Tuesday, May 31, 2011


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — 6 days to release from Champagne Books!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

The Bruins are going to the Stanley Cup Final. The irises are starting to bloom. I have a book to finish and articles to write. It’s feeling like home.

I took the whole weekend off from work (except for wrapping up the Millennium Trilogy workshop). I actually had a holiday weekend. It felt good! It’s the first time I’ve done that in years.

Granted, I did a lot around the house. I did about eight loads of laundry, as I continue to unpack boxes. I switched the slipcovers from winter covers to summer ones. I unpacked more kitchen boxes, yarn boxes, etc., and I’m slowly sorting through stuff and figuring out where I want it to live, so I’m not rearranging it fifty times. I’m setting up the boxes for the flannel sheets and other winter stuff, so, as it’s clean, I can pack it and stack it where it needs to go, and I can actually get at it in the fall.

I worked in the garden — a lot. Kept deadheading the rhodies — can’t keep up with them. Finished digging out the vegetable bed (I’m out of buckets again). Put in the vegetables. Now I have my fingers crossed they survive and thrive! Fought the anthills that are all over the front lawn — the owner is going to have to call in a professional. Painted the small bookcase I got for free, and almost finished painting the bookcase that will go in my bedroom (once I’m sure it’s really, REALLY dry).

Did a lot of yoga, did a lot of meditation. Played with the cats.

Picked up the metal plant stand a few towns down the Cape. It was definitely worth the trip. Looks great on the deck. The sellers turned out to be nice; eccentric, but nice. But then, pretty much everyone who lives year-round on the Cape is a bit eccentric, in the right way. Drove to a farm one town over and picked up a sage green velvet-covered ottoman for $10. Violet has claimed it.

Washed the pollen off the patio furniture. If anyone told me I’d have to dust the deck, I’d have thought they were nuts!

Did some party planning.

Sorted out the details for my trip to the Vineyard later this week. It’s been a long time since I was on a boat. I hope I don’t get sea-sick on the ferry. I have those bracelet things just in case.

The traffic is awful. I’m sure it will be like this all summer. You can tell the off-Capers are here, because they drive the expensive cars and treat everyone like crap. Since I’m not in the service industry, I can be rude right back! 😉

Mowed the meadow. The lawn mower and I negotiated a deal. For every 20 minutes or one full bag of grass clippings, whichever comes first, we have a 20 minute cool-down. It seems fair, and, frankly, after 20 minutes, I’m ready for a break. Granted, a new mower shouldn’t be getting that hot in just 20 minutes. But, if during that 20 minutes, I stop the mower for any reason, I have to wait 20 minutes before it will start again. I can live with it for the next couple of years, providing it keeps up its end of the bargain. When I buy a place, I’ll see what kind of mower I need, and then buy a new one of a different brand. Anyway, it took several hours to mow the meadow, but it looks great, and I have many bags of grass clippings to take to the dump. The slope was difficult to negotiate with the mower — it looks like it rolls gently when you stare at it, but it’s quite a different story when you’re mowing it!

Changed all the beds (well, I do every week, but there’s something very satisfying about clean sheets). Vacuumed thoroughly. With the central vac, a quick vacuum of the whole house takes about 90 minutes, and a more diligent one a little over 2 hours, including using the attachments on the windows — which, now that they’re open most of the time, the sills need attention. Pollen everywhere. I give thanks every day that I don’t suffer those types of allergies.

I’ve been using herbs freshly cut from the garden in my cooking. It makes a big difference. It smells good, it tastes good, and there’s a wonderful satisfaction from knowing it came from my own little patch of earth.

Read a lot. I finished CE Murphy’s NEGOTIATOR series. I read THE RED LEATHER DIARY, a fascinating non-fiction book written by a woman who found a diary in the dumpster of her building and tracked down the owner, who lived quite a fabulous life in the NY of the early twentieth century. It’s as much a social history as anything else. Read Jim Butcher’s first Dresden Files book — STORM FRONT. I liked it. There was one section that felt forced to me, but I see why it was necessary for plot purposes. Caught up on magazines that have been stacking up.

I have two weeks off from teaching, so now I can focus on my own writing, get out some proposals, do a few articles, get out some more PR for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, get the newsletter out, etc. I sent out several requests for interviews in connection with the book.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions to read my May Wrap-Up. I talk about trying to deal with career changes in a positive, rather than a negative way.

I’m excited to dive back into THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I’ve discovered that, in order to get the watering and weeding done properly in the garden, I’ll have to get up an hour earlier and do that before my first 1K of the day. However, I use the time as a combination of garden appreciation (be here now and appreciate it) and plotting what I’ll write next.

Carlos the Woodpecker is very busy. I don’t know why I call him Carlos — he seems like a Carlos. I hear him, and say, “Hey, Carlos, watcha doin’?”

He flies to a nearby branch and stares at me for a few minutes, and then gets back to his task. It’s become part of our morning and evening ritual. Woodpeckers are funny.

To the page. I’ve got to get grass clippings & recycling to the dump, pick up some stuff from the store, try to deadhead some more rhodies and yes, mow the front lawn. Dang, that grass grows fast! 😉

Devon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday, I learned it takes a really long time to deadhead a rhododendron bush. I worked solidly for two hours, and got about 1/6th of it done. And I have several on the property. It’s not difficult, but it’s precise, because you have to snap off the faded flower at a specific point without disturbing new growth. And I took the advice to wear surgical gloves while working, because the faded flowers are sticky. Which is good, because it means we had happy bees, and, considering the problems in the bee population, I’ll take as many happy bees as chose to visit!

I finally came in because it started drizzling, which meant I couldn’t mow.

I handled the class, some of the students put in a request that I teach a class on Donna Leon’s work, which I’d like to do, but there’s no way I can do it before next year. I’m too booked.

I tried to get the garden soil I need, and was stuck for 35 minutes in non-moving traffic. For whatever reason, the police weren’t handling the traffic around the construction that was supposed to be done yesterday, so the construction vehicles simply sat whereever they wished in the road, not leaving room for traffic to go around them, not having anyone direct traffic, and not putting up signs for a detour. It was a big “Fuck You All” to all the people who’ve had to put up with them since the last snowstorm, and not acceptable. I turned up a side street (glad I did some exploring these last few months) and found my way home. Not acceptable.

I took care of some invoicing and reading. I checked my calendar, thank goodness, because the meeting I thought started at 7:30 ENDED at 7:30 and started at 5:30. So I rushed around, scrambling to get ready, and hit the road on time. The traffic to Buzzards Bay was awful, but I still managed to get there on time (which is why I left so early).

The meeting was the Annual Board Meeting for the National Marine Life Center, an organization which I supported even before I moved to the area. Two of the tanks that can hold turtles and small seals are ready, with a third one close. They’ve got the laundry and food prep facilities ready. They’re waiting their NOAA certification to open the section of the hospital that’s done, and, slowly, are raising money for more tanks, and a section that will have pools big enough for larger seals, dolphins, and even pilot whales. They’ve come a long way since the brunch in December. Met some really nice people, and now, that I’m feeling more settled, I want to get more involved.

I wound up on the committee for the Mermaid Ball this August, which is fine, because I’ve been working on galas for how many years now? Between the one in Saratoga and the awards show I put on for the foundation I worked on in New York. Our first meeting is next week. I made it very clear that dealing with the public is not my thing, but writing for the event, stuffing envelopes, doing physical work is much more along my line, and that’s fine. Unlike some other events, whose attitude is, “Just suck it up” — um, no. I’m a VOLUNTEER. I will lend my strengths, not do that which makes me uncomfortable. The chair of this event is fine with that, and appreciates that I’m honest up-front, so I think this will work out.

It’s a costume ball, and, since I worked in wardrobe, I feel the pressure! 😉 I also have to be able to move and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with, so it can’t be anything too elaborate or restrictive.

Costume Imp’s already working on it! 😉

Up early this morning. Tried to prune the lilac, but it started raining. I’m supposed to pick up a metal plant stand early this morning over in Yarmouth. Chickie refused to give me her address — told me to “call when you leave”. Honey, if you’re pretending to protect your address, don’t give me a phone number I can trace. I do not like being jerked around. I’m tempted to call the whole thing off, but really, it’s not that big a deal. I am going to make it very clear when I call that I already HAVE the address.

Will make another attempt to get to the garden center and pick up my soil — via a different route — once I’ve gotten the plant stand. Then, I am not going ANYWHERE during this crazy traffic weekend. Let it all flow around me. I’m going to write and enjoy my garden!

Have a great holiday weekend, all!

Devon

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 7:06 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Lady’s Mantle in a vase

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday was just flat out busy. I’m grateful for it, but looking forward to August! 😉 Not that I want to wish my life away or anything.

Got my work out for Confidential Job #1. Got my welcome and first lecture up in the new workshop. And, of course, students are already making excuses as to why they hadn’t read the material. Um, the course description has been up for several months now. One student even stated that nothing in course description mentioned needing to read the books ahead of time.

Of course, the description says this:
“Participants must read the entire trilogy BEFORE the class, since we are not discussing the books chronologically.”

How can that be interpreted as anything except “Read the damn books before we start”?

Whatever. I’m putting up the information. They’ve paid to be there. They’ll either respond or not, and I better not hear one word about spoilers! 😉

Actually had a decent day’s work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. And I had a good start this morning. We’re getting there. As long as I don’t let the whole list of things overwhelm me, and do one thing at a time, I’m fine. If I actually wrote a daily list, I’d cry and never get anything done.

Today is another busy day. I’ve got to get everything done before 11 AM, because I’ve got other stuff booked all afternoon into the evening.

Finished HOUSE OF CARDS last night. What I’m missing in this trilogy is the sense of emotional geography of New York City. CE Murphy did her research, the geography is correct, but the sense of the writer having walked the streets and knowing the city and having an emotional response to it (positive, negative, or mixed) is missing, and that leaves a gap in the series for me. It’s not that anything’s wrong, it’s just a lot of it is vague, and New York is a very changeable city with specifics. Those specifics create distinct responses in the people who experience them, even if they rush past them every day. I’m sure I’m more sensitive to this right now because I just taught a workshop on setting, but I’m really noticing it. Also, because I know New York City so intimately, from having lived there for many years, and I have strong emotional responses to a lot of places in the city, some positive, some negative. The Walker Papers series has a much stronger sense of emotional geography (and I have no idea if Murphy spent time there or it was again research), but, more importantly, I get a sense of how Joanne feels about her area, and I never get that from Margrit. I miss it.

Okay, I have a lot to get done this morning, and the clock is ticking, so off I go.

I wish there was more I could do to help those in Joplin and the area that was hit so hard. Donations from a distance seem so remote, somehow.

Devon

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 6:33 am  Comments (6)  
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The close-up of the heather is for you, Lara!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Tried to catch up on things yesterday — three loads of laundry, getting things straightened up, going through mail, getting stuff sorted with the publisher.

My new, pushed-up release date for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT is June 6. Gulp! So I’ve got a lot of promo work to do in the coming weeks. It’s coming out digitally first, with the possibility (if it does well) of a print run 3 or 4 months later. I’ve also been chosen for the publisher’s Author Spotlight for June, so I have to get all that info out today.

According to the calendar, yesterday was a planting day, so I got some repotting done (thing are growing fast) and started two kinds of tomatoes, the echinacea, the yarrow, the soapwort, and the Love-in-a-Mist. I’m looking forward to getting some work done outside towards the end of the week, when it’s supposed to stop raining. It stopped for about ten minutes yesterday afternoon, and people were out mowing their lawns! I thought the grass had to be DRY — my manual is very clear about that.

Not enough writing or reading done yesterday, so I have to make up for that today. Got HEART OF STONE finished, and really liked it, so I’m looking forward to the next one, hOUSE OF CARDS. However, I have 2 1/2 books I have to read before I can start that, all within the next few days.

Caught up with my class. There’s been a lot of good work this month, and I’m glad.

I’ve got to prep for the Preakness this weekend, too. I’m doing a little bit of prep, not much.

I unpacked three more kitchen boxes from the garage, and found some wonderful stuff I forgot I had. Lots of washing and drying and oohing and aaahing. Now, to figure out where to put it!

Not sure where to start with the work today, so I’m just going to pick one thing and get going. There’s a lot of hiring going on in the area, not just the Cape, but in Boston — nearly 6000 jobs in health care alone. And all sorts of other jobs, too. I’ve got to get my proposals finished and out the door, and the brochures redone, too. Strike while the iron is hot, right? There’s a lot of work. I may push a little harder for the next few months so that I really can sit back in August with a clear conscience. Several people are mad at me for taking the month off. “Why can’t you just do X for me?” “Because I’m not available.” “But you can make the time.” “No, I can’t.” I’m tired of going for years without a real vacation because other people are disorganized. Part of this Saturn return lesson — taking a reasonable amount of time off to recharge every year!

Of course, August seems VERY far away right now! 😉

Devon

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Scheduled to Post

I spent most of the day finishing the galleys for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Technically, I’m done, and I only found four little tiny things. I’m terrified to hit the final “send” in case I missed something, so I might go over it one more time.

Spent time on the workshop.

I should have worked in the yard, since it wasn’t raining. My neighbors were all in their yards, and I’m feeling guilty, as you can read in my Gratitude and Growth post, Falling Behind.

But my deadline had to come first.

I’ve scheduled this to post, since I’m out the door early to help plant a butterfly garden at a local wildlife sanctuary this morning. I hope, this afternoon, to mow (my first time using a power lawnmower) and get some stuff done in the yard.

I’ve made a good start on the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, so I’m hoping to finish that and get it off by Monday morning. Next week will be packed full of work and gardening and writing and last minute errands for things that must be done before I head for my site job in CT.

It better not rain!!! 😉

To the wildlife sanctuary, then to the page, then to the yard.

Devon

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny, wet, and cool

Had a good 3K day on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY yesterday, which certainly lifted my spirits. Unfortunately, didn’t finish the galleys of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so that will be today’s focus.

Ran a couple of errands, picked up a few things for Beltane. It rained all day, thunderstorms at night, and quite a bit of wind, so there wasn’t much I could do outside. There are more dandelions all over the place — of course! 😉

The huckleberry bush arrived — it’s tiny! But adorable. It was a little traumatized from the trip, but seems to be settling in.

Caught up on the workshop — a group of students even posted early.

Got up early to watch the Royal Wedding — in real time. No way was I going to have to watch the three same clips everyone’s going to run for the next two weeks. And I wasn’t going to record it to watch later. Either I watch it or I don’t. Events have more meaning when experienced in real time. I watched Prince Charles & Princess Diana get married, so I figured, why not witness another piece of history? Even if I hadn’t set my alarm for 3:15, I would have been up that early, because Violet hurled up three fur balls and was completely shocked.

Scheduled the wake up so I had time for my yoga and meditation — I kind of understand why so many people get up that early to do two hours of yoga and meditation. It’s lovely and quiet. Even the birds are asleep. Fed the cats, made the coffee, even got some writing done before putting on the television.

Watched the coverage on BBC America, because the three US Networks had coverage that was tacky and tasteless, on par with reality shows. No surprise there. BBC was commercial-free, and had historians to put traditions in context, etc. I thought the whole thing was lovely, well done, and beautifully orchestrated. I hope a happy day gives them a happy start to a good life together.

And now, I’ve had enough of it all. I can always turn the channel when they regurgitate bits and get snarky.

Errands today, and I have to focus on the galleys of the book above anything else. I’ll probably take a nap, and maybe do some yard work. SPIRIT REPOSITORY will be put aside for a day or two, until ASSUMPTION is complete, and I’ve committed to work tomorrow morning at one of the wildlife sanctuaries.

At some point, I need to mow the lawn this weekend, because it will soon look like a hayfield.

I have a feeling, though, that I’ll work a nap in there!

Right now, though, I have to post the next exercise on the workshop, go back to the page, and then comment on exercises during the block I’ve set aside this afternoon.

Devon

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and raw

Had a good day’s work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, finally. What a relief! I think I’m figuring out the book’s themes. I often have the basics of the plot down when I start (whether I write them out or not), but the theme or themes only emerge as I write the book.

Working slowly on the final galleys of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, because I’m so afraid I’ll miss something. I printed out the whole document, because it’s easier for me to accurately read it on the page than on the screen. My eyes don’t get tired as quickly.

It cleared up enough for me to spend a couple of hours in the yard in the afternoon. I pulled up all the dandelions. Now, I’m fond of dandelions, and if I knew how the lawn was treated in the past, I’d use them in my stillroom. But I don’t, so I don’t dare risk it. And dandelions are difficult on the lawn, especially if they get all puffy and go into other people’s lawns. So I removed them. I raked out another section of the back bed. From the ground, it looked and felt as though I hadn’t made any progress (although I filled two 30 gallon bags). But from the upstairs windows, one can see the progress.

The new lilac bush arrived, totally surprising me (I expected it about Saturday). It’s settled and budding. I’ll have to get it a nice pot, but it came in a tub, so it’s fine for the moment.

Caught up with my students in the workshop. They’re starting off on time and staying on top of the assignments and no whining, so that’s a good sign. Towards the end of the second week, in a month-long class, there’s usually a bit of a lag, but when they start strong, it’s not as much of an issue than if they’ve been behind from Day One.

Most evenings/nights at this point are spent studying — botany texts, gardening books, herbals, latin texts, etc. Better than TV most nights, that’s for sure. I’m unearthing (no pun intended) a lot of the books I bought over the years with an eye to having a garden “someday”. Well, someday is here. And there’s a lot of information in my older Craft books, books that had a lot of influence on me fifteen or so years ago, and now I can re-read them with a new appreciation based on the experiences in the interim. So that’s good.

Confidential Job #1 sent me my new assignment — that was fast! It looks interesting. Once I get the final galleys of ASSUMPTION done and back to the publisher, I’ve got two other manuscripts I’d like to run an eye over and get out the door before I leave for CT next week. I’m hoping to get the CJ1 assignment turned around this weekend, and have the next assignment ready to take with me on the site gig.

Today is about writing, editing galleys, and taking my mom to the doctor in the afternoon. And getting coffee — I ran out and got into my emergency stash, which isn’t very good. But it’s better than being coffee-less!

Back to the page.

Devon

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy, cool, foggy

Is anyone else as heartily sick of all the fuss about the Royal Wedding as I am? Let them enjoy their day, for crying out loud! The way the media keeps trying to ruin it for them is despicable.

3 loads of laundry yesterday.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read about the latest goings on in the garden.

I’m struggling with THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and I don’t know why. So I’m just pushing through. There’s a deadline to be met. Just keep going, that’s all I can do, and remember that every word I wind up with at the end of the writing day is more than I started with.

Didn’t get enough work done on the final copyedits for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, either. Must do better on both today.

The workshop is off to a good start, though, which is a relief.

I find I need to take breaks between unpacking. Some of these boxes have been in storage since 2001. I haven’t seen the items inside for ten years. Some of them can be thrown out or given away; some need to be integrated into my life. Everything has a memory and a story attached, and I have to spend time with each story and see if it’s a part of my past, a part of my present, or relevant to my future. It’s a very strange process.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 7:08 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy, foggy, cool

Decent day’s work on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Not an easy one, but at least I got more than the basic 1K done. I need to really up my game the next few weeks in order to get the draft in decent shape by its deadline. This is what I get for not creating a solid outline when it was hot in the brain. I remember the beginning, the end, the point, and the primary relationship, but lost the rest of it because I didn’t write it down. And now, that I have to go back to it on deadline, it’s nearly like starting from scratch. My own damn fault. I know better. So now I have to re-figure it all out and make it work in a timely manner.

And then I found this quote from Madeleine L’Engle, in A CIRCLE OF QUIET:
“Inspiration does not always precede the act of writing; it often follows it.” (p.162)
So true!

Read the second Crosswicks journal, THE SUMMER OF THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Payment all sorted out, and problems resolved. Very glad to move on.

Had to get out a partial I wasn’t expecting to have to get out, so that took some time. All the bits were there, I just had to personalize the cover letter and print everything, so it wasn’t a Big Huge Deal, and I should be glad I had to get a partial out, right? 😉

Spent a good chunk of the afternoon up in the storeroom, sorting out the many boxes of books. I got most of the series juvenile fiction shelved (Nancy Drew, Penny Parker, Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton, Vicki Barr, Beverly Gray, Kay Tracy, Dorothy Dixon, the Dana Girls, Sue Barton, Cherry Ames, etc.) I even have a few shelves on which to put other books, and i have to figure out which ones should go there. But I’ve still got about 40 unpacked boxes of books up there with no idea where to put them, and close to 100 in the basement.

Yeah. I need more bookcases.

Gave some advice to a friend, found a request for a blog post and wondering where my contribution was to an anthology. Since this was the first I’d heard of it, it’s not yet written. I’m waiting to hear back on the deadline, to see if I can possibly whip something worthwhile out. The blog post I’d written and sent them over a year ago, so I’m not sure if they’re using it again, or just getting around to it.

The copyedits/galleys have come through for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so I start those this morning. I’ve got ten days to turn them around, but I’m hoping, even working slowly with “copyeditor eye” instead of “writer eye”, that I can get them done by the weekend.

Today’s a deadline for the first assignment in the workshop, so I’ll spend some time with the students.

And I thought this would be a quiet week! 😉

But I would rather have all this good chaos going on than any other kind.

Last night was the first night I didn’t need the hot water bottle along with the big pile of blankets. I’m hoping I can slowly use fewer and fewer blankets, and soon switch from the flannel sheets to simple cotton ones. My neighbor’s tulips have bloomed, and are lovely. And the squirrel dashes over every morning, grabs his two lettuce leaves, and scrambles back up the tree. Too funny!

Devon

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 5:53 am  Comments (4)  
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool
Boston Marathon
Patriots Day

I got my second round of revisions done and off to my editor on Saturday morning, along with the front matter. She’s going over it again early this week, and then, it’s off to the copy editor! From there, I await the final galleys — shiver, shiver! Whenever I hit the “send” on final galleys, I always want to throw up, because I’m sure I’ve missed something Really Important.

Did a library run, some errands, etc. The box of irises arrived from White Flower Farm (Wednesday’s Gratitude and Growth will have more on that).

Wound up the workshop. Two weeks of shouting into the abyss complete. I have to accept my portion of the responsibility in what didn’t work. Hopefully, I learned from my mistakes this time around and can apply it moving forward. I was the wrong teacher and it was the wrong format for this particular group. It happens. Fortunately, I am the right teacher in the right environment for a lot of people. I know I should focus on that, but it always takes awhile to get over something like this. Holding onto the anger, frustration, and disappointment doesn’t do anyone any good, and it goes beyond just a simple “oh, it’s Mercury Retrograde.” Let’s face it, if you can’t commit to two weeks of making writing a priority, how are you going to have a career?

The bulk of my teaching experiences are positive, but a trusted friend is right — I need to adjust certain things, especially the amount of time I put in as equated with the money. If these classes were being taught in person, they would be $425 and up. Online, they are considerably less, but I’m putting in the same, or even more time and energy, than I would in person. For instance, this last class took between four and six hours per day, plus the additional admin work the formatting problems brought up and trying to keep track of who still had material due. So I spent more than 84 hours on this class. I’m not being paid even a fraction of my hourly rate when you break it down like that. Turning around 15K or more in exercises with relevant comments takes time, and I’d even cut the word count on most of the exercises. Usually, classes take two hours or a little over per day, which is reasonable. I look at classes taught by some of the others, where material is posted (sometimes the entire course is posted the first day) and there’s only about 20 minutes of interaction a day. As a student in a class like that, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. I want my students to walk away from my classes with a short story that’s close to submission ready or a chunk of a novel that is in good shape. I want them to have something tangible they honed in class AND a set of skills they can apply to most of their writing moving forward. All of our time is valuable, and when students are willing to put in the time to hone the work, they leave the class with a feeling of accomplishment and more confidence, along with a piece of actual, almost submission-ready work. Students who do not put in the time or make excuses or ignore the notes do not. I want the students who do the work to have the best and most complete experience possible, while not getting drained by the small percentage one winds up with in class who suck the life out of everyone. I don’t want the students to have less of an experience because of the time factor on my part. There’s an imbalance there, and it’s up to me to address it and get back in balance in a way that’s positive for both myself and my students.

I enjoy teaching, especially when my students go on and publish and succeed, but I need to re-think where and how I accept bookings, factor in price more than I have, and, where appropriate (such as for advanced classes), institute an application process. Also, after the current teaching commitments expire at the end of Summer 2012, I may take a break and not teach for awhile.

Read the manuscript I promised my friend I’d read, and sent back comments. Enjoyed it very, very much, and was honored to be a Trusted Reader. Had to catch up with my Senators and my Rep, who actually represented my interests in a recent Congressional vote. Wanted to thank them and brainstorm a few more ideas. Before 9 AM on Saturday, 15 minutes after I’d sent off the email, one of the offices got back to me, wanting the proposal, so had to work on that.

Dealt with someone trying to stir shit to both get attention and cause trouble. I have a very low tolerance for the self-involved and manipulative. I just don’t have the time and patience for it.

In other words, it was a rough weekend! 😉

I have a few days before the next workshop starts, the Setting as Character one. I’m going to tweak the exercises a bit. But most of these next few days will be spent writing SPIRIT REPOSITORY, working on edits for ANGEL HUNT, and figuring out what I want to say in my new freelance brochure. The sooner I get that done and start that mailing, the sooner I pick up new clients.

My preferred clients are always small historical societies and non-profits. Again, I have to make sure I keep in balance the money and the work. A lot of these places can’t pay much, and, again, if I take them on, I have to make sure the ratios stay in balance for both sides.

I wrote a query and sent off the pitch for an article to a well-paying publication; let’s hope they pick it up. If they don’t, I have a half a dozen other pubs that pay just as well to whom I can pitch it. I may actually write some of it while the idea is still fresh. I got another idea for a different topic in the same field of interest that I will write up and pitch today to another publication in the field. And I’ve got to finish and polish the proposal package for my Senators. It’s a relationship, not a monologue for either side. That’s the only way one can effectively practice democracy. I was fortunate in New York to be represented, in both houses of Congress, by people who welcomed my ideas, listened to me, took my views under advisement, and sometimes even used my material in their legislative battles. It seems I am in a similar situation here, which is good.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts I get called in for jury duty this summer here! I get called regularly, and I’ve been put on a case every single time I’ve been called. Which is fine.

Watched GAME OF THRONES last night. I have mixed feelings about it. I adore the production design. It is gorgeous. They use Ireland and Malta to create alternate worlds in a beautiful way. The costume design is exquisite. However, I am so happy that I am not a wardrobe person on that show — continuity must be a nightmare. The crew is outstanding, because the continuity in last night’s episode was very, very good. My problem with the show is the direction (as in, the director’s work, not the way the story is headed). It. Feels. Very. Heavy. Every. Word. And. Scene. Is. Important. They’re very aware they’re Making an Epic, instead of just living the piece and letting it BE epic. That falls on the director.

The exception, and the actor who absolutely blazes through the piece with dynamics and layers is Peter Dinklage. I really like his work anyway — if I see his name in the credits, I know I can count on a complex and nuanced performance. He’s got a surprise for the audience in every scene and delivers it, and moves through the piece with an ease and a fluidity that the other actors haven’t yet mastered. Even Sean Bean’s a bit stodgy in this (and I’m a big fan of his work) — although, to be fair, that costume probably weights about forty pounds, and that’ll slow you down. Some of the camera angle choices also left me with a “what the hell are they thinking?” feeling. Other choices were gorgeous.

By the way, I’m fully expecting Sean Bean’s character to get killed off this season, since he’s already cast in the new Ashley Judd series. Although, given the size of the cast and the screen time given to each story, something might be worked out schedule-wise. I haven’t read the books, and I don’t know how closely the series plans to follow the books. If the director lets the actors stop taking everything so seriously and encourages dynamics instead of the current monotone, it could be good. Also, HBO lived up to its reputation for a particular style of sex scene, and I’m wondering if the scenes in the pilot were kept true to what was in the book or where written by a man who’s bad at writing sex scenes and that’s why they were all the same, no matter who participated, or were demanded in that position by HBO. I understand the choice not to make any of them about love or romance, but at least have a little variety, the way actual humans do! There was one scene with a hint of something else, but again — obviously written by a man in a way insulting to women. If you’re going to claim you have strong female characters, it needs to follow through in ALL aspects of their lives. Jane Espenson, whose work I adore, wrote one of this season’s upcoming episodes, and I have high hopes for it.

Of course, so far, all the reviews I’ve read so far, written by men, love it.

Mixed feelings. May watch the second episode, if it fits into my schedule. If I can find out which episode is Espenson’s ahead of time, I’ll make sure I watch that one.

Back to the page today.

And I really, really, REALLY want to spend some time in the yard today! A shrub to the left of the house has burst into deep magenta blooms. I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty!

It’s Patriots Day AND the Boston Marathon today, both of which are a really big deal here.

Devon

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Skunknett Wildlife Sanctuary

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I found the Skunknett Sanctuary, totally by accident.

I’ve been searching for it for months, and could never find it. Yesterday morning, I was on my way back from Osterville, took a turn to avoid a blocked road, and found it. Cue screeching tires and a U turn in the middle of a small road. Imagine that! Of the three near-by Audubon Sanctuaries, it’s the closest, and the wildest. And it has a holly trail, which made me very, very happy.


I love the moss down the right side of the path here.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read what I’m learning during my “Mornings on the Porch.”

I spent most of yesterday on the second round of edits. The first time through was dealing with the notes directly. Then, I went back and started reading it through more slowly, to see if I missed anything. I’ve caught a couple of inconsistencies, which I’ve fixed. I will send it off to my editor today, so she has it on her desk when she starts work on Monday.

Spent time on the workshop. Colin’s right — it’s amazing how different the dynamic is from workshop to workshop. Two of the most committed, positively dynamic groups I’ve had were in the last One Story, Many Voices class and the Unsticking Your Book class. Not only did they have a deep commitment to the work and take joy in it, they fed off each other’s energy in the best possible way. They all made each other better, which is the way it should be. I may be the leader of the expedition, but they’ll only get out as much as they put in. I set out the expectations at the top of the workshop, often in very harsh terms. Either stay and step up, or leave. I expect A LOT from the students. Having taken quite a few online workshops at this point, I know how often teachers just talk “at” students, or, when the students post work and the teacher just offers something vague. I put a LOT of individual time and effort into each student’s work, and I expect them to apply the notes moving forward. Tomorrow, I wind up this workshop. Because the moderator stated that the loop would remain open for a few extra days to give people a chance to download/print off information, several of the students stated they would just post the last few exercises “next week.” Uh, no. Tomorrow is the last day of the class. You post it today, the day it’s due, I will comment tomorrow, and then I am not commenting on any more. I am paid through TOMORROW, not through the end of next week, and I have other commitments. Some of the students are great. Some of them have such a lack of respect for my time and and a lack of commitment to the work that I find it appalling.

Finally found some pretty lace curtain panels in the stuff that’s still packed. I knew I’d accumulated all styles and textures of curtains over the years; it was just a case of finding the right ones. These are so sheer they are barely there — almost gossamer. They’ve got a delicate pattern of leaves and springs of flowers. I had four panels, a pair for each set of windows. Amazing how much just that simple addition softens the lines of the windows and perks up the room.

The moonlight coming through was amazing last night. It will be a full moon tomorrow, and it was so light, I could read by it.

Of course, it meant the cats were up running around and playing all night.

Today, I’m finishing up the edits and trying to get some work done in the yard before tonight’s rain storm. It’s still too cold to put in the pansies. In fact, Mahoney’s emailed a frost warning, suggesting people put blankets over anything that’s in the ground. Um, like fleece? Velour? Wool? Confused.

The bulbs and daffodils seemed to have survived the night without too much stress.

The house pixies are at it again. The lights in the laundry room turned on all by themselves. AGAIN. I’m meticulous about turning out lights behind me, and, when I did the laundry last week, I turned back halfway up the stairs to double check, and they were out. I was in the still room a couple of days ago,and they were out. My mom went down to get something this morning, and they were on. Maybe they think, because the hamper’s full, it’s time for me to do laundry again? 😉

Devon

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It may be April 15, but MY taxes are gone, so I don’t have to fret this weekend, as oh, so many will have to, in order to make this year’s April 18 deadline.

Went to the library, returned books, got out some more gardening books. Returned the broken planter caddy to Sandwich and swapped it out for one that works. All good, no muss, no fuss, the way it should be.

The sun peeked out, and it was nice enough to have lunch on the porch.

And then, it was time to put the Adirondack chairs together. Only the stop nuts weren’t the right size and wouldn’t thread properly, even with a wrench. I went to the hardware store, and they didn’t have any hex nuts or stop nuts the right size, and only three wing nuts that fit. I took the 3, then went to another store where they sold me what they thought were the right size, but they weren’t. Turns out the hardware that comes with the chairs is in METRIC, not English, which means there’s a hair’s breadth difference. They found me 3 more wing nuts and some hex nuts that fit. So, 15 dollars and 2 hardware stores and 2 1/2 hours later, I had the right hardware. Of course, they hadn’t lined up the holes properly, so I had to finagle the pieces, and, get this, although the chairs are identical, same model number SKU number, everything, the directions in each box WERE DIFFERENT.

Good thing I built sets and props in theatre. I tossed the directions, switched out the hardware, and did it myself. The chairs are together, look good, sturdy, and are comfortable. If you count the additional stuff I had to buy and the billable hours that were wasted, I could have bought the chairs at full price from a luxury store.

Nothing on the box said one had to assemble them, and they didn’t tell you in the directions you need three kinds of tools to do it. Plus, the hardware was wrong. So, yeah, they are GOING to hear from me, and I’m invoicing them for the hardware and time spent, because they mislead me.

Now that the damn things are together, they look good and are comfortable, and I enjoyed a nice glass of wine out in the sun. I actually nearly dozed off in the chair.

And, of course, then, the temperatures went right back into the 30’s overnight.

Caught up with the workshop. I’m not sure if some of the students have fallen behind because of the delay in the loop, and they’re not really behind, or if they just don’t care enough to see it through. There are students who ignored the fact this is an “Advanced” class. Some of them have stepped up; some have not. Too many ignore the questions I ask on certain choices and can’t be bothered to do the requested revisions. Therefore, they keep making the same mistakes. And, just when I really feel like I’m talking to wallpaper, someone is so conscientious she posts from her cell phone while traveling, which is a welcome relief!

Got my second round of edits from my editor. We’re both enthused. I have to go over the front matter for the book, and enclose that as well. After this round, it goes to the line editor, and then I see it, one last time, in galleys!

Got my material to Confidential Job #1, and am getting ready to take a look at my friend’s manuscript, although I have a feeling that I’ll have to wait until the weekend to really look at it. My May site dates have changed, and it looks like I’ll get a chance to dash back up here for three days in between gigs. In May, with the garden, that’s important. And I’ve added additional dates in September a whole week’s worth, which will be nice.

I’ve got about six weeks to get SPIRIT REPOSITORY done, so I better get going on that. I’m also prepping for the course that starts on April 25, and the course I’m teaching for a week in May.

Devon

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 6:31 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, April 14, 2011


If this path leads away from the taxes, I’m on it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I’m glad yesterday is over, that’s all I have to say. Taxes for another seven hours, but they’re finished, and I’m mailing them today. New York State f—ked me, as usual, but everything else worked out fairly. The MA taxes made no sense, but I filled them out as best I could, wrote a cover letter, etc. The Federal Taxes had eight schedules with them this year, and a three page cover letter to explain different points.

Last year, I was sure I’d get in trouble, because a theatre company that produced some of my plays listed the money as something other than royalties, but I noted it in the cover letter, and there was no problem.

But it was torture, with a lot of swearing on my part. That should be the most complicated year of taxes, having to file with two different states and the federal. Next year, it should be just straight up Federal with about six schedules, and the MA taxes, which, for full-year residents, is much more straightforward than the partial year.

Paying quarterly taxes helped a lot, as it will this year, because the income is more straightforward. I prefer paying as I go.

Done. Out. Exhausted.

It stormed and rained all day yesterday (appropriate to what was going on inside the house), and the internet went out for most of the day. I could hop on and off for about a minute here and there. So I gave myself the evening off, and will have to catch up with my workshop today.

The rain was good for the garden, and all the plants, trees, and shrubs look much happier.

Today, I’m returning some books to the library, mailing the damn taxes, and I have to return something to a store in Sandwich that I didn’t realize was broken when I bought it. I also need to get buckets, so I can start digging the excess sand out of the vegetable bed as soon as it’s dry enough. I’m gong to start my new friend’s manuscript, which I look forward to reading. I need to finish up a piece for Confidential Job #1. I’ve spent a week trying to be positive about the latter, but the truth is, the material didn’t work for me, especially not in the style the writer chose to present it. I mean, when it loses me in the first sentence because it does EVERYTHING I tell my students not to do, that’s not a good sign.

The second round of edits for ASSUMPTION should land soon, so I want to knock out a few chapters of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY before it gets here.

Ah! The sun is breaking through the clouds! Maybe I’ll be able to clean up the front beds later this morning. I’m still optimistic that maybe I can put the pansies in this coming weekend.

Devon

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 7:02 am  Comments (6)  
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