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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Fri. June 7, 2019: Trying to Get Back on Track

Friday, June 7, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

It’s June, and I just switched from flannel sheets to cotton ones. That’s how cold it’s been around here.

I was up early yesterday morning. Got a bit of writing done, then headed out at 8:30 for a 9 AM meeting with a local client. It went well; after the meeting, I got the first of my part of it done; I have a press release to finish today and get off to them, and then a Skype meeting with another potential client in the afternoon.

Took my mother to her medical appointment. It went reasonably well, but there’s still care to be done on the leg. Ran some errands on the way home, and then, using some new garden equipment, did some yard work. Tackled the rest of the front bed, and cleaned out a lot of the Sleeping Beauty look on the side, and pruned the pretty blooming tree. I decided to hire in someone to mow, but so far, the companies are nasty and sexist and condescending. Why would I pay money to someone who treats me like that? I wish I could find something like Rent-A-Husband, or a woman-run business.

Went to bed ridiculously early last night and finally slept through the night. I’m suffering from severe stress & exhaustion from the events of the past few months, and it’s taking its toll. If I don’t take care of it now, my health will break down indefinitely.

Errands this morning, client work out, prepping for a meeting, and then more yard work. Because there’s always more damn yard work. I’m trying to get the damn weed whacker fixed, so I can actually use it to whack weeds. It works for about two minutes, and then needs adjustment again. I’m so sick of nothing damn working.

I want my weekend to be about writing, especially about GRAVE REACH, but there will, no doubt, be lots of yard work, too.

The Bloomberg article the other day about it being a “myth” that most people can’t afford an unexpected expense was so condescending and removed from reality I wanted to vomit. I expect no less from them — they are, after all, a business publication, and dedicated to screwing the workers while applauding useless executives who profit from those who actually do the work.

I want some time off, with no pressure and no demands on me. I am desperate for it.

Don’t see that happening any time soon.

But I am always happy to go back to the page.

And tomorrow, I’m going to my local library’s big fundraiser (not the library where I used to work, but the library where I spend part of my day three to four times a week). I’m looking forward to it. I use the library so often; I want to support them.

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on June 7, 2019 at 9:29 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 7, 2019: Trying to Get Back on Track  
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Tues. May 28, 2019: Hit The Stress Running

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

So much for having five days off. When the best laid plans go awry, and all that.

Wednesday morning, I’d had a brief conversation with a potential new client. This would be a big deal. Good money. The conference went well, and the person with whom I spoke wanted the next steps up the food chain to happen on Thursday morning, via Skype, and Friday, in person in Boston.

Only I never got the necessary information by end of day on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, I let her know that I hadn’t had any information, and I would not cancel my Friday and go into Boston, on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. That’s just nuts. I said I could arrange to go up next Thursday or Friday, but I needed to know by next Wednesday noon. I’m getting a little tired of this attitude that I’m supposed to be at their beck and call when they’re not paying me.

I got a message back stating that the Thursday morning conference couldn’t happen, could we do it in the afternoon?

Good thing I hadn’t booked office space at Cape Space, as I originally planned. Or I would have had to pay for it, even if I canceled. They seem to have difficulty understanding that I actually work for a living; I’m not lounging around the house in pajamas waiting for their summons.

The Skype meeting went well, although it was 45 minutes, longer than I expected. I haven’t heard anything about whether or not the meeting in Boston is on for next week. If I don’t hear by my deadline, it won’t be.

They requested writing samples, which I provided from my portfolios. On top of it, they want me to do a project-specific “assessment” — which, if they weren’t such an established company with a good reputation, I would refuse to do without pay. But again, I’m losing billable hours for AN INTERVIEW. Red flags going up.

In the meantime, I had a very, very busy Wednesday with a client, and was exhausted by the time I got home in the afternoon. But glad that I had five days away from clients. We have a big project coming up that’s more difficult than it needs to be, because the other party responsible for organizing it is clueless.

I was supposed to have five full days off. However, once the Thursday Skype meeting was moved, I got some other work out of the way in the morning, and then mowed the front yard in the afternoon before my meeting. It looks pretty darn good. The push mower does a far better job than the gas mower ever did.

I finished the final polish on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and sent it off to the producer.

Started plotting the next Frieda/Lazarus radio play, which will take place on the Brighton Pier — provided I can get the research in. I’ve been in Brighton, but I need to do some of the historical research. It’s hard to find books in the MA library system on historical Brighton, England.

Working on the stage play that’s due next week.

Friday, I ran some errands, including stopping by the mechanic to make arrangements for the rest of the car repairs, which are happening today. Downloaded the materials for the “writing assessment” and did a couple of other things.

Managed to get some decent work done on ELLA BY THE BAY throughout the weekend. I find it relaxing to do a few pages with my morning coffee, even before I do yoga and start the rest of the day.

Finished a chunk of research on forensic psychology, so I can draft Sam’s professional scenes in GRAVE REACH.

Mowed the side yard.

I’m taking as much time as possible to enjoy being on the deck. I rubbed the wooden furniture with teak oil; I’m starting to put out the garden ornaments.

I managed to get a lot of reading done: MURDER AT OCHRE COURT and A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE, both by Alyssa Maxwell, although each is from a different series; THE LOST CAROUSEL OF PROVENCE and LETTERS FROM PARIS, both by Juliet Blackwell. Started reading a serial killer novel, but the cat was murdered, so I’m done. I’m tired of pets and women constantly brutalized in fiction (not to mention real life).

Saturday, I ran some books back to the library, and got out a pitch for an opportunity that landed on my desk late Friday night.

The stage play I was writing took a turn to the more dramatic; I started another, more comic play that I think will work better for the piece I have to submit at the end of the week.

Mowed No Man’s Land and about half of the terrace back part of the yard. An enormous tree limb crashed down in the meadow, and I’m not sure if I should be worried about the rest of the tree. Not to mention that I don’t think I can move the tree limb by myself.

Cooked a lot and ate too much on Saturday. Complete indulgence. A Spanish-style tuna with relish, olive, and tomato along with an Italian anti-pasto plate, French bread, and French wine for lunch (and a sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries). A French bistro recipe for chicken, shallots, tomato, and tarragon for dinner.

The hordes of tourists have descended and Cape Cod is a nightmare. They are rude, they are arrogant, they drive on the wrong side of the road while texting on their phones. They are sloppy and they litter.

Sitting on the deck on Saturday afternoon, it smelled like Cape Cod, but with the noise of traffic and sirens, it sounded like New York City, and I felt claustrophobic.

A thunder storm woke me overnight Saturday into Sunday, but it passed quickly. It was the first night we left the plants out, and they seem to have survived.

Up early on Sunday, reading and writing. Especially on ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s got a nice, steady pace. I need to transfer some of that pace to GRAVE REACH, and up it a bit.

I should have mowed, but I didn’t. Instead, I tried to enjoy the day.

I am, however, worried about a tree in the backyard that’s leaning. Only I’m not sure if it’s on my property or my neighbor’s. So I will have to ask the landlord. But I’m worried that it will come down and hurt someone or something.

Wrote and polished an article which will go out today. Worked on the “assessment” assignment for the potential new client. Read Tami Hoag’s DUST TO DUST, which was quite good.

Noodled with some ideas for stories and for plays (different ideas). We will see which ones work and which ones don’t.

Got an idea for a short play, which I think will work better for the play on deadline than either of the ideas with which I’ve been playing.

Monday, morning, up early. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on the new play, called “Qualified Personnel.” Got the first draft done. Will let it simmer for a day or two before I revise it and then I want to get it out by Thursday, if possible.

Got more stuff out on the deck, to build our enchanted garden there. Put in the solar stakes. Started mowing the meadow, which is a nightmare, because it’s uneven. Wondering if I’ll have to get in someone to do it for me, at least mow it down the first time.

Reading about the history of Havana. Fretting about the “writing assessment.” I should have simply stated I was away for the weekend, and had the initial interview, etc. this week. It’s my own fault, but I didn’t get the rest I needed, and am still feeling cooked, instead of revived and ready to face the hell that is summer on Cape Cod. It should be wonderful because it’s so beautiful, but it’s not.

Just when I hit a low point, a friend sent me a link to his new song, which is quite beautiful. That cheered me up.

Thought I’d bought ground lamb for dinner, but it was beef. Made burgers for dinner. They were very good, but the last few times I’ve eaten beef, I’ve felt awful, and this wasn’t much different.

Up early today, stressed, and off to get the car fixed. Hope it stays within the estimate and can all get done.

Exhausted and out of sorts, when I should be renewed and ready to face what’s coming. Not a good way to start the coming months.

Tues. May 21, 2019: Digging In to Dig Out

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Busy weekend, but a different busy than I expected. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Work is coming along steadily on ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s different than my usual pieces, and I’m taking what I’ve learned in other pieces and applying it here. It’s taking on its own form and rhythm, while still holding genre elements which interest me.

Working on GRAVE REACH, which is interesting in the way it’s forming, too. I feel as though last year I’d hit a plateau with my work. Although I wanted to improve, I’m not sure I did. I think both GRAVE REACH and ELLA will wind up being really good books. They’ll need a lot of work to get there, but the bones are solid on both of them, and I can layer on in the edits.

Ran errands on Friday, got out some LOIs, handled some stuff for my mom, and some grocery shopping. Saturday morning, more groceries, gas in the car, and a trip to Country Gardens so that I could get the stuff I need to treat the deck for ticks, et al. There were lettuce six packs on sale, so I could replace some of the lettuce we lost.

I did some trimming in the yard, and spent a good portion of the day transplanting tomato, eggplant, and pepper seedlings, and repotting some herbs. I also planted nasturtium, morning glory, moonflower, kale, mesculan green, and spinach seeds.

We have to take some of the tender plants back in at night, but they need the long sunshine.

Did the first of the tick treatments on the deck. I’m probably more afraid of ticks than anything else.

Later in the day, I enjoyed the scent of lilacs on the breeze, as I did research for a couple of projects.

The check arrived from the radio play in Minnesota that was taped last week. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the check from the Boston production a month ago. I’ll wait a few more days and then do a follow-up.

The Preakness was wild. Both in the entrants, and the poor horse who ran without his jockey.

Last week, I re-watched, on DVD, Bill Moyers’ FAITH & REASON, which took place at a PEN conference in NYC a few years back. What those writers predicted is even more chilling today. Now, I’m watching A WORLD OF IDEAS, conversations Moyers had with writers way back in 1988. E.L. Doctorow predicted what has since come to pass.

I overslept on Sunday, not getting up until after 8. I can’t remember when I’ve done that. Put the plants out on the deck for the day. Will have to take them in and out all week, because the nights are still too cold. I’m slowly taking out the teak furniture, a piece at a time, and rubbing it with teak oil, so it won’t crack in the weather. Did three loads of laundry. Wanted to mow (okay, not really, more like NEEDED to mow), but it kept threatening to rain, so I didn’t. That was my excuse, anyway. I need to get the meadow done soon, or it will be too high for the mower.

Worked on ELLA; worked on GRAVE REACH; worked on a tweak my editor asked for in the review; got ahead on some blogging. Worked on the articles that are due this week.

Woke up at 2:30 on Monday morning; managed to get back to sleep, but it always means I’m groggy and have a problem getting going when the alarm goes off. The weather was lousy, so I kept the tender plants inside.

I think I’m going to stick to my plan of taking off from this Thursday through Memorial Day. I’ll make it a long weekend of reading, writing, and yard work (weather permitting). As little online as possible, not dumping things on people’s desks except for deadlined work. I need the break, or I will break.

Taking Sunday almost completely offline helped a great deal. I need to go back to one day a week that’s disconnected; for a long weekend, I plan to spend most of it disconnected.

Was with a client yesterday. It was a little chaotic. Will be there today and tomorrow, and then I have a break from client work until next Tuesday. I barely made it to meditation on time.

I desperately, desperately need it.

 

Published in: on May 21, 2019 at 5:09 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 21, 2019: Digging In to Dig Out  
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Thurs. April 25, 2019: Evolution of the Writing Process & Internet Bullying

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That pressure you’re feeling? Jupiter AND Pluto are retrograde. Saturn joins them on Monday. Yuck.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post on the garden.

Was with a client most of yesterday. Somehow, when I woke up I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday; even once I realized it, I had trouble getting into the Wednesday head space to work with the client.

Home and worked in the garden for about an hour. There’s still a lot to do, but I just have to do it one piece at a time. Eventually, it will all get done.

Worked on contest entries.

I’m playing with a new idea for a series of novellas. I want to mix genres. I want them to be short. The characters are clear; the world is taking shape. I have the beginnings of a plot, which I’ll have to explore further. I don’t want them to run longer than 25-30K, so the plot has to be precise, and a minimum of sub-plots, even though I want a couple of them to run the course of the series.

I’m not sure WHEN I can fit in the writing of them, so I have something worthwhile to show my editor. I have deadlines to meet, and re-adjusted deadlines to meet.

But it’s fun to play with the ideas.

It’s so important for process to evolve. My process is constantly evolving. I learn from each project. I work on both art and craft. Some of them wind up not working at all, and that’s okay. Disappointing, but even what doesn’t work gets me somewhere else, and gives me valuable experience.

I’ve written books as a blank-pager, not using an outline. (I don’t use the term “pantser” — to me, it sounds like an STD). While it was sometimes fun and often frustrating to figure it out as I wrote, ultimately, I had to evolve away from that. It also needed a lot more drafts to get it into the shape where I could even ask a Trusted Reader to look at it.

This is my profession, not my hobby. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block or not knowing what comes next when I sit down at the page. I need to be able to drop immediately into the world of whatever I’m working on and move forward.

I’m juggling several series, along with other projects. Some are novels; some are radio plays; some are stage plays; some are articles or other writing I do for clients. I don’t have the option of telling a client I “didn’t have time” to do their project.

Outlining has helped me. I sit down and plot out the book. I free write the characters’ stories. Then I go back and work on plot points and scenes. Then I arrange and rearrange them as I best think it will serve that particular book.

I don’t like working on index cards. For scripts, especially television scripts, that’s the protocol, and if I’m working as part of a staff, or with a partner, yes, we use index cards. But I’m happier with paper and pen. My outlines are more like treatments.

This is NOT the outline I’d send with a query. Even the outlines I send my editors for series in progress are honed from these outlines, but are NOT these outlines. I call these outlines my “Writer’s Rough Outline.”

I type a copy and keep my original handwritten copy. I usually work from the handwritten (if I can read it — sometimes it’s too scrawled). The creative energy that went into the handwritten copy often serves me better than a cold, typed version.

As I complete each section of the outline, I check it off.

I adjust along the way, as the story and characters dictate and evolve.

My outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I often go in very different directions. That’s okay.

The first draft is often lean and skeletal. I don’t want to lose momentum. I want to get through it.

I like to put each draft away. The most important rest time is between the first draft and the second. Ideally, it’s two months. The reality is often far less, but I always try for at least two weeks.

I have to be able to look at it objectively, as though someone else wrote it.

Then I do as many drafts as it takes, including my multi-colored draft (where I go through with different colored markers highlighting adverbs, passive or past perfect, and qualifiers. Then I take them out and look for better ways to express what I want to say. If that word IS the best way, I negotiate with myself to put it back in).

The second draft is usually where I overwrite and follow tangents and develop ideas. The third draft if usually a combination of multi-colored draft and massive cuts.

Trusted readers usually get a third or fourth draft. I usually have at least one, sometimes two drafts after my readers see it before I consider it submission-ready. An un-contracted manuscript can take several years until it’s ready for submission.

The books on series contract have fewer drafts, since my contracted editor is in earlier in the process. Plus, the schedule is tighter.

There are always more ideas than hours in the day to write them. (I distrust those who say they “don’t have anything to write about” the same way I distrust people who get bored. Writers always have too much to write about). I recently started a notebook I call the “Whatever” notebook. I’ve had variations on this throughout the years, usually called “Fragments.”

I date every entry. I find the date provides a context for the inspiration, and sometimes it helps to go back to other elements of the day.

In it, I write whatever I want. A snippet of dialogue, an observation, ideas as characters and situations come to me. If I’m somewhere between meetings or in a waiting room or just want to get away and clear my head, I take the Whatever notebook and free write. Write about whatever’s on my mind, a combination of inspiration, what if, development, and brain dump.

It’s along the lines of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Practice and Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, although they happen at any time in the day, and at any place.

Morning pages work for lots of people, but not fore me. Morning is my most creative time. If I do morning pages, then I’ve used up that creative energy that should have gone into whatever is my Primary Project (the manuscript in which I write my first 1K of the day every morning). I think they’re great if they work. The concept is terrific, and it gets the person writing every day. But I need my first writing of the day to be about the work, not about me.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in one of my favorite writing books in the morning, before I start writing. Morning routine is: make coffee, feed the cats, check email/social media (sometimes I respond, while the coffee is brewing; sometimes I make a note to respond later), first cup of coffee, yoga, meditation, shower/dress, first 1K of the day.

When the weather is nice, I have my first cup of coffee out on the deck. When it’s not, I have it in my writing room. Now, I’m reading a few pages in one of my favorite books about writing (I have shelves of them, and some of them I re-read regularly as fuel).

Any other kind of book siphons energy away from my own work; in other words, I don’t read fiction first thing, or it derails my first 1K. But reading about writing and process helps. Usually it’s only 2-3 pages. But it starts building the desire.

Once I’ve written my first 1K of the day, I have breakfast. Check email, plan the day. If I can, I get a little more writing done. If it’s a day where I’m headed off to work with a client, I do it. Otherwise, I might write at home for a bit, and then head to the library for a few hours. There, I can research and put together pitches, or just sit in a corner and write. I answer emails, I send out LOIs or pitches. It’s easier for me to do that away from the writing room.

I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. That’s flexible, depending on deadlines.

Again, weather dictates when I can work in the yard, so sometimes I have to push an editing session or add an extra writing session into the evening, when necessary.

I still go out with friends. I still spend time with family. But they can’t sabotage the writing. Anyone who sabotages the writing is removed from my life. This is my profession as well as my passion. I am the breadwinner. Writing is a priority, and those who don’t understand that, who don’t respect that, reveal a far deeper problem than time or writing. They reveal that they don’t understand or respect ME. Why would I have people in my life who don’t respect me?

That carries over to the endless bullying on the Internet. The last few days, I have received demands to stop talking about politics because the follower “only” wants writing information; to stop talking about writing because the follower “only” wants politics; to block people that person didn’t like or they would block me; if I’m even willing to listen to a different point of view, they’ll block me; if I don’t like the same thing they do, they’ll block me; they pick the “hill they want to die on” for something meaningless to most of the rest of us and demand fealty; that they’ll block anything that is retweeted without comment — really? If it’s well said, adding anything is only ego on my part; that I have to “prove” I’m a “real person” and they get to define “real” and that I “must” use pronouns in my bio– um, no. I get to decide what I share publicly and how to share it; to stop forwarding information on animals in kill shelters whose lives can be saved through adoption, fostering, and sponsorship.

All these people can go to hell, as far as I’m concerned. They don’t get to tell me what to post about, what to write about, how to live, what parts of myself I choose to share with the world.

I’m tired of people who claim they support inclusion and tolerance and are fighting for what’s right then tell me what I can and can’t say or do or think — as much as those we’re fighting dictate to us. Especially if it’s someone I’ve never met and only know for a few days on a social media platform.

Are you paying me to write something specific? No? Then you don’t have a say in what I write. YOUR right is not to buy it. Or read it. But not to tell me I can’t or shouldn’t write it.

None of these people matter in my life. I quietly unfollow or block plenty of people every week. We’re just not compatible. I don’t have to threaten them or fight with them. I either scroll past (because we are all more than one thing, and that’s beautiful) or, if it truly is something I don’t want in my life in the long term, I unfollow or block, as appropriate. I don’t have to make a big deal out of it. I’m a random person on plenty of people’s feeds, as they are on mine. We can peacefully co-exist, in most instances, without bullying each other. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to write posts that incite violence or demean people — yes, those should be called out. But if someone is happy about a show or a flavor of ice cream or whatever? Why be mean? If something matters to someone and they want to share a post to try and help? Why do YOU have the right to say THEY don’t have the right to care or to share it?

You don’t.

Also, I am not required to follow everyone who follows me, nor is everyone I follow required to follow me. There are certain red flag words in posts or bios that mean I won’t follow back. It doesn’t mean that person is expected to change; it’s just not something I want in my life. Eventually, they will probably unfollow me anyway.

And we don’t miss each other, because we never really knew each other.

Yes, social media is a marketing tool for my work. But that’s only part of the reason I’m on it. I’m on it to learn from people who know and are interested in different things than I am. I am on it for conversation and information and laughter. I don’t have to like, or even agree, with every post from every person that shows up on my feed.

Have I made poor choices, either in comments or in sharing? Of course. But I’m getting more aware of it, and am thinking twice before doing either. I am well aware how flawed I am, and I work on it. But I don’t bow to bullies, even in elementary school.

I’m happy with the way GRAVE REACH is going, and hope to get in at least one more writing session on it today. I have to make a grocery run, go to the library, take my mother to a doctor’s appointment, get some yard work in.

I also have to go over Saturday’s presentation one more time, and re-check the packing and all the stuff I’m bringing for the presentation. I have a rolling rack full of fun stuff. I leave for the conference tomorrow. I present late on Saturday. I know I’m prepared, but I always like to make sure.

I could teach a semester-long course on this. I have 50 minutes. I hope I picked the right 50 minutes of material!

Back to the page. And the yard.

 

Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive

Friday, April 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Got some yard work done yesterday, which was a good thing. Compared with how much still needs to be done, it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but every bit of progress is progress. I got rid of a lot of invasives, which was not fun, but necessary.

Took my mother to the doctor. She had to have another biopsy done on her leg. Hopefully, she won’t need more surgery.

Worked on contest entries and some other stuff. Behind where I want to be in the writing, and have to push hard this weekend. Also want to finish the material for my workshop. I’m last on the schedule, about which I have mixed feelings. It’s my lowest energy point of the day. But I’ll pull it off.

I need to start putting together the handouts, too. Because, of course, I am the Queen of Handouts.

I’m still not sure if I should do a Power Point presentation, or visual boards, or a mix. I might do both and be prepared.

Still not happy with those two scenes in “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.”

Waiting to hear back on a couple of things, prepping a couple of pitches. In a holding pattern for a few things, because I can’t move forward until I have more information, and, once I have it, I might have to do some negotiating.

I have a meeting at 2 this afternoon, which could also put a few interesting things into play.

Tomorrow morning, Tessa goes to the vet to get her shots updated (Lucy’s are still good). In the afternoon, I have a sound bath workshop. I can’t wait.

In between, I have to write and do yard work (unless it’s raining). And finish my taxes (ick).

Most important errands this morning are to pick up my mother’s prescription and put gas in the car! All the other errands are build around that.

Monday is Patriot’s Day here in MA, but I’m going in to work with a client on a big project.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on April 12, 2019 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive  
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Tues. April 2, 2019: Regaining Equilibrium & Grabbing Opportunities

Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Waning Moon

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

Mine was all over the place. The drama surrounding what should have been something simple intensified, and I’m fed up. In addition to being hurt and frustrated because I said if these particular actions were taken, these would be the results, and I would be the one who had to pay for it both financially and emotionally. That was ignored, I was hit with consequences for something that was not an action of MINE, and now I’m supposed to jump through more hoops to fix it, instead of the person who caused the issue in the first place. No. Just no.

Human beings make mistakes. It happens.

When I make a mistake, I apologize, first and foremost. Then I take actions to correct the mistake. Then I work to rebuild any trust that was broken because of the mistake. Especially the latter takes time, and isn’t always successful. But I make the effort.

Yet in this situation, when the other party made a mistake that affected me in more than one area of my life — I had to fight to get an acknowledgement and then a half-hearted apology. And then I was told the hoops I had to jump through to get it fixed with a third party– again, this was NOT my mistake — which I had told the person who made the mistake wouldn’t work in the first place, because I actually have worked in this field and know the manipulations. As I predicted, it did not work, I was badly treated, shamed, and mansplained to. The situation is still not resolved. We are now in Day 5 of something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and could have been fixed in FIVE MINUTES.

Even if it is, any future interactions will be tainted. What used to be in the life balance column is now in the life stressor column.

I don’t need that, especially not this month, when things are stretched to the max anyway.

In addition to the whole situation making me angry, I am so, so hurt. This was someone I trusted.

But now I know better.

And I’ve lost a sanctuary I deeply value. Which is painful.

So, basically, most of the weekend was spent in emotional pain management, trying to heal, and, every time I took a step to try to resolve the situation, getting another metaphorical slap in the face.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done, although I got some plotting, and I’m back working on GRAVE REACH this week. At least I can relate to Lesley’s pain and sense of betrayal. I’ll find a way to funnel it into the work.

I read my friend Arlene Kay’s DEATH BY DOG SHOW, which was really fun. Made me laugh a lot.

I worked on the books for review. I worked on contest entries. I got quite a bit done on the contest entries.

I started working in the yard. Saturday was so beautiful. I got the terraced area in the back raked out. I didn’t get as far as the border bed on the terraced area, but I got the rest of the beds raked out, did some pruning and cutting back. Got rid of a lot of bindweed that’s been creeping around. And some of the roses are taking over, so I’m going to have to do some serious hacking back in the next few weeks.

Worked on the proofs for the almanac. They went out yesterday morning.

Was with a client on Monday, and will be so today. Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe into Friday, I have an adventure. I’ll be able to share some of the details next week. And then I go into another intense weekend of writing and, next Saturday, going to see my radio play performed live in Boston.

My entire intent on Monday was to keep my head down. I don’t like April Fool’s Day. I don’t like that people feel liberated to be cruel — although, since the 2016 election, they feel that every day, and, especially around here, regularly act on it.

Onward.

 

Published in: on April 2, 2019 at 5:26 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 2, 2019: Regaining Equilibrium & Grabbing Opportunities  
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Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend. I was lucky enough to focus on the writing.

I finished the 4th draft of HEART SNATCHER on Sunday morning, after spending part of Friday and most of Saturday on it. I wound up cutting seven chapters, doing a lot of tightening. It’s now back down within an acceptable range for genre, although I’d like it to be even leaner.

But I love Max and Valerie, and what they’re dealing with. The characters are well-developed, the plot moves.

I made some changes in the first third of HEART BINDER, the second book in the trilogy, and then went over the outline for books two and three, and made some changes to support the revisions in book 1.

I also found a place where I need to add a few words of description to an object that makes an appearance in Book 1 and then becomes vital to the plot in Books 2 &3.

I wrote another chapter on HEART BINDER on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll send HEART SNATCHER to my editor after the Thanksgiving holiday. I want it to marinate, so to speak, for a few days, and then I’ll do one more pass before I send it off. She liked the synopsis and sample chapters, and in the current climate of a toxic administration, it’s relevant.

Along with the discussions I’ve been having with editor and publisher, we are moving the release of DAVY JONES DHARMA into February, rather than December. I can’t get it into the shape I want by the end of this week. I need to tear it apart and reconstruct it. The contract schedule this year was just too tight for me.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes more sense to release a book set on a cruise ship in February, during the height of cruise season, so that all works.

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is on track, and retains its late January release date.

We may push back the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and the future of the Gambit Colony series is up in the air, as far as when it will release.

That’s all dependant, of course, if the publisher wants the Justice by Harpy trilogy. If not, we still have to rearrange some of the schedule, so that each book we release is the best I can make it, within the time frame, and the time frame is realistic so it doesn’t suck.

I’m also at that weird stage I hit with certain books, where I don’t like to be physically separated from the manuscript.

Got a few pages done on the suicidal veteran piece.

Friday night, there was an NBC news piece about teaching kids to triage each other in active school shootings. Right, because the adults refuse common sense gun legislation.

But that got me thinking about the anti-gun violence play. I wrote a new opening, and I have the notes for a new closing. They will echo each other, without boring repetition (if I do it properly). Instead of writing this play linearly, the way I usually do — start at the beginning, write it through, and then revise — I’m writing it from both ends to the middle. It’s a variation on a technique I learned in a playwrighting workshop I took with the National Theatre when one of my plays was done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I found out about the deadline to submit the application on the last day. I went to the Fringe office to apply. A scene had to accompany the application, so I sat down and wrote one. When I turned it in, they asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the instructor said, “You wrote this just now? It’s not part of something else?”

I said, “No. I can’t use anything from the piece that’s running, because it would hurt both processes.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re in.”

It’s one of the best classes I ever took in my life, and I still use what I learned.

Anyway, I rewrote the opening scene. I sent it off to my UK actor pal (the one who told me to get out of my own way in the reading). He’s one of the few who sees an early draft of anything; he’s both supportive and critical. I asked him what it needed. His reply: “To be on stage. Now.”

So I’m on the right track.

Yard work suffered this weekend, but too damn bad. I was so sick and tired of all the damn leaf blowers. It’s autumn in New England. Leaves fall down. The lawn doesn’t have to be immaculate every moment.

It was a Twitter pal’s birthday yesterday. I sent him good wishes; but, because I wasn’t close enough to buy him a drink in person, I went to a local bar where veterans hang out (he’s a veteran) and anonymously bought a round for a table of them in his honor. I left before the bartender could point me out. Because none of this is about me.

The rest of this week’s posts are placeholders and good wishes for the holidays. The next post with teeth in it is next Monday, the Upbeat Authors post wondering if authors can have friends, since everything is material.

Back to the page.

Published in: on November 20, 2018 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements  
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Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Busy, intense weekend.

Friday, we went to the Cahoon Museum, to see the fiber arts exhibit. It was astonishing. My favorite pieces were the enormous scorpion made out of black lace doilies — it took up about a third of the floor space in the exhibit room — and a quilt called “Security Blanket” filled with charms and shells and artifacts from different belief systems.

There was also an amazing painting in the upstairs gallery by a painter named Jim Dowd. When you first look at it, it’s dark blue. As you continue to look at it, you start seeing the moonlight, the outline of the houses, the light in the windows. It was another piece I kept going back to. It filled me with delight and discovery.

Picked up some stuff at the Patisserie in Falmouth (still my favorite bakery), stocked up on cat food and cat litter, ran some other errands.

Saturday was a stormy, rainy day, but Sunday was lovely, and I got to see the matinee of a musical in which a former colleague had a role. Overall, the production was well-directed, well-designed, well-choreographed, well music-directed. My colleague and one of the young actresses were terrific vocally. But the score was beyond some of the other performers. It was better than most musical productions I’ve seen here, but still, there were too many sharps and flats and missed notes. I enjoyed it, though, and the overall sense was of a good production. The audience stood, although I did not. I have only stood at curtain call for three productions in my life, three productions where I felt blown away. I rarely stand, and this “standing for everything” dilutes the meaning of a standing ovation.

Worked on DAVY JONES DHARMA over the weekend, but still am not where I need to be. I’d hoped to have this draft done this weekend. I’m having trouble keeping the tone light enough.

Read an historical mystery where the period detail was exquisite, but the characters and plot didn’t quite do it. Read Michael Ovitz’s memoir, which was interesting. CAA was in its heydey as I transitioned from off-Broadway to Broadway. I liked (and continue to respect) the long-term career planning the agents did (rather than take the money and run). What I didn’t and don’t like is them putting together packages of all their personnel — writer, director, actors. Taking over that part of the creative process. I don’t think you can get the best person for each slot that way. Of course, one could argue that film and television production isn’t about the “best” but the most bankable. Sometimes they align, and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, it was interesting to learn that perspective. That will feed into the GAMBIT COLONY series.

I also wonder who his ghostwriter was. The tone sounds familiar.

Did some work on PREVENTATIVE MEASURES. Got over a point where I’d stalled. I’m writing some bits I’ll probably cut, but I need to write them so I have the information. Then I can cut it and seed in what’s necessary for the reader.

The Narcissistic Sociopath was an embarrassment on a global scale, yet again. Flying to France (on our $$$), then refusing to go to the Armistice Ceremony because it was raining. Berating California for its wildfires and refusing aid. Skipping the dinner of World leaders (or maybe he was 2 1/2 hours late — I’ve heard conflicting stories). Wagging his tail like an eager puppy when Putin arrived. Refusing to walk down the Champs Elysee with 70 other world leaders. He’s a disgrace, on every level.

The California wildfires are heartbreaking. The loss of life, home — not just belongings, but home. At least one actor with whom I’m acquainted has lost his home, and I’m worried about others. The animals dying, people burned alive in their cars as they try to flee.

And the federal government doing NOTHING. The Red Cross telling them there’s nothing coming in. Well, Red Cross, you have a HUGE bank account — crack it open and help these people. The Red Cross has been a major disappointment in my lifetime. The one time I personally needed help from them, where there was a fire in my apartment building and I was traumatized and frightened and didn’t know what to do? They were useless.

Re-connected with veterans, with Armistice Day and Veterans Day and all these important events this weekend. I’ve worked with a variety of them on different projects — theatre pieces, writing, listening to them. Every year, I’m saddened to see how many move from the Veterans’ Day list (alive) to the Memorial Day list (dead).

But from it, I got seeds of inspiration for several pieces. I’m taking notes, and will try to steal time here and there to work on them, while the inspiration burns hot. There’s so much pain going on, and in this percolation process, when I write from the inside out, it can be overwhelming. Actor friends tease me about “method writing.”

The process isn’t easy, but always worth it. Right now, I have no one to buffer between me and the world, which makes it more difficult. I have to build my own shells, my own walls, to protect myself and my process.

I really need a break, time off from the world, for a few days, but I can’t see how I’m going to get it.

I’d hoped to go on an adventure to Boston later this week, but I don’t think it will work. And, honestly, I don’t think I have the emotional energy for it right now.

Worked with my client onsite yesterday, and will do so today.

Focusing on DHARMA, since that deadline is looming, and on the pieces inspired this weekend, which fall into the category of development I can do in the Women Write Change project.

I got a little bit of yard work done, trying to get the leaves done and bagged. I’m getting a little sick of the neighbors, with their constant leaf blowing. But they only blow the leaves into piles, which then blow into my yard, and I’m the one who ends up having to rake and bag everyone’s leaves. Bag what you blow, people!

I’m tired, tired on so many levels.

But I need to get back to the page. That always helps.

Published in: on November 13, 2018 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration  
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Wed. May 30, 2018: Writing Weekend & Rewards

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I need another week of weekend.

Busy times. Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest post.

I have to find someone who can help me re-thread the spool for the weed whacker, so I can keep working on the yard.

I made a stupid mistake on Friday because I was over-tired and careless. I can’t fix it; therefore I’ve lost a good opportunity. That’s my own damn fault. I need to let it go and move on.

Saturday was all about the yard. I worked in the front, I worked in the back. I set down the organic fertilizer that also fights ants and ticks. I planted the tomatoes I’ve grown from seed, re-planted some mints and other plants from the garden store, planted some more seeds, tracked down and destroyed the wasp nest and the wasps that have been tormenting us. Part of me felt guilty for the latter; however, they have an entire yard that remains organic; they don’t have to harass us on the deck. If they won’t respect boundaries, they are gone.

We set up the deck, and it’s lovely. I hope we can spend many wonderful hours out there this season.

I planned Sunday and Monday as writing days, and they were. However, they weren’t on the projects where I’m under the most pressure. I should have been working on MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

Instead, I worked on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS. I wrote about fifty pages (mostly on Sunday, less on Monday). The shape is a little different than I expected, but I like it. The characters are surprising me in good ways. I’m having fun with the maps and building a dirigible that’s different from the other dirigibles I’ve designed for other stories. I have to adjust the structure — and that means going back and adding a chapter I skipped. I thought I had to rotate points of view and each chapter had to be from a different POV; however, I’m finding certain chapters where two in a row need to be from my primary protagonist. I’m also naming the chapters — something I rarely do. I’m naming them once they’re written, so the title reflects the content. I find if I try to name the chapter first, I then try to bend the chapter to fit the title, and it takes me off the track of the piece.

Thank goodness for my tracking sheets, or I’d never be able to stay consistent.

I heard that my radio play was well-received. I’m glad, and I look forward to hearing it when the link goes up. I also heard from some readers who bought and read my books over the holiday weekend, and enjoyed them. Always glad when something I write makes someone happy.

Worked on the anti-gun violence play. I have the characters, I think. I removed some, because they were pulling the focus of the piece. I have a smaller cast and a narrower focus, but I think it will work for what it is. I have what drives each of them; I have a basic idea of plot. I’m still working on structure, but I’m close. I find that, for a play, I need to work out a lot more in my head before I start writing. For prose, I need to make more notes and outline.

Yesterday, it was difficult to move out of the world of THREE ROADS and back into the contemporary New York of MYTH & INTERPRETAITON and RELICS & REQUIEM. Not to mention my actual reality of Cape Cod and having to work with a client on-site. I’m really tired of the attitude on Cape Cod of “if you’re not sitting in front of me doing the work, you can’t be working.” I’m much more productive working off-site, in my preferred surroundings. Both the quantity and the quality of my work are better when I work remotely.

Back on track with MYTH. Getting there with RELICS. My reward for getting each day’s quota on each is doing some work on THREE ROADS. Working steadily on the play — should be able to start putting something on paper this week.

Some LOIs out yesterday and more will go out today. I’m on-site with a client again, and have plenty of other stuff to get done while I’m gone.

And yard work, whenever I can, because the whole summer will be about yard work.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on May 30, 2018 at 2:11 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 30, 2018: Writing Weekend & Rewards  
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Tues. April 24, 2018: The Right Kind of Writing Busy

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy, busy, busy weekend.

I did a lot of work on the serial proposal, and that went out yesterday. It’ll be about two months before I hear anything, and, hey, it’s a 50-50 chance. I hope they pick it up; if they don’t, I have it outlined and ready to dig back into as a novel when I can fit it back into the schedule.

I went through a stack of contest entries, and I started reading the radio dramas sent to me to judge.

I did a good bit of percolating and figuring out stuff for both NOT BY THE BOOK and HEART THEFT, and have started drafting the additional chapters.

I’m in another round of copyedits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and hope to get them out later today or tomorrow.

I managed to get some yard work in, hauling the big branches that broke in the March storms, raking leaves in no man’s land, and cutting out some of the invasive oak. We put some of the big potted plants out on the deck — the two Rose of Sharons, the lilac, the forsythia, the hydrangea, the blueberry, some of the hanging baskets. Hopefully, we’ve moving into spring and can set up our enchanted deck soon.

I’m so exhausted, just feeling burned out on a lot of life stuff. But I’m excited about the writing opportunities, and I’m determined to do my best.

I’m excited by the worlds I’ve built for the serial, for HEART THEFT, and for NOT BY THE BOOK. I feel good about the work. There’s always room for “better” and that’s where editors come in, but I feel good about the work.

 

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 2:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 24, 2018: The Right Kind of Writing Busy  
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Tues. April 3, 2018: Snow and Second Thoughts

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Snow yesterday. Not a happy camper.

The weekend wasn’t good for writing, but good for home and hearth. I started spring cleaning; I got yard work done.

I found out some interesting information about one branch on the family tree. I need to verify the information; if it’s true, I’ll share it. If not, it was still an interesting possibility.

Yet another coffee maker bit the dust this Mercury retrograde. This one last six months. That makes me grumpy.

Having second thoughts about the serial pitch. Not the worth of the pitch or the project, but I’m hearing people talk about the company, and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not. Not sure the financials would work out, and the more I hear, the more it sounds like the company expects the writer to bring the audience instead of working with the writer to grow the audience. My interest is in GROWING my audience, not handing my readers on a platter to someone else for THEIR profit. So, we’ll see.

Digging into the SPIRIT REPOSITORY edits. There’s a lot of work to be done. Instead of beating myself up about it, I need to buckle down and do it.

The retrogrades are weighing on me.

Published in: on April 3, 2018 at 1:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 3, 2018: Snow and Second Thoughts  
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Fri. March 30, 2018: I Hate Retrogrades

Friday, March 30, 2018
Day before Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and windy

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Semi-productive with admin work. We went another couple of rounds on the cover for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and are all finally happy. The cover reveal was in the newsletter that also went out yesterday.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough. Worked through some contest entries.

Managed a few hours in the yard. Got most of the debris cleared out of the front, and one of the beds raked out. Slow going. I’m hoping that it clears up a bit today in order to get some more done. There’s a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take weeks, so I’d like to do a bit every day.

The Blue Moon meditation will go up on the Mediation page of Cerridwen’s Cottage later today.

And hop on over to the GDR site for the March wrap-up.

I have to track down a payment that was supposed to be in my account this morning and hasn’t shown up. This is from a reliable client, so I’m a bit concerned. I hate Mercury Retrograde, especially when it’s paired with Jupiter Retrograde.

I’m still having phone issues with AT&T. The phone hasn’t worked properly since the major cell service outage two storms ago. NOT acceptable.

Have a great weekend, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

 

Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 9:19 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 30, 2018: I Hate Retrogrades  
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