and monday is the new saturday for this fictionette
- 936 wds. long
I'm late, and I'm going to be even later. I just put up the PDF edition of the Friday Fictionette for August 28, "How Featherkind Got Its Song." Patrons pledging at least $1/month can download it right this second. Hurrah!
And now I must run to pick up John at the airport. Since I'm coming from and returning to Avon, Colorado, we're looking at a round trip between four and five hours. That means the following probably won't be up until tomorrow morning sometime: the MP3 edition (available to patrons pledging $3/month), or the excerpt (available to everyone), or the Fictionette Freebie for August 2015. Damn and blast.
But hey, now you've got something to look forward to, right?
Talk to you then.
Puzzle Pirates weekend blockade roundup: Accusations and cannonballs fly
Note: Apparently my Puzzle Pirates Examiner gig got terminated last week, but I never noticed until I tried to post the Blockade Schedule this morning and the drop-down menu for assigning an article to one column or the other was missing. Alas! I suppose I'll have to focus more on Boulder Writing Examiner, just like I meant to.
Some YPP players have expressed appreciation for the blockade roundups, though, and I certainly get some benefit out of having a single place to reference the blockade schedules for all 5 oceans; so I thought I'd keep right on publishing them here. Enjoy!
Ahoy, mateys! What's this? Why, there's a blockade on the Jade Ocean this weekend--that of Saturday, August 29--and it's by a flag that your humble chronicler has never had cause to mention before! HIPOCAMPOS is attacking Horda Catatónica on Arco Ascalón, and sending a message to Barnabás el Pálido under no uncertain terms that he needs to get off their lawn. I mean island. That's going down at 4:14 p.m. Pirate Time, but it probably won't be going on for long, since the Brigand King under attack is shown at a fleet strength of 1. Get in on this while supplies last, is what I'm saying.
Speaking of blockades in other languages than English, the Opal Ocean's one blockade of the weekend is currently underway, having begun at 10:04 a.m. or thereabouts. It also is an attempt to wrest control of an island--in this case, Paihia-Insel--back from a Brigand King, and that BK also is down to a fleet strength of 1, so its days are numbered. Its minutes, too.
On the Cerulean Ocean, Babylon has just a moment ago announced the intent not to defend Delta and Ostreum Islands from Dies Irae. (This is a change of stance from an earlier post asserting the intent to "blockade every island Dies Irae holds.") They assert unsporting conduct on DI's part, and intend not to defend against or attack DI for the foreseeable future. DI have responded in the mature, measured manner which we are accustomed to seeing from them.
Meanwhile we have four blockades on the schedule for Emerald and a couple on Meridian--wait, make that five on Meridian; three got added right before the noon deadline, they'll take place round about noon tomorrow--though not a lot of forum chatter to give it much context. Regardless, you know what to do: Get in there, earn some PoE, and spend it on fancy fun things--like the brand new furniture items that were added to the game this week!
Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.
Doubloon Ocean Blockades
*** Saturday, August 29 ***
*** Sunday, August 30 ***
9:24 a.m. - Blackthorpe Island, Emerald Ocean
Event: 1 round, nonsinking
Hosted by: No Offence Intended
Subscription Ocean Blockades
*** Sunday, August 30 ***
Saturday is the new Friday
In some ways, today rocked. In others, it was made of fail. Guess which one all things writing-related fell into?
This week's Friday Fictionette, as well as the blog post of substance that should accompany it, will appear tomorrow. Today, I'm turning in early. Sorry, y'all.
saved by my morning cuppa
So this morning was Go Time. John had to get to the airport for an 11:45 a.m. flight, which meant leaving the house at 9:00. I set my alarm for 8:00 so I'd have time to do my Morning Pages before we left. (I get to click the happy habit plus-mark on Habitica if I do them immediately upon getting up. Clicking the happy plus-mark gives me gold and experience points.) And I went to bed reasonably on time last night, so I figured even with a little reading in bed I should get enough sleep.
Well, that alarm went off. I hit snooze and lay back down. And then memory hit me like an elbow-guard to the face. "You're not allowed to snooze," memory said. And I wanted to cry. You know that feeling? You're just settling back into the pillows, and then you remember why you can't afford to go back to sleep? And you realize that it is no longer your turn to sleep, and you do not get another turn for another--what, eighteen hours? You know that moment of utter despair?
In that moment, all the angst of my teenage years revisits me with a tackle-hug. Only not like a tackle-hug. There's nothing huggy about it. There's just a tackle.
So, influenced by the unreliable mean brain chemicals of being half-asleep, I said to myself, "Eff it. I'm going back to sleep. I'll do my Pages after dropping John off at the airport." (I have to click the sad habit minus-sign on Habitica if I don't do my Pages immediately upon getting up. Clicking the sad minus-sign makes me lose hit points.)
But as I settled into the pillows once more, defiant and cranky, I realized two things:
- My body suddenly didn't want to go back to sleep.
- I was seriously craving tea. Like, fantasizing about it.
I have very little control over whether 1. happens. Nearly forty years in this body, I still haven't figure it out. Bodies, y'all! Am I right? I'm totally right. But something I do have control over is my morning routine. The routine goes like this: Get up, make the bed if it's empty, start the kettle, water the plants, pour boiling water over tea bag, take tea and notebook and fountain pen and possibly bottle of ink out to the patio table, do Morning Pages. Given enough repetition, all those things become associated with each other in interesting ways.
I wasn't looking forward to getting up and beginning the routine. But in my mind, the thought of the routine tasted like a strong cup of Taylor's of Harrogate Pure Assam. And I wanted that taste in my mouth very, very badly.
So I got up. And I got my Pages done on time. And I got John to the airport early. And it was all because I was craving my morning cup of tea.
They say that it's not too smart to rely on specific tools for your writing routine. What if your special fountain pen breaks, or you can't find your lucky notebook, or Scrivener crashes and won't get up again? What if there's no T. of H. Assam tea in the house? The associations you create to help you write can also hinder your writing if they break down.
But when they work, hoo boys 'n girls do they work.
people who aren't my people
It is seriously amazing how much inspiration you can get just listening to conversations in a bar. Annoying conversations. Held by conversationalists that are absolutely not your people.
That's my new theory. Bear with me for a bit.
Derby practice is done, and, is as our common practice, John and I have stopped for food before going home. It's a restorative process. I need food (hungry athlete is hungry) and John needs food and decompression time (coaching tends to use up all his extrovert capital). And I need some dedicated writing time because today went all to hell.
Seriously, I was on a great track to get everything done before derby. I was up on time, I got right to work--and then the washing machine died.
It died in the middle of a load of clothes which John needs to pack tonight, because he's getting on a plane for Detroit tomorrow so as to help coach our All Stars at D2 Playoffs this weekend. And the clothes he needs to pack are now just sitting there in a tub of water, going nowhere.
It's probably the lid sensor switch, but I wasn't about to try to DIY that sucker on the spur of the moment, especially since such efforts would probably not play well with our home warranty thingie. So I called the home warranty people, and they called an appliance service, and a tech is going to come out on September the 8th.
Meanwhile, my assignment is to wring out the clothes, rinse them in the bathtub, wring them out again, then put them in the dryer for an all-day session on Auto Dry Moisture Sensor Something Or Other. And John's assignment is to take the other load of laundry to the laundromat, and bring it home in time that my derby jerseys can air dry.
And my work day, the one that was off to such a great start, is now all shot to hell. It's not fair.
But here I am hours later, preparing to hit the reset button on it all over a beer and also a pizza with shrimp and green onions on top. And there's this four top right behind us loudly sharing stories about waking up drunk in strange places and also the One That Got Away And Thank God For That. And they... are so very much not my people. And they're loud and right in my ear and I want to hide under the table and--
--and it occurs to me that no, I don't need them to shut up; I need to be taking notes. I don't know how to write people who aren't my people, not without turning them into some sort of caricature. I need to be taking notes and expanding my character-creation repertoire here.
So... I'll be over here in another editor window, jotting down whatever I can remember. See you later?
sore and slow and late, but nevertheless optimistic and full of plans
- 5,312 wds. long
It was just a regular cleaning. There was no anesthetic involved, no surgery, no deep probing beneath the gums. It was just a regular dental cleaning.
Nevertheless, dear reader, it kicked me in the teeth.
After the dental hygienist was done with me, I managed enough energy to stop for groceries on my way home and put them away when I got there. Then I visited the creek to bring home the crawfish traps I hadn't been up to bringing home yesterday. (With the exception of a very juvenile specimen, small enough to resemble a centipede with pincers, they were empty.) Then I began to contemplate the work ahead of me today, and got as far as starting the electric kettle for tea before I realized two things:
First, that my gums were sore. I mean, really sore. Like, that background noise in my body that won't stop that I'm just noticing and now that I've noticed I'm not going to be able to stop noticing? That's my mouth. Hurting. All over.
And secondly, I was so sleepy that the thought of remaining upright and doing productive things with pen and paper and/or computer keyboard was physically painful. Apparently, getting up at 7:15 a.m. combined with an hour of enduring uncomfortable and sometimes painful manipulations of the mouth results in exhaustion.
So that's why my homework's late, Teach. Basically I took a half day off for sicksies. (Also, I spent a few minutes just leaning against the walkway wall and staring at the deer that was just hanging out, chillin' on the front lawn under a shade tree. Deer here is a regular occurrence, but that doesn't mean I'm about to get over it.)
But enough whining. Here's what's up for the week:
Revision efforts have brought the current draft of "Caroline's Wake" right up to the bit where Demi gets to talking with Andy, and not quite to the bit where Bobbie Mae starts dancing on the table. My assignment is to not lose the overall sense and desired pacing of the scene, while cutting about 200 words that I had thought helped the scene achieve that sense and pacing but in fact don't. So the play-by-play of the song and dance has to go, but Demi and Andy's conversation which partially reacts to the song and dance needs to stay, and to somehow imply that things are still going on and time is passing all around that conversation, while taking up a lot less space on the page. Did I mention that revisions are hard? Revisions are hard.
Content writing needs to get a bit more balanced. I've been blogging the weekend blockade round-up for Puzzle PiratesExaminer, along with monthly limited edition things (got a post planned about the limited edition Olympian Class Sloop, which I have purchased and am happily sailing around the Lacerta Archipelago), but my posts for Boulder Writing Examiner have been few and far between. And I'm out of practice finding content for that column. So I'll be working to come up with two posts a week. If nothing else, I'll post reviews of work that's eligible for the 2016 Hugos, thus doing my bit to help encourage people to nominate for next year.
Fictionettes -- do you know, I am really, really sick of being behind on the Wattpad excerpts? And of not having even a little musical accompaniment or other sound effects for the audiofictionettes? I know I keep saying this, but I'm going to really make an effort to push through that backlog.
Submissions procedures have slowed down, mainly because I haven't received any preternaturally fast rejections in the past couple weeks. Before that, it seemed like I'd on Tuesday I'd submit a story and log the submission, then on Wednesday I'd be logging its rejection and figuring out where to send it next. Quick responses can be cool--goodness knows authors complain enough about the wait time between submission and response--but they also have a cumulative effect of making me insecure about sending that piece out again. "Everyone keeps rejecting it! Every day, a new rejection! Is this story really ready for prime time after all?" Which is silly, because plenty of stories gather twenty or fifty rejections before finally finding a home. But insecurities don't have to be rational to be emotionally effective. Now that the cycle's slowed down a bit, the insecurities surrounding it are attacking with a bit less intensity. Which is good. But I haven't properly taken advantage of that lull, which is not good. So this week I want to get a few more stories into the slush, so I can be insecure about more stuff at a time.
So those are my aspirations for the week. I hope to look back on them from Friday's scenic lookout and say, "Yes, I did good this week." At least I'll have the advantage of not starting tomorrow with a sore mouth.
curry for crawfish monday
Today was crawfish Monday. I made sure of that, because next week I'll be in Avon, CO and unlikely to do any crawfishing. Not just because I don't know where the good crawfishing spots thereabouts might be, and not just because the water might already have gotten too cold for crawfishing at that altitude, but also because crawfish caught west of the continental divide are subject to certain restrictions to do with preventing the spread of an invasive species. (More here.) So I set the traps last night, and went out for a morning and an afternoon session of fishing with bacon-baited twine.
The traps, by the way, aren't exactly the most labor-saving device. It's not like I wake up to find an extra pound of mudbugs in there. At best, they just give me a small head start. Those four in the mesh trap this morning, and the one in the plastic 2-liter bottle trap, were five crawfish I didn't have to fight with individually nor wait for them to approach my line. Lagniappe!
I tried to do my freewriting out there, but my computer decided to crash. Both times. Not while I was inside reading blogs and eating lunch, no. While I was outside working in Scrivener. The computer just stopped responding and had to be shut down hard. And when I started it up again, the document in my Scrivener project was gone or blank, despite having saved it multiple times.
I suspect this had something to do with my computer wanting a Windows update and then a restart. Windows will let me put off these tasks indefinitely, but I've noticed that in the meantime it will punish me by running slower and glitchier. After the first crash, I came inside and installed the update. The computer took advantage of the second crash to do all the things it has to do after restarting post-update. There have been no crashes since. Just in case, though, when I recreated my freewriting page yet again (the only available back-up I could find was incomplete) I made a new copy of the RTF every five minutes or so and pasted it to my desktop.
The freewriting prompt words were "fingerprint" and "informant". I began sketching in a character who could hear fingerprints, and was convinced anyone could learn to do it if only they put forth the effort.
Meanwhile, I am full and happy on Crawfish Potato Curry, featured in the accompanying photo (taken from my flip phone since my 10-year-old Kodak EasyShare C300 finally died). Because Crawfish Monday means Recipe Monday, I shall now tell you all about it.
The total catch count was 29, most of them on the large side; they weighed in at 1 lb 11.5 oz and yielded 4.7 oz meat from tails and those claws I thought it worthwhile to pick. Actually, that was the weight on only 28 tails; I ate one straight out the boil to test the seasonings. And they did need testing, because I got experimental with those. Instead of doing the usual Cajun Land blend, I went off script and tried for a flavor that would better complement a curry. So:
- 1/4 C coarse red pepper flakes, like what Maangchi uses for making kimchi
- 1 T cracked peppercorns
- 1 T kosher salt
- maybe 2 tsp cumin seeds
- maybe 1 T garam masala
- about 5 cloves, cracked
- a large "thumb" of fresh ginger, sliced lengthwise
- 2 bay leaves
Bring to a full boil, add about 5 quartered Yukon Gold potatoes, boil for 20 minutes, add crawfish, boil for 3 minutes, remove from head, add ice, let soak for 30 minutes.
The result wasn't as spicy as the strong hot pepper smell during boiling had led me to expect. Next time, I might go with 1/2 C pepper flakes. Might also skip the cumin seeds as they didn't much come through, and the garam masala because that note seemed unnecessary. The bay, ginger, and cloves carried the day.
Meanwhile, I followed the directions on a packed of red curry paste. It called for 1 tsp. whisked into one can of coconut milk over high heat. I went with 2 tsp. instead because the color looked wimpy. This was to be allowed to simmer and thicken.
In a large frying pan, I heated canola oil and sauteed about a quarter of a big yellow onion. As they got softer, I tossed in the potatoes from the crawfish boil, cubed. When the onions were translucent and the potatoes starting to turn a little golden, I poured in the curry sauce.
Then I processed the crawfish. Tail meat and the meat from the larger claws went in a bowl. The "fat" eggs, and other edible substances from the heads (does anyone know what that creamy layer coating the inside of the shell is? Is that the true fat, as opposed to the yellow stuff that everyone just calls fat but is actually the hepatopancreas? Is it some kind of insulation against colder waters? Why are you giving me that grossed-out look? IT'S DELICIOUS) went straight into the potato-curry sauce while it simmered, for that extra crawfishy flavor.
When I was finally done peeling tails and picking the claws, I turned off the heat under the sauce and stirred in the meat. Then I stuffed my face with crawfish potato curry over microwaved leftover rice. AND IT WAS AMAZING.
And now I have told you about it. The end.
Hey, look! I got through this without the computer crashing on me!
this fictionette does not approve of your use of gladiators
- 1,195 wds. long
Hola! So it's Friday again. A fictionette appears! In this corner, chthonic beasts from the darkest depths of the earth. Opposing them: a quartet of careless picnickers and their unfortunate army of disposable gladiators and household staff. It's called "A Fine Day for a Picnic," and it's unabashedly a satire of E. Nesbit's Psammead Trilogy.
Now, to be fair, I enjoy rereading those books. But they always hit a sour note when the children, piqued that one of the servants is fed up with their bad behavior and is threatening to bring such to the attention of their mother, will threaten their politically powerless serf with something or other that will undoubtedly lead to them getting sacked. Or they'll play horrible pranks on them. Or they'll take them away on their magic carpet and dump them on a desert island, and leave them there, and say, "Good, serves Cook right for being so horrible to us." I'm really not sure where Nesbit stood on social injustice, but she doesn't exactly go out of her way to show that the children are wrong to do this. In fact, it might be argued that since the Cook wound up queen of the savages (CW: racism) and happily married, it was good for the kids to carelessly strand her on that island. Argh.
So I sort of indulged in this short-short story about a nice afternoon outing with a high body count. Enjoy, I guess?
(The Word Dash writing prompts for that day, by the way, were "jugular" and "junket.")
So there's a fictionette out and a blog post done before 8:30 p.m. on a Friday, just for a change. Success! But on a less successful note, right after declaring war on my short story revision, I sort of knuckled under. I have no good excuse. All I can do is extend the mission to next week and keep working at it. I will get there eventually...
But, however, not tonight. Tonight I'm about to drive down to Denver, put on my skates, and do some ROLLing around. So now I will finish scarfing down my leftover gumbo, print out my electronically signed waiver, throw on something roughly similar to what I used to wear in high school, and get the heck outta here.
the illusions we subscribe to
The repaint job on our building is over, as far as our unit is concerned. They've got a few more units to finish tomorrow, but our front patio and back balcony are all done. Everything we had to bring inside is outside again, with the exception of the bird feeder--I found out it's against our HOA rules and regs. Which is sad, but fair; if you're worried about raccoons, it makes sense to ban animal attractors. We can put our hummingbird feeder out, but that's the one exception.
The back balcony was the last thing, and the paint crew got to it yesterday. I was in the guest-bedroom-turned-office in the front of the house, but I could hear the racket of ladders--ladders being extended and put in place, people jumping down from ladders onto the balcony, people climbing up ladders to the balconies above ours--when they arrived.
It’s this idea of ownership, I think, which is twined so closely with responsibility and duty: this little patch of earth is indisputably yours, and you must take care of it, because no one else will.
But I think I sensed that this concept of ownership was a lie even then. I knew there were countless infrastructural and financial systems whose whole beings were devoted to allowing me and every other person on the block to engage in this happy fantasy. And for them, there were no boundaries. The men who came to check the meters or the gas or cable lines were perfectly within their rights to hop a fence or open your gate and stroll right in.
A fantasy, in other words, must be maintained. And for it to be maintained, it must be violated from time to time, its fragile penumbra punctured by outsiders going about their day to day business.
That's Robert Jackson Bennett, on a very particular fear that inspired his novel American Elsewhere. Only, of course, in that story, the officially sanctioned trespassers are up to something rather different than checking the meters and maintaining the cable. They're not necessarily men and women, either.
But it's a fair point even without the special pleading of horror/fantasy. We lock the door at night and when we leave the house, and we close the office window that looks out onto a ground floor patio. But because the back-of-house access points are some ten feet off the ground, we feel safe leaving them open so that the evening breeze can freshen and cool the bedroom and living room. And it's all an illusion, pierced the first time someone--legitimate or no--comes around the back with a ladder. Hell, the illusion of security wouldn't even survive a single person who didn't mind breaking glass. And yet we lock the door and feel like we've done the whole of our duty thereby.
It's not so much that I have faith that no one will break in, or that no one will steal the patio furniture if we leave it out overnight. It's just that I choose not to think about, because if I think about it, it scares the crap out of me and makes me paranoid as hell. And that ain't no way to live.
Makes a great basis for writing horror, though.
- 5,391 wds. long
Hello universe! I have a front patio again! Theoretically, anyway--the paint crew finished up the last bits of the front of the building that pertained to our unit and the two above us, so I think I get to put the plants and patio furniture out front again. I've decided to do that tomorrow; it was too chilly and rainy to do tonight. The plants mightn't like it. The wood folding table and chairs definitely wouldn't like it.
Which reminds me: it's about time I gave the furniture another oil treatment. Once a month was the suggestion at the store, and I'm trying to be very good about maintenance and product longevity.
So tomorrow morning I might actually get to start my writing outside--which is to say, outside on the patio, rather than outside at the creek. Then I might just get to leave everything out there on a permanent basis once again.
Meanwhile, the balcony out back is still waiting for the paint crew to come back through and paint the trim. And the plants that live out there are still hanging around the living room. The most successful of our tomato plants is sort of drooping all over everything; I was going to tie it up against the wall, but obviously this plan had to be delayed. John's little sunflower never made seeds, presumably for lack of pollination action. And my squash, denied the ability to range freely all over the floor, is attempting to climb the walls, the screen door, the mystery pepper plants, and, showing a certain amount of desperation, the parsley next pot over.
So much for the household status report. My writing status report is less interesting (IMHO), but since that's what the blog's about, I shall blog it anyway.
Finally made my way back to my Boulder Writing Examiner gig. Just submitted for review tonight an article about John Scalzi's visit to Fort Collins this Sunday. I'll give you a link as soon as I have one. My relationship with Examiner's new review process has been a mixed bag thus far; one article was approved pretty much immediately, but another--a rather timely one, actually, the Puzzle Pirates weekend blockade roundup--was sent back to me with a request to remove specific dates from the headline, and never did get approved in time to be of use to anyone. So clearly I still have some things to figure out. This time, at least, I've got several days before the article I'm trying to get approved becomes obsolete.
I'm also finally making my way back to the rewrite of "Caroline's Wake." Embarrassingly enough, it has almost been a year since an editor returned it to me with a very specific rewrite request, complete with a marked-up copy of the manuscript and everything. I'm not happy with myself about this. The editor told me not to worry about a deadline, but this, I must admit, is ridiculous.
Why have I let it languish for so long? Well, I could say I've been busy. I could cite moving house, my busy roller derby schedule, other writing deadlines I've imposed upon myself... but when I look back over the past year, it's obvious that I've been able to get some things done. Whenever I can't get everything done, this short story revision has been the first thing on the chopping block. I've been avoiding it. It's that simple.
But why? Why avoid following up on a fantastic response to one of my stories?
I suppose that, while I'm between the rewrite request and the new submission, I'm in a state of potential. Great potential! And the thing about states of potential is, they're no-risk until you try to act on that potential. Where it's at now, the story has been given a strong vote of confidence and no rejection yet.
Basically, it's that thing where the writer doesn't finish because "unfinished" has more possibility than "finished." Until it's finished, it can't be pronounced a failure. Until it's sent out, it can't be rejected.
Which is, logically, a ridiculous excuse. But emotionally it makes so much sense.
Still. Emotionally, it's also got me in a state of stagnation. I'm producing very little new fiction while I'm sitting here frozen on this rewrite request. Knowing that I'm in the middle of one project makes it hard to justify starting other projects. So while this doesn't get done, very little else gets done either. I need to move. The unfinished dragon needs to be finished!
So that rewrite is now my mission for this week. Wish me luck.