rowyn: (Default)
Kyell Gold is one of my fellow authors in the SFWA Fantasy Storybundle. He kindly agreed to let me interview him, which I was very excited to do because I'd just read and greatly enjoyed his book, Black Angel. I had many questions for him!


You've had a long career as both author and editor! Please share some of the highlights.

I feel like my career is full of highlights. I've been invited to a number of conventions as a guest in places like Dallas, Minneapolis, Seattle, Toronto, Berlin, and Melbourne and Gold Coast, Australia. I've met some truly remarkable people, and conducted a number of panels. I've gotten countless letters from people whose lives have been touched by my books, and each one of those is special. Making the decision to move to writing full-time was a highlight, and teaching at the first residential writing workshop for the furry fandom was another.


There's something of a spectrum in furry fiction, from "these characters could have been human but are furry for aesthetic purposes" (like Disney's Robin Hood) to "this story would make no sense if the characters were human" (such as Richard Adam's Watership Down). Where do you feel your work fits in? Is furriness more plot-critical in some of your books than others?

I'm probably more on the Robin Hood end of the scale, but I always try to work some aspect of the furriness into the plot of the books. Meg's story, because she's an otter, incorporates a lot of water imagery. Green Fairy, the first book in the series, starts with a wolf telling his family that he doesn't want to eat meat anymore.


Two real-world religions figure significantly in Black Angel: vodou and Christianity. What led you to choose those religions in this story? What research did you do to help you portray them?

Christianity is what I'm familiar with, having grown up in it. Like any dominant religion, it is vulnerable to having its principles twisted to create an inequal society. In this case, I was taking the example of some small groups who use Christian texts to justify restricting women's rights. Vodou I chose for the opposite reason: it's a misunderstood religion that puts women in positions of power--the most famous practitioner is Marie Laveau.

To research fundamentalist Christianity, I looked through contemporary news articles (sadly). For vodou, I walked through a traveling museum exhibit, read two books on late 1800s New Orleans, and visited modern day New Orleans to see a voodoo temple and talk to a voodoo priestess (as part of a tour of haunted New Orleans, so I had to take that with a grain of salt, but it was valuable).



One of the characters in Black Angel self-medicates her depression with alcohol and pot, neither of which she can acquire legally. These are fraught subjects, and I am curious to hear more of your thought process on making both self-medication and depression part of the story, and the way you chose to present them.

Depression is something that over the last decade I've become more educated about and aware of. I believe in the power of demystifying through fiction--part of why I like writing about gay relationships is that many people don't have an established idea of what those relationships are like, and many gay people don't have a lot of representation in fiction. I wrote a short story about depression a while back that won an Ursa Major Award ("How To Get Through The Day"), and I thought it would be good to revisit the subject with more education and feel for the complexity of it. I'd like people suffering from depression to feel that they're not alone, even if their company is a fictional character.

As for the alcohol and pot use, well, that's something that teens do. I don't advocate it, but neither does it feel right to completely ignore it. I tried to present their use in a balanced light. Ultimately, neither is really a good solution to the character's problem.



I love your use of mixed first and third-person, and past and present tense in Black Angel. One doesn't see those mixed often, and seldom to such good effect. How did you come up with it?

I've always liked playing around with points of view and ways to tell a story. When I wrote the first book in the series, I was trying to meet the challenge of melding a historical narrative with a modern-day one, and I wanted them to be stylistically distinct. The historical narrative--one of them--was supposed to be an autobiography of sorts, and so having it in first person made sense. I kept that theme going in the rest of the series--each of the books has multiple narratives with different points of view. For Black Angel, in fact, the main narrative was originally in third person, as the main ones were in the previous books, and I was struggling with which of the side narratives to put in first person, because neither felt right. It seems strange that it didn't occur to me until I'd already written several chapters that Meg should be the one in first person, because it felt so natural when I switched it.


The book blurb on StoryBundle made me think that Meg's sexuality would be something like "girl assumes she is straight and then later figures she's either bi or lesbian." I found the actual text is much more nuanced and interesting than that, and would like to invite you to elaborate on Meg's theme of "really, I'm 19, I have done research, and I don't actually know how I feel" and the way most of her friends push/encourage her to Make a Choice or at least Try Things. What drew you to this subject?

Any gay person over 30 has probably been told at least once in their life that they're not really gay, it's just a phase, they just need to meet the right man/woman, etc. Bisexual people are told that they're just gay and in denial. Mainstream America's repertoire of knowledge about sexual orientation is expanding, but there are still people who, when they encounter something outside of it, will try to slot it into an existing box. A trans friend of mine made a really important distinction between two behaviors from friends of hers. Some of them would *tell* her what she was going through; the others *asked* her and listened to her story. I think that's really important, and all of us fall into that trap. Often it's out of the best of intentions: we see someone confused and we want to help them. But we have to listen to them articulate the kind of help they actually want, the kind that will be of the most benefit to them.


Black Angel has several interior illustrations by your cover artist, Rukis. Do you regard the artwork as integral to the story, or a way to help readers visualize the characters/setting, or something else?

With furry fiction, illustrations really help readers visualize the characters. As you noted, there are a lot of different variations in the way people create their characters, and rather than awkward descriptions that rely on referents outside the world of the story, it's nice to have an illustration to put the image into the reader's mind.


What furry and/or fantasy authors have you found inspirational or formative in your work?

Madeleine L'Engle was the first fantasy author I read, and I read her work over and over again. Her feel for genuine characters and the way human challenges are at the core of any story have been inspirations my whole life. Andre Norton was another author whose works I devoured. Most recently, I've found David Mitchell an inspiration.

In the furry fandom, my friends and colleagues Watts Martin, Ryan Campbell, Malcolm Cross, and Kevin Frane have written some great stuff that's inspired me to keep getting better.



Black Angel is a standalone novel, but it's also part of the three-book Dangerous Spirits series. Tell us more about the other books in the series. Is there a recommended reading order? Will there be more books in the setting?

Green Fairy, the first one I wrote, follows Sol, a wolf, through his struggles to get through the last year of high school with a long-distance boyfriend. He finds some solace in a book written by a gay chamois in 1900s Paris, but then starts to dream that he's one of the other characters in the book and gets a different perspective on the story. The dream starts creeping into his waking life, and things quickly get bad both in his life and in his dreams. This story is about confidence in yourself despite the views of the people around you.

Red Devil is Alexei's story--Sol's fox friend--and picks up after they've left high school. Alexei fled an abusive family in Russia, but his sister is still there and he's trying to get her home. At the same time, he's having issues of confidence with a guy he wants to date, so he decides to try summoning Sol's ghost. But the summoning goes wrong and brings him an old Russian soldier who does not approve of his life. This book focuses a lot on issues of family, what it means to be family and who constitutes your family.

I'd recommend starting with Green Fairy and going on to Red Devil and then Black Angel, because that's the chronological order of the story, and while they all stand alone, each of the later books contains a bit of spoiler for the previous ones. As for continuing the series...no plans right now. I'm not sure where I'd go with it. But I do have a new book coming out this year, Camouflage, that is kind of a spiritual cousin to this series. Except it has actual time travel in it.
rowyn: (studious)
This is a charming Regency romance framed around the "woman presents as man in order to do things prohibited to women" device. In her case, she's impersonating a specific man after his death, so she and her female relations won't be turned out by his heir. I normally dislike this kind of device, but it's pretty fun here. Mostly this is because Millicent is hoot: she decides she's never going to pass as a fashionable or ideal man, so she sets her persona as a rattle: unserious, continually bantering and joking and being ridiculous. She is utterly delightful. Her male love interest, Shoffer, does not deserve her. The first 2/3rds of the book are wonderful, with most of the action dealing with various social problems, most unrelated to her ruse. Most of them are lighthearted and all are resolved by wit.

The last third is somewhat marred by the romance part kicking in. Shoffer's treatment of Millicent-as-woman is just ... meh. He feels typically misogynistic towards her, and it's in keeping with the period but not nearly as fun or appealing as his treatment of her when he thought she was a man. He improves before the end, but still.

Even so, there's a lot of fun stuff in the last part of the book, so well-worth reading. This was totally going to be a 9, but I'm downgrading it to 8 for wobbling on the ending. Nonetheless, had a good time, well worth reading.

Also, I kinda want to write a trans man story using the same kind of framing, but I'm not sure I have the patience to write in a trans-hostile, misogynistic setting for long enough to do so. -_-
rowyn: (studious)
Black Angel is one of the books in the SFWA Fantasy Storybundle! I was excited to read it, having heard good things about Gold's work, and my good expectations were rewarded. The novel contains a mix of genres: YA, slice-of-life, queer lit, furry, fantasy, science fiction, horror, and romance, not necessarily in that order.

I found it fascinating and immersive, a deeply believable book. Three different stories are woven together: 

* Marie-Belle, a bayou muskrat girl in 1916 whose family wants her to marry and who would rather be a vodou priestess like her grandmother.
* Hannah, a lesbian otter in a strict and grimly depressing Christian-cult future
* Meg, an struggling artist in 2013 who's questioning her sexuality and also her sanity.

The struggling artist, Meg, is compulsively and somewhat unwillingly drawing a comic about the first girl, and having vivid, life-like dreams about the second. Most of the book is about Meg.  There's also a strong supernatural element: Meg's closest friends have had experiences with ghosts and visions/life-like dreams. Meg leans heavily towards "they are crazy and so am I" when she starts having her own possibly-supernatural experiences. The setting is pretty Earth-like, with furry touches: eg, some of the otter characters have houses that incorporate pools or have submerged "floors", characters may have keener noses or ears depending on species, etc.

There is a lot else going on in the book. For example, Meg used to be on prescription anti-depressants and quit them because she felt numb of them. She now self-medicates with alcohol and weed (both illegally obtained.) It's a nuanced portrayal, which has both aspects of "this doesn't seem healthy" and "but it does help sometimes?" That goes for both the prescribed and illegal drugs.

I thought, from the blurb, that Meg was going to be "girl who thought she was straight and now thinks she might be lesbian or bi". But her starting point is more like "asexual??? straight??? Lesbian???? Bi??????? I DON'T KNOW". She is not attracted to anyone or interested in sex, but she kind of wants to be and all of her friends keep pushing her to "get out there! Experiment! How else will you knooooow?" I had the simultaneous experience of gaping at her friends ("what is wrong with you? That is a terrible plan") and also feeling like it was exactly the experience a lot of people go through. I didn't have this problem myself, even though I didn't meet anyone I was attracted to until college. But I know people who did.

The characters are vividly drawn and distinctive. Even the supporting cast has an array of different speech patterns and they're easy to tell apart. All three main characters feel like very different personalities, even when Meg and Hannah think they're each other's dreams. Most of the conflict in the book is driven not by evil or cruelty, but by people trying to do the right thing, or what they think they are supposed to do. Even the "Dangerous Spirits" of the series title feel like complex individuals who are acting rationally within their own belief system. (Which, y'know, does not make them less dangerous.)

One touch I particularly admired: Meg's part of the story is first-person past tense. Marie-Belle's story, which Meg experiences in a kind of creative fugue, is 3rd person present. Hannah's is 3rd person past. It's one of the few times where I've seen this kind of switch and not only thought "that's fine" but "oh, that works really well for conveying the differences in their narratives."

I enjoyed the book a good deal, especially the second half, where it picked up momentum and urgency. I have some quibbles with it, but most of why I give it an 8 and not a 9 is that the subject matter isn't perfectly to my tastes. Eg, the trope of "oppressed women whose society tries to forces them into marriage" is one I am pretty sick of.  Meg is prickly, defensive, and copes with problems a lot by putting them off or ignoring them, which I simultaneously relate to and also find exasperating. (Hi yes it me but it's STILL annoying.) She grew on me as the book went on, but for the first 20 pages I was iffy about her.

I am going to wrap this up with some things behind a spoiler tag, because they are spoilers but also significant to many queer readers. spoilers! )
rowyn: (studious)
I've been working on the current draft of Demon's Lure since February. Technically, it's a book I started in 2009, but I only wrote around 5000 words back then, plus a rough outline. I scrapped most of the outline and started writing again from scratch. The book went much better this time around.

But, while I'd written a detailed outline for the new version, my draft had severely diverged from the original outline. From where I am now, the rest of the outline works remarkably well all things considered, despite that I've kept changing things as I wrote the story.

The changes I'd made had, however, made the first half of the book much longer than I'd anticipated. I was at 80,000 words and less than 60% of the way through the outline. I complained to Maggie that the book might end up over 150,000 words, instead of the 100-120k I'd been targeting.

"Split it in half?" she suggested.

"Split it in half" is what multiple people advised me to do with Silver Scales and A Rational Arrangement, and in both cases I declined because I don't feel like either book made a satisfying story if I chopped it into two parts. But the way I'd changed Demon's Lure already from the outline did make the current section a reasonably good break point. The central conflict may not have been exactly resolved, but it has mutated dramatically, to the point where it's really a different conflict now. I could finish out the current scene and it ends on a "this obviously needs a sequel" note, but it wouldn't be a total cliffhanger.

So I wrote the rest of the scene and went "Huh. So I guess I finished a book?"

It needs considerable revising and probably some new scenes before I am ready for beta readers on it. I expect that I will plug away at Book 2 as my next-thing-to-write, although I'm not ruling out letting myself work on a different book. I won't be releasing Demon's Lure until 2018 anyway, because I have three books coming out in the next eleven weeks and that's plenty. Really.

But I feel pretty good about having finished a draft and edited three books, with eleven weeks still to go in 2017. I mean, "edit The Sun Etherium and draft another book" was one of my STRETCH goals for this year. I have already finished my regular goals. And those were set when I didn't know Lut had cancer. o__o

Granted, I've decided against serializing Scales and I was still editing it in June and nowhere near releasing it. So my time scale has slipped and I removed one of my goals for business reasons. Even so.

... I still feel kind of like I should finish drafts for another two books this year, though. So I can be sure of releasing three books in 2018 too. And I do have most of a draft of Fellwater written, and book two of Demon's Lure would be comparatively short, by my usual standards ...

I'm not gonna push for this, though. One thing at a time. And Lut is still sick and the new normal is different and not as conducive to writing as the old normal. I need to remember this and not charge off thinking I can write 3000 words in a day and everything else in life will sort itself out.

Regardless: I finished a draft! \o/

rowyn: (studious)
Poison Kiss is a polyamorous fantasy romance, so you can pretty much tell right there why I decided to read it. :)

The story is about half romance and half action-adventure fantasy. The action-adventure half consists of the human protagonists dealing with truly evil, nasty faery folk from an alternate world. The story opens with two of the protagonists imprisoned in the faery world. The faery world is depicted as awful for everyone: worst for the enslaved humans, who have their memories obliterated and are transformed, toyed with, controlled, broken, and killed at the whim of their faery masters, or their masters' rivals.  But it struck me that even the faeries doing the imprisoning sounded like they had miserable, friendless lives full of pretense, backstabbing, and murdering or being murdered by one another. All of it is dressed up with beautiful backdrops, palaces, and fancy balls, but everything is joyless.

Fortunately, most of the book takes place "Earthside", although there is always the specter of being recaptured, and that specter is brutal and terrifying in a way that merely being threatened with death is not. The entire cast consists of people who survived faery enslavement, and everyone feels convincingly like a trauma and abuse survivor. This is well-handled: I didn't feel like the story was wallowing in it or trying to traumatize me as the reader, but I could completely relate to their fears and coping mechanisms.

Some of why the faery world is so grim is revealed over the course of the story, and is fascinating itself.

I am not a big fan of "brutal and terrifying magical world", as anyone who's read my work can probably guess. The fantasy plot was solid and well done, with the resolution of various arcs surprising yet logical. I had some minor quibbles ("why doesn't anyone at least suggest [obvious patch for problem]") but nothing serious.

The characters are loveable; I found the choice to make the male protagonist a naïf charming: it's a part men rarely get to play. And he is adorable and sweet, if less well-established than the other characters.

This is a love-at-first-sight book: the three protagonists form into a happy triad within two or three days of first meeting their third. I am not a big fan of love-at-first sight*, but that aside, they make a lovely, supportive triad and I enjoyed the HEA.

So on my "enjoyed it"scale, I'll give it an 8. No actual flaws, just a taste mismatch on tropes.

* Yes, even though I do write love-at-first-sight. Romance where the characters don't start out hating each other and gradually fall in love is hard, y'all.
rowyn: (studious)
 The High House by James Stoddard Sorcerous Moons - Book 1 - Lonen's War by Jeffe Kennedy Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story by Janine A. Southard The Dashkova Memoirs: Books 1-4 by Thomas K. Carpenter The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta The Garden of Abracadabra by Lisa Mason The Moon Etherium by L. Rowyn Black Angel by Kyell Gold Shadows in the Water by Kory M. Shrum Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka Off Leash by Daniel Potter The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith

Eeeeeeee!

The Moon Etherium is in a StoryBundle this month, with eleven other fantastic fantasies by fellow SFWA authors!

If you're not familiar with StoryBundle: the site collects a group of similar books (in this case, Cat Rambo curated the works -- and included mine, so you can tell she has excellent taste) into a pay-what-you-want package.  For a minimum of $5, you get the basic four books, which are:

  • The High House, by James Stoddard
  • Sorcerous Moons - Book 1 - Lonen's War, by Jeffe Kennedy
  • Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story, by Janine A. Southard
  • The Dashkova Memoirs: Books 1-4, by Thomas K. Carpenter
For another $10, you get eight more bonus books! Including mine!  Which you probably already have if you want it but HEY there's still eleven excellent books you might not have yet!

If you've never bought from StoryBundle before: they're very easy to use.  They keep records of your purchases indefinitely, so you can download and re-download whenever you want. And if you use the Kindle app, they'll send books directly to your Kindle reader. You can also gift books to other people through it. And all of their books are DRM-free.

Also! Proceeds from sales are split up to three ways. There's a slider that sets the cut between the authors and the StoryBundle site: it defaults to 70% to the authors and 30% to Storybundle, which is the usual author/Amazon split. You can adjust the slider, though!  Independently of adjusting how much you pay.  So you can give a bigger cut to the authors, or to Storybundle. And you can opt to give 10% of your payment to the charity for this StoryBundle, which is SFWA*!

Anyway, I will be prattling on more about this bundle as the month goes on (the promotion ends Nov. 3), because I am excited to be part of a StoryBundle (eeeee!) 

* Yep, SFWA is a charity! SFWA's mission is to support, defend, advocate, educate, and promote the SFF community.
rowyn: (studious)
Over the weekend, I finished my pre-first-reader edits on The Sun Etherium. I also added a thousand words or so to Golden Coils. I still feel like GC could use another read-through to catch editing artifacts.

I also felt like it was High Time I started on my Yes Really I'm Going to Read Books That I Did Not Write This Month goal. So I put aside Golden Coils and pulled out MCA Hogarth's latest book. And now it's time for a

BOOK REVIEW

Me: I'm too slow a reader to finish a book in a day any more
Also me: *finishes reading Dreamhearth in a day*

Dreamhearth is the third book in the Dreamhealers series, and the most pastoral of the first three. It continues to be the story of a happy asexual partnership between Jahir and Vasiht'h, esper xenotherapists. The overarching plot is "will Jahir and Vasiht'h be allowed permanent residency on Starbase Veta?" because the starbase has strong limits on immigration. The secondary plot is Vasiht'h coping with the sense of being technically an adult and yet not really feeling like a grown-up, which, yup, we've all been there, V. Then there are various subplots winding through it: side stories about their friends, patients, and rivals on the base.

It started out slow for me, with many "this is what life is like on a starbase so high-tech it pretty much feels like living on a planet" scenes. Once it delved into the stories of their patients and the existing xenotherapist community on Veta, however, I found it engaging. I loved watching the characters solve problems that were not life-threatening, but were nonetheless important. And when sometimes the "solution" is really more "here is how to cope with or make this problem less severe because it's never going to be truly solved." Problems I can't really solve, only mitigate, and that aren't going to kill anyone, are a big theme in my real life. It was lovely to see the impact of everyday problems acknowledged in an sf book. And I loved watching the characters cope with ordinary life and stresses, after getting through trauma and action-filled events in prior books. The prosaic problems are kept in proportion but not minimized.

The ending was a bit more twee than I would've preferred, but overall, I had a good time and would definitely recommend. I'll rate it an 8.

*

I am going to start another book today! It is a weird, weird feeling to deliberately not be either editing or writing. I may cave and do a little writing today. Part of me is absolutely convinced that I will never finish another draft again. Never mind that I've finished six books in the last three years, or that I've written 200,000+ words in the last twelve months, or that I have two different drafts that are two-thirds or more finished. That I've not finished a draft in the last ten months CLEARLY means I'm doomed. 9_9

Brain. Chill. It'll be fine. Nanowrimo's in three weeks and you will want to do all the writing then anyway. For now, relax. Here, read another book.
rowyn: (studious)
I am done with my initial edits on The Sun Etherium!

Here, have a blurb!

The powerful, immortal fey are used to lives of leisure, but Jinokimijin never expected it to be all fun and games once he'd won the crown of the Sun Etherium. But as it turns out, organizing fun and games is one of the challenges of rulership. Firing the chair of the Founder's Festival for praising slavery is easy: ensuring the Founder's Festival succeeds afterwards is considerably harder. Maybe it's time he went somewhere that nobody knows his name...

But Jino's not the only one trying to escape his new challenges: Kireki, once prince-consort, lost his position along with the abusive wife Jino deposed. Can the relationship spawned by two masked fae survive the revelation of their true selves?

So now it's ready for first readers!  Leave a comment or send a message with your email address if you'd like to be a first reader. Comments are screened, so it won't be displayed. *double checks that she set it properly*)  This is a standalone novel, so you can read it if you haven't read The Moon Etherium (although TSE takes place later and does have spoilers for TME).  

The Sun Etherium features genderqueer MCs: both Jino and Kireki shift to different genders depending on how they feel.  I used "he" because both of them identify as male more often than as anything else, but they change pronouns as their mood varies. (They also change shapes, because the fey can change bodies more easily than we change clothes.)
rowyn: (studious)
Health/Fitness
LUT IS HOME.

This fact continues to be a source of profound relief to both of us.

He is running out of home visits from health aides, so his speech therapist and occupational therapist has signed off. He is going to continue to get physical therapy, I think.

I'm back to biking to work most days, and biking afterwards. This is closer to three days a week of exercise than the six days I'd been doing before Lut was hospitalized. My weight is holding steady at around 180, so at least it's not going up.

I started buying steamer bags of frozen vegetables with sauce. I am finally conceding that I won't go to the trouble to do any food prep on veggies. So it's worth it to buy expensive but conveniently packaged ones that are gooped up to tastiness than to not eat veggies at all. I bring the steamer bags to work and eat the whole bag as a snack. 12 ounces of broccolli with cheese still has fewer calories than a 1.5 oz chocolate bar.

So far, I've had three, so it's kind of working? There's been a lot of free junk food at work recently, and I haven't been resisting it, so. I'll see how it goes when there's less temptation from free cake and donuts.

Writing
5500 words on Demon's Lure*, I think? And a few thousand words of new scenes for book 2 of the Scales duology and The Sun Etherium.

* This is a new WIP title for Demon Hunter. It's not that "Demon Hunter" was a bad title, per se, but there are like fifty urban fantasies/paranormal romances already under that name, and mine isn't even an urban fantasy. Demon's Lure is also the title of a paranormal romance, but only one, so that's an improvement. I might change this name again, though.

The Business of Writing
Silver Scales is done! And also officially titled Silver Scales. It is in Alinsa's hands for layout now. We're planning to release it by the end of the month.  \o/

Book 2 is basically done. I finished my final editing pass on it, but I've decided on a couple of other minor edits to do. Since Alinsa is busy with Scales anyway, I am not in a huge rush to pronounce it officially done. I haven't settled on a title for it, but I am presently leaning towards Gold Coils.

I finished the last of my planned edits on The Sun Etherium and am doing a final read-through now. Then it'll go to first readers and there will be more edits. \o/ Who wants to be a first reader on the second Etherium novel? Note: the story is a standalone fantasy romance. You can read it even if you didn't read The Moon Etherium. (Although it comes after TME and accordingly has spoilers for it.)

I feel super productive, lemme tell you. Also, it was really nice to edit a book that only needed a few scenes expanded and a handful of tweaks instead of forty sweeping changes. Like maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this writing thing and it won't take me an entire year to get my next draft ready for release.

The new Surface helps a lot with editing, which I hadn't anticipated. This is because I can read on it in tablet mode in bed, and it's powerful enough to use Google docs normally. So I do proofreading in bed and make notes for any longer changes I want. (Virtual keyboard is still terrible for actual writing.)

Art/Other
I did some new incidental art for Scales & Book 2, for seven little silhouettes in total. I need to refine them a little more, but hey. New art!

I am not otherwise using the Surface much for drawing, alas. I should do more, if only to justify the $100 stylus for it. (I tried using a cheap pressure-sensitive stylus and ... nope. Just nope. It was unpleasant to hold and to use.)

Gaming
I fell back into Puzzle Pirates. Oops. On the bright side, I didn't feel like playing it this morning and wrote a post for Flight Rising instead, so there's some hope that it won't suck me in completely.

Also, a lot of the time I spend on PP now is time I used to spend on Twitter or webbrowsing. It's not really displacing editing or writing, it's just changing what I do to avoid those.

Happiness
I've been a little glum the last week or so, with the combined sense of "I am spending too much time goofing off" and "I am stressed out from not enough free time." Despite having a lot more free time because I don't have to commute twice daily to the hospital. I think I am subconciously expecting things to be "normal" and thus frustrated that I'm not getting as much done as I did when things actually were normal.

Goals for coming month
* Finish editing The Sun Etherium and send it to first readers.
* Finish editing Gold Coils
* Read some books. That somebody other than me wrote.

I'm also gonna try to do a few thousand words of Demon's Lure, but I feel like my reading has fallen off a cliff this year and that it is probably more important to me professionally to Do Some Reading than it is to crank out more words. And the only way this is happening is if I actually put it down as a more important goal than writing. For one month, anyway.

Especially since I will probably want to do Nanowrimo next month, so November will not be a great time for more reading. :)
rowyn: (sledgehammer)
 So on Friday, September 1, one of the services I tried to use -- Lawn Love -- sent a second person to give me a quote.  That person, it turned out, could not give *me* a quote.  They had to give Lawn Love a quote and then Lawn Love would call me to tell me how much they'd charge.

At this point, I decided that Lawn Love was too incompetent and annoying to use. I had to call them up to cancel their "service" despite that it had been a week and they'd never actually done any work for me, just sent people to look at my lawn and not give me quotes. 

A week later, Lawn Love billed my credit card company for the price of "regular service".  (Ie, what they had told me on the original call they would charge for bi-weekly service, if my lawn needed regular mowing instead of a ton of extra work.) They had literally never cut so much as a twig or a blade of grass. 

I just noticed the charge when I was reviewing my bills today to pay them. I have disputed the charge, and downgraded my 1-star review of Lawn Love from "REALLY BAD" to "ACTUALLY SCAMMERS". I don't think I mentioned their name before, but please allow me to blacken it now.  If you are ever looking to hire a lawn service DO NOT USE LAWN LOVE. They did no work for me and charged my credit card after I told them I wouldn't use their service.
rowyn: (Default)
 I played a lot of Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates this weekend, and didn't do a whole lot else. Y!PP released a new Steam-only ocean with some metagame changes, but it's mostly the same PP I knew and loved and may be hooked on again. I did cave and buy the DLC that keeps you from being nickle-and-dimed for various things. Although I may wind up nickle-and-dimed for Poker, but I dunno. Poker was a good way for me to make in-game currency many years ago, but (a) poker is boring and (b) they took away the high-stakes table and it's hard to make enough profit at the lower ones to justify the time and (c) you only really need in-game currency for the meta game and looks, neither of which I care about much. (To be honest, I care about dressing up my avatar more than I care about the metagame.)
 
Lut pointed out  that I was very successful In Y!PP at brutal PvP pillaging, but it was all at the poker table, not on the seas. This is ... very apt. It's not that I am particularly good at poker, it's more that most Y!PP players don't really understand how the odds work in Hold 'Em, and I have a high risk tolerance.
 
On Saturday, Lut and I went to Costco so we could try all the samples and because Lut hasn't gone to Costco in several years. (I got a Costco membership again because I have a car, but we cancelled the old one ages ago.) This was Lut's first shopping expedition in four months or so. He did pretty well! But I took him straight home after we left the store.
 
On Sunday, I spent some time on the phone, talking to my parents and to friends. John called, and it was good to hear from him again. I also wrote a thousand words of new material for book two of my duology, to expand one of the denouement scenes that I felt was kind of phoned-in. I got some more Puzzle Pirates in, too. Book Two is basically done at this point. Alinsa hasn't really started Book One layout, though, so there's no big rush to kick Book Two out the door. I will read my expanded scene one more time before I pronounce it done. Probably not gonna do anything else with it, though.
 
Feels weird to finish the second book so easily, when I struggled so long with editing the first. But the second book is a lot shorter, so there was (a) less to edit and (b) no pressure to find words to cut wherever I could.
 
Monday was All The Errands. I am officially a Reduced Hours employee at the bank, meaning I work 30-35 hours a week, instead of 36-40. My current schedule is Tue-Fri, 8 hours a day, with Mondays off because Lut has chemo then.
 
So my Monday was:
 
8:00: Call Disability folks, because they sent a letter asking us to and this is the only time Lut and I are both available at the hours specified. Leave message.
8:10: Call Disability again after realizing they stapled an unrelated person's notice to Lut's. Leave another message.  
9:30: leave house with Lut
9:40: stop at McDonald's for Lut's breakfast
10: Wait with Lut at cancer treatment center
10:15: Watch Lut get blood drawn
10:30: Go back with Lut to talk to nurse
11:00: Talk to oncologist with Lut. White blood cell count is high enough that he can get chemo, yay!
11:25: Leav Lut to get actual chemo. Go to DMV to get form for handicap placard for car.
11:50 Hang out at Panera with my Surface, and edit The Sun Etherium.
12:45: Go back to cancer center.
12:55: Drop off handicap placard form for doctor to sign. Wait for Lut to finish treatment.
1:15: Stop by Walmart to get frozen veggies for me and baby asprin for Lut, because his next-step chemo treatment has a side effect of blood clots, so they want him to take a blood thinner.  
1:30: Stop for frozen custard.
1:40: Look in vain for a place that will sell me a replacement recycling bin because the  one we currently have is disintegrating.
2:10: Get home, chat with Lut about various things, put away groceries.  
3:00 sit down at computer.
3:15: doctor's office calls that DMV form is ready.
3:20: Get DMV form, go back to DMV, get in wrong line, get in right line, get called up. "Er ... Sorry, we can't accept the form without the disabled person being present, unless you're their spouse. But! Here's a form he can sign and then we don't need him."  
4:15 Get home. Fill out form, have Lut sign, and put it in mail, since it doesn't need to be done in person at all.
4:30-10; strip bed, do five loads of laundry, make bed, put away clean clothes. Also make dinner in there somewhere.
 
Doing laundry didn't take all of those last five and a half hours, but it definitely took a chunk out of them.
 
Tuesday, I got home to find yet more paperwork, including a ginormous form that Lut and I already filled out a month ago. The other form was from a law firm for my insurer, who wanted to sue someone so my insurer could get out of paying Lut's hospital bills. I wrote "none" on it a lot. SORRY INSURANCE COMPANY BUT YOU CAN'T SUE CANCER. I also swore disproportionately, because I am just really tired of dealing with bureaucracy plus cancer. Guys, I got to the end of my rope six weeks ago and it's just flailing and cursing now.
 
I started to fill out the ginormous form again with Lut, and quit after thirty minutes because guh. I figured I could finish it Wednesday night. I also got a request for a big packet of stuff to send for a book thing next month and it's like a ten day deadline and ahhhhhhh.
 
Oh, and I checked Lut's voice mail and he had a message from his neurologist's office that he needed a follow-up. Which I'd been wondering about. 
 
Wednesday morning, I called Disability again, and this time they answered! And didn't even tell me "we need to talk to Lut not you"!
 
Me: Hi, you sent a letter that we needed to call?
Social Worker: Oh, yes, we haven't gotten any of the forms back from you yet.
Me: ... I sent in everything, what are you missing?
SW: *pause* Oh, so you did.
Me: ... so do you still need us to fill out this ginormous form you mailed two days after the other letter?
SW: No, we got that. We just need stuff from the cancer center and the rehab place. I'll call them. Thanks!
Me: ... you're welcome? 
 
So I am not super-reassured but I'll go with it, I guess?
 
So I can just worry about assembling stuff for the book thing, which is cool, I promise, and I will tell you all more about it when I know more myself.
 
I also called neurologist's office:
 
Them: "we can see him this afternoon!"
Me: "... can I have a little more notice than that?"
Them:"Howabout Friday afternoon?"
Me: "Okay."
 
So I got that approved by my boss and told Lut.
 
Things are happening and I am getting stuff done on many fronts, almost as if I were a real adult and not an obvious imposter.
 
I had, briefly, lost my "fake adult" feeling while commuting twice daily to the hospital, but apparently it grows back. My brain keeps reminding me of all the things I haven't gotten done yet and I want to tell it JUST LET ME HAVE THIS OKAY?
 
Okay.
rowyn: (Default)
Health/Fitness
My weight hasn't changed! Despite not exercising and eating crap. So there's that.

Lut was discharged from the hospital and went to rehab in August, which was actually pretty effective. He's still critically low on energy since he got home, but he is otherwise much closer to normal.

Writing
I set a writing goal for myself partway through the month, of 200 words of new fiction per day. This is a pretty trivial goal, and I still didn't always make it. Still, wrote around 5000 words on Demon Hunter, so that was something. \o/

I also started making some more notes for a different book in yet another setting. We'll see if this one gels.

The Business of Writing
I finished my penultimate editing pass on Scales (or whatever I'm finally calling it). I cut another 17,000 words out of it. It is still longer than A Rational Arrangement, but less than 5% longer now. Only about 3,200 of those removed words were entire scenes. The other 13,800 were entirely a matter of abbreviating scenes and rephrasing things to use fewer words, without changing the substance at all.

I am now doing a final proofreading pass, which is pretty much "check to see if any of those words you chopped out were actually important and you need to put them back" and "find the editing artifacts you introduced by trimming the book down by 8%." I'm on the last 100 pages (as of 9/10) so that'll be done soon. I will do one more read-through, but that's after Alinsa typesets it. That read-through is just to make sure that typesetting it doesn't introduce any new errors.

Art/Other
Nothing in August.

Socializing
I saw Corwyn a couple of times, but spent most of August at work/hospital/nursing facility.

Happiness
It was a hard month. Neither the hospital nor the nursing facility were fun places to be. September is better. Lut is home!

Goals for coming month
  • Finish proofreading Scales
  • Write 5000 words of Demon Hunter
  • Do some art for Scales and/or start editing book 2

One reason I got the Surface 3 was that i wanted to do some incidental art for Scales, and maybe some promotional images. I am not sure I will be happy enough to use anything I come up with, but we'll see! I might do something in the same silhouette style I used for ARA, but with different colors. And more individualized than the TME ones, since I don't need to worry about re-using them for a serial.

I am still pretty unambitious on creative goals (at 200 words per day, I'm going to write 6000 words of Demon Hunter). But a lot of stuff is still going on and I don't know what my new routine will look like.

LUT IS HOME

Sep. 7th, 2017 08:30 pm
rowyn: (Default)
We are both extremely happy. I was skipping around in the hallways at the nursing facility as I gathered his stuff to get it into the car.

We have a week's worth of his general medications, but only a couple of days of pain meds. I meant to call his new primary care physician about that but forgot. Dangit. Hopefully I can get it taken care of tomorrow.

I got him home a little after ten. His physical therapists had told me that he could in fact get in and out of our current bed, so I hadn't replaced the bed yet. He confirmed this by getting up and down a few times. Then we spent some time cuddling because it has been SO LONG since we got any proper cuddling. ♥

Afterwards, I left him to rest while I went to the nearest Microsoft Store, which is a half-hour away. The peripherals for the Surface 3 arrived on Tuesday. I am happy with the case and keyboard, but the stylus I got is terrible. I decided I wanted to test some in person, rather than ordering and returning one after another from Amazon. I couldn't find anywhere close that had floor models of styluses: hence, pilgrimage to MS Store. They only had one stylus, which was of course super-fancy and over three times the cost of the one I'd gotten from Amazon. On the other hand, I didn't actively hate the feel of it against the screen. Like the tactile sense of using plastic stylus on glass screen was extremely unpleasant. The MS pen has a softer nib and it feels much nicer. So I went ahead and bought it. At the store! Which I would have done even if it had been cheaper at Amazon, because I am not the sort of monster who will test things in a store so I can buy them only. But this was a weird case where it was cheaper in person. Amazon, for some reason, is charging $14 more for it than the retail price.

I still have to return the other stylus to Amazon, and a pair of loafers that I ordered that doesn't fit Lut.

*goes to Amazon and gets the electronic part of the return taken care of now*

I am spending so much more money at Amazon lately, but Amazon Prime is so nice. -_- On balance, Amazon Prime makes it actually easier to return items than things bought in person. I do have to print the label, which is annoying, but even with boxes that have to be dropped off and can't just be shoved in a mailbox, the dropoff locations for USPS and UPS are closer than most stores. And I don't have to wait at a customer service counter. OTOH, I am much more likely to buy the wrong thing online where I can't try it than I am in person, so there's that.

Anyway, since I was relatively close to the nice Indian place on the other side of town, I went there for lunch. Why is naan so good. I don't even know. It's a buffet, and I had skipped breakfast because I was figuring on going there today. I have now also skipped dinner because I am still so full. SO FULL. The buffet includes bottomless mango lassi and also bottomless chai because OF COURSE IT DOES.

I saw them packing a to-go order. I am getting food to-go next time because buffet is such a bad idea for me.

They sent me home with a cup of chai and the remaining naan.

After that, I stopped by a Chinese place to get to-go for Lut/ Lut got up to eat, then went back to bed. He is still spending most of his time asleep or resting, but when he's awake he is alert and lucid. So this is far from optimal but oh man, it has been SO MUCH worse. And it is just so nice to have him be home and me be home and we can be at home and comfortable together. We keep saying it to each other. "You're home!" "I'm home!" We are so happy, y'all.

I took a nap in the afternoon because SO FULL. Also, this is the first time since Lut went to the hospital on June 30 that I have been home in the afternoon to nap. Ahhh, home. z_z

Later, I put away Lut's stuff that we brought home from the nursing facility, because I am temporarily possessed by the Spirit of Adulthood and don't want to leave things sitting around in bags for months like I normally do. My house is presently kind of almost tidy? I mean not really but SORT OF? And I want to keep it that way.

And cuddled Lut some more.

Because Lut is home.

\o/
rowyn: (content)
Lut is coming home!

It doesn't feel real.

They told me on Tuesday that he should be discharged either today or tomorrow, which meant I had to cancel my plans to go to ProgPower. Which we'd always known I might have to cancel, but I still feel bad for not being able to go with Alinsa to it. Finding out the day before I was supposed to fly was annoying. But the tickets are on Southwest, so we canceled them and I get a credit I can use for another Southwest flight. So the money isn't wasted, at least. I could even use it for next year's ProgPower.

Lut was shocked when I told him the news last night. He was almost worried at first, but by today, he was excited and pleased. One of the staff even commented on it: "You must be happy about going home. I don't think I've ever seen you smile before." We had a good day today: after he did physical therapy and occupational therapy, we went out for lunch to 54th Street and Grill and ordered ridiculously too much food. I dropped off leftovers at the house and then took him back to the nursing facility, where they let us know he'd be discharged tomorrow. \o/

Lut rested for a few hours, and then around dinner time he talked about shaving his head when we got home. I suggested we go to Great Clips instead, since it'd be pretty cheap and much faster for a pro to do it. "Okay," he said. "Let's go now!"

It turned out there was a Great Clips less than a mile away, so we zwooped there, and Lut chatted with the hairdresser about his day and how he wanted his beard trimmed and suchlike, while I watched and played with my new Surface 3. Then we went to Backyard Burger (also close) for a snack. Because we were both still full from lunch but Lut wanted to get a cobbler anyway. I got a milkshake.

Then back to the facility so Lut could rest more. He still spent most of today resting or asleep, but he was more alert, talkative and playful when he was awake, much more like his normal self.

I've done some more cleaning since Sunday. The house isn't exactly clean, but I got most of the clutter that was on the floor packed away. The cat area and the kitchen have been mopped, and the kitchen is generally clean. The bathroom is mostly clean. And I vacuumed all the carpets. I still want to clean the bathroom floor and declutter the flat surfaces in the living room, but this is pretty good progress.

LawnWoman and Friends have done an amazing job on the yard. Like you can see the yard again. They ended up ripping out most of the vines and scrubby trees that grew along the fence line, and flattening all the weedy bushes that were choking the front walk, and in general it no longer looks like my yard is about to eat my house at any moment. Her crew has been working since Sunday, with the bulk of the work done on Monday and Tuesday. They have done an incredible amount of work, like way more than I ever do, but now the yard will be much easier to maintain. Anyway, definitely feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Also so glad that they are doing the outside so that I had time to do the inside. The house will not be in perfect shape when he gets home tomorrow, but it looks considerably better than when I took him to the hospital back in June.

\o/

And I still have 6 more days off before I go back to work! So I might manage the remaining decluttering. Or do something else constructive. It's been a good staycation so far.

And Lut is coming home!
rowyn: (Default)
Saturday Morning:

It's Saturday! No word from LawnWoman yet, which to be honest is the story of my life at this point. I am not worried about it. It will get done by someone else or I will do it myself at some point in the next 11 days.

But since I'm ostensibly not doing it now, I am using the time for something I can't hire someone else to do: decluttering and organizing my house. I also plan to clean, which I could hire someone else to do, but honestly the work I care about is decluttering and organizing and that's the hard part. Once I've done that, I might as well do the comparatively easy vacuuming and mopping and stuff. I started last night, by putting away some of the stuff that got moved when the ceiling collapsed last summer (yes, over a year ago) and never got put back. In the process, I found Lut's old phone. \o_ Lut hates his new phone, so I may see if I can get T-Mobile to give me an adapter for the new phone SIM card so I can fit it in his old phone.

Today, when Lut went back to bed after breakfast, I drove back home and started cleaning out his closet. The problem we have right now is that our stuff has overflowed all of our storage places for stuff, so I can't put away the stuff that's clogging up my rooms without first cleaning out drawers and suchlike. I also almost certainly need to replace my bed, as it's too tall for Lut to get into and out of comfortably. This sucks on multiple levels. First, my bed is a California king waterbed frame with a foam mattress stuffed into it. It's on a drawer pedestal and has a ginormous headboard for EVEN MOAR storage space. Getting a shorter bed means losing dozens of cubic feet of storage space. And, see aforementioned "I do not have enough storage space NOW." I need to get rid of stuff. Plus I need to figure out how to get rid of the bed, because just getting it disassembled and out the door is a two-man job, and it's not like trash collection is going to take it. Probably I should try freecycle or Craigslist or something. -_-

Anyway, Lut's closet held mostly electronics and empty boxes. Oh, he has clothes in there too, but it's a huge closet (like eight feet long and maybe three feet deep) and all of the clothes he actually wears are in a dresser.

The electronics were:
  • Keyboards
  • Mice and trackballs
  • Gaming controllers he hasn't used in years (some of which he never used much: he's gotten at least three different things that amount to "keyboard for one-handed use" and he's never used any of them for more than a few months.)
  • Approximately two hundred cables, mostly for purposes I can't identify. Some were old power cables
  • Surge protector strips
  • A battery backup
  • A CRT monitor
  • A defunct printer
  • Miscellaneous old computer parts: harddrives, fans, a motherboard, a CD ROM or DVD drive, not sure which
Most of the small stuff I packed back into two boxes and returned to the closet. It would make sense to throw it out, or at least to throw out 95% of it. Keeping spare network cables and power cords: fine. Keeping cords for peripherals we don't own and that don't fit to any computers we do: why. But I felt kind of bad about throwing away Lut's stuff and this doesn't take up a lot of space.

I did throw out all the empty boxes, though. Seriously, he just kept boxes for every electronics thing we ever got. There were three monitor boxes in his closet and a dozen or so for different internal computer parts.

The CRT monitor, though, I really did not want to keep. It is huge and it doesn't pack well: I can't put things on top of it and it's so heavy I don't want it on top of boxes. Moreover, it was one of THREE CRT monitors that we haven't used in 4+ years. Yes, I suspect it still works. I am also pretty sure we're never plugging it in again. Lut and I both have dual monitor set ups. We have a spare already on the desktop if anything happens to one of them.

Anyway, Lut has always been like "why shouldn't we keep the spare old monitors" and I've always been like "because they take up SO MUCH SPACE" and he's not here to argue with me so I decided to get rid of them.

Of course, you can't just put monitors on the curb for the garbage collectors to take. But I have a car now! I used Google to find an electronics center that was open and called them to verify that I could in fact show up and make my old electronics their problem now. They charged 35 cents a pound for TVs & monitors, and 20 cents a pound for scanners & printers. Everything else is free to drop off. (You can even take a tax deduction for other stuff, the place is a nonprofit).

So I loaded up my car with ALL THE WORTHLESS ELECTRONICS. My two scanners that I haven't had drivers for in 7 years (cry). The printer. The TV set that has been unused in the basement since we moved in 14 years ago. Two CRT monitors. One dead flat screen monitor. A broken lamp and two broken fans. An empty computer case. I almost took my two dead weed whackers, but I didn't want to spend the time to (a) dig them out of my garage, which is chock-full of a friend's stuff and (b) verify that I didn't confuse the dead weed whackers with the one that works.

I also tried to give them the pile of dead batteries from the basement, but alas, they don't take batteries.

Technically, this is not actually all of the junk electronics in my house. We still have three old desktop computers and one CRT monitor, for instance. We still have a TV set we haven't used since 2004 and a VCR we haven't used in even longer. Probably some other stuff, too. But it made a substantial dent in the pile.

My strangest find in the closet was Lut's duffel bag. It was almost empty, except for the following: one messenger bag, a paperback book, a cardigan, a box of tissues, and a mostly-empty box of tea bags, and a bunch of instant oatmeal packets. One of the packets had come open and spilled oatmeal all over the bag.

This utterly mystified me at first: why would anyone put a bunch of oatmeal packets in a duffel bag and then put the whole thing in an office closet?

But I figured it out! This must be the bag Lut packed when he left his last job. He would've kept the tea and oatmeal at his desk at work, for drinks and breakfast if he ran late. Then he never got around to unpacking it when he brought it home, and one of us got sick of it being in the way in the living room and stuffed it in the closet.

Saturday Night:

After getting rid of the electronics (141 pounds of stuff I was charged for, and probably another 60 of stuff that was free) I went back to see Lut for lunch, and hung out at the nursing facility until after supper. Lut mostly sleeps or rests in between meals; he has no energy. :| He was able to stay awake for an episode of Defenders, so that was nice. Apart from that, I got some proofreading in. After dinner, I went home. I didn't really want to clean any more, but I decided to take care of the little remaining clutter on the floor of the front hall, which consisted of a desktop bookcase and its contents. It all needed to be dusted, but I got it cleaned up and stowed back on top of the table we use as a computer desk.


Oh, and I did four loads of laundry: one of my clothes and Lut's, and three for bedding. And also the duffel bag I found in Lut's closet, to get rid of the oatmeal dust I couldn't pour out. My bed is clean! \o/ 

While I was cleaning, I got a text from LawnWoman that she wasn't going to be able to make it today but she would be out tomorrow THIS TIME FOR SURE. XD

I am honestly much less pissy about LawnWoman because even though the other services also promised things they didn't deliver AT LEAST SHE TALKS TO ME. I will give so much slack to people who communicate with me via text or email, y'all. SO MUCH.

There will come a point where I will have to tell her I can't keep waiting, obv., but I can probably let that slide until I finish housecleaning. -_-

On Wednesday night, I'd ordered a Surface 3, for a few reasons:
  • I like having a laptop of my own, but I'd also like Lut to have a laptop, especially if I go to ProgPower. He's rarely alert and competent enough to use one, but he'd probably be able to at some point if I'm away for four straight days.
  • I'd like to have a drawing tablet
  • The Surface will be compatible with the art software I already own
  • Micah used a Surface 3 for a year or so and said it worked pretty well as a drawing device
  • Since the Surface 3 is a couple of years old now, it's pretty cheap.

I have Amazon Prime, but I paid for shipping because Amazon Prime would get it to me on 9/5 and $14 would get it to me on 9/1. I figured this way I'd have time to see how adequate it was as a laptop replacement. Bear in mind that my present laptop is also two or three years old, so I don't think I need the latest and greatest. My main concern is that I didn't like the Surface keyboard the one time I used one, several years ago. But that was years ago.

Along with the Surface 3, I ordered a case, a keyboard, and a stylus. On Thursday, Amazon told me that the case, keyboard, and stylus had shipped and would arrive on Friday.

...

Yeah, those are not gonna be a whole lot of use without the tablet.

Friday morning, Amazon told me they'd shipped the Surface 3 and it would arrive on 9/2. Okay, that's a little disappointing but not terrible.

Friday night, the peripherals still hadn't arrived. Well, I didn't need them before the tablet got here anyway.

When I got home Saturday night, I had a box from Amazon!

Just one box. It was a big box?

It had Surface 3! And also the shoes I'd ordered for Lut, which weren't supposed to get here until Tuesday. Well. Okay?

So I plugged in the Surface 3, which I am pleased to see uses a mini-USB cable just like my phone. I spent an hour or so getting it set up and updated and loading ArtRage and Clip Studio on it. Neither ArtRage nor Clip Studio works without a stylus. ArtRage almost works? I can kind of fingerpaint, but it treats "picking up finger and putting it back down elsewhere" as "you want to draw a straight line between those two points right?" Not so much. Clip Studio doesn't even try: it treats finger movements as "you want to drag the position of the canvas around" regardless of what tool I have selected.

So the only thing I've done with it so far is use it for reading in bed, instead of reading with my phone. It works pretty well as a proofreading device. I wouldn't want to type on its virtual keyboard, but I can peck out corrections as necessary, and unlike with my phone, it doesn't have any trouble with Google Docs.

My messenger bag has a little padded pocket which, it turns out, is a tablet pocket. The Surface fits it exactly. I am pretty sure once I get the case & keyboard, it won't fit. But if I keep the Surface to use as a laptop, I'll use a smaller bag and stop carrying the laptop in its messenger bag. Conveniently, I came across not one but THREE small messenger bags in Lut's closet. I suspect one of them will work very nicely for the Surface.

I still haven't addressed my "I need a new phone" issue. I am leaning more towards getting an older phone now, though. A refurb Galaxy S7 is less than half what a Galaxy S8 costs, for example, and it's still going to be a hundred times more powerful than my Galaxy S-We-Didn't-Need-Numbers-Yet.

Sunday Morning:

This morning I really didn't feel like cleaning any more, so I decided to go to Panera, where mostly I'm just writing about what I did yesterday. I'm also In a bit, I will head off to the nursing facility to see Lut. I want to give my Surface some more time to charge; I thought I had it charging while I typed this but whoops. It'd come unplugged from the wall.

Also, maybe I can get enough words written to finish one of the boss mobs I need in 4thewords.

Anyway, this is my vacation so far. I have played some Tricky Towers in the evening for fun. Tricky Towers has a pretty small playerbase so its matchmaking only works in the evening, which has the side benefit of meaning I can't fritter away my mornings on it.

But yeah, it's mostly decluttering, cleaning, visiting Lut, and proofreading. Yes, this is my idea of a vacation, and yes, I am very glad to be doing it instead of going to work. Also: yes, I am an adult.

There was a time when I questioned whether or not I really was grown-up, but nope. I am. I am doing all the adulting. SO MUCH ADULTING. Weeks and weeks of adulting. I used to think that I would be really bad at caretaking, if I ever had to take care of my parents when they got older. It's kind of nice to know that I am okay at it instead. Not perfect. But okay.
rowyn: (Default)
Thursday: Number of people who are supposed to come look at my yard and give me a quote: 2.
Number of people who actually come: 0.
Number of contacts I get: also 0.

I'm not even mad any more. Whatever. I will start on my own yard tomorrow night and do a few hours a day until it's done. I'm on vacation next week anyway, and even if I go to ProgPower that's only Wed-Sun that I'll be gone, at most.

Friday morning: one of the people who was supposed to come Thursday contacts me and says she had a friend pass away Thursday, but she'll come this afternoon. Well, that's a pretty good excuse. Okay.
Friday 1PM: Another text: "almost done with this property, will head towards yours soon.
Friday 6:15PM: I haven't heard from her since 1PM. I text to ask if she's been by, then drive home. Don't hear from her on the drive home. Welp. I feed the cat, and go out to do yardwork. I move out some of the giant fallen branches off the lawn, then figure I should see if the lawn tractor will start. It starts! I still am not sure how to make it mow, but hey, maybe this will work. I get the loppers and go out to clear the front porch of overgrowth so I can see if UPS delivered anything to my front porch.
While I am there, at about 7PM, LawnWoman appears! She made it! She is apologetic about the many delays. I show her around my massively overgrown lawn. She takes pictures. She gives me a quote. It is a lot, but it is still less than it would've cost to have a lawn service for the last three months, so eh, okay. I hire her.

She is supposed to come tomorrow with a crew. She may finish tomorrow, or might finish Sunday, depending how things go. Given how things have gone so far, I am not super convinced I will get a trimmed and mowed yard by Monday, but we'll see! Maybe.
rowyn: (Default)
So the lawn service I called on Friday night, Lawn Love Lawn Care, showed up on Monday night. The guy called me at 4:50 to tell me he'd be at the property in 10 minutes. I called him back at 5:30 (I do not get home until 7ish, generally) to ask what the cost would be. He couldn't give me a quote, he said. He talked to the office and they would call me later with a quote.

At 6:30, the office left an automated voicemail (the phone did not ring) saying that they'd emailed me a quote. They had not emailed me a quote. At 7PM, I called the office to ask what was going on. "Uh, we can't give you a quote yet, we have to transfer you to another service with different equipment, we'll get back to you ... later."

"Later when?"

"Well, you're scheduled for Wednesday?"

"..."

It's now Wednesday night and guess who has never gotten back to me. I don't know why "no" is so hard for businesses and "string you along until you are pissed off and furious and determined to badmouth them publicly" is so easy, but that's where we are. Lawn Love Lawn Care: NOT RECOMMENDED. Like, seriously, if you're not gonna do it just freaking SAY NO. Don't tell me you sent me a quote when you didn't. Don't tell me you'll get back to me when you won't. SAY NO. It's not THAT HARD.

Anyway, I give up. I will figure out how the riding lawn mower works and spend however long it takes getting the yard under control again and just see hardly anything of Lut and generally kill myself, because it's easier than wasting an unknown number of weeks looking for the mythical person who is willing to take my money and do it. Because hey, it's Wednesday, and even if I call someone tonight the earliest I will get a "we've looked at your property and will maybe contact you someday, who knows, about how much we would charge to do it on some other day but definitely not any time soon" is next Monday.

x_x

UPDATE:

In a triumph of hope over experience, I decided to call one more service, mostly because I am too upset to relax and I know I'm not going to have time to dent the horror that is my yard until the weekend anyway. Third service says they will come tomorrow and give me a quote.

And Lawn Love just texted me that they were "running late and would be there in the morning" which ... makes no sense? They still haven't told me what they'll charge, why do they need to send someone out AGAIN without giving me a quote? o_O

UPDATE 2:
So now Lawn Love is like "I'm a different person and I need to see it myself to give me a quote" so I guess they're a kind of crappy collective that doesn't trust each other enough to share pricing? Supposedly this one will actually give me a quote. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
rowyn: (sledgehammer)
So on Monday, I texted the lawn guy my coworkers hired, and he said he'd mow my lawn on Tuesday.

Tuesday, he texted after I got home (at 7PMish): "Too wet to mow today, I'll come tomorrow." Which was fair: my grass is like two feet tall and it had been raining, and mowing tall wet grass is pretty awful.

Wednesday: I got home at 7PM again, and the lawn wasn't mowed. Huh.

Thursday morning: T asked if Lawn Guy had texted me. "He texted me and said he couldn't get through the gate. And also that it looked like it hadn't been mowed in a year. I told him he should text you," she said.

"It's been two months, and yes two months of grass is horribly overgrown. You can get in through a gap on the south side of the lot." I told her. "I don't think he's going to do it."

"He'd better do it! We already paid him!"

"... Maybe you'd better get your money back," I said. But I texted Lawn Guy to explain about the entrance.

Lawn Guy: "All right, I'll mow it tomorrow."

Me: Okay then.

Friday, I get home at 6:30PM. My lawn is still untouched. Jerkface Lawn Guy still hasn't said boo to me. I am really angry about this. Like, okay, I get that you somehow run a mowing business without knowing how much work is involved with two months of neglected lawn and you didn't charge them enough, and you're not happy. But if that is the problem, WHY DID YOU TELL ME AFTER YOU SAW THE PROPERTY THAT YOU WOULD DO IT? Why didn't you just say "it's too much, I can't do it"? I went online and hired the first service I found that was still answering the phone at 7PM. They had the decency to tell me that they couldn't give me a final figure until they saw the property (after I explained it was overgrown: they gave me a quote based on the Google Maps size of the lot.) They're not going to come until Monday, so I still have a weekend of wondering if their operation will also prove to be "jerk around potential customers for X days until they give up on you". x_x

Paying people to do things for you is hard. I guess I could devote the entire weekend to dealing with my own lawn. Maybe if the new guys also turn out to be jerks, I will call in sick on Tuesday and do nothing but yard work. The problem is that not only does the lawn need to be mowed, but the only working lawn mower I have is the riding one and I am super-nervous about trying to use it. It's weird and finicky and sometimes gets stuck in pot holes in my lawn. Also, there are bushes and stuff that need to be hacked back before they eat my house, and also that prevent mowing because they partially cover the lawn (not enough to stop the plants from growing, just enough to keep a human from getting to them). My yard is just really terrible. I regret everything.

It's Saturday morning now and I was kind of thinking of waiting to see if Jerkface Lawn Guy would ever contact me, but he hasn't. So I texted him to tell him to give my friends their money back. Anyone wanna bet that after the new service deals with it, Jerkface tries to claim that he mowed and won't give a refund?
rowyn: (content)
People at work have said this a bunch of times, and of course I can't usually think of anything people can help with. But on Monday, one of my co-workers said it and I remembered a problem I meant to ask at work about. "Do you know any lawn services? I need to hire someone to take care of my yard."

"I don't, but T might? I know we have some customers who run services. I'll ask T."

T: "I use a service! I went to high school with him, he mows lawns for everyone I know. I texted him, here's his number. You can just text to ask him if he's free."

So I texted him, and he texted back an hour later with "sure, I'll mow it tomorrow, what's the address?" Okay, this is a little weird that he didn't say the price, but maybe he figures he'll quote one when he sees the property. I texted him my address.

A little later, F says "Hi, did you get any good pictures of the eclipse?"

"No, bbut I got some bad ones. Did you want to see?" I looked up to see my cubicle surrounded by beaming, conspiring co-workers. "Hi?"

"Hiiiiiii," they chorused back.

T: "So we all chipped in and we're gonna pay for the lawn service this time. It'll be a bit more than usual because it's been a while but don't worry, we're gonna cover it."

Awwww. ♥ All I really wanted was to be able to pay someone so I didn't have to worry about my yard any more, but that was extra sweet.

On a related note, I have a different "I just need someone else to research this because I am too brain-fried to do it" problem.

As I've noted before, I use a Samsung Galaxy S, a seven-year old model, because it has a horizontal physical keyboard and new phones do not. My Samsung's backspace key is dying, and I am facing the fact that getting another copy of seven-year-old phone is not a great plan. The software I've been using all along keeps upgrading itself and no longer runs well on my antique phone.

I can't get a new model of a phone with a horizontal physical keyboard built-in. But several people pointed out last time I mentioned this that you can get bluetooth thumbboards, some of which are set up so they'll clip to the phone or have a place for the phone to stand or something.

So: if anyone wishes to research this for me, I want to buy:

* A recent model of Android phone (released in the last six months or so, preferably)
* a horizontal thumbboard (ie, a physical keyboard of approximately the same size as the phone, operated by thumb) that will attach to said phone, so that I can use the thumbboard and see the screen easily while standing/walking/waiting in line/etc. So either phone or thumbboard needs to have a way to attach to the other so that I can hold and see both comfortably while using the thumbboard. I've tried vertical thumbboards and they are too narrow for me; I need one at least 4" wide.
* Preferably a five-row thumboard (ie, numbers on their own row)
* I am not fussy about phone size. Good battery life is a plus, but I am resigned to carrying a spare USB battery so not a big deal.
* Lots of memory also a plus. I would love a phone that could edit large Google Docs files, though I do not know if such a thing exists.

I do not need to be gifted this, I just don't have the brainpower to research which of these products work well together. o_o;;;

Thank you!

*

In other news, Lut has been noticeably more like himself on three of my last four visits. I hate to get my hopes up, and he is still nothing like baseline. But it's a positive direction and man I am a lot more kindly disposed to the skilled nursing facility. Whether they have any part in it or not. Please keep praying.

Unrelated, I decided to give myself a tiny daily writing quota just so I could feel good about beating it. So I set it at 200 words, which isn't enough to finish a book in a year, even. But it's tiny enough that I can do it in ten minutes instead of checking Twitter. I hit it today. And I do feel good about myself. Woo, stupidly small number of words! \o/

Editing proceeds apace. I am about 5/6ths through the penultimate pass. The last quarter of the book is my favorite part, so probably will finish this pass this month. The last pass is just "look for editing artifacts" so hopefully won't take as long. We'll see.
rowyn: (Default)
I've been a car owner for 15 days now. My car's name is Ardent Purr the Adoracar, because decision is for other areas of my life. As of the 14 day mark, I'd driven her about 500 miles. This seems like a ridiculously high number. I checked and it's below average for an American driver. Americans are crazy about driving.

Lut was supposed to be moved to a rehab facility today, but I just called the hospital and he hasn't been moved yet. Given that it's 4:30 now, I don't think it's happening now. Assuming it happens eventually, my miles-per-day will go down, because the new facility is a little closer. It's about the same time to get to, though, because it's all street driving instead of a highway option. If he does well in rehab and can come home, my average driving will go down a lot more. Please pray for us, things are not looking great. v_v

I am tired all the time now, even when I get a full eight hours of sleep. People keep saying "don't forget to take care of yourself" and I wish I could. I'm eating as much and as well as I did before Lut went to the hospital. The main thing I gave up was exercise. I do not have time to commute 90 minutes a day and work full time and see Lut for a few hours each day and still exercise.

I am still editing. I've hacked about 12,000 words out of the manuscript now. I am startled by how much of that is just "saying the same basic thing more concisely". I still need to add a few things, but I'm just changing stuff as I get to it at this point.

I've written a little fiction, but only a little. I miss the #PollRPG -- I was thinking about it when I did the first title poll this week -- but I am not sure what to do with that. Writing a story where people shape the results as I go means I can't build a buffer or plan out the story that much, and "write when I feel like it" doesn't work that well if I want an audience to follow it at the same pace. Editing and writing at my own pace works okay with the cancer lifestyle. Not so much on a schedule. :| Maybe I will do a poll about it at some point.

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