“When I am dead
I hope it is said,
'His sins were scarlet,
but his books were read.'”
Hilaire Belloc

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from Pixabay.com.
this fictionette is running late and is missing its keys
Wed 2017-04-12 01:13:46 (single post)

OK. OK! The Friday Fictionette for April 7 is out; it's "The Only Winning Move...," and you can probably finish that quote. Right? Maybe not. War Games was almost 35 years ago. Anyway, that link goes straight to the ebook edition, which is for Patrons at the $1/month tier. The audiobook for the $3/month tier, and the excerpt here and at Patreon and at Wattpad for everybody, that'll go up tomorrow because I suck. Hopefully tomorrow morning, but see again that bit about "I suck." Apparently all I have to do to ensure I won't meet a deadline is tell everyone that I will.

Until tomorrow, anyway.

did i say monday?
Mon 2017-04-10 22:09:06 (single post)

So today turned into unexpected Bout Weekend Recovery Day. See you tomorrow.

still behind the eight-ball but getting closer
Fri 2017-04-07 22:26:16 (single post)

Delays continue. Also, this is happening tomorrow. Sunday isn't looking too good either. Service will resume when conditions improve.

Look, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Monday. Monday! I can Monday! Monday is a verb describing an action I am theoretically capable of. In addition to being a day. I will see you on that day.

(It would be cool to see you Saturday, too. Just sayin'.)

YPP Weekend Blockades, April 1-2: Gnomebody knows the punnage i've seen
Sat 2017-04-01 13:04:00 (single post)

Good morning and happy Saturday! Have a blockade schedule. It is moderately active with start times to suit most time zones and schedules.

It is, of course, April 1, or as it is commonly known, April Fools Day. Your chronicler tends to celebrate that festive day by hiding away from the rest of humanity, firstly because she doesn't care for pranks, and secondly because the internet is full of entertainment. You may have to hurry to appreciate it, though--most April 1 demonstrations tend to go away on April 2.

So today's intertubes features things like the Google Gnome (the smart yard you've always wanted!) and the ability to play Ms. Pac-Man on the Google Maps app. Puzzle Pirates specifically is getting into the spirit of things with a S3kr1t Oceanmaster Forum that someone "slipped up" and left accessible to all. Plenty there to keep you entertained while waiting for your jobbing shippie to enter the blockade battle board. Also there's pet rocks. Don't you want a pet rock?

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, April 1 ***

12:00 p.m. - Havoc Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Leviathan's Wrath
Attacker: Depths Unknown

2:55 p.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Cluster Service

8:58 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Going Down

*** Sunday, April 2 ***

12:00 p.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Keeping The Peace
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (3)

12:00 p.m. - Nightshade Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Smoke and Mirrors
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (4)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, April 1 ***

11:55 p.m. - Ansel Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Super Awesomeness
Attacker: The Wanton

11:55 p.m. - Carmine Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Super Awesomeness
Attacker: The Wanton

*** Sunday, April 2 ***

11:49 a.m. - Angelfish Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Crimson Tide
Attacker: Undertow

12:00 p.m. - Cranberry Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Raising Hull
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (3)

Click through for excerpt and cover art credits.
this fictionette spoke too soon
Fri 2017-03-31 22:59:39 (single post)

I need to stop writing optimistic things in my blog. Right after saying things like, "I hope to have a good report tomorrow!" or "I think I'm getting back on track!" I always crash and burn. Wednesday through today were not highly productive days. They were "so exhausted I can't think straight" days.

And, OK, maybe Tuesday I was able to push myself to do "just a little bit" after derby, cool. But Wednesday I was so tired after practice that I couldn't even bear to think about the stuff I needed to do, not even "just a little bit." And this is why I go back and forth on the writing-post-derby question.

In any case, I have finally published the fourth Friday Fictionette for March, "A Most Competitive Compensation Plan" (ebook, audiobook), on March's fifth Friday. But with that out and the Fictionette Freebie for March also released ("Containment Breach," ebook, audiobook, html), that means I'm all caught up. I mean, barring all the Artifacts for 2017 so far, of course, but I'll be working on those over the next few days with the intent to mail them out, one by one, as I get 'em done. So, cool. Fresh start for April.

I continue to rack my brains against the fiendish puzzle of energy management as regards roller derby and a full-time writing career. Look, I didn't even skate tonight. I couldn't. I was so damn sore after having pratice three nights in a row that I barely slept at all last night didn't get moving today until well past noon. It's just as well I was mistaken about there being a supplemental practice for my line-up tonight. I had nothing left, not even to skate socially. Or leave the house at all. Besides, with not getting to work until the afternoon, I couldn't spare the hours anyway.

The puzzle will be an even tougher one next week, what with extra practice throughout and the two bouts looming over it all. But I don't have to try to solve that puzzle until... next week. Meanwhile, I have tomorrow to rest and recharge. John and I have some fun plans involving home-cooked food and movie-going and together-time and stuff. I expect after that, next week will look a look a lot more possible.

some epiphanies bear repeating
Wed 2017-03-29 00:46:09 (single post)

I never know what to say about days like today. It makes for boring blogging, and it's embarrassing too. I mean, "I went to physical therapy, came home, ate an early lunch/late breakfast, and then keeled over for several hours because I was inexplicably exhausted. That left me only enough time to do the household accounting and pay household bills before it was time to leave for roller derby practice." Who wants to read blog posts like that?

But, y'know, I did manage to do my morning pages before my PT appointment. And after derby, I did manage to spend a few minutes each on daily freewriting and fictionette prep work. I didn't do enough, I only did a little, but I did a little of everything; that's worth something, right?

Right. It is worth something.

Not only does it make me feel less down on myself that I did at least do a little bit (and earned the right to check off "daily writing" in Habitica, yay!), but it also brings me that much closer to publishing the overdue March 24 Friday Fictionette. I suspect that today I succumbed once again to the pathological avoidance tendency that arises out of bringing too much pressure to bear on myself. "I have to get it all done today!" I told myself, so of course I shut down mentally, emotionally, and physically. But since I convinced myself to at least work on it a little tonight--with the result that I finished drafting the story, wrote the last sentence and everything--that makes "ok, then, get it all done tomorrow!" less scary. The remaining "it all" is much reduced.

I go back and forth on whether to force myself to do writing after derby. On the one hand, I'm tired. I'm mentally and physically exhausted. So it's often counterproductive to pressure myself to Finish All The Things after practice. Having no resilience left makes those Things that much more scary and daunting and impossible. On the other hand, if I coax myself into "Just fifteen minutes of freewriting? Heck, even five minutes. You can manage five minutes," then after I do it I feel just a little more pleased with myself, just a tad more accomplished, just a bit more like I can actually trust myself with responsibility and promises and all. It's a self-esteem prop, is what it is. I need those sometimes. Without 'em, it's harder to get up and get to work the next day.

Plus, like I said, whatever I manage to do now, I don't have to do tomorrow, 'cause I did it. Win-win.

In other news, this morning's PT appointment was my last. My injury risk is once more no greater than that of any other able-bodied athlete in a contact sport. Granted, my knee was achy and sore from this weekend's exertions, but it will get achy and sore and tired more quickly than the other for some time to come. It'll take some time and work to get it back up to pre-injury strength levels. Until it gets there, I'll keep wearing a knee brace when I play roller derby, and giving it a little extra stretching and attention. But my physical therapist was ready to set me free if I was ready to fly, and I was more than ready to fly.

So I have my Tuesday mornings free again! Free to force myself to get up on time and get to work without the threat of a missed PT appointment hanging over me! Egad. Well. We'll see how that goes. Wish me luck.

Here's hoping I have good things to report tomorrow. In addition to the usual Wednesday obstacles, I got derby again in the evening. I pretty much got derby five days a week until our double header on the 8th because the 8th is frickin' soon and we have a whole bunch of preparation to do. But I expect that, even if I can't do it all, I can at least do a little. #MyNewMantra

more but less
Mon 2017-03-27 22:52:47 (single post)

Not today. Was very productive today, got lots done, but now I'm tired. More tomorrow, promise.

YPP Weekend Blockades, March 25-26: Now with bonus roller derby content
Sat 2017-03-25 12:53:40 (single post)

It's Saturday and we're taking a break from life. To support the shooting of pixelated cannonballs and the earning of fake money, I present the weekly blockade schedule. It's full of brigand kings and therefore PoE!

That's kinda it, really. I mean, for the YPP portion of this entirely frivolous and non-writing blog post. On the subject of non-pixelated entertainment, if you're in the Denver area and you want to see some roller derby, I could tell you about tonight's double header in Lakewood. I'm skating in the 6 PM bout. It'll be fun!

And that is all.

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, March 25 ***

12:00 p.m. - Polaris Point, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (3)

12:16 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (6)
Attacker: Black Flag
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:58 p.m. - Garden Cradle, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Leviathan's Wrath
Attacker: Icy Sun

4:00 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Ice Wyrm's Brood (3)
Attacker: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Kanata

6:00 p.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Delirium

*** Sunday, March 26 ***

10:00 a.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from Wikipedia.org
My machine...
...and what i been doing with it
so that's a thing too
Sat 2017-03-25 00:59:05 (single post)

Today will continue into tomorrow. I have excuses. They are not good excuses. Nevertheless, I did finally publish last week's Friday Fictionette, so that's a thing. It's called "Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree." It involves an exorcism, an unusual plant, an alarming rate of rapid exits from a high place, and a depressing amount of journalistic cynicism. Sounds like fun, don't it? (Patron-only links: ebook, audiobook.)

Although, come to think of it, I'll have spent as much time on writing tasks today as yesterday even if I don't sneak in a bit of submission procedurals before I go to bed. So that's a thing.

And my preferred procrastination method this time around was a productive procrastination method. I done patched the holes in the fitted bedsheet! I possibly had an unnecessary amount of fun doing so. Look, my sewing machine is back from service, it's suddenly a joy to use, can you blame me for wanting to use it to make little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches?

No, it is not an embroidery machine. It has no computerized settings. It is an old all-metal workhorse of inferior design--so the staff at the sewing-and-vacuum-cleaner place tell me. It sews. You can vary the length of the stitches and the width of the zig-zag. You can hold down a button and it will sew in reverse. It sews, OK? That's about what it does. It's attached to a table. It only sews flat things. I think if you detach it from the table you can then maybe get it inside pants' legs and stuff? Not sure. It is very heavy and detaching it from the table is a pain. But it sews, and it was not very hard to sew little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches.

Anyway, it is back from service, and it no longer makes birds' nests under the fabric, and the old disintegrating belt has been replaced, and on top of everything I just figured out how I was supposed to be using the knee-pedal all along so that I don't have to put a book under my foot to reach it. Sewing is enjoyable again!

So, here's the thing. I brought it to that place on 28th and Glenwood, Blakeman, I think it's called. I had misgivings when John and I first went in (hoping that we could just buy a replacement belt and put it on at home; alas, no) because the dude talking to me--I'm going to call him "asshole dude"--after Asshole Dude told us how to detach the machine from the table and how late they'd be open that we could bring it in, he then looked over my head at John and said, laughing, "I know what you're going to be doing this afternoon!" The insinuation was that, because the Little Woman wanted to sew, the Manly Man would be roped into lugging the heavy machine around. (Honestly, it went right over my head at first, but in the car on the way home, John was all, "So that guy was a sexist dick. Why are sewing machine shops full of assholes? It's like the sewing machines got modern but the attitudes stayed stuck in the 50s.")

(It's kinda true. The first place we took the machine to in Boulder, Wallace Sewing and Vacuum, something like that, I don't think they're around anymore--this was about ten years ago--the technician told me that although my sewing machine says Fleetwood on it, it's what they tend to refer to as a generic Japanese brand. Only he didn't say "Japanese." He used a WWII-era slur instead. *twitch*)

But I went back to Blakeman with the machine, pointedly lugging it in all by myself (having single-handedly uninstalled it from the table myself too, which was incidentally how I put it back after I got it home again), and this time I wound up talking to this other guy who wasn't an asshole. Did not even blink at hearing that probably John would be using the machine more than me, what with his history of making costumes for LARPs and for Gen Con and all. We enthused about role-playing games and costuming and then roller derby came up, like it tends to do, and he said he was from Cheyenne and watched the bouts there, and I said, "Hey cool, that was your team that came down and played my team in February!" I left happy to report that not all sewing machine shop staff are assholes, and vaguely regretting not bringing our season schedule flyer.

Fast forward two weeks to when I picked it up. I paid the lady behind the counter, and I asked her whether I could ask some questions about the machine. She said yes, just a moment, and I'm afraid it was asshole dude she fetched out from the back office to talk to me. And he stood there, leaning up against the table with my sewing machine on it, telling me that it will now sew the best that it could possibly sew, but that this isn't in fact all that great, because it's an old and inferior model whose zig-zag mechanism is outdated and subpar, and how I really ought to buy one of their new machines. And while he stood there lecturing me about my machine's obsolescence, he's absentmindedly fiddling with just about everything on the machine. All the settings that the service technician had just set during the servicing, that I had just paid for, so that it would sew the best that it could possibly sew, he is fiddling with.

He yanked out the thread before I could make a note to myself how to thread the thing (it had been quite some time since I sewed on it). Then I asked him how one adjusts the tension on this model, and before he answered, he spun the tension dial all the way around without looking to see where it was first. It was like his fingers had to interact with it to identify which piece I was asking about or something. Then he says, "You shouldn't have to adjust it at all. It was set correctly as part of the service." And I'm sort of involuntarily facepalming and almost pulling my hair out because YOU JUST WENT AND UNSET IT THOUGH DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHERE IT WAS BEFORE YOU MESSED WITH IT AND WOULD YOU PLEASE PUT IT BACK. Well, OK, he says, it was "probably" right around here, and he puts it back. Ish. And while he's telling me about how you adjust the knob one way if there's too much thread on top the cloth and the other way if there's too much thread beneath, now he's flipping the foot up and down and popping the foot pressure adjuster thingie in and out and spinning the foot pressure adjuster dial thingie round and round. I don't know that's what they are. I have to ask him, "And what's that thing you're messing with now?" He explains it. Fiddling with it the whole time.

Honestly, I'm starting to feel like a parental figure racing to clean up the last mess that a child has made while the child is blithely going on to make the next mess. I'll be like, "Stop messing with that, how was it set, will you please put it back the way the tech left it, can you pretty please answer my next question with WORDS not TOUCHING" and even while he's dismissing my concern and promising me it'll sew perfectly regardless of whatever he just did to it, he's off and fiddling with something else until finally I just sort of burst out, "Will you please step away from my sewing machine and let me take it home home now?"

At which point he acts all "Oh! I'm sorry! Here you go!" like he only now realizes he was physically blocking my access to the thing. Then he disappears around the back, leaving the lady who charged my card to see me out and hold the door for me while I lug the poor old heavy thing out to the car. She keeps a tactful silence the whole way, no comment on what just occurred. Which could either be because she doesn't want to tell me that she thinks I was unreasonable, or because she can't exactly admit she thinks the whole scene was hilarious, or because she mustn't be heard agreeing with me that Asshole Dude was an asshole. It really could have been anything, whatever she wasn't saying.

And yes, the machine is sewing perfectly now, despite all of Asshole Dude's fiddling. But I really wish Awesome Dude from Cheyenne had been in the shop when I came to pick it up.

"Sewing machine shops! They're full of assholes!" says my husband, provided with this fresh set of evidence. And I'm like, no, there was Awesome Dude from Cheyenne. But I had to admit that, at the critical moment, Awesome Dude was not about. And that's on me. I should have called first to find out if he was in.

There is another sewing machine shop in Boulder, I think, on 30th maybe? I'm kind of afraid to find out what they're like.

i guess that's what i am
Fri 2017-03-24 00:52:47 (single post)

What was I saying, last post? Can't do everything in a single day? Right, well, I've have several "single days" since then, and some of them I haven't managed to do anything in. I think the problem is, no matter how cheerfully I say things like, "It's cool! If I just do nothing but write all day then I'll get caught up!" ...I still exert sufficient pressure on myself to shut me down completely.

And I'm still not sleeping right. What the everlovin' eff, body?

(I'm working on that. Getting up closer to on time every day, avoiding afternoon naps, avoiding caffeine past 5 PM, installing f.lux in hopes of making nighttime computer sessions have less impact on my sleep cycle...)

I caught myself using the phrase "working writer" to describe myself recently. Well, I used the phrase; I caught myself experiencing the impulse to qualify it. Y'know. Disclaim it. Belittle myself. "Well, lately it's more like 'hardly working writer'..." I caught myself in time not to speak from that impulse, though, because speaking from that impulse does me no good. For one thing, if I belittle myself, it invites others to belittle me--not that they would, right, the people I was talking to are supportive people, but if I tell them I'm "hardly working" as a writer, why wouldn't they believe me? For another thing, why wouldn't I believe me? Every time I belittle myself, I add another grain of negativity to the huge, heavy pile I use to constantly put myself down.

But if instead of disclaiming it, I own that term, Working Writer, what happens? Well, maybe I just wake up one Thursday morning and say, "Yes. I'm a working writer. So let's get to work." And I do. I get up 'round seven, yeah, and I go to work at nine. (Or thereabouts. Still working on the sleep cycle thing, like I said.) And then I don't just devote the whole day to a heroic but ultimately doomed heave at the overdue stuff. No. I give that stuff a shove, yes, but not to the exclusion of doing the working writer things. Which is not to say that my Patreon experiment, the Friday Fictionettes, isn't part of my work, it is absolutely part of my day job, but--look, I got into this writing gig in the first place in order to sell fiction to paying publishers. And last week the very last story I had out on submission came back with a rejection letter. Now I have nothing out on submission. I should never have nothing out on submission. So I took a half hour or so away from toiling up Mt. Overdue so that I could...

  • log that rejection in the Submission Grinder and on my personal database.
  • send the rejected story to my writing group for help in fixing it (it's been getting personal rejections with consistent feedback across the board, so it really does need fixing before it goes out again).
  • looked through my unpublished flash-length stories for a suitable candidate to submit to Fireside, who are open to flash fiction just for this week.
  • read some flash fiction that Fireside has published recently to get an idea of which of mine might be a good fit.

In other words, submission procedures. Which I decided a long time ago needed to happen every day. Which is why I made a line for it in my timesheet template. It's in the "morning shift" section, which is where I done put all the daily "gotta-dos." For a reason.

So. With any luck I will have both last week's and this week's Friday Fictionette published tomorrow. But whether I do or don't, I will be making time for submission procedures. Because I am a Working Writer. Dammit.

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