Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I’ve broken up the entry into three parts today, so you can find what you want. This is the daily rambling; below it is the December wrap-up; below that is the year-end evaluation – with the original and mid-year hopes and dreams still in there, to track the changes. The latter was hard to share, because of the emotions it brought up; and I tried to re-read all the year’s entries, because I think I wrote more than I remember writing, but reading through The Situation again was just too painful. It’s still too raw.

I finished the Plum essay and sent it off to the editor, who acknowledged receipt of it. Now I wait, to see if it’s what they want; if they want more revisions; or if, after all this work, they decided not to take it.

Yesterday, I went to White Plains, mostly in search of photo albums. I’ve been taking wonderful photos with the digital for the past few years, and have a few thousand photos that need to be printed and put into albums. Plus, I’ve got photos from pre-digital days that need to be sorted and written up and put in albums so that they can be enjoyed. And photos that need to be removed from cheap albums and put into archival quality albums.

That’s going to take awhile.

Anyway, Target had some good ones, but not exactly what I wanted. I wandered over to Border’s, to use my gift card and see if they had albums. I specifically wanted to get Jackie Kessler’s book, Hell’s Belles­ – which has an official release date of January 2, but some stores already have it. However, this one didn’t yet, although they promised me they ordered a few copies. I did, however, buy Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, because every time I’ve seen it, it reminds me of Lara and Brenda.

Grabbed some sushi from a tiny place in White Plains – and it was awesome – always good to have a handy sushi place. Went to Port Chester to see if Kohl’s had any albums – in spite of my displeasure with them, they usually have good frames, albums, etc. Well, the store was in such disarray, I can’t tell you what they had – things were piled on the floor, glassware was smashed, signs were ripped down and half-hanging, cashiers were shouting at the people standing in line waiting (again) – it was a filthy, awful pit. Even though they’re working with me to compromise on the overcharge from a few weeks ago – this particular store is not somewhere I’d shop again.

So I went to AI Freedman’s – and found exactly what I want. Not only that, I found it on sale for 50% off. So I bought one album for 2006 and one for 2007 – so that I can print and mount photos as I take them.

I came home, started printing photos. Ran out of photo paper. Estimated how many photos I have to print for 2006 (a lot) and panicked, because I knew they’d never fit into the album. Dashed back to the store, bought the last two matching albums they had in the 06 color, dashed to Staples, bought more paper, came home and printed more photos. I’ve only printed around 100 photos, and written them up and mounted them – there are 100 more on this disk, one full disk of over 200 photos, a partial disk, and then half of the disk in the new camera.

Finished reading The Trollopes.

I have to write a letter to my cousin overseas who’s going through a tough personal time, get a few pages done on Token, and then, it’s off to the theatre, for two shows. A friend who’d begged to have dinner with me cancelled too late for me to make alternate plans with anyone else, but that’s fine; it happens, I’ll find someplace quiet and either read or write a bit. The city’s bound to be insane today, it being the day before New Year’s.

I might check in tomorrow before I go on retreat; if I don’t, have a safe and joyful New Year, and I’ll “see” you on the 2nd!


Need help setting goals for the New Year? Check out questions to help you with your Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions on Wordish Wanderings.

December Wrap-up:

The Merry’s Dalliance
Project roster for 2007

In Process:
Finishing up Token and Affections

Beginning Chasing The Changeling (can’t start it until Tokens is complete)
Tumble revision (bumped for Plum essay revision)

Revisions on the Plum essay
Trouble with The Situation: The Sequel
Holiday decorating, baking, shopping, cards
Warmth of the Hearth begun
New series – started series overview/outline
Secret Projects A,B, and C – which I will reveal at a later date

Murder at Monticello by Jane Langton. Very Good.
Dark Nantucket Moon by Jane Langton. Very good.
Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (re-read). Very good.
Slightly Chipped by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (re-read). Very good.
Warmly Inscribed by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (re-read). Very good.
When Santa Was A Shaman. Interesting.
A Book and a Love Affair by Helen Bevington. Good.
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers. Outstanding. Superb.
This Must Be the Place by Jimmy Charters with . . .can’t remember. Okay.
French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guillano. Good; very good recipes.
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. Excellent.
Meditations with Tea by Diana Rosen (unfinished). Beautiful.
The Trollopes by Lucy Poate Stebbins and Richard Poate Stebbins. Interesting (in a good way).

2006 GDR Evaluation:

The first seven questions dealt with 2005, so there was no need to revisit them mid-year. Starting with question 8, we look at 2006.

Blue = original thoughts at the start of the year
Red == what happened/changes – Mid Year Review
Green – final evaluation

8. Looking ahead, what are your goals for 2006?

Edit and begin shopping both Clear the Slot and Tapestry
Clear the Slot is 2/3 of the way through the edit; Tapestry is still resting.
I’m re-evaluating Clear the Slot because I realized I can’t bring it out as the debut novel under any of the names – I need to be in a position with more control, because it is complex. I’m in the process of re-evaluating Tapestry for an interested market as well.

Get all three websites up and running and keep them well maintained
I’ve redone the copy for the DE site, and am working on the copy for the other two. I’m behind.
I continue to be behind and I need to get out of my own way, because the websites are vital to my next steps.

Complete the first draft of three novels (hopefully Fix-It Girl, Shallid, and Periwinkle. Oh, and I wanted all three volumes of Ransagh finished, too, but that’s more than 3).
The first draft of Shallid is done. I’m also 2/3 of the way through the first draft of Real, which took over everything else, and then I need to get back to The Fix-It Girl and Periwinkle.
The first draft of Shallid is done, and I need to type it. The first volume of Ransagh is done, but I still have to do the other two and revise all three as a piece. Assumption of Right’s first draft is done and awaiting revision. Also did the first draft of a play, Julia’s Legacy. The Fix-It Girl and Periwinkle were pushed back, yet again. I thought I did a first draft of another novel, but damned if I can remember what it is. I did do two large projects – Ris an Abrar and The Merry’s Dalliance, and I also started the Changeling trilogy.

Finish the unfinished serials.
Haven’t dealt with them at all.
Simply “finishing” in their current format does me no good. I need to break them down and restructure them in the best format for each of them. Each must be handled individually, with individual decisions based on what’s best for the story.

Expand the business writing.
That’s in process. I’ve landed some good, interesting gigs.
Not aggressive enough in this. In order to get more aggressive, I need to get the websites up.

Teach more workshops
I couldn’t schedule anything, due to The Situation.
The Situation, The Sequel, and working on relocation details meant I couldn’t book anything as far in advance as teaching gigs need to be planned.

Do as much television work as possible
Three series in one year; two already cancelled. But the checks cleared. One to air in January.

Apply what I’ve learned in marketing and business trends to my work
I did some of that, but not enough.
Completely burned out on marketing. The very thought of it made my mouth fill with bile. So I gave myself a break.

Be steadier in the article and short story work rather than writing them in spurts
I thought I’d been completely unproductive in that arena. However, to date, I’ve published 8 articles and 3 short stories. I have a fourth short story accepted into an anthology, and I’ve written five more as part of the SDR exercises. So, there’s progress, but still not as much as I want.
I tend to write short stories in batches; and I’m fascinated by novellas. I’ve been playing with short story cycles and novella cycles, and I’m interested in seeing where they lead me. Articles – I need to be more aggressive about paying markets, especially in the area of travel and food.

Continue building both Circadian Poems and The Thirteen Traveling Journals Project
Both these projects suffered due to the Situation, but I hope to have them back on track soon.
Both suffered and need strong shots of attention.

Build Kemmyrk into something useful, articulate, and unusual
I’m still playing with this. I haven’t found its rhythm yet.
Getting back into the flow of it, and I think, with ideas I played with around Yule, it should gain momentum over the course of the year. It’s finding its way – it needs to evolve, rather than get pushed.

Work on the tarot book
Fell by the wayside.
Fell by the wayside; I need to re-conceive the tone of it. There are hundreds of tarot books out there. Although the concept of this one is very different, the presentation is still not where it needs to be in order to fly.

Continue the Whaling research
That I’ve actually done.
The encouragement from the research librarian during the PEN event helped a lot; I hope to get this back on track next year.

Resolve The Situation in a positive way for all concerned and be in a better place (yes, on this earth) at this time next year.
I’m hopeful, but wary, in spite of seemingly good news.
We recently discovered that peaceful resolution is not possible. Although I’m in a better emotional place about it than I was last year, now I have to make the physical decisions based on what is best for my family, not a wider group of people.

Not let the Spiritual side of my life fall by the wayside, which happened this year.
Hit and miss. The 100 Days Meditation Group has been a huge help and support.
The last few months, the spiritual suffered enormously, and I need to get back on track with it. The Situation destroyed a part of me that I really liked; although I can’t get it back, perhaps I can work my way to being less hostile.

9. What steps do you plan to get you there?

More self-discipline
More flexibility (no, those are NOT mutually exclusive)
Work harder to learn the HTML stuff
Promote myself in a smarter fashion
Balance the creative work and the business work more, giving each equal weight, instead of see-sawing.
The Situation wiped all of this out.
Getting the spiritual aligned with everything else will be the strongest step. And I have to keep saying “no” instead of being bullied into “shoulds” when I know they are not going to be worth it in the long term. I need to apply skills I learned in The Situtaion to get me where I want to be. I didn’t work as hard as I needed to on the HTML – I worked in spurts, where it needs steady attention in order to make progress.

10. What are your dreams for 2006?
Peaceful and positive resolution of The Situation
Still in question, although it looks more hopeful.
That turned out to be a fantasy – one that will remain unfulfilled.

Help my mother in her recovery
Until the Situation is resolved, she won’t get better.
She’s actually doing pretty well.

Prosperity and abundance in all areas of my life.
Working on it.
Better; I paid off a lot of debt; however, the bank account physical dollars-and-cents needs to catch up with the rest of the abundance in my life.

11. What steps will you take to bring you closer to them?

Do the necessary research, keep a cool head, and realize that the Universe is going to make it happen in ITS time and way, not mine.
That’s been difficult. I don’t like trusting anyone else with my future, even the Universe.
Again, I want to have control over my own life, not turn it over to something intangible.

12. What are your resolutions for 2006?

Commit to my yoga practice
Recommit to my spiritual practice
Ratchet up the commitment to my writing

I struggled with the first two, but am closer to the last.
Getting back to the first; completely lost the second; came to grips with the final resolution.

13. How do you plan to get there?

Attend to each aspect carefully and mindfully every day.
You get neck deep in something like the Situation and see how well THAT works! The past months have been about how to survive the day. It’s been about defense rather than attack.
Pretty much still agree with the mid-year assessment.

14. What changes has the last year brought to your long-term plan?

I’m squeezed tighter financially, but pushed harder in every other way. The three year plan has to accelerate, but I’m not sure how to get there. I have to focus on the result and remain aware and alert to the opportunities to get me there. I also have to say “no” more often to low or non-paying work.
“No” has become one of my favorite words. I’ve paid off one big debt and two smaller ones, and I’m dealing with what’s left.
I feel behind in the tangible aspects, but feel that my skill in my craft has grown enormously. Now I need to apply it.

15. Where would you like to be one year from now?

Living a more balanced and secure life, dedicated to my true vocation (writing).
That’s the plan, and, perhaps now, some more attention can be devoted to it.
It’s dedicated to writing, but not balanced and secure. I lost eight months of my life to The Situation, and even if I could work 24/7, I can’t make that up. Which pushes my transition back by 8 months, which is frustrating.

Some progress, but not as much as I wanted. The healing process from the Situation and the reanimation of The Sequel has put everything into chaos. I have to figure out how to extricate myself from the chaos gracefully and move on with the rest of my life, without continuing to be mired in other people’s agendas.

Writing-wise, I feel I fell into some traps that were bad for me, as far as focusing too much on what other people consider “good business” and going against my instincts. I need to look at what I do, and the writers I admire, and how they get their balance, and do what’s balanced for me. I need to learn from others who are farther along and better marketing geniuses or whatever, but remember that their path is not necessarily mine. I need to pick and choose what I believe will work and follow through.

I had a lot of problems with a lack of stamina this year, mostly due to the fact that I had to be in Warrior Mode almost all the time. I’m exhausted on many, many levels, and in order to move forward, I need to replenish. I haven’t really had that time or space.

In the past couple of weeks, by giving myself quiet time every day, I feel that I’m starting to move in that direction.

The question, as always, becomes how to balance that quiet time I so desperately need and still be able to get everything done. What do I cut out? How do I keep from overcommitting? Because I believe strongly that if you commit to another person – be it a project or plans, as I was brought up, the only reason to cancel or flake is death, preferably your own. If you say you’re going to do something, you DO it. Period. No excuses. So it becomes about committing to less, but also doing it in a way that is not hurtful or spiteful towards others, and also does not deprive me of experiences that enrich my life. That’s a constant tightrope.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Joe Konrath had a fun question about the last ten book purchases, how you heard about them, why you bought them and where. My last purchases totaled around 60 books, and, reading through people’s discussions about the importance or unimportance of print ads (the point of Joe’s post), I found I was more interested in the books they actually bought and their journey to the books than the discussion.

So, I’m a book whore. I admit it.

And here are my last few purchases:

Herbal Folk Medicine: an A to Z Guide by Thomas Squier and Gerard’s Herbal: John Gerard’s History of Plants by John Gerard.

How I Heard About Them: I was searching for more herbals and found them via Strand.

Why I bought them: Study/research

Where I bought them: Strand Books

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

How I heard about it:
I saw it in a bookstore one day while browsing, but didn’t purchase it right away.

Why I bought it: I like To Kill A Mockingbird; I admire Lee’s refusal to conform either in life or to “the business”.

Where I bought it: Border’s, using a gift card.

Rocky Road to Romance and Smitten, both by Janet Evanovich

How I heard about them:
They were mentioned in other Evanovicah books I had collected over the past few months as research for an anthology essay I was contracted to write.

Why I bought them: gifts for my mom, because she enjoyed some of the other Evanovich books I lent her.

Where I bought them: Border’s.

Choice Centered Tarot by Gail Fairfield

How I heard about it
: It’s the one tarot book I’ve found useful and I recommend it whenever I teach workshops. I’d originally come across it on New Year’s Eve in an odd little shop in Seattle in the mid-1980s.

Why I bought it: A Christmas present for a friend who is just starting to learn tarot.

Where I bought it: – and they tried to extort extra charges from me. I had to threaten to file a complaint against them to get the book on time, even though I ordered it in November.

Standing Next to History by Joseph Petro and Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent by George Rush

How I heard about them:
searching for books on the topic

Why I bought them: research for the rewrite of the novel Assumption of Right

Where I bought them: Strand Books.

Off the Leash by Helen Husher

How I heard about it:
I was in the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont, and picked it up while browsing and talking. Unfortunately, I put it down and forgot to retrieve it.

Why I bought it: It looked like fun.

Where I bought it: Strand Books got it for me.

52 books bought on a trip to Niantic

How I heard about them:
I was browsing through the half a dozen buildings or so that make up the complex.

Why I bought them: Because I’m working on various projects, or I’m interested in various topics. Most are out of print history, biography, and memoir. Some are out of print novels.

Where I bought them: The Book Barn, Niantic, CT

Anthology of Vermont Writers, Volume III by various authors

How I heard about it:
I was browsing in the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, VT for local authors, and the owner suggested it.

Why I bought it: I wanted to read local writing and support local authors.

Where I bought it: Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, VT

The Age of Conversation by Bernadetta Craven

How I heard about it:
I read the review in the NYT Book Review.

Why I bought it: It sounded interesting, on a topic and a time period in which I’m interested.

Where I bought it: I had trouble finding it, so Strand tracked it down for me; Strand Books.

Yesterday, it took nearly an hour to get from Grand Central Station to the theatre – a walk that usually takes 20 minutes. Because there are so many people visiting!

To be fair, for once, most of them were pretty nice – there were just so many that there wasn’t any room on the sidewalks or anywhere else. Everyone was trying to be polite and accommodating – but we made a filled sardine can look roomy!

According to the newspaper, this week 1.25 million people are visiting NYC – a city that, on a normal day, has 18 million people swirling around it anyway. That’s quite a bit. It was like being in town on New Year’s Eve around 4 PM – although it’s still a few days until New Year’s. I haven’t seen it this busy since 1998 or 1999.

Work was fine – I was in the men’s ensemble room with two other people, so we worked and chatted. There’s always a ton to do on the costumes – fix the hooks, snaps, seams; stitch up rips in the gloves; wipe out the hats; work on the tin man costume. But we got it all done.

I was so enraptured by Tim Powers’ Drawing the Dark that I nearly missed my stop coming home. The fact that they can’t be bothered to announce the stops doesn’t help, either. But it’s a brilliant, exquisite book.

The New Look patterns arrived for the yoga clothes – they have nice, clean lines and look simple. Now, I have to get to the fabric store and get the fabric so I can try them out. If I find that they work well, I’ll do them in all sorts of fabrics and colors and be all set for my writing and yoga lives! Now, to get the rest of it sorted . . .

The only post-holiday shopping frenzy I entered was to order a few pairs of pants from LL Bean, that were on sale for over 50% off. They’re not jeans, but they’re not quite dress pants either – kind of midway. They’ll do until I can get proper dress slacks, they were on sale, they’re in nice dark colors, and I know the quality and the fit will be right, so it’s all good. I ordered them yesterday and they’ve already shipped, so they should arrive by Saturday. And Strand shipped a couple of herbals that I need, so . . .packages are a-coming!

Errands today and then back to the page. I’m at the theatre all day tomorrow and then, oh shock, it’s the end of another year. This went fast – especially since I lost 7 out of 12 months to The Situation. I’ll post the month-end and year-end evaluations tomorrow, since I’m going on retreat for Sunday and Monday.

Another break-though in my thinking about The Widow’s Chamber. I’d already decided when I adapted it from serial to novel I wanted to switch from third person to first. Now, I think I’ll make it the letters that Nora writes to her friend Louisa – as in Louisa May Alcott, who appears in the first episode of the serial. I think that’s much more of the right direction for the piece as a whole.

Worked my butt off on the Plum essay last night. Had some good ideas; cut and rearranged material. I think it’s more along the lines of what they want. I have one more topic to weave in, and then I’m sending it off and hoping for the best.

Happy Year End!


Token and Affections – 33,700 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33 / 35

Need help setting goals for the New Year? Check out questions to help you with your Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions on Wordish Wanderings.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Partly sunny and chilly

Check out the essay on the ritual of last/first books of the year on Biblio Paradise, and why I think New Year’s Resolutions are important on Kemmyrk.

Violet is distressed. The foundation of the building shifted – or something shifted – and the front door won’t stay closed. I have to keep the chain on it all the time, and, when I go out, put on what I call “The Big Lock”, which is a special chain opened by a key from the outside. At any rate, even with the chain on, the door comes open sometimes. The chain keeps it from flapping too much in the breeze, but Violet gets very distressed. If I don’t realize the door is open, she comes and gets me and “tells” me. I have no idea what she does when I’m not there.

Hopefully, none of them will wander out.

Usually, when the door opens, they all fly in different directions and hide, until they’re sure it’s safe to come out and investigate. Let’s hope they do the same when no one’s around.

I’m going to ask the super to fix it as soon as he can.

Usually, the cats DEMAND open doors – but when it comes to the front door, they all seem to want it firmly shut. They want to wander as they wish inside, but expect the front door to keep out the Scary Monsters.

Had a tough time getting started, because I was waiting for the exterminator and didn’t dare to get involved in a piece of work or I wouldn’t answer the door. He was an hour and a half late, so that threw everything out of whack.

Managed to get a little bit done on Token – a big catalyst for Elmira’s character and a big event in the relationship between Elmira and Declan that has a lot to do with Chasing the Changeling and Immortality’s Destruction.

Worked on the Plum essay. It’s one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done, for some reason. Anything pop culture related simply does not come naturally to me, and I have to work harder to understand the “popular” mindset. I simply don’t see the world the way many others do – and I don’t think Evanovich does either, which makes her unique and which is one reason why people respond to her work – but trying to make that fit into the context of a pop culture collection is challenging.

I’m putting together a schematic and thematic overview of the various short stories I’ve done over the past few years. I want to see what, if any, common themes run through them (rather than simply different names using different voices) and see which ones fit together nicely. I didn’t write very many last year, which is disappointing. I love the format – but then, I started working on novellas last year, which is my favorite format, although I’m damned if I know what to do with them once they’re done!

That’s not entirely true – I have my sights set on a couple of markets for the novellas as I work them.

I want to be able to buy novellas at the newsstand on my way to and from the train, or when I get the newspaper. I used to be able to do so at WH Smith’s in the UK – but I don’t know if they still do it. One quid for something just long enough to read on the train. It was delightful.

Brandy commented yesterday that my observations make her not want to visit New York. Let me make something very clear: New Yorkers are fabulous. They are some of the best people you’ll find on the planet. It’s the fucking tourists that are the problem – they come here and think, because they spent money they don’t have to come to New York, they can behave badly and that makes them “cool”.

An idiot is an idiot is a moron no matter how much money they throw around.

All it does is make New Yorkers glad they (the New Yorkers) don’t live elsewhere, and eager for these rude tourists to go home.

New York IS the greatest city in the world – for many reasons. However, it’s no longer a livable city – it’s been transformed into a theme park, catering to these horrid excuses for human beings – the same people who shove the really cool, nice, excited, intelligent tourists out of the way -- which is one of many reasons why I’m ready to leave. I’m sure these horrids are just as horrid at home – unfortunately, they tend to descend all at once in New York, so, where you might have Three Horrids in Podunk and can avoid them, suddenly you have 303 Horrids at Rockefeller Center coming in from various places around the world because they all took vacation at the same time.

I love it when people come in from all over the world to celebrate and enjoy New York – provided they behave like human beings. I’ve seen zoo animals at feeding times and mating times behave better than most of these people.

It costs nothing to be gracious and thoughtful when you travel. And it pays enormously, because you become an ambassador for your hometown. New Yorkers wouldn’t think people from small towns/rural areas were idiots and losers if people traveling to New York from those areas didn’t behave like idiots and losers. All you have to do is be aware that you are not the only person on the street; there are EIGHTEEN MILLION people in the city on any given day. All you have to do is not shove, not screech, not act like you’re the most important person in that eighteen million – there’s enough for everyone.

Look up – but step aside and make sure you’re not blocking the doorway or sidewalk when you do so. Don’t think it’s “funny” to shove someone in front of a bus or play rough on a train platform – it could cost someone his life; don’t walk around with your purse hanging open and your wallet displaying twenty dollar bills – why WOULDN’T someone reach in and take it? Smile and say “thank you” once in awhile. Say “May I” instead of “Gimme.”

You don’t have to know which of fourteen forks to use in any given situation, but you don’t have to act like the worst cliché of Ugly American – or Ugly World Whomever, because believe me, it’s not just Americans who behave badly. Misbehaving is a choice. And, in New York, there are consequences for those choices. If you’re nice and even skimmingly polite, you will be met with the same. If you act like a jerk – New Yorkers have no time or patience for you. We’re BUSY. And we won’t pretend to be nice to you when you wave money around, like they do in LA. New Yorkers will let you know when they think you’re an idiot.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be facing the knife (in New York) then getting it in the back (in LA).

On a happier note, I’m reading two delightful books: Meditations with Tea by Diana Rosen, and Mockingbird: a Portrait of Harper Lee, the absolutely enchanting book by Charles J. Shields. I just can’t put it down. In fact, I sat up well after midnight to finish it, which gave me a logy start this morning.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a fascinating and wonderful book. I relate to the fact that Lee was a strong nonconformist all her life and lived by her own rules, and I respect that. I also respect how she, at first, anyway, was open to reporters and interviews, but never got caught up in “the scene”. I think far too much time is wasted by writers who worry more about being visible than turning out good work. There are some writers who can do both, but too much emphasis is placed on the celebrity aspect, and not enough on the craft.

I’m of two minds about her choice not to publish another book. She’s a reclusive woman, so for all we know, she might have written several novels and destroyed them or locked them away. On the one hand, if she said everything she had to say in that book, good for her. She went on and lives a full life. On the other hand, if it’s fear that’s kept her from publishing – I feel badly for her. That seems to counter the way she’s lived her life—on her own terms. Because of the way she’s lived her life, I tend to lean towards the theory that she said everything she had to say. If she wasn’t afraid of what people thought before, why would she care later?

It’s an interesting situation, and the only people who will ever know the truth are Lee and her family. And that’s their right and their choice.

Some good work on Token and Affections this morning. I’m happy in the way I’m going towards the end. Once I finish this big turning point scene between Elmira and Declan, I really am galloping towards the end. Elmira threw me a curve ball this morning, which I had to quash pretty darn quickly, or it would turn the piece into a different story and negate the next two sections – which are important. But hey, characters can discuss options just like people, right? It’s just that I can’t allow Elmira to act on this option without jettisoning everything I want for the trilogy – and the trilogy is stronger than this particular option.

Off to the theatre. And then, I want to finish the Plum essay rewrite tonight and get it off either late, late tonight or early tomorrow morning – ahead of the deadline. I don’t want it hanging over me for the weekend.


Token and Affections – 33,200 words out of 35,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33 / 35

Need help setting goals for the New Year? Check out questions to help you with your Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions on Wordish Wanderings.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

I need to commit to spending 10-15 minutes each day clearing off my desk. I let things accumulate until I “have” time to get to them – only that never happens. So, by dealing with stuff a little bit every day, maybe I can keep myself from feeling overwhelmed. And that’s in addition to filing everything as I print it, so the printer tray doesn’t stack up. Because, eventually, I simply take everything out of the tray and add it to the pile on the desk to file “someday”.

I also need to set aside a day to work on receipts every week, so they don’t accumulate. I have a stack on my desk – usually, I’m pretty good, and it makes doing my taxes oh, so much easier. But if I work on them on X day each week, maybe I can prevent the pile on the desk.

Staying on top of the paperwork is my most difficult challenge. Other people’s methods just don’t work for me, so I have to create my own.

Hop on over to the Dog Blog today and check out my essay on the “My Space” craze.

Someone’s trying to hack into my computer. The warnings keep coming up on the firewall. Thank goodness I upped my protection. But it’s still annoying.

Trying to clear out various email boxes so that they’re clear for the New Year. I’m trying to find a way to copy the files to CD, so I can keep them if I need them, but get them off the computer so I can start 2007 clean. I have a feeling I have to go to Staples and get some more CDs.

I prepared the 2007 folders for the monthly bills, etc., and I set up the Submission Log for 2007. I have to make better use of the tickler files – it’ll be much easier to track things if I actually put a copy of the letter in the file, and then follow up.

Worked on updating the new addresses I collected during the holidays, and can now put into the Rolodex. Forget keeping it on the computer – I need it on the Rolodex, where it doesn’t vanish periodically.

I withdrew the incorrect submission and apologized profusely to the editor. I hope it’s not held against me; if it is, oh, well. At least I didn’t pretend the story was still available when it’s not, and that’s more important.

Work was fine – got everything done; received some more gifts from people who thought I’d be around over the weekend, but I wasn’t.

The rude, hateful, and presumptuous are flocking into the city in preparation for New Year’s, hiring oversized limos, thinking it’s cute and/or cool to stand up through the sun roof and screech. Nobody thinks you’re cool, honey – we all know you’re an idiot. And we also know that ANYONE can hire a limo for an hour. Shoving people into the street in front of cars isn’t funny or cute – it’s assault, and that cop had every right to ticket you, sweet pea, because you could have cost that other kid his life. AND, low rise lime green spandex still makes you look like a hooker, especially if you’re fourteen. Another thing – no toddler in a stroller should be wearing a full-length, REAL fur coat, especially when it’s 54 degrees outside.

Ideas are percolating and swirling for the new year, and I need to figure out how to schedule it all in without making it overwhelming.

Also, I’m “retiring” the volume of paper journal I have on New Year’s Eve – there are still blank pages in it, but I feel I’m getting caught up in old patterns from the past couple of years – fresh journal, fresh start, so that’s what I’ll do. The Yankee brought up on “waste not, want not” hates the thought of leaving blank pages, but . . .in this case, it’s necessary.

I worked on the GDRs for 2007. They scare the hell out of me, and leave me feeling vulnerable. Part of me doesn’t want to post them, yet I also think posting them is an important part of my process.

2006 was a tough, tough year, but, ultimately, seems to end on a more positive note than it started; the year was about determination and surviving it through sheer force of will. I want next year to be much more serene.

Today should be primarily a writing day – I have some things to clear off the decks, and I’m at the theatre tomorrow.


Need help setting goals for the New Year? Check out questions to help you with your Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions on Wordish Wanderings.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
“Books-ing” Day
Rainy and warm

Yes, folks, that’s what I used to think “Boxing Day” was called: “Booksing Day” – the day where you sit around and read the books you got for Christmas.

Later, when I found out it was really called “Boxing Day”, I thought, “why would people want to go around hitting each other when it’s supposed to be ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all’?”

Yeah, that’s one of the things where I was a bit slow on the uptake.

But I still like the idea of having a “Booksing Day”.

Unfortunately, I have to go in to the theatre today.

The holiday was lots of fun. You get an idea of the feline entertainment value from the Dec. 25 photo sequence. Elsa is the oldest cat in the house; yet she’s still the most playful.

And the food was delightful.

Christmas Eve:
Roast pork marinated for 48 hours in a garlic/red wine/mustard sauce with scalloped potatoes (thanks, Brandy) to which I added rosemary and shredded cheese, red cabbage, and a green bean with tarragon casserole. Chocolate pudding for dessert, with stollen later on.

Christmas Day:
Roast turkey with apples, raisins, parsnips and carrots added to the herbed stuffing, all so tender it nearly fell off the bones. Which is a great taste, but a real pain in the patootie when you try to get it from the roasting pan and onto the platter and it’s falling to pieces all around you. Elsa ran away with a stray wing. I’m sure I’ll find the remains under the couch in, like, March, when the smell becomes unbearable. Mashed potatoes, peas, and my special parsnip and carrot sauté.

Plum pudding once we recovered from the meal.

We narrowly escaped an emergency when I put something in the microwave to defrost. Now, when a plate has marked on the bottom “Microwave safe” – to me, that means I can put something on the plate, stick it in the microwave and heat it up. It does NOT mean that the plate will melt, the frozen thing will burn and melt into what’s left of the plate, and the apartment will fill with toxic black smoke – which is exactly what happened.

Fortunately, we turned off the microwave, opened all the windows (avoiding a visit from the fire department, who would never have let me live this down, in light of Thanksgiving 2002), let the mess cool, then peeled it off the microwave and disposed of it.

So much for “microwave safe”.

This is why I only use the microwave for popcorn.

The gifts were all lovely and thoughtful, and there were books, which always makes me happy – cookbooks, blank journals, and my friend Artie tracked down all three of the Diana Tregarde novels. I’m very excited.

I finished reading the Jimmy Charters memoir. And, while it gave me the inspiration for the short story “Illuminated Nude” – well, those people may have been struggling artists and writers and whatever in romantic Paris, but they were often MEAN to each other. Not good-natured practical jokes, but thinly veiled hostility. I think there are very few I would have liked as people, no matter how much I might enjoy some of their work.

Read most of The Trollopes, which is an interesting group portrait. I hadn’t realized how unhappy Anthony Trollope was, or how set in his Victorian sensibilities he was – caught in his time. For some reason, because of the satirical quality of much of his work, I always thought he was a man outside his time, not mired in it. I have to re-read his work now, with a fresh eye, and see if I agree with the slant the biographers took.

And I moved back and forth amongst the books received, but mostly read French Women for All Seasons. The books truly is mostly common sense – don’t eat like a big, fat pig; keep your clothing simple and tailored; when in doubt, eat chocolate and drink champagne. I pretty much do that already (although I am fond of jeans, both for comfort and because it’s the best thing to work in backstage and on set). There are some spectacular recipes in the book, though, and I look forward to trying them out.

However, that de-tox weekend of leeks-only soup?

No, thanks.

I’ll have a de-tox weekend of champagne and smoked salmon pate instead. With Godiva chocolate for dessert. THAT is MY personal style.

Speaking of pants (and I was, at any rate), I’m in search of dress slacks. Most of my pants are jeans; I had a few nice wool pairs of pants, only I no longer like the style (pleated, which makes it look like I’m transporting a small village just below the pelvic bone), so I got rid of them. And I’ve been in search of decent dress slacks ever since. Unfortunately, most of them are unnatural fibers. The type that make me shriek and drop the offending garment right back in its place on the rack, because it is certainly not going to touch my skin. The fibers and cuts I want tend to be in the $480/pair range and up. Call me weird, but for $480, I can purchase a plane ticket to someplace I’d rather be, and I’d rather do that then spend that sort of money (even when I have it) on a pair of slacks. Especially when I can go to the fabric stores in the garment district and get lovely fabric at decent prices and make myself a (not perfectly, but decently) tailored pair of slacks, lining and all, for about $60.

So now we know how I’ll be spending those cold winter days.

If it ever gets cold again.

And yes, I wrote: worked on both Token and Affection, but mostly, Warmth of the Hearth. The latter is turning out to be much more complicated than expected, from a thematic and character point of view. Makes the piece richer, but prevents it from being a quick holiday let’s-knock-it-out piece.

Made a few submissions and, due to the loss of my submission log earlier this year, submitted a piece that I realized, after it was sent, is NOT available; I have to write to the editor and pull it, apologizing profusely. I feel like an idiot, and it made me realize how dependant I am on that log. And vow to print out a hard copy of it every month, just in case.

Worked on the GDRs for 2007 and finished up the 2006 evaluation. Thank you notes written and will be mailed today on the way to the train. Birthday cards written for the first two weeks of January, and also going out today.

There are lots of birthdays I’m missing, so I’m going to have to track down friends’ birthdays once again. I’ve slacked off the past year and change, but the 2007 datebook has the room to add in the birthdays again, so I want to catch up.

So . . .when’s your birthday? ;)

What a difference a year makes. One year ago, on Christmas, we were frightened and depressed, with thugs pounding on people’s doors on the holiday, trying to terrify them out of the building. A year later, we are dealing with The Sequel, but we’re much stronger, both singly and together, it was a blessedly QUIET two days,

Hope your days were merry and bright, with or without the Christmas being snowy and white.

(With apologies to the song “White Christmas”).


Token and Affections - 31,325 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
31 / 35

The Warmth of the Hearth – 6,825 words out of est. 25,000
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
6 / 25

Monday, December 25, 2006

Cat Christmas Capers

Violet takes guarding the gifts seriously, although it's exhausting work.

Unwrapped gifts mean more for everyone to play with; Violet investigates while Iris waits to make sure it's safe.

Elsa rests after the unwrapping.

The twins, Iris and Violet, wonder if Santa has to come up the drain, since there's no chimney here.

Elsa knows how to wait for Santa.

Christmas morning is all about the stockings.

The cats have their stocking.

Time to play with the new toys!

Elsa loves Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Peace and Joy

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Check out “Lone Traveler” by Rachelle Arlin Credo on Circadian. It should have gone up earlier, but I had a lot of trouble with the site for the past few weeks. At least it’s finally up – our last poem of 2006!

In the next couple of weeks, I have to get everything finished up for the first few Circadian months of 2007 – and hope that I have fewer problems with the site.

Busy day yesterday. Work was fine; climbing over tourists was same old, same old.

Getting up at 6 AM again is working well – I have time to do my yoga and meditation, and then I write 1500 words or so before I take my shower and start my day. I’m much more productive all day with that kind of a start. I still prefer to do my yoga before I start writing, even though I reversed it during Nano.

Yule ceremony was lovely and simple – welcoming back the light; trying to get the darkness out of our own cobwebby corners.

Lovely Yule gifts – mostly yoga-related: clothes, mat, block, book, new fitness journal, and also John Matthews’s The Celtic Oracle, which used to be called The Celtic Shaman Pack. So, something new to learn, very cool.

I’m falling behind in Warmth of the Hearth and worried that if I don’t write it in season, I’ll lose momentum.

Ideas for two short stories (I need to write three new stories in January). One, tentatively titled “Illuminated Nude” was inspired by an anecdote in Jimmy Charters’s memoir; the other – well, a character started talking, gave me the first line. Both are in a slightly new direction, and I think will be fun. I want to keep them short. The first, in particular, won’t be light (in spite of the title), but I want to keep them in the 1200-1500 word range.

Muttered over an idea which I originally thought was part of Warmth, but it turns it into such a different story, and the point of Warmth is to be a warm Christmas story. And then, I realized how it was actually part of another story, and was the flashback of two other characters who have nothing to do with Warmth – flashbacks when they run into each other again later in life. Phew. Had a bit of anxiety going there for awhile.

Next week will be prep for a whole bunch of submissions to shoot out on the 2nd of January. It’s silly to send it out next week, in the chaos; best to prep everything well and get it out first thing the following week.

The series which sparked a few days ago is starting to take shape, as well as two shorter-term projects that will be both fun to work on and good kick starts.

I also had an idea for a big, huge project – but don’t know if I can pull it off. I think the groundwork alone would take a year – but I do know that there is nothing quite like it currently out there, which is always a good thing.

Nice morning’s work – a page or two of a tangent between the elf, the angel, and the siren – but it sets up something important for all three. 1125 words for the day. Now I can take my shower and get going with the rest of the day – I need to clear off my desk and get both more writing and more business done.

See what happens when you go upside down in a shoulder stand? The blood goes to your head and you get inspired. Then you go right side up and have to write it down quickly before you forget it all.

The turkey is out of the freezer and in the fridge, defrosting; the pork roast comes out today to do the same (even though the roast is for the Eve and the turkey for the Day – but hey, the turkey’s bigger. I need to get potatoes, and if anyone’s got the JOY OF COOKING (mine’s in storage) – do they have a good recipe for scalloped potatoes, and, if they do, can you send it to me? I’m having scalloped potato trauma. (The cure is a lot of red wine). Four shelves of cookbooks and no simple scalloped potato recipe..

Oh, and the leftover oatmeal biscuits from day before yesterday? Turning into little oatmeal rocks. So, last night, when we had chicken for dinner, we made some gravy and had biscuits with gravy. Once they soaked for awhile, they were fine. But I want to find a way to modify the recipe. I think I’ll take the cream from the cream biscuit recipe and throw it into the oatmeal biscuit recipe instead of the buttermilk and see what happens. Or I’ll double the buttermilk, to make it moister. I wouldn’t dare to take these out to feed ducks. Maybe use them as skipping stones, but that’s it. And they were fine just out of the oven.

Lots to do today, too, and on into the weekend. And I get to take my mom out to lunch, which is always fun.

If I don’t check in before the holiday, have a merry, merry, happy, happy!


Token and Affections – 30,575 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
30 / 35

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Waxing Moon
Winter Solstice/Yule
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Check out the Yule essay over on Kemmyrk.

A friend sent me this link (
And asked for my response.

This is what I said:

"Journalism as practiced via blog" is an odd phrase. I don't think journalism CAN be practiced by blog. Journalism is supposed to be something well-researched, presenting both points of view impartially, with evidence to back up one side, the other, or, preferably both -- setting out the smorgasbord of information to help the reader make an informed decision.

That's not the way it's done in practice, which is one reason, I think, that people have turned to the web and to blogs for opinions. Journalism takes time and thoroughness -- both of which have been lost in the demand for the exclusive, which used to be called the scoop.

A blog is a diary, an open letter, an emotional snapshot of the moment.
Rago's comparison to the commonplace book is right on the money -- but he also seems to have forgotten that all-important way that information used to be distributed -- the pamphlet. Pamphlets were big business in the 19th century, and even into the first half of the twentieth century, especially for Socialist movements and Labor movements. Anyone who could scrape together a few shillings could write up something, take it to a printer, and start selling his opinions on the street corner.

He also seems to think that diaries aren't meant to be read -- while they may not be meant to be read "in the moment", most people who keep diaries are writing to their "unknown reader", even that reader is the future self, and many people write with an eye towards the work being someday published (preferably once they're dead and no one can sue them anymore).

I think the technology has made the process more compressed and immediate, but it's following something that's been human nature since people stood up on tree stumps to hear the sound of their own voices.

And there IS a lot of bad writing out there, and people tend to seek out blogs that reinforce their own opinions, not challenge them. Or, if they are challenged, they can't be bothered to fashion a reasoned argument in response -- they simply insult the blogger.

There are blogs that encourage actual dialogue between writer and reader; and there are well-researched, well-thought out blogs. They ARE in the minority, and need to be sought out -- but can be found. They tend to run in tandem with more thoroughly researched work -- sites such as or

With the web, the old saying, "opinions are like assholes -- everyone's got one" is all the more obvious now -- although no less or more prevalent than it's ever been.

People who use blogs as the be-all and end-all of news and journalism are both lazy and make the choice of ignorance. They'd make the same choices even without the availability of blogs.

And -- there's always been a lot of bad writing, ever since "writing" became a reality. There always will be. Eventually, most of the worst of it falls away. Many of the bad books from centuries ago have disintegrated -- eventually, most of the bad writing on the web will disperse, too.

It's like anything -- a tool people can choose to use or misuse.


Dashed to Mamaroneck to get another good panettone. They were sold out of the traditional ones, so I had to settle for a cranberry one for Christmas morning.

Went over to Pier 1 and found a really cool gift for a friend at work. She’s someone who does nice things for people every day, but, because she never calls attention to it, I feel sometimes she’s taken for granted. I wanted to get her a little something – and then I found a bigger something that’s awesome – so I bought it. And I’m taking it in today.

Baked oatmeal buttermilk biscuits for breakfast yesterday (from The Breakfast Book) because I felt I was getting into a breakfast rut.

Renewed my National Wildlife membership and ordered some excellent-looking patterns for yoga clothes from a new-to-me site. Since the clothes I like are so ridiculously priced (no, I am NOT going to pay $79 for a tee shirt in which I’m going to sweat), I’m going to make some of my own. And, since I like to write in yoga clothes anyway – I should have several sets, and they’ll be yoga/writing clothes. There’s also a pattern for a mat bag – although, to be honest, I mean, you’re making a cylinder with a drawstring, you don’t really NEED a pattern for that.

I figured out what kind of pattern I want to do for the Earth Quilt – it’s not quite a traditional pattern, it’s a little twisted (like you’re surprised). I have to sketch it out, and then figure out how to morph it on the graph paper so I can actually have a pattern I can cut out and use. I think the initial sketches might need to be filled in with colored pencil so I can get an overall idea of the color – but when I buy the fabric, I want to use calicos, to give it more texture.

Sketch it – that’s pretty funny. Stick figures are about as far as I go with the whole sketching thing.

Did a little bit of work on Warmth of the Hearth. Emailed back and forth with my editor on the Plum essay revisions.

Had a nice morning’s work today on Token and Affections – 1625 words. I’m writing the scene in Central Park between Elmira and Declan. It’s going well, and both those characters continue to surprise me in the best possible way.

Off to the theatre, and then it’s time to celebrate the Solstice!

Tomorrow, I’m taking my mother out for a Christmas treat, and I’m excited.


Token and Affections – 29,450 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29 / 35

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to the Dog Blog for some ideas on revisions.

Work was fine yesterday. Had to climb over the rude, ignorant, self-absorbed tourists who can’t comprehend the fact they’re not the only people on the street, and there are several million people around them trying to GET SOMEWHERE, probably to prepare the latest tourist entertainment. I’m always glad when people come in and marvel at the city – it’s a marvelous city; however, stop acting like you’re the ONLY person in it! Show some basic consideration for the people around you.

And it only gets worse from now to New Year’s.

I’m having trouble with my MP3 player – the headphones don’t fit in my ears. They keep falling out. The little round discs are too big and don’t fit. And it’s not like I have terribly small ears, either. Plus, when I download music, it’s not notating it correctly – which really isn’t that big a deal, but come on – and, of course, I can’t look up if there’s a way to fix it because the frigging disk they sent with the player DOESN’T OPEN.

So, as fond as I am of the little player, I am less than fond of the Creative Zen company. It’s certainly not a Zen experience.

Finished A Book and a Love Affair. I realized I’ve read her journals from the 1960s and 1970s. I think I liked them better. If I remember correctly, by then she’d outgrown the tendency to trail around after her husband meekly in a way that just makes me want to hurl.

We were talking about something similar at work – how certain “stars” – read “celebrities” – are so “protected” that they can’t dial a phone themselves, can’t handle going to the drugstore, etc., etc. Several people in the conversation felt it was because they were “protected” from the real world, because there’s always a lackey around to deal with it and they “can’t” do it on their own. My position is that if you can’t dial a damn phone by the time you’re forty AND YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO LEARN – well, I have no respect for you. You’re not that special, sweet pea. And eventually, you’re gonna have to learn to deal. Because the majority of these “protected” celebrities don’t have the talent for life-long careers, and they’re going to have to learn to do a whole lot more than dial a phone before they’re through.

And, at this point in my life, there isn’t enough money that can be offered to me to make it worthwhile for me to cater to them.

Hence the career change in the making.

Started reading Tim Powers’s The Drawing of the Dark – and nearly missed my stop coming back on the train. I find his writing to be among the most seductive as far as completely enveloping in his world and enchanting me of almost any other writer I’ve read.

Working on my 2006 Evaluation and my 2007 GDRs. Since I’m taking the Eve and the Day for New Year’s to do a retreat, I want to get the evaluation, anyway, done prior.

Got an idea for a new series yesterday – jotted it down on a scrap of paper. It needs a lot of planning – it’s something that needs meticulous structure and can’t be done blank-page. I may try some of Elizabeth George’s techniques that I find too overwhelmingly detailed for most projects, because I think it just might be what this one needs.

SJ – to answer your question – Strand Books tracked down the memoirs I needed for my research. Strand is my go-to place for research books. They take good care of me, and, dare I say it, enjoy looking for some of the wacky stuff I often need.

I’ll supplement the research with interviews (if I can get any), but I wanted to start with the memoirs, so I know what it is I’m asking.

Had a good yoga/meditation session whose benefits were sorely tested when Elsa decided to throw up EVERYWHERE (narrowly missing my new yoga mat) and then I found out that I was out of paper towels.

But, that crisis was dealt with, I got some work done on Tokens and Affections – I had two big sequences with Elmira and Declan, and then we gallop to the finish line.

Have to run some errands, and remembered three more holiday cards I forgot to write (and a list is good because . . .).

And then, it’s back to the page.


Tokens and Affections – 27,825 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 35

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and a little cooler – but still to warm!

Darned if I can remember what I did yesterday; worked on Token and Affections; worked on the Plum essay; caught up on some blog reading. Finished When Santa Was a Shaman; ran errands; packed some more gifts; paid some bills.

Tokens is shaping to be the first of an interesting cycle of novellas, to launch this new name next year. The Tokens trilogy focuses on Elmira and Declan – but several of the secondary characters in the piece are interesting to go off and have adventures on their own, and I may explore some of that.

I also found part of a YA I started a few years back – I’d like to go back to it, with what I know now, and work on it. I like the idea of it, the concept, the story, the arcs – but I want to apply my growth as a writer to it.

I’m reading a book called A Book and a Love Affair by Helen Bevington. It’s one of the books I got on the last trip to the Book Barn in Niantic. I wish I could remember – I’d heard of Helen Bevington in another author’s memoir and then found some of her books in the local library. So, I was quite excited to find this one.

The cats were whiny and clingy, so I gave them extra one-on-one time, and I did some paperwork having to do with the building.

Oh, yeah, and did four loads of laundry, and quite a bit of hand laundry – the kind of hand laundry where every item needs 15-20 minutes of delicate handling because it’s silk or cashmere or handmade or embroidered or whatever. Have a lot more of that hand laundry to do, so that will take some time. I have no place to put the sweater racks – the ad claimed they fit over the tub – uh, no – and that they stack – sort of – so I have them stacked in the front hallway. The cats keep jumping over them – and putting their toys on the drying sweaters.

I’m excited to start reading and taking notes on the research books for the Assumption rewrite – two memoirs by ex-Secret Service agents, which should give me more background on procedure.

Off to the bank this morning, then back to the page for an hour or so, and then, it’s off to the theatre. I’m “Auntie” to my friend Artie’s cats, and I’ve put a little something for them in the gift bag – only I had to take it back out and hide it because my cats kept trying to get at it.



Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and too darned warm!

Okay, Neptune just HAS to be direct by now, even though they missed it on the calendar. It’s going retrograde again in May, so it must be direct. I hereby decree it.

Can you believe how many exclamation points I used the other day? Too much sugar!

I am now officially DONE with Christmas/holiday shopping. I don’t want to set foot in another store until February. I don’t like shopping out here in the ‘burbs because people are so darned rude and strut and push their way around with this misplaced sense of entitlement. Driving a Lexus SUV just means you’re too stupid to spend your money on something worthwhile! It does NOT mean you’re allowed to act like a jerk. It also means you care too much what other people think, so get this – I think you’re an ass!

I can’t believe that Christmas Eve is next Sunday. And that Yule is on Thursday. Wow. Where did the year go? Granted, the first few months were lost to The Situation, but still . . .

I’m trying to bribe myself to finish the cards – for every ten cards I write, I’m allowed two pages on one of my stories . . .

I admit, though, other than worry about The Situation: The Sequel, this has been one of the least stressful holiday seasons I can remember.


Because I made the choices to make ME happy, not other people.

Choices that make me happy:
Writing cards (even though I’m poky about them lately)
Baking cookies
Giving gifts
Observing years of holiday traditions while continuing to craft my own

Now, I realize that most of the stuff on this list is the stuff that stresses other people out. But it’s the stuff that makes me happy and appreciate the holiday – so I’ve said “no” to a lot of things other people think I “should” do in order to fit in with their agendas, and I’ve cut back on a whole bunch of other stuff.

When I tell someone I’m not available by phone during X hours – I don’t answer the phone. I’ve even extended that to problems in the building. I’m not answering the door unless I expect a package or someone’s made an appointment. I try to do my shopping early when people are still trying to get their act together and drink their morning coffee. I try smiling at everyone and saying “please” and “thank you.” (I don’t always succeed on the latter, but I try). For instance, as annoying as some of these suburban idiots were today, I was walking around with a goofy grin on my face (for reasons there’s no need to specify) and it was amazing how many people began smiling back in return.

But the big thing is learning to say “No.”

“No”, I’m not going to commute for an hour and a half when you have someone five blocks away who can fill in;

“No”, I am not going to five holiday parties in a single day because people think I should be “seen” and “network”. This year, I’m only spending time with the people I want to spend it with;

“No”, I am not going to clean up YOUR mess because you can’t manage your own time and think it’s okay to screw other people with your inefficiency. Your disorganization is NOT my problem, and I refuse to take it on.

And the key to the “no” is also not to explain. I simply say, “No” and that’s it. I don’t explain. “No, I’m sorry” or “No, I can’t.” I don’t have to justify it. A question was asked and I answered it.

If the response is “why not?”, my retort is, “Because I can’t.” I don’t owe these people a detailed explanation. “No” means “no.”

I don’t even feel guilty any more when I do so (I did, initially, but I’ve outgrown it). I even turned down an interview – I said I was not available by phone because of my current schedule, but would be happy to do the interview via email. No response. I would have liked to do the interview, but, by phone, there was no way I could do it within the interviewer’s time frame unless I ended up jettisoning work I both wanted and needed. So I didn’t do it.

I finished re-reading Used and Rare, and then re-read Slightly Chipped and Warmly Engraved, all of which I enjoyed. I also started re-reading When Santa Was A Shaman, which is an interesting take on all the origins of Yuletide myths, legends, and traditions.

Wrote nearly fourteen pages of The Warmth of the Hearth. This is definitely a Christiane Van de Velde piece, with all the food in it.

Dropped back into the world of Token and Affections and I like it there.

Finished the cards – out they go this morning.

Have to run to Trader Joe’s because I’m out of organic cat food and organic vegetables meant for humans – so much for staying out of stores!

I’ve planned the menus for Christmas Eve and Day, and am trying to figure out what to do for New Year’s. I’m going to do a meditation retreat again this year to bring in the New Year (with two shows the day before) – but the cooking is still up to me. I might poach a salmon with horseradish cream sauce for the Eve, and then think of something interesting for the Day. We have to eat herring before midnight (ick) and pork before noon the following morning (yum) for good luck, and have to burn bayberry.

Off to the grocery store, and then back to the page.


The Warmth of the Hearth -- 3,325 words out of est. 25,000
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3 / 25

Token and Affections – 27,250 words out of est. 35,000
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27 / 35