“"...till by the end you feel you have lived many lives: which is perhaps the greatest gift a novel can give."”
Ursula K. Le Guin

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

I am a little uncomfortable that the best CC-licensed photo I could find of a boxcar interior was of a boxcar that was actually used to haul prisoners to concentration camps in WWII. Absolutely nothing on that scale of horror is going on in here.
the future's so fast i gotta wear skates
Sat 2015-11-14 00:00:04 (single post)
  • 12,613 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 933 words (if poetry, lines) long

It's Friday, so I've got a fictionette for y'all. "Future's So Bright," in which the curse of psychic powers messes with one's social life and also one's optical prescription, is available in both ebook and audiobook form for those who wish to chuck a buck or three at the Friday Fictionettes project. The usual excerpt is also available--try before you buy! Patrons get access to a brand new one of these things every first through fourth Friday; everyone else gets one of 'em on the last day of each month. Any of the links in this paragraph will take you to a page where you can subscribe if you so desire.

I discovered this week that it's a lot easier to get a Friday Fictionette up on time if I've been faithfully putting in my 25 minutes a day on it every single day. The fictionette itself was drafted by Tuesday, the cover art done on Wednesday, the draft polished up on Thursday, and the MP3 and PDF produced on Friday along with the usual excerpts.

NaNoWriMo is also easier to accomplish if I put in my scheduled time each time a scheduled time comes round. Unfortunately, I slipped up a bit with it this week. Once again, I've been moving slowly through my days, leaving too much to do for the evenings when I have no energy to do them. So I didn't move the novel's word count at all yesterday, and have only made it through about a thousand words so far today.

It is unlikely that I will make significant progress tomorrow, as I will be in Castle Rock all day participating in that league's annual Fall Down Mix-Up rolller derby tournament. But I will bring my backpack with its usual contents, and if there is time between bouts I might jot down a few sentences. A non-zero amount of words is winning the day!

Matter of fact, I was working on NaNoWriMo at my very first roller derby experience. I was sitting in the audience at the 2011 championships, laptop open and accumulating words during halftime. It'll be just like old times, y'all.

Now, considering that I'll need to leave Boulder at 7:30 in order to get to the Fairgrounds by 9:00, I should probably wrap this up and go to bed. Enjoy your weekend, and if you're around, come watch us skate in Castle Rock tomorrow!

wine, disappointment, ambition, persistence, more wine
Wed 2015-11-11 23:56:37 (single post)
  • 1,200 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 4,558 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 11,665 words (if poetry, lines) long

Got off to a slow start today. Might have been because it was so cold out--Boulder finally got some snow, and snow makes me want to hibernate. Could also have something to do with the righteously exhausting roller derby practice I had last night. In any case, I slept late, I dawdled a bit, I moved very slowly.

But here's where I'm at now: Two thirds the way through today's NaNoWriMo chunk-o-text, three-and-a-half hours of my workday five done, two half-glasses of red wine toward silly, and one new rejection letter to file away.

Alas, after triumphing over my year of resistance with a gorgeous completed revision, I ultimately received a rejection letter for "Caroline's Wake" from the editor who'd invited me to submit that rewrite. If you also do this freelance fiction writing thing, you won't be too shocked, I hope. This is a thing that happens. A revision request isn't necessarily a promise to buy the results. In fact, it's almost never a promise to buy. It's disappointing, of course, but the story's much better for the revision. It'll have a better chance next time I send it out than it would have had previously.

I won't send it out immediately. The rejection letter included some feedback that gave me pause. I'll see if I can't do some small tweaks in response to that feedback to prevent the problem cited from being a problem for the next slush reader who sees it.

No, the rejection letter did not drive me to drink. Please do not think that. It's just, wine is tasty, and I have some wine here, and I have nowhere to be tonight. Wine pairs nicely with popcorn. Popcorn seasoned with Cajun Land and curry powder. With red wine. My NaNoWriMo characters are also drinking red wine. I have to keep them company.

Where was I? Ah. Yes. So...

I'm also giving some serious thought to converting another story of mine to a form of interactive fiction. There's a brand new web-zine out there, Sub-Q, the interactive magazine for interactive fiction, and they're hungry for submissions. I think "Keeping Time" would be perfect for them, but it needs some work to at least prepare an interactivity proposal. I should probably play a little with Twine just to get a feel for what the kids these days are doing. But I'm thinking something like travelogue-style pop-ups for items and people whom the main character interacts with, a constant sense of the passage of time despite time being weird when you continue on a one-way trip through different worlds, maybe some choice as to which worlds the character visits but with a certain inevitability about the ultimate outcome...

I don't know. I'm still brainstorming.

But not tonight. Tonight I still need to log about 900 more words on the NaNoWriMo novel. And it's nearly midnight, so, really, I need to get back to it.

I do wish the room wasn't spinning so. Stupid wine. Tasty, tasty, stupid wine.

this november you see will be just fine
Tue 2015-11-10 23:20:32 (single post)
  • 9,437 words (if poetry, lines) long

So I'm doing NaNoWriMo again. You may recall.

I had the ambitious but perfectly reasonable plan that NaNoWriMo would take up the bulk of my afternoon shift each work day. That is, every Tuesday through Friday, my two hours of working on fiction in the afternoon would be spent producing word count on this new novel. There are 16 Tuesday-through-Fridays in November 2015; I would therefore be responsible for 3,125 words at each session.

Easy. I typically spew some thousand words of freewriting in a single 25-minute timed session. All I have to do is make sure I work all my afternoon shifts.

Well, that turned out to be easier said than done. For reasons already explained elsewhere as well as for other reasons less good and virtuous than those, the first week of November was almost entirely a bust. I got my Friday Fictionette out, but that was all. I haven't even typewriter'd up October's "fictionette artifact" for my gracious Patron, and that's for yet another reason--at some point during the first week of November, I sprained my effin' thumb.

In the grand scheme of things, it's minor. Recommended treatment is to wear my brace whenever I can, give it frequent time under a warm water bath or heating pad, take ibuprofen strategically, and be patient. The pain comes and goes. Oddly, the thing that really brings it on is the natural hanging/swinging motion of arms and wrists that happens during upright perambulation. So I especially make sure to wear my brace while walking or running.

But I can't wear it when I skate, because I have to wear my wrist guards instead. And they don't provide as much stabilization as the brace. Which means that after Sunday's practice, my thumb and wrist were sore again, and after Monday night helping to train the Phase 1 (beginning skating skills) class, things were downright painful. Typing on my laptop this morning and afternoon was a very awkward endeavor. Attempting to pilot a manual typewriter? Unthinkable.

But when my gear came off after tonight's practice, the affected area was magically painless. Typing is fairly comfortable now. I don't get it, I don't trust it, but I'm going to take full advantage of it. If the thumb and wrist feel no worse tomorrow, I'll haul out the typewriter and see if it's manageable.

But anyway--that's what I've got to show for Week 1. Whine, whine, whine; excuses, excuses. But, as planned, I had a writing date on Saturday that got me my first chunk of 3,125. I had another successful session on Monday, and yet another today. Which means my original ambitious-but-reasonable plan still holds, except that it's now Monday-Friday rather than just Tuesday-Friday. Which is fine.

Now, I feared that I'd only have enough story idea to see me through the first three thousand words, and indeed, at the time, having written none of them yet, that was true. But it's amazing how one session leads to another. And how one sentence leads to another. And how, if you give yourself permission to follow every tangent, one throw-away line leads to several hundred words of flashback that reveal more about the character than maybe you already knew, which in turn informs the next scene, which spawns follow-on scenes and more flashbacks and maybe even plot involving incidental secondary characters you threw in just to make a previous scene work, and...

And that's how I know everything is going to be just fine.

Best propaganda poster ever.
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup, Nov 7-8: Of Sheep, Cold Steel, and Cream Pie
Sat 2015-11-07 13:10:48 (single post)

This is the first weekend featuring the recent changes to the blockade schedule. It's probably too early to tell what effect these changes are having on the blockade scene, but I can tell you this much: Over on the Meridian Ocean, everybody and their gunpuppy is attacking Cream Pie. I don't know if this is because CP are known to be asleep around noon Pirate Time, or because there's some sort of oceanwide grudge against that flag--no one's talking about it on the forums that I can see. But these are all high-paying blockades; I was seeing jobbing offers ranging from 5K to 75 PoE/seg. If you're looking to replenish your doubloon supply, Meridian Ocean looks to be the place.

None of the other oceans are quite as blockade-infatuated today as the Meridian Ocean, but there's something to do everywhere except for Jade. (The Jade Ocean is saving its energy for next week, when Azarbad attacks Spaniel.) On Cerulean, Cold Steel is defending Guava Island from Madame Yu Jian; in a recruitment effort for this they have produced some of the most fantastic intent art I have ever seen. Opal's hosting a scuffle between Strawhats and that ocean's own version of Azarbad the Great over Doyle-Insel. And Emerald Ocean features four blockades, one of them a midnight defense against Admiral Finius and his 19-strong fleet.

Nineteen! I could be wrong, though. I had a very hard time counting those little red shippies on the blockade schedule, so many they were and so crowded close together. I had to move my little mouse cursor over the little red shippies and tell people not to talk to me while I counted.

You know what to do--get out there, get jobbed, puzzle hard, have fun. If you need me, I'll be on the Meridian Ocean. I mean, writing. I'm totally going to be writing. (On the Meridian Ocean.)

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 7 ***

10:08 a.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (1)
Attacker: Strawhats

12:00 p.m. - Tigerleaf Mountain, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Imperial Coalition

12:00 p.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Coming Soon

12:00 p.m. - Hadrian Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Blood Sweat and Beers

12:00 p.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Radioactive

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Coming Soon
Undeclared: Heaven's Army

12:00 p.m. - Napi Peak, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Imperial Coalition

1:00 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Radioactive
Attacker: Cannabis Nation

2:00 p.m. - Prolix Purlieu, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: The Enlightened (13)

4:00 p.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (6)

5:00 p.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: The Crazy Department
Attacker: Cunning Stunts

5:29 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (4)
Attacker: The Secret Service

7:32 p.m. - Surtsey Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (2)
Attacker: Per Angusta Ad Augusta
Attacker: Licence to Kill

10:31 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: The Crazy Department
Attacker: Cunning Stunts

*** Sunday, November 8 ***

12:00 a.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Gunslingers
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (19)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 7 ***

12:00 p.m. - Guava Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Cold Steel
Attacker: The Jade Empire (4)

Cover art incorporates images sourced from pixabay.com and dreamstime.com
fictionettes for fridays and novels each november
Sat 2015-11-07 00:10:20 (single post)
  • 1,190 words (if poetry, lines) long

First things first. Today is a first Friday; you get a Fictionette. "In the Shadow of Next Tuesday" is its title. It's kind of fun and silly, and it's also kind of bittersweet. And I totally want to pet the stilt-o-dile.

In other Fictionette news, the Fictionette Freebie for October 2015 turned out to be "How the Lassie Didn't Go East of the Sun and West of the Moon". Turned out--I say that like it just happened, all on its ownsome, like I didn't have a vote. OK. I decided to go with the Friday Fictionette for October 2. In any case, the complete text is now available to one and all as a slick little PDF you can print or just load up in your favorite reader, and as a bite-sized MP3 of me reading the fictionette to you as a bedtime story or during rush hour traffic.

So that's your Fictionette news. Now, about that National Novel Writing Month...

So last year I abstained for the first time in more than a decade. I'd just retired from precisely a decade of being Boulder's NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and I had a short story revision I was excited to work on, and, well, "because it would be a shame to break my twelve-year streak" seemed insufficient reason to stress myself out. So I took last year off. Well, this year I finally got that short story revision done, and I decided I'd do NaNoWriMo to celebrate that. Yay, a whole month of nothing but glorious fun wild delirious discovery draft! A whole month during which two hours of each writing day may be spent exploring a brand new story and holding myself to absolutely no standards of quality!

Well, today's Day 6 and I haven't logged a single word yet.

Drat.

It's OK, though! I had already planned on... let's see, 50K divided by 16 workdays in November... I'd already planned on writing 3,125 words per session; I just have to work some of those sessions on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Which is fine. I'll be meeting an old NaNoWriMo friend (who is also now a roller derby friend--the Venn diagram overlap of my writing circle and my derby circle is of surprisingly significant size) for a late lunch and writing date tomorrow, so even if I get nothing logged tonight I'll be off to a great start this weekend.

It will all be just fine.

Despite an original cunning plan to spend the last days of October in productive plot-brainstorming mode, I never quite figured out what I was going to write. Then on November 1 my freewriting session resulted in a sort of cross between Ursula K. LeGuin's novel The Lathe of Heaven (dreams that rewrite the world) and the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" (if you don't keep the godlet happy, he'll send you to the cornfield). I am mildly concerned that this idea will last me for roughly 5,000 words before dumping me in the proverbial cornfield. But that's the risk one takes. If I have to describe the protagonist's breakfast like it was Dónal and Mórag's wedding feast, then I will do that. That is, after all, how NaNoWriMo goes. Like the founder of the annual shindig says, No Plot? No Problem!

things are lumpy but getting smoother
Thu 2015-11-05 23:54:55 (single post)

Hi. Hello. So... didn't really get back into gear so smoothly after giving myself a Halloween holiday. Took a while to get the engines running. I think maybe taking time off so soon after starting a new routine might be contraindicated when fomenting new habits. Not that it would have been better to try to not take time off, not with everything else that was going on. But I suspect that time off didn't help.

Also, one of our skaters broke her leg Monday night during our scrimmage in Fort Collins. This is a thing that occasionally happens when you play a full-contact sport on skates. We prepare for it as best we can, and then we try not to think about it. We try to play like it's not even in the realm of possibility. And then, once in a while, it happens, and it sucks.

Pretty much everyone in the league who was at that scrimmage had a pretty shitty night after that. Not, of course, nearly as shitty as what the injured skater herself endured. But the league immediately began doing everything in its collective power to make things less shitty for her, from hospital visits to errand-running to plans for bringing her food to just plain sending all our love via the internet and phone and telepathy. That's what roller derby leagues do. It's kind of amazing.

So priorities changed, and the next few days got a little redirected. And that's life.

Today was a fairly solid writing day, if a little weird. I had a ticket to see the live Welcome to Night Vale show at the Paramount. So I took off by bus around midday for Denver with plans to work on my various writing tasks from maybe Leela European Cafe until showtime. And then I remembered that Union Station got significantly upgraded, and is no longer this cavernous hall with bad acoustics and tall penitent pews and an aura of despair. Instead, it is now a fancy hotel and a small shopping mall and a restaurant district. So I splurged a bit at Stoic & Genuine (well, kind of more than a bit) and then settled down at one of the lobby device-charging tables to plug in my laptop and make words happen on it. And words did happen.

The Welcome to Night Vale live show was amazing. Go see it if you can.

I'm writing this blog post on the bus back to Boulder. John will meet me at the station and drive me home, where I will have a bite to eat and then commence whatever the heck I wind up writing for NaNoWriMo.

Have I mentioned that I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year? Well, I am.

About that, more later.

YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup for Oct 31-Nov 1: Let's do the Time Warp
Sat 2015-10-31 19:15:13 (single post)

As was announced last week, there will be a couple changes to the way blockades are scheduled. Starting November 6...

  • The blockade drop window will be Friday noon to midnight Pirate Time. Blockades will all happen between noon and midnight on Saturday. (This will also shorten the window for Brigand King blockade times.)
  • All breaks will now be 15 minutes, removing the long break between rounds 3 and 4.

Now, the Opal Ocean has always run on a slightly different schedule; you've probably noticed that blockades on the German-language ocean often start many hours before noon on Saturday. Accordingly, Opal's new blockade schedule will be different from that of the English-language oceans:

On the Opal Ocean, the new time frame for declaring blockades will be Friday 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM (11:00 - 23:00) German time. The start time of the blockades will correspondingly be Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Again, this applies also to Brigand Kings.

This translation brought to you by Google Translate and my own copyediting skills. And according to timeanddate.com, when it's 11:00 AM in Germany it's 2:00 AM by Pirate Time/U.S. Pacific Time.

Speaking of time zones and schedules, U.S. Daylight Savings Time ends this week. In most U.S. locations, we set our clocks back an hour. The Pacific Time zone is no exception. Any blockades with start times later than 2:00 AM PT on Sunday, Nov. 1 may be represented inaccurately below--I still haven't figured out how to fix that for sure. I'll try to double-check the schedule sometime early after the time shift tomorrow morning and correct whatever needs correcting.

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, October 31 ***

3:00 a.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Der Zorn der Götter
Attacker: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (1)

9:50 a.m. - McGuffins Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonische Horden (1)
Attacker: Strawhats

11:05 a.m. - Tumult-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Hort des Eiswurms (1)
Attacker: Strawhats

1:42 p.m. - Windward Vale, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Alria
Attacker: Coming Soon

2:00 p.m. - Raven's Roost, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Legacy of Life
Attacker: Corteezism

7:43 p.m. - Surtsey Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (3)
Attacker: Trap House

*** Sunday, November 1 ***

6:51 a.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)
Attacker: Coming In Hot

9:00 a.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: The Jade Empire (4)

11:00 a.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: The Crazy Department
Attacker: The Jade Empire (7)

11:58 a.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Gunslingers
Attacker: Hysteria

11:58 a.m. - Wissahickon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: This Means War
Attacker: Naughtiest Naughtiness

12:00 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Cream Pie
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (5)

12:00 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: This Means War
Attacker: Naughtiest Naughtiness
Attacker: Truth or Dare

12:00 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Attacker: Qlimax Telecom

12:00 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: This Means War
Attacker: Qlimax Telecom

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, October 31 ***

12:00 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Mixed Nuts
Attacker: Babylon

1:00 p.m. - Turtle Island, Cerulean Ocean
Event: 7 rounds, nonsinking & no removal
Hosted by: Babylon

3:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Totalitarian principle
Attacker: Babylon

3:15 p.m. - Remora Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Phoenix Rises
Attacker: Undertow

6:00 p.m. - Islay of Luthien, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Tyr's Own
Attacker: Babylon

8:00 p.m. - Lagniappe Island, Cerulean Ocean
Event: 1 round, sinking!
Hosted by: Tequila Sunrise

9:00 p.m. - Cormorant Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Super Awesomeness
Attacker: Babylon

*** Sunday, November 1 ***

12:00 a.m. - Hephaestus' Forge, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Midnight Yacht Club
Attacker: Babylon

3:00 a.m. - Cochineal Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Static Before the Storm
Attacker: Babylon

6:00 a.m. - Cnossos Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Phoenix Rises
Attacker: Riding High

12:00 p.m. - Xi Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Crimson Tide
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (4)

a whole thunder of stuff done rolled
Wed 2015-10-28 22:48:43 (single post)
  • 1,285 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 4,558 words (if poetry, lines) long

Behold! Two short stories went winging to their respective targets. Two of them! And all my writing for the day, except for this blog post, done before five pee-em. Folks, I am on fire.

John very kindly allowed me to read "Caroline's Wake" to him, which, given its length, meant the donation of more than half an hour plus some engaged discussion. He is a fantastic writer-support spouse. All the kudos. It was his first time experiencing this particular story, so he was able to offer a fresh perspective on whether it made sense, whether the characters were acting like real people, and whether things the right emotional weight was present. These are all things I worry about when a lot of slicing and dicing goes on between drafts. While "killing your darlings" it's possible to also kill some hard-working support structures. When vital pillars and buttresses go missing, it helps to have someone around to notice.

Speaking of killing your darlings, he also suggested I cut the final paragraph. The one about the crocus heralding a mild winter. Dammit. OK. I cut it, because the requesting editor said the exact same thing (or at the very least she suggested that it shouldn't be the final paragraph) and when two separate readers notice the same problem then maybe it's a good idea to listen to them. Dammit.

(Some darlings are very darling. Alas.)

Anyway, the story went into the email, and very soon afterward I had a reply full of excitement and glee, which was a relief. I'd secretly feared, because I am prone to Writer's Weasel Brain, that she'd be all what, this old thing? Not interested anymore. You missed your chance. But of course that was not the case. Weasel Brain is always wrong. Two reliable things about Weasel Brain: It'll always have something to say, and it'll always be wrong.

As expected, the title of the submission to Alien Artifacts got changed. When that story went to The First Line, it was called "The Rapture of the Santiago Women", as a nod to the famous Roman abduction event known as the Rape of the Sabine Women". Problem was, the allusion really only was skin deep. It was clever but not resonant. So I changed it to "Comin' For to Carry Me Home" both for the literal meaning within the plot and the play on homing device.

(And now you have the song stuck in your head, and my work here is done.)

Also, the first line got changed, as its original first line is best considered the exclusive property of The First Line. Which mean the little boy's name had to be changed, since it had been part of the first line. And then a whole bunch of other stuff got changed until, given that the story's only about 1300 words long, the revision really merited a whole new version number under my private and terribly subjective file-naming system. So Alien Artifacts gets to see Homing Device v2.0, or maybe, given the last print-out and line-edit pass, v2.2.1

Fair warning: I may just take the rest of the week off. Friday is fifth Friday, which means no Friday Fictionette is due. And tomorrow is a Halloween party on skates, which means I have to put the finishing touches on my costume. (John has been helping me with that, too. All the kudos.) So if I get very little done for the rest of the week, it's OK. I done a whole thunder of stuff between last week and now. I can take a small holiday.

a detailed look at the key-forging process as undertaken inside the cell
Tue 2015-10-27 17:01:08 (single post)
  • 4,514 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,338 words (if poetry, lines) long

I put in two solid hours on the story revision today, and it is almost done. Tantalizingly close. I hope to submit it tomorrow, at which point I shall crow mightly.

I'd like to write a little about the process of turning one draft into another draft. You might not be interested. You might be all, "Feh! I have my own process. I do not need yours. Feh, I say!" in which case you can skip this bit and scroll down to the next bit. But if you're interested, here's my process. Or at least, here's the process I used for this story and for this draft.

To start with, I had a critiqued copy of the previous draft to work from. The response to its submission last year was to invite me to resubmit if I could get it down to between 4,000 and 5,000 words. So I wrote back, tentatively asking if the editor had any thoughts she'd like to share to guide me in that revision; the editor responded with a line-by-line critique, crossing out text that was slowing down the story and highlighting elements that should be foregrounded.

This, by the way, is the sort of unlooked-for gift that writers dream of getting. We get excited just to get a rejection letter with personal comments, so you can imagine the ecstasy occasioned by an unasked for critique and line edit. Accompanying an invitation to resubmit, no less.

So my first step was to import this critique into my Scrivener project. I moved the August 2014 draft out of the Draft folder (where the documents to compile into a manuscript live) and into my custom Previous Drafts folder, to keep a record and to make room. Then I imported the critique, which was handily in RTF already, into a custom Critiques folder. I converted all of the editor's notes and deletions into linked notes. I also inspected the recommended deletions for any content I didn't want to lose, noted those elements, and considered how I might incorporate them into the surviving text.

Next, I began to type up a new draft from blank, using the critiqued copy and my notes as a reference. This is what took me for-frickin'-ever. This is the part of the process where I kept abandoning it for weeks and then needing to reacquaint myself with the project whenever I tried to pick it up again. I was about a third of the way through this step when I finally got my act together last week.

Thursday night I began the next stage of the revision: print it out and scribble on it (line-edit). I had the foolish idea this would take me, oh, maybe an hour. WRONG! This took the remainder of Thursday and all of Friday too. Lots of crossing things out and attempting to rephrase things. Embarrassing typos to be hunted down and destroyed.

Today I picked up that scribbled-on copy and began to implement the line-edit. I scanned through the printed document for scribbles, and I typed into the new draft whatever the scribbles said. Sounds simple, right? Generally it was. But there were a few "bugs" that were more complex; those I put aside for later, creating a linked note for each to make coming back to them easier.

When the simple fixes were done, I went back to those linked notes, which live in Scrivener's Inspector pane under the Comments and Footnotes tab, and began addressing the more complex line-edits. There were four of them. I got through two before my time was up today.

That's it. Tomorrow I hope to address the last two "bugs" on my buglist, and submit the revision that was requested more than a year ago. I continue to feel silly about taking fourteen months to get this done, but the bad-ass joy of getting it done at last rather outweighs that embarrassment.

Also, as I upload this post to my blog, I will be finished with my work day. All finished. By five o'clock in the afternoon. I honestly can't remember the last time I managed that. It will feel so very good to gear up for roller derby practice in the certain, satisfied knowledge that no work awaits me when I come home. Again, I'm embarrassed that it's taken me until now to find my workday rhythm, but I'm too pleased with having found it to notice the embarrassment overmuch.

Oh! Also, today's submission procedures involved preparing "The Rapture of the Santiago Women," whose title I might yet change, for submission to the forthcoming Alien Artifacts anthology from Zombies Need Brains LLC. I will most definitely change the first line, as it was dictated by the market I sent it to first. I've already edited the story a bit today, just cleaning up the text to make it flow more smoothly. A story's always a little rough when I write it to a themed issue's deadline; I like to make sure it's a bit more polished before it heads out to meet the next slush pile.

This is another thing that feels awesome--as the revision on "Caroline's Wake" comes to a close, I've got brain-space for revising other stories for resubmission. It's like I'd been in jail for a year, but with the means to make the key to the prison door. What the eff took me so long to do it? Damn. Well, door's open now. Free!

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!

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