“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Mark Twain

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The unsung heroes of Mardi Gras, and the mountains of waste they have to clear.
someone's gotta clean up all this mess
Wed 2020-06-24 22:38:33 (single post)
  • 34 words (if poetry, lines) long

Wow, I suck at this Social Media Self-Promotion thing. I keep forgetting to tell you about my latest poem publication. It's "The Mardi Gras Tree," and you can read it in the very latest edition of Eternal Haunted Summer--the Summer Solstice 2020 issue, whose theme is "Holy Days."

The holy day being commemorated in "The Mardi Gras Tree" is, as you might expect, Fat Tuesday. But it's not about the day of festival and celebration so much as it is about the hangover and mundane clean-up duty of the afternoon after the parades have all passed by, and the morning after when it's time to get back to work. The transition from one to the other happens much sooner than you might think. New Orleans natives know how the unofficial final floats in any parade are the police cars whoop-whooping at spectators to let them know the show's over, and after that the huge street-cleaning trucks with the round brushes and the jets of water scouring the street. Many a child raised in the area knows better than to leave before those vehicles show up--it ain't over until it's over, after all--and many a parent disappoints their kid by yanking them away before that happens--gotta get to the car and vacate your parking spot ahead of everyone else, for fear of having to sit bored in your car waiting for your turn to leave.

(That latter impulse I see at concert venues, with drivers fleeing after the last song proper but before the encore so as to spare themselves the inevitable traffic jam.)

I really like what editor Rebecca Buchanan has to say about my poem: that it illustrates "just how hard it can be to leave sacred space and return to mundane reality." I hadn't thought of it that way--Mardi Gras as sacred space--I'd thought of it more as a drunken Bacchanalia out of which we stumble blearily with a hangover and a certain dread of being confronted with whatever stupid shit we did while the rules of society were temporarily suspended. But that suspension of rules really is a liminal zone, a place where reality is on hold, a "time that is not a time, a place that is not a place" as we Wiccans often say about the magic circles we construct for the purpose of ritual. It was quite normal for a kid growing up in the area to have the entire week of Fat Tuesday off, which made it that much harder to return to everyday life the following week.

(Many of my friends and their families used the week to head up to Colorado ski resorts, a choice I found baffling. Why, I thought, would anyone leave New Orleans during the week of Mardi Gras? Didn't they know Mardi Gras was the best time to be a New Orleanian? Now, ironically enough, I'm in Colorado full time. I still haven't really learned to ski, though.)

Anyway, thanks to such neighborhood monuments as the titular crepe myrtle tree on Bonnabel Boulevard--and I'm sure there are landmark trees like it all over the Greater New Orleans Area; that's just the one maintained in my particular stomping grounds in Metairie--pieces of sacred space celebrate Fat Tuesday all year round. Come spring and summer, they rain petals and pollen down on unsuspecting passersby while their perennial plastic fruit clinks and clatters. "Throw me something, Mister." There are also the barely hopeful idiots in the French Quarter who'll half-heartedly offer anyone presenting as female a string of cheap beads if she should "take it off" and "show your tits"; I guess they're part of the year-round ritual space of carnival, too. I prefer the trees.

I wrote "The Mardi Gras Tree" this year as part of a Codex contest called "Victory in Verse." The contest ran four weeks. The first week called for short poems, twenty lines or less, which were otherwise unrestricted. During the second week, we wrote short formal verse. The third week was all about visual poetry: erasure poems, concrete poetry, found poetry, and other experiments. And the fourth week, dubbed "Take your best shot" (although I seem to persist in misremembering it as "Do Your Verse") featured whatever the hell you wanted to do at whatever length you chose.

The contest facilitator gave us a lot of prompts to spark contestants' imaginations, both pictoral and verbal. One of them was the photo I've included here. Given where I'm from, it was inevitable that it would catch my eye. Thus was born my poem "The Mardi Gras Tree," which I'm so proud to see featured in Eternal Haunted Summer, and so pleased now to share with you.

So it turns out this pen writes on BOTH these paper products equally well after all. Who know?
fountain pen NRE
Fri 2020-05-29 20:26:05 (single post)

So the Platinum Curidas arrived last week to much fanfare and excitement! It actually arrived two days earlier than the USPS Tracking widget predicted. I've spent the last week on and off putting it through its paces, and I think I'm ready to make a report.

Here are the pictures I took of it when it arrived. You can see what an elegant piece of work it is, especially in the photo where it's all disassembled. And don't miss the close-up of the nib retracting behind the little turtle flap! It's very impressive. It's relatively slim, which me and my wee little hands prefer. At 27 grams, it handles like the heavier sort of ballpoint--you know, the fancy-schmancy showoff sort. But without the cigar-shaped barrel (thank goodness).

The clicking action of deploying and retracting the nib is a little jolting; after filling it, I expect it will be more important than usual to blot the nib a bit to avoid spattering.

I had a real disappointment, though, when I used it for last week Friday's morning pages session. I assumed this had to do with my poor choice of notebook. I really like the BioBased "environotes" notebooks, both for being made of ecologically sustainable fiber and also just for their heft. But their paper is super absorbant and, frankly, terrible for fountain pens. Which hasn't stopped me from writing in them with my Sheaffer student demonstrator, my Sheaffer Agio, and John's Lamy Safari. All of the above have fine-tipped nibs, though what that means varies between manufacturer and even between models by the same manufacturer; the Agio's nib feels more like a medium while the student feels extra-fine. In all cases, the ink bleeds dramatically through this notebook's pages, making it hard to read what I've written once I've written on both sides. But morning pages mostly aren't meant to be read ever again, and besides, my handwriting is atrocious.

But I couldn't get through three lines on that paper with the Platinum Curidas. It simply shut down, nib dry as dust. I was able to finish my session by treating it like a dip pen, and each dip got me another five or six lines before, again, the flow just stopped. My suspicion was that the nib's feed must be exceptionally narrow, and the absorbent paper was wicking the ink out of it faster than it could refill itself.

This suspicion, happily, turned out to be wrong. But I didn't find that out until just now.

So earlier today, I joined a Nebula Conference panel on fountain pens (because of course there was a panel on fountain pens), and while I listened to people geeking out about their favorite pens and ink and paper, I took the time to experiment further with the Platinum Curidas by writing out a handful of Postcards to Voters. I had to dip the pen once to restart its flow, but it flowed very well after that, gamely working its way through four postcards without a hitch. (One of the panel attendees, in response to my mentioning this pen in the text chat, warned me that there have been incidences of hairline cracks discovered in the feed and that I might want to examine mine closely. If the linked blog post is representative of what she was talking about, then so far so good. But I'll keep an eye on it going forward.)

So now that the ink was flowing nicely, I thought I'd experiment again with the Biobased environotebook. Hot damn! It worked great. Wrote my way down a quarter of the page, and nary a hiccup. Nary any visible "spread" in the stroke, either, despite how absorbent the paper is, and ridiculously minimal bleedthrough, too. So I guess the problem was temporary, or its long-term nature has yet to be determined, and in any case I can incorporate the Platinum Curidas into my morning pages rotation after all, at least for now. Yay?

tl;dr: DID I MENTION FOUNTAIN PENS ARE GREAT? THEY ARE GREAT.

Behold! (Click through to see more gorgeous pictures in the slideshow on the product page.)
did i mention i love fountain pens i may have mentioned this once or twice
Wed 2020-05-20 19:10:10 (single post)

I am very excited! The Goulet Pen Company has at long last resumed shipping orders, and the pen I ordered is scheduled to arrive SATURDAY! Eeeeeee.... This is it: the Platinum Curidas retractable fountain pen. I've never owned a retractable fountain pen before. I hope it's as pleasant to write with as it is to look at.

I ordered it because April had begun, which meant my birthday was coming up, which meant I should give myself a treat. Well. Turns out I should have waited until the actual date of my birthday, because that's when Goulet sent me a Happy Birthday email with a coupon code for a free random 8-pack of ink samples. And of course then it was way too late to add that coupon and item to my fancy pen order! *facepalm* And, what with the pandemic and all, all Goulet shipments were on hold while all Goulet staff were working remote. Shipments would resume when it was safe to return to the building, whenever that would be. I didn't want to have two orders sitting in limbo.

But then I got the email saying that my pen was on its way! Also, I'd just run two of my J. Herbin bottles dry. So, what the heck, how about I order some replacements in the blue-to-turquoise range, maybe try out a couple Noodler's inks just to shake things up? And then thwack the free samples on top, since the coupon code was good for up to 30 days past my birthday?

But Goulet's free shipping offer only applies to orders of $50 or more. Two bottles of ink comes only up to about half that...

So I ended up ordering four Noodler's bottles. Coupla turquoisy blues (Liberty's Elysium, Blue Nose Bear) and a couple of excitingly heirloomish reds (Red Black, Black Swan). And the "Surprise me!" 8-pack of samplers free with birthday coupon code, of course. WELL PLAYED, GOULET.

No idea when that will ship--Goulet's got quite a backlog to work through--but I'm sure it will be a delightful surprise in more than one way when it arrives.

In summary: SQUEE! FOUNTAIN PENS!

One book, two bunnies.
bunny population increases by two and book population by one
Mon 2020-05-04 17:21:52 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

Guess what today is? It's BOOK RELEASE day! Community of Magic Pens is out, and I have copies of my very own. See? I mean, yes, of course, I already had the ebook edition downloaded, and that was lovely, but there's nothing quite like the reality of a physical paperback, holding it in my hand, flipping to page 209 to see my story in print! Right there! On paper! That has that new book smell and everything!

It is a gorgeous object, this book. It's just perfect for reading. And it would look very nice on your bookshelf. You should totally go order yourself a copy. (Maybe two or three. They make excellent gifts.)

Now, you might notice that there's a bunny posing alongside that book in the photo. Two bunnies, actually, but Holland will insist on hiding behind Gemma and making himself hard to see. He's still a little wary of me since I had to give them both medicine over the weekend. Gemma, on the other hand, will come right up to the crate bars just in case I've got a treat for her. All is forgiven, so long as I bring her a treat.

These two came home with us last week from the Colorado House Rabbit Society. We are "overnighting" them. I put scare-quotes around the word because it's not going to be just a few nights, or even a few weeks. We don't know how long it's going to be. In light of the current RHDV2 outbreak in the southwest US, COHRS is taking active measures to protect their herd of 130 rabbits waiting for adoption. They are dispersing them among their volunteers, so that should any of their bunnies tragically contract the disease, only one other bunny, rather than 129, will be at risk of catching it from them.

So we have furry house-guests until a vaccine becomes available (which it might never--one exists, but getting hold of it involves a lot of money and bureaucracy and at least one confirmed case in a domestic rabbit in the state), or until the risk of infection has passed (no sooner than three months after the last confirmed case in the area, I guess? The virus can survive a long time without a host), or until Gemma and Holland get adopted permanently (which can't happen during the COVID-19 pandemic), or... well, I don't know. We have furry house-guests for the foreseeable future. That's all we know for sure.

On the one hand, there's a certain amount of work involved. You know how it is with pets. Care and feeding and cleaning and love and attention and so forth. On the other hand, there's a lot of joy involved too. Also laughter. Bunnies are hilarious. I just watched Holland pick up his jingle toy, fling it across the crate, then go pick it up and fling it back, repeatedly, for about five minutes. His other favorite game is "Get the stupid oversized apes to chase me." He will play that game around and around the sofa for as long as the stupid oversized apes are willing to play along. Gemma is quieter but more trusting. She's getting very good at practicing "pick up!" with me. Then I'll set her down in my lap, and she will consent to sit there for a few minutes and even tolerate my combing her a little. This, when she hasn't even been here a week yet! It is magical.

It's amazing how much they relieve the solitude of shelter-in-place. I know John is smiling and laughing a lot more since they came home. And while I still seem to thrive more than not in this pandemic-induced isolation, I'm finding it unexpectedly delightful to have additional beings in my face-to-face physical space to interact with.

Between the bunnies coming home last week, the water falling from the ceiling, the domino effect of no sleep one night leading to no work the next day leading to no sleep as I try to catch on the work the next night, and of course some new issues to troubleshoot on my computer because of course there had to be (its replaced hardware is working fine, but now the speakers and microphone have developed a lot of snap-crackle-pop static and the webcam flickers badly)... last week was more or less a loss. I'm still trying to finish the Friday Fictionette for May 1. I made good progress on it this morning, though, so I feel confident saying it'll go up on Patreon either tonight or tomorrow. After that, I'll release the April 2020 Fictionette Freebie and tell you all about it.

Until then! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go give the bunnies their afternoon salad. And also another treat.

poetry is a help in times of water falling from the ceiling
Thu 2020-04-30 00:24:13 (single post)
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long

About that poetry sale from the other weekend: I've got the go-ahead to share the details with you! My poem, "The Ascent of Inanna," will be part of the September 2020 issue of Dreams and Nightmares Magazine. Founded in 1986, it's one of the longest-running print publishers of speculative poetry, and I am so pleased to get to be a part of it.

The thing about this poem is, it started as a piece of flash fiction, which I wrote for Codex's annual Weekend Warrior contest. I'm sure I've mentioned it before; this was my third time participating. Each entry must be written new for the contest in the space of a single weekend and can be no longer than 500 words. For Week 2, somehow I lit on the idea that after Inanna hung around three days dead in the Underworld, it must have been just the absolute pits to have to climb back up to Heaven and be Queen again.

So that's what I wrote. But I couldn't figure out how to end it properly. There wasn't enough story in the moment of Inanna's contemplation of her re-ascent to the Great Above. But attempting to pack her entire return into 500 words, right up to the bit where she finds her husband celebrating rather mourning and tells the demons they can have him in her stead, was a little much. I knew that no matter how well or poorly the story did in the contest, it would need a significant revision.

I wound up revising it into a poem. And the editor of Dreams & Nightmares offered to buy it. And you will get to read it in September. Information on subscribing to the magazine can be found here. (I'm intrigued to see that lifetime subscriptions are an option at roughly the cost of a three-year subscription. That's super tempting.)

The acceptance email came on Sunday the 18th, and payment, as the guidelines said it would be, came shortly after that acceptance, on Saturday the 25th. And on Thursday the 23rd, my laptop came home from the repair depot full of brand new hardware that worked blissfully well. It was a good week! And apparently I needed it, because the next week--this week--was gonna start out pretty crappy: In the wee hours of Monday the 27th, I was awakened by the sound of a waterfall where a waterfall had no business being.

About a gallon of water, all told, just poured out of vent fan unit. (This was due, I found out later, to a toilet in the unit above me overflowing. Also, this is not the first time something like this has happened. My upstairs neighbor has let me know she's doing what she can to make sure it's the last.) But it started slowly enough that, before the deluge hit full force, I had time to hop out onto the back porch, select the bucket that was full of pruned bits of tomato plant rather than potting soil, and then--this is key--stand there wavering groggily over what to do with those tomato prunings. I think I stood there for about twenty seconds, just paralyzed over having nowhere to put 'em. This is what happens when I get woken up suddenly at 3:45 AM. My brain does not work. Finally I came to my senses, dumped the compost-to-be onto the patio deck, and raced back inside to position the bucket where it would do the most good. Maddeningly, the water was coming down precisely onto the edge of the toilet seat, not a stable place for the bucket. I wound up using a stool to support it.

Then I went to call the condo association's emergency maintenance line. The emergency maintenance line unexpectedly went to voice mail. I left a rather pathetic message, which was returned around 7:30 AM by the property manager, telling me that they'd get the property restoration people on the case right away, and also that I should have called the emergency maintenance line. "Option four," they tell me. "You press four, that gets you the after-hours emergency people." I told him I did press four, and that's how I got the answering machine. Why did that happen, did they think? "Oh. I don't know why that happened." *facepalm*

So now we are living with two heavy duty fans and a dehydration unit in our bathroom, making the whole bedroom/bathroom area hot and noisy. But the noise is surprisingly easy to sleep through, and the weather outside is nice enough to leave the bedroom window open all night, and the heat in the bathroom has made my sourdough yeast starter experiment encouragingly vigorous. So things aren't all that bad.

Besides, I just sold a poem! I can't get too far down in the dumps before I remember that and smile.

Finished the lap blanket; just getting started on the granny square afghan
quarantine crafting, cooking, and poetry publishing
Mon 2020-04-20 22:34:34 (single post)

Hello from a fairly satisfying Monday! The sun is shining, the paving is dry, and I just went for a big long street-and-trail skate. Looped around 28th to Elmer's Two Mile to Goose Greek to Foothills to Wonderland Creek and home again. It took nearly the entirety of the album Best of Blondie.

I'm coming off a pretty damn good weekend for poetry. One came home with the kind of personal rejection that makes an author walk on air and smile foolishly for the rest of the day. The editor responded, at paragraph length (and not a short paragraph, either), with an in-depth interpretation of the poem, teasing out meaning I had not consciously put in there (but wished I had, because damn, that's some clever stuff!). We are talking exegesis here. Another poem came home, from a different market, with an offer to buy. (I said yes, of course.) No contract yet, so details later, yadda yadda yadda. I shall reveal more when I can.

So. One amazingly thoughtful personal rejection and one acceptance. That's a damn good weekend.

There has, meanwhile, been more quarantine cooking and quarantine crafting. John's missing his California Pizza Kitchen fix; he found a copycat recipe for their Kung Pao Spaghetti, and we gave it a shot last night. (Sans chicken, of course.) It got all the thumbs up from this household. The recipe calls for a whole pound of spaghetti, so we figured there would be leftovers. There were no leftovers. There would have been if we had possessed any self-restraint whatsoever, but we did not, and so we ate it all.

Next time we will make half the recipe, just out of self-defense.

The effect was not unlike that of Pinch of Yum's Rainbow Pad Thai. The sauce is very similar. Veggie broth, soy sauce, chili paste, sugar, vinegar. The main difference was that it was thickened with cornstarch in the bowl rather than with egg in the pan. I'm thinking next time I might try the egg method; I find that the flavor and texture of cornstarch is just a little too front-and-center. But obviously I had no real complaints. NO LEFTOVERS.

Meanwhile, I dug up and finally finished this lap blanket, pictured above. I started work on it some three years ago or more. I'd just made one for a Boulder County Bombers silent auction following the Gingerbread Lady's Ribbon Afghan pattern, and I thought it would be nice to have one of my own. This time I'd substitute a half-double stitch for that one chain stitch that separated the blocks of double-crochet from the blocks of single, see if that resulted in a smoother effect. It did, and I liked it, but somehow I just never got around to finishing it. Well, it is now finished. Finished and warm and soft and cozy.

That done, I investigated another couple bags of acrylic yarn someone gave me--this is a thing that happens when one crafts out in public; other people offer one yarn when they want to winnow down their stash. I have yet to learn to say no, mainly because I keep thinking, "I'll make it into another patchwork afghan!" Well, time to get busy on that. That bag of brightly colored balls of yarn you see in the photo next to the lap blanket is getting turned into a bunch of granny squares, more or less following the Crayola Colors Afghan pattern in Women's Day Granny Squares #8, which was on my shelf for some ungodly reason and seemed like a good place to start.

Crocheting granny squares is not a bad way to spend time waiting for a Puzzle Pirates voyage to get under way. Did I mention I'm playing Puzzle Pirates again? Yep. Logged on this afternoon after my work was done. Promptly won a bunch of Easter Egg furniture in an Ocean-wide competition that happened to be going on at the time. When it comes to Rigging and Navigating, I've still got it.

Anyone to whom that actually made sense, drop me a line. We should pilly.

one hundred words closer to upgrading my SFWA membership
Wed 2020-04-08 00:31:07 (single post)
  • 50,347 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 100 words (if poetry, lines) long

I have happy news today! One of the three stories that sold back in January has now been published--it is online where you can read it and everything! "The Rarest of Prey," what I've been referring to as "that tacky little unicorn drabble," is now live for your reading pleasure at Daily Science Fiction.

Meanwhile, I continue plugging away at all the daily and weekly writing tasks...

This morning's freewriting session resulted in a couple potential poems, one about the pandemic, the other about prejudice, and both depressing as heck. (Sometimes poetry is like that.)

This week's Friday Fictionette is slowly but steadily taking shape. That's particularly reassuring to see, since this one started out more nebulous than most.

Another page of a very overdue Fictionette Artifact got typed up. The very last of the the ribbons I ordered back in January 2017 is on its last legs, so I placed an order for more yesterday with Ribbons Unlimited--and they've already been shipped! Should be here Thursday. They are not just speedy, but solicitous, too. In response to a note I included with my order, the proprieter called me up on the phone to reassure me that, despite a change of verbal description, the part number I had ordered was indeed compatible with my particular typewriter (a Tower "Quiet-Tabulator" from the 1950s that an acquaintance in Oregon sold me for $50 back in, oh, 1998 or so).

The early novel revision efforts are inching along. I wrote The Bookwyrm's Hoard using a very early version of yWriter. Possibly version 2? I installed version 6 and it didn't want to open the novel directly; instead, I had to use one of its Import Earlier Version commands. 2006 was that long ago in software years. In any case, I've created a Scrivener project and have begun importing the draft, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. (I'm up to Chapter 3.) As each scene gets imported, I read it and make notes broadly identifying areas I need to fix or pay special attention to. (There are a lot of problems need fixing. Some of them are very embarrassing. No, I'm not going to list examples.) I'm trying not to judge but rather to observe and acquire data. I'm also getting surprised a lot. I remembered the basics of the plot, such as it was, but there are loads of details I'd forgotten, and some of them are actually a delight.

And of course there was dinner. (Bonus food content!) Native Foods said "Hey, it's Takeout Tuesday! Double points if you order today!" so I was like, OK, fine, let's try your fancy Plant-Based Roast. I scheduled an order for 5 PM delivery. It arrived right on time. My hunger also arrived right on time. Only problem was, the fancy Plant-Based Roast arrives frozen solid and requires an hour and a half in the oven. Whoops. Good thing I had also ordered a 4-pack of their burger patties. Those cook up in about 5 minutes on the stove.

The roast, when it was finally done, was delicious. Also it will feed me for days. (Just me. It's not really John's thing, although the burger patties might be.) A+, would recommend. Just understand that, once it arrives at your door, you aren't going to get to eat it for at least two hours, and schedule your delivery accordingly.

physically distant but not socially
Wed 2020-03-25 20:41:07 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

The pandemic with its attendant Stay-at-Home/Shelter-in-Place orders--and yes, my residence has received separate orders from the City of Boulder, Boulder County, and now the State of Colorado over the course of three days--has, oddly enough, made what I do more social, not less. Writers are reaching out to each other in a conscious effort to stay connected in the face of quarantine and isolation, canceled conventions, and more.

Me, I've been attending Cat Rambo's co-writing sessions.

Cat Rambo is an author, a writing teacher, and a member and former president of SFWA. Their novelette Carpe Glitter is a Nebula finalist this year--SFWA members, vote now! Don't wait! The voting period ends March 31! And their Patreon is here.

They've been hosting co-writing sessions open to Patrons supporting them from the $1/month tier on up. (That tier also gets you access to her Discord server, which is a seriously good community for these troubled times, or any time at all.) They've been doing it for a while now, once a week Wednesday mornings, but I only discovered the joy of these co-writing sessions for myself a few weeks ago. When the social distancing measures began to be recommended and the stay-at-home orders came down, they'd already begun hosting a weekend session. Now the schedule's up to darn near daily.

So what's a co-writing session? It's a virtual write-in, basically. Just before time, Cat posts a link to her Patreon and to Discord, which participants use to join their Zoom room. That's video-conferencing software--it downloads and installs itself the first time you use it--but you don't strictly need a web cam to participate. You don't even need a working microphone; there's a chat bar. Sessions will run about an hour and a half. At the beginning of each half-hour, participants introduce themselves and tell the group what they're working on. Then everyone mutes their microphones and gets to work. At the end of the half hour, everyone shares how they're doing. Then lather, rinse, repeat, until it's time to say goodbye.

I cannot begin to tell you what a boon this has been for my workday. Well. I can begin, anyway. When I have an unscheduled day ahead of me, no appointments, no out-of-the-house obligations, nothing on my agenda but writing, I typically... don't, at least not as much as I should. It's so easy to put off getting started. Then once I've completed a task--say, a 25-minute session of freewriting to a prompt--it's so easy to let my 5-minute break become a 10-minute break become a couple hours. Next thing I know, I'm out of time. But these co-writing sessions have increased my accountability to a schedule. If the schedule says Wednesday 8:30 to 10:00 Pacific, I've got to be at my computer and ready to work by 9:30 Mountain. When the half-hour ends, a new one's coming right up, so I have to get right back to work if I want to stay in sync with the group. If I've told them that I'm going to draft this week's Friday Fictionette, I'm not going to futz about in dread and avoidance for the next half hour--however could I show my face at next check-in if I did? And if, as very very rarely happens, Cat hosts two of these in a day (just once, that I know of, and only because of a scheduling snafu), why, I'm going to make darn sure I'm ready to begin my afternoon shift in time for the afternoon session!

I'm not joining in on these every day. But the days I do only reinforce the habit of timely and purposeful work. I've made my aspirational five hours per day more days than not, of late...

...and it's still not enough! I have so much I still didn't get to today! It's maddening! So I have to figure out which part of tomorrow's regularly scheduled routine daily tasks get bumped for the extra-special one-time assignments. Gah. Life!

But that is, as we say, a dilemma devoutly to be wished-for. I mean, I'm going to have this week's Friday Fictionette uploaded a whole day early! For the first time since I started this dang project (in August 2014!), I will have a buffer. A buffer of one single day, mind you, but that's how it starts. Also this month has seen several new poems written and two pieces of flash fiction made ready to submit to paying markets. PRODUCTIVITY! It isn't the be-all end all, but it feels pretty damn good.

Anthology News Recap!

Remember that tomorrow, March 26, Atthis Arts, publisher of forthcoming anthology Community of Magic Pens (which includes my story "One Story, Two People"), will be hosting an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit Fantasy. The link should go up around 10 Mountain/Noon Eastern. I'll be participating in some small way, still to be determined. Join us!

Additionally, another of the anthology authors, Ether Nepenthes, has begun tweeting their way down the table of contents: one capsule review of a story daily--spoiler-free!--right up until the May 4 release day. Thread starts here.

(Hey, look--three days of daily blog posts! PRODUCTIVITY!)

Promotional poster for Community of Magic Pens
Cover art for Community of Magic Pens
magic pen: anthology updates and signal boosting, part ? of ???
Tue 2020-03-24 22:31:18 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

As y'all know, I have a story coming out in the forthcoming anthology from Atthis Arts, Community of Magic Pens. Here's the description:

An eclectic, multi-genre collection of original stories about the power of communication, the magic of writing instruments, and the strength of community, curated to inspire wonder, hope, and joy.

There's not much more I can add to that except that I'm excited to be part of it. I really, really am. Proofing is just about done, I've ordered my author copies--this thing is really happening, y'all. *Squeeeee!*

The book ships in May, but you can preorder it now. Follow the link above, then click "Preorder on Backerkit." Through that page you can preorder the paperback, the ebook, or the limited edition hardcover. (That last will only be available through the end of March.)

As you can imagine, small presses don't have huge profit margins, and now, thanks to the COVID-19 situation, all the in-person events they were counting on to help boost sales have been canceled. So, to steal a spiel from another writer acquaintance of mine, "Buy early! Buy often! Buy two or three--they make lovely gifts!"

Through that page you can also download--for free!--a lovely poster displaying the title of the anthology in multiple languages, each of them spoken by one of more of the authors of the stories therein.

Another piece of anthology-related news I wanted to share is that Atthis Arts will be hosting an AMA over on Reddit Fantasy on Thursday, March 26. That's this Thusday, this week! Author and editor E. D. E. Bell will there along with various of the other anthology authors to take your questions and chat with you over the course of the event. (I'll be hanging out as well, though I expect to do much more listening than talking. Er, reading than typing. You know what I mean.) What I'm hearing is that things will get started around noon Eastern, but festivities will continue for several hours thereafter, so I guess don't stress overly about punctuality.

The other thing I know, but don't have many details on, is that there is a book blogger organizing a series of interviews with the anthology's authors, and I'm busy working my way through the interview questions as we speak. There are a lot of them! Which means the finished posts will be hella fascinating and fun. I don't have a link for you yet, but it's early days; I'm hearing this one won't launch until after the book does. So for now you can just pencil it onto your internet-surfing schedule in the vague area of early May.

And that's where All Things Anthology are right now, as far as I know!

Image courtesy Atthis Arts, LLC
i show you a thing! two things! only one might make you go eww!
Tue 2020-02-18 19:54:43 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

Work on the Magic Pens anthology is progressing. Author bios are getting finalized, and final story edits are due back in the next couple of days. My story got the benefit of a couple more pairs of eyes, and I'm thrilled with all the care and attention that this editorial team is bringing to the project. I'm also thrilled to see who else is in the table of contents with me; the Codex online writers' group is well represented.

And the cover art is finalized! I get to share it with you!

If you want to get a head start on ordering your copy, the preorders page is here. Note that the limited editions are only guaranteed available through March. Mid-May is what I'm hearing for shipping (of any edition).

Because you have come to expect foodie content on this blog, and I am loathe to disappoint, BEHOLD: How I learned to love tolerate liverwurst.

Look. I picked some up thinking, "Hey, look! Liverwurst! I've never had liverwurst. I wonder if I'll like it?" because that's how I approach food. I sliced off some and spread it on toast and lo, I did not like it. The ingredient list said "pork, pork liver, spices," but as far as my mouth was concerned, it was just liver paste. I may have actually gagged.

But I didn't want to throw the rest away. I hate wasting food. So I found these sandwich recipes. I like the cream cheese and cucumber one best; it has enough bright, crisp flavors in it to balance out mask the liver muddiness. And, as a bonus, there's literary content.

(I was also open to frying slices of liverwurst in bacon fat along with a bunch of chopped collard greens, as I remember actually liking a charbroiled liver and collards dish I got at the French Quarter Fest some years back. I had no fresh collard greens in the house at the same time as the liverwurst, however. Maybe next time. If there is a next time.)

And that's what I've got for you today!

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