“I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.”
Frank Lloyd Wright

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

some old fictionettes may be ready for their close-ups
Wed 2017-10-18 22:52:04 (single post)

Oh, hooray. Today went much better. Stuck to my routine for the morning, did the various things over a long lunch break, and got back to work in time to have a decent afternoon shift of revising short fiction before it was time to go play. (My flaggies and I on the Cerulean Ocean did a Kraken Hunt. I brought home my very first Kraken Egg! Go me.)

(If you are not familiar with Puzzle Pirates, that probably won't make much sense. Just smile and nod.)

Anyway. Short fiction! I'm getting busy with it. I've become aware recently of a bunch of podcasts newly open to submissions of short-short fiction, and they're cool with reprints.

For instance, there's Toasted Cake, that most elegant and yummy podcast by Tina Connolly. She ran a story or two every week from December 2011 to May 2016 or thereabouts. (One of them was mine, by the by. I have multiple reasons to think fondly of Toasted Cake.) Then, after 150 episodes, she had to stop for a while. But now she's back! She's accepting submissions during this month right here, October 2017, and in the meantime she's running a weekly episode now through the end of the school year.

So I'm working on a batch of three stories to send. For a moment, I thought, "What do I have? What do I possibly have? I don't think I have anything much at all..." Then I thought, Hmm, 650-1000 words. Reprints OK. Doesn't that sound like something I've been doing every week since August 2014?

So it's happening. I knew it would someday. Turns out "someday" is today. I've begun dipping into the Friday Fictionette archives for possible submissions material. The first candidate is "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," the Friday Fictionette for October 10, 2014--and, incidentally, that month's Fictionette Freebie, so if it should end up being podcast or otherwise published in the wide, wide world, you'll be able to compare and contrast the original with the new version even if you're not a Patron.

Because I did spend a good part of this afternoon revising it. Fictionettes aren't rough draft when they go up on Patreon, but they are rough. I think I'm happy with it now. It lost some 50-75 words along the way, and it gained maybe 25 words that were much better for the purpose. I think the result is tighter and more sparkly.

Now to get two more short pieces ready to go. Hopefully I'll be able to get right on that tomorrow.

Yes, it is a stout.
just a minite ago it was last week where did the time go
Mon 2017-10-16 23:14:39 (single post)

I saw this great tweet this morning about how A NEW EVIL ARISES but it is MONDAY so EVIL HAS A HARD TIME GETTING OUT OF BED. It was funnier in the original, but the paraphrase will do. This goes double for the first Monday back from a week of productive and mildly adventurous out-of-town introverting.

The challenge is always to continue in ordinary life the good work practices I found room to practice during my getaway. There is less room in ordinary life for good work practices. Ordinary life has household bills and cleaning and other chores and also a 4:45 appointment and my shift on the monthly roller derby training calendar at 6:30. But I am happy to say I rose to the challenge. If I did not get to revisions on "White Noise" before having to leave the house at 4:20 PM, that's probably because I took the time to mildly polish up "The Blackbird Is Involved in What I Know" before sending it out to a pro-paying literary magazine. Can't complain.

The remainder of my mountain adventures were quiet but rewarding, and they were as follows:

Saturday morning I set my alarm so I could be at Taquería No Se Hagan Bolas right at menudo o'clock. Word is they make the best menudo for miles around, but you have to be there early, because once they run out, it's gone. So I got there shortly after they opened and, yea, I acquired menudo.

There's this one Yelp reviewer who docked them a star (thus giving them only 4 out of a possible 5) precisely because they run out of menudo by noon "while customers continue to request it all afternoon. How about making a 2nd pot?" I wondered whether this reviewer also docks stars off great donut shops because they, too, run out of product by noon. My friend, this meal is not something you just whip up another pot of if you're running low. To give y'all an idea--and this will sound delicious to fans of bone stock, and gross to everyone else--after my leftovers had cooled in the fridge (maybe 10 ounces left of the initial huge portion; a good menudo is too rich for me to finish in one sitting), they were no longer liquid but rather gelatinous, indicating thorough integration of the collagen from the bones used to make the stock. That takes hours to achieve--this article suggests overnight.

Anyway, it was delicious and I got to eat it two mornings in a row and I am docking that reviewer a star for unreasonable expectations.

Saturday afternoon I took a trip into Edwards to visit the Bookworm on the Riverwalk. After that, I went back across the river to spend some quality beer-and-Puzzle-Pirates time at Crazy Mountain Brewery. Pictured above is my favorite of the beers I tried there--and I tried the whole flight, even the IPAs and ESBs I knew I wouldn't care for. The winner is a stout. I know it doesn't look like one. They warn you it doesn't look like one. But, hell, if you can have black IPAs (when the P stands for "pale"), why not a golden stout? It was delicious.

Sunday morning I checked out of the resort. My original plan was to hang around to watch the Saints game at Bob's Place. Then I thought, I'm going to have an ice chest with things inside that should stay cold, I should just get that stuff home and put it in the fridge. Also I expect the traffic heading east on I-70 on a Sunday afternoon is worse after 2:30 than it is before 10:00. So instead I set my alarm a little earlier and got out of town by 9:00, got home by 11:30, unpacked the car, refrigerated the ice chest's contents, and headed over to the 28th Street Tavern.

This turned out to be the right choice. The bar wasn't too crowded, I had a great view of the game and a place to plug in my laptop, and John, whom I hadn't seen all week and whom I missed dearly, was able to join me midway through the third quarter about the time that things got really entertaining.

The Saints won. I'm not really sure what else to say. It was a very weird game.

So that was the rest of my Avon weekend and the beginning of my reintegration into ordinary life. Hi.

i come by this all-worn-out business honestly
Fri 2017-10-13 00:03:32 (single post)
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Wooooo I am exhausted. It's late and I'm squinty-tired and bruised. So this will be short. Here's the teal deer version: I DID ALL THE THINGS AND DERBY TOO. And also solid playtime on my computer over beer and pizza after derby. I made a very good day happen and I am pleased.

The longer version, which is not very long:

  • I sent "It's For You" back out into the slush. Go, little story, go! Wow your readers! Go!
  • I reacquainted myself with the novel in progress and had a new worldbuilding factor occur to me while I did so.
  • I revised and fleshed out what had been a rather weak backstory for the short-short "White Noise." 700-word short-shorts don't typically need a lot of backstory on the page, but having it worked out satisfactorily made approaching the rewrite a lot easier. I drew up a new outline incorporating what I now know, and I hope the actual rewrite will go smoothly.
  • This in addition to the getting the cluster of daily gottas done by 1:00 PM.
  • This, as I said, in addition to roller derby scrimmage with 10th Mountain.
  • Also the currywurst was as delicious as advertised.

And now, that blogged, I go collapse. G'night!

fresh seafood in a landlocked town (but then you already know about the sushi)
Wed 2017-10-11 22:51:43 (single post)
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Well, here's a thing I never thought I'd do in a Colorado ski town. I just went to the butcher shop next to the bakery (you know, on the City Market side of town?) and ordered a pound and a half of live lobster for Friday. BECAUSE THEY SAID I COULD. Also the price per pound is exactly the same as the discount price for that expensive wine at Northside I restrained myself from splurging on, so it all comes around.

I'm torn between making bisque and just boiling the critter along with some sweet potato and squash. And maybe some Cajun seasonings 'cause HOT DAMN.

I also bought a pound of currywurst for the next time I make dal (or an omelet, or, hell, the next time I heat up the frying pan). Currywurst is exactly what it sounds like: bratwurst seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, coriander, garam masala & etc. (Not so much on the tumeric, I am told.) Also bought a fresh tomato because, incongruously, the butcher shop had a display of local farm-fresh tomatoes on their counter, and I've just about used up the Diaz Farm tomato I brought from home. So my sandwiches are also set.

This after I went to the grocery to replace the lip balm I suspect popped out of my pocket on the trails yesterday (a fair exchange for the time my camera fell down among the sagebrush in the "picnic area" and I only noticed at the last minute) and also the La Croix I drank all up because I am an addict. And while I was there, I could not resist a couple of limited edition Oreo flavors (Hi Kerri! I was thinking of you and those PBJ Oreos!)--the cookie butter flavor, which is perfection, and the apple pie flavor, which has a disappointing tendency toward Jolly Rancher. The graham-flavored cookies are a nice touch in both.

No, I was not brave enough to try the "mystery flavor." I want to know I will enjoy my Oreos. "Mystery flavor" could give me no such assurances.

In other news, I sent "Caroline's Wake" back out into the slush. TIL HELL WON'T HAVE IT, UNCLE JIM!

(this is what we call burying the lede)

projects proliferate perversely
Thu 2017-08-10 23:08:36 (single post)

So I was scanning my list of favorite fiction markets, and it turns out Daily Science Fiction 1. only accepts pieces up to 1500 words long, disqualifying several pieces I'm looking to submit, but 2. does accept pieces as short as 100 words. Yay, drabble market! And it also turns out that they will consider flash-fiction series, which is to say, three or more short-shorts relating to a common theme. And I thought, "Perfect! I have this series of drabbles about talking animals in a post-human world. I'll send three of those!"

And I also thought, "They might need a little sprucing up before they go. But it shouldn't take long."

So. Turns out, wrong on two counts.

Count the first: I don't actually have three unpublished. I only have three, period, and SpeckLit took one of them. Not complaining about that, mind you. But it means I only have two unpublished, so I shall have to write another. Cool. Needn't be a drabble, either.

Count the second: In fact, probably best that it not be a drabble. Because the other two? Are not, currently, stories. They are not shaped like stories, not even as basic as the one in "Priesthood Has Its Privileges." They're more like... portraits. So I'm going to have to expand them.

That's what I spent this afternoon doing, when I really wanted to be diving into the whole Twine/Interactive Fiction thing.

And even then I'm not done. Because, even expanded, both of them have basically the same story: Animals muse upon the forgotten past, then the focus widens to reveal that, Lo! Humankind is extinct; humankind is the forgotten past. Look, variations on a theme require variation. More than just "This one's about pandas and that one's about a gull and a sea lion."

Why do things have to be so complicated?

*brb bemoaning the shortage of hours in the day*

this is my oasis of normality it is a nice oasis have a coconut
Thu 2017-07-27 22:37:31 (single post)

Things are getting kind of unhinged out there. (Getting?) OK, more unhinged. Dramatically more unhinged. I'm not oblivious to this--I wish I had the luxury to be oblivious, but I don't think anyone has that luxury, not really. I've been keeping a browser tab open on the latest political open thread at Metafilter, refreshing it frequently, and dreading what I'll see but being grateful for the intelligent and bleakly humorous tenor of the conversation there.

For the most part, aside from the occasional outburst in the social mediaz, I've been restricting my reactions to carefully worded faxes to my Senators and Representatives (have you met Resistbot?). I'm... going to stick with that, actually. If I start commenting more, especially here on a blog dedicated specifically daily writing accountability, the writing will get squeezed out and my ability to resist usefully will wither under the blow-torch of perpetual outrage and I'll wither, too, just wither away into an exhausted, whimpering ball of despair.

I'm aware. I'm doing my part. But I'm also setting boundaries and patrolling them as best I can.

Sometimes it seems like the best act of resistance I can muster is to simply continue, day by day, to show up at the page, to submit stories for publication, to publish each Friday's fictionette--to be a small force for normality in the world, pushing forward, come what may. To keep doing the good work of... just being this person in the world.

To raise my little flag that says, "I'm still here. I'm still writing, I'm still skating, and the fuckers can't take that away from me."

So. Hello. We are writing now.

Today was a good day. Good like most of last week was good. This week has not been so good--the crash-and-burn tendency caught up with me Tuesday and bled over a bit into Wednesday--but last week was great and so was today. It would be nice to think I've gone from a "one day on, one day off" cycle to a "ten days on, one day off" cycle. It would be very nice for that to be a permanent change. I mean, heck, ten days on, one day off--that's above and beyond the mainstream standard, right? It's a longer work-week and a shorter weekend, is what it is.

Anyway.

A couple stories came back with rejection letters. I haven't yet decided where to send them next, but I did send one of my other existing drabbles out. I have a good handful of unpublished drabbles from the days when SpeckLit.com encouraged writers to submit ten at a time; since SpeckLit shut down and Drabblecast went on hiatus, it's hard to find paying markets for them. It's not as simple as sending them to places that welcome very short flash fiction. With markets that don't specifically solicit drabbles, there's the possibility that the editor doesn't really consider 100 words to be an actual story. On the other hand, if the market welcomes flash and doesn't specify a lower word-count limit, what have I got to lose by sending one in? I'm trying to thread the needle between shotgunning and self-rejection by targeting markets that seem more likely. The ones that have published, say, 300-word short fiction. Or that take prose poetry.

I could also take one of my drabbles and expand it. That's an option. As soon as the flash piece that's currently taking up my afternoon shift is done, I may just do that.

So. Onward. Just as though everything were normal.

Cover art incorporates pubilc domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons and a totally overused lighting effect in The GIMP.
no crashy-burny for THIS fictionette; also, how the sausage gets made
Fri 2017-07-21 23:47:11 (single post)
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The bad news is, yes I got sick again. Or discovered I'm still sick, and that Thursday was just a day off from being sick because the universe is merciful or because it likes a good joke or maybe just because I took a 12-hour Sudafed at exactly the right time, I don't know. Today was gross sniffly coughing sneezing bleaaarrrrrgh.

The good news is, I got all my work done anyway. So there. Take that, sick! You ain't the boss of me!

Seriously, though, 100% not kidding, today was probably a more powerful rebuttal to Jerk Brain than it would have been had I felt perfectly fine. It's evidence that my ability to Be A Writer™ is not dependent on the stars being aligned just right. It is something that, in all but the most exceptionally terrible cases, is always within reach. That's really empowering.

Today I...

  • Sent "First Breath" off on a new quest for reprint publication
  • Published this week's Friday Fictionette
  • Set up a Scrivener project for converting an old draft into a new piece of flash fiction

And also freewriting, Morning Pages, this blog entry, Fictionette Artifact catch-up, yadda yadda yadda. ALL THE THINGS.

The Friday Fictionette for July 21 is "Falling Toward the Light" (for Patrons: full-length ebook, audiobook), which is mostly about the hazards of having a rift in the space-time continuum open up while excavating for new building construction in downtown Loveland. It's also partly, possibly, between the lines, about the effects of the above on economics and politics at the hyperlocal level.

When keeping up with Friday Fictionettes was threatening to take over my entire writing life, I was beginning to question their viability as a continuing side project. I was sick of having nothing writing-wise to blog about except them. But now that I'm more or less caught up and reliably on time with the weekly releases (excluding, of course, the Fictionette Artifacts--I am almost ready to mail the ones from March), and now that I'm regularly working on writing and selling short fiction again, I'm going to designate Fridays and only Fridays for blogging about Friday Fictionettes. To everyone's relief, mine especially.

And now that they've been reliably on time for a few weeks, I feel like I can speak to the weekly routine of making them happen. So! Here is my Process, in case you are wondering.

Saturday: Tomorrow's Saturday! Yay. It is the Saturday preceding the July Week 4 release. So I'll take a look at what I wrote during my freewriting sessions during the fourth week of June and choose one of those pieces to develop into the Friday Fictionette for July 28. I'll copy it from the Daily Writing scriv to the Friday Fictionettes scriv, then set up its folder with all the relevant templates. That's pretty much it. It's the weekend, and I just valiantly published the previous release, so I get to take it easy.

Sunday: NOTHING. I started giving myself this day off from even the most minimal writing tasks after I was forced to recognize I wasn't doing them. Something about starting the day with a three- or even six-hour roller derby practice. I've still been optimistic enough to set up writing dates with friends on Sunday afternoons, though.

Monday: Back to work. Once in a while, I'm fortunate enough to have produced a pretty good first draft during the original freewriting session. Most of the time, I'm not, and the output will be this rambling exploratory babble. So I'll spend Monday's fictionette-prep session just creating a very wordy outline. It's mostly about structure: Start here, then this happens, then that, then the other, then finally end with this.

Tuesday through Thursday: Write the dang thing. Using the outline as a sort of fill-in-the-blank, using the weave-and-dodge strategy to keep from getting stuck, trying not to waste any of my daily 25-minute fictionette-prep session on staring into space or doing too much internet research. This is the hard part but it's getting easier.

Friday: Publish the sucker. Come up with a title and an author's note if I haven't already. Ditto cover art. Sometimes I have all the foresight and I create the cover from my own photography or drawings, but usually I do a last minute search for public domain or creative commons attribution/share-alike commercial-OK licensed imagery. Export the Fictionette as PDF and epub, convert epub to mobi, record the audiobook and convert to mp3, and post to Patreon. If by this time it is not stupidly late o'clock, do the excerpts for Patreon, Wattpad, and my blog too; otherwise, do those over the weekend. (I try not to have to leave them for the weekend.) It sounds like a lot, but everything after creating the cover art is pretty mechanical by now. It only takes forever if I didn't finish the actual writing by Thursday.

And that is how the sausage gets made. The end.

See you tomorrow for the weekend YPP report! Or, if that's not relevant to your interests, skip it and I'll see you Monday.

that's it, no more crashy-burny for you (you don't even LIKE crashy-burny, what the hell is wrong with you)
Thu 2017-07-20 23:34:13 (single post)
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So it turned out to be just 24-hour sinus drama. Went to bed sniffly and feeling crappy, woke up before seven o'clock still sniffly but with boundless energy and well-being. It's confusing as hell, but I'll take it.

I submitted three things to paying markets today, y'all. Three! That's five submissions this week! And one of the things I subimtted today was a brand new drabble (100-word short story) that I just wrote this afternoon. And I finished up the promised manuscript critiques, and I did all the required daily things, and I continue to catch up on the Fictionette Artifact backlog, and I cleaned the toilets. (They really needed it.)

And now I am back from scrimmage. It was a lovely scrimmage. We hit each other really hard, damn near ended in a tie score, and then we had a party with beer and cake. (Also, one of my teammates wore assless booty shorts. It was a themed scrimmage, so this makes sense. Trust me.)

Days like today scare me. Rather, what scares me is the prospect of the day after a day like today. Past recent experience says I'm due to crash and burn tomorrow. I always crash and burn the day after phenomenally productive and fulfilling days. That's what jerk brain says, anyway. I tell it, "Hey, jerk brain, you have selection bias like woah, you're ignoring all the non-crashy-burny days, there is no good reason that I should crash and burn--I mean, unless I get sick again or something, and it would be just like you, wouldn't it, to make me get sick again tomorrow just to prove your crappy naysaying point?"

I spend a lot of time talking to jerk brain. But you should hear the mouth it has. Someone has to stand up to it.

So the thing about drabbles is, I planned to put together a raft of eight or ten brand new ones and submit them to SpeckLit. That went rather well for me in the past. Only I haven't visitied them in ages. I visited them again after writing that one drabble today and trying to remember what kinds of things authors put in their author's notes there. Turns out, they closed their doors last September. Dang it.

But there is, as it happens, no shortage of online markets looking for very very short fiction. Not all of them will pay SFWA professional rates, but at one hundred words the difference between pro pay and token pay is more in the percentage than in the pocketbook. And I just wanted to submit something that was new. You know? Rather than just collect another handful of rejections for the stories I've been shipping around for the past few years?

So I found a place (which does pay pro rates, by the way), and I sent it, by the Gods.

This is me, feeling like Real Writer™ again. It is not my default feeling. I have to work at it. Tomorrow I will work at it some more. It'll be great. (You hear me, jerk brain? It'll be great!)

what is this fresh nonsense cut it out
Wed 2017-07-19 22:32:52 (single post)
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Well, I wasn't to know my sinuses were going to attack me today, was I? *sigh* Had to call in sick today, more or less. Got about a half day's work in, brain moving at half-speed the whole time. Got the daily stuff done--and congratulated myself for that accordingly--but nothing beyond that. And did not make it to yoga+derby. Hopefully my body will stop with the dramatics and let me go to scrimmage tomorrow night.

(I honestly don't know if I'm sick or just suffering some weird sinusitis-like reaction to last night's Fieldburger with cheese. The throat irritation kicked in immediately after I finished eating; the post-nasal drip continued all night long and into today. I have no allergies that I know of, but bodies are weird. More research may be required.)

That aside, "daily stuff" properly includes submission procedures, even if it's been a while since I've treated it as such. Finally got over my embarrassment, logged the duplicate submission rejection, and sent "Caroline's Wake" out again. And again, since the place I sent it yesterday got the rejection right back to me today. (And yes, I triple checked my records; neither that place nor the place I sent it today have seen it before. NOT MAKING THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. I hope.)

So tomorrow with the remaining manuscript critique, popping something else into some magazine's electronic submissions system, and--maybe?--writing something entirely new, just to prove I can.

And scrimmage, I hope. And less with the sniffly, sore throat, post-nasal drip, high-on-Sudafed nonsense. Because that's what it is. NONSENSE. You hear me, body?!

Cover art incorporates Page of Wands (Pamela Colman Smith, following instructions from A.E. Waite) [public domain in the US].
this fictionette is very, very embarrassed
Sat 2017-07-01 00:54:57 (single post)
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Two things.

First, the Friday Fictionette for June 30 is out: "Strange Tidings" (ebook, audiobook) which begins with an observation about the gaps in the official Rider-Waite tarot interpretations and from there goes somewhere odd.

Secondly, I have just received the most embarrassing rejection letter in as long as I can remember. My face is red as we speak. Turns out, the place I just sent "Caroline's Wake," that sounded like the perfect home for it, and whose submission window just happened to open at the time I sent it... I had actually sent it there before. During a previous submission period. When I undoubtedly thought it would be just the perfect home for it.

The editors were really gracious about it. Apparently it was memorable--in a good way--so when it crossed their desks they recognized it immediately. They hope I will send them something new the next time they open for submissions.

I am very, very embarrassed. Since it is not good form to respond to rejection letters, even to say sorry (editors are busy, I am not adding to their caseload just to soothe my own feelings), I am exorcising the embarrassment demons here.

(I am sure that Very Famous and Successful Authors the world over have made just this mistake and been just as embarrassed about it. Someday, when I am a Very Famous and Successful Author, newer authors will read this blog post and say, "Oh, what a relief, even Very Famous and Successful Authors make that mistake too." See? This is a public service.)

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