rowyn: (Default)
2019-02-03 05:43 pm
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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

I actually read a book! This is 100% not the book I would've expected to pick up and read in a weekend, yet Here We Are.

Marie Kondo is a Japanese decluttering consultant, and she's recently become much more visible after doing a Netflix reality show. But I first heard about her a couple of years ago from my friend Ciel on Twitter/Mastodon; Ciel has mentioned using the KonMari method for some time now. He remarked that a lot of the book is Marie saying "I did [X] once [or many times]! It turned out to be a terrible idea. Don't do that yourself." This approach -- that frankness in speaking of one's own missteps along the path -- sounded endearing and I decided to put the book on reserve at the library.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a surprisingly fun, quick read. Props to the author and her translator for taking the boring topic of "how to make your home a better place to live" and making it entertaining.

It's also way more persuasive than I expected. What makes the book special to me is less its tips on process and more "Marie Kondo will now give you permission to get rid of all that stuff you own and don't like and don't use but feel guilty about throwing away." Halfway through the book, I started laundry. As soon as my clothes were clean, I put the book down to dump the clean laundry, all the clothing from my drawers, and a chunk of clothes from my closet onto the couch and proceeded to weed out two-thirds of it. Felt great!

I don't know if I will have my life changed by this book -- it's a lot of stuff to go through, and a lot of the things in my house are Lut's and not mine. One of the charming things about the book, however, is the way it tells you to handle living with other people. "Don't worry about their things. Just take care of your own stuff and your own possessions. That's probably the real source of your clutter-related anxiety anyway." So I can separate out what's mine and go through it and if the place is still cluttered afterwards, that's okay.

Also, it made me realize that almost all the stuff in the bedroom is mine. Trask has his side of the headboard and a few things stored under the bed, but almost everything in their is mine to declutter. MWAHAHA.

If nothing else, I will have 3 fewer bags full of clothing I don't like and don't wear.

Anyway, fun book, recommended if you have a cluttered home and wish you didn't. Especially if you feel guilty for throwing things out. MARIE KONDO WILL ABSOLVE YOUR GUILT. It's great.
rowyn: (Default)
2019-02-01 09:44 am
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January in Review

Health/Fitness
[Content note: I actually talk about weight and calories and such in this one.]

This year, my health insurer started paying for a weight loss program called "RealAppeal".

I am, on the one hand, not much interested in weight loss anymore. Years ago, one of my friends described me as "smokin' hot", and whenever I think about my appearance, this is the line that comes to mind. It's a valuation that has become independent of objective reality in my head. "Everyone who I would be interested in already finds me attractive. My weight is irrelevant."

Beyond that, weight as a measure of overall fitness is highly suspect. I have been exercising regularly for about 15 years now, while generally gaining a few pounds a year. I am fitter now than I was when I was 60 pounds lighter back in the late 90s. Medical professionals tend to blame everything on "patient is overweight", and the accordingly lowered standard of care fat people get may contribute more to poor health outcomes for them than any actual weight-related issues.

On the other hand, my diet is terrible. I don't mean "I eat too much", I mean "I survive mostly on sugar and fat." And my health insurance company is not paying for this program out of charity or kindness. They are a business; they would not pay for RealAppeal if they did not believe, based on evidence, that RealAppeal would improve the insurer's bottom line by improving the health of their customers. (My insurer may well be wrong about this! They're run by humans with the same biases as all other humans. But they are definitely not doing it because they think I'd be pretty if I just lost a few pounds.)

So I signed up for it -- it's free, I can always quit, why not?

The emphasis on weight loss is just as annoying as I thought it would be. I feel like RealAppeal is negging me: "take a picture of yourself now so you can see how much better you look after losing weight!"

I am SMOKIN' HOT RIGHT NOW, RealAppeal, and nothing you or a camera says will change that.

SMOKIN' HOT.

However! Despite this, I actually like the program so far.

It has weekly online classes, which I thought was going to be super annoying ("ugh, stuck in front of a computer watching a video for 45 minutes?") But their mobile app can play the online classes, so I go for a walk while I watch/listen to the class. The classes are with the same people and the same coach every week (you are encouraged to stick with your time slot, although you can take a make-up class if you miss one). My coach, Cass, is adorable, fun to listen to, and very relatable. She has struggled with bad eating habits too. She was talking about one of the tactics for staying on track -- "write down your motivation somewhere that you'll see it" -- and that the motivation can be very personal. Hers had been a note on her fridge: "Are you hungry? :)" And I thought that was great: at once an invitation to eat if you ARE hungry, and a gentle reminder that if you're not hungry maybe food is not the fix for whatever problem you do have.

You can also schedule 1-on-1 time with your coach if you want to discuss specific issues or just for bonding. I am a big believer in the power of bonding to promote good habits, so I feel like the existence of a coach who is invested in me eating well and exercising is useful by itself.

The site has a tracker, which is much less annoying to use than the last few times I tried food trackers. With the exception of meals from restaurants that aren't chains, it's had all the food I eat already in it. Generally, I can just type part of a name, pick what I had off a picklist, and set the portion size, and I'm done.

Moreover, I love having data and graphs and charts, so it's something I get a kick out of having done.

So I've been tracking what I eat for a couple of weeks. I already tracked exercise through Google Fit. Tracking leads to me eating a little less junk food: there is the act of thinking "do I actually want this or am I just eating it out of habit?" which leads to the occasional "yeah, I don't actually want this" in response.

The program lets you set your own targets, and the competing information is deeply amusing to me.

Video on calorie targets: "Women should set a target between 1200-1500 depending on how active you are!"

Me: "Nopenopenope" *nopetopuses on out of here*

Website, looking at my specific height/weight/exercise levels: "How's 2000-2200 calories sound?"

Me: "Okay that's fine."

I guess the "guideline" targets are aimed at the "I need to see VISIBLE RESULTS IMMEDIATELY or I will give up." But the last time I set calorie targets like that, I (a) soon hated tracking (b) also having to think about what I was eating all the time and (c) didn't lose weight anyway.

So I set my calorie target at 2000, in case I get lazier about exercise, and told the site I wanted to lose 0.25 pounds a week (the smallest number it allows).

In general, I've been either walking or dancing every day for 45-60 minutes, and eating between 1600-1900 calories. I have chosen not to eat food that I would have otherwise had, because it would put me over my target. Like yesterday I got a "pick two" and a frozen mocha from Panera, and then realized this is Too Much Food, so I took the soup and roll home as leftovers instead of eating them.

I have not, at any point, thought "I'm hungry and this takes too much willpower."

I've lost three pounds, much to my surprise. I'm not sure how that happened? This may just be the initial "oh it's a diet you're allowed to lose a couple pounds" before my body adjusts to the new normal and stops losing weight.

But since my actual goal is "exercise and eat better": as long as those things are happening, I don't care about the scale. 95% of why I am weighing myself is that the program asks me to, and since I don't care, I might as well make them happy.

Oh, for anyone curious: I started at 183 lbs and am currently 180 lbs.

Writing
I finished the initial draft of The Twilight Etherium! My belief that "the second half will be shorter" was way more accurate than I thought it would be. First half: 74,400 words. Second half: 28,500. Total word count: 102,900.

So the book ended up right in the 100-120k range, same as the other Etherium books. AW YEAH. I am pleased. Also glad to have the first draft done. And also thinking next book I will try to estimate word count per bullet point instead of "eh, historically each bullet point is around 1500ish words" because while that was still right ON AVERAGE, it was wackily far off when it came to estimating how much book was left on this one.

The Business of Writing
NEW BOOK RELEASE WOOOO! Frost and Desire is now out in the wild. I love this book, y'all. ❤️

I also did some more revisions on The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. I crossed of another 12 items on the planned changes list. 23 more to go!

Gaming
As predicted last month, Pokemon Go play remains way down. I'm still level 38. I will probably make 39 sometime in February; I have one last friend who regularly opens gifts to get to Best Friends status, and that'll pretty much push me over. But I suspect I won't make level 40 until late this year, assuming I don't just quit entirely. On the other hand, spring and summer weather may make playing more appealing.

Happiness
I was pretty glum for a week or so this month, but my mood turned around a couple of weeks ago and I've been upbeat since then. It's nice.

Report Card for January Goals
* Care for Lut: yup, did that
* Finish 17 more bullet points on The Twilight Etherium: finished 37 points and the whole draft. CRUSHED IT.
* And/or finish 17 bullet points on the editing list for The Princess, Her Dragon and Their Prince, or some combination of these two: only did 12, but this was an "in combination with the above" so this is all gravy.
* Release Frost and Desire: done!
* Spend 15 hours reading stuff that I didn't write. Books, graphic novels, blog posts, articles, and short stories all count. Twitter, Discord, and Tootplanet do not. Lol nope. I caught up on my Dreamwidth feed, which is nice, and I tried reading some books without making much progress. But I didn't even try to track my time spent reading and I'm confident it didn't make it to half an hour a day. This should be easy. I don't know why it isn't anymore. MEH.

Goals for February
* Care for Lut
* Finish revisions on Princess and send to first readers
* Think about next book(s)

I haven't solidified what I'm writing next yet. I am most inclined to write an EXTREMELY QUEER prequel to The Moon Etherium, but since I don't have a solid concept for it yet, I'm not committed. I am farther along on my year's work than I expected to be at this point, so I'm not concerned, either.
rowyn: (Default)
2019-01-24 08:04 am

Bad Romance

I started reading romance novels in the 80s. I was a voracious reader, and exhausted the little branch library's allotment of the genre quickly. I could only afford to buy so many new books, so I bought a lot of used books. The used book store charged half cover price, which made 60s and 70s romances cheap.

After a couple dozen, I stopped reading 60s and 70s romances because even teenage me was appalled by the rampant misogyny in them. These were books for woman, by women, starring women characters, and YET. The female protagonists were often caricatures: helpless creatures, with no ambitions beyond love, marriage, and children.

I was, in one way, fascinated by this, because I read much older books that portrayed women in a far more attractive light. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte gave me independent, confident, interesting women. Why were 60s romances so bad at this?

While I recognized the shallowness of the characters early on, it took much, much longer for me to realize how unhealthy many of the relationships were. It wasn't uncommon to read a romance in which the male protagonist outright raped the female protagonist. I don't mean "this is kind of rapey because she's uncomfortable about having sex" but "woman is saying "no" over and over again while ineffectually trying to push him away, and man ignores her protests and rapes her".

The Flame and the Flower was a 1972 romance showcasing this trope on the lame excuse that the man thought she was a prostitute and I guess prostitutes don't get consent? And this was one of the romances I liked as a teen. I read my favorite parts over and over again.

By the 2000s, most romances had gone from "rape is a good way to get the protagonists in bed because it lets you have your pure female character and sex too" to "howabout we portray the kind of healthy relationships we'd like to be in, instead?"

I love healthy romances. I write about characters who are careful with one another, who consider issues of power and consent, who have an unselfish love for one another. They do not seek to gratify their own desires without regard for the object thereof. Even in Frost and Desire, I cling to that overall tone, despite having a scene of mind control and rape. This trend delights me.

But I feel as if romance is now held to a different standard from every other genre. We don't just say "Wow, that relationship in The Flame and the Flower is messed up": we say "This book is objectively bad because the relationship is unhealthy". When teens say they love TWILIGHT, we fret that they plan to get into abusive relationships.

People, I loved The Flame and the Flower and A Woman Without Lies and I've never been in anything close to an abusive relationship, or thought that abusive relationships were a good idea. I loved reading books about these warped relationships that somehow magically turned out for the best because they were fun, not because they were my role model.

We don't wonder if people who love horror are going to become serial killers, or expect that people who read mysteries will become either cops or murderers. We don't watch Game of Thrones because we long for a return to the War of the Roses.

But romances, ah, if they show unhealthy behaviors, it has to be because the author and the readers endorse those behaviors in the real world.

As I built my playlist of dysfunctional love songs for Frost, I found it freeing to realize just how much music glorified terrible relationships. Music is expected to cover the full spectrum of relationships, from happy to broken to dysfunctional. Music is cathartic, not a model of the ideal.

I came up with the plot for Frost in 2015, and I put off writing it for three years in part because "people will assume I think this is a romantic ideal".

And I finally decided to write my messy hurt/comfort problematic romance anyway.

Because yes, it's great that so many romance novels now model strong, healthy relationships.

But fantasies that would make for bad realities have their place, too.
rowyn: (Default)
2019-01-17 07:22 am
Entry tags:

New Release! Frost and Desire

 Frost and Desire book cover: torso of a long-haired man partially disrobed
 
Frost and Desire
 
 
Frost, master sorcerer, wanted an apprentice: someone who would perform the tedious parts of sorcery, while Frost enjoyed the more sophisticated and varied aspects. 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 braced 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.
 
Author Comments

Woo! Finally done!
 

Frost and Desire
is a standalone M/M fantasy romance in a new setting. I thought of the idea for this story in 2015, wrote most of an outline, and then trunked it as too self-indulgent. Last year, after I finished drafting Angel's Sigil, I decided I was entitled to indulge myself for a little while.
 
The self-indulgent part: one of my favorite variations on the "hurt/comfort" trope is when one character hurts another and then feels awful and guilty about it and spends the rest of the book trying to make up for it. In real life, this does not make for healthy relationships. But this is fiction, and it can be just as much fun to read about relationships that don't work in the real world as it is to read about magic systems and interstellar spaceships that don't work in the real world, either.
 
I enjoyed writing this book, and I enjoy re-reading it even more. It is so finely-crafted to cater to my particular tastes that I will not fault anyone else for finding it unappealing. But if it sounds intriguing to you, I daresay you will love it!
 
Spoliers and Content Notes

This novel depicts a relationship that begins as healthy and platonic but eventually becomes abusive. After the breaking point and a long separation, the characters gradually work their way to their happily-ever-after. This is a fantasy. It is not intended to suggest that real-world abusive relationships should be "worked on" until they become healthy ones, or that teacher-pupil romances are a good idea (they are not even a good idea in the story). Novel contains an incident of mind-control, nonconsensual sex transformation, and rape. Also contains explicit sex and consensual bondage. It is not erotica; sex scenes comprise very little of the book. Similarly, despite some dark scenes, most of the book is upbeat: it wallows in the "comfort" side of hurt/comfort.
 
Thank you for reading!
 
rowyn: (cute)
2019-01-08 02:16 pm
Entry tags:

Not Rabid

 For anyone worried that I might die of rabies because I didn't get the vaccine: I saw the cat who bit me last night. He's still alive (and still feeling kind of bitey, though he did not bite me). Rabies is only contagious after symptoms show, and dogs and cats will die of it within ten days of symptoms showing. It's been over two weeks. I'm safe. n.n
rowyn: (smile)
2019-01-04 10:31 am
Entry tags:

2018 in Review and 2019 Goals

 Published
January: Golden Coils
June: Demon's Lure
August: Angel's Sigil
 
Edited
Demon's Lure: complete
Angel's Sigil: complete
Frost and Desire: complete
The Princess Her Dragon, and Their Prince: Started initial edits (very little done).
 
Written
Angel's Sigil: 8,000 (draft begun 2017, completed 2018)
Frost and Desire: 120,380
The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince: 134,928
The Twilight Etherium: 74,400 (draft incomplete)
 
That's 337,000 words. This is not quite my all-time high of 347,000 in 2016, but in 2016 I only edited one book and this year I edited three. Also, cancer. I am happy with my word count total.
 
Promotions
Purchased four international-only Bookbub ads, for Silver Scales, Demon's Lure, The Moon Etherium, and The Sun Etherium
 
Other Business-of-Writing items
I commissioned Anthony Avon to do the Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil covers. I've also commissioned a different artist to do the cover for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince.
 
Art
4 finished
2 Flight Rising adopts
6 sketches
Composited one cover out of my existing art
 
Support Lut
He's still alive!  *\o/*  Actually doing pretty well at the moment, as he recovers from the cold and has not been pushed back down by cancer treatment yet. His oncologist will try tapering down on one of his drugs next month, which may help with his general brain fog.
 
General Adulting
I have done pretty well at this, with one exception -- I broke the front wall of my garage back in, like, October? And never got it fixed.  I made some very desultory attempts at it, and then it was winter and of course I can't hire someone in winter which gave me an excuse not to try.  I should really do something about this, though.
 
Also, the house needs painting and some general exterior repairs. Meh.
 
Points
In 2011, I started an activity log to track all of my creative efforts.  Then in 2012, I made a "unified productivity scoring" system kind of thing, that gave me points for writing/editing/completing fiction, and also for blog posts and for art. It was more than slightly ridiculous. For 2012, I scored 27,000 points.  For 2013 I set what I considered an extremely ambitious goal of 30,000. My actual 2013 score -- the year I began and finished the first draft of A Rational Arrangement -- was 45,780. My 2014 and 2015 levels of creative output were overall much lower. (In fairness to my past self, in 2014 and 2015 I was trying to sort out editing and self-publishing and this was extremely stressful for me at the time.)
 
I stopped using the activity log in the middle of 2014, because it had become much too cumbersome.  But for fun this year, I decided to try to calculate what my 2018 score would've been.
 
108,000.
 
That's not even counting a bunch of stuff that I would have scored points for if I was still using the log -- time spent (or words written) on blog posts and art would've counted as well, for instance.
 
Anyway, that amused me.
 
2018 Goal Recap:
I hit all of my stated goals:
 
* Support Lut through the cancer treatment process
* Continue general adulting as necessary.
* Publish Golden Coils
* Edit and publish the two Demon books.
* Post monthly updates on whatever I did.
 
I also reached my stretch goal:
* finish some other book and/or stories.
 
My ideal was "write and publish a fourth book and have two more books drafted."  I did not accomplish this. I drafted 2.5 books this year instead of the hoped-for three, and I didn't publish a fourth book.
 
I am vaguely dissatisfied about this, and also think that dissatisfaction here is ridiculous and unreasonable.  Yes, I could've spent December working instead of relaxing and maybe finished the draft of The Twilight Etherium. (Probably not; it would've taken another 50k month at a minimum and that still might not have been enough.)  
 
But I averaged over 900 words per day this year -- not just work-week days, every day! -- and I edited three books to completion and I got three books published and I hired contractors and at some point I just need to admit that this is Good Enough.  I'm not ready to be a four-books-a-year author yet.
 
Honestly, three books is quite a lot.
 
Also, they are all good books that I am proud of and enjoy re-reading, which is important too.
 
2019 Goals
* Support Lut through cancer treatment process
* Do something about the broken garage wall
* Publish three books
* Finish drafting three books
* Write a book in the 55,000-85,000 word range and which covers the entire original outline for the book.
* Post monthly updates
 
Technically, I've written one book under 85,000 words already, but this was accomplished by splitting Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil into two books. I am content with them as two books, but I have gotten some complaints about the break and I am just not a fan of this approach. It's part of why I don't want to split The Twilight Etherium.  The Twilight Etherium splits very well in one sense: there's one major plot arc that wraps up the first half, and the second half of the book has a new plot arc that resolves during it. But I want the Etherium books to all be in the same genre: standalone fantasy romances. If I split TTE in half, then it becomes a two-part romance instead of a standalone. From a marketing perspective, this is confusing.
 
Anyway, I feel as if I am much better at estimating book length than I was four years ago, and that figuring out in advance how long an outline will be and then MAKING IT SHORTER -- or doing a different outline -- is no longer beyond my skillset. Also, I don't want another year where I write 337,000 words but that's somehow only 2.5 books.
 
rowyn: (studious)
2019-01-03 09:45 am
Entry tags:

Adventures in Book Advertising

2018 was the year that I started to look seriously into buying ads for my books.

Book promotion is notoriously difficult. Most books sell based on word of mouth, or recommendations through various media, rather than by advertising. Because the product is inexpensive and even consumers who want it are generally only going to buy one copy, no publisher can afford to pay a premium for individual views or clicks.

Most advertising channels for books are Very Bad at selling books. There are many venues, most of which have negligible impact on sales. Back in 2017, I tried buying a Bargain Booksy ad for Silver Scales in the week after its release, and it had zero impact: I sold three copies the day before the ad, and three copies the day of the ad. That ad was for the book at its full price ($4.99). Bargain Booksy might be more effective at a lower pricepoint, but based on other authors' experiences, they are unlikely to be profitable. In point of fact, I unsubscribed from all but Bargain Booksy's "LGBT" category for my own reading, because Bargain Booksy accepts unlimited numbers of promotions per day and its daily emails are overwhelming: twenty or more fantasy novels in one email. I am not surprised it doesn't work.

I might try E-reader News Today at some point: they at least had a noticeable impact on sales for one author's ad, although not nearly enough to cover the cost of the ad.

The gold standard of book advertising -- the outlet most likely (though not guaranteed!) to turn a profit -- is Bookbub. Bookbub is a discount email newsletter. Readers sign up for the categories they want to see and pick whether they want to get emails daily, weekly, or not at all. (You can look at the site to see what's discounted in your genres instead.) Bookbub runs a single deal each day in each category, for a book priced between $0.00 and $2.99. Publishers pay for slots, with slots being cheaper the lower the price point they pay.

Because Bookbub is a discount-books outlet, much of the profit in advertising through them relies on follow-on sales. The book you advertise is a loss leader, and other books in the series or your catalog (hopefully) make up the difference.

Since Bookbub is committed to "one slot per genre per day", advertising space in their newsletter is limited. They turn down a lot of books: 80% is their advertised standard. I've applied twenty-three times for slots. All of my submissions have been for:
  • One book (you can also discount a box set)
  • Sale price of $0.99
  • Both US & International (you can pick one or the other or both).
  • Genre: either "fantasy" or "LGBT".
None of my books have been selected for a US Bookbub, but four of them were selected for international-only Bookbubs. In order:
  • July: Silver Scales (fantasy, $188)
  • October: Demon's Lure (fantasy, $188)
  • November: The Moon Etherium (fantasy, $188)
  • December: The Sun Etherium (LGBT, $52)
Conventional wisdom holds that you run discounts only on the first book in a series. Once people buy the first book, if they like it, they'll pay full price for the others. Some publishers make an exception for romance novels, because romance readers understand that a romance "series" can generally be read in any order and that each book is a standalone story. Moreover, since most ad requests are rejected, being able to submit more books than just the first in a series is helpful in getting your books out there.

That was partly my logic in submitting The Sun Etherium for a promotion. The other part is that The Sun Etherium is the queerest of my books: it features two genderfluid protagonists, both of whom most often present as male: one cannot mistake this for a heterosexual pairing. Part of me wanted to submit The Moon Etherium in the LGBT+ category, but The Moon Etherium is an M/F fantasy romance. Yes, the female protagonist is bisexual, and yes, the setting presents gender as a spectrum where individuals determine for themselves where they belong, not a binary that people are born into. But a 40-word blurb for The Moon Etherium is not going to capture why a reader looking for an LGBT book will want to pick this up.

Speaking of which: Bookbub writes its own blurbs for every book featured in one of its emails. These are short and punchy, and based on Bookbub's market research of what sells books.

These are the Bookbub blurbs for my ads:

Silver Scales: To escape the legions of hell, Sir Damon Kildare has to succeed in a seemingly impossible quest. But Zenobia, a dragon-slayer’s daughter, will stop at nothing to find the key to saving his soul…

Demon's Lure: When Sunrise agrees to help a team of hunters catch a demon, she thinks it will be simple. But the demon is nothing like she expects — and neither is the future that awaits her… An enchanting fantasy!

The Moon Etherium: On a quest to secure his father’s freedom from slavery, Prince Mirohirokon enlists Ardent’s assistance. Bound by duty, she agrees to help and soon the duo is swept up in betrayal and intrigue — with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

The Sun Etherium: Fey immortal Jino, ruler of the Sun Etherium, needs to make sure this year’s Founder’s Festival is a success. But will his trysts at a new club, coupled with his deepening desire for ex-prince consort Kireki, risk everything he’s worked for?

You'll note that The Moon Etherium's blurb doesn't even mention the romance -- it's an ad in the "fantasy" genre, so Bookbub is pitching its fantasy/intrigue plot.

Also, I was totally guessing when I said Bookbub's blurbs were 40 words, but looks like that is around their max length!

Anyway:

Most of Bookbub's subscribers are in the US. The other countries where they have a presence are the UK, Australia, India, and Canada. Their international-only ads usually, but not necessarily, include all four of those countries. In my case, I got all four countries for each promo.

Unit sales from each promo are a little squidgy, because some sales are clearly not from Bookbub and probably unrelated to the promo ("this was an international-only Bookbub and these were US sales"). Others can't be Bookbub but are probably Bookbub-influenced ("Demon's Lure is selling twice as well at its regular price, two weeks after the Bookbub, than it was before the promo.") And whether or not follow-on sales are due to the Bookbub is purely guesswork. So I am giving exact unit numbers, but honestly, they are guesstimates.

Translating unit sales into dollars is even squidgier, because these are international sales. The actual price was 0.99 in the local currency (or 65 rupees for India, but I only had a few sales in India so those have a negligible impact.) Amazon then gives 35% of that 0.99 of local currency to me, converted to US dollars, two months later, bundled with all my book sales in that market. Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble give me between 60%, via Draft2Digital. And while D2D's markets are negligible for my non-promotional sales, they are significant during promos and releases. Kobo is especially a big market for an international Bookbub: in Canada, Kobo is a much stronger competitor with Amazon. The upshot is that a single unit sale could net me as little as US $0.22 (Australian dollars, via Amazon) or as much as US $0.63 (UK sale via Draft2Digital). That is based on conversion rates back in December; it will have changed again by now, and will probably be different by the time I am actually paid. It is theoretically possible to parse out exactly how much each sale made and add it all up, but I have not done so.

July
Silver Scales: 210
Golden Coils: 27
This was a modest failure. I lost probably $30-$40 net on this promotion. I am fine with this: it moved a couple hundred books into people's e-readers and bumped my visibility a touch. I am willing to assume I got some long-term vigorish from this.

October
Demon's Lure: 382
Angel's Sigil: 30
This was a definite success. The sales of Angel's Sigil are especially hard to calculate, because Angel's Sigil had only been out a couple of months and was still benefiting from its new-release bump. But percentage-wise, my guess is that the immediate sell-through on Lure was definitely worse than Scales. Nonetheless, very happy with this promotion and would be glad to buy a US Bookbub for this book.

November
The Moon Etherium: 110
The Sun Etherium: 2
This was just abysmal. Few sales and almost no sell-through. Big money loser.

December
The Sun Etherium: 83
The Moon Etherium: 12
In case you are looking at this and thinking "oog, that's even worse than The Moon Etherium": no, actually this is the best ROI of all four promotions. TSE was promoted in the LGBT category. Bookbub has many fewer LGBT readers than fantasy readers, and the ads are correspondingly cheaper. This ad was only $52, as compared to $188 for the other three. Moreover, the sell-through was unexpectedly good. 15% of readers either looked at the blurb for TSE and decided immediately that they wanted the first book too, or they chewed through TSE in under a day and then bought TME. Last: this promotion was on 12/31, so it's likely that a few more sales will still trickle in. So although this was comparatively low-volume, I'm excited about the possibilities.

~

The disparity in the performance of the Etherium novels in the fantasy vs LGBT categories makes it clear that I want to market these books as LGBT+. Which is how I've always wanted to market them, to be fair. On the other hand, marketing The Sun Etherium as LGBT+ and hoping people will then pick up The Moon Etherium is not, in my opinion, ideal. For one thing, just the blurb for The Sun Etherium has spoilers for The Moon Etherium. But The Moon Etherium is, as previously mentioned, difficult to position as an LGBT+ book.

So the logical solution to this problem is to write an EXTREMELY GAY prequel to The Moon Etherium, and then market THAT as the first book in the series. n_n

~

Overall, Bookbub works much better as a marketing outlet if you have several books in a single series. I haven't really seen an impact on sales of my other series based on a Bookbub promo. So because I only have two books in each series, I've lost a little money, net, on the four promotions I've bought so far. If I were promoting the first book in a series with four or more installments, it'd be much more clearly profitable. The good news is, I'm finally working on the third book in a series! The bad news is, it's a third Etherium book, and nothwithstanding the successful promo on The Sun Etherium, the Etherium books are my worst-selling series.

I still haven't landed a US Bookbub, and the US Bookbubs have a much bigger impact on sales than the international ones (and are correspondingly more expensive -- they cost about four times as much.) I am still submitting to Bookbub for one of these. Bookbub won't run an ad for the same book in the same market more often than every six months, so most of my catalog doesn't qualify for another international Bookbub yet. Except A Rational Arrangement; I am amused that I still haven't gotten a promo for it, since it's my most-reviewed and most-sold book.

Those who've been following my blog since I first released A Rational Arrangement may have noticed that none of the promotions reach the heights of my first couple of months of ARA's release. Alas, ARA remains an outlier in my catalog. ARA has received no promotions, and has sold three times as many copies as anything else I've written since. On the other hand, outside of promotions and recent releases, all of my books are selling 10 or fewer copies a month at this stage: it's not as if ARA is continuing to outsell the rest of my catalog now. It just has a big head start from 2015-2016. Arguably, I should be writing more books set in Paradise. I have not been inspired to write more books in Paradise, however. Also, Further Arrangements was not a stand out in terms of sales the way ARA is, and even ARA did not make full-time-writing-income money. Hence, I am continuing to write books based on my own interests rather than being strongly influenced by "what's selling."

My general experience with Bookbub has been positive: it sells books and it's low effort on my part. Yes, I have to submit a bunch of books for every one they accept, but the submission form only takes a couple of minutes to complete. There are other advertising options I should try, especially since Bookbub is so exclusive. But since Bookbub is the industry leader and even it has not been consistently profitable, I am still at the stage where focusing most of my effort on "write more books" feels right. Advertising one book will have a better ROI when I have more books to sell after new readers finish that first one.
rowyn: (studious)
2019-01-01 11:07 am
Entry tags:

December in Review

Health/Fitness
I went to the coffee shop to write this, which was a huge mistake because my poor little Surface 3 is choking to death on all the stuff I am asking it to do this morning.

One of those things was "extract the data from Google Fit and get it into some kind of meaningful format."

It looks like Google Fit records the data in nanoseconds, because it's a computer and why not, I guess. Assuming this is right -- it produces minutes-per-day that are a little higher than those the app shows, so I'm not confident, but there is no single divisor that will match app to data so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ -- then my average "activity per day" for November was 69 minutes and for December, 65. These figures make zero intuitive sense to me: I felt like I did almost no exercise in December. I stopped biking, and I practically stopped doing anything for the last two weeks because BODY SO BROKEN.

I am not particularly happy with this level of activity, especially since it's 100% walking, with nothing of higher intensity, but meh. I do not seem able to motivate myself to use the exercise bike or dance in my living room, which are my usual methods of winter activity. So this is probably what the next couple of months will look like.

I already whinged about my body failing me repeatedly, so I won't rehash that.

Lut still has a cold, but has been slowly recovering rather than getting worse. One Wednesday, 12/26, he was scheduled for his monthly immunotherapy treatment.

Lut: "I am too sick to get up this early. I can't go to the clinic."
Me: "You still can't call in sick to your doctor's appointment."

So I coaxed him out of bed and into the shower, even, and we got to the clinic only five or ten minutes late, which I totally took as a win. At the oncology clinic, he saw Melody, our usual RN (appointments generally alternate between her and the oncology doctor).

Melody: "You look pretty awful."
Lut: *grunts a little, eyes closed and slumped in his chair.*
Melody: "Do you want to put off treatment until next week?"
Lut: "YES."
Melody: "Okay, we'll reschedule you for next Monday."
Me: "Oh, hey. I guess you can call in sick to your doctor's appointment. WHO KNEW."
Lut: *manages a smile*
Melody: "We really do prefer that you at least show up so we can see how you're doing and if you need emergency care."

I had been worried that Lut would still not feel up to treatment by Monday, because I'd caught the same cold on Friday and while I was mostly healthy five days later, I still had a lingering cough and drippy nose. Even as I write this, 10 days later, I am still not 100%. As feared, Lut was still sick Monday. I got him moving to go to the appointment -- "I want them to SEE YOU so we can have an expert opinion that you are recovering and that you don't need urgent care" -- but when Melody offered to reschedule again, he wanted to do that. So we go back on Friday. My work schedule is in shambles. I'm glad I am officially only 2.5 days a week after this week, because even this week, where I am nominally still supposed to work30 hours, I'm only going to show up for like 14 hours. >_< (I get holiday pay for 6 of that, but the other 10 are gonna have to come out of my depleted stash of PTO.)

Writing
I was on vacation in December! So I only wrote 16,900 words of The Twilight Etherium.

2004 Rowyn: "THAT IS NOT WHAT VACATION LOOKS LIKE."
2018 Rowyn: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I did prod myself to write on my vacation; I honestly hardly ever "feel like writing". But it doesn't take much prodding to convince myself to write a few hundred words, at this stage. "I'm bored, I might as well write so I have something to show for it." Or "I have the day off! I could spend this WHOLE MORNING at the coffee shop and get some writing done! That's fun, right?"

The TTE draft is up to 74,400 words now, and about half-done per the outline. That puts the final manuscript estimate at 151,000 words. I still think the last half of the outline is going to be shorter than the first half, but we'll see.

I also wrote a number of blog posts, for a change. My favorite was the tribute to Excel. It turns out I rarely have much in the way of blogging that I want to do these days, but I do miss having a record of my life so it was nice to get back to that a little. And yeah, I was definitely writing more blog posts because I was writing less fiction.

The Business of Writing
I was on vacation in December!

But one of my goals was to get the remaining bits for Frost and Desire to Alinsa, and I did this. I also commissioned an artist to do the cover for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince.

I also ran a Bookbub ad for The Sun Etherium I may write a post about my experience this year with advertising.

Art/Other
I finished "Gimme One", which was just a general art-practice piece.

Gaming
I am getting bored of Pokemon Go, sadly. This has contributed to my decreased exercise time, although apparently not as much as I thought it had. *stares at Google Fit numbers in confusion.* I expect I will keep playing at least a little every day. There are a handful of dailies that only take a few minutes:

* Catch a pokemon
* Spin a pokestop
* Do a field research quest

I have to leave the house, at least to walk across the street, in order to do the last two. But if I am leaving the house at all, going to one pokestop doesn't take me out of my way. And doing each of these once per day gives most of the rewards, so worth doing. I try to end gifts out as well: at a minimum, to all the gift-eligible people that I haven't reached max friend status with. Preferably to everyone eligible. But both of those require a lot more dedication, so I haven't been doing them as much. I haven't been to the Plaza since the last Community Day; I've been trying not to drive as much for Pokemon Go.

I am about 1/3rd through level 38, and I expect it'll be several months before I hit the level cap. Possibly I will speed up again when there's more daylight and biking after work becomes feasible again.

Goals for coming month
Let's see.
* Care for Lut
* Finish 17 more bullet points on the outline for The Twilight Etherium
* And/or finish 17 bullet points on the editing list for The Princess, Her Dragon and Their Prince, or some combination of these two.
* Release Frost and Desire if the layout is finished this month
* Spend 15 hours reading stuff that I didn't write. Books, graphic novels, blog posts, articles, and short stories all count. Twitter, Discord, and Tootplanet do not.

That last one is an effort to tackle my "why am I not reading anymore?" problem from a different angle. I will try tracking my progress on this and see how it goes. It may turn out to be too annoying to track "time spent". But I feel as if my mind is simultaneously "it only counts as reading if you finish an entire book" and also "reading a book takes too long and is too much commitment." And I need to get back to reading or my writing is really going to stagnate. So many of my books were directly or indirectly inspired by other authors.

The "finish bullet points on the outline" emphasis for TTE is because the draft is half-done and already book-length. I do not want to encourage myself to be long-winded by setting a word count goal.
rowyn: (tired)
2018-12-24 03:09 pm

Corporeal Forms Were a Mistake

This is just me whinging like the old woman that I am about my physical complaints.

You've been warned. )

rowyn: (studious)
2018-12-14 10:51 am
Entry tags:

Here's to You, Microsoft Excel

Shout-out to Microsoft Office's Excel, the Swiss army knife of computer applications, the Spreadsheet Program That Could.

Like, whatever you want it to do.

It can.

Was this a good idea? MAYBE NOT BUT LET'S DO IT ANYWAY.

On my first exposure to spreadsheet programs, I found them confusing: "I don't understand how this works." One of my friends, Telnar, said "You know how word processors are programs for using text? Spreadsheets are word processors, but for numbers." And I thought, "Oh, that makes sense."

And Excel thought, "Cool, but WHY STOP THERE."

At some point in the 90s, Microsoft decided to watch how users actually used the various programs in the Office suite. "What kind of numbers do our users crunch in Excel?" they asked. "What sort of functions do they need?"

And the users said "Well, we don't really use this for numbers that much."

MS: "Uh. Huh. But you use it?"

Users: "OH YEAH IT'S GREAT FOR LISTS."

MS Excel developers: "That sure is a thing. So. HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS PROGRAM BETTER FOR LISTS."

Users: "Really we want to store a lot of records, like lists of our customer's names and addresses in a format that we can sort and filter and stuff."

MS Excel: "You mean like ... a database?"

Users: "What's a database?"

MS Excel: "That thing you just described. Did you know Access comes bundled with MS Office, just like Excel?"

Users: "No. Also, databases sound scary and we like you, Excel."

MS Excel: "Okay ... uh ... sure, we can pretend to be a database, I guess. I don't know if this is really a good idea ... "

Users: "WE LOVE IT THANK YOU."

MS Access: "... this was supposed to be my job, why doesn't anyone love me."

MS Excel: "WE DON'T KNOW please stop being scary so we can stop doing your job. Also, we're going to add pivot tables to give better reports on the database information that users keep putting in spreadsheets."

Users: "What's a pivot table?

MS Excel: "It gives you statistics on the data in a database. Like the total number of customers who live in Michigan and joined in 2017."

Most Users: "That sounds scary I don't think I can do that."

Jane in the back: "AW YEAH I LOVE IT."

MS Excel: "Okay, well, we already added it, so, uh, you're welcome, Jane."

Jane: *BIG THUMBS UP*

Users: "Howabout you add charts? Like pie charts, maybe, or bar graphs, or line ones perhaps?"

MS Excel: "OH YEAH LET'S JUST DO ALL OF THOSE AND ALSO TWELVE MORE KINDS IN INCREASING ORDER OF OBSCURITY."

Users: "... sure that works."

Some users: "I'd like to be able look stuff up. Like I want a formula that checks to see if Mary Watson is in my address spreadsheet and then tells me what her address is."

MS Access: "You know what is great at this? A DATABASE PROGRAM."

Some users *sidle around Access, look hopefully at Excel*

MS Excel: "We're gonna call this formula "VLOOKUP", or "HLOOKUP" if your data is stored horizontally."

Some users: "You're the best, Excel!"

John: "Oh, hey, I'd love it if I could tell Excel to do the same set of operations on a spreadsheet over and over again. Like I get this spreadsheet from my distributor every month but the columns are in the wrong order and it has a bunch of records on international sales that I don't care about, and other stuff. Anyway I do this same fifteen-step process on every file and it'd be great if I could just press a button and have Excel do all fifteen steps."

MS Access: "HAVE YOU CONSIDERED USING A DATABASE PROGRAM FOR YOUR DATABASE NEEDS."

John: *hides in terror until MS Access is gone, sneaks over to Excel, whispers* "so can you help me?"

MS Excel: "We can add that! Here, press this 'record macro' button and then do your fifteen steps, then press 'stop'. Now you can replay that macro the next time you need to do those same things on a file."

John: "Thanks!"

Most users: "What's a macro?"

MS Excel: "... we just said?"

Most users: "can we pretend it doesn't exist, it's scary?"

MS Excel: "Sure, our program works fine even if you ignore 99% of our features."

Most users: "WHEW."

Pat: "So this macro thing is great but sometimes I want to be able to tell Excel to do things automatically that are more complicated than what I can record. Like I want it to dynamically change the range of cells that it's operating on, or whatever."

MS Excel: "So, huh. You want to be able to program Excel, basically?"

Pat: "Yeah, sounds good."

MS Excel: "Okay, well, we have this programming language that records the macros, so we can just expand it and users can write programs in it."

MS Excel developers: "Are we really putting an entire programming language in our spreadsheet program?"

MS Office: "Actually, we're gonna put it in all our products."

Most Users: "TOTALLY PRETENDING THIS DOESN'T EXIST WHAT IS IT EVEN IF WE WANTED TO BE PROGRAMMERS WE WOULDN'T NEED YOUR APP."

Pat: "AW YISS PERFECT."

Robin: "Hey, Excel, can you make it so I can import stuff directly from my SQL database to a spreadsheet?"

MS Access: "WHY AM I EVEN HERE."

MS Excel: "I DON'T KNOW MAYBE IF YOU TOOK OFF THAT ZOMBIE MAKEUP AND THE VAMPIRE FANGS PEOPLE WOULD LIKE YOU ACCESS"

MS Access: *lifts vampire cloak, hisses*

MS Excel: "So, Robin, you want to do database reports in ... Excel?"

Robin: "YES."

MS Excel: "You're sure you don't want to use a SQL query builder or report writer for this instead?"

Robin: "I ONLY WANT YOU, EXCEL."

MS Excel: "... okay, we basically do anything a user has ever asked us for, so here you go."

Confession: in my 25+ years of using Excel, I have used every one of these features. I am pretty sure this means there is a WHOLE BUNCH MORE STUFF THAT EXCEL CAN DO. Does it julienne fries? PROBABLY.

Is it a good idea to build a form in Excel that uses VBA to hide and reveal parts of the form based on data entered and then send that form's data to a different spreadsheet which stores it like a database? Possibly you should have hired an actual programmer for your programming needs but EXCEL IS NONETHELESS HERE FOR YOU.

Like any Swiss army knife, Excel is not necessarily the BEST tool for any particular job, and sometimes using it for a given job turns out to be a TERRIBLE MISTAKE. But I love you anyway, Excel. You're the best. ❤️
rowyn: (Default)
2018-12-14 08:44 am
Entry tags:

Gimme One

"Good work, large friend! Gimme one!"

gimme one

I pronounced this drawing done a few days ago. This is the first time I've done a black and white digital picture and then converted the b&w to color. (There is a specific tool that basically changed the color without changing the values. So you select the areas/layers that have the same color -- "these are all brown skin" -- and just change them, and it keeps all the shading.) I am not perfectly happy with the process. I think I am supposed to do some touch-up work to make it look better. This probably requires looking at tutorials or something. I find tutorials on digital art a bit grating because they're all designed around Photopaint and while I have two art programs and they can do most of the things Photopaint can, they do not do them in the same way so spending five minutes watching someone dig through submenus on Photopaint is not as helpful as I'd like.

For this particular picture, however, I'm calling it here. I didn't have a purpose in mind for it anyway. It's just "I saw this pose on a Senshistock (a stock/pose reference account) and went OMIGOSH SO CUTE I WANT TO DRAW THIS."

Now I've spent 15 hours drawing it and I feel like I should come up with personalities for the characters and write a story for them. I mean, I already have a cover, that's the hard part, right?

It kind of is, actually.

I don't think I like this picture enough to make it a book cover though. Even if there is plenty of room at the bottom to lay out the title and author name.

I am a little tempted to go back to one of my early pictures of Miro and Ardent and try coloring it in this fashion, though. Except the layout on my favorite wouldn't make a particularly good book cover. I feel like, while my rendering skills are weak, my framing skills are [File Not Found]. I can't figure out how to frame things in a dynamic, effective way. Art. So hard.
rowyn: (studious)
2018-12-10 07:36 pm
Entry tags:

Weekend Musings

Last weekend was a coffee shop weekend for me.  For the last several months, I've been using my out-of-the-house time mostly on Pokemon Go. Even when I wanted to  go somewhere indoors, it'd be to the mall or the library, where I could spin pokestops.

But I have been in the mood for Panera, so I went there for breakfast on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I also stayed later than I intended to every day except for Sunday. Each time, 4thewords was to blame. On Saturday, I accidentally started a 2000-word battle so, of course, I had to stick around and win it.  I wrote 1200-ish words of The Twilight Etherium that day. On Sunday, I didn't much feel like writing The Twilight Etherium, but I didn't feel like writing anything else either. So I wrote it because I had to write something for my daily quota.

After Panera, I exercised and ran errands. Most of my shopping is online now. I get groceries by ordering them online at Wal-Mart and then just picking them up, which is very nearly as good as having groceries delivered direct to my house, to be honest. But I still have to go into Costco to pick up stuff there. 
I just realized that I forgot to pick up the book I put on hold at the library. D'oh.  Well, I can always put it on hold again. I haven't been doing much reading anyway. Other than my own books.  c_c
Back in September or so, I started a sketch and then lost my stylus. I replaced the stylus within a week or two, but didn't go back to work on the picture. This weekend, I decided I really needed to justify replacing my (really expensive) stylus, so I went back to the picture.  It felt like it was never going to be done at the time, but now it is looking much closer to complete. It's currently in grayscale, using Artrage's pastel and blender brushes. There are techniques for taking a digital grayscale picture and colorizing it, and I might attempt that.  I don't know if Artrage has the right tools to do so or not.  Might be interesting to try.

I am writing this on Monday, almost entirely because I need to write something to keep my 4thewords streak and I don't really feel like writing at all. I am enjoying being on break and not worrying so much about being productive or not. I've actually thought about spending time on other not-really-productive things. I could start another PBEM! I haven't done one of those in a few months. Or I could try to revive the last one that I let die!  Or I could attempt to revive the PollRPG (I still like the illustration that I started of Corydalis and Smoke and never finished. ) I liked the PollRPG characters and setting and I'm sorry I didn't get further on it, but also not sure if people would be able to follow the story enough to vote usefully in polls, if I restarted it.

Oh, hey, I could try going back to the gaming store for board game nights!  Forgot all about that option. It would be much easier now that I have a car.  I don't think I've actually been to the gaming store since the registration on Lut's car expired, which was like four or five years ago now. I did use a rental car a couple of times to go to Fred's place for gaming, I remember, but it's still been a few years.

Anyway, what I really want to do right now is work on this picture, and I've got my streak in, so Imma do that now.
rowyn: (exercise)
2018-12-08 07:57 pm
Entry tags:

The Best Kind of Exercise

I walked to work on Monday. This was the first time in months that I did so. I biked a lot in the summer and fall, and even several times in November. But otherwise, I've been driving. On Monday, it was around 30 F, with a dusting of snow: enough to frost the ground and cars, but not enough to stick to the roads. I could've biked, but decided to give walking a shot instead. I walked a little more than usual, in order to hit a couple of pokestops that are a half-block or a block out of the way each. I soon realized why I haven't been walking to work: after buying the car and especially after getting my new no-physical-keyboard phone, I've been in the habit of bringing my tablet computer to work, so I can write using it during lunch and breaks. Carrying a messenger bag with a tablet computer in it is a lot more annoying than just carrying a lunch bag. If I try walking to work again, I will probably put my tablet and lunch into a backpack or a grocery tote instead of the messenger bag. The messenger bag has a lot of compartments and is heavy even empty. Also, like a big purse, it tends to accrete Stuff because it's big enough to hold Stuff. I do not need to cart all of it to work, though.

That aside, the walk was fine. When I got to work, one of my coworkers let me in and whispered, shocked: "why are you walking? Is something wrong with your car??"
Me: "Oh, I haven't been exercising as much as I used to and figured the walk would be good."
Coworker: "Oh. But it's too cold to walk! Let me know when you're leaving, I'll drive you home."
Me: "No really it's fine, I chose to walk. Thank you for the offer!"

I am still amused by how people react to the idea of going somewhere on foot, even when the distance is pretty short.

Ironically, while I don't walk to work, I've been walking outside for exercise anyway. If I notice that one of the two pokegyms near work has a raid I can solo and it's after 11AM, I take my lunch break and use it to walk over to the gym and do the raid, and hit any other pokestops I have time for. After work, I go to a tiny park near the bank, which has a pokestop and a pokegym and a teensy exercise track.

The walking path is ridiculously small. It's like 1/7th of a mile for the entire loop. I walk around and around it in the evening, spinning the pokestops and getting a little exercise in. I like it better than walking to and from work because of the pokestops, and also because I don't have to worry about traffic, or lugging my tablet computer around.

On Thursday night, I was thinking about the fact that I really don't get nearly as much exercise as I did during the summer, when I was biking to work, and usually half an hour for lunch, plus an hour after work. Now I walk for 30 minutes at lunch and 30 or 40 minutes after work. It's less exercise total, and a less strenuous form of exercise. But I really don't want to use the exercise bike in my basement: I can't spin pokestops there, and Google Fit won't track stationary biking automatically, and the basement is cold and dismal. I also don't want to drive any more than I have to on a work day. I am willing to drive to the park next to the bank for exercise because it's only 2 blocks out of the way from home, and some days THAT seems TOO FAR. I could drive another two miles to walk between four pokestops instead of two, and I don't because DRIVING TWO MILES UGH TOO MUCH.

Jogging would get me more exercise than walking and I could do it in the same place, so the only problem with that is jogging is terrible. Some years back, I got pretty good at jogging, in the sense of "I could jog very slowly for over an hour". But I always disliked it, and while I increased my stamina, I couldn't seem to increase my speed. It was always the slowest jog, like 4mph or even less. I don't technically walk faster than I jog, but it's close.

I tried interval training a few times: the idea is something like "run for 2 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, repeat 10 times". It was the only thing worse than jogging.

But as I was walking the loop, it struck me that my reaction is less "I hate running" than "I hate running for a measurable length of time". Running for 2 minutes is like 90 seconds too long. BUT! The first 30 seconds of running is actually fun. What if I ran until it stopped being fun, instead of until some arbitrary amount of time had passed? So I ran for one side of the tiny loop -- 1/15th of a mile! -- and then slowed to a walk for a while. And then repeated that cycle three more times.

It turns out the speed difference was large enough for Google Fit to measure! It recorded me as doing a "high-intensity activity" for a total of 3 minutes.

This also had the benefit of warming me up and getting blood into my hands so that they were no longer cold, so that was nice.

Saturday, I repeated this pattern again -- "walk a while, run until running starts to feel like work, walk a while until I feel like running again" at the little park near Panera. This time, I added in running from the start, so I did 8 whole minutes of running, and around 45 minutes of walking. I guess the pattern is something like "run 30 seconds, walk 3 minutes".

I don't know if "run until it's not fun" will let me get any better at running. Maybe after a while I will work up to running for a full minute without wanting to stop? On the other hand, it's something I am actually willing to do. And the best kind of exercise is not the kind that is most efficient at building muscle or burning calories or increasing stamina per minute. It is whatever exercise you will actually do.. I stopped at 53 minutes thinking "this is fine, I could do some more but I'm out of time" rather than "oh thank heavens I can FINALLY STOP that was awful".

So I will keep at it for a while.
rowyn: (Default)
2018-12-07 04:24 pm

Writing, Editing, and Day Job

I still consider myself "on break", so I've been doing whatever I feel like doing in my free time instead of pushing myself to be productive. I still do productive things, but I stop once I stop feeling like it. It's been pretty relaxing, and not very productive.

I've written 2500 words on The Twilight Etherium in the last week, which by my current standards is much the same as "not writing at all". I looked up my the old Master Plan(tm) I used while writing Prophecy, and realized that 2500 words a week beats my average for the entire time I was working on that manuscript. For those of you not following me back when I was working on Prophecy, I complained pretty much nonstop about how hard it was to write enough to meet my goals.

Lest you think that this means "well, obviously it's easier to write for fun than it is to meet a goal": my goal last month was 11,700 words per week, and I had no particular difficulty making it. Beyond that, after 2004 I stopped setting any rigid writing goals until 2012. I wrote less from 2005 through 2011 than I had under the Master Plan(tm). I didn't pick up writing speed until I started writing fantasy romance in 2012. (My first foray into fantasy romance was a joint project with LadyPeregrine in 2012, which alas remains unfinished. But it did clarify my love for the subgenre and contributed to my decision to write A Rational Arrangement in 2013.)

Anyway, 2018 Rowyn is much better at working on books than 2003 Rowyn.

~

On Thursday 11/29, I talked to an artist on Twitter about commissioning them for a cover for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. They tentatively agreed, and I said I would send character descriptions and a contract and such in the next couple of days. This was one of only two writing-related tasks for the month.

Doing it required looking through the manuscript for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, something I had not done -- well, at all. For many years, I used to read my works-in-progress avidly. This has some good effects: it keeps what I've already written fresh in my mind and I get in some preliminary proofreading. But I mostly did it because I like reading my own work. In recent years, I've been more inclined to avoid reading my own works until I start editing them. This also has good effects: it means I am less familiar with the text when I finally edit it, so I am more likely to see errors, and it means I'm not avoiding writing on the pretext that reading the existing book is productive. Princess is one of the books where I didn't go back to read earlier scenes of the book once I finished writing them.

Once I started looking at it to extract info for my artist, I got caught up in reading it. After I got to the end, I decided to start the very early part of the editing process. This is where I make a spreadsheet of all the things I want to change in the text. This part is easy because I make notes as I go along about what I want to change, so I just have to search for square brackets in the master doc and put the items on a spreadsheet.

The list had a total of 39 items. I each item scored based on how annoying it will be to do. Most of them are in the "pretty annoying" range: 25 items with a rating of 6 or higher, on a scale of 1 to 10. I went on to complete the four easiest items on the list. I don't like editing so I generally work the easiest items first so that the list will get shorter and less intimidating. Anyway, I have 35 items left to do. The total number of items on the list generally grows as I edit. It's just as well I don't plan to release this book until March at the earliest.

~

One of the sections on the annual self-evaluation form at work is "what are your long-term career goals?" Back in 2016, I looked at this question and decided to put down the truth: "retirement". I talked to my boss about it: "I would like to drop to reduced full-time -- 4 days a week -- in the next year, and drop to part time -- 3 or 2.5 days a week -- in the next two years."

To my surprise, my boss was supportive of this: "I would love for you to stay full time, but if you need to reduce your hours, we will definitely accommodate you. We value your expertise and want to keep you in whatever capacity."

When Lut was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, this had two opposed effects on my retirement plans. On the one hand, money became much more of a concern, as my expenses went up with car ownership and incidentals. It also became critical that I keep Lut on my health insurance. On the other hand, managing Lut's care was exhausting and I desperately wanted more time in which to do so. In September of 2017, the latter concern triumphed, and I dropped to four days a week. My "day off" was used to take Lut to whatever doctor visits he needed.

For a while, this sufficed. But over the last couple of months, I've felt more and more like four consecutive work days is too many, despite the fact that Lut's doctor visits have dropped to one or two per month. It had reached the point where I used PTO to cover the days when I had to take Lut to the doctor, rather than switching my day off to that day.

Last week, my boss told me that she had applied for a new managerial position in a new department, and so was leaving her current role. The promotion was official on 11/26, but she's still working in our department for a couple of weeks while the department manager searches for her replacement. My boss will officially transition in January, whether or not a replacement has been hired. Our team have all been in our roles for years, we are all pretty well cross-trained, and we can work autopilot for months without an intermediary supervisor between us and the department head, if necessary.

But this news made me think harder about transitioning to part time. My boss and the department manager have been big boosters for me for as long as I've been working for Teenage Bank. The replacement boss will not be someone within my department and I probably won't know them. Would they still support my switch to part time, as my boss had committed to?

So I talked to my boss about it: "Would it be better to switch now, while you're still here, or should I wait and see who your replacement is, or possibly stick the department manager with handling it if she's not able to replace you for some months?"

Boss: "If you want to do it soon, best to do it now, while I'm still here to manage the paperwork,"

So I emailed her a formal request to drop to part time starting January 7. I decided to wait so I could get the 6 hours of holiday pay for Christmas and New Year's that reduced-full-time employees get, instead of the 4 hours that part time employees get. I considered waiting until after MLK Day too, but three more four-day weeks felt like a lot as it was.

My overall feeling is relief at finally pulling the trigger. I have about six months of expenses in my accounts in the bank, and a lot of money in retirement accounts. The cut in my weekly paycheck will be much larger, proportionately, than the 25-33% indicated by dropping from 30-32 hours to 20-24 hours per week. First, my personal insurance premiums go up by a lot: the bank pays 80% of the insurance premium for full time employees and 0% of the premium for part-time. Second, a lot of my paycheck goes to repaying the 401(k) loan for my car, and that amount will remain fixed. I'm not sure how much I will be making, but it will not be much.

My writing income is not going to make up the difference. My net income from writing averages to maybe $200 a month, before taxes.

But Lut will still have his disability stipend from Social Security, and the house is paid for. I am hoping we can manage without resorting to withdrawing money from my retirement accounts, but if I have to withdraw money from my retirement accounts, well, that's why have retirement accounts.

And I am looking forward to spending less time at my day job. Only two 4-day weeks left!
rowyn: (Default)
2018-12-02 09:39 pm
Entry tags:

Weekend

Saturday was Community Day in Pokemon Go. Actually, this entire weekend has been a kind of make-up session in case you missed any of the previous Community Days. As it happens, I missed all of the community days prior to August's, because I started playing at the end of July. So I had been keenly interested in getting in some extra Pokemon-hunting time. I have also finally made a dent in my oversupply of pokemon items. I had been at the point where I had to throw away normal pokeballs to make room to give and receive gifts. (My pokemon leveling strategy is highly dependent on giving and receiving gifts, so doing so is important to me outside of the actual contents of the gifts. Also, you often get things from gifts that I am not oversupplied with).

My usual Pokemon behavior is "just catch absolutely everything you see", so I've been doing a lot of that. But I've been most focused on catching Dratini, Larvitars, and Beldums. Dratini and Larvitar are because I hadn't gotten the most evolved form for either of those yet, and they are both good combat forms that I have often wished I had. Beldum's most evolved form is Metagross, and I got four Metagrosses during the Community Day in October. But I only got one with Meteor Mash and I deeply regretted that, so I'm trying to make up for it now.

Anyway, all the critters are spawning all weekend long, but the hours for the Community Day bonuses (XP, Stardust, and hatch distance) were 1PM to 4PM on Saturday. So I went to the Plaza for those hours like I usually do. The weather report said "50 degrees and cloudy" when I left the house, so I wore a sweater and a light jacket. The actual weather was "45 degrees, drizzling, and windy". It was surprisingly unpleasant. I was sorely tempted to call it quits an hour in. But I stuck it out anyway. I got into five raids, including two for Cressalia, who I failed to catch. Fooey. I don't know if Cressalia will still be around for January's Community Day. I have not yet been motivated enough to try meeting up with the Discord Pokemon players for raiding outside of Community Days.

Because the Community Day spawns were still spawning, it didn't really feel like the event was over at 4PM. I went home anyway, to check on Lut. Lut wanted fast food for dinner, so I went back out for Arby's, and then stayed in the rest of the night because inside was warm and outside was not.

I watched episodes 11 and 12 of the new She-Ra. I am almost done with the entire season! This is the first show I have successfully watched by myself since I stopped watchng My Little Pony alone. (For the first four or five seasons, I watched some MLP on Youtube and the rest with Terrycloth when I visited him. Then Hasbro started telling Youtube to pull down any episodes posted and I gave up. Netflix has MLP now, so I might pick it up again, I dunno. I still watch Terry 's favorite episodes when I visit, but I haven't visited as often so the show developments feel much harder to follow.) Anyway, the new She-Ra is fun. A lot of my friends comment on the "lesbian subtext", but the thing that struck me more was the lack of heteronormativity. To be specific: like the original 80s show, the new She-Ra has one regular male cast member, Bow. Bow is not presented as a love interest, however. He has been Glimmer's best friend for years, and there's one episode where he goes with a different character to "Princess Prom". The B plot of this episode is "and Glimmer is really anxious and jealous over this". But there is nothing remotely romantic or sexual about her jealousy. Glimmer is afraid she and Bow will grow apart, or that Bow will leave her behind because he has made new friends and he will like them better. Absolutely no one says "yes, Glimmer, this is a reasonable concern and we will validate it because clearly You Love Him and you should feel threatened that He Loves Another and people can only love one person. So you need to Win Him Back, or Let Him Go."

No, the tenor of the B plot is "Glimmer is overreacting, and while her anxiety is understandable, it's normal for people to have multiple friends and it doesn't mean Bow won't like her anymore."

Some people discussing the show have said that Princess Prom proves there are canonical lesbian relationships because some of the background couples are FF pairs. But in fact, everyone at Princess Prom refers to their date as a "plus one", and most of the relationships the audience gets any insight into do not have any more romance to them than Bow and Glimmer's. Seahawk is the only character in the entire show to speak in an explicitly romantic fashion about anyone, and the object of his affections openly disdains him.

Regardless, I really liked the way the show handles Bow and Glimmer's friendship, and just the overall indifference to setting up an overt romance between anyone. The show's important relationships are those of family, friends, rivals, allies, and opponents. I love seeing these take precedence. I am not going to object to lesbian or straight romance in the show in the future, but I like the flavor of it as it stands.

Today, I wanted to go to Panera to eat breakfast and write. I asked Lut if he wanted me to bring him anything back, and he said no, so I drove happily away and had a nice breakfast and a frozen mocha and wrote 1200 words of The Twilight Etherium because I felt like it. I decided I'm allowed to write while I'm taking a break, if I feel like it. I'm just not allowed to feel bad if I don't write.

Wait, wait, why would I ever be allowed to feel bad for not writing? *eyes that last sentence suspiciously*

Apparently that's supposed to be more like "I'm not allowed to guilt myself into writing while on break."

*still kind of dubious about the value of this method of inducing productivity*

I left Panera around 10:30 to pick up Lut's meds and to check on Lut. He was awake and hungry when I got home, so we went out to Applebee's for lunch. Applebee's turned out to be out of their Triple Chocolate Meltdown dessert, which is sad because it's my favorite of their menu items. But lunch was fine.

After lunch, Lut took another nap and I snuck out to go to the mall to mall-walk for exercise and also Catch More Pokemons. I walked for about an hour, then sat with my laptop in the group of comfy chairs inside the mall's main entrance. I wrote most of this entry there, in between spinning stops and catching pokemon.

When I got home, Lut was awake again. We cuddled up and watched Ant-Man and the Wasp again. After the movie, he went to bed, and I walked across the street to sit in the hotel lobby by their pokestop and finish this entry. And write a few hundred more words of The Twilight Etherium. I will probably go home after my current lure runs out, since it's getting late. And evolve a bunch of pokemon so that I can get pokemon with all the limited-availability moves before I run out of Community Day weekend.

Altogether, I am happy with my weekend. It feels shorter than usual, because I spent so much of my Friday of in the car. But it's worth the drive to see Jenn. ❤️ I think some of my "the weekend feels short" is because next week is the first time in four weeks that I have to work four days in one week, instead of three. I really want to drop to three days a week as my actual schedule. I should just do it. It'll be a bit of a financial hit and probably mean that I will have to withdraw money from my retirement accounts early. But that's a doable thing if it turns out to be necessary. And the last few weeks have reinforced how much nicer it is to work three-day weeks instead of four.
rowyn: (Default)
2018-12-01 10:17 am
Entry tags:

November in Review

Health/Fitness

I installed Google Fit on my phone, which is nice in that it automatically tracks both walking and biking correctly as long as I'm carrying my phone. No need to have it open or to turn it on or tell it that I'm exercising. It is much better at this than I would've expected. Yes, I have given up any pretense of privacy in preference for convenience.

Google Fit doesn't produce any nice reports for me, which is a shame. You have all this data, Google, why won't you at least spit it out on a .csv for me? Meh. Maybe there'll be an upgrade.

Anyway, I did a bunch of biking and walking and generally walked or biked for at least 30 minutes a day and usually more like an hour. I did a lot more biking in November than I usually do; normally I quit biking as soon DST ends, because it's too dark to bike after work. But Pokemon GO is enough motivation to get me out of the house a little early in the morning and bike around a bit before work. The cold is annoying, less because "I am cold while biking" and more because "I am wearing so much stuff to keep warm that it is less pleasant to bike." So when the weather has been clear and there isn't snow on the road, I've been getting in 45 minutes or an hour of biking.

I feel like this is a reasonable amount of activity and also much less than I was getting before Lut was hospitalized. Because I used to spend 40 minutes commuting to work on foot and didn't count that as exercise, and now I'm basically saying "the equivalent of that walk is good enough."

Meh..

On Lut's front: the good news is, the oncologist said that his multiple myeloma work up looks great: virtually in remission.

The bad news is, Lut still has zero energy for anything. I don't think people understand what I mean when I say "zero energy", so let me clarify: "too tired to do literally anything, including watch videos, for most of the day." He sleeps a lot, and also spends a lot of time not technically asleep but lying in bed doing nothing because he's too tired to focus on anything. It's not clear what's causing the extreme fatigue or if it's going to improve.

The oncologist also asked if we would want to try the bone marrow transplant process again. This question caused Lut and I to turn to each other. "..."

Oncologist: "Well, you don't have to decide right now."

The BMT team had said that chemotherapy would weaken Lut's stem cells and so a transplant would not be feasible in the future. But Lut's only had immunotherapy since the failure to collect stem cells, so our oncologist doesn't think that will disqualify him.

Neither of us are keen to go through all of that again. I am probably more willing to do it than Lut is. I am also more willing to do the part where he got a few days of shots and then spent a few days trying to collect, than I am to do the last-ditch part where it went "heavy dose of chemo and then three weeks of shots every day". The whole thing was grueling, though. And it never actually worked. I feel like I want a better idea of the chances it will go better this time, and I don't know if anyone will be able to give odds. :| Anyway, Lut and I should discuss this further.

Writing

I wrote 57,500 words on The Twilight Etherium, winning NaNoWriMo, yay. I am 37% of the way through my outline, which would leave me with another 100k in this book. If that's the case, then I am definitely splitting this book into two parts. (There is a logical breakpoint in the middle, it's not a big deal if I do this.) I feel like I'm closer to halfway through, though, and if the book is 120k-ish I will leave it as one book.

Still kind of excited that I'm finally writing the ACTUAL THIRD BOOK in a series. Yes, technically The Pirncess, Her Dragon and Their Prince is in the same setting as the Etherium novels, but it's set in one of the mortal worlds and I may well cut out the brief section that takes place on the fey shard; it's critical to the backstory for one character, but it's not a crucial part of the narrative arc and it's several thousand words. Anyway, I'm planning to market Princess as a standalone, maybe with some mention that it's in the fey multiverse.

The Business of Writing

Alinsa sent me the initial e-book of Frost and Desire, and I finished proofing it this morning. I still have to do the back matter/front matter stuff, and the cover still needs layout. Still, will probably get it released this month.

I also talked to a new artist about doing the cover for Princess, so that is exciting. I need to send them more details about character appearance and stuff this weekend.

Gaming

I am still playing Pokemon GO, but not as obsessed with it as I was a couple of months ago. Also, it's cold outside. The appeal of roaming around outside with snow on the ground in freezing weather and with limited daylight is considerably diminished.

But this is Community weekend, and they've made a few normally-scarce-and-also-powerful Pokemon common spawns for the whole weekend, so I'll be spending a chunk of time this weekend playing to get those. I am excited to finally get some Dragonites and Tyranitars! And get my silver Dragon Tamer cheevo. :D (I have gold badges for all the pokemon types except Dragon, at this point. I don't think one weekend where dragons are one of the usual spawns will be enough to get that badge to gold. Dragons are, generally, super-rare.) Oh, and also it's purportedly possible to get the limited-time

Socializing

I went to visit Jenn yesterday, and dragged her out of the house and into the drizzling cold for an hour to play Pokemon, so clearly I'm not over Pokemon yet. n_n (We spent more time cuddling and in the hot tub than on Pokemon, I'm not a total monster). Also went to Contra KC earlier in the month and had a good time.

Happiness

I don't have any idea, to be honest. I spent some of the month being excited and happy to be working on The Twilight Etherium, and some of it happy to be socializing with friends online or off, and some of it just exhausted and burned out on everything. I don't know what this averages out to.

Goals for coming month

* Care for Lut
* Get remaining bits for Frost release to Alinsa. Release book if it's ready this month.
* Get commission info to artist for the Princess cover
* Yeah I think that's it.

I'm not even putting any stretch goals down this time. Maybe I will do some writing, on The Twilight Etherium or something else, or maybe I will start edits on Princess. I'm not going to swear off of all work. I'm just going to declare work pretty optional this month. I've been telling myself I'd take a break "just as soon as I finish [x]" since September. Well, I finished NaNoWriMo. I'm taking a break. My 2019 releases can wait until 2019.

*falls over*
rowyn: (content)
2018-11-05 07:34 pm
Entry tags:

October in Review

Health/Fitness

It's getting colder and darker, so I haven't done as much biking this month. Pokemon GO is still giving me a reason to get out and walk most days, however. Niantic is also adding a feature to have Pokemon GO autosync with a fitness app, so that Pokemon GO will count you as walking even if you don't have the app on screen. I suspect this will add a little motivation boost for me, as there are times where I'd be more inclined to walk if Pokemon would count kilometers walked while I was using Evernote or Discord or Chrome.

Writing

The first draft of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince is DONE. AT LONG LAST. I wrote 15,800 words and the final total is 134,928. That will change. I don't know yet if edits will make it longer or shorter.

I wrote another 11,800 words of Frost, bringing it up to 120,381.

I created a rough outline for The Twilight Etherium. It could use some more refining, but it's solid enough to make a start.

The Business of Writing

Final edits on Frost and Desire are now complete and I've handed it off to Alinsa for layout. It'll probably come out in December or January. December would be nice because then I'd have four releases for the year, just like a normal year for Maggie! January would be nice because then I will have a head start on 2019's releases. Realistically, I do not think I am a four-books-a-year writer at this stage of my life. If I didn't have a Day Hobby and/or Lut did not have cancer, then maybe. As it is, three books is doable, and two books is definitely reasonable. We're ten months into this year and I have drafted two books and edited three. Drafting another complete book this year is probably not happening.

Art/Other

I put together the cover for Frost and Desire. This did not involve much new art, just me squidging about with how to crop the picture and how to get the title on there. I am mostly content with it now, though I might futz with the picture a bit more.

Gaming

On Community Day, a guy handed me a business card for a Pokemon GO Discord channel for raiders in my area. So I now have a way of talking to locals who play! I have not had time to exploit this ability at all, because I do all my Pokemon GO during the week in the area around my house, which is not a good area for raids. I don't want to spend forty minutes commuting into the city, where the good areas are, on a weeknight. And last weekend I went to Seattle. And next weekend has Gengar Day, and the weekend after that is November's Community Day and also Contra KC. So I might just do those events rather than trying to get together with specific locals. We will see how ambitious and social I feel. I do want to catch the Halloween raid boss and I'm not sure I want to wait for Community Day to have a shot at it.

Ooh, and I got another EX Raid pass and caught a second Deoxys. Deoxys does not appear to be a useful Pokemon to have multiples of, but maybe it'll stop being Mythical at some point and I can trade one to my friends.

I won another raid against Mewtwo on Community Day, but did not catch it. Alas! So I'm probably not getting another Mewtwo. But I have two already and the non-EX-Raid Mewtwo doesn't have the l33t combat move so it doesn't seem to matter much.

Also on Community Day, I caught a lot of Beldums and then forgot to evolve any of them until I got home 56 minutes after the event ended. And I was like "but I have until an hour after so IT'S NOT TOO LATE!"

And then the app crashed.

><

I managed to get it working 59 minutes and 10 seconds after the event ended, and evolved one Beldum to Metang and then Metagross in time to get meteor swarm. But the second one I evolved was too late. Of course, "Metagross with Meteor Swarm" turns out to be super overpowered and it would be great to have, like, the FOUR of them that I could've had if I'd remembered sooner. 9_9 Well, at least I got one. This is better than I did with the Meganium evolution, where I forgot entirely.

One of the lessons from this is that I should look up before Community Day whether or not a Community-Day-only pokemon is going to be OP. (Yes, people who are not me know the game and moves and pokemon well enough that they can tell this stuff). Knowing that "yes, this will be a great pokemon with this move" will probably improve my chances of remembering to evolve them before it's too late.

Socializing

I went to see Terrycloth yessssssss. So many hearts. Also, my local friend Corwyn and his wife took Lut and me out to dinner, and I drove to Lawrence to see Jen. I feel like I am almost at a normal amount of socializing for an adult!

Okay not really, but I am a homebody and this much is fine.

Scorecard for last month
I did all of my September goals! Lut is getting palliative radiation for his back pain now, which is a quick treatment every morning for two weeks (with weekends off). He did two of the ten in October. His sixth one will be tomorrow.

I also finished edits on Frost and finished the draft of Princess.

The "decide what I'm writing" goal came out kind of squidgy, since my decision was to not decide. But you still have made a choice, as the Rush song points out, so I think that's good enough. At this stage, I have published 8 books, finished 9, and completed 11 drafts. I no longer feel like I need to commit to one project at a time in order to prove to myself that I can Finish Things. I have finished things. It's okay to work on projects in whatever order works best for me.

Goals for coming month

* Take care of Lut
* Write 50,000 words of something(s) for Nanowrimo. This will probably be The Twilight Etherium, because its outline is in the best shape. My other ideas are still amorphous. But I have decided that I am just going to count anything I write for Nano this year, because I'm tired and why not. So I can work on various outlines and notes some more, or I can dive into writing, or I can alternate books. Whatever sounds best at the time. Honestly, if it wasn't Nano, I would probably take the next couple of weeks off.
rowyn: (cute)
2018-10-10 11:21 am
Entry tags:

September in Review

Health/Fitness
My obsession with Pokemon GO continues unabated. This means that on most days last month, I walked or biked for more than an hour each day. Not eating any better, though. Probably a little worse, since I started having cream of wheat with (way too much) Nutella for breakfast again.

Writing
I wrote 10,900 words of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, which was a little over my goal of 10k, but did not reach my stretch goal of finishing the draft. It's up to 119,100 words now.

The Business of Writing
I wrote and slotted in one of the four scenes I'm adding to Frost in final edits, and plotted out the details of the other three scenes. Which are probably going to be more than three. Whatever.

Art/Other
I did a couple of fake-shaded-pencil sketches on the Surface, and then lost my tablet pen. Meh.

Gaming
I am up to level 34 of 40 in Pokemon GO. Level progression slows down a lot in the 30s, and even more in the high 30s. (It takes more xp to get from level 39 to 40 than from 1 to 33.) Unlike most leveling games, it doesn't get much easier to gain xp as you gain levels, either. I do have an advantage in leveling, in my ridiculously long list of Pokemon GO friends. A good 1/3rd of my xp to date has come from the friends system: giving and receiving gifts from friends. I've already gotten most of the 7- and 30-day bonuses that I'm likely to get from the existing list, but the 90-day bonuses will start rolling in during November and December. I expect to still need the XP then, too. But if I don't ease back, I might well hit the level cap in 2018. o_O

Because so much of my XP is from friends, I'm kind of a wimpy level 34. I did get an invitation to an EX Raid, which astonished me -- EX Raids are invitation-only and they're designed to weight people who are involved in the local Pokemon GO community. I would like to be involved in the local Pokemon GO community, but it's apparently on Facebook and I don't want to be involved THAT badly. I got into the EX Raid because I showed up on the Plaza on Community Day along with 300 other players, and so got into some pick-up raids against Mewtwo.

Anyway, I have a Deoxys and a Mewtwo now and this is pretty cool. I still do not feel leet.

Socializing
I went to Progpower with Alinsa (and sucked her into playing Pokemon GO with me). It was a fun trip! I enjoyed the company more than the show this time, but the company was great. I also drove to Lawrence to see my friend Jen, which is to become a monthly event. \o/

Scorecard

I accomplished last month's goals with the exception of "final title for Frost". I would just go with "Frost", but I like having distinctive titles for my books and there are a lot of books with that title. I am leaning towards "Frost and Desire". Other possibilities are "Frost and Thistle" (the names of the protagonists), and "Lord Frost", which I like and the title character despises. I feel like I should get farther from my initial concept here but my efforts in that direction were all things I liked less. "Sorcery and Desire"? "The Things You Did Not Teach Me"? Meh.

Goals for coming month

* Take care of Lut
* Finish final edits on Frost
* Finish first draft of The Princess, Her Prince, and Their Dragon
* Decide what I'm writing for Nanowrimo (I am vaguely thinking about either the third book in the Demon's Series, or "The Least of All Monsters", an idea I did world-building for several years ago but never figured out the plot. But by the time it's November, I will probably decide on something else entirely.)
rowyn: (studious)
2018-09-24 08:20 pm
Entry tags:

Quickie Book Reviews: The Corinthian | Arabella | The Flowers of Vashnoi

 I've read a few books without writing anything about them, so it's time for some quickie reviews.
 
The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer: This one relies too much on coincidence and the romance is FAIL, but I nonetheless enjoyed it a fair bit. It's a fun romp sort of thing, with the female protagonist dragging the male protagonist into all kinds of scrapes, which he negotiates with aplomb. And he clearly needed someone to drag him out of his rut. It makes a charming buddy comedy.  As a romance, it's gross because the female protagonist acts like a kid and the male acts like a parental figure for the entire book. I am utterly unconvinced that these two will make a good married couple. SHUDDER. But, like most Heyer books, the reader can ignore the romance and just enjoy the ride, because romance is not a big part of the story. I'll give it a 7.
 
Arabella, by Georgette Heyer: This is the first Heyer book I just plain didn't like.  I dragged my way to the finish but lord, I detested the male protagonist. He is introduced in a way designed to make the female protagonist reader dislike him, and he doesn't noticeably change over the course of the book. Just yuck from beginning to end. The ridiculous schemes of the female protagonist didn't help the book any, but I minded her less. Most Heyer books are saved from lackluster protagonists by amusing side characters or other absurdities, but this one really didn't have any fun going on. MEH. It's like a 5.
 
The Flowers of Vashnoi, by Lois McMaster Bujold: A novella in the Vorkosigan universe, centered on Ekaterin. Like most of Bujold's writing, I enjoyed it. It's a story about the efforts of scientists to clean up the damage done during a long-past war, and the problems they run into in doing so. SFF that deals with healing and mending things is pretty much my jam. A solid 8.
 
 
rowyn: (Default)
2018-09-05 08:32 am
Entry tags:

August in Review

 Health/Fitness
My obsession with Pokemon GO has continued in full force. It was helped along by the addition of a new Special Mission quest line, although not in the way one might think. It's not that I am playing Even More in an effort to make progress on these quests.
 
No, what happened is that one of the early Special Mission quests was to "add three new friends".  Well, I already had 21 Pokemon GO friends, from asking every person that I knew online to add me, plus a bunch of random people I did a raid with on Community Day. But you can never have too many friends, right?  I'd run into one co-worker on the Plaza during Community Day, so I asked him. And then I tweeted my trainer code in case I'd missed anyone the last time.
 
It turns out that a lot of people were searching Twitter for trainer codes at that time, for the same reason that I'd put mine up.
 
And there didn't seem to be any reason to turn them down when they added me.
 
So now I have 34 Pokemon GO friends.
 
This is perhaps more in-game friends than might be strictly necessary.
 
Around twenty-five of them are eligible for me to send gifts to on any given day.  I get one gift approximately every other time I spin a pokestop. This means that every day, I spin about 50 Pokestops.
 
This is a lot of pokestops for my area. If I go to the Plaza, it's easy to make that in half an hour, but if I stay in the area within a few miles of my house, it takes ninety minutes or so of biking. Fairly slow biking, though I have gotten the hang of spinning pokestops without having to stop my bike, so that's good.
 
Anyway, I've been diligently going out to spin all these pokestops and send gifts to everyone whether I know them or not. Including one notable bike ride during a thunderstorm.  (It wasn't  raining when I started but there were threatening clouds and flashes of lightning in the distance and I went anyway. This was not a smart decision.) On the days when I don't ride my bike, I spend sixty minutes or more walking. I feel like I am getting sufficient levels of exercise.
 
I have failed at my "only eat when hungry" plan, however.  This feels like it shouldn't be that hard and YET. *nibbles on M&Ms because she isn't hungry but wants chocolate*
 
Writing
I wrote 19,300 words on The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince, which is now up to 108,200 words. Another 20,000-ish to go, at a guess. That was more than my goal for last month but I feel unproductive and discontent. To clarify, I feel simultaneously sick of working at writing and also that I am not writing fast enough. So that's a thing.
 
The Business of Writing
Angel's Sigil is out! \o/ Go buy it, everyone!
 
Art/Other
I drew a couple of pictures this month, for no particular reason except "I feel like drawing." I almost like the one I posted in this tweet: https://twitter.com/LadyRowyn/status/1033890186957127680 .  When I was in college, I took a couple of life drawing classes where we used charcoal on paper, and that period pretty much represents my peak of skill at visual art. ArtRage's "pastel" brush is pretty similar to charcoal, and using the "palette knife" tool is a lot like a blender, so that combo is more natural and less strained than most of my digital art.
 
Actually, there was a kind of silly reason that I wanted to draw.  Many of my friends keep "bullet journals", which are on paper and combine a to-do list with a bullet-point listing of what you did that day. I don't really want to keep a paper journal, but I like the idea having a "what I did" record.  I tried it a couple of years ago and stopped after a few days, but I started again in August.  I make a weekly to-do list in EverNote, in a virtual notebook called "bullet journal", and then record everything I actually do that week.  If I draw a picture that week, then I can drag it into the note file and it makes the week's entry prettier. Also, Evernote puts a little icon-sized version of the picture next to the entry, so it makes the list of entries look nicer too. And it gives me a use for random sketches.  I still don't do very many, but I kind of want to do more. We'll see.  It is unlike to become a priority.
 
Oh!  And I worked on the cover for Frost, which is pretty much a crop of a painting I already did of the character, with some futzing with the layout to make a place for the title. Amusingly, I decided to use this painting for the cover because I dragged the painting into an EverNote file as a random illustration for the story, and then noticed that the preview, shrunk down and cropped, looked good.
 
Socializing
Telnar came out to visit me for a weekend!  Right after I started playing Pokemon GO, so he was subjected to a lot of me nattering about the game and dragging him around the Plaza while I played it. He was very tolerant about it. :D We went to the Toy and Miniature Museum, which is my favorite KC museum (and was his suggestion, so I didn't drag him to that one!) We also went to the indoor water park across the street from my house. It was a good visit!
 
Goals for coming month
  • Help Lut with medical care, etc.*
  • Write 10,000 words of Princess
  • Start final edits of Frost
  • Figure out the final title for Frost
Stretch goal:
  • Finish draft of Princess
  • Read or at least start reading and DNF some of the e-books piled up on my phone.
 
* I keep thinking "it's silly to put this on here because it goes without saying". And then I remind myself that this is a thing that I do and it takes time and energy and arguably I should not hold myself to the same expectations that I had when he was healthier.