rowyn: (studious)
I am still poking along with final edits on Scales, aka my Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology. I am, oh, 60% through what'll be my second-to-last editing pass. The last pass will be to see if I added any mistakes on my second-to-last pass, because I'm still doing fairly significant revisions. Mostly taking out words. I've chopped out about 12,000 on this pass, a few thousand by deleting whole scenes, and the majority by rephrasing things more concisely and trimming unnecessary descriptions and such. A few words here, a few there, it adds up. I am long-winded, y'all. You knew that.

Anyway, I am still indecisive over book titles, so I am going to use my time-honored resolution method of LET'S DO A POLL.

Also debating whether or not I want to go to the trouble of serializing it, so I'll throw that in here.

Also, by "which title do you like?" I mean "which title would you be most likely to remember/look at the blurb for if you saw it?" Not being familiar with the story is no impediment to voting. :) If you don't have an account to vote in the poll, feel free to leave a comment, they're open to anonymous.

Poll #18695 Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which pair of titles do you like? (Pick as many as you like.) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
5 (27.8%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
6 (33.3%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
1 (5.6%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
4 (22.2%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
5 (27.8%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
1 (5.6%)

Which pair of titles do you like BEST? (Pick one) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
4 (22.2%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
10 (55.6%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
1 (5.6%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
2 (11.1%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
1 (5.6%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
0 (0.0%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

Other Title suggestions:

If I serialized book one on Dreamwidth and my website, would you read it in that form?

View Answers

Yes, I prefer serials
3 (15.8%)

Yes, but I don't really care
10 (52.6%)

Nah, I prefer books to serials
3 (15.8%)

Ooh clickie
3 (15.8%)

rowyn: (content)
I had a long online conversation with some friends about "Ask" and "Guess" cultures (link is to a random article on the subject for those who aren't familiar with the concept). I'm going to use "Hint" here, because one person pointed out that (a) "Guess" is a misnomer because most people who grow up with people who do this are not guessing, they know and (b) "Guess" makes it sound objectively worse, and this is not an objective subject.* I don't know if "Hint" is a lot better, but I'll run with it for now.

* In the clash of another cultural concept: I prefer to refer to people by name when I'm talking about things they said. But I'm not doing that here because I don't know if the individuals involved want to be quoted by name or not. I also don't have convenient Twitter or LJ handles to refer to, which makes credit more complicated.

There are some things I've thought about this concept since I first heard of it. Like most dichotomies, it oversimplifies. Most people may lean one way or the other, but they are not going to be pure "Ask" or pure "Hint" about all things. Also, people vary in what they are Ask vs Hint about. You might be Ask-culture when it comes to visiting friends: "Would you like me to come over so we can play games?" but Hint-culture about birthday gifts: "I love Scharffenberger chocolate!" Or you might be the reverse: "It's always so much fun when we play games at your place!" and "Here's my Amazon wishlist!" You might feel it's unreasonable to ask directly for someone to email but normal to ask them to call, or the exact opposite, or that both are appropriate, or that neither are. People's inner rules about "this is too much to ask so I can only hint about wanting it" vary a lot.

My family is probably more "Ask" than "Hint": we are good with words and somewhat oblivious in general. But there are lots of things that I won't ask for. For example, when I realized that I needed a car, one of my friends pointed out that shipping a privately-bought used car halfway across the country was cheaper than the premium for buying a used car from a dealership. My parents have two cars and they basically don't use the second one: my mother almost never leaves the house without my father. It occurred to me that I could ask to buy their second car, which is a nice car in excellent condition because it's rarely driven. But I didn't, in part because asking for their car -- even asking to BUY their car at full market value -- felt like an unreasonable request. I told them I was planning to get a car and if they had offered to sell theirs, I'd've taken it. But they didn't, and I didn't ask, and that's fine.

One of the reasons that I am aware of how much I am not "Ask" culture is that I know someone who is. This is the person who inspired Wisteria, my character who is congenitally unable to take hints. And once I start thinking about all the areas where I expect hints or try to interpret them, I realize how much I rely upon them. For example, I was working with someone on a project where I hadn't heard from them recently, so I checked to make sure I'd responded to their last request and I had. But I hadn't gotten a reply, so I wanted to make sure now that they'd seen my email. We were still well-within the agreed-upon time frame so it wasn't a problem yes, but if spam filter or something had claimed my email, it would become one. I reached out on a different channel and said: "Oh hey, just wanted to make sure you got my email from [X Date]. No worries if you're busy and haven't gotten to the next step in the project yet, just making sure my email got through. :)" I included the second sentence specifically because I would react to the first sentence as "I expected to hear from you by now and I am deeply disappointed that you haven't finished the next step yet, what is your problem?" So even though the first sentence is at most a Hint, I still want to make sure that it has the right Hint-culture connotation of "I really do just want to make sure you got the email and are not waiting on me. I am not resentful or rebuking either your work or communication rate."

"Ask" and "Hint" cultures both encourage different failure modes. The failure mode of "Hint" is "passive-aggressive". Properly-done, Hint culture is designed to save face by giving both parties a graceful way out of a request. If you are eating chocolate, and I say "I love chocolate", and you say "Isn't it great?" and finish your chocolate without offering me any, then I can think "well, I didn't ask so you probably didn't realize I wanted some" and you can think "she didn't ask me for my chocolate so it's okay that I didn't share." If I simmer with resentment that you didn't offer to share your food when I Hint that I want to try it, or if you simmer with resentment that I Hinted that I want you to share, then we are Doing Hint Wrong.

The failure mode of "Ask" is "abrasive". This is the person who is "just being honest". The person who responds to "should I wear my blue dress or the red dress?" with "Those are both ugly". "Ask" culture is not a license to say anything because it's just words, and it's not a license to keep making the same request after being refused because "it doesn't hurt to ask." There is a point in Further Arrangements where Wisteria asks Justin to explain his reasoning, and Justin's reply amounts to "...because I'm an idiot." Wisteria doesn't accept this response: "My inability to follow your reasoning is my failure, not yours." This is an important facet of Wisteria for me: she can't properly participate in or understand Hint culture, and it frustrates her a lot -- but she doesn't believe Hint culture is innately inferior. It works for other people. It just doesn't work for her.

I have a lot of sympathy for people across the spectrum. I tend to assume the best about people, so if someone makes a request that I find too blunt, I think "they probably don't realize how it sounded and are not being pushy." If someone misses my hints, I assume they didn't notice them, because I know how often I miss hints. If I notice something that look like a hint to me, but I don't want to accede to the implicit request because I think it's unreasonable, I assume the hint was unintentional. Yo, guys, I am so bad at humaning. I'm gonna assume this is just as hard for the rest of you.
rowyn: (Default)
Health/Fitness
I stopped exercising in July. The time I used to use exercising, I now spend commuting to the hospital twice a day. There's a really stupid quote that goes something like 'if you don't make time for exercise you will find yourself one day making time to be sick'. I find myself thinking instead "since I used to make time for exercise it's much easier to find time for sickness by giving it up". -_-

I'd rather be exercising, to be honest.

Lut is a little better physically and somewhat worse mentally than he was when I took him to the ER on June 30. He is still at the hospital, and in a regular ward instead of the PCU, where he was all last week. So that's an improvement. If he continues to improve, the hospital will try to place him in a skilled nursing facility again. I don't know when or if they'll succeed at that.

Writing
I wrote, I dunno, a thousand words of Demon Hunter in July. It's not really on my priority list any more but sometimes I do it anyway. I kept my #4thewords streak by using up my stockpile of stempos (in-game items that allow you to skip days) because I forgot or didn't have time to write on several days. I also wrote a lot of stuff about Lut and health care that I'm not going to share.

The Business of Writing
I cut about 9,500 words out of the first half of Scales. I am pretty much done cutting words out of the first half, although having cut that much stuff I really need to read it again to look for editing artifacts. But at this point I'm comfortable saying "I just want to fix things that are actual errors", I think. For the first half.

I am still looking at trimming the second half, and also making some more changes based on feedback. Work on it hasn't ground to a halt despite health crisis, but I'm not dumping any deadlines on myself at this point.

Socializing
I haven't socialized much outside of the hospital, but I have seen Corwyn a couple of times and we did hang out for an hour or two after I took him to test drive the Corolla. Also, I went out for a couple of meals with Lut's family when they visited, and I talked to them. So less hermit-like than usual, really.

Goals from Last Month
I had "help Lut get better" down, which in retrospect was unduly optimistic. I visit him at the hospital before and after work during the week (this is why I got a car) and I spend several hours each weekend day with him. I still go home to sleep, because I have a cat and also the one time I tried to sleep at the hospital was traumatic. I am trying to help him. I don't know what I can do that actually would help, though.

I looked into buying a car, and actually bought one on 8/3 so good job there.

Card benefits services sent me a document saying they'd settled the claim and that Enterprise had acknowledged it was settled, so I think that's finally over. Four months and many emails later. Meh.

Goals for coming month
Get adoracar registered and real license plates put on her.
Visit Lut in hospital or wherever else he goes, until he can come home.
Upload The Moon Etherium print edition (this is basically done, but I found another typo to ask Alinsa to fix. Bleah, typos)

Everything else is extra.
rowyn: (smile)
I have acquired New Car. Many thanks to everyone who offered car-buying advice!

It is a 2017 Toyota Corolla LE, chosen for its combination of safety features, size (Lut does not fit well in a subcompact, which is what I'd've bought otherwise), reliability, and price. Telnar offered to walk me through the process of car research via Consumer Reports. I made sad pitiful noises at him, and asked if I could just turn the puzzle upside down and see what the answer was instead. So he did the research and gave me a few options and the reasoning behind them.

After settling on a car, I did go through Consumer Reports myself. Dealing with dealerships online was surprisingly painless. There are three Toyota dealerships in my area.

Dealership # 1: "We have two Toyota Corollas in stock. Call us to find out about pricing."
Dealership #2: "We have three Toyota Corollas in stock. We want over $1,000 more for them than Consumer Reports, which we know you were just looking at, thinks they're worth."
Adams Toyota: "We are researching what we have on the lot and will get back to you shortly!"

Based on this, Telnar formulated a sophisticated gameplan for pitting dealerships against each other to get the best price, which included "broaden your scope to other near-ish cities as necessary." While we were trying to get a price out of dealership #1, Adams Toyota emailed me:

"We'll sell you a Toyota Corolla LE for $500 less than what Consumer Reports says is fair, and slightly less than the average price for your area."

At that point, I just said, "That sounds good and they didn't make me dicker for it. Sold."

I called my local friend Corwyn and asked if he would come substitute for Lut in a test drive of the car: that is, sit in the passenger seat and make sure he fits. Corwyn is taller than Lut and of a similar build, although obviously Lut, with two compression fractures in his spine, has more flexibility issues. Still, he could give me an idea.

The Corolla is snug for Corwyn, but he does fit. I told Charly, the salesman, that I would take it. I picked out a black one, because they had several colors and if you could get black why wouldn't you get black?* I could've saved seventy-five dollars or so by getting a white one that came with cheaper floor mats**, but I decided I was willing to pay a slight premium for black, after all.

It's possible that if I'd been more dithery, or if I'd waited a month or two until they were more desperate to make room for 2018s (they had a lot of 2017 Toyota Corolla LEs in stock), I could've gotten a better price, but I am content.

I made the decision to purchase on July 27, and requested a 401(k) "loan" the same day. Name notwithstanding, this is not an actual loan. There is no approval or qualification process: I ask for it, I get it. In effect, it is me taking the money out of my 401(k) and formally promising to pay myself back (at 3% interest). It's not like a margin loan, where I'd pay interest to a third party while my money remained invested. I'm paying myself. If I failed to pay myself back, then I'd have to pay the government the early withdrawal penalty and taxes for the money I took out of the 401(k), but there's no collections process involved. It's all my own money.

The next day, the 401(k) people told me it would take 3-5 business days to fund it. I emailed this to Charly: "So I should be back between 8/1 and 8/4, depending on whether or not yesterday counts as the 1st business day."

At 9:30am on 8/2, Charly emailed me for a status update. I hadn't heard that the loan had been funded yet, but I work at my bank so I checked my account.

The funds had arrived 30 minutes prior. I went to the teller line to get a cashier's check (they would've taken a personal check, but I don't know where my checkbook is -- who writes check? -- and I work at a bank so cashier's checks are easy and free) and emailed Corwyn to get a ride. By 10:30, we were on our way to the dealership. Having made the decision, I was really impatient to finish the whole process.

Which still took like two hours, even though I was paying in cash. Buying a car is complicated.

I returned the rental that evening, with oddly mixed feelings. Yes, it is cool to finally have my own car, but I've been renting from the same office at Enterprise for eight years or so. They all know me. And up until now, when I need a car every day, it was a very cost-effective way of handling my transportation needs. I am kind of sad not to be doing it any more. Even now, I wonder if I should've gone with a short-term car lease, or some kind of arrangement where I'd have a car for several months, until Lut is stable and at home, and then go back to renting a car as needed.

But owning a car does save time, vs going to the rental place and picking one up, and returning it afterwards.

And the Corolla is beautiful and I love her. As soon as I purchased her, I stopped being practical about her and became immediately sentimental. I may end up as one of those people who washes their car every month. I'm sorry.

She is a much fancier car than I would have acquired, left to my own devices. She doesn't have any extras (beyond the pricer floor mats), but lots of things come standard on a Toyota Corolla LE. The standard things that made me pick this model of car are safety features, like pre-collision detection and automatic braking.

Some things that I thought were just safety features turn out to be nice features for general driving. For instance, its cruise control is coupled with a radar system that detects when a car is in front of you and slows down accordingly. This makes cruise control so much more useful. Even when the road is crowded, I can leave cruise control on and the car will automatically adjust the speed whenever someone pulls in front of me or I catch up to someone moving slower. I use cruise control for the nine-mile highway drive from my home to the hospital, which I've never bothered doing on any other model of car. It's nice.

It also has a USB port, so I can plug in my iPod for music without needing any intervening doodads, which is convenient. And I can charge devices off of it with just a USB cable.

Those are the main extra things that I routinely use. It has a bunch of other doodads, like it syncs with my phone to take phone calls. I am honestly not sure this is a great feature, since even hands-free phone calls are a distraction when driving. But Charly set it up so it's there for when the hospital calls while I'm driving. Until the bluetooth thing randomly fails, which is my usual experience with bluetooth.

Of course, I took pictures of her:

Shiny New Car

With lens flaaaare

I want to get decorative magnetic decals for her, but it may be too much effort to find/make the kind of thing I want. I'd like a trim design similar to City of Heroes' "tribal" pattern, to curve along fenders and the bottoms of the doors. I haven't seen anything like what I want. A bunch of die-cut flowers, though. Maybe I will bling her out with those.

I haven't settled on her name yet (of course she is going to have a name). I am debating between Purr (after one of my black dragons in Flight Rising) and Ardent (after The Moon Etherium protagonist.) So I'll put in a poll for her name!

Poll #18661 Name that Car!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


What should I call her?

View Answers

Purr
7 (58.3%)

Ardent
5 (41.7%)

Write-in options:



* I may have been ruined for other car colors at a young age by K.I.T.T.
** I don't know why car floor mats are expensive, but they are.
rowyn: (Default)
A Queer Trade and Rag and Bone, by K.J. Charles:
I'd thought that one of these was a short that was the prelude to a book, but it turns out that they're both shorts, maybe novelette or short novellas. They share a setting with her Charm of Magpies books, but involve new protagonists and a new romance. Like most of the Magpies books, there's a fantasy-action main plot and an M/M romance subplot. Because these are short, the romance is underdeveloped, especially in A Queer Trade. It's more about sexual attraction than connection. The second story, Rag and Bone, felt more convincing romance-wise. I did like that (a) it's a mixed-race relationship and (b) this aspect is understated. Another thing that I liked: it didn't give the men stereotypical sex roles based on relative size. A common trope in M/M romance is to have one protag be tall and muscular and one protag short and pretty and the tall guy is the top and the small one is the bottom and I am SO OVER this. SO OVER. And in this one you have a gay couple that doesn't like anal sex so they do other stuff and it's fun and I liked seeing some variety in preferences. Anyway, I enjoyed reading them overall. 7.5

Provoked, by Joanna Chambers
This was marketed to me as an M/M historical romance, but it's thin on romance and doesn't have an HEA. The main plot is the impoverished attorney protagonist helping the brother of a convicted client track down the government agent that entrapped him. The "romance" subplot is a couple of sex scenes between the attorney and a rich sexy Scottish lord he barely knows. Both men intend the sex to be a one-off, both times. Their few conversations are light on romantic connection and focus more on a kind of resentment of each other over the mutual attraction. The attorney is the only PoV character and at least half the chapters don't even have him interacting with his "love interest". As a romance, it was severely lacking. The entrapment plot was all right but didn't really engage me . Also, the main and subplots were linked together in a contrived way.

There are some sequels starring the sexy Scottish lord and broke lawyer, and I'd guess the last of these has the HEA one expects of a romance. I dunno, since I kinda regret getting the first one and am not getting more. It was okay, I guess. Competently written. I liked the attorney when he wasn't being boringly self-loathing. The attitudes on sexuality felt ahistorical. There's this notion that standard 19th-century attitudes should be "like Fred Phelps only more so" and it's not true to the period. The idea that sexuality is something you are, not something you do, is a 20th century one. Yes, sodomy was illegal and sinful and having people be horrified by it is reasonably in-period. Having people assume that someone who has a same-sex sexual encounter, ever, can never be attracted to the opposite sex, is not in-period. Anyway, Provoked made the KJ Charles stories look much better by comparison, though. This is like a 5.5.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut is still at the hospital. He's in a regular room now, and he's off the IV and the monitoring equipment, which is nice (no more wires to worry about every time he moves). He's been eating on his own. He gets up a couple of times a day, with assistance, and sits in the hospital room recliner or stands by the window for a little bit.  Other than that, he mostly sleeps or tries to sleep. His back hasn't been hurting as much and he hasn't been needing a lot of pain meds, which is good.

His mood is good under the circumstances. He knows where he is and he's polite, patient, and appreciative. Conversations with him don't work very well. I can't tell if he's having delusions or just trying to tell me about a dream or a game he used to play or something. Physically, he's better than when I took him to the ER 3 weeks ago, but I don't think the hospital is really helping his mental state. And he's not reading or playing with a computer or any of his normal activities, because he's too tired even for things he can do while lying in bad. At most, he'll watch a show, and he doesn't have attention for even that most days.

Case management at the hospital is trying to place him at a skilled nursing facility. He is to get rehab there and then he'll be able to come home when he's better able to take care of himself. Placement at a skilled nursing facility is hard, because of some combination of insurance, Lut's particular needs, available space at facilities, and probably some other things I'm not thinking of.

I have some lists of good car models for my needs and the probable prices for them. I have not gone shopping for one yet. I should probably do that this week. I kind of have the feeling I will go with the first dealership that has a reasonable car on the lot and doesn't seem like total scum. I do not have high expectations.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut's siblings came in last weekend, all four of them. I suspect I appreciated this more than Lut did. Bone marrow cancer causes a lot of fatigue: it's not just "he's in pain so he doesn't sleep well so he's always tired", as I thought before I brought him to the hospital. He just doesn't have a lot of energy. Maybe five or six spoons total for the day. Interacting with someone for a few minutes takes a spoon. It's hard.

On Saturday, I asked them to look at skilled nursing facilities for me. They ran all over the city, looking at the ones on the printout the hospital had provided. They were kind of horrified by most of them. They got to the last one on the list too late for a tour, and they told me I should look at it because it looked nice based on its website.

I went to that one and it looked good in person too: clean, well-lit, cheerful, good facilities. I went to the one his siblings liked the best of the ones they saw, and thought it was pretty good too. It was a hard choice for me, because the facility the siblings hadn't toured was a newer, nicer building with better grounds, but the rooms were smaller and most of them were "semi-private": they'd share a bathroom and a little foyer-hall with an adjacent room, and only a curtain separated them from the little foyer. It wasn't as a bad a shared room: there was a real wall between the two rooms. But a curtain is not nearly as good as a door when it comes to blocking sound. The more run-down facility had larger rooms and they were all private.

I tried to consult Lut on it on Monday, but he was too exhausted to give an opinion and the hospital wanted one in the next few hours. So I picked the nicer facility. I can hope he'll luck into a private room? I don't know how this will work with insurance. They are crazy expensive without.

At the hospital, they moved him from the ICU back to the regular ward last night. He doesn't seem to me like he's ready to be discharged to anywhere, but he's off the IV and they've detached all of the other wires they've had him hooked up to. They didn't even have him on a heart monitor when I saw him this morning. The case manager in the ICU thought he might be discharged this week. I don't know how long he'll be at the skilled nursing facility, except that it is short-term care, not long-term. The idea is that he gets rehab there, and then he can come home.

He doesn't seem to be in as much pain now, but he is exhausted every time I see him. Even when we get him sitting upright in a chair, he dozes off in a matter of minutes. If the chemotherapy works, he'll regain some energy, but I don't think rehab on its own is going to get him any more spoons.

I don't know what to say. People keep asking me how he's doing and it is exhausting to try to answer. Badly, but stable? He's better than last week but not better than when I took him to the ER. The oncologist is optimistic about the chemotherapy. He gets his second treatment today.

Prayers and well-wishes still appreciated. Thank you all for the car advice, too. *hugs*
rowyn: (studious)
When I was in second or third grade, my teacher gave us an assignment: write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone who's never made one or even seen what one looks like.

After we turned in our assignments, my teacher then followed our instructions, one after another.

If you've never seen this lesson, it is mainly a lesson in assumed knowledge. The teacher's goal is "if there is any way to do it wrong, do it that way." If the instructions tell you to put peanut butter on one side, bear in mind that bread slices have six possible sides. If the instructions don't specify to take the bread out of the bag, try to make it with bread still in the bag. If they don't say to open the jars, put the entire jars in between bread slices. If they don't tell you to pick up a utensil, try using the utensil without picking it up. Etc.

The lesson works best if the person assembling the sandwiches is very creative about what they can imagine getting wrong. It is hard to cover all the possible ways one could get it wrong, because we are well-trained on how to do it right.

My workplace decided to do this as a team-building exercise: remote associates would write instructions, and those as a main location would assemble sandwiches. I wasn't going to participate: I remembered how hard it was to do when I was seven. But another associate asked to partner with me, so, okay.

I wrote instructions.

These are not perfect instructions. I could find ways to mess them up. (I really phoned in how to open a bag, sheesh. And I didn't explain how to hold a knife or spoon, although at least I specified 'in hand".) I was personally a little disappointed that partners in the exercise were not incentivized to screw up the directions. Anyway, I did win the contest with these. For maximum entertainment value, imagine what one could mess up following this anyway, or why I'd need to be this specific.

How to make a PB&J
  1. Make sure the following items are assembled within easy reach, on top of a counter. (If you do not have a counter available, substitute a table throughout these directions): Table knife, Spoon, Jelly in jar, Peanut butter in jar, Loaf of sliced bread, Dinner plate
  2. Set plate directly in front of you on counter.
  3. If bread is in a bag, open bag. How to open bag will depend on exact bag, but may, eg, involve untwisting a tie from one end and pulling the plastic apart at the top of that side so that it is open on one end.
  4. Remove two slices of bread from open bag.
  5. Place slices of bread on plate, side by side.
  6. Close bag for loaf of bread.
  7. Hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  8. With your free hand, take hold of cap.
  9. Unscrew cap from peanut butter jar by turning the cap counter-clockwise.
  10. Place peanut butter jar cap upside down on counter.
  11. Pick up knife by its handle in free hand.
  12. Insert blade of knife into through the opening in the peanut butter jar created when you removed cap.
  13. Use blade of knife to scoop out a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  14. Put peanut butter jar down on its bottom on counter.
  15. Pick up slice of bread in your free hand.
  16. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  17. Place the side of the knife that has peanut butter on it against upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  18. Slide the side of the knife with the most peanut-butter on it over the bread in such a way that the peanut butter is spread over one face of the bread slice in hand.
  19. If there is significant peanut butter on other side of knife blade, repeat step 18 with the other side.
  20. Cover upper face of bread slice in hand evenly with peanut butter in a thin layer, 1/16th to 1/8th inch thick, depending on how you like your sandwich.
  21. When almost all peanut butter from knife is on bread face, place base of knife against edge of bread, with the rest of the blade above the face of bread that has peanut butter.
  22. Drag blade down along edge of bread, from base to tip of blade, to scrape off any remaining peanut butter onto the face of the bread that already has peanut butter.
  23. Repeat #22 for other side of knife blade if there's still peanut butter on it.
  24. Replace slice of bread in your hand in an empty space on the plate, with the peanut-butter-side up.
  25. Put knife in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  26. Pick up peanut butter cap in your dominant hand.
  27. In your free hand, hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  28. Place cap right-side-up against top of peanut butter jar.
  29. Screw cap onto peanut butter jar by turning the cap clockwise.
  30. Place peanut butter jar bottom-side down on counter.
  31. Open jelly jar, using steps 7-10 but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  32. Pick up spoon by its handle in free hand.
  33. Insert bowl of spoon into through the opening in the jelly jar created when you removed cap.
  34. Use bowl of spoon to scoop out a tablespoon of jelly from the jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  35. Put jelly jar down on its bottom on counter.
  36. Pick up the empty slice of bread in your free hand.
  37. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  38. Place the bowl of the spoon against upper face of the bread slice in hand, with the jelly in the bowl of spoon facing the bread.
  39. Slide the bowl of spoon over bread so that the jelly approximately covers the upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  40. Use back of spoon to finish spreading jelly neatly over upper face of bread slice in hand.
  41. When almost all jelly from spoon is on bread face, place base of spoon bowl against edge of bread, with the rest of the bowl above the face of bread that has jelly.
  42. Repeat 40 for back of spoon if there is significant jelly left on it.
  43. Put spoon in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  44. With free hand, pick up slice of bread with peanut butter on it so that the empty face is against your palm and the peanut butter side faces up.
  45. Align slice of bread with jelly on it against the slice of bread with peanut butter on it, so that the sides covered in peanut butter and jelly face each other and the two pieces of bread are lined up into a single square. If the instructions worked, this is your PB&J.
  46. Put PB&J on clear section of dinner plate. 
  47. Follow steps 26-30, but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  48. You are now done.
rowyn: (studious)
My June update got overrun by July being completely awful. June itself actually wasn't bad, though.

Health & Fitness
I was visiting my parents for 9 days, and didn't get my normal exercise then. I did some walking with my father, though, when it wasn't too hot in the morning and/or I got up early enough. that it wasn't hot yet.

Writing
I wrote some new scenes for Scales and Birthright, but didn't work on any other new fiction. I kept my 4thewords streak going mostly with writing about my life, and mostly things dull enough that I didn't post them to LJ. I didn't keep a word count for anything for June.

Oh, I did write three Poll RPG installments in June. I forgot about those.

The Business of Writing
I finished editing Scales for betareaders and got most of the way through editing Birthright.

I also hired an artist to do the cover for Scales (I will hire her to do the cover for Birthright as well, but one thing at a time.). I am inordinately proud of myself for actually doing the Scary Thing and talking to artists I don't know. Alinsa helped a lot by looking at art for me and sharing the best stuff, and making some preliminary contacts. ♥ It was hard! But I did it, and the artist has since completed amazing preliminary sketches and I can't wait to see the color tests.

Art/Other
I don't think I did any drawing in June.

Gaming
I played Scrabble with my brother and his wife while all three of us were visiting my parents. My brother did not outscore us both combined, which is pretty much as close to victory as one gets against my brother in Scrabble.

Socializing
I went to NC for nine days. I spent the first weekend mostly visiting Kagetsume, Sophrani, and Boingdragon. We watched "Rogue One" in Kage's home theatre, which somehow none of us had seen yet, not even Kage who'd bought it on Blueray. It was as grim as I'd expected, but pretty good. We also went to see "Wonder Woman" in Imax 3D. I haven't seen a movie in 3D since "Avatar", but didn't mind giving it another try. I remain indifferent to 3D. It doesn't particularly bother me, but it doesn't enhance the experience at all, and the glasses are vaguely uncomfortable. I enjoyed "Wonder Woman", although not with the overwhelming love of most people. Maybe I'm just not good at overwhelming love for media any more. I dunno.

I spent Monday through Friday low-key visiting my parents. This mostly consisted of watching a little TV with my father, watching some tennis with my mother,, and playing with my mother's spare laptop in the recliner in her office while she played WoW at her desk. We went out to dinner a couple of times too. My father likes to go out to eat every three days. They stock up on leftovers at the restaurant, and my father will eat those for the next few days until they go out again.

On the last weekend, my brother and his wife C came to visit. This was my first time meeting C (they got married last year with a very small ceremony). She was delightful. My impression of her is no doubt bolstered by the fact that she has read and likes my books, but I'm sure I would love her anyway. ♥ On Sunday, we made strawberry shortcake with Bisquick shortcake and C's hand-whipped whip cream. I can report that this is still delicious. :9 I ate way too much on this trip.

I was worried about Lut while I was gone, and called him several times.. This was before I took him to the ER, but I was already concerned that his health had taken a turn for the worse. He had assured me before I left that he would be fine and I should go and he was not willing to go to a doctor. He seemed to be managing okay without me, although the power went out for 48 hours and that sucked a lot.

As a way of life, "stoic" really has its downsides, y'all.

Happiness
I think I was happy? I can't remember. I had a good vacation. It was so low-key that I felt like I should be getting more editing done and felt vaguely guilty about that, but it was still good.

Other
Card benefit services emailed that they'd settled with the rental car company over the minor accident back in March, and they were just waiting for the rental car company to send a letter acknowledging the matter was closed. Which they will then send to me, I think. Anyway, this is finally almost done so hopefully I can take "poke card benefits and rental car co to talk to each other until this over" off my list of goals in August. But it's not done yet.

The nadir of this experience hit when the rental car company mailed me a letter to complain that I had never responded to any of their attempts to contact me, and I needed to pay them for the damage in the next ten days.

I responded with "I guess you lost all of the emails I sent you about this, and also all of the emails that you sent me in response to my emails. And also the physical letter you sent me in response to one of my emails. HERE ARE COPIES OF EVERYTHING. Let me know if you need anything else that you lost!"

-_-

That was much more polite than I felt about the whole matter.

Goals for coming month
Help Lut get better
Look into buying car
Poke about insurance claim if necessary

If I finish anything else, great. If not, oh well. I have been doing a little editing this month, mostly because re-reading my books to look for typos is one of the few things I have sufficient brain for. I've been spending a lot of time at the hospital watching Trask doze, so I've had some time to do that.
rowyn: (worried)
I went through Lut's email and found some email addresses from 2009 for family members. I tried emailing, and reached one of his brothers and one of his sisters. They contacted the rest of his family for me, so his family knows now. Three of his siblings are going to come on Friday to see him.

He's looking better this morning. Still delusional, but he's calm, articulate, and willing to accept assistance. He's breathing better and when he dozes off it looks more like actual sleep. I don't know if this will be a sustained upwards trend, but I'm hopeful.

He started chemotherapy on Tuesday. He gets one treatment per week for two weeks, then one week off, then repeat. In 6-9 weeks we'll know if it's working. The chemotherapy includes a steroid, and he's on an antiviral because the chemotherapy weakens his immune system. He's also getting Halidol for his neurological issues. And an antibiotic because he was running a fever for a little while.

For my hospital-related transportation problem: I am thinking about buying a new car, rather than a used one. I can afford it: I only live like a poor person, I am not actually poor. I don't have enough ready cash to buy one, annoyingly. I may look into getting a loan against my 401(k), to avoid paying third-party interest or early withdrawal penalties. I don't know if this will qualify or not.

Recommendations on cars are welcome. Pretty much all I want is a good cost-per-mile figure and cheap to insure. I do not need or want any fancy extras, or a sporty car or an SUV or anything. I am perfectly happy with small, reliable and efficient. -_-
rowyn: (worried)
Thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes. ♥

Lut's biopsy results came back yesterday and confirmed multiple myeloma. His oncologist started him on an antiviral yesterday, and today he stars chemotherapy and a steroid. The oncologist thinks that this has a good chance (70%+) of improving his situation, including his mental state.

His mental state has crumbled almost completely. He still knows who he is, and who I am, and that's about it. He's paranoid and delusional, and generally angry at everyone around him for holding him captive while we try to get him healthy enough to return to reality. x_x

The oncologist said it would be 6-9 weeks before we know if the chemotherapy is working. His nurse yesterday thought the steroids might have a beneficial effect on his mental state in the short term, like the next few days.

I hope so, because he's only gotten worse so far.

I looked through his gmail and found email addresses for three of his siblings, from 2009. I tried emailing them this morning to let them know. One of the addresses bounced. I don't know if the others are still active or not.

I have a rental car for a month. I think I should probably buy a car. I am not ready to face doing that yet, and I kind of need to.

In theory, he qualifies for Medicaid and disability, especially since we're not married. Since we're not married, I can't sign documents for him. He is neither lucid enough nor tractable enough to sign documents himself. I haven't figured out how I am supposed to get around this yet. I will talk to the hospital staff today and see if they know. The application form wants a bunch of medical specifics that I don't have anyway.
rowyn: (worried)
Last Friday, I took Lut, my partner for the last 20 years, to the emergency room due to severe back pain and some other worrisome issues: he'd started bruising very easily, and he'd had a few odd cognitive problems. The night before, he'd referred to windows as a "vents" repeatedly, insisting for several minutes that "vent" was the right word even after I pointed it out. I thought the cognitive impairment was from lack of sleep: he'd been hurting a lot and unable to sleep properly due to the pain.

I had expected the ER trip to result in "we don't know what's wrong with him, here's a referral to a specialist and a physical therapist."

Instead, they discovered a whole host of things-wrong-with-him, all of which pointed to multiple myeloma: bone marrow cancer. The specific thing that's causing the back pain is two fractured/compressed vertebrae. The PA in the ER admitted him to the hospital. He has been there since. They had him in the oncology ward until Thursday, when they did a biopsy under a sedative because he'd been unable to lie on his side for the time needed to do it under a local anesthetic. His heart stopped under the anesthetic, and they revived him but moved him to the PCU. Then they moved him to the ICU because the biospy site kept bleeding.

The biopsy site has since stopped bleeding and they said they'd move him back to the PCU yesterday, but he's still in ICU now because there isn't a room in the PCU for him.

This has been the worst week of my life to date. A little voice in my head keeps adding "and there are going to be worse ones than this yet to come." This is the downside of getting older.

Lut's overall condition has generally deteriorated since he was admitted. For the first few days, he'd have occasional confusion: he didn't know where he was or what was going on or why. He had hallucinations and delusions as well, explanations his brain made up for things it could no longer understand rationally. For a while, he'd snap out of the confusion after a few minutes (or sometimes half a day) and be back to himself, although he still had trouble with some normal mental activities.

By Wednesday night, the confusion and hallucinations were persistent rather than occasional. He hasn't understood where he is and what's happening for the last four days.

I don't know what's going on with his head at all. They did a scan on it a week ago Saturday because of the occasional confusion, but it didn't show anything. It could be several things: lower oxygen in his blood, higher ammonia, pain medication, I forget what else. But they've addressed those things and it doesn't seem to get better.

I really want him back to rational again. He's aware that he's not rational and it scares him. I know, from prior conversations with him, that he never wanted to be alive with severe cognitive impairment.

When we checked him in to the hospital, they asked about a DNR and he looked at me. I said, "Resuscitate him." He was in bad shape but he was still himself.

I keep wondering if I made the right call.

And it's too late now to ask him.

The biopsy results will not be back until Monday or Tuesday, and the oncologist can't make a formal diagnosis and start treatment until then.

I spent 24 hours at work last week, and I've come home to sleep and feed the cat every day except Thursday night, when I slept in the ICU. My waking hours have pretty much been at the hospital since Lut was admitted. I had a rental car for several days last week, and I'm going to rent one for a month starting Monday because it seems pretty clear that I'll need one. Biking to the hospital isn't a problem -- it's a 15 mile round trip and I routinely ride 10 miles after work anyway. But it takes too long, and I'd rather spend that time with Lut.

If I don't actually need a car for the entire month because Lut suddenly gets much better and comes home and only needs rare follow-up trips, I am totally taking it as a win. Please, Universe, feel free to make me waste money in this fashion. Thank you.

Renting a car for a month at a time is not a great long-term solution. I should probably buy one. But buying a car is a complicated expensive decision and renting a car is easy so I'm just doing that for now. Hopefully in 30 days I can figure out what our needs are and find a better fix.

I'm probably not going to be responding to comments. This is a pretty hard topic to write about, which is part of why it's taken so long to post something. Well wishes and prayers are appreciated, however.

Also, you don't have to say anything. I never know what to say in situations like this either. It's all right. Sometimes there aren't words.

Flattened

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:36 pm
rowyn: (tired)
Some time-consuming family health issues have left me flattened lately. And I don't want to talk about it, but I did want to say that this is why I haven't been posting Poll RPGs for the last few weeks. I've been doing some editing, but I don't seem to have much brain for writing new stories now. x_x

But all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.

So posts will continue to be sporadic and at random and probably lengthy intervals. Y'all take care of yourselves. *hugs*
rowyn: (Smoke)
"Not yet," Smoke admitted with a smile of her own. She liked the aura about him, a kind of gentleness at odds with his great size"What bill were they working on?"

"A bit of legal arcana, as I recall," Corydalis answered. "They're trying to create a legal definition of a person."

"... isn't there one already?"

"Not as such. If I understand correctly -- realize this is not my field of expertise -- it's a matter of common law. Everyone knows what a person is when you see one, so you don't need to define one. It's surprisingly hard to define 'person' in a way that encapsulates everyone you'd want to define as a person without including things that you don't. A senile shapechanger trapped in their feline form, for instance, is clearly still a person. But a cat who can't shapeshift is just as clearly not. A mute elf is a person and a parrot isn't. You can say 'anyone born to members of the four races', but would that mean that if I don't know my parentage, I'm not a person? What if my parents don't know their parentage? Does the government issue documents at birth that certify personhood and do you stop qualifying as a person if you don't have one?"

Smoke blanched. "That sounds nightmarish. Why don't they just leave it as a matter of common law? Then the courts can decide on a case-by-case basis where they have all the specifics before them, right? Did a court rule that some person oughtn't have the rights of a person and they're trying to make sure it doesn't happen again?"

"No, not so far as I am aware. But some legislators, Lord Sky among them, believe that the absence of a consistent legal standard of 'person' opens a path to corruption and people registering their dogs to vote or somesuch." Corydalis's lips twitched as he tried not to smile. "I am inclined to agree with you that the matter is best left to individual judges to interpret as needful, and perhaps not the best to present Lord Sky's position that the legislature must weigh in upon the subject. But the matter is outside of my bailiwick."

"Mm. Mine too, I suppose." Smoke contemplated the subject. "Why would anyone want to make their notes disappear? Is it a very controversial subject?"

Corydalis waggled the fingers of one hand. "It has the potential to be. Several legislators are strongly opposed to Lord Sky or anyone else working on the subject. But it's not even a bill in committee yet, just a topic that he's thinking about presenting a bill upon. It is a long, long way from becoming law. I don't even know what his group's working definition is, but judging by the volume of their notes, they are putting a lot of thought into it beforehand."

"So you don't know what incident motivated them to start work on this bill?"

Corydalis shook his head. "Or if there was an incident, for that matter. Sometimes legislators look for things that could become problems in the future and address them now."

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 12


Conversational gambits

View Answers

"Not yet. Did Hawthorne say how things had been rearranged?"
1 (8.3%)

Try to get conversation back to whether he usually meets everyone who works at Courthall
3 (25.0%)

Ask if there've been any other odd events like this one.
7 (58.3%)

Stop talking shop and get personal
1 (8.3%)



Author's note: I have a document of the Dreamwidth installments of PollRPG to date, if you've lost track of the story or want a more convenient place to look things up then the DW page.
rowyn: (tired)
For most of my life, when my dreams have a memorable location, my brain uses a real building for the layout. Usually it's a house that I lived in, but sometimes it'll be a workplace or something. In the dream, the house I grew up in often stands in for some totally different place by dream logic: we're in a post-apocalyptic laboratory that oddly looks just like a 200 year old rambling three-story house. Architecture design is not my strong suit.

But over the last few years, I've had several dreams where I'm living in a house that my parents passed down to me. It's always the same place in my dreams, but it's not a real place that I've ever been to in waking life. In the dream, I am so convinced that this is a house that I grew up in that when I wake up, it'll take me a while to remember the house is fictional. Also, my parents are very much alive and not going to pass down a house to me, thank goodness.

I dreamed about it again last night. It was cluttered with stuff, like back-to-back dressers in the bedroom, as if it had already been furnished and then someone just jammed in the furniture from another house wherever they could fit it. That was an artifact of inheriting the house. It was huge, room after room after room, all of them with too much stuff. Two stories. There was a long balcony facing the backyard along the second floor, and a separate apartment in the house was sublet to other people. We shared the back balcony. The back balcony has an outdoor staircase going down to the backyard. The master bedroom had a partially sunken hot tub/bathtub, with padded sides. I would like to note that this would be a cool thing to have in real life, although not if it was going to leak the way the dream one did. Dream-Lut and I don't sleep in the master bedroom, because it's too crowded with stuff. We have a couple of rooms that are relatively decluttered and we mostly stick to them. In the dream I thought "I should get rid of this stuff we're not using and don't need, we'd have so much more space."

Anyway, they've not been a particularly interesting set of dreams otherwise. I just find it curious that my brain has finally devised its own set for a dream and now it keeps wanting to re-use that set instead of one of the real places I've been to.
rowyn: (Smoke)
"Isn't that a job for Security?" Smoke took a sip from her drink, a beverage of carbonated water and unsweetened yogurt, flavored by salt. Corydalis had tried it before and found it to sour, but Smoke gave every sign of enjoying it.

Corydalis leaned back in his chair, half-smiling. "Ultimately, yes. But the nobility is accustomed to attention from the top of the chain of command. If they're upset about some problem, they come to me first."

"You don't discourage that?" She watched him over the rim of her glass, head tilted in curiosity.

He waggled the fingers of one hand and reached for his own glass. His was a fruity concoction adorned by a trio of grapes impaled on a wooden skewer. "It's complicated. I dislike it when a lord pressures my people to appease him with immediate results, or delivers an angry diatribe accusing them of incompetence. If a noble has some minor inconvenience, I trust them to tell it to the nearest flunky, if only because a flunky will be close at hand. But if the noble is truly upset, enough to find 'whomever's in charge', I'd rather they complained to me than my head of security. I'm not going to spend the rest of the day rattled because Lord Sky called me the head monkey at a zoo in the care of thieving pigeons and lackwit squirrels."

Smoke laughed. "Did he really call you that?"

Corydalis grinned back. "I regret to say he was rather more vulgar and rather less inventive than that."

"But someone did?" she asked. "Or have you had occasion to deploy that one yourself?"

"Ook ook," he said, with calm aplomb, and Smoke chuckled again. He liked the way she looked laughing, unselfconscious, the fine grey fur around her blue eyes crinkling with her amusement. Corydalis glanced away, pretending to admire a colorful gold-framed landscape on the restaurant wall.

"I suppose mysterious disappearing and reappearing papers are not likely to be connected to your ant problem," Smoke conceded.

"Probably not. Although the ants could have gotten into a locked room, granted. Do carpenter ants eat paper?"

She shook her head, smiling. "They don't actually eat wood, even. They dig homes and tunnels in it to hollow out living spaces."

"So much for that possibility. I know the fleas definitely don't eat paper. Not that it would explain the reappearance of the pages in any case. Security assures me that an enchanter would have to have broken the door, or at least the lock, to get inside. They haven't given up on the puzzle yet, but I don't believe they've made any progress on it. I don't suppose you've any insights?" Corydalis returned his gaze to her face, careful to remain leaning back and his posture casual. He was well aware of how easy it was for an individual of his size and position to intimidate others.

Poll #18476 Strange Happenings
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8


Insights

View Answers

"Perhaps..." (leave a comment with what, or support someone else's comment)
1 (12.5%)

"Not yet. What bill were they working on?"
2 (25.0%)

"Not yet. Did Hawthorne say how things had been rearranged?"
2 (25.0%)

Try to get conversation back to whether he usually meets everyone who works at Courthall
1 (12.5%)

Ask if there've been any other odd events like this one.
2 (25.0%)

Ask more about his own work.
0 (0.0%)

rowyn: (Smoke)
Corydalis studied the menu in front of him, conscious that he'd already spent an inordinate amount of time studying his fascinating new enchanter. And it bothered him that he didn't recognize Licorice by name: he made a point of knowing and meeting everyone who worked for Courthall. Yes, that was over a thousand people and it was unreasonable to assume he could remember them all, but it still niggled at him. Perhaps I should ask her what Licorice looks like; that might jog my memory.

Before he said anything, Smoke asked, "Has there been anything else strange going on at Courthall, apart from the influx of vermin?"

Corydalis chuckled. "I imagine that depends on what counts as 'strange'." At the tilt of her head, he added, "Most people find the machinations of representatives and nobles are often a little ... arcane. Perhaps even more arcane than actual arcana."

Smoke giggled. "Enchanting is a straightforward matter of applying the correct forces in the correct fashion. It is not easy, mind you. But when you know the art, it's perfectly logical."

"I daresay the same might be said for the art of politics. But the motivations of the players and their causes are always changing, and that means the nature of the game changes as well." He paused to consider her question in more detail. The cause of Rep. Meadowlark's complaints of this morning might qualify as a strange event, but discussing that struck him as too much like gossip. Another event did come to mind, however. "We did have something of a locked-room mystery."

"A locked-room mystery?" Smoke blinked at him.

"Nothing serious, mind," Corydalis added. "Just strange." He paused as the waiter returned to take their order. This story was a trifle gossipy too, but it was also common knowledge at Courthall. When the waiter had left again, the draka continued, "Several days ago, Lord Sky met with two representatives in the morning to discuss a proposed bill. They took a break at lunch, and Lord Sky locked the meeting room with their notes inside. When they returned, their notes were gone. Lord Sky locked the door again, and all three of them, with Sky's secretary in tow, came to cry murder and thievery at me. I accompanied them back to the meeting room. Lord Sky unlocked it -- and all their notes were on the table."

"What? Where they'd left them in the first place?" Smoke asked.

"To all appearances," Corydalis said. "Although Lord Sky's secretary, Mr. Hawthorne, thought they'd been rearranged from where he'd left them before lunch. Mr. Hawthorne was the one who'd been taking notes. But all four thought nothing was missing."

Smoke frowned. "Could they have returned to the wrong room the first time?"

"No, and that's one of the interesting parts. Lord Sky is more paranoid than most, and this was a private meeting room adjacent to his office. He has a special style of lock on it, with a clever arrangement where the keyhole is never visible," Corydalis said. At Smoke's perplexed look, he waved a hand. "You kind of have to see it to understand, but there's a cylinder that holds the key. You socket in the cylinder, then you can twist the mechanism so that it lines up with the key in the cylinder. Then you depress a button on the cylinder that puts the key in the lock, and turn that. I'm not convinced this mechanism is actually unpickable, but it's not pickable in the ordinary way.  Lord Sky has the only key, and it's the only room in Courthall with that particular key. And the room has no windows or other entrances."

"Well, if you've not a master key, why did they come crying to you about it?"

Corydalis chuckled. "Because I am the master of ceremonies, and it's my job to hear complaints if things disappear mysteriously."

Poll #18464 Strange Happenings
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 11


Mysterious!

View Answers

"Isn't that a job for Security?"
2 (18.2%)

"What bill were they working on?"
4 (36.4%)

"Did Hawthorne say how things had been rearranged?"
1 (9.1%)

Try to get conversation back to whether he usually meets everyone who works at Courthall
0 (0.0%)

Ask if there've been any other odd events like this one.
4 (36.4%)

rowyn: (studious)
Somewhat to my surprise, the many hours I spent staring at the files for my current work-in-progress has resulted in actual progress. I only have one item left on my to-do list for the first book! I expect to cross this item off in the next day or three, so I'm looking for beta-readers for it now.

This is book one of a duology. It's a long book (over 220,000 words; a little longer than A Rational Arrangement ). I am still editing book two (which is around 120,000 words and about the same length as The Moon Etherium), but expect to finish with book two before month-end. So I want beta-readers who will be able to read and comment on both novels in the next six weeks or so.

Book one's current title is A Dragon's Scales. I have called it variously Silver Scales and The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon. I'm going with the current version because then I can call the sequel A Dragon's Birthright and they look like they go together. This is the book I started writing in 2003, finished the first draft of in 2006, and then trunked when I became hopelessly blocked on the sequel. Unlike some of my other projects, I never forgot this one. In part because my first readers kept reminding me of it: "When are you going to publish Scales?" (In 2017!)

For those who read it while it was in progress: I've changed a lot of small things, but much of the substance remains the same. If you'd like to beta-read it again, that would be great! I expect it's been long enough for most of you that you've forgotten much of it anyway. :)

For those who haven't read it, Scales is a fantasy of manners, with some action and a romantic side plot. Unlike my other works, the romance is not the main plot and doesn't get resolved until book 2. There are also no sex scenes in either book.

Blurb:

The fate of Sir Damon Kildare's soul rests on finding the silver scales of a living dragon. One catch: everyone knows that dragons are extinct.

Zenobia Gardsmark, daughter of the one of the few surviving dragonslayer, may hold the key to finding those scales. But how can she help Kildare when she can't cast even the simplest spell?


Kinds of feedback I'm looking for:

* General feelings about the text (this scene was fascinating/boring/sweet/confusing/exciting/implausible/fun, etc.)
* If you don't like a part, I love to hear suggested changes (which doesn't mean I'll change it, obviously. But suggestions are great.)
* Favorite lines and lines that made you laugh (I want to use some good single lines in teaser images).
* Suggestions to improve the blurb.
* Because book 1 is so long, I am particularly interested in things to cut from it, so comments about things to remove are welcome. Not as concerned with that on book 2.
* Continuity issues
* Proofreading and editing artifact corrections.

If you'd like to read book 1 & 2 back to back and so want to wait until I'm done with book 2 to start, that's fine too.

If you want to volunteer, leave a comment with your email address! I have them screened, so email addresses will not show. You can also email my gmail account, LadyRowyn, or use Dreamwidth or Livejournal's message system. Or ping or DM me on Twitter. Whatever works for you. :)
rowyn: (studious)
Health/Fitness
I caught another lingering cold, this one mostly a cough that won't quite go away. I never felt horrible on this one, just run down. This is good, because I only have enough PTO to cover my vacation in the third week of June.

The Fitness Challenge at work wrapped up in May, thank goodness. I can go back to my usual workout schedule instead of the weird deformed one I've been using to try to minmax the challenge. The challenge does not correlate very well with any actual minmaxing of health, so this was mostly not a net positive. The closest it did to good was getting me to exercise on some days when I would have skipped it. But I also did less exercise on many days than I would normally, because extra time didn't "count".

I did some kind of exercise for 23 out of 31 days in May, so not far off normal. I hope to get back to doing one long bike ride on the weekends while the weather remains good. I think I've only had one ride over 12 miles since March, and I am feeling out of shape.

I've been eating more mandarin oranges and cottage cheese and less pastries and candy. This has not impacted my health or weight as far as I can tell.

Writing
I wrote a bunch of Poll RPG installments, and some new scenes for Birthright. That's about it. I have been more focused on editing.

Poll RPG: 13,500 words (the total of both files is at 26,250 now).

The Business of Writing
I finished my first editing pass on Birthright. I now have 7 items left to fix on Scales, and 18 left on Birthright. They are pretty much all hard changes that I don't have a clear idea on how to implement. Still. Getting there.

Art/Other
I worked on a picture of Smoke and Corydalis for several days, and lost interest before finishing it. That was all the art I felt like doing this month.

Socializing
I went to see Terrycloth in Seattle! Alinsa came to visit too, and the three of us hung out a lot. Alinsa and I went to see the Sabaton concert on the last day of my trip. We were going to drag Terry along, but opted not to in the end. This was the right call, as Terry is even less keen on standing than I am. Concerts are a LOT of standing. I actually sat down on the floor through most of the set for the second band, Leaves Eyes. Also, the venua did not have A/C and it was packed with people and about 90 inside. Sweltering. And you don't dare drink much because then you have to fight your way to the bathroom and then try to fight your way back to your spot.

This may be my last concert at a venue without seats, is what I'm saying. Fortunately, ProgPower is in a big theatre with stadium seating, so it's quite comfortable.

In any case, Sabaton was great. <3

Seeing Terry and Alinsa was also great. <3

Happiness
I spent a lot of May in a kind of low-grade glum mood. Not miserable, just thinking "I want to cry" a lot. I didn't even actually cry. Just glum.

Anyway, the "I want to cry" song is much better than the "I suck and everything I do is awful" or "I want to kill myself" songs, so. There's that. It would be nice to be more upbeat, though.

I write this down as a marker, so I don't forget and exaggerate my past as better or worse than it was. Moving on.

Goals for coming month
* Finish editing Scales and Birthright. I'd like to finish Scales (again) first, because once I finish it this time, I can kick it to beta readers. Because this will be the last round of edits that will impact it.
* Do something about covers for the two books. Where by "do something" I mean "find a cover artist". Who is not me. A professional.
* I also still have to deal with the rental car and credit card insurance people. Sigh. There was actually a thing the credit card insurance people asked me for that I could even get them (credit card statement showing the rental), but I didn't until last night because I had to look up when the accident happened again. I couldn't remember any more. I could have just sent every credit card statement. "It's on one of these four! Have fun."

Anyway, I finally did this (and even found the right statement) yesterday evening. Chrome would open the statement but not save it to file, for no apparent reason. I had to print it to PDF, which was semi-illegible also for no apparent reason. It was basically still readable, so I sent it. Hopefully that will be that.

Card Benefit Services has sent me letters for stuff that only the rental people can provide, too. I forward those on. I don't know if the rental people have provided any of it. They don't write me back. -_- But the claim form only had "other" for things to upload and they haven't asked for anything else but the statement lately, so. Maybe?
rowyn: (Smoke)
Curry This smelled delicious even before they stepped inside, the scent of cumin, coriander, pepper and other spices hanging in the air. Smoke breathed it in, with a growing confidence that the food here would not be bland. Corydalis and she were overdressed for the atmosphere here. The staff wore simple off-shoulder dresses, or tunics with trousers, and the other patrons were dressed either as if they'd come from work, or in similarly casual attire. Heads turned their way as they waited to be seated. Smoke couldn't help thinking that Corydalis would draw eyes no matter what he was wearing, though.

If the draka noticed, he showed no sign of discomfort with the attention. His eyes were on her. "You look like you've come home."

"I love curry," she admitted. "My father made curries all the time when I was growing up. Coconut milk and chicken curry is my first comfort food."


"I hope Courthall is not driving you to comfort eating already."

Smoke laughed. "No, not at all. The exact nature of the problem is a conundrum, but I like puzzles. And all the people have been helpful and solicitous. Especially Blackwood and Licorice." The maitre'd led them to one of the tables near the center of the room. The restaurant was busy enough that the ones along the walls were all full.

"Ah, I am glad to hear it." He gave a slight shake of his head, smiling again. "I admit, I have had a private and rather irrational fear that you might find Courthall as difficult as your predecessor."

"Not at all! Blackwood not only flew me all the way back to Courthall himself, but he offered to guide me around on arrival. He showed me where the old gatherer was, and took me to the top of the House of Chambers so I could plant my own. Licorice was kind enough to show me about the rest of the building. She's the one who showed me the kitchen, where I discovered you had carpenter ants."

"Excellent! Ah, excellent that they took good care of you, that is. I remain unenthusiastic about the carpenter ants." He gave her another wry smile, and Smoke giggled. Corydalis hesitated a moment, then asked, "What department is Licorice in?"

"Maintenance."

Blond eyebrows drew together over gold eyes. "Hmm. Did she say what division?"

"No. She was fixing a problem with the hatch at the top of the Four's globe when we met," Smoke offered. "Why?"

"No reason. It's a large campus; I fear I don't know every employee." He said it apologetically, with the air of someone who thought he ought to know everyone. Or perhaps someone who had thought he did know everyone. Corydalis glanced down at his menu.

This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


That's interesting ...

View Answers

Ask Corydalis if he usually meets everyone who works at Courthall.
6 (46.2%)

Find out why he remembers Blackwood
2 (15.4%)

Ask more about Corydalis's family and interests outside of work
0 (0.0%)

Ask about Corydalis's work
0 (0.0%)

Ask if there are any other strange going-ons in Courthall
5 (38.5%)

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