Tues. Sept. 11, 2018: Sad Anniversary; Steady Work

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about Andrew Singer’s wonderful memoir, China Sings To Me.

The 17th Anniversary of 9/11. I knew a lot of people who died that day. I still grieve. I perform my own ceremony of remembrance.

I get annoyed when people book social events, etc. on this day, but it’s not up to me. What is up to me is not engaging, and keeping it a day of remembrance in the way that works for me. People have the right to live their lives. I have the right to live mine.

For me, this day is about remembrance, commitment to those for whom I care, and trying to figure out how to make the world a better place that’s not fear-based. I have a long way to go, but at least I put in the work.

There was some sort of stomach bug prevalent in the house over the last few days. I had trouble Thursday and Saturday; my mom was sick Saturday into Sunday.

I managed to finish this draft of RELICS on Saturday night and get it off to my editor. I’ll get editing notes back later this week, turn it around, and then we go into galleys.

Meanwhile, DAVY JONES DHARMA moves into the Priority slot, with BALTHAZAAR TREASURE moving back into the secondary slot (out of the “I’ll work on it whenever” slot). CRAVE THE HUNT and the rest of what used to be POWER OF WORDS are in the “whenever” slot, and I’m percolating the opening chapter of GRAVE REACH, which goes into the back of RELICS.

GRAVE REACH is outlined, but I’m on a tight schedule for it, and have to get cracking. That will also be in a “whenever” slots.

I read some nonfiction books by an author whose work I’ve followed for decades. Some of her work resonates with me; some does not. She is not someone I want to meet or work with, though. Too many of her quirks annoy me: they’re not honest or endearing; I find them selfish and hypocritical.

But then, as someone pointed out a couple of years ago, we all have areas in which we’re hypocrites. We simply choose our level of hypocrisy. I’m trying to narrow those areas in my own life. Again, work in progress.

Also read an urban fantasy novel by a new-to-me author. I’d read one of her short stories in an anthology and liked it, so I figured I’d try a full-length book. The only book I could get from the library was in the middle of the series. Loved the action. Although, after awhile, it was too much action and not enough happening in between. The sex scenes were necessary to drive the plot, and were pretty well written, but ten pages plus, in my opinion, is too long in this case. Some of the best development of supporting characters I’ve seen in a long time. I wasn’t so thrilled about the protagonist. This was book six and she was in a place I’d have expected in the middle of book one or maybe book two. She doesn’t make a mistake once and then learn from it. She makes it five or six times, finds a solution by accident, but doesn’t apply it moving forward. That bothers me. She found out information and, at the end, it looked like she evolved, but when I read the reviews for the next few books in the series, it seems like she’s doing same old, same old. Also, according to the reviews, the cliffhanger set up at the end of this book still isn’t resolved two books down. I’m not sure I’m willing to go ahead indefinitely with constant cliffhangers, so that each book is like an overlong chapter. Especially since the cliffhanger involves the character that was my favorite in the book.

I rarely use reviews to make a decision about whether or not to read a book, but I had suspicions about where this was going, and wasn’t sure I wanted to put time into it, which is why I hunted down the reviews. I’m on the fence. If I can come across the next two books easily via the commonwealth catalogue or something (they’re not in CLAMS), I’ll try them.

Then I feel guilty, because I should support my fellow writers. However, this woman has plenty of sales — mine won’t matter! And, since a library book is a sale for her, it works all around.

I was really disgusted by the way Serena Williams was treated at the US Open. Men get away with questioning the umpire, but heaven forbid a woman, especially a talented black woman, do the same. The crowd also treated Naomi Osaka terribly. It should have been a glorious day for her, not a misogynistic one.

With Hurricane Florence a threat, I have to finish what I’m doing, cleaning-up wise, on the deck in the next few days. Here I’d hoped I’d have until nearly the end of October to use the deck as a staging area as I clean out, but I guess not.

Rehearsing for the reading, working on the calendar articles.

Onsite client work yesterday, today, tomorrow. Trying to find a new angle for the current and upcoming collections.

The newsletter went out on Friday, with cover reveals for the next three books. Next newsletter is December’s.

Working on my sell sheet for the weekend (and beyond), too.

Sent off a guest blog post. Working on the calendar articles. I want them done by the end of the month.

Got an idea from some of the non-fiction reading I’ve been doing for a novel. Playing with the setting, characters, themes, plot. We’ll see.

Working on the book I have to review.

Working. Working. Working.

I like it.

 

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Tues. Sept. 4, 2018: Diving Back into the Fray

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image courtesy of Free Photos via Pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Today I’m

–writing

–voting

–spending extra hours with my client

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read my piece about Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow series.

I’ll be back blogging tomorrow, with a catch-up post!

Published in: on September 4, 2018 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. Aug. 28, 2018: Design, Create, Purge

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Direct (as of yesterday)
Uranus Retrograde

Sorry I didn’t post on Friday. The day got away from me.

But I bought 18 notebooks in the back-to-school sales, so I’m set for notebooks. For the moment!

Thursday was not a good writing day at all, but at least I got some other stuff done, including early morning grocery shopping.

I tried reading a book from a series by an author who’d come recommended. I wound up skimming through the second half of the book I was reading because the protagonist was such an idiot I wanted her to be the next murder victim, there were copy editing errors as in the wrong character name in a scene that made no sense, and some major revelations happened off the page and were told to the reader in a toss-off sentence.

No. Just no.

I tried a book from a different series by the same author; put it down after the third chapter. I’m tired of dumbed-down, silly protagonists being marketed as “cute” and “whacky” and “spontaneous” and “eccentric.” Sorry, they’re dumb and annoying. I know plenty of cute, whacky, spontaneous, and eccentric individuals who aren’t morons.

An author I’ve crossed off my list. Fortunately, I’m not in contact with her on social media or at conferences. And no, I won’t name her publicly. I don’t bash other authors.

I want the protagonists in the books I read to be smarter, more resourceful, and more inventive than the average person. Yes, I like to see characters grow and change during the course of a book and series, but the change has to start soon after the catalyst, not six books down the road. A protag doesn’t learn from mistakes and keeps making the same one over and over? First of all, I want that protag to be the next murder victim (Donna Andrews calls it the “Too Stupid to Live Syndrome” and I agree). Second, it’s not a person I’d spend time with in real life, so I sure as heck won’t waste my reading time with that individual.

I like living books through characters vastly different than I am, but I demand intelligence and resourcefulness from them. Or I just don’t care enough to take a book-length journey with them.

Dumbing down characters so the reader can feel superior (a reality-tv trend) is not something I buy into. Or buy books of authors who do that.

I managed to get some yard work done Wednesday afternoon, which meant I could sit out on the deck with a lime martini and my writing and some books and not feel guilty. I need to mow and tidy up the front again.

By the time I get the yard where I want it, it will be snowing!

Read Yasmine Galenorn’s SOULJACKER and really liked it. Totally understand why she can’t continue the series. But still really enjoy this book (and it does stand alone).

Got out a couple of article pitches. Working on a radio play pitch and a workshop pitch, and a detailed LOI for a company that really interests me. Doubt they’ll go out before the end of this week.

Friday, I got a bit of writing done, and then I had a stack of errands, including getting a new phone. I went to one store — I told the guy my budget, and he immediately tried to get me beyond by double for a phone that he could only sell me that day. Um, no. That’s more than I can afford for a phone I don’t want. So I shopped around, and finally got something at a different store within my budget, and they were nice about it. So I have a phone I like that works.

I’ve been trying to get onto Vero, a social media network that’s only on one’s phone, that’s supposedly far superior to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Only when I download the app and try to sign up, they tell me the email address I use a dozen times a day is invalid. I complained to support, and they respond quickly, but keep asking the same questions and not solving the problem. So, unless it’s solved by today, I’m done and moving on.

One of the reasons I try new social media networks/apps is because, in addition to my own needs, I run social media platforms for other businesses and creatives. I experiment with them, see how they work, and then, depending on the need of the client, I can suggest one or more network.

If there are glitches and problems and a lot of hoops to jump through, I’m not going to recommend it.

I’m still getting a handle on Tumblr. I really like Ello, but that’s for creating, not really promotion. Which is fine, because it fills the hunger I have for connecting with other creatives about creation, not promotion.

I need and want to be around other working creatives who are creating. Not who are whining about “not having time” or only talking about the business side. The whining and the only-market-driven talk is like a disease among creatives, and it interferes instead of enhances creativity.

The last days of the Mars retrograde were tough. I had to take a breath and step back or I would have burned some bridges that really don’t need it right now.

The weekend was frustrating. Saturday was not a good writing day, and I didn’t get enough done around the house, either. I feel like I have no energy, like I’m in limbo. I can’t wait for other people’s decisions, even though they affect mine. I have to do what I need to do and just adjust. But it all seems overwhelming right now.

Sunday was better, especially creatively, although I’m still not where I need to be.

In addition to necessities like laundry, I also spent some serious time working on unpacking/purging stuff from the basement. Stuff that’s sat down there for far too long that I haven’t dealt with.

Time to deal.

It took me two hours to go through four boxes. I’m trying to deal with each item only once. There are a few things which I’m not yet sure about. Everything else was either toss or integrate. Not merely keep. Integrate.

I have a box for stuff to give away, but nothing from these boxes was appropriate.

If I can do a little every day, and more on weekends, eventually I will have gotten through it. But it’s slow going and it means making decisions that I’ve been putting off, sometimes for years. But it must be done.

It was also much more emotional than I expected. I had to confront my past self, and, again, decide what to integrate and of what to let go.

Difficult, but necessary.

Design work on site with a client yesterday and today. It’s fun, but needs a lot of focus.

 

Thurs. Aug. 23, 2018: Lucy Learns to Play

Thursday, August 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny/cloudy/hot/humid

Overslept, which is setting me back quite a bit today.

Couldn’t get to the grocery store on my way home from work yesterday because there were so many accidents. Streets blocked off all over the place.

Client work was okay, but a little tiring. The individual who left (the shit-stirrer) turned out to have made a LOT of expensive mistakes that we now have to fix. I know that my life on site for that particular gig is much less stressful now that she’s gone.

Some more client work today.

Working on my calendar articles.

RELICS is chugging along well. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I work scenes out in my head and then they’re ready to type when I get up in the morning. I plan to dig in hard over the next few days.

When I do the next editing pass on it, I’ll work on all Amanda’s chapters first, then all of Phineas’s chapters, then do another pass to make sure they integrate properly.

If the weather holds this weekend, I’ll catch up on yard work (I hope).

DHARMA is behind where I want it to be, but it’s going along, too.

I was thinking, yesterday, about how much I miss days spent scribbling in notebook while sitting in a coffee shop. We have few coffee shops around here, and none close enough not to be a major planning operation to get up and get to it. Nirvana is my favorite.

I remember reading, in one of Natalie Goldberg’s later books, how she, too, misses the days that inspired WRITING DOWN THE BONES, when she didn’t know any better!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do. I just need to find a way to build in some more unstructured creative time that’s not focused on any one creative project.

Lucy is learning how to play. Imagine a six year old cat who doesn’t know how to play! She’s finding she quite likes it. She learns by watching Tessa, and then I take time to introduce her to some of the other toys, too. We have a ton of toys; Tessa is partial to one in particular that she doesn’t want to share right now, so Lucy has plenty of others to keep her busy.

I have a couple of article pitches to get out, a couple of workshop proposals to get out, and some more LOIs. When I’m done with client work, of course.

Then, it’s yard work and back to the page.

I won’t be able to post tomorrow until the afternoon. My morning is caught up with appointments.

 

Fri. Aug. 17, 2018: Tucking In to a Weekend of Inspiration & Writing

Friday, August 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Here’s hoping I can hang on until Mercury goes direct!

Yesterday, not enough writing done. But I got some LOIs out, updated the websites. I’m trying out the new Fearless Ink logo, and I changed the background color on the site. As my work evolves, so must the site. The concept for the site wasn’t meshing enough with the practicality.

Did some updates on the Devon Ellington site, too. Tweaked the information; added a couple of necessary things. I really like the slideshow of book covers on the Welcome page; I’d like to add additional slideshows to the top of the Delectable Digital Delights Page and the Anthologies Page. Eventually, the Topic Workbooks will have one, too.

We’re working on a new look for the Topic Workbooks. So far, the consensus is that the old covers work better! So I guess we’ll keep working.

Saw a couple of roughs for the cover of what will be the new book in the first of what used to be the Power of Words series. I really like it. It’s very different from anything I’ve seen out there. It gives information on the cover without over-extending titles and gives an idea of what the series is about. We’re going to start building the website offline, so it can go live when we’re done.

About twenty research books arrived at the library — some I’d ordered quite awhile ago. Most of them already go back today.

Did some good work on something I had to research for RELICS. I think feeling insecure about some of the research is what’s tripping me up and making me second guess. Also, the massive overdose in New Haven, CT is supporting what I’m dealing with in the book.

A new character walked into DAVY JONES DHARMA and is going to give Sophie a hard time — in more than one book, it looks like!

Writing this morning. Then, I have to do a few things at the library, and then it’s off to the Cahoon Museum to see their exhibits.

Tessa and Lucy are doing really well. They’re adjusting to each other. Tessa’s mood has improved enormously since Lucy joined the household. Lucy came from a difficult situation, so she’s cautious, but she’s starting to feel safer and more confident.

I plan to dig in this weekend. It’s all about writing and working on the house.

Back to the page, and then off to get some inspiration!

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on August 17, 2018 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 17, 2018: Tucking In to a Weekend of Inspiration & Writing  
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Tues. Aug. 14, 2018: Getting Back on Track

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Quite a busy few days.

On Friday, we drove across the bridge and picked up the newest member of our family, a six year old tortoiseshell cat named Lucy. Her owner was a nice guy and it broke his heart to give her up; but she was friendly with us from the get-go, so I hope he is reassured she has a good home.

Coming back over the Bourne Bridge was a nightmare, but eventually, we got home. Then came the introduction/integration process.

It’s been working well. They growl at each other occasionally, or hiss. But there’s no other aggression, and, most of the time, they basically ignore each other. They both get a lot of affection, often in sight of each other, at the same time, so that they can associate good things with each other. We’re pretty low key and calm; because we’re not tense and fussing, other than a few growls and hisses, they don’t, either.

It will take a few months before they’re friendly with each other, but I think it will work out. They are both sweet-natured, affectionate cats.

The writing did not go well over the weekend; I’m exhausted. Although I did re-plot the rest of RELICS now that it’s diverged so far from the outline. Yesterday, I got back into the saddle with both RELICS and DHARMA. I’m not quite in the flow where I want to be yet, but we’re getting there.

It rained on and off, so when it was cool enough to do yard work, I couldn’t actually do any.

Saturday, I managed to do tons of laundry, get some cleaning done, and get material to create a new cover for the big chair. It’s the same color configuration as Lucy’s tortoiseshell fur, so sometimes when she sits in it, she’s camouflaged. I think she likes that.

I also experimented with a puff pastry filled with apple pie filling, making little turnovers. Needs some work.

We’re watching lots of travel-the-world through cooking videos, and it’s making me more adventurous and confident about my own recipes.

I finished off the foreword for my friend’s book and sent it off. He was thrilled with it. Hopefully, the publisher likes it, too, and doesn’t want too many other changes. But I’ll do whatever.

It was one of the more challenging pieces I’ve ever had to write. Keeping it simple, not getting too gushy, pointing out where it works and lifts the book above typical genre, why it works so well as an indie title due to the chances it takes and breaks through the narrowing of the genre that so many of the Big Five now do. Using examples, but not spoilers.

I’ve read far too many over-blown forewords that quote so much text and dissect so much of the book, you don’t need to read the book anymore. I didn’t want to write one of those!

It was a good stretch, and I learned a lot.

Sunday was the memorial service for the friend who lost her battle to cancer on Aug. 1. It was at a local theatre, which was great (especially during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in NY, we held a lot of memorials in theatres). Lots of people, photos and videos of productions and performances in which she was involved. Her family is bearing up while devastated, because what else could they be?

What I didn’t like was that there was a cash bar and the drinks were full theatre show night price. Since, in lieu of flowers, the theatre was getting donations anyway, I thought that was inappropriate. That’s something I’ve noticed lately at New England funerals/memorials — cash bars. The last two years, that’s been the case in MA and Maine. I don’t like it. I prefer the established ritual of the community providing the feast for the family of the bereaved — everyone would chip in if asked.

It was good to gather everyone to say a final goodbye, but it drove home that this was it. No more of our friend laughing and making our lives sparkle. It was closure, but I don’t want to close the chapter on her. It’s a closure her family, especially needs, and I guess the rest of us do, but there’s a part of me that rebels at it.

She will live in our hearts, but right now, that’s not enough. Even though it has to be.

Came home, exhausted, to calm kitties also sleeping. The past few days have been stressful for them; it was good they could sleep — especially in the same room.

With a client and some other appointments yesterday and today. Yesterday was a web of missed communications.

My phone is dying AGAIN. I’m tired of forced updates I don’t want and forced apps I can’t take out of my phone to make room for what I want and need in it. I resent being forced to run my life on my phone and everything is an app.

I’m not buying a phone during Mercury retrograde. Last time I did that, it died the day Mercury went direct.

I’ll just be old school for the next couple of weeks, and people don’t get an instant response.

This coming weekend, I will go offline all weekend. I’m looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, I’m booked into three yoga classes this weekend, which I’ll need!

Onward.

Published in: on August 14, 2018 at 1:37 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 14, 2018: Getting Back on Track  
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Monday, Aug. 13, 2018: Respect, as in Self-Respect #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, August 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Let’s talk about respect when it comes to ourselves and our work.

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

Don’t demean your work. Don’t make excuses around it. If you talk about your writing, and call yourself a writer, CALL YOURSELF A WRITER.

If someone tries to demean you, give them “The Look” and move on.

You do not owe it to anyone to discuss how much you earn, how much your advance is, how much your royalties are, or any other terms of your contract. When someone who has no business asking these questions tries to pry the information out of you, simply smile and say, “I’m happy with the terms of my contract.” And don’t engage.

If they persist, go ahead and say, “That’s none of your business.”

If someone tries to get you to work for them for free, whether it’s the insulting “You should write . . .” or the even more insulting, “Oh, but it’ll be so EASY to write this and we’ll make a lot of money out of it” – no.

For “You should write” smile and say, “I’m already contracted out on at least three years’ worth of ideas. But thanks for thinking of me.”

For the trying to get you to team up – which ALWAYS means you do the work while they bask in the money they think they’re going to rake in, again, smile and say, “My agent (or lawyer) handles that. Here’s the number. By the way, negotiations for ghost writing or co-writing start at 30K. And there has to be a publisher in place.”

Don’t engage with people who try to sabotage you. There’s nothing wrong with being cordial and walking away. If they continue to behave badly, there’s nothing wrong with being RUDE and walking away.

But the walking away is important.

Also, don’t denigrate your own work. You don’t “just” write marketing material or romance or genre. There’s not “just” in it. You DO.

Marketing writing is every bit as legitimate as novel writing as play writing as short story as anything else.

Don’t make self-deprecating comments about your work. There’s a difference between keeping your ego in check by being low-key and actively encouraging people not to respect your work. The choice of words you use to describe your work, even jokingly, will set the tone for the way strangers will regard you and your work. There’s a difference between an arrogant hard-sell (which is a turn-off), and a pleasant one-sentence summary (your log-line, your hook that you used in your pitch) that gives potential readers and conversationalists a taste of it.

Women have a tendency to self-deprecate more than men do. In the 1980s, we were supposed to wear the oversized shoulder pads that made us look like line-backers so we could tackle “a man’s world” (in stilettos, no less). Then, in the 90s, we were expected to self-deprecate, especially when we had major achievements.

Don’t.

Use positive language that shows self-respect without arrogance. There’s a difference between arrogance and assertion, and yes, it is about more than gender. Plenty of people will call you “arrogant” or “aggressive” if you are an assertive woman, especially an assertive author who’s a woman. That’s their problem, not yours.

Changing your negative self-talk takes time, but it is well worth it. When you start watching what you say out loud, it will also adjust in the voice that’s your saboteur, that often comes out as the “internal editor” (the negative kind) that gets in the way when we create.

That’s like when someone feigns interest in what you write, asks you about it, you tell them, and they say, “Oh! I never would read THAT!”

They aren’t “being honest.” They’re intentionally trying to make you feel like “less than” and that what you do is “less than.” If they were actually being productive members of society, they would smile and say, “How interesting! How wonderful that you wrote/published that!”

There are plenty of books that I won’t read – but I won’t spit in an author’s face by saying so when they’ve taken the time to tell me about the book, ESPECIALLY when I’ve asked about it.

There’s no reason you can’t be supportive and gracious, even when you don’t plan to read the book.

Smile and move to a different conversational group. I no longer grope for another topic. I’ve learned that this individual does not have the most basic social etiquette, and I’m not going to waste time. I smile and move on.

In this divisive time, I get plenty of “I bet you write feminist libtard crap.” To which I smile and say, “No, you wouldn’t like it. My work deals with concepts of humanity, justice, equality, which don’t interest you. Plus, I use words of more than one syllable.”

And I walk away.

Never forget how much non-artists HATE the fact that artists create. They will pretend they “don’t mean anything” by their remarks. But they do. The purpose is to undermine your self-esteem, your self-confidence, to make you feel bad, to “cut you down a peg” or to “put you in your place.”

My place is wherever I CHOOSE it to be.

Smile, be gracious, disengage.

Hold on to the core of your self-respect.

Don’t let anyone treat you with less than respect.

When you respect yourself and disengage from those who treat you without it, you’ll be surprised how their behavior changes, how positively your self-respect affects your life (and your work), and it begins an upward spiral.

Published in: on August 13, 2018 at 4:14 am  Comments (4)  
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Thurs. Aug. 9, 2018: Trying to Regain Equilibrium

Thursday, August 09, 2018
Day Before Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

It’s been a tough week. But I’m slowly trying to regain equilibrium. Client work has been busy; I’ve managed to focus and get what needs to be done DONE, but not much beyond that.

The writing has not been going well, but I’m starting to feel like I can get back to that. I’m grateful to my editor for allowing me the room to grieve, and then guide me back on track. I’m lucky in my book editor; she gets me, doesn’t let me get away with anything, but also knows when to cut me slack so that I can do better work.

On the other hand, another editor, whose deadline isn’t immediate, has been haranguing me “is it done yet? If you have it early, I’ll take it.” Hon, if you wanted it two weeks early, THAT’s the date you should have contracted. No, you are not “following up” or “checking in.” You’re nagging, and that pisses me off. Yes, I’d planned to have it ready on Monday (well ahead of deadline). But, due to the deaths last week, it didn’t happen. I’m still on track, but you’re getting it on the agreed-upon deadline, not before.

I HATE it when editors nag. I’m going to start putting an anti-nagging clauses in my contracts.

Sukasana/savasana/reiki on Tuesday was a big help. And gave me some good ideas to apply to DAVY JONES DHARMA.

I was up most of the night with insomnia, but not enough to actually get up and DO anything. I worked out plot points for RELICS that have been bugging me (I’m so far away from the outline at this point it’s ridiculous), and worked out a few elements I hadn’t figured out for GRAVE REACH.

It’s supposed to storm badly today. I have dinner in the crockpot (hopefully the power won’t go out).

Tomorrow, I am not blogging, because I’m going off-Cape to pick up our new kitty. Fingers crossed it all works out.

I can finally say, “Back to the page.” Writing is the best way to start feeling like myself again.

Published in: on August 9, 2018 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 9, 2018: Trying to Regain Equilibrium  
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Thurs. Aug. 2, 2018: A Test of Coping Skills

Thursday, August 2, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Hot and humid

Usually August 1 is a wonderful day. It’s a very important day on my personal calendar. I’m usually able to take it off as a personal day of rest and reflection.

That wasn’t a possibility yesterday. My client has a big event starting this weekend, and we were working on last minute stuff. It was a good type of busy, but still busy.

Then, our beloved Iris, the last of the New York City cats, is fading at age 18. She’s not ill, she’s just old, slowing down, and only has a few more days, if that, with us. It’s very sad. We let her know how much we love her, and help her as much as we can. She’s been a huge part of my life, first in NYC, later with my mom in Rye, and then moving to the Cape.

I’m behind where I want and need to be on both RELICS & REQUIEM, and on DAVY JONES DHARMA. It’s hard to push through and get things done.

RELICS has taken quite a few turns away from the original outline, although the emotional core is still there. I haven’t felt lighthearted enough for DHARMA. But maybe working on the latter would be good for my heart.

We had a series of power outages on Tuesday night going into Wednesday. Very frustrating, especially since it wasn’t all that hot and there were no storms.

I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. I’m making progress on RELICS, it’s just slower than it needs to be for deadline.

And I’m sad.

Published in: on August 2, 2018 at 8:44 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 2, 2018: A Test of Coping Skills  
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Mon. July 30, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors One Tip To Improve Your Writing

Monday, July 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

In my opinion, there is only one real thing that will improve your writing. You improve your writing when you write, and when you apply what you learn from each project moving forward.

Write. Every day, except for days you choose, ahead of time, not to be writing days.

Work on melding your art with your craft. Craft matters. The more you write, the more you learn rhythm and pace and character and plot. Listen to feedback. Learn from critiques.

APPLY what you learn moving forward.

The most frustrating thing when I teach is when grammar, usage, and structural problems are explained to writers and they refuse to apply the notes moving forward. They expect me to keep correcting the same things. It’s not a style choice — it’s that they never bothered to learn basic grammar and structure in school, and can’t be bothered to learn and apply it now.

It’s a waste of everybody’s time.

Every project has something to teach you. Not only in terms of subject and the research you have to do on subjects you don’t know to bring them to life. But on the writing process itself. Every book or short story or play has its own innate rhythm. It has its own voice, that layers over the author’s unique voice.

The more you write, the more you learn to listen to these rhythms. You learn where to bend them to fit structure, and you learn where to CHOOSE not to do so. There is nothing wrong with breaking “rules” of style, genre, structure. But each break needs to be a defendable choice, not just “I don’t like rules and structure” or, even worse, that you don’t know them.

You want to improve your writing? Write. No excuses. Just sit down and write.

 

Published in: on July 30, 2018 at 4:43 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 30, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors One Tip To Improve Your Writing  
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Fri. July 27, 2018: Retrogrades, Lunar Eclipse, Sigh

Friday, July 27, 2018
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

I don’t do well in this weather. I got some stuff done yesterday, but then faded out (although I did clean out a few things in the front hall closet).

So, I’m behind on pretty much everything right now and have to dig down and get it done. Plenty to do, plenty I WANT to do, but I slow down terribly in this humidity.

Grocery shopping this morning, and waiting to hear on a potential appointment off Cape this weekend, although I doubt it will happen.

I hope we get a break in the humidity.

I’m in an “inner percolation mode” right now. That means that I’m thinking and plotting and mentally working on several different writing projects, but not much is getting down on paper, and I’m at a stage where I can’t discuss much. Which is boring for my blog readers, but a necessary part of my own process.

With all these retrogrades and the lunar eclipse, I’m going to try to be quiet for the next few days and try to give people a lot of extra room (and hope they do the same for me).

Back to the page. Even if I struggle, every word I get down is one more word than I had before. Eventually, those words add up, even if it’s not as fast as I need them to!

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on July 27, 2018 at 8:39 am  Comments Off on Fri. July 27, 2018: Retrogrades, Lunar Eclipse, Sigh  
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Mon. July 23, 2018: Dealing with Failure #UpbeatAuthors

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Image courtesy of Cleverpics via pixabay.com

Monday, July 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

As usual, this will focus on how failure affects us as authors, in our work and life. Some aspects can be applied to other parts of life, but the focus is on our art.

The first way to deal with it is to define it.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “failure” as:

Definition of failure

1a omission of occurrence or performance; specifically failing to perform a duty or expected action 

  • failure to pay the rent on time
(1) a state of inability to perform a normal function 

  • kidney failure

 — compare heart failure 

(2) an abrupt cessation of normal functioning 

  • a power failure
c a fracturing or giving way under stress 

  • structural failure
2a lack of success
b a failing in business bankruptcy 

  • He was trying to rescue the company from failure.
3a a falling short deficiency 

  • a crop failure
4one that has failed 

  • He felt like a failure when he wasn’t accepted into law school.

 

But do you?

I sometimes feel I fail if I let someone else down. If it’s because I was thoughtless or disorganized, then it’s on me and I damn well better find a way to make it right. But sometimes it’s because the other person put an unfair expectation on me and I wasn’t strong enough to say no right off.

Sometimes I feel that I failed if I don’t get an acceptance from a market or a publisher or a grant to which I applied. Yes, I failed to get that particular slot. Most of the time, though, another opportunity comes up that I wouldn’t have been able to accept if I had landed the previous one. Also, because I’ve worked on the publisher side of the table, I know that acceptance is more than just a well-written book: it’s about fitting the tone of a particular publisher, and fitting into the needs of a particular list. Most traditional publishers and some of the smaller publishers have to balance their list so it appeals to a spectrum of readers. If they have too many of one kind of book and none of another in any particular season, they will lose readers that season, and might never regain them. It’s about where your piece fits into the bigger picture, not just your piece.

Many organizations that give out grants expect you to apply (and fail to get an acceptance) over a period of years before they take the application seriously. This always angered me, even when I worked for such non-profits. But many organizations want to see that an artist can sustain work over a period of years before giving that individual money. They don’t want someone who will use a day job or another excuse not to work, or to accept the grant and not meet the requirements of the work that needs to be produced.

None of that knowledge takes the sting out of those refusals, or alleviates the sense of failure.

How do you deal with it?

Acknowledge that you feel angry, sad, whatever. Don’t get on social media and rant and rave against the publisher, agent, or organization. It’s fine to admit disappointment, but don’t attack. Save the venting to do in person, privately, with people you trust. Because there IS a need to vent; there’s just no need to do so publicly. Your feelings are your feelings; they are valid. How you choose to handle them has consequences.

If there’s any feedback, step away for a few days, and then re-visit it with a more objective sensibility. What can you learn from this? How can you apply it positively moving forward?

There are certain publishers and/or organizations that are not a right fit. Just “getting published” isn’t enough. It has to be a place where you have a positive working relationship and both the writer’s and the publisher’s needs and goals are met. Sometimes what starts out as a promising relationship deteriorates. It’s not that one side is “better” or “right” — it’s simply that the needs of both parties aren’t being met, and it’s time to part ways (hopefully amicably), so you can both move on to a better situation. That’s true in any job situation.

I think it’s often harder for artists to deal with failure because what we do is so personal, so much a part of ourselves. It’s difficult not to feel that it’s a rejection of us as human beings.

If something we wrote doesn’t sell well or sell at all, we feel we failed. After a period of time, we can look back. Could it have been structured better? Used stronger language? Have you learned something in the interim that makes it work now? If it’s a sales number, what can you learn from that book’s campaign that you can apply to future promotions? We are pushed to think in terms of immediate large sales numbers, instead of a steadily growing readership. There are plenty of books I’ve read with huge opening sales numbers — and I’ve never read anything by that author again either because I didn’t like the book or because the author never managed to get anything else done, feeling the pressure.

But there are a lot of competing needs and agendas out there, and we’re not all compatible.

When it comes to finding the right agent or publisher, I often compare it to dating — it’s unlikely you’ll find your soul mate the first time out. You need to meet a lot of people and date around. Finding the soul mate for your work is similar.

There’s no need to dramatize or villainize if something doesn’t work out (although, in the first flush of hurt and disappointment, we will). Happy yippy platitudes too soon to the hurt are counterproductive. But then, take a step back, look at the positives, and apply what you learn moving forward.

As a teacher, that’s the most infuriating aspect. When a student REFUSES to apply a correction moving forward. We all start somewhere. We all have things we need to learn. When something is explained (such as the difference between a possessive and a plural) — learn it. APPLY IT MOVING FORWARD. Don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again and expect someone else to fix it.

The only true failure is REFUSING to learn from something that didn’t work and refusing to apply it moving forward.

Most other situations are disappointments or setbacks that can be overcome.

–Acknowledge

–Create objectivity

–Learn

–Apply

And then go on to create something wonderful!

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 4:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 23, 2018: Dealing with Failure #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. July 6, 2018: Ongoing Artists Retreat

Friday, July 06, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I wish this darned storm would just break so we’d get some relief.

Impromptu artists’ colony continues. It’s great, I’m getting so much inspiration and things worked out on different projects. But I am behind on word count for both RELICS and DHARMA. I’m hoping that all this brainstorming and refilling the creative well will then catapult me ahead so it goes more smoothly.

Some guests were supposed to leave this afternoon, but if the weather is bad, they might leave tomorrow. The rest will leave tomorrow, heading up to their rental in Maine.

It’s one of those situations where so much is percolating that I have to figure it out for myself, before I can talk about it publicly. Some wonderful new ideas and possibilities and solutions are opening. I need to mull them over for myself first, before any sort of public brainstorming.

Next week will be stressful on site with clients, and, hopefully, I’ll catch up with the wordcount on the two books.

I needed this creative interlude, even though it puts me behind on word count. It’s also nice to talk to artists working in different disciplines,  to see new ways to looking at the world. A sculptor sees things differently than a writer than an actor than a filmmaker. There are points of intersection, but the individual lens is different. It’s so interesting!

In breaks between creating and discussion creating, I’ve been reading. I’m reading Donna Andrews’s series featuring her protagonist Meg Langslow, which are fun. There are some things that hit me the wrong way, when the author has her characters patronize the theatre profession, but, for the most part, I enjoy them.

Tried to read another book that came highly recommended, but . . .it was in present tense. I find novels written in present tense unreadable. I don’t care how famous or revered the author. I can’t stand them. I was so frustrated by page three that I stopped. Read half of another book by an author whose name I’d heard, but whose work I hadn’t read – put that down, too. The author and her protagonist were parading as “quirky” and “liberal” –while in reality, promoting racist, misogynistic views pretending to be wrapped in tolerance. Her protagonist was a nasty piece of work and not very nice – not someone I want to spend a mystery series with. Tried to read a book by a very well-known author who tried something in a new direction. Some of her other books have worked for me, some have not, as happens with a prolific author who tries new things. This didn’t do it for me – I read about three chapters, and that was it. At the same time, I applaud her for not allowing herself to be boxed in by what she’s done before.

So I haven’t had much luck on the reading front. But I just got my hands on two novels by a novelist whose newest book blew me away, so here’s hoping.

Back to my guests, to creating, to the page. I’m hoping the storm will be gone by the time I’m supposed to go to a friend’s art gallery reception tonight.

 

Published in: on July 6, 2018 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Fri. July 6, 2018: Ongoing Artists Retreat  
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