“And Grown-Ups, when they are very good, when they are very lucky, and very brave, and their wishes are sharp as scissors, when they are in the fullness of their strength, use their hearts to start their story over again.”
Catherynne M. Valente

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

sometimes all you can say is The Dog Ate My Homework
Tue 2015-12-08 23:48:42 (single post)

Oh, goodness. Today. Today got sabotaged. Weren't nobody's fault but mine, neither. OK, sure, I could say the cat shredded my homework, but I'd have to admit that the only cat here was me. Let me tell you all about it.

So, firstly, remember Late Night With Fruitcake? (This is what I should have called yesterday's blog post.) I was up even later than that. Turns out, after the fruitcake bakes for three and a quarter hours, then it wants to be removed from its tube pan half an hour after being removed from the oven. So I was actually up until three.

Which meant I didn't get up this morning until almost 10:30, and still didn't feel like I'd gotten enough sleep. So not only was I up late, but I was moving slow. My morning shift didn't happen, is what I'm saying.

Secondly, I had a few tasks to complete for my roller derby league. I'm part of the committee that makes home bouts happen, and my role within that committee is pretty much everything to do with tickets. And the thing about tickets is, nothing to do with them is a surprise. I had all the info I needed to get things done over the weekend. But did I? No. I procrastinated until suddenly everything had to be done today.

And there went my afternoon shift.

Most of the writing I got done today, I got done after we left for tonight's derby practice. John needed to be there super early, so I dropped him off and then ran away to a cafe in Gunbarrel for an hour. Then he had to be there super late, so I picked at this week's Friday Fictionette from one of the trackside spectator couches. "Write wherever you are" is a rule I usually have the luxury of ignoring, but today I really paid heed.

On the plus side, you can now buy tickets to our upcoming New Year Roll Out mix-up tournament! You can just come to watch, or you can register to skate in it. If that's your thing, I mean. I know a lot of people whose thing this definitely is. It's certainly my sort of thing. I will probably be skating in it.

In other news, it turns out I will not be spending Solstice Night on a train somewhere between Fort Morgan and Omaha. Amtrak coach fare was ridiculously expensive. Seems I waited too long and all the "saver" seats were sold out. As much as I love traveling by train, there is a limit to how much I'm willing to pay for the privilege; $450-ish each way is well beyond that limit. My next strategy would be to send my accumulated Amtrak Guest Reward points, but that was already a non-starter because of blackout dates.

So, feh. I'll be flying home on the 21st instead. If I have the energy, I'll even stay up all night and keep a fire burning through the longest night of the year; they do have a fireplace. It's out by the hot tub. It'll be a lonely Solstice vigil, but a comfy one.

I'll be flying back on the evening of the 31st. Which is neat, because I hear that Southwest give out a little free champagne on New Year's Eve. (Or is that only for overnight flights? Do they only do that at the stroke of midnight?) Also they have wifi on board for a nominal charge. So there's the possibility of a champagne toast and Puzzle Pirates at cruising altitude.

But that's not until the end of the month. Here's my plan for tomorrow: A lot fewer excuses and a lot more productive writing time. You can go ahead and hold me to it, too. For one thing, I'm going to bed on time tonight. For another, I already got my bout ticket duties done today. NOTHING WILL STAND IN MY WAY.

preparing for a traveling winter solstice
Mon 2015-12-07 23:45:23 (single post)

I'm going to be up pretty darn late tonight. I put the annual fruitcake into the oven at about 11:00 PM, and that thing needs to bake for three hours and fifteen minutes.

Speaking of fruitcake and all things Winter Solstice: I don't think I'll be hosting our traditional Winter Solstice Yule Log All Night Open House this year. If it were to happen, it should be on the actual Longest Night of the Year, the night before the dawn when Drumming Up the Sun happens. But I think I'm actually going to be on a train that night. According to my trusty online almanac, Winter Solstice will be December 21 at 9:49 PM Mountain Standard Time, and I'll be getting on board the California Zephyr that evening at around 7:00 PM MST.

Which means instead of unveiling the fruitcake here in Boulder on Solstice Night, I'll be taking it home to share with my family for Christmas (reserving, of course, sufficient slices to mail to certain long-distance friends). But perhaps I'll have a little slice on the train first, just to commemorate the longest night of the year.

I have already listed the fruitcake ingredients, but you may mentally add to the list dried pineapple, which I got today to remedy the 6.25 oz shortfall I discovered when I weighed everything out yesterday. Apparently I wasn't careful and undershopped. Didn't have quite a full 8 oz almonds, either, so had to pick up a few more of those.

I may have mentioned this before, but--dried strawberries are really, really annoying to slice up. I have a small blister at the base of my right index finger from slicing up dried strawberries. If I didn't love them so much, they'd go the way of the dried pineapple rings that I used once and never again. (Dried pineapple went back on the possibles list once I discovered I could buy it diced.)

The booze this year is Makers's Mark bourbon, because what else are we going to do with a bottle of Maker's Mark? Besides add it to the homemade eggnog, should I make some.

Meanwhile, if I'm actually going to get on the train, I'd better run off to another browser window and actually reserve my seat. And then there's all that other stuff I put off until last minute tonight. I guess it's a good thing I'll be up past 2:00 AM.

Talk to y'all tomorrow!

It is a cat. On a unicorn. That is breathing FIRE.
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup, Dec 4: Why not get your Seal o' Piracy and Ba
Sat 2015-12-05 14:16:11 (single post)

Blockades! Let's talk about Cormorant Island on the Cerulean Ocean. Flag Super Awesomeness asserts that Babylon won the island away from them by choosing, quite underhandedly, to make their drop while everyone was out trick-or-treating. They will not let this offense stand! Blockade is underway as I write, having started at noon; pay had risen to 2000 PoE/seg at the time I took a look.

On the Meridian Ocean, Blood Sweat and Beers intends to attack outpost islands held by "sleeping" giants and "make these islands, if won, into a blockade pond." This weekend they've chosen their first target, which will be Polaris Point.

And on Emerald, there appears to be a gun-toting tabby cat riding a fire-snorting unicorn. No, really. LOOK AT THE INTENT ART.

I was told to find a cat riding a horse, but this just seemed so much more awesome.

Yes. Yes, it is. ANYway, it's flag Cunning Stunts (I know, I know) attacking The Crazy Department on Armstrong Island. There's a bunch of other PvP blockades on Emerald, but, honestly, which one has a gun-toting cat riding a unicorn? Exactly.

Meanwhile, it's a new month, so we've got a new Seal o' Piracy to win. This month, the task is simple. You get that limited edition trophy by...

Completing non-Navy sessions of five (5) different duty puzzles. (Bilging, Carpentry, Sailing, Patching, Rigging, Gunning, Navigation)

Easy enough to do over the course of a single blockade - just switch stations between the five different puzzles open to jobbers without special permission. Might as well seek out the Battered Hat trophy at the same time.

I seem to recall from a previous month with a similar task that it was enough to enter the puzzle and leave it again, without even making a single move--I'll test that theory out next time I'm running a solo trade mission or something. Update: This is absolutely not the case. You do have to puzzle at the station for some unspecified amount of time before it will count.

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, December 5 ***

2:34 p.m. - Wissahickon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Naughtiest Naughtiness
Attacker: This Means War

3:00 p.m. - Polaris Point, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Blood Sweat and Beers

7:00 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Truth or Dare
Attacker: High Society

9:00 p.m. - Armstrong Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: The Crazy Department
Attacker: Cunning Stunts

*** Sunday, December 6 ***

3:00 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Event: 3 rounds, nonsinking
Hosted by: Qlimax Telecom

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, December 5 ***

12:03 p.m. - Cormorant Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Super Awesomeness

this fictionette is like an onion but there will be plenty onions
Fri 2015-12-04 23:50:58 (single post)
  • 2,996 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,052 words (if poetry, lines) long

Lo, another Friday has arrived--well, to be honest, it has just about come and gone; I got to the writing things quite late, but the bills are all paid and the kitchen is really clean. Anyway, I've posted this week's Friday Fictionette. It's "The Thing with Feathers," which as we all know is Hope.

The piece is oddly literary in flavor. The speculative element is more magic realism that urban fantasy. And I had to rerecord the last paragraph for the MP3 because I, er, got a funny sort of cough and maybe something in my eye the first time around. You know what I mean. It would not be the first time something I wrote made me tear up a little at the end, but generally it's the longer stories that do that, longer both in terms of word count and hours spent in revision, and the effect is partially just "Finally I got it right, hallelujah, what a relief." It's a little weird for something as short and quick as a fictionette to do that to me.

So now I'm wondering, maybe I should have saved this one to develop into something I could submit somewhere pro? And I'm reminding myself that the Friday Fictionettes project is partly about teaching myself to let go. Story ideas are plentiful. I don't have to hoard them. There's enough of them to go around.

Meanwhile, the alien space glue apocalypse story did indeed receive a rejection, and has already been sent out to meet more nice people.

Other fiction projects have been put off for next week. Just you wait.

i am very impressed, but then i am easily impressed
went out and spent some money, lookit
Wed 2015-12-02 22:34:32 (single post)
  • 1,400 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 2,996 words (if poetry, lines) long

Rejoice! I have finally replaced my camera. I have also gone grocery shopping and returned home with, among other things, fruitcake fixings. Now I have combined BOTH bits of good news into ONE splendid photo, which you can see here.

Fruitcake! Will contain almonds, currants, green (golden) raisins, candied ginger, strawberries, and dates. I will decide on the booze tomorrow when I actually process everything and start it soaking. It will probably be scotch or bourbon, considering what's currently in the cabinet.

Camera! Currently contains date stamp. This will be adjusted shortly.

The camera is a Nikon Coolpix S3700. It was on sale at Target, and further marked down as a repackaged item. Now, I didn't go into Target thinking about cameras. I was shopping for strings of holiday lights to donate to my roller derby league's holiday parade float (Because we're going to skate in a local holiday parade, of course). But the holiday section was right next door to the electronics section, which reminded me that I'd been meaning to replace my previous camera, it being ten years old and furthermore having recently ceased to function.

So this new camera boasts 20.1 Megapixels, which is a revolution in comparison with my previous. Its view screen is breathtakingly sharp--again, comparing it with my old camera. It's zoom function seems darn near lossless. It has a function list longer than my arm, and--ooh!--an auto-extending lens. Look, I'm over the moon just because this camera doesn't need a rubberband to hold its battery case closed, OK? My standards are somewhat generous here.

Mainly I'm just pleased that my options for Friday Fictionette covers are no longer restricted to A. find Creative Commons (commercial use OK) or public domain images online, or B. take a really crappy photo with my flip phone.

So there's your happy technology content. As for writing content, well, soon as I'm done with this-here, I shall be logging the most recent adventures of "...Not With a Bang, But a Snicker" in the Submission Grinder and in my personal log as well. I got a response to its latest submission just this weekend, but I haven't even opened the email yet because I've been drowning in NaNoWriMo writing and NaNoWriMo catch-up. If it's a rejection, I'll be figuring out where to send that sucker yet. If it's not a rejection, expect some crowing. Next I'll be spending a little revision time with "Down Wind" to get it ready to to go and meet some very nice people itself. I think that's enough for a well-rounded late night, don't you?

but let's give credit where credit is due
Tue 2015-12-01 22:24:42 (single post)

I may have gotten all optimistic too soon. I forgot about the other significance of the end of November and thus NaNoWriMo: Spending December the First catching up on everything that didn't get done during NaNoWriMo.

So there wasn't all that much fiction activity in my day. There was bill paying, holiday planning, and the writing up of notes from last weekend's roller derby clinic to share with my league, as promised. (I totally counted those notes on my timesheet. It was writing, darn it, and I get credit for it. I filed it under "Misc. Content Writing - Pro Bono.") There was also an unseemly amount of sleeping late, about which the less said the better.

There wasn't grocery-getting, however. There just wasn't time. But I said we'd say nothing about the sleeping in, right? Right. Tomorrow. Tomorrow there will be groceries. Somehow.

Breakfast was fried eggs alongside slices of bread just baked last night. John baked me bread, y'all. I am the most lucky person ever.

File tonight's blog post under "I don't know what to write, but I'm supposed to write something, so here you go." I get credit for writing it, too.

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the significance of november's final day
Mon 2015-11-30 23:34:03 (single post)
  • 50,181 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,190 words (if poetry, lines) long

It is the last day of the month, and that month is November. Which means today is somewhat of a big day!

First off, I done released the Fictionette Freebie for November 2015. While the brand new fictionettes that go up every first through fourth Friday are accessible exclusively by subscribers (which is to say, Patrons pledging from $1 per month), one of those four story-like objects will become free for all to read or listen to on the last day of the month. This month, it's "In the Shadow of Next Tuesday." That's the PDF; here's the MP3. You can download either or both regardless of your subscriber status.

Secondly: A winner is me! I brought my new novel's word count past the 50,000 mark this evening, putting 2015 to bed as another winning year at NaNoWriMo. The draft is rambling all over the place, and many of the characters' conversations comprise no more than me brainstorming the plot through their mouths, but it is a draft. It is not a blank page or a mere idea. And it will be the target of some focused editing hours. When? I don't know yet. Don't bug me! It's still only November 30...

Thirdly: With NaNoWriMo over and out of the way, I get to use my workday afternoons to prepare fiction submission to paying markets! Which is awesome. I have a small handful of stories that just need a few tweaks before they're ready to hit the slush again, and now I have time to make those tweaks. One of those stories in particular I'd like to send to a market that's opening to submissions on December 1.

Oh! FOURTHLY - fruitcake. If I'm going to make it this year at all, I'd better start it, like, tomorrow. I have to go to the grocery anyway. Might as well add "4 lb. dried fruit and nuts" to the list.

YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup, Nov 28; Get yer Tropic Class Sloop now!
Sat 2015-11-28 13:03:04 (single post)

Good morning, Puzzling Pirates everywhere! It is Saturday. The blockade window opens in just a few minutes. There's... not a heck of a lot of them. Just one on Meridian, two event 'kades on Cerulean, nothing at all on Opal and Jade.

The real action is on Emerald. There will be a couple 3Ps at noon, both of them primarily attacks by The Crazy Department on Cunning Stunts (i c wut u did ther). Art of War will be attacking Black Flag shortly thereafter on the island of Kiwara. Will Black Flag defend? Looks like they are going to--but then they have their own attack on brigand king Admiral Finius on Penobscot Island at 2:00 PM. 2:01 PM. Something like that.

It's also worth mentioning that the Tropic Class Sloop will only be available for a couple more days. I acquired one of these pretty shippies on Cerulean recently. Its layout is unique, with a triple-layered main deck stair-stepping up from fore to aft and all its carpentry, gunning, and bilge stations indoors. It's not a bad place to host a party, what with its huge tiki bar on the gun deck. It is, however, a somewhat long walk from the nav wheel to the hold. Anyway, it's available in shipyards through November 30, 2015 so if you want one you'd better act now.

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, November 28 ***

12:02 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Cunning Stunts
Attacker: The Crazy Department
Attacker: Keep the Peace

12:03 p.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Cunning Stunts
Attacker: The Crazy Department
Attacker: High Society

12:12 p.m. - Kiwara Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Art of War

2:01 p.m. - Penobscot Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (6)
Attacker: Black Flag

6:00 p.m. - Surtsey Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Trap House
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (3)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 28 ***

11:25 a.m. - Remora Island, Cerulean Ocean
Event: 5 rounds, nonsinking
Hosted by: The Phoenix Rises

3:01 p.m. - Cnossos Island, Cerulean Ocean
Event: 7 rounds, nonsinking
Hosted by: Riding High


so long ago it seems like yesterday
Fri 2015-11-27 21:58:11 (single post)
  • 38,000 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 757 words (if poetry, lines) long

Did I publish a Friday Fictionette today? Why, yes, I did! Hard to remember that was actually today, it happened such a while back--I posted it by about 11:30 AM. Once again, I gotta tip my imaginary hat to the brilliant idea of getting up on time.

Anyway, "The Oracle Takes You Back" this week to the days when Saturday mornings were magic and you knew all the tricks because, after all, Trix are for Kids. That's your excerpt link, which itself has links to the full-length PDF and MP3 versions which are accessible by Patrons at the per-month pledge tiers of $1 and $3 respectively. If you are not a Patron and would like to become one, follow any of those links, as they all include instructions on how to make it so.

Meanwhile, watch for one of this month's Fictionettes to go free to one and all on Monday. Which one? I don't know yet! I'm sure I'll figure it out by the end of the weekend.

Meanwhile in NaNoWriMo land, Perrie P. Peculiar so much enjoyed the prospect of being a full-on secondary character that she developed aspirations to protagonist status. And with a name like that, why the heck didn't she try to take over the novel sooner? Today's writing session, still underway, produced a scene entirely from her point of view. I think she's in danger. I think she's going to pull off a heist. I think it's all going to turn out OK, but not right away, because some serious suspense and conflict has to happen first.

I've got about 1,600 more words to write in order to meet today's goal of 3,466. I think I can do that in about an hour. Off I go--

they aspire to be secondary characters and get serious pagetime
Thu 2015-11-26 23:59:59 (single post)
  • 35,218 words (if poetry, lines) long

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone out there! I hope you're staying warm. Here in Boulder, temperatures "struggled to get out of the teens," to quote a winter weather advisory I read yesterday (and I thought, "Ah, struggling to get out of the teens. Sounds like most of my college career"). I woke up, saw the snow coming down, and promptly went back to sleep.

One of the things I am thankful for, speaking of Giving Thanks, is the opportunity to sleep in and do whatever I want all Thanksgiving Day long. I love my family and miss them, and I miss their traditional epic potlucks (oh, Gods, the shrimp-and-mirliton casserole), but I don't miss how the High Holy Days of Familial Obligation loomed over me and squashed me flat. It's so, so good to have a day off from everything.

Well, almost everything. Cat-sitting continues while our semi-next-door friends are out of town. Their cat is a beautiful, friendly, funny, and terribly needy kitty who will happily spend hours cuddling and nuzzling and dabbing a paw at your face if the quality of your petting is deemed inadequate. Learning how to get my writing done while making the kitty feel sufficiently loved has been an amusing challenge. He wants very much to drape himself over my forearms, and I am using those. But we manage.

Speaking of writing, that's another thing I don't get a day off from. Which is fine. Enjoyable, even. Which is sort of why I do this writing thing for an attempted living. A day with nothing to do but write? Heaven.

I'm about three-fourths the way through today's NaNoWriMo session, which I'll be returning to just as soon as I get done with this post. Today's session has been fueled by Plot Expansion Strategy #15: Promote a throwaway character to a secondary character. In other words, enlarge their role within the story.

The sometime-throwaway character I'm playing with is Perihelion Peculiar, of Perrie Peculiar's Private Peepers. Her original role, buried safely in the backstory, was in unearthing the main character's dad's cheating ways. Now the main character has contacted her again for help in figuring out what's up with the Director of the sleep research lab. He's scary, he's up to something, and he has begun showing up everywhere the main character goes. She's understandably freaked out about it.

I'm also making use of this strategy to flesh out the Director's own backstory. Apparently he's got an extensive criminal record, mostly white collar to be sure but with the occasional bloodstain. He's bad news. Stupid bad news. He's going to be bad news for everyone involved in this novel. If only I could figure out what, precisely, he wants.

Well, back to it for at least another 700 words.

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