“I don't take much notice of critics, except when they praise me extravagantly.”
Philip Pullman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

second verse, same as the first
Tue 2014-04-29 23:38:42 (single post)
  • 1,050 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 3,400 words (if poetry, lines) long

I realized just this past weekend that we're smack in the middle of an open call for submissions to Sword and Sorceress 29. And I have this story here that I've been working on forever, that I wanted to get ready to submit last year to Sword and Sorceress 28 but that I utterly failed to make the deadline with, and, well, I haven't worked on it since. So I've got just over two whole weeks to get that sucker finished.

Why do I do this to myself? It's not even that great of a fit for the S&S series: "We are willing to consider stories set in modern times (urban fantasy), but we won't buy more than one or two of those for the anthology." And my sorceresses are actually more like Goddesses. Exactly like. And yet I really, really want this to be the first slush pile it hits. Argh.

Well, I worked an hour on it today and an hour on "Snowflakes" and I guess at that rate I'll have both of them done by then. Maybe. I hope.


Meanwhile, speaking of projects picked up from where they were left off far too long ago, John and I painted a wall tonight. When we bought this condo unit and moved in back in August of 2000, the plan was to paint over the terrible "curdled cream" walls with eggshell white. We were going to do it one wall at a time, as time and energy permitted. Well, energy ran out and we stopped making time, and as a result we have four or five areas that still require painting. Also a few more areas that could use a new coat to cover the years of wear and tear.

Tomorrow we are going to do another wall. And another next week. And another soon afterwards, as time and energy permit.

So there's your writing metaphor for the day. It's never too late to pick up where you left off, and you can still take it one room, one scene, one wall, one paragraph at a time.

Hey, it's a little long for a fortune cookie, but at least it's not strained.

See that black rubber collar on the L-shaped tool? That's the O-ring in question. It may actually be a smidge too large; I'll find out for sure when I finally attempt to extract a bearing from a skate with it.
I Distract You With Roller Derby
Fri 2013-04-26 22:27:36 (single post)

Today was much, much better than yesterday. For one thing, it started earlier. It still started with a headache, but apparently the thing to do about that is get up and make myself a strong cup of tea. Whose idea was it to have caffeine withdrawal headaches begin before a body's even awake? I'm not sure that's entirely fair.

Unfortunately, today was et up with chores. Including an epic trip to McGuckin Hardware for just about everything I've been putting off buying. Gardening things, derby things, kitchen things, plumbing things. McGuckin has all of the things. Also people who can tell you where all of the things are in terms of aisle number and or street name (McGuckin has streets, it's like a miniature Boulder) and shelf height.

Me: "So, this is my skate tool. And this bit here that comes out, this is the specific tool for popping bearings out of skate wheels. And this is the O-ring that's coming to shreds."

Helpful Dude in Green Apron: [opens a drawer with many many O-rings] "Looks like it's either going to be this one, or that one."

Me: "Can I try them out?" [attempts to install the larger of the two O-rings on the bearing tool] "Perfect. I'll take two."

It's that kind of a store. But it took me an hour there to fulfill my list, and then another half hour or so at the grocery store. And then there were other chores... So not so much a writing day as an attempting-to-catch-up-with-housework day. But I did a little writing, at least, just enough to discover that despite a good soak, my pen nib still clogs solid after about a page. Maybe I'll give it an overnight soak and see if that helps more.

But speaking of roller derby: Would you like to watch some? Would you like to actually see me, in particular, skate? (Also other people who are a lot better at this than me, incidentally.) This past Sunday, my team, the Boulder County Bombers "Bombshells", along with some of our "Shrap Nellies" skaters, competed in a 20-minute "teaser" scrimmage as kind of an opening act for the headliner bout between Detour Derby and South Side Derby Dames. Both the teaser and the main bout were filmed, and the film was archived at Justin.tv. Oddly, it looks like user DetourDerby uploaded each file twice - once on the day of the bout, and once the next day. I'm guessing the first versions of everything were what streamed live and the next-day postings were maybe a trimmed and tidied up version of that. Here's all the links so you can watch what you like:

Unfortunately, the layout of the Wagon Wheel and the placement of the camera means that although you get a damn fine view of turn 4, turn 1 and 3 are pretty much everyone's backsides and everyone's fronts respectively, and turn 2 is invisible behind one of those big tree-trunk posts in the infield. But I ain't complaining - that there was live filming of the bout, and that the film was archived so you could view it later, is fantastic.

(I'm going to complain a little bit about the announcer, though. Just a little bit. Since he didn't seek out our team before the bout and ask people how they pronounce their skate names, he made some howling boo-boos on introductions. Lacy Vasive is pronounced like "Lace Evasive"; if it sounds like "vaseline" you're doing it wrong. THE SAME WAY YOU DID IT WRONG LAST YEAR, sheesh! And Jaynesrous Jukes isn't as hard as it looks; just think "dangerous" with a "j". Other than that he did a mostly OK job, although he did seem to slip back into last year's rules a few times. Since the new ruleset was implemented at the beginning of this year, there is no first whistle to release the pack and a second whistle to release the jammers. There is no "creating a no-pack situation to release the jammers immediately" anymore. There is only one whistle, and everyone starts skating at once.)

Since you know me, you're probably looking for the bits I skate in. That would be the teaser bout and only the teaser bout -- and 20 minutes is way too short! The jam I had to sit out because the gal playing the same position as me in the previous line-up was sitting in the penalty box? Painful! WE CAME TO PLAY, DAMMIT, AND WE WILL PLAY!

But but but lemme tell you, the main bout? Was hella exciting! It was close. The score lead kept switching between the two teams, and upon beginning the final jam, the two teams were one point apart. That's somewhat rare in derby. There was screaming and cheering and really awesome skaters being awesome and lots of hugs afterwards. So if you watch any of it, you should watch it all. That's basically what I'm saying here.

This weekend will be an all-derby all-day thing, since BCB's "All Stars" are competing in the Colorado Cup. You can watch that too -- it'll be streamed live here. Or if you're local you can head down to the 1st Bank Center, buy your tickets, and come watch it all unfold right in front of you. That, in my opinion, is the best way to watch roller derby. Here are the "more info" pages from the 1st Bank Center's calendar:

I'll be there Saturday the 27th, hanging out at the Boulder County Bombers merchandise table wearing my black BCB jersey and my (metaphorical) recruiting committee hat. I'll be handing out fliers for our upcoming recruitment events and answering all questions asked about being a Boulder County Bomber. If you're going to be there, you should come say hi.

Spit That Out RIGHT NOW.
Sun 2012-03-25 23:12:12 (single post)
  • 2,850 words (if poetry, lines) long

Includes: A stunning review of Blood and Other Cravings with the best one-liner describing my story that I've seen so far. Getting to that in a few paragraphs. Hold on.

So, roller derby. It eats your life right up. It's a sport that involves a lot of practice, a lot of camaraderie that develops into full-blown sisterhood in no time at all, and a side-helping of obsession. Also major and minor injuries that remind you all day long where you got 'em (at derby) and what those injuries won't let you do (derby).

(Note: No major injuries yet. But you can add to the previous entry's list a sore, sometime-swollen knee that's being infuriatingly slow to recover its last tiny bit of functionality since taking a bad fall a week ago Monday. Not from a tomahawk stop this time. It happened during a practice scrimmage. I was blocking. I think I got sandwiched. Anyway, I blame that knee for my inability to perform a decent two-knee fall lately.)

End of February, I tested up from Phase 1 to Phase 2 practice with the Boulder County Bombers. This past Friday night, I went through WFTDA minimum skills assessments (results: I'm this close, but no candy cigarette just yet. Next month for sure!). The weeks in between, I went to practice three times a dayweek, finally bought derby-quality skates (though I'll always love my first pair), practiced a little on my own just to get used to the new skates, studied for the written WFTDA rules test, and, because that isn't enough, also helped distribute fliers for BCB's March 2012 New Recruit Night, which I then helped host.

And I haven't been writing at all. Or nearly not, anyway.

One of the BCB skaters, upon hearing me gripe about this today, said, "Do you know, since this league began nine months ago, I haven't managed to write a single word?"

This made me somewhat scared, no lie. This despite knowing how very much this particular skater does for the league compared to me. I mean, I'm only a member of one committee.

On the other hand, Ellen Datlow forwarded a link to this gorgeous review of Blood and Other Cravings tonight. It's not just a review. It's a complete short story in and of itself. Along the way it imbues the anthology with an almost magic realism sensibility:

Datlow has adroitly blended the traditional with the extrapolative in her selection of stories, suggesting that just as vampires and other blood-suckers may perhaps best be interpreted as metaphors for desperation, so otherwise ordinary-seeming human lives may equally become metaphors.

See what I mean? Or maybe not? Maybe it's just my own weird filters that connect this idea -- that of vampire-as-metaphor causing the reader to thereafter see the metaphor capability of ordinary lives -- with the idea that in magic realism the presence of an element of the fantastic transforms the mundane into another kind of fantastic.

I'm also wildly appreciative of the one-liner Collings uses to describe "First Breath":

A creature of mist whose desperate craving for a physical body does not take into account that most terrifying of human emotions... love.

I'm too new at this Getting Published thing to go splitting the world into "readers that get me" and "readers that don't get me." Besides, I suspect such divisions smack of Golden World Syndrome. To the extent that I have readers, my readers have the experience of my stories that they do have; I don't get to say which is right or wrong. It's their experience. But I think it's safe to say this reviewer falls strongly in the "gets me" category -- or, more accurately, what he gets from the story matches well with what I intended to put in. And then he gets a shade more out of it than I think I realized I'd put in, pleasantly surprising me with what he found. And then he manages to convey all that in a single sentence.

I hope the other authors whose stories he references here are as well pleased.

(Oh, I could quibble about how that sentence implies that the creature is unique and deviant in her craving, rather than being quite normal for her species in having a particular need at a particular time in her life. But that would be silly of me. Besides, I'm too won over by the way the sentence ends.)

So this is very self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing of me, fixating on the one sentence in the review that pertains to Me! Me! Me! ... but then this is my blog. I get to do that.

But seriously, go read the whole review. It is a tiny work of art with the scintillating facets of a jewel. And now "jellybean" is my favorite replacement for "vanilla" now when describing a thing that is boring in its ordinariness (a practice unfair both to the so-called "ordinary" and the much maligned yet highly magical vanilla bean). For instance, "There was a lot more to AnomalyCon 2012 than jellybeans. A lot more."

So. Derby's been eating my writing, but this timely and lovely review puts me in a mind to tickle Derby's tummy until Derby damn well regurgitates. (And then I will put Derby on a healthy diet of "not everything in sight, OK? Like, not my fountain pens or my printer ink. You can eat some of my Spiral Knights time and all my TV-watching time and maybe some of my knitting-and-spinning time. But not my copy of WordPerfect 5.1! And not my novel revision! I need that!")

But most likely this will happen on Tuesday. Monday is booked. With... other things. One of which is roller derby.

That's 7 of 7, thank you very much!
Congratulations! You Win A Day Off! (Just one, though.)
Mon 2008-12-01 21:47:11 (single post)
  • 50,202 words (if poetry, lines) long

So, yes, as of about 9:30 PM last night I completed the eking out of my 7th NaNoWriMo win. (7th? Good Gods--quickly assembles mental list of NaNoWriMo novel drafts of yore--Yes, that's right, I've done this every year since 2002!) "Eking out" because, once yWriter told me I had more than 50K words, I used its handy "Export obfuscated NaNoWriMo text" command, opened the resulting text file, Selected All (CTRL-A), Copied (CTRL-C), and Pasted (CTRL-V) this into the NaNoWriMo Word Count Validator, and was rewarded with a word count downsizing to about 49380. I think it's the usual deal where the em-dash formation I'm in the habit of using (word!--'nother word!) causes two words to count as one in more conservative word count algorithms. Whatever. So I went back to the scene I was working on, did another few paragraphs, tried again, and so forth until the word count you see here. And the purple "Winner!" bar and the proud happy Viking Longship image and the web page icons and all that.

So I took today off. Well, not off off; I had to tackle the household finances, which had sort of languished for a month and a half. Dug out all the bills from the pile of Stuff To Be Dealt With, some of them past due; paid them; pulled up the checking and saving accounts online and made sure my balances matched theirs; y'know. The stuff you ignore when you're frantically trying to meet a deadline. I got that done. But otherwise, today was a play day. I went to the gym and rocked out in the bouldering cave, and I went to IHOP with friends and played Puzzle Pirates until I was completing carpentry puzzles in my brain on the bike ride home.

Tomorrow, however, I write again. For one thing, the novel still isn't really done. I haven't really gotten my characters from point A to point B, where point A is "at each other's throats" and B is "angrily declaring love for each other". I still haven't entirely disentangled my idea of how the bad guy functions and how the main character plans to fight him/her/it, although I do understand how the main character actually ends up defeating it. And, as usual, I haven't figured out a useful denouement. A novel-length story will often exist in my head with a total Hannah-Barbera laugh-track ending ("Quick, someone say something goofy so we can all laugh and go home!") for months before I finally figure out how to tie the bow on that package.

Also, there are other stories than the Demonic Sweater Story that could be finished and sent out to meet the nice people.

So. Today was playtime. Tomorrow is back-to-work time. To be precise, tomorrow at 11:30 when some NaNoWriMo buddies and I will meet up for coffee and writing time. Just because the calendar's ticked over from November to December doesn't mean the write-ins have to stop.

Declaration of THUNK
Sat 2008-03-15 21:13:07 (single post)
  • 26,284 words (if poetry, lines) long

You know what that means. Only, minus the "much-extended" part and plus 10,000 words. I was a good girl this month.

If anyone needs me, I'll be on the Viridian Ocean terrorizing the natives. (Yarrr.)

Tomorrow, John and I are going to go to the gym and try to test positive for lead belay. (Tuesday morning we were deferred--the proctor wanted to see us improve at cutting each other slack. Er, giving each other slack. Y'know.) After that, I intend, as promised, to do some rewriting stuffs. Only I've got chores too. Grr. WHY DO THINGS NEVER STOP???

Declaration of Intent: Goofing Off Saturday, Rewriting Sunday
Fri 2008-03-14 11:22:53 (single post)
  • 16,033 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 5,248 words (if poetry, lines) long

As usual, I fell behind on my intended work schedule. Thus, 9,000 words to go between now and Deadline. That's OK; there's a lot of today left in today.

I'm going to go ahead and announce for all to hear that the current project will go THUNK in my editor's inbox by 5:00 AM MDT on March 15. (Hey, it's daylight savings time already! Is this actually helping us save on oil and electricity?) This is because I firmly intend to start some Serious Goofing Off right about then. My crewbies on the Viridian Ocean are planning to hunt the sea monsters of Atlantis at noon GMT, and I want to be there! Yarr!

Wait! It's daylight savings time! That means 6:00 AM MDT. Well then!

Don't worry, I won't go into a month of downtime over this. Sunday's writing time is earmarked for rewriting "Seeds of Our Future" or whatever I may end up renaming the short story currently known as "Putting Down Roots." Hopefully it won't take me more than a few hard-working days. If I run into the person I want to submit it to at the World Horror Convention at the end of this month, I want there to be a chance that she's actually already received it.

Also? Next week, the bathroom and kitchen get cleaned within an inch of their life. I really hate the way we can tell how long I've been working to a deadline by the depth of the grime layer on the fixtures.

For the sixth year running!
Oh, Yeah, I Remembers Now, I Gots Dis Blog
Wed 2007-12-12 18:43:32 (single post)
  • 55,108 words (if poetry, lines) long

Did I forget to post here and say that I won NaNoWriMo 2007? And reached the end of the book too? Sorry. I did this. I even posted the last few paragraphs as an excerpt at my NaNoWriMo profile. Posting that is sort of a way of saying it out loud: I did it, I got to the end, and I'm not going to delete it all in a fit of insecurity, or whatever. And of course once November ends, you can't change what you put up there, so posting an excerpt is kind of like making a declaration you can't take back.

Things are fairly quiet on the writing front since. I'm easing back into it slowly. I have another couple freelance work-for-hire projects ahead of me, a short-short I want to have ready to submit by the new year (the one about the sidewalks melting) which shouldn't take me that long really but we can't get too crazy y'know. Also another short story (the one about the plant virus) that's long overdue its overhaul.

I'm also just back from an excellent fun trip to Boston, and soon to go on a trip to Seattle. John's using up those vacation hours that would otherwise go poof at the end of the year, and airfare has been unaccountably reasonable, so we've been Visiting.

That's all the update I can usefully think to make at present. More later, hopefully not too much later.

Mon 2007-09-24 12:29:43 (single post)

That is all.

More later when my brain returns.

Obligatory Fruitcake Post
Tue 2006-11-28 19:42:51 (single post)
  • 45,925 words (if poetry, lines) long

Every year, around this time, some version of this conversation occurs:

Me: "Oh my Gods! It's November!"
John: "Well, yeah. Hence all this NaNoWriMo stuff."
Me: "No, but, it's November! And I haven't started fruitcake yet!"
John: "Oh. Must you?"

Yes, I must. Preparations have begun. A couple pounds of dried stuff (currants, dates, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, mango) are at this moment reconstituting themselves in brandy. In other bowls, measured and chopped quantities of candied things (papaya, ginger) and nuts (walnuts, almonds) lie in wait. Tomorrow, all these things will go into the oven with just enough cake batter to hold them together. Then, the cake will sit and sit and sit and furthermore get drunk.

John and I plan to spend Christmas and New Year's in New Orleans with my family. The fruitcake will come with us. My family likes fruitcake (I usually mail Mom and Dad a slice) which is why John thinks we're all fruitcakes.

In other news, for all intents and purposes, I'm at 46K. 2K each tomorrow and Thursday, and I shall have a sparkling purple WINNER! bar. But I don't think I'll have THE END. There is loads of character drama betwixt now and then. Not to mention 6 days worth of plot.

I iz graduamated!
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-SNOW.
Tue 2006-10-17 16:22:47 (single post)
  • 59,193 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 128.50 hrs. revised
  • 5,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hurrah! In addition to being a newly minted Viable Paradise graduate, I have also survived the journey home. All the trains were hyper-fast this time around, so I ended up puttering around stations a lot (when I wasn't hiking around downtown Chicago). And I got home just in time to catch the winter's first snow on the valley floor.

Me, during the ride home: "Wow, look at all those low-lying gray clouds over the mountains. Think it might snow today?"

John: "Maybe."

Me, some 4 hours later: "Definitely."

I have mixed feelings about coming home to snow. I was pretty much done with appreciating the mystic beauty of snow since March '00. Since then my attitude ranges between tedium ("Oh, Gods, more snow") and guilt ("Don't bad-mouth it, we need the moisture"). But at least I wasn't somewhere warm like Maui or New Orleans this time, for the climate contrast to really rub in that vacation is over. New England was pretty blustery; the instructors, particulary Jim Macdonald and Teresa, were commenting on this being the coldest VP yet.

So I have a lot of work to do this week. I have the final (for now) StyleCareer.com eGuide to complete and turn in; I have comments on The Drowning Boy to compile and compost; and I have a revision of "Putting Down Roots" that really has to happen, like, now. MacAllister has threatened me with dire abuses should I fail to send a copy to Ellen Datlow by November. And Mac knows her stuff. Do not cross that lady.

But right now I am enjoying being back in my own house, napping in my own bed, and having a long, guilt-free soak in the bathtub. Work can happen later on tonight. Thththbbbp.