Friday, March 11, 2016

Not Time to Build an Ark Yet

This was not supposed to be my next free weekend.

Why do I bother making plans some times? I was supposed to go to Lafayette this weekend, but that was planned before Mother Nature unleashed severe weather to cause flash flooding and regular flooding on us. The paying job sent us home early Thursday and told us not to come in Friday, I canceled my plans for the weekend and treated myself to a normal bedtime. Meaning I set up on my cell phone and tried to go to sleep.

Only for the flash flood warnings from the National Weather Service to keep interrupting the program. Don't get me wrong, overall I like the warnings and think they are an excellent idea, but not when I'm trying to sleep. Not only did the emergency signal wake me up most of the time, it also just stopped the music. When my regular Friday alarms went off, I still had half of the eight-hour session to go.

Most of the major rain happened overnight and the system didn't stall over us like it did Texas and north Louisiana. The bad news is all the rain that north Louisiana got has to come down through us. Places that usually don't flood flooded this time and the rivers have just gotten started.

Unfortunately, I found leaks in my new roof. I called my roofers, but they're all flooded in too. They'll probably reach me Monday or Tuesday.

The rain eased up and I hit the yard to see how bad the water is around me. These two pictures show how high the creek and Natalbany River are behind the house. It's hard to see through the undergrowth, but the water is right there.

I had to rake out the ditch before I hiked down to see how bad the bridge was. It counted as my workout today. The black mounds are the leaves and pine straw that I pulled out of the water's way.

After that was done, I hiked down to the high water blocking the bridge and chatted with my neighbors down there and the DOTD worker and State Trooper that also swung by to check on us. The neighbors had used their vehicles to block their driveways because stupid motorists keep driving until it's obvious they can't go any further and then they peel out trying to turn around. That's bad enough, but they always fly down Pumpkin Center Road like it's the Interstate. Even with weather like this, even with knowing everything is flooding.

The water wraps around the back of the yellow house until it ends up across the street from my house.

My parents kept their weekend plans so now I have to take care of Mom's chickens. My dryer died last weekend, so that's going to make doing laundry interesting if it keeps raining. I need to pick up a few supplies and I hope I can reach a store tomorrow. And then I get to concentrate on Zy's Universe and the computer upgrades I need to do all day.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Friday, March 04, 2016

Skinny Little Book Got Me Thinking

So it's been a weird time at my house. Writing went kaput about mid-February. I sunk a lot of energy into the back bedroom demolition project, so I figured I just needed to recuperate from that. I learned from the 21 Day Primal Challenge in January that I wasn't getting enough sleep, so I figured writing energy would come back once I got that back under control. The low level stress from testing computer changes/updates at the paying job is having more of an effect than I thought but that can't last much longer, please deity over computer stuff. Between Mardi Gras and my birthday, I made poor food choices and that's why I feel like sluggish crap and don't want to write.

Of course NOT-writing leads to all the crappy feelings too. I did get one day of rough draft writing this past Wednesday. And it's possible that I've piled too many changes on myself all at once. Any ways, I came across some writing advice to churn out a smaller project when you're feeling stuck on the big one and that seemed like an excellent idea for this weekend. So I started a few blog posts to update on life things.

The shipments from my Amazon shopping spree have almost all trickled in (I'm still waiting for the most expensive book to come in next week). My new full spectrum sun lamp came in right before the box of a lot of new books and I switched it out for my regular lamp on the timer February 22nd. The idea behind it is to get 15 minutes of full spectrum light within two hours of getting up so you reset your circadian rhythms, which people who don't arrive at their paying jobs before dawn can get from the sun. I think it's helping me be sleepy at 8:30 p.m. I also started Brain FM to help me get a deeper sleep through the night and hopefully be able to use the Focus tunes to help me concentrate on writing. Only I lost the time to turn that on, lost the time to do chores, and have confirmed that I only have one pair of earbuds that do not fall out of my head when I sleep but still hurt after so many nights using them consistently. This weekend includes a trip away from home and without the stress of housework I'm hoping to rest and relax away whatever that has led to me yawning my head off all week. At this point, I don't know what it is but I'm yawning now so as soon as the focus music ends I'm going to bed.

Moving on, since I couldn't find any time to write and the paying job went through a deadline so I had more to do and couldn't use it to catch up, I pulled out one of the books I had bought on the Amazon shopping spree to read when I had some free time that wasn't getting spent on the manuscript: The Pursuit of Perfection and How It Harms Writers. I don't have a Kindle and just got the Kobo app for the new actual smartphone, so I bought the print book and was perplexed by the end product. "Ten bucks for a fifty page book, really?" It had been raved about on the Creative Penn podcast and my issues with perfectionism are plentiful, but I thought I got cheated.

I was wrong.

I ended up highlighting so much in this book, and I'm planning on prettying up some of the quotes with graphics for some motivational posters. But what I highlighted on page thirteen gave me a new spotlight on my writing issues.

Many writers don't believe what I just wrote, and that's fine. You need to define it four yourself. Set a limit on revision, set a limit on drafts, set a time limit. (My book must be done in August, no matter what.) Then release your book on the unsuspecting public. … At some point, you must simply let go of that book or story or play and move to the next. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch page 15
If you're following along on Discipline Under Fire you know I'm still working on the first draft of Strix: Forget the Sun. Stellar Gift of Death is waiting for edits, which it needs. So why did this piece speak to me so strongly that I needed to post about it? It brought into sharp focus the issue between my original fiction and my fanfiction.

Unleashing what I've written onto the unsuspecting public, I've gotten that down cold with fanfiction. When it comes to original fiction, I freeze up and go let it sit until it can become perfect and I move onto something else and just forget about it and all the anxiety buttons taking the next step hits. I've got plans and know the next steps I need to take, but I haven't forced myself into the stairwell yet.

The biochemical causes strengthening the Jerkbrain and how it relates to writing I identified already, but I didn't make any headway on my publication goals last year despite learning this information. So what else is under all this? Kristine Kathryn Rusch had this to say about my degrees:

So if we're not training writers to be professionals who make a living at their chosen career, what are we training them to be?


We're training critics and editors (kinda, but there are actual degree programs in editing/publishing) and professors. – page 26
After I became the ask-first-on-computer-issues-before-going-to-I.T. girl at the paying job, I made a joke of the situation. "If I had a time machine, I'd go back to tell myself to go major in computers and be making a whole lot more money now." Too bad Rusch published this analysis after I went back for my M.A. because not only would it have me consider a different major and keep writing on the side without Jerkbrain strengthened with critical tools, there's a few classes I may have performed better in knowing that they wanted a critic not a writer.

*Snort* I came to the same conclusion as Rusch back when I was in the thick of the classes. But I thought I would shake off that training because it didn't help me write. Well, it's obvious how well I did that by how much publishing success I've had since I earned my M.A. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret my education but I will have to work harder to overcome the mental blocks I have to releasing my words on the unsuspecting public.

It's not just the training of critics that is a problem. Rusch identifies two levels of harm done to writers; personal is "a God-given right [talent] versus a craft that can be learned [skill]" (page 39) and professional is concentrating so much on producing perfect work that a career in writing isn't possible due to a lack of stories. "Writers with this attitude never try to have a career because they believe a career is impossible. Therefore, the writer will do stupid things they would never do in their real life." (page 40)

The silver lining to my stalled writing output (measured by novels and stories out there to read) is that I haven't signed horrible publishing contracts or gotten scammed by a con artist posing as an agent or publisher.

So how does this change my plans for the year? Double checking my business plan on a page, I found that writing Strix: Forget the Sun was set as a secondary priority. First priority was establishing a dedicated writing hour, which has fallen apart and it's just now March, and establishing Zy's Universe as a series with new stories and editing what I already have written. I've ran across a new strategy for managing my writing time (fortunately because the paying job decided to get really strict on what we're doing in our cubicles so I can't count on making up time during their time), so I'm going to start implementing it next week. Next free weekend I have, I'm dedicating a day to Zy's Universe.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Back Bedroom Rehab Project Progress 3

I took a long break before I got back to the back bedroom rehab this weekend. In between posts, my new actual smartphone arrived so I took pictures with it. These were taken after cleaning everything off the ceiling and vacuuming the debris off the floor but before taking off the wall sheet rock. So you can see why I put the paneling up in the first place.

Here's some shots of the termite damage I found on the ceiling.

Started ripping sheet rock off at the door and found a few surprises. Surprise number one, the boards lifting the sheet rock off the flat pine boards. Surprise number two, was there a door into the kitchen? This piece of wood doesn't match the pine boards surrounding it and at the floor the 2"x2" that the sheet rock rested on is missing just at the spot. I questioned the parental units and neither one of them remembered a door or heard about a door. Surprise number three, an old termite nest in the corner.

Moved onto the back wall and that's where the termites had a subdivision. According to my parents, my great-grandmother had an issue with termites when she lived in my house that was treated and never had another issue. She died when I was eleven, so this damage is decades old. Luckily, the termites didn't want to eat the pine boards so yeah, I don't have to rebuild stuff holding up the roof. But they did eat off the paper-backing of the sheet rock, so the only thing holding this stuff together was the paint. It crumbles as soon as I pull it down.

I yanked out the spray foam repair I had made because a squirrel was pulling out all the insulation and found they had a back door into the room. I blocked it with cardboard for now until I can buy some wood to patch it properly.

Once I cleaned the back wall of sheet rock and termite dirt, I realized that I had planned to put my sewing machine against this one when I move back in. There's no electricity there. The only outlets in the room are the one under the window and one someone put in the light fixture. If you can tell from the photo, it looks like the fixture should hold three bulbs but only has two. The third prong ends in an outlet; never seen that before. I'd rather not have multiple extension cords, so I need to add more outlets. The sheet rock had been put flat on the back wall without any spacers and had been given a funky angle where the ceiling met the wall. New idea: put up a new wall in front of the outer back wall to get rid of that angle and to give me room for the electric. Plus I can add insulation against the back wall that nothing will want to build a nest in.

The last wall proved interesting. The window trim had been installed properly on top of the sheet rock, which surprised the hell out of me. I managed to get off without damaging it. The spacers behind the sheet rock turned out to be 2"x4"s. And there was this lizard creature that wasn't having any luck running away and hiding from my destruction of its hiding places. But I got it off before full dark. At this point the lack of interior insulation wasn't surprising me; the back bedroom and kitchen were never constructed with the same care as the rest of the house. See the visible gold between the pine boards?

That is the back of the aluminum siding that covers my house. The exterior of a house is supposed to be wrapped in a vapor barrier or some kind of moisture protection. I was thinking tar paper, given how long the siding has been up. No such luck.

So insulation of some type all around the room is now added to the rehab project. Since I have a lot of weekends already planned with things that are not the rehab project, I'm guesstimating my finish time for the end of April. Depending on how much supplies cost.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Happy Mardi Gras 2016

This was the parade I got today when I left the house around noon.

Our flock of wild turkeys! They nest in the creek bottom behind my house and have been coming up in our yards to eat grass or bugs in the grass. For those not familiar with these birds when they're alive, the tall lean ones are the hens and the tom is the one with the spreading tail feathers. And my cat Mustard stalking forward, the idiot. And then standoff in the third picture, which soon had four of the hens watching my cat. I finally got him away from them before bloodshed.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Back Bedroom Rehab Project Progress 2

I didn't keep great notes or photos for the work I did in January. I do remember doing an Internet search to learn that once paneling warps there is no way to flatten it back out. All of it was covered in mildew, so yanking out was the way to go. I started with the sheet rock on the ceiling and got what was left up there down.

And then the camera started being a butt again, so I didn't take any pictures of tearing off the paneling. But I found old termite damage on the ceiling, so the scope of the project expanded. The rest of the sheet rock need to come down so I can see if there is any structural damage to the wood holding up the roof.

Plenty of nasty stuff hit the floor, so I borrowed my parents' shop vac for the duration. Oh boy, I'm going to be so spoiled going back to the regular vacuum cleaner. I'm so tempted to clean the whole house with the shop vac.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Force Awakens

Once, a few decades ago, here in this galaxy… my father took me to see Return of the Jedi in the theater. So when the Force Awakens was given a December 2015 release date, it was inevitable as a Sith apprentice killing his master that I was taking him to it for Christmas. We went Saturday Dec. 19th and it has taken me this long to blog about it. :p

And here's the obligatory warning for spoilers and relentless gushing of my first fandom. Turn back at the Death Star and proceed back to hyperspace.

Monday, January 04, 2016

2015 My Year In Fic

2015 My Year in Fic

2015 Fiction Word Count

Progress Bar from Writertopia

This year was interesting. It seems like I forgot my plans halfway through the year and then lost that time. And I did this while having the plans plastered eye-level at my desk right where I couldn't miss them.

It also explains why after I wrapped up edits around November, I got that restless antsy feeling. Luckily, a conversation with a friend made me remember that Strix: Forget the Sun was outlined and ready to write, so I dived into its rough draft to make the antsy go away. But it was only this week as I pulled my trackers and metrics together that I realized I hadn't wrote anything since May!

Yeah, I'm lucky I didn't go bonkers on people way earlier than that. Other changes to this year: working on the laptop. In all honesty, I can't point to more words written as proof of improvement and there was a time period where I didn't pull it out while at the paying job (crossing fingers that the layoff merry-go-round is finished for the next four years at least). But overall, I think it helps not having my progress ground to a screeching halt whenever I travel. We'll say 2015 was my learning year and see what my results are in 2016.

Stories I Finished:

Signs and Portents: Trinity was finished and published at the Library, AO3, and

Part of the Night: The One Rule is posted at the Library. My edits are done for it to go up at and new copy is ready to go up at AO3.

Part of the Night: The Wayne Legacy is posted at the Library. My edits are done for it to go up at and new copy is ready to go up at AO3.

Stories I Didn't Finish:

Strix: Forget the Sun counts here because I picked it up again. The Zy's Universe counts here because I dropped it so utterly.

My favorite story this year: Signs and Portents: Trinity. It's a Man of Steel fix-it fic, but I love the little things in it so much. And the flash mob reenacting "Welcome Christmas."

Story most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion: Signs and Portents: Trinity hasn't gotten the reviews that other stories in the series had, but the reader I dedicated it to saw it so it's all good.

Most fun story: The Wayne Legacy, I had so much fun Nolan-izing the Batman canon.

Stories I wrote that I never thought I'd write: Signs and Portents: Trinity took me way too long to come up with a framework for the story.

Hardest story to write:

Biggest disappointment: That I forgot about Zy's Universe.

Biggest surprise: Having gone from May to December without writing anything.

Looking back, did you write more fic than you thought you would, less, or about what you predicted? WAY less.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them? I learned how to best use my laptop.

Did you meet last year's goals?

  • Reach 130,000 words in the stories in Zy's Universe. -- I never finished my read-throughs and didn't get to edits.
  • Submit a horror short story to an anthology. -- I must have missed all the deadlines for this.
  • Finish The Wayne Legacy -- Done, except for posting at
  • Finish the last story in the Signs and Portents series -- Done
  • Post 12 updates to Facebook -- I set this one up to get over my dislike of using Facebook. Yeah, that didn't work.
  • Post regularly to Intentionally Left Blank -- That just didn't work but I'm not sure why.
  • Make changes to the BookWorm's Library -- Okay, I did do these.

Do you have any goals for the coming year? The goals from my 2016 one-page business plan are:

  • Reach 130,000 words in the stories in Zy's Universe.
    • Edit Stellar Gift of Death to a draft ready for beta reading
    • Edit "Words of Parting" according to the feedback I got
    • Edit "Blue Man on the Porch" to a draft ready for beta reading
    • Write a short story on Xeryl's background
    • Write the Ail 12 on vacation case that ended in a shootout (new take on the "Case of the Hideous Medallion")
    • Plot two sequels to Stellar Gift of Death
    • Begin writing the next novel in the series
  • Finish rough draft of Strix: Forget the Sun
  • Establish a dedicated writing hour
  • Post 12 updates on Facebook. Proving I am a glutton for punishment, this is back on the list. But I did give myself an out by just cross posting stuff I wrote in the blog.
  • Post regularly to Intentionally Left Blank
  • Redevelop FanFiction Garret -- Basically it died because I couldn't keep the back end updated. I've got new tools now, and it's also lowest on the list of priorities here.

Here's to 2016. It can only get better.

Read Free!
The BookWorm