lizvogel: an old-school DOS prompt, with "Retro" in pixelated green italics (DOS Prompt Retro)
For Reasons, I prefer to write on rather elderly laptops; we're talking internal 3.5" drives and no "brick" on the power cord, here. On the plus side, I can usually get these free from folks who are only too happy to get them out of the closet or the basement. On the down side, they're often on their last pins when I get them, and... well.

It seems my latest elderly machine has finally given up the ghost. The screen has always been a bit flaky, but now it's just a blank glow, and none of the usual tricks or wiggles or thumps will help. RIP, I'm afraid. To add mockery to frustration, the back-up machine which I've been meaning to set up for a while seems to have died on the shelf; it worked when friends gave it to me some time ago, but now it's unresponsive to much of its keyboard and it won't boot. So I currently have no designated writing computer. I can work on newer machines, including the one I'm typing this on, so I'm not completely paralyzed, but it's just one more hurdle in a process that's already quite difficult enough, thank you.

Anybody out there got an old laptop they'd like to part company with? Requirements include working screen, keyboard, hard drive, and 3.5" floppy drive. A working battery is nice, but I've done without before.

(Please note: I'm not interested in anything that "just needs to have _____ repaired, and then it'll be fine" or "it doesn't boot, but I'm sure you could fix it!" I understand the impulse, but I've already got more broken computers than I can store. Functioning machines only, please.)

My next task is to go through my hefty stash of old machines and sort out what should just go for recycling, what to keep for parts, and what might be worth trying to fix. I've tended to keep everything for parts thus far, but that works a lot better in theory than in practice, and I really am out of storage space.

(Smartass comments about how I should just use modern hardware and software are not welcome. If you can't cope with the fact that I don't use what everybody else uses, you can post your objections straight to /dev/null.)

Blinded by the Light

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 09:34 am
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
One of the problems with getting up early to run is that much of my route is east/west, and so I'm running straight into the sun. I may have to find a pair of sunglasses I can run in.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Dagoa Beaucoup Berries (74% Dark Chocolate)

Where bought: Foods For Living

Nice bitter-dark aroma, not too strong but with depth.

Hard, almost crunchy texture. Very faint hint of chewiness from the berries as the chocolate melts.

Mostly chocolate flavor, bittersweet dark, with a subtle tang from the cranberries and cherries. Can't really pick up the vanilla directly, though there is a supporting richness that might be laid at its feet.

Overall: Good, pleasant, not especially exciting but perfectly acceptable.
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
I finally started running again this morning. I've been wanting to for a while; the ankle I sprained is mostly back to normal, and, well, the summer's not getting any longer. So, pick a day and start, which I did.

Still not in danger of breaking any speed records, and I'm more or less back to the beginning of the Couch-to-5K schedule. But I can already feel the body responding to the new demands, and I definitely felt the beautiful feeling of doing one thing and one thing only, and not being able to drop it in the middle for anything else that thought it ought to be getting done. Ahhhhh.

As always, the hardest part is making myself do all the stretching. Stretching is boring, it takes time I don't feel like I have, and it can't be rushed. It's also the difference between a satisfying, invigorating run, and an agonizing, shin-splinty mess that I can't sustain. So I do it.

Onward.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I came up with another new novel idea yesterday/night before. It's somewhere between litfic and romance, which is not my usual thing at all. But in the course of one evening's I-should-be-sleeping musing, I got the whole story line, including what feels like key scenes for all the major turning points; I even remembered most of it the next morning. You don't argue with that.

...I may need to learn Italian.

Or at least find a really good consultant who knows Italian. Aside from language skills I don't have, this one will involve lots of Italian architecture and culture and such. An interesting side-effect of being a writer: I've never been all that interested in Italian language or culture beyond the basic of foreign travel = neat, but now I find myself half in love with it, because these characters are. My housemate tells me that normal people don't do this.

This is the third new novel idea I've come up with in the past couple of weeks. And that's not counting the couple of short story ideas that have cropped up in the same period of time. If my brain were half as focused on the thing it's supposed to be working on as it is on creating shiny new distractions I can't work on for ages yet, I'd be done by now.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Didn't realize I'd skipped this last month, but then, June had other things going on. So, another double header!

June:

Green Ring = 201

Short stories submitted = 2


July:

original short fiction = 435
Falling From Ground = 2522
Total new words in July = 2957

Short stories submitted = 3

A decent show at getting back on the horse, I think. Also, FFG has now topped the 10K line again, which is nice. Hopefully it's with words that'll stay this time.


For August, I don't want to get too hard-core yet for fear that upping the pressure will shut down the flow, but a soft target of 3000 words should be feasible. And I really should get back to querying.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I've been getting out in the workshop again lately. Nothing fancy, just some bracing for the saggy-but-comfortable couch and the much saggier armchair, but it's been needing to be done forever. I'd almost forgotten the satisfaction of making something with my hands, the almost meditative process of cutting and shaping. It's a shame my work will be invisible to anyone who doesn't go around lifting up couch cushions, because for what it is, I made it beautiful.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I've come up with two new novel ideas in the past few days. Saturday, full of pierogi and sunburn, I got an idea for the early Department novel I've been wanting to write, with one of the tertiary characters from Highway of Mirrors. It's maybe not the most stunningly original plot-line ever, but it will allow me to do lots of stuff with the early formation of the Department and bring in lots of backstory on this character, which is what the book's actually about; the plot is just to hang all that on. ;-) Then a couple days ago, a song that I've been listening to rather a lot, thinking there's a story in there somewhere, suddenly clicked, and a whole new scenario+plot grabbed my neurons. It's a sort-of fairytale retelling, except it's several fairy tales thrown into a blender and by the time I'm done messing about with the results, I doubt the sources will be recognizable beyond a couple of scenes. And it's still trying to take over my brain, most reluctant to wait its turn.

Meanwhile, I feel like I'm getting some traction on Falling From Ground again. Frustrated with not being able to keep the flow of the chapters-so-far in my head, I sat down and did a paragraph-by-paragraph outline of what I'd written. It's incredibly tedious, but if anything'll get the details of a piece into one's head, that will. And it made clear that the reason the text felt like an incoherent mess was that it was flopping from one thing to another and back again; my character established that he had to know X to be able to figure out Y and Z, then proceeded to spend pages speculation about Y and Z without yet knowing X. Luckily, once the problem was identified and pinned down, it was easy to fix; I moved a chunk, tweaked a couple of sentences, and voila, relatively coherent flow. I also finally yielded and tried the post-it note method for organizing what happens next in what order and what needs to go along with it. It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but somehow it made it all seem much more logical and coherent. So I'm still doing the same thing I planned on, but I feel a lot better about it now. ;-) I think the story is more focused now, both on paper and in my head, and that's something it badly needed.

I hope I'm not jinxing it by saying all this. There's still plenty of work to do, and I'm still at the stage of cutting up salvage text and stitching it in where it'll be more use. (I've got a great scene of my character being followed that no longer makes any sense whatsoever in the early part of the book; I'll have to see if I can fit it in later.) I'm beginning to want a dedicated writing space just so I can pin things to the walls, though I suspect that wouldn't work out well long term.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Endangered Species Sea Salt & Lime Creme Filled 72% Dark Chocolate

Where bought: Foods For Living

Aroma is sharp, slightly bitter intense dark chocolate.

Texture is hard, snapping over creamy center. Melts nicely in the mouth once thoroughly chewed.

Flavor is milder than I expected; the lime kind of builds up over time, and the sea salt is more of a quiet suggestion. Chocolate itself is a good standard semi-sweet.

Overall: Pleasant, but not as exciting as it sounded. Would buy again if in the right mood.

I hate revising

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 02:28 pm
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
Am revising the first couple chapters of Falling From Ground per feedback from the 4th Street Workshop. Primarily, I've moved the "big punch" scene from the end of Chapter 1 to about a third of the way in; both the people who liked the chapter overall and the people who didn't thought that bit could come earlier, and since I'd been tempted to put it earlier in the first place, that seems like a reasonable change. It made a heckuva chapter ender, but I think it'll grab more folks here, and some other things will be stronger for having it happen first. Once I get everything adjusted to accommodate the change, of course, and also fix the really screwed-up stuff that the workshop didn't see because it's in Chapter 2, and get the focus properly focused, and....

I hate revising. I particularly hate this revision, and I know why: I'm stopping each time not because I'm done with a particular bit, not because I've written a satisfactory number of words, but because my brain is full to overflowing and the story-so-far is turning to gibberish inside my head. Which means I'm walking away from each session feeling like the story is an incoherent mess and I've just been pushing text around in circles.

(Even if, in reality, it's getting better. I hope it's getting better. I'm at the point where I've had to give what I've got so far to the alpha-reader, to get a perspective check if I'm on the right track at all.)

Down and Fourthed

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 11:27 am
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I had grand plans to write up a detailed and insightful post about 4th Street today. This was thwarted by the kitten waking me up at 8:30 this morning. (I rolled into the driveway at about 2:30 a.m.) Five hours of sleep is generous by my during-4th-Street standards, but as a post-con recovery sleep it is deeply inadequate, and now my brain is pudding.

It was a good con. Highlight as always was hanging out with fun people having interesting conversations. Highlight other than that was definitely the workshop, which went very well from both an organizer and a participant perspective. I'm delighted it's over (tired!), but I'm delighted we did it. Throughout the weekend, I had a great time hanging out with the usual suspects, and also with some of the intermediate-writer crowd, where we talked about stuff and writing and other stuff and writing and more stuff and how it interrelated with writing and stuff.

And now, some disjointed remarks, because pudding.

If last year was Chaos Con, this year was Kerfuffle Kon. Mainly they were localized kerfuffles, though, and they mostly got settled (as much as a kerfuffle ever gets settled, anyway), and didn't need to spill over into anyone else's enjoyment.

It's a truism that I never have the conversations I anticipate having at 4th Street. (I have other cool and fascinating conversations instead.) This year, it extended to panels; the couple I was side-eyeing and thinking I'd better sit near the door for turned out to be fascinating and engaging, whereas the couple I was keenest on didn't connect with me. The writing panel on "How To Play The Cards You Ain't Been Dealt" particularly left me cold, which leads directly to:

I need a translation algorithm, or possibly several. My writing process is non-standard, on almost every axis you can think of. This is frustrating and leaves me odd-man-out in process discussions, but it also means that when I'm trying to learn a bit I don't have, people keep giving me advice or tips that just don't fit. They're handing me a piece for my jigsaw puzzle, but I'm playing with Legos.

My workshop manuscript seems to have nailed my target audience pretty well; unfortunately, I severely underestimated how narrow a niche that is. Contemplation required.

The driving there and back was pretty good. A few bouts of really stupid traffic and a lot of construction, and a poorly timed encounter with one major city's rush hour, but on the other hand, hardly any weather; a few spats of rain, but no thunderstorms and certainly no tornadoes. Getting gas on the way back turned into an epic saga, but I know where the failure point was. (Edgerton, dammit. If not before, Edgerton.)

Arrived at con ridiculously early. Woke up ridiculously early most mornings, too, including Monday; I was moved out and checked out before most people were stirring. The one day I didn't wake up ridiculously early, the shrieking children actually proved quite useful. Note to self: just put the travel alarm in 24-hour mode. (Yes, I did it again.)

Good food was consumed, good talk was talked, good times were had.

The cats were startled but happy to see me last night. After I'd gone upstairs with the intention of going to bed, Ember brought a toy all the way up the stairs to present to me. Awwww.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I am packed enough that I feel like I should be leaving today, because that would mean I had just enough time to do the last few things in a mad, frantic scramble before leaving only an hour or two later than planned.

In fact, I'm leaving tomorrow, and I have enough time to do the last few things in a sane and reasonable manner, provided I don't dawdle. This is confusing the hell out of me.

The housemate will be home with the cats, so I only feel mildly guilty about going at all. The biggest challenge at this point is trying to coordinate my departure time with the weather; my ideal schedule, cunningly devised to avoid all rush hours at all major metropolitan areas I pass, threatens to put me in the path of some very nasty forecasted weather at some very inconvenient points. I'm considering leaving rather earlier and sitting out the storms at various points as needed.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Coconut Secret Peruvian Crunch 70% Dark with Toasted Coconut

Where bought: Foods For Living

Sharp, intense aroma that goes straight to the back-brain.

Texture is hard, crumbly with little bits of coconut and possibly coconut crystals. Chews well, melts quickly.

Intense, bittersweet flavor shot through with little bursts of coconutty sweetness. They blend better than that makes it sound, though, giving all the intensity of dark chocolate without any bitter or sour tones. Very good. Aftertaste is toasty-warm but also sort of tingly.

Overall: Very nicely put-together. Have to be in the right mood for toasted coconut, but when I am, would definitely buy again.

Sugar Status

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 11:41 am
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So it turns out that the empty box from a Toblerone is the perfect thing to prop the large frosting bowl at an angle for scooping out the last of the frosting. Given what I usually listen to while frosting cookies, this amuses me greatly.


Once again, I am reminded that for all the astonishing amount of time this takes, the immediate limiting factor is actually the number of cooling racks we have, and the shortage of places to put them. I could get a lot more cookies done now if I had anything to put them on, or anywhere to put that thing once they were on it.


ETA: It's looking like I'm going to get cookies done for the workshop, but not for the con as a whole. I still have an amazing amount to do (both RL and my own con-prep), and there just isn't time.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
This is just here for the record; not much to show for the past couple months.

April:

Haley novel = 38 (I managed to work in a line I really liked and hadn't previously been able to find a place for.)
original short stories = 15
Total new words in April = 53

Queries sent = 1

Looking back at goals, I did get my taxes done. And the flu is gone, though there is a trace of a lingering cough that I'll be very glad to see the back of.


May:

Falling From Ground = 40
original short stories = 184 (incl. more clown history!)
Total new words in May = 224

There were also a couple quick edits on ...And The Kitchen Sink that didn't actually change the word count.

Short stories submitted = 2


What can I say? I've rather had my mind on other matters lately.


I'm not setting targets for June, either; still getting my feet under me from real-life matters. I've an unaccustomed amount of critiquing to do; got the stuff for the library group done just in time, and now there's the 4th Street workshop coming up. I have been fiddling with some living-room fanfic lately, which is a nice low-demand way to ease back into writing. And I poked at Green Ring a little the other night.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat as necessary.

R.I.P. Milo

Saturday, May 30th, 2015 06:10 pm
lizvogel: cute cat in 'yoga' position (Cat Yoga)
A little over ten years ago, a scruffy yearling cat stood on our porch and said, "I live here now. Let me in!"

Today, we said goodbye.

Milo was the world's most amiable cat: laid-back, mellow, but always wanting to be involved in whatever was going on. Smart, brave, and affectionate, he loved muzzle rubs and rump pats and that spot at the base of the tail that induces caltitude. He could velcro himself to a lap before you'd quite finished sitting down, and he had an amazing ability, if he wasn't sitting on you already, to identify end-credit music and ensconce himself immovably on your lap so you had to sit and watch another three episodes. He loved food, and his adopted sister (and his big and little brothers, past and present), and catnip, and us.

Yesterday we had a lovely morning sitting outside in the sun, followed by an extended multi-stage afternoon nap on the nice cool living room carpet, with his people sitting nearby and petting. The cancer had taken away a lot of what he enjoyed, but he still made a beeline for my lap, or stretched out his paws to touch one of us. And there were several meals, and then off to bed for one last snuggle in my armpit, and one more early this morning, complete with a good loud purr. And then today, we gave him as peaceful an end as possible, the last thing we could do for him.

He never backed down from a fight in his life, but this was one he just couldn't win.

Goodbye, my little guy. You were the best of cats.

MediaWest*Con 35

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 11:30 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
So, there was MediaWest*Con this past weekend.

It was a good con. We were commuting from home, which I think actually contributed to a better con experience. For one thing, I wasn't roaming the halls for hours looking for something interesting still going on late at night (MediaWest's attendees are increasingly early-to-bed types, as the years go on), which always leaves me cranky and disappointed -- if there was nothing left to do, we just went home to bed. For another, since we didn't have the hotel room to retreat to during the day, I think we went to a lot more panels and sought out more interaction during the day. So it was a good arrangement, as well as vastly cheaper and easier to manage with the ailing cat.

I think it may also have helped that a lot of the people whose first fandom is complaining have finally just stopped coming. So pretty much everybody there was willing to have a good time, which makes it a lot easier for everybody to have a good time.

The art auction was small but high-quality -- my goodness, there were some impressive pieces. The dealers room was pretty low-key, but I actually bought a new zine! Panels ranged in quality; the best was definitely the Cabin Pressure panel, and not just because I knew almost all of the trivia questions. (Brilliant!) Good meals with good company, interesting conversations in the hallways, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity on Sunday night -- works for me.

Things Writers Say

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 10:20 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)

"I could just take tomorrow and do clown research."

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Dagoba Hazelnut (milk Chocolate 37%)

Where bought: Foods For Living. What can I say, they had Dagobas on sale.

Not much aroma.

Warm, friendly flavor. Nicely hazelnutty, blends well with the chocolate. Smooth texture, melts well in the mouth, and little chopped-up hazelnut bits flow easily with it.

Overall: Yum; not challenging, but pleasant. Would buy again.

Status Report

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 05:15 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
It wasn't enough that I had the flu, followed by the nastier flu, both lingering; last week, I had to go and sprain my ankle, too. ;-P

I'm in that annoying state where I don't feel good enough to do much of anything, but I don't feel bad enough to be not doing anything. Which means I am mostly surfing the web. Occasionally I manage to turn that to the arguably-useful surfing of market and agent research, but not often enough.

Well, and minioning to cats. Because colds may come and ankles may go, but the cats still expect hot-and-cold running human at their every beck and call.

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