cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Rosie Revere, Engineer is the best children's book I've read to my kids in a couple of months. It's about a little girl who stopped showing people the things she invented after she got laughed at. It is funny in the absurd way that kids love, it has detailed illustrations that can be studied for long periods of time, and it gives great reinforcement to the idea that failure is only a reason to try again, better. My son bonded really hard with the girl in the book because he wants to be an engineer, too.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Last week was the end of my "catching up on email and socializing and house-cleaning" two week break after finishing a huge project. I dealt with some critical and overdue emails, I definitely got out of the house and saw people, and Phil claims the house looks better even though I can't see a difference, so I guess I'll call it a success. Time to write novels again, which is somewhat intimidating since I've been working on other projects for the last few months. Back to the grind!

Other good things...

I did the second Women in Sci-Fi and Writing Female Characters panel. There was pretty art (it took place in an art gallery in Lowertown) and cupcakes! I said some things that I hope sounded smart, sold two copies of my book, collected a couple of new email addresses for my newsletter, and was gifted with a batcat hat (okay, fine, it's a pussy hat, but I dislike that term even though I understand the reasoning) made by my dear Alis. I thought the event went pretty well.

New microwave! This one doesn't turn itself on and off at random intervals, so I am less worried that an electrical fault will make it burst into flames in the middle of the night when we are all sleeping. It displays actual numbers in the timer instead of weird dancing bars that look like the countdown on a Predator bomb. And it's black and silver, which Cassius thought was really awesome.

I realized that I had missed a deadline (a month ago!) and instead of giving up and being sad because I couldn't do a thing, I emailed people and asked if I could apply late, and they said yes! So I did!

I went to a living room concert and listened to awesome steampunk music, played with my camera and took photos, caught up with friends, made new acquaintances, and heard new jokes. It was good times. And seeing people appreciate my photos later is a nice egoboo.

Diabolical Plots (by David Steffen of the Submission Grinder) included my story in his recommendations for Hugo/Nebulas this year. Eeeee! I've never had someone recommend one of my stories for an award before, so this is a pretty exciting first.

Phil's award bonus from work came through, so I gave him a full grocery list without worrying about whether we had enough to cover the cost. Sometimes it's the small things.

Learned about bubble paragraphs and skipping stone backstory intro scene structure stuff. (Yup, Ginger, your name-coining has stuck!)

I cooked tater tot hotdish for the first time because Steph was posting looking for recipes and gave me a craving. It was delicious gloppy comfort food even if I'm the only one in the house who likes that kind of thing. Also, something about the tater tots makes my brain think it's acceptable eating for breakfast too. Ooookay, silly brain.

I have sparkly red fingernails, and they make me very happy. I don't have a lot of time for frivolous self-care stuff, so this is a special treat.


Bonus good things from the previous week, which I didn't post on time:

Making origami flowers and paper "rain" for Theia, and seeing how much she enjoyed playing gardener. (She was a gardener and I was the botanist telling her how flowers grow in this scenario, apparently.)

Insisting on taking the boy to see a healthcare professional, and having it be the right parental decision. This is not a good thing because he has strep (boo!), but because I never feel confident making this kind of call, so I'm glad I didn't waste our time and money.

Chatting with the spouse about publishing industry stuff, specifically novellas and how the markets for them are changing and why.

Writing a quick piece of micro-fic and submitting it minutes later. Fifteen words long!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
For the last part of 2016, I was posting three good things daily on Facebook. It helped my mood, and it helped me notice good things despite stress and sickness. I wanted to keep doing something like this. The plan is to post 10 good things weekly on Monday. This one is a little late. Oops!

The kids went back to kindergarten and preschool on Tuesday! This was a surprise, because my calendar had contradictory information so I was braced for a whole 'nother week of them both being home all day long. Surprise!

1. Theia was happy to go to preschool. Hopefully this means the long break has allowed her to forget that she was not wanting to go for a while.

2. I got summoned for jury duty! This has never happened before. I'm excited.

3. Cardinals in winter. Worst camouflage. Best bird-watching. The certified urban wildlife habitat beside Cassius' school bus stop has three or four pairs of cardinals living in it or nearby, so I often see them flying across the street, perching on snow-covered branches, and otherwise being photogenic.

4. Phil got me a new battery for my laptop. He used some of his Amazon reward from work to help *me* do my work. :) Now I'll have more than 10 minutes of battery life again. Such luxury!

5. I got the My Little Ponies of the Apocalypse t-shirt that I ordered as my reward for hitting a weight loss benchmark (thanks, pneumonia!). The kids think the t-shirt is of pirate ponies.
Ponies of the Apocalypse

6. I finished the final draft of my high fantasy novella, "The Unkindness of Ravens," and submitted it to Yay! That is the most rewritten piece I've ever created. It's about 29,000 words long, and only about 10,000 of those words are from the story I started with when I decided to do this. And there I was, thinking that all I would need to do was change the beginning and ending a bit and add a few thousand words. Ha.

7. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest contacted me out of the blue, to ask MinnSpec to spread the word about the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I enjoy reading his blog, so that was pretty cool! Also, for pity's sake people. Have a website, and put a contact form on it!

8. I went back to the gym for more than just the sauna! It's been a while because The Sickness meant I couldn't breathe well enough to exercise. Saturday I did a yoga class, and it felt great.

9. First sale of 2017--a reprint sale of an eco-horror short story to an upcoming anthology. Huzzah reprint sale!

10. I started Project: Clean All The Things. Picking up went on my Not-To-Do List while I was cramming to get "Unkindness" finished, so I promised I'd spend the first two weeks after finishing it using my regular writing time to CLEAN (and catch up on emails).


Sep. 13th, 2013 08:25 am
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
A friend brought up the idea of starting a gratitude journal recently, and y'know...good idea. Not too time-consuming, helps to remember the good things, and keeps the stressful times in perspective (and I'm expecting some of those coming up soon).

Thursday, Cassius' fever went down to 101.2 by bedtime (from a high of 103.7 the previous day), which was a huge relief. And I got to go see the premier of The Blacklist for free! Yay, Spadery goodness.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
What keeps me writing? The satisfaction of finishing a project, the joy of writing in flow, the benefit to my sanity--and the nice things people say about my writing.

A Critters critter who ended up not finding enough to critique but who read my submission and sent me an email anyway said, "I loved this all even though I shuddered a bit at the
gruesome bits . . . A really lovely piece of work with an excellent vision even though it is all very horrific."

And Sherry Merriam, a friend and reader of Circus of Brass and Bone, recently confessed to me that there are two writers whose stories she never reads in bed: me, and Lovecraft.

Aw. Warm fuzzies.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (tender)
You know those little posturepedic pillows that people get to put against the small of their back when they're sitting in a desk chair? Well, I'm not sure how posturepedic the cat is, but he's sure giving it the old school try! He's being supportive of my writing in his own way.

The end.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (manatee)
Things that are good:

1. The towering silver maple tree in our backyard appears to have attracted another pair of squirrels, for a grand total of four highly entertaining creatures that I can watch frolicking in the yard. I haven't seen the albino squirrel again, but I live in hope.

2. Flowers are blooming all over the place. It's an advantage to having bought a house owned by a crazy gardener--there are flowers even though I can't do any gardening until I have the sprogling. I just need to remember to cut some so we have flowers indoors too.

3. The weather is back to normal, Minnesotan-tolerable highs of around 75 degrees. Perfect.

4. I love the system, I really do. I go online to put books on hold and they show up at my local library branch. I download audiobooks. I download ebooks. It's all fantastic.

5. I've been getting a number of work-from-home projects, which is really nice for this gestational stage. Means I get enough sleep, take breaks when I need them, always have enough food, and am generally be more comfortable. And it reassures Phil that even after I have the baby and switch to only working from home, I will still be bringing in some income, if not as much.

6. So far, I have been lucky enough to not be afflicted with the worst "normal" pregnancy symptoms: sciatic nerve pain, incontinence, etc. Puts excessive tiredness, forgetfulness, and difficulty walking into perspective.

7. I remembered that when I'm stressed, an important part of the sanity-maintenance is just remembering and noting the good things!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
I am sitting at my desk, working on writingy things, listening to my "Non-Ambient Electronica" station on Pandora, and Foundling is sitting on the back of my desk chair and occasionally pouncing on my braid when it swings too close. Life is pretty good, despite the lack of NgithOwl work for the last week+. Ah well, soon enough I won't even be *able* to do the on-site projects. So I am grateful for both the senior sitting job and the work-from-home NgithOwl projects, both of which I have had this week. Phil and I still need to sit down and really hash out our financials, though.

As I said, mostly no work. Naturally, I have been doing other things.

Friday, the dice kept rolling ones. Over and over and over. If I'd been gaming, my character would have been so dead. Instead, I did lots and lots and lots of cleaning, including paying bills, baking banana bread, starting to organize hall closet, and figuring out that yes, the roomba is really broken and no, I cannot swap the battery into an older model in our basement. ::sorrow:: It's on the list to either buy a battery for one of the ancient-and-iffily-functional roombas, or to get a new one. The list, however, will take some time to get through. I think a new toaster oven probably comes first.

Saturday morning was at the senior center. I had my excitement for the day when the lady got too over the edge of the bed when she was trying to get up and so she started to fall. I could ease her down so she sat down gently on the floor, but I couldn't get her up to her feet on my own. So the home sent a resident to help, and that was good. But they also called the husband to tell him they were on their way, and that was bad. He had no idea what was going on but was already on his way home, so he had an unpleasant ten minutes of worry that wasn't really necessary.

The afternoon was more pleasant, since [ profile] tesla_aldrich hosted tea over at her place. There were cookies and tea and fruit and hummus and I brought banana bread (that Mr. V appeared to enjoy particularly) and generally it was lovely to see friends. I have spotted a drawback to having "coffee shop" at somebody's home, and it is that people may go expecting to talk and socialize the whole time instead of working on projecty things. So less gets done, albeit in a very pleasant atmosphere.

Sunday, I got to try something new! [ profile] traladeda and I went to the 331 Club's Crafternoon Delight. $5 gets you access to a ton of crafting supplies appropriate for whatever the craft of the month is, and there's $5 Bloody Marys and 1/2 price bottles of wine for those who choose to indulge. It was a fun outing for a low cost. I got a good start on a "book of books" shadow box that (alas) I'll have to finish later. I will see if I think it's worth keeping when it's done (it is clearly a first project!). Tips: Go at or a little before the 2 PM start time to make sure you get your materials, plan for things to wrap up around 4-5 PM, bring any particular tools you think might be useful, and get a booth if you can. The small tables really fill up fast when crafting!

Next month is terrariums, so I'm definitely going to that. I have wanted a terrarium for, well, quite a while. Anybody else?


Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 12

Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Finished redmarking CoBB (except for one tricky paragraph)
* Best practices for Amazon ebook sales:
* Word meanings shift over time. When you can still use the originals:
* Getting To Know You:
* First, a Radiolab podcast about creative urges and other things that feel like a separate entity. Worth a listen for the reporter who talks about how Tom Waits deals with his muse:
* Next, the text of the article she wrote (not much on creativity, but a pretty awesome portrait of Tom Waits):
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (tea ring)
Yesterday I just ran out of oomph. I wasn't sleepy, just totally lacking in any motivation to do anything whatsoever. This was after I wrote in the morning, picked up my holds from the library (prenatal exercise videos), and biked to the senior center for the afternoon. Flat out of energy. Instead of writing at the senior center, I played a lot of Nethack. Then I biked home and went floomp! on the couch. Phil only got dinner because I'd planned it ahead of time and it was a matter of simple assembly and reheating (fried rice). After that? More Nethack. And reading--re-reading a J.D. Robb SF/mystery and continuing Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three.

It felt pretty good, but I still feel as if I ought to feel guilty. I guess the day before was pretty productive, with a fair amount of writing and cleaning and finally getting my extra maternity clothes on eBay and getting my new! computer! set up.

Ah, yes. I do indeed have a New! Computer!, courtesy of Mr. Valentine. It's about a year and a half old, but it's the newest computer I've had for...oh...the last eight years or so? It's a massive, massive upgrade. It runs Windows 7! I totally skipped from XP to 7, which I understand is the best way to go. It is just so much more responsive than my old computer. Even surfing the internet is noticeably faster (I also updated to the new Firefox at the same time). I can watch streaming video again!

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 12

New words: 1,326
Total words: 69,609
Overused word: Captain
Gratuitous word: disputants
Type of scene: the perspective from here
Challenge(s): Putting in the bits I need without overwriting.
Which line is it anyways?We're all bored silly--word of something new would spread like syphilis.
Notes: I was worried that the logical break point would happen before the wordcount I want for the next episode. I am no longer worried.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Checked and linked the Presentations Presentation MinnSpec podcast.
* How to Get Reviews for Self-Published Books:
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (crazy)
(Oh, and Mom says, "I read your friends/readers comments on your blog and am grateful for their interest and support." She is getting treated with Taxitol on Monday, which I believe is the second-round treatment. I think one of the deciding factors was being able to start treatment immediately instead of delaying it for a week+.)

In happier news, I got the job! The job I posted about a few days ago, sitting with an elderly woman when her husband has to leave and making sure she's okay? It's 10 hours/week, and it doesn't pay really well, but it has a couple of major bonuses:
* It's a little over a mile away, and right on a bus line, so I can bus or bike it easily.
* I can work on my own thing while I'm there, so this can be writing time.
* Once I have the baby, I can take it along, so I won't have to pay for daycare out of this.

I start next week.

NgithOwl has been slammed by the super-large project. It's been keeping all 3 shifts busy, but it's due at the end of next week. I expect the work to go away then, back down to the low levels. Right now we're running 3 shifts, which means that work enough to keep *everybody* with hours is rare. I think that's part of the problem that caused the 3 months/no work situation.

PoorStaff has called me about a position at Target headquarters that would begin later this month and last for three. The pay is very good. It would involve writing procedures and doing database stuff, and in general, doing things that I'm good at. But it would interfere with the scheduling of the senior-companion job, which is more important in the long run because I could *keep* it in the long run. I still told them to send my resume. We'll see. First comes resume, then comes interview, then comes sorting out schedules and priorities.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Yesterday was a coffee shop Saturday, which was great. I love being able to see people in a relaxed environment, and kinda just coexist and hang out and catch up at the same time as I can work on something else. And getting out of the house is definitely a good thing for my sanity, especially on weeks when I haven't had work in the shop (whether because I'm working from home or because I'm just, well, not working).

But! I needneedneed to remember that this is *not* the right time for me to try and get actual writing done. For that, I need a large chunk of time to be able to sink down into the story. At a coffee shop (hanging out with friends), I can do submissions, yes. Market list updates, sure. Editing, absolutely. Writing? Not so much. So yesterday I only got about 150 words written, but I did have a mighty fine time hanging out and catching up with [ profile] discoflamingo, [ profile] tesla_aldrich, and [ profile] bitwise.

Muddy Waters Cafe

We went to Muddy Waters on Lyndale. It's a small coffee shop with some fantastic mosaic tilework, an appropriately graffiti-laden bathroom, and a pretty good selection of beverages. They didn't have many tea options that were non-caffeinated and non-chamomile, though the tea was good quality and they had other things such as hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Their food options were good, and for bonus points, included a tasty hummus plate that came with feta cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes. They didn't have a whole lot of seating, but it was quiet enough that we had no problem shifting tables together to make seating for six. Certainly a place I'd be happy to go again.

At dinnertime, [ profile] tesla_aldrich, and [ profile] bitwise invited us over to their place and so we had delicious spaghetti with meat sauce, hot apple cider, and ice cream. And there was hanging out and chatting and general good things.

I'm quite pleased with the lots of nice socializing in the afternoon and lots of errand-running in the morning (getting my nose piercing readjusted now that it's healed and all the swelling is gone, dropping off winter boots at UPS for an exchange with LLBean, and adding Phil to my checking account so that various account hijinks will work out correctly and without extra fees). I just need to remember next time to not even try to do actual writing.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Today is Give-to-the-Max Day! Make a donation to a cause, a charity, or a donation-funded thing you use or enjoy. Don't forget all the "free" things that really aren't free at all. Maybe you use open-source software, or listen to a podcast, or really like a firefox extension, or listen to public radio. They really need your donations, too, and not all of them are as pushy about it as public radio.

I will not be giving today because that's generally a credit card activity, and I will be without a credit card for the next week, since a stranger used it to buy a one-way flight out of Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago and I just got the credit card statement. No other odd charges. They must have really needed to get out! So the card is canceled and I am awaiting a new one.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
I am so happy I get to work from home next week. Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

I have a work-from-home project that will take a couple of days. After that (unless something else comes up, which is quite likely), I am mistress of my own time. I worked enough day job hours (most of them unpleasant) this week that I don't need the hours next week.

Which is good, since I have a ton of writing to do in a hurry. Work and other obligations meant no writing's been done on The Circus of Brass and Bone this week. I have a number of "written-ahead" scenes for the next episode, though, so I don't anticipate more troubles than usual getting an installment out.

I have high hopes of getting other things done around the house, and working on much-delayed projects, and other happy-fuzzy things.

I want it to be a good week.

(Day 13 of 30.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Let Me Tell You a Story)

Even if you can't afford to buy the Northern Lights anthology, you can still read it (at least if you're in Minnesota)--because it's at the library!

Check it out!

Something I wrote is at the library! That's like the big time, man! A little piece of me will live there, and sometimes it will visit other people, but it'll always go back. And at night, when everybody leaves and the books speak to each other in papery whispers, a leetle bit of my voice will be in there. This pleases my inner child, the one who spent endless hours practically living in the library, who schemed how she might be able to hide so that she could stay in the library overnight, and who planned to run away to the library (if she ever had to run away).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Yay! Hit my work project benchmark with 40 minutes to spare before we have a scheduled play reading/critique and dinner.

Perhaps I shall get a little writing done today after all?
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
Here's how the planning for unpredictable days goes.

Writing Quota
No day job work: 2,000 words
Half day job work: 1,000 words
Full day job work: 500 words*

* Writing in snippets after work used to fail miserably for me. It may not anymore? Maybe I leveled up when I wasn't looking? Less floundering? I dunno.

The Plan

After the day job, after the writing, after the basic household chores I do every day (laundry, dinner, dishes, roomba), roll the dice to see what I should do for the next 1/2 hour. The list varies depending on my to-do list, but usually includes cleaning, email, misc action needed items, non-writing writing-related stuff, and a break. The break is important.

The Spirit

Bike rides, exercise, day trips to (free) city things, following the manual, photo safaris. I have 2,000 words to write. That's a lot. Better get cracking! And later there will be a bike ride to a coffee shop (that will also fix my bike, so there ya go).

Good Things

Sep. 7th, 2010 12:49 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
1. I love this weather. It is cool enough for baking and socks and candles and jeans, but warm enough for biking/walking outside and open windows. The cats, like the the heat-seekers that they are, have become more affectionate. Girl kitty is especially cuddly.

2. Phil was lovely and supportive yesterday when I was going crazy over a work project that I couldn't get an answer on that was due today. He made tasty tasty chicken gyros (which I always want to spell 'euros') for lunch, and there were mandatory hugs. Which I like/don't like in equal measure. Does it help keep me from getting flinchy about human contact? Not sure.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (crazy)
Phil surprised me by saying that he'd take me on a road trip to the circus museum in Baraboo, WI sometime this (extended) weekend! Fantastically awesome! Expect many exclamation points! And many, many pictures!

It's a 4-hour drive, so I'll be taking along the laptop and writing (on The Circus of Brass and Bone) in the car. I have such lovely, horrible things planned...Conrad Zero, your namesake will die a truly horrific death, as per your request!

Unfortunately, this schedule won't allow me enough time to make an appointment-only visit to the (extensive) reference library, but as he says, "We can come back!"


Aug. 26th, 2010 05:08 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
So, I contacted the band (Vermillion Lies) about using their song, Apocalypse Circus, and they said yes. More, they gave me permission to use *any* of their music!

Guys, this is one of those days when I'm overwhelmed by how awesome people are.


May. 22nd, 2010 11:43 am
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Mission: Sleep Ridiculous Hours was a success. Really, it was only the thunderstorms that woke me up. And I feel much more human. Now it is the time to make pflinson (Russian pancakes--really more like crepes) for brunch, and then to get critiques done for the writer's meeting tomorrow while simultaneously following along in the panels online. And later there is friend's birthday grilling, which I even bought a present for lo these many months ago.

...There's also a scary mound of dishes to be done in there somewhere.

I am so happy I'm not working the day job today.


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