“I find having a mortgage to be a great motivator to keep on working.”
Mo Willems

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog



belated fictionette announcements made in the dust of the wagon i'm running to catch up with
Mon 2018-02-12 23:56:09 (single post)
  • 933 wds. long
  • 959 wds. long
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Hi! Pretend it's Friday. Pretend the Friday Fictionette for February 9 just went up. (It isn't, and it didn't, and it actually went up on Saturday just before our roller derby double header got underway--thank goodness there's public wifi at the Boulder County Fairgrounds now!) This is the blog post that ought to have gone up right about then, announcing the latest release.

We good? Good. So...

The Friday Fictionette for Friday, February 9 is "Electing a Chair" (ebook and audiobook for Patrons, teaser excerpt for all) and exemplifies the GIGO principal at work in the perfect obedience of enchanted household objects.

While we're at it, the Fictionette for Friday, February 2 was "Lights Out" (ebook, audiobook, excerpt), and for the Fictionette Freebie for January 2018 I chose "The Proof is in the Post."

OK. So. The post about cooking is coming tomorrow, if I don't totally fall off the wagon again. 'Til then!

YPP Weekend Blockades, February 10-11: Blame Brenda for the birds
Sat 2018-02-10 12:18:47 (single post)

Not a lot going on in the blockade game this weekend--just one each on Emerald and Meridian. If you have other things to do with your Saturday evening (like, for instance, heading over to the Boulder County Fairgrounds to watch friendly rivals BCB and FoCo duke it out over the course of a roller derby double-header), you needn't fear your FOMO syndrome acting up, 'cause you won't be missing out on much. (Meridian's Most Wanted may beg to differ, but the Brigand King they're attacking is at minimum strength, so we're talking barely one or two rounds until sunk, y'know? And the timing is such that you could probably just sneak off and job for them during the afterparty, which will be at Pumphouse Brewery/Red Zone in Longmont this time around.)

(And now I have done my bit of PR for bout weekend. You're welcome!)

In other YPP news,

  • On the Ice (Testing) Ocean, there were no entrants in the semi-annual Fort Royal Shipyard Shoppe contest. Therefore, OM Demeter has taken the shoppe over herself and will enable it to provide those ships which are too large for mere stalls to handle.
  • On the Obsidian (Dark Seas) Ocean, Blame Brenda continue to develop their plans for Magpie Island, and you can keep up to date with those plans over here. They've made good on their intent to introduce a new naming theme. It's for the birds! To be more precise, "A (collective noun for particular bird) of (something to do with the stall)." Example given: A Gaggle of Gold (bank). Meanwhile...
  • ...they've scheduled a small-ship event blockade for next weekend (Sat. Feb. 17) with FRIGS AN' BRIGS FOR PRIZES as long as everyone plays nice and sticks to the designated pay cap of 3k/segment. Blame Brenda intends to continue hosting events of this nature for as long as they hold Magpie Island.

That's about all the news folks have seen fit to post to the Puzzle Pirates Forums, so I guess I'm done here. See you online, or see you at the Fairgrounds!

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, February 10 ***

1:44 p.m. - Saiph Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illusion
Attacker: Out of Control

8:06 p.m. - Stormy Fell, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (1)
Attacker: Meridian's Most Wanted

stomach churning heart palpitating ARGH but otherwise just great
Thu 2018-02-08 00:21:14 (single post)

Hi. Wow. So, I haven't blogged under the auspices of the Actually Writing Blog for like two weeks now, maybe more. I won't bother making excuses. For the most part I don't really have a good explanation. Or rather, I do, but, as explanations go, they are well-trod subjects that would be boring to rehash. Failure to adequately absorb the impact of roller derby practice on the rest of the week, I guess, plus a large helping of avoidance. Recursive avoidance. That's where you avoid doing the thing that's no big deal, because the thing you're really avoiding comes right after. Then you start avoiding the thing before the no-big-deal thing. And so it goes, like a row of dominoes, until you don't want to get out of bed at all because starting your day will start the one-thing-after-another chain of things inevitably leading up to the thing you're dreading. The thing I'm dreading, of course, because that's who we're talking about here. Anyway, it took me several days of dread and exhaustion to finally just say, fuck the chain of things, let's just skip to the dreaded thing and rip the gods-damned band-aid off.

Also there were multiple dreaded things. Most of them are now done, and aside from the "anxiety! is this what a panic attack feels like? How interesting" aftermath, I'm feeling a lot better now.

So! Actually writing. Since the start of the year, I've written five new flash-length stories! I made the deadline for each week of the 2018 Codex "Weekend Warrior" contest, and I'm looking forward to submitting every single of them for publication in the near future. A couple are almost perfect just as they are, and need only a little tweaking before being publication-ready. (Just my opinion, of course; the editors I submit them to will have the final say.) The rest could use some real revision and probably expansion--not everything needs to be 750 words or shorter--and will probably get submitted a little later in the spring.

I did not make the deadline for the "4x4 contest" on 4thewords. I came very close, but in the last 24 hours of the contest I proceeded as though I had 48 hours remaining, which is because when the good folks behind 4thewords say "January 31 deadline" they don't mean through the 31st, as I would have expected, but rather until. But hell with it. The point of revising the novel isn't to enter its first 4,000 words into a contest. It's to have a fully revised and finished novel which may be entered in the contest that really matters, which is to say, publication. So I plan to come back to it in, I dunno, March I guess? March is the traditional month of NaNoEdMo, so that seems appropriate. Also that gives me the rest of February to decide what to do with my five fresh new flash tales.

So... that's the latest in writing. Tomorrow there will probably be stuff about cooking. (I've been cooking.)

YPP Weekend Blockades, February 3-4: git yer PVP on
Sat 2018-02-03 13:24:54 (single post)

Hullo! This is your weekly Puzzle Pirates report. If you are waiting on the weekly Friday Fictionette release announcement, that'll be showing up later on today because I kind of sucked at life yesterday. It is almost finished, it will be out in a few hours, everything will be fine. Meanwhile, we got blockades.

I also sucked at Seals, unfortunately--not a single one of my pirates achieved the January 2018 trophy. Better luck this month! The trophy trigger for February 2018 is completing 2 different expeditions (Imperial Outpost, Viking Defense, Buried Treasure Atoll, or Lost Shipwreck). Dunno about you, but I'm halfway done already, for one of my pirates anyway. Woot!

What else is new? Well, there's the January 29 client update. Looks like a lot of stuff related to faction bounties on Obsidian/Dark Seas, and some bug-fixes and seasonal content for all oceans. Click through for the full details.

And of course there are blockades! Full schedule below. Enjoy, have fun, pew-pew, etc.

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, February 3 ***

12:00 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (3)
Attacker: Pew Pew
Attacker: Lit
Undeclared: Black Flag

12:37 p.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pew Pew
Attacker: Spoon Republic

12:38 p.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pew Pew
Attacker: Spoon Republic

12:39 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pew Pew
Attacker: Spoon Republic

12:40 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pew Pew
Attacker: Spoon Republic

12:40 p.m. - Pukru Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Pew Pew
Attacker: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Lit
Undeclared: Invicta

12:52 p.m. - Isla Ventress, Jade Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Sortilegio (1)
Attacker: T unit

3:04 p.m. - Jubilee Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Who Gives A Sheet

6:21 p.m. - Polaris Point, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Who Gives A Sheet

*** Sunday, February 4 ***

11:00 a.m. - Viridis Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Vanguard
Attacker: Dragon Lords

11:24 a.m. - Olive Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (1)
Attacker: Dragon Lords

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, February 3 ***

12:01 p.m. - Diastrophe Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (1)
Attacker: Pandamonium

12:09 p.m. - Terra Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Secrets of the Deep
Attacker: Tyranny

12:10 p.m. - Conglin Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Secrets of the Deep
Attacker: Tyranny

8:37 p.m. - Jorvik Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Tyranny
Attacker: Secrets of the Deep

8:48 p.m. - Garden Cradle, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Secrets of the Deep
Attacker: Tyranny

YPP Weekend Blockades, January 27-28: "Think game mechanics."
Sat 2018-01-27 13:34:59 (single post)

So it's blockade time again, but I'm gonna be immersing myself in the pillaging game instead because I still want to earn the January Seal o' Piracy at least on some of my pirates. (Complete 10 each brigand and barbarian sea battles.) But you may have different priorities. Thus, the blockade schedule.

There are, at the current time, two islands that may be blockaded on the Dark Seas (Obsidian Ocean), and, by golly, they are being blockaded. Magpie Island, won last weekend by Consider It Sunk, is being attacked by Blame Brenda. The defense intent post proposes that you job for Consider It Sunk so that they may continue their island development plan, which includes fostering a monopoly on the frig market to prevent extraneous blockade attempts and the elitification of Obsidian. The blockade (attack) intent post simply promises to add island attractions and "rename all buildings to a less stupid theme."

Meanwhile, Loggerhead Island is coming under attack by Friendly Fire:

If we win, we will be dusting the shipyard for a bungalow (because the poor pirates need a place to live too). All other buildings will be replaced with weaveries so everyone can enjoy the best puzzle in the game.

Defenders are Amateur Hour.

Over on the Cerulean Ocean, the flag Tyranny has "scuttled" for BKs to attack a bunch of outpost islands. This is part of their strategy to protect large islands from BK attack--thus keeping blockades strictly PVP--by allowing BKs to own enough outpost islands that they don't spawn flotillas. I expect this means Tyranny won't be defending their outposts this weekend. Babylon isn't too pleased, accusing them of "self-serving interests" and of being "bullies and thieves," and have announced intent to blockade any Tyranny-owned islands next Sunday, February 4. So far popular opinion seems to be with Tyranny on this one, but we'll have to wait until next weekend to find out who gets more jobbers.

Scroll down for the rest of the schedule. Good luck, have fun, shoot cannonballs, earn PoE!

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, January 27 ***

3:58 p.m. - Prolix Purlieu, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Velt's Boiyz
Attacker: Who Gives A Sheet

4:17 p.m. - Loggerhead Island, Obsidian Ocean
Defender: Amateur Hour
Attacker: Friendly Fire

4:24 p.m. - Magpie Island, Obsidian Ocean
Defender: Consider it Sunk
Attacker: Blame Brenda

*** Sunday, January 28 ***

12:00 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Jinx (3)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, January 27 ***

12:17 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Because I Can

4:02 p.m. - Iris Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Because I Can

7:00 p.m. - Frond Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Tyranny
Attacker: Jinx (1)

11:00 p.m. - Orca Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Tyranny
Attacker: Jinx (1)

*** Sunday, January 28 ***

11:15 a.m. - Park Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The All-Consuming Flame (2)
Attacker: Because I Can

12:00 p.m. - Spectre Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Tyranny
Attacker: Black Veil (1)

Cover art incorporates public domain images sourced from Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons
this fictionette proposes a new game that we can all play together
Sat 2018-01-27 02:13:51 (single post)
  • 933 wds. long

The wee hours of Saturday still count as Friday if I haven't gone to bed yet, right? Which was, for once, quite easy. Whenever I do several hours of work at a pub or bar, I feel like I should always be drinking or eating something to excuse my lengthy presence. And after two beers and two small plates, I was not up for more food or alcohol. So I ordered coffee. And of course they didn't have decaf. And of course I had coffee anyway. I may yet be up awhile.

And but so anyway please accept this Friday Fictionette as a token of my dedication to you. It is called "The Proof is in the Post" (excerpt available for all, full-length ebook and audiobook for pledging Patrons). It is about truth, and the risks of telling the truth, and how sometimes you don't actually know what your truth is until you hear it come out of your mouth--or until the post office imps helpfully edit your letters for brutal honesty and you see what comes out at the other end. Because that's how this version of the world works: The post office will not deliver a lie.

I had a lot of fun with the freewriting session that eventually turned into this story-like object. It was an exercise in worldbuilding. Supposing that any letter you send gets altered in the mail so as to correct inaccuracies, clear up ambiguities, and replace any lies, whether by commission or omission, with the truth. What are the implications? What does that do to communications, economy, contracts, paychecks, love letters, invitations? I had so much fun with the worldbuilding that I never actually came up with a plot. So this week I had to come up with a plot post haste. (Get it? Post haste? Because post office? See? OK. Right, so, anyway...)

I didn't expect the character to get so well fleshed out. I didn't expect to have to pause the audio recording because I suddenly got all choked up at the end because, dang it, she's me at fourteen and I feel for her very strongly. I want to reach out and hug her and assure her it's all going to be all right.

So that's the story behind the story.

Here's a story about the Friday Fictionettes project in general: I'm going to add a feature! If I remember come Monday, that is. I'm writing it down now so that I will remember. Let's see if it works:

On first through fourth Mondays, I propose to make a public post on Patreon sharing the writing prompt associated with the Fictionette that will be released that Friday. So you can play along at home. If you want, you can share your results in the comments. Then everyone can see how differently multiple stories based on the same prompt can turn out.

I mean, it looked cool when Chuck Wendig did it. Let's try it and see what happens.

oh hey look i stayed up all day today good job
Thu 2018-01-25 00:44:26 (single post)

The Boulder County Bombers' 2018 season is officially on. We kicked it off last week Friday and Sunday with a guest clinic led by Luz Chaos, who is fantastic in every way. She's an extraordinarily strong and agile and smart jammer, some might say supernaturally so. She was here to teach us how we, too, could be supernatural. Then, last night, we had our first actual Travel Team practice. It began with a team meeting to set the tone, and it ended, as all practices for the next three months will end, with one full hour of off-skates conditioning. Half an hour of strength training; half an hour of metabolic workout. One full body of all the sore. My quads have been letting me know about it all day, I can tell you.

I'm not really complaining. I need to get stronger, and this will make me stronger. But in the meantime, it's put me on notice. I will have to curate my energy intake and expenditures carefully in order to continue pursuing my other-than-derby interests, like writing and keeping up with the household and volunteering and actually having a life. It is hard to have much of a life while flat on one's back in bed. Which is what happens when Sunday afternoon's post-derby collapse leads to an utter failure to sleep through the night, which leads to getting little done over the next couple days, not to mention an inability to adequately prepare for or recover from the next physical effort, which is probably derby since what with all the energy mismanagement and exhaustion I'm not likely to have much of a wherewithal left for any optional physical exercise.

And so the spiraling descent continues.

Basically, it's going to come down to a rational and consistent sleep schedule, a healthy diet, and appropriate self-care before and after exercise. Also not only getting up on time but getting to work on time, so that if I fall prey to an afternoon nap attack, it's not before I've gotten the majority of my day's work done.

Discipline. I hate discipline. It doesn't like me much either. I suppose we'll have to declare a truce.

Meanwhile, our season schedule includes "structured time off" for the entire month of October, so I guess that's when my annual run-away-and-hide-in-the-mountains week is going to be. There is also a blissful lack of bout-type events in July--great news for anyone planning to go to RollerCon (the big roller derby conference in Las Vegas) but also really great news for this New Orleanian who hasn't been able to participate in the Running of the Rollerbulls for three years now. Well. Guess where I'm gonna be the second weekend in July? Yeah you right.

YPP Weekend Blockades, January 20-21: Did you know a magpie can recognize its reflection in a mirror?
Sat 2018-01-20 12:21:42 (single post)

We've reached the final date on Cronus's Obsidian Blockade Plan with the much-anticipated opening of Magpie Island. Admiral Finius will defend it against all comers, declared currently as Consider it Sunk and Lion's Bane. (Links go to flags' blockade intent and island plans posts in the forum. The post by Lion's Bane includes interesting trivia about magpies.)

Worth a mention: On the Opal Ocean, Das As Team are moving in on two flags with absentee owners; no defender is listed for either Tumult-Insel or McGuffins Insel. So those islands are theirs for the taking unless another player flag should declare their participation. It's a valiant attempt to introduce some activity to a too-quiet ocean. In the meantime, they are defending Doyle-Insel against a small attack by the forces of Admiral Finius. (Fish-face's fleet is getting a real multi-ocean workout today!)

In other news, Demeter announces the twice-annual competition for ownership of Ice Ocean's Fort Royal. The upcoming decision date will be February 15th; if you are interested in competing, your crew must register by January 31. Of those crews that correctly register, the crew with the highest fame at decision time will receive the transfer of Fort Royal.

That's a wrap! Good luck, have fun, puzzle hard, shoot many cannonballs, etc.

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, January 20 ***

10:30 a.m. - Doyle-Insel, Opal Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Das As Team
Attacker: Flotte ihrer schuppig-charmanten Hoheit (1)

12:00 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Pew Pew

12:00 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Pew Pew

12:01 p.m. - Magpie Island, Obsidian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (4)
Attacker: Consider it Sunk
Attacker: Lion's Bane

12:22 p.m. - Tumult-Insel, Opal Ocean
Attacker: Das As Team

12:23 p.m. - McGuffins Insel, Opal Ocean
Attacker: Das As Team

4:00 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Lit
Attacker: The All-Consuming Flame (6)

6:01 p.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)
Attacker: Pew Pew

*** Sunday, January 21 ***

12:01 p.m. - Loggerhead Island, Obsidian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Amateur Hour
Attacker: The Jade Empire (10)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, January 20 ***

12:00 p.m. - Ostreum Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)
Attacker: Because I Can

Cover art incorporates public domain image created by NASA
this fictionette had to make it up as it went along (and takes its waking slow)
Fri 2018-01-19 23:59:59 (single post)

On time this week, by a hair. "The Education of Baby Rocket" (excerpt for all, ebook and audiobook for Patrons) is now available for your perusal. It's about fear, mostly, but also homesickness, and what exactly we mean by "home" in the first place.

I lost a 4thewords battle for the first time today. Let it be known: Not a single loss until Day 67! Lesson learned: I can do 800 words in half an hour easy if I'm drafting but not when I'm revising. Second lesson learned: No naps with a battle deadline less than two hours out, Mr. Rabbit. That's how Mr. Tortoise beat you, remember? Alternately, don't start a two-hour battle if you think you'll need a nap before you're done.

Speaking of lessons, sometimes I think a writing life primarily consists of learning not so much a long series of lessons over time but rather a small handful of lessons over and over again. This is probably true of life in general, come to think of it. But it's certainly true of writing.

Here's the lesson I had to relearn this week: I don't know what I'm writing until I've written it.

It's less that I forget it and have to relearn it, and more that I keep discovering situations where it's relevant. Still makes me feel stupid, though. Like, "Ohhhh! The swimming pool is wet! Because all water is wet. Dammit, I knew that."

This week, the application was, Because I don't know what I'm writing until I've written it, not knowing what to write isn't a reason not to write. Also, and very importantly, "I don't know what to write" is a perfectly cromulent first sentence to write on a brand new fresh blank page. It helps lube the word-making engine, and I can always erase it later.

It came up while I was working on the Author's Note for "The Education of Baby Rocket." Well. That's rather overstating things. It came up while I was staring at the blank new document upon which I had tasked myself with writing the Author's Note. Staring at a blank page is not conducive to getting the Friday Fictionette released on time, but that's what I was doing: Staring at a blank page and thinking, "I don't know what to write."

Fun fact: Thoughts circle around and chase their own tails, but words written down are done. No amount of thinking "I don't know what to write" was going to get me anywhere. But typing "I don't know what to write" allowed me to move on to another thought, another sentence. It sort of forced me to really observe and acknowledge what I was thinking, you know? Like Morning Pages do. "I don't know what I'm going to write for this, so I'm going to just babble until I figure it out. I'll start by telling myself the story of how the writing prompt turned into the first draft, although that's not enough for an Author's Note by itself because really there's only so many weeks in a row the Author's Note can be 'here's the prompt, and here's how I got from prompt to story idea to first draft to finished story'...."

And off I went for, oh, several paragraphs. Three or four at least. Then something went click. I knew what I was going to write because by then I had already written it. Now I just needed to tidy it up and then delete the bits of babble that wouldn't be part of it. Don't get me wrong; that babble was essential. As in the Buddhist metaphor, it was the little boat that got me across the wide river that had separated blank page from finished draft. But it had done its job. It was no longer needed. I could leave it behind me on the shore and walk away.

As the poet said, "I learn by going where I have to go." As another poet said, "We make it up as we go along." I don't really have much to add to that except to testify that it's true.

Cover art incorporates public domain image sourced from Pixabay
i'll take the 1800-word entree and a side order of sticking my tongue out at jerk-brain
Wed 2018-01-17 23:55:30 (single post)
  • 1,534 wds. long

Two things tonight. Well, maybe three. Three things tonight.

Thing the first: I am having a hell of a time coming up with things to blog about this week. That I have three things tonight is kind of amazing. I think maybe I if I had been better sticking to my writing schedule this week, I would have more things. That is, indeed, the whole point of the actually writing blog. Anyway, that's the first thing.

Thing the second: I was late with last week's Friday Fictionette because I suck and also it was bout weekend. Time management continues to be a struggle, and that struggle is a work in progress, so when Saturday is going to look like "bout venue set-up, emergency last-minute painting of numbers on jersey, skate in two mini-bouts back-to-back, afterparty until 1:30 AM," the whole week leading up to it is probably going to look like AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH! Then throw in a friend's last-minute birthday party (I mean, I had to! I wuv my teammate! <3 <3 <3 Also, a bar that was also a classic arcade was involved, making the whole thing mandatory) and suddenly Sunday is the new Friday.

But the Friday Fictionette did go up Sunday. It's live. It's called "There's an App for That" (excerpt, ebook, audiobook) and it's about a smartphone app that takes matters into its own hands, for want of a better term, during a zombie apocalypse. The story includes a bonus game of "spot the irritating, condescending and ultimately ineffectual project manager" which you can play along at home. (I won't tell you who that character is based on, because A. that would be mean, and B. it's been long enough that I honestly don't remember his name, except that it wasn't the name the character got. The character is named after one of my better and more fondly remembered project managers, actually. It's rather unfair that his name was the first that jumped into my head.)

OK so finally, Thing the third: I found yet another thing to do with 4thewords that it probably wasn't meant for! But it is a writing thing! And using it to win battles with stupid stupid aracnu that barely give out spider legs, let alone rope made me more determined to do it all in one night rather than parcel it out over several!

Which is to say: Composing critique feedback for colleagues' stories!

There's kind of a lot of that needing to happen with, well, all the contests I'm participating in, actually, but today I'm particularly concerned with the one where everyone writes flash fiction over the weekend and then gives each other feedback during the week. The word limit is only 750 per entry, but there's enough contestants that, even once you split them into four divisions, each contestant still needs to read and critique and vote on almost 20K words. Which is a thoroughly worthwhile task, but long. It got me through nearly two aracnu who didn't give me so much as a single piece of rope, I probably should be battling Rudakai instead but they are expensive and also WHERE ARE THEY. Which isn't to say I actually turned in almost 1800 words of critique--I edited things down!--but I darn well typed 'em.

On the purely personal scale of "This is really writing and these are real words" to "OK, now you're just cheating," composing peer critique in 4TW feels less like cheating than does, babbling for 750 words or so about not knowing what I want to blog about, but, oddly, more like cheating than does composing a dream journal entry.

And that's weird. Peer critique is, objectively speaking, much closer to Professional Writing Practice than dream journaling is. But I guess dream journal entries feel more like first drafts of brand new stories, whereas peer critique feels like thinking aloud on the page, and that's where the cheating/not cheating divide is in my head.

It only goes to show I should continue striving to totally ignore the jerk-brain voice that says "You're not really writing, don't you dare give yourself credit for writing, that there doesn't count as writing." Far from having a reliable yardstick for such things, jerk-brain uses a yardstick that is actually missing a few significant inches and gets used primarily to smack knuckles. So if I say I'm not cheating, it can darn well take its yardstick for a hike somewhere else.

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