rowyn: (studious)
[personal profile] rowyn
The three pounds that I gained last month have gone away again, yay.

I have been mildly sick for the last week. I've gone to work anyway, but I've been unfocused, unproductive and exhausted while there. I napped for about two hours after work each day last week instead of exercising. And I skipped Conflation this weekend. The weather was gorgeous the whole weekend, and I didn't get on my bike for even a short ride.  I was feeling mostly better by Monday, so I got back to exercising yesterday evening.

I finished seven scenes of Birthright this month, which to be honest is about half what I wanted to get done, and still more than I expected to do. I haven't finished any outline points yet, which is unsurprising; my estimate spreadsheet pegs the current point at a whopping 14 scenes. This part of the book was much easier to summarize than to write out.

I tried a new technique over the weekend: writing to a timer. Some of my friends on Twitter have talked about working in "pomodoros", which default to 25 minutes long. I did a quick Google search on the topic, and came up with the basics being "work for 25 minutes, take a break for 3-5 minutes, repeat 3 more times, then take a 20-30 minute break". I do not know the reasoning behind this, or actually anything beyond what I just typed, so I make no claim to doing this right.

I have tracked my writing based on time before, but never actually set a timer. It was always "write until you feel like stopping or for 15 minutes, whichever's longer." Anyway, I closed all my desktop distractions, set a timer (using, and started writing. I did let myself look up references relevant to what I was writing.

The most interesting thing about the experiment was that I found stopping when the timer went off annoying. Partly, this because the default timer sound is jarring, and I switched it to a pleasant harp-sound after the first time or two. But the act of stopping still irked me. "I'm in the middle of a sentence here! Let me finish."

Mostly, I didn't let myself finish. I figured stopping while I still wanted to write would make it easier to get started again. I didn't use the formula described above, but I did write, undistracted, for four periods of 25 minutes each on both Saturday and Sunday. I wrote about three scenes this weekend that way.

This was a productive weekend, by my modest standards, but the tactic feels more like a gimmick than an approach I should depend upon. Still. As long as it gets book written, I'll take it.

The Business of Writing
I made a website! is no longer just a redirect to It has actual content on it, albeit not much. I used plain css and html for it, instead of trying to learn Wordpress. So the "blog" part just links to my LiveJournal. Everyone tells me this is a mistake and I pretty much don't care. I like LJ. Yes, LJ might fail on me, but I kinda feel like I am more likely to bork a Wordpress update and take months to get it running again than LJ is to die.

Though it wouldn't kill me to cross-post to DreamWidth again as backup.

I need to do a monthly "RA sales" post. The short version is "sales are up, but not spectacularly so." FA gave a modest bump to RA's sales, and is itself selling, at something like 25% the rate of RA's first month.

I finished the RA headers! \o/ All seventeen of them.

Also drew 4 marker-pics from Twitter prompts, and one digital picture that I started coloring and may or may not finish, and three digital sketches I probably won't color.

And I made a rough version of the cover image for my current WIP. Which is a long way out from publication and hardly needs a cover yet, but I was curious if the design I had in mind would work. I think the concept is sound, although I might yet go with hiring a real artist for this one. I waffle on this, less because of the cost involved than because my primary market is e-books. I feel like the traditional "highly detailed paintings" of print covers are actually less appealing than a simple, stylized design, once they're shrunk down to a height of 250 pixels. Yes, my cover is my main ad, but that ad is 250 pixels high and it needs to be effective at that size.

I reinstalled CivV. This was less disastrous to my productivity than I'd feared. [ profile] terrycloth, [ profile] alinsa, and I have been playing it co-op in the evenings. It is still slow, but we will probably manage to finish a game after 8-10 hours of play.

Terry and I are playing one game against three AI teams, and each of us individually are almost outscoring each AI team. It's a little silly. n_n

I finished a game by myself over the weekend, and then decided to try a game on Continents, just to see if it's as bad as I remember. I usually play on a "tiny islands" or "archipelago" map, because the AI Civs are a LOT less likely to declare war if they don't share a land border with me. I have been more open to building military units this game (I hate fighting in Civ, it's such a slog, but if I avoid military as much as I want to, the barbarians get annoying, never mind the AI civs.) It seems to be going all right. We'll see.

I was supposed to go to Conflation this month but noooo. I did meet up with a couple of St. Louis friends who'd come to my city for the weekend, and we went to the Toy & Miniature Museum. Which I haven't been to in about 12 years. The miniatures collection is even larger and more astonishing than I remember. I want to shrink down to miniature height so that I can live in those doll houses.

Corwyn's birthday was last weekend, and I got out for that, too. \o/ Had a fun time at Dave & Buster's, playing video games.

Goals for coming month
With the headers done and Further Arrangements out in the wild, I am running out of ways to avoid working on Birthright. I really want to set an ambitious goal, like sixteen scenes. But ambitious goals usually paralyze me into inaction, so let's not go that route. I like modest goals that I can not only accomplish, but hopefully obliterate.
* Write 8 scenes of Birthright: I almost managed this in February, where I had a bunch of other stuff to do and two fewer days to do it in. This should be fine.
* Do my taxes.  I will probably break down and finally buy tax software this year, since I have a second source of income and a business now. Any recommendations?

Date: 2016-03-01 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been playing Beyond Earth: Rising Tide. My latest game I decided to make mostly aquatic cities and while I *eventually* made some land ones it wasn't for a while.

Aquatic cities don't grow very fast but have high production. This is probably not what you'd expect, although it's a natural consequence of the water tiles being either '1 food 1 production' or '1 food 1 energy' and the lighthouse-equivalent adding production instead of food. It gets crazy, though -- eventually, between upgrades to farms and wonders that improve coastal tiles in one city, my Capitol is getting 3 food, 4 production, 1 energy, and 2 science from each basic tile. It took 5 turns for it to build the 'win the game' wonder (although it'll be another 45 turns after that before it finishes charging up and actually wins the game -- RT's endgame is kind of weird).

Anyway, the AI in Rising Tide loves to declare war on you. It's really bad at actually attacking you, especially if it declared war on you from the other side of the planet and there are three other nations in between you and them and it's also at war with some of them.

Maybe I should play on a harder difficulty. OTOH I didn't have much fun when I used the mod that made aliens harder. The real problem with it was that it made aliens spawn a lot faster and didn't decrease the hatred that they had for you for killing each alien, so you were forced to drive them into an insane level of rage that you would never reach in the vanilla game even with a campaign of total genocide. Having all your cities eaten by nigh-invincible worms (that at lesser rage levels ignore cities and just eat all your workers, which you can deal with) isn't much fun.

Date: 2016-03-01 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*cheers for writing*

As far as tax software goes, I find TurboTax's web version relatively pleasant to use.

Date: 2016-03-02 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I prefer to keep my financial data on my own machine instead of uploading it to someone else's server.

The downloadable version of TaxACT is much less expensive than TurboTax and has fewer bells and whistles, but it is solid. (It's the computerized version of one of the do your taxes service companies that existed long before people had their own computers.)

If you use Quickbooks or Quicken, it may make sense to stay with TurboTax -- same company, so the data can pull across cleanly, and they may offer some kind of bundled deal.

Date: 2016-03-02 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I use TurboTax for reasons which wouldn't apply to you like familiarity, and data transfer from past years and Quicken.
I think it's ok, with some bothersome spots. The larges hasslet is requiring one to either go through the interview or know esoteric tricks to fill in the forms correctly without having to override calculations done based on worksheets (after a year or two, you'll know which forms apply to your return and might prefer to fill them out directly). Non-override data often can not be entered directly into the form, and overridden data often won't be copied automatically to the places it should logically go.
Since I haven't used the competing products, here's a discussion thread about them from a personal finance site:

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