual conversations.

I have contradictory information about the guidelines for one of the proposals I want to submit, and I need clarification, because if one set of information is correct, it’s not the right fit for me, and I will move on. I’m debating the other proposal, because it has to be in-person indoors in the autumn, and who knows what the virus numbers will be like?

And now we have to worry about monkeypox? Really? Committing to being a professional recluse looks better and better.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage, and then went back to reading THE BONE ORCHARD, which was hard to put down, because it’s so unique and interesting. Read it until I was finished, and was still thinking about it when I woke up.

Tessa rousted me around 5:30, as usual, although she’d been fussing a good deal before that.

Did my first writing session, and my normal routine. Willa seems to have settled down a bit, although she’s still being cautious.

I have meditation this morning, and then it’s back to the page. The Big Project, work on the radio plays, maybe looking at the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to get that back on track. I have a script to turn around this afternoon, and a book to read for review. If I get enough scripts in my queue, I’ll read through the weekend, since I want to take some time off for Memorial Day Weekend.

It’s supposed to get into the 90’s this weekend, which I am not looking forward to, but be cooler and pleasanter next week.

Fingers crossed that the car is Really Fixed this time. That will take a lot of stress out of my life.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Thurs. Oct. 28, 2021: Preparing

image courtesy of Monstera via pexels.com

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Partly sunny/partly cloudy and chilly

For some reason, yesterday feels like a really long time ago. Post on Gratitude and Growth about the seasonal changes.

I got a script coverage written and out, then ran over to Wild Oats to do my shopping there. Bought more than I planned, of course. Today, I hit up the other grocery stores for the rest of the items on my list for the weekend company.

On the way back, I stopped at a local thrift shop, hoping something I’d liked but hadn’t bought in the moment was still there. It wasn’t, of course, but I bought a lovely candlebra with crystals hanging from it. I have to get tapers, but it’s just perfect.

Came back, finished getting the lights strung on the stairwell. It looks really pretty. Got the hooks up over the kitchen windows, and hung the pumpkin lights, which is also festive. Had to wrestle with the tops of some windows, which slid down, so cold air was coming in the top. I’ll have to keep an eye on that over winter. Did some more tidying up. There’s still a bunch of unpacking to do, but the sewing room is a pleasant guest room, the living room and kitchen look good. There are still boxes stacked in the sewing room, but not interfering with a good night’s rest. Most of the boxes to unpack are still stacked in my office.

Got out two more script coverages (one was long and complicated). It was about 9 PM before I was done. I have one more to do today, and I’m finished for the week.

Started reading Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen series, which is energetic and a lot of fun.

Two of my errant packages arrived: WINTERSWEET, a truly wonderful cookbook, from which I will get great joy cooking in the coming months and years; and a small, book-shaped pendant I ordered from an artisan as part of the talisman necklace I’m putting together.

Dinner was put together from leftovers. Trying to clean out the fridge, so that there’s room for what I’m making for the weekend.

Tessa let me sleep until 6 this morning. On the one hand, great; on the other hand, it puts me behind in all I need to do.

Meditation group this morning. Then, it’s off to the grocery stores. Back to write up script coverage. I have a few things to prepare for the weekend today (a dip, black bean hummus, baking a cake), and then it’s cleaning time.

My friend arrives tomorrow afternoon, so there will be a few things to prepare in the morning, and then I’m going to drive up to Bennington to meet her bus.

I’m looking forward to a weekend of fun, and then diving in to start writing CAST IRON MURDER on Monday. I feel ready for it.