“So we must daily keep things wound: that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy.”
Madeleine L'Engle

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

we pause now for a rave audiobook review
Tue 2017-05-02 00:47:19 (single post)

It's Hugo season, and the list of finalists in just about every award category this year is so very promising that I've been using it as a reading assignment in earnest. For reasons that don't need to be listed here (not least because millions of pixels have already been spilled on the subject all over the internet), it's been a few years since I could do that. But there is so very much to read! I'm not sure I'll get through it all.

However, as part of making my best attempt, I've been availing myself liberally of the local bookstores and the library. I had forgotten that you can check out electronic media from the library, not just hard-copy books! Which rediscovery leads to this discovery: Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series is very, very good--and the audiobooks, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, are even better.

I've been shotgunning these books, just listening to them at every opportunity. It is taking real discipline to stop the playback long enough to get any writing done (but I have been strong!). I'm not sure they're going to take my personal top vote for the Hugo Award for Best Series (a new category in its pilot phase this year), but if there was an award specifically for series in the urban fantasy genre, it wouldn't be a hard decision. They do so much right. The plots don't necessarily go anywhere unexpected for being more or less police procedurals--but the way they get there is a delight. The dry humor of the main character's observations grabbed me from the beginning.The audiobook narrator delivers his lines in ways that make me guffaw and snicker uncontrollably. He also renders each character unique and recognizable and with believable accents from West Africa to midwestern U.S., all the gradations of the British Isles, and in such precise combinations as "Indian by way of Scotland." (Which also gives you an idea of how multicultural and multihued Aaronovitch's London is. The main character has some wry observations along those lines, too, being himself a man who "range[s] from IC3 to IC6 depending on how much sun [he's] been getting.") And that's before we get into the heartbreakingly realistic voicing of a particular secondary character before, after, and through the progress of recovering from a relevant injury.

Speaking of which--the book that follows the one in which said injury occurs, it wrecked me, just punched me in the heart, just by making the aftermath of that trauma an important part of character and relationship development. I guess I'm used to sequels that sort of reset everyone to zero? Like, "Last book found the hero half-dead after the climactic battle, but he's all better now and ready for his next adventure!" And I was unconsciously expecting these books to follow suit? Maybe?

I kind of hate that I have to appreciate this, but--this is an urban fantasy series with a male protagonist who doesn't describe each and every woman he meets by referring to her score on his personal hotness index. It's like women actually matter beyond whether or not he'd like to have sex with them! (Look, I read the first book in the Iron Druid series. THERE IS NO COMPARISON.) It's not like he never refers to women's sex appeal--there's a long-time friend he's had a long-time crush on, and there are river goddesses who exude sexuality as part of their glamour, sure. But there's also a woman who comes to the police to report her son missing, compassionately described in terms of her fear and her stoicism and her humanity. There's a woman who's in a position of authority over the main character whom the main character doesn't resent for it. (She's also lesbian. He doesn't resent her for that, either. And he has absolutely no sympathy for anyone who does; in fact, there's a little triumphal glee over the presumed fate of the last person who made disparaging remarks about her sexual orientation.) The female characters who exist for reasons other than the main character's boner greatly outnumber the ones who... are at one time or another described as affecting said boner but nevertheless are also described in many other terms and play a much fuller role.

It seems like it should be a low bar: UF series with male protagonist and which unambiguously portrays women as people with full interior lives and agency. It's amazing how few such series I have encountered. So I really do appreciate this series for that.

I will also forever adore these books for taking some of the tired, grim tropes of detective stories, and infusing them with humanity and hope. Like, the main character's parents, and all their dysfunction, aren't just a voiceless part of his backstory. They turn into actual characters with surprising roles to play. Their status isn't fixed. His father isn't just a cautionary tale about how a drug addiction can tank a promising musical career. Dad shows up in the novels, talking about jazz and making new friends and--well, I don't want to spoil anything, but THERE IS HOPE FOR HIM, OK? This warms my heart. And the main character's mom is simultaneously THE BEST and also deeply frightening. I mean, I would read a whole series about her but I'm glad she's not my mom, you know?

Speaking of jazz: The musical interlude that begins each chapter is perfect. Makes me want to revisit my original ambition to write a few bars of my own to bookend the Friday Fictionette audio releases with.

I guess what I'm saying is you should totally get your hands, or your listening device of choice, on these audiobooks. I've been checking them out from the Boulder Public Library via either Overdrive or Hoopla as available. I will probably wind up buying my own copies to keep. Also the hard copy. And I will reread them to bits.

But I won't get to reread them even once until I've finished the rest of my Hugo Award reading.

YPP Weekend Blockades, April 29-30: Getcher doubloons now while supplies are still affordable
Sat 2017-04-29 12:10:42 (single post)

Rubber Duckies of Doom are at it again, continuing their efforts to single-flaggedly resurrect the blockade scene on the Emerald Ocean. That's a fine ocean for those purposes. Doubloon prices are still under 4K per on Emerald, unlike on Meridian where (no doubt thanks to some shenanigans) the price got walked up to 8.5K and climbing. Billions of blistering blue barnacles, people, whose interest does that serve? Some of us gotta "coinscribe" to keep our Cerulean subscriptions up to date! Gaaaahhhhhh - go sit in the corner and think about what you've done!

*ahem*

In any case, it looks to be a fun-filled, cannon-packed Saturday starting at a quarter to two, and you are encouraged to Get In On It. I hope to join you--I've got an unscheduled Saturday ahead, marred only by a night of insomnia which may cause me to keel over for a mid-afternoon nap unless I am very strong.

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 29 ***

12:10 p.m. - Acanthaster Spits, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (3)
Attacker: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Trap House
Attacker: Antheas

12:29 p.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (1)
Attacker: Schmutzige Hšnde

1:44 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:00 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:02 p.m. - Kasidim Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

2:41 p.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Invicta

2:42 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Unwanted

3:00 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Crayon Box
Attacker: Quid Pro Quo

*** Sunday, April 30 ***

12:00 p.m. - Viridis Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Dragon Lords
Attacker: Black Veil (2)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, April 29 ***

12:00 p.m. - Beta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Falling Stars
Attacker: The Enlightened (2)

12:00 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Undertow
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from Pixabay.com.
this fictionette is on time, unreasonably optimistic, and also obsessed with neckwear (and i am 41)
Sat 2017-04-29 00:44:07 (single post)
  • 1,122 wds. long

Real quick: The Friday Fictionette for April 28 is out; it's called "The Ties that Bind (ebook, audiobook)." The title is a pun. It could as well have been "The (Neck)ties that Bind." Geddit? Geddit? HA ha ha ha ha... Ok then.

Work on next week's offering starts bright and early tomorrow because I'll have to get it done by Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon I board a plane for Eugene, Oregon, and on Friday I skate. So next week I'll have to do a much better job of incorporating the New! More productive! Routine! than I did this week.

This week... hrm. Well, Tuesday was awesome, as you know. Wednesday was less awesome because it required several errands around which I was less able to assemble my working day than I had expected. Also Wednesday night John and I went out for a belated celebration of my birthday. This involved fantastically delicious Japanese food and spirits at Izakaya Amu. Also a trip to the bookstore. Also ice cream. AND MORE.

And then I don't know what happened to Thursday. THURSDAY DIDN'T EXIST. Well, I thought it would be safe to just read one chapter of Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit, a finalist for this year's Hugo award for best novel. The first few chapters were a lot to digest. I had to read them slowly, sometimes out loud, to make sure I was keeping up with all the eye-popping paradigm shifting concepts being thrown at me by an author who clearly trusted his readers to Keep Up. So I figured it would be easy to stop at one chapter Thursday morning. Except--surprise!--I had reached the tipping point beyond which the book became IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN. So. That's where Thursday went.

And then, Gods help me, I started rereading it this morning. (It's a book that seriously rewards a reread. There's so much just on the first five pages where you'll go "Ohhhh, now I see what you did there...")

Can you believe I still haven't even gotten around to the short story revision and re-submission? That I was so excited about?!

Well. Next week is a new week. A short week, what with the Big O Tournament, like I said, but, a new week nevertheless. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

Cover art incorporates
one catch-up day equals several days moving forward into the kind of future that requires sunglasses
Tue 2017-04-25 17:58:50 (single post)
  • 1,129 wds. long

It's catch-up day! The Friday Fictionette for April 21 is out at last, rejoicing in the title "In Your Lifetime" (Patron only links to ebook and audiobook; links for everybody to excerpt on Wattpad). It's a coming-of-age story--well, it's a coming-of-age scene, anyway--in which the legendary monsters are just the regular schmucks of the world, and the humans are the legendary monsters. One human, anyway. Nobody likes that guy. He's a jerk.

Meanwhile, the Fictionette Artifacts for January will hit the mail tomorrow. Finally. I have at last got to a point where I can just chip at that backlog bit by bit every day until we're all caught up, just in time to send out the Fictionette Artifacts for April. I'm using a delightfully parchment-like gray stationery for January, which was a great idea right up until I realized that the correction tape on my brand-new typewriter ribbon is white. Thankfully it's not quite as tacky-looking as I feared. (The surprise inside is not paid product placement, I swear. I'm just that excited to have fresh supplies of brand-new typewriter ribbon.)

I've logged all the submission acknowledgments and responses that were pending for pretty much a whole month. This puts me at the uncomfortable status of Slush Zero--I got nothing out on market at this time. But that's OK! Because today was a successful catch-up day, the rest of the week can be oriented more toward going forward. For instance: My writing group came through with some great feedback on "Caroline's Wake" that I think pinpointed where I was inadvertently diluting the characters' stakes, and I know how to fix it. Well, I've identified a fix I'm definitely implementing, anyway. On rereading it I may find other places to fine-tune things based on Sunday's discussion. I am utterly jazzed to get this done and send the story out all hopeful to its next date with fate!

I continue to experience angst over why this timesheet-and-checkbox thing isn't actually working. But today I have Taken Action. A small action. Small corrections are sometimes the best correction, in life as in roller derby. ANYWAY, I changed out the timesheet template to make it more generic, with a First Session given over to the gotta-dos and a Second Session for fiction and submissions. And I've got this idea that if I create tomorrow's template tonight, filling it out with tomorrow's task list before I go to bed, I'll be more likely to wake up on time ready and eager to Do All The Things. The key is in having those Things clearly identified. If I wake up feeling like the day is full of a Vague Yet Menacing Too-Muchness of Things, I'm liable to panic and flee back into the safety of REM sleep. And we can't be having with that, because...

That's it! No more trying to get stuff done after derby, not even "just a little bit." Come 6:00 PM, the work day is over. I want to come home from practice with nothing to do but relax, play, and put myself to bed in good order. Suiting thought to deed, or deed to thought, whichever order one says that in--I lined today up such that even my blogging would happen before practice tonight. And lo, it was done, it is being done, and it is good. It will be good. It'll be so good tonight around 10:00 PM. We are talking beer and post-derby dinner and self-indulgent soak in the tub and probably a couple hours of Puzzle Pirates. Yes, all at once. What do you think wireless keyboards and mice are for?

YPP Weekend Blockades, April 22-23: Intel acquired under the table
Sat 2017-04-22 12:14:41 (single post)

Ahoy! I have insider information about this weekend's blockades. Well, about one blockade. On the Cerulean Ocean, I received this request from a hearty who happens to be King of the flag Undertow--yeah, that's right, I'm dropping names of royalty here--

Fedorov tells ye, "Heya matey! I got a blockade tomorrow at Chaparral. Trying to keep Babylon defending for Sherbetlemon so they have no chance to defend Labyrinth Moors. Come help me out! thanks XD"

Spoiler blockade? YOU DON'T SAY. Unfortunately I am otherwise occupied IRL (on roller skates, natch) and will be unable to help out personal-like. So go job for Undertow on the Cerulean Ocean! Or job for Babylon if they're yer mates. Whatever! Just have you some 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, April 22 ***

12:00 p.m. - Prolix Purlieu, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)

12:07 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The All-Consuming Flame (2)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

12:30 p.m. - Raven's Roost, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (2)
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:33 p.m. - Edgars Wahl, Opal Ocean
Defender: Pandemic
Attacker: Schmutzige H�nde

1:47 p.m. - Alkaid Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Going Down

2:13 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Jade Empire (2)
Attacker: The Corsairs Alliance

3:43 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Chemical Romance
Attacker: The Corsairs Alliance

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, April 22 ***

4:53 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Falling Stars
Attacker: Undertow

5:00 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (3)

8:28 p.m. - Eta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: Babylon

8:33 p.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: Babylon

sponsor a skater for earth day
Sat 2017-04-22 00:25:59 (single post)

My roller derby league is having an Earth Day event where we skate a large portion of the distance from Boulder to Denver, picking up trash as we go. We put the Fun in Community Service Fun! And you can sponsor us as we do it, supporting roller derby in Boulder County thereby. Here is the link to the event and to the funding page. If you go to the event page right now, you will see that most of the individual skaters have specific sponsors. A few still don't. If you feel so moved, help us fill in the blanks! (I think we will all report back how many miles we wound up skating, and then sponsors donate an amount of dollars per mile. $1-$5 is the suggested range.)

Meanwhile, our Bombshells will be traveling to Colorado Springs to take on the Pikes Peak Derby Dames--here's that event page. Since I'll be skating in the Earth Day event, I probably won't make it down there myself, so please go down there for me and cheer 'em on!

The Friday Fictionette will be late again FOR NO GOOD REASON. I expect it'll see the light of day over the weekend. Hang in there.

what writers can learn from a sack of angry raccoons
Wed 2017-04-19 23:53:49 (single post)

So apparently Chuck Wendig and I have something in common, and that's a birthday in the back end of April. (Also we're both writers, but I would like to stop the comparison there before it becomes too depressing. I mean, what have I published in the last 5 years, right? NOT 20 NOVELS, THAT'S WHAT.) I'm not sure what I'm going to do about my birthday, but Wendig's using the occasion of his to reflect on the lessons of his writing career. Said lessons, he hastens to emphasize, may not necessarily be transferable to other writers--that's the first bullet point right there, Writing Advice is Bullshit and Largely the Product of Survivor Bias:

Even the list below is just meÖ spouting off. Theyíre lessons that apply to me, not to you. Maybe to you, itís gold. Maybe itís a sack of angry raccoons, I dunno. The only writing advice you can count on is: you gotta write, and you gotta finish what youíre writing. Everything else is variable.

I'm down with that. And I'm pretty much down with the whole list, actually. If any angry raccoons are involved, well, maybe they have cause to be angry. They're not saying anything that strikes me as fundamentally untrue or less than useful.

Some of it is really reassuring for me. Take number five, Find Your Damn Process--Then Challenge It:

You have a process. So go find it. Maybe that means writing 2k every day, reliably. Maybe it means writing 15,000 words every other weekend. Maybe it means you write in coffee shops, or in the crawlspace under your house. Maybe it means you eat a handful of bees before you begin. I dunno. Thatís on you to figure it out, and while itís important to figure out what you write and why you write, itís also incredibly necessary to figure out how you write. You may think how you write is the way others have told you it must be, but that doesnít make it true. Also important: when your process isnít working, you need to evolve it. Your process isnít one thing forever just as you arenít one person forever.

I bolded a bit there 'cause it's speaking to me. My current process, the one I was so proud of coming up with, the whole 5 hours a day thing, morning shift, afternoon shift, fill out a time sheet, check the boxes on Habitica, do the daily gotta-git-dones... it's not working. I hate that it's not working because it ought to work and I don't know why it's not working. But it's not. And maybe I have to acknowledge the possibility of some answer other than "Try HARDER tomorrow."

I don't know what the right answer will be, but it probably starts with "change something." Change what? To what? I don't know. But asking the question generally comes before answering the question, I guess. I may not like the period between ask and answer, since it's filled with confusion and despair and flailing around and going WTF I CAN'T EVEN, but I suppose it's inevitable to spend some time there.

Which means this bit is also reassuring. From number 24, You Know A Whole Lot Less Than You Know, And Thatís A Good Thing:

Every day of a writing career is exploring a new planet. All the truths you hold are likely half-truths or even cleverly-costumed lies. Embrace that. Every day I know less than I knew before, and I find that oddly and eerily liberating. It means I donít have all the answers and neither do you.

So it's OK not to have answers. Not having answers is a necessary state of art, and in fact life.

What is also necessary: continuing forward, despite that lack of answers. Despite the lack of success. Despite the lack of hope, even. Quoting number 25, which--given all the times I've gritted my teeth to hear someone say, "Not everyone's cut out to be a writer, so there's no use encouraging the ones who aren't"--sings harmony with my heart of hearts:

Writing as a career takes a certain kind of obsessiveness and stubbornness, I think: the willingness to put a tin pail on your head as you run full-speed into a wall, hoping to knock it down. Again and again. Until the wall falls or you do. Sometimes I think maybe that the thing that separates those who have it from those who donít is simply those who decide, ďFuck it, Iím a writer,Ē and then they do the thing. They choose to have it, to count themselves among that number rather than those who donít. But I have no idea. I donít know what the hell is going on. And neither to do you. What I know is this: writers write, so go write. Finish what you start.

The rest is negotiable.

It may look like I've already quoted the whole darn article right there, but, honestly, there are 25 bullet points in that there list, and Chuck Wendig wrote them all, which means they are (mostly) verbose and profane and hilarious. And also wise and inspiring and reassuring. At least, I thought so, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Besides, I didn't have much news of my own to share. I mean, I got up, I took care of some household necessities, I wrote, I went to see the Doctor Who Season 10 screening at the local theater. Things are OK. They're just not news.

The Volt is back in full repair, by the way. The part that needed replacing--essentially, the charging port--was more specific to the make and model of car than I thought, so I actually had to take it to the Chevy people in Longmont. They spent about three hours chasing down warranty approval and one hour doing the actual repair, so I got very familiar with their waiting room. Too familiar. I kind of had to take a break from the waiting room and go skate around Sandstone Park for awhile. And I have to say they weren't very proactive in giving me updates. Even when they were done, it was like the dude was on his way to another errand and since he just happened to be passing by he thought he'd mention that "We're all done whenever you're ready." Dude. I've been ready all afternoon, where were you? But, hey, all's well that ends well, and I went on to treat myself to Popeye's fried chicken because I was practically at I-25 and 119 anyway.

And now the car is fully functional, the still extant manufacturer's warranty paid for it all, and I was able to charge it all the way up not far from the movie theater tonight, and it's all ready for John to drive it down to New Mexicon for the weekend. The end.

Cover art incorporates photo by Schorle (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.
YPP Weekend Blockades, April 15-16: You make bath time lots of fun...
Sat 2017-04-15 13:09:06 (single post)

Ahoy and happy Saturday! On Puzzle Pirates this weekend we got a whoooooole buncha blockades to play in, the majority of them starting during the noon-o-clock hour on the Emerald Ocean, and the majority of those involving notorious troublemakers Rubber Duckies of Doom. Well, I say troublemakers, but honestly, I'm told they're my allies, or at least the allies of my allies, so I should go job for them. They're already offering top pay per segment, so that's an extra incentive. Those doubloons ain't gonna earn themselves, ye know.

Meanwhiles, back in what they call the real world, I have the Friday Fictionette for April 14 to announce. Yes! It's up, and only about 12 hours late. It's called "Just Like Old Times" (ebook, audiobook). It's sort of a guide book to a picturesque Old Town you or someone you know might be nostalgic for. It was built to evoke that nostalgia. Nostalgia is pretty powerful bait.

OK so! These two things announced, I am off to earn my PoE and eat my last helping of mirliton cheesburger mac FTW. 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, April 15 ***

10:15 a.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Das alles verzehrende Feuer (1)
Attacker: Pandemic
Attacker: Schmutzige Hšnde

12:00 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Rainbow Unicorn Glitter
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (3)

12:00 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Cluster Service
Attacker: The Jade Empire (3)

12:00 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Going Down
Attacker: Black Queen

12:00 p.m. - Acanthaster Spits, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Trap House
Attacker: Jinx (4)

12:01 p.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:01 p.m. - Blackthorpe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:01 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:02 p.m. - Kasidim Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:03 p.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Going Down

12:06 p.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Black Queen

12:08 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:09 p.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Pale Element

12:10 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Caught In Crossfire
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:12 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom

12:13 p.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Rubber Duckies of Doom
Attacker: Coon and Friends

12:18 p.m. - Kashgar Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Technicians
Attacker: Coon and Friends
Attacker: Black Flag

8:05 p.m. - Lilac Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Danger Zone
Attacker: Get Off My Lawn

we pause for health and wellness (also sleep)
Sat 2017-04-15 01:26:47 (single post)

So the Friday Fictionette for April 14 will be out on April 15 instead, which is practically on time considering the last few months. And yes, I know what I said about how promising a due date means I'll miss that due date, but this time it's a sure thing. I've got the text finalized and the audiobook recorded; all I need to do is the production stuff. Create the cover art, export to pdf and ebook, that stuff. Easy stuff. Heck, I'd have it done tonight (this morning) except it's past 1:00 AM and I still have a bunch of other things I have to get done. Like, basic wellness and self-care. Brushing my teeth and doing push-ups and taking my blood pressure and spending my daily 20 minutes on the Posture Right. Like you do.

The other reason I'm pretty confident in a delay of less than 24 hours is, unlike last weekend, which was Bout Weekend, this weekend features an almost entirely unscheduled Saturday. I say "almost" because tonight I discovered that the reason I couldn't get the Volt to charge was there's a bent pin in the port, and so I'll need to take the car back to Green Eyed Motors for service. I do not expect this to be a terrible chore; the folks there are great, and they share a building with a very pleasant coffee shop. I expect I'll get some work done on both the fictionette and the weekend YPP blockade round-up while I'm there.

Speaking of bout weekend, everything went well! I wound up skating in both bout with energy to spare, so I guess I've finally gotten my endurance back up to pre-injury levels. As far as I know, no one got hurt, just the usual sore muscles and bruises that you expect from a derby engagement. (Very pretty bruises!)The visiting team were all just fantastic people, both on and off the track. A bunch of them came out to the afterparty despite some of them having an early plane to catch. I spent most the evening chatting with one of their MVP jammers. And BCB won both bouts (A team game, B teams game)! Which was not a sure thing at all, so we're all very proud of ourselves.

Next games on our schedule: Our Bombshells go to Colorado Springs on April 22 to play against the Pikes Peak Derby Dames, and our All Stars go to Eugene, Oregon the first weekend in May to participate in The Big O. Rosters have not yet been set for any of those four games. Will let y'all know whether/when I'm skating.

ARGH it's late. 'Til tomorrow.

Two mirlitons which I have set aside to sprout, because of course I want to grow them. Will probably have to pot them indoors as not enough summer will remain by the time they are ready.
brief interlude with mirlitons
Wed 2017-04-12 23:40:58 (single post)
  • 1,083 wds. long

Hi! I have a recipe for you today. Or, rather, I have a food experience which you may, if you wish, convert into a recipe of your very own. Basically, it starts with mirlitons.

I have gone mirliton-crazy as only a homesick New Orleanian can go. My grandmother used to bring a shrimp-and-mirliton casserole to family holiday gatherings; unil this year, that was the only mirliton I'd ever consumed. Recently I'd noticed that Asian Food Market has a produce slot that, despite containing bags of snow peas, was labeled "chayote" (that's what they call mirlitons round here). I started keeping my eyes on that slot. Never having handled an actual mirliton before, I wasn't 100% sure what I was looking for. Pictures on the internet helped, but I still wound up having exchanges like this one with the proprietor:

"Chayote?"
"No, bitter melon."
"Oh.

Earlier this year, hallelujah! there they were. I grabbed an armful and brought them to check-out.

"You going to make soup?"
"No, casserole."
"It's very good in soup with chicken. You should try it."

One day I will. So far, I have mostly just casseroled it up. I have made shrimp-mirliton casserole, vegan mirliton casserole, and vegan-and-gluten-free mirliton casserole (using gluten-free panko instead of breadcrumbs or saltines). I have briefly looked at a recipe for mirliton pickles and decided I wasn't quite ready to process 18 mirlitons in a single afternoon.

Today I had mirliton cheeseburger mac.

  1. Brown 1 lb. ground beef with a chopped-up half onion. Ground beef courtesy Boulder Beef, who are not only local but part of my roller derby family. I also bought a beef tongue from them a few weeks ago--another cooking first for me--and made this fantastic tomato stew with it. This was good timing, because the very next day I was mildly sick, and the beef tongue stew turned out to be the platonic ideal of sick day comfort food.

  2. Add two small chopped-up mirlitons. Before the chopping-up there are other preliminaries. Boil for about an hour in crab boil seasonings, let cool, cut in half lengthwise, scrape out the seed, peel the halves. Then chop. Try not to chop off the tip of your thumb, by the way. Pro-tip. Which I am stating for no reason whatsoever. Don't look at my thumbnail. Move along.

  3. Add parsley. Everything is better with parsley. I had some in the fridge doing nothing with its life. I chopped it up and stirred it in. If you are the opposite of me, you probably hate parsley and think everything is better with cilantro. In that case, add cilantro. You do you, is what I'm saying.

  4. Rethink everything. I had some idea this would be a casserole, because mirliton = casserole. But chopped-up mirliton doesn't just turn into mushy casserole matrix by itself. It needs a food processor (which I don't have) or at least a manual ricer (which I do). I'd already tossed it into the beef and onion mixture, so the ricer wasn't happening. The mirliton was chunks. Small chunks, but solid. I could eat the mixture with a spoon, but that seemed lacking in ambition.

  5. Decide: Am not up to dealing with pie crust. Which is a shame, because this would make an excellent shepherd's pie. Only there's no potato in the house either.

  6. Put it in mac & cheese. Basically, do like that "Pasta with Sausage" recipe that Debra Doyle described as "what Hamburger Helper wants to be after it grows up and goes to a good college." Start with Annie's Mac & Cheese (I used the shells and Wisconsin cheddar variety). Pour about a half cup heavy cream over about two cups of the beef-onion-mirliton mixture. Stir in Annie's cheese powder. Shred in some maple smoked cheddar that happened to be in the fridge. Add spices: Black pepper, garlic salt, Cajun Land table seasoning, alder smoked salt, fresh grated nutmeg. Definitely do the cognac thing. Simmer to thicken a bit. Stir in cooked pasta shells. Crumble up and stir in the last of that homemade chevre-style cheese we made after going to the Art of Cheese workshop.

  7. Eat too much. Leave no leftovers. Take no prisoners. Fight off food coma.

I've still got another cup and a half of the beef-onion-mirliton mixture. WANNA DO IT AGAIN. Maybe Friday. This is not a meal for eating before roller derby practice, at least not until I can find the self-restraint necessary to eat a reasonable rather than gluttonous portion.

PS. The remaining bits of April 7 Friday Fictionette are up now: audiobook and excerpts (here and at Patreon and at Wattpad). The [ebooks] have been reuploaded because I couldn't refrain from making a couple more edits during the audiobook reading. So there you go.

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