“When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers.”
Natalie Goldberg

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The Friday Fictionette Round-up for March 2021. Also bunny zooms.
Tue 2021-05-18 23:19:44 (single post)
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Huh. So, the last time I blogged here, it was to say "Sorry, PT robbed me of productivity, but here's the latest Friday Fictionette round-up at least." Welp, same message, different month.

Physical therapy robbed me of less productivity today, though, because I've been scheduling my appointments for early afternoon rather than morning. Which means that, if I manage to get up on time, I can get a good two to three hours of writing in before the rest of my day's oomph gets used up in soft tissue manipulation, deep stretches, and strength-building exercises. That "if" there is doing a lot of work; I have not of late been very good at getting up on time. However, this week, the demolition phase of my neighborhood's Recoat Everyone's Back Patio Decks project started. When jackhammer-like noises in the service of stripping the old coating off the deck starts up at 8:20 in the morning, well, I ain't sleeping late, am I?

I still have a shit-ton of things that I need to do like yesterday, and knowing that can be paralyzing. If I'm working on one of those things, I'm not working on any of the ten others. Anxiety! Avoidance! Nothing getting done at all! So even though it's nearing 10:30 PM, I'm posting this post because, dang it, I'm going to do something.

Thus, without any further ado, the March 2021 Fictionette Round-up.

Friday, March 5, 2021: "Invasive Species" (ebook, audio) In which a stranger comes to town. "Just needed to go somewhere new. Anywhere's fine, so long as it's alive and fresh."

Friday, March 12, 2021: "A Separate World" (ebook, audio) In which realities diverge. "I think the joke's gone far enough, don't you?"

Friday, March 19, 2021: "Peaceable Kingdom" (ebook, audio) In which we are made welcome. They were trying to find a navigable pass through the mountains. They found something else.

Friday, March 26, 2021: "Misery Loves Company" (ebook, audio) In which our needs change over time. I became obsessed with escape. Wouldn't you?

The fictionette freebie for the month is "A Separate World," so you can follow the links above and view the HTML version, listen to the audio version, and/or download any of the three ebook versions, regardless of whether you're a subscriber.

I'm trying to get better about announcing each fictionette on Twitter and Facebook when each goes up, but I remain kinda reluctant to do that while I'm still a good 5 to 6 weeks behind schedule. I get all ashamed of it and stuff. I need to get over it. Also I mean to mention each release in a blog post here, but that would require actually blogging regularly again.

I'm gonna try to! I have things to tell you and more things coming down the pipeline! And between the morning construction and the early morning bunny zooms, I'm starting my work day On Time and having plenty of time to do All The Things--at least on the days when I don't get wiped out around 1:00 or 1:45 with physical therapy.

"Bunny zooms" does not refer to lagomorph teleconferencing, though Holland has done his share of appearing on Zoom. (Most notoriously, when I tune in to The Story Hour or join some friends for long-distance karaoke, I'm usually sitting on the floor with my back to the sofa, and Holland will jump up and beg treats over my shoulder.) No, I'm talking about when a rabbit's tiny body just can't contain a sudden excess of energy and joy, causing the beastie to run all over the house just as fast as it possibly can. Holland woke me up an hour before the construction did by starting his zoom flight path from on top of the actual bed. There's a bit of a kick when he takes off.

Ah, yes. Last blog post, almost a month ago, I was wistful hoping Holland would start jumping up on the bed now that he's been allowed free range of the bedroom. Not long after that, I carried him onto the bed and fed him treats until he forgave me for picking him up. And that was it. That was all it took. The association was firmly implanted: "On top of the bed is where yummy things happen." We've taken to keeping a little cup of grape-juice-soaked "pick-up sticks" on the headboard so that when he hops up to visit we can show him some hospitality. He won't stick around to cuddle or kick back--I think it feels too exposed an area for a wary prey animal such as himself--but when he shows up he is very determined that he is owed a treat. If one is not forthcoming, he will search them out.

And that's the latest. Hopefully more tomorrow.

The Friday Fictionette Round-up for February 2021
Tue 2021-04-20 23:21:57 (single post)

Today isn't happening. There comes a time when I have to admit that today, as a productive writing work day, isn't happening. That time probably should have been somewhat sooner than ten-thirty at night, but here we are. But I said I was gonna do the Friday Fictionette round-up for February 2021, drat it all, and I'm gonna. So here we go.

February 5, 2021: "The Talk of the Town" (ebook, audio) In which one might say, "Be careful what you wish for," but really, how was he to know? "Perhaps something can be arranged. It's been a mammoth's age since I've attended a really good party."

February 12, 2021: "Out of His Heart, There Grew a Rose" (ebook, audio) In which the brambly variants growing on top of a couple of graves is the beginning and not the end of the story. Thorn had suffered all his life from a sense that the world was broken.

February 19, 2021: "Stranger at the Gates" (ebook, audio) In which we show hospitality and question local traditions. She couldn't just leave him to be the next ritual victim.

February 26, 2021: "What Came Out of the Forest" (ebook, audio) In which we reap the benefits of another spring thaw. "The wood's never sent us aught of harm before."

"Stranger at the Gates" is the Fictionette Freebie for February 2021, so you can download it in whatever format you like for free.

So the reason today didn't happen--it's not really a good enough reason, but it's the only reason I've got--is that the day started off with a physical therapy appointment that left me exhausted enough to go back to bed, where I stayed for entirely too long. After that, I never found the momentum to get back up to speed. I'm not happy about that and would like to do better.

However, I did contribute to bunny-proofing the bedroom sufficiently to let Holland be a little more free-range. He's been zooming around all this unaccustomed new space and poking his nose into strange corners. Imagine, if you will, a rabbit sticking his nose into a corner that's full of cobwebs. Imagine the state of his whiskers. Now imagine him cleaning those whiskers off with his front paws. Adorable.

I really want to tempt him up on top the bed with me. I have treats for him and everything. I don't expect him to make the jump from the floor, although I'm sure he's capable of it. Instead, I've moved his three-story cardboard house right up against the foot of the bed. All he has to do is climb up onto the top of the cardboard house and hop over to the bed from there. But the most he's done so far is stick his head up over the parapet, look at me, then sink down again. Ah, well. He'll get there eventually.

Here's hoping that tomorrow happens. It ought to. I can't see why it shouldn't.

Cover art incorporates and modifies image from Pixabay.
the latest Friday Fictionette: "A Separate World"
Mon 2021-04-19 21:16:49 (single post)
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The Friday Fictionette nominally scheduled for March 12, 2021 (I've been running behind a bit) is "A Separate World", in which the divide is very stark.

The Friday Fictionette project is a short-short story subscription service powered by Patreon. See more by pledging at the $1/month level for varying ebook formats or the $3/month level for all that and audio too (I do the narration, if that helps). Or just wait for the end of the month for one of the previous four Fictionettes to go free, free as the birds in the sky!

*ahem*

I'm going to try to get better about announcing these when they go out. That way I don't have to do the ginormous end-of-month round-up. (I do still owe y'all a round-up for February 2021, though. Next post, I think.)

Anyway. All for now, more tomorrow.

Cover art incorporates and modifies glacier and dinosaur images from Pixabay
a strange but workable (for now) definition of On Time
Fri 2021-02-26 22:38:27 (single post)
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Not so much whining today, as it turns out. What was that I said about external systems of structure and accountability? Today's external accountability mechanisms were my Boulder Food Rescue shift and my various curbside shopping errands, for getting me out of bed on time; and Cat Rambo's afternoon co-writing session, for getting me back to work by 2 PM rather than collapsing into a nap that would eat up the rest of my productive day.

(And what with having been up from early (for me) and not napped, maybe I'll sleep better tonight.)

Because today went so well, I can give you the January 2021 Friday Fictionette Round-up on time, which is to say, no more than the same month I've been late for quite a few months now. Huzzah!

January 1: "My Sister Draws Things" (ebook, audio) In which sisters have each other's backs, and imagination is queen.

January 8: "What the Desert Dreams" (ebook, audio) In which creation and destruction walk hand in hand, no matter what any nearby creator gods have to say about it.

January 15: "How It Begins" (ebook, audio) In which pet sphinxes are a comfort to a lonely old woman.

January 22: "What Is Not Prohibited" (ebook, audio) In which we are not the first nor yet the cleverest to question the three laws of robotics.

The Fictionette Freebie for January 2021 is "My Sister Draws Things", so you can download and enjoy that one regardless of whether you're a paid subscriber.

Also, dinner tonight is pasta with sausage and cream, only I used penne instead of shells, ground breakfast sausage instead of sweet Italian, and a whole lot of fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes, white and pink peppercorns, and nutmeg.

And that is all.

i get interviewed, then i get sappy
Wed 2021-02-10 22:34:08 (single post)
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In these weeks since Departure Mirror Quarterly Issue 2 went live, they've been publishing a series of Author Spotlight features on their website, focusing on the contributors to that issue. Mine just went up today!

In it, among other things, I reveal a little of how "Reasonable Accommodations" came to be written. I tell probably the briefest version ever of my How I Fell In Love With Roller Derby story. I also give a shout-out to the two teachers who gave me an early education in how freelance writing and publishing works. I didn't name them in the Author Spotlight, probably because I was trying to be brief, but those two wonderful humans are Betsy Petersen and Chet Day. I gave them a shout-out also, nearly ten years ago, in the blog-up to the announcement of my very first pro sale. I really do owe them so much.

I had the pleasure of running into Ms. Petersen on campus, during Alumni Weekend, on the occasion of my high school class's 25-year reunion. (And here I'll pause to acknowledge how very, very lucky the class of 1994 was. If we had been the class of 1995, we couldn't have had our reunion--or worse, we'd have probably gone ahead with it anyway, and become another superspreader statistic.) We watched the high school play together, a performance of Mamma Mia! starring some of her current students, and I got to tell her during the intermission about my recent publications and successes. I felt like such a kid, so needy to show my teacher how I'd done good with what she taught me! I get like that a little around my first roller derby trainers too. Look how good I can skate backwards, y'all! Look how bravely I can do a turn-around toe-stop these days! And without falling down and smashing my face anymore!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my Author Spotlight interview at Departure Mirror Quarterly. And if you haven't read Issue 2 yet, go download yourself a free ebook copy! Lots of great stuff in there.

It occurs to me that I entirely forgot to promote my blog in that interview. I did mention the Friday Fictionettes Project, and I'm going to mention it here too because finally all the December releases are out. (Jan 1 is out, too, and Jan 8 will probably go up Friday.) So it's time for a Friday Fictionette Round-up:

  • December 4, 2020: "Hostage" (ebook, audio) In which extraterrestrial ex-boyfriends are the worst.
  • December 11, 2020: "Always Make Sure to Put Your Toys Away" (ebook, audio) In which things don't always stay put in the place you left them.
  • December 18, 2020: "Culture Clash" (ebook, audio) In which human social taboos are incomprehensible and also toxic to visitors.
  • December 25, 2020: "Good Intentions" (ebook, audio) In which it is, once again, a thoroughly bad idea to try to change history. This is the Fictionette Freebie for December 2020!

My big idea to catch up to schedule is to try to release two fictionettes a week. This has not happened. I am still about four weeks behind. I can get one release completed over three or four days, but then I find it weirdly hard to get any writing done Friday through Sunday. I'll be getting my Sundays back, though, having written this past weekend my fifth and final contest entry story for Weekend Warrior (see previous). Maybe that'll help. Maybe I'll be smart and use the time I had been using for Weekend Warrior stories, for Friday Fictionette production. Maybe!

Tomorrow (assuming I get to blogging tomorrow) - I have thoughts on structure and time management! They aren't brilliant! Also I cooked a thing! Aren't you just in all the suspense? Stay tuned.

my online writing community is the best online writing community, fight me
Thu 2021-01-28 21:17:13 (single post)

Today had a smaller wonkiness quotient, so let's talk about why Codex is the greatest and its contests are the bestest.

Only sorta kidding. But to put it in less superlative tones: Codex is an online community for semi-pro writers, primarily in the speculative genres (see the New Member Qualifications on the linked page to see what that means). I joined shortly after making my first pro sale in 2010. To be very precise, I joined shortly after the convention at which editor Ellen Datlow hosted a reading from that anthology, in which I participated. I spent a large part of the train ride home in the lounge car chatting deep into the night with other author attendees who urged me to join Codex. And so I did.

Since then, Codex has been the biggest single boost to my writing career. Or, rather, it has represented multiple boosts. It's been a motivator, a networking outlet, an industry information warehouse, and just an all-around uplifting experience. I'm in a "face-to-face" critique group (over Zoom) because of Codex. I've found out about markets I might not have otherwise because of Codex. I've found out important things about the markets I might or might not submit to because of Codex.

And I've written a lot more than I might have otherwise because of Codex's contests.

Right now we are in week 3 of an annual flash fiction contest called Weekend Warrior. The conceit is simple. Friday afternoon, writing prompts go up. Sunday at midnight, the story you wrote inspired by one or more of those prompts is due. It must be 750 words or less. Until the next Friday afternoon--when the cycle starts over again--everyone reads each other's (anonymous) contest stories, gives each story a mini-critique (optional), and assigns each story a score from 1 to 10 (essential). It's super fun when your story scores high, but scoring isn't the real point. The point is, you wrote five new stories! And got them mini-critiqued! And now you can go revise them and start sending them out to paying markets!

Another benefit of the contest is having to read and critique some twenty tiny stories every week. I stress about it, because that's a lot to add to my weekly task list, but I really do benefit from it. Having to focus in and clearly identify what works for me and what doesn't helps me in turn to write stories that work well more often than they don't. And reading other peoples' comments directs my attention to aspects of those stories I might not otherwise have noticed.

I am doing unusually well in time management this week, yesterday's wonkiness notwithstanding. I've divided up my reading assignment into four parts, one of which I read per day. I'll be hitting the third batch tonight after this post goes up, and the fourth tomorrow afternoon after I get home from my BFR shift. I've feeling very proud of myself because of this. I can't tell you how many times I've done the whole lot in a panic during the last two hours on Friday, and then guilty about it. In my rush, I probably failed to read as closely as my fellow participants deserve. Better time-management this week means I can be so much more careful and deliberate and thoughtful about my reading--and that benefits everyone.

I am also very proud of the story I submitted for this week's consideration. I'm looking forward to what everyone else had to say about it.

I have a whole bunch of stories in my To-Be-Revised queue already, and they will stay there, untouched, because I'm not allowed to get started on them until I'm caught up on the Friday Fictionette project. (I'm sort of participating in three Weekend Warrior contests simultaneously. There's the one story I write for the actual contest, and then theoretically there's two Friday Fictionettes I'm writing a week in order to get caught up. Argh.) And yet I'm looking forward to adding five new stories to the revision queue. Well, really what I'm looking forward to is sending them out to play in various slush piles, and revision is just something that's got to happen along the way. Except I'm genuinely looking forward to getting these stories right.

So that's why Codex is the greatest and Codex contests are the bestest. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.


i did the thing
Wed 2021-01-27 23:20:47 (single post)
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OK so it's TOMORROW and I did upload the Friday Fictionette that was originally scheduled for December 18. Hooray! And I got some preliminary babble down concerning the one for December 25. So that's good.

Now, I had planned to use today's blogging time to tell you all about this fantastic flash fiction contest I'm participating in this month, but it turns out today got long and wonky and I'm a very tired person. So let's regroup back here the next time we get a tomorrow, and I'll blog about the flash fiction contest then. Probably.

G'night.

state of the fictionette address
Tue 2021-01-26 20:57:58 (single post)

So now that it looks like this blogging thing might actually happen more than once every other month, it's about time I reported on the Current State of the Friday Fictionette Project.

As you know, Bob, the Friday Fictionette Project is a short-short stories subscription service powered by Patreon. Every first through fourth Friday, I upload a new weird little piece of fiction. Patrons pledging $1/month can access it in ebook form; Patrons pledging $3/month can additionally access it as an audiobook. People who aren't pledging any dollars at all can enjoy the monthly Fictionette Freebie, which is one of each month's fictionettes made free for all the world to enjoy.

I've been doing this since August 2014, so there are a lot of freebies in the archive by now. The incentive to subscribe with actual money is kinda low. I am clearly not great at this monetizing thing. That's OK. I've been doing this more to hold myself to a deadline and motivate myself to Write More Things. And sometimes a fictionette turns into a reprint sale (example one! example two!) or gets rewritten into a full-length story suitable for submission as an original piece. So it's cool. It's all worthwhile.

Problem is, I'm also not that great at time management. For a very brief and glorious few weeks last year I was ahead of schedule. That fell apart around September, and I still haven't recovered. It's been like one thing after another since then. Heck, it's been multiple things simultaneously every twenty-four hours since Election Day. You don't need me to tell you that. Long and the short of it is, I'm slightly more than a month behind. To be very precise, I'll be uploading tomorrow the release nominally scheduled for December 18, 2020.

My goal after that is to upload the Dec. 25 release later on this week, choose a December Fictionette Freebie to unlock, then give you the December Fictionette Round-up Post. Then I hope to do two releases a week through the month of February so as to be all caught up by March. Past performance suggests this will not happen. But, hey! It might. It's a goal. Nothing wrong with setting a goal. Another of my goals was to get back to daily blogging, or at least several-times-a-week blogging. And here we are. See how that works?

Anyway, meet me back here tomorrow (I mean it! tomorrow!) and we'll see how it's going. Til then!

the turning of the year brings more poetry to your ereader
Mon 2020-11-02 21:04:35 (single post)
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I've spent most of October running as fast as I could to stay only marginally behind, which is why blogging didn't happen. Blogging is kinda low priority. Except I really shouldn't let more time pass before announcing this:

"Reasonable Accommodations", my sonnet about a were-deer in corporate hell, will be included in the Winter 2021 issue of Departure Mirror Quarterly. Look for it in January!

Departure Mirror Quarterly is a brand-new magazine of speculative fiction and poetry. Its content is meant to reflect the belief that, in the words of editor Arthur Robert Tracy IV, science fiction and fantasy "is a genre that transports us out of our reality while giving us a medium to reflect on our reality and to consider what can and should change. It’s both a departure from and a mirror on reality. It's a Departure Mirror."

I am honored that they considered my poem a good fit with that philosophy.

The first issue, Fall 2020, is live and available in three ebook formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). You can download it for free from this page here. Its table of contents is sparkling with gems, some bittersweet, some uplifting, all well worth your time, eyeballs, and brain-space. And do spread the word! Even in the best of times, brand new publications live or die by word of mouth, and COVID-19 has put its thumb on the "die" side of pretty much every scale (except maybe for Zoom futures, if Zoom futures are a thing). So download yourself a copy and tell all your SF-loving friends to do the same!

Meanwhile, I see by the editor's blog that Dreams & Nightmares #116 (the issue that includes my poem "The Ascent of Inanna") has been printed and subscriber copies have hit the mail. If you are not a subscriber, you might consider becoming one. A six-issue subscription is $25 to North American addresses and $30 elsewhere, and a lifetime subscription is $90 wherever you are.

In other news, I am still two weeks behind on the Friday Fictionette schedule, so there will be no October round-up just yet. I will be scrambling to catch up for the foreseeable future. That notwithstanding, I do plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month, after my fashion; but more on that in another post. Good night!

Cover art incorporates and modifies unattributed image from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
shilling for September
Thu 2020-10-15 22:29:02 (single post)
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Check it out: it's a Friday Fictionette roundup, two weeks late. Obviously I couldn't post a roundup until all the fictionettes it was rounding up went live; the fourth didn't go live until Monday. In related news, the Friday Fictionette for October 2 will be going live tomorrow. Everything's two weeks late.

I can't entirely blame this on the awful, rotten week in September when Gemma died. I mean, that didn't help. It happened on a Wednesday, and it shut me down entirely until the following week. But I was already a few days behind and scrambling to catch up when it happened. And it turns out that not writing, even for the very best of reasons, is habit-forming.

So here we are.

The good news is, October is a month with a fifth Friday. That's a week when time stands still, at least for fictionette purposes, and I'll have extra time to catch up.

Here, then, is the list of Friday Fictionettes posted in scheduled for September.

Friday, September 4, 2020: "Inherit the Earth" (ebook, audiobook) In which the winners begin to write history.

Friday, September 11, 2020: "A Gryphon Walks Into a Bar" (ebook, audiobook) In which you witness a hero being drawn out of retirement.

Friday, September 18, 2020: "Hardly St. Francis" (ebook, audiobook) In which an unsympathetic character gets told off. This is the Fictionette Freebie for September 2020.

Friday, September 25, 2020: "The Size of the World" (ebook, audiobook) In which we are made to feel small.

Obligatory explanation, for those just tuning in: The Friday Fictionette Project is a Patreon-powered minifiction subscription service. Patrons at the $1/month level get a new short-short story-like object every first through fourth Friday in any of several homebrew ebook editions (html, pdf, epub, mobi); Patrons at the $3/month level also get the joy of having me read it aloud to them while my Dell Inspiron so-called gaming laptop's fan whines in the background. (Audacity's noise reduction filter is miraculous.)

There are a couple tiers after that which involve a physical object in your mailbox, but they are (1) limited edition such that only one more slot remains in each tier, and (2) even more behind schedule than the ebook and audio releases. (I just typed out and illustrated Page 1 of one of the December 2019 Fictionette Artifacts, to be perfectly honest with you. My two Patrons at the $5 level are exceedingly patient, and I appreciate it.)

Meanwhile, one fictionette per month gets released as a Fictionette Freebie;"Hardly St. Francis" is the Fictionette Freebie for September 2020. Also free are the Monday Muse posts, where I share the writing prompt associated with the upcoming fictionette (they all start as freewriting from a prompt) and also some random news from my life, writing and otherwise. (By popular demand, rabbit news predominates.)

So that's the September 2020 Friday Fictionette Roundup. If intrigued, do click through and check it out.

In other news, which I will babble about thoroughly in upcoming posts:

  • I'm taking a Carnegie Center remote writing class, because the pandemic is why we can have nice things;
  • Thinking about writing is too writing, and so are long walks;
  • What with NaNoWriMo coming up, I'll be diving back into the godawful novel draft in an attempt to make it a wee bit less awful, or, failing that, make its awfulness somewhat less godly;
  • Holland continues in good health and is currently licking the sofa cushions.

'Til then.

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