Monday, October 24, 2011


Autumn in Western Mass

Monday, October 24, 2011
Day before Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and crisp

Playing catch-up on oh-so-many levels. Friday, I was sick and frustrated and just over it all. I left after lunch and hit Sturbridge around 3-ish. I checked in to the Publick House Inn — I had a deal to get a good rate. Unfortunately, I could only get one night, because the next day, they had a wedding and the entire place was booked. But one night was better than nothing, so I took it.

I wasn’t in the main, historic building. I was in the outbuildings, more like Catskill motel rooms than anything else. My room was fine, although have you ever seen so much toile in your life? And I’m not a fan of toile. Fortunately, I thought it was hilarious, and the tiny balcony was nice, too.

I settled in, ran some errands, had someone come up to fix the heat which wouldn’t turn on. I had dinner in the tavern, enjoying myself and eavesdropping shamelessly. I even jotted down some notes on a cocktail napkin to use in the presentation the next day. I had the roast duck in a cranberry glaze with sausage stuffing and sweet potatoes, paired with a wonderful Argentinean wine. Very good.

I worked on my presentation a bit, but went to bed early, because I felt like crap. Someone from the conference had called while I was on the road, but the message felt more like they were worried I’d make a scene, rather than trying to make things right.

Up at 5:30 the next morning, yoga, shower, ran through the presentation again, packed the car, checked out, had breakfast at the inn. A group of people were whining about the very good coffee — I walked out before I bitch-slapped the whole group silly. These people were idiots. They didn’t seen the coffee made in front of them; therefore, because it came out of an urn, they were going to bitch about it.

I’d woken up with a hacking cough and NO voice — was a little worried, but some slippery elm at least got me croaking again.

It took me a little less than an hour to drive to the conference. The color’s more advanced in Western Mass than there on the Cape. It was lovely. There were people to help me unload, which was great. I parked ‘round the back, close to where my actual presentation room was, which later made re-loading the car much easier.

Met Corrina Lawson, with whom I’ve been tweeting for months. She is SO wonderful. I mean, she’s always been wonderful on Twitter, but she’s even more fun in person. Terrific person. Unfortunately, we were presenting at the same time, so we couldn’t attend each other’s sessions!

Keynote speaker was great, again emphasizing the need to sit down and do the work. First session was good, but I had to excuse myself a couple of times when I felt a coughing fit come on. I didn’t want to be distracting, and it was less distracting to slip out of the room and cough up a lung in the ladies’ room than do it in session.

My own session was fun. I barely sat down — I was walking around, using the props. I hadn’t trusted them to supply me with the easel and the pad of paper, so I got my own pad of paper and pre-wrote bits I wanted to display. They did come through (I know, I was shocked, too), but I already had my stuff, so that’s what we used. They got their handouts, I made them WRITE in class. And what they wrote was good. They embraced the exercises and the energy of the presentation. And bore with my failing voice, which lasted for the session, and then got weaker and weaker. Sold some books, answered a lot of questions. Had help reloading the car.

I think people had a good time — most of the presentations were panels with Q&A. They were great, but mine was really different, which I think was a good contrast. This was more interactive and made them apply what we discussed in the moment, rather than them thinking about it and maybe using it “someday.”

Lunch was fun — buffet style, soups and salads (good quality), small tables, real linens and silverware. Very nice spread. We had lots of fun, lively discussion at the table.

I managed to connect with the student who’d brought me into the conference and we got some of the frustrations sorted. I still think they should have come up with a SOLUTION instead of just shrugging when they found out about the series of fuck-ups, but whatever. I HAVE a solution for next year, which I will send them, and I’m resentful because it’s not my job. It’s my job to provide what is asked and do a kick-ass presentation, not fix THEIR fuck-ups. But, as a B’way pal said, “We’re in production. That’s what we DO. Solve problems. People who aren’t in production can’t see that there’s more than one possibility. That’s why they’re NOT in production.” Well, putting on a conference is being in production, as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, I lasted through one more speaker, and then I knew I was fading fast, hacking up not just lungs but all kinds of additional organs, and just miserable. I excused myself, got in the car, and drove all the way back to the Cape.

I was in my own bed before 8 PM.

Granted, I caught myself going 90 mph. I was thinking, “Wow, people are really slow today” and then looked at the speedometer. Oops. I’m usually more careful than that.

I stayed pretty quiet, yesterday, although I observed an hilarious exchange between two guys, probably in their fifties, in the parking lot, when I went out to get the Sunday papers:

Guy 1: I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the guy who runs past your house every morning.

Guy 2: Yeah, I’m standing there smoking a cigarette and you’re running. Don’t think I don’t get the irony.

Now that’s the seed of another short story!

Also, as I was resting in bed, got a couple of scenes flashing through my head. Scribbled them down and wound up with an outline. Will have to put it in the queue. Also ordered some books, including Corinna’s DINAH OF SENECA. Because that’s by a small publisher, too, and heaven forbid the conference’s “bookstore manager” bother to carry it for the conference. The bookstore manager who was “too sick” to attend. Riiiight. She’d have been a lot sicker if I’d gotten my hands on her, that’s for sure.

Struggled to get back into the harpy book this morning, but I finally got there.

They’re working on the roof again, I have to catch up with students, work on Confidential Job #1, and the tulip bulbs HAVE to go in today.

In the meantime, check out the essay on Nicole Peeler’s Jane True, and the one on Diana Bishop of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Enjoy!

Devon

Today’s word count: 1,180
Total word count: 37,228

Update

Conference went well — for everyone, not just my little piece of it. Some sorting out of frustrations was done. My voice BARELY held up — I woke up this morning with a hacking cough and oncoming larynigitis, but I managed to get through until about mid-afternoon before one could no longer understand me.

I made the students WRITE in class (of course I did), and I was really pleased and impressed how they embraced the exercises and rolled with them under pressure.

I will have some photos and details on Momday — including the room I stayed in, which had more toile one place than I’ve ever seen in my life (and I don’t like toile).

On the radio, on the way home, was a news story about a family cleaning out a dead relative’s storage unit and finding the remains of what police think are the remains of a woman who went missing in 1983. Oh, the possibilities for fiction here . . .got my wheels going . . .

to bed now to get better.

More on Monday.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm  Comments (6)  
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Chilly and sunny

Jump on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about one of my favorite characters, Diana Tregarde!

The Write Angles conference fucked me. There is no diplomatic or other way to put it. They were not truthful or complete in their information, and now I’m stuck doing things I told them early on I wouldn’t, and out nearly a thousand dollars in books and conference materials when they haven’t kept up their end of the deal. Because I am published by smaller publishers such as Champagne and SmartPop, and not Random House or HarperCollins, I’m suddenly being treated like am amateur self-published wanna-be — although they still expect me to do a professional presentation FOR FREE. This conference was going to be my give-back-to-the-writing community, the pro bono thing I can only afford to do once a year. I do this for a living, people. I am one of the few who doesn’t have a day job. Even authors who sell through major publishers like Jackie Kessler have day jobs. I do not.

The bookstore even REFUSED to carry my books. It’s not just that they didn’t bother to order them (as I was told)– they refused to carry my books. So, if I want to sell any of them, I have to haul them around like a carny barker on my own — which I told them up front I wouldn’t do. If they wanted me there WITH BOOKS, I expected THEM to handle the sales. When they said they “messed up” the ordering, and I got the books in time, it was my understanding — and I stated it clearly — that I would drop off the books with the person designated at the bookstore. If I wasn’t considered “legitimate” because I’m not with a big NY publisher — I needed to be TOLD that early enough to make an informed decision. How hard is it to say, “If you’re not with a Big Trade Publisher, you’re responsible for your own books and sales”? If that’s your policy, that’s your policy. Don’t hide it. Be clear and honest about it. Don’t set up a network of lies and then spring it on me the night before. Not acceptable. I’m not set up to handle a cash box and credit cards and checks and make change. Nor should I have to be. That’s THEIR job.

It’s not that I think I’m so important or famous. I’m not. Just be honest so I can make an informed decision, which wills serve us ALL better.

So now I’m out over a grand with books and conference materials before I even start, for a gig where I’m not even being paid.

I’m very tempted to say “fuck you” right back at them and cancel, but leaving a hole in their program doesn’t serve a purpose for me, either. I have made my displeasure known. For crying out loud, I was doing panels at conferences in the US and the UK before I was a full-time writer and I wasn’t treated like this.

They still might find a way to make it right. Somehow, I doubt it. Which is a shame, because I’ve been looking forward to this since the spring. And I worked really hard to create a fun, 55-minute session the touches on the major elements in the month-long class.

This has thrown a monkey wrench into my morning writing.

And this, after a horrible night. I finally went to CVS last night because I needed something for the cold. They made a suggestion. I took their “nighttime relief” medication. In two hours, I was so sick, I thought I was going to have to call the EMTS and head for the emergency room. It exponentially worsened the symptoms I had and created new ones. And then — although it’s supposed to make you sleep — I was as wired as if I had four pots of coffee.

I finally got up and whipped up one of my herbal remedies, which defeated the chemicals and I could do things, like, well, breathe again and not feel like I was having a heart attack (and I didn’t even know how badly the conference was fucking me then).

I’m going back when the pharmacy opens to get my money back and get something I know works. Does Contact still do their tiny time pills? They were always helpful.

So I’m sicker than I was before, had no sleep, have a long drive, am losing my voice, and have to teach somewhere that fucked me.

Not shaping up to be a great weekend! 😉

I keep thinking something good must come out of all of this, but damned if I know what it is yet.

Devon