“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

YPP Weekend Blockades, July 22-23: It's halfway over before we've quite begun talking about it
Sat 2017-07-22 13:55:15 (single post)

The blockade schedule is very slim this week. One on each English-speaking ocean starting at noon today, and then a last little tussle on Emerald at a quarter to four.

(And when I say "English-speaking ocean" I am not including Obsidian. I think there aren't going to be blockades on Obsidian for a while, certainly not until islands that can be blockaded have been colonized.)

That's all I've got, which is great 'cause I'm late. One round is already up. Go! Hurry! Go!

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, July 22 ***

12:00 p.m. - Olive Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Chthonic Horde (2)

12:00 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)
Attacker: Black Flag

3:47 p.m. - Blackthorpe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Crayon Box

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, July 22 ***

12:00 p.m. - Corona Reef, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: The Insane Asylum
Attacker: Jinx (2)

Cover art incorporates pubilc domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons and a totally overused lighting effect in The GIMP.
no crashy-burny for THIS fictionette; also, how the sausage gets made
Fri 2017-07-21 23:47:11 (single post)
  • 1,031 wds. long
  • 2,850 wds. long

The bad news is, yes I got sick again. Or discovered I'm still sick, and that Thursday was just a day off from being sick because the universe is merciful or because it likes a good joke or maybe just because I took a 12-hour Sudafed at exactly the right time, I don't know. Today was gross sniffly coughing sneezing bleaaarrrrrgh.

The good news is, I got all my work done anyway. So there. Take that, sick! You ain't the boss of me!

Seriously, though, 100% not kidding, today was probably a more powerful rebuttal to Jerk Brain than it would have been had I felt perfectly fine. It's evidence that my ability to Be A Writer™ is not dependent on the stars being aligned just right. It is something that, in all but the most exceptionally terrible cases, is always within reach. That's really empowering.

Today I...

  • Sent "First Breath" off on a new quest for reprint publication
  • Published this week's Friday Fictionette
  • Set up a Scrivener project for converting an old draft into a new piece of flash fiction

And also freewriting, Morning Pages, this blog entry, Fictionette Artifact catch-up, yadda yadda yadda. ALL THE THINGS.

The Friday Fictionette for July 21 is "Falling Toward the Light" (for Patrons: full-length ebook, audiobook), which is mostly about the hazards of having a rift in the space-time continuum open up while excavating for new building construction in downtown Loveland. It's also partly, possibly, between the lines, about the effects of the above on economics and politics at the hyperlocal level.

When keeping up with Friday Fictionettes was threatening to take over my entire writing life, I was beginning to question their viability as a continuing side project. I was sick of having nothing writing-wise to blog about except them. But now that I'm more or less caught up and reliably on time with the weekly releases (excluding, of course, the Fictionette Artifacts--I am almost ready to mail the ones from March), and now that I'm regularly working on writing and selling short fiction again, I'm going to designate Fridays and only Fridays for blogging about Friday Fictionettes. To everyone's relief, mine especially.

And now that they've been reliably on time for a few weeks, I feel like I can speak to the weekly routine of making them happen. So! Here is my Process, in case you are wondering.

Saturday: Tomorrow's Saturday! Yay. It is the Saturday preceding the July Week 4 release. So I'll take a look at what I wrote during my freewriting sessions during the fourth week of June and choose one of those pieces to develop into the Friday Fictionette for July 28. I'll copy it from the Daily Writing scriv to the Friday Fictionettes scriv, then set up its folder with all the relevant templates. That's pretty much it. It's the weekend, and I just valiantly published the previous release, so I get to take it easy.

Sunday: NOTHING. I started giving myself this day off from even the most minimal writing tasks after I was forced to recognize I wasn't doing them. Something about starting the day with a three- or even six-hour roller derby practice. I've still been optimistic enough to set up writing dates with friends on Sunday afternoons, though.

Monday: Back to work. Once in a while, I'm fortunate enough to have produced a pretty good first draft during the original freewriting session. Most of the time, I'm not, and the output will be this rambling exploratory babble. So I'll spend Monday's fictionette-prep session just creating a very wordy outline. It's mostly about structure: Start here, then this happens, then that, then the other, then finally end with this.

Tuesday through Thursday: Write the dang thing. Using the outline as a sort of fill-in-the-blank, using the weave-and-dodge strategy to keep from getting stuck, trying not to waste any of my daily 25-minute fictionette-prep session on staring into space or doing too much internet research. This is the hard part but it's getting easier.

Friday: Publish the sucker. Come up with a title and an author's note if I haven't already. Ditto cover art. Sometimes I have all the foresight and I create the cover from my own photography or drawings, but usually I do a last minute search for public domain or creative commons attribution/share-alike commercial-OK licensed imagery. Export the Fictionette as PDF and epub, convert epub to mobi, record the audiobook and convert to mp3, and post to Patreon. If by this time it is not stupidly late o'clock, do the excerpts for Patreon, Wattpad, and my blog too; otherwise, do those over the weekend. (I try not to have to leave them for the weekend.) It sounds like a lot, but everything after creating the cover art is pretty mechanical by now. It only takes forever if I didn't finish the actual writing by Thursday.

And that is how the sausage gets made. The end.

See you tomorrow for the weekend YPP report! Or, if that's not relevant to your interests, skip it and I'll see you Monday.

that's it, no more crashy-burny for you (you don't even LIKE crashy-burny, what the hell is wrong with you)
Thu 2017-07-20 23:34:13 (single post)
  • 3,339 wds. long

So it turned out to be just 24-hour sinus drama. Went to bed sniffly and feeling crappy, woke up before seven o'clock still sniffly but with boundless energy and well-being. It's confusing as hell, but I'll take it.

I submitted three things to paying markets today, y'all. Three! That's five submissions this week! And one of the things I subimtted today was a brand new drabble (100-word short story) that I just wrote this afternoon. And I finished up the promised manuscript critiques, and I did all the required daily things, and I continue to catch up on the Fictionette Artifact backlog, and I cleaned the toilets. (They really needed it.)

And now I am back from scrimmage. It was a lovely scrimmage. We hit each other really hard, damn near ended in a tie score, and then we had a party with beer and cake. (Also, one of my teammates wore assless booty shorts. It was a themed scrimmage, so this makes sense. Trust me.)

Days like today scare me. Rather, what scares me is the prospect of the day after a day like today. Past recent experience says I'm due to crash and burn tomorrow. I always crash and burn the day after phenomenally productive and fulfilling days. That's what jerk brain says, anyway. I tell it, "Hey, jerk brain, you have selection bias like woah, you're ignoring all the non-crashy-burny days, there is no good reason that I should crash and burn--I mean, unless I get sick again or something, and it would be just like you, wouldn't it, to make me get sick again tomorrow just to prove your crappy naysaying point?"

I spend a lot of time talking to jerk brain. But you should hear the mouth it has. Someone has to stand up to it.

So the thing about drabbles is, I planned to put together a raft of eight or ten brand new ones and submit them to SpeckLit. That went rather well for me in the past. Only I haven't visitied them in ages. I visited them again after writing that one drabble today and trying to remember what kinds of things authors put in their author's notes there. Turns out, they closed their doors last September. Dang it.

But there is, as it happens, no shortage of online markets looking for very very short fiction. Not all of them will pay SFWA professional rates, but at one hundred words the difference between pro pay and token pay is more in the percentage than in the pocketbook. And I just wanted to submit something that was new. You know? Rather than just collect another handful of rejections for the stories I've been shipping around for the past few years?

So I found a place (which does pay pro rates, by the way), and I sent it, by the Gods.

This is me, feeling like Real Writer™ again. It is not my default feeling. I have to work at it. Tomorrow I will work at it some more. It'll be great. (You hear me, jerk brain? It'll be great!)

what is this fresh nonsense cut it out
Wed 2017-07-19 22:32:52 (single post)
  • 4,600 wds. long

Well, I wasn't to know my sinuses were going to attack me today, was I? *sigh* Had to call in sick today, more or less. Got about a half day's work in, brain moving at half-speed the whole time. Got the daily stuff done--and congratulated myself for that accordingly--but nothing beyond that. And did not make it to yoga+derby. Hopefully my body will stop with the dramatics and let me go to scrimmage tomorrow night.

(I honestly don't know if I'm sick or just suffering some weird sinusitis-like reaction to last night's Fieldburger with cheese. The throat irritation kicked in immediately after I finished eating; the post-nasal drip continued all night long and into today. I have no allergies that I know of, but bodies are weird. More research may be required.)

That aside, "daily stuff" properly includes submission procedures, even if it's been a while since I've treated it as such. Finally got over my embarrassment, logged the duplicate submission rejection, and sent "Caroline's Wake" out again. And again, since the place I sent it yesterday got the rejection right back to me today. (And yes, I triple checked my records; neither that place nor the place I sent it today have seen it before. NOT MAKING THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. I hope.)

So tomorrow with the remaining manuscript critique, popping something else into some magazine's electronic submissions system, and--maybe?--writing something entirely new, just to prove I can.

And scrimmage, I hope. And less with the sniffly, sore throat, post-nasal drip, high-on-Sudafed nonsense. Because that's what it is. NONSENSE. You hear me, body?!

back to your regularly scheduled reality
Tue 2017-07-18 23:55:23 (single post)

All right! I'm back. I'm back for reals. I took tonight off from practice so I could have time both to have a good, solid, full work day and take care of random errands and crap waiting for me after a weekend away. SUCCESS. For the most part, anyway. I was able to check off the new "Did everything on my timesheet" Habit item, so that's a thing--in addition to my daily gottas, I finally got to the manuscript critique I promised a month ago. Yayyyyy.

Will have to be on my toes tomorrow to keep up the good work and hit yoga-and-practice in the afternoon, but I think I can do it. Chez LeBoeuf-Little has begun getting up at 7 AM which has led to remarkably productive mornings. It has not yet led to me reliably getting to bed before midnight, but it's all a work in progress anyway.

About that bout? We won our game. It was not easy! We spent pretty much the whole first half figuring out how we were going to have a shot at winning the second. I think we did an exemplary job of adapting to unfamiliar terrain (literally and figuratively), and to an unfamiliar opponent, in time to pull off the win. The host league, the Salina Sirens, are utter sweethearts on and off the track. I didn't want to leave the afterparty.

There are pictures, if you want to check 'em out. From the bout, I mean. Not the afterparty. Well, there may be some from the afterparty but I don't have those at hand.

Got back in town Sunday afternoon and pretty much collapsed--and I'm not even the one who did the driving. Took it relatively easy Monday. So it was time to get back to work today.

Look! It's not quite midnight yet! Yayyyyy.

YPP Weekend Blockades, July 15-16: Simon says it's time to place your starting bids
Sat 2017-07-15 10:37:25 (single post)

Notable in today's blockade schedule is a triple attack by new(ish) flag Symonds Says on islands owned by Spoon Republic. This would be on the Emerald Ocean.

Also on Emerald, Knockout invites all comers to invade their islands "in a friendly setting":

We want opportunities to try out some blockade staff teams that don't typically get much involvement in the 10k/seg high scale blockades.

Hence, we'd like to invite participants to choose an island between Scrimshaw, Alkaid, and even Admiral to showcase their best blockading talents. From here, the two flags will discuss terms and conditions regarding the blockade to ensure as much evenness as possible to truly determine that the best blockade team wins. Some of these terms and conditions may be time of blockade, even jobbing, shared nav lists, etc. To incentive participants, Knockout will be paying 25% of the jobber poe spent by the attackers if the attack was deemed genuine and the flag showed desire to win through at least one fully contested round.

In short, we would like the opportunity to get some more controlled blockades on the scene and we encourage flags who normally would shy away from expensive blockades to take up the challenge.

On Cerulean, the crew "Wolf" is returning to the scene, and their flag Zion announced their intent to take over Endurance Island. Cold Steel will unfortunately not be able to defend, so look for this contest to be called early.

In non-blockade events, Spoon Republic and their friends will be holding an auction on Sunday at 4 PM pirate time. View the forum post linked here for a list of who's up for bid and what they will do for you if you win. (I am particularly charmed by Highpriority's offer to "narrate your life with a fabulous British accent.") Bids start at 50K. Well, 10K really, but there is a 50K prebid on all pirates, so. Other prebids have been announced in replies to the thread. Get yours in now!

And the Oceanmasters have announced two separate contests where by the YPP community can help create a most enticing Steam store page for Dark Seas. Get your crew together, do something fun on the Obsidian Ocean, and capture screenshots and videos of the proceedings as your contest entries! Deadline for both is this Sunday, July 16 at 11:59 PM pirate time.

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, July 15 ***

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Get Off My Lawn
Attacker: The Jade Empire (6)

4:33 p.m. - Hubble's Eye, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Symonds Says
Attacker: Spoon Republic

4:37 p.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Symonds Says
Attacker: Spoon Republic

4:39 p.m. - Gauntlet Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Symonds Says
Attacker: Spoon Republic

8:29 p.m. - Spaniel Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Keeping The Peace

*** Sunday, July 16 ***

10:00 a.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Knockout
Attacker: Per Aspera Ad Sol

11:56 a.m. - Kasidim Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Symonds Says

12:00 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Keeping The Peace
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (7)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, July 15 ***

12:03 p.m. - Endurance Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Cold Steel
Attacker: Zion

middle ground is where you make it
Fri 2017-07-14 00:03:29 (single post)

Me, yesterday, re: Habitica:

There is probably a middle ground between gaming the system and sabotaging one's own chances of success, but I haven't found it yet.

Maybe I found it today. I went looking, anyway.

To be more explicit: There is a small list of writing tasks I'd like to do each day that I keep! Not! Quite! Getting to! and it's bothering me. Things like: Spending a solid writing session on writing a new short story, or revising an existing one so that it is ready to submit. Working on the novel, for serious. Sending stories back out to new markets (ones they have not been to, of course. I'M STILL EMBARRASSED ABOUT THAT) and logging responses to previous submissions. These things are not represented in my Habitica "dailies," so I can log a "perfect day"--a day in which I check off all the Dailies--without ever getting to that list of much-neglected writing tasks. I suppose it's overstating things to describe this as me "gaming the system," but I'm certainly not making the system work for me here.

Problem is, the act of adding new Dailies to the list does not suddenly cause me to succeed at a task I've failed at week after week. It just makes failing at it feel worse. No more perfect days and it's my fault the party gets thwacked by the quest boss.

An intermediate stage is needed here.

So, Habitica's "dailies" are those task which you hold yourself too every day. If you check them all off, you accomplish a perfect day! But for each Daily you don't check off, you take damage. If you're in a quest, your party also takes damage. That's Dailies.

There's also "habits." Habits are those tasks you'd like, to, well, get in the habit of doing more often. You click them any time you do them, however many times a day is appropriate. Like: "Get up from the desk and stretch" or "Eat a home-prepared meal." You get rewarded with gold and experience points for clicking them, but you don't get punished for not clicking on them. (There's also negative habits which you're trying to break yourself of, and you take damage every time you click them. Example: "Did you pick your nose? Be honest!" But that's outside the scope of this discussion.)

Habit items are perfect for giving yourself incentive to do a thing without putting yourself under a lot of pressure.

So I have added a Habit item for "All items on today's timesheet." (This is a spreadsheet where I track my working hours by task, and it lists all the tasks, including those things I keep not! Quite! Getting to!). It has a positive clicker I can click if I do all the things. It also has a negative clicker, but I'm going to give myself a two-week adjustment period before I start clicking it.

And then, what the hell, I added five more Habit items: "1 hour of writing," "2 hours of writing," "3 hours of writing," and so on up to five. I used to have a "5 hours of writing" Daily, but I pretty much never managed to check that one off. So rather than keep punishing myself with it, I disabled it. Temporarily. Having now brought it back as a series of low-pressure Habit incentives, I might train myself up to a point where it's reasonable enable it as a Daily again.

So that was very technical and will probably make more sense if you go and check out Habitica. You may find it useful. Not everyone does, but it pushes all my buttons very effectively.

Anyway, I did not get to click "All items on today's timesheet" today. But you know what I did do? For the first time ever? I completed a Friday Fictionette early. That's right. July 14th's offering is already up on Patreon for scheduled release. Which means I can begin my road trip to Salina, Kansas (it's bout week again!) on a clean conscience. And I might just get to peck at the novel a bit in the car. I'll certainly get to start next week's Fictionette early. If I can keep this up, I might actually begin building a future fictionette buffer. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Anyway, now I have blogged. Which leaves me only two Dailies left between me and a perfect day (for Habitica values of perfect). Off I go to do them!

a brief note on the gamification of gamifications
Thu 2017-07-13 00:50:15 (single post)

So here's my minor epiphany for the day: It is possible to check off all my Habitica Daily items, thus technically accomplishing "a perfect day," and still feel like I didn't really get anything done. This probably means I need to add more items to my Dailies. There is probably a middle ground between gaming the system and sabotaging one's own chances of success, but I haven't found it yet.

In other news, the view from the NCAR Mesa Trail was particularly lovely this morning. (Did you know there is a small science museum inside NCAR? I did not know that. It is fascinating.)

minor optimism at tired o'clock
Tue 2017-07-11 23:51:11 (single post)

So I did spend a little time the other day looking at the notes from last year's novel brainstorming session. Got kind of excited about it all over again, like, yes, this is going to be a novel worth writing, and spending time with these characters will be keen, but I didn't have any sudden breakthroughs. I mean, it would have been very nice to reread the notes and suddenly go, "Oh! That's how the novel ends. I see it all now! Must write the first draft NOW!" But no.

I also haven't managed to get back to it since that night. Which isn't very good for maintaining that excitement level. Mainly I've just been plugging away as best as my schedule and energy levels will allow. Mostly not having any crash-and-waste-the-day days, but still haven't reached the sort of daily productivity level I'm looking for.

Meanwhile, the goddamn insomnia is back. Not getting sleep isn't helping, body, please do a thing that is helping, pretty please.

On a different note, there is something very satisfying about getting together with fifteen or so of your best roller derby buddies to reposition the floor tiles and lay down a fresh track. Then, when you get there for Tuesday practice, you get to look at it and skate on it and think, "We did that. Go us!" Very tiring work, especially when the day previous you skated in two very competitive bouts, but very satisfying nevertheless.

OK, I'm off to try to make myself very tired.

YPP Weekend Blockades, July 8-9: The (attempted) resurrection of Jade
Sat 2017-07-08 13:08:43 (single post)

STOP THE PRESSES. There will be a blockade on the Jade Ocean this weekend!

When? Sunday, July 9, 12 PM Pirate Time
Where? Arco Ascalón
Against whom? ¡VARGAS EL LOCO!
Why? In another attempt to wake up Jade Ocean and encourage others to do the same

They're going to start at a pay of 3k per segment, but reserve the right to send in fewer and smaller ships as Vargas's fleet diminishes.

On Cerulean, Babylon would appreciate your help in defending Kirin today. Blackstar will be defending Eta and Jubilee from attack by The Stumbling Solo. Byrne will be defended as well.

Meridian and Emerald are not devoid of action today. In the case of Emerald, that is an understatement, especially since Illusion dropped a whole bunch of noon-time Sunday war chests at the last minute. Obsidian, aka Dark Seas, have no blockades yet but the time will come. (I gotta update my database!)

In more general news, a couple of enterprising pirates have created new resources for your enjoyment:

An' that's the news, an' I am outta here.

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, July 8 ***

12:00 p.m. - Harmattan Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (4)

12:01 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (4)
Attacker: Knockout

12:01 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: No Strings Attached
Attacker: Auspicious Takeover
Attacker: Shadows of Sage

12:02 p.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: No Strings Attached
Attacker: Auspicious Takeover

12:04 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (2)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

4:35 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Per Aspera Ad Sol
Attacker: Spoon Republic

5:54 p.m. - Isle of Kent, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Black Flag
Attacker: Keeping The Peace

*** Sunday, July 9 ***

10:02 a.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Knockout
Attacker: Shadows of Sage

10:08 a.m. - Corona Reef, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Antheas

11:00 a.m. - Arco Ascal�n, Jade Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: El Iluminado (1)
Attacker: United Explorers

11:56 a.m. - Saiph Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Versus Terminus
Attacker: Illusion

11:57 a.m. - Blackthorpe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Illusion

11:57 a.m. - Arakoua Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Versus Terminus
Attacker: Illusion

11:58 a.m. - Wissahickon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Keep the Peace
Attacker: Illusion

11:58 a.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Versus Terminus
Attacker: Illusion

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, July 8 ***

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Jinx (2)

7:56 p.m. - Eta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

8:00 p.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

11:58 p.m. - Byrne Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

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