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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 )

Feb. 15th, 2017

My January 2017 reading

Blurbs are generally stolen from the author or publisher.

Top pick of the month

Naraht: "Að fara til Íslands" [uploaded 2011]. Historical fiction set in England, Iceland, and the Arctic during the early 1930s. Slashfic of Mary Renault's The Charioteer; can be read without knowing the original canon. "He had spent last year's summer holidays working his passage to Iceland and back in a trawler." (Don't read the story header, except for the blurb; toward the end of the story, you'll enjoy the delightful surprise that I did.)

Original fiction

Naomi Novik: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) [2006]. Historical fantasy adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon's egg - Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain's Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte's invading forces. Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands - and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East - a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Noel Streatfeild: Theatre Shoes (Shoes #4) [1945]. Children's fiction (school fiction and domestic fiction) set during World War II. When their father is captured during the war, three children come to London to live with their grandmother and join their talented theatrical family in a school for stage training.

P. L. Travers: Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1) [1934]. Ill. Mary Shepard. Children's fantasy set in London during the early 1930s. Life was never the same again for the Banks family after the astonishing Mary Poppins blew in with the east wind.

Fan fiction

(Both these stories can be read without knowing the original canon.)

lastwingedthing: "as morning steals upon the night" [uploaded 2016]. Historical fantasy set during the early twentieth century. AU slashfic of E. F. Benson's David Blaize. Frank is even more special than David first realised.

Jay Tryfanstone: "The Very Secret Diaries of Saint Augustine" [uploaded 2012]. Historical fiction RPF set in the fourth and fifth centuries; can be read without reference to the canon, though it's way funnier if you've read St. Augustine's Confessions. "404. Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why he does not see my point! Translation of 'gourd' vital to understanding of gospels."

Pleasure nonfiction

(This category is for nonfiction that I'd be willing to read for fun, though sometimes I peruse it for the sake of research.)

Mroctober: "Adventures of a Cat Slave" [2011]. Daily-life post only lightly fictionalized, as any cat's companion can testify. "Your master welcomes you back to his domestic holdings with a meow at the top of the steps."

Joseph Husband: A Year in a Coal-Mine [1911]. Adventure memoir. "Ten days after my graduation from Harvard I took my place as an unskilled workman in one of the largest of the great soft-coal mines that lie in the Midwest."

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Freelancer's Survival Guide [Third Edition, 2013; also online]. Business book for authors and other freelancers; includes lots of autobiographical anecdotes. Most people become freelancers without any idea of how to run a business. They learn in the school of hard knocks. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has taken the school of hard knocks and made it into one of the most useful business books written in years. (That's the official, effusive blurb, but it's true.)

Jan. 16th, 2017

My to-read list of new releases

Published in 2016: "Children of the Earth and Sky," by Guy Gavriel Kay.

http://brightweavings.com/ggk/books/books/children-of-earth-and-sky/

Published in 2016: "Can't Hide from Me," by Cordelia Kingsbridge.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/cant-hide-from-me

April 4, 2017: "Blood Enemies," by Susan R. Matthews. (Sample chapters and eARC are out now.)

http://www.baen.com/blood-enemies-earc.html

May 16: "Thick as Thieves," by Megan Whalen Turner.

https://m.harpercollins.com/9780062568243/thick-as-thieves

June 27: "Seven Stones to Stand or Fall," by Diana Gabaldon.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2016/11/seven-stones-in-2017/


Online fiction writers who release stories regularly:

Rolf and Ranger

http://rolfandranger.blogspot.com/?m=0

PuckThePlayer (AU fanfic)

http://archiveofourown.org/users/pucktheplayer

Cordelia Kingsbridge (by subscription)

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2341300


Still waiting for promised new releases from these authors:

Dani Alexander.

http://slashfiction.org

Manna Francis.

http://www.mannazone.org


Authors whose past releases I need to catch up with:

Catherine Jinks.

http://catherinejinks.com

Sharon Kay Penman.

http://www.sharonkaypenman.com

All those YA dystopian writers whose novels I'm gleefully making my way through.

Jan. 5th, 2016

My 2015 recommendations for reading, listening, & viewing; plus, authors' upcoming releases

For those of you who don't follow me regularly, I mostly read older fiction (late nineteenth century to mid twentieth century), historical fiction, historical speculative fiction (historical fantasy, etc.), juvenile fiction, and various types of gay fiction (especially original slash). But sometimes I read other stuff too.


Older writings )
Current fiction )
Blogs )
Podcasts )
Videos/TV/film (no spoilers) )

Do you folks know of any stories etc. to recommend?

Oct. 14th, 2015

Story recommendation (gay adventure): "Silver Bullet - Everest," by Rolf and Ranger

Rolf and Ranger: Silver Bullet - Everest (Falls Chance Ranch series; gay adventure; online fiction; also available in ebook formats through their forum, which anyone may join).

The novel tells of a long-time adventurer's quest to climb Mount Everest alongside his life partner. Amidst the dangers and joys of the journey, the protagonist realizes that he must come to terms with his inner demons.

A cracking good adventure and amazingly moving novel, due to the concrete details, slowly growing suspense, and careful pacing of the character development alongside the thrills of the climb. That Silver Bullet - Everest is a parallel novel to the breathtaking Silver Bullet - Ranch novel (the Ranch novel is first chronologically, if you want to read them in order) is icing on a very tasty cake.

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 )

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. 11th, 2015

Story recommendation (gay Western): "Falls Chance Ranch," by Rolf and Ranger

Rolf and Ranger: Falls Chance Ranch. Also available in ebook format (including stories not yet available at their website) at their forum and in the Files section of their Yahoo Group.

I originally thought this online fiction series was a domestic discipline tale. And then I thought this was a series like Maculategiraffe's The Slave Breakers, centered on a loving, hierarchically ordered, highly unconventional surrogate family.

It was the incongruity that was getting to him. People didn't generally have disasters while companionably eating muffins together.


The series Falls Chance Ranch (currently consisting of three completed novels, a work-in-progress novel, and numerous shorter works) is both these things, but in addition to that, it is one of the most powerful psychological studies of a man that I've encountered in fiction.

The rest of the review )

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.

Jan. 8th, 2015

Scribe Mozell (1958-2014): m/m author, fanfic writer, and early writer of original slash/het

I missed earlier announcements about this, so I only recently learned that Scribe (aka Scribe Mozell, Scribescribbles, and Miss Mozell) died last March 29 at the age of 55. I don't know the cause of death, but she had been in ill health for many years. She was a published m/m author but was best known for her fan fiction and for her original slash/het fiction, which dates back to at least the beginning of this century. (I'm not certain when she began posting her writings.)

I've linked at the bottom of this post to the death announcements and to her profiles and writings. (Her publisher's announcement of her death includes her offline name, which she never troubled much to hide; some of her writings contained both her offline name and one of her fan names. So I've linked to everything I could find.) But I'd like to say first what Scribe meant to me.

Read more... )

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 )

Sep. 15th, 2014

Daily life: Marketing, Draft2Digital, Internet addiction, and health crisis

sometimes im like "Eternal Dungeon police AU"

but them im like

oh wait that happened and Layle broke the computers

*

okay but

futurepunk layle and elsdon

#LAYLE WOULD DIE NEVERMIND

*

can you imagine though

"layle/elsdon highschool au, M/M, hxc, M rating for later chapters"

*

Eternal dungeon au where layle and elsdon are summer camp counselors

*

an eternal dungeon au where my heart isnt broken every fucking chapter

*

Eternal Dungeon/Sonic The Hedgehog crossover:

au, darkfic, mcd, abuse, dubcon

"Sonic the Hedgehog made no reply. His eyes were searching the Seeker's belt, looking for a rope or a chain or any other sign of what was to take place here. His gaze jerked up, though, as the Seeker said, 'Mr. Hedgehog, do you enjoy pain?'"

109 chapters. 7959690403020000034 words. incomplete.

#MR. DUSK IM SO SORRY


--From the Dusk-Peterson-tagged Tumblr posts of Albert (aka valtiels and a zillion other masks), which keep me perpetually entertained.


Before I get to the Daily Life stuff, some of you may be interested in this list:

Original Slash Creators.

The Slash Pile is asking writers and artists of original lgbtq works to add their names to the list. You don't have to be a slasher. Here's the sign-up sheet to be listed.


In which I struggle with the issue of how to balance my work life and my health )

Jun. 29th, 2014

Daily life: Current professional work, Amazon bestseller lists, and great fiction stylists

"I'm closing in on 62. I might have 10 productive years left, 20 if I'm lucky and don't get hit by any more minivans. When I ask myself how much of that time I want to spend playing online cribbage or watching cute-kitty videos instead of visiting with my family and friends, goofing with my idiotic dog, or out riding my motorcycle, the answer is not too much."

--Stephen King: My Screen Addiction.

Read more... )

So which fiction stylists do you folks like? I'm dying for recs, so that I can find some more good writers to read.

Jun. 5th, 2014

Daily life: Creeping closer to my next ebook

"They're here!!! They're here!!!"

The speaker (actually, shrieker) was a teenage girl and she and her friends came running over to my table. I was packing boxes and getting ready to go downstairs to speak at the opening session of the UPublishU conference downstairs. The Author Hub behind me was empty, as yet. It was only 8:30 AM.

"Is this where the indie authors are going to be?" she asked, gazing up at the sign said The Alliance of Independent Authors as if it said Private Audience with Justin Bieber.

"Yes, they'll be coming in shortly," I said. The front row of the Author Hub housed five high-sales, headliner author-publishers: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy (the highest selling author on Amazon Kindle, who had cut the ribbon and declared Author Hub officially open for business on Thursday morning); Hugh Howey, CJ Lyons and Holly Ward.

This girl, and her pals, must be after one of them. "Was there somebody you particularly wanted to meet?"

She shrugged. "We just want to see (tone of rapt wonder) the indie authors."

"Any indie author?"

"Yeah!"

“Really?"

"That's what I, like, want to be when I leave school."

"Me too," said her friend.

"And me!"

"All of you?"

Yes, all eleven of them had the same ambition and had come to the Javitts Centre to stake out some self-publishing heroes.

--Orna Ross: Indie Authors at BEA 2014, via The Passive Voice.


Thoughts on covers and plans )

May. 29th, 2014

Daily Life: Scribd subscription, candy, financial conundrum, reading matter, and Life Prison series

"Don't act like you have forever. You absolutely, positively do not, and the great lie, the most destructive conceit, is that there's still plenty of road left. No, there isn't. There might be, but there also might not be, and nobody knows for sure. So don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and prioritize your shit so you're doing things that matter, like you're only going to be around for a few more hours or days. If you're wrong, nice surprise. If you're right you won't have frittered away what you had left playing some idiotic game or staring at the tube or exchanging vapid pleasantries online. Treat your time as precious and use it wisely."

--Russell Blake: 10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told.


Starting to settle down to normal life, but still busy with move-in stuff )

Nov. 18th, 2013

Daily life: Getting old

"The old man . . . looked smaller and more shriveled . . . 'Getting old,' the engineer muttered. 'Can't take it. Sorry I conked out on you, kid.'"

--Philip St. John (aka Lester del Rey): Rocket Jockey (1952), the first science fiction novel I ever fell in love with, at age ten. Not until last week's reread did it penetrate my consciousness that the "old man" was in his fifties.


"Looking back, I think a lot of the time I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is great, but the next one'll be better. This is all a road upwards, and one day we'll get to that plateau.' But there isn't any plateau, folks. Happiness is the journey."

--Brian May, quoted in the September 1993 issue of RIP. From my late mother's enormous collection of metal music clippings.


Philosophical meanderings, plus prison songs )

Sep. 27th, 2013

Daily life: Writing fic again

"So today I did 1.5 hours on workshops, 3 hours plus on layout of a magazine, finished some laundry and did dishes, had a half hour nap, watched 2.5 hours of television, did about an hour on e-mail and business, and still got just under 5,000 words of fiction written plus this blog."

--Dean Wesley Smith.


"It was my practice to be at my table [to write] every morning at 5.30 A.M.; and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy. An old groom, whose business it was to call me, and to whom I paid £5 a year extra for the duty, allowed himself no mercy. During all those years at Waltham Cross he was never once late with the coffee which it was his duty to bring me. . . . I owe more to him than to any one else for the success I have had."

--Anthony Trollope.


Writing fic again )
Interesting stuff on the web, some by me )
E-mails from me to Noakes about fic-writing, Toughs research, and daily activities (minor spoilers for an upcoming story) )

Aug. 19th, 2013

For design geeks: Review of Jutoh e-book creation software, plus e-book design

"It doesn't help, of course, that I am a silly fanboy when it comes to printing history and book design. I sit here at my desk with my faithful copy of the 1923 edition of The Manual of Linotype Typography and wistfully think about how beautiful books were then. Whatever happened to Elzevir #3 and Benedictine—venerable typefaces for metal-set books.

"But I have to remind myself that no one is coming [to the presentation] to find out what the proportion of type to margin in Gutenberg's Bible was. We have all we can handle when CreateSpace requires a 3/4" gutter margin that forces the type practically off the page on the opening edge. And if I can just get across the point that you don't double-space after punctuation, put spaces around em-dashes, or both indent and double-space between paragraphs, perhaps that will be sufficient to help the burgeoning independent publisher look like a seasoned professional."

--Nathan Everett.


My review of Jutoh e-book creation software )
The elements of my e-book design )

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