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Mar. 26th, 2017

Daily life: Wordage galore! | #writerslife #wordcount

"In April 1870, a twenty-eight-year-old [William] James made a cautionary note to himself in his diary. 'Recollect,' he wrote, 'that only when habits of order are formed can we advance to really interesting fields of action - and consequently accumulate grain on grain of wilful choice like a very miser - never forgetting how one link dropped undoes an indefinite number.' The importance of forming such 'habits of order' later became one of James's great subjects as a psychologist. In one of the lectures he delivered to teachers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1892 - and eventually incorporated into his book Psychology: A Briefer Course - James argued that the 'great thing' in education is to 'make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.'

The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.


"James was writing from personal experience - the hypothetical sufferer is, in fact, a thinly disguised description of himself. For James kept no regular schedule, was chronically indecisive, and lived a disorderly, unsettled life. As Robert D. Richardson wrote in his 2006 biography, 'James on habit, then, is not the smug advice of some martinet, but the too-late-learned too-little-self-knowing, pathetically earnest, hard-won crumbs of practical advice offered by a man who really had no habits - or who lacked the habits he most needed, having only the habit of having no habits - and whose life was itself a "buzzing blooming confusion" that was never really under control.'"

--Mason Currey: Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work. (Alternative subtitle: How Artists Work.]


Writing )
Everything else )
Reading )
Finances )

Jan. 15th, 2017

Life-or-Death Frugality | #frugal #frugality @frugalwoods

Inspired by Frugalwoods and desiring some accountability, I've decided to post my monthly budget this year. I'm calling this feature "Life-or-Death Frugality" because that's what it is for me.

Background )Budget )Totals )

Feedback, folks? Do you think my budget is appropriately frugal for my circumstances? (This isn't a rhetorical question; I'd really like to know.) Feel free to share your own budgets if you like.

Next month: We see whether I can stick to my budget.

Oct. 2nd, 2016

Daily life: I'm going on an acquisitions fast | #nospend #spendingfast #simpleliving

"Even Socrates, who lived a very frugal and simple life, loved to go to the market. When his students asked about this, he replied, 'I love to go and see all the things I am happy without.'"

--Jack Kornfield: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.


About the fast )
General rules )
Books & periodicals (print and digital, including online fiction) )
Internet )
Audio & video )
Games )
Food )
Pharmacy & medical )
Supplies )
Day job )
Writing )
Gifts & charity )
Transportation )
Out-of-home entertainment )

That's the full list of my rules for the fast. If any of you have placed limits on your own acquiring, I'd love to learn from your experiences.

Jul. 4th, 2016

A song for troubled times

[I just posted the text and link below at the Falls Chance Ranch forum, where Rolf & Ranger are hosting a virtual campout to help ease their readers' stress over world events during the past few weeks. I will only add here that the song I link to is terribly appropriate for the story I'm currently writing, "Tempest."]

My apprentice Jo/e and I wanted to share a song that was written in the summer of 1969, and which seems as appropriate now as it did then.

Some context for those of you who weren't around back then (which includes me, in a certain sense; I was an oblivious six-year-old). As the author of the notes to this song's album put it, "The starry-eyed optimism that had taken hold of America's young during the mid-Sixties didn't just die in 1969 - it was ripped to shreds." In 1969, the murderers of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy were on trial. Americans feared further race riots. The Vietnam War was in full swing, and young American men waited to see whether they would be drafted. Across the country, university campuses were torn apart by protests which sometimes turned violent.

In 1969, the Midwestern university where my father taught underwent student and faculty protests. One of the results of the divisiveness was that my father eventually resigned his position and moved his family halfway across the country to take a new job. (That's why I now live in Maryland.)

In 1969, Jo/e's father was serving in Vietnam.

I often listened to this song at home in the 1970s, when I was a troubled adolescent; my parents owned the album. My parents and Jo/e's parents would have first heard this song around the time its album was released, in January 1970.

Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Nov. 3rd, 2015

Daily life: Waterman series order, character ages, subgenre labels, Cecil County MD, & decluttering

"Day after day, do your work as if you were in business. Handle the customers that come in with dispatch and courtesy. Then think up some work for yourself to do. And do it.

"The [works] you write are your inventory. . . . Back in my fledgling days, I compared myself to a man who had opened a new five-and-ten-cent store. I thought of what he must keep in mind, as he put his inventory on the shelf and waited for customers. No matter how few customers came in to buy, at first, each one was a prospect, each one could buy something, if the commodity was right, if the price was right, and if the need was right. . . .

"Every time I was disappointed [by sales], I thought of the young fellow who opened the five-and-dime store, and how disappointed he must have been whenever people walked through, looked over his inventory, and then ambled on, not even trying to shoplift any of it! . . .

"Fortunately, worrying about theft of material is not a frequent part of the writer's management task. The important, and essential, part of his management job is to keep himself writing."

--Larston D. Farrar: How to Make $18,000 a Year Free-lance Writing (1957).


My professional work last month )
Timelines and characters' ages )
Publishing decisions: subgenre labels and publication frequency )
A visit to North East, Maryland, in Cecil County )
Scheduling decluttering )

Daily life: Waterman series order, character ages, subgenre labels, Cecil County MD, & decluttering

"Day after day, do your work as if you were in business. Handle the customers that come in with dispatch and courtesy. Then think up some work for yourself to do. And do it.

"The [works] you write are your inventory. . . . Back in my fledgling days, I compared myself to a man who had opened a new five-and-ten-cent store. I thought of what he must keep in mind, as he put his inventory on the shelf and waited for customers. No matter how few customers came in to buy, at first, each one was a prospect, each one could buy something, if the commodity was right, if the price was right, and if the need was right. . . .

"Every time I was disappointed [by sales], I thought of the young fellow who opened the five-and-dime store, and how disappointed he must have been whenever people walked through, looked over his inventory, and then ambled on, not even trying to shoplift any of it! . . .

"Fortunately, worrying about theft of material is not a frequent part of the writer's management task. The important, and essential, part of his management job is to keep himself writing."

--Larston D. Farrar: How to Make $18,000 a Year Free-lance Writing (1957).


My professional work last month )
Timelines and characters' ages )
Publishing decisions: subgenre labels and publication frequency )
A visit to North East, Maryland, in Cecil County )
Scheduling decluttering )

Oct. 14th, 2015

Daily life: Series bible, trivets, ebook covers, decluttering books, & a book recommendation

"So, yeah, I'm thinking fanfic is a younger person's game - it's for people who can scan their Twitter, scroll through their Tumblr, bash out a Facebook status without looking, take a quick gander at their RSS feed, do an LJ update crossposted to their Dreamjournal, edit a fanvid and watch the next ep/installment of fill-in-the-blank before it airs anywhere, while doing whatever they do for a living and having a life. All at the same time."

--Heartofslash.


My professional work last month )
Series bible )
Covers and props; or, The Trouble with Trivets )
The final total after three months of decluttering books )
A book that passed my test for 'Gosh, I Must Buy This *Now*' )

Daily life: Series bible, trivets, ebook covers, decluttering books, & a book recommendation

"So, yeah, I'm thinking fanfic is a younger person's game - it's for people who can scan their Twitter, scroll through their Tumblr, bash out a Facebook status without looking, take a quick gander at their RSS feed, do an LJ update crossposted to their Dreamjournal, edit a fanvid and watch the next ep/installment of fill-in-the-blank before it airs anywhere, while doing whatever they do for a living and having a life. All at the same time."

--Heartofslash.


My professional work last month )
Series bible )
Covers and props; or, The Trouble with Trivets )
The final totals after three months of decluttering books )
A book that passed my test for 'Gosh, I Must Buy This *Now*' )

Sep. 1st, 2015

Daily life: Ebook publishing, online fiction posting, antique shops, book decluttering, & story recs

"The thing about reading fanfic (and original slash fic) is that you get used to that particular writing/reading culture after a while. You get used to the frank discussions of sexuality and kink, the close attention to diversity and social justice issues in the text, the unrestrained creativity when it comes to plot. The most amazing, creative, engaging stories I've ever read have almost all been fanfiction, and I think part of that is because there’s no limitations placed on the authors. They’re writing purely out of joy and love for the world and its characters, with no concerns about selling the finished product. The only limit is their imagination.

"Next to that, most mainstream fiction starts tasting like Wonder Bread, you know?"

--Cordelia Kingsbridge.


My professional work last month )
A few factoids about my latest Eternal Dungeon novel, 'Checkmate' )
Posting online fic again! Man, that feels good )
Prop-shopping at antique stores )
My decluttering of books last month )
My web addiction last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
A banner month for good reading )

Aug. 19th, 2015

Daily life: Sorting, researching stories, and a chronology for the Toughs stories

"This morning four boxes containing not quite all of my worldly possessions arrived at my doorstep. Less than two months via cargo ship is not too bad. The funny thing is that I'd almost forgotten what was in them. There were some things that I was very happy to see (my Icelandic novels, a sweatshirt, a pair of light pyjama bottoms, the tin containing my spare buttons) and other things that only made me think 'huh, why did I ship that across the Atlantic?' There's a strong argument for donating anything that you're not thrilled to see after two months living out of a suitcase."

--Naraht.


My professional work last month )
On foreshadows in stories )
Researching African-American slavery; or, How I get ideas for historical stories )
My web addiction last month )
My decluttering last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
Replies to Musicman and Twicet )
Chronological order of the Toughs stories (slightly corrected), along with some dates of birth for my characters )

Daily life: Sorting, researching stories, and a chronology for the Toughs stories

"This morning four boxes containing not quite all of my worldly possessions arrived at my doorstep. Less than two months via cargo ship is not too bad. The funny thing is that I'd almost forgotten what was in them. There were some things that I was very happy to see (my Icelandic novels, a sweatshirt, a pair of light pyjama bottoms, the tin containing my spare buttons) and other things that only made me think 'huh, why did I ship that across the Atlantic?' There's a strong argument for donating anything that you're not thrilled to see after two months living out of a suitcase."

--Naraht.


My professional work last month )
On foreshadows in stories )
Researching African-American slavery; or, How I get ideas for historical stories )
My web addiction last month )
My decluttering last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
Replies to Musicman and Twicet )
Reply to Twicet:

Thanks for the reminder that I need to update the Toughs timeline to include chronological links to all the Toughs stories. I also have to correct the dating of the earliest stories; I managed to make a mistake in my dating cheat sheet that placed all of those stories five years off their actual dates.

Not to mention getting Merrick's name wrong through the entire second part of "Rain." (*Sigh.*)

In the meantime, I've put the Toughs chronology at the end of this post. The series page for The Three Lands has those stories listed in chronological order.


Chronological order of the Toughs stories (slightly corrected), along with some dates of birth for my characters )

Jul. 3rd, 2015

Daily life: Wow, busy. Eternal Dungeon, submissions, web addiction, trips, introversion, & clutter.

"She will still talk to people, but it will be in a withdrawn way."

--A priest discussing a new Scottish hermit, as quoted by The Press and Journal.


My professional work last month )
On 'The Eternal Dungeon' )
Writing in the fresh outdoors, research trips, and a rant about heavy furniture) )
Professional trips (mainly Waterman research) and personal trips last month )
Getting a handle on my introversion )
The inauspicious anniversary of my web addiction )

REPLY TO BLOG COMMENTS

As some of you will have noticed, I've been a little backed up in responding to comments to this blog. Unfortunately, I lost all my e-mails prior to April 2014 (yes, that's how backed up I am), but here's my replies to the rest. I hope I didn't miss anyone - if I did, let me know.


Reply to Catana on e-book covers and productivity )
Reply to Dianna Kay on my e-books and the m/m readership )
Reply to Musicman on narratives )
Reply to Angie Fiedler Sutton on Scribe Mozell )

May. 12th, 2015

Learning how to write short stories; wordage; Camp NaNoWriMo; story outlines

"I write traditional fantasy, which means that I gravitate toward the noble, if flawed, hero. That doesn't mean that I don't like a little grit in my stories; quite the opposite in fact. It's just that if I have characters who are called to make sacrifices, I want to to believe there is something in the world that makes the sacrifice worthwhile, whether that be love or honor or the promise of an afterlife. I'm afraid that is often perceived as naiveté, especially considering the fantasy market's lean toward darker, sometimes nihilistic, themes over the last decade or two.

"Yet, I think even the most cynical among us will admit they look for the meaning in tragedy. When someone dies violently or at a young age, we want to believe that something good can come from the sorrow. We set up scholarship funds in the victim's name. We raise money for charity. We do things that in some way fill the hole in the world left by that loss.

"Similarly, I want to believe that the characters' suffering is for more than just their own vain ambitions or merely to illustrate a grim worldview. I want something that reminds me that deep down, no matter how bad things get, there is a purpose and a meaning to life. Fantasy is an excellent vehicle for showing the resilience of the spirit and the power of selfless love."

--Carla Laureano, as interviewed by Eileen Putnam in the May 2015 issue of Romance Writers Report.


My professional work last month )
On magazine/anthology submissions, wordage, and Camp NaNoWriMo )
My web addiction last month )
My decluttering and homemaking last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
Everest, Baltimore, and related matters )
About our cat )

Learning how to write short stories; wordage; Camp NaNoWriMo; story outlines

"I write traditional fantasy, which means that I gravitate toward the noble, if flawed, hero. That doesn't mean that I don't like a little grit in my stories; quite the opposite in fact. It's just that if I have characters who are called to make sacrifices, I want to to believe there is something in the world that makes the sacrifice worthwhile, whether that be love or honor or the promise of an afterlife. I'm afraid that is often perceived as naiveté, especially considering the fantasy market's lean toward darker, sometimes nihilistic, themes over the last decade or two.

"Yet, I think even the most cynical among us will admit they look for the meaning in tragedy. When someone dies violently or at a young age, we want to believe that something good can come from the sorrow. We set up scholarship funds in the victim's name. We raise money for charity. We do things that in some way fill the hole in the world left by that loss.

"Similarly, I want to believe that the characters' suffering is for more than just their own vain ambitions or merely to illustrate a grim worldview. I want something that reminds me that deep down, no matter how bad things get, there is a purpose and a meaning to life. Fantasy is an excellent vehicle for showing the resilience of the spirit and the power of selfless love."

--Carla Laureano, as interviewed by Eileen Putnam in the May 2015 issue of Romance Writers Report.


My professional work last month )

Apr. 22nd, 2015

Daily life: Writing breakthroughs, Waterman research, & web addiction progress. It was a good month.

"I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

"I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real. . . .

"When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer."

--Andrew Sullivan.


I had some big changes in March in how I write stories, so that's what most of this entry is about.


New ways of writing fiction )
Waterman research )
My professional work last month )
My reading last month )
My decluttering and homemaking last month )
My personal life last month )
My web addiction and other health matters last month )

Mar. 2nd, 2015

Daily life: Oh, my. There actually *is* a life offline.

"Housewives were the people who put Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes in millions of small hands. They were, of course, thrifty (thrift is the signal virtue of the housewife), but many of them were also high-minded, convinced that people ought to help one another out. George Harrison may have held a Concert for Bangladesh, but it was the mothers on my block who sat down and wrote little checks—ten dollars, fifteen dollars—to CARE. Many housewives shared a belief in the power of boycotts, which could so easily be conducted while grocery shopping. I remember hearing my mother's half of a long, complicated telephone discussion about whether it would or would not undermine the housewives' beef strike of 1973 if the caller defrosted and cooked meat bought prior to the strike. Tucked into the aforementioned copy of The Settlement Cook Book, along with handwritten recipes for Chocolate Diamonds and Oma's German Cheesecake, is a small card that reads FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR J.P. STEVENS WORKERS. The organizers of that long-ago boycott understood two things: first, that if you were going to cripple a supplier of household goods (J.P. Stevens manufactured table linens and hosiery and blankets), you had to enlist housewives; and second, that you stood a better chance of catching their attention if you printed your slogan on the reverse of a card that contained a table of common metric equivalents, a handy, useful reminder that 1 liter = 1 quart and also that the makers of Finesse hosiery exploited their workers."

--Caitlin Flanagan: Housewife Confidential: A tribute to the old-fashioned housewife, and to Erma Bombeck, her champion and guide.


A note to my readers: If you sent me email before April 2014, please resend it. Due to a computer mishap, I've lost all my email between 2008 and April 2014.

If you sent email after April 2014, and I haven't replied to it yet, feel free to resend it. It should be in my inbox, which I'm still plowing through, but there's no reason you should have to wait any longer than you already have.


My professional work this month )
My reading this month )
My decluttering and homemaking this month )
My personal life this month )

I've saved the best news for last:

I stayed mostly offline in February.

Let me repeat that: I STAYED MOSTLY OFFLINE. If you don't understand the full import of that, let me repeat what I wrote in my last journal entry:

o--o--o


It's the web that's the problem. And it was a very serious problem by the time that I pulled the plug in mid-January - against my will; my body went into a state of collapse, and I ended up with the flu.

Before that happened, do you know how long I'd been online? Five days. I got nine hours of sleep during that time.

So I've now officially moved "web usage" from "medical problem" to "medical emergency."

o--o--o


So hurrah, yes, major progress in having an offline life. Which is why I actually have accomplishments to list in this blog entry.

Feb. 6th, 2015

Daily life: My personal life, 2014 and 2015

"If thoughts are chaos and rush and feeling are chaos and rush, then person will see chaos, hear chaos, spread chaos and call chaos in to them. With music in ears and phones and computers not the time to see. Not the time to feel, or be."

--A Sherpa in Rolf and Ranger's Silver Bullet Everest.


The goals I did and didn't accomplish in 2014 )
My 2015 goals )

Dec. 22nd, 2014

Daily Life: NaNoWriMo, Part 2; plus, ebook covers

"The fiction writers who earn a living are those who consistently and steadily produce quality stories. Granted, if you're prolific enough, and you're working in a hot market, you can compensate for quality with quantity. That's how you know there is no God."

-- Josh Lanyon: Man, Oh Man! Writing Quality M/M Fiction.

*</a>


My writing desk.


Unpacking marathon )
Going offline and reading slowly )
About those book covers )
Covers and NaNo )
Some things I learned during NaNoWriMo )
Wrapping up NaNo )
Rainbow Awards and Thanksgiving )
Ebook covers; plus, holiday events )
A pause for the headlines )
New cover sales results; plus, Christmas preparations, or lack thereof )

Oct. 6th, 2014

Daily life: Ebook sales, schedules, & my personal demon, who goes by the name of Internet Addiction

"It's a sad day when you're 33 years old, and you've just set up the parental controls on your WoW account so you can't play late into the wee small hours of the night."

--Name withheld to protect the addict.


I've decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. If any of you are planning to do it too, I'd love to have some more Writing Buddies. Here's my NaNoWriMo profile.


More of the usual struggles )

Jul. 13th, 2014

Daily life: Smashwords struggles, next Eternal Dungeon story, and writing in the zone

"The most dangerous lie we tell ourselves is that writing novels shouldn't feel like a job. It encourages younger and newer writers to work for little or no pay. It convinces those with a book or two under their belt that there's something wrong with them when the writing is no longer fun all the time. Worst of all, when we hit bumps along the road, we're convinced we're the only ones to feel this type of burnout, and that there's something wrong with us because of it.

"One of the most powerful things I ever did for my career, and my continued sanity, was to get to know other writers facing the same challenges. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook, supplemented with the occasional convention, have connected me with incredible people willing to share their own fraught publishing journeys. What stunned me more than anything else is how each of us thought our experiences were entirely unique, when it turned out we shared many of the same fears and frustrations.

"What will keep me writing far longer than I expected is not, necessarily, my passion, my talent, or the romantic story of how stringing together words will help me transcend the mortal plane. No, the deeper I get into the publishing game, the more I realize that what will keep me going when everything crumbles around me is the incredible support, advice, and commiseration I've gotten from other writers."

--Kameron Hurley: Busting Down the Romantic Myth of Writing Fiction, and Mitigating Author Burnout.


Question for you folks: Do any of you buy the doc editions of my ebooks? I'm trying to decide whether they're worth continuing.


Software struggles galore and working out a proper writing schedule )

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