Around the Block

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 02:25 pm
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
I haven't been able to write a word for... I don't know how long. Too long. Even the easy thing (Green Ring) won't move forward. (I suspect Green Ring may be at about the 1/3 point, because it's that kind of stuck. But nothing else wants to move, either.) It seems to be a focus issue; I can sit and stare at the screen, but the work just slithers out from under my attention like a wet bar of soap.

The only thing that I've gotten words on at all lately (usually when I'm trying to sleep and am pinned under a cat and can't reach a pen anyway) is something that's about fifth down the to-write list, and I've got more than enough on the front burners already. But it was the only words I've gotten lately, so yesterday I went ahead and started The Kitten Case.

It's fighting me, too, in patchy and absurd ways. (Really? Afternoon or morning? You're going to hang up for half an hour over that?) I had to skip past the opening scene to when developments start happening, and will have to go back and fill in character-establishing later -- perhaps much later. But words did happen, and I even like some of them.

I'm not as happy as I would normally be about producing really quite a decent chunk of words, because I'm afraid this too is going to go thus far and stop dead on me. I'm trying to cash in on some of the NaNo-productivity from a few years ago; I'm working on the "work" laptop, and trying to treat it as work: get up, sit down at desk, produce. Wash rinse repeat. And cobbling together something like the NaNo progress chart that I liked so much. We'll see if it works.

'Cause something has to.
lizvogel: text: I have more userpics on Dreamwidth (more userpics on Dreamwidth)
There's no way you can tell somebody "Your problem isn't important enough to fix", no matter how nice you try to be about it, that isn't going to leave them feeling like a second-class citizen.

I'm trying to suppress the rant about "upgrades" that break things that used to work fine, and standard support policies of "it's your browser, not our code." The pang of interacting with the site under these circumstances is harder to suppress. I expect I'll get used to it eventually; life, after all, is full of pangs. But the last three things I thought about posting here were panged to death.

I bought a permanent account the last time they offered them, because I hoped to make Dreamwidth my forever home, social-media wise. Now it feels more like a party at which I'm tolerated, but not particularly welcome.

Cat Haiku

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 12:11 pm
lizvogel: cute cat in 'yoga' position (Cat Yoga)
Pink flash in water
Rainbow arc gleams in sunlight
Milo is drinking

Gleaming in the sun
Depth of fur with diamond tips
Milo in sunbeam

The Sickie Posts

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 06:26 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
No sooner do I get Chapter 2 moving in something that feels like it might possibly be the right direction, than I come down with the Cold From Heck. Not Hell; I've felt worse, but my nose is aspiring to emulate Victoria Falls and I'm definitely running a fever. My ambition for anything beyond lying on the couch with a paperback I've read before is decidedly curtailed. Though I did somehow manage to pick up whole wheat instead of white when I was at the store for supplies the other day, so maybe I'm sicker than I thought. ;-)

In other news, I neglected to mention here that I tried out a new writers group last week. It's through the local library, and seems to have potential; at least, it's using a methodology I prefer (distribute & mark-up in advance, free-ish discussion in person). And they're open to genre, for all that the two pieces up for critique were both lit-fic. I didn't exactly find myself among my tribe, but there were some intelligent things being said. (There was also some gender-essentialism on the topic of writing characters whose plumbing doesn't match the author's, but I decided not to die on that hill when I hadn't read the piece under discussion. And what might be an established-writer-tells-how-to-write vibe, but it was mild enough that I'm willing to see how it plays out long-term.) Anyway, I figure I'll give it a try for a few months and see how it goes.

Assuming I'm ever well enough to leave the house again. Ghah, where's the kleenex?
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Where bought: Foods For Living

Good aroma, a little tangy.

Solid texture, snaps crisply but melts readily once you start chewing.

Flavor is a little tart, smooth and sweet. Fills the mouth nicely. Aftertaste has beaney overtones, suggests that more would be a good idea.

Overall: What can I say? It's Dagoba. Good, reliable chocolate; not the best ever, but definitely in the upper percentiles.
Green Ring: 565
A Cold Day In Spells: 1410
Falling From Ground: 1
old-mission stories: 2428
Haley mission story: 1

Total new words in February: 4405

Well over quota (3000 words), though I could wish it wasn't so dependent on the old-mission stories. They're feeling more and more like fanfic for my own stuff, and fanfic doesn't count for quota purposes. (Also, that number includes the two four-digits bursts, and while those are great, the purpose of the quota is to encourage steady work, which I definitely did not do.)

Still, it's words, which is good.

The one word of beta-editing on FFG doesn't really qualify as "some of it had better be on the Mars novel", but I have been poking at it a bit, and I've at least devised a revision strategy that feels promising. Now I just need to apportion some time and concentration to put it to work.

Having said elsewhere that I wasn't going to manage the AAR database trawl, I promptly went and did it after all. It was discouraging at first to see how many names I recognized (and had therefore already tried), but there turned out to be a decent list of new prospects. And I did query 1 agent, albeit not one from that list.

Submitted 2 stories. Doing fairly well at keeping things out there. I've got two that are "resting" right now, one of which I'm running out of places to send; I may just hang onto it until the market I should have sent it to last year opens up again in a few months.

So, all told, quotas met, goals reasonably approximated. Not bad for a month when real life is so determinedly kicking me.

For March: I'm gonna say 3500 words, because I need to start getting the numbers back up but real life isn't going to let up any time soon. Get the Mars novel moving again, at least to the point of figuring out what Chapter 2 should look like and getting some new words done on it. Start researching/querying the agents from the AAR list. Keep putting stories out there until some editor comes to their senses and buys 'em.
lizvogel: cute cat in 'yoga' position (Cat Yoga)
Milo, our eldest boy and the world's most amiable cat, the one who adopted us in no uncertain terms, has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. That's one of the nasty ones; inoperable, and isn't much impressed by chemo or radiation. Our vet gives him weeks, maybe months, but definitely not the years we expected to have.

We've got an appointment with an oncologist on Thursday, but it's more of a due diligence thing than anything we expect to give us a different answer.

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Couldn't let today pass without the one thing that justifies this day's existence. ;-) (Or is that every day?)

Fearless Super Seeds Crunch 70% Cacao

Where bought: Foods For Living

Awesome name & amusing packaging, with a bite-shaped corner cut-out to represent the portion of their proceeds donated to good causes.

Smells a little dry, sharp; not bad.

Crumbly texture, though that's at least partly due to the seeds (hemp, chia, flax, & sunflower) generously mixed in. Little crunchy bits somewhat reminiscent of really authentic raspberry jam. Neither dry nor smooth in texture, but somewhere in between.

Good standard dark-chocolate taste, a little tart (unless that's the seeds), not super-rich but definitely present. Interesting chiaroscuro of flavors from the seeds; not strong, but complex. Satisfying in surprisingly small quantities. Feels very nutritious!

Overall: Entertaining, would buy again. Great way to get flax seeds.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Finally got to listen to the final episode(s) of Cabin Pressure. Yay! (Thank you, *cough*othersources*cough*.) Things worked out the way I predicted, though the way they worked out was not something I ever would have anticipated. Part 1 of Zurich seemed a little filler-y to me on first listen, but Part 2 rolled along nicely. Not sure anything could have lived up to the anticipation, really, but I came out of it happy at the end. And I find myself wanting to listen to it again today, so it must be pretty good.

As anticipated, there is a complete series box set available, and as hoped, there's enough extra goodies on it to make it worth buying even if one, er, already has the base material. For those who object to *cough*othersources*cough*, rest assured this'll be going on my wish list.

Oh, come on!

Monday, February 9th, 2015 01:49 pm
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
Having a terribly efficient morning after cranking out another 1000+ words last night, and the next task up is to get one of the two currently "resting" stories submitted. So I turn on the computer...

...and there in my in-box is a rejection. Really? You can't even wait until I get one of the others sent off?

I swear, the universe has a "Reject Me Now" light that goes on every time I think seriously of my submissions spreadsheet. I know it's not supposed to be easy, but man, this is getting old.

ETA: And just for that, I sent two stories out. And now I'm going to go have a nice hot shower and then see if I can't write some more. So take that, universe.


Sunday, February 8th, 2015 01:42 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
1090 words this morning.

I like writing action scenes. I don't know why I don't do more stories involving more of them. They're easy, they're fun, and what feedback I have indicates they come out pretty good. And yet, even the stories I do that are centered around a fight scene are really more about the fall-out from the action than the action itself. Which is also the fun part, granted. But it does make me long for an all-action-all-the-time story, however much that would be a yin without its yang.

Still, nearly 1100 words. I feel a bit guilty counting these old-mission stories toward pay-copy quota, since I really don't know how well they work separately from the novel, but the idea is there. And the word count ain't peanuts.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Ever wondered what 4th Street Fantasy is like? Imagine a three-day version of this Jo Walton article crossed with a really raucous game of Cards Against Humanity, with occasional breaks for very good food.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Haley mission story: 1811
Green Ring: 1222
A Cold Day In Spells: 482

Total new words in January: 3515

Queries sent: 1 (and three ruled out)

All quotas achieved! And the revised target of 3000 words handily passed with a generous margin. Had to push a bit at the end of the month for that, but not ridiculously so. And the Haley story is done, and in the hands of the housemate for critique.

Also, I submitted 4 stories! Or rather, I submitted stories 4 times; some of them were the same stories. (That prompt-response thing has its drawbacks.) My goal of keeping all submittable stories out there is going pretty well; only one story is "resting" right now.

For February:

3000 words, at least some of which had better be on the Mars novel.

Extract agent lists from the AAR database.

Keep all short stories that are ready for it in circulation until somebody buys 'em.

Queryitis Recurs

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 02:57 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I tried to send a query yesterday, I really did. Of the five agents left in my worth-considering bookmarks, the first two were both at agencies I'd previously decided against (one not a good fit for various reasons, the other... well, let's just say that's not an organization I want to work with). The individual agents themselves may be fine, but, just no.

The third, it turned out I'd already queried. (Sigh, brains. I have a system, I just didn't quite finish using it.) And the fourth, the agency had a lot of small marks against it, culminating in a blanket "no sci-fi" policy that just rubbed me the wrong way. Sigh. At that point, I decided I'd better just go to bed, and give the last one a fair shake tomorrow.

Now it's tomorrow, and luckily, the last one looks okay. So, query sent!

And the bookmark list is empty. I may have to schedule that date with the AAR database again.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Mac Bar I'm Getting Pistoffeed (Dark Chocolate, Pistachios, Toffee)

Where bought: Not sure. Wasn't anywhere fancy; maybe Meijer?

Not much aroma; what there is is generically chocolatey.

Lovely smooth texture, nice thick bar to sink your teeth into. Very slight crunch from pistachios & toffee (mostly the toffee).

Satisfyingly rich. The toffee and pistachio presence is minimal for a bar "raging" with them, but they're reasonably well represented in the overall taste. The chocolate is thoroughly dark but still creamy; it almost has a hint of mocha to it. Wonder if that's from the toffee?

Overall: Very good. Would buy again.
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
Sun on frosted trees
Waiting for trash truck to come
Kitten wants outside

Bright, snow-silent woods
Crunch of feet, cry of birds -- squirrel!
Kitten loves outside

Toes like cubes of ice
Scary noises, dogs, humans
Kitten is hiding

Waiting under fence
Just come 'round, Mom, I'm right here!
Kitten comes to me

And one for yesterday, because that's how all kitten walks should end:

Rolling on the porch
Little nose has sniffed its fill
Kitten comes inside

Send Chocolate

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 03:14 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Hey, want to really depress the crap out of yourself? Decide it's time to clean out your email account, and copy & save a bunch of your old query efforts. With accompanying responses, of course.

I'm going to go take a nice, hot shower now.
lizvogel: text: I have more userpics on Dreamwidth (more userpics on Dreamwidth)
I sat down to do some story-submitting today, with a brief detour into reading Dreamwidth. (Bad habit, I know, but there it is.) One of the first things on my reading list was the latest news post. Now, I'll admit, I braced a little (conditioned response from many other sites, where every "improvement" is an annoyance at best), but the truth is, with Dreamwidth's changes I usually click through and go, "Well, that can be worked with." Sometimes I'm even pleasantly surprised.

So I look at the new stuff, and what do I get? Outright broken functionality, and an aesthetic road accident. (Two, in fact.) Senior staff, who are usually reasonably responsive to complaints and try to make things work for everyone as best as possible, are giving a general gist of "Well, people wanted it like that, and you just don't like change," along with occasionally blaming the user's browser settings. Users are pleading for a custom CSS option and suggesting script tricks to turn some of the new stuff off; some of it, there's just no way around it.

Which all sounds unpleasantly familiar. It sounds like LiveJournal, and the reason why I abandoned LiveJournal as my primary platform (and rarely make it over there at all any more, unless I have a comment). As a fellow ex-pat put it, we were spending all our time finding ways around the latest "upgrades" instead of enjoying the content, and that's not supposed to be the point of the exercise.

And here I am: I've lost two hours to writing feedback comments and bug reports, and I'm shaking with unchanneled adrenaline. This is not what I come to Dreamwidth for, folks! I come here for relaxing reading and the occasional stimulating conversation, not to flush my afternoon testing broken things and protesting ghastly design decisions, and having those protests fall on largely deaf ears.

I really hope this is a temporary aberration, and not a sign of things to come. C'mon, Dreamwidth. You're better than this.
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
What is it with submissions, that every time I send something out, it signals the universe to bounce something else back? Seriously, I sent out a story at the beginning of the year; two days later, something else got rejected. Yesterday, I sent out two stories, and whammo, this morning there's a rejection on something else in my inbox.

One of my goals is to keep every story that's submittable out in slush-land. But I swear, I'm getting tempted to hold something back, just so the universe will keep everything else in what I can pretend is active consideration.




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