“I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.”
Peter De Vries

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Did you know the image and text of the Rider-Waite tarot is public domain in the U.S.? I did not know that.
this fictionette is not winning much, but i am winning all the things
Fri 2015-10-16 23:39:25 (single post)
  • 1,074 words (if poetry, lines) long

Lo, 'tis a Friday. Have a new Friday Fictionette. "A Word in Your Ear" deals with a Princess coming of age and discovering a larger world, at the cost of the security she know in her own smaller one. Which is typically what happens when a child becomes an adult, but things are always more earth-shattering for Princesses.

The Fictionette springs in part from a Tarot card drawn for a writing prompt, and it reaches back in continuity to one of the first Friday Fictionettes ever released. The second, in fact. Ever. So there is quite probably a novel hiding in the intersection between the third week of October 2015 and the first of September 2014. Which is one of the expected results of the project. Create a new story idea every day, cultivate four of them per month into a publishable story-like object, reap presentable stories come harvest time. Not like I'm exactly hurting for story ideas, mind you. The problem has more to do with the time needed to do them justice. Nevertheless--winning!

In other news, John and I have been exceptionally good citizens. We took our mail-in ballots out to lunch and completed them. Note the date: Usually we put this task off until about two days before election day, necessitating a trip to the County Clerk and Recorder's Office to drop the ballots off by hand. But we have dropped them off in our home mailbox's outgoing slot with first-class postage attached, because two and a half weeks is plenty time for the U.S. Post to deliver them. Winning.

In yet other news, John takes his duties as assistant coach to the Boulder County Bombers very seriously. He is researching workouts--power workouts, strength workouts, endurance workouts, metabolic workouts, plyometric workouts--and I, lucky soul, get to be his guinea pig. To be fair, he too is doing workouts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but--"I want to see how this workout affects an athletically trained person," he says, "unlike me." So off I got to do Haydens and ski-jumps and depth jumps and plank hops for half an hour. And, dang it, I say "thank you" when we're done, because I know it's making me a stronger, more powerful skater.

And now I am sitting in the tub, sweating and soaking out the aches of a full roller derby week made fuller by having homework.

Winning!

the thing about unexpected things
Thu 2015-10-15 22:51:25 (single post)

Unexpected things are unexpected. Unexpected things are the reason why a writer's gotta do the right thing.

For instance, when I don't get up on time, I lose a couple viable working hours from my day. And when the day happens to not only be scrimmage Thursday, but a particular Thursday in which it turns out we need to get to the practice space two hours early, well, it turns out I kind of needed those morning hours I denied myself by sleeping late.

(It's not that I didn't know we needed to get to the practice space early. It's that I didn't know how early we'd need to get there. Taping the 10-foot marks takes longer than I would have expected. Also the track was needed for a returning skater's assessment before scrimmage, too. Two hours was not enough time, turns out.)

But here I am, at the IHOP in Boulder after Thursday scrimmage, feeling unusually virtuous and ready to get my work done! I had a plan for my work day, darn it, and I'm going to stick to it! I'm gonna write that Boulder Writing Examiner article I've been meaning to write, right, the one about a particular new local Meetup group that's kind of exciting, OK?

Then I login at Examiner.com and discover I don't have the ability to publish articles anymore. I just have the ability to "Become an Examiner." I think I let too much time go by without publishing, and they canceled me.

I suppose I could re-apply. But--why? If I'm going to take up precious writing time with a content writing gig, maybe I should hold out for a content writing gig that pays better. At least somewhat. And if I'm going to take up writing time with blog posts about being a writer in Boulder, well, why not just keep it here on the actually writing blog (since it's actually about writing) where I'm the one in charge of how I go about it?

So, anyway, that was an unexpected thing too.

buyin' my lottery tickets
Tue 2015-10-13 23:22:34 (single post)
  • 3,330 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 3,100 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 2,345 words (if poetry, lines) long

Which is not, admittedly, the best analogy for submitting fiction to paying markets. It's not purely a numbers game. But it's partially a numbers game. Given a story that's publishable, as you continue sending it out to markets that are a reasonably good fit, the probability of its achieving publication approaches 1. No guarantees it'll reach 1, but it gets closer every time.

(Actually, if you want to be precise, the asymptote graph never reaches 1, but only gets infinitely closer and closer to 1. But forget that, I'm trying to sort of reference Godwin's Law and any number of internet memes that riff on it, and no one worries in that context that "approaching 1" isn't the same as "reaching 1," so shut up.)

But by far the strongest point of similarity between fiction submissions and lotteries is, you can't win if you don't play. Thus "submissions procedures" is one of the gotta-dos in my morning shift. Thus the stories go back out in the mail.

It does me no favors that most of the acceptance letters I've received have been in response to a story's first time in the mail. No one should consider that to be the norm. It's got me badly calibrated. It primes me to think that if a story accumulates two, five, fifteen rejections, then clearly it's not ready for prime time and I shouldn't even be sending it out. Which is bullshit, as any number of rejectomancy anecdotes will attest, but that's the writerly version of weasel-brain for you. It's such a seductive utterance of the weasel-brain, too, especially when the rejection letters come back so very quickly. I start getting self-conscious about particular stories--I start thinking, "Do I seriously believe an editor will want to pay me money for the opportunity to consume one of their precious story slots with this? NO ONE wants this." And also, "Why do I keep sending this story out, instead of writing new ones? Am I trying to rest on my laurels? Before they are even grown?"

That last one's a special grade of bovine feces, because I have sent new stories out. In fact, the story I've been trying to query status on is sitting in its very first slush pile as we speak. Unfortunately, the market that slush pile belongs to uses SPF filtering on their email, and apparently something's borked in my SPF record. I've got a support ticket to my domain host about it.

Weird thing is, though, the weasel-brain only has its say before I send the story out. Once I actually send the story, weasel-brain shuts up and lets me enjoy the fresh glow of "I submitted a story! Professionally! To a paying market! Just like real writers do!" Which only goes to show you that yet again, the only way out is through.

Anyway, I bought a lottery ticket today, and I bought one Thursday too. Metaphorically speaking.

Trophy acquired at 2 different actions that add to explorer reputation, IF you're lucky.
Seal o' Piracy, October 2015: i can count to two (usually)
Mon 2015-10-12 21:31:12 (single post)

I have no idea what to blog about tonight, so I'm going to cheat and blog about Puzzle Pirates. It's not that much of a cheat; it's what I would have posted yesterday, had not yesterday's roller derby practice utterly kicked my butt and temporarily jacked up my shoulder, such that I went to bed at four in the afternoon and more or less stayed there until this morning.

So. The October 2015 Seal o' Piracy! How to get it? By...

Completing two (2) actions to add to yer explorer reputation!

Sounds pretty simple, right? For the most part, it is. But I ran into a bit of a catch.

According to Yppedia, you can add to your Explorer Reputation in the following ways:

...visiting the Atlantis citadels, visiting the Cursed Isles, visiting the Haunted Seas ship graveyards, visiting the Kraken, completing expeditions, and traveling around the ocean.

So first thing I did was take all my main pirates a-sailing, because "traveling around the ocean" is the easiest thing you can do. Lazing aboard a navy ship is the easiest way to do it, but also the most boring. Mostly I took my main pirates on trading voyages while I did other things (like, say, writing--writing very very slowly, but writing nonetheless). I made sure to keep this up until each pirate's Explorer Reputation moved upwards. (It generally doesn't take many leagues.)

Then I took Oshun pillaging in hopes of scoring an Expedition. And, why, yes, I did! I scored a Brigand King sighting. So I engaged Admiral Finius in battle, won the swordfight melee, won some small amount of PoE and ship supplies and also a pearl pocketwatch inscribed in honor of my victory. Like you do.

What I didn't win was my Seal o' Piracy. I didn't win that until completing the Buried Treasure expedition that I acquired a couple of battles later.

So something's not particularly straightforward here. I'm guessing it's either that "traveling around the ocean" doesn't count toward one's Seal o' Piracy for October 2015, because it's too easy; or that BK expeditions don't actually count toward Explorer Reputation after all, since they already count toward Conqueror Reputation. Or that maybe the BK didn't move my Explorer Reputation enough to trigger the trophy, and that the Buried Treasure expo pushed it over the top?

That's as much as I know so far, which admittedly isn't much. I'll tell you more next weekend if I figure more out. But until then, this blog is returning to actual writing coverage. (Hence the name.)

Seal o' Piracy, October 2015: i can count to two (usually)
Mon 2015-10-12 21:30:29 (single post)

I have no idea what to blog about tonight, so I'm going to cheat and blog about Puzzle Pirates. It's not that much of a cheat; it's what I would have posted yesterday, had not yesterday's roller derby practice utterly kicked my butt and temporarily jacked up my shoulder, such that I went to bed at four in the afternoon and more or less stayed there until this morning.

So. The October 2015 Seal o' Piracy! How to get it? By...

Completing two (2) actions to add to yer explorer reputation!

Sounds pretty simple, right? For the most part, it is. But I ran into a bit of a catch.

According to Yppedia, you can add to your Explorer Reputation in the following ways:

...visiting the Atlantis citadels, visiting the Cursed Isles, visiting the Haunted Seas ship graveyards, visiting the Kraken, completing expeditions, and traveling around the ocean.

So first thing I did was take all my main pirates a-sailing, because "traveling around the ocean" is the easiest thing you can do. Lazing aboard a navy ship is the easiest way to do it, but also the most boring. Mostly I took my main pirates on trading voyages while I did other things (like, say, writing--writing very very slowly, but writing nonetheless). I made sure to keep this up until each pirate's Explorer Reputation moved upwards. (It generally doesn't take many leagues.)

Then I took Oshun pillaging in hopes of scoring an Expedition. And, why, yes, I did! I scored a Brigand King sighting. So I engaged Admiral Finius in battle, won the swordfight melee, won some small amount of PoE and ship supplies and also a pearl pocketwatch inscribed in honor of my victory. Like you do.

What I didn't win was my Seal o' Piracy. I didn't win that until completing the Buried Treasure expedition that I acquired a couple of battles later.

So something's not particularly straightforward here. I'm guessing it's either that "traveling around the ocean" doesn't count toward one's Seal o' Piracy for October 2015, because it's too easy; or that BK expeditions don't actually count toward Explorer Reputation after all, since they already count toward Conqueror Reputation. Or that maybe the BK didn't move my Explorer Reputation enough to trigger the trophy, and that the Buried Treasure expo pushed it over the top?

That's as much as I know so far, which admittedly isn't much. I'll tell you more next weekend if I figure more out. But until then, this blog is returning to actual writing coverage. (Hence the name.)

The raven has landed. Or wants to land. Pretty please?
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup for Oct 10-11: Legacies of every kind
Sat 2015-10-10 12:58:11 (single post)

So the news on the Emerald Ocean is that Qlimax Telecom is back and is blockading everything in sight. Or at least, everything owned by Illuminati. I sure hope that Illuminati is defending, because after reading that forum post, I not only have absolutely no desire to job for "cutie" (QT), but I also kind of need some brain bleach.

On Meridian, the headliner is Legacy of Life's drop on Raven's Roost, currently governed by Imperial Coalition. Legacy is looking for a new home for its "blockade pond" project, and will conduct today's blockade in a spirit of good will:

Raven's Roost is an outpost, and we are not dropping to try to kill IC, to win the island in one week at any cost or to personally target anyone. We would love to see a blockade that is allowed to be just a blockade, decided on the board at even jobbing and reasonable pay, and if IC decide to play that way, so will we. That is, however, not what we have seen in the past and we will play with what we get.

And on Cerulean, Iris is under attack by Vargas the Mad. Riding High has chosen not to defend, and is requesting that the island's new owners--should a player flag win this blockade--allow the pet elephants Ysabella and Mopp remain upon those shores, as they are a "living" memorial to two beloved YPP players who have passed away.

That's all I've got. Scroll down for the complete schedule. Get out there, have some fun, earn some PoE, sink some ships! Arrr!

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 10 ***

11:00 a.m. - Edgars Wahl, Opal Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Der Zorn der Götter
Attacker: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (3)

12:02 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (3)
Attacker: Fear No Monsters

*** Sunday, October 11 ***

12:00 a.m. - Raven's Roost, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Legacy of Life

12:10 a.m. - Paihia-Insel, Opal Ocean
Defender: Forcas Armadas
Attacker: Glare

4:00 a.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Qlimax Telecom

11:00 a.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Qlimax

11:00 a.m. - Aimuari Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Qlimax

11:00 a.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (5)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Sunday, October 11 ***

11:29 a.m. - Iris Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Riding High
Attacker: The Enlightened (6)

Well, that artwork didn't come out at all like I imagined it. Oh well.
a familiar fictionette for oh-dark-thirty
Sat 2015-10-10 02:13:55 (single post)
  • 1,189 words (if poetry, lines) long

It's ridiculous-o-clock at night, which is when Fictionettes get finished when your fictioneer is foolish. But F all that. Here it is: "A Familiar Situation," which is what our protagonist finds herself getting into when she accepts a sorcerer's offer of investment. It features an original watercolorish scribbly thing by me on the cover. Please enjoy the linked excerpt, and consider subscribing to read the whole thing and more than a year's worth of back-issue Friday Fictionettes besides.

That's all I've got for you tonight--see "ridiculous-o-clock," above. The weekend will be given over to Puzzle Pirates stuff, as per usual, and also a great damn big party that a league mate of mine is throwing, as per annual. Which is to say, I'm outta here. And also out like a light. And so forth.

a thing to do with only nine crawfish
Wed 2015-10-07 23:07:09 (single post)

I'm distracting you with a recipe again. Distracting you from what, you ask? Shush, I say. Distraction commences.

So the weather got rainy and chill lately, chill enough that we started turning our heater back on from time to time. But although temperatures didn't come back up to July-type heat, they did rise significantly whenever the sun came out. And the sun was out all day today.

So I thought, what the hell, maybe local crawfish season isn't entirely over yet. I hadn't attempted to take any since the first week of September, and I hated to think I might have missed my last chance.

Well, I brought home nine. Just nine. Honestly, it's probably not so much about the cooler weather as it is that I relied almost entirely on my homemade traps. Didn't really feel like I had the time to sit out there and line-fish this week.

Nine is enough to feel like it would be a waste to throw them back, but it's not exactly enough to make étouffée. Turns out, though, it's enough to give some good flavor to red lentil dahl. The following is my own from-scratch experiment, which I will now share with you.

Crawfish Dahl

  • 1/2 lb live crawfish
  • 1 C red lentils
  • 2 C water or stock
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • half an onion, chopped up
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 can (14 oz or so) light coconut milk

Boil and soak crawfish as per usual. With so few crawfish, I only used about a Tbl each powdered and liquid Cajun Land. Also a squirt of lemon. I figured I couldn't go too far wrong; if the crawfish were over- or under-spiced, I wouldn't notice it in a thick and creamy lentil soup.

Simmer lentils in water or stock for 15 minutes, covered. I used the crawfish stock I made recently. I'm trying to free up room in our freezer; turning two big bags of crawfish shells into two half-full bags of stock sort of helped with that.

While lentils are simmering, process crawfish. Peel and "de-vein" tails. Extract and reserve "fat" and any eggs found inside the heads. Set aside. You may have already noticed I am fairly non-squeamish about the gross-looking but tasty, tasty things you find inside a crawfish's head. I was raised to appreciate the good things in life.

When lentils are about 5 minutes from done, heat oils to medium high. Add onion and pinch of salt. Sauteé until onion is soft. You are unlikely to find mustard oil in a mainstream US grocery store, for reasons. Really, any cooking oil will do (maybe add a half tsp of mustard powder to the other spices). However, the first dahl recipe I tried called for it, so, after some research, I picked some up. It was on the shelf at a nearby Indian grocery, and it was labeled "for external use only" (as a massage oil). Nevertheless, an ingredient check said this was the stuff I wanted. I only ever use a little at a time because otherwise the burn goes right up my nose.

Pour coconut milk into fully cooked lentils and stir. It wasn't my original plan to add coconut milk, but after the 15 minute simmer, my lentils had pretty much drunk up all the stock. Adding coconut milk meant the dahl would have a consistency like soup rather than like porridge.

Add crawfish meat, crawfish "fat" and eggs, and all spices to the sautéed onions. Stir constantly for about a minute, until spice smell is strong and crawfish tails are well coated and tightly curled. Not that they won't mostly be curled already, mind you, but they really tightened up during the sautée. I put them in the soup whole, because they make me smile when I get one in my spoonful. But I chopped up the crawfish eggs fairly fine. Each crawfish egg is tiny, but in aggregate they form a solid lump (of deliciousness). The only lumps I wanted calling attention to themselves were the crawfish tails.

Stir onion-crawfish-spices mixture into cooked lentil mixture. Simmer a few more minutes, then remove from heat. Serve.

I think that's everything. It was delicious, and made enough to feed me twice. I was very good and put the second helping away in the fridge rather than devouring it all tonight.

Just can't resist a piece of MS Paint blockade intent art from Babylon.
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup for Oct 3-4
Sat 2015-10-03 13:15:11 (single post)

So Babylon is "back, and fourteen times more ready to blockade than before." Which is fortuitous, because when we last heard from them, they were not going to blockade anymore, and especially not against Dies Irae. Against whom they have declared no less than four blockades this weekend: on Turtle, Tigerleaf, Delta and Nu Islands. Yay?

Dies Irae have announced their intent to defend Turtle Island.

As always, the winner of this situation is ye humble jobber. Babylon have announced a rate of 1414 PoE/seg to start, which you can expect to go up at a rate directly proportional to how contested these islands are. And my guess is, given the long-term feud between these two flags, "how contested" equals very.

Meanwhile, following last weekend's blockade on Isla Ventress (Jade Ocean), that island now belongs to CORSARIOS DE POSEIDÓN, who have commenced construction of the first new buildings since el año dos mil mumble mumble. They're now hiring under the sign of "Navegantes," offering hourly rates of 25/35/44 PoE per basic, skilled, and expert labor respectively.

Continue reading for the complete blockade schedule for the weekend and the usual paragraph of blockade notes. Here come those notes 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, October 3 ***

10:03 a.m. - Accompong-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Das Jadeimperium (1)
Attacker: Glare

11:04 a.m. - Tumult-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Der Zorn der Götter
Attacker: Hort des Eiswurms (1)

12:00 p.m. - Moab Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Alria
Attacker: Black Veil (6)

12:39 p.m. - Havoc Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Legacy of Life
Attacker: Blood Sweat and Beers
Attacker: Cannabis Nation

*** Sunday, October 4 ***

4:45 a.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Hysteria
Attacker: The Crazy Department

7:26 a.m. - Wissahickon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (2)
Attacker: This Means War

11:00 a.m. - Aimuari Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Blue Ice

11:50 a.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (5)
Attacker: Fear No Monsters

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, October 3 ***

12:00 p.m. - Turtle Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Dies Irae
Attacker: Babylon

3:00 p.m. - Tigerleaf Mountain, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Dies Irae
Attacker: Babylon
Attacker: The Coalition

11:34 p.m. - Delta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Dies Irae
Attacker: Babylon

11:34 p.m. - Nu Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Dies Irae
Attacker: Babylon

*** Sunday, October 4 ***

12:00 p.m. - Zeta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Black Flag Inc
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (3)

Click to view original watercolor illustration by Kay Nielsen
this fictionette ain't goin' nowhere but maybe round the corner for a beer
Sat 2015-10-03 00:40:49 (single post)
  • 1,026 words (if poetry, lines) long

The first Friday Fictionette for October is a small folk tale retelling, or a folk tale fanfic if you will. It's called "How the Lassie Didn't Go East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and it posits a lot more communication and common sense than is the norm in folk tales. I mean, seriously, a girl's got more senses than just her sight. If her mother imagines that her daughter needs a candle to tell whether the guy she's sharing her bed isn't a Troll, her mother has a very innocent idea of what goes on in bed. That's all I'm saying.

I was astounded to discover that all of Kay Nielson's gorgeous watercolor illustrations for the folk tale collection East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North are as much in the public domain as the text itself--or at least they are covered by "no known copyright restrictions." I incorporated one of these illustrations for the Fictionette cover art, because it's lovely and because it helps make clear exactly what folk tale I'm playing with.

I've also released a Fictionette Freebie for September, and it's "The Celebrated Frog Forger of Clackamas County." The PDF chapbook and the MP3 audiofictionette are now both available for free to subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. Enjoy!

And with that we head into the weekend. If you're in the neighborhood and want to hang out, I'll be among the crowd helping local brewery (and Boulder County Bombers sponsor!) 300 Suns celebrate their Grand Re-Opening on Saturday afternoon. Bring a game to play, buy some beer, and enjoy their new menu! That's what I'm gonna do. (My, that Lushious Belgian Ale with the ginger and lavender sounds tasty...)

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