“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.”
William Stafford

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art incorporates and modifies glacier and dinosaur images from Pixabay
a strange but workable (for now) definition of On Time
Fri 2021-02-26 22:38:27 (single post)
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Not so much whining today, as it turns out. What was that I said about external systems of structure and accountability? Today's external accountability mechanisms were my Boulder Food Rescue shift and my various curbside shopping errands, for getting me out of bed on time; and Cat Rambo's afternoon co-writing session, for getting me back to work by 2 PM rather than collapsing into a nap that would eat up the rest of my productive day.

(And what with having been up from early (for me) and not napped, maybe I'll sleep better tonight.)

Because today went so well, I can give you the January 2021 Friday Fictionette Round-up on time, which is to say, no more than the same month I've been late for quite a few months now. Huzzah!

January 1: "My Sister Draws Things" (ebook, audio) In which sisters have each other's backs, and imagination is queen.

January 8: "What the Desert Dreams" (ebook, audio) In which creation and destruction walk hand in hand, no matter what any nearby creator gods have to say about it.

January 15: "How It Begins" (ebook, audio) In which pet sphinxes are a comfort to a lonely old woman.

January 22: "What Is Not Prohibited" (ebook, audio) In which we are not the first nor yet the cleverest to question the three laws of robotics.

The Fictionette Freebie for January 2021 is "My Sister Draws Things", so you can download and enjoy that one regardless of whether you're a paid subscriber.

Also, dinner tonight is pasta with sausage and cream, only I used penne instead of shells, ground breakfast sausage instead of sweet Italian, and a whole lot of fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes, white and pink peppercorns, and nutmeg.

And that is all.

i get interviewed, then i get sappy
Wed 2021-02-10 22:34:08 (single post)
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In these weeks since Departure Mirror Quarterly Issue 2 went live, they've been publishing a series of Author Spotlight features on their website, focusing on the contributors to that issue. Mine just went up today!

In it, among other things, I reveal a little of how "Reasonable Accommodations" came to be written. I tell probably the briefest version ever of my How I Fell In Love With Roller Derby story. I also give a shout-out to the two teachers who gave me an early education in how freelance writing and publishing works. I didn't name them in the Author Spotlight, probably because I was trying to be brief, but those two wonderful humans are Betsy Petersen and Chet Day. I gave them a shout-out also, nearly ten years ago, in the blog-up to the announcement of my very first pro sale. I really do owe them so much.

I had the pleasure of running into Ms. Petersen on campus, during Alumni Weekend, on the occasion of my high school class's 25-year reunion. (And here I'll pause to acknowledge how very, very lucky the class of 1994 was. If we had been the class of 1995, we couldn't have had our reunion--or worse, we'd have probably gone ahead with it anyway, and become another superspreader statistic.) We watched the high school play together, a performance of Mamma Mia! starring some of her current students, and I got to tell her during the intermission about my recent publications and successes. I felt like such a kid, so needy to show my teacher how I'd done good with what she taught me! I get like that a little around my first roller derby trainers too. Look how good I can skate backwards, y'all! Look how bravely I can do a turn-around toe-stop these days! And without falling down and smashing my face anymore!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my Author Spotlight interview at Departure Mirror Quarterly. And if you haven't read Issue 2 yet, go download yourself a free ebook copy! Lots of great stuff in there.

It occurs to me that I entirely forgot to promote my blog in that interview. I did mention the Friday Fictionettes Project, and I'm going to mention it here too because finally all the December releases are out. (Jan 1 is out, too, and Jan 8 will probably go up Friday.) So it's time for a Friday Fictionette Round-up:

  • December 4, 2020: "Hostage" (ebook, audio) In which extraterrestrial ex-boyfriends are the worst.
  • December 11, 2020: "Always Make Sure to Put Your Toys Away" (ebook, audio) In which things don't always stay put in the place you left them.
  • December 18, 2020: "Culture Clash" (ebook, audio) In which human social taboos are incomprehensible and also toxic to visitors.
  • December 25, 2020: "Good Intentions" (ebook, audio) In which it is, once again, a thoroughly bad idea to try to change history. This is the Fictionette Freebie for December 2020!

My big idea to catch up to schedule is to try to release two fictionettes a week. This has not happened. I am still about four weeks behind. I can get one release completed over three or four days, but then I find it weirdly hard to get any writing done Friday through Sunday. I'll be getting my Sundays back, though, having written this past weekend my fifth and final contest entry story for Weekend Warrior (see previous). Maybe that'll help. Maybe I'll be smart and use the time I had been using for Weekend Warrior stories, for Friday Fictionette production. Maybe!

Tomorrow (assuming I get to blogging tomorrow) - I have thoughts on structure and time management! They aren't brilliant! Also I cooked a thing! Aren't you just in all the suspense? Stay tuned.

my online writing community is the best online writing community, fight me
Thu 2021-01-28 21:17:13 (single post)

Today had a smaller wonkiness quotient, so let's talk about why Codex is the greatest and its contests are the bestest.

Only sorta kidding. But to put it in less superlative tones: Codex is an online community for semi-pro writers, primarily in the speculative genres (see the New Member Qualifications on the linked page to see what that means). I joined shortly after making my first pro sale in 2010. To be very precise, I joined shortly after the convention at which editor Ellen Datlow hosted a reading from that anthology, in which I participated. I spent a large part of the train ride home in the lounge car chatting deep into the night with other author attendees who urged me to join Codex. And so I did.

Since then, Codex has been the biggest single boost to my writing career. Or, rather, it has represented multiple boosts. It's been a motivator, a networking outlet, an industry information warehouse, and just an all-around uplifting experience. I'm in a "face-to-face" critique group (over Zoom) because of Codex. I've found out about markets I might not have otherwise because of Codex. I've found out important things about the markets I might or might not submit to because of Codex.

And I've written a lot more than I might have otherwise because of Codex's contests.

Right now we are in week 3 of an annual flash fiction contest called Weekend Warrior. The conceit is simple. Friday afternoon, writing prompts go up. Sunday at midnight, the story you wrote inspired by one or more of those prompts is due. It must be 750 words or less. Until the next Friday afternoon--when the cycle starts over again--everyone reads each other's (anonymous) contest stories, gives each story a mini-critique (optional), and assigns each story a score from 1 to 10 (essential). It's super fun when your story scores high, but scoring isn't the real point. The point is, you wrote five new stories! And got them mini-critiqued! And now you can go revise them and start sending them out to paying markets!

Another benefit of the contest is having to read and critique some twenty tiny stories every week. I stress about it, because that's a lot to add to my weekly task list, but I really do benefit from it. Having to focus in and clearly identify what works for me and what doesn't helps me in turn to write stories that work well more often than they don't. And reading other peoples' comments directs my attention to aspects of those stories I might not otherwise have noticed.

I am doing unusually well in time management this week, yesterday's wonkiness notwithstanding. I've divided up my reading assignment into four parts, one of which I read per day. I'll be hitting the third batch tonight after this post goes up, and the fourth tomorrow afternoon after I get home from my BFR shift. I've feeling very proud of myself because of this. I can't tell you how many times I've done the whole lot in a panic during the last two hours on Friday, and then guilty about it. In my rush, I probably failed to read as closely as my fellow participants deserve. Better time-management this week means I can be so much more careful and deliberate and thoughtful about my reading--and that benefits everyone.

I am also very proud of the story I submitted for this week's consideration. I'm looking forward to what everyone else had to say about it.

I have a whole bunch of stories in my To-Be-Revised queue already, and they will stay there, untouched, because I'm not allowed to get started on them until I'm caught up on the Friday Fictionette project. (I'm sort of participating in three Weekend Warrior contests simultaneously. There's the one story I write for the actual contest, and then theoretically there's two Friday Fictionettes I'm writing a week in order to get caught up. Argh.) And yet I'm looking forward to adding five new stories to the revision queue. Well, really what I'm looking forward to is sending them out to play in various slush piles, and revision is just something that's got to happen along the way. Except I'm genuinely looking forward to getting these stories right.

So that's why Codex is the greatest and Codex contests are the bestest. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.


i did the thing
Wed 2021-01-27 23:20:47 (single post)
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OK so it's TOMORROW and I did upload the Friday Fictionette that was originally scheduled for December 18. Hooray! And I got some preliminary babble down concerning the one for December 25. So that's good.

Now, I had planned to use today's blogging time to tell you all about this fantastic flash fiction contest I'm participating in this month, but it turns out today got long and wonky and I'm a very tired person. So let's regroup back here the next time we get a tomorrow, and I'll blog about the flash fiction contest then. Probably.

G'night.

state of the fictionette address
Tue 2021-01-26 20:57:58 (single post)

So now that it looks like this blogging thing might actually happen more than once every other month, it's about time I reported on the Current State of the Friday Fictionette Project.

As you know, Bob, the Friday Fictionette Project is a short-short stories subscription service powered by Patreon. Every first through fourth Friday, I upload a new weird little piece of fiction. Patrons pledging $1/month can access it in ebook form; Patrons pledging $3/month can additionally access it as an audiobook. People who aren't pledging any dollars at all can enjoy the monthly Fictionette Freebie, which is one of each month's fictionettes made free for all the world to enjoy.

I've been doing this since August 2014, so there are a lot of freebies in the archive by now. The incentive to subscribe with actual money is kinda low. I am clearly not great at this monetizing thing. That's OK. I've been doing this more to hold myself to a deadline and motivate myself to Write More Things. And sometimes a fictionette turns into a reprint sale (example one! example two!) or gets rewritten into a full-length story suitable for submission as an original piece. So it's cool. It's all worthwhile.

Problem is, I'm also not that great at time management. For a very brief and glorious few weeks last year I was ahead of schedule. That fell apart around September, and I still haven't recovered. It's been like one thing after another since then. Heck, it's been multiple things simultaneously every twenty-four hours since Election Day. You don't need me to tell you that. Long and the short of it is, I'm slightly more than a month behind. To be very precise, I'll be uploading tomorrow the release nominally scheduled for December 18, 2020.

My goal after that is to upload the Dec. 25 release later on this week, choose a December Fictionette Freebie to unlock, then give you the December Fictionette Round-up Post. Then I hope to do two releases a week through the month of February so as to be all caught up by March. Past performance suggests this will not happen. But, hey! It might. It's a goal. Nothing wrong with setting a goal. Another of my goals was to get back to daily blogging, or at least several-times-a-week blogging. And here we are. See how that works?

Anyway, meet me back here tomorrow (I mean it! tomorrow!) and we'll see how it's going. Til then!

the turning of the year brings more poetry to your ereader
Mon 2020-11-02 21:04:35 (single post)
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I've spent most of October running as fast as I could to stay only marginally behind, which is why blogging didn't happen. Blogging is kinda low priority. Except I really shouldn't let more time pass before announcing this:

"Reasonable Accommodations", my sonnet about a were-deer in corporate hell, will be included in the Winter 2021 issue of Departure Mirror Quarterly. Look for it in January!

Departure Mirror Quarterly is a brand-new magazine of speculative fiction and poetry. Its content is meant to reflect the belief that, in the words of editor Arthur Robert Tracy IV, science fiction and fantasy "is a genre that transports us out of our reality while giving us a medium to reflect on our reality and to consider what can and should change. Itís both a departure from and a mirror on reality. It's a Departure Mirror."

I am honored that they considered my poem a good fit with that philosophy.

The first issue, Fall 2020, is live and available in three ebook formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). You can download it for free from this page here. Its table of contents is sparkling with gems, some bittersweet, some uplifting, all well worth your time, eyeballs, and brain-space. And do spread the word! Even in the best of times, brand new publications live or die by word of mouth, and COVID-19 has put its thumb on the "die" side of pretty much every scale (except maybe for Zoom futures, if Zoom futures are a thing). So download yourself a copy and tell all your SF-loving friends to do the same!

Meanwhile, I see by the editor's blog that Dreams & Nightmares #116 (the issue that includes my poem "The Ascent of Inanna") has been printed and subscriber copies have hit the mail. If you are not a subscriber, you might consider becoming one. A six-issue subscription is $25 to North American addresses and $30 elsewhere, and a lifetime subscription is $90 wherever you are.

In other news, I am still two weeks behind on the Friday Fictionette schedule, so there will be no October round-up just yet. I will be scrambling to catch up for the foreseeable future. That notwithstanding, I do plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month, after my fashion; but more on that in another post. Good night!

Cover art incorporates and modifies unattributed image from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
shilling for September
Thu 2020-10-15 22:29:02 (single post)
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Check it out: it's a Friday Fictionette roundup, two weeks late. Obviously I couldn't post a roundup until all the fictionettes it was rounding up went live; the fourth didn't go live until Monday. In related news, the Friday Fictionette for October 2 will be going live tomorrow. Everything's two weeks late.

I can't entirely blame this on the awful, rotten week in September when Gemma died. I mean, that didn't help. It happened on a Wednesday, and it shut me down entirely until the following week. But I was already a few days behind and scrambling to catch up when it happened. And it turns out that not writing, even for the very best of reasons, is habit-forming.

So here we are.

The good news is, October is a month with a fifth Friday. That's a week when time stands still, at least for fictionette purposes, and I'll have extra time to catch up.

Here, then, is the list of Friday Fictionettes posted in scheduled for September.

Friday, September 4, 2020: "Inherit the Earth" (ebook, audiobook) In which the winners begin to write history.

Friday, September 11, 2020: "A Gryphon Walks Into a Bar" (ebook, audiobook) In which you witness a hero being drawn out of retirement.

Friday, September 18, 2020: "Hardly St. Francis" (ebook, audiobook) In which an unsympathetic character gets told off. This is the Fictionette Freebie for September 2020.

Friday, September 25, 2020: "The Size of the World" (ebook, audiobook) In which we are made to feel small.

Obligatory explanation, for those just tuning in: The Friday Fictionette Project is a Patreon-powered minifiction subscription service. Patrons at the $1/month level get a new short-short story-like object every first through fourth Friday in any of several homebrew ebook editions (html, pdf, epub, mobi); Patrons at the $3/month level also get the joy of having me read it aloud to them while my Dell Inspiron so-called gaming laptop's fan whines in the background. (Audacity's noise reduction filter is miraculous.)

There are a couple tiers after that which involve a physical object in your mailbox, but they are (1) limited edition such that only one more slot remains in each tier, and (2) even more behind schedule than the ebook and audio releases. (I just typed out and illustrated Page 1 of one of the December 2019 Fictionette Artifacts, to be perfectly honest with you. My two Patrons at the $5 level are exceedingly patient, and I appreciate it.)

Meanwhile, one fictionette per month gets released as a Fictionette Freebie;"Hardly St. Francis" is the Fictionette Freebie for September 2020. Also free are the Monday Muse posts, where I share the writing prompt associated with the upcoming fictionette (they all start as freewriting from a prompt) and also some random news from my life, writing and otherwise. (By popular demand, rabbit news predominates.)

So that's the September 2020 Friday Fictionette Roundup. If intrigued, do click through and check it out.

In other news, which I will babble about thoroughly in upcoming posts:

  • I'm taking a Carnegie Center remote writing class, because the pandemic is why we can have nice things;
  • Thinking about writing is too writing, and so are long walks;
  • What with NaNoWriMo coming up, I'll be diving back into the godawful novel draft in an attempt to make it a wee bit less awful, or, failing that, make its awfulness somewhat less godly;
  • Holland continues in good health and is currently licking the sofa cushions.

'Til then.

Cover art incorporates and modifies image by Andrew Goldman (Pixabay)
post nubila ph...ictionette
Tue 2020-09-08 21:08:45 (single post)
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Ahoy! Well. It's been a week. We've had a slow-moving bunny crisis which we only realized was a crisis this weekend. Gemma had been steadily losing weight all month, but at first we weren't tracking it closely, and then we thought it would get better--I mean, bunn's got an appetite like a raging bonfire!--and next thing we know she's down some 600 grams since August 5 and it's really time to get the vet involved.

Today she saw the doctor and the doctor said... no more bunnies jumping on the bed! ...no. He said, "The password is... mega cecum." Well, words to that effect, anyway. Basically, she's genetically inclined toward this particular category of GI disorder in which the cecum doesn't do what it should, which is bad. She'll probably need treatment of some sort for this all her life. For this week, we've got oral meds and subcutaneous fluids to give her, and if that's successful in "jump-starting" her cecum and helping her get back up to a healthy weight, I assume we'll then talk long-term maintenance.

Anyway, I didn't think I'd be back to administering sub-q to a pet so soon after Uno and Null's end-of-life care, but she takes it like a champ. Honestly, I'm just grateful it's Gemma and not Holland. Holland is a nightmare patient. Holland barely tolerates being picked up. Holland is a work in progress. Please may the universe not bestow any high-maintenance medical situations on him until that work has progressed quite a ways.

On a happier note, we had a dear long-distance friend spending last week in the Boulder area. There was much rejoicing. Also homemade pizza and beer and video games and coworking and actual hugs.

(Speaking of homemade pizza: Homemade eggplant parmesan pizza. It's easy. You take everything you'd normally put into eggplant parmesan, plus maybe that egg-and-ricotta mixture that goes so well in lasagna--basically my eggplant parmesan is a lasagna that substitutes breaded baked eggplant disks for pasta--but instead of layering it in a casserole dish you put one layer of it on a pizza crust. It's good.)

Excuses, excuses. Well. Better late than never: Here's the promised Friday Fictionette Round-up for August 2020.

Friday, August 7, 2020: "The Traveler's House" (ebook, audiobook) Who gets to offer hospitality, and for what reasons?

Friday, August 14, 2020: "Cri de Coeur" (ebook, audiobook) Someone's lonely, Lord, kumbaya...

Friday, August 21, 2020: "The Memory of Flight" (ebook, audiobook) Sometimes, one very badly needs to change.

Friday, August 28, 2020: "On Dirkmere" (ebook, audiobook) A place for everyone, and everyone in their place. But this place has its compensations.

The Fictionette Freebie for August 2020 is "On Dirkmere." You can click on over and access it in any of the several formats I've posted it in. The other three are available according to the usual rewards tier structure: $1/month for the ebook (html, PDF, epub, and/or mobi) and $3/month for the audiobook (mp3).

Next time: Probably back to whining about the novel, I think. You've been warned.

reporting from the personal writerly bright side of 2020
Tue 2020-09-01 16:37:53 (single post)
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Happy September all! I have a couple of things made out of words coming out where you can see/hear them this month, and I thought I should let you know.

"The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" - Cast of Wonders: This story, originally a Friday Fictionette, was accepted and contracted for reprint back in January. This immediately helped guaranteed that, whatever happened, my 2020 was going to have a bright side. This past weekend, I received word that the story is with its narrator and is slated for publication in a September episode.

Cast of Wonders is the leading voice in young adult speculative fiction, podcasting a new episode every week. Most recently they have been serializing "The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and her Exceedingly Tiny Dog)", written by Alex Acks and narrated by Sandra Espinoza. It's up to Part 5. Part 1 is here. Go check it out!

"The Ascent of Inanna" - Dreams and Nightmares: Originally a flash fiction story entered in a Codex contest in early 2020, then whittled down to its heart and soul and reimagined as a poem. D&N accepted it back in April and scheduled it for their September 2020 issue. And now it is September 2020!

Dreams & Nightmares is a long-running print magazine of speculative poetry and flash fiction. You can buy single issue (I obviously recommend the one for September 2020) or subscribe. Subscriptions are available in two flavors: six-issue and lifetime. Lifetime sounds like a bit of a gamble until you figure that A. it's only $90 and B. the magazine's been printing issues since January 1986. The landing page of the magazine's website is a blog whereon the editor posts something tiny every day. Usually it's a tiny poem. Sometimes it's a tiny something else.

The numbers! Publishing even a small amount of stuff is largely a numbers game. Which isn't to say it's not also a matter of craft and quality. Just, the more manuscripts of craft and quality that one submits, the more chance of a manuscript happening to cross the desk of an editor inclined to purchase publication rights. Here are my numbers for 2020 so far, including a few submissions and rejections already logged for September:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2020
Submissions: 10 10 15 8 5 9 11 7 3 78
Rejections: 8 11 13 9 4 11 6 7 1 70
Acceptances: 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 5

Next time: the August 2020 Friday Fictionette round-up.

Cover art incorporates and modifies image by Circe Denyer (Public Domain Pictures.net)
last month's friday fictionette links and also novel difficulties
Tue 2020-08-11 16:23:31 (single post)
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Oh, hello again. I fell off the blogging wagon for a bit. Let me clamber back on with this quick round-up of the Friday Fictionettes for July 2020:

  • July 3: "Your SmartFurnace Needs Love Too" (ebook | audio) In a world where large household appliances are sentient, maintenance technicians have to be psychologists.
  • July 10: "Swallowed Up" (ebook | audio) It's not the afterlife. It's a village-wide case of mistaken identity.
  • July 17: "One Hell of a Guy" (ebook | audio) Guys like this are precisely why we need a functional Total Perspective Vortex.
  • July 24: "Lost: One Memory" (ebook | audio) When the wind blows your memories away, where do they go? And how do you get them back?

The Fictionette Freebie for July 2020 is "Swallowed Up." Its links will take you to the complete story in your preferred format. The other links will take you to locked Patreon posts inviting you to pledge a monthly buck or three. (Unless, that is, you've already become a Patreon, in which case, thank you!)

July had a fifth Friday in it. I was hoping to use that extra week to get ahead of schedule again. I had decided to make August another month dedicated to advancing a novel draft toward a publishable or at least submittable state, and being ahead of the Friday Fictionette schedule would have helped with that. Alas, due to a combination of REASONS I did not upload the August 7 release until 1:00 AM on August 8. So much for getting ahead of schedule.

Attempts at novel progress go on regardless, but it's difficult. And it's not just because of the failure to establish a healthy advance upload buffer for the Friday Fictionette Project. Which is not to say that scheduling has nothing to do with it. It's got a lot to do with it. So does the content and quality of the first draft, which leads to despair. Also pathological avoidance. I have a whole bunch of THOUGHTS on the subject, which I will dribble out over the course of several blog posts. Starting tomorrow.

So. Now you know what you're in for. LET THE WHINING COMMENCE!

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