“Thank you, God. My character is all built up now. You can stop.”
Debra Doyle

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

there is a thing called Death Of The Author but thankfully this ain't it
Sun 2016-10-16 20:52:54 (single post)

Not dead. Not vanished. Just very, very tired. Partially to do with disruption of sleep patterns (such as they were), partially with a surprise accumulation of appointments, and mostly with how after some six weeks off from roller derby practice I've been finding the regular schedule, despite the slightly reduced hours for the off-season, an unexpected challenge.

So last week sort of didn't happen, and this weekend was mostly either 1. derby, or 2. sleeping.

The overdue Friday Fictionette will appear sometime tomorrow, which is to say Monday the 17th. With my apologies.

Hopefully I will not trip over any additional time bombs in the upcoming week. Hopefully all will go according to schedule. Hopefully things will return to normal and possibly better than normal. The associative mental jukebox is now playing Jim Croce's "Tomorrow's Gonna Be a Brighter Day" which isn't an exact match for the situation but that's my brain for you.

So that's about it. Good night, see you tomorrow, etc. & so forth.

advice to alternate universe me
Thu 2016-09-15 23:18:32 (single post)

Note to self: Do not begin Frances Hardinge's Cuckoo Song as bedtime reading because you WILL NOT be able to put the book down (it was almost every bit as good as advertised) unfinished, and a night of only four hours of sleep is not conducive to getting anything productive done the next morning.

Possibly this is a note to an alternate universe version of myself for whom the advice does not yet come too late.

It really was a very good book.

fresh, delicious, destined in part to be my lunch
i should not be complaining about these problems, lots of people might wish to have such problems
Tue 2016-08-02 23:59:59 (single post)

It's Tuesday. Tuesday is CSA day. CSA day used to be Monday, but then Monday became a chiro day and that was just too many errands in one day without guaranteed use of the car. So now it is Tuesday.

Accompanying this post is a picture of the fresh, delicious things that came home with me from The Diaz Farm. The vegetables (rainbow chard, Italian kale, carrots, kohlrabi, a cucumber and a couple of green tomatoes for frying; there was also garlic but I have enough right now) correspond to a small-size share. The bread is an add-on I signed up for, and is delicious. The free-range mixed-flock eggs I buy on an as-needed basis for $5.50. You can also buy duck eggs for a little bit more (the rear six eggs in the picture are duck eggs). They are huge and delicious but a little harder to crack into and I am not always in the mood.

Here is how Tuesday is supposed to go:

  • 9:00-9:30 AM: Writing (morning pages)
  • 9:30-10:00 AM: Breakfast, brush teeth, water plants
  • 10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Writing (freewriting, fictionette, submission proceedures)
  • 12:00-2:00 PM: Bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself some lunch, eat, goof off
  • 2:00-4:00 PM: Writing (current story or novel project)
  • 4:00-5:30 PM: Email and other communications. Dinner. Also pack gear and get dressed for derby
  • 5:30-10:00 PM: All Stars practice (6:30-9:30) and associated travel time
  • 10:00-11:30 PM: Foam roller and at-home traction session
  • 11:30 PM-12:00 AM: Writing (blog post)
  • 12:00-1:00 AM: Goof off a bit, read, whatever. Also get ready for bed.
  • 1:00 AM: Go to sleep.

Hm. Written out like that, it sounds like a mercilessly busy schedule... except for the, y'know, 5-hour work day with the 2-hour lunch break. OK, it actually sounds like a really cushy job. AND I STILL CAN'T SEEM TO STICK TO THE SCHEDULE.

Problem the first: It really requires that I get up on time. That did not happen this morning. Possibly because I was unable to get to sleep until about 3:00 AM; my upper back was giving me grief again.

Problem the second: Once things start getting late, it's almost impossible to steal time from the rest of the schedule. If the morning writing shift gets cut short by an hour, then I just end my lunch break at 1:00 instead of 2:00, right? Except I cannot whittle "bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself lunch, eat" down to one hour, even if I excise the "goofing off" part. Which for some reason I find myself practically unable to do. At least I wound up making my lunch so filling (big salad featuring today's veg and last week's mixed greens; far too much French toast made with heel of last week's bread) that I would up not needing dinner, so I could write right up to 5:00 PM. Cooking and eating takes up time, y'all.

Problem the third: There is a reason I only expect half an hour of writing after derby. If I lose some of my writing time to, er, "activity creep," well, it's going to be damn hard to extract that work out of myself after three hours of skating hard and turning left. Not to mention plyometric conditioning. The body has sucked all the carbs out of the system and the brain has no fuel to go on. Also I'm now a little sore from the foam roller and traction stuff.

(At-home traction involves lying on the ground with my neck supported by a triangular plastic device that looks a lot like a hands-free book holder. The head is allowed to loll back, creating the curve which we are trying to train the spine to achieve. The first sessions are short, but one increases the time as one grows accustomed to the experience. Ice on the neck and upper back after the session is recommended.)

But I am determined to see how far into August I can get with a perfect record of "perfect days," which is to say, days on which I've successfully checked off every item on my Dailies list in Habitica. And so, having only done three hours of writing rather than four and a half before derby, I return to my desk, determined to reach my goal no matter how tired I am. DETERMINED.

So. When this blog post is done, I'm going back to the embarrassingly belated July 22 Friday Fictionette. It's almost ready. The text is all done and the Audiofictionette is recorded. I just need to create the cover art, compile the .pdf and .epub, put the teaser excerpt together for release on Patreon and on this-here blog, and put everything up where you can see it. I expect I'll get some way into some of that tonight and, if I am very fortunate, publish the whole shebang tomorrow.

However, tomorrow is full of things--obligations as well as options--and I'm a little worried about getting everything done.

I can at least solve one problem by GETTING UP ON TIME, DRAT YOU. Do it!

just when you figure things out they give you more things to figure out
Mon 2016-08-01 23:16:18 (single post)

I am late with all the things. All the Fictionette things, certainly. The astute and observant will have noticed that the July 22 edition still hasn't been posted, and as for the Fictionette Artifacts, I'm afraid the June mailings will just have to be sent in the same envelope as those for July. I'm dreadfully sorry. Hopefully this will be the week that I manage to get everything under control.

Which would be great, because over the past few weeks I have been having a hard time finding both time and energy to get stuff done.

I really thought I was going to have more time and energy to spare. My derby schedule has changed; as of the results of mid-year tryouts a couple weeks ago, I'm a full A-team member rather than being an A/B crossover, so I'm only attending one team's practices rather than two. That theoretically gives me back Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Except, for one thing, I've been sticking around after All Stars practice on Sundays anyway. The first week it was because Papa Whiskey stuck around to help the Bombshells coach during their practice from 1 to 4; it was just simplest from a transportation perspective for me to stick around too. (I fetched us lunch and then volunteered my services as a non-skating official during B/C scrimmage. HOW DO JAM TIMERS MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY?!) The second week it was because I'd signed up to participate in our presentation at the Boulder County Fair, where we demonstrated Roller Derby As She Is Played These Days to curious fairgoers. (I wound up holding the microphone and explaining Derby 101 to the audience multiple times.)

These were both very fun things! But they were, nonetheless, things.

Meanwhile, I've also been spending a good deal of time at Cafe of Life. Turns out my back problems have a lot to do with the proper curve which my spine has not got. In an attempt to train it to have one, I'm undergoing adjustments and traction sessions thrice weekly. It's only about half an hour each visit, but it's also about a 40-minute commute each way by bus and bike, and it's a non-trivial interruption of my work-a-day schedule. And while the chiro sessions are having immediate positive effects (less pain all day! easier getting to sleep!), they are also having immediate exhausting effects, such that I come home ready for a nap.

And then there's the foam roller. I've been reintroducing the foam roller to my life. I ought never to have let it fall out of my life. The foam roller does wonders for the knee twinges, muscle cramps, and stiff ankles to which an athletic lifestyle is prone. It also runs away with another half hour from my evenings.

It's the same problem as always: Getting the writing done requires consciously devising, then sticking to, a specific schedule in which to do it. Which I had! Only now I have to change it to accommodate all these other changes. Gah.

It can be done! I hope to have good things to report tomorrow. And also a criminally belated Friday Fictionette to post. Again, sorry.

you know what else lack of sleep is bad for writing performance that's what
Fri 2016-06-17 00:31:33 (single post)

My sleep cycle is all messed up. (Yes, this will be a complaining, lamenting, and whining sort of post. It happens.) I'm having trouble getting to sleep at all, is the problem. It's kind of a big problem.

There are any number of causes, or rather factors, all working together in a horrible tag-teaming conspiracy. There's the constant tension in my shoulders that makes it hard to get comfortable and relax. There's the irritating need to visit the bathroom every half hour despite having consumed no liquids since toothbrush-o-clock. Also despite having a heroic daytime capacity to go without a trip to the toilet for hours. Even during roller derby scrimmage hours. But the moment I try to go to sleep, bam, it's constant potty emergency. It's uncanny. It's ridiculous. And of course that's when our neighbors on the other side of the bedroom wall will decide it's time to crank the stereo. Or the mysterious Two O' Clock Overhead Furniture Moving Or Whatever The Hell The Banging Is will commence. (Seriously, I have no idea what it is or where it's coming from. Our upstairs neighbor is an elderly lady whom I just can't see dragging large objects around the house late at night.) Oh, and then the brain weasels will start their little dance. "Hey! Hey! So that dream you had last night, the one you're thinking about now, did you notice that one person in it played a big part in your Worst Memory of 2015? Let's rerun that classic, K? Let's rerun it a lot."

The result is no sleep until two o'clock, three o'clock, or even bat o'clock, whenever the hell that is. I don't know because by then I refuse to look at the clock. Bat o'clock is loud. Those little critters have piercing voices. One of them likes to swoop right in close along the back side of the building. But worse than bat o'clock is bird o'clock. I typically love the sound of birds outside my window, but when I hear them at the first glimmerings of dawn it is the sound of despair. It means there's only some three hours before my alarm clock goes off.

So of course I don't get up when my alarm goes off. I go back to sleep, telling myself it's just a couple more hours. But of course it winds up being eleven, noon, or later before I manage to get up. If it's the only solid sleep I'm going to get, I'd better get it. I'm going to roller derby that evening. I can't afford to coast on fumes. Lack of sleep is bad for sports performance. Poor sports performance, at this level of play, in this sport (on wheels!), can actually mean injury. I do not want to get injured, so when I fail to sleep through the night, I allow myself to sleep right through til noon.

So my usable hours of the day shrink to something like noon until five-thirty, and it's not like writing's the only thing I need to stuff in there. And it's not like I'm going to get any work done after roller derby (blog posts like this one excepted). By then I have no brain remaining to write with and no body remaining to be upright in. So I think, hell with it, I'm going to sleep early. And I go to bed early, yes, but then I stare at the inside of my eyelids for hours. And then I sleep very late the next morning, which does not help get the message across to my body that I want it relaxed and unconscious between the hours of midnight and eight thirty.

Tomorrow, thankfully, I have a night off. No roller derby, no nothing. Theoretically I should be able to afford to drag myself out of bed at eight thirty regardless of how well I sleep tonight. Which is what I intend to do. Just reset the daily sleep cycle. If I only get three hours sleep, well, that should make it easier to get to sleep tomorrow night, right? Just get more exhausted, that'll do it, right?

I'm pretty exhausted right now. Scrimmage was absurdly successful--this whole week of roller derby practice has been fantastic; I feel like I leveled up--but it was the usual amount of hard work with the usual allotment of physical blows (I owe y'all a picture of my arms, they are multicolored) and an unusual amount of brain-melting heat. I should have no trouble getting sleepy, right? Plus I have avoided caffeine since about five this afternoon. I have taken the foam roller to the tense spots in my back. I took a couple Tylenol in hopes of reducing the background level of soreness. I am even drinking chamomile tea. I do not like chamomile tea, but I am drinking it.

Wish me luck.

Kerosene lamp: public domain. Bonfire: CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Click through for excerpt and cover art attributions.
the weekly beat-downs are no excuse, i recognize this
Sun 2016-06-12 00:24:06 (single post)

No, I am not going to start calling them "Saturday Fictionettes." For one thing, if I did that, I'd probably wind up posting them no sooner than the following Monday, knowing me. Anyway, here's yesterday's offering, bite-sized and a day late. It's called "Maggie, Queen of Darkness," and it comes with a content note for death-by-fire and suicide. Things got dark in this one, OK? It happens. Although, now that I think of it, it would fit seamlessly into the tradition of superhero origin stories, posthumous (cf. Spawn). But that's a novel waiting to happen. For now all you get is a scene.

Last week I had a valid, if vague, excuse for being late and generally unproductive. This week I got nothing. Bad habits come back quick; good habits take a lot of work. I'm working on it.

Well, possibly there's the fact that this week was more exhausting than most on the roller derby front. I was in four, count 'em, four interleague scrimmages between Tuesday and Thursday, and I was kind of fighting with a deeply bruised hip since Sunday. There is, I'm afraid, no good story behind the deeply bruised hip. I hit a patch of dust on the track, wiped out, and landed hard, instantly raising a thick lump of owie and also causing apparent sciatic nerve panic along the entire length of my left leg. I took myself out of practice and limped the rest of the weekend. I also limped most of Friday since I fell on it several times Thursday evening, thanks to RMRG's fantastic offensive blocking. Also my crappy luck--it didn't seem to matter where or how or in what direction I got hit, I still fell smack on the owie part. It's like owie parts have magnets in them that draw them with great force toward the nearest convenient object of blunt force trauma, i.e. the ground. Owie parts are in cahoots with gravity. I am outnumbered. Unfair.

Now, the bruises like leopard spots covering both upper arms, those probably have good stories. Problem is, I can't remember which one came from which hit, or indeed individual hits at all. Some of the bruises are probably from my teammates' fingers. We hold on tight to each other in our defensive walls.

Thing is, though, I don't like making that my excuse for not getting writing done. Down that path, derby eats writing all up. I am convinced, I insist, I demand that my derby life and my writing life coexist. I mean, yes, I volunteer for an athletic beat-down three nights a week and twice on Sundays, but I'm not the only one, and if some of my league-mates manage all that and some combination of full time employment, school, and child care, you'd think I could pull off a measly 20 hours of writing each week. Especially considering I needn't leave the house nor even the bed to do said writing, right?

Right, so. It's gone midnight and I should be in bed. Tomorrow's my day for double beat-downs and the schedule starts early. Rock on with your bad selves and see you on Monday. (And I mean it this time.)

Cover art incorporates original photography by the author, who had no idea that genuine doorknobs were so scarce in today's retail scene.
this fictionette will come rolling home eventually
Fri 2016-04-29 22:34:47 (single post)

Argh! Argh, argh, argh. It's not like I've never been late with Friday Fictionettes before, but I try to at least get them all out in the right month. But the very belated April 22 edition will not be out tonight, and probably won't be out tomorrow.

I am at this moment in a hotel in Eagle, Colorado, preparing for tomorrow's roller derby tournament. It's 10:07 PM. Skater check-in is at 10:00 AM. I am told that getting plenty of rest between now and then is desirable. Thus, not staying up all night. Sorry-not-sorry? It is possible that I might surprise myself and get the fictionette up tomorrow morning before we head over to the tournament venue. Possible. Not terribly probable. If it happens, I'll crow all about it right here. Just... don't hold your breath.

I have no excuse. I was not very good with time management this month, and especially these last two weeks.

Let me at least tell you about the previous fictionette, the one for April 15, which was late but did in fact go up. It's called "The Day the Storefront Let Jen Bledsoe In," and it's about the new norms in business partnership after an event the characters refer to as The Great Awakening. Of the buildings, that is. It's the buildings that woke up. Which means that opening a retail storefront takes a bit more cooperation than some might be used to. Some people adapted to this change more quickly than others, of course.

I'll probably write more fiction in this setting. Not sure whether it'll be related fictionettes to release on Patreon or full-fledged stories to send out for publication, but it'll be something. This one was just too much fun to write.

The current one? The one I'm continuing to be late with? It ought to be fun. I mean, it's not not fun--writing is fun. But some stories come more effortlessly than others. This one would be one of the others.

Anyway, more later. I can say that much for sure. Just don't ask me how much later. As little later as I can humanly manage, OK? Because the first fictionette for May will need to happen too.

in which the author has temporary favorites among her progeny
Fri 2016-03-25 00:21:36 (single post)

Today's topic is The Short Story Development Queue Workflow, also known as "I said I'd work on the new story, but there was this other story screaming for attention..."

This is also about the unintended consequences of holding myself to a daily half-hour Submissions Procedures session.

It's very simple. During Tuesday's session, I decided which market I wanted to submit a story to next. That's usually the only real question. The question of which story is typically very easy to determine. I look at which stories have been submitted before and are A) still not published, and B) not currently in somebody's slush pile. I pick the one of these that is C) the best fit for the market, and I submit it.

The problem is when the story that satisfies all three requirements also D) needs a lot of work before it gets submitted anywhere new. This is what I figured out during Wednesday's session.

So, "Stand By for Your Assignment" last went out to visit with the editors of the late, lamented Crossed Genres Magazine for their themed issue, "Anticipation." Themed issues come with submission deadlines; submission deadlines inevitably correlate with me finishing things in a big goddamn hurry and, as a result, probably sending them a smidge before they're really ready for prime time.

Which is to say, despite having seen the inside of a slush pile before, this story needs a lot of work before it may be allowed to see the inside of another one.

And I'm not talking about a line-level edit. No. Although that's one of the things it needs. No, what it also needs is cohesiveness of theme. It's got two elements in it that could work really well together: the female protagonist is bearing up under the double-barreled assault of familial expectations and corporate microagressions, and she is undergoing increasingly frequent experiences of a disturbing nature that may be hallucinations or may be genuine invasions of her world by the weird. But the story as it stands doesn't actually tie them together. They're just both in there, the latter as plot and the former as background. And in narrative, as in science, correlation does not equal causation. Narrative can go a long way on correlation alone, but in this story, I think, not far enough. So I need to rearrange some things to make them work together deliberately rather than by accident. And then there are the line-by-line infelicities that need to be cleared up...

And that's why, during today's Submissions Proceedures and Fiction Development sessions, I didn't do my assigned homework (the one about Ellen and the man who was a tree). It's because I did other homework (beginning to revise "Stand By..."). I hope I get credit for the other homework, at least.

In other news! That vaguely parental-like guilt that a writer might feel, where all the attention you spend on one of your "babies" is attention you're not spending on the other "baby" and oh my Gods I am a bad "mother" because I am failing to love all my "babies" equally...? Yeah, that's a thing.

Click through for excerpt and also all cover art attributions.
Click through for yadda yadda yadda.
all right what's next
Sun 2016-02-28 00:56:40 (single post)
  • 1,095 wds. long
  • 1,059 wds. long

And now we are all caught up. Again. For as long as that lasts. In any case, "Weird Quantum Science" is the Friday Fictionette for, er, yesterday, and "The Touch of Iron" is the much belated fictionette for the Friday before that. Which makes four for February. Ta-da!

Why I keep getting behind on this stuff is very simple. In theory, I'm to spend a little time every day working on the next one that's due. Simple. Perfectly achievable. Leaves plenty of room for other writing tasks, like the production of publishable short stories and all that. But in practice, something happens most days per week to keep me getting to my daily fictionette-prep session. And then Friday comes and the thing isn't even drafted, much less exported to PDF and paired with some sort of cover art and also recorded to mp3. And Friday has whatever it's got waiting in the wings or hovering over my evening or sabotaging my afternoon, and there's no way I'm putting in all three or four hours it's going to take.

It's just like NaNoWriMo, right? You do your 1,667 every day, or your 3,333 every other day, whatever--or you do a 10K marathon at the last minute. Or worse. And I hate marathons. I'm much better at daily sprints.

So there's my confession for the week: I've kind of been sucking at this time management thing. But a new week starts now! A new month starts next week! New leaves: I am turning them over at a rapid pace! Watch them fly!

Do I perchance hear someone snickering in the peanut gallery? Do I? Surely not! Oh, wait... it's me. Because I do this every week. Every evening. "I give up. I'm done. I'm going to sleep. But tomorrow will be better!"

Well, and tomorrow will be better. Just... in small increments. But small increments do add up.

driving through the fog of an unscheduled day
Fri 2016-02-19 23:15:33 (single post)

You know what's the worst? Totally unscheduled days. No, really--you get up right on time, you do your first writing task, then you think, "I have all day to do the rest of my writing," and then you go bike all over town, take yourself out for lunch, run errands, take a long nap because you just biked all over town in the gloriously warm sun--and then suddenly it's late in the evening and there is not enough time in the world to get everything done.

Well, OK, maybe you don't. Maybe you're smart. I seem to not be very smart when it comes to managing totally unscheduled days. Hence, Saturday is the Friday, etc. etc., many apologies, check back tomorrow.

Meanwhile! New fiction. The new short story is proceeding slowly in a sort of NaNoWriMo-esque way. Not as regards word-count, though. As regards discovery. I only really know what happens in one scene, which makes the whole endeavor sort of scary--but, so what? Write that one scene. It is amazing what little details pop up when writing that one scene, and what guiding stars those details can be. For instance, when the main character noticed that the weird tree had oak bark but "five-fingered leaves that reminded me of my father's maple farm"--OK, that's a clumsy sentence that could use some revision, but shut up, that's not the point. The point is, now I know her Dad runs, or used to run, a maple syrup operation. Which in turn gives me a clue about where she might have grown up, what kind of activities she might have enjoyed as a child, and also the nature of her relationship with trees. The latter is more significant than you might think; the first scene depicts a tree transforming into a man right in front of her eyes.

We're back to E. L. Doctorow analogy of writing being "like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." Some versions of the quote add the extra hazard of fog. Imagine a blizzard, too, if you like. The point of the analogy remains the same: The little chunk of road (story) that you see now enables you to drive into (write) the next chunk of road (story).

Anyway. Fictionette tomorrow. For serious. pMost of tomorrow afternoon is entirely unscheduled, after all...