studious

October in Review

Health/Fitness
My weigh-ins this month have been between a low of 171.4 and a high of 173.5, kind of randomly across the month. My weight this morning was 173.5, which is 0.4 pounds above my weight last month. Two days earlier was 171.8. I'm going to mark this down as "basically no change". Also going to try eating ~50 fewer calories per day next month. I am unconvinced that my weight is actually stable at the current level, but I've been eating food when I'm not very hungry. It won't be hard to cut back a little.

I've made some progress on eating more meals at home. I've been going to Costco to get ravioli, which both Lut and I like, and I made potatoes with fake crab, Swiss cheese, and broccoli on Tuesday night. (This is a combination I used to get at a baked potato place and have always liked, and Lut will also eat it.) Also made mac & cheese with sausage and sausage penne alfredo. It's all pretty simple stuff and most of it is not healthy, but it saves me picking up fast food for Lut every day and/or going out to a restaurant. Our income has been less than our outgo for several months in a row, so I am trying to rein in expenses as much as eat better.

I can't get updated Google Fit numbers for the month yet, but my guess is that my walking was down for the month, due to a combination of factors:
  • Inclement weather
  • Less likely to go to the Plaza to walk for two hours when I'm trying not to spend $10 at coffee shops
  • Spending more time cleaning at home leaves less time for exercise, and I haven't bothered to log time spent cleaning.

Looking at this trade off -- less exercise but more money and a cleaner house -- I'm okay with this.

I've also kept up with stretching four times a week and doing push-ups three times a week.

I'm sitting here thinking that I track a bunch of stuff in multiple places -- in my bullet journal, in Google Fit, and in RealAppeal's app -- and maybe I should move my bullet journal to a spreadsheet so that I can do analysis on it. But the last time I tried using a spreadsheet for this purpose was my old Activity Log, which I abandoned because it was so unwieldy.

Perhaps what I really need is a database.

Perhaps this way lies madness.

Writing
I worked on Spark of Desire this month, and wrote ~25,000 words. It's now about 70% done. I am content.

The Business of Writing
I did not do much business-related writing stuff. I submitted four books for a Draft2Digital/Overdrive promotion (all my "first of two" books) that will sell them at a discount to libraries. I like libraries.

I also collected rejections for Bookbub promotions on A Rational Arrangement, The Sun Etherium, and Demon's Lure. These are the only three titles I'm still submitting for promos, since The Moon Etherium and Silver Scales both lost money on the promos I bought for them. Whenever I get a sequel out for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, I'll start submitting it, though.

No editing this month. Meh. Editing. I thought of something I wanted to change in The Twilight Etherium and scribbled it down, and of course I have a bunch of first reader suggestions. No motivation, though.

Art/Other
My bank gave us free tickets for the zoo on one Sunday, and I did a whole bunch of sketches while I was there. I also drew a random marker piece for Inktober, did a few gesture drawings, and made a mock-up for the cover of The Twilight Etherium. So out of the 9-10 times that I put down "sketch" on the to-do list, I did so five times. I remain amazed that I am more motivated to clean than I am to draw.

Day Hobby
I have amusing news about my day job!

About a year ago, my bank reorganized and my department went from "we do reports for the loan department" to "we do reports for every department of the bank". This includes getting weird requests to do reports on systems that only ten people use and that I've never even heard of, much less used or have access to. Then we scramble around trying to find the system and figure out how to get access to and then try to find some documentation so we can find the information needed for the particular request. It is an ADVENTURE.

Anyway, several hundred people in various positions were impacted by this reorg, and basically everyone got new jobs with slightly different responsibilities from their old ones. Since this happened, management and human resources has been trying to reclassify the old jobs in the internal rating system. They finally got new job titles and job descriptions to everyone this week.

My new job title is "Reporting Engineer." FANCY.

The job title & description entitle me to a raise, although no one knows what yet and it won't be until next year. But more amusingly, the job is salaried; as of November 4, I am officially no longer an hourly employee and no longer have to use a timecard, for the first time in twenty-two years.

At many places, "salaried" or "exempt" is a fancy way of saying "we want you to work a lot of unpaid overtime." My bank is pretty good about not more than forty hours a week from their exempt employees, as a rule.

However, I am part-time. I work 20 hours a week. I am not going to work more than twenty hours a week and I don't care what they call my position or how it's paid.

This was almost my first comment to my boss and her boss when they told me about the change, and they laughed and went "Yes, yes, we know! We're not sure how this will work but we'll figure it out."

So I don't know what my new salary is going to be, but I'm not worried about it. I can't be the only salaried employee at the bank that ever dropped to part-time for life reasons, there must be some precedent. Still, it is a funny kind of situation. You never hear about part-time employees who don't get paid by the hour!

Socializing
Actually got out to see Corwyn and Kat twice this month. And saw Jen once when she was back in town to visit folks. Unprecedented!

Happiness
I have been bummed out by some personal stuff for the last few days. I have three different "short & chatty" style services look at a lot: Discord, Twitter, and Mastodon/TootPlanet. I'm starting to wonder if I should stop looking at all of them. I like the one-on-one conversations on Discord but I don't know if the rest has value for me or if I'm just doing it out of habit and boredom. If I'm bored, I could read a book. I barely talk on any of these services, so the impact of my absence on anyone would be minimal.

Scorecard for prior month
~ Help Lut & general adulting: I AM SO ADULT yes
~ Keep up with the weekly to-dos: I have done this! I am falling behind on the to-do a little: it's gone from "one thing that I keep rolling over because I don't do it" to two, and there are a couple of others that are in danger of getting rolled over this week. Also, of the items that are scheduled to recur aren't being done as often as I'd like. (Sketching! MY NEMESIS.) Still, this is a pretty good track record for "doing the things I need to do."
~ Finish 25% of a new book and/or edit: I wrote about 25,000 words of Spark of Desire, which is projected at around 100,000, so hit this almost exactly. Have not been motivated to edit at all.

Goals for coming month
~ Help Lut/General adulting/keep up on the to-do list
~ NaNoWriMo!
~ Visit Terrycloth Nov 20-25. ❤️

I am excited about starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow! I have Fridays off so I'm not working for the first three days of NaNo. Because I like to front-load my NaNo, I'm setting my goal for those three days at 12,500 words. That's 4166 words per day: chosen because it is (a) about the most I've ever written in one day and (b) will get me to 25% done with NaNo by day three.

The rest of the month I'm not so sure how I'll handle. I've got work some days, and I might show up at the local relaxicon on the weekend after next, and I'm visiting Terry at the end of the month, and also there's Thanksgiving in there and appointments for Lut and whatnot. Still, I've done NaNoWriMo every year for the last three. It's not that hard.

Plan A is to finish Spark of Desire, since it's close to the end, and then go back to working on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. But if I write some added scenes for The Twilight Etherium, or if I decide to start a different book, that's fine too.

I'm also going to let myself count "notes made while figuring out plot points" towards word count. I dislike the way NaNo's emphasis on Word Count Over Everything encourages me to wander around in the weeds, lost and flailing and writing things that have no value to the story just to make The All Important Word Goal. I am glad this process is of value to other people but it's not of value to me. Anyway, hoping that giving myself credit for notes will encourage me to wander around in the weeds *figuring things out off-camera*, and not trying to incorporate that aimless wandering into the narrative in a way that I will just have to un-incorporate later, through painstaking edits. :D

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is the reason I'm posting my month-in-review now: I'm clearing my schedule for November so I can focus on writing fiction.

So who else is doing NaNo this year? This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/643527.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

Tidying Up

For the last month or two, my house has been clean, by my standards.

I do not meant to brag here. It is important to note that "my standards" of cleanliness are (a) low and (b) do not include problems with my house that I lack the motivation to address. For instance, the kitchen and bathroom linoleum both need badly to be replaced. The bathroom linoleum was sliced open several years ago to install a floor under the toilet (there wasn't one), and the kitchen linoleum was ripped up in the middle by a screw sticking out from the bottom of a rolling chair and us not realizing what the problem was until WAY TOO LATE. The carpet is sixteen years old and has tons of stains due to sixteen years of life with cats. It, too, should be replaced. There's mildew in the grout of the shower that no amount of scrubbing will remove; it just needs to be dug out and replaced.

But even when you can hire people to do these things for you -- and I could -- it's a serious undertaking that cannot be done quickly and easily. I'm still trying to get myself to call contractors for the far more important maintenance to the outside of the house. (The paint is peeling and at least one shingle is missing from the siding.) The minor interior stuff doesn't rate.

But within the confines of "cleaning that does not require special skills", the interior of my house has become increasingly neat over time. It is weird and also pretty great. I've been thinking about what has made the difference, and I think it's a combination of factors.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I read one of Marie Kondo's books back in February. I never made it through KonMari'ing all of my possessions: I did clothing and jewelry while I was still reading the book, and over the next few months I culled my books and papers, and finally started with the "hobbies" category by culling my art supplies. I also cleaned out my pantry. That's as far as I got; there's large categories of stuff that I never culled. I have a huge collection of items I wear for cosplay that's untouched, for example. Same with my board games. I am not sure you could get me to part with most of my board games, but there are a few that I got for free or never liked, and would be willing to donate.

So there's still a lot of clutter in my house. The back of the front hall, where I keep the litterboxes, is pretty cluttered, mostly with junk. There's a ton of stuff in the basement that we never use, but since we also never use the basement itself, I can't bring myself to care. There's a pile of unframed artwork (none of it my own work; it's stuff Lut or I bought or had gifted to us). I actually got up and hung the framed-but-not-hung artwork, because the reason that stuff wasn't hung was "Lut is usually sleeping when I think about doing this" and this was a rare occasion where he wasn't.

But the culling I did get through freed up a substantial amount of storage space, and most of the house is no longer cluttered at all. As I write this, the only things on top of the coffee table next to me are my phone and my drink. The display area of the entertainment center only has the tchochkes that are supposed to be there. The end table holds a coffee table, a box of tissues, and two pieces of actual clutter: a computer part that Lut hasn't installed and some paperwork on living wills that we still haven't gone through. I should put that on my to-do list and see if that helps. Anyway, the point is: these surfaces aren't clean because I just cleared them off this weekend. I don't remember when I cleared them off. Months ago. I decluttered them and then they just ... stayed that way.

This, I think, is probably the biggest benefit of KonMari. Once you get rid of stuff you don't want, you lose the urge to fill that space back up with stuff you don't want. Alternatively, I may just have lost most of my interest in physical objects as a byproduct of the digital age. A lot of things that I once owned and stored in physical form -- books and music spring to mind, and art supplies to a lesser degree -- I now purchase and use in digital form. Usually from some service that stores the digital copy, for that matter. Which has disadvantages, but it does takes up a lot lessr real-world space.

Technology
The biggest factor here is Rovan, my robot vacuum. I talked about him in my August update, so I won't re-hash that here. But having a robot vacuum to keep the floors clean is great. I never realized how much a vacuumed floor does to make the whole house look cleaner. Rovan will vacuum the floors while Lut and I go out to eat, or he'll keep me company while I clean. And it's just motivational that vacuuming is no longer a thing I need to do. The time I would have spent vacuuming, I can spend on something else. Plus, Rovan does a better job of vacuuming than I did, because he can easily get under the table in the den and that area was so hard to reach with the upright.

And there are other things that help too. I got a microfiber mop several months ago and was startled by how much less annoying mopping is now. Mopping has gone from "super annoying, time-consuming, and requiring lots of prep" to "like sweeping." It's not even a fancy mopping robot or anything! It cost, I dunno, $10? It's just much better at picking up dirt without requiring all the floor-soaking and bother of a standard mop.

The To-Do List
I have a folder in EverNote labeled "Bullet Journal". Bullet journals are a combination to-do list and have-done list: most people use them to track their schedule, what they want to do, and what they did do. They are also supposed to be physical journals and a lot of people draw in decorations or use scrapbooking supplies to make them beautiful. Mine is virtual and not physical, and it is inelegant but useful.

I have used it on and off: for a week in 2016, and a couple of months in 2018, most of June this year, and every week since the start of September. I have a system I like for it now. At the top, I put my schedule: everything that needs to be done on a specific day. This is stuff like work and appointments. For a long time, I didn't put work down because I didn't need a reminder about what days I was going to work. But I do sort of need a reminder that "I worked at Day Job for 8 hours this day and that's why I didn't do a whole lot else."

The next section is one-off items: things I am only supposed to do once that week, and it's generally things I'm not going to have to do again. This is things like "schedule a doctor's appointment" or "buy tickets for Seattle trip" or "renew driver's license". It doesn't matter what particular day I do these on, as long as I'm just supposed to do them sometime that week. If I fail to get one of these done, I roll it over to the next week.

The last section is recurring items that I will do multiple times throughout the week. Next week's recurring section is:

Write 5% of something / edit Twilight Etherium
Push ups 3x
Stretching 4x
Cardio 5x
Sketching practice 2x
Log 4thewords 7x
Cleaning 2x

I put a ~ before each item for each time I do it. When I've done it [x] times that week, I cross it off. "Cleaning" is on this list, and surprisingly, "cleaning" is one of the things that gets done. If you're wondering what item is least likely to be crossed off: it's sketching. I always thought I liked sketching but whenever I think about doing it, I nope out. I don't know why. Part of it is that I started doing gesture drawings and I hate gesture drawings. But I could literally do anything for drawing practice and it would count, yet I can't get myself to do this consistently for even an hour a week. I think I should start taking out my markers to do art practice, because that is more fun.

Anyway, pretty much every week, I spend a couple of hours cleaning. A couple of hours is a lot of cleaning. I don't count loading or unloading the dishwasher as part of this task, because even though my dishwasher is sixteen years old and I have to pre-wash everything, the dishes are not much of a time sink. I usually tend to them while I'm making food and it's not a big deal. Washing clothes alone doesn't count, BUT doing the laundry AND folding and putting it away does count. Washing clothes is something I stay on top of because I'm not gonna fish dirty clothes back out of the hamper to wear them and I run out of clothing after two weeks. But it is very easy to leave a giant pile of clean clothes on the couch instead of putting them away, so I let dealing with that part count as one unit of cleaning.

All kinds of other cleaning stuff counts: decluttering, organizing, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, etc.

And it's gotten to the point where I will look at the "cleaning" to-do and have this conversation with myself:

Me: "What do I actually need to clean? The house looks pretty clean already. I guess I could mop the linoleum? Or clean the bathroom? But I just did that last week."
Also Me: "I think normal people do those chores every week?"
Me: "Oh. Huh. Well, it's not gonna take very long when I just did it a week ago, so sure. Why not."

I am not the sort of person who mops every week. Or at least, I never used to be. Mopping was the kind of chore that I hated and did maybe once a year, if that. It used to be that decluttering was always the top priority. The first think I had to do, every time I went to clean, was find places for things and get them put away before I could do anything like dusting or wiping down surfaces. Often the amount of clutter overwhelmed me, to the point of "I don't know where to put any of this so I'm not even going to start." I never cleaned regularly before.

Now I look at the stuff I have lying around and I'm like "I like all these things and I'm happy with where they are. This is good." I don't have to pick up the floor before running Rovan. I don't have to clear the counters before I wipe them off. I can just start cleaning. I am pretty sure this is another side benefit of KonMari.

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly
I think I've mentioned this before, too, but a big part of my cleaning philosophy is that it's better to do a lousy job now than to plan to do a good job later. This is the philosophy that says "you can vacuum just the most trafficked-areas of the house and ignore all the parts that are hard to get to. Because why not? Most of the dirt is in the places where people walk and the vacuum can reach easily anyway." It is the exact opposite of FlyLady's "just clean the sink, but clean that sink REALLY SUPER WELL" I'm more like "eh, wipe down the stove and don't worry about the stuff that's baked on and won't come off easily." It's the 80/20 rule, here seen as "80% of the dirt takes 20% of the effort to clean." So I just don't deal with the last 20%.

The bizarre part is that, having done this for a while, I am starting to deal with the last 20%. This week, I cleaned the walls of the bathroom. I don't think I've ever cleaned walls before! For the record, the walls did not appear to be dusty or have any kind of coating on them that needed to be cleared off, so I think "cleaning walls" is really only a thing you need to do to remove scuff marks and other obvious dirt. The moldings, on the other hand, had a lot of dust.

And the baked-on stuff on the stove is starting to come off when I wipe it down. I scrub at it just a little each time, and a little more of the gunk comes off.

So I feel like I am half-heartedly working my way towards full-hearted success? I'm not sure how that works.

Working Part Time
Back in January, I switched from 30 hour work-weeks to 20 hours. The extra time off is a huge help in keeping on top of everything. It reminds me of Koogrr talking about dealing with chores and creative work while he was on medical leave: "I feel as if, as long as I'm not working, I actually have time for all the other stuff in my life."

I don't have much to elaborate on this point, but I don't want to understate its importance. Not just that I have the time off, but that I am used to working much more. It's far easier to repurpose time that I am not used to thinking of as "free".

~

I don't know which of these points is the most important factor, and I don't know how long I will keep this up. I've only been doing the weekly cleaning for two months, and it wasn't until October that I started to feel like it was overkill -- as if my house was sufficiently tidy that I didn't need to dedicate a couple of hours every week to cleaning.

I think I might well backslide, but I have the feeling the benefits of decluttering are going to be permanent. My desire for more possessions is pretty minimal these days. If I don't have a purpose and a place in mind for something, I don't want to acquire it. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/643242.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

4thewords!

4thewords.com is a writing-gamification site. As of October 29, I will have been using it for exactly three years. I can track the length of time because it has a daily streak counting every consecutive day you've logged 444+ words. As of this writing, mine is at 1091. Yes, I have an unbroken streak starting the day I began using the site.

That's not as impressive an accomplishment as it sounds: the site allows you to use a consumable -- "stempos" -- to repair broken streaks or to extend your streak into the future, if you plan a vacation. I used a lot of stempos when Lut was in the hospital in 2017, and I've used them on occasion before or since. Most often I use them when I forget to log words rather than when I write; I do most of my writing offline and then log my words later.

4thewords is now, and always has been, a subscription-supported site. Like many games these days, it has two in-game currencies, one of which, core crystals, is mostly purchased with real money. The subscription cost is therefore a little wonky, because 4thewords runs periodic discounts on crystal packages. There's a 25% discount for Nanowrimo participants, for example (current code is wrimo19), and Nanowrimo winners get a larger discount; I think last year's was 40%? Anyway, if you're paying month-to-month and never buying crystals with a discount, it's $4 a month. If you use the Nanowrimo winner discount code and buy a huge package of crystals up front, it'd be more like $60 for three years.

While my favorite business model for a site is something like Dreamwidth's, where the paying customers are sufficient to support free accounts for those who can't afford it, I much prefer a subscription site to one based on advertising, or pay-to-win games. And 4thewords does offer a free 30-day trial, so you know what you're paying for by the time you give them money.

I've written about this site before, I know, but not in a while, and I wanted to post about it again because I really like te game and want it to do well. I don't always love the choices the 4thewords developers make in terms of gameplay, but in terms of company philosophy and the way the developers interact with their customers, I've always been impressed. It's a tiny company making a niche product -- I think there's one coder, one illustrator, and a few part-time writers -- and they are all good people who care about writing and want to make a tool that will be useful and fun for their customers. And they listen to their customers!

One example: when I started playing the game, you created an avatar. You could pick male or female, and there was a bunch of gendered clothing and hair styles. You couldn't make a male avatar with long hair, for instances.

A few months ago, they re-did some of the art and renamed the body types. Now, instead of "male" and "female", there are body types "1" and "2". All the clothing options are available for both body types, and the only changes are to accommodate the different base shapes. (Although body type 2 still has a tube top around the breasts as unremovable underwear, while body type 1 gets to be shirtless. It's a kid-friendly site, my solution to this would be to put both models in a tube top, but I am not gonna fuss at them over it.) You can save up to three different outfits, and you can change all the options between outfits, including the body type.

What I love about this change is not just that they made it, but that they made it without fuss. A lot of times when gaming companies are told "you could be more inclusive about [X]", developers responds with defensiveness. They don't want to be criticized for choices they made without realizing they were choices. "I didn't INTEND to be biased and that means I'm not and everyone does it this way and why should I change?" And 4thewords went "Oh, yeah, it would be better with some changes and that will take some work, but we'll do it."

Over time, they've added some enby NPCs to the game, too. It's nice. I feel seen.

The site did its "official launch" several months ago (it had been in paid beta for most of the time that I've been playing), and they re-did the whole main story line to be more cohesive and interesting. They run a lot of mini-events for various things -- there's a Love Week around Valentine's Day, and a Tico Week for the Costa Rico Independence Day (the company is based in Costa Rica), and they always do an event for Pride. The biggest event is for Nanowrimo in November, with the Camp Nanowrimo events in April and June being also pretty substantial. So now -- right before Nano -- is a good time to get started, especially if you plan to do Nanowrimo.

They've made a lot of gameplay decisions that I really like, too: the game has a much larger variety of monsters to fight, and a lot more of them that are small and unintimidating. I've written this post on the site and have defeated several monsters with word counts of 100, 300, or 600 today. They added a 10-monster queue, so that you can pick everything you want to fight and not have to think about it while you write. You can also toggle "auto-start next battle" on or off, so that if you want to fight the whole queue in on sitting, you can. And if you want to set up the queue all at once but only do one battle in a writing session, you can do that too.

One of my favorite little changes is the "pasting in words" behavior. There's now a setting you can change for whether words you paste in always add to your wordcount, or never add to it, or ask each time if you want to add it. This is great if you want to add a story you wrote a long time ago to the site without having it mess up your stats on the site. Since I paste all of my writing into the site, I have left it on "always add to word count". But I've thought about adding things I wrote years ago, and this will be a nice feature if I decide to do so.

Just so this doesn't read like 4thewords advertising copy, I will mention a gameplay decision I do not love.

Shortly after I started playing in 2016, 4thewords added a "wardrobe", with customization options for your avatar. This was with separate from the "inventory", which included miscellaneous crafting bits as well as weapons and armor that affect your combat stats but not your avatar appearance. As with other games that have a separate "inventory" and "wardrobe", the inventory was gameplay-only and had no impact on appearance, and the wardrobe was appearance-only and had no impact on gameplay.

In April 2019, for the CampNano event, they added monsters that you could only fight if you had particular wardrobe items equipped.

Not inventory items. Wardrobe. The appearance-only stuff that had never before affected gameplay.

Why. Why would you do that. The whole point to having two separate sets of items you have to manage is because they do DIFFERENT THINGS. If you're going to have both of them affect gameplay why are they separate? Just. ARGH.

They have stood by this decision and certain monsters in some areas continue to require you to go to your wardrobe and equip appearance items so that you can play the game. I still don't understand. Bleargh.

However, it's a pretty minor thing; I haven't even gone to the areas with wardrobe requirements in the months I've been playing since they were added. And it only bothers me because it's a nonsensical mechanic to add; it's not that it makes the game harder or easier.

Overall, if you like writing, I definitely recommend 4thewords.com. It gives that little bit of extra incentive to write, and that never hurts. I have a referral code: LBQFV83845. If you use a referral code (anybody's code, doesn't need to be mine) when you sign up, you get 44 core crystals, enough to pay for a month of subscription (in addition to the free trial). Right now, they're running a special where you get an extra 14 days of subscription time, which means it'll carry you through until the end of November so you'll be able to use your Nano winner code to buy more crystals before the free time runs out. :D (I remember being very annoyed that I had to buy $4 worth of crystals without a discount so that I could keep my streak in 2016.) Full disclosure: I get bennies for people using my referral codes, too -- right now, 66 core crystals and 14 extra days of subscription time. But I didn't write a 1500 word post to get freebies. I wrote it because it's a great game and I want other people to enjoy it too. And also for the developers to do well and keep it going. n_n

Oh, and to defeat a bunch of monsters in 4thewords.  That too. 

I mean, it's called "4thewords" not "4thedeathlessprose". Every word counts!

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/643032.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

OpenDiary

I discovered recently that OpenDiary, which went offline some years ago, has come back online. They have a process for diary recovery, which works better if you had an email address tied to the account. Which I thought I did (I thought I'd made a Yahoo account called rowyn_of_sinai specifically to tie to OD). But apparently I didn't. Whoops.

I lost my OD archive many years ago and have always been kind of sad about that, so now I'm trying to prove to the OpenDiary people that I'm the same Rowyn. My LJ has an entry from 2003 that I mirrored from my OD, and since I can demonstrate ownership of LJ, I'm hoping this will prove the connection. Wish me luck!
studious

September in Review

Health/Fitness
I started doing kneeling push-ups and stretching a few times a week. I am trying to work myself up to 50 kneeling push-ups, and then I'll switch to regular push-ups and do fewer of those. On the one hand "I'll just do a 20-25 push-ups" seems unlikely to impact my strength by much, and on the other, it's easy to convince myself to do it: "It only takes like 3 minutes, just get it over with."

I did less walking this month, down to 63 minutes per day from 76. I also spent more time cleaning, which I count as exercise in the RealAppeal tracker (as "light cleaning", which is about 2/3rds of the calories-burned-per-minute of "walking"), but didn't log in Google Fit, which is where I get my month-end report.

In addition, I took the last five days of September off from both exercise and food-tracking, because I was visiting family and didn't want to bother with either.

I'm up a pound for the month, which does not feel surprising under the circumstances, or worrisome. My long-term plan is to lose a pound a month, and weight fluctuates enough that a pound one way or another doesn't mean much. If I'm still flat or trending upwards at the end of November, I'll lower my calorie target then.

It is amusing to be losing weight slowly, because standard weight-loss strategies all revolve around weekly progress and I'm like "I don't expect to make progress in a week, and don't really expect to make progress in a month. Maybe in three months we'll know if it's still working or not."

Still down 11 pounds for the year. Still willing to track and stay under 2000 calories daily. Good enough.

Writing
I wrote around 1500 words of Spark of Desire. I was seriously not in the mood to write fiction last month.

I made a few notes for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady, and the untitled next book in The Demon's Series.

The Business of Writing
However, I did finish initial edits on The Twilight Etherium. \o/

I will need to do more edits. Not looking forward to that.

Art/Other
I have been using to-do lists, and one of the items on my to-do list has been "sketching." It has been surprisingly hard to actually do this one. I usually think of sketching as an easy if not useful thing to get myself to do. But apparently it's not.

When I did get myself to sketch -- I think a total of three times last month -- it was mostly gesture drawings, using gesture-drawing web apps. I do not enjoy gesture drawing. But I would like to someday learn how to sketch without spending several hours on every drawing, so. It's probably good for me.

I should probably watch some tutorials or do other things in an effort to learn and improve instead of struggling randomly.

Also, I really need to do the thing where I do the timed gesture drawings as a warm-up and then let myself draw something for a while, instead of feeling completely exhausted after 15 minutes of quick sketches and quitting.

Socializing
I went to visit my family! I flew out to my parents' home last Thursday, while my brother and his wife flew down to meet us, and we spent a long weekend together. I also spent much of Saturday with Kage, Sophrani, and Envoy, who all live in the area.

It was a laidback weekend of conversation, eating good food, and watching videos and some tennis with my mom. (She loves watching tennis, and I like watching it with her).

Happiness
Fine, I think? Maybe I will start mood-tracking again.

Scorecard for prior month
~ Help Lut & general adulting: I will mark this as done, even though there is one adulting task that I continue to procrastinate on.
~ Use to-do lists: This is working pretty well. I use a combination of lists and "what I actually did". Each week has a section of "things that are scheduled for a specific day" like work and appointments, "one-off tasks I need to do" like "coordinate plans for upcoming trip with friends" or "write month-in-review post", and a section of recurring things that I do multiple times per week, like push ups and stretching. I cross things off as they get done, and put a ~ beside the things I do multiple times to indicate how much is done. If I don't get a thing done, it rolls over to the next week. It's been useful.
My current week has too many one-off tasks, though. I will probably need to figure out a way to abandon tasks rather than rolling them over to new weeks indefinitely.
~ Score 20 writing/editing points: finished editing The Twilight Etherium, so got this done.
~ Do not beat self up for any productivity lapses: I wish I'd remembered this was on the list. n_n I did a reasonable enough job of not beating myself up, though.

Goals for coming month
~ Help Lut & general adulting
~ Keep up with the weekly to-dos
~ Finish 25% of a new book (working on final edits for The Twilight Etherium can count in place of some of this.)

That looks like enough. I gotta get back to writing eventually; it's been a while. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/642603.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

The Twilight Etherium: Call for First Readers!

 
Hey everyone!
 
I have completed initial edits on The Twilight Etherium!  And you all know what that means: time for first readers!
 
This is a polyamorous fantasy romance starring the lead characters from The Moon Etherium. It's possible to read this book as a standalone, but you'll enjoy it more if you've read The Moon Etherium.
 
Message me or leave a comment with your email address if you'd like to be a first reader!  Comments are screened.  You can also message me on Twitter @ladyrowyn.  Blurb is below!
 
~
 
Since the harrowing adventures of two and half years ago, Mirohirokon has married his love, Ardent Sojourner, and settled into a quiet life on her farm in Try Again.
 
That peace is interrupted by the arrival of Ardent's ex-wife, Whispers Rain.  With her comes harrowing news: Stalks Hunter, a sadistic, violent fey, has evaded the surveillance of the Moon Etherium justiciary, and left the fey shard with the intent to conquer and enslave a mortal kingdom. Only Ardent -- entrusted with Sun King's arcane tools -- has the power to stop him.
 
Thus begins a journey into the foreign and unpredictable world of mortal people. To save these mortals, the fey must risk being stranded in this harsh land. It is a risk Miro is prepared to take, as long as he is at his wife's side.
 
But is he prepared for Ardent's unabated love for her former wife?
 
Or his own growing attraction to Whispers Rain?
 
This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/642313.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
studious

Podcast Listening Thoughts

I mentioned over a year ago that I'd started listening to podcasts. I only listen to them while I'm exercising, because exercise is boring and I usually exercise outdoors so watching videos is out. (On the occasions where I do exercise at home, I've watched some Netflix, and over the course of a year I've managed to finish two seasons of The Dragon Prince and of She-Ra. That's not a whole lot of videos for someone who usually exercises for several hours a week.)

I still like "#Fsck 'Em All" and "Make No Law", but those have become very irregular, so I don't get to listen to them much. I've been listening to "All the President's Lawyers", which is "Josh Barro (journalist) talks with Ken White (defense attorney and former federal prosecutor) about the current president's many legal problems". I really like it -- Ken White also does "Make No Law", and I enjoy his combination of scholarly knowledge and dry humor. I also listen to "Left, Right and Center", which is Josh Barro talking to political pundits about current hot topics. I do not love LRC nearly as much because I am just not that into political punditry. Both shows are by KCRW, a public* radio station in southern California.

* KCRW's website says they are "a community service of Santa Monica College" but the feel is way more like public radio than college radio and they broadcast NPR shows as well as original programming, so I'm gonna stick with "public radio."

I've tried some other podcasts that haven't stuck: "I'll listen to this writing-themed podcast! I like these writers! ... um ... I do not like this podcast, though."

"Maybe I'll try this food-themed show WAIT NO what was I thinking I hate listening to people eat and this is an audio show entirely composed of people eating."

I have listened to fiction before, but the truth is that my attention tends to wander when I'm listening to a podcast. With long-form fiction, missing a few minutes kind of means that I don't know what's going on anymore and it's very annoying. With a news podcast, it generally means "I missed part of this four-minute bit and they're gonna switch subjects soon anyway, whatever." I feel like I should try fiction again, either as podcasts or audiobooks, but I haven't.

What I did instead was look at NPR podcasts. I found "Planet Money", which I'd heard of before, and my thought process went "It's a show about business and economics! I used to love reading the WSJ, for reasons I have never been able to adequately explain. I will probably like this." I was right. "Planet Money" has a sister show, "The Indicator", and I've been listening to it too.

One old episode of "The Indicator" was about "animal spirits" as an economics concept. No, this has no connection with "spirit animals". Instead, it's a term Keynes used to describe the emotions that affect decision making in the marketplace, and in particular in the stock market. Decisions that cannot be explained by rational factors alone are considered to be motivated by "animal spirits".

Emotions tend to get a bad rap in decision-making, and so do "animal spirits", but one thing that struck me in the show was that one of the hosts pointed out that "animal spirits" are what prevent people from being paralyzed by indecision.

And this struck me because it reminded me of some case studies on brain damage. This article isn't where I first heard about it, but presents a couple of examples: https://www.thecut.com/2016/06/how-only-using-logic-destroyed-a-man.html of the phenomenon. In essence: brain damage can impair a person's ability to feel emotions. And you might think that this would make people better at making decisions: now they will only evaluate things rationally!

But it turns out that it makes people unable to make decisions at all. Without an emotional component -- without a reason to prefer one option over another, or even one outcome over another, people don't bother choosing. They cycle over different alternatives endlessly, unable to decide.

I find that fascinating, and it reminds me that it has always bothered me to put "rational/logical" on one end of a spectrum and "emotional" on the other, because I've always felt that emotion must inform the backbone of all logic. Logic is based upon assumptions, and assumptions in the real world include value judgments. If you take emotional weight out of your assumptions, you won't have premises like "it is better to be happy than miserable" and your logic will produce FREAKISHLY TERRIBLE results Not to mention that, without emotions, what is the point to having assumptions like "life is better than death"? What is a preference, if not an emotion?

So to my mind, "evaluating things rationally" doesn't mean "without emotion" but rather "use reason to determine how to meet your emotional needs." Incidentally, this informed the narrative in A Rational Arrangement, because Wisteria, my extremely rational female protagonist, also had lots of strong emotions: she had likes and dislikes, she fell in love, she got angry, etc. And Wisteria never thought "emotions are irrational; I shouldn't feel this." She used reason to meet her long-term needs for love, satisfaction, contentment, and happiness.

Irrationality is better defined as "short-term emotional states which run counter to your long-term needs." Or "emotional responses which are premised on an irrational assessment of risk." "Irrational assessment of risk" is a serious problem for human beings, because our gut feelings about "risky" vs "safe" are usually terrible. We estimate risk based on "how often have I heard stories about this happening/has it happened to me personally" and so we vastly overestimate the risk of dramatic events that get a lot of attention in the media, like kidnapping, and vastly underestimate the risk of boring hazards, like driving.


Another episode was about "private firefighters", which is an industry mostly funded by insurance companies. They hire private companies to protect houses they've insured during fires. The fact that this is a service funded by insurance companies -- people whose only incentive is economic -- made me feel that local governments -- at least in the areas where private firefighters flourish -- do not have fire departments that are remotely as robust as they ought to be. Why are we not hiring more firefighters? Is firefighting not sexy enough to spend tax dollars on? Do people not realize that more money on firefighters would result in less damage from fire and a net economic gain? I mean, there is obviously a point of diminishing returns on firefighting and I assumed that most areas were already at that point. But if insurance companies think it's worth buying more firefighting, then that strongly suggests they are not.


The podcast was only about California, which (a) catches fire more often in recent years than it used to (b) has always had a problem with fires and (c) has a lot of very expensive real estate in fire-prone areas. So I don't know if this is a case of "it would be a net economic gain if fire departments everywhere were better funded" or if it's a matter of "some areas in California and the Pacific Northwest have disproportionately underfunded fire departments relative to the risk of property damage."

The Indicator didn't talk about the impact on human lives because these were all cases of wildfire, where you had huge fires raging and everyone had been evacuated. They did compare it to education, in that we have a public education system that's not as good as the private education system that rich people can afford for their kids. I think that's a valid comparison, but also that firefighting is much easier to quantify than a public good like healthcare or education. You can measure the good done by firefighting in terms of "lives saved" and "property damage prevented". The "lives saved" part is hard to value, obviously. But the property damage side is easy. You can look at past years and how much it cost to rebuild after the fires in a given area, and analyze how much damage could have been averted by having more firefighters & equipment available. If in an average year, it costs more to rebuild than it would to pay for firefighters and their equipment, you should have more of the latter. There's obviously considerable guesswork involved; you're never going to know for sure what the likelihood of future fires is or how much damage is prevented per dollar spent on firefighting. But it's an area where you can get a lot of data, and it's not nearly as squidgy as the economic value of an education at a private elementary school vs a public one.

I will share one last favorite "indicator" from the show before I go: 3.5%. If 3.5% percent of a country's population participates in a protest, then that protest will effect revolutionary change in the country's government. That would be "the percentage of people who physically show up", obviously, and presumably it means that if your country has 3.5% who are passionate enough to go to a protest, a whole lot more than that support the protest's goals. But that's the statistic based on analysis of protests across the globe for the last hundred years.

3.5% of America's population would be 11.5 million, if you're curious.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the podcast and will stick with it. I still need a few more hours per week worth of podcasts to listen to in order to have something every day, though. So I'll probably catch up on the last few months of The Indicator and maybe Planet Money, and then look for something new.
This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/642244.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Me 2012

August in Review

Health/Fitness
Activity was up this month, from an average of 65 minutes per day to 76 minutes. I blame the Team Rocket takeovers.

Eating habits are about the same.

I am down 12 pounds for the year. *\o/*

Writing
I wrote 14,800 words on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady, before I realized that I needed to write a version of the same elaborate formal courting process I used in Princess. This was daunting enough that I started to procrastinate on writing more of Lord by editing. Which is fine, because I'd been writing Lord in order to procrastinate on editing. It's the circle of procrastination. Also, the only way I ever get things done. This is the process and it's terrible but it's mine.

The Business of Writing
I finished initial edits on The Mortal Prince and the Moon Etherium, got feedback from first readers, added another scene, got more feedback, and completed final edits on August 9. I forgot how much faster this process goes when you're working on something novelette-length. Anyway, it's done and waiting on layout.

I also made the editing list for The Twilight Etherium, at long last. And then I started completing items on it. I've finished 15 of 34 items thus far.

The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince sold 305 copies in its first two months. It's now #6 in unit sales among my books (ahead of four books that were published before it). Its first month was good enough to pay for the cover I commissioned for it, which is nice. I have commissioned covers for five of my ten books, and only two of those books have broke even so far. (Angel's Sigil is very close to the break-even point, however, and will probably make it there within the next month or two. The covers for Silver Scales and Golden Coils were considerably more expensive than the other three; at the current pace, it will be 3+ years before they break even.)

Art
Jenn modeled for me briefly while I was visiting her last Wednesday, and I did some sketching then.

I also did the cover for Mortal Prince, which is in the same silhouette style and palette as the Etherium novels. It was mostly "find a good public-domain reference to base the figure silhouette upon" and then stitching together some existing background art from the Moon Etherium illustrations I did a few years ago.

Other
I forgot to mention this in the last update: in mid-July, my old upright vacuum died, and I bought a robot vacuum, which I named Rovan, to replace it. Rovan is a Eufy 30C; I decided on that model after reviewing the recommendations from Consumer Reports.

I'm just gonna take a moment to aside on how much I love Consumer Reports when I need to buy an appliance. I got a subscription back when I bought my car, because their car-buying guide is the best thing. But I kept it because it makes other purchasing decisions so easy. "Oh no, I need a new washing machine, how will I ever decide -- WAIT I CAN JUST ASK CONSUMER REPORTS." (I bought a new washing machine in June and it's great.)

Anyway, I also love Rovan. Rovan does have one issue: his wi-fi connection to the phone app worked for a week, and then died. I tried the reset instructions, and then uninstalling and reinstalling the app, but the app still says it can't find him when I try to set him up again.

The app was convenient when it worked: it meant I could start Rovan when I wasn't at home, and it'd give me a message it Rovan got stuck somewhere.

But not having it just means "I have to hit the button on Rovan or use the remote to turn him on, instead of my phone." And at this point I've taken care of all of the problem areas on the floor, so he hasn't gotten stuck in weeks.

It took about a week of Rovan working for an hour every day before he'd finally gotten all the cat fur and Rowyn hair out of the carpet (by the time I got him, it had been a couple of months since I'd last vacuumed.) But at this point I run him every other day and he does a great job of keeping the floor clean. I am tempted to rent a carpet cleaner to tackle the stains, although honestly the carpet is 16 years old and if moving all the furniture to have it replaced wasn't a nightmare, I'd replace it. In fairness, though, the carpet looks pretty good despite its age and some stains.

I am also somewhat surprised to find that my floors are sufficiently clutter-free that running a robot vacuum daily works fine. The only thing he's had problems with has been power cords. I did eventually have to use some of the magnetic strips Rovan came with to screen the power cord on the reclining loveseat, but the others lie close enough to walls that he doesn't get tangled up in them.

Rovan also motivates me to do more cleaning sometimes too. You know how if you live with someone and they start cleaning, sometimes you'll think "Oh, I might as well clean too" out of solidarity or inspiration or guilt? The robot works for this on me.

In conclusion: robots good. Thanks to my friends and acquaintances who'd mentioned robot vacuums being fairly effective and easy to use these days. ❤️

Gaming
I am still enjoying battling Team Rocket in Pokemon Go. Niantic modified the battles and it's now easier to fight Team Rocket if you use pokemon that are good against the particular team, as opposed to just "use your three biggest Slakoth and hope for the best". As a result, after a year of playing this game, I am finally starting to remember a little about which Pokemon types are good against which.

For me, it's a 20-minute drive to a good area for finding Team Rocket (you need a high density of pokestops if you want to be able to reliably spot a takeover at any given moment), so I don't hunt them every day. But on Saturday and Sunday, I'll often drive to the Plaza, spend an hour walking from one Team Rocket-held pokestop to another, then spend a couple of hours writing or editing at a coffee shop, and then another hour hunting Team Rocket before I go home.

Also, I went to midtown for the Suicune Raid Day on August 16, and in the last 30 minutes of the three-hour window, I made level 40. Whee!

This means it took me just over a year to go from "newbie" to "max level". It was about 6 months to reach 39 and then another 6 months to reach 40. :D

My enduring affection for Pokemon Go is mostly "I need to exercise anyway", but that does seem to be enough.

Socializing
I visited Jenn twice in August, because she's moving in early September to live closer to her kids. She has many friends in this area, however, and will be back to visit. I probably won't see her every month anymore, though.

Happiness
I think I'm doing pretty well. I've been feeling more ambitious, and also like it's not much a burden to get things done.

Score card for last month
Last month's goals were not ambitious:
~ Help Lut and generally adult
~ Initial edits of A Mortal Prince
~ Send A Mortal Prince
~ Do some fiction writing too
~ Do not angst about productivity otherwise.

I did all of these things! And more! And I didn't even angst much about productivity.

Goals for coming month
~ Help Lut & do general adulting
~ Use to-do lists for a few weeks. I'm trying to start doing push-ups and stretching a few times a week, and cultivating a new habit is easiest if I have a schedule thing I'm supposed to look at and that I can cross things off of.
~ Score 20 writing/editing points. Getting a novel 1.25% closer to completion is worth one point, as is completing one of the items on an editing list. This is really just a fancy way of measuring "write 20,000 words or finish initial edits of The Twilight Etherium or some combination of the two." But I want to do the fancy way because I want to measure writing productivity by "how close to done is the book" rather than "words written". You get more of what you measure, and what I want to do is finish books.
~ Do not beat self up for any productivity lapses.

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/641993.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
studious

Publishing Choices



I saw this tweet and realized I hadn't thought about this question in some time.

To be honest, I don't have an answer to recommend to others on this topic. I can explain my choices and why, but "what should you do?" I have no idea.

I have self-published ten books in the last four years. I've never queried an agent or tried to place a novel with a traditional publisher. Why not? It's complicated.

The first book I published, A Rational Arrangement, was a queer polyamorous fantasy romance that weighed in at 210,000 words. It was the length of an epic fantasy with the plot of an regency romance. Except queer. And polyam.

Queer polyamorous fantasy romance is a subgenre of a subgenre. I am sure that there are small presses that deal in it; I am unsure that any press or agent is looking for a first book of this length. If one existed in 2014, I couldn't find them. The idea of trying to hack down this behemoth or split it into chunks and massage it into a shape that would be acceptable to the market had no appeal. I had a friend who'd been self-publishing for several years, M. C. A. Hogarth, and had a passing familiarity with the process through her. Another friend, Alinsa, was eager to do the layout of A Rational Arrangement for me. Why not self-publish?

I did the art for the cover myself, and paid (sphinxhijinx on Twitter), to do the art for the imprint logo. I didn't hire an editor; I relied on myself and my first readers for advice and proofreading. I expected the book to sell 50 copies to my friends and friends-of-friends; I did not expect it to be a financial success. It was mostly a matter of "I wrote this book and I'd like other people to see it, so why not self-publish?"

A Rational Arrangement vastly exceeded my expectations. In its first six weeks of publication, it earned enough money to qualify me for SFWA membership. In its first six months, it earned as much or more than the typical first-book advance from a big press. I was hooked on self-publishing.

If all my books had done as well as ARA, it would be easy to explain why I never tried trad pub. Why spend years struggling to find a publisher who's probably not going to pay me any more money than I can make on my own? But in fact, ARA was and remains an outlier in my catalog. I've published nine books since then, and all of them put together have not yet managed to out-earn ARA. A Rational Arrangement's sequel, Further Arrangements, has earned less than 25% of what ARA made, and FA is nonetheless the second-best seller in my catalog. (It is likely to be displaced by A Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, which had a better first month than FA; FA does have an advantage in its length of time in the market.)

But some of the same reasons I didn't seek a traditional publisher for ARA apply to my other books. The Moon Etherium and The Sun Etherium are deeply queer novels set in a post-scarcity society that feels in some ways like science fiction, despite being a magic-rich setting with fey characters. Silver Scales was written when I had mainstream ambitions but it's nonetheless over 200,000 words and a difficult sell to traditional publishing. Frost and Desire has a content warning longer than the blurb.

Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil, though. Like most of my books, they're full of queer characters. But they fall within the word count range that trad publishers typically look for in a novel, and they're not polyamorous romances. I could have tried to find a publisher for them.

Why didn't I?

I think it's more impatience than anything else. Researching agents and publishing houses and sending query letters is tedious, time-consuming, and unrewarding. I have friends who are better writers than I am who've spent several years trying and failing to place books with a traditional publisher. Granted, that's years of "waiting for responses" and not "years of constant work", but the sense of futility remains. Acquiring a good agent is no guarantee that they will sell your novel. Selling a novel is no guarantee that the novel will do well enough in the market to enable you to sell your next novel. Traditional publishers do very little marketing for the typical author in their catalog. I don't care about rejection, but spending time and energy on the chance that my work will resonate with a slush reader and an editor irritates me.

Did I make the right choice? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Would I recommend it to someone else? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Here is what I believe about publishing:

If you define success as "your work is known to 10,000+ people and you are able to outearn a typical 9-5 job at it", then the odds of success are incredibly slim. Millions of people want that; perhaps thousands of them achieve it. If you work hard, hone your craft, and persist, then you can improve your odds dramatically. But that improvement takes your chances from, let's say, "one in a million" to "one in a hundred." You are a THOUSAND TIMES more likely to succeed now! But that is not the same as "likely to succeed".

If you are wondering "am I more like to make a living through selfpub or tradpub?": I have no idea, but I don't think this is a particularly useful question, either. It's like asking "am I more likely to profit by playing slot machines or by buying a lottery ticket?" If what you want is a really high chance of making money for your efforts, I recommend becoming an employee at a business.

I realize this sounds discouraging, but in fact I mean just the opposite. I want you to understand that the intrinsic value of your creative efforts is not measured by your ability to market it, and that remains true whether you are marketing it to traditional publishers or directly to your audience.

Write because you love having written. Evaluate your work and the market for it, and do what you think is best for yourself. There isn't a One Weird Trick That Will Make You a Success, if only you knew it. Everyone else is floundering, too. Some times the floundering works! It's okay. Just go for it. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/641756.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
studious

July in Review

Health/Fitness I didn't walk 50km in a week in July, so not quite as much exercise this month as June, but more than May or April: 65 minutes per day.

The last couple of weeks, I've made an effort to walk faster while I'm out walking. I don't have a good way of measuring this, although it looks like my steps-per-minute-of-walking is going up. This is not a great measure because my "minutes" only includes the time I spend walking for a few minutes or more, and "steps" includes any time I walk around with my phone. The data for "how far I walked but only when I was going for a walk" exists but not in a convenient form for summarizing.

Still down around 10 pounds for the year. Eating habits have not changed much; still tracking and taking some care not to overeat.

Writing
I wrote a thing! "Insecurity", an 8000-word story for The Reclamation Project, a shared-world furry anthology that John "the Gneech" Robey is editing for FurPlanet.

Back in the 80s, I started reading the first shared-world anthology, Thieves' World, with its first book. Shared-world anthologies were pretty popular for a while and I read a bunch of them; I remember Liavek with particular fondness, and Wild Cards, which George R. R. Martin wrote stories in and edited for decades (still going!), long before he hit the mainstream with Game of Thrones. I always thought this style of story-telling was great fun and I am excited to have written a story for one. Eeee! *^_^* FurPlanet plans to release the anthology at the end of this year, and I will keep y'all posted.

The Business of Writing
I published The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince! It was a successful launch! Woo!

It was, in fact, my most successful launch since A Rational Arrangement, surpassing the launch month for Further Arrangements by a few dozen sales. I am still a long way from publishing another book as successful as ARA was, granted, but I am pleased. Ooh, and in other good news: the new release had a perceptible "halo" effect on the rest of my catalog: every other title also sold a few more copies in July than in June. The effect really was spread across the whole catalog, too. ARA was the biggest beneficiary, but readers who wanted to try something else after reading Princess just went all over the place.

I also revised "Insecurity" and sent it off to the Gneech.

I did a little bit of editing work on The Twilight Etherium and Eclipse's novelette, which now has a title: "A Mortal Prince in Fey Lands". Eclipse's novelette now has an editing list just like I do for books. It has seven points on it.

Oh! And I solidified the outline for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. It stars Raindrop, one of the supporting cast members from The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. It is ridiculous and inspired by Northanger Abbey in the sense of "gentle send-up of Gothic romances". Raindrop is the antithesis of a Gothic romance heroine. It amuses me greatly. I think y'all will love it.

Art/Other
I drew a fan art portrait at the start of July:
Fredianne Riga

I started another portrait but wasn't happy with how it was coming out and just stopped drawing for the rest of the month.

Gaming

Pokemon Go added a new mechanic: Team Rocket "takes over" pokestops on occasion for 30 minutes at a time. While they're there, you can battle their three-Pokemon teams of "shadow Pokemon". If you win the battle, you have the opportunity to capture a shadow Pokemon, which you can then purify.

It took me a while to figure out how to defeat Team Rocket. In raids, you really want a team of pokemon that the raid boss is vulnerable to. With Team Rocket, raw CP seems to be the most important factor. I buffed up a team of three Slakoth to 4250-4400 CP, figured out how to get their charged attacks up to "Excellent" reliably, and they can now take out pretty much any Team Rocket combo they've gone up against.

It's not clear if there's much real advantage to purified Pokemon over regular ones. They can get a charged attack that's only available to purified Pokemon, and they're cheaper to evolve and level than standard ones. But none of that necessarily makes them any better in combat, and most of the shadow Pokemon are pretty wimpy in their regular forms. But hunting for Team Rocket pokestops has made playing Pokemon Go actually interesting to me again, at least for a little while. I went to the Plaza on Wednesday evening for an EX Raid, and wandered around for an extra hour getting some exercise in and taking out Team Rocket. I figure on doing the Team Rocket hunt again either tomorrow or Sunday. Saturday is Community Day, so I expect I'll do that on Saturday rather than fighting Team Rocket.

Happiness
I did manage to be happier in July than in June. So that was good.

Goals for coming month

* Help Lut and generally adult
* Just edit "A Mortal Prince" already. I have been waffling about what to do with this novelette for several months. I am going to stop waffling and Do a Thing.
* Send "A Mortal Prince" to first readers. Then if I did the wrong thing, they can tell me. My plan for "A Mortal Prince" is to make it a freebie anyway. It is really a tie-in story: it fills in the background for Eclipse, the titular prince in The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince.
* Do some fiction writing too
* Do not angst about productivity otherwise.

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