Fri. Sept. 6, 2019: Battening Down the Hatches for a Dorian Slap

Friday, September 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild

For some reason, yesterday seems far away.

Got some work done at the library in the morning, including sending out a bunch of LOIs. Did the big grocery shop before the incoming storm. Couldn’t find everything I wanted. How could the store be out of flour? So I guess I’m not baking this weekend, once the storm passes, unless I go shopping again.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the blog under the Ava Dunne name, where I talk about how I’m building the ensemble for the Nautical Namaste Mysteries. This week’s post talks about how I developed Sophie’s friends on land: her housemates Fawn and Bianca, her friend Freddie the painter, her family, the supporting characters that help set up and support certain aspects of her character.

Participated in the Freelance Chat on Twitter yesterday, which was a ton of fun.

Worked on “Pier-less Crime” in the afternoon. It’s going more slowly than I’d like, but okay. Crafted a pitch for a magazine for which I’ve wanted to write for years, and I finally came up with something I think is suited to them. That goes out today.

Meeting this morning, which I was not looking forward to (and why this post is going up late).

I’ve set up a separate Twitter account for Fearless Ink. I still will talk about anything on the @DevonEllington account, but @ink_fearless will be focused just on business writing and freelancing. I hope you will follow me on both.

Got a little bit of work done on ELLA. But, because I’m blank paging most of it instead of following a detailed outline, this last third of the book is a mess and difficult to sort out. I feel like I have to type up everything I’ve written so far, so that I can effectively write the last third. This process has been fun and I’ve learned a lot; however, it reminds me why I prefer to work from detailed outlines.

The plan this afternoon and for most of the weekend is to work on GRAVE REACH and finish “Pier-less Crime.” I need both to go out next week. I also have to revise the first chapter of THE BARD’S LAMENT, so it’s in good enough shape to be part of the back matter for GRAVE REACH.

There are personal stresses with which I’m dealing with and can’t yet discuss. They are wearing on me, and I hit patches in the day where I feel like I am flat out of coping skills.

Of course, in times of stress, I always want to work on GAMBIT COLONY, because it soothes me. But I can’t do that during this deadline period. I need to focus on what’s on deadline.

But all I can do is the best I can do. And I have to get back to the page.

Have a great weekend. Monday’s post will be a full one, about challenging yourself, for Upbeat Authors.

 

Thurs. Sept. 5, 2019: Running Out of Coping Skills

Thursday, September 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Tropical Storm/Cyclone Warning

If you haven’t seen the latest chapter in the saga of “Fred Needs a Writer” over on Ink-Dipped Advice, hop on over and read it. And pop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was fine at the client’s. Samples for Fall 2020 came in, and I spent most of the time there unpacking and hanging. The Spring/Summer collection is already being shown and orders written. We shipped a bunch of stuff, too.

Came straight back after the stint at the client’s. I was exhausted. It was hot and humid and icky.

Remote chat was great, as always.

Watched REAR WINDOW. It’s years since I saw it. I forgot how much humor was in it. Not a fan of Grace Kelly, though. I didn’t find a lot of depth to her performance. Thelma Ritter was much more interesting.

We’ve also started re-watched THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW since the start. I’m doing this in honor of Valerie Harper. It really is funny. What a great ensemble.

Didn’t sleep well. I’m under stresses that I can’t discuss publicly right now, and they’re affecting me in a bad way. I hope to find some solutions sooner rather than later, but the process is painful. I feel like I’ve run out of coping skills.

Writing work, LOIS, pitches, work on GRAVE REACH and “Pier-less Crime” on the schedule for today Also some work on websites, and scheduling some marketing posts. Maybe a couple of hours for another client. Not sure if I’ll go to yoga or not. I have to go grocery shopping first thing, and get supplies in ahead of the storm. We’re really supposed to get slapped on Friday/Saturday by the outskirts of Hurricane Dorian, but we already are under a tropical cyclone/tropical storm watch today.

Sent off my short review to my editor yesterday, and my next assignment is on its way. I’m trying to do one assignment a week for this editor.

Tomorrow morning, I have a very stressful meeting first thing, so this blog will be late. But I’m scheduling the post for Affairs of the Pen, the Ava Dunne blog, so it will go up early. The topic tomorrow is building the ensemble.

I want my life back from before the pre-Occupant insanity.

Back to the page.

Thurs. Aug. 29, 2019: Duty Served

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Raining and warm

The remnants of Tropical Storm Aaron are here, so we’re having a lot of rain. We need it, but it’s still a lot.

Yesterday was jury duty. MA has “one day, one trial” which means that, when you get called, you either serve one day or for one trial.

I was up making h’ors d’oeurves at 6 AM, because my friend was stopping by on her way back from Nantucket to pick up the car she left in the garage, and I didn’t think I’d be back in time. So I wanted to make sure she had a snack before driving back to Connecticut.

I was out of the house a little before 8 AM. Traffic was awful, but I got there on time. The zippers in my boots set off the metal detector.

About two dozen of us were in the jury room. The woman from my yoga class wasn’t there; not sure if she got out of it, or if they decided they didn’t need everyone originally put on notice.

I managed to rough out an outline for a stand-alone suspense novel before we even started. I have to figure out specific clues and red herrings, but I have the backstory, the opening, and the end worked out.

We had our orientation, and watched a video, which wasn’t as cheesy as they usually are.

Then, we sat. For three hours. I read most of a novel. The author is highly regarded. I respect her writing, but dislike her as a human being. This novel? Well-written, but I loathe the protagonist: spoiled, weak, and not very bright.

After three hours, we were released. All the cases on the docket were settled, and they didn’t need us. I am now free for three years.

I was surprised that we were left alone in the jury room. In New York, there’s always a court officer with us. People pretty much ignored each other, and read or texted. There was water and a vending machine.

The one time I left the room to go to the Ladies’ room, the male lawyers in the hallway were checking me out like it was Saturday night at an upscale bar. Yeah, I was dressed more professionally than most of my fellow jurors, but still. . .I was torn between feeling flattered and exasperated.

Picked up a bottle of wine on my way home. My friend was there; she’d come over from Nantucket early to try to beat the storm. I made sure she was fed properly and off she went. Glad she ate, because she had a hellish trip back through the storm.

It gave me the gift of a half day. There was no point in going to my client’s; I’d worked ahead into next week. There was absolutely nothing I could do there. I should have worked on any of a number of writing projects; instead, I gave myself the afternoon off.

In the evening, we watched THE MALTESE FALCON. I can’t even count how often I’ve seen it, and I always find something new. I’d forgotten how good the pace was. It moves right along. I still don’t get how everyone thinks Brigid is so enticing. Manipulative, yes, but why fall for it? Anyway, it was research for a sequence I’m working on for ELLA BY THE BAY, where Ella, Simone, Rosalia, Olive, and Antigone sit around watching old movies and yakking, Ella’s attempt to make new friends on the island. I’m watching the other two movies in the scene, CASABLANCA and NORTH BY NORTHWEST this weekend.

I have a nod to a particular MALTESE FALCON scene in my radio play “Broken Links” and whenever I see the movie scene, it makes me laugh.

The less said about the conference with the potential client on Tuesday afternoon the better. It wasn’t the client on the conference, it was a recruiter. Which is ridiculous. Not only that, but nearly every question I asked was answered with, “I can’t answer that; I’m only the recruiter.” Waste of my fucking time. On top of that, now they want me to take a “timed assessment”? Twice? And then talk to a “hiring manager” and then, only MAYBE talk with the people with whom I’d actually work on the project? I don’t think so. Makes me wonder who they paid and how much to be listed as one of the top 100 companies to work for in Boston. Because my experience with them puts them firmly near the bottom of anywhere.

And they definitely need good content and a well-thought out marketing campaign. I went over their website more than once, and I still don’t know what they do.

Next!

Good morning session on ELLA. Worked ahead on some blog posts. Prepping some article pitches that will go out next week. Doing some research on more radio companies.

This afternoon, I will focus on GRAVE REACH for a few hours.

I’m going to write my way into the holiday weekend!

 

Tues. Aug. 20, 2019: Trying to Get Better

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to see what I’m doing on The Reader Expansion Challenge.

It took me a few days to adjust to the antibiotic. I’m coping. I think I’m healing.

I spent far too much time the past few days, gobbling down the first three books in Lauren Dane’s GODDESS WITH A BLADE series. Boy, are they good! I have two more to read, and then book 6 comes out in December. It’s a really, REALLY good series.

Read another book, by that author I mentioned last week, about whom I was on the fence. I’m definitely off the fence now, and it’s crossing her off the list. Her protagonist quit a job that was putting her on the path to an outstanding career because her boyfriend didn’t like that she was working with another man. Sorry, that’s not true love. That’s a toxic relationship. Add the character’s constant “tired” to miss major plot points, whining, crying, and relying on men all the time — not the series for me.

Read another book where the premise was good, but the book dripped with so much white woman Southern privilege & adherence to the status quo that it nauseated me. The author is trying to portray his protagonist as a “tolerant” Southern woman. Honey, she’s not. She has flashes of racism (which means she’s racist), she believes it’s not grafting if you cheat someone with less money than she has (but is horrified if someone wealthy gets cheated), and I got way, way, WAY ahead of the plot. Cross that author off my list.

Got the review off to my editor, worked on my article, worked on GRAVE REACH, ELLA, and a little on DEATH OF A BROKEN MAN.

I was not allowed to read Lauren Dane’s book on Saturday until I’d written my quota for the day!

I also got my first Sephora Play! box. I was surprised by the quality of the samples. They are stuff I actually want to try and use. The lipstick is a color I would have never chosen on my own, and it looks great on me (I love lipsticks). There are also some interesting skin care products that I’m trying.

Sunday, I had to hack away some invasive plants and feed the lawn. We were supposed to get storms and rain, but they were wrong. AGAIN. I went out while it was cloudy, and then the sun came out, and I had problems, in spite of slathering on the sunscreen, because of the antibiotic.

Good writing session Monday morning before I had to go onsite with a client. Which was what it was.

A quick trip to the library, then meditation group. Much-needed. Then some work on the article. It’s due next week, but I’d like to get it in a little early. Gmail was down at the library, so things I needed to get done there couldn’t happen. Plus a bunch of uniformed old white men talking politics and showing their ignorance.

This morning, work on ELLA and GRAVE REACH, then onsite with a client and other appointments.

Head down and back to the page.

Published in: on August 20, 2019 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 20, 2019: Trying to Get Better  
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Tues. Aug. 13, 2019: Keep on Keeping On

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (As of Sunday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy few days.

Got some stuff done at the library Friday morning, then went to the yoga studio. Class was packed (I usually can’t take that session). In fact, there was someone I hadn’t seen in about three years there.

I was a little too relaxed when I got out of yoga class. I still had a lot to do that day, and all I wanted to do was nap!

Friday afternoon was about housework and cooking. The downstairs is quite tidy now.

Saturday, I finished up some more food. We had company in the morning, from Greenwich, and a nice catch-up. I drove them to the ferry — they’re on their way to Nantucket. After years of summer rentals, they actually hope to buy something.

Read in the afternoon and evening, and percolated a bit on some stories that want to be told.

Heard about the Jeffrey Epstein “suicide.” Yeah, right. Just way too convenient, especially for the Narcissistic Sociopath. And Barr in charge of the investigation? What a joke. The whole thing is disgusting.

Finished reading a thriller trilogy. I absolutely loved the first book. I got ahead of the story a bit on the second book. It happened even more in the third book, and I anticipated the ending I hoped wouldn’t wind up the way it did. I was disappointed. I feel the author cheated his trio of protagonists (and his readers) from the ending they earned. While the first book was fantastic, the trilogy as a whole left me depressed and unsatisfied. It was a very male ending, meaning that it was what I expected from a male writer, and disappointed when it happened. It was what all those middle-aged male writers trying to be hip do to punish their characters (especially their female characters) and act like they’re creating great fiction. Would a female writer have made the same choices with that plot? Possibly, but most of the women writers in the genre I admire would have done it differently, I believe, and in a more satisfying way.

Also read a book by an author about whose work I have mixed feelings. I’ve read several of her books, and every one leaves me with mixed feelings. They’re a little too cutesy-wootsy for my taste. Her protagonists rely on being rescued by men too much, instead of saving themselves or the partners working together to survive . She’s a writer, but with such a limited vocabulary that she misuses words like “witch” — if you use “witch” to mean a nasty woman instead of a spell-caster, you’re knocked off my reading list. It’s insulting and careless. It’s bad writing. Also, in this particular book, she had characters who were supposedly involved in theatre. She might have gone to one community theatre production in her life, but she sure as hell didn’t do any research. She knows nothing about how theatre works and nothing about actors or tech people. Her tone in writing about them was condescending — along with not having done her research. I have one more book ordered via Commonwealth Catalog that I can’t cancel. I’ll try a few pages before I send it back. But I am DONE with her.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Saturday night into Sunday, I had a nightmare about a mass shooting. I’m not going to detail the dream here, but it unnerved me for the rest of the weekend. in my personal journal, I wrote about it in detail, and I intend to use bits of it in a new piece I’m developing. But I would have rather never had the dream in the first place. It was too vivid. Too many sensory details.

Worked on the article for Llewellyn. That will go out in a couple of days. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on ELLA. It’s slowed down, and I have to figure out a few things to make this last third of the book work. Played with some ideas for DEATH OF A BROKEN MAN, which has a very broken (female) protagonist who relates to the dead body she trips over a little too much.

Getting some good work done on GRAVE REACH. I need to get this draft done this week and off to the editor, so we can go into galleys.

Playing with the first chapter of THE BARD’S LAMENT, which has to go into the back of GRAVE REACH.

Worked on the book I’m reviewing. I’m also reading the book for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Need to spend more time on Ello this week.

Working on a couple more article pitches. They’re not quite where I want them in order to go out. But I hope to get them out this week.

I can’t seem to shake this lethargy and exhaustion. All I want to do is sleep, but I don’t feel refreshed when I wake up.

I had terrible allergy problems on Sunday with the ragweed and goldenrod coming into bloom. Constant sneezing, runny eyes. I finally broke down and took a Benedryl, which knocked me out and I slept for 11 hours. Felt a little better on Monday. Even non-drowsy anti-histamines knock me out.

Monday was fine onsite with a client, and I expect today and tomorrow will be challenging.

Monday afternoon’s meditation group was much-needed.

Back to the page.

 

Fri. Aug. 9, 2019: Just A Quick Post

Friday, August 9, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I was a bit blue yesterday, especially after an interaction with a potential new client that was a total waste of time. When you’re going to hire me for a marketing position, don’t expect me to fill out the form and answer the questions for a minimum wage customer facing position. They have nothing to do with each other. Not doing it. Not working for you.

Didn’t get enough writing done. Dashed around getting other stuff done.

But there are a few new ideas that are demanding attention and must be worked in and around the contracted stuff. Plus, the Llewellyn article needs to be finished this weekend.

Spent some time with a writer pal. He’s tired (back from Canada, headed to Japan, than the Yucatan, all on assignments AND prepping for the release of his new novel). But he’s doing well, and we always have fun together.

Did a Skype session with a playwright friend. Brainstormed some ideas with another friend. I’d hoped to lump them all into one piece, but, as my friend pointed out, there are two very distinctive sets of characters, and while some of the themes overlap, others don’t.

This morning, ran around doing errands. My mom got scared while I was out, because she heard a passel of police sirens and was sure there was a mass shooting at the grocery store. There wasn’t, but why are we agreeing to live in fear like that? We need to get all these corrupt politicians out, and then make sure this stops happening. It CAN be stopped. Every other civilized nation in the world manages.

Going to a late morning yoga class, then cleaning the house and preparing the food for our guests tomorrow morning.

Then, it’s back to the page.

Have a great weekend! Another inspiration post on Monday.

Namaste!

Published in: on August 9, 2019 at 8:55 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 9, 2019: Just A Quick Post  
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Tues. July 30, 2019: Trying to Keep Steady

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Hot and humid

I did not have a particularly productive weekend. I wasn’t feeling well. Wrists, shoulders, hips, lower back, knees, all in pain. It was difficult to write.

I got a little bit done on ELLA. Not enough done on GRAVE REACH, and I feel like I’m losing the thread of it again. The deadline looms over me, so I have to get it done. Dig deeper and get it done.

But there was nothing in the tank this weekend.

I managed to get some grocery shopping done, and the recycling out to the dump. Painted some shells. Oiled a small table I picked up. Rearranged some stuff in the living room. Went through a box marked “trinkets” of things that were important to me about twenty years ago. At first, everything looked shabby and sad. Later, as I took each piece out and dealt with it, I decided what to keep and integrate, what to give away, what to toss.

Still have many, many more boxes to go and am running out of time.

We have a fisher on the property. I’m pretty welcoming to wildlife, but not fishers. They are vicious, and this one has an attitude. I don’t want him decimating our wildlife in the yard, or attacking Tessa. I’m not letting Tessa out, and she is angry with me. But I can’t risk her getting killed.

Fisher is part of the weasel family, and weasel is about stealth and paying close attention, so that is what I will do in the upcoming cycle.

While I try to figure out how to encourage him to move on.

Feeling very discouraged in general, and worn down.

But I managed to write the blurb for my friend’s book, which went off yesterday.

I’m still trying to get paid by that client. I thought this one was the exception to the local client rule around here. I was wrong. I’ll send another invoice on Friday, with the late fee. I partially blame myself — because of previous good experience with this client, I waived the partial fee up front. That won’t happen again.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my father’s death. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it, but it’s still difficult. I did a “happy memories” ceremony for him last night.

The heat and humidity were high yesterday, and will be so again today. I don’t do well in that, either. Work with the client is off-the-charts stressful this week and next week, and then, hopefully, we can have some equilibrium. But yesterday went well, so I hope today and tomorrow will be the same.

All I can do is keep pushing through, and making adjustments as best I can, work toward making the necessary changes. But it’s difficult, disheartening, and slow.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 30, 2019 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 30, 2019: Trying to Keep Steady  
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Mon. July 22, 2019: Commitment – The Myth of “No Time” – #UpbeatAuthors

hourglass-620397_1920
image courtesy of Nile via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 22
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

In this month of commitment, let’s explore the myth of “no time.”

“No time” or “I don’t have time” is often the excuse we give for not doing something.

Writers who aren’t serious about writing often give this as their excuse for not writing. So do non-writers, who say they’d write a book “if they had time.” No, they wouldn’t. If they wanted to write a book, they’d sit down and write a book. They don’t want it enough.

We all have 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use them defines us.

It’s not that we “don’t have time” to do something. It’s that it’s not a priority to make time for it. So let’s just be honest, because we are writers, and words matter. Use the correct ones when you don’t do something.

Each of us has different things we need to prioritize to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, our families safe. Then, we slot in the rest of the things.

Too often, it’s not time itself we lack, but time management skills. Time management skills are learned.

We also have to weigh the realities of what we want to make time for with what else is going on in life.

For me, the “necessity” of eight hours’ sleep per night is a myth. If I had bought into that myth, I could not have had a career and earned my living working in theatre and film and television production for decades. That is simply not a reality in that line of work. The profession will not change because I want eight hours’ sleep a night. Either I have to adapt, or I don’t get to be a part of that profession.

Fortunately, eight hours’ sleep a night is more detrimental than useful to me. Granted, I spent too many years not getting enough sleep — from one to four hours’ worth. I spent too much time in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

But six hours’ sleep a night is, for me, optimal. It’s natural for me to wake up after that period, feeling refreshed and eager to meet the day. Eight hours or more? I’m groggy and have trouble focusing all day. I’m more irritable on eight hours than I am on four. My muscles hurt, I get more headaches, I’m not focused. I’m not rested. Less than six hours? I can cope for several weeks, but then need to take an entire day in bed.

Yes, all those studies say you can’t catch up. But I adapted in order to have a career about which I was passionate. A career that was more important to me than demanding to lose ONE THIRD of my life in sleep. I am an individual, and it took a lot of years and a lot of mistakes, but I found something that works for me.

It’s the same with writing. When I have deadlines, I get up earlier or go to bed later. The writing is my priority. That is why I am a writer and not in a different profession. I am the breadwinner in the family. I am, technically, head of the household. “Not having time” is not an option.

Who gets that time changes. I get my time very early in the morning, because that is my peak creative time. That is spent on my novels, short stories, plays, etc. Clients get excellent work, too, but they get it within traditional business hours. Unless I’m on a tight deadline and I’m behind, in which case I do what’s necessary to get it done ON TIME.

Which brings us to punctuality, which is another part of commitment. Being ON TIME is important. Whether it’s sending something in by deadline or meeting a friend somewhere, being ON TIME is important.

Do we run into obstacles sometimes? Of course we do. And then we let the other party know.

But being constantly late? Laughing it off that “I’m always late, I can’t be on time, that’s just who I am”?

Then you are not someone I want in my life.

Way back, before the age of mobile phones, when I met someone at a location, I waited 15 minutes. If they didn’t turn up, and they didn’t phone the location and have me tracked down to say they were on their way — I left.

Being late is a sign of disrespect. It sends the message, “My time is more important than yours, I am more important than you are, and you need to waste your time in order to fit my schedule.”

That’s not true. It’s part of being an energy vampire, draining energy from all those around you instead of generating your own.

You’re late all the time? We will have a conversation about it.

It keeps happening? You’re out of my life. You’re not willing to respect me or my time. I refuse to remain in that situation. Unless you’re a first responder of some sort, work on your time management and be there, or let me know far enough in advance so I can make other plans. I get to choose who is in my life and who isn’t.

It’s part of our social commitment to each other. I don’t care how funny or brilliant or whatever someone thinks they are — if you don’t respect me, and live that respect, if it’s not a reciprocal relationship, I don’t want any part of it.

Because my writing is such a high priority in my life, I am ferociously protective of my time.

Do I always manage it well?

Of course not. I’m human. I faff around. Often, when I catch myself wasting time (which is different from taking breaks, daydreaming, and doing all those other things non-writers consider “wasting” time, but are actually an important part of the creative process), it indicates there’s something wrong with the project on which I’m working. Once I can dissect what it is, I can either solve it, or complete the project and not take on another one from that client again.

How do you mange your time? What tools do you use to keep on track? What is the biggest thing that derails you?

Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 5:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

 

There are plenty of things that are worrying me and infuriating me on several fronts. However, I am grateful for some of the small, but important pleasures.

One of the biggest of those is my first writing session of the morning out on the deck. I take my coffee, Tessa usually comes with me, and I write my first 1K or so outside, enjoying the yard.

It’s not always 1K on this particular project. Sometimes it’s only 500 words. Sometimes it’s more than 1K. But it’s in longhand, in a series of notebooks, and it’s uncontracted and not on deadline.

Which is one reason I’m having such fun with it. There’s no pressure. I can just let it rip.

I recently started my second notebook on this project. The first notebook contains the first 10 chapters, a little over 130 pages, approximately 1/3 of the book for this first draft. I love seeing the tangible evidence of these past few months’ work.

I’ve done some research for this book, but as I continue, I keep finding more things I’ll have to look up, and I’m using more placeholders than usual to keep the momentum. I’ll regret that when I hit the next draft, but it’s working for me in this first one.

After my yoga/meditation and my shower, I go to the computer, and I work on the next book that’s contracted. I do at least 1K, although at this point, it’s more like 1.5K, and with a deadline looming, I have to up my game to closer to 2.5K a day. That’s the reality of deadlines. But the steady, daily work, even on days I don’t feel like showing up to the page, builds momentum, keeps me in the world of the book, and makes this book better than the previous books in the series (which is my goal).

I print out my pages every day, both because I’m paranoid about losing work (even backed up work has been corrupted) and because it’s easier for me to edit on the page still. It’s easier for me to make the tracking sheets I need and the notes I need for the Series Bible when I can physically flip between the pages.

I print material on 3-hole punch paper and keep each draft in a 3-ring binder. I do refer back and forth between different drafts in the editing process, especially when my editor and/or copyeditor find discrepancies. Or when I cut characters or subplots, and decide to re-introduce them in other books, where they fit better, further down the line in the series. I use the final galleys to update the Series Bible.

(If you want more information on how I create and maintain a Series Bible, I have a workbook available, based on my workshops).

Again, I have (and need) the tangible evidence of the pages adding up.

While this contracted novel is with my editor, a few weeks down the line, I’ll switch to the next book in the next series that has to be torn apart and rewritten, because the last few drafts I wrote haven’t hit the mark. It has to get fixed and get in the publication queue — we already pushed back the dates for it, and for another book, and now we’re playing catch-up. But I’d rather push the release date back a reasonable amount of time than release a bad book.

At the same time, in the evenings, I’m playing with pieces inspired by #31Prompts.

Again, there’s not pressure on these pieces. They’re not contracted. They’re taking all kinds of different formats. I’m stretching and having fun.

By the end of the month, I have to write a short radio play set on Brighton Pier in the 1920s, and I have to start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters, which is due in NYC by the end of the year.

Showing up at the page every day for whatever project I’m working on is vital to me. I can’t write in spurts and then go away for stretches. I lose the innate rhythm, the heartbeat of the piece.

I need to see it through.

I need the dailiness of the writing. It keeps the rest of my day in perspective, and makes me feel better and clearer about the entire day.

I change my writing process every few months. I make adjustments as to the where and when I write.

But I show up.

What is your process?

Published in: on July 10, 2019 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up  
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Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Wed. July 3, 2019: So Ready For The Weekend!

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(image by Tam66 courtesy of Pixabay)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

I am so ready for a long holiday weekend. Because we are a “destination” here, it’s been a nightmare to get anywhere all week.

I’m heading to the grocery store at 8 AM for a few things before I meet with my client.

Yesterday was fine. Invoiced two clients; got paid by one, and the other will pay me by the end of the week. Was onsite with a client and got a lot of stuff done. Did some remote work for another client.

I wasn’t going to send out any LOIs this week, but I saw an opportunity and didn’t want to miss it. Either it will work or it won’t.

Work on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH is going well. I’m also having a lot of fun with #31Prompts. I hope you’ll check it out and join in.

I don’t plan to blog until until Monday, when I’ll have another Upbeat Authors post.

I do, however, plan to write all weekend.

I’m avoiding the Occupant’s Authoritarian Debacle tomorrow and keeping things low key here.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on July 3, 2019 at 5:26 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 3, 2019: So Ready For The Weekend!  
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Tues. July 2, 2019: Slow Recovery, Healing Arts

Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I finally started feeling like I’d turned the corner and was getting better.

I ran errands on Friday, which was tough. Got a few work-related things done.

Went home and tried to feel better. Which didn’t work.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, one of the errands was getting the newest books by Juliet Blackwell, Barbara Ross, and Jenn McKinlay. I started reading Juliet’s BEWITCHED AND BETROTHED. Lily Ivory is one of my favorite series protagonists.

A space opened up in the sound bath at the yoga studio that night, and I decided to go. Because I’m so hyper sensitive to sound, this type of experience is often very healing (my acupuncturist in NY used tuning forks on me, because I was so sensitive to specific sounds and responded so well).

Arrived, got myself set up. It takes about 15-20 minutes to set up one’s “nest” as the instructor calls it, to make sure we’re comfortable for the 90 minutes. I was just all settled when this woman stomped in and demanded that I move. Um, no. Huge breach of protocol. She wanted that spot? She should have arrived earlier. So she huffed and puffed and flung her belongings around setting up. I put my eye pillow on and ignored her. As much as she wanted to make the entire evening about her and intrude/punish me because I didn’t do what she wanted — no game, honey. I’m from NY. You’re amateur hour.

Once it started, I settled in, set a healing intent, and worked on bending the various sounds to where I thought they’d have the most healing effect. It’s difficult to articulate, because it’s such an experiential thing, and because most people have a very different relationship to sound than I do.

By the end of the session, I was not only pain free, I was ravenously hungry.

I cleaned up my spot, thanked the instructor, and went home. I made a salmon banh mí for a late dinner and sucked it right down. It even stayed.

Stayed up to finish Juliet’s book, which left me wondering if this is where the series ends. I’ll always want more Lily, but if this is the last book in the series, it’s also a satisfying last book.

Slept well, slept in on Saturday. Woke up feeling more like myself for the first time since I got sick. Still have a long way to go, but getting there.

Unfortunately, the illness triggered several other issues, kind of a domino effect, and I’m dealing with them one at a time. But I’m isolating and then solving each as I can.

I also haven’t had alcohol since I got sick. I miss the idea of it more than I miss the actual drinks.

Did a little bit of work on ELLA BY THE BAY in the morning. I need to catch up on typing the chapters I’ve written in longhand. I’m about 135 pages/one-third of the way through the book, and only the first two chapters are typed. I’m losing track of certain details, which makes it harder to move forward. I need to catch up, print out, and start tracking sheets, or I’ll be in a mess.

I also have to sit down and draw the map of this fictional Caribbean island. And do some renderings of the protagonist’s house and garden. You know me. Setting is an additional character.

Kept down breakfast (big win).

Read Barbara Ross’s JANE DARROWFIELD, PROFESSIONAL BUSYBODY, the first book in her new series. It’s lovely and charming. I think this will be a fun series. I’m already a fan of her Maine Clambake series.

In the afternoon, I did transplanting and planting (it was a planting day, according to the agricultural calendar). I transplanted all the rest of the tomatoes — I had four more kinds of tomatoes to transplant. I have a total of 7 varieties, over 100 plants. I might have been a little overzealous this year.

I also planted bush beans, peas, snow peas, zucchini, cucumber, zinnia, honesty, and milkweed. Yes, it’s late, but it’s been cold. Fingers crossed everything comes up.

The lettuce is thriving. The eggplants and peppers are doing well. So, we’ll see.

Then, I read Jenn McKinlay’s DYING FOR DEVIL’S FOOD, which was really fun, too. This series inspired me to create the Stained Glass Cupcakes I made for the holiday baking last year.

Slept well again, although a test of something that might cause a problem — well, it is. I was cautious, so it’s not a major setback, and now I know something else to avoid.

Worked on ELLA, caught up with a Twitter pal, took pictures in the yard. The pale pink roses are in full bloom, and the scent wafts up into my room, which is lovely.

Got some decent work done on GRAVE REACH.

Worked on the book I’m reading for review, a truly splendid book of poetry.

Still run out of energy too quickly.

Spent most of Sunday out on the deck, reading and writing. It was nice.

Up early on Monday. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. I’ve started the second notebook of ELLA — starting with Chapter 11. I’m just over a third of the way into the book now. This draft needs a lot of rearranging and certain bits need more research, but the bones are good, and I like the characters.

I’ve started something for July called #31Prompts. For the month of July, I’m going to post, on Twitter, a different prompt that can be used as a jumping off point for prose, poetry, song, dance, visual art or anything else. I’m setting up another page on this blog and will upload the prompts every few days. But I’ll post each day’s on Twitter. I hope people enjoy it.

Spent time with a client, a session that was both fun and productive. Got some other work done. Went to meditation.

Up early this morning. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. Will be with a client today and tomorrow, then I’m taking the long holiday weekend to rest and fully recuperate. And, hopefully, to get a lot of writing done!

Published in: on July 2, 2019 at 5:15 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 2, 2019: Slow Recovery, Healing Arts  
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Tues. June 25, 2019: Weird Weather & Rest

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

June is such a short month, but, for some reason, this year, it feels long.

Basically, I took the weekend off. I needed to, or else I would be ill, on multiple levels, and not be able to function.

The Solstice as good, although it rained all day and into the night. But it was still possible to honor the hours of daylight, and realize that now it starts to turn.

Saturday dawned clear and beautiful. I got some errands done in the morning. I ran some books down to the library in the late morning, which was a mistake, because the Congregational Church next door was having a tag sale, and there was no place to park. I had to park in the lower lot by the ice cream shop and walk several dozen steep steps back up the hill to the door. But it worked out.

I wrote a little bit, but my neighbor across the street was busy making noise and cutting down two perfectly healthy trees (again). All he ever does is destroy. And the noise was awful. For someone who suffers from hyperaccusis, like I do, it nearly killed me (literally).

I spent as much time on the deck as I could, mostly reading. I read Ellery Adams’s THE WHISPERED WORD, which was quite lovely. I read a book by someone who is a mild acquaintance. I wanted to support the work. Unfortunately, there were a lot of copyediting errors and misused words, and there were some major logistical lapses that took me out of the story. I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s CITY OF GIRLS, which I thought was well done. I had mixed feelings about it at several points in the story, but I wound up liking it.

I had an idea for a novel, which grew out of my frustration at someone’s hypocrisy. This individual has positioned herself as almost a cult-like figure, and pretends modesty when, in actuality, there is a lot of manipulation and she craves attention. Her work is good; I just don’t like or respect her as a person. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with her, so it’s none of my damn business.

But it got me thinking. What if? What if? What if? What if she used that manipulation and glory to commit a crime and blame someone she felt wasn’t giving her the attention she desired? I wrote a rough outline. There are still questions to answer, but I have the bones of it, and it’s rather interesting. The character has evolved quite far from the individual who inspired it, which is a good thing and means I’m doing my job as a writer. It’s something I want to explore.

I don’t know when, but it’s something I want to explore.

Not much work on ELLA. I’m at the point where I need to make a final decision on certain key place names and draw a map of this fictional Caribbean island.

I meant to work on the Brighton Pier research so I could start that radio play this week, but I didn’t. The big book has to go back at the end of this week, so I better get to it.

Worked out some obstacles in GRAVE REACH, so hopefully, I can get back on track with that, and get to work on THE BARD’S LAMENT (Sylvie’s book, #5).

My next book arrived for review, a book of poetry, and it’s quite wonderful.

We had weird weather on Saturday. Thunderstorms. It would rain in the backyard, but be clear at the front of the house. Very odd.

Sunday was a pretty day, albeit a bit humid. It was quiet, thank goodness. I got some writing done. Not enough, but I decided I needed the rest more.

Managed to get the garbage to the dump, though. Always a good feeling to get that out.

Read Val McDermid’s BROKEN GROUND, which was excellent. I really enjoy her work.

Started reading another book on the Kindle I’d recently downloaded, from another acquaintance. It was fun, and upbeat, but the Kindle ran out of juice, so I have to finish it another day.

The grass is growing — definitely ready for the guy to mow it this week.

Treated the deck with the tick repellent on Sunday, so it could really soak in and not get washed away by the rain.

Che Guevara Chipmunk was on the rampage on Sunday, complaining about everything. We have three bunnies now in the yard. I keep patches of dandelion and purslane that they like, and they leave the lettuce alone. They rest and enjoy the twilight at night, knowing they are safe here. It’s fun to watch them.

Monday, they were next door, making noise again with heavy machinery. As if last week’s septic tank replacement wasn’t enough. They destroyed the beautiful garden that my neighbor worked on for years. Now they’re dumping a bunch of dirt back on it.

With a client Monday, then off to do work for another client, get out some LOIs, get some writing done, and meditation. Today, I’m onsite with one client, then off to work with another client. I was invited to a wine event tonight, but I’m just not up for it. I’m really tired of networking events where 60% of the attendees are solopreneurs trying to sell supplements. They don’t want to pay anyone for the marketing materials they need — they want to provide supplements instead.

Yeah, no. Eversource, National Grid, and the landlord want cash. Not pills.

And I don’t trust anyone who hawks something I’m supposed to take every day for the rest of my life.

Let’s hope this is a strong writing week. I’m in limbo on a couple of projects, and wish we’d get them sorted, so I can plan the next few months.

Back to the page.

Published in: on June 25, 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments Off on Tues. June 25, 2019: Weird Weather & Rest  
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