“And Grown-Ups, when they are very good, when they are very lucky, and very brave, and their wishes are sharp as scissors, when they are in the fullness of their strength, use their hearts to start their story over again.”
Catherynne M. Valente

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

ok so here's the story of last week, ready set go
Mon 2018-06-18 23:43:14 (single post)

Last week was weird and sad and traumatic and horrible and uplifting and heartwarming and I'm going to try to tell the story of it now. I told it piece by piece in a private forum where I felt a little freer to just blurt as shit happened, but I didn't have the wherewithal to do A Real Blog Post about it until now. Honestly, I'm not sure I really have that wherewithal tonight, but now's better than later because everything gets harder with procrastination.

So. A story.

Sunday June 10th began like any other Sunday in the life of a Boulder County Bombers Travel Team member. We had practice from 10 AM to 1 PM. It was a long, slow, exhausting practice because we were in the tail end of a heat wave and the barn we practice in has no air conditioning beyond the two industrial-sized box fans at either end of the track. The coaches gave us long breaks, urged us to drink water, and passed around ice packs to hug to our chests or smack on our foreheads. But even though we took it slow, we worked hard. It was our last Sunday practice before a big away game scheduled for Saturday the 16th in Pittsburgh, a sanctioned bout that would make or break our hopes for a berth at the North America West Continental Cup. The main topic was "second pass defense." The opposing team's jammer just got out of the pack with Lead Jammer status; how do you keep them scoring as few points as possible? Answer: You get them off the track and you run them back. Repeatedly. Here's how you're gonna do it...

I went home after practice and napped hard for most of the rest of the daylight hours. So did John. Eventually we both got up. He left for the night. I found enough energy to scrounge a bite to eat and settle into a session of Spiral Knights. The Shroud of Apocrea event was on, and I wanted to farm enough Apocrean Sigils to eventually craft all three special weapons. I was this close to being able to turn my Silent Nightblade into an Obsidian Edge!

Around about 10:00 or 10:30 PM, I was in the middle of meticulously clearing the Grasping Plateau when John texted me. "Have you seen the news on Facebook about the barn?"

The first thought, the very first thought that jumped into my head was, "Oh, shit, did it burn down?"

I really wish I'd been wrong.

So on the Grasping Plateau you get stalked by a big unkillable beastie known as the Apocrean Harvester. When it catches you with its many hands, it zaps you 'til you're dead. You avoid it by using the "dash" action, which makes it lose track of you for a short while. I started hitting the keyboard shortcut for "dash" a lot so I could check Facebook without getting dead.

I found the Facebook post. I saw the pictures of flames pouring out both the barn aisle and the track area. I thought about the sportcourt we'd just bought. I realized I'd left all my gear at the barn, including my skates with the Bont boots that had come in only the month before. No one could say yet how much league or individual property was damaged, not even after the fire was put out and the building was shown to be still standing.

Eventually I gave up and shut down Spiral Knights because I couldn't even. I shut it down and curled up on the sofa and cried for a little while.

Then I put all my Habitica damage on hold, used a stempo so that my 4thewords streak wouldn't be broken, and began a dedicated reread of all the Diana Wynne Jones novels in the house just to give my brain somewhere else to live other than in the horrible, horrible world I was suddenly inhabiting in which the only certainty was that my derby world just went up in flames and all that was left was to find out how extensive the damage was.

I kept waking up through the night wondering why there was pain lodged in my mind, then remembering why, then having to read some more to in order to forget again sufficiently to fall back asleep.

The next morning--Oh, good Gods, I had to get the Volt to its regular check-up appointment and I had to do something about the Saturn completely failing to start yesterday and now there was the barn. OK. One thing at a time. The Volt went to its appointment. John and I and Avedan had breakfast. Avedan helped distract us with pictures from her trip to Iceland, paying special attention to the baby sheep. The distractions helped, but there was only so much distraction that was possible when John's cell phone screen caught my eye and, without meaning to, I read the text he'd just received from a teammate: "Everything's been destroyed." I put my head down on the table next to my biscuits and gravy and tried not to scream.

As soon as we'd reclaimed the Volt from the garage, we went up to the barn to see for ourselves.

Thanks to our teammates who'd already been there that morning, the first thing we saw was a neat line of the burnt and melted remains of skates. I could barely look. I've been told since then that one of those pairs was probably mine, and I could probably salvage the plates; a couple of my teammates did and skated on them in Pittsburgh. I wish I'd looked more closely; we haven't been allowed back since. But at the time it was too much.

Inside, everything was black with soot. Where gear had been packed away or set out to dry Sunday afternoon, there were heaps of... gunk. You could kind of make out a toe-stop here, a wheel there. Where my own gear had been, I found the remains of one boot and its insole melted to the floor. I poked around looking for my tools--they were metal, they should have survived--but nothing else recognizable was there.

The team benches, repurposed pews discarded by the church group next door back when we practiced on Weaver Park Road, were still standing. Their upholstery was destroyed, but the wood was still solid. So were the penalty benches that our head NSO, Spectre, had lovingly crafted for us. He'd also made a big rolling box to store a bunch of officials' supplies neatly in drawers and on shelves, and it still existed too. Someone had pulled it outside into the clean air. Its contents would turn out later to have sustained smoke damage, but the laptop and projector stored inside, nestled in foam, would boot up just fine as though nothing had happened.

During that walk-through, I became fascinated with what the fire had claimed and what it had left untouched. It had utterly destroyed the sportcourt we'd just bought, yet underneath the subfloor we'd all sweated and labored over at the end of 2016 looked untouched. (There is some question as to how much damage the plywood floor took from being doused with fire hoses. We have yet to really determine how viable it actually is. I remain cautiously optimistic simply because the subfloor is of a "floating" design; the plywood wouldn't have been sitting in the water for any length of time, and between the fire and the heat wave it probably dried quickly. But we will see.) The paper lanterns decorating the rafters were lying on the floor like globes of magma, their paper darkened to a rust color and yet still paper. How does paper not just go up in a flash in those conditions? The laundry basket full of helmet covers for pivots and jammers, as well as mesh pinnies for creating black-and-white team color distinctions in a hurry, was a weird egg-shape in the center of the track where the basket had melted around its contents. We cracked the egg open to find a surprising amount of undamaged helmet covers inside: enough for each of our home teams to skate in come the round robin tournament on June 23rd, and certainly enough black and gold to bring to Pittsburgh. They were singed and melted in places, but we wore them in Pittsburgh.

The back end of the barn, where the fire hadn't reached, was just as blackened, the sportcourt just as crisped and curling, but more items there were intact. Everyone was "overjoyed" to know that our plyo boxes--the wooden crates we did box jumps and depth jumps on as part of our off-skates conditioning--had survived the flyer with just a coating of soot. (I did a depth jump off one of them, just to stick my finger in Fate's eye.) The rolling whiteboard that John considered the bane of his existence--it had always managed to be in his way when he went looking for drill supplies--survived the fire too. John considered that a personal offense. He rolled it into the center of the floor and took a picture of it, to cuss it out more effectively on Facebook.

Possibly the greatest source of hope after the apparent survival of the subfloor was the seemingly untouched state of our old sportcourt, or "Old Blue" as we'd taken to calling it. When we bought the new one, we tried to sell the old one off. No one nibbled. We wound up storing it in stacks on pallets at the back of the barn aisle. Again, because the fire had been mostly at the front of the building, Old Blue, seemed to have escaped completely unscathed. We hope, with a cautious hope, to skate on it again.

There was this ball of duct tape we'd been growing since the 2016 season. Every time a skater had to use duct tape to keep their gear fastened--it happens a lot as the velcro fastenings weaken--they'd take the tape off after practice and add it to the ball. The thing had gotten to about two feet in diameter at least. Someone took a picture of it after the fire, looking like a two-foot-wide cinder, and posted it on Facebook with the caption RIP DUCT TAPE BALL. Several league members commented along the lines of, "Just put some duct tape on it, it'll be fine."

Anyway, I could go on, much in the same way I could have wandered around the burned-out barn for hours oscillating between despair and scientific fascination, but that would serve no good purpose. Let's move on to the happy stuff.

The happy stuff starts here:

Fundly: Help the Boulder County Bombers Rebuild After a Fire

Facebook Fundraiser: Raising Money to help Family/Barn Fire

And then it continues:

Impromptu Fire Damage Fundraiser for Boulder County Bombers hosted by 300 Suns Brewing

@TheDerbyApex challenges #DerbyTwitter to support BCB

And continues, and continues, and continues. The retweets/reposts/reblogs of the fundraisers across the worldwide derby community. The neighbor leagues starting impromptu fundraisers of their own. The deep discounts on replacement gear from local sponsors. The outright donations of gear by people known to us and not so known. Neighbor leagues inviting us to their practices, discounting their drop-in fees for us.

I was able to replace all my gear in time to skate Saturday in Pittsburgh. We won both our games, and the sanctioned game between the BCB All Stars and Steel City's "Steel Hurtin'" was very very close. It was the best kind of smart, strategic chess-on-wheels you could hope for. I said to John later that it was like a wizard's duel: "I'll be a mouse and hide from you." "I'll be a hawk and stoop on you." "I'll be a Boeing 747 and suck you into my jets." "I'll be a ground-to-air missile and blow you out of the sky." It was a game of each team adapting to the other's strategy as the other's strategy changed to adapt to theirs.

Steel City and their fans were absolute sweethearts in every way. The announcers repeated the story of our barn burning all night long, sending oodles of people to our merchandise table to buy shirts and drop cash in the donation jar. They sold $1 "shout-outs" as an additional fundraiser. (The skate shop that had a table set up at the bout donated a bunch of wheels!) And that's on top of just being a fantastic host league in the usual way, showing us all the hospitality and love that is the best of derby community on the track and off.

Even deeper than the need to win a game, was the simple need to play a game. To know at a gut level that despite losing our practice space (temporarily or permanently remains to be seen), we're still going to play. As our captains said during the pre-bout team meeting, "We lost a building, but we didn't lose our home. Whenever we're strong, smart, and together on the track, we are home." So we made our home in the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena for the night. We made derby happen. We're gonna make derby happen, no matter what.

Or, to put it another way, the real winner Saturday night was Team Derby.

And here we are now. This is back-to-normal week. Last week was full of mourning, post-crisis logistics, and pre-travel preparations, all of them affecting each other--I mean, when you suddenly have to replace all your gear, even if you're fortunate as I was to be able to do so without financial hardship, it's pretty much your whole day; and then there's everything else the week brought me, like late library books to return and hardware to pick up at McGuckin and no second car to do it with because of no time or energy to deal with the non-starting Saturn. Well, today I got some writing done. I also got a much-needed post-bout massage and I distributed flyers to ten different locations in support of the home team round robin tournament. And I got this blog post done.

And I installed a new battery in the Saturn all by myself, and the car started up again, first try.

One way or another, things are going to be OK.

quod erat demonstrandum etcetera
Wed 2018-06-06 00:22:10 (single post)
  • 100 wds. long

Oh hi there SURPRISE ERRAND TO GET A LEAKY TIRE PATCHED. Car, not bike, so you can see it was kind of immediate. Nevertheless, I kept my promise. Today was MUCH MORE RIGOROUS. Maybe not as many hours logged as I'd hoped, but every task on the check-list got done, so I'm calling it a success.

Also, today was relevant in terms of the new "hard stuff first, easy stuff later" theory of scheduling writing time. Only not in the usual way. I didn't get to do the hard stuff during my morning shift because, thanks to the leaky tire errand, I didn't get a morning shift. So I had to do the hard stuff shift as an afternoon shift, when it is always hard to get back to work. Plus, after the sort of morning I'd had, I really felt like I deserved to skip to my budgeted play time the moment I got home.

But no! I was good. I clocked in and began my submissions procedure session. I figured, it didn't need to be a lot. I'd just check on the status of all outstanding submissions, and then I'd take a look at a couple newly opened submissions windows and give some thought to whether I had anything vaguely ready to go that might be remotely appropriate. And it's a good thing I did! When it turned out that in fact I did have something appropriate, and that it was more than just vaguely ready to go, I revised and submitted that sucker.

It was like the manuscript submission version of tricking myself into an actual honest-to-goodness story revision session with "All right, you don't have to edit it, but at least open up the document and read the draft". Time and time again, we see amply demonstrated that A GOOD WORK ETHIC IS ITS OWN REWARD. If you can't do a lot, do a little, and be open to the possibility of that little turning into a lot after all.

(It was also a demonstration of the principle DON'T SELF-REJECT. I caught myself thinking, "They want science fiction. Is this science fiction enough? There is a unicorn in it. The space ship and the cloning might be considered a pasted-on afterthought." Then I whapped that thought with a rolled up newspaper. I told it sternly, "There is a space ship in it! And cloning! It is science fiction! Send the damn thing! It is better to send something than to not send something!" So I sent it. So there.)

Anyway, where this ties in to the "hard stuff first, easy stuff later" theory of scheduling is here: Getting the hard stuff done during the brief window of time I had open this afternoon meant that I had only the easy stuff remaining when I got home from roller derby practice. After derby is, as we know, not when the hard stuff gets done. It's not realistic to expect me to put on either my editing or marketing hat at that time and not disgrace the headgear. But even exhausted from the heat and tender from new bruises, I can manage about 500 to 750 words of freewriting. And I can at least reread the current draft of this week's Friday Fictionette, make a few line-edits, and scribble some notes toward working on the final draft tomorrow.

And I can blog. How hard is blogging, really? It is not really hard. I mean, even I can do it.

All that done, I may stay up a little late playing Spiral Knights. It is the season of the Apocrea, and I want to go farm Apocrean Sigils on the Grasping Plateau. And during the little bit of play time I budgeted this afternoon, the dang game server kept booting me before I even got to the Grasping Plateau. The random gate rotation would put me through three levels of bog-standard Clockwork Tunnels and Arenas, and then, just before it absolutely had to send me to the Grasping Plateau because it's the last level before the departure lounge and that's all you can get, wham! Lag, lag, lag, lag, logged off. WASTE OF MY TIME, GAME SERVER. I feel owed another chance at it tonight. And if that means I'm up until two aye em, so be it.

Tomorrow's Wednesday, after all. I don't have anything planned for my Wednesday evening. I'm free to time-shift my work day if I choose. That can't possibly go wrong.

i left all my adrenaline in topeka
Mon 2018-06-04 14:20:35 (single post)

Well, I'm back from Kansas. The Capital City Crushers took the wins in both of our roller derby bouts Saturday night. Both were exceedingly tight games with very close scores, and both leagues have a lot to be proud of. An additional joy was the unexpected honor of being the Crushers' choice for MVP Blocker in the Bombshells game. We all hit hard and played our hearts out. For some of our crew, it was their very first bout. Congratulations to them!

The drive there and back was pretty straightforward. I had it easy; I wasn't the driver. All I had to do was sit there and be a good passenger. Nevertheless, sitting in a car for eight hours on a hot, sunny day can be pretty tiring all by itself, so I'm moving kind of slowly today. Which is precisely why I started another Suulan battle on 4thewords. When you have to reach 3,500 words by 2:00 PM, there's only so slowly you can afford to move. Thus far today, I have...

  • written down this morning's dream (another weird and stressy dream about roller derby)
  • done a freewriting session using a Magic Realism Bot tweet as a prompt
  • posted the Monday Muse for this week's Friday Fictionette
  • and also composed its Author's Note.

And I'm in the middle of writing this blog post, as you can see.

I made some good use out of the return drive yesterday, drafting this week's Friday Fictionette right there in the car. It's a fun bit of fluff involving goblins, elves, and other mythical beings. It needs a bit more shaping and refining, of course, but it's more or less the same story it was when I first came up with it last month in response to one of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge writing prompt blog posts. Which only goes to show, final drafts are easier when first drafts are actually drafts and not just babble.

(This just in: I have defeated the Suulan / that I was battling / and that required another 250 words with 10 seconds to go. / Forgive me, / the cost to fight was too high, / copy-pasting too easy, / the battle rewards too sweet to let go to waste. )

I may or may not get to the short story revision today. There's time, but I am allowing myself to consider today a recovery day, at least in part. Plus I have some household chores to catch up on after being away for the weekend.

Tomorrow will be more rigorous, I promise!

YPP Weekend Blockades, June 2-3: "Cross blades with everyone in your path!"
Sat 2018-06-02 12:35:16 (single post)

Ahoy, here's yer Saturday YPP blockade round-up post with extra sports content! Obviously by "sports" I mean roller derby. I'm compiling this information from a hotel lounge in Topeka, Kansas, where the two of the Boulder County Bombers teams, the Bombshells and the Screamin' Mimis, are preparing to bout against the Capital City Crushers (again, the roller derby league, not the basketball team) in a double-header at the Sk8away roller rink. In the area? Want to come watch? More details here!

And I should probably recap the rest of the Mayday Mayhem tournament from last weekend. As you may remember, the BCB All Stars won their bout 205-145 against Pikes Peak (Colorado Springs, CO) on Friday. We went on to suffer a tight loss, 195-203, in our Saturday game versus Crossroads (Las Cruces, NM). That sent us into the 3rd/4th place game on Sunday, which we won 279-224 against Quebec.

Meanwhile, Crossroads went on to play in the championship game against Perth, and their fate was much the same as every other team whose paths crossed with Perth. Flattrackstats.com tells the story and takes care of all your number-crunching needs. Having witnessed the swath Perth had cut through the tournament participants thus far, not to mention the trail of bodies they were leaving in their wake, we were not as heart-broken as you might imagine to lose in these particular circumstances to our rivals from New Mexico.

So there's your sports update. How about them Puzzle Pirates?

We got a client update last month! But the Ringers are having technical troubles updating the changelog, so you get a forum post from Cronus instead. Includes tweaks to the new Limited Edition Quest Galleon and some bug fixes.

Blockade news! In a valiant attempt to resurrect the Jade Ocean, the flag appropriately named Reviviendo a Jade is poking the hornets' nest of Sortilegio (en inglÚs, Jinx) on Sunday morning. Jade is sorely in need of some action, as noted in this pirate's plaintive forum post. And Wampuscat reassures the Cerulean Ocean that, yes, Blackstar will be defending Fintan at noon tomorrow. "Hopefully it will be a gallant time for all."

And in non-blockade events, in my forum wanderings I stumbled across the Obsidian Swordfighting League, announced here. I'm not quite sure what to make of it myself--it's pinging my TL/DR buttons--so I am passing it along to you. Enjoy!

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, June 2 ***

12:00 p.m. - Conglin Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Infierno De los Diablos
Attacker: The Enlightened (2)

12:01 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (1)
Attacker: Black Flag

12:57 p.m. - Barbary Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (2)
Attacker: Black Flag

10:00 p.m. - Loggerhead Island, Obsidian Ocean
Defender: Amateur Hour
Attacker: Keep the Peace

*** Sunday, June 3 ***

10:00 a.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (3)
Attacker: Seven Deadliest Sins

10:20 a.m. - Isla Ventress, Jade Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Sortilegio (1)
Attacker: Reviviendo a Jade

12:00 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Right Meow
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (3)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Sunday, June 3 ***

12:00 p.m. - Fintan Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (2)

Cover art incorporates and modifies public domain image from Pixabay.
this fictionette has discovered its own private twitter
Fri 2018-06-01 23:36:32 (single post)
  • 1,210 wds. long

Success! Multiple successes! Success the first: I am now ensconced on a couch in a hotel room in Topeka, Kansas. We got here intact and in the appropriate amount of pieces, having utterly failed to attract the attention of any Kansas police officers. (Colorado license plates are a cop magnet in Kansas. It's the marijuana thing. It's tiresome.) And, success the second, I have launched this week's Friday Fictionette! On time! Yes! Got most of that sucker written Tuesday, finished it up and recorded the MP3 yesterday, assembled the downloadables while en route via I-70 East, and pushed the offerings LIVE just now this second.

I'm so unreasonably excited about this, I can hardly tell you. On time! Squee! What's even more awesome is, this weekend is just one bout. So I wake up in the hotel tomorrow with nothing on my schedule until go-time. Which means plenty of room in the day to get ahead on next week's fictionette. Which means maybe I'll get to work on the short story rewrite every day next week! *wibble*

A small disappointment: Apparently Patreon just introduced a "public teaser text" feature. I thought, great! If I put the excerpt in that field on the ebook page, I can condense two posts into one! Then I discovered that the field is limited to 140 characters. So it's more like a public teaser tweet. Oh well.

So here are the usual three Patreon posts for the Friday Fictionette for June 1, 2018, "Encore": the ebook and the audiobook for Patrons pledging from $1 and $3 per month, respectively, and the teaser excerpt for everyone regardless of pledge status. "Encore" was a lot of fun to write, though it didn't come together quite until I'd turned it back-to-front and chosen a different viewpoint character. It's very understated, and not by design. There's a lot I wanted to put in there about why Mister Omega retired, how his great-aunt Madame Zee shaped his career, what exactly's up with the ring, and what happened at Mister Omega's final show. Alas, word count limitations bit me in the butt. Hopefully the hints that remain will still make sense.

I had other conversation topics floating around in my head, but they seem to have melted away in the on-time excitement and the post-roadtrip fatigue. If they occur to me later, you'll probably hear about it on Monday. (Ooh! Or tomorrow! I might get to the MMORG blogging tomorrow! Wouldn't that be fun?)

Cover art incorporates and modifies public domain image from pxhere.com - provided pxhere are not lying about that. I have some concerns.
with a hot bath and a huge RPG monster all things are possible
Tue 2018-05-29 23:52:02 (single post)
  • 1,432 wds. long

Actually Writing Trivia! DID YOU KNOW? Niki composes some 80% of her blog posts in the bathtub after derby. It's getting to where some nights I can't make myself get started at all unless I'm sitting in hot water. Especially those nights when I have derby practice. And I had quite the derby practice. Hard on the heels of the Mayday Mayhem tournament, I'm heading to Topeka this Saturday as a last minute substitute into the Bombshells roster. And we did a weird new thing with how we field blockers! It was hard on my brain. Then it was hard on my body. Then we did ten minutes of interval sprints and ten minutes of plyometrics. And all that came after my post-tournament massage, which was like an extra workout in which someone else makes your muscles do the hard stuff for you.

So, yes, the bath. The bath and the beer and the recovery dinner. The beer is Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan. The dinner was Dal-style Lentils & Greens with Poached Egg. (The greens were radish sprouts chopped fine. I know, I know. Cooking is a crime against microgreens. I can live with that.)

But back to the writing!

Even considering Mayday Mayhem, everything was late. Later. It took me the better part of four hours yesterday to get the Friday Fictionette polished and ready to read into an MP3. No, I didn't manage to nibble at it over the weekend. I got as far as my freewriting Friday and Saturday, and not even that much on Sunday. So I didn't actually push the release until this morning. Tuesday. Tuesday is apparently the new Friday. I don't like it any more than you do.

But it's up now! The Friday Fictionette for May 25, 2018 is, belatedly, "Payback" (ebook and audiobook for Patrons, teaser excerpt for everybody). It's... well, I don't entirely like it. The protagonist is a whiny, entitled twenty-something in his backstory and an angry, resentful, stalled-out 40-something/60-something in the main story. I don't think he deserves a second chance, honestly, although if pressed I'd admit that no one deserves to have twenty years of their youth siphoned off without their consent. I dunno. This is another one I'm not selling very well. I guess it's not that bad. It's just, I've committed Mainstream Literary Anti-hero under a thin veneer of Life-shattering Fae Interference, and it makes me feel dirty.

Welp, it's what we've got. Have at it.

After the delayed release, I buckled down and made a solid start on the June 1 fictionette. I put up the Monday Muse (late, obvs), wrote the first draft of the author's note, and wrote most of the first draft of the fictionette itself. Which is huge for a Tuesday. My motivation, on top of needing to get the June 1 fictionette out early (Friday's probably going to be all road trip all the time and Saturday's the bout), was having begun a battle with a Suulan. A Suulan is worth 3,500 words which you must produce in four hours. My attack and defense stats mitigate that somewhat, but it's still a lot of work with very little room for futzing around. So there was nothing for it but to keep babbling rough draft until I'd hit my target. Yay! 4thewords for the win!

Between being in full-on Friday Fictionette catch-up mode up 'til this morning and moving into preemptive catch-up mode today, I haven't made it back to the short story revisions and am not likely to get there this week. Alas. And I have three bout weekends in June, so crunch time will continue right through the fourth weekend of the month. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is JUNE HAS A FIFTH FRIDAY, HUZZAH! I look forward to doing absolutely nothing on that day.

there are games and then there are games
Fri 2018-05-25 23:00:29 (single post)

First, the good news. Boulder County Bombers won against Pikes Peak Derby Dames (Colorado Springs), 205 to 145. That means we go on to play Crossroads Roller Derby (Las Cruces, NM) at 3:30 on Saturday the 26th. It will be our second time facing them this year. The first went very well for us; we hope to do as well or better tomorrow.

Next, the not so good news: I didn't finish the Friday Fictionette in time to release it today. (This had a lot to do with sticking around after our game to watch our probable Sunday opponents play, then going out for dinner and games with one of the blockers from my "pod." About that latter, more in a moment.) Probably won't tomorrow, either. All I can do is nibble at it as often as I can over the tourmament weekend so I can have it up Monday at the latest.

Now for something completely different:

So right around the corner from the tournament venue is The Summit, an all-ages arcade. There's bowling, laser tag, and a bunch of the sort of arcade game that you pay for by swiping a card and that you can win tickets at for prizes in the little store. There is also a restaurant, the Crossroads Tavern & Grille.

John and I went there for dinner yesterday. This was right after some of the team went to the venue to preview the floor we'd be skating on. There were enough of us there, plus our coach, that it turned into a sort of capsule-sized practice session, with agility drills and wall work and so on. So by the time we were done, I was unexpectedly hot, tired, sweaty, and hungry.

Right at the top of the restaurant's burger menu is a Mac 'n Cheese Burger, kinda pricey at $19.99 but plenty enough food to be worth it. It's two full-sized patties each served open-face and covered in their signature three-cheese mac 'n cheese. The whole is sprinkled with bacon pieces and comes with a side of fries or whatever. That is what I ordered, mostly because both burgers and mac 'n cheese looked tasty and I was too hungry to decide between them.

Probably the first clue that something beyond the usual was going on: It arrived at the table and John asked me if I thought I could finish it. This is not a question he generally asks me, familiar as he is with my post-derby appetite. I was like, *shrug,* there's a refrigerator and microwave in the hotel room if I don't.

Time went by. We ate our meals. I read things on the internet. It was peaceful.

I was on my last couple bites of burger and just beginning to pay attention to the sweet potato fries when the server came back. She looked at my plate, looked at me, and then she told me, "You are the first person I have ever seen finish that burger all by themselves in one sitting." I'm all, huh? What? This? Seriously? Yes, she said. First time. Even the big burly guys who purport to be ready to eat a truck fade out somewhere in the second patty. "I am so proud of you," she said, "and I'm so happy that the first person I saw do that was a girl!"

All I could say was, "You must not get many roller derby skaters eating here."

But here's the kicker--apparently that Mac 'n Cheese Burger entree is a challenge entree. It's not listed as such in the menu--I probably wouldn't have ordered it if it were--but it is the case that if you do indeed eat it all by yourself in one sitting, they give you a $20 game card to spend in their arcade.

So that's what my podmate and I were doing there tonight. We were spending my windfall arcade money. And then I took all the tickets I earned playing those games and bought some fun little trinkets to share with the rest of our pod tomorrow.

It's a surprise, so don't tell!

but questions only lead to more questions and also a higher wordcount
Thu 2018-05-24 23:19:26 (single post)
  • 3,496 wds. long

Hi. I'm in a hotel in Loveland right now. I'm doing the derby thing this weekend. It is a tournament called Mayhem; details here. (Sorry, it's a Facebook event page, I don't think they have a regular web page about it.) We play at 2:15 PM tomorrow against the team from Colorado Springs. Our schedule for the rest of the weekend depends on whether we win or lose that first game. The latest bracket and schedule is... hard to find, actually, but it's in a Google Drive pdf that's viewable by anyone who has the link, so, here's the link.

So as you might expect, this complicates my Friday. My whole week has been complicated. But I have been good! I have been prioritizing the ongoing revision of "Survival, After" rather than doing just "the easy stuff" and sticking a fork in the rest of the day. So I actually have progress to report.

Progress has been... rather daunting.

As I've said before, I'm already daunted, disappointed, alarmed, something like that, by the story's refusal to remain a flash fiction story, and by its insistence on needing more than just a quick polish before sending it off to potential publishers. But I had become somewhat resigned to it. I gave in. I began indicating section breaks and expanding the resulting sections into full-blown individual scenes. I watched the word count rise and I shrugged and said, "So be it." I even got excited that I might have a brand new full-length story by the end of this process!

Then I took a look at the world-building and things really started blowing up.

Heh. That's almost literal, given how the story starts. As of last week, the draft began, "Within an hour of the bombs falling..." The original prompt had to do with immigrants and refugees, so my character was a refugee fleeing a war zone. Thus, bombs. Only bombs and war means territories and nations and policies and I just can't. Whatever it takes to arrange fictional wartime politics, I just don't got. I'm sorry. So, no. No one is dropping bombs on the protagonist's city.

So what does that mean? It means unexplained uncanny phenomena, of course! Again. I mean, it's basically "The Day the Sidewalks Melted" except survivable (and not flash fiction). Because that's what I do. Apparently I write stories about the real world turning quite suddenly into a science-fantasy world, and how everyday people cope with that. It's OK. If I'm a one-trick pony, there are worse tricks to have.

And so but anyway the point is, the story's beginning just keeps getting longer. Look, if you say "bombs," the reader can kind of imagine what that's like. Things go boom. Stuff gets smashed. People get smashed too. The fallout effects may be fantastical, but the initial concussive impact is can pretty much go without saying. Right? Well, delete the bombs and nothing goes without saying. How does the surreal effect happen? What does it look and sound and smell like? What do we know, what don't we know, and what can we hope to find out? QUESTIONS.

I also decided the protagonist can't just be a bystander when the cars at the traffic light go feral. The protagonist is in one of those cars. Which means the protagonist has no idea how widespread this is until they run home to reassure their family: hey, the thing you are no doubt staring horrified at on the morning news? I survived that. So I have to actually write the scene where the protagonist discovers what happened to their family's house. And I have to decide what happened to their family's house, because since it's not bombs I can't just refer to "the rubble that was my parents' garage" and leave it at that. And, damn, did I actually originally have the protagonist just fleeing the area without finding out for sure whether their family is OK? That's cold, y'all. That's super cold. The protagonist has to dig through the rubble. They have to go back to their brother's school and try to find him. They can't just leave without making sure.

So now I'm writing even more new material. For a story that started out 750 words long.

I'm in this weird back-and-forth between feeling really awesome about watching this story take shape, and getting all white-knuckled anxious WHEN WILL THIS BE DONE PLEASE?! Like, I would like to write other things in my life. Other short stories. Maybe even a novel! Could I not spend the entire rest of my career on this one used-to-be-flash story? Because right now it feels like this is my life now.

Anyway. Today I did not prioritize short story revision because tomorrow is Friday, and, having prioritized the short story revision all week, I had not made even a little bit of progress on this week's Friday Fictionette offering until today. And that sucker needs a lot of revision between today, because the hot mess I have babbled out isn't presentable. Also it is too long. It is almost 3000 words of not even a little bit presentable. So... I am hoping to be on time with it tomorrow, but tomorrow is Bout Day 1 of 3. Adjust your expectations accordingly and I shall try to do the same.

It's new!
It's on time!
YPP Weekend Blockades, May 12-13: a new ship and a newly committed work ethic (sorry not sorry)
Sat 2018-05-12 11:25:03 (single post)
  • 1,362 wds. long

Woo. Haven't done one of these for a while. Partially it's because my Saturday mornings have been hectic lately. Either there have been events to attend and/or prepare for, or there have been leftovers from my Friday workday that absolutely had to get done instead. (Hello, chronically late Friday Fictionettes!) Or both, of course. It can always be both.

But also, I just haven't been playing Puzzle Pirates much lately. Which is sad! But I've been trying to exercise good time management during my weekday, which means not playing video games until I've gotten my work done, which means not enough time to play all the video games, which means I've pretty much only been playing Spiral Knights. (I have a new Sinister Skelly Shield! It is sinister.)

But there's a lot more New Stuff going on in YPP than in SK, so let's hit it.

New stuff for May:

  • The Seal o' Piracy for May 2018 requires that you complete 20 sea battles. This is not hard, but it is time-consuming, so you'll want to get started early.

  • The War Galleon has been released! For the first time in... well, a long time, anyway... we get a new ship. Holds a crew of 40, moves three times per turn, is equipped with 24 cannons and fires 2 large cannonballs per side per move. More details are accumulating on the yppedia page.

  • And the blockade schedule is below. I don't have time today to trawl the forums for intent posts, but I can tell you that all four English-language oceans are represented (that's the three classic plus Dark Seas). Full schedule is below.

(And speaking of getting my work done, yesterday's Friday Fictionette went up at 10:30 PM last night: "Adventures in Felinity," in which you take a vacation from humanity only to get thrust right back into the midst of human drama. 1,362 words long, ebook here, audiobook here, teaser excerpt for general consumption here. Having published the offering on time, I then celebrated my diligence with a very long Clockworks dive undertaken from the comfort of the corner pub. It was a good Friday.)

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, May 12 ***

12:05 p.m. - Magpie Island, Obsidian Ocean
Defender: Consider it Sunk
Attacker: Brenda

12:05 p.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pull Out
Defender: Cluster Service

12:05 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pull Out
Attacker: Cluster Service

12:06 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pull Out
Attacker: Cluster Service

12:06 p.m. - Caravanserai Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pull Out
Attacker: Cluster Service

12:49 p.m. - Conglin Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Infierno De los Diablos

12:55 p.m. - Polaris Point, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Infierno De los Diablos

1:33 p.m. - Prolix Purlieu, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Infierno De los Diablos

3:25 p.m. - Paihia Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Comin For You

4:00 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Jade Empire (3)
Attacker: Mid Knight

4:36 p.m. - Loggerhead Island, Obsidian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (7)
Attacker: Keep the Peace

5:00 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Gucci Gang

5:00 p.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, May 12 ***

6:00 p.m. - Ostreum Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Kings of Oblivion

collecting data and assembling furniture
Thu 2018-05-10 22:06:47 (single post)
  • 2,211 wds. long

So... let's not talk about yesterday. Well, OK, let's; it's a very short story. The story is this: Brand-new epiphanic schedule reversals can only do so much when you're so bone-weary from the previous evening's off-skates workout that you can't get out of bed. (Seriously. How do my teammates do all those things and still go to work the next morning like functional adults?) It's fine--I did a little of most everything on the list. But it was an uncomfortably late start.

Today was much better. It was pretty much perfect. Well, except for that part where I totally forgot I had a 4:45 appointment in Longmont. I was hip deep in polishing tomorrow's Friday Fictionette offering when the 4:15 reminder went off. This is why I make myself reminders. Other than that, things were awesome. I have logged another great day's worth of evidence supporting the new schedule theory, and it isn't even 6:00 yet. (I've begun this blog post from the bar of the Outback Steakhouse next door to the building that houses Cafe of Life, where my 4:45 appointment was. I expect I'll be finishing it later tonight, after scrimmage, though.)

This morning I was bubbling with ideas for today's short story revision session. I wound up taking those ideas on a short walk around the block, talking myself through them out loud and getting weird looks from neighbors. Then I sat down and spat out notes about those thoughts all over the story draft. (This would be another example of learning from self-observation: having learned that I work best by alternating periods of writing with periods of thinking about writing, I'm now deliberately scheduling time for the walking-around-thinking phase of the cycle. I'm counting it on my timesheet, too. YOU CAN'T STOP ME.)

During the contest I wrote it for, "Survival, After" got some feedback along the lines that maybe we need to see what life was like before. This is a fantasy story, so we can't just assume mundane here-and-now reality before the apocalyptic event. Also, in order to make the story an actual story and not just a verbose outline of a story, I need to give the protagonist a real, tangible life that got interrupted by the apocalyptic goings-on. They need to have memories that mean something to them and add emotional and thematic content to the story. Those are two problems in search of the same solution, which I began implementing today.

It's a little like architecture, or maybe like assembling prefab furniture according to blueprints I'm writing as I go along. Insert tab A into slot B. Assemble boards and nail them together just so. Open bag labeled COMPACT FLASHBACKS and affix contents to the story where indicated.

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