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angelsigil-med
Angel's Sigil

Demon hunters trap demons. They do not help them avoid capture, and they do not help them reform. Everyone knows that demons are innately evil and cannot change.

But what if everyone is wrong?

After a demon took Sunrise prisoner half a season ago, it pledged to her that it would reform. That after millennia of feeding on the suffering of others, it would stop. In exchange, she promised to do her best to provide it with her happiness to feed upon instead. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon this pledge. In some ways, it is the life Sunrise has always wanted: traveling the skylands with a swift, powerful protector, visiting strange places, learning a new language, and seeing things she'd not even imagined existed back in Oak-by-the-Water.

But the demon is lying to her, and if she finds out the truth ...

... how can she be happy then?

~

The sequel to Demon's Lure! Those of you who've been following my doings for a while may have noticed that Angel's Sigil has gone through a couple of different titles before I settled on this one. Names are hard, but I am satisfied now! Also, it's too late to change my mind again.

As with Demon's Lure, Angel's Sigil is a fantasy about a young woman and her demon, in a queer-positive setting. It is heavy on coping mechanisms and dealing with intolerable situations, and with no romantic subplot. This book completes the story begun in Demon's Lure, so if you wanted to wait and binge-read them both at the same time, you need wait no longer. I may revisit Sunrise and her demon at some future point, but I feel their first story arc has reached a good conclusion.

Thus, I am currently drafting The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, which is a spin-off on the Etherium books, set in one of the worlds that the the fey visit from time to time. It's a return to my polyamorous fantasy roots, with an FFM triad. My next release is already complete but for final edits and a final title; the working title is Frost, and it's a dysfunctional MM fantasy romance in a new setting. (With a happy ending, because I wouldn't call it a romance without a happy ending.)  
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Health/Fitness
Exercise levels trended up. I am still struggling with "only eat when hungry". Sometimes it's not at all convenient to delay a meal for a few hours until I have the appetite for it.

At the end of the month I installed Pokemon GO on my phone, which has greatly increased my motivation to Go Outside and Go Places, on the one hand. On the other hand, the whole thing where I stop and stand around for a few minutes at every pokestop considerably slows me down. Much more than I envisioned it doing. I am not sure the increased regularity with which I am now biking offsets the lowered intensity. We'll see.

Writing
I won CampNano! With 50,150 words at the end of July 31. (The CampNano "verified" total is slightly higher, but I don't care.) This was probably the toughest time I had with Nano since 2007. I didn't have to push to make it in the end; I was at or over par for the entire duration. But it was a slog the whole time, and I never got more than a couple of days ahead. Very unlike my experiences writing the Etherium novels or Frost.

But I did it, and the book is closing in on the end, so that's good. The draft was at 88,900 words as of the end of July. I am pretty sure I am going to excise out 16,000 words from that and make that its own novella, because it is too much backstory to belong in this novel. There's, I dunno, another 30-40,000 words left in the book, I'd guess.

The Business of Writing
I did proofread Angel's Sigil. I procrastinated on a few bits of backmatter/frontmatter, but finally finished those on Sunday (in August). Alinsa is pretty much done with the layout, so looking good for the August release.

Silver Scales had the international-only Bookbub promotion, which was fun in that it sold a couple hundred discounted copies. It did not make a profit, either on the initial sale or in follow-through, though Golden Coils did see a little bump in sales afterwards.

Gaming

Pokemon GO has become my new gaming obsession. I got the 100 pokestop visits badge after 4 days. Apparently this is a lot of pokestops per day. (I hit 59 on the third day. That was too many pokestops.)

The game kind of works on a bike, in the sense that I can get to pokestops faster than on foot and loot them for stuff. (Especially gifts. MUST HAVE GIFTS FOR ALL MY TRAINER FRIENDS. Sending out presents every morning is the most fun part of the game.) I also get credit for some fraction of the distance I cover, like maybe 10-30% of it. This is probably from all the stop-and-go from pokestops -- when I'm going under 5-6mph, it counts it as distance traveled, and when I get over that it, stops counting. I've heard joggers complain it doesn't count their distance accurately either.

Anyway, I am enjoying it so far. We'll see if I stick with it for years the way some of my friends have. I beat my first gym last Tuesday morning! That was exciting. My defending pokemon even held it for half a day.

I haven't figured out how raids work yet, other than "badly". I have found a few raid bosses that were weak enough that I could solo them, so that was fun and also surprising.

I did keep posting on the Dragon: Rebirth game, but mostly once every day or two instead of frequently. It may have petered out, we'll see.

Socializing
I went to Corwyn and Kat's wedding! It was at the hotel across the street, so I didn't have to travel far for it. It was a good ceremony, short and poignant with some bits that the wedding couple included for humor. ❤

The reception was lovely, too, and I got to see several mutual friends and catch up with some people I don't see much of. It was great.

Happiness
Cancer is still the worst. I've been depressed a lot in July and I kind of feel like "I don't know what I was expecting."

Goals for coming month
  • Care for Trask and get him various things he needs
  • Release Angel's Sigil
  • Write another 10,000 words of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Princ

Stretch goals
  • Start final revisions to Frost
  • Frost cover
  • Finish draft of Princess.

I kind of want a more ambitious word count goal for Princess, but I am also burnt out on writing so I'm not going to push it. The stretch goal can cover it if I regain some energy.

I did make all of my July goals, plus one of the stretch goals, so that was good.
rowyn: (exercise)
 
When Pokemon GO came out two years ago, I didn't download it. This was only because I had an ancient phone at the time and Pokemon GO wouldn't run on it. I wanted to play it -- everyone else I knew was. Even my co-workers were all playing. But I didn't want to play it badly enough to (a) get a new phone that (b) wouldn't have a physical keyboard.
 
But my old phone was only getting older and all the apps that it used to run fine were being constantly "upgraded" so that they now barely ran at all.  I put a new phone on my wishlist in December, and my brother bought one for me.
 
And I still didn't get Pokemon GO, because by then no one seemed to be playing it anymore.
 
But after friends-and-gifts were added to the game, I noticed people had started talking about it again.
 
Yesterday was a lovely day for July in my area, which meant it was warm and too humid but not ridiculously so.  I didn't feel like dragging my bike out of the garage and up the hill, but on the way home from writing at the library, I stopped at a tiny park. I intended to walk its tiny loop trail four or five times -- maybe twenty minutes -- on the theory that some exercise was better than none.  And, as long as I was walking anyway, I decided I might as well download Pokemon Go finally, and see if I liked it.
 
I'd walked the loop four times by the time the game finished downloading.  It let me catch a squirtle, then told me to go to a pokestop. There was one three or four blocks away, at a little church.  "Oh, that's not far," I thought.  I went past it all the time when I biked to the library.
 
I set off for it, and promptly realized that "not far" on a bike is very different from "not far" when walking.  But I got there, and spun the stop, and headed back to my car, satisfied that the game had indeed gotten me to do more walking than I would have otherwise. And also discovered that my car was parked next to a pokestop.  There were a bunch more pokestops in the area but I was hot and sweaty and wanted to take a shower, so I stopped playing.  Even though I noticed when stopping to get a burger for Lut that there were like a half-dozen pokestops ringing the stadium near my house.
 
This morning, while on the phone with a friend, I walked over to the stadium. There I discovered that almost all of its pokestops were fenced in and behind a locked gate.  Well, phooey.  Also, it started to rain.  I walked home, lazed around for a bit, and then set out for Panera to do some writing.  
 
And also to find out what pokestops were around the area.
 
I spent about 90 minutes writing, and got in around 1250 words. Then I decided to reward myself by walking over to the two nearest pokestops: one was next door to Panera, and the other maybe half a kilometer away.
 
And then there kept being another pokestop that was "just a little ways further" so I kept walking. And caught pokemon. And walked. And caught more pokemon.
 
Four kilometers and an hour and a half later, I finally got back to the car. My feet hate me now. I had a bunch of errands to run, and one of them took me near two different pokestops so ... you know.
 
I am running low on pokeballs now, despite hitting All The Pokestops and leveling like five times in the game. ;__;
 
Tomorrow I will bike to work, which should be much more effective for spinning pokestops, even if it's not good for hatching eggs.
 
I have no idea how combat works in the game. I tried fighting at one of the gyms just to see what combat looked like, and that did not really help any.  I really expected a lot more hand-holding than the game gave me.  c_c
 
Anyway, after I'd been sitting around the house for a while, I found myself thinking that there's a pokestop just across the street and I should really go spin it to replenish my dwindling pokeball supply.  
 
My feet and calves did not approve of this idea.
 
I ended up doing it anyway. c_c  But the pokestop gave me NOTHING, so I flounced back to my house and closed the app. HMPH.
 
Anyway, all of this is to say that I remain weirdly excited by Pokemon GO despite the comparative lack of any real gameplay, and I expect this will encourage me to range away from my usual bike routes so that I can find and hit more pokestops.
 
Also, if anyone wants to add me as a friend, my trainer code is [reacts ] and I don't seem to be running low on gifts to hand out yet. :D

Update: I have acquired a number of total strangers I've never even spoken to as Pokemon friends, so I took my trainer code offline. Message me if you'd like to add me. I am happy to have more Pokemon friends, just I want to know who they are. XD
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Health/Fitness
I've been trying to get back to biking, and am riding for 60-90 minutes after work, three or four times a week. This isn't as good as my pre-cancer and pre-car days, but it's progress. After this Thursday, lut moves from weekly to bi-weekly appointments, so that may make it easier to make time to bike four-five times a week. We'll see. Having podcasts to look forward to helps with motivation. Unfortunately, my luck with the next two podcasts I tried was not as good as with the first two, so I may actually start looking for podcast recs as the list of "ones I've heard about for years" narrows down after I listen to a few episodes and realize, "oh turns out I don't actually want to listen to this after all."

Towards the end of the month I also started a brand new eating habit, which is "Only eat when I'm hungry."

Yes, this does substantially change my eating habits, sometimes in seriously weird ways. For instance, yesterday I went to a restaurant to eat lunch, and had half of my meal and took the rest home, which is pretty normal. It wasn't a particularly big meal, but by dinner time I still didn't feel hungry, so I didn't eat dinner. I woke up at 7AM, and ... still wasn't hungry. By 8:30AM I was hungry, so I had breakfast then, and broke my accidental 20-hour fast.

I don't intend to do a lot of "skip meals if I'm not hungry", but that's a thing. I have managed to stop myself from snacking quite a bit by thinking "I want a cookie" and then going "but wait, am I hungry? No. No cookie then. Wait 'til you're hungry."

I knew I was doing a lot of boredom eating but it's still weird to see it in action.

Writing
24,750 words on The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince (this is my favorite book title for one of my works to date. If people start reading this book and are disappointed that it's a polyamorous romance, I don't know what to tell them. You need to read more shifter novels or furry stuff or something.) Princess is up to 38,750 words now.
I also did some writing for a new play-by-post game, and wrote a few dragon bios for Flight Rising. It's good to do some just-for-fun fic writing again; it's been a long time since I did that.

The Business of Writing
I wrapped up edits on Angel's Sigil and gave it to my wuff Alinsa to lay out.

I purchased an international-only Bookbub for Silver Scales, to run on July 7, so that's exciting!

For those who don't know: Bookbub is the most effective (in practice, really, the only effective) advertising outlet for books. They are moderately expensive and hard to purchase. Per their internal stats, they reject 80% of requests for ads. I started trying to buy a Bookbub in January and had been rejected nine times before this. But persistence works! I suspect a good cover helps too. Honestly, I am surprised it only took ten tries.

Bookbub is a discount newsleter; they get subscribers because they only advertise books discounted to $2,99 or less. You might make your advertising dollars back from discounted sales, but the it's real effectiveness is "follow-on sales in the same series". This is why I didn't start trying to buy a Bookbub until I had several books out. The carry-over effect to other series is small, and I only have two books in each of my series.

The international-only Bookbub covers just four countries: UK, India, Australia, and Canada. Bookbub's penetration in those countries is much smaller than the US, so the international-only cost is something like 25% of a US + international deal. $188, in my specific case, for a fantasy novel discounted to 0.99 (or 65 rupees in India). The ad prices fluctuate by genre, region, and price: Bookbub charges more for higher-priced books.

The results I've heard for an international Bookbub for a $0.99 SFF deal have been anywhere from selling a dozen copies to several hundred. I am unlikely to make a big profit from the Bookbub itself, because I only make 34-56 cents per copy. And I'm also unlikely to make a big profit from follow-on sales because there's only one more book in the series. So this is by no means a "Woo I'm RICH!" moment. If July's profits are in the range of A Rational Arrangement's profits for its first month, I will be shocked. :D

Nonetheless! I AM EXCITED.

So excited I already discounted Scales JUST TO BE SURE the right price would be in place, even though the Bookbub itself doesn't run until next Saturday. And I discounted it in all markets, including the US, because why not. So if you've been thinking about buying Silver Scales, now is a good time.

Related: if you've already read Scales, have not reviewed it, and would be willing to drop a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I would be delighted. People are a lot more willing to take a chance on a new author if they see the book has a lot of reviews. Even a couple of sentences is great for getting the numbers up.

Gaming
Bard and I started a new one-on-one play-by-post game, because it'd been a year or two since our last PBEM and we are contractually obligated to attempt one periodically. I titled it Dragon: Rebirth and Bard is playing a baby dragon.

Socializing
There was a small get-together at the hotel across the street from my house, and I spent a few hours there saying hi to people. One of my out-of-town SOs came by for it, so I also spent several hours with him. That was nice. I am still in Extreme Introvert mode, so that's a thing. Motivation to get out of Extreme Introvert mode has been sorely lacking.

Goals for coming month
I signed up for CampNano! I set my word count goal at 50,000 words! I don't know why I did that!
Seriously, I wrote less than half that in June and my whole schtick for YEARS has been "set modest goals that you can exceed", so I don't know why THIS MONTH I decided I should set an ambitious goal. I think I've just been setting modest goals for the last couple of months and I feel unproductive.

Also, I actually do not have ANY plans to edit in July. Angel's Sigil is set for an August release, so I don't even have to do proofreading for it. I could edit Frost, but that release won't be until, like, November or something. There is seriously no rush on that. I honestly can't remember the last time there was a whole month where I didn't have a book in the works that I needed to edit or was in the process of releasing.

*scrolls back through her monthly updates tag looking for the last time*

*keeps scrolling*

Okay, it was November. Of 2016.

This is a RARE BIRD, is what I'm saying. It's a good time for me to focus on writing and not worry about anything else. I don't know if I'm actually going to want to write this much; I'm halfway through the first day and I've written all of 70 words so far. And I wasn't doing anything but writing for the last three weeks of June, either, but was still undermotivated.

But hey, we'll see. Right now, the goal feels intimidating, but it also feels oddly good. Like yes, it's okay to have high expectations of myself, because I can meet them.

We'll see how that works out in practice. :D

In bullet-point form:

Goals
  • Get Lut to oncology appointments and suchlike.
  • Write 50,000 words of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince
  • Continue the Dragon: Rebirth game at whatever pace is comfortable

Optional Goals (not worried about meeting these)
  • Final edits on Frost
  • Cover for Frost
  • Proofread Angel's Sigil
rowyn: (Default)
What I could remember of a peculiar dream from this morning:

The dream is about a sprawling, wealthy, extended Family. The Reaping happens to them periodically; it's a force of nature rather than something the Family does deliberately to its members. It kills some Family members, gives other Family members magical power, and makes some strangers into part of the Family.

Two of the teenagers in the Family are Good Girl and Goth Girl. Good Girl wants to escape the Family but she keeps getting dragged back into it. Goth Girl dislikes Good Girl for being naive and having hope. Goth hates everyone, actually, and she dislikes Good Girl less than anyone. Goth doesn't try to escape because what's the use.

In one of her escape attempts, Good Girl finds two strangers, young kids, who belong with the Family and are dying because being apart from it is destroying them. So Good Girl abandons her escape attempt and goes back to the Family with them. She tries to negotiate with one of the Family adults to get a little slack for the new kids so that there is a chance they will survive.

A Bad New Girl is there and using her influence to make things harder for Good and the other new kids, because Bad thinks the Family is a totem and she needs to climb to the top of it on the backs of all the other kids her age or younger.

Goth Girl is watching this and feels sorry for Good. Goth pretends to call her father to ask him to kick Bad out of the Family. Bad is distracted from her targets and confronts Goth with false bravado: "I'm not afraid of you!"

Goth glares at her and takes a step forward. Bad backs away at her advance. Goth says, "You're pathetic! You think you're hot shit: 'look at me, I survived the Reaping, I have magic powers now, I can do whatever I want, all I have to do is stop being afraid of this one goth bitch and the world's my oyster!'" She continues to advance as she talks, until Bad trips and Goth is standing over her. "Well I've got news for you, kid: I am not the scariest thing in this world. I'm not even on the list."
rowyn: (Default)
 One of my friends (@InspectorCaracal over on tootplanet.space) asked jokingly about the secret of finishing things a few days ago.
 
There isn't a secret -- that's the joke -- because writers will happily go on at great length about their particular processes. It's been almost two years since the last time I babbled about mine, and I need an excuse to procrastinate on my current WIP, so now looks like a good time to do it again. 
 
I find the process question fascinating, because I have wanted to be an author since I was a smol child. I started writing my first attempt at a book when I was 14 or so.  I finished my first draft of a book when I was 35. I finished a final draft of a book for the first time when I was 44.
 
In the three years since then, I have finished and published six more books, finished editing a seventh, and finished drafting an eighth.
 
I want to emphasize one thing right here: if you always wanted to be a author but so far you've never been able to finish anything, THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU NEVER WILL. Yes, eventually you will have to finish things in order to be an effective author. But you need not be discouraged or give up on yourself based on your past failures. You can still become that author who publishes three or four books in a year. I say this because I have, so I know it's happened at least once.
 
Still, when I hear people say, "I just can't get anything finished", my reaction is "MAN I TOTALLY REMEMBER FEELING THAT WAY. FOR AGES AND AGES." Like the span of time where I wanted to be an author and write books and yet did not work on anything long enough to finish it is WAY LONGER than the tiny fraction of my life where I go "Okay, I'm going to write this book" and then somehow I ACTUALLY DO. In a reasonable period of time.
 
For my own amusement, a timeline of various milestones in my writing life:
 
1985: I started my first serious attempt at writing a novel: Draco. I'd made at least one other start, but this was this first time I made it past the first few scenes.
1987: By now, I had written over 100,000 words on five different unrelated novel ideas.  I had finished none of them.
1988: I actually finished two things this year! Neither of them were novels.  One was a very short story ("The Bribe", <2000 words) and the other a novelette ("Heartseeker", 10,000 words)
1989-1999: During this period, I finished five more short stories, four of them contemporary fiction that I only wrote because a writing class required it. I started and abandoned several different would-be novels.
2000: Jordan Greywolf told me about Sinai, an RP MUCK where he ran games. I joined and started running games there -- and, relevantly, often seeing story arcs through to completion when I was involved in them.
2002: At this point, I had written about 200,000 words of fiction over the course of seventeen years of "I want to be a writer", and had about a dozen abandoned projects. I decided to go back to one of these ideas and finish them. I picked Prophecy, a book I'd started writing in 1991, and embarked upon The Master Plan(tm). I wrote an outline for Prophecy and set a writing schedule. I also sent the parts of Prophecy to Greywolf to read as I wrote them.
2003: I started writing Silver Scales as my fun side project while working on Prophecy. I hated writing Prophecy a lot. Most of the time that I was writing Silver Scales, I enjoyed it. I never wrote an outline for it.  Silver Scales was the first of many works that serialized as a work-in-progress for a small group of friends. That "serialize every WIP for a small group of friends" habit persisted through 2014.
2005: I finished the first draft of Prophecy and the first pass of revisions on it.
2006: I finished the first draft of Silver Scales..
2009: I finished twelve short stories this year. I'd begun and abandoned another ten or so different novels since finishing Scales. Three of those abandoned efforts were more than 10,000 words long. I hadn't tried a detailed outline for anything since Prophecy. I decided to try outlining a project again.
2012: I finished another nine short stories. I started and abandoned in short order another couple of novel ideas.
2013: It'd been seven years since I last finished a novel. At this point, I had written almost a million words. I had finished two books (although not complete revisions for either).  I  had finished a whole lot of short stories. I decided to write a romance because playing through the Sith Warrior arc in Star Wars: the Old Republic a second time was too much work just to see the romance arc with Malavai Quinn. I finished writing the first draft of A Rational Arrangement by the end of the year.
2014: I finished the second draft of A Rational Arrangement. I also revisited one of my abandoned books, Golden Coils, and resumed work on it. I did not do a private serial for Golden Coils. A Rational Arrangement is one of the last works I serialized while I was writing.
2015: I finished the final draft of A Rational Arrangement and serialized and published it. I wrote/finished Further Arrangements, a collection of three follow-on novellas. I felt guilty about writing only ~50,000 words when two years before I'd written ~220,000.  I decided that 2013 represented a high water mark of productivity that I would never achieve again.
2016: I finished drafting three books: The Moon Etherium, The Sun Etherium, and Golden Coils. I also started a fourth book, Fellwater. I wrote a total of 347,000 words. I also finished editing The Moon Etherium.
2017: I wrote some more of Fellwater and then abandoned it. I also started and abandoned PollRPG, an experimental work-in-progress serial based on poll responses.  I revisited one of my abandoned book ideas from 2009 and started over on it, resulting in the first drafts of Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil. Total words: about 220,000.
2018 year-to-date: I finished edits on Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil. I revisited an abandoned outline from 2015, and wrote and then did first-pass revisions of Frost. I've begun work on The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. Total writing as of 6/21: about 135,000 words.
 
I can draw a bunch of lessons for myself from this. These may or may not apply to anyone else: all advice is a reflection of the person giving it more than anything else.
 
Write Books I Want to Read. I spent 3+ years working on Prophecy because I thought it would be cool, not because I wanted to read a book like it. I thought "books like this don't exist" and didn't realize "no, they exist, but I don't read them because I don't like them." I even changed the ending on Prophecy in an effort to make it more to my taste.  But I disliked writing this book in part because I didn't particularly want to read it. I like re-reading parts of it, but as a whole it wasn't something I looked forward to with eager anticipation. This is one of the key takeaways for me.
 
I Still Abandon Projects: I think of 2018-Me as a disciplined, motivated writer who keeps working on things even when she doesn't want to, and who finishes projects even when they're a slog.  But I abandoned two projects just last year.
 
Abandoned Doesn't Mean Forever: My self-image is "once I start, if I don't see it through to the end via steady work, then I'm never going to finish it."  But of my ten complete drafts, over half (Prophecy, Silver Scales, Golden Coils, Demon's Lure, Angel's Sigil, and Frost) were completed after three or more years of being ignored. Even if I wrote 350,000 words in every year, I'd still come up with new ideas faster than I can finish them. That I decide "now isn't the right time for this" doesn't mean I will never come back to it.
 
Finishing Things is the Best Way to Learn to Finish Things: Two things helped me a lot in Learning to Finish Things. The first was running RPGs alongside Greywolf.  Greywolf was very keen on wrapping up story arcs and campaigns. I'd been roleplaying for over twenty years by the time I started gaming with Greywolf, but "finishing campaigns" wasn't a thing that ever really happened in my experience.  GMs burned out, or players did, or the GM didn't know how to wrap up the story, or hadn't really had a story in mind to start with, just "stuff happens", or all of the above. Greywolf visualized games in terms of narrative arcs, and encouraged me to do the same. He also promoted the idea that "even a mediocre ending is better than leaving it in limbo". Players had a lot of influence on the outcome of an RPG, and a GM might not be able to arrange a dramatic finish to the plot. The GM could always arrange some conclusion, however. I sometimes whined and balked at finishing an arc, but he gently coaxed me through and offered lots of encouragement and assistance. I finished a handful of major and minor arcs with characters in Sinai, and brought three different long-term campaigns to a conclusion. After I managed to pull off endings when I literally couldn't control or predict what most of the major characters would do, writing endings where all of the characters were under my control felt a lot less intimidating. I learned so much from Greywolf, y'all.  He was both an inspiration and one of the first people to encourage me and offer constructive, targeted advice on solving specific problems.
 
The second thing was writing a lot of short fiction. Writing the tarot stories was particularly useful in this regard, because I discovered I could take three random cards and build a little narrative around them. In addition, since these were short, they took much less time and dedication to finish.  So they were quick and satisfying and gave me confidence.
 
Portable Writing Devices Are Magic: I got my first phone with a keyboard in 2007 and even though it didn't improve my ability to actually finish things back then, it improved my word count immediately: I won my first Nano in 2007 and wrote half of it on my phone. In 2016, I got a laptop and that vastly improved my editing speed. The ability to write and edit while not sitting at my desktop with all of my desktop distractions is way more useful than I realized before I had devices that let me do it. 
 
I Don't Revise Until I Reach the End: When I first started writing, I would re-read and fiddle with existing text constantly. I still re-read to a degree, but I've cut back on it. I feel like re-reading before I've finished writing is an indulgence that lowers my willingness to edit once I am done. Further, any edits I make before I finish the initial draft are unlikely to be substantive, and if they are substantive they might just be things I change my mind about AGAIN before the end. 
 
"Don't revise until you're done writing" is a common piece of writing advice that I have followed without much thinking about it for the last 15 years or so, however. I'm not entirely sure it's a good idea, given how much I dislike editing.  On the other hand, I don't dislike editing now as much as I did even two years ago, so writing and editing are much closer to at a balance point with one another.
 
Outlines Work for Me: I waffled on this one for a long time, because I wrote Prophecy with an outline and wrote Scales without one. I thought my success with Scales meant that I could figure things out on the fly and I didn't need an outline. This is arguably true, but an outline makes things easier.
 
I prefer to Write Events in Order: Even though I outline my books now, I don't adhere to my outlines that closely. The benefits of writing out of order are mostly that I can work on the scenes I'm motivated to write at the moment. For me, these are outweighed by the drawbacks: mostly that I will need to do more revisons/rewrites because once I get the earlier scenes done, I will find ways in which the later ones don't fit after all. But also that I will find it more tempting to contort earlier scenes to fit the narrative I already made for the later ones.  Eg, I might realized in writing scene 5 that the setup for the already-written scenes 7-10 doesn't make sense for my characters after all. If I force the characters to follow my original script, the whole book can come across with that "characters being dumb or acting out of character for narrative purposes".  The Demon/Angel books went way off script because of this: the things that seemed reasonable in the overview stopped making sense when I was in the details. But since I was writing in order, I could just adjust the script.
 
Serializing Works-in-Progress Is a Localized Peak of Excellence: A "localized peak of excellence" is from a mountain-climbing analogy. If you climb to the highest point of the mountain that you are on, you will find that to climb a higher mountain, you have to first climb down. Hence, a "localized peak": you are not as high as you can possibly go, but you can't keep climbing up from where you are.
 
When I first started sharing my works-in-progress in 2002, I found it a huge boost in my morale. I loved having instant feedback and friends cheering me on. I was motivated to write more because I had an audience waiting to read the next scene and speculating about the direction of the story. Comments were my incentive to write.
 
But there were drawbacks, too:
 
~ I was using my most enthusiastic readers as cheerleaders. That meant they weren't offering critical feedback on my work, and were less likely to want to re-read the story in order to offer advice for revisions or corrections.
~ Once I posted a scene, I often stopped writing until I heard back from a few readers.
~ I became a lot more reliant on feedback; if I didn't get a few comments on the latest post, I'd become dispirited.
~ It made me feel like a flake who couldn't finish things. This one is more complicated, because I did finish several things that I serialized. But I wrote in spurts, and I posted things as I wrote them. The experience of my readers was "she was posting every day for three weeks but she hasn't posted anything in the last month." Every time I stopped writing for a week or more, I felt as if that slowdown was magnified by the existence of an audience to watch it. I abandoned a book at 80% finished in 2017, and that doesn't bother me at all. Every serial I left unfinished feels like a failure. Taking three years to finish drafting Scales felt like forever. Taking 8 years to finish drafting Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil felt irrelevant, because no one else saw that abortive initial start in 2009.
~ I was more likely to incorporate authorial mistakes into the narrative. Sometimes I did go back and revise scenes when I forgot to put something in, but I also lampshaded continuity mistakes or added explanations in to cover for them.  This isn't always bad, but it's something I could so without an audience if I thought it would benefit the story, and something I am more likely to do when it doesn't, if I have an audience.
~ It encouraged me to write longer: I wanted to have "something to show", so I'd write something, even if it didn't further the narrative. If readers asked questions about something, I'd write about that, even if it wasn't important to the story.  This is another "sometimes it works out for the better" case, but still.
~ Negative feedback when I was in the middle of writing a book was a major deterrent to writing more. I can use constructive feedback on outlines and on finished drafts, but criticism in the middle of the draft is generally counterproductive for me. I have too many voices in my head telling me "this is terrible and not worth finishing" to afford to give them any encouragement.
 
Ultimately, I decided I didn't need the cheerleading badly enough anymore, and I gave up serializing works-in-progress. I gave it another try with PollRPG, and ran into the same problems all over again.

Amazon Is Better at Selling My Books Than I Am At Giving Them Away: when I ran serials, my peak for commenters was, I dunno, ten or maybe twenty different people over the entire course of the serial.  The reader numbers per LJ stats and the website were considerably higher, but it still peaked at maybe a few hundred unique visitors per post, IIRC.  The Moon Etherium was much less successful, with no more than a couple dozen readers. Whereas all of my books have sold over a hundred copies through Amazon, and A Rational Arrangement has sold over a thousand. I feel like I'm doing a much better job of reaching my audience by selling books than I was by running free serials of them.
 
I Work Better with a Lot of Scheduling Flexibility:  Writing 200,000+ words on a few different books per year is a thing I can do without too much effort.  Writing 500 words every day of  a specific project turns out to be so much harder. PollRPG really emphasized this for me, because I couldn't write a buffer for it (since the polls influenced what happened next.) I would much rather have the latitude to write 3000 words one day and none the next, or to write on unrelated projects, or edit instead of writing, or whatever.
 
Goals Are Useful: In particular, slightly-underachieving goals. I want goals that require some effort to beat, but not enough effort to be daunting.  I love blasting past my goalposts, whereas not reaching them at all is dispiriting. 
 
I Never Do the Right Kind of World-Building Beforehand: These days, I try to do somewhat more world-building before I start writing. This consists of things like "general history of the setting, relevant nations, relevant languages spoken, type of government, kinds of technology/magic available".  I make character notes beforehand and set out some guidelines on how the major ones speak.
 
I am afraid of world-builder's disease so I rarely make more than 10,000 words of notes, including the outline. 
 
I inevitably get to the end and realize that I have basic continuity problems stemming from "I didn't know X when I started out so I made it up when I came to it only that would have affected twelve other things but I didn't think of them at the time and now it's all a mess and I need to fix it."
 
One of the problems is that some times I did determine X beforehand, but in the process of writing I changed my mind about it.
 
Anyway, world-building for me kind of comes down to:
 
~ make up what seems like enough of the world
~ write the first book
~ do all the other world-building it turns out you needed after all
~ edit the first book
~ be glad at least that's all settled for the next book
~ write the second book
~ crap this is in a new part of the setting I don't know enough about
~ dangit
 
I Like to Have Multiple Works in Progress. I am not a "start Book A, write until finished, revise, wait for first reader feedback, complete final draft of Book A, and ONLY THEN may I begin Book B" kind of author. Yes, I do struggle with the compulsion to Write Shiny New Thing Instead of Boring Old Thing.  But it really stopped feeling like a problem in the last two years. Now I'm more like "well, it'll be good to have a head start on the next thing and also I will still go back to Boring Old Thing and finish it." I don't know how to explain the difference except that it seems to pan out? I don't expect to finish every abandoned project I've ever started; Fellwater, to use a recent example, may never be finished even though I have the rest of it planned out. (A big disadvantage many of my abandoned works have is that I have no clear idea of where I was going with them, because they were begun before I started consistently making complete outlines first.)
 
Also, I do less "I'm not going to write anything for weeks/months and then when I decide to go back to writing it will be Shiny New Thing" than I used to. I switch tracks quickly now.
 
Last, I think it's useful to give my first readers a month or more to finish reading and for me to be less immersed in the book before I do my final revisions. Working on a different project lets me make use of that mandatory stop-futzing-with-this-book period.
 
Congratulations to those of you who made it to the end! \o/ Tell me, what are your favorite parts of the writing process?  What parts of mine would you avoid, and why?
rowyn: (studious)
Briarley is not so much a Beauty and the Beast re-telling as a fix-it fic. It's a short but lovely M/M romance with no sex, no Stockholm syndrome, and a father who refuses to trade his daughter for his freedom.

One of the protagonists is a bisexual Christian parson in WW II England, and the story treats his faith and his vocation seriously, which I particularly loved. With the parson's stance being "I don't believe homosexuality is sinful and here is my reasoning, but I am a flawed human like everyone else and I could be wrong." It felt authentic and respectful.

The dragon (ie, the Beast) protagonist wasn't as well-developed as the parson, which would've made the romance more endearing. But this was still a quick, fun read, with lots of good detail relevant to the setting. And not the standard "Nazis bad" stuff: bits about wartime rationing and German bombings of England and not using lights at night so the bombers wouldn't be inadvertently guided by them.

It's a good story. Check it out!
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I heard a lot about You're Never Weird on the Intenet when it came out three years ago, but didn't read it at the time because I am too cheap to buy ebooks from mainstream publishers for $10+, and I am out of shelf space for physical books.

But Lut has gotten back into the habit of checking out books from the library. While we were there to browse, I saw it in the "employee picks" section. I picked it up, and found Day's introduction charming and entertaining, leading me to read the rest.

The book as a whole is a fun, quick read. Felicia Day is delightfully nerdy; I was surprised at how familiar her escapades were, even though I'm ten years older than she is. She was a Puzzle Pirates addict at one point, having started perhaps six months or a year before I did. (I can date this because she mentions the distilling puzzle had just been added when she quit, and it was a recent addition when I started.) She was also an authentic WoW addict; the role she wrote for herself in "The Guild" is drawn heavily from her own life.

She also shares some good insights on the process of Creating Stuff, as well as how she handles various struggles in her life: with gaming addictions, depression, anxiety, and overwork. It's all written in a personable, humorous style. She has a way of laughing at herself that I found very relatable. The whole book is; I'd definitely recommend it.
rowyn: (studious)
Writing
I did some of this! I wrote another 10,500 words for Frost, and about 6,000 words of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, which is now up to 14,500 words total.

The Business of Writing
While I didn't do the official launch stuff for Demon's Lure until the beginning of June, it was uploaded to the various e-tailers at the end of May. I also solicited ARC readers and sent advance copies to a handful of people.

I didn't feel much like writing in May, so I finished the initial edits for Frost instead.

I did some editing on Angel's Sigil, but didn't finish it.

I poked at my notes for The Twilight Etherium a little, but I still don't have an outline for it.

Media Consumption
I played a new-to-me single player computer game! For the first time in ages. It was "Regency Solitaire", which turned out to be cutscenes about a Regency love story framing gameplay of a solitaire variant. The solitaire variant involved enough skill to make the gameplay interesting to me.

I also read some books, one webcomic archive, and listened to some podcasts, but I've already written entries about those. Except for Felicia Day's You're Never Weird on the Internet, which I still have to post about.

Other
Lut started a new form of chemo, daratumumab. This one is weekly and via IV. It's been pretty time-intensive. The first dose was supposed to take 9 hours to administer, and ended up taking 20 because Lut reacted badly when they tried to increase the rate on the IV. But "sometimes the first dose takes a long time because you have a bad reaction to it" is an uncommon but anticipated problem (I think it affects about 20% of patients? Don't quote me on that.) The second week was still an all-day process, where we arrived at 8:30 and left the clinic at 6PM. The third week was 8-ish to 3:30. The fourth dose is tomorrow, and is again supposed to be quicker, so we'll see. Lut hasn't had any bad reactions to the administration of it since the first week. His oncologist picked this drug because it only targets the cancer, and therefore Lut's low blood counts are continuing to recover on it, instead of being suppressed by the chemo as with some other drugs.

We're hoping Lut will be eligible to get a port at some point. His low platelet counts make him a bad candidate for the procedure now, but they're going up, so hopefully. It'd be good, because Lut's low blood counts also make finding a vein to put an IV in very challenging, and daratumumab is IV-administered.

No severe side effects from the chemo, but Lut's been having some moderate problems. Insomnia has been especially bad; he's been spending a lot of time trying to sleep and failing. Also some nausea/stomach pain problems, which he's been managing via a prescription anti-nausea drug. Overall, not doing too badly. He got back into WoW and he's been reading more. We've gone to the library a few times to restock on books. ♥

Goals for coming month

Get Lut to chemo appts and other doctor stuff as necessary
Finish editing Angel's Sigil (the re-titled sequel to Demon's Lure)
Write some more of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince

Optional things to work on if I feel like it
Final edits for Frost
Read some more books
Outline/notes for The Twilight Etherium or some other new book.

I finished the Angel's Sigil edits this morning, so that one's a gimme. Logically, I should put down a word count goal for Princess, probably 40,000-ish words, but I'm not because ... I don't want to.

I am on track to release four books in 2018, even if all I do in the rest of the year is finish final edits for Frost. Four books in one year is enough. In an ideal world, I would write another three drafts this year too, so that I have three drafts to edit/release in 2019, which is how I started out this year. If they average 100,000 words each, that means I need to write about 40,000 words per month. My average word count so far this year is 24,500. I've been mostly editing this year, so switching gears to mostly writing makes sense and 40,000 words per month is an achievable goal. When I'm focused on writing, it's common for me to write more than 50,000 words in a month.

But it sounds exhausting to make that an actual goal month after month after month. July is Camp Nanowrimo, so that'll be as good an excuse as any to buckle down on writing. For June, I want to feel like I can rest on my laurels and coast if I want to. In the last five months, I've written one draft, edited two books, done initial edits on a third, and released two books. It may be that it's time for me to stop telling myself "if you slow down for a few months it means YOU WILL NEVER FINISH ANYTHING AGAIN." If I only finish one more book this year, that will still be plenty.

The other factor at play is that in May, I wrote 16,500 words, got ready for the release of one book, finished initial edits on another, and did some editing on a third. My feeling about this is "I was slacking". Like REALLY ME? Is this what slacking looks like now. Please stop. Maybe I need a break to read some more books and recharge. I certainly don't need to set the goal posts WAY OUT THERE.
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In the fight against the demons of the skylands, Sunrise has one of the rarest powers: that of a lure. Where demons normally feed by tormenting their victims, Sunrise draws them with her happiness.
 
She doesn't want to hunt demons, but when a hunter team arrives at her village to ask for her help, she agrees. It should be easy: they just need her as bait for a pain demon that is too fast for them to capture otherwise. And a typical pain demon is no match for an experienced team of demon hunters.
 
But this is no typical demon. And it has its own plans. It has no intention of being trapped, and is not worried about the hunter team. No, its main concern is: what does a demon who's spent millennia torturing and tormenting humans know about making one happy?

~

Demon's Lure is my newest release! It's in a brand new setting, the skylands of the Anesh archipelago. This is my first general fantasy: there is no romance in Demon's Lure or in its sequel, Angel's Sigil*. So those of you who like my world-building and watching characters problem-solve, but aren't so much into the romance: this one's for you! Its theme is change and adaptation, with central questions like "how can you be happy despite things you don't like and can't change?" and "what causes people to change?" and "do the same things apply to demons?"
 
Some of these questions are less universal than others, is what I'm saying.

Anesh is a queer-positive setting; the protagonist is bisexual, some minor characters are nonbinary, and the society as a whole considers this unremarkable.
 
My cover artist for The Demon's Series is the talented Anthony Avon, and I can't wait to show you the cover** for Angel's Sigil, the sequel. That book will be out in August, so you won't have to wait long for the sequel.
 
* If I write a third book in the setting, it will almost certainly have a romantic subplot, though. Just warning you.
 
** Though if you browse around on Avon's DA, you can spot it now. n_n
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Someone on Twitter -- I forget who, alas -- posted a recent strip from Strong Female Protagonist with a link to the comic. I read the strip out of context and then went back to read the archives. Despite the genre-savvy name, it's a serious strip, more drama than anything else. It's a superhero comic that's not, for the most part, about winning by punching things. It's different people with superpowers, most of them trying to Do the Right Thing, often in vastly different ways. There's a lot of slice-of-life stuff, "ordinary day in the life of a person with superpowers". There's also some superhero vs villain fights, and hero vs vigilante, and people with superpowers trying to figure out how to effect real change rather than using their powers to punch stuff.

There's some dystopia in it, in the sense that "most people have no powers and a few can do amazing things" is always a dystopian premise. I almost quit reading over an early revelation of 'big world-spanning evil plot' but I stuck with it. The comic also has long discussions of philosophy and ethics. It reminds me a little of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but with more recognition that a single person can't clever their way into solving all the world's problems.

There's quite a lot of archives to read -- 800+ pages, I'd guess. It took me a few days to get through. Good stuff, definitely recommended. No idea when or if the major plot line is going to wrap up, although individual story lines do run their course.
rowyn: (studious)
 
I haven't been motivated to write any fiction since I finished the draft of Frost. I wrote a few new scenes while editing it, but I finished the last of those last Friday. 
 
I'm not really working on anything now.  I've poked at The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, but only wrote a couple hundred new words. 
 
I've been reading more, and listening.
 
I finally started listening to some podcasts when I'm biking outside. I've been meaning to try "listen to podcasts while biking" for several years, but getting podcasts loaded to my iPod was always awkward. And my old phone was too old to load new apps or stream audio. But Shiny New Phone has no such limitations.
 
I don't need recommendations for podcasts because I have ones that I've been meaning to try for years and years, so ... lots of backlog when I get to them. Recommendations for Android podcast apps would be appreciated, though.
 
The first podcast I tried was T. Greg Doucette's "#FSCK 'Em All".  I've been following Doucette on Twitter for a while; he's a criminal defense attorney in North Carolina, and politically he's pretty much a conservative Black Lives Matter activist. This is not a combination I see often and I find his perspective interesting. #FSCK 'Em All is a weekly podcast, usually around ninety minutes. It's mostly about the failures in the criminal justice system over the previous week. This covers a spectrum of problems, from wrongdoing by cops, judges, DAs, etc., to citizens calling the police for bad reasons, to the occasional story where the cops or other legal officials handle a bad situation well. ("Look, the cops were called on a suicidal guy with a weapon and they DIDN'T kill him!") That last is depressingly rare.
 
In addition to the news round-up, there's often a "Law 140" section, which covers some aspect of civil rights or criminal law. There are also "What the FSCK" segments, where Doucette addresses audience questions.
 
I've listened to the last fifteen or so of sixty-five episodes.  Doucette is enjoyable to listen to: he has a good voice and a casual, conversational manner. I do note that he swears often, but the material is also swear-worthy, so, there's that. The criminal justice news is both depressing and monotonous, because it's so often the same story with new names and other minor variations. "No, no, this is a new story about a white cop shooting a black guy, you can tell because this time the black guy was holding a cellphone and the other time it was a shower head." But it's enlightening on just how pervasive injustice and racism are in the justice system.  There may be only a few of these that attract national attention in a given year, but there are so many that don't.  Every week. 
 
The production values are fine on most episodes, and minimalist: it's pretty much just Doucette talking, no bells or whistles. He does occasional interviews, and these sometimes have audibility issues. Only one that I had to give up on, though, and I suspect it would've been fine if I wasn't trying to listen to it with all the background noise of bike riding. This aside, the podcast does well the things it is trying to do. I will happily listen to new episodes as they drop. I'm probably not going to dive further back in the archives unless I run out of other podcasts I want to listen to while biking, though.
 
~
 
"Make No Law" is the second podcast I checked out. This is a monthly podcast on first amendment law. It's hosted by criminal defense attorney Ken White of popehat.com; I found out about it because I follow Popehat on Twitter. There are six episodes so far, I have listened to them all, and they are magnificent. These are done in conjunction with Legal Talk Network, and the production values are great, including voice actors to read excerpts from trial transcripts and Supreme Court arguments. They're like short history lessons on different important First Amendment cases. The June episode is "Fire in a Crowded Theater" and I can't wait. The episodes weave together White's narration with pieces of interviews and transcripts, so that you get these wonderful informative stories. I had expected to love the content -- I am fascinated by First Amendment law -- but I was surprised at how much I love the particular format of this show. The interviews are often with actual participants from Supreme Court cases, so that's pretty cool.
 
Amusingly, where Doucette is careful to avoid swear words on his Twitter feed but has no compunctions on his podcast, White is the opposite.  "Make No Law" contains no objectionable language, while White is perfectly happy to use obscenities on his feed and website.
 
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Frost, master sorcerer, only wanted an apprentice so he would have someone to pass the tedium of his work onto while he enjoyed the more sophisticated and varied parts. Sorcery-bound individuals are vanishingly rare, so when he stumbled upon one who'd been overlooked by testers, he counted himself lucky indeed. No matter if the boy was old to begin an apprenticeship; he would learn.

After growing up a bastard and a whipping boy, the promise of a future as a rare powerful sorcerer seemed impossible to Thistle. He tried to brace himself for failure and disappointment.

But nothing could prepare him for his growing attraction to his master. And it turns out there is one thing worse than an unrequited infatuation with one's mentor:

Having it reciprocated.
~

Frost is, fundamentally, an M/M hurt/comfort romance. It has some kink elements, but it's a 241 page manuscript with maybe 15 pages of sexually explicit material. The side plot of characters researching new aspects and applications for sorcery is a lot more substantial than the erotica. 

Most of the hurt/comfort aspect involves the main characters, somewhat inadvertently, doing really awful things to each other. And then they feel terrible about it and struggle to cope with the consequences, to do better, to forgive one another, and perhaps even to forgive themselves.

This is a fantasy novel not merely in the sense that there's magic, but also in the sense that "in the real world, if you have a relationship that turned abusive and toxic, it is almost impossible that this relationship will later have a happily-ever-after." I enjoy this kind of fantasy, but I don't want anyone to confuse it for a role model.

I'm looking for first readers for Frost, so if this sort of story sounds like fun to you and you're interested in providing feedback, let me know your email address! You will need an address that is linked to Google docs in some way. Comments are screened and your email address will not be shared with anyone or purpose but to give you access to the doc.

You can also send to my gmail account, ladyrowyn, or message me on Twitter or Mastodon.

If this story does not sound like fun to you, that's also fine! This one is fairly niche even by my standards. 
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"Her Every Wish" is a novella sequel to "Once Upon a Marquess", although it is only very tenuously connected to it. It's about Daisy, the impoverished friend of the protagonist from the first book. I enjoyed it reasonably well. The protagonists were likable and both of them were poor, which was a nice change from the general "we are all wealthy titled privileged straight white people" that dominates historical fiction. In fact, the male protagonist is none of those things, which is extremely unusual. This is one of those "protagonists get back together after a falling out before story opens" romances, and the initial falling-out was pretty abysmal.  Still, I liked it on the whole. 

~

After the Wedding  was ... ugh. I have mixed feelings about it, and I'm trying to piece out what exactly made me end up as dissatisfied with it as I am.

So here's the good:

I read most of it pretty quickly; after an early false start, I chewed through it in under twelve hours and that includes the time I slept last night.  So obviously it kept me thinking "I want to see what happens next".

I found the protagonists interesting and their feelings for each other believable. 

The supporting cast is good. The reunion between Camilla, the female protagonist of this book, and her sister Judith, female protagonist from the last book, was the most heartwarming and affecting scene in the book. Of minor characters, I found Mrs. Beasley especially charming. 

The female protagonist is bi and the male protagonist is mixed race (black father, white mother), and as with "Her Every Wish" I found this reasonably well-executed and added variety I don't usually see in historical romance.

It's well-written. There are no rookie mistakes in pacing or timing, no characters who are underdeveloped or inconsistent, etc. If that feels like damning with faint praise, it is, but I have read badly written books and I want to be clear on  this count. There's a reason that my scale goes 1-10 and yet the worst I ever give is a 5, and that reason is "because I have started books that are SO MUCH WORSE and I don't rate those because I don't bother finishing them."

And now the bad:

Camilla's internal monologue was unbearable. Literally, I gave up on bearing it. I just skimmed every time the novel went on about what she was thinking. The tenor of her internal monologue changes over the course of the book, from "I am the worst person in the world and I deserve all the substantial suffering I've gone through and everyone will hate me forever" and to "I deserve to be happy and maybe someday I will get it but first I must martyr myself" and eventually away from martyrdom but by then Milan stopped bothering to write out her internal monologue. 

There was a lot of internal monologue before that point, though, and I found it all unpleasant to read and skipped a 4/5ths of it entirely. Usually I like wallowing in the characters' heads, so this is really saying something.

I found the circumstances that led to the wedding-at-gunpoint that kicks off this story equally miserable to read from the male protagonist's perspective. One of the reasons that I kept reading was that I wanted to see the mystery of "why these characters were forced to marry" unveiled (it's not for any of the reasons you'd expect, like "she was pregnant" or "they had betrayed any affection or intimacy between them whatsoever"). 

There is eventually an explanation for why the antagonists had forced the marriage. It's not particularly convincing. Both in that the motives seemed insufficient to merit this response, and that the response was not the best or simplest way to resolve the antagonists' perceived problem. 

All things considered, the "forced wedding" plot device is probably what ruined the story for me. It's used as the reason why the protagonists can't be happy together more than as a mechanism to convince them to be happy together. The sex scene was utterly spoiled for me because Milan put it in with the Plot Hook Of Damocles hanging directly over it, so instead of "aww this is sweet" my reaction was to recoil in horror and disbelief.  "Maybe the female protagonist is dreaming THAT WOULD BE BETTER."

Actually, this bugged me about the sex scene in Once Upon a Marquess, too, though to a lesser extent. But both books set up a situation where the protagonists have sex while one of them is withholding important information, and moreover it's information that could very possibly have made the ignorant party decide not to have sex if they'd known. It's seriously skeevy.  

On a minor note, there are a bunch of nudge-wink asides to modern problems: a multi-page scene based around making fun of the Nigerian prince* scam, a reference to mansplaining, a complaint about the lack of pockets in women's dresses, and probably another couple of things I'm forgetting. These aren't done in an ahistoric way, but I still found it twee and tiresome. 

Anyway, I am giving this book a 6, and it is easily the worst Courtney Milan book I've read. I still finished it, I will still read other Milan books, it's not the worst book I've read this year, even. But ... eyugh. What I like best about romances is re-reading my favorite parts, and there isn't a single thing in this book I want to read again. Sigh. It's not terrible, it's just disappointing.

* No, it didn't involve Nigerian princes or wire transfers, but same type of con.

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Demon's Lure is not quite ready for release, but it is in epub form now! I am looking for people interested in receiving a free early copy in return for reviewing it on Amazon and/or Goodreads and/or their own blog/site/review platform. Leave me a message with your email address if you're interested! Comments are screened, so no one else will see it. You can also send email to my gmail account LadyRowyn, if you'd rather.

Book blurb:

In the fight against the demons of the skylands, Sunrise has one of the rarest powers: that of a lure. Where demons normally feed by tormenting their victims, Sunrise draws them with her happiness.

She doesn't want to hunt demons, but when a hunter team arrives at her town to ask for her help, she agrees. It should be easy: they just need her as bait for a pain demon that is too fast for them to capture otherwise. And a typical pain demon is no match for an experienced team of demon hunters.

But this is no typical demon. And it has its own plans. It has no intention of being trapped, and is not worried about the hunter team. No, its main concern is: what does a demon who's spent millennia torturing and tormenting humans know about making one happy?
rowyn: (Default)
Once Upon a Marquess was on sale for $0.99 (still is, as of this posting), probably because Milan just released the third installment in the series, so I picked it up and then actually read it for a change. Unlike most of the books that I pick up on sale and then ignore in the endless unsorted pile of kindle books.

It was typical of Milan's works: well-written characters, good banter, one of the protagonists has a Dark Secret, and a fast-paced plot. It was somewhat less intense than many of Milan's books, which honestly I prefer. I am not big on high intensity stories. But I still read it in one day because I wanted to know how it ended. I mean, it's a romance, obvious the protagonists get together and live happily ever after, but I was still impatient to see it happen.

The best part about Milan's works is that her protagonists are all different, with unique strengths and flaws and interesting quirks about their personalities. I have some quibbles about the story (I consciously notice the beats in her book and this annoys me, which is not really a valid complaint) but I liked it enough that I plan to read the next one soon too. So I'm not gonna take this up with gripes. It's a solid 8.
rowyn: (Default)
 
Writing
Another 22,000 words for Frost, which put it at 98,000 words. Since writing wasn't a goal this month, that's plenty.
 
The Business of Writing
I finished first-pass edits on Demon's Sigil and sent it to beta-readers.
 
Alinsa got me the early version of the Demon's Lure e-book and I started proofreading it.
 
Art
I finished the couple's adopt for Flight Rising and got one customer. Alas!  I think I am done making adopts. 
 
Other
I finished my taxes! Just like everyone else, I know, but whatever. They were stressful and annoying and now they are done.
 
Lut and I took some money out of his disability stipend via ATM, so that works. It's kind of expensive because his debit card doesn't have a bank, so there are no local ATMs. So he'd have to pay a fee every time we took cash out. We also attempted to use it to pay one of his outstanding medical bills from last year. I don't know if that worked yet. I'll check the debit card balance by phone later this month to see if they actually debited it. We can't use the debit card to pay our credit card, alas, because the credit card will only debit checking accounts.
 
We did get the last checks cashed from before they started putting the money on the debit card.
 
We never did get a medical bill for this year. I thought we had for a little while! But that turned out to be a bill for last year and only because one provider didn't have Lut's insurance info. I sent them Lut's insurance info. I was afraid this would mean that I'd have to scrounge up documentation on one of the prescription co-pays (seriously? they're all under $5 except the Revlimid that was $25 but I paid it in January and didn't keep the receipt) just to keep the copay grant open long enough to make sure no actual bills arrive. 
 
HOWEVER, it turns out the co-pay grant will pay Lut's insurance premiums! And that only required documentation from my employer. So I got that together and sent it to them. I don't know if it worked yet.
 
Lut only had a couple of appointments in April. The oncologist hasn't put him back on treatment yet because the cancer indicators were all still low based on the blood tests in March. He had blood tests today, though, and his platelet count was low so he needed a platelet transfusion. Next week is another oncologist appointment and I kind of suspect he'll be resuming treatment of some kind.
 
Socializing
I saw Terry for the first time in foreeeeeveeeer. ❤️ ❤️ Just for a long weekend, but it was a good visit. 
 
Goals
Oh man I don't know what my goals are for May. There are three obvious ones:
 
Finish proofreading Demon's Lure
Front/backmatter for Demon's Lure
Finish first draft of Frost
 
But I finished writing Frost yesterday (total count is 103,359), and I will probably finish proofreading Lure tonight or tomorrow. Some other logical things are:
 
Final edits for Demon's Sigil
Release Demon's Lure
Initial edits for Frost
 
I am optimistic that the book release will happen this month. I am not going to start final edits on Sigil now, but maybe later in the month. Likewise for Frost; I want to let it sit a little while before I go back over it.
 
One of the strengths of my current process is that, since I don't work on just one thing from when I start writing to when I release, I always have something I can work on. If something needs to wait on cover art or layout or first readers, that's fine. I can work on something else.
 
One of the weaknesses is that there are no logical "take a vacation" points. I don't go "well, I finished this draft, time for a month off from writing while I let my subconscious chew on it" or "I just released a book, time to rest on my laurels". There is always another thing I could be doing. Furthermore, having consciously turned myself into a kind of workaholic, I do not enjoy taking time off from writing nearly as much as I did fifteen years ago. I finished everything on my goal list for March and April a week or more before month-end, and instead of thinking "Yay! I did a great job!" I thought "I didn't put enough stuff on my goal list. MUST DO MORE."
 
I am not sure this counts as a problem or a humble brag.  Maybe both. It is strange to be so alien to my younger, oft-procrastinating self. 
 
Anyway, I will split my goal list into parts, and not worry too much about what I get done on the "maybe work on these" section.
 
Definite goals
Finish proofreading and front/backmatter for Demon's Lure 
Finish first draft of Frost
See if anyone would like an ARC of Demon's Lure, for review purposes


Work on one or more of the following:
Final edits for Demon's Sigil
Release Demon's Lure
Initial edits for Frost
Write more of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince
Outline The Twilight Etherium
rowyn: (Default)
I've read a couple of books this month:

The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver: This was a rare non-fiction read for me. I picked it up because it was on Bookbub and while I don't often read FiveThirtyEight, I've enjoyed what essays I have read by Silver. The book was interesting too, although I'm not sure I took away anything from it that I will use in my everyday life. Silver has a wide-ranging approach: the book is about forecasting in general, and so tackles a variety of areas where humans attempt to forecast from weather (surprisingly good at this!) to earthquakes (lol terrible) to the stock market to baseball and on.

I have a friend who often talks about future events in his own life in probabilistic terms: a 90% chance he will go on this planned trip, or a 50% chance that he will retire this year, or whatever. Reading Silver's book gave me a new appreciation for this approach, because Silver encourages the reader to think of forecasts in terms of probability and especially to think about uncertainty. Not only "what don't you know?" but "what don't you know that you don't know?"

He skewers one particular target in the housing market crash: the rating agencies. The two major rating agencies emerged almost unscathed from the mortgage crisis, despite being in large part responsible for it. Yes, banks made sub-prime mortgages to people with terrible credit, and people with terrible credit dove into the market, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwrote those loans, and other banks came up with the bright idea of selling them by bundling them together and re-dividing them into tranches.. But it was the rating who'd given triple-A ratings to the "least risky" tranches of these high-risk mortgages. They're the ones who said not "the housing market won't crash" but "these investments are safe even if the housing market crashes.".

(Narrator: they were not safe.)

Anyway, this was a scholarly book (so many footnotes!) written with a solid, engaging style. Easy-to-follow and interesting. If you are interested in forecasting or probabilities as applied to real life, it's an excellent read.

Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle, by Georgette Heyer: As I've noted before, I find Heyer entertaining more as a humorist than as a romantic. This leaves me in the weird position of having enjoyed the book even though the romance utterly failed me. I think this is the first time I've gotten to the end of a romance and found myself wanting a fix-it fic where the main couple stays apart. The female protagonist, Phoebe, had a plan to write novels and live with her former governess as her companion, and I really feel like this would have been a much happier ending. The titular Sylvester isn't ... awful? Like, he takes his responsibilities seriously, and he has a sense of humor, and he can be agreeable when he wants to be. But he is arrogant, callous, manipulative, and temperamental. While he improves over the course of the book, he doesn't rise to the standard of "someone I would want to be around", much less "someone I would trust with my heart". Especially since he is STILL MANIPULATING Phoebe at the end of the book.

Phoebe deserves better, is what I'm saying. Granted, she's kind of silly and impulsive, but she's nineteen and she's a woman in this crapsack world that offers so few good options.

*pats poor Phoebe gently*

Anyway, I generally enjoyed the book up until the last 30% or so, when I found one of the plot twists kind of tedious and it had also become pretty clear to me that I was unlikely to warm up to the male protag. (Frustratingly, there were a couple of points where I thought the ending might do something to endear him to me, but nope.)
rowyn: (smile)
Lut saw his oncologist for the first time since mid-March. Per the lab work from last visit, the cancer is still in check. His platelet count is still kind of low, so the doctor is thinking that when he restarts treatment, they'll use a different drug that won't suppress Lut's bone marrow as much as the Revlimid does. But -- good news! -- he doesn't see a need to restart treatment yet. Lut gets another month off! I am excited.

Lut has been doing pretty well for the last few weeks. He still sleeps 10-12 hours at night, but he's been staying awake most of the day instead of napping often, and he's done more reading and gaming. On Monday, he cooked dinner for us and yesterday he did the dishes before I got to them. ♥ So things are feeling a lot more normal, and I am delighted at the prospect of EVEN MORE recovery time.

So the news from cancer-land is good for a change, and this is nice.
rowyn: (Default)
 I read this as an ARC, and it's perhaps my favorite of the Dreamhealers series. It has a deliberate, unhurried pace, lingering on the lives of the characters. It revisits many supporting characters from earlier in the series, and introduces some delightful new characters. (Kristyl is my favorite! I hope for continuing adventures from her, or perhaps a prequel.)
 
As the title and cover suggest, there is some dramatic action in the book, but the story and conflict revolve around Vasiht'h and Jahir's relationship. I love the way they revisit some of the same kinds of problems they've had in earlier books, but from different angles, informed by their experiences. It feels like a real relationship, where problems aren't resolved forever because you resolved them once, and continue to arise in new permutations. 
 
A lot of the book has the feel of being on a long, relaxing vacation with friends and seeing astonishing, delightful locales and performances. This is handled beautifully, with enough things going on with the characters that I always felt engaged with the story, and not so much drama that I couldn't enjoy luxuriating in the setting.
 
Highly recommended!

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