“Beginning to write, you discover what you have to write about.”
Kit Reed

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

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!

Can IC come out and play?
Put the crayons away, Majorjr, you're drunk.
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup for Oct 24-25
Sat 2015-10-24 13:10:37 (single post)

It's a friendly weekend in the blockade scene.

On the Cerulean Ocean, Babylon invites Super Awesomeness to tussle over Cormorant Island because "they haven't had some PvP fun in a long time." Isn't that nice? It's very considerate. Also, they'll be using an entertaining selection of ships, and there will be a Halloween-themed raffle.

And on the Meridian Ocean, Legacy of Life hopes that a noon-time drop on Harmattan will fit the busy schedule of Imperial Coalition better than that of their previous drop on Raven's Roost. IC have graciously accepted their invitation to "a fun and relaxed cade." I like seeing flags play nice.

I'm only being a little sarcastic here: I'm used to seeing flag royalty at each others' throats on the forum, so, really, how long can this last? But flag drama is very much not why I love playing Puzzle Pirates. YPP is one of the cutest and friendliest MMORGs out there, and when people getting into serious snits at each other over it, it makes me uncomfortable. So: Yay friendliness!

All I'm seeing in Emerald Ocean Parley is a bit of a kerfuffle over messages left on Aimuarie housing news boxes. This is decidedly not friendly, nor is it really blockade related. What you want to know is that Brigand Kings are attacking Tumult and Marlowe today at noon PT, and Barbary tomorrow at noon. Also, tonight Illuminati and Hysteria will battle over possession of Pukru. There, isn't that much more useful then knowing who accused whom of leaving what message at Jonestown Houses?

I may or may not find time to job in blockades today, what with being at Mile Hi Con and all. So y'all will have to get out and have twice as much fun as usual--some for me as well as some for you. Thankee kindly!

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 24 ***

10:47 a.m. - Maia-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Der Fluch (1)
Attacker: Glare

12:00 p.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: No Offence Intended
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)

12:00 p.m. - Harmattan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Legacy of Life

12:00 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: The Explorers Guild
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

12:00 p.m. - Ansel Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Alria
Attacker: The Jade Empire (7)

12:58 p.m. - Edgars Wahl, Opal Ocean
Defender: Der Zorn der Götter
Attacker: Strawhats

8:14 p.m. - Surtsey Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (5)
Attacker: The Secret Service

9:00 p.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Hysteria

*** Sunday, October 25 ***

12:00 p.m. - Barbary Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: The Jade Empire (8)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, October 24 ***

12:14 p.m. - Cormorant Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Super Awesomeness
Attacker: Babylon

Cover art features original photography by the author of something that's actually, despite my efforts, not bubbly.
this fictionette went shopping for mead, and hijinks ensued
Fri 2015-10-23 23:23:32 (single post)
  • 1,451 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 4,668 words (if poetry, lines) long

Compared to my usual eleventh hour stunts, this week's Fictionette got done ridiculously early. Par for this week's course, happily. I got up early to see John off--he hit the road for New Mexicon--and then I got right to work so that I'd be able to go to a convention myself. MileHiCon's programming started at 2:00 PM, and I planned to be there.

So, yeah, I pretty much did my morning shift right away and straight through, and when I was done, "I Didn't Ask for Champagne" was up at Patreon and it had only gone twenty past noon. Go me!

But I still didn't make it to the con in time to catch the two o'clock panel. This is because, in the parking lot of Redstone Meadery, just when I'd finished purchasing gifts for a friend and was ready to make the hour-long drive to the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, the car died. The engine simply died before I'd even put the car in reverse, and it would not start again. It was 1:00 PM.

What followed was a long call to AAA from the tasting room of Redstone Meadery, and a short wait therein, which was followed by my car being towed to its usual mechanic and myself at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Mirage rented from the nearby Hertz. When I at last began my drive out of Boulder, it was 2:30 PM. Pretty slick, I have to admit. What could have wrecked my weekend plans was reduced to mere inconvenience, and not even that much expense. Gods of travel, bless the Triple A.

(Not that much expense so far. The rental was under $35 for the whole weekend, but we'll see what the bill comes to when the Saturn gets diagnosed.)

The next hour was taken up with construction traffic on Highway 36 which began very early on the Foothills on-ramp. The hour after that, with normal traffic on I-25. But I had Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap to keep me company, so I laughed a lot instead of raging at the road.

Then I finally made it to the hotel around 4:30 PM and was in the audience by 5:00 to hear Kevin and Ursula live--Ursula Vernon is the artist guest of honor, and Kevin Sonney was not shy about contributing to her GoH hour, to everyone's enjoyment. Connie Willis took over at 6:00 to talk to us about foreshadowing and which movies do it well (or poorly), opening ceremonies were at 7:00, dinner was overpriced but delicious salmon at the hotel restaurant, and at 9:00 Carrie Vaughn interviewed Kevin Hearne in the style of her series heroine's "Midnight Hour" radio show on KNOB. There was ranting about conspiracy theorists and speculation about Bigfoot. Everything was splendid. We lived happily after ever. The end.

Oh, except I still had two more hours of workday to live up to, and a short story to line-edit. Well. I'm finishing that up now, aren't I?

The story has not yet been submitted, despite my hopes. That's OK. It wasn't for lack of working on it. Line edits are simply taking longer than expected. My bad for expecting them to be so quick! This is the stage where I do get to bring out my inner perfectionist and let her try to get every sentence in every paragraph right. Within reason, anyway. I expect I'll be all, "That's FINE, let it GO, just SUBMIT the dang thing" by about Wednesday.

Tomorrow: Breakfast off-site! And then at 9:30 AM I will have a dilemma: Do I go to the SFWA business meeting, or do I throw in my lot with a Wreckin' Roller Rebels skater who's giving the kids a sock-footed lesson in roller derby? THIS IS A HARD CHOICE no, I'm serious, it actually is. I mean it. Don't laugh!

factors in a personal productivity revolution
Thu 2015-10-22 17:24:02 (single post)
  • 4,668 words (if poetry, lines) long

I have here, in my hot little hands, a brand new printed-out draft of "Caroline's Wake." It's about 1500 words shorter than the version I submitted last year, and, I very much hope, a stronger story. It's not quite ready to submit at this time, but give me a couple more hours to scribble in between the double-spaced lines of the print-out, and it will be.

Today is Day 3 of Actually Getting Writing Done on a Reliable, Workerlike Basis. Seriously, this week has been fantastic. I've been getting my morning shift done in the morning, and I've been using my afternoon shift to create publishable story copy. It is amazing how awesome it feels to transform writing from a guilt-inducing monster into a life-affirming achievement.

I'm not entirely sure what made this sort of productivity and dailiness feel convincingly possible this week and not, say, last week, or last year, or eleven and a half years ago when I quit my day job. But I can point to a few things that could be said to have helped.

Dropped all expectations of content writing. I got cut from first one Examiner gig and then the other, and I decided I was ready to let them go rather than fight to get them back. Examiner only paid according to some secret metric of eyeballs-on-page, which came to about $20 every third month. I was doing it because it was an outlet for babbling about stuff that interested me, not because it paid well. Which was sily, because I already have an outlet for babbling, and that's this blog here.

But this change also occasioned me reevaluating the desirability of having a content writing gig at all. Content writing obviously cuts into my writing time and capacity. Every writing hour spent on Examiner or Textbroker is an hour I'm not thinking up and writing down stories. And while a good content writing gig can be a reliable source of funds, the fact is I'm fortunate enough to have a well-paid spouse who enthusiastically supports my career goals. I can afford to take not just my writing but my fiction full-time.

And if I put all my writing hours toward writing, revising, and submitting short stories, I'm likely to actually sell a few. It's a better use of my time all around.

Which is not to say that I won't be tempted by a decent content writing gig. I did just submit a sample of my writing to a respectable organization that's looking to build a stable of web writers and editors. If that goes somewhere, well, I'll figure out how to schedule it in at that time.

Rearranged my timesheet template. I log my writing on a spreadsheet every day. That's how I know when I've done my five hours. This week I totally revamped the daily template, and it's ridiculous how much this helped. I suppose a well-organized brain is a productive brain.

I used to have my spreadsheet separated out into categories of types of writing: fiction in this block (short story, novel, freewriting), content writing in that block (Examiner, textbroker, other), miscellaneous over thataways (Friday Fictionettes, etc.). Then, if I was feeling decisive, I'd babble out a sort of schedule for the day in a column off to the right, which I might or might not look at again all day.

This week I overhauled it such that the schedule was baked right into the timesheet. Everything I expect myself to do in a work day, it's there, and in order. All the nonsense and clutter is gone. It's just Morning Pages, the Morning Shift block, the Afternoon Shift block, the actually writing blog, done. If I want to be more precise, there's room to type a description--for instance, "Short Fiction" today is described as "finish 'Caroline's Wake' to printable draft" for the first hour and "take your pen and finalize that draft!" for the second. But for the most part, my plan is just to do the next thing until I come to the end of the things.

There's still a line for content writing in the Afternoon Shift block, but mostly it just gets crossed off.

Began enforcing scheduling constraints. Before, I would get lost somewhere between Morning Pages and freewriting, or between freewriting and fictionette, and I might never come back from my long break in order to start the afternoon shift. Having reorganized my timesheet, I can now use it to determine where I break and for how long. Basically, if I'm in the middle of a block, I keep working Pomodoro style until I'm done with that block: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. If I get to white space, I can take a longer break for a meal or for playtime, but I have to have a concrete idea of when I'll start the next block. When that time comes around, I absolutely must get back to work.

This is not rocket science. This is what I always should have done, and what I've always known I ought to do. Somehow, this week I'm actually doing it. Amazing. I'm going to attribute it in part to the overhauled timesheet, and in another part to something else:

Reevaluated how I spend my break time. I hate to admit it, but I can't actually fit an hour of Puzzle Pirates into a 5-minute break. I can't even fit an hour of Puzzle Pirates into an hour. It's like football that way. Or roller derby. The clock may say that an hour of game time passed, but it took a lot more than one hour of real time.

But I can log onto Puzzle Pirates, play a single round of the Distilling puzzle, and log off. That takes about five minutes. Or I can play Two Dots until the Pomodoro Timer's end-of-break whistle.

The weird thing is, these little self-contained puzzle games are starting to act like both a reward and a trigger. That is, they not only function as "Yay, you worked 25 minutes straight, you get a cookie," but also as this Pavlovian signal that it's time to get back to work. Finishing a "pom" means I get to play a puzzle. Finishing a puzzle means it's time to get back to work.

So, these are things that have helped. (Also, getting up early--I keep aiming for 8:00, but as long as I'm up by 9:00 I stand a strong chance of finishing my morning shift by noon.) But what also helped was simply knowing that it's been more than a year since the rewrite on "Caroline's Wake" was requested, and that's just ridiculous, and the ridiculous shit ends now. And so it does.

pleased to make your reacquaintance but just this once
Wed 2015-10-21 21:45:34 (single post)
  • 5,061 words (if poetry, lines) long

Two solid hours on the short story revision yesterday! Even better, two solid hours today! (Well, one hour so far. Two hours by the time I'm done. On that, more later.) The reason today's session was even better than yesterday's was, it came on the day after yesterday's session. Which meant no lengthy reacquaintance period, 'cause I'd got that over with yesterday and didn't need to do it again today.

The "reacquaintance period" happens after a long absence from a story. It involves rereading it in detail in order to, yes, reacquaint myself with it. In the case of a revision paused part of the way through, it also involves some line-level, word-level tweaking of the prose in maddeningly fine-grain detail. I keep telling myself, "This is not the time. This sort of thing can wait until you've finished the new draft and have printed it out. Please do not do this right now!" But I can't seem to stop myself. It's as though it's not enough to reread what I have so far, but I also have to get all hands-on with it, too, before I can work with it again.

If this were sculpting, I'd be smoothing my hands over the piece's contours, maybe adding or adjusting texture. Getting back in touch, see?

So that was an hour of yesterday's two hours: Getting back in touch. Rereading the beginning and changing a word or two. Revising sentence 1 of paragraph 10 in several minutely variant ways before finally changing it back to what it was before. Remembering how unsatisfied I was with a particular segue, and, despite knowing that now is not the time to get it perfect, wading in and trying to fix it for good and all. Then finally giving up in frustration and moving on.

This is why it is a bad idea for me to stop working on a project for weeks at a time. When I come back, I have to go through the reacquaintance period again.

Today has been much better. Since it was fresh in my mind from yesterday, I was able to jump right back in and continued transferring chunks of story from the previous draft to the new draft. I smoothed out transitions where verbiage was cut, reimagined characters' perspetives and motivations, and improved flow as best I could as I went. But the important thing is, I went. I progressed. The mental bookmark denoting the place I'd let off in creating the new draft has moved significantly forward this week.

I am reasonably optimistic that, if I continue at this rate of two hours every workday, I'll have submitted this requested revision before Halloween.

Which means maybe I can participate in NaNoWriMo this year! With a couple years' worth of daily freewriting to delve into for plot and character and worldbuilding ideas. Wow. I might write just about anything.

But to bring things back to the present: I still have to put in another hour on the revision tonight. The two-hours-a-day goal is absolutely accomplishable, but I seem to want to split it up into two hour-long sessions. Today it was because I hit saturation point on a narrative tangle, and rather than keep banging my head fruitlessly against that wall, it seemed better to pop the problem on the backburner and let my unconscious play with it for a few hours. Also the restaurant I was at started filling up with small children playing with toy cars around that time. (Also also I spent most of my time at that restaurant procrastinating, so that I'd only left myself one hour to work before I had to be somewhere. But that's just happenstance.)

Anyway, time to put this post up and get back to the grind. For the second day in a row! Hot damn!

tryin to get the feelin again (and quite possibly succeeding)
Tue 2015-10-20 20:28:13 (single post)
  • 3,330 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 5,312 words (if poetry, lines) long

So the other day I was talking about how accumulating rejection letters can make it difficult to convince oneself to keep accumulating rejection letters; or, put another way, how it's hard to keep believing in the viability of a story that has accumulated a lot of rejection letters (for emotional values of "a lot"). There comes a point when the writerly weasel brain starts insisting that the reason the story keeps getting rejected is that it's no good.

Well, whatever the opposite of writerly weasel brain is--writerly angel brain? writerly sweetheart brain?--it starts to sing the moment one hears "Good news! I liked your story and sent it up to the Editorial Board for further review." Or words to that effect.

Words to that effect arrived late last week, providing me with an effective argument against weasel brain. Regardless of whether "It's For You" is ultimately accepted or rejected by the Editorial Higher-Ups, I'll be able to tell myself that someone liked it enough to put it in front of the Editorial Higher-Ups. That's enough to keep me going.

More than that--thinking about it got me excited last night for today's workday. Like, "I can't wait to write" excited. There's a logical component to it: "I can't wait to finish more stories, so I can send out more stories, so I can receive more good news about my stories! And feel good some more!"

This is a good feeling. This is a feeling I need to be able to store in a bottle, then administer to myself via medicinal measuring spoon as needed.

So there's this one story that's been waiting more than a year for me to finish revising it so I can send it back to an Editorial Higher-Up who specifically requested the revision. Never mind the stupidity of my having taken this long about it; I'm trying to focus on fixing it. I'm trying to ride this fresh new happy-excited-affirmed feeling right into the part of my day where I work on that revision. Which is why I'm writing this blog post first. Writing about that feeling makes me kinda-sorta relive that feeling. Kind of like the way writing about bad memories makes me relive the bad feelings associated with that memory? Only this time it's a good feeling.

My impressionable brain! It can be put to work for the forces of good!

(I hope!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cool story, sis, but you could have told it in half the time...
(YPP) The Olympian Class Sloop: Sacrificing convenience for cool
Mon 2015-10-19 11:20:11 (single post)

I have been meaning for some time to blog about the Olympian Class Sloop that was available for shipyard purchase in July and August. But I keep trying to do this on Sunday, and the problem with Sunday is that it starts with roller derby practice, and I don't generally manage much that's productive after roller derby practice. Generally I wind up flat in bed for the rest of the day. (That especially goes for Sunday practices where I manage to roll my ankle and inflame some sort of tendon in my foot. Stoopid foot.) Next thing I know, it's Monday morning, and I missed another Sunday, and the sloop I want to blog about came out three months ago, and when am I going to blog about this month's limited edition sloop (the Undead Class Sloop, available through November 1), huh?

So, whatever, here's a Puzzle Pirates blog post on Monday morning. You can pretend it's still Sunday if you want to.

Olympian Class Sloop: Gorgeous and Terribly Inconvenient

It is shiny and pretty in every way. But I have discovered that I'm less than happy with its layout.

Puzzle Pirates has many good things going for it, but movement around a scene is not one of them. Which is usually OK. Almost all of the action takes place in chat and in mini-games, after all. Your pirate avatar mostly serves the purpose of playing dress-up and showing off the results. So it's understandable that, of all the things the game designers could focus on, the user experience of walking around isn't a high priority.

It only becomes a problem in two areas. One of those is walking around a large, uninhabited island; since you can't "teleport" to various areas via the buildings on the Dock map, you really do have to walk in order to find the horde of monsters waiting to be defeated or the island creator's inscription or whatever. And walking is nail-bitingly, knuckle-whiteningly slow. You click where you want to go, and then you wait for your pirate to get there, and then you right-click to shift the camera to the new area, and then you wait for the camera motion to finish, then you do it all over again. And again. And again.

The other problem area is walking around a ship, especially one with a lot of stairs and extraneous scenes. And in order to reach the booty chest an Olympian Class Sloop, you must navigate both.

Assuming that you've been performing the duty navigation puzzle (I always do), you start at the navigation wheel, up top the aft platform of the main deck. So first you've got to come down the stairs. I hate in-scene stairs. If you're already standing on the yellow arrow, you'll have to walk off it and walk back. And sometimes even then it doesn't work--instead of going down the stairs, your pirate simply stops at the top of the stairs. At this point, I'd usually click the other downstairs arrow--but on the Olympian Class Sloop there is only one set of stairs between the aft deck and the main deck. Arrgh! So I have to walk off the arrow and try it again.

Or I just skip the damn stairs. Right-clicking moves the camera over and brings the hatch into view. So I click on its little yellow arrow, and go downstairs into the main hold. Arrows that change scenes don't seem to fail at the rate that arrows for descending/ascending in-scene stairs do.

So now you are in the main hold, which is where most sloops keep the booty. But not this sloop. Oh, no. You must go down another level into the "Gorgon Den". And then you have to walk all the way to the other side of the Den, because the scene is too long to reach it by shifting the camera.

Now you can divide the booty. Finally. But then you'll have to go back up to the main hold if you want to then access the money and goods now aboard the ship. Arrrgh.

It's a cute narrative premise: The booty chest is buried deep in a stone labyrinth and watched over by the head of Medusa. Thus would-be thieves either get lost or turned to stone. Honestly, if the developers had seen fit to bring this narrative to life in a game-affecting way--say, giving the ship a modest functional bonus against gem thieves and the like--I'd complain less. But as things stand, it's purely a cosmetic thing which affects game play only by making booty divisions more of a pain in my butt.

Honestly, I'd prefer it if you could get to a ship's hold and booty via commands on the sidebar, just like you already do with the port/deport and sail/turn about buttons. But if they must be dependent on interacting with "physical" stations, can't those stations be made less inconvenient to get to?

It's not just the officer in command who has to deal with it. The Gorgon Den also houses the ship's two bilge stations and one of its carpentry/patching stations. So if you're a jobber switching from sails to something else, you risk getting yelled at to "station up, lazer!" when you're genuinely trying to do just that. If you're an officer moving your swabbies about, you have a long wait during which you might wonder if the swabbie will restation at all.

Pretty as it is, I'd as soon do away with the Olympian Class Sloop's main hold entirely--it's not particularly functional--and replace it with the Gorgon Den. Or just move all the functional parts of the Gorgon Den up onto the main hold, so that the room that's the hardest to get to is also the room that you need the least. Compare with the Red Room on the Dream Class Sloop. Clever hidden rooms and sub-basements are fun to look at and maybe throw parties in, but let's keep them strictly optional, yeah?

So there you go. It's a beautiful ship with a clever story behind it, and PixelPixie of the Cerulean Ocean deserves all the kudos for their contest-winning design. But the game developers have made it enough of a pain to interact with that I'd rather just leave ported at some island with an active market and just use it for executing shore trade.

So that's my rant. Meanwhile, I have just bought this month's Undead Class Sloop, which again is only available through November 1. Hopefully it turns out to be both really cool-looking and a pleasure to sail.

Defending Napi Peak with mad Jedi skillz
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup, Oct 17-18: On a pixelated ocean far, far away
Sat 2015-10-17 13:00:00 (single post)

The flag CORSARIOS DE POSEIDÓN on the Jade Ocean hasn't even finished building a fort on Isla Ventress, but effin' Azarbad el Grande is already trying to take things over. If you wish to help us defend, that's going on at noon Pirate Time. Pay starts at 300 PoE/seg, which may seem low, but heck, it's Jade. The economy needs more pirates in it.

If you're free this evening, check in with Otherworld on the Cerulean Ocean, where Madam Yu Jian is trying to take control of Gaea Island, and we're gonna try out darnedest to stop her. The shindig gets started at 8 PM Pirate Time. Pay will start at 1000 PoE/seg and there may be a raffle.

Also on Cerulean, Napi Peak is being contested at Saturday noon. Adult Buffet wants to take it, The Coalition wants to keep it. Only one flag can have it. Which will it be? Vote with your job application and your puzzling skills! Pay starts at 2000 PoE/seg.

Plenty more blockade action on the other oceans. Opal and Meridian each have a Brigand King attacking something this weekend, and there's at least four blockades on Emerald today. Might be more - there's usually a last minute drop or two somewhere. Anyway, scroll on down for the full schedule, and 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, October 17 ***

11:01 a.m. - Maia-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Glare
Attacker: Der Fluch (1)

12:00 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Jinx (4)

12:00 p.m. - Surtsey Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Daunting Rewards
Attacker: Black Veil (7)

12:00 p.m. - Isla Ventress, Jade Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: CORSARIOS DE POSEIDÓN
Attacker: La Llama que todo lo consume (1)

1:05 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Fear No Monsters
Attacker: This Means War

2:29 p.m. - Arco Ascalón, Jade Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Courage
Attacker: Flota de su Escamada Alteza Imperial (1)

4:00 p.m. - Ilha da Aguia, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Eternal Glory
Attacker: Keep the Peace

5:03 p.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The All-Consuming Flame (3)
Attacker: Black Flag

*** Sunday, October 18 ***

12:00 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Hysteria
Attacker: Gunslingers
Attacker: Pirate King

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, October 17 ***

12:00 p.m. - Napi Peak, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: Adult Buffet

8:00 p.m. - Gaea Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Otherworld
Attacker: The Jade Empire (3)

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