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December 2020 in Review

Health & Fitness
Avg Calories Consumed per day: 1956
Avg Exercise per day: 121
Weight: 170.9

Consumption down a teensy bit, exercise up an even teensier bit, weight up a teensy bit. Nothing much to see here. I have been much more lackadaisical about calorie-tracking the last few months: I've done a lot more "eh, this meal felt like this many calories, just put that down" rather than keeping a true count. I am not concerned enough about this to actually measure things that are annoying to measure, but I think I'll try to at least measure things that fall into the "easy enough" category.

Writing

I did some of this! About 6600 words. Angel's Grace is now at 31,100. (I also chopped out about 500 words of stuff that I wrote during Nano but knew I would need to cut later.)

Writing was not a focus in December so I'm pleased that I made a little progress.

Equally important, I figured out the Angel's Grace timeline and my progress thus far through the outline. I have covered 35% (edit: this should've been 40%) of my original outline, but I added a bunch of stuff to the early part. I expect I have somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 words to go. 60-65,000 to go is possible but unlikely.

The Business of Writing

I finished final edits on The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady! This went right down to the wire, with me completing it yesterday and sending it to Alinsa for layout. But it's done!

Now I just have to finish the cover. o_o;;;

The cover is way too ambitious. I've been working on it for months. I started taking parts out of the original file and blowing them up to work on them separately because I need a higher resolution for the cover as a whole than my little Surface can realistically handle. I will probably end up using my desktop to reassemble the pieces. The cover concept does make me laugh, though, so I'm not willing to give up on it. Although I thought of a much simpler cover concept that I could do if it doesn't sell well with the original idea.

Reading

I spent much of my "reading in bed before going to sleep" time proofreading The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady instead of reading someone else's book. Still, I managed 25 days of doing some reading, so not too bad.

Art/Other

Not a good art month, but I did put in some work on the cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady, and I drew a mask on Lut's forum avatar at his request. (I did the original avatar for him 12 years ago and he still uses it. ♥ )

Gaming

Still playing "Dress Up! Time Princess." December's play experience was a little weird for me, because of the way that the game and its limited-time events intersect.

So you regen a certain amount of stamina per hour, up to a cap (generally several hours' worth). You can also get additional stamina in various ways. Some of the ways of getting additional stamina can be saved up. For one instance: you get daily gift boxes from your companions, and these might have materials, or gold, or stamina. The "season pass", which acts as a reward mechanism for doing dailies, also sometimes gives stamina in addition to other goodies. Like many players, I reached the final tier of the season a few weeks before the season ended, and the repeating final season reward included a nice chunk of stamina. Both boxes and season rewards can be stored to open/collect at a later date.

There were two reasons to hoard stamina: one is that Saturdays are "double drop" days, where you get twice as much of the encounter item rewards. The other is that the game had stamina events for Halloween & Thanksgiving, so everyone expected a Christmas stamina event.

So starting on December 13, I saved all my season pass rewards and all my gift boxes.

But the thing about saving this stuff is that you're not just saving stamina: it comes bundled with gold and other items. By not opening it when I got it, I cut my total resources-per-day by more than half, I'd estimate. So for two weeks, I was constantly broke in-game, and struggling to finish anything. Then, on December 26 -- a Saturday when the Christmas stamina event was still running -- I opened everything, and did all the double-drop events with all my extra stamina, and suddenly I had So Much Everything. I tried to pace the next story I started a little bit, but I'm still 80% through it after a week. And I still have a big, albeit dwindling, stockpile of gold. I've been spending profligately on cat-breeding, trying to get a new variety of cat, with little success so far.

Neepery aside, still having a great time with the game.

I bought a new game for my desktop, "Calico." It's a cute game, with the premise of "you run a magical cat cafe". It's designed for console and the keyboard controls are clunky, though. I sat down and couldn't figure out how to stand up again, so I quit out and haven't gone back in. o_o;;; I may give it another try, but I am unlikely to buy a console controller to appease the PC games that think I should have one. The thing about console controllers is that I kind of hate everything about them: they feel awkward and uncomfortable and since I've never used them, nothing about them is remotely intuitive. "Press one of the four cryptically-labeled buttons to do [thing]." But there's an entire generation who grew up on console controllers so they're what they're used to and they love them, and therefore there's a corresponding generation of games I can't play. c_c

It's kind of weird, because the handful of games I've picked up for my smart phone have been fun and easy to play, but desktop games are really more miss than hit for me.

December Goal Scorecard

  • Look into switching phone plans:

So at the start of the month, I opened a tab for Ting Mobile, a phone service provider that offered cheap, limited-data plans. I'd heard about them via a Youtube product placement ad from Legal Eagle, so I used that link. I checked their rates, verified that my phone and Lut's would both work with them, and then ... left the tab open. Until December 31. I checked a couple of other plans in the mean time and didn't see anything cheaper. Yesterday, I went "well, this is the LAST DAY to make that goal" and filled out the form to get SIM cards and start service with them. In theory, we will get the SIM cards on January 7, and if all goes well I will then cancel my service with T-Mobile.

I'm a little sad about this, because I like T-Mobile and have used them for 20+ years. But their rates are no longer competitive. My T-Mobile plan -- unlimited data for me, nothing for Lut who has a dumb phone --- has a base of $60 ($78 and change after taxes & fees). The Ting plan for both of us is $35 -- $25 for 5 gigs of data for me, $10 for Lut. All plans for both carriers have unlimited text & calling. Even the SIM cost -- Ting charged us $5 per SIM ($1 for the card and $4 for shipping) and the last time I had to replace a T-Mobile SIM it was $20. (Although, in fairness, I don't know that Ting will still charge $5 if I ever need a replacement.)

Anyway, we'll see how this goes. My T-Mobile phone reception has always been terrible, so if it's bad from Ting that won't be much of a change. :D

  • Make final editing list for Lord: Done!
  • Complete some editing points for Lord: Also done!
  • Figure out time line for Angel's Grace: Done!
  • Write more of Angel's Grace: done!
  • Make an art: Technically done is the best kind of done?
  • Stretch goal: Finish edits on Lord: aw yeah DONE.

So feeling good about December! Even if I fell down on the art one. Again. :D

Oh right I need to make January goals

January 2021 Goals

  • Assist Lut
  • Get to 2/3rds done with the Angel's Grace outline
  • Cancel T-Mobile service when Ting SIMs arrive, assuming Ting SIMs work.
  • Archive 2020 Bullet Journal spreadsheet & use fresh one for 2021.
  • Look at goal list occasionally.

Stretch Goals:

  • Exercise 20 times this month
  • Track calories consumed a little more diligently. Like figure out how many calories is in the spaghetti sauce I keep making, and how many servings it makes.
  • Make an art. Finishing part of the new book cover counts even if I don't finish the whole thing.
  • Mention on social media that I have some published books people can buy
  • Fling a few books at Bookbub for rejection
  • Post a few blog entries, apart from my usual month-in-review.
  • Work on outline(s) for next potential book(s) to write after Angel's Grace
  • Maintain bullet journal

Kinda missed having a whole pile of stretch goals, so figured I'd heap some back on.

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/2021/01/01/december2020.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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November 2020 in Review

Health/Fitness

Avg calories consumed: 2010 Avg exercise per day: 114 Weight: 170.6

About a third of the calories-consumed counts for November were total guesses. My calorie counts are not very precise anyway; there's a lot of food where I don't bother to measure out how much I'm eating and just guess after the fact.  But November was much worse than usual: several days, I didn't log at the time at all and so I'd put down 2000 or 2100 calories for the day afterward so that the formulas that calculates averages wouldn't get mucked up.

My exercise numbers are about right, however -- my phone automatically logs my walks, and I remembered to add in the one time I did exercise other than walking. So I was able to reconstruct those numbers.

Honestly, my month-in-review could pretty much say "I won NaNoWriMo, the end." Everything else got shunted off to one side until December.

Still, my weight trended down in November, so ... yay? I'm about where I was back in January.

I feel like these statistics make me come across as a lot more invested and concerned with my weight than I actually am. I am happy with way I look! My main motivation here is "eating chocolate because you're bored or stressed is an ineffectual coping mechanism", and "my family has a history of knee problems so it would be good not to put more stress on mine." There is a smidge of "it'd be nice to wear these clothes that fit me when I was 130 lbs," but it's not a big factor. I'm perfectly fine with what I weigh, and I was fine with what I weighed when I was 184, too. But eating chocolate doesn't actually reduce my stress levels, while exercising does. So it's less a measure for its own sake than a barometer of how well I'm coping with life in general. 

And, yeah, "coping but not coping that well" does about cover it.

Writing

I won NaNoWriMo!  I won it on the 26th, with plenty of time to spare, and then more-or-less stopped writing for the rest of the month. My total count was 51,666. My graph is all over the place. My first day was over 5000 and the second day over 4000, and then there were four more days that were over 3000. The rest of the month bounced between 1 and 2600-ish words.

This was the most relaxed NaNoWriMo I've done. My only other commitment was my day job, and with two holidays in November plus me taking two other days off, I worked less than 80 hours total. So I'm a little surprised that I logged just-barely-a-win, in contrast to the 70k+ I wrote in 2016 when I was still working full time and also attended a convention in November and did cooking for Thanksgiving. OTOH, about 20k of that win was on a BSDM erotica novel that I am too embarrassed to publish, so. It's fine. n_n

This year's win was split between two books:

Demon's Alliance: Had already written 48,133 words in September and October. Finished in November at 74,842 words, which incidentally means I accomplished my 2020 stretch goal -- "write a book between 55,000 and 80,000 words that covers the entire outline for the original planned book." I'd forgotten this was even on the list. :D

Angel's Lure: Started writing in November, ended at: 24,955.

I ended up counting some false starts for scenes, because I didn't want my word count for Nano to drop, so I will probably cut some of those words later. Also, there's one scene that I thought would be that beginning of Angel's Lure and that I may still end up using near the middle somewhere, so I don't want to just throw it away like I normally do.

The Business of Writing

I published a book! Spark of Desire was released in mid-November. Still waiting on the print copy, but the e-book is out now.  I did not talk this book up as much as I usually do on social media, so I feel like I should give it another nudge. I love this book and Spark contains my very favorite scene to re-read, out of all of my books, so I want to share it with more people!

I don't have any more ideas for books in this setting, but one of my reader-friends made puppy-dog eyes at me about it so I am keeping myself open to it. The main characters from Spark are mostly middle-aged at this point, and it might be fun to have them as supporting cast, in the role of quasi-wise mentor, to some future cast. 

Reading

My Kindle app says I skipped 4 days in November. I realized I'd broken my streak at one point and then went "meh" and didn't try to fix it, which was probably one or two of those days.

I did finish a book last month, though. Albeit an illustration-heavy book so probably not as many words as an average novel. But yay finishing a thing!

Anyway, "read 26 days out of 30 and finished a book" is pretty good by my current (low) standards. :D

Art/Other

On November 29, I looked at my 2020 goals and realized that "make an art each month" was on the list.  I ended up doing a quickie abstract landscape-ish thing on the 30th so I could keep that resolution for November. I already blew this one for the year. Technically I did at least a little bit of art every month, but a few months my art-time was almost all devoted to "keep working on this One Thing that's taking several months to finish." I might be able to make a month-by-month collage with a combination of B&W sketches and more-finished works, though. We'll see.

Gaming

I played a bunch of Race for the Galaxy in their "Arena" mode. I am a good player but not top-tier, is my general impression at this game.  Every now and then luck favors me and I reach the top 10, and I'm like "that's not gonna last" and then I have a bad run and descend to like 200th place. :D

I thought about playing Civ V several times, but then I'd think "do I have something else that I would find more rewarding to do for several hours?" and do that instead.

Still playing both Love Nikki and Dress Up! Time Princess.  Still like DUTP much better, although the path I have taken in the story book I'm going through now is pretty squicky. Now and again I think about going back to where the story split and then I remember it involves making gaga eyes at a character I can't stand and NOPE. In Magic Lamp and Queen Marie, I felt like you could kind of play it as 'not attracted to anyone' but in Gotham Memoirs, you get told repeatedly how you adore whichever guy you're with; no option to avoid it. Although maybe the stories did thrust some attraction on me but I didn't notice as much because I liked the male leads in the other two stories. Whereas in real life I would have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with either of the love interests in Gotham Memoirs. "Do I want the arrogant jerk who insults and orders me around, or the polite, respectful man who's an actual mob boss? NONE OF THE ABOVE K THX LEAVING NOW." 

Love Nikki had a big event for a couple of weeks at the end of November. I tried a few times to muster some enthusiasm for it but NOPE. It had a very cheap (in-game currency that I already have) suit so I did get that, but that was it. Still not feeling any urge to give Love Nikki money ever again.    

I'm still playing both Soul Scribes and 4thewords and two writing incentive games is great, y'all. I love it.

November Goal Scorecard

My goals for last month were "Win Nano" and "Assist Lut" and I did both of these things, yay!

December Goals

  • Look into switching phone plans. I am officially a "remote always" employee, meaning I will never work from an office again. I stopped playing Pokemon GO basically altogether in November. I think it's been a week since I even opened the app. Having an unlimited voice-and-data phone plan when I'm on a wireless network 98% of the time is silly. If it's a huge hassle to switch, I absolve myself of not actually switching. But if all I have to do is go to a website and fill out a form, I should really do that.
  • Make a final editing list for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. I actually have a final edits list already, but I don't think it's specific enough, so I want to refine it some more. Hopefully this will make it easier to do actual final edits.
  • Complete some editing points for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady.
  • Figure out the timeline for Angel's Grace. I put down the dates for each scene of Demon's Alliance but I never did that for Angel's Grace and I only have a vague idea of when the characters are now.
  • Write some more of Angel's Grace
  • Make an art.

Stretch Goal

Finish editing The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. I guess technically since Alinsa is still doing the print layout for Spark, I have not left my layout wuff with no work.  Still, it bothers me not to have a new book in the publishing pipeline.  Plus, if I finish editing this in 2020 then I will have finished the drafts of three books and the final edits of three (other) books in 2020, which will be pretty amazing for this freakishly terrible year.

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/2020/12/01/novemberinreview.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

I read Brosh's first book, Hyperbole and a Half, back in January. Solutions and Other Problems was released a month or two ago, and I decided (a) not to wait six years before buying it and (b) not to wait six years before reading it, either. I did wait a month or two. I don't read a lot.

Like her first book, it's a quick read; I started and finished it yesterday. It is considerably grimmer than Hyperbole and a Half, and still features some of the "Brosh beating up on herself to a painful degree." The universe beats up on her a lot in this one. Holy crap. So content notes for nihilism, depression, suicide, divorce, and physical illness. She does make some of this stuff funny but some of the essays are just straight-up serious (with a big SERIOUSNESS STARTS HERE flag, and she means it).

The book also includes some strikingly lovely illustrations by Brosh, in addition to her familiar stick-figure-inspired cartoon characters.

I am glad that I read it; it's well-written, moving, and engaging. I recommend it, but have to note that it is not anything like the crying-laughing-funny that Hyperbole and a Half is. Some of the essays are funny, and some are funny and also painful, and the serious one is just deeply tragic and sad. I did not cry from laughter from the book, but I did cry. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/654920.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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Better

I am at loose ends this morning, melancholy and thinking about things.

One of my friends left two comments on my entry about COVID-19 and politics, on the more rational reasons why some people voted for Trump. The one that struck me in particular is that ‘treating immigrants badly’ has always had bipartisan support in the US. Trump shifted the tone from “callous, bureaucratic indifference to suffering” to “gleeful malicious delight in suffering.” And abuse of immigrants has gotten much more media attention in the last four years as a result. But the policy was bad before, too. I don’t know if my perception of it being far worse under Trump is correct, or if it’s closer to “somewhat worse and much better covered.”

It is not a great comfort to think that many Trump voters might just be cynical -- “all politicians are terrible and at least this one will appoint conservative judges” -- but it’s better than picturing them as ignorant/stupid/evil.

It’s easy to be cynical.

The worst part of stereotypes like “all cops are bastards” and “all politicians are corrupt” is not that they are false, but that they are self-fulfilling. If society believes only terrible people would pursue a given career -- well, that’s pretty much motivation not to do it if you don’t want to be terrible, right?

How do you get better when you start from there?

But media generally lionizes the police, and that rosy view of them has not made them any less violent or corrupt in practice. On the other hand, media also lionizes police violence: in TV shows and films, the cops are always “breaking the rules” in order to “stop the bad guys”, usually with violence, often with lethal force. It always works out for the best in entertainment. Maybe they’re just doing the job the way they were programmed to think it would work out. I don’t think we did a very good job of this.

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/654690.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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Dress Up! Time Princess

As I mentioned in my month-end October update, I started a new dress-up game towards the end of October. I've been playing it for 36 days now, and I have Thoughts about it. So many thoughts.

I won NaNoWriMo yesterday, which means I can do Whatever I Feel Like today. This has resulted in a ginormous write-up of all my Dress Up! Time Princess thoughts. Also lots of comparisons to Love Nikki, which obviously inspired it.

Tl;dr: DUTP is a fun game, highly recommend. LN: no longer recommend at all due to lack of account management. Also not as much fun as DUTP. Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/654425.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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Humility

"Give us a chance so we can discover the most valuable ways to serve one another."

This is a quote from the song "Fight of the Century", articulating F. A. Hayek's general views on economic policy. It is perhaps the most beautiful premise behind libertarian ideals: the idea that each person is best positioned to decide both what they most need from society and what they are best able to provide to it.

I am thinking about Hayek this morning, and about humility, because it is humbling to admit that one does not know enough to make decisions for another person. Another quote from Hayek (translated):

"The curious task of Economics is to demonstrate to men, how little they really know, about what they imagine, they can design."

It is an elegant admission of the limits of human ability, of the tendency of people to think that if we just pick the right leader, we can all do what that person says and everything will be perfect. Of the tendency to think that we could be that leader, or at least that we could give the right advice to that leader.

I am fascinated by the way these ideas are both right and wrong, the way in which humans struggle and most often fail to correctly assess either our limitations OR our capabilities. Humans have done so many great things by organizing ourselves into hierachies and taking direction from those above us. We've also committed all our worst atrocities using that same model. When we say "we shouldn't design these complicated systems because they often screw things up horribly" -- that's just another thing we might be wrong about. We're always getting things wrong.

The proximate causes of my thoughts this morning are COVID-19 and politics.  

By some measures, I have been inordinately cautious about COVID-19. I was supposed to see my parents in early March, but I cancelled that trip and took a staycation instead. When my staycation ended, I worked from home to minimize the risk to myself and more importantly, to my immunocompromised partner. I stopped walking at the Plaza or in public parks to avoid crowds even outside. I haven't visited my long-distance boyfriend since last November, and I haven't seen my girlfriend since February.  

But I have taken other risks. I pick up takeout food from restaurants and fast food places.  I shop at Costco every few weeks for groceries. I could get groceries delivered by Wal-mart but I use their free pick-up service instead. I took my cat to the vet several times while I was trying to save her life. (And I will always regret not taking her sooner and more often.) Lut has been to the dentist three times, and to his primary care physician twice. He goes to the oncology clinic every four weeks for four hours or so, which is the most exposure my household has to other people, going by the CDC's "proximity to a specific person for more than 15 cumulative minutes." The oncology clinic visits are not optional, but the rest arguably is. I've visited the same two friends twice since March, for a few hours, wearing masks and staying six feet apart.

Is that too much risk? Am I being too cautious?  I don't know.  

I listen to other people burst out angrily over the choices of others. Furious that in-person schools are open, or that they are closed, that someone else is having Thanksgiving with people outside their household, that or that other people are unwilling to visit for Thanksgiving. 

And I don't know.

It's not even that I think "you shouldn't yell at strangers because they don't agree with your risk assessment." Maybe you should yell at them. Maybe that will be constructive. I don't know. 

It's the same way I feel about American politics now. I revile the Republican party; I regard it as bastion of party over principle, rife with corruption, racism, and proto-fascism. They had the opportunity to reject Trump's populist strongman rhetoric and policies, and they embraced it instead. I will never vote for a Republican again. Their brand is less than worthless to me; throw it on the dumpster fire and start fresh. 

But I retain a lot of sympathy for conservative values: liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and small government in particular. I cannot make a better argument for "the federal government should have less money, less power and less influence over American lives" than "the USA elected Donald Trump for president once." I don't believe that the Republican party is aligned in any meaningful way with conservative values, at this juncture in time. 

70 million people voted for Donald Trump in 2020. That is a lot of people who disagree with me on my core values regarding democracy, due process, and equal treatment of all people under the law. I don't know how to reach someone who thinks that "keeping kids in cages during a pandemic" is acceptable, even if they only mean that it's an acceptable tradeoff for some other goal. I don't know what you do about that. I literally don't know. Does it work to ostracize them? Does it work to be kind and friendly and open to them in the hopes of persuading them slowly over time? Does it work to yell at them when the subject comes up and otherwise to let them be? I don't know. My own approach is to be quiet and open, but I have no confidence in the utility of it.

The closest I come to an answer is to say that we need all of it. Every possible approach, all at once, in the giant jumble of each individual person discovering the most valuable way to serve one another.

This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/2020/11/21/humility.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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New Release: Spark of Desire!

Spark of Desire




Six years ago, Spark's lover Komyau volunteered for an experimental process that gave him sorcerous powers -- a process the Convocation of Sorcerers was certain was safe, and went on to use on thousands more individuals in the intervening years. When Komyau becomes gravely ill, Spark contacts Thistle, the individual who invented that process, to save his life.

Spark never expected her lover to fall for Thistle, or that Thistle and his husband, Frost, might be open to a polyamorous relationship. For his part, Frost never realized that his best friend already was polyamorous. But that should not matter: Spark is a centaur and not attracted to elfs like Frost. Right?

But if sorcerers can be mistaken about simple matters like attraction, they can make mistakes with far graver consequences -- and perhaps that experimental process is not so safe as everyone thought ...

This novel is a standalone polyamorous fantasy romance, with M/M and M/F pairings. Contains consensual transformation and intercourse with centaurs.

Author Commentary


Fun fact: when I was writing Frost and Desire, about two-thirds of the way through I thought, "it's a shame I can't pair Spark with Frost." And then went "but wait, this is my book, I can make it polyamorous if I want to." But despite this, I couldn't figure out a way to make the book come to a satisfying conclusion if I added a romantic relationship between Spark and Frost.

It was a few months after publication when the solution came to me, and once it did, I had to write it.
And thus began Spark of Desire, the "gratuitous polyamorous sequel" to Frost and Desire. This novel doesn't have the lengthy content warnings of the first book, and it's a standalone so if you just want your polyam fix, you needn't read Frost and Desire first. Specific content notes for this and all of my books are available at my website, ladyrowyn.com.

My first two polyam romances, A Rational Arrangement and The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, were triads. Spark of Desire is similar to a partner-swap. Polyamory comes in many forms, and exploring them is one of my favorite things. I love this book, and I hope you all will enjoy it as well.

One last note: the print version isn't ready yet, but my layout wuff, Alinsa, is working on it. There will be one! I'll announce it here/Twitter/fedi when it's available. This entry was originally posted at https://rowyn.dreamwidth.org/654065.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
content

October 2020 in Review

Health/Fitness
Avg calories eaten per day: 1,894*
Avg exercise per day: 194
Weight: 171.3
So the asterisk is for this reason: I have been eating the same meal for breakfast almost every day for the last year or two: cream of wheat mixed with nutella. I'd been estimating the calories in it because measuring nutella is annoying, and realized this month that my nutella consumption per meal was much higher than I'd accounted for. And my count for the calories in the milk had been wrong, too. The whole meal was 180 calories more than I was recording, which over the course of a year is a lot of error. Anyway, last month's adjusted calorie count is 1976 rather than the 1793 I put down.

In light of my revelation about the number of calories in my breakfast, I cut the portion size in half. This didn't save that many calories because I started snacking a little more, but it was still an improvement. Regardless: calories are down, exercise slightly up (which amazes me, because I felt as if I was never exercising anymore in October -- I went outside so rarely because it was cold and gloomy and sometimes snowy, and I am so little interested in Pokemon Go that I no longer even open it most days. But somehow I still managed to get some exercise on most days.) And weight is about the same. I am content.

Writing

I finished the outline for Angel's Grace and am happy with it, yay! That was important for my Nanowrimo goals.

After wrapping up the outline on October 9th, I returned to writing Demon's Alliance and got in another 15,600 words on it. Book is two-thirds done now.

I made notes for a couple of new ideas that I haven't started yet: one is an Alien Peace Lord Romance that I'd been threatening to do. There is a romance subgenre featuring Alien Warlords, and the premise is essentially the same as for the Scottish Laird and werewolf (and the old racist "Jungle Fever" one that I thankfully do not see these days) romance subgenres: you have a sexy alpha male who's all growly and untamed, and a woman who loves him and maybe tames him or maybe gets topped by him, very likely both for one definition of "topping" and "taming" or another.

Anyway, I am not very interested in the basic "sexy, wild, dangerous dude who always needs to be in charge" concept; the trope retains its sexist and racist roots. But I am amused by the idea of doing an "alien peace lord" as a variant on this concept, and making him a civilized member of a functional, sophisticated, high-tech society. I thought up a hook for it one night and wrote it down. I don't have a full outline for it yet, but it's something I might get to eventually. Or not, because honestly my "I'm tired of this Very Popular trope and would like to do something completely different" is 99% Just Me and a few of my friends, so the market for this is probably tiny.

Of course, I thought the market for my most successful book would also be tiny, so what do I know. Nothing. I am bad at marketing, y'all, gonna just write whatever I feel like and you can buy it or not, it's cool.

The other idea was inspired by the new dress-up game I started playing this month, and the working title is "The Twin-Souled Empress", about a young empress with various personal problems and oh also the empire is falling apart and she is not doing anything to prevent that. She turns to religion for help and gets possessed by a saint. It does not get less complicated from there. This would be a fantasy polyamorous romance with a lot of politics to it, a little like The Princess, Her Dragon and Their Prince but without any problems that can be conveniently solved by sufficient application of violence. Lots of thorny political problems that will be very challenging to solve at all, and an aura of impending doom. I am looking forward to this one.

The Business of Writing

I did some editing of The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady. I started an editing list, and completed two points on it. I still have nine to go. If I'd thought this all the way through, I would have finished editing in October instead of working on both editing and writing, since I'm unlikely to do much other than Nanowrimo in November. On the other hand, this Nano is going to have far more free time than I usually do -- no con in the middle, and no vacations either, just one staycation to kick off the month. So I might be able to do both? But probably not.

Art

I finished the portrait of Raven! It's nice. I should post it to Flickr so I can link it.

I did a little more work on the cover for Lord, and I also did some more random doodling. One of them is a semi-abstract tree that I rather like. I am trying to figure out if I can do something with the same kind of approach that would make for a good cover, or at least the backdrop for the cover, on some future book. Or existing book: I'd like to do new covers for the Etherium books in a different style, because I don't feel like the existing covers are good at drawing readers. Especially for The Moon Etherium, which is bad because The Moon Etherium is the first book in the series and therefore most needs a good cover.

Maintenance

My house is mostly painted! Work continues sporadically. I think he needs a taller/better ladder to reach some of the areas that are not yet painted, and the trim still needs to be done. It's slow progress, but pretty much all the old peeling spots now have new paint over them, so I'm not worried about it.

Christian Brothers Roofing did finally manage to cash my check, too. :D It cleared on October 6, I think.

Reading

Amazon's app tells me I missed one day this month, so "read at least a little of something new, almost every day" goal was accomplished. And I even finished a book!

In addition to finishing The Duke Who Didn't, I've read another 83 pages of India After Ghandi, which I will finish in another six months at this pace. c_c But I will probably pick another work of fiction to try. I have some Bujold novellas that I haven't read yet, for instance.

Gaming

Maggie, who got me hooked on Love Nikki a year and a half ago, got a new phone and her Love Nikki account password did not transfer over to it (unlike almost every other app). Love Nikki support responded with "that sounds like a 'you' problem." As far as we can tell, Love Nikki has no account recovery system whatsoever: lose your password (or get banned by Facebook, if your account is tied to Facebook), that's it, you're locked out forever.

I have not yet been locked out of Love Nikki, but this still substantially lowered my interest in playing Love Nikki, especially since I can't even remember setting a password for it, much less what that password is.

I have followed Maggie to a new, similar game: Dress Up! Time Princess, which I absolutely adore. Time Princess has some issues, which mostly boil down to "we have no clue how to monetize our product and are flailing around wildly in an effort to figure this out." So they do things like "oh no, it's too easy to progress in our game, people are leaving because they finished all the content. MAKE IT WAY HARDER!" and then "oh no, people are leaving because it's TOO HARD to progress in our game, what do we do??" They have far fewer clothing items than Love Nikki, and the purchasable clothing is rare and for the most part absurdly expensive. They had a single suit that was $400. Some people bought it. I can't imagine.

After a few days, I bought the $15 two-month "season pass", on the grounds that I love the game far more than Love Nikki and $7.50 a month is a perfectly reasonable entertainment value. Today, I spent another $5 because their wild flailing meant they put out a package that was obviously meant to be priced at $40 for $5, and I failed my resist roll.

In any case, I love the stories in this game (as evidenced by being inspired by one of them!) and I wish the devs success. And will not be spending $400 for a pixel outfit. Y I K E S.

Goal Scorecard for October: Assist Lut: Done! Did have a little more medical stuff this month. He had to go for a skeletal survey to see if his bones have gotten any weaker since the last one. Also had an annual check-up with the neurologist who manages the bi-pap for his sleep apnea. In one of those rare good moments of the pandemic, we were able to do that appointment by Zoom, so we didn't need to haul ourselves out of the house at 7:30 in the morning to get there. And the pre-check-up list of medications went much better with me doing it at home, because I could go into the kitchen and look at the bottles. I used to have all the names and doses in a list, but a few things have changed and the list is out of date now.
Finish Outline for Angel's Grace: Aw yiss I did it!
Reading Streak: I did that too!

Stretch Goal Scorecard for October

Oh wow I totally forgot I'd made this long list of stretch goals. Dear self, your list of things you want to do will probably be more useful if you glance at it now and again. Let's see how I did anyway!

Think about what to write after Angel's Grace: Hey, I did that one! Cool!
Make an editing list for Lord: Did that one too!
Sketch/draw once a week: I will give myself an honorable mention here. I missed one week, but I did finish a picture and I did some other drawing, so good work, me.
Finish the portrait of Raven: I did that too!
Keep up on reading Dreamwidth: I'm a few days back, but I haven't missed any posts because I fell more than two weeks back, so I'm counting this as successful.
Start keeping a to-do list: Eh, technical success? I've been making one and glancing at it now and again. I do not reliably do everything that's on it.

So the ones I didn't make at all are:

Finish editing The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady
Post a few times to Dreamwidth
Finish the cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady

This strikes me as a pretty good stretch goal completion rate, given my "I'll just lard on more stretch goals, why not?" attitude last month.

Goals for November
~ Assist Lut
~ Win Nanowrimo by writing 50,000 words: This will probably be "finish Demon's Alliance and start Angel's Grace" but if I hare off on a different book mid-month, that's fine. I am well past the point where I have anything to prove to anyone about focus and/or writing speed. n_n

Stretch Goals

None. Winning Nano is enough goal for any month. If I happen to do some other things, I can add them in as bonus accomplishments when I do my November write-up.

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studious

The Duke Who Didn't, by Courtney Milan

Oh hey I finished reading a book! 

It's amazing!

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

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

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

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