“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”
Oscar Wilde

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

YPP Weekend Blockades, January 28-29: Entering now the Year of the Dark Seas...
Sat 2017-01-28 13:16:09 (single post)

OK, so, I'm still behind on the Friday Fictionette stuff, but I'm going to do a Puzzle Pirates Blockade Report anyway because, hell, I gotta live a little. (Pause for the inevitable jokes about how if YPP is "living a little" then the author needs to get a life. Yes, you are very droll. Ha ha. Also, you can KISS MY RINK RASH.) In any case, the Jan 20 fictionette will be uploaded to Patreon in a couple hours or so, and the Jan 27 one will follow it just as soon after that as I can manage.

So! What've we got? About a kabillion blockades on the Cerulean Ocean, that's what. Also a handful on Emerald and a couple on Meridian. Jade and Opal remain quiet.

Aside o' that, the developers announced something rather exciting last month: Dark Seas!

The goal for Dark Seas is to introduce an entirely new ocean where the rules are a bit different. This shadowy new ocean is a volatile place full of more danger and unexplored frontiers. We are going to introduce some new theme and story elements involving an insidious darkness that is invading the ocean, affecting the appearance of the world and the very nature of the pirates who live there.

See post for more details. It generated a lively discussion, to which Forculus has responded this week. And that has sparked discussion, of course. I'm not going to try to summarize--I, er, still need to read all about it myself. But now you can too!...if you haven't already.

Also, an early heads-up: it's time for the semiannual transfer of ownership of the shipyard shop on Fort Royal on the Ice Ocean. This time around, the shop will go to the crew with the highest fame. To register your crew for consideration, follow the instructions on Demeter's announcement by January 31.

On to the blockades!

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, January 28 ***

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (5)
Undeclared: Icy Sun

12:00 p.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Delirium
Undeclared: Sons Of Anarchy

10:01 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Cuddly Sloths Of Doom

*** Sunday, January 29 ***

10:00 a.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

10:38 a.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)
Attacker: Sons Of Anarchy

11:33 a.m. - Jubilee Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Infamous

11:58 a.m. - Paihia Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Dead In The Water
Attacker: Caught In Crossfire

12:00 p.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Dragon Lords

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, January 28 ***

12:00 p.m. - Iris Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)
Undeclared: Fallen

5:00 p.m. - Vernal Equinox, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Attacker: Defiantly Deviant
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (3)

7:00 p.m. - Spectre Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Elements of Fear
Attacker: Babylon

7:00 p.m. - Park Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Elements of Fear
Attacker: Babylon

8:24 p.m. - Nu Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Phantom's Realm
Attacker: The Coalition

8:32 p.m. - Eta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Public Enemies
Attacker: The Coalition

*** Sunday, January 29 ***

12:00 a.m. - Remora Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Undertow
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from PublicDomainPictures.net
but there really should have been room in my schedule for this sort of thing in general
Tue 2017-01-24 00:53:40 (single post)
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OK so hi again after two weeks of radio silence. Let's skip the part where I whine about being embarrassed and ashamed and not knowing where to put my face. Let's just take that as read. Instead, let's skip ahead to the moral of the story, just put that right in the lede for a change: Do the shit you gotta do today because you never know when you'll be unable to do the shit tomorrow.

It's not entirely fair, as morals go--sometimes you can't do the shit because you have to do other shit, right? Like, catching up on a very belated task. Or catching up on your sleep so you can function. So maybe it's not a moral. Maybe it's more of a strategy, OK, a strategy that doesn't judge you and doesn't say anything about your worth and worthiness and virtue, sure, but a strategy, nevertheless, that takes into consideration how the world works. And I should know by now how the world works.

So. For instance. Let's say I take an entire Tuesday off work--just decided writing will not get done that day--because I have a chance to spend some much-needed, now-or-never time with a dear friend. Well, the smart thing to do would have been to do the writing on Monday because of that. Right? I knew that Tuesday was coming. I'd planned on that Tuesday for the better part of the previous week. I had ample warning time is what I'm saying.

(And it was a fantastic Tuesday. Me and one of my very bestest derby friends went derby shopping, and we had a long talkative lunch over excellent pizza, and we wound the afternoon up with an hour or two of a Steven Universe marathon. I am not complaining about Tuesday. Tuesday was the good part of last week. Please, let us have more Tuesdays like that soonest.)

Then there's the stuff that gives no warning other than this is how the world works, haven't you been paying attention? Like, after my awesome Tuesday-with-friend, I went to what should have been an awesome Tuesday evening travel team practice featuring a renowned guest skater teaching us All The Things. Looking forward to it all day, right? Could not have planned on wiping out during warm-ups and spraining my Gods-damned MCL. I mean, yes, I am cognizant of the phrase "able-bodied" having a "temporary" attached because we are frail mortal beings and time is passing, and also we play a contact sport; this concept actually came up during our long conversation over pizza, OK, but proving the concept was nevertheless not specifically on my schedule.

So I'm not skating right now. I won't be skating for, at a guess, some four weeks from the date of the injury. I definitely won't be skating in our February triple-header. (Which isn't to say I won't be there in some capacity, nor that you shouldn't come out and watch it. You should totally come out and watch it. Depending on what support role I do play at the event, I might be able to be your derby buddy. If not, we will find you a derby buddy.)

This has not exactly freed up extra time in my week. I'm still attending derby practice. I don't have to be skating to absorb skills coaching and strategy, and some of the off-skates conditioning I can participate in. I can be a non-skating official at scrimmage. On top of that, I now have physical therapy twice a week, physical therapy homework, a follow-up orthopedic appointment, and a new twice-weekly upper-body workout to keep from falling too much behind my team in metabolics conditioning.

And that's before we get into how very exhausted I am all the time. It's like my body is shorting my usual energy allotment in order to channel more energy toward healing. That's probably exactly what it's doing. And although I can walk and drive and otherwise get around enough to do regular day-to-day stuff, it takes so much more out of me than I realize until I'm back home and drooping with fatigue.

I know. I'm whining a lot for someone whose injury is pretty damn minor. I mean, nothing's torn (that we can tell so far), no one has even recommended an MRI, surgery definitely isn't on the menu. I'm staying exceptionally active, independent, and productive (aside from the writing). "When are you going to start acting injured?" John asked me a few days ago. I said, "I am acting injured. I'm not skating, am I?" as I proceeded to take out the recyclables.

But that's the thing. It is a minor injury. I would not have thought it would impact my energy levels this much. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but I am. I'm surprised, and I feel flat-out betrayed by my body. And all I did was an effin' plow-stop! It should not have wrecked me!

Anyway.

I finally got the January 13 Friday Fictionette out today. About time. It's called "The Sandpit Oracle" (ebook, audiobook), and, like other fictionettes featuring an oracle, it is told in the second person. I am not apologizing for this.

I hope to get the one for January 20 (a bar-story retelling of Monday and Tuesday) done in the next couple days so I can scramble back onto a proper schedule in time to release the one for January 27 (I have no idea what it'll be about, that's how far behind I am) on January 27, for a wonder.

Also I have people I still need to mail fruitcake too. Good thing brandy is such a good preservative.

Cover illustration incorporates public domain photography from Pixabay.com.
"What the heck does auld lang syne mean, anyway?"
Sat 2017-01-07 00:37:14 (single post)
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Ahoy! So. The Friday Fictionette for January 6 is up. It was supposed to go up at 6 PM, taking advantage of Patreon's clever SCHEDULE POST feature. Only apparently I am not so clever, and I thought today was Jan 7. Eleven-thirty came around, and I was pulling up the HTML excerpt to copy-paste into Wattpad, and emergency! emergency! Where is my post?! Ya fool. It's right where you put it: on tomorrow's docket. Oops.

It's up now, though, and it's called "The Land Exhales" (ebook | audiobook | free excerpt ) It is not one of my more cheerful stories, dealing as it does with a meta-fictional land where everyone is miserable, but I like to think it ends on a hopeful note.

I wish I'd had time to do more with today--like take another crack at the novel-in-progress--but I got a little self-indulgent trying to produce a presentable four bars of "Auld Lang Syne" on the piano that I could include. Why "Auld Lang Syne"? Because it's January. Why on the piano? Why indeed. The flute version worked a lot better.

(Speaking of "Auld Lang Syne," this post's title is a quote from Barry Manilow off his double live album, segueing into "It's Just Another New Year's Eve." It may not be a very good question, but it's a pretty good song. "Don't look so sad / It's not so bad, you know / It's just another night, that's all it is...")

Artifacts are not quite in the mail yet. BUT THEY WILL BE SOON.

In other news, I skated on the track at our practice space tonight. The new floor is done. And it's so nice. it's flat. It's so nice, having a flat and level floor. And clean! So nice and clean...

three things i can't have
Fri 2017-01-06 00:47:58 (single post)

Three things there are not, no matter how much I might wish otherwise:

  1. The typing up of a Fictionette Artifact on my typewriter without discovering some typo in the source material, which I then feel compelled to go correct in all three ebook formats and, if I'm very unlucky and the typo appears in the teaser excerpt, in all three places where that excerpt is published too.

  2. Sleeping late without sleeping very late. I mean, I'm either up Right! On! Time! or I'm in bed until sometime past noon. You'd think I could manage to sleep just one hour late, get up at 10:30 maybe, but no. It's nineish or damn near one, no in-between. This is exacerbated by it being an especially stupid cold day outside, highs predicted not to surpass single digits. Also by my having drawn the blinds tight to help keep the warm inside, but with the effect of keeping the sun out so that I can't tell time is passing if I don't look at the clock. Also by my having had trouble getting to sleep, because there is no...

  3. Briefly taking some time in the evening to Work Through My Shit without finding myself continuing to Work Through My Shit in my brain, involuntarily, when I'm trying to get to sleep. Dammit. I put that dratted dream down in my blog to get it out of my system, OK? I was not inviting it, and everything it stands for, to sit on my head until well past two in the morning! Sheesh.

It's OK, I still got things done, including the daily gotta-dos and also the aforementioned typewriter work and ebook typo correction. (This one was just in the ebook, not in the excerpt.) And speaking of typewriters and typos, I'm getting a lot better at touch-typing on the typewriter without reverting to Dvorak every time I take my eyes off my fingers. That means less time trying to coax a just a little more use out of my just-about-used-up correction ribbon. (I just ordered a whole bunch more typewriter ribbon, so there will be a lot more correction ribbon capacity to use next time around. Ribbons Unlimited were having a sale to celebrate the new year. I essentially got 4 ribbons for the price of 3. Ka-ching.)

I would like to get things done tomorrow without any particular adversity, please brain, OK brain, thank you brain very much, good night.

new week new year new what the hell is this
Tue 2017-01-03 01:11:22 (single post)

It's very tempting to look at the first two days of a new year and panic. Like, argh, I did some of the same stupid shit I did all last year, does that mean this year's not going to be any better? Well, no. It doesn't mean that. January 1 does not have the magical property of setting the tone for the following 364 days. Despite being the first day of a brand new year, it's just another day. Every day is just another day.

On the other hand, what I did with my January 1 was kind of awesome. I did my daily writing, released the Fictionette Freebie for November, and I helped with ongoing construction at my roller derby league's practice space. Writing and roller derby are two of the biggest things in my current life, and I made them part of my New Year's Day--with time yet remaining to play Puzzle Pirates over beer and pulled pork at a favorite downtown restaurant/bar. So even if Jan. 1 does have magical properties, I think I used them well.

(The floor is done! As soon as the freshly washed sport-court is dry enough to place on top of plywood, we'll be skating on that sucker! Now if only the weather would warm up enough to let things dry rather than freeze.)

Now, about Jan. 2... I'm dialing back my Monday ambitions, y'all. There is no way that I'm getting five hours of writing done on a day that contains both chiro and any form of derby doings. Which today did. There was my usual Cafe of Life appointment, and there were new recruits to welcome to the league. There was no track for them to skate on yet, but we met up at a local brewery and, I do hope, made them feel real welcome.

(Local brewery = Finkel and Garf in Gunbarrel. A brewery where being old enough to drink doesn't mean you're too old to be a kid. There are toys in their logo and there are toys all over the store. There were giant lego, which we used in a three-team competition of creativity and style, and all the board games. Also a wide variety of snacks for a buck each. I had a can of Vienna sausages with my cherry wheat lager. I used my plastic size #2 knitting needles to eat the sausages because I had no toothpicks.)

(Of course I carry #2 knitting needles with me everywhere. You never know when you'll need to darn a sock. Or eat Vienna sausages.)

But even in a Monday with both chiro and derby doings, I still got all my daily "gotta-dos" did. And I got important household errands run. I did stuff. So it wasn't too shabby a Monday.

I am eying the rest of the week with equal amounts of determination and suspicion. I am determined to have a good week, a productive and writerly week, with lots of work on the novel and an on-time Jan 6 fictionette release... but I suspect that this week has something up its sleeve. I have no idea what. I have no good reason to think that this week in particular is out to get me. But I know its type. I have seen weeks like this before.

I'm on to you, Week One of 2016. I'm hip to your tricks. You just better watch out.

Cover art incorporates public domain images from Pixabay.com.
Cover art incorporates tarot image via Wikipedia.org (public domain, U.S.)
my brain is a jerk: christmas reminiscing
Mon 2016-12-26 23:45:23 (single post)
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All right. Hi! New week. So: Friday Fictionettes for the past two Fridays were "Kill or Cure," which is about a symptomatic tree, and "The Miraculous Hide," which is sort of about Good King Wenceslas before he got to be all saint-like. I got 'em out both on time, more or less, but I never got around to announcing them here, so. There you go.

And now we are approaching the fifth Friday in a month, which means--woo-hoo!--I get a week off. Except I don't, because I still have to put together the Fictionette Artifacts for November and then do all the end-of-month stuff for December. And even if that were done, goodness knows I've got all the legacy catch-up work to do: backfilling the Wattpad excerpts, recording audiobook editions for the archives that don't have them yet, producing epub and mobi editions ditto. But it's cool. I don't have to do that and put together the next brand-new story-like object all at the same time, so things are vastly more doable than they could be.

So yesterday was Christmas. John and I did nothing special for it. We're more Winter Solstice types than Christmas types, which is to say, Pagan not Christian. Also our families are all multiple states away. So we did with Christmas the same thing we did with Thanksgiving: a whole lotta glorious nothing. We played on our computers and we cooked for each other.

Which right there puts it miles and miles beyond last Christmas in terms of enjoyability, i.e. I did not get into a shouting match with my bigoted, bullying, emotionally abusive uncle, and spend the rest of the evening sobbing myself sick. Yay?

Except I kept thinking about it. All my brain's idle cycles pointed right at it. I spent a self-indulgently huge number of hours just playing Puzzle Pirates all day long, which should have been uncomplicatedly fun, only it wasn't, because while my eyes and hands were busy with the mini-games, my brain kept re-running that shouting match and rewriting it and re-running the rewritten version and then revising that.

To be clear: My brain was not fixated on just one argument with my uncle. That shouting match catalyzed an epiphany about a lifetime of bullying at the hands of that uncle.

Wait. Wait up. Go fix yourself some coffee or something. Apparently I'm going to unload here.

Ready? Cool. Here we go.

Here's the thing. I think the reason he got so enraged when I called him on his hateful bullshit that Christmas afternoon is that no one else ever did. Everyone else in the family may grumble about him, but to his face they smile and reward him and tell him he's funny. Meanwhile, all my life, every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter that he ruined for me, everyone told me I lacked a sense of humor. That's why I didn't find his bullying of me funny. And they told me it was my fault, the bullying; he wouldn't do it if I didn't give him such entertaining reactions. No one told him that there was anything wrong with a grown-ass man getting his jollies by verbally tormenting a little girl until she fucking lost it, and then laughing at her while her parents punished her for her unacceptable behavior. Everything he said, every word that came out of his mouth, was by definition golden, because it was coming out of his mouth.

Of course he hasn't changed a bit--why should he? He gets perfectly fine results as things stand; why should he do anything differently? And why wouldn't he be flabbergasted to the point of near-speechlessness that someone finally told him he was being a shit-head? If anyone ever tried to say it to him before, they sure as hell didn't make it stick.

I'm surprised it took me this long to come to that realization. I suppose I had some idea that, now that I was an adult myself, and not a powerless child, interactions would be better. And, well, to some extent, they are better. At age forty (well, thirty-nine at the time, but still) I'm not getting sent to my room or told to sit on the floor in the hallway and stare at the wall and think about what I've done. There is a different protocol for dealing with other adults than there is for dealing with children. And, being an adult, I'm a lot more capable now of putting my thoughts into words even while I'm furious, and of resisting my uncle's attempts to put me back in my place, the place he was comfortable with me inhabiting, the place that's entirely under his power, the place where I have to dance for his entertainment while the rest of the family laughs at his wit and my immaturity.

All of which added up to me being able to sit there and say, "That's some hateful, dehumanizing, transmisogynist bullshit you're spouting, not gonna pretend otherwise, I mean, you should be ashamed of yourself, and also you should grow the hell up, and, by the way, transwomen aren't existing at you just to spite you, and if you're tired of watching news stories about Caitlyn Jenner you can damn well pull up your big-boy paints, grab your big-boy TV remote, and change the fucking channel." And the worst he could do to me in response was sputter a bit and finally proclaim, "Don't get so fucking offended," like it was the last word on the matter (but it wasn't, because I could damn well spit back at him, "Then don't say such fucking offensive things, asshole," and walk out the room).

That's the worst he can do. But I can do so much worse to myself every day for the following year. I can relive that entire argument on a near-daily basis. I can also relive all the times he bullied me as a child, and I cried, and he laughed at me while I cried, and my parents told me I was defective for not enjoying it and/or morally weak for letting it get to me. That last shouting match doesn't exist on its own--it reconfigured my understanding of our interactions over my entire life.

I don't want to talk to him ever again. I don't want to see him ever again. But at the same time, I want to stand up in front of him and tell him, hey, you remember how you treated me while I was growing up? That wasn't even bullying. Bullying is between people of at least nominally equal standing. When a grown-ass man does it to a little girl, someone he has power over, and when he does it every time he sees her, from the time she's five to the time she's fifteen, that's straight up child abuse.

Wow. OK. So, that got real heavy real fast. Long story short: It's not that I fixate on 15 Minutes of Awful. It's that those 15 Minutes of Awful sort of recontextualized about 15 to 20 Years of Constant, Unremitting Awful. And that I'm liable to fixate on.

My fucking brain. My brain is a fucking jerk.

There's this fantastic Steven Universe episode, "Mindful Education," that kinda-sorta addresses the whole "I can't stop thinking about it, and it hurts, and I'm sick of hurting" thing. Rewatching it was soothing balm, but in a few hours the balm wears off. That's because the strategy of looking at the pain, understanding why it hurts, and being OK with the fact that it hurts, only goes so far. It's fantastic for surviving the painful thoughts, but it doesn't make them stop. And I can't spend another year going "Yes, I see that thought. Yes, it hurts. It's OK. I'm OK" on infinite repeat. I need to get my brain to stop running that damn program.

So here's what I did: I decided to actively fill my brain's idle cycles up with Other Narratives. I pulled up a blog I enjoy reading (one of several Steven Universe livebloggers, speaking of Steven Universe) and positioned it so I could read it while playing Puzzle Pirates. Then I pulled up some Mark Reads Discworld audio and listened to that while playing Puzzle Pirates.

The idea is, the longer I just sit there trying to play a particular video game while my brain keeps pushing the rewind-and-replay button on Worst Experiences Ever, the stronger grows the mental association between the two. It begins to feed itself: Playing the video game starts to cause the painful mental replay. But if I can associate the game strongly enough with something else, then playing the game will make me think of that something else--like, for instance, a gaggle of wizards arguing on a desert island, or the character development arcs of the Crystal Gems.

It's terrifying how easily programmable my brain is. The good news is, I can program it too. I just have to take, and keep taking, conscious action counter to the unwanted programming, until the unwanted programming has been thoroughly replaced my the preferred programming. That's all.

And in the meantime, well, I'm here.

but just a brief delay
Fri 2016-12-23 23:47:18 (single post)

I'll be uploading the Friday Fictionette for December 23rd in, oh, probably about 10 hours or so. I have everything written up and recorded and illustrated, but now it is late and I am sleepy and liable to make some sort of embarrassing and tedious-to-correct mistake if I keep going. Ebook compilation and conversion is fraught with so many opportunities to make embarrassing and tedious-to-correct mistakes. Not to mention interacting with Patreon's publishing process and coaxing it to do things it's not actually meant to do in its current version. By which I mean, HTML formatting and inline links. Not recommended after brain-shutdown-o'clock!

So I'll get a good night's sleep (the first in several days, I'm afraid) and then upload the whole shebang and announce it here. Until then!

Cover art incorporates Illustration at p. 73 in Just So Stories (c1912) (public domain) via Wikisource
several things you should know about today
Sat 2016-12-10 01:05:48 (single post)

Thing the first: It's Friday; there's a new Fictionette. "How the Elephant's Child Lost Her Voice" (ebook | audiobook) is exactly what it says on the tin. It is not about an elephant. It is about an elephant's child. The distinction is key. The one has a trunk; the other is full of 'satiable curiosity, and that means that she asks ever so many questions. Until... well. That would be telling.

In addition to trying to keep my Friday Fictionette releases punctual (check out those timestamps!), I've been on a push to catch up with the Wattpad part of the equation. When I started this project out, I'd publish each release to Wattpad, too. The excerpt, anyway. Then I'd come back and add the rest of the text for the Fictionette Freebie at the end of the month. But at some point, probably the same point at which Friday releases started being delayed until Saturday, well OK Sunday, well no later than Monday I swear, I fell off the Wattpad wagon. And then every week it was "I can't post the latest excerpt until I'm caught up; they have to be posted in order, so." And then the big catch-up never happened, and I fell farther and farther behind, and--

--and a couple weeks ago I said "screw it" and just started backfilling at the rate of one per day, or almost that. And on Fridays the one I post is the current one, because, what the hell, Wattpad lets you rearrange your story order, how'd I miss that?

Speaking of things I missed: Patreon may no longer let you paste in raw HTML or do much more than Italics and Boldface in its publishing interface, but there's still a way to publish linked text. If you copy HTML-formatted text out of a browser window--not the source code, but the actual display--and you paste that into Patreon's text editor, it retains all styles and links. Except for paragraph marks; it seems to change them into single line breaks. Pleh. But easily fixed.

So that's cool.

Thing the second: I baked the annual fruitcake today. Its fruit-and-nut-etc. ingredients for Winter Solstice 2016 are:

  • Degla dates
  • black currants
  • green raisins
  • cranberries
  • candied ginger (rinsed)
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • black mission figs

...in more or less equal proportions to add up to about four pounds. This was a quarter pound more fruit-and-nuts-etc. than the recipe called for, but the cake still seemed to hold together. Still, if it crumbles more readily this year, we'll know why.

The fun thing was, just as I was about to mix the fruit-and-nuts-etc. into the batter with my clean bare hands, the water to the building got shut off. Thankfully I discovered this while I was still staging the kitchen in preparation for this step, and not after.

The reason the water got shut off: Our next-door neighbor unit to the south was in full flood. And the owners-or-tenants were not home. And initial attempts to gain entrance were failing. And there was a general panic and hue-and-cry.

I scooped up a few quarts of clean water from the toilet tanks and staged that for post-fruitcake-mixing hand-washing. That worked.

I assume eventually the management called in some pop-a-lock service to get into the unit; in any case, they discovered the cause of the flood. The owners or tenants of that unit had shut off the heater before they left. We just had a few nights of deeply arctic temperatures--well, down in the teens and single digits Fahrenheit, anyway. Cold enough that you should not shut off your heater, because otherwise your pipes may freeze and burst. Only someone didn't get that memo.

Oops.

For the rest of the day, the song of the shop-vac was heard in the land. Or, as it turned out, the song of the commercial cleaner's van. Management called in ECOS Environmental & Disaster Restoration to mop up the environment and haul the disaster away.

Our neighbors are in for a nasty surprise. Alas.

Thankfully, we are all on the bottom floor. Water is still dripping through the insulation and drywall in the parking garage ceiling, but not, Gods bless, into anyone else's home. Nor did the water seep through or under the walls into our unit--the guy who shut off the water came knocking moments later to double-check that with me.

"All's well that ends well?"

"For you."

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

Thing the third: What the eff, does everyone in my novel have supernatural powers? The hell kind of sense does that make? *grumbles off to figure it out*

Cover art incorporates public domain photography from Pixabay.com
this fictionette is not alone and is very distracted right now
Sat 2016-12-03 01:02:43 (single post)

I done put a Fictionette up on Friday, an' it feels great. (I really did! Check it out.) Also, I am hanging out at Loaded Joe's where the best karaoke DJ in Colorado (in my opinion) is doing his thing, with the help of a huge enthusiastic crowd of Eagle Valley visitors and locals. Life is good.

So! First things first: "The Actress Who Went to Utter North, and What She Found There." It's a damn long title, but it suits the genre. (Patron-only links: ebook, now for the first time featuring .mobi format, and audiobook, featuring random crowd noses as bookends.) It's a fairy tale from the non-existent collection The Green Book of Hollywood Stories. An' there you go.

I'm having a hard time remembering what I else was going to write in this post, because somebody just took the stage to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's very distracting.

My song was "Caught a Lite Sneeze," btw.

the hot tub and red wine method of novel planning
Wed 2016-11-30 23:51:29 (single post)
  • 1,328 wds. long

Tonight was another successful evening of novel planning. Yes, yesterday counted as successful--once I put away the laptop and got in the tub. This time I skipped the bit that didn't work and went straight to dunking myself in hot water AND I COUNTED THAT TIME TOWARD MY WRITING LOG AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME. Because it worked. There was about 20 minutes of soaking in the tub and talking to myself, and then there was about 20 minutes of non-stop feverish-paced typing to jot down what I came up with. We have a method, folks.

We may need a non-tub version, though, because once I get back to my own house, it might be prohibitively painful in the utilities bill. At the very least, I need a comfy place to lounge and complete solitude so no one will hear me talking to myself. But I'd prefer the wine and hot tub method any time I can get it.

Meanwhile, I got this book out the library, right, I got it yesterday, but this evening it TALKED to me about THE VERY THINGS I'D BLOGGED ABOUT YESTERDAY. Like the author knew. It's The Writer's Idea Book, which isn't entirely my cup of tea as it turns out--the author's sense of humor comes across to me as LOOK AT ME I MADE A JOKE, he has a tendency to make unmerited universal pronouncements ("Who, for heaven's sake, doesn't like Popeye?" Me, for one, but thanks for telling me how absurd and freakish you think that is) and the "prompts" are more like the Tasks in The Artist's Way than they are viable jumping-off points for my daily freewriting--but which is nevertheless full of unexpected gems here and there. Like...

...under the spell of The Author, that part of ourselves that sees every moment of writing as important and valid only if it leads to publication.

(Emphasis mine.) Which seems to speak directly to my insecurity yesterday that the time spent novel-planning was such a waste of time compared to, say, revising a story that's nearly ready to submit, or going back to consider an existing novel draft that's much closer to completion than this thing that still only lives in my mind. I'll also admit to chafing at my Morning Pages or daily freewriting sometimes for the same reason: THIS isn't publishable writing, why am I wasting part of my precious day on this? Despite knowing that they are both valuable exercises from both a craft and self-care standpoint.

And then there's the frustration that came from sitting down at the laptop to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, only to find that I couldn't make the missing knowledge appear just because my hands were on the keyboard.

Ideas don't respond to the force of our wills--damn them. We can't make them appear. That's why when we're feeling blocked it does little good to try to pound our way through. It won't work. We'll grow even more frustrated....

Getting ideas requires allowing our minds to yield....

YES. Or, in other words, relax and let them come. Let yourself off the hook. Don't try (so hard!) to figure out the novel. Get in the goddamn tub, drink your wine, and daydream about the novel.

Incidentally, another activity that has produced significant insight into this novel is thinking about it while falling asleep. Not coincidentally, my dreams have also played a part.

Anyway. During my successful novel-planning session tonight, what did I come up with? All the details about Delta's daughter and the broken contract that obliged her, Delta, to give up her name. Also an extra tidbit, related to that, which makes the tragedy in Michael's backstory not just a maudlin trope but PLOT-NECESSARY. Yay. I was worried about that.

And that's all I'm going to say. This novel is now far enough along that I can't keep blogging everything anymore because that would be spoilers. And that's kind of exciting!

The closer we get to the point where it's time to start writing actual manuscript, the more scared I get. Can I do it? Can I actually convert this novel in my head into a novel on the page? Emotionally, I'm all nooooo it's not possible I'll BREAK it I suck forever. But logically, I remember that I've been doing exactly this in short-short form almost every week for two years now. This is exactly what I'm supposed to be getting out of Friday Fictionettes: practice in, and confidence in, turning ideas in my brain into stories on the page.

Speaking of Fictionettes, I have released the Fictionette Freebie for November 2016. It's "The Witch on the Corner." Link goes to the HTML version, which now includes the first text. At the bottom of the page are links to the ebook and audiobook versions, or you can just click the links right here. Free for all! Enjoy! See what you think!

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