[info]duskpeterson wrote
on April 21st, 2012 at 10:25 am

Daily life: Stories, Waterman research trip to Southern Md, counselling, carbon footprint, & health

"It used to be that I would clean the oven to avoid writing because traditional publishing was total bleakness interrupted by 10 minutes of happiness when your agent called to say she had sold your book. There followed a year of silence while the book was 'produced.' Publication was brief. The salesmen (you heard right) decided the print run and if it was in the low five digits, the book was DOA. Two years of your life had been eaten up. The Prozac months followed.

"Now I write avidly because I can publish what I write. Once written and edited, I can publish a book in a matter of minutes and sell it 24/7. I have satisfied my two passions: writing and commerce."

--Consuelo Saah Baehr, as qouted in David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital.


In March, I wrote:

The final half scene of "The Abolitionist" (Waterman novel-within-a-novel). That means I've now completed "Master and Servant," the first volume in the Waterman series. Publication date: Some time this year.

"Green Ruin" (The Eternal Dungeon short story). This is a side story I wrote as challenge fiction. Publication date: June or July.

"Spy Hill" (Commando novella). Another story written as challenge fiction. And why, yes, that's a new series. (As though I didn't have enough series already.) Publication date: Some time between May and July.

Starting in May, I'm going to turn myself into an assembly line a pulp fiction writer, churning out my backlist as e-books as quickly as I can. This means there'll be a slight delay in getting new stories out, except in cases where the story is already edited and ready to go. You'll be glad to hear that the latest installment in The Eternal Dungeon, "Bonds," is one such case.


The reason I was able to finish "The Abolitionist" is that our friend David kindly drove Noakes and me down to Calvert Cliffs State Park (aka Carruthers's home), so that I could do the final research I needed there.

I've been there before. But the last visit was an exceedingly quick trip, and so every time I tried to write a scene where two of the characters were walking down to the beach, my mind was a visual blank.

David, Noakes, and I walked down to the beach. And saw the cliffs that are just below Carr's home. And not just the cliffs, because we discovered that there's a trail (albeit one that's barely there) that leads to the top of the cliff that was more or less where Carr lived. (I say "more or less" because the shoreline has shifted since 1912.)

So my poor brave companions, who both had health problems and had gritted themselves for a four-mile round trip to the beach, found themselves hiking up and down steep, wooded hills. For an extra three miles.

I found a tick sucking on me when I got home. I have the feeling that's divine vengeance.

Anyway, we found some interesting stuff up on Carr's hill, but we didn't find the crumbling remains of the mansion that I knew (from 1910s maps) must be up there somewhere. Oh, well. I did get enough material to write the scene. And I hiked seven miles!


I've been seeing a counsellor who's been helping me with the various loose ends in my life. She's part of the reason I got so much writing done in March; when you know that you're going to have to report back to your counsellor at the end of the week, you tend to get more work done.

I wrote 33,000 words in March, for an average of 2000 words per day. That's great news, but there's lots of room for improvement: I only wrote on 16 days. Most of the days I didn't, it was because of my Internet addiction.

The other problem I'm having is with what is trendily called time management - i.e., getting myself to do work. I'm trying various schedules to see what works best for me. At least I no longer have to spend half the day in bed, because of my hip problem.

I don't even want to start on the clutter problem. It's part of the time management problem; if I could just spend more hours a day on getting things done, I'd be able to accomplish the needed tasks.

In other domestic news, Noakes and I went to a real-life meeting of local members of Goodreads' M/M Romance group, but unfortunately, my auditory processing disorder kicked in (it was a noisy room), so I couldn't follow the conversations. Noakes had a good time, though.


Last November, I took the 10:10 challenge to cut my carbon emissions by ten percent this year. Here's how I've been doing so far:

Home energy usage

There are various online calculators to help you estimate your carbon footprint (i.e. how much carbon you emit yearly). In order to help the world become carbon neutral (that is, keep from increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere), individuals are supposed to aim for no more than three metric tons of carbon per year.

The average American emits twenty metric tons.

I estimated I emit somewhere between five to ten metric tons, largely because I don't own a car and rarely use transport. However, I found a calculator that compared the details of my carbon footprint to other households in my particular area, and I found that my home energy usage is way above average. It's by far my largest carbon emitter.

That's what I get for rattling around in a six-bedroom house. Since I'm not planning to move (this is my childhood home), I decided to take some fairly obvious steps to lower my energy usage: I've been turning the thermostat down to 62 degrees at night (I have an electric radiator in my room, and nobody else in this house seems to mind the low temperature), and I've been turning off lights when I don't use them.

I could have sworn I had been doing the latter already. I mean, I grew up with parents who groused if I didn't turn out the lights when I left a room. But when I began to track such matters, I found that I was really, really inclined to leave on unnecessary lights.

So I've been turning them off.

The results? Our household's natural gas usage (i.e. our heating) is down by 26% from last year. Our household's electricity usage is down by 28% from last year.


It turns out that being organic - important though that is to the health of the world - is less important from a carbon-neutral point of view than being local, unprocessed, and with minimal packaging. (Food, that is. Though I suppose those characteristics could apply to me as well.)

So I made a pledge to myself to buy all of my produce at the local farmers' market between May and November (which is when it runs). I rarely buy processed food these days, but I decided to stop buying two items that had a horrendous amount of packaging: rice crackers and chocolate pudding. (Organic soy pudding, but it was stuffed into four-ounce plastic cups, so I was going through thirty plastic cups a month.)

Instead of crackers, I'm now eating Noakes's homemade bread. And instead of buying prepackaged pudding, I'm making this:


Adapted from this recipe by Kathleen Amos-Robel. Total time for preparation and cooking: approximately 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons corn starch

Pour slowly into the dry mixture, using the whisk to mix thoroughly:

3 cups vanilla soymilk

Place on a stove burner at medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Take off the burner when the mixture thickens. (If you raise the whisk out of the mixture, the whisk should show that the lower portion of the mixture is now a darker brown.) Eat warm, or chill until cold. Don't forget to lick the pan.


Poor Noakes has had rotten health for the past month, his latest illness being Lyme disease. Ah, the joys of wooded state parks. I, on the other hand, tested negative for Lyme disease, which just goes to show that there's no justice in this world. (I'm the one who dragged Noakes through those woods.) Noakes is on doxycycline now; we're crossing our fingers that he'll make a full recovery, since he was diagnosed so early in the disease.

As you can gather from what I wrote about Calvert Cliffs, my own health has improved greatly since I started eating ginger to bring down the inflammation. I can sit again! I can walk long distances! I'm not longer confined to this town!

I have a bunion. My doctor says I may need foot surgery. *Sigh.*

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