The Duke Who Didn't, by Courtney Milan

Oh hey I finished reading a book! 

It's amazing!

That I finished reading a book, I mean, the book was good but "amazing" would be an overstatement. The Duke Who Didn't is Courtney Milan's newest release, a historical romance about a mixed-race (British & Chinese) English duke, and his Chinese-British love from the working class. Like most Milan romances, the pair is incredibly unlikely -- how do these two even meet, much less fall in love? Milan spends much of the book selling the premise; it takes a lot to establish. I almost gave up on the book early on, after the reveal of one of the devices intended to keep the lovers from resolving the romance too soon. It was a cringe-inducing device and I did not want to spend the rest of the book cringing.

Fortunately, she didn't devote too much of the book to this particular point.  Milan said on Twitter that one of her inspirations was non-Western story structures that don't center around conflict. I would not describe this as a "book without conflict" -- it's got a lot of conflicts between characters, and the standard central conflict that is resolved before the end of the book. But it is atypical of Milan's romances; it doesn't have the Mandatory Third Act Breakup, which I hate*. (I don't care that it's considered mandatory, and very few of my romances use the device.) And overall, it's lower conflict and the stakes do not feel as high as Milan's other romances. 

All in all, I enjoyed it and hope she continues to explore alternative story structures because this was a great change of pace. I'd give it an 8 on my "enjoyment" scale, due to miscellaneous nitpicks.

  • To be clear, I hate that it's regarded as mandatory. In some stories, it makes sense and it works. But as a required element, it is incredibly grating.
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September 2020 in Review

Avg calories eaten per day: 1,793
Avg exercise per day: 176
Weight: 171.6

So: eating is up, exercise is down, and weight is up. 

My addiction to Pokemon GO has been effectively killed by the pandemic. I still go out for walks and I still do aerobics sometimes, but the 2+ hour walks at the Plaza while I cheerfully played with my phone are never coming back. Unless I manage to hook myself on a new exercise game.  

I started eating more vegetables in September, at least. Lut has been ordering premade salads from Wal-Mart for years now, and I finally decided to do likewise. I consider premade salads ridiculously decadent, but they are extremely convenient and get me to eat spinach. For two weeks, I'd been buying salad ingredients and assembling salads from them, but this was enough less convenient that there was a good chance I would quit eating them entirely. I hardly ever have takeout; spending an extra $10 a week to have someone else make salads for me is not unduly extravagant.

Anyway, I don't know. I might be at the point where I care enough to change something, since the last six months have been trending slowly upwards; I'm up four pounds since my low in March/April.


I worked on Demon's Alliance a lot this month. I finished making notes and working on the outline on September 2, and started writing the book on September 4. Book is at 32,500 words so far, and just shy of 50% complete. Like the other Demon's Series books, I expect it to be on the short side. 

I did not finish writing the outline for book 4, which I'm gonna give the working title of Angel's Grace so that I can stop calling "book 4." I did make more notes for it, though. I still want to finish the Angel's Grace outline before I finish writing Demon’s Alliance; it’s another case where I’m setting stuff up in the current book that will pay off in the next one.

I started a new writing game, SoulScribes, which is in closed alpha but one of my friends made big puppy eyes at a dev and got me an account. It’s been encouraging me to write more, so that’s nice. I still play 4thewords, too, of course, because the only thing better than a writing incentive game is TWO writing incentive games.

The Business of Writing

Alinsa finished initial layout on Spark of Desire, and I've done the final proofread pass and sent corrections to her. So that should be done soon.  

My first readers are done with The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. I haven't opened it since late August, or looked at comments, or considered what I'm going to change.  I should do that. 


I finished Spark of Desire's wrap cover, so that it would be ready to go when Alinsa was done with the book layout.

I also tried to draw Raven, one of the protagonists in Demon's Alliance, a few times. The third try is coming out pretty well; I hope to finish it up. It was nice working on a picture for fun instead of as a potential book cover.


Diane's company (her husband, to be specific) is to start painting today!

I am giving Diane even more slack than usual because she has cancer and just had surgery for a compression fracture a couple of weeks ago. Also, the paint had to be ordered and only just arrived.  Josh (the husband) has done some work already on prep -- scraping off the old paint where it was peeling, taking down the decorative shutters, power-washing the house, probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. It proceeds apace; I am content.

The saga of Paying For New Gutters continues!

In early September, I got a phone call:

Caller: "Hi, I'm with Christian Bros. Roofing -- "
Me: . o O(Aha! They will ask about picking up a check!)
Caller: " -- and we wanted to check in and make sure you are happy with your new gutters."
Me: "I am happy with them! I have not yet paid for them, though, because I was expecting an invoice or someone to collect a check like with the roof. Would you like to be paid? I would like to pay you!"
Caller: "... uh, I'm not with billing, I only do customer satisfaction. But I will let them know!" Several days later, they emailed an invoice to my real-name account with an 'Oops, sorry we forgot to bill you' apology.  I never remember to check my real-name email, so I didn't notice until I got the physical copy in the mail on September 20.  I immediately went to online banking and sent them a check, which online banking said would be delivered on September 29.

It's now October 2, and that check has shown as "pending" for the last three days. Dear company, please cash my check already, I am tired of looking at my account balance and having to remember why it is unexpectedly high.

In other maintenance news, my Surface no longer runs the Evernote client. I'm not sure why, but the Evernote client now takes a very long time to open and to sync, and even once it's done syncing, it's unusably laggy -- there's a long delay between when I hit a key and when Evernote acknowledges the keystroke.

This puts me in the weird position that I just ... don't use Evernote anymore. I used to write each chapter of a story in Evernote and paste it into Google Docs when I finished the chapter. Now I just write directly in Google Docs. I like Evernote's client UI better, but not enough better to use it when it won't autosync across all my devices.

So this morning I decided I might as well cancel my premium subscription (I don't have to migrate my data off Evernote first because the unpaid version still stores all existing data.) It turned out that my annual renewal was in two days. So that's gone.

It feels weird. I switched to Evernote premium in 2016. It's been part of my process for all but two of my published books. 

But the biggest reason I needed Evernote -- so I could write on my phone -- hasn't been a factor since my old thumb-board phone became unusably slow and I had to switch to a new phone with a virtual keyboard in 2018. And it's 2020 now: I don't go anywhere and wouldn't use my phone to write regardless of the hardware available.  

And if it turns out I miss Evernote at some point in the future -- I admit that it was nice that my prior process meant I always had my WIPs in two places -- I can re-subscribe. The unsubscribe function on Evernote was reasonably painless (it went glitchy at the end but turned out to have gone through), so kudos to Evernote for that. Companies that do not make me hate unsubscribing are WAY more likely to get me to re-subscribe. (As opposed to, say, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, neither of which I will ever subscribe to again.)

Part of why I am sad about unsubscribing to EverNote is that it's a good product and I liked supporting it. 

And it just struck me that I've never paid for Google Docs but Google Docs does, in fact, have premium membership. Its premium membership benefit is "do you want EVEN MORE storage than the ridiculously excessive amount of storage we gave you for free?" so it's not as if this is a perk I will use. But I signed up for it just now anyway because I feel better being a customer than a product. :D

In related news, also renewed my subscription to Dreamwidth.  


The Kindle app has a feature called "Reading Insights", which auto-tracks how many books you've finished in Kindle that year, and also how many weeks/days you've "read" in a row. I think it counts "reading" as "opened an ebook in the Kindle app", regardless of how much you read of it. Maybe you have to read a page or two, I don't know. 

Anyway, I'd read a productivity blog post that suggested that if there's a thing you want to do that you find yourself not doing, start with the smallest possible unit of that thing and then give yourself credit for doing it. Eg, if you want to journal but don't, set a goal of "open journal every day" and mark it as accomplished after you open the journal. Give yourself a sticker or whatever.

I have struggled a lot with reading books over the last few years (I have only finished reading three books in all of 2020) so I decided to give this a try. I missed a couple of days, but for 28 days in September I did at least a little bit of reading-a-book. Mostly I've been reading India After Ghandi, a nonfiction history of India. It's a 900 page book and I am 200 pages into it, so I don't know if I will ever finish it via this method. But it's something.

Goal Scorecard for September

Assist Lut: September was happily a quiet month for medical stuff -- just the usually monthly immunotherapy and subscription refills. So this was easy and unrelated I love him.
Finish the cover for Spark of Desire: Done!

Stretch Goals for September

Start writing Demon's Alliance: Done!
Work on the outline for the fourth Demon's Series book: Did work on it, though not finished yet.
Work on art/sketch weekly: Still not a weekly thing, but I worked on art stuff in three of five weeks, so not too bad.

Goals for Next Month

Assist Lut
Finish outline for Angel's Grace (or some other new novel). I want to do NaNoWriMo next month. If I just work on Demon's Alliance in October, I'll either finish it or come close to finishing it, and either way I will need to start on Angel's Grace or have some other project ready-to-write in November. Granted, yes, I have won NaNoWriMo before with a book I didn't have outlined, but it adds unnecessary stress to the experience.
Generally maintain reading streak. This counts as long as I read, say, 25 days in October.

Stretch Goals

Think about what I want to write after Angel's Grace. Geez I picked new projects to work on TWICE this year already, am I really going to have to do this AGAIN? How does this keep happening. I didn't have to think about this at all in 2019, and I only did it ONCE in 2018.
Make final editing list for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
Complete final edits on The Lord, His Monster and Their Lady. I want these as two separate goals because that's more motivational than one.
Sketch/draw once per week, anything counts. I was a little tempted to do Stocktober (SenshiStock posts a reference photo on her DeviantArt every day in October for people to draw) or Pinktober (, but not tempted enough to do it. I was looking at things yesterday and going "meh". Still, maybe I'll do a few sketches. I can use the practice. 
Finish the portrait of Raven
Finish the cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
Post a few times to Dreamwidth
Keep up on reading Dreamwidth
Start keeping a to-do list: I stopped making a weekly to-do list ... uh ... a long time ago. Looks like the first week of April was the last one? My bullet journal used to have a section of weekly to-dos like "exercise 5x" and "write 5000 words". I still keep a bullet journal, but it only has my schedule and the things that I have done, instead of miscellaneous things I want to do. I feel like "things I want to do" might be nice to have again. We'll see.

I kept larding on the stretch goals this time because stretch goals are fun. I don't need to actually do them. I can put whatever I want in here! I'm free! Freeeeeeeee!


PS: I tried the Markdown version of the new Dreamwidth editor for this entry. I do not love the way it handles line breaks, which is "if you want a blank line between every carriage return, great, otherwise be prepared to use a lot of html code." But I am not formatting this entry a third time for Yet Another version. I think I got most of the wonky sections tamed. Eventually. -_-

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Me 2012

August in Review

Avg calories per day: 1745
Avg exercise per day: 183
Weight: 170.2
So everything is basically the same as July. Eh. Good enough.
I had not been outside to walk at all for the last week of August, despite the weather being pretty reasonable for walking during most of that week. I did aerobics videos a couple of times and spent like three hours cleaning instead. 
I decided to write the next book in the Demon's Series. The new working title is Demon's Alliance, and I expect it to be the first of another two books that go together, the way Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil did. I've got the outline for Demon's Alliance nailed down pretty well, but I kind of want to finish the outline for book 4 before I start writing Demon's Alliance. We'll see if I actually do that or not. I have made a lot of notes so far, way more than I usually do before writing a book. This included re-reading Lure and Sigil and making tons of notes of names and places and other details from them, so that I have a handy reference whenever I need to look something up. Soon, I'll get to see how much this helps with writing, and with editing. I am hoping that thinking through the outline more will result in fewer incidents of "oh, I should change the entire climax now that I've finished writing it the first time." At the least, I'll have fewer "look up/make up a real name instead of this placeholder" notes.
The Business of Writing
Finished initial edits on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady and sent it to first readers, woo.
Alinsa finished initial layout on Spark of Desire, so I get to review that for typos, woo! I should see if anyone wants an ARC for the purpose of writing a review.
I didn't finish the Spark cover, but I did more work on the Lord cover. It is now at the stage when I am disappointed that it didn't come out better but do not know how to make it better. *glowers at it*
I understand that it's very common for art to have an "ugly" stage before it's finished, but I kind of feel like my art reaches this stage when I finish it. While I'm still working on a piece I think "oh, this should be good when it's done!" And then I get to the end and think, "Wait, is that it? I thought it would be better."
Anyway, I'll put some work into it regardless and see if I can push it a little higher.
Home Maintenance
New gutters are installed and helmeted! (This was done in two different stages). They are not paid for yet because they haven't billed me. Not sure what's up with that. When they finished installing the roof, Daniel came the same day to get the check for the roof part.
For house-painting: Diane's quote was 20% lower than the other painter, so I went with her. House painting to start in the first or second week of September. My experience with Diane's company is "perpetually behind schedule but will reliably get the job done," so I expect this will be slow but it'll be finished eventually.
I've been thinking about making the basement less disgusting but this requires professional help at this point. Maybe after house painting is done and it and the gutters are paid for, I will call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to haul away the water-damaged furniture in the basement.
Goal Scorecard
Assist Lut: Yup! \o/
Schedule to have the house painted: Scheduling with Diane is more theoretical than practical, but I'm gonna call this done.
Stretch Goals
Finish initial edits on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady and send it to first readers: Done!
Figure out what my next writing project will be and start that: Did this!
Finish the cover for Spark of Desire: Nope, forgot this was on here.
Work on art/sketch weekly: Technically, I worked on art three weeks out of four, so this was closer than I thought. That work was spread across five days in two spurts, and all on the cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady.
Goals for Next Month:
Assist Lut
Finish the cover for Spark of Desire
Stretch Goals
Start writing Demon's Alliance
Work on the outline for the fourth Demon's Series book
Work on art/sketch weekly
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Me 2012

The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady: Call for First Readers!

I have finished initial edits of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady! And that means it’s time for first readers!

Also, a blurb!

After his first romance ended in bitterness and anger, and his disastrous first marriage ended in the death of his wife, Lord Jaguar of Honor has no interest in a third attempt at love. But he is the sole surviving member of his House. It is his duty to wed, and he is not a man to shirk from an obligation, no matter how unpleasant.

The daughter of a disgraced traitor, saved from ruin only by the grace of their highnesses, Lady Raindrop of Endurance has no romantic expectations of marriage. Her qualifications for a husband: suitable age and wealth, of a House that will make a good ally for Endurance.
"You know, I am far more than fortunate! I am the sister of a Great Lord who loves me, my House is sound, I am sought after by an attractive, wealthy lord who is not much older than I am, and -- let us not forget -- I have Cantara's Very Best Puppy!” Raindrop said. “Do you have any idea how good all of this looks to my twelve-year-old self who was engaged to a man forty years her senior and watching her world tilt towards a doomed and treacherous rebellion?"

But a monster hunts in the forests of Honor, and rumors swirl around the death of the Brooding Lord’s first wife. Did Lord Jaguar murder his own wife for her failure to provide him with the requisite heir? Or did his former lover kill her, in a jealous rage?
“Is there any evidence of this?” Raindrop asked. “These are the lowest quality rumors. It’s as if they put no thought into them at all.”

Or was there some other sinister force at work --

-- one which might threaten Raindrop herself?

The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
is in the Fey-Touched series, following after The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. Like the first book, it’s a standalone polyamorous romance, this time with an MMF triad. This is my furriest book yet; one of the protagonists is a humanoid stag.

The central premise is an inversion Northanger Abbey: a Gothic romance, but instead of a frightened female protagonist desperate to uncover the Dark Secrets surrounding her, the female protagonist just kind of ... refuses to acknowledge that she’s in a Gothic romance? 

Leave a comment or send email/DM/etc. if you’d like to be a first reader. If I don’t have your email already, please provide it. Comments are screened. And thanks as always for reading!
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July in Review

Average Calories consumed per day: 1764
Average exercise per day, in calories: 201
Weight: 170.5

I ate a little less and exercised a little more than I did in June, and gained a pound.

*side-eyes statistics*

So that was not particularly heartening. Exercise remains overall down from my highs when I still enjoyed playing Pokemon GO. I have not exactly quit playing Pokemon GO, but I don't play it as much as I used to and it's no longer an effective incentive for exercise. The trouble with Pokemon GO is that it never rewarded "getting exercise" as much as it rewarded "go to high-traffic areas with a lot of man-made attractions" and this is a bad strategy in the era of COVID-19. Maybe I should try a different exercise game.

I have tried some aerobics videos since March, but even beginner aerobics is hardcore. I can get through a beginner 15-minute video but it's very unpleasant. "Very unpleasant" does not lead naturally to "so I will keep doing it." The exercises I stick with are more like "this varies between kind of nice, meh, and moderately bleh" rather than "I hate this and can't wait to stop."

"I hate this and can't wait to stop" may mean the exercise is more effective at promoting overall fitness but I don't know that it'd be worth it even if I could convince myself to keep doing it. OTOH, my history of exercise over the last ~15 years has been "switch to some new form of exercise every few months/years", so there's no saying it can't have a spot on the long list of "I did this for a while and then switched to something else."

Oh hey I finished drafting another book. \o/ Fellwater closed at 120,000 words, coming in a little under my latest projection for its length. So that was 19,000 words written in July.

*checks this against the total from her bullet journal* Ooh, that even matches!

The Business of Writing
The Twilight Etheriumis out! I am excited about this one. It's always nice to have a new book out, and this is another polyamorous fantasy romance and I don't know why I ever write anything else. Purr.

Also did more work on The Lord, His Monster and Their Lady, including about 2900 words of re-writing existing material, and a new scene that's around 1700 words. I also cleared some editing points from its list -- twelve, total. There are fourteen left, five of which deal with the revised climax.

And finished the final revisions of Spark of Desire and sent that to Alinsa for layout.

I kind of forgot that I'd been trying to do some work on art every week. Oops.

I did sketches three days in a row, on an alphabet theme that some of my fediverse friends did for a little while. And I spent about an hour total working on the cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. I did not make meaningful amounts of progress in that hour. o_o;;;

Home Maintenance
Early in the month, Daniel from Christian Brothers Roofing came out to look at my roof and give me an estimate. He remembered the leak in my skylight from a couple of years ago.

"Yeah, it's back. There's a leak into the extension, let me show you where from the outside," I said to the roofer, as I walked with him around to the back of the house. "Oh ... and that's not caused by the roof at all. Do you do siding repairs?"

"We don't, but my best friend does! Let me send you his contact information."

The siding along the roof line between the extension and the house (the roof of the extension is a foot or so lower than the rest of the house) had rotted away where it was in contact with the roof.

I hired Christian Brothers Roofing to replace the roof, and StateLine Exteriors to replace the siding along the roof line and fix some other siding issues, mostly with the extension. The siding on my house is all asbestos shingles, which is not a problem until you need to fix them because they're hazardous to remove and you can't replace them with matching shingles. So this was a bit of an adventure but it did all get taken care of, and the roofing and siding companies coordinated the work so that they didn't have redundancy issues. It was expensive but remarkably painless otherwise. The roof was, in fact, removed and replaced in a single 12-hour day by a team of five roofers. The siding repairs were done by one man over the course of two and a half days, with a gap because of weather problems.

The gutters also desperately needed to be replaced so when Daniel asked if I wanted to I was like YES PLZ make them not be a disaster k thx. Next week, I am getting new helmeted gutters that are almost maintenance-free which is important because I have failed at not only cleaning my gutters myself but also at reliably hiring someone else to clean them.

My final big home-maintenance item is to have the exterior painted. I have a quote from a painter who was recommended by Kasey from Stateline, but I figured I should get a second quote from someone else just to have some kind of benchmark, and also my bank account needs a chance to recover. Today, I mentioned to Diane, who runs my lawn-care company, that I needed the bushes around the house cleared so it could be painted. Diane: "Have you hired anyone yet? We also do painting!" Me: "SURE GIVE ME A QUOTE."

So I may actually finally get the house painted. It's needed it for like two or three years now. Maybe longer. Two or three years is probably when I noticed it was getting tattered. Who knows how long it took me to notice.

Goal Scorecard
Helped Lut: according to my bullet journal, I did six different medical-related chores in July, from appointments with medical professionals, to scheduling appointments, to filling prescriptions. I think this is pretty average.
Replace/repair roof: This has actually been done! I have a new roof! It has a 50 year warranty! If I have to pay to replace it sometime after the warranty run out, I will feel extremely fortunate.

Stretch Goals
Published The Twilight Etherium! Not on the list, but I'm still excited about it.
Siding repair: Also not on the list, but it was an important accomplishment.
Finish rewrites on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady: I still have a couple of bits left to rewrite, so I didn't finish this. I made significant progress, however. Also, I finished final edits on Spark of Desire, so I'm counting the combination as a win.
Write some of Fellwater: I finished it! That was unexpected and spiffy.
Work on art/sketch at least weekly: Forgot this was on here. I did some art but not every week.

I am giving myself an A+ for July even though I technically missed two stretch goals. I did a lot in July. It was a good month.

Goals for Next Month
Assist Lut.
Schedule to have the house painted.

Stretch Goals
Finish initial edits on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady and send it to first readers.
Figure out what my next writing project will be and start that.
Finish the cover for Spark of Desire.
Work on art/sketch weekly.
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Me 2012

Fellwater First Draft Complete! Also, poll questions

I finished the first draft of Fellwater. At some point between 2017 and 2020, I cleaned up some of the big issues in the draft. (I have no real recollection of doing this. Thank you, Past Rowyn.) It still needs significant edits, though.

I will not edit Fellwater immediately; I'll finish initial edits on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady first, at the least.

I'm not sure I will edit Fellwater at all. Fellwater is 120,000 words of queer polyamorous fantasy kink erotica. There's some romance and plot, but it's about 75% BDSM and sex scenes. Way, way more sex than any of my other books. I'd have to release it under a new pen name. As an added bonus, I think Amazon puts erotica into a ghetto that doesn't show up for search results. I don't even know if I can get more than one person to be a first reader for it.

Which brings me to the reason for this post: I want to gauge the level of interest in seeing the book published.

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Me 2012

New WIP Time!

A week ago, on June 6, I finished writing the first draft of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady.

My policy has been to always have a new WIP that I'm drafting. I have never been that author who works on a single book until it is completely revised and edited and proofread and only then starts drafting a new book. Once I finish a draft, I usually launch right into work on some new shiny thing. I'll write the new draft alongside revising/editing the previous draft.

The last time I finished a draft and hadn't already decided what book I was going to write next was January, 2018 -- two and a half years ago.

I had thirteen story ideas on that 2018 poll. In the intervening 2.5 years, I've completed two items from the list: The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, and The Twilight Etherium. I finished drafting three books that weren't on the list: Frost and Desire, Spark of Desire, and The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. Also, one novelette that also wasn't on the radar, The Mortal Prince and the Moon Etherium.

I spent yesterday combing through Evernote, looking for scraps of ideas, and collecting them together in a new folder named "Schenectady".

Works In Progress
Fellwater: Polyam BDSM fantasy erotica; features two male subs and a handful of doms, mostly female. I wrote about 80% of my original outline. There's another 20% to go, and then I'd want to put a consensual frame story around it, so that the original story becomes the roleplay of consensual participants playing characters who are "not consenting". I am thinking about this again because I already put a lot of words into it. But it doesn't really follow that "therefore the rest wouldn't take long to write." I'd really need to revisit the outline and figure out what ground I needed to and wanted to cover.

The Twin Etheriums: A prequel to the Etherium novels, this is a polyamorous FFM fantasy romance between three people who are searching for the secret to immortality. I already have an outline but I still feel a certain ambivalence about the story. Probably the characters need more work on the "what makes you lovable?" front.

Eve and the Fox: This would be another Fey-Touched novel, featuring a fey character but set in one of the mortal worlds. It's a romance involving Miro and Ardent's daughter. I don't think it's going to be next, but I put it here because I already have an outline for it. Fun fact: this story idea predates the first Etherium novel but is set chronologically well after The Twilight Etherium.

Demon's Solution: sequel to Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil. Mostly I want to write this for the polyamorous romance between Sunrise, Raven, and Mercy, but the main plot is the fallout from the resolution of Angel's Sigil and how the demon hunters/their guild handle it and also handle the increase in demonic activity. I have a bunch of notes but no outline for the book yet.

New Ideas
You Thought You Wanted to Be Level 99 But Really You Wanted to Be a Better Person: a LitRPG polyam romance. One protagonist is trying to reach the level cap in an MMO in order to impress another protag. Shenanigans ensue. The idea was gifted to me by Tuftears and I have most of an outline from brainstorming about it with Maggie and others on her Discord.

Ideas That Aren't Romance So Why Are They Even Here
You Are Not Prepared: LitRPG. A group of players get transported to a fantasy world that they're familiar with from a CRPG. But instead of each event from the CRPG waiting politely until the players have vanquished the current one, new villains and catastrophes Just. Keep. Happening. The players are going to have to get very creative indeed if they are to keep their new world from being destroyed ...

No outline, no notes, this is pretty much all I have on it.

Just Me and All the Demons in My Head: To avoid being destroyed by one demon, Kaden made a deal with several a long time ago, and has been paying the price ever since. But as far worse forces cause global upheaval, Kaden's monsters may be the only hope many people have for any form of safety.

I don't have much on this, either. But I miss Wysteria's "The Restless Dead Want YOU to Fight Necromancy" game from Sufficient Velocity and am tempted to make my own take on "working with one scary supernatural force because it's not as terrifying or evil as a much more threatening one."

The Way the World Ends: Sprawling epic fantasy. I've had this idea for six years now, about a prophet with visions of different catastrophes that will destroy the world, and trying to figure out how to avert all the catastrophes. Every time I stumble over the notes I made about it, I get excited about the ridiculous scope and breadth of the idea all over again. Picture something like Game of Thrones, but with one character running around screaming "NO DON'T DO THAT IT WILL ALL END IN FLAMES" at various other characters, and then somehow convincing them NOT TO.

I have a few thousands words of notes on this, include two completely incompatible versions of the setting and the main conflict.

The Least of All Monsters: Concept is two characters with a strong brother/sister bond trying to survive in a crapsack setting and rescuing a third character who promises to make everything either much better or much, MUCH worse.

I put this in a crapsack setting so that two of my unsympathetic protagonists would look less unsympathetic by contrast. I don't have a plot for it, just characters and their traumatic backstory. I keep coming back to it whenever I think about 'things I could work on next', so I wanted to put it on this list.


Of all of these, the most likely candidates are The Twin Etheriums and You Thought You Wanted to Be Level 99 But Really You Wanted to Be a Better Person, because they (a) are polyam romances (b) have mostly-complete outlines and (c) no serious uncertainties about their structure.

Nonetheless, I think what I'll do first is put some more notes into The Way the World Ends. Perhaps at some point I will accumulate enough notes to make a complete outline for this monstrosity. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

May 2020 in Review

This Month WHY
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Calorie consumption was about the same as in April, and exercise even lower -- I'm down to less than half of my peaks in December and January. Motivation is close to zero. Somehow, I am still exercising after work. I don't know why that habit remains when all the other habits have been eradicated. I gained a pound and a half in May.
While I was out walking in May, a car slowed down near me and a couple of Pokemon GO players made friendly noises at me from within it, and I am clinging to this memory as a bulwark against the two randos who've screamed at me because I was walking around outside. But outside is still terrible and I don't want to go there anymore. I've been trying to do aerobics videos instead. They are brutal and I kind of hate them.
There's a pseudoscience weight-loss gimmick where you're supposed to only eat food during an 8-hour window each day, and fast for the other 16 hours of each day/night. I never tried it before because it'd mean eating 2-3 meals during work hours, but in May I realized that since I'm working from home, and only 7 hours, it'd be somewhat feasible. I started trying it on 5/20 and I don't really think this is having anything but mildly negative effects on me. Mostly it means that I don't eat when I'm hungry in the morning and then I eat a bunch when I'm not hungry in the afternoon, so that I won't be hungry in the evening. So just completely ignoring my body's signals about food. The whole thing feels like a terrible plan, to be honest. It's not clear whether or not it works for me as a weight-loss technique -- I'm down half a pound since I started it -- but I stopped it yesterday anyway. There are lots of ways to lose weight that do not require dysfunctional eating habits.
I wrote 16,300 words of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady this month, which is now up to 90,000 words and almost finished. Another 5000-7000 words to go, I think.  This one is going to need more revising than Spark of Desire. It just occurred to me in the shower that I could completely re-do the climax in a way that might be more entertaining. 
The Business of Writing
Alinsa finished the initial pass on The Twilight Etherium, and I am almost done with the final read-through. Cover layout is still pending, though. Might be done this month? I don't know.
I drew a portrait of Whispers Rain, one of The Twilight Etherium protagonists.  I am not particularly happy with it, but hey, drew a thing.
"World of Lightness" was on hiatus for a week or so due to personal issues, but is back on again. I haven't kept track of how many words I've written for it this month, though.
Goals for Next Month
Try not to dig even deeper into the pit of bottomless despair that is this timeline
Help Lut
Finish writing first draft of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
Stretch Goals
Do some art/sketching at least once per week
Decide what next writing project will be? (I don't know what I'm going to write next! This is very exciting.)
Maybe work on writing the next thing?
Maybe do some reading?</div>
This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

April 2020 in Review

April felt like a normal-length month and I'm not sure if that's because it actually was, or if that's because The March Epoch changed my baseline for "normal-length month"

In April, I returned to about February's level of eating & exercising: 1820 calories per day consumed, exercise of around 260 calories per day. This is actually the lowest level of exercise since I started tracking via spreadsheet in November. Motivation to go out, stay outside, or even to clean, were all very low.

Weight is about the same, at 168.

Under the circumstances, these numbers are amazing and I'm proud of myself for not spending all day motionless and eating cookies. A++ good job me.


I actually wrote! Almost every day! Often more than my three-sentence stretch goal! 12,000 words on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady this month, which is now up to 73,700. Normally, I would not be excited about 12,000 words, but this is more new writing than I have done in the three previous months combined so YAY PERCEPTIBLE PROGRESS.

Everyone I know has been going "well, there's no being productive in a pandemic", but this is the first month I've broken 10,000 words since last November, so I can hardly blame my slump on COVID-19.

The Business of Writing
I finished reading through Spark of Desire. I don't want to make many changes, but there are a few. I need to make a list of changes so I can do them, and then do penultimate read-through. But I'm not in a hurry to do this, since Alinsa is still working on layout for The Twilight Etherium.

Oops. I didn't do this at all. I think I poked a little bit at the Spark cover, but for the most part I would think once or twice on the weekend: "I guess I should do some drawing?" And then I didn't do any drawing.

I started "World of Lightness", the romance-themed play-by-post RPG I mentioned early in April. I ended up with four players and it's been moving along. We've been playing the game in Google Docs, which was my preference and has worked pretty well. I wanted to do it in Google Docs because having each complete scene in a single doc makes for a nice, clean archive that's easy to search and it keeps the chronology straight, while still allowing players the option of continuing to write in early parts of the continuity. For example, if player A doesn't want to play out what their PC is doing in the afternoon and wants to skip to evening plans, and player B wants to keep writing out the afternoon, I don't have to tell either player to "wait" or "hurry up". I can just start writing the evening scene with A while I continue to write the afternoon scene with B, and it's easy to tell which is which because they're at different points in the doc, or in different docs. And B can be present in both scenes because this is a romance-themed game and nothing is going to happen in the afternoon that will dramatically impact the evening.

I've been using my portion of the writing for it to play, so I have an approximate word count for just what I've written: 25,000 words.

Writing for a play-by-post game, for me, involves a lot more exploratory writing than writing a book. I need to write more, both because the players need to have enough information to make their characters act consistently in the story world (which is much more information than readers of a novel need or want), and also because we are figuring out What Happens Next as a team. It's a romance game, so the players need lots of opportunities to meet and interact with potential love interests so they can decide who they're interested in. And I spend a fair amount of time having NPCs respond to things that PCs say and do, purely for conversational purposes -- it's not about the plot, it's about being in an immersive, interactive setting where what the PCs do matters.

Running the game is great fun, and I'm glad I decided to do it. I have such a hard time with "but what do I SAY" that I don't chat much online these days, and World of Lightness gives me an excuse to write a bunch of stuff interacting with other people, and that is nice. Also, my players are all great. So much <3

I have cut back on other games; I stopped maxing out my Pokemon GO battles every day, for instance.

Goal Scorecard
Help Lut: done!
Maintained minimum functions: No starvation! Did not quit my day job! Goal achieved!
Stretch goals:
Weekly art: LOL nope.
Writing: Achieved!

Last month's worked out pretty well so let's just keep at that.
Help Lut
Maintain minimum functions
Stretch goals:
Do some art-like thing every week
Do some writing. Like three sentences a day. You can make this up by writing six sentences on some days as necessary. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.