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

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art features original photography by the author, who isn't sure how she managed to avoid getting wax everywhere.
get up on time, get enough sleep, pick one, you still get a fictionette
Sat 2016-06-18 02:30:32 (single post)
  • 1,509 words (if poetry, lines) long

OK so it's technically Saturday now, but I haven't gone to bed yet, so it's morally still Friday. Or philosophically. Or something like that. Something like that is my story and I'm sticking to it, whatever it is.

Your Friday Fictionette for June 17, the third Friday of this month, is "Happy Birthday, Dear Bob." It's one of those funny horror stories that I sometimes write, which I then have trouble convincing people is actually funny. It is not a spoiler to state that Bob is emphatically not having a very good birthday. Bob needs to learn to stick up for himself! It's hard.

I succeeded at getting up on time! Last night wasn't as bad as Wednesday night, but it was still pretty bad, how long it took me to get to sleep. Nevertheless, I got up to see John out the door to work, and then I stayed up. I am considering this a victory despite how slowly I moved through the day and how late I got done with the day's work. I'm running on not quite enough sleep; moving slow is expected behavior.

(One of the exercises in The Artist's Way is to list ten ways in which you're mean to yourself. One way I've been mean to myself is dismissing small victories for not being good enough, or for not being the victory I really want. I'm practicing congratulating myself on small victories. This is me, practicing. Yay, me! Good job getting out of bed and staying out of bed!)

I will need to finish next week's fictionette early. My fourth Friday in June will be spent driving to Salt Lake City--that's about eight hours away--for Wasatch Roller Derby's Great Salt Skate. The BCB All Stars will compete in three bouts. I'm going to be skating in all of them. I'm also going to get to see a very dear friend, someone I met at the same summer camp where I met John (she was my roomie!). I last saw her just once several years ago for about three whole hours, and one weekend several years before that, and so forth back through the years until we wind up back in those first three weeks during the summer of 1992. But I'm going to see her the weekend of June 25--and she's going to get to see me skate! I really hope she gets to see me skate well and not make a fool of myself... (That would be the nerves talking. I am a bundle of nerves.)

Anyway, it will be terribly exciting, but it means I have to get the weekly tasks done somewhat earlier than the last wee hours of Friday, technically or philosophically speaking. So it's a good thing I intend to continue getting up on time between now and then, every day, no exceptions. And hopefully sleep better at night and function at 100% during the day. Right? Right.

you know what else lack of sleep is bad for writing performance that's what
Fri 2016-06-17 00:31:33 (single post)

My sleep cycle is all messed up. (Yes, this will be a complaining, lamenting, and whining sort of post. It happens.) I'm having trouble getting to sleep at all, is the problem. It's kind of a big problem.

There are any number of causes, or rather factors, all working together in a horrible tag-teaming conspiracy. There's the constant tension in my shoulders that makes it hard to get comfortable and relax. There's the irritating need to visit the bathroom every half hour despite having consumed no liquids since toothbrush-o-clock. Also despite having a heroic daytime capacity to go without a trip to the toilet for hours. Even during roller derby scrimmage hours. But the moment I try to go to sleep, bam, it's constant potty emergency. It's uncanny. It's ridiculous. And of course that's when our neighbors on the other side of the bedroom wall will decide it's time to crank the stereo. Or the mysterious Two O' Clock Overhead Furniture Moving Or Whatever The Hell The Banging Is will commence. (Seriously, I have no idea what it is or where it's coming from. Our upstairs neighbor is an elderly lady whom I just can't see dragging large objects around the house late at night.) Oh, and then the brain weasels will start their little dance. "Hey! Hey! So that dream you had last night, the one you're thinking about now, did you notice that one person in it played a big part in your Worst Memory of 2015? Let's rerun that classic, K? Let's rerun it a lot."

The result is no sleep until two o'clock, three o'clock, or even bat o'clock, whenever the hell that is. I don't know because by then I refuse to look at the clock. Bat o'clock is loud. Those little critters have piercing voices. One of them likes to swoop right in close along the back side of the building. But worse than bat o'clock is bird o'clock. I typically love the sound of birds outside my window, but when I hear them at the first glimmerings of dawn it is the sound of despair. It means there's only some three hours before my alarm clock goes off.

So of course I don't get up when my alarm goes off. I go back to sleep, telling myself it's just a couple more hours. But of course it winds up being eleven, noon, or later before I manage to get up. If it's the only solid sleep I'm going to get, I'd better get it. I'm going to roller derby that evening. I can't afford to coast on fumes. Lack of sleep is bad for sports performance. Poor sports performance, at this level of play, in this sport (on wheels!), can actually mean injury. I do not want to get injured, so when I fail to sleep through the night, I allow myself to sleep right through til noon.

So my usable hours of the day shrink to something like noon until five-thirty, and it's not like writing's the only thing I need to stuff in there. And it's not like I'm going to get any work done after roller derby (blog posts like this one excepted). By then I have no brain remaining to write with and no body remaining to be upright in. So I think, hell with it, I'm going to sleep early. And I go to bed early, yes, but then I stare at the inside of my eyelids for hours. And then I sleep very late the next morning, which does not help get the message across to my body that I want it relaxed and unconscious between the hours of midnight and eight thirty.

Tomorrow, thankfully, I have a night off. No roller derby, no nothing. Theoretically I should be able to afford to drag myself out of bed at eight thirty regardless of how well I sleep tonight. Which is what I intend to do. Just reset the daily sleep cycle. If I only get three hours sleep, well, that should make it easier to get to sleep tomorrow night, right? Just get more exhausted, that'll do it, right?

I'm pretty exhausted right now. Scrimmage was absurdly successful--this whole week of roller derby practice has been fantastic; I feel like I leveled up--but it was the usual amount of hard work with the usual allotment of physical blows (I owe y'all a picture of my arms, they are multicolored) and an unusual amount of brain-melting heat. I should have no trouble getting sleepy, right? Plus I have avoided caffeine since about five this afternoon. I have taken the foam roller to the tense spots in my back. I took a couple Tylenol in hopes of reducing the background level of soreness. I am even drinking chamomile tea. I do not like chamomile tea, but I am drinking it.

Wish me luck.

but what about four mile creek is that wet too
Wed 2016-06-15 00:20:49 (single post)

There's this thing about writing that I keep having to learn, and relearn, and relearn, then learn again every time the precise context changes. It's like having to be told "the swimming pool is wet," and "the rain is wet," and "the water in the bathtub is also wet," because I never seem to mentally graduate to the point where I can just assume that all water is wet. It's really kind of annoying.

In any case, the lesson is this: The final draft doesn't come first.

I got a new story idea over the weekend, a really charming one, a sort of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret coming-of-age story that takes place in something like the world described by The Shadow over Innsmouth, centering on the friendship between the human protagonist and one of the (for want of a better term) Deep Ones. I got very excited about this idea--it kept me up late, watching phrases and images and scenes cobble themselves together on the insides of my eyelids.

Then I went to write some of it down for the next day's freewriting session... and it wouldn't come. Just couldn't get started. Typed a couple words. Erased them. Stared at the screen (which was infinitely less inspiring than the insides of my eyelids). Wrote and erased another word. It was like that Monty Python "Novel Writing" skit: "I am sorry to interrupt you there, Dennis, but he's crossed it out. Thomas Hardy here on the first day of his new novel has crossed out the only word he has written so far, and he is gazing off into space." It's all true!

I had to deliberately, consciously give myself permission to get it wrong before I could unfreeze and get any of it written. And by "any of it" I mean a paragraph here, a slice of dialog there, disjointed bits and pieces of what I remembered coming up with the night before. But once I started jotting down those pieces, more pieces just kept coming.

The final draft cannot come first.

Today I struggled to put in my daily half hour of work on this week's fictionette for exactly the same reason. The situation was, perhaps, exacerbated by having (theoretically) already gotten the bits-and-pieces draft done during a freewriting session a month ago; this week is when I'm supposed to take that draft and polish it into perfection. But in between the bits-and-pieces draft and final draft comes something else, something more coherent than the one but necessarily rougher than the other. A second draft, maybe? Or even a first draft, since the bits-and-pieces draft isn't so much a draft at all. More like notes toward a draft, really.

So, again, nothing happened until I let myself just start writing the story down as it occurred to me, rough and unstructured as it was. Any story element I knew needed to go in there was fair game. Type them up in no particular order, just the order in which they come to mind. And, magically, structure appeared as I went, sometimes in the form of square-bracket notes telling me to "[Move the bit about Bob's plans for the evening here]" or "[Put Lenny's bit about 'work-life balance' here.]" Then continuing on as normal, confident that I could come back and perform the prescribed edits easily, now that I actually had text on the page to edit.

The final draft cannot be expected to come first.

And then there was this blog post here. I had no idea what I was going to write. I stared at the blank page (uninspiring as ever) while thoughts chased each other around in my head like fish in a bucket, all of them too small to keep. Finally I just started typing up notes about my day. Prosaic, mundane, boring notes about a boring day. Who wants to hear about my day?

Nevertheless, one of those notes...

discovered that it's ok if the fictionette isn't getting written up in perfect final draft form today. it's ok to babble a little. helped me figure out some structure that way.

...turned into what you're reading now.

The final draft, I learned (relearned), doesn't come first, can't come first, can't be expected to come first. No, not even for a blog post. This water is wet too.

I think I will write "All water is wet" on an index card and tape it to the bathroom mirror, and I'll also tape on to the shelf above my desk. Maybe then I'll stop expecting the final draft to appear on a blank page like, I dunno, Aphrodite rising fully formed out of the sea foam, ever. It doesn't happen stop expecting it to happen stop tormenting and freezing yourself with the expectation that it happen. All water is wet. Understand?

dirt under the fingernails means its monday
Mon 2016-06-13 23:58:26 (single post)

Well, not necessarily Monday, but definitely on Monday. Monday's when I have time to get dirty deeds done (dirt cheap). For instance, I've been meaning to fix my bike's flat tire for more than a week, and I finally installed the new tube today. That is an exceedingly dirty deed, and woe betide the amateur bike mechanic who doesn't have a bottle of that magical gritty orange soap on hand. I do not. I used dish liquid. It wasn't ideal, but it at least got me to the point where I wasn't ashamed to handle fresh veg at CSA pick-up.

I poked around along Four Mile Creek on my way up to the farm. I think I've found a new crawfishing hole. There's crawfish there for sure--saw 'em with my own eyes and poked at 'em a little with a stick. (Not a lot! Just enough to see 'em raise their little claws all menacingly.) Question is whether there's enough good-sized critters there for me to go home with a pound or two once in a while. More research is required.

Planted some new additions to my crowded container garden. One of my teammates tends plants at her job, and she planted extra to bring to our practice space for a league fund-raiser. Take a plant, leave a couple bucks in the envelope. Thanks to her my garden includes three very healthy tomato plants, a thriving butternut squash, and, just since Sunday, a bit of lettuce and spinach and kale. Those last three I separated (gently) in order to plant some on the back porch where it's sunny and some on the front patio where it's shady and cool. It's an experiment!

I would take a picture only it's dark now. Maybe tomorrow.

Having a functional bike again at last, I took myself out to dinner and then grocery shopping. Couldn't resist picking up a couple more plant starts while at the store. A burly and bushy little pot of thyme so I can put a few sprigs in the greens gumbo I'm planning, and a wispy but hopeful pot of dill that might one day get big enough to flavor my egg salad. (That day is not today, nor is it likely to arrive for several weeks, so I also bought a packet of dill off the fresh herbs racks in the produce section.) Turns out that in addition to being quite stylish, my Boulder County Bombers sleeveless hoodie is also absolutely perfect for transporting small potted herbs by bicycle, one plant safe and snug in each of the side pockets.

In other news, I'm still sifting compost. I finished the first round of sifting a while back, so there's no longer a pile sitting on a tarp on the back porch. But the second round, where I take the results of the first round and sift it through a kitchen colander, that's still going on. Maybe it's about two-thirds done. Last week I took some of the resulting finer compost/soil, microwave-pasteurized it, let it cool, and then used it to repot my mysteriously dying spaths. Jury's still out on whether they'll survive--I'm still pruning yellow leaves off them--but at least they're no longer rootbound nor hurting for nutrients. I suppose the rest of it will get spread around the other household plants. Whatever doesn't go through the colander has been going back into the compost bucket with the fresh kitchen scraps and handfuls of dry leaves.

So that's the state of dirty deeds around here.

I was actually of two minds about posting to the blog today. I wasn't sure I had anything worth reporting in the normal run of things, and then I heard the news out of Orlando and I really felt like there was no point. But in the end I came here and babbled anyway, mainly because I'm supposed to post something every Monday through Friday and I've been pretty bad about that lately and I'd like to get better about it--begin as you mean to go on, sort of thing--but also because aggressively asserting normality is a valid coping mechanism. So this is me aggressively asserting normality.

Tomorrow will be an aggressively normal Tuesday. There will be writing and there will be roller derby. Both of those are aggressive and normal, each to their own degree.

(There may also be a visit to the possible crawfishing hole. Maybe.)

Kerosene lamp: public domain. Bonfire: CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Click through for excerpt and cover art attributions.
the weekly beat-downs are no excuse, i recognize this
Sun 2016-06-12 00:24:06 (single post)
  • 872 words (if poetry, lines) long

No, I am not going to start calling them "Saturday Fictionettes." For one thing, if I did that, I'd probably wind up posting them no sooner than the following Monday, knowing me. Anyway, here's yesterday's offering, bite-sized and a day late. It's called "Maggie, Queen of Darkness," and it comes with a content note for death-by-fire and suicide. Things got dark in this one, OK? It happens. Although, now that I think of it, it would fit seamlessly into the tradition of superhero origin stories, posthumous (cf. Spawn). But that's a novel waiting to happen. For now all you get is a scene.

Last week I had a valid, if vague, excuse for being late and generally unproductive. This week I got nothing. Bad habits come back quick; good habits take a lot of work. I'm working on it.

Well, possibly there's the fact that this week was more exhausting than most on the roller derby front. I was in four, count 'em, four interleague scrimmages between Tuesday and Thursday, and I was kind of fighting with a deeply bruised hip since Sunday. There is, I'm afraid, no good story behind the deeply bruised hip. I hit a patch of dust on the track, wiped out, and landed hard, instantly raising a thick lump of owie and also causing apparent sciatic nerve panic along the entire length of my left leg. I took myself out of practice and limped the rest of the weekend. I also limped most of Friday since I fell on it several times Thursday evening, thanks to RMRG's fantastic offensive blocking. Also my crappy luck--it didn't seem to matter where or how or in what direction I got hit, I still fell smack on the owie part. It's like owie parts have magnets in them that draw them with great force toward the nearest convenient object of blunt force trauma, i.e. the ground. Owie parts are in cahoots with gravity. I am outnumbered. Unfair.

Now, the bruises like leopard spots covering both upper arms, those probably have good stories. Problem is, I can't remember which one came from which hit, or indeed individual hits at all. Some of the bruises are probably from my teammates' fingers. We hold on tight to each other in our defensive walls.

Thing is, though, I don't like making that my excuse for not getting writing done. Down that path, derby eats writing all up. I am convinced, I insist, I demand that my derby life and my writing life coexist. I mean, yes, I volunteer for an athletic beat-down three nights a week and twice on Sundays, but I'm not the only one, and if some of my league-mates manage all that and some combination of full time employment, school, and child care, you'd think I could pull off a measly 20 hours of writing each week. Especially considering I needn't leave the house nor even the bed to do said writing, right?

Right, so. It's gone midnight and I should be in bed. Tomorrow's my day for double beat-downs and the schedule starts early. Rock on with your bad selves and see you on Monday. (And I mean it this time.)

These pirate penguins are just a little too uncanny valley for me.
YPP Weekend Blockades, June 11-12: nine islands what is this i can't even
Sat 2016-06-11 12:42:56 (single post)

Blah blah blah, blockade schedule now, fictionette update later, blah blah blah. You know the drill.

Most of this weekend's entertainment will be brought to you by the near-cinematic multi-island struggle between Netflix and Kill (attacking) and Babylon (defending) on the Cerulean Ocean. And by multi-island, I mean not two or three or five but in fact nine. Nine islands! Simultaneously! Who can even? I don't know and you don't either. Just get in there and get puzzling, right?

The Emerald Ocean features a multi-island face-off that's nearly impressive, mostly between Going Down and Blow Me Good with a little Truth or Dare thrown in for variety. Meanwhile there are Brigand Kings to be evicted. You know how it goes.

Keep scrolling for the full schedule. Have fun!

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, June 11 ***

11:57 a.m. - Conglin Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Dragon Lords
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (6)

12:17 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Enlightened (2)
Attacker: Spankilicious

12:24 p.m. - Ilha da Aguia, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (2)
Attacker: Skull Candy

8:30 p.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (2)
Attacker: Going Down

*** Sunday, June 12 ***

10:00 a.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Chapter Three
Attacker: Radioactive

10:00 a.m. - Kashgar Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Enlightened (2)
Attacker: Blow Me Good

10:01 a.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Blow Me Good
Attacker: Going Down

10:02 a.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Blow Me Good

10:02 a.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Truth or Dare
Attacker: Blow Me Good

10:23 a.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Blow Me Good
Attacker: Going Down

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, June 11 ***

11:56 a.m. - Delta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:56 a.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:56 a.m. - Napi Peak, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:57 a.m. - Turtle Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:57 a.m. - Papaya Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:57 a.m. - Namath Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:58 a.m. - Nu Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:58 a.m. - Tinga Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

11:58 a.m. - Winter Solstice, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Netflix and Kill

(Cover art incorporates free stock photo from Pixabay)
scaling Mt. Overdue while appreciating the scenery
Sat 2016-06-04 23:00:42 (single post)
  • 978 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 100 words (if poetry, lines) long

As promised, the Friday Fictionette report. First off, it's a new month, which means not just a new Seal o' Piracy (see previous blog post) but also a new Fictionette Freebie. The freebie for May is "A Week in the Life of a Simple Houseplant" (that's the PDF; download the audio here). I have only just now released it, I'm afraid.

I have also only just now this morning released the Friday Fictionette for the first week of June, "Father Frank's Peaceable Kingdom," which slots in somewhere between the world with Spreading Sentience Syndrome and the world of "Priesthood Has Its Privileges." It's kind of a fairy tale (things must happen three times; Goldilocks must find things Too Big and then Too Small before she encounters Just Right) and it's kind of a satire and, if you read the full text, you might note that it is firmly ignoring the semi-recent changes to the Catholic liturgy. Author's privilege. Nyah.

Fictionette Artifacts for May will be produced and mailed over the first half of this week. Next week. Whatever you call the week that starts with the Monday that's two days from now.

Last week (the week beginning with the Monday that was five days ago) wasn't exactly great for me, I'm afraid. A lot of nothing got done, which means I'm now, and have been for some time, in catch-up mode. But not scrambling catch-up mode, if that makes sense. If I think about it as a week of being not lazy, not hopeless, but rather mildly ill, then it follows that I shouldn't punish myself over having been unproductive or getting things done late. Nor does it make sense to expect myself to get all the overdue things done now now now. Oddly, as a result, I am getting the overdue stuff done about as quickly as when I scramble, but there's a lot less stress and self-loathing involved. Funny how that works.

In other news, or at least other thoughts...

I have just finished rereading the Welcome to Night Vale book, which is gorgeous and funny and gorgeous. If you already like the podcast, you will undoubtedly like the book. I do, and I expected I would, and I did. If you don't care for the podcast, you might still like the book, depending on why you don't like the podcast. The book is not in Cecil's voice nor from Cecil's point of view--Cecil isn't even an active character in the book, just an intermittent voice in the background commenting on the goings-on. He's just a voice on the radio, about which the other characters think, and not always in complimentary terms. So if you're not fond of listening to Cecil on the podcast, you might still like the book.

But if you're really not fond of the sense of the absurd that is the main stand-out feature of the podcast, then you probably won't like the book. If anything, the weirdness is even more front and center, as the narrator of the book isn't constrained, as Cecil is constrained on the podcast, by the fiction of talking to an audience of Night Vale residents who presumably already know about hot milk drawers, the process for pawning an item, or why a cell phone might occasionally cause you to bleed, and thus don't need a radio show host telling them about it.

It's a book about time, and how time is weird. But it's also a book about motherhood, with its anguished uncertainties and its hopeless yearnings and its joys. It's about families, and memories, and growing up. It's about taking responsibility. (All of these are, really, subcategories under the larger heading "Time is weird.") The book quietly blossoms into poetic observations about love and life and loss and the human condition which can just sucker-punch you right in the feels. Like...

Yesterday, she had called the Sheriff's Secret Police and reported her car and her son missing. When asked for a description of the car, she described colors and shapes. This matched the police's understanding of what a missing burgundy Ford hatchback looked like. When asked for a description of Josh, she cried. That matched their understanding of what a missing teenage son looks like.

That was when I had to set the book down and sort of stare at the wall for a few seconds. The wall was unaccountably blurry.

Another thing about the book is, it ends gloriously. Just the most beautiful last two pages, and the most upliftingly gorgeous last line ever.

So. I'm not going to tell you you should read it, but I'm going to quietly sit here and think that you really, really should read it.

Tequila Sunrise held a SERIOUS MEETING and it went something like this
YPP Weekend Blockades, June 4-5: The virtues of discretion and also persistence
Sat 2016-06-04 13:00:08 (single post)

In the interest of keeping things discrete and easy to find by those what wants 'em, the management will not be combining the Weekend Blockade and Friday Fictionette reports today. Because, OK, that's silly. Here, then is your YPP Weekend Blockade report with all things Puzzle Pirates; the Friday Fictionette report for Week 1 of June 2016 will be arriving under separate cover (and at a later time).

So! An announcement. Quoth Demeter a couple days ago,

A clarification of our policy has been made here.

"If at any time the attacking flag is not putting up sufficient fight, as determined by the Oceanmaster on duty, we will consider that as their flag's consent to end the blockade early.

A blockade still has to run until the end of round one.

The intention of this point in policy is to prevent defenders from being required to continue to mount a defense when there is no significant attack on the board.

Is it the end of the flagsit? Jobbers mourn, flags rejoice! In any case, hopefully this won't be a factor when Tequila Sunrise take on Azarbad the Great during today's rescheduled blockade of Emperor Island on the Cerulean Ocean. It's more likely to be at play during the PvP defense of Caravanserai against Black Flag, depending on how serious the threat turns out to be.

Also, Dead in the Water, I see what you did with Loreena McKennet's adaptation of the poem "Dark Night of the Soul" and I may never forgive you. Well, at least not until Monday.

Meanwhile! New month, new Seal o' Piracy! This one's really easy, especially if you're an officer and like to take your sloop out solo. You will earn it when you...

Complete a non-Navy session of 5 different duty puzzles

Which gives rise to the eternal question, "What, pray tell, constitutes a session?" Wonder no longer. I have looked it up, found it out, and tested it multiple times. A session of a duty puzzle is an amount of time on station of sufficient duration to be rated. For practical purposes, you'll know you're done because you've showed up on the Duty Report. I've soloed several of my pirates to their trophies by simply changing station every league. It works! It tends to get you at least one battle, even if you've set the voyage type to Evade and you're a great duty navigator, but it does work.

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, June 4 ***

11:58 a.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (2)
Attacker: Blow Me Good

1:47 p.m. - Caravanserai Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Dead In The Water
Attacker: Black Flag

2:00 p.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Defender: Forcas Armadas
Attacker: Pandemic

4:28 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: New Providence
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

11:00 p.m. - Ilha da Aguia, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (3)
Attacker: Skull Candy

*** Sunday, June 5 ***

9:57 a.m. - Kashgar Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

10:21 a.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (4)
Attacker: Blow Me Good

11:57 a.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Chapter Three
Attacker: Jinx (5)

11:57 a.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (4)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, June 4 ***

1:56 p.m. - Emperor Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The All-Consuming Flame (2)
Attacker: Tequila Sunrise

Cover art credits run a little long, but are included with the fictionette excerpt, which you shall see if you click here.
YPP Weekend Blockades, May 28-29: Efficiency in the Art of Blockade Blogging
Sat 2016-05-28 12:29:02 (single post)
  • 1,013 words (if poetry, lines) long

Because we are all about efficiency here at the Actually Writing Blog, and not all because I put things off until stupid o'clock last night, we're going to combine the weekly Puzzle Pirates Blockade Report with the mostly weekly Friday Fictionette announcement. EFFICIENCY! Thus:

The Friday Fictionette for May 27 is "The Right Child," because it turns out I still have things to say about YA portal fantasy (see "Right Door, Wrong Time," short story, N. J. LeBoeuf). And also the literary subgenre of Tough Life Lessons About Mortality (see author's note) and possibly my ongoing dissatisfaction with the books of Katherine Paterson (see subtext).

The Weekend Blockade report is below, and I wish you all the joy of it because, once again, roller derby prohibits my participation. Not that I'm complaining. IT'S BOUT DAY! RAWR!

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, May 28 ***

11:58 a.m. - Aimuari Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (5)
Attacker: Bite the Pillow
Attacker: Illusion

11:58 a.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Coming Soon
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (5)

12:02 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (3)
Attacker: Blow Me Good

2:09 p.m. - Napi Peak, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Squad Yohohologo

3:37 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Wasp Enterprises
Attacker: Pale Element

3:57 p.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (3)
Attacker: Going Down

5:02 p.m. - Caravanserai Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: Dead In The Water

6:00 p.m. - Barbary Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: Dead In The Water

6:01 p.m. - Kiwara Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Dead In The Water

6:04 p.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: S T F U

*** Sunday, May 29 ***

11:00 a.m. - Polaris Point, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: The Bretheren Court

everything is a metaphor for writing, ask any writer, they'll tell you
Tue 2016-05-24 23:59:07 (single post)
  • 2,506 words (if poetry, lines) long

Like I said, normal life. Which means there isn't much to report. Writing got done in quantity, as did other things.

Finally got a chance to read through the comments on "Stand By..." from my new critique partner. Her critique did what a critique ought--showed me my story through the eyes of someone who isn't the author. This is critically (ha!) important, whether it's simple details that aren't as obvious to the reader as I thought, or more complex things like the last couple sentences of a paragraph that made no sense to anyone who doesn't live inside my head. (Frankly, those particular sentences didn't make much sense to the only person who does live inside my head. At least, not until I'd reread the whole paragraph several times.)

I reread the submission guidelines for a market I was thinking of submitting to before its May 31 deadline. Good thing, too. Little details like "We will not read stories longer than 1,100 words" can change your entire submission strategy! Well. What have I got that's under 1,100 words? Seems like I used to have more drabbles and flash fiction, but seems like I've also been expanding a bunch of my flash fiction into full-length short stories of late. Hm.

On the non-writing front, I played in the dirt today. My compost bin is full, full, full and its contents, despite all being far enough along in the process that they smell more or less like soil, are still decidedly mixed. I turned it out onto a tarp and began screening it, using a bit of plastic mesh scavenged from a discard pile at a nearby construction site. (I am absolutely sure it was discarded. The long snake of straw-inside-mesh-tube was no longer pegged into the ground along deliberate lines, but was bunched up in a pile at the curb. There were holes in it where the straw was spilling out. It was trash and I repurposed it.) Anyway, anything that passed through the mesh went into buckets for soil/compost mix, probably to be screened through a finer sieve and then pasteurized in the oven depending on how meticulous I'm feeling. Anything that didn't (corn cobs, bones, egg shells, wads of leaf mulch, last year's dried squash vines) went back in the bin to decompose some more. I got about halfway through the original contents of the bin, and I'm feeling very accomplished about it.

I am also feeling a little sunburned. I should remember to wear a hat the next time I wind up standing on the back porch for any amount of PM time. That sun was fierce.

There is probably a metaphor or parallel to be drawn between sifting compost and revising a short story, but I am not feeling motivated enough to investigate.