lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I have come up with a "what the hell's going on" for the Mars novel that is just evil, evil, eeeevil. I probably won't use it -- it's not quite the kind of story I thought I was writing, and it's got its own "what's going on" that would need to be solved -- but it is so far the only idea I've come up with that connects all the dots.

There are things I want to do with this novel that I can't do if I do that (probably... hmm.), but it does put a happy evil writer grin on my face. My main character is staring at me in appalled disbelief.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I finally managed to make cookies for the family Turkey Day gathering: turkeys, pumpkins, maple leaves, oak leaves, and cornucopias. I feel like I spent the five days leading up to Thanksgiving immersed in cookies, and that's because I did. They went over very well; much oohing and ahhing, and even people dragging other people into the kitchen to see them. (And several comments that they tasted good, too, which is important.) Very gratifying. The kids broke into one of the trays before dinner (which is high praise if anything is). The cornucopias were particularly popular with the little kids, doubtless because of all the glitter and shiny candy bits.

Fancy baking doesn't really go with my image with that side of the family; I rather enjoyed spraining their expectations that way. ;-)

Notes to self:

I made two batches of dough, because I also wanted to make some one-year-anniversary hardware cookies to take to work. One batch would have been enough, even with that. (Well, also extra dough to cover breakages and screw-ups, but I only broke one cookie and didn't botch any.)

I started out being good and making a set number (a dozen plus cover for breakage, so ~15-18) of each shape, so that I wouldn't be decorating forever. But then I had dough left over, so I finished it up with more of the same shapes. And then I decorated them all, because they were there. Better than usual -- I only did one all-nighter -- but still way too much time squinting over sugar. Next time, if there's dough left after whatever number of cookies you said you'd do for the specific event, cut it in some other shape entirely so you know when to stop!

I arranged the cookies on two of the rectangular trays, 8 or 9 of each shape in a column, 5 shapes per tray. This looked great! Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the presentation, but it was very professional-bakery looking.

One tray would have been sufficient, however; even with the very positive response, I still ended up bringing an almost full tray home. 8-9 each of 5 shapes for approx. 18 people is plenty, especially with the huge amount of other food that's always there.
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
The problem with giving myself permission to goof off writing that DW fanfic for a while is that I haven't been in the mood for gothic-y horror. Which is not surprising, after Mars; not enough of a change of pace. I needed something light and fluffy, maybe even silly, to work on.

Luckily the housemate gave me a prompt last night, which turned into an 800-word completed story. (Tentatively titled "First Contact", unless I can come up with something less generic.) It makes me chuckle. And it's done, in one sitting no less, and that makes me very happy indeed.

Just This One

Thursday, November 10th, 2016 09:22 am
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I wasn't going to say anything about the election, but I feel the need to put something above Tuesday's then-humorous post.

So, a few calming reflections.

- We can probably trust to bureaucratic inertia to scotch the more wacked-out ideas. Recreating the Great Wall of China is not really feasible for a country that can't even keep its existing roads and bridges properly paved, for example.

- Regardless of who won, I still would have been at the mechanic's yesterday getting the car seen to. Regardless of who won, I still would have needed to clean the toilet. And the cats would still be cute. Whose butt is in the Oval Office does not really affect most people's day-to-day lives.

- We don't actually know what the election-winner's going to do. We know what he thought would get him publicity (and he was right). Those may not be the same thing; we're talking about a reality TV show star here, remember. I'm not suggesting he's some kind of undercover saint, but let's see what actually happens before cranking up the hysteria, eh?

- This too shall pass. Although I am somewhat a subscriber to the Great (or Awful) Man theory of history, the truth is that one person generally can't shift the destiny of an entire country. Eight years ago, there were plenty of people proclaiming the end of the world, but the world's still here. I suspect it'll still be here four years from now, too.

- Finally, we can't control what the guy in the White House does. We can control what we do. This was one of the most acrimonious campaigns on record, and that stems directly from the acrimonious, sound-bite-driven, over-reaction-as-a-tool-of-silencing society we now live in. But we don't have to. If you're talking to someone you disagree with and your immediate response is to take what they say to the most egregious extreme and then vilify them for it, you're part of the problem. If you immediately assume anyone not jumping on your bandwagon is on the other side and attack them for it, you're part of the problem. But if you read or listen to what they're actually saying, and take the time to engage with it with civility and the assumption of good faith, you might just be part of the solution.

lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
And now, I can't resist this.

Cthulhu / Voldemort 2016

Are you sure it's the greater evil?


October Word Count

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 04:00 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Falling From Ground: 4717
Total new words in October: 4717

Hey, not bad! I was worried it was going to be lower (did I really not work on anything else all month?), but possibly-too-much coffee seems to have paid off.

More importantly, the first five-and-some chapters are with the alpha reader. (It was my unspoken goal to make that happen by the end of the month: check, with most of a week to spare.) She's given it a first read-through, and reports that it's not boring! So my worries about the pacing are soothed.

November will be going over the alpha's detailed feedback, fixing anything that needs it, and brainstorming where the heck to go next.

In the meantime, I've given myself permission to mess around with some fanfic if that's what's taking my fancy, which it is. (Might actually have figured out a fix for an old DW story I stalled out on, which pleases me.) It's really quite nice to just play with something for a change, no wordcount quotas or considerations of publishability.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Hagensborg Wild Boar Madagascar Single Origin 64%

Where Bought: Marshall's

Like the last Hagensborg, amusingly-shaped bar and cute packaging. (Love the boar going wild.)

Aroma is sharp and bitter.

Texture is smooth and soft, chews easily and melts well.

Flavor is sharp, almost tart, but surprisingly pleasant. (I think this is what the Green & Black 85% was going for but missed.) There's an underlying sweetness that makes it very appealing, more so the more I eat.

Overall: Not something I'd want every day, but definitely wouldn't mind having again.
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
Has it really been since May that I've not done one of these?

Wordcount hasn't been the point of the exercise lately: first I was doing Highway of Mirrors revisions, and then I was working on getting Falling From Ground booted back up. And, indeed, on writing anything at all, which is always a frustrating horse to climb back up on.

But, just for the record, here's the counts for the last few months:

May
HoM: 13
original short fiction: 997
Total new words in May: 1010

June
HoM: 273
Total new words in June: 272

July
HoM: 645
original short fiction: 706
Total new words in July: 1351

August
HoM: 32
original short fiction: 219
FFG: 2783
Total new words in August: 3034

September
Green Ring: 1513
FFG: 2559
Total new words in September: 4072

(And yes, I deliberately held this through September to make the numbers look better.)

Mars continues to be the Franken-novel. I'll write a line here or a paragraph there, then gradually stitch them all together. Apparently I am going to write the whole damn novel that way. But at least the stitching's going well.

My time management, on the other hand, is shot to hell. I'm working just a day or so more than I want to be, and that plus the pressing house projects seems to be sucking my time away before I even see it. (I know plenty of people manage to write with full-time jobs and far more demands on their time than I have. I'm not saying it's not possible. I'm just having trouble with it atm.) Part of the problem is that right now, the writing process is taking quite a while to boot up each time, so if I can't clear about four hours at a stretch, I'm unlikely to have much to show for it. This is partly a function of Mars being obstreperous, and partly a function of being out of practice -- but of course I can't get into practice unless I can make time to write. And the only way I seem to be able to do that is to let everything else go to hell, and some of the bills for doing that previously are coming due.

But, as the counts above show, the trend's getting better. And at least I'm at the point where the rest of the ideas I originally had for FFG come in. I expect to hit a wall when I get through those, but it'll be the old ~30K wall, familiar territory. It makes an ugly splatting noise, but I know what to do about it.


October's goals: Decent progress on FFG, and at least check in with Green Ring and/or the A-Z story. Find a way to steal a day for email research, and at least get that a little farther forward.

Mostly, keep writing.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Hammond's Pigs N' Taters

Where Bought: Cracker Barrel

Aroma is weird; bacon and potato chips and chocolate half-cancel each other out, so there isn't much smell and what there is can't decide if it should be sweet or savory.

Smooth melty chocolate with lots of crunchy crispy bacon- and chip-bits.

Flavor.... I'm not sure what the flavor is. Bits and chocolate seem to be half-cancelling each other out again. Nice salty aftertaste, though.

Overall: It's not bad, and the housemate quite likes it. Probably get some again, if only to try to figure out what I think of it. Would certainly try other flavors by the same brand.

50

Thursday, September 8th, 2016 11:59 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Fifty years ago today. Whoa.

I'd feel bad for almost missing the date (luckily I just happened to be wearing a Star Trek shirt today, and someone mentioned it), except that I was up late last night writing cheesy Star Trek fanfic, so that's all right. ;-)

Star Trek was my first fannish love. Over the years, that love has gotten encrusted with frustration, disappointment, and occasional just-plain-no engendered by the various newer series, but the classic show remains secure in my heart. It's like a comfy blanket I can snuggle up in any time -- because yes, that is how computers sound (bleep, tu-wheet!), and that is what starships look like. And if we're very lucky, the future might come out a little bit like that.

So tonight, we watched "The Apple". Not anyone's claim for Star Trek's finest hour, but really quite a fun episode, and I'd been wanting to rewatch a certain scene anyway. And now I feel all cozy, wrapped in my blanket of Trekkishness.

For holding up for 50 years and counting, you can't ask for better than that.

Ha on me

Saturday, August 27th, 2016 02:51 pm
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
However, the much-deprived cat squirting out the door just as the thunderstorm breaks can keep me from getting anything else done for the next couple hours.

Stupid fuzzbutt. I'd strangle him if I wasn't so glad he's back and okay.

Ha!

Saturday, August 27th, 2016 12:52 pm
lizvogel: Chicory flowers (Landscapin')
Neither rain nor lack of sleep nor desolation of cats who want to go outside shall keep me from getting this damned lawn mowed.

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Dagoba Lavender Blueberry (59%)

Where Bought: Foods For Living

Lovely tangy aroma; the lavender and blueberry scents mix nicely.

Hard to bite, a little flaky in the mouth (the lavender and/or blueberry bits make the chocolate around them crumble), but melts well once chewed.

Flavor is a pleasant medium chocolate, with a very subtle underlying tang. The blueberry & lavender don't come out nearly as well in the flavor as they do in the aroma. They're adding a breadth to the already-good chocolate, but they're very much background players.

Overall: Not bad, but not as exciting as it could have been.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I realized the other day that not having a novel I'm actively working on was making me sad. The whole point of saying I'd finish some short stories first was to get some easy wins under my belt, which since everything I tried turned into a horrible sucking mire was not serving its purpose.

So, I pulled up the Mars novel and am gradually getting reacquainted with it. Not much word-count level progress, though I tweaked a word here and there, but I'm feeling better already.

Also feeling better about the currently-in-progress short story, now that I'm not forcing myself to work on it when I'd rather be looking at something else. ;-)
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
Went for a jog today, for the first time in weeks. Still not winning any races, but I rather love that I can jog 21 minutes without stopping, even in this heat, even though I haven't been keeping up on it, and still have some capacity left at the end if I needed it.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Hagensborg Wild Boar Santo Domingo (70%)

Where Bought: Marshalls

Single origin dark chocolate. Bar is amusingly shaped with a couple of "bites" out of the edges, and a cheerful boar and "chomp gobble munch" embossed on the front.

Aroma: intense dark cocoa. This bar ain't fooling around.

Texture is dense, seemed hard at first but once it yielded, nicely melty.

Flavor is seriously cocoa, rich and fulfilling. There's just a hint of sourness, but it's an accent, not a main player, and serves to highlight the sweet darkness. Reminds me a bit of a really good flourless cake. On further acquaintance, also reminiscent of dark chocolate fudge. Good stuff.

Overall: Yeah. Not a light snacking chocolate, but definitely good. Would happily buy again.

Word Wear

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 01:00 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I think I need to get this cartoon on a t-shirt, so I can wear it to next 4th Street.


ETA: Though I'm not sure it doesn't need a comma between "Yes" and "well". Opinions?

lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
4th Street was this past weekend. And I am almost recovered enough to string two sentences together.

It was a terrific con, probably the best one since the first year I went. Pretty much had non-stop good conversations from the moment I walked in until I finally pried myself away from the last few goodbyes. Got very little sleep and definitely over-caffeinated, and I'm not the least little bit sorry. ;-)

I made an effort to pace myself before the event so as not to arrive already exhausted before it even started, despite the overwhelming pressure of the to-do list. Those who know me will appreciate how dubious was my success when I say that I managed to leave without putting maps in the car. Luckily I had my own written directions, and I could probably do the route from memory by now anyway.

Had a great time reconnecting with the Intermediate Writers crowd, even though we didn't officially have a gathering. (Which was only because no one stepped up to coordinate one; guess what I'll probably be doing next year?) And with the consuite crowd, and the smokers' lounge crowd, and assorted other cool people.

The seminar was interesting and well-run, though most of what I came out of it with was the conclusion that I just don't learn well in a seminar format. (And that my process is non-standard and weird, but I knew that going in.) I also came out with what I thought was a good way to ask for help on something I've been struggling with, but I tried it out on two very different groups and it failed utterly, so I guess not. It did kick off some good discussions, though.

My 4th Street tradition continues of there being one or two panels that I don't think I'll be that interested in that turn out to be utterly fascinating, and one or two that I think are going to be right in my wheelhouse that leave me cold. This year, the example of the first was "Large-Scale Structures and Series Planning"; I'm not a big series writer and usually veer away from long tightly-connected series as a reader, but a lot of the stuff about planning and consistency and leaving tools (and toys) for yourself for later was not only really interesting but actually something I could connect to my own work. And the panel on "Writing As A Light Trance State" was deeply intriguing, though I still don't think I came away with an understanding of the difference between trance and just concentrating on what you're doing.

Unfortunately, "The Tropes of Emotion" was one of the latter category, mostly because they did a lot of high-level meta discussion and very little granular, boots-on-the-ground how-to. Which is a pity, because I'm working hard on a bit of how-to in the current revision pass, and I'd have liked some pointers. The other one that left me cold was the That's a Different Panel, which this year ended up being "Clues And Signaling" -- basically, how do we tell readers things -- the very topic I most hoped they'd choose. It would probably have done more for me if they hadn't spent half the panel going on about paratext -- because I am functionally blind to paratext. (No, really. One of the books they cited was one that I read fairly recently and remember well, and they went on and on about the ways paratext was used, and I have no idea what they were talking about.) And what wasn't about paratext was again high-level and meta, not practical and how-to.

(I've realized that when it comes to writing stuff, I do not learn well from getting the big-picture view and trying to apply it to specific usages; I'm much better off with using a specific example in my own work, and reasoning from that to the general principle. I'm not sure if that's how I learn non-writing things as well, or not; I'd need a specific example to consider. Which may answer the question right there. ;-) )

The cookies went over well once again. The dinosaurs were even more popular than I expected (I suspect it was the glitter), and the "writer's toolbox" joke went over well. (Oddly, it seemed nobody wanted to eat the hammers; they were always the last to go. Don't know why.) For future reference: I made 4 batches of dough, but only ended up decorating about 3 batches worth. 3 batches was plenty, enough to stock Friday evening, Saturday mid-day, and Saturday evening, and still have a few left by Sunday. Next time, figure on making ~18 of each shape; that's enough to cover breakage and a few to share pre-con, and still have a dozen+ for the consuite. Which actually is enough, if you're making enough shapes to use up 3 batches of dough.

Drive there was good; the threatened thunderstorms didn't materialize, and I actually took breaks when I was getting dozey, and pulled over for the night when I was tired but not exhausted. Only trouble was that there still isn't a sign for a Caribou/Starbucks/etc. for about three hours past the point where I need one, so I once again arrived at my traditional gas-and-lunch stop rather desperate for coffee. But still overall a nice trip.

The car turned 200,000 on the way, which was cool.

Drive home was much the same; I turned the need to stall for a while to avoid Madison rush hour into a nice long lunch break, and pulled over for a walk and cold beverages when it seemed like a good idea but not yet a dire necessity. Got home around 2am, tired but still functional.

The cats were happy to see me. :-)

And now it's time to get back to normal, although I'm hoping to reboot "normal" to a slightly more satisfactory version. One that involves more sleep, writing, and exercise, and less unrelenting to-do list.

MediaWest*Con 36

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 04:48 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Had a very good con this past weekend. We did the commuting-from-home thing again, which in addition to saving money once again encouraged us to get out there and try more things that we otherwise might have skipped in favor of flaking in the hotel room. Went to quite a few decent panels (and the inevitable couple that required an urgent text message partway through), had several good meals with good company, and some kind soul gave me digital copies of a show I've been trying off and on for twenty years to see. (Which was cognitively dissonating; cloning tapes used to be a big part of the con back in The Olde Dayes, so my earliest fannish conditioning collided with the modernity of getting an entire series on a piece of technology so small I could lose it if I sneezed.) Also stayed up far too late two nights in a row playing Cards Against Humanity with the kind of sick and twisted people you want to play Cards Against Humanity with. ;-)

Having wisely taken Tuesday off for recovery purposes, we had a lovely day vegging out yesterday. The housemate is back dealing with the real world today, and I am back scrambling madly to get ready for the next con I'm going to, only a couple weeks away. But at least we're both doing it with a decent bit of sleep under our belts.

There were some minor issues, most notably that the panel organizers seemed to have utilized a random number generator in assigning panelists. (And they wonder why more people don't volunteer/offer suggestions.) However, everybody rolled with it and managed to have a good time anyway.

Looking forward to next year.

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 03:47 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
"If everything reminds us of our past burdens, then we lose the future, no? All this victimization makes us beggars."
    - Elvira Meliksetyan, Armenian women's rights activist, as quoted in National Geographic April 2016

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