“Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

some things still hold true, even with extra altitude
Mon 2017-10-09 23:38:04 (single post)

Tonight is my second night in Avon, Colorado. I arrived yesterday around 5:30 or 6:00 PM or so. Hi.

The drive was pleasant, if more tiring than I expected (though I should have expected it; I'd been up since 7:00 AM and had attended a full 3-hour roller derby practice from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM already). Traffic was light, the weather was good, and I enjoyed watching the Chevy Volt recharge itself as I came downhill after the Eisenhower Tunnel and later after Vail Pass.

I got a great view of the aspens going golden all down I-70. Well, having gone golden. In some cases, having gone bare, or sometimes only mostly bare and retaining a yellow-gold match-head up top. The maples were bright red and the ash trees were purple and the pine trees were, of course, still green. Also other trees I didn't know to name were contributing to the overall kaleidoscope. Basically, Colorado's classic leaf-turning season isn't so far past its peak that you'd feel you missed out. Get up here and check it out quick, is what I'm saying.

I felt a strong upwelling of relief just coming around the traffic circles and turning right on West Beaver Creek, just seeing the familiar lodging and retail locations that have been there every year--the Christie Lodge, Vin 48, and the Blue Plate on the left, the bank and the Walgreens and the Lodge at Avon on the right. I've been coming here once a year for more than a decade now, and the place is heavily associated with a much-needed break from stress and extraneous responsibility. I don't think I realized the extent of that association, though, not until I got off the highway, caught sight of the building housing the Blue Plate and Vin 48, and just sighed. I don't even like the Blue Plate much, to tell you the truth. It always struck me as unjustifiably pricey. Haven eaten there once last year has not shaken me of that impression. And I've never been inside Vin 48 to know if it's worth the price or not. It doesn't matter. What matters is, seeing that wedge-shaped building on East Beaver Creek means I'm here now.

So. The following is a non-exhaustive list of things I have done since getting here:

  • Fully charged the Chevy Volt off a 120 volt wall socket overnight for the first time. It was my first opportunity to do so; we don't at this time have access to a wall socket in our parking spot at home.

  • Ate at Nozawa Sushi for the first time. Wondered why I'd never done it before. They have a daily half-off discount on their sushi rolls and dinner entrees for the entire off-season, "from when the mountain closes until the first of December" as the server told me. I told her she'd see me again.

  • (Realized this discount had really only brought their specialty rolls down to a reasonable price. Thing being overpriced at restaurants around here is a theme.)

  • Went grocery shopping to prepare for Monday's snowpocalypse.

  • Went to bed early and slept very late. "I should get up," I told myself; "I have all sorts of Writing Goals to accomplish today." But then I told myself, "You have nowhere to be today. You can start your working day late. It's cool."

  • Was very considerate and moved the Volt out of the only parking spot with access to a wall socket, seeing as how the battery was now fully charged. (I won't deny this considerate gesture was more than partially motivated by wanting to have the adapter cord safely locked inside the car once more. Because someone's going to randomly steal a J1227-to-120-volt adapter cord and, I dunno, resell it on eBay I guess? But I get paranoid about that.)

  • Got a reply to my message to 10th Mountain Roller Dolls saying of course I was welcome to drop in with them, and in fact there was a practice tonight, 15 minutes away from me, at 6:15. Thought ruefully back upon my rationale for sleeping late. Accepted my fate.

  • Realized it wasn't all that snowpocalypse after all. Decided to go walk some errands.

  • Went to the post office. The post office was closed. Today is a national holiday.

  • Went to the library. The library was closed. Today is a national holiday and I am, apparently, slow on the uptake. But the walk was nice. The sun was back out again. After the brief flirtation with winter this morning, the region had returned to the comforts of fall.

  • Typed up one whole Fictionette Artifact, the whole thing, all in one go while dinner was cooking. I hope people passing by in the hotel hallway heard the typewriter and were amused. I'd be amused if I randomly heard a typewriter in use.

  • Discovered the best way to boil water for tea in the microwave. It involves having a microwave with a BOIL/SIMMER setting. I put the teapot full of water into the microwave for five minutes on that setting; it comes to a boil around minute three and holds temp at a simmer until I come back and hit CANCEL. The tea steeps up strong. I am pleased.

  • Spun, on my spinning wheel, a good handful more yardage of laceweight ply from the half-fleece of black lamb I've been working on forever. Or, in fact, not working on, which has been the whole problem. I worked on it tonight, I did.

  • Went to the 10th Mountain practice. Rediscovered that living and practicing at a bit over a mile above sea level is of dubious preparative value when you drop in on a practice at 7,861 feet. It's amazing how much of a difference that extra 2,400 feet or so make. And everything this team does at practice, they do with endurance in mind. Thank you for kicking my butt tonight, 10th Mountain!

  • Mildly cussed out whoever had parked that sporty black not-even-a-little-bit-electric car in the only parking spot with access to a wall plug while I was at practice. Dude, you're not even using it! You're wasting it! Grumble grumble grumble

Things I didn't do since arriving in Avon, Colorado: Anything at all beyond the same bare minimum I managed all last week. Sigh. Well, I mean, yes, the Fictionette Artifact in addition to the usual daily cluster of morning pages/freewriting/this week's fictionette. But no short story revision. No novel brainstorming. Damn. Certainly no work after derby practice (this blog post excepted). Damn damn.

Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I really don't have anywhere to be in the evening. Still... just to be safe... better not sleep late.

Cover art incorporates photo
time for this fictionette to run away
Sat 2017-10-07 00:15:18 (single post)
  • 1,055 wds. long

Good evening. This week's Friday Fictionette is "Seven Chickadees" (ebook, audiobook), in which we discover the unexpected dangers of being able to talk to birds. Also the banal irritations. Chickadees, y'all. Can they talk.

After all my blather yesterday about novel brainstorming and getting the short stories in order, I'm afraid nothing of that got done. This entire week has been all about hitting the bare minimum every day. But I guess it's an accomplishment to have hit the bare minimum. I mean, look! A blog post! A fictionette posted on time! Did my twice-weekly core workout twice this week! Go me. Next week, I think, is soon enough to fold the short story revisions and novel prep into the working day, what with it being my annual week on writing-and-introvert retreat in Avon.

I'm getting excited about that. I'm already thinking about what to pack, what to stuff in the ice chest, what favorite food-and-drink places to visit. I'm going to bring my spinning wheel and use it. I'm going to do something delicious with all this squash. I'm going to bring the typewriter and watercolors and get caught up on Fictionette Artifacts. All the plans! I'm even getting excited over the two-hour drive from Boulder. Like, what shall I listen too? And--ooh, I get to use the Chevy Volt's "mountain driving" mode for the first time! Gotta make sure its battery is all charged up. I get excited over the silliest things.

Anyway, that's where my next blog post will be coming from. See you there.

normal service in the process of resuming your patience is appreciated
Mon 2017-10-02 23:22:58 (single post)

OK. OK! We have blog. I repeat: We have blog.

We do not quite have business as usual ("What's usual?" "What's business?" "What's a cow?") but we're getting there.

The problem with getting back to business as usual is, it doesn't happen until the crap-ton of Overdue gets dealt with. I found this out last week. Last week I tried to have Normal Writing Workdays and just peck away at the Overdue Crap in between regular daily writing tasks. I thought, heck, we're in the roller derby off-season now. Plus this is a week culminating in a fifth Friday, so no Fictionette release is due! This should be easy. However, it was not easy. Turns out I have to put the Normal Writing Workday on hold in order to just get the Overdue done in one big heave. Then, that heave having worn me out, I hibernate.

So last week turned into the Week of Catching Up on All the Things and also napping. But now that the Overdue has been successfully reduced to a manageable amount, I can return to the original plan of having Normal Writing Workdays and, between those tasks, continuing to peck away at what remains of the Overdue.

(What is the Overdue? It is so very many things. It is household bills and accounting. It is travel plans and doctor appointments. It is email and league communications and those league committee tasks for which I am responsible. It is housecleaning, random mending and repair jobs, to-do items that have been on the to-do list for so long that I mistake them for part of the stationery design. It is a lot. And each overdue task has not only a time-and-effort cost associated with completing that task but also a non-trivial emotional weight associated with simply knowing that these tasks are due and that each minute not spent doing them is another minute that they are overdue. Why yes, I may indeed have anxiety issues, now that you mention it.)

Signs that we are nearly back to business as usual and that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train:

  • I made tortillas this morning! I had never made tortillas before. They were easy! I filled them with a yummy chicken-yam-eggplant mixture from yesterday's crock-pot session, and that was breakfast.

  • I went to the Shuttles Spindles Skeins spin-in tonight for the first time in more than a year. Now my ankles and calves are sore. Treadling a spinning wheel is kind of a work-out, y'all. I'd forgotten, what with how long it's been since I last used my wheel.

  • For the first time in almost a month, I got a blog post out that wasn't a weekend YPP blockade report. Here it is! Go me.

So that's the State of the Niki report. Hi. I will try not to be so out of touch going forward.


Real quick: Since I didn't blog all month and thus didn't get to tell you about them at the appropriate time, here's a brief round-up of the Friday Fictionettes released in September, with accompanying links.

For those of y'all just tuning in, the Friday Fictionette Project is a flash fiction subscription service powered by Patreon. Subscribers (Patrons) get access to a new "fictionette," which is to a say a short-story-like object, every first through fourth Friday as an ebook ($1/month) and/or audiobook ($3/month) depending on their pledge tier. At the end of every month, one of the four fictionettes released that month becomes available to all and sundry. (If you're thinking, "That sounds kind of cool, and the price is right, but I just don't know if I dig this author's writing style," browsing the archive for the "freebie" tag might help you figure that out.)

Cover art features original photography by the author. Do you know how hard it is to avoid photgraphing your own reflection in a piece of shiny curved steel?
YPP Weekend Blockades, September 9-10: Karma for conquerors; also, Dark Seas comes to Steam at last
Sat 2017-09-09 12:49:09 (single post)
  • 1,073 wds. long

Sometimes Saturday means not only a new Puzzle Pirates blockade schedule, but also a catch-up scramble for writing stuff I didn't get done during the week. Which is to say, the Friday Fictionette for September 8 is a little late. But it is out now for your perusal and delectation/scorn (circle one)! Please enjoy "Intervention" (Patrons may download the full text as an ebook or audiobook), a vignette about sentience in small electronic appliances and Regrets with a capital R.

Awright! Back to the pew-pew-pew. Crayon Box appears to be the target of choice on Emerald; having harassed their way into multiple island grabs last weekend, they are now suffering the subsequent wrath of the rest of the ocean. Knockout, Spoon Republic, and relative newcomer Bon Appetit are their uninvited guests. Even the brigand kings are going after Crayon Box.

On Meridian, ain't nothin' doin'. Not yet, anyway.

Update: Sunday blockade on Moab added!

On Cerulean, Riding High will be attacking Cnossos Island, currently owned by The Phoenix Rises, at noon today. "Why?" Doggbreath asks rhetorically. "For the wrong reason..."

This is not about sportsmanship - good, bad or indifferent, about displaying our amazing prowess on the blockade board, or even because we dislike anybody. It is about economics, pure & simple. Business is slow and we don't want to keep paying an extra 10% in rent to a semi-active flag.

There you go--principles in action.

Meanwhile, Dark Seas is set to launch on Steam real soon now. Early access will begin September 14, if nothing occurs to push the release back. Oceanmaster Cronus has all the info in this thread. (Looks like I'm going to have to cave in and install Steam finally; after the beta test is over, that will be the only way to access the Obsidian Ocean.) To support the final release of Dark Seas, the OMs are looking for to hire a video editor who can produce game trailers. They also invite the community to submit video clips and screenshots to help create the Steam store page.

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, September 9 ***

1:35 p.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Knockout

2:09 p.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Spoon Republic

2:10 p.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Spoon Republic

5:27 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Bon Appetit

9:24 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Ice Wyrm's Brood (2)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

*** Sunday, September 10 ***

11:58 a.m. - Moab Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Trap House
Defender: Infierno De los Diablos

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, September 9 ***

12:01 p.m. - Cnossos Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Phoenix Rises
Attacker: Riding High

*** Sunday, September 10 ***

10:00 a.m. - Prolix Purlieu, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: The Stumbling Solo
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)

A sample postcard to a sample voter
Cover art incorporates photo
politics, postcards, and solid daily gottas
Tue 2017-09-05 23:04:16 (single post)

So, today got unexpectedly political. I mean, the political component of the day was expected, but my participation was unexpectedly high and early in the day. There were multiple faxes to send, some through Resistbot and some from a physical fax machine, and also postcards to write. So between that and some more routine household chores, my writing got a little crowded out and whittled down to just the daily gottas.

They were good solid daily gottas, though. And good solid household chores, too. I'm not displeased with how my day went. But I do wish the political crises obliging good citizens to action could pace themselves a little rather than piling up all on the same day. Well. One does what one must, given the crises one has.

I did want to talk about those postcards a little. I've started volunteering with Postcards to Voters, which is exactly what it sounds like: get-out-the-vote postcard-writing campaigns for specific key elections. (The current campaign is in support of Annette Taddeo's bid for Florida State Senate District 40 on September 26.) You get started by sending an email to "join" at "tonythedemocrat.org." Then they send you an email telling you how it works and what's expected of you and your postcards. Then you reply with a photo of your first postcard so they can make sure you understand the rules of the road. If you do and your postcard shows it, they send you addresses and you start sending people your postcards.

So that's a thing I'm doing with postage stamps and fountain pens and markers and watercolors and stuff. Activism is fun!

Real quick: Last week's fictionette--which was out on time I'll have you know only I wasn't able to get to the blog to say so that evening--was a bit of a romp called "Love, Death, and Really Bad Movies" (ebook, audiobook). It's about a disastrous first date and also a frustrated serial killer.

And that's it!

in which a tedious writing exercise becomes inconveniently interesting
Thu 2017-08-31 22:48:21 (single post)
  • 1,136 wds. long

The long blog silence is testimony to the truth of the adage "After derby is too late." Not a universal adage, admittedly, but a fairly reliable one in my little universe. So today I'm blogging before derby. Just before. Instantaneously before. I'm in fact sitting at the folding table in the Officials' Corner at our practice location, and I have until they arrive and need to actually use this table to get this blog post done. Go me!

(I think I will be able to manage posting it after derby. There is no wifi at our practice location unless I beg use of someone's smartphone uplink. And smartphones notoriously fail to get signal in our practice location.)

I found a little time earlier this week to play around with interactive fiction. In Melissa Ford's book Writing Interactive Fiction, I had just got to the Designing Agency section--it's pretty early on in the book, I'm not moving through it particularly quickly--and worked through the Beanstalk exercise. The exercise has, to my thinking, two purposes: It gives you more practice using Twine to give the reader/protagonist choices, and it focuses your attention on whether those choices are meaningful. If they aren't, the interactive fiction isn't.

The exercise was to write a sort of Jack and the Beanstalk... sequel? Alternate plot? Basically, the giant is threatening to come down the beanstalk and STEAL YOUR SISTER. Oh noes! The first scene must end with two options, and each of two ensuing scenes must end with two options, which means there will be four possible endings.

I was not enthusiastic about this.

(Oh, crap, it's 6:30 already. I have to go put my skates on. I will finish this after derby! I will!)

(And now it is 10:00 PM. I'm a little more bruised and a lot more tired than I was when I left off. Now... where did I leave off? Oh. Right.)

I was not enthusiastic about this. I had absolutely no desire to rewrite Jack and the Beanstalk, much less in four permutations. But that was my assignment, so, darn it, I was doing it.

Forty-five minutes and 1,500 words later, I had done it and it wasn't so bad. Having no love for damsel in distress storylines, I had worked every branch toward the revelation that Jack's little sister had become a soldier competent to lead an army. The reader's choices would determine where she and Jack stood as siblings. In one, they were teammates working together to defeat the giant. In another, they were enemies, traitor and betrayed, and Jack wound up exiled for his sins.

It was all very silly, but it still managed to capture my interest by the end of it. That night, on my way to sleep, I couldn't stop thinking about ways to expand the story into something actually worth reading. I could foreshadow the little sister's development into a warrior princess, for instance. I could tell how she'd practiced swordfighting and climbed every tree in sight so she could grow up as fierce and strong and brave as her adored big brother. I could note the foolishness of Jack treating the giant like a personal problem when in fact his little farm was part of a great big nation which the giant might rightfully be seen as invading. And what about the harp? Did she resent Jack for having stolen her during his earlier foray? Did she miss living up in the clouds? Was she the medium by which the giant delivered his threat?

And so on, and so forth. And what's ridiculous about it is, it's probably not going to be commercially viable no matter how well I revise and expand it. The entire premise is from an exercise in a well-known (I think?) book on the subject, which other aspiring interactive fiction authors have no doubt already worked through themselves, and there aren't that many markets for interactive fiction at this time. So I really shouldn't let myself obsess over it, at least not until I've got a bunch of other projects out of my hair. Like, say, the short-short I want to expand into an interactive piece that actually is commercially viable. Hey, brain, maybe we should obsess on that story, and not on this one, what do you say?

Darn it, Muse! You are so inconvenient!

*Sigh.*

Lastly, some quick fictionette news: The freebie for August 2017 has been released. It's "Tina, Destroyer of Worlds," and you can now read/download it as an ebook, an audiobook, or as a webpage via Patreon regardless of your patron status. Also I finally put the Fictionette Artifacts for April in the mail. I hope not to take so long with the ones for May. If I take a whole month to do each one, I'll always be three months behind, and that would be depressing.

YPP Weekend Blockades, August 26-27: Wherein some things are prompt and others are tardy
Sat 2017-08-26 13:03:22 (single post)

So I'm late with the Friday Fictionette again, but that's no reason this blockade schedule can't be right on time. And this weekend it actually matters because there's no fewer than four blockades kicking off right at noon today. All of them are on Emerald. (So, yeah, I may have to take a few hours to earn a little PoE before I jump into the overdue writing project. Sorry kinda sorta.) Aren't you glad I'm posting this now and not several hours later?

The Cerulean Ocean also has a healthy itinerary for the weekend. That'll kick off later this afternoon and will be continued Sunday around a quarter past eleven. The YPP Forum highlights Tequila Sunrise's defense of Lagniappe Island and Blackstar's defense of Olive. Both flags promise a raffle to help incentivize your joining up and sticking around.

That's it for now! I'll post again when I've finally gotten yesterday's fictionette offering up and available. Hopefully that will be later today, but realistically it may take until Monday again. Argh. Sorry (and not kinda sorta either).

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, August 26 ***

12:00 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Knockout
Attacker: The Jade Empire (6)

12:00 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Knockout
Attacker: Crayon Box

12:00 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Knockout
Attacker: Crayon Box

12:00 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)
Attacker: Lit

9:00 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Keeping The Peace

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, August 26 ***

5:46 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Stumbling Solo
Attacker: Undertow

6:00 p.m. - Lagniappe Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Tequila Sunrise
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

8:57 p.m. - Diastrophe Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: LeanBoys

*** Sunday, August 27 ***

11:18 a.m. - Cleopatra's Pearls, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Family Ties
Attacker: LeanBoys

11:19 a.m. - Olive Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: LeanBoys

11:28 a.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

11:33 a.m. - Eta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

Cover art incorporates pubilc domain photograph via Pixabay.com and clever use of opacity gradients if I do say so myself.
this fictionette is good practice and also not to blame
Fri 2017-08-11 23:53:55 (single post)
  • 1,013 wds. long

Good evening! It is Friday; here is a Fictionette. "How Grief Transforms You" (ebook, audiobook) juxtaposes a bereft parent, obnoxious gossipy neighbors, and a mysterious phenomenon causing nightly havoc in the forest. It went more or less according to schedule, so it was not the reason I didn't go to the yoga class I was contemplating. That choice is better attributed to how very attractive the idea of a night spent at home was. Introvert, remember? Yeah. So, maybe next week with the yoga.

The Friday Fictionette project is having an unexpected beneficial effect. It's giving me a lot of practice at turning concept into outline into draft. I often have to start the week by writing an outline just because the base text--a freewriting exercise from the previous month--is such a rambling, incoherent mess. This is good. Because you know where else I need to be able to turn concept into outline and then outline into draft? Novel writing.

I have all these novel notes from last year that haven't get been turned into manuscript because, frankly, I'm kind of terrified of commitment. A scrivener document full of brainstorming, worldbuilding, and vague notes toward plot is a thing full of joyous potential. But writing the manuscript means making choices, committing to certain possibilities and rejecting others. It means closing doors and hemming myself in. (It also means writing a shitty first draft, which sucks because it means that the first time I read this novel it will be a shitty first draft. It's an unavoidable step in the process but I really wish it wasn't.)

So practicing this concept to outline to draft conversion in the short form every week will theoretically help make it No Big Deal when it's time to do it in the long form for a novel. Hooray for practice!

On the other hand, I hope to produce fewer rambling, incoherent messes going forward, as I'm trying to hold my freewriting sessions to the beginning-middle-end standard that I mentioned the other day. That way I can skip the outline phase entirely, or, at the very least, have already done the outline phase by the time I sit down to turn the piece into a Friday Fictionette.

This morning's freewriting, by the way, produced the first draft of the next story in what I'm calling the Posthuman Just So Stories series. (cf.) This one involves a faithful dog and a prankster rabbit. It possibly wears on its sleeve the influence of my frequently rereading Watership Down. On revision that factor will either become less noticeable or will look more like I did it on purpose all artful-like an' stuff.

what you can never have too much of
Tue 2017-08-08 00:30:04 (single post)

Greetings from the tail end of a very satisfying Monday. It was a day made up of writing and household work and quality video game time. And this despite a kind of rough-start morning. If all days could be like to day, I could get a huge lot of stuff done indeed.

Speaking of getting a huge lot of stuff done, check out an online acquaintance of mine, Cora Buhlert. For the third year in a row, Cora wrote one short story a day every day for the entire month of July, plus a bonus story this year. I am in awe, inspired, and just a little jealous. If I could finish one short story a week I'd be well pleased. (One submittable short story. Friday Fictionettes don't count. Although finishing one of those a week isn't exactly nothing, credit where credit's due.)

Underlying the challenge of writing a short story every day is another challenge, that of coming up with a viable story idea every day. (That's something I've got at least a slight handle on, what with my daily freewriting-from-prompts session.) Cora addresses that hurdle here:

So let’s talk about inspiration: Where on Earth do you get inspiration for 32 stories, one for every single day? As in previous years, I used writing prompts (Chuck Wendig’s are always good), random generators (particularly name generators are a godsend, because you’ll have to come up with a lot of names for 32 stories) and images – mainly SFF concept art, but also vintage magazine covers – to spark story ideas. By now I have a whole folder on my harddrive which contains inspirational images – basically my own catalogue of concept art writing prompts. Other sources for inspiration were a call for submissions for a themed anthology, a Pet Shop Boys song I heard on the radio, 1980s cartoons that were basically glorified toy commercials, an article about dead and deserted shopping malls in the US, a news report about a new system to prevent the theft of cargo from truckbeds, a trailer for a (pretty crappy by the looks of it) horror film, the abominably bad Latin used during a satanic ritual in an episode of a TV crime drama, a short mystery where I found the killer (the least likely person, of course) a lot more interesting than the investigation.

Ideas are where you find them. Rather, ideas are where you recognize them.

My own writing prompt routine had been growing stale and needed shaking up, so I was happy Cora's blog post lingered a little over the question of inspiration. She mentions Chuck Wendig's blog--in specific, I believe she's referring to his weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. He challenges his readers to write a new short story each week (hey!) based on Monday's prompt and to share the results via a link posted to the blog comments by that Friday at noon.

While I won't be participating in the show-and-tell portion of the game, I have begun using his prompts for my Monday freewriting. Incidentally, what came out of last week's "slasher movie edition" will show up as the first Fictionette in September.

And I'm coming back to my old beginning-middle-end standard. That is, instead of just babbling around the prompt for 25 minutes, I want to wind up with a piece of writing that, however rough, has an identifiable story shape: a beginning, a middle, and an end. I used to do that in college every morning before my 8:00 class--I used to get up at 6:00 in those days--but instead of a timer I used the length of a printed page as my endpoint. This obliged me to a quick revision stage, on top of everything else, in order to get the word count just right. If I started doing that again--the beginning-middle-end thing, not so much the length-of-a-formatted-chapbook-page thing--I think it would naturally lead to my completing and submitting new stories more frequently.

Bonus: Via this week's Flash Fiction Challenge, here's the Magic Realism Bot! It is a Twitter bot. Several times a day, it tweets writing prompts with that special magic realism sensibility. The one I chose for this morning's freewriting session was this:

A 15-year-old pianist has an unusual ability: He can sense the presence of deserts.

— Magic Realism Bot (@MagicRealismBot) August 7, 2017

I wound up with a world in which climates and microclimates had begun to move around like sentient creatures, and our teenage piano prodigy was translating the movements of the desert that was coming to swallow his city whole into the movements of a sonata. At the end, his piano fills up with sand and begins to play a song that is truly strange.

It's got potential. In my head, where it sort of kind of already exists in a way that Schrodinger's cat would recognize, it has a bit of that melancholy "shimmery" feel. But first I have to write it.

So! Armed with all the inspiration, I go forth into the week. Huzzah.

of flesh and blood, born to make mistakes, yadda tunefully yadda
Fri 2017-07-28 22:32:14 (single post)

Well. After that big, passionate, weary oasis manifesto yesterday... I went and got all caught up in following today's news cycle and didn't write for beans. Not a biscuit. Not even a little green apple. Nothing. Then I went out to Buddha Thai where I kept reading the news obsessively and also ate my whole damn plate of drunken noodles in one sitting. This led inevitably to evening food coma.

Well.

*Digs toe in sand, blushes, shuffles away humming Human League duets*

So anyway, the Friday Fictionette for July 28th (to do with a city that only comes out at noon and the only girl in town who can see it) will be out by Monday the 31st, at which time the Fictionette Freebie for July will get released and the Fictionette Artifact for March (yes, I'm still way behind there) will go out in the mail. That's the plan. That's my story. We'll see how well I stick to it.

OK. Off to see what else blew up since I've been napping.

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