“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.”
Kingsley Amis

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

they live just down the ice floe from us
Wed 2015-11-25 23:59:59 (single post)
  • 31,328 wds. long

The weather's getting a head start on tomorrow. It's been overcast all day, and now it's misting down a light sort of rain/sleet mix that's turning everything cement and asphalt into a death trap. I nearly injured myself just walking next door (well, two apartment complexes down) for the late-night cat-sitting visit. There were places where I couldn't walk at all, just "skate"--which is to say, hunker down into good derby position and just slide my sneakers forward very, very carefully.

Speaking of skating, there were plans bubbling through the league to have a Thanksgiving morning "fun skate" at our usual practice location--but with tomorrow's winter weather advisory and the ice only getting worse and the temperatures not predicted to climb above freezing tomorrow, I expect it ain't happening. Well, it might happen, but it'll most likely happen without me. Brrr.

So... a good day to catch up on NaNoWriMo, right? I have a bit of catching up to do. According to the "At this rate you will finish on..." metric, I'm 10 days behind. But according to the "Words per day to finish on time" metric, I only need to increase my daily session from the original 3,125 plan up to about 3,500 or so. This is entirely doable. I've introduced a new plot twist that should be good for at least another 5,000 words, and with any luck it will spawn further plot twists and maybe even a plot resolution.

And speaking of NaNoWriMo: Look look look! I have a title now.

In other writing news, "...Not with a Bang, But a Snicker" (the one about the snow-glue apocalypse) came home from its previous outing this weekend, and it's gone right back out tonight. #WriterDoingWriterThings

recovery day is slow but productive
Mon 2015-11-23 23:17:18 (single post)

Hi Boulder! I'm back.

It was a very long drive back, even longer than the drive down. This was because I stopped for dinner as well as lunch, and also because I missed the State Highway 219 component of my route and went some miles out of my way. This was how I discovered the Santa Rosa Triangle. It is less famous than the Bermuda Triangle, but much more relevant to the interests of a driver on US Highway 84 North who suddenly finds, after passing under I-40, that she's in fact on US Highway 84 South without any recollection of how this change was accomplished.

I got home last night around 11:45, babbled a little at my very patient husband, then collapsed in the bed. And I stayed there until well nigh ten this morning. The rest of the day was spent moving at about that speed, which is what recovery looks like.

So the big question is this: Was a four-hour roller derby clinic in Las Cruces really worth the 20-hour round-trip drive from Boulder? The answer, of course (of course!) is HELLS YEAH. The clinic was led by skaters from Victorian Roller Derby (Melbourne, Australia), the league that took third place in WFTDA's 2015 international championships. The four hours were tightly packed with solo blocking, two-person blocking, evasive jamming, and aggressive jamming skills. I took lots of notes which I will hopefully be able to read when it is time to transcribe and organize them for my league's benefit. It was an amazing opportunity and I'm glad I was able to take advantage of it.

I spent most of the ride back listening to Mark Oshiro read and react to Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies and Robin McKinley's Sunshine. Mark Oshiro's videos are my favorite audiobooks right now.

Moving slow or not, I still managed to add 3,133 words to my NaNoWriMo novel. It's been a good recovery day.

all of the driving and none of the signs
Fri 2015-11-20 23:53:11 (single post)

It's as I suspected: This week's Friday Fictionette will show up on Saturday. While I suppose I could have gotten it done and published if I'd gotten right to work after checking into my motel at 9:30 PM, the reality is... Ten-hour drive, y'all. Ten. Hour. Drive. Solo. It just seemed a better use of my time to take a walk, find some dinner, and relax.

I'm staying in the vicinity of University and I-10, which is having a strange effect on my nostalgia circuits. On a lizard-brain gut instinct level, I'm absolutely certain I'm back in at the University of Washington and simultaneously about 15 minutes away from my parents' New Orleans-area home via the interstate. In any case, a ten-minute walk along University brought me within hearing range of electric guitars and a country-rock beat, which reeled me into a sports bar called The Game. I had a beer, ate far too much, and enjoyed the band's original tunes extravagantly.

The drive from Boulder to Las Cruces went fairly well. I did the three and a half hours to Raton easily, stopped for lunch at Pappa's Sweet Shop & Restaurant, then proceeded to drive the remaining six or so hours straight through. I'm not sure how that was possible, but I'm happy to attribute it to the coffee at Pappa's.

The only real shenanigans occurred just west of the little New Mexico town of Vaughn. That's where I missed my turn to remain on US Hwy 54 West/South and instead continued some five miles on along 285 North. Only I didn't know it, because for that stretch of highway, there were absolutely no signs whatsoever indicating what highway I was on. There weren't even speed limit signs. There was nothing but the back-sides of the ridiculously frequent WRONG WAY signs.

Then I got to the next little town and continued to have no clue whatsoever, because the main drag was merely labeled US HIGHWAY. Just that. No number, nothing. Thankfully, once I got just past that little town, there was a cluster of signs indicating I was on 285 and 60 (but not 54), so I got suspicious and turned around.

Encino, New Mexico! Where being lost isn't a bug; it's a feature!

Anyway, that was the only hitch. Otherwise, it was an easy drive and a gorgeous one, sunny and surprisingly warm for mid-November-- a huge contrast from the looming snow clouds I left behind in Colorado. And now I am likely to fall over, so please excuse me while I make sure the falling happens over something soft. Like a motel bed.

get the protagonist up a tree and throw an antagonist at her
Thu 2015-11-19 22:35:03 (single post)
  • 22,622 wds. long

Today's two hours of NaNoWriMo progress netted me 4,151 words, a good few hundred less than yesterday because of the fits and starts. It's not that I had much more sense of where the story was going yesterday that I did today. It's more that yesterday I was able to babble on despite not knowing what came next, whereas today the not-knowing stumped me a bit more. Also I probably put a couple hundred words that didn't get counted in Scrivener's "Document Notes" box, just talking to myself about what might happen next.

I feel like yesterday and today combined to make a great plot twist. Yesterday, the main character realized that a particular secondary character was really her only friend right now, and her only ally in the conflict situation. Today, experimenting with a scene including an antagonist I just made up today, I realized that it was likely the antagonist would cause that secondary character to be eliminated for a good chunk of the book. And because this would be right and proper and a fitting adherence to good conflict-escalation procedure (Allen Guthrie's Infamous Writing Tips, No. 20: "Torture your protagonist. Itís not enough for him to be stuck up a tree. You must throw rocks at him while he figures out how to get down"), I went with it.

The antagonist, the director of the sleep clinic where the protagonist's mother has been going, just came on stage today, and he's chillingly similar to creepy bureaucrat John Wither from That Hideous Strength. So it would appear that the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments is running the psychiatric research lab from The Lathe of Heaven. I did not foresee this happening. The moment a disembodied head shows up, I am out.

Tomorrow will of necessity be a short writing day. I'm undertaking a ten-hour road trip on my lonesome for the sake of a roller derby clinic in Las Cruces. It is going to be awesome, but it does mean I'm not going to be at the computer much. I'll try to finish up tomorrow's Friday Fictionette during those times when I take a break from driving, like at lunch and tea time (I get tea time, y'all, I have decreed it), but there is a possibility it won't actually be released until Saturday morning.

Just so's you know!

many of whose hours weren't all that conducive to recovery, as it turns out
Mon 2015-10-26 23:25:09 (single post)

It's Recovery Monday! I had a lovely time at Mile Hi Con, but it was a con after the nature of cons, which is to say, exhausting. I can't swear I got more than 5 hours sleep on either night, and the drive was pretty dang tiring for being "local." Now, I feel like a terrible wimp saying this, because goodness knows John had a convention weekend and a drive between Boulder and Albequerque, but there it is: Just attending a con that's an hour's drive away, or two depending on traffic, wears me out.

The shenanigans involving coordinating auto maintenance and a rental car on either side of the trip didn't exactly help, mind you.

So anyway, long story short (too late!), I slept in this morning.

I've been off skates for a week because of resting the foot/ankle Tuesday, having scrimmage called off due to rain Thursday, and playing truant in order to enjoy Mile Hi Con's Sunday programming, but today I geared up again to take my turn helping to train our Phase 1 training class. Great bunch of skaters, all terrifically determined to master their crossovers and transitions; the improvement and increased confidence just over the course of this one practice was amazing. And of course I did everything right along with them, which means I'm all worn out--a close focus on basic maneuvers for two hours straight is no joke, not even for an experienced skater. This on top of deciding to ride my bike to practice, and I was glad I'd slept in. I may in fact go to bed early tonight.

The bike thing was because I don't quite trust the car not to fail to start. Our usual mechanic discovered a failing ignition control module, which, seeing as how they'd just put that one in less than a year ago, they replaced at no charge under warranty. (This is why it was worth having it towed to the usual mechanic, rather than leaving it in the care of the very nice shop next door to the place I found myself becalmed on Friday.) They put the new part in and the car started up just fine--but when I tried to drive it home today, it wouldn't start for me. They coaxed some life into it, and it hasn't failed me since, but that was only this afternoon. If there's any possibility of it failing to start in the near future, I'd as soon not have that be on a friend's farm, as it seems unkind to inflict a tow truck upon her property and animals and all. So I biked. I thought it would take me 30 minutes; it took about 50. I was able to catch a ride back from a very kind skater who lives up the road from me. She was extraordinarily patient with the whole big production required to get my bike to fit in her car.

So, yeah, that was my recovery day. Not all that "recovery," now that I look back on it.

A quick bit of Puzzle Pirates content, since I once again didn't manage to put any YPP content up on Sunday: Brigand King sightings do not in fact appear to count toward the October Seal o' Piracy. I have hard data on this! Both Oshun/Meridian and Millefleur/Emerald failed to acquire the trophy after travel + BK, then were awarded the Seal upon completing a Buried Treasure expedition. Meanwhile, four of my other pirates got the Seal with travel + Imperial Outpost or travel + shipwreck/treasure haul. So I can only conclude that BK sightings do not count, but buried treasure, shipwrecks, and imperial outposts do. And traveling around the ocean, of course.

I'm still working on my Ice pirate. Perhaps I'll buy her a Viking Raid map that's small enough to be able to win solo (I'm usually the only person logged onto the Ice server, which is no surprise, because Ice) and see if that counts. I keep sailing her up and down the route between Wemadeit and Maelstrom, and all I get are these lousy Kraken Hunt maps. No expeditions and no effin' map to Mini Island, drat the luck.

Update: Teshka on Ice was awarded her Seal o' Piracy upon buying the Viking Raid map. That is weird!

The other YPP news is that apparently there will be changes implemented to a couple scheduling aspects of blockades, but I'll go into that on Saturday when it's next time to blog blockades. If you're curious, the info's here.

And that's all. I will go fall over unconscious now. G'night!

Local Editions Books and Coffee
Meet local authors in Longmont this Wednesday
Mon 2015-10-19 20:00:00 (single post)

There's a new(ish) Meetup.com group in the area, and it sounds really exciting. It's called Longmont Meet The Authors and it does exactly what it says on the tin. You come to their meetups in Longmont, you get to meet local authors. How cool is that?

(This, by the way, was the blog post I was going to publish to Examiner back on Thursday. But since Examiner and I seem to be done with each other, you get it here! Enjoy.)

So I heard about the way I usually hear about new Meetup.com groups, which is by having signed up for notifications relevant to my interest. I hear about enough new Meetup.com groups that way that I could probably do a monthly series about "Newest writing meetups in the Boulder area!" and never hurt for material. (I also hear about a lot of new Meetup.com groups that aren't much to do with writing, despite that "Writing" is the only interest I've listed on my profile. I suspect some meetup leaders choose their "we're about" tags somewhat indiscriminately.)

Anyway, having heard about the group some couple months ago, I'm a little annoyed with myself for not having gone to a meetup yet. I'm hoping to make this next one:

Meet New Authors
Who: Debra Jason (Millionaire Marketing on a Shoestring Budget)
Who Else: Stan Moore (Mister Moffat's Road)
When: Wednesday, October 21, 6:30-8:00 PM
Where: Local Editions Books and Coffee
(2919 17th Ave. Ste. 110, Longmont, CO)

Debra Jason's book is about business promotion and social media. Stan Moore's is about the namesake of the Moffat Tunnel--the man with the plan to build a railway line from Denver to Salt Lake City. As for Local Editions, it sounds like the perfect place for this particular Meetup.com group; it's a tiny little bookstore that carries absolutely nothing but books by local authors. And if you are a local author, you should probably introduce yourself to the proprietors...

...one of whom, coincidentally, is the organizer of Longmont Meet The Authors. Funny how that works...

So, in short: Join local meetup, go to local bookstore, meet local authors and buy their books. Winning!

extra-curricular skating and the daily afternoon nap
Wed 2015-09-02 23:40:39 (single post)

Guess what?! I went skating today. Just for an hour, but still.

We drove over to the Riverwalk at Edwards, had a little lunch at Local Joe's Pizza (not to be confused with Loaded Joe's, whose Avon location is still on my to-be-visited list this week), then settled into the Bookworm's cafe. Then, after a little work time, I put the computer away, went down to the car, and geared up.

Now, I've skated the 8-mile round trip between Avon and Edwards, with the Bookworm as my westmost point each time. Today I thought I'd see what the trail did if I took it farther west. Surprise! The trail doesn't go farther west. There's the rickety wooden bridge that crosses under Edwards Village Road, which deposited me either into a residential area when I took it across the river or into the parking lot across the road if I didn't; and then back up by the rec center there's a loop around a little lake in the park just before the Colorado Mountain College campus, but alas, no real mileage beyond that. I thought about putting in my mouthguard and messing around in the skate park by the rec center, but the thought of being there without any friends to watch out for me made me nervous.

Still, got an hour's good skating in, with uphills working my endurance and downhills working my stability and my plow stops. It wasn't team practice, but it was a darn good substitute I think.

And then, dear reader, John and I went back to the hotel and collapsed for the afternoon.

(The Daily Afternoon Nap appears to be an important part of our vacation itinerary.)

literary adventures in avon
Wed 2015-09-02 00:36:58 (single post)

Hello from Avon, Colorado! John and I have run away from home for the week, as we sometimes do. It's a working vacation for both of us, but the change of scenery is always nice, as is that freedom from household responsibility that comes from staying in a hotel.

Also, there's having the week off from roller derby practice. Only I have very mixed feelings about that, since our B team has a home tournament to play in less than three weeks. John, on the other hand, desperately needed the recovery time after traveling to Detroit to be part of the coaching force for our A team at the second round of Division 2 playoffs. Still, he and I are both seriously considering that, when we check out of the hotel on Sunday, we could drive straight back to the Longmont YMCA and go to that afternoon's practice.

I do plan to spend some time while up here on skates. If the weather holds fair, tomorrow might be a nice day to take the trail from Avon to Edwards. I did that a couple years ago, and it was fabulous. The miles flew by. And the Bookworm in Edwards didn't seem to mind my sweaty self wandering in with kneepads on and skates in my hand to buy a book and drink a latte. Then again, they didn't mind sweaty bicyclists in logo-covered spandex coming in off the trail, either. They are very accommodating of active lifestyles in Eagle County.

After lunch at [Bob's Place] (an Avon institution), I have already been to the Avon Public Library and checked out an armful of books. I made a beeline for their collection of Terry Pratchett hardbacks, because I came in with a deep need to reread Unseen Academicals. Then since I was in the Ps already, I selected a Tim Powers novella, "Salvage and Demolition." In the comic book section, Astro City: Through Open Doors jumped out at me, not least because the author has been a frequent participant in all the Hugo-adjacent conversation over at File770. And then I visited the new fiction shelf, because I intend to cast a nomination ballot for the 2015 Hugo Awards, so I'd better start reading stuff that's eligible. Max Gladstone's Last First Snow was a no-brainer choice, seeing as how I adored Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise.

Writing-wise, I spent today catching up on last week's fictionette stuff. The MP3 is up as well as the PDF for "How Featherkind Got Its Song," and they are both free to download by anyone who'd like to--I've made the August 28th offering the Fictionette Freebie for the month. I'm not entirely happy with it, as the author's note attests, but I feel like the most honest response to the problematic implications is to open it up to others' feedback and maybe learn how to do it better next time. Or else learn that I'm just whining and insecure and being all look-at-my-self-flagellation about something that's really no big deal and I should shut up. I'm not sure which.

(This week's fictionette is going to be a lot more fun. I am tentatively calling it "Still Life with Coyote.")

Tomorrow, once I get my Morning Gotta-Dos done, I mean to dedicate the rest of my writing time entirely to short story revision. Go me.

And now to join John in front of the TV, where he's watching archived bout footage from D2 Cleveland. No, wait, D2 Detroit archives are up already! Awesome! Time to rewatch Boulder's game against Brewcity. Go derby!

Cover art incorporates 'California barberry (Berberis pinnata)' by Franco Folini (CC BY-SA 2.0) and 'Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus)' by Jon Sullivan (public domain)
and monday is the new saturday for this fictionette
Mon 2015-08-31 19:27:08 (single post)

I'm late, and I'm going to be even later. I just put up the PDF edition of the Friday Fictionette for August 28, "How Featherkind Got Its Song." Patrons pledging at least $1/month can download it right this second. Hurrah!

And now I must run to pick up John at the airport. Since I'm coming from and returning to Avon, Colorado, we're looking at a round trip between four and five hours. That means the following probably won't be up until tomorrow morning sometime: the MP3 edition (available to patrons pledging $3/month), or the excerpt (available to everyone), or the Fictionette Freebie for August 2015. Damn and blast.

But hey, now you've got something to look forward to, right?

Talk to you then.

the illusions we subscribe to
Thu 2015-08-20 22:53:45 (single post)

The repaint job on our building is over, as far as our unit is concerned. They've got a few more units to finish tomorrow, but our front patio and back balcony are all done. Everything we had to bring inside is outside again, with the exception of the bird feeder--I found out it's against our HOA rules and regs. Which is sad, but fair; if you're worried about raccoons, it makes sense to ban animal attractors. We can put our hummingbird feeder out, but that's the one exception.

The back balcony was the last thing, and the paint crew got to it yesterday. I was in the guest-bedroom-turned-office in the front of the house, but I could hear the racket of ladders--ladders being extended and put in place, people jumping down from ladders onto the balcony, people climbing up ladders to the balconies above ours--when they arrived.

It reminded me of something:

Itís this idea of ownership, I think, which is twined so closely with responsibility and duty: this little patch of earth is indisputably yours, and you must take care of it, because no one else will.

But I think I sensed that this concept of ownership was a lie even then. I knew there were countless infrastructural and financial systems whose whole beings were devoted to allowing me and every other person on the block to engage in this happy fantasy. And for them, there were no boundaries. The men who came to check the meters or the gas or cable lines were perfectly within their rights to hop a fence or open your gate and stroll right in.

A fantasy, in other words, must be maintained. And for it to be maintained, it must be violated from time to time, its fragile penumbra punctured by outsiders going about their day to day business.

That's Robert Jackson Bennett, on a very particular fear that inspired his novel American Elsewhere. Only, of course, in that story, the officially sanctioned trespassers are up to something rather different than checking the meters and maintaining the cable. They're not necessarily men and women, either.

But it's a fair point even without the special pleading of horror/fantasy. We lock the door at night and when we leave the house, and we close the office window that looks out onto a ground floor patio. But because the back-of-house access points are some ten feet off the ground, we feel safe leaving them open so that the evening breeze can freshen and cool the bedroom and living room. And it's all an illusion, pierced the first time someone--legitimate or no--comes around the back with a ladder. Hell, the illusion of security wouldn't even survive a single person who didn't mind breaking glass. And yet we lock the door and feel like we've done the whole of our duty thereby.

It's not so much that I have faith that no one will break in, or that no one will steal the patio furniture if we leave it out overnight. It's just that I choose not to think about, because if I think about it, it scares the crap out of me and makes me paranoid as hell. And that ain't no way to live.

Makes a great basis for writing horror, though.