studious

What Next?

I finished the draft of Demon's Sigil on Wednesday and sent Alinsa the backmatter for Golden Coils yesterday and my final proofreading notes last weekend. So Coils is awaiting final layout and I have drafts for two more books complete, Demon's Lure and Demon's Sigil. Both of the Demon books need significant amounts of editing.
 
The obvious thing for me to Do Next is edit the Demon books, but I am not ready to dive into editing and even if I was, I'd still want to be writing new material at the same time.
 
I am not sure how long the Demon books will take to edit. Scales and Coils combined took a year, total, including time for first reader comments and accompanying revisions. The Sun Etherium took two months. My guesstimate is three to four months per book for the Demon books. They are about half the length of Scales and Coils so I expect them to be quicker to edit, but the draft is rougher than TSE.
 
In any case: I get to pick a new project to write! For the first time in about ten months! SO EXCITE.
 
I have a bunch off ideas but I haven't settled on one yet.
 
Old Boring Ideas
Fellwater: my ridiculous BDSM fantasy novel. It's about 80% done but I have so very little interest in the last 20%. Even though I'm fond enough of about half of it that I reread it for fun sometimes.
 
Poll RPG: I love some of these characters still and I know generally how the plot goes. But I don't want to commit to a serial, and the long hiatus means the people who were reading it have probably forgotten it by now. And the audience for it is smaller than for a book. It is so weird to me that I am less good at giving away my stories than Amazon is at selling them.
 
New Exciting Ideas
The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince: a polyamorous fantasy romance, set on one of the mortal worlds that the fey shard from the Etherium setting passes through. It would have cameos from some of the Etherium book characters, but mostly be set in the mortal world. The dragon is a shapeshifter and the prince is trans, either a man or a masculine-leaning enby.
 
Amaryllis and the Demigoddesses: polyamorous fantasy romance about a trans woman from Newlant (the setting for A Rational Arrangement) and two Blessed women from Southern Vandu (where Blessed are considered to have two parts, one
human and the other divine.)
 
Demon's Solution: third Demon book, which I am mostly interested because I could finally get to the polyamorous romance between the three human protagonists. It'd have a main plot about demon-hunting, though.
 
Wisteria's Daughter: an f/f romance between Astraia Striker and Sharone Whittaker, with an epic fantasy subplot or possibly main plot.
 
Pyrite Chains: third book in the Warlock, the Hare, and the Dragon series. This would be about Lilith and Hell and escape therefrom, and probably involve Madden prominently.
 
A Fey in Exile: One of the fey folk from the Etherium setting accidentally gets stuck in a mortal world when the fey shard moves on, and hijinks ensue as he ways for it to come back. I have no plot, I just did a few cartoons of him and he amuses me. Also, he's a sympathetic figure, in contrast to the fey in the idea below.
 
To Kill a God: A couple of fey trapped in a mortal world use their power to conquer a human nation and terrorize the population. Mortals struggle to find a weapon that can stop immortal, invulnerable people who can walk through walls to escape traps.
 
The Twilight Etherium: about the creation of a new Etherium, with bonus polyamorous subplot involving Miro/Ardent/Whisper.
 
Bowracer: Callie (Anthser's love interest from ARA) finds a bowracing partner of her own. I wrote an outline for this novella when I was writing FA, and then decided I needed to write "A Regular Hero" first. I'm thinking of writing this and giving it away as a freebie for people who sign up for my mailing list.
 
Real: An itinerant writer on modern Earth. A former space marine with PTSD trying to recover on a peaceful world while the war rages on. A princess in dangered of a political coup. They have nothing in common, other than that they are all the same person. Kind of a psychological action-fantasy story.
 
The Future Unbounded: a small-town seer has a vision of the end of the universe, and struggles with how to best use her gifts in response. If she can save one world, or risk that world for the remote chance of saving them all -- which should she chose? Epic fantasy.
 
 
Of all of these, the princess/dragon/prince one interests me the most. Only one of these -- "Bowracer" --has a complete outline, but the princess one has a significant chunk of development.
 
Also, I really want to do a female-centric romance, and also another poly romance. It's been so long since I wrote a poly romance. SO LONG.

Anyway, poll because polls are fun:







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Me 2012

January and 2018 Goals

I am going to keep these relatively unambitious, because the big one is, you know, big.
 
2018 Goals
  • Support Lut through the cancer treatment process
  • Continue general adulting as necessary.
  • Publish Golden Coils
  • Edit and publish the two Demon books. 
  • Post monthly updates on whatever I did.

Stretch goals
: finish some other book and/or stories.
 
Ideally, I'd like to write and publish a fourth book and have two more books drafted. In a hypothetical year without cancer, this would not be unreasonable. Even with cancer last year, I edited three books, published two, and drafted 1 plus most of another.
 
But. Cancer.
 
I will certainly work on some new stories this year. I can't picture a year where I only write new fiction for one month, which is about how long I expect finishing Demon's Sigil to take. But having the focus to finish something while editing ... Let's not count on that.
 
Three new books will suffice, even if they're books mostly or entirely finished last year.

January Goals
Eat at least a pound of veggies per week. I want to eat more vegetables, but I don't want to set a goal that would be, like, an actual healthy amount to eat per day. Because then I would give up. I don't really like veggies or preparing them. I am trying my father's method, which is to buy frozen steam-in-bag veggies that come in some kind of sauce so they're (a) easy to prepare and (b) not actively unpleasant to eat and (c) will not spoil before I get to them. I've only found one that meets all three criteria so far: broccoli in cheese sauce.  I need to find some more if I'm going to work up to eating some veggies every day, because the broccoli with cheese gets unpleasant to eat after a couple of days in a row. So. Any suggestions? o_o
Finish Demon's Sigil: This is going to be easy because I'm on the last scene now. \o/
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studious

2017 Year in Review

I normally do separate December wrap-up and year-in-review posts, but I'm combining them because I only have a couple of things to comment on for December specifically.

Health/Fitness
I''m 181 lbs now, which I mention for bookkeeping purposes.

I've been trying to get back into the habit of exercising again, with not much success. I wonder if I can get a reclining exercise bike that would work with a laptop yet? The one I got 10 or 12 years ago is almost but not quite workable with one. Lately a lot of my exercise has been dancing in my living room, with the laptop on a counter top, which is probably not as good exercise as the treadmill desks some people use, but it's better than nothing.

My favorite exercise guru answer to the "What is the best kind of exercise?" question is "The kind you will do."

Writing
Fellwater: 38,041. (Fellwater is at 91,141 total now)
PollRPG: 29,023
Demon's Lure: 80,966
Demon's Sigil: 73,284

That's 221,000 words of fiction total. That's a lot less than last year, when I wrote 347,300. But 2016 Me only edited one book and 2017 Me edited three. The only other year where I've broken 200,000 words was 2013. So, all together, I'm pleased with how much fiction I wrote.

Of those projects, only Demon's Lure is a complete book. I hope to finish Demon's Sigil in January. I estimate I have around 20,000 words left. Most of the hard stuff is done and it's mostly denouement from here. Then it's All The Edits because the Demon books were ones where I kind of skipped some of the world building and character development that I really should've done beforehand and now I need to backfill it. *sigh*

Anyway, I finished drafting a book! So that was good.

I don't know if I will finish Fellwater or Poll RPG, for different reasons. I'm not quite declaring them dead, but they're both dormant. Haven't decided what I'll write after I finish Demon's Sigil. I have several candidates. All of which are sequels of a sort, for a change. None of them involve existing characters, but they do involve existing settings, at least.

The Business of Writing
I finished edits on three books:
Silver Scales
Golden Coils
The Sun Etherium


I published two of those, Silver Scales and The Sun Etherium. Golden Coils will come out later this month.

Art/Other
Uhhhh. I did a cover for The Sun Etherium? And a few incidental illustrations for books. I pretty much gave up on trying to draw in 2017, to be honest. Getting a Surface to draw on did not help in any meaningful way, alas.

Happiness
This is the year my partner of twenty years was diagnosed with cancer and spent eight weeks in a hospital, mostly in a state of confusion so strong he couldn't remember anything but his name and mine.

So all things considered, my mood was pretty good. But 2017 was still a crappy year.

Goals Recap

Let's look at last year's goals! I set some.

Serialize Silver Scales (aka The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon).
-- Nope, didn't do this one. But this was a "decided against" rather than a failure. When I polled about this, only three people responded that they preferred serials over reading it as a book. Serializing a book, even one I've already written, is a significant time investment and didn't seem worth it for three people. (My apologies to all three of you!) A Rational Arrangement had picked up a number of readers as a serial, but The Moon Etherium didn't, so I figured the serial was unlikely to grow my audience.

Publish Silver Scales
Done! In November, so later than anticipated. Mostly because cancer. -_-

Publish the sequel, Golden Coils, probably sometime in September-December
Not quite! It'll be out this month.

Hire a professional-quality artist to do cover illustrations for the above.
Done!

Stretch goals:
Publish The Sun Etherium, probably in December.
Done! On time, even.
For those curious: I bumped TSE ahead of Coils because when The Moon Etherium was in the Story Bundle back in September, Alinsa and I added "Coming Soon" blurbs for Scales (in October) and The Sun Etherium (in December) to the back. Scales ran a little late because it was long and had some layout issues. Since I hadn't set a release date for Coils and I had set one for TSE, I wanted TSE to make its release date.

Also a bunch of people kept saying "why are you releasing the sequel so soon after the first book? No one will have finished it yet! Traditional publishing never does that!" Well, traditional publishing never does that for a bunch of reasons that are irrelevant to me. But I figured the extra month would make those people happier. O:)

Finish drafting a new book or three.
I finished drafting Demon's Lure! I am almost done with its sequel, Demon's Sigil. I expect to finish that this month. They will need a fair bit of editing.

Also, keep doing the monthly updates. Those are handy and not too arduous.
Done!

I had some December-specific goals too:

Illustrate The Sun Etherium cover:
Done!

Look for an artist for Demon's Lure.
I figured out what I wanted the cover to look like partway through the month, and realized I definitely could not do it by doing a bad mockup for it. Then I emailed an artist at 10:30PM on Sunday night just so I could write that I hadn't failed this one. The artist got back to me the next day with a "sure, I can do this" and a quite reasonable quote. I still have to get him a contract to sign, but it looks like I have a cover artist. \o/

Talk to my father and/or Telnar for advice about my horrible cash flow issues.
I did talk to Telnar, and then my cash flow issues got resolved by unrelated means. ♥ and also \o/

Write 14,000 words of Demon's Sigil.
Wrote 20,000 words SO THERE December!

Conclusion
I technically failed two goals this year (serializing Scales and publishing Coils). But I achieved all the rest, plus some stretch goals, and Coils is super-close to being published as well.

Overall, I am SUPER PROUD of myself for everything I accomplished. While doing all of this horrible adulting. GO ME. I can't believe I actually achieved stretch goals in this terrible year.  What.

\o/ This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/622730.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
studious

A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams, by Dax Murray

This book was billed on Twitter as "polyamorous fantasy romance", which pretty much tells you right there why I decided to pick it up.

It has a number of things I love:

- It's a bisexual-positive setting, with three different characters presented as attracted to multiple genders and it's neither controversial nor salacious to anyone else in the setting.
- There's an asexual background character who likewise exists without anyone thinking that asexuality is weird or bad.
- One of the protagonists is enby and once again this is presented as a fact no more noteworthy than being male or female.
- Polyamory is not quite so widespread: two characters wrestle with attraction without ever considering that polyamory is an option. But there's a background triad from one of the nations and again, their relationship is portrayed as reasonable and open, not scandal-worthy.
- There's the suggestion that one of the background characters might be trans (two women are described as having children together, but it's not explicit whether this is via magic or natural).

In any case, you get the idea: this is a queer-positive book which does not feel the need to deal with prejudice. "This is the way things are and everyone is fine with it." This approach is delightful and rare and I enjoyed it immensely.

Other upsides:
- Vivid, beautiful imagery in describing the magic
- Characters involved in an arranged marriage who react in a mature, responsible way
- Nuanced portrayal of a difficult, problematic relationship

On the downside:

- The book has some awkward infodumps, some of which are made worse by not even containing significant information (eg: several pages about different types of magic in chapter 1, some of which never come up again, and the list is not even exhaustive: other types of magic are introduced later, including a plot-critical form in the last quarter of the book.)
- The characters would benefit from more depth and development; one has the impression of characters who are much more complex and lively in the author's head than they are in what the author has managed to capture on the page.
- The writing sometimes sparkles -- there's a beautiful play-fight between the two female protags where they're just adorable -- but more often it feels stilted or overly simplistic.
- Contains many typos and editing artifacts, some of which are just weird ("98 nfo" after the end of a paragraph?) and misgenders the enby protag once, which is very understandable but did make me sad.

I enjoyed the book enough to finish it, which is a pretty high bar to clear in my case. There are lots of excellent, fun ideas in the story. I hope the author continues to refine feir craft and produces more books; there's a lot of potential here and I look forward to seeing more.

I agonized a lot over what to rate this on Amazon, and it's still hard to even quantify it here. I feel like the book is TRYING SO HARD, and catering to so many things I adore, but ultimately the author does not have the maturity of talent to capture feir vision. So it's like "A++ for effort, C- for execution". I guess 6.5? If you are thinking about picking it up, read the preview and if you're happy with it the rest is of the same level of quality. The book blurb is kind of a mess and the book itself is better than that.

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Me 2012

From Ruins, by MCA Hogarth

I read this book shortly before release, as an e-ARC, and just realized I posted a review on Amazon but never blogged it.

I enjoyed FROM RUINS so much I bought a copy so Amazon could keep it handy for me whereever I go. The novel brings plot threads from all five previous books in the series crashing together in a tumultuous, multi-faceted conclusion. I am particularly fond of several aspects of it:

* The book has several climactic scenes, each resolving different threads. Sometimes multiple threads are resolved at once, but resolution is difficult and messy and unfolds realistically, rather than in a single Hollywood-esque moment of triumph.
* There is lots of denouement, to explore the ramifications of all that has happened. This is a book about war on a galactic scale, and it encompasses many battles. But it is also about change and how to transform a poisonous culture into a healthier one. That latter involves fighting but the goal is not *accomplished* by fighting. I like how Hogarth addresses it as an ongoing struggle., both internal and external.
* The denouement includes lots of sweet, tender moments that are a well-earned payoff after everything the various protagonists have been through.
* I especially enjoyed the Queen Ransomed's arc. I liked the other arcs too but GO QUEEN *waves pom-poms*

There were some aspects of the book I didn't like as much; Sediryl's arc never really worked for me, and there were a couple of bits during one of the climaxes that didn't make sense to me. But overall, FROM RUINS builds on the foundations laid in previous books to make for a satisfying, engaging conclusion. Highly recommended!

On a related note, book 1 of the series, EVEN THE WINGLESS, is on sale for 99 cents. So if you've not started the series, now's a great time for it!

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Me 2012

NEW BOOK! The Sun Etherium!

sunetherium-cover


The Sun Etherium
Ebook
| Print
A romance of genderfluid shapeshifters, set in a post-scarcity world of magic and intrigue.

Fey immortal Jinokimijin never expected ruling the Sun Etherium to be all fun and games -- but as it turns out, organizing fun and games is his first challenge. Firing the chair of the Founder's Festival for praising slavery is easy: ensuring the Founder's Festival succeeds afterwards is considerably harder. Jino needs a distraction from the temptation to micromanage. Luckily there's an anonymous club just waiting for a new member eager to set his trials briefly aside....

Jino's not the only one trying to escape his troubles: Kireki, once prince-consort, lost his position along with the abusive wife Jino deposed. Can the relationship spawned by two masked fey survive the revelation of their true selves? And will the Founder's Festival be the first of Jino's successes as ruler of the Sun Etherium... or the towering failure that undermines his throne?

Note: this book follows after the events of The Moon Etherium, but both works stand alone as complete novels and can be read independently of each other.

Author Commentary

The Sun Etherium is near and dear to my heart for a variety of reasons. I love writing about a post-scarcity society that is casually accepting of so many things my own society struggles with. It was super-fun to write genderfluid characters who can shapeshift to make their bodies match their idea of themselves at any given time. Although Jino isn't much like me as a person, their feelings about gender match my own more closely than any other character I've written about.

This book is about nonviolent conflicts, and characters who don't have the option of using force to resolve their problems. While there's some use of force in flashbacks, the present day problems are caused and resolved through intellect or by social means. In my own life, violence has never been the answer and yet I still have plenty of thorny problems. So I enjoyed portraying different kinds of issues.

I wanted to get this newsletter out as the first place I announced the release -- you are hearing about it before everyone else! So Amazon hasn't yet tied the print edition to the ebook, which is why there are two separate links. It's that new release smell!

Special New Release Sale!

In honor of The Sun Etherium's launch, I've put both it and The Moon Etherium on sale at 40% off -- just $2.99! -- through December 27. After that, the two books will sell for their regular price of $4.99.

Other Stuff:
M.C.A Hogarth also launched a new book this month, From Ruins, the final installment of her Princes' Game series. The series is a magnificent space opera, starting with the intimate details of the relationships between a few key players, and then showing the sweeping consequences of those early changes. If you like binge-reading a whole series at once, here's your chance! The first book, Even the Wingless, is still on sale for 99 cents as of this writing, so grab it now!
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Me 2012

Amazon Wishlist

It is probably too late for anyone to shop for me on this, but one of my friends asked for gift ideas so, here. Amazon Wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3GY4FC04VOHGY/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1

Some of this is things I need for Lut and haven't gotten yet. The new sheet sets are something I need to get because the doctor wants the place hyper-clean after they finish destroying Lut's immune system. And we only have one set of sheets now and doing laundry every three days is not going to happen. c_c

Anyway! You don't need to get me anything and I am not expecting anything and it's fine. :)

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Me 2012

Patreon Makes Itself Irrelevant

I've talked about this a lot on Twitter, and I want to organize my thoughts into a single journal entry.

On Wednesday, Patreon started to email creators and patrons that they were changing their fee structure. First, they were increasing their transaction fees from "once monthly for all pledges" to "once per pledge". Second, they were going to stop charging transaction fees to the creators and start adding them to the patrons' bills.

This effectively ended Patreon's relevance to the microtransaction problem.

The "microtransaction problem" is that there is no good long-distance way to pay someone a dollar. Small transactions take as many resources as large transactions, so payment processors, whether they're credit cards or Paypal or a bank, often charge a flat fee per transaction.

Patreon's old model solved this problem by aggregating all the pledges a single patron made, and thereby paying one processing fee for all that patron's pledges. They then split the cost of that single processing fee across all creators that patron supported. Patreon also charged a flat 5%, which was to cover the cost of the service Patreon provided. This meant that what fraction of each pledge a creator received depended on the how many other creators their patrons patronized. For instance: if a creator had a patron who pledged $1 to them and had no other pledges, that creator would get 60 cents of the $1 because there was no one else to split the fee with. If one patron pledged $1 each to 30 different creators, then the transaction fee on $30 would be $1.22 split across 30 people, or 4 cents each. Each creator would get 91 cents of the dollar pledge. So creators' take-away was a variable number. According to Patreon's own post, creators got 85% to 93% of their pledges. That appears to be an "on average", since I spoke with one creators who'd had only one pledge for $1 in their first month, and they only got 60% of that dollar.

Under their new model, Patreon plans to bill separately for each pledge, instead of grouping them all together. They are also adding the transaction fees to the pledge: 2.9% + $0.35 each. So a patron pledging $1 each to 30 creators will now see 30 charges of $1.38 each on their statement from the credit card/Paypal/whomever, instead of a single $30 charge. Since the new model doesn't pass transaction fees to the creator, the creator gets exactly 95% of the pledge.

I have seen a lot of people argue that Patreon made this change because they were previously losing money on transaction fees. As far as I can tell, this is not accurate. They're changing from a model of "we aggregate charges to minimize processing fees and split whatever processing fee there is between creators" to "we do not aggregate charges and we pass the resulting higher processing fees to the patron".

Initially, Patreon attempted to spin this as purely a benefit to the creator: "We're going to give them 95% of all pledges! More money for them!" But on low-dollar pledges, most creators will now receive a lot less of the money their patrons spend. A typical creator might have gotten 85% of money spent on $1 pledges before. Now they get 70%.

That 5% for Patreon plus 2.9% + 35 cent transaction fee on every pledge amounts to a 45% surcharge on $1 pledges. It's big, and it stays at more than 10% until you get to single pledges of $15 or more per month.

On Thursday, Patreon amended their post to say they are no longer aggregating the pledges because they want to fix the problem of "patrons start a subscription after the 1st of the month and then cancel it before the start of the next month, in order to receive the monthly rewards without ever paying the fee."

I want to be clear that this is a real problem that Patreon wishes to fix. You can see it in action at Graphtreon. Note how pledges rise sharply throughout the month and then crash horribly on the first? A lot of people are bailing the day before they are billed.

Graphtreon also shows how bad this move was for Patreon's subscription rate: instead of getting a smooth upward climb for December the way there was for prior months, we get a smooth curve through the 6th --- and then it falls on the 7th, the day after the news hit.

It's not clear why Patreon decided de-aggregating the pledges was the best fix for the cancellation problem. It is clearly not the only fix: they could do pro-rated charges for a fraction of the first month, or do a full charge for the 1st month and then pro-rate the second month (which is a little confusing to the consumer but probably the ideal solution). Either way, they'd still be able to aggregate subsequent months and minimize transaction fees.

One person hypothesized that Patreon doesn't want to be regulates as a money-services provider, and that aggregating and disbursing funds as they did was too much like one. I don't know enough about the relevant law to tell whether or not this matters. It seems a little weird for it to be, since that would kind of make, say, Amazon a money-services provider every time I buy multiple e-books by different publishers in one transaction. But laws and regulations are weird things, so maybe.

It's also unclear why Patreon decided to pass the increase in transaction fees on to the patron. This looks like a particularly bone-headed move from a tax standpoint, because the creator is a business owner who can write off the transaction fee as a business expense, and the patron can't. Maybe this route allows Patreon to get the tax write-off themselves? I don't know, but it seems unlikely that it changes Patreon's tax equation. Regardless, all the creators I've talked to would rather have absorbed the higher fees than made their patrons do so. If this was a PR move because Patreon thought patrons would be less price-sensitive than creators: huge miscalculation there. Some creators would have chosen to fume quietly about it rather than causing a public uproar, but this method meant Patreon had to contact all their customers and FOOM. Now everyone's mad at them.

I'd like to note that while I think it highly unlikely that Patreon was losing money on transaction fees, that is not the same as saying they weren't losing money on small-dollar pledges. It may be that Patreon wants to drive off the small-dollar pledges because they consider them unimportant to their business model and more costly in terms of bandwidth/customer service/something else than they are worth. Patreon may want to focus on only creators who want pledges of $15 or more. Whether that's right or not, this article makes it clear that
Patreon wants "financially successful" creators who bring a large fanbase with them before they launch on Patreon. Conversely, they want to drive low-earning creators off their platform.

This isn't a very effective way of accomplishing either of those particular goals, however. Increasing the per-pledge fees doesn't target specifically creators who make a small amount OR patrons who don't pay much to Patreon total. It hurts the creator who makes $10,000 a month on 9,000 pledges a lot more than the creator who makes $30 on 2 pledges. It hurts the patron who donates $100 a month to 50 creators more than the patron who donates $15 to one. It's targeting pledge size. And per Graphtreon, Patreon's biggest creators do not have average donors of $15+. The ones who don't have their income hidden largely make $5 or less per patron.

However interesting Patreon's stated or possible reasons for the change may be, bottom line: they are not likely to change course now.

For creators who use Patreon as a tip jar for their work elsewhere, Patreon is all but pointless now. You might as well use Paypal, because it's cheaper. Creators who use Patreon's ability to provide locked content to incentivize donors have a harder problem to solve. But I suspect we're going to see people working to solve it again.

I've cancelled all but a couple of pledges through Patreon already, and my last two will go before the end of the month. I will find other ways to support creators (and in three cases, already have). For me, Patreon doesn't bring enough value for what they now cost, and I want to vote with my wallet on the matter. I never had a Patreon myself, so it doesn't affect me as a creator.

The things that annoy me most about it now are Patreon's terrible messaging on the subject, and that they rolled it out in December. Seriously? "We're chasing off half your customers, creators! Happy Holidays!"

WORST GIFT.

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worried

Giant Ball of Stress

So we have begun the next Medical Adventure. It is not arduous by comparison with, say, Frodo's journey to Mount Doom.

I am not cut out for the journey from the Shire to Moria, much less Mount Doom.

Anyway, the next treatment step is a bone marrow transplant (henceforth BMT). I don't think I explained this here before, but it's actually pretty nifty. They harvest healthy stem cells from Lut's body, and freeze them. Then they hit him with massive chemotherapy that kills everything in his bone marrow, cancer and healthy cells alike. Then they transplant the harvested stem cells back into him. So since it's his own stem cells, there's no worry about rejection or other long-term complications.

But before they can do this, there are Many Appointments. Many many appointments. So many appointments.

Two weeks ago, they told me they would schedule these appointments for Monday and Tuesday of this week. Last Monday (11/27), I emailed the coordinator to ask if anything had been scheduled yet. She emailed me and the scheduler back and told me (a) they needed to wait for the physical therapy doctor to evaluate him on 11/28 and (b) they had several people ahead of him so they would let me know when they had anything.

On Wednesday (11/29), I still hadn't heard. I emailed them again.

I did not hear back.

I checked Lut's phone for messages. There were none. They did not try to call my phone either. At 6:15 on Friday, I got a voice mail that said "someone in your family has an appointment at [address] on Tuesday 12/5 at 1:15PM."

Well. Okay then, I guess this is taking longer than they expected.

We go to his original oncology doctor on Monday as scheduled. Oncologist: "Since you haven't gotten the BMT stuff scheduled yet, let's keep on with your treatment here." I called the number from the voice mail back to verify that this was connected with the BMT process (it was) and find out what it was. I scheduled the next shipment of Revlimid, Lut's current oral chemo drug.

Then I went to work on Tuesday morning with the plan of leaving early to take him to the afternoon appointment.

At 11AM on Tuesday, Lut got a phone call: "We noticed you didn't make any of your appointments this morning! Is there a problem?"

...

They called me, and it turned out they sent us the schedule by UPS. UPS dropped it by the door we don't use. The scheduler thought she had emailed it, or maybe she thought the coordinator had emailed it and the coordinator thought the scheduler had emailed it but in fact no one had. Scheduler: "The ones you missed are all with us so they're easy to reschedule. I will email you the appointments you haven't missed yet and then a list of the rescheduled ones."

Me: *vibrating with stress*

Fifteen minutes later, I got a schedule. It had SO MANY APPOINTMENTS. One Tuesday afternoon. Five on Wednesday morning. One on Thursday afternoon. Five on Tuesday 12/12. One each on December 16-21.

I emailed my boss to explain the SCHEDULING EXPLOSION and when I'd be out for what.

Fifteen minutes after that, I got another email: "Here are the rescheduled ones!" There were four more appointments on Thursday morning.

Me: WHAT THERE ARE MORE?!?

I am basically out of paid time off, but my boss has said I can take unpaid time off THANK GOODNESS. But I am also vibrating with financial stress so I don't want to miss paychecks if possible. So I planned to come to work when possible. Thursday is shot so full of appointments that I'm taking it off. I only missed an hour on Tuesday, because the afternoon appointment was quick enough that I could come back to work afterwards. Wednesday I planned to go to work in the afternoon.

The scheduling snafu didn't make anything significantly worse as far as missing time at work. It basically just transferred all the Tuesday morning appointments to Thursday and he had an afternoon appointment on both days anyway.

Tuesday night, I checked to see how long the trip would take to the med center for his 7AM Wednesday appointment. Google said 17 minutes. At 6-7AM, I did not expect traffic to be significantly worse (rush hour in my city is not serious), so I planned to leave at 6:30 to allow for traffic and time navigating the med center. I memorized the directions because Google Maps has been "upgraded" to the point that it now barely runs on my 2010-model phone. (Six years ago, this same phone ran Google Maps just fine. The problem with tech obsolescence nowadays is that the software changes. So even if you just want to do the same things you did several years ago, YOU CANNOT.)

On Wednesday morning as we were leaving, I tried to get the directions up on my phone anyway as backup. Ten minutes into the trip, we hit a major slowdown on the highway. An accident had closed two lanes and traffic was at a near-standstill for miles leading up to it I finished getting directions up on Google on my phone, and the highway route was now 20 minutes slower than taking surface streets. I fought my way across two lanes of traffic to the nearest exit. My phone managed to give me accurate directions for the first 15 minutes after that, but half a mile away it started doing the "I will tell you what to do two minutes after you've missed the turn" thing. x_x

We finally limped up to the medical center at 7:15, and I let Lut out at what I hoped was the right building and went to park.

Miraculously, we had indeed gotten to the right building (it's a giant complex of like eight) and the entrance was even near his appointment location.

The rest of the morning went unnaturally smoothly. The first appointment saw him ten minutes after we got in and was done with him by 8AM. Our next appointment wasn't until 9AM, but we walked over there anyway to wait. They saw us right away and were done with us by 9AM. Next he had three different kinds of x-rays, which were scheduled to take 90 minutes, first starting at 10:00 and last starting at 11:00. But radiology is walk-ins so they just take you as you show up. They took him within fifteen minutes and were done with him by 10AM. It took a little while to escape the medical center and get back to the car, but I got Lut home, picked up my lunch from the house, refueled the car, and got to work at 10:45. So I'll only be short 90 minutes or so today, too, instead of half a day.

We'll see how well tomorrow goes. He doesn't have any walk-in places tomorrow, so pretty sure that will be more like the normal medical experience. At least we don't have to get there until 10AM. Traffic will be about as bad but no getting up at 5:30AM for it. x_x And Lut has lab work so I don't need to make breakfast. I will probably just have cereal myself, instead of making something hot.

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Me 2012

November in Review

Health/Fitness
I used my exercise bike in during the first week of the month, because I was doing some writing for Nanowrimo while on it. In subsequent weeks, I've been doing stretches in the living room instead. I have a hard time going down into my dark, dank, miserable basement to exercise, and even when it's warm enough, it's too dark after work to ride my bike outside at this time of year.

I did dance exercises in the living room on Friday night, so I may go back to doing that, though.

I no longer walk to work. I did for a little while, but there've been at least two times where I'd walked or biked to work and Lut had a health emergency in the middle of the day, so I don't want to chance it any more.

Writing
I won Nanowrimo!

I started Demon's Sigil for Nano, and it was at 53,000 words at the end of the month. I won it early, on 11/26, despite doing very little writing during the three days I was at the convention across the street in mid-November. So it turns out I can still write quickly when I put my mind to it.

I have not been much motivated to continue the manuscript since I won Nano, though. My plan is to take it easy in December and only write 14,000 words or so. I have to do the cover art for The Sun Etherium, for one thing.

I feel guilty not writing faster. Or working harder. I also feel worn out and don't want to work any more. So, you know, that's a thing.

The Business of Writing
I released a new book! It feels so long ago. Silver Scales is now a thing people can buy!

Scales sold well on launch day. Afterwards, its sales graph per day has turned into a weird little sine wave, something like: 0 1 3 5 4 1 0, repeat. So far, it's selling better than The Moon Etherium did, but not as well as A Rational Arrangement or even Further Arrangements. The sequel will be out in January, so that should perk up sales a bit.

The Sun Etherium will be out later this month. Alinsa finished the initial build on Saturday, so I've started proofreading it. I also started work on the cover on Sunday, and then finished it on Monday. It helped that I'd already figured out what I wanted it to look like and assembled all my references beforehand. I was pleasantly surprised by how it came out; much more mellow about it than I was about The Moon Etherium's cover.

Art/Other
I did some fan art for Poison Kiss, and a promo image for Scales. (Not the cover! The beautiful cover image for Scales was painted by the talented Ilse Gort.) The Sun Etherium cover doesn't count for November.

I did a lot of adulting, too. Adulting. So much.

Gaming
I miss the PollRPG but I'm not sure I miss it enough to do it again. In part because running a serial that I can't build a buffer for is not well-suited towards my mentality, and in part because I suspect most of the people who were following it have forgotten by now and will not be interested enough to pick it up again.

Socializing
I went to the convention! I saw people and talked to people and got socialized-out for like a month.

Happiness
Uh.

Yeah, not so much. I'm glad I won Nano, and I'm glad I can still write 2000+ words in a day. That was a good thing to be reminded of. But Lut has cancer and I have to be a grown-up and inside I am just screaming and flailing and tantruming like a toddler. Sometimes not just on the inside.

One grace note of this whole situation: Lut and I have remained understanding towards each other. Our frustrations are all directed outwards. (Lut has been astonishingly good-tempered overall. I am the only one tantruming.) So that's one nice thing.

Goals for coming month
* Illustrate The Sun Etherium cover
* Look for an artist for Demon's Lure. I might do the art myself, I haven't firmly decided. I have an idea of what I want it to look like if I do it myself; it wouldn't be either the flat-shape look I've done for my other books or one of my attempts at realistic. I don't know if it'd work at all. Anyway, I should probably try to hire someone because it's a good investment in the long run. It's just that I have horrible cash flow issues right now and I would like publishing to make them better and not worse.
* Talk to my father and/or Telnar for advice about my horrible cash flow issues.
* Write 14,000 words of Demon's Sigil.

That seems like enough.

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