cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (spacecat)
For the first time in a month and a half, I don't have a day job project eating up my precious working time! (Because I'm waiting to hear back from the client, but still.) I can do writing things! It's been so long, I--I hardly know where to start.

Good thing I keep lists and have procedures for just this sort of thing. "First do this, then do this." "Try this to get back into the story you were writing." Like that.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (self-evolving system)
The weekend does not seem to have been very weekend-like.

I got a work project dropped off on my doorstep late Friday afternoon, so I've spent a fair chunk of the weekend working on that (as they wanted it back Monday). Work is good, money is good, it's not too many hours, but I wish I didn't have to do it on the weekend.

Saturday we had the hospital's "All About Babies" class, and while it didn't cover absolutely everything, it did seem to cover the important stuff. I took about three pages of longhand notes in addition to the handouts they gave us. Though I was a bit annoyed by the "women already know all this stuff because they all love babies and talk about it with their girlfriends all the time, but men don't have that innate knowledge" approach of the guy who stopped in to push the just-for-men baby class. For one thing, Phil apparently talks about child-rearing with his coworkers way more than I ever have with anybody. For another, I wish I could get into that class, but I lack the external genitalia. Ah well.

Then we went to the newly open Taste of Asia Restaurant (or was that Fresh Taste of Asia?) on Nicollet, near Market BBQ, and I had one of the more confusing dining experiences of recent experience. I left unsure if this was a very good restaurant, or a not-so-good restaurant. Let me explain. The decor, the ambiance, is fantastic. They did a great job with the space. The staff are excellent, very attentive, very friendly, clearly eager to please since they are just opening the restaurant. The menu is like 10 pages long--ridiculously ambitious. The prices are moderate, comparable to any hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant. The portions will feed you for 3 meals. The cook really knows what he's doing--all the ingredients are of very high quality and cooked to perfection in a way that I haven't encountered outside of white-tablecloth dining. The thick Chinese-style eggrolls were crispy and not heavy or leathery--something hitherto untasted. The cream cheese wontons were light and crispy and delicious. The noodles were cooked to exactly the right texture, and the vegetables were fork-tender. This is not your gloppy takeout Chinese food. But! The flavoring and sauces are so light as to be non-existent. There wasn't that complexity of flavor. The things we ordered spicy really, really weren't. Clearly they do not have the crack sauce that, for example, the Red Dragon--though in every other respect the food was vastly superior. All they need is for someone to go in and tweak their recipes a bit to make them more flavorful. We were both conflicted as to whether it was a good restaurant, or a bad restaurant. Definitely worth going back to try the sushi (which is more dependent on quality of ingredients and preparation than saucing or seasoning) and the hibachi. By the end of the visit, I was rooting for them to be a good restaurant, to become successful--I just don't know if they are/will.

[ profile] sinister_dr_x had his movie day on Saturday as well. We missed the movie I'd wanted to see because of a scheduling mix-up. Can we say I never react well to my plans being disturbed for any reason? Apparently my "attempting to not be irrational and fussy" is not actually the same thing as "not being irrational and fussy." Ah, well. I'll give myself points for the attempt. But it was great watching Faster and Predators in air-conditioning with friends, so it was all good, even if I did have to leave to go back to work on my work project.

Today was more work and some trying to get other stuff done.

Oh, and Phil trimmed my hair today, which took all of three minutes. Three cheers for hair-cutting scissors and long hair! Totally easy to have the husband cut four inches off (at the longest point--probably about two at the shortest) in a straight line.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 12

New words: about 400
Total words: 75,207
Overused word: savaged
Gratuitous Freudian slip: lifting chests
Type of scene: the impetus
Challenge(s): Getting any writing done at all. Though truly, I think a lot of the problem was that I was hung up on one scene. Once I got past that, it got better.
Which line is it anyways?She smiled noncommittally and dutifully returned her attention to her bowl of mush, which seemed unlikely to do anything improper or even remotely interesting.
Researched: Zoos, the feeding habits of large cats, yoga, and the feeding habits of 1870s American travelers.
Notes: I just need to get a little transition in there, do the horrifying thing, and then the episode will (finally!) be done!
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log.
* Submitted “Missing You In Pieces” to Pedestal Magazine. Somewhat concerned about the copy-and-paste format into the form.
* Submitted “Warmth in the Cold Time” to Moonlight Tuber.
* Did a Critters critique--time for me to get active there again.
* Submitted “Demons of Disease” to Raygun Revival. Three cheers for another online submission form! And dayumn but do they ever have detailed story format guidelines.
* Read WritersWeekly newsletter.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (candy)
Right. Now that I've finished up the work-from-home projects that have kept me busy for the last month (though there are more on the horizon), I may actually get some other stuff done. So what have I been up to lately (aside from being in the last month of pregnancy, which is a Thing in and of itself)?

Cleaning! There was a lot of cleaning up for the 4th of July Party, and a lot of cleaning after...for values of "a lot" that are less than previous years but significantly more than was getting done without party-motivation. Phil has figured out that he needs to take the lead on some of the to-do-type items, like the planting of the tomatoes. This is how I have tomatoes in pots in the front yard (though they're not really thriving, and I'm not sure why--maybe they just need more time to establish themselves) and two magnificent upside-down tomato plants hanging from the branches of the Russian olive tree in the front yard. They seem to be doing very well, and it looks really neat, so I think next year I will want to festoon all my tree branches with upside-down vegetation.

The 4th of July party was great. I think at peak we had maybe two dozen people, which is about the right amount for our backyard. Four of them biked here, which always makes me happy. I really enjoyed seeing people and being able to hang out and chat without really having to do anything active to make it so. Like go somewhere else, because that's so not happening. And there were many tasty eatables (special notice goes to Moffat's fantastic peach-and-berry pie), and a giant sparkler duel at the end of the night. The freezie-pops were also a good idea, and the Viking bocce ball did well. Phil was the only casualty that I know of. I was a bad hostess a few times because I thought Phil was taking care of things, when in reality he'd crawled away again. Ah well. These things happen.

Things started to die down when it got dark around 9, as predicted, though [ profile] discoflamingo stuck around and chatted and watched Wire in the Blood with me for a bit longer. I've been meaning to post about that show for a while--I found it on Netflix Instant and I've really been enjoying the heck out of it. It falls under the "eccentric specialist helps police in their investigations" template--if the eccentric specialist specialized in serial killers, the show was grittier and more realistic than Criminal Minds, they were given a DOP/cinematographer far better than a TV show deserves, and the director was exposed to lots of Dario Argento films at an impressionable age. In short, it's pretty fantastic. And it's in the British model where each show is an hour and a half long and good enough to be released as a movie on its own merits.

I've been slowly whittling away at the massive to-do list--I'm down to only having three levels of urgent to-dos. I got a bunch of insurance bills straightened away, figured out who I wanted our pediatrician to be, got myself a physical therapy appointment that may help with the pain I've been having, and wrastled baby carriers (the baby carriers won).

There were other major events. Somewhere in there were two baby showers and a 4th Street Fantasy convention. I passed on CONvergence, though--I may be pregnant and crazy, but not that crazy.

I also may have lost the second job doing senior-sitting. The elderly lady had a bad fall (not while I was present) and wasn't doing well, so they checked her into more advanced care at least for a while, possibly permanently depending on if they think her husband is no longer still capable of taking care of her on a day-to-day basis in their apartment. It is sad for them. Although it was nice having the job as a back-up, the amount of work I've been able to do from home recently has been reassuring to myself and Phil that we will not be totally fiscally screwed now that I'm *only* working from home.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


I've been able to get more writing done. Not great amounts by my normal productivity standards, but at least a few hundred words a day. And I've sent a half-dozen stories out that were just lurking menacingly on my hard drive instead of doing anything useful, so that is *also* good. I am feeling better about things, even as I blow past writing deadlines. Well, I did give notice that I'd be doing that!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Really, the post subject line says it all.

I have a month and a week to go until the baby's due date. For statistical accuracy, that's +/- 3 weeks. This is the time when most women just want to be done, because everything becomes awkward, exhausting, difficult, and/or painful. I spend a lot more time than usual in sleeping, eating (6 meals a day takes time!), and feet-up breaks to prevent excess swelling. The rest of the time, I move in slow motion.

No, really! I have two ways of walking--the duck waddle, and the articulated Terminator-in-slow-motion. The Terminator is more comfortable and arguably faster, but requires concentration. Anyway. (Did I mention I'm also more distractable?)

In a day, I seem to be able to put in about 6 hours either doing day job work, writing, or preparing for baby and keep our household from devolving into the chaos that eats all things. Used to be, I'd put in a full day on either day job work or writing, and then spend some time bringing order out of chaos.

I think if I try scaling everything down to part-time, expecting about half as much per day, I may be able to keep up. And scaling back day job hours will allow writing again! And paying bills! And working on that really really long list of to-dos! (My to-do list? Has the following categories: Urgentest To-Do, Urgent Urgent Urgent To-Do, Urgent Urgent To-Do, Urgent To-Do, and Action Needed. It used to just have Urgent To-Do and Action Needed. Oy.)

Practically, what does this mean?

* I'm going to try to cut back on day job hours/day--which is probably doable right up until I get projects with solid deadlines.

* I'm going to be stressed about not having baby stuff and chaos under control. Just don't expect me to be coherent about anything. Stress + baby hormones = unpredictable reactions.

* I may not be socializing much, and if I do, I'll almost certainly punk out early.

* Writing and writing-related things are going to be getting done more slowly (although faster than they have been for the last month, when I tried working full-time hours and then found writing impossible!). I'm still hoping to get Circus of Brass and Bone out about once a month, but specific dates are mirages. For example, this month's episode? Probably going to take another week or so.

So why make a big huge post out of this? Well, this way I might have a chance of remembering....
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 (manatee)
It's been about a month since I made a "real" post. More on the reasons for that later.

But first--how am I doing? I get that question a lot these days, and it's mostly because of how my belly is grooowing.


I am within the parameters for a "doing well, given the extreme range of symptoms that encompass 'well' at this particular gestational state" response, but that's generally too complex of an answer. Instead, I usually say, "Waddling along!" I have roughly 2 more months of baby-baking to go, with a standard error of +/- 1 month.

The baby's doing well. He's almost as tall as he's going to get; the next two months are bulking-up time. I'm supposed to do kick counts to make sure he's all healthy and stuff, but practically, I don't usually need to. He moves around a lot. He may be, as the polite phrase goes, a "busy child." Like Phil was. This is code for, "Brace yourself, and hope everybody survives the whirlwind."

I am as big as the metaphorical house--I have outgrown many of my maternity clothes and am now using a sundress-only wardrobe. Three cheers for the maxi dress fad! I require 10+ hours of sleep a night, ideally plus a 1+ hr nap in the afternoon. I eat 6-7 times a day. I am even more body-linked than usual, which means I'm inclined to turn irrational/raving-bitch-from-hell when these conditions aren't met. I pumpkin at about 9 PM. Any amount of walking hurts. Walking across a room hurts. I am getting a maternity support belt that may help with that. On the other hand, I feel perfectly normal when I'm biking, and my balance is still great, so I'm enjoying that.

My energy runs out really fast. It's The Spoon Theory, except I don't really know how many spoons I have to start with, and sometimes I can get extra spoons by doing things like taking a nap or putting my feet up for a while. If I've been working a full day, I am usually out of spoons by cooking-dinner time. My stress-response (avoidance) doesn't help, nor does the situational depression that sometimes arises from other factors.

NgithOwl has been wanting me to work a full day in the main office for the last however-long. In addition, I still have my 10-hrs-a-week job senior sitting.

That leaves a lot of things that should be getting done, but aren't:
* cleaning
* cooking
* exercise
* writing (for a project with deadlines, no less!) and all the writingy things that go with it
* baby preparation
* photography stuff
* a 25-item long urgent to-do list, with things like "pay medical bills" and "plant herbs before they die" on it

I am pretty resigned to things just not getting done. My "give a fuck" quotient is amazingly low.

In about a month, I plan to stop working from the main office at NgithOwl and switch to work-from-home projects only. That would help. This may be complicated by an off-site project that is still in negotiations that would want me for a full month. The time on that--doesn't add up. We'll see what the end decision is. I think there is some lack of understanding of exactly how pregnant I am and what that means.

I do not mean this to be depressing! Consider the summation of this post to be, I'm doing good. I'm reallyreally busy/tired, but this is an exciting time.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
State of the Abra Incubator
The sprogling and I are doing well. I think he's going through a growth spurt right now--my belly certainly is! At this point, I'm a bit worried I may outgrow some of my maternity shirts. Medically, everything's going along fine--as of the last checkup, baby's a little ahead of the growth curve, and I'm a little ahead of my target weight gain, but these things go in spurts and I'm not surprised by it. Also, you can see my belly move when he kicks. It's a little alienish, but feeling it is reassuring, not weird/creepy.

Pregnancy's treating me pretty well. At this point, I have no nausea and very little discomfort. When I walk, it's somewhat uncomfortable, and I was getting round ligament pain if I walked more than a block. This feels like somebody is stabbing a knife into my crotch. So I've avoided walking and haven't had that problem--but now I'm beginning to think I need to test it again to see if it's gone away (as many pregnancy symptoms do). I'm still pretty active anyway, with biking and "maternity" exercise vids. Hrm. The big things are that I need a couple more hours of sleep a day, so I get irrationally tired around 9 pm unless I've gotten a nap that day, and I need to eat something every two hours to keep my blood sugar from plummeting and leaving me all shaky (pre-pregnancy, this used to be a 4- to 5-hour thing). I do have pregnancy brain/forgetting things issues. Not things I try to remember, but things I usually don't have to try and remember. And I have to do this weird frog-squat thing to pick things up off the floor without getting dizzy. I think that's about it. Pregnancy is one of those "anything can be a symptom, the weirdest things are normal for somebody, and nothing's entirely predictable" things.

Read more--Phil, cancer, work, socializing, getting stuff done )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (alas)
Where have I been? Um, I've been insanely busy for the last week. I've been working full hours at NgithOwl, plus the senior center job, plus more weekend hours from a work-from-home project. I also had a bunch of writing due-dates fall into the same zone: my market list was due, I had assignments to do for my writing group on Sunday, and then I had to get Circus of Brass and Bone edited, online, recorded, and out (this takes more time than you might think).

Everything else has been shoved out of the way. I have lots of baby shower stuff to do, various other writing projects, emergency maternity shirt mending, basic household chores, plant planting, ebay stuff, social obligations, etc. Things should be better now that I'm past the writing deadlines and the work-from-home deadlines (though I'm told there will be more of that on the way). Now I only have the 50-hour workweek and all my regular obligations....

But if I didn't respond to your whatever in a timely fashion? That is why. I had to sleep instead.
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 (Phil and I)
Phil and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary this weekend. I think this is pretty fantastic, and I attribute it to us both being extraordinarily stubborn individuals.

On our actual anniversary, April 1st, Phil brought home ten roses (1) and then we took each other out to dinner (2) at Crave (3).

(1) They were actually selling roses by the 10-pack. We can only guess that they needed to increase profits but didn't want to raise prices for a bouquet--so they took two roses out of the classic dozen. But it made it the perfect number!

(2) He chose the restaurant, and it was a surprise, but we paid with the credit card, so I'll eventually end up paying for it. Ah, well. It feels like I haven't gone out in ages.

(3) Yes, the restaurant in the Mall of America. It is possible that there was some, "Wait, you actually want to go out on our anniversary?" on the day of. Also some issue with his work blocking most restaurants' websites, making the figuring out of a restaurant and a reservation difficult. So a coworker recommended it.

The overall ambiance was not so great. We got seated out on the balcony area, which meant we were basically eating in the mall, but it was a lot less noisy than inside the restaurant, so we were able to talk at all. Pluses and minuses! Some of the food was fantastic. We split a bunch of orders. The rosemary herb bread? Amazing! The hand-cut fries with truffle butter? Crack-tastic! Worth a special trip. The grilled Caesar salad? The grilled flavor was interesting, but I think I'd prefer a more classic Caesar. The pasta with wild mushrooms, bacon, and chicken? Should have had more mushrooms, less chicken, and any bacon. Not that it wasn't good--it was fine, it just wasn't amazing. The chai creme brulee? I was too full to try. Sorrow. Phil had a fizzy bottle of pink sake, and I had a virgin mojito with blueberries. I gotta say--these days I'm really happy with any menu that actually includes interesting non-alcoholic drinks.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the first BBQ of the season to celebrate with friends. The weather cooperated with a pretty nice sunny 50 degree+ day. It made me happy to have a chance to hang out and talk with a couple dozen friends. There were burgers and chips and pretzel thingies and cinnamon rolls and pasta salad and pickles and Izzy soda and other wonderful things. And a hammock and bocce ball! (Phil thinks he can fix the Xmas lights pretty easily by reconnecting the string in a different order.) Things wound up around 2 and wound down around 7, as it started to get cold out. And now Phil has a cooler full of beer(4) and we have burgers and veggie burgers for grilling for later in the summer(5).

(4) Which he can't just drink. He's still taking pretty heavy daily doses of ibuprofen to deal with the swelling and joint pain of Mystery Illness, so he's not supposed to tax his liver with booze.

(5) And we can store them in our new deep freeze! That was our Christmas/anniversary gift from the in-laws. I don't really know what to do with it, but I'm excited to have it.

There was a mad scramble to clean before the party (and after), particularly since I had to work all morning at the senior sitting job. By all morning, I mean beginning at 7 AM that Saturday. I am still amazed that I did not fall asleep at my own party.

I've pretty much been working regular hours, meaning 40+, between NgithOwl and the senior sitting. I have to leave NgithOwl early on Thursdays to get to the senior sitting job, but it balances out with the usual weekend work. But there was no weekend work needed at NgithOwl on our anniversary! And on the days when there is no NgithOwl work but I need to get to the senior center, I can just bike up to Bryant, which is a nice short bike ride and very convenient. (I figured out that I can't bus and bike to NgithOwl as I usually do in the summers, because my bike weighs much too much for me to be allowed to lift it, and putting a bike on the bus bike racks involves real lifting. Sadness. But then again, that's the crazier part of town to bike in, so I'm probably safer not doing it anyway.)

It might be quieter at NgithOwl now, but I've earned enough to pull us most of the way out of the financial hole that no work for four months put us in.

I've also been wrastling with paperwork (including figuring out that a toaster oven warranty was not worth using, because it would cost us lots just to send the darn thing in and get it back, and there was no guarantee of fixing or replacement--stupid fake warranty--so no toaster for us), and setting up stuff for my baby showers (one in Minnesota, one in Wisconsin).

Between working on writingy stuff at the senior sitting job and my hour of writing minimum, the writing proceeds apace.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 11

And Episode 11 is complete! Thanks to a convenient ending hook that I hadn't planned in advance.

New words: 1,900
Total words: 67,390
Overused word: Doom
Gratuitous hardware: Colt Navy revolver
Type of scene: a hive of scum and villainy
Challenge(s): Not getting in my own way when I'm feeling a scene.
Which line is it anyways?He didn't know of any ladies who filed their teeth like that!
Researched: tooth sharpening (gah! too many junk links on the internets!), sailing ships, major arteries in the human body, Civil War-era weaponry
Notes: An interesting side-benefit of the daily no-matter-what writing hour seems to be that my story is "living" more in my mind, even when I'm not writing. This can be distracting and frustrating when I'm not in circumstances to write when a scene starts playing, but it's also good for figuring out plot kinks ahead of time.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted last writing log and freewriting
* 10 Ways to Start Your Story Better:
* A great wrap-up of “how to live” advice for artists:
* Finished redmarking The Iron Dragon Dilemma, and figured out how to fix the plot. Probably another 1,000 words of writing in there. Gah. Story will be so loooong.
* Modern handgun basics for writers:
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
It's always fun to walk into work and be greeted by, "What are you doing here? Did he tell you to come in?"

Well, no, but he didn't tell me not to either. Plus I had forgot my lightweight coat at NgithOwl on Saturday, so I wanted to make sure to pick that up.

Despite the greeting I got when I showed up, there was still enough work to keep me busy until after lunch, at which point I went home and collapsed on the couch for a 3-hour nap. Naps are the only way I'm able to stay awake much past 9. I am definitely sleeping for two. This was yesterday. This morning I called in and--surprise!--was told that it was dead at work. At least I got that half-day of work. And my coat.

This is not the end of our financial world, since I've been working regularly for the last few weeks. Plus the senior-sitting gig is a regular (if small) weekly paycheck. And there really is something nice about knowing you're going to get a check every week.

I've also gotten a few fiddly things done. I ordered Phil's birthday present. (He said not to spend money on him, so I only spent a very little.) I tried to order an apple tree through the city's forestation program, and found that I got there too late. No honeycrisp apple tree for us. ::sob:: Phil says now we have to wait until next year, but I'm going to price 6' apple trees from nurseries.

I've defeated Mt. Washmore--though there's still folding to be done. Did a lot of it last night while watching Castle. I do like that show. It's corny and silly sometimes, but the relationships between Castle and the women in his life are just beautiful to watch. And the chemistry is good. And it's totally writer wish-fulfillment. Someday, I too shall be a famous best-seller...sigh.

The first step to being one is writing, of course. The writing for an hour no matter what thing appears to balance out at getting me about 300 words. That's pretty slow (the first hour is always slow), but it's something and it adds up, especially on days when otherwise it would be way too easy for writing to be back-burnered because I already worked all day.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 11

New words: 1,131
Total words: 65,490
Overused word: man
Gratuitous quote: a hive of scum and villainy
Type of scene: Motivation set-up + getting to the place to find the next clue.
Challenge(s): Writing piecemeal. It's not how I work best.
Which line is it anyways?The assistant shook his head. "No, Commissioner. Only rotters."
Researched: docks, burlap, crime on docks
Notes: Right. Time to make it awesome.
Other writingy stuff:
* Sunday's CoBB 1 hr, pretty much spent the time figuring out how the next scene would go.
* Reorganized the CoBB notes file, putting things in order and breaking out “lexicon,” “to do,” “worldbuilding,” “clues,” and “references.”
* Reorganized the CoBB character file by city.
* Read 2 Critters and Duotrope newsletter and updated market list from them.
* Inquired as to the status of a few old submissions I haven’t heard back on.
* Worked on the MinnSpec iTunes podcast feed a bit.
* Business planning for your creative hours:
* Posted writing log (last Thursday)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
Woke up, went to senior-sitting job in the morning.
Phil brought me home for lunch and then took me to NgithOwl to work for the afternoon.
Came home, ate chips and cheese on the couch while watching Futurama streaming from Netflix.
Fell asleep for 3 hours.

I'm awake now, but I feel very unstuck in time, especially for a Saturday. Part of me wonders if I can just go to bed for the rest of the day now. But there are still lots of things to do, since I haven't really done anything besides work today (although I *did* work on writingy things while at the senior-sitting job).

Can haz day off?
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (beauty)
I am so delighted that Spring seems to be making inroads into Minnesota! At last! Enough snow has melted that we can open the back gate again. Soon it will be warm enough to start planting things. Our CSA will start soon!

Today I am wearing a buttercup-yellow skirt. Yay, Spring!

This week I have been getting things done, I just haven't been as good about writing down what I have, because, you know, documenting takes away from doing time! Most of the week has gone to day job work and to getting a couple of overdue writingy projects out the door.

I've been working full-time all week, mostly at NgithOwl, but also starting the new companion job. NgithOwl is the same as usual--a huge rush to get projects out the door, all due on the same day. It was very good to have the weekend off, though many people did work overtime on the weekend. I wasn't asked--not sure why, though we didn't have enough computer stations, but I don't mind having the break after working some of last weekend too. I've been writing longhand in my notebook while taking the bus, so the work transit has also given me some extra pages on my letter-game side project, Platinadar.

The elder-sitter job is okay. I've gotten to work on writing stuff while I'm there, which is ++good. And it's pretty straightforward. I'm a little concerned about what happens if the old lady needs more physical help getting out of bed, etc., since I'm not allowed to lift human-sized things at this point. The son stopped by to make sure I wasn't some suspicious character who would steal the silverware, which is him being a good son. ;) How long she'll need this (minor) level of care and when she'll need more than I could provide are questions that nobody knows the answer to.

And Saturday night, I got to and socialize over at [ profile] half_double and LtS's house. Socializing is good, even if people did get a bit over-excited about the whole baby-naming thing (still not naming him Glaxo-Kline or Montana). No, but really it was great to see old acquaintances and chat with current friends and eat some delicious salsa.

Phil did not go, as his joints were hurting him again. He has spent most of this weekend on the couch to keep the inflammation from flaring back up to severe levels. However, basketball's on, so I don't think he minds too much! Hopefully this will go away soon--we're all ready for him to be healthy again.

Aside from that, between rededicating myself to "writing comes first" and what I've been able to do at the elder-sitter job, I've done pretty well for writingy stuff this week. Most of my time went to polishing off this last episode of Circus of Brass and Bone and getting my writing market list out.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 11

Other writingy stuff:
* Writing on a Platinadar letter on the bus to work, got a number of pages done.
* Marked up Circus of Brass and Bone Episode 10, made editing changes, recorded podcast, and loaded it up.
* Updated market list from Ralan newsletter.
* Nine Ways to Give a Better Reading:
* Cleaned out old market listings, uploading new market spreadsheet, wrote newsletter and sent it out/posted it.
* Began revising "Charity from a Thief." My old problem with beginnings struck again in this story, but I think I've figured out a fix.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Phil and I)
Phil may no longer be feverish, but he's been having severe arthritic pain and swelling in his joints since the fever went away, and it isn't getting better. It's bad enough that he can't do some things and he's being woken up in the middle of the night by the pain when the painkiller wears off. This is Not Good. Husband is broken, and that is unacceptable. Worried Abra is worried. He has a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, where hopefully they will either figure out and treat what's going on or at least give him Flintstones chewable morphine.

Aside from that small detail, it's been a pretty good few days. I got the companion job, I got a lead on a good-paying temp job, and I worked some overtime hours this weekend, so finances are vastly less worrying than they were a couple of weeks ago. I finished the phone info part of the HARP refinance application, and we have the documents to sign and send in. Once that's done, it's just a waiting game.

The in-laws drove up from Wisconsin with a truckload of baby things, including a crib, a high-chair, a changing table, and even more second-hand baby clothes (we already had like six bags in the attic--like I said, they subscribe to the cargo cult theory of new babies). Oh, and a love seat that matches our current couch, inherited from the grandparents when they moved into assisted living.

So on Saturday afternoon, after I worked my overtime hours, they picked me up from work and we drove off to Home Depot, where they bought us an upright deep freeze as a combination Christmas/10-year-anniversary present (yes, it's been that long). They were also introduced to the joys of chain LeeAnn Chin Chinese food (they liked it).

The Joint

Saturday night, we went to the new Psycho Suzi's, a locally owned, tiki-themed bar and restaurant that just moved into vastly expanded quarters. Now they have a reception area with an indoor waterfall behind it, four theme bars, and a separate floor for the eating area. The indoors roughly quadruples the total space of the old place, including the patio. Outside, tiki torches flame alongside the Mississippi River. They were packed. The bar area is seat-yourself and only has appetizers available, so if you want real food, you have to get on the list and wait for seating in the dining area (which is less interestingly decorated, but does have the full menu, so, you know, trade-offs). The in-laws had a great time, and I think my m-i-l is planning on bringing the ladies of her card club there when they road trip to see the new baby. Apparently this is a tradition among them.

Sunday morning I fed them my fabulous yogurt-blueberry pancakes and we sent them on their way. Then I bussed to the Seward Cafe for [ profile] birdfigment's birthday brunch. There were hangings-out and tasty foods and then running to catch my bus to Uptown to join my writing group (partway through the meeting, but that's what happens when you do multiple things in a day). I got my mic back after the presentation portion was finished (we do a podcast now!) and delivered variously harsh critiques during the workshop section.

Then I came home and went thud. Well, after selling some CDs to Cheapo, mostly for the shelf space because CDs are selling for $.50 apiece today. Apparently, everybody and their brother is switching to digital and selling the physical, so it's not such a profitable thing to do.

After Phil woke me up by assembling the crib (which is large, sturdy, and roughly the size of couch), I made bean burgers for dinner and then did my hour of writing.

3/8/11, Tuesday, through 3/13/11, Sunday

Circus of Brass and Bone Combined Writing Log


Episode X

New words: 1,019
Total words: 62,814
Overused word: monkey
Gratuitous word: pineapple
Type of scene: How they figure out where to go next.
Challenge(s): Keeping it interesting without getting too zany.
Which line is it anyways?Wind whistled a counterpoint down the alley.
Researched: Elephant feet, "devolve"
Notes: It may be too zany. Or have too much dialog.
Other writingy stuff:
* Shamed by Sherilyn Kennyon’s 8 hrs of writing plus other hours of writingy stuff (the woman only sleeps 4 hrs a day, which is totally NOT an option for me), began the 1-hr of writing no matter what experiment (if I feel totally wasted, Ican work on non-primary writing project).
* Various freewriting warmups.
* MinnSpec critiques.
* Attended MinnSpec writing group meeting--well, at least the crit portion.
* Recorded intro for MinnSpec podcast, episode 3.
* Wrote four pages longhand on Platinadar while traveling to and from work.
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)
Phil is still sick. He's doing a better job juggling acetaminophen and ibuprofen to keep the fever down, but whenever he waits too long, it goes right back up. Yesterday his hands swelled up like an arthritic old man's--a quite common effect of having a fever. If he's still ill tomorrow, it's back to the doctor for him! Because Phil does the grocery shopping, we are running out of staples. I've picked up a few things from Target on my way home, but it's still quite ingenuity-testing. Tonight's dinner will be chili, because chili = beans + [just about anything].

Worked. Came home from work and climbed upstairs and fell asleep, not even eating first. That last bit says a lot. The sprogling demands SLEEP. After I woke up, I made dinner, prepped dinner for tomorrow (got things marinating), did laundry, dishes, and a snippet of writing.

Worked. Can't remember what else I did, but writing appears to not have been involved.

The day began unfortunately, when I remembered to check the bus schedule (which changed that day), but forgot to check the Saturday section instead of the default Monday through Friday section. So there was waiting outside in the cold for an extra twenty minutes for my bus. And then I discovered I'd forgotten the post-it note with the door codes written on it (on the weekends, building doors are locked and you need the code to get in), but fortunately I was able to remember it. Otherwise I would have been sitting outside hoping somebody took a smoke break soon.

Worked until 1. Then I left to go to a job interview for being the companion to an elderly woman. Ten hours a week and I could work on other things while there, but I was competing with a couple dozen college students, so we'll see how that goes. They thought they'd be making their decision yesterday, but I haven't heard anything, so my hopes are not up.

ES&TS decided to host "coffee shop" at their house that Saturday, so then I bused over to their place (Saturday involved a whole lot of transit). There, there were wondrous things like tea! and chai! and cookies! and black bean salsa! and people to talk to! There was much socializing, and some editing of CoBB. It is always hard for me not to just chatter away at people when I haven't seen them for a while (like since, say, yesterday), but at least I fixed the opening, which Phil had diagnosed as crap, and which I had had severe problems trying to figure out how to fix when I first made the attempt a couple of days ago. So that was good (but the black bean salsa was better).

The "coffee shop at home" idea is a lovely one, and generally cost-saving. Also, then we could invite people more in advance. And once ES and I have our sproglings, well, public coffee shops become slightly more of a hassle. Although it also would mean losing the "somewhere else!" of it all. And I'm definitely a fan of novelty-seeking behavior. Hrm. Pondering. I suppose the two would not need to be mutually exclusive.

Circus of Brass and Bone Total

Combined Writing Log
* Various smidges of writing on CoBB.
* Assorted freewritings.
* Edited CoBB episode opener.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Phil and I)
Phil is still quite ill with fever, though he doesn't have any other symptoms. He had a doctor's appointment yesterday, at which it was ascertained that yes, he has a fever, and no, he doesn't have any other warning symptoms. Turns out that when they say to go see the doctor if you've had a fever for three days, what they really mean is that the doctor just checks to see if anything else is going on and then sends you home without treating you, telling you to come back in a week if you've still got a fever. I disapprove! He doesn't have a backache, so it's probably not meningitis (If he gets a backache, he's supposed to go to the ER and get a spinal tap. You can guess how popular that suggestion was.). He's pretty sure it isn't an STD (i.e. that I haven't been cheating on him), so penicillin will do nothing. Lots of annoying questions, no treatment. Got back his bloodwork today, and his white blood cell and platelet counts are too low, so now he's supposed to get bloodwork done again two weeks after the fever goes away. And if the fever is still there next week, he's supposed to go back in.

Also, we know his judgment is impaired because he decided to drive to the doctor in downtown instead of taking a bus, despite having previously agreed that driving was a bad idea if he was running a fever. The doctor lectured him, I lectured him...and I don't trust him not to do something similar again.

Me, I worked a bunch. On the way home, I stopped at Target and picked up a couple of grocery-type things. I paid using the last of the Target giftcard NgithOwl gave me for Christmas.

It will be good to have hours in my paycheck again.

Dinner was cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Then there was lots and lots of laundry folding as I watched Criminal Minds. And some writing (not while watching TV--I can't do that, though I've heard of writers who can).

Circus of Brass and Bone Total

3/2/11, Wednesday, full day of work
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* A snippet of writing.
* Listened to writing podcasts at work.


Mar. 2nd, 2011 06:27 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (dark mirror)
Worked a full day yesterday and was exhausted at the end of it, so not a whole lot else got done.

I went in to do a one-day data entry project, but while I was there we found out that a client who never allows us to take their documents off-site had, in fact, sent them all over to NgithOwl. This is sort of good, but on a personal level it will mean fewer work hours, since I was going to be in the group of four or so who went over to the on-site. Instead, all three shifts will be working around the clock on the project (since we're all starved for hours). But it will probably still be enough work for a week and a half. That paycheck will be most welcome.

Especially since the large data entry project that we bid on, we didn't get. So those hypothetical hours went *poof*.

I came home, managed to scrounge up a pretty tasty Greek pasta salad out of what was in the fridge and the pantry (recipe later), paid bills, posted my diary entry (like this one), did a smidge of writing, and because sick husband is needy and wanted me in the same room, watched the Charlie Sheen interview. Spoiler: He wins at CRAZY. No, really, it's totally worth watching. There's no crazy like famous megalomaniac seize-the-day crazy.

Circus of Brass and Bone Total

3/1/11, Tuesday, full day of work
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Smidge of writing on CoBB
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (self-evolving system)
I didn't get much done on Friday, because Friday was go-get-interviewed-at-PoorStaff day. So I pulled on my new suit-dress, decided it didn't work, changed into a pair of old dress pants and one of the new stripey dress shirts, applied makeup, and went. I was as perky and professional as one can be with unbuttoned pants. The interview went quite well, I think, though there is always the "wait, I don't understand your current jobs situation" moment. Neither do I, lady, neither do I. And I only had to obfuscate a little about why I wouldn't be available after mid-July. Legally, they can't ask certain clarifying questions, although when the lady asked why, she did have something of the same look my mother-in-law used to get when she would ask why I wasn't drinking, etc. Then there was the filling out of ridiculous amounts of paperwork (side note: their benefits are actually decent, including a 6% 401K match if you stay more than a year). After that, several hours of testing on computer programs. My scores were pretty good, most above the 70th percentile, so I think that should do okay.

Saturday, there was the moving of CValenti into new digs three blocks away, with his goylefriend. Something finally got him out of that building! It's a miracle! And the new place is lovely, with all the character of Victorian-era buildings, hardwood floors, and lots of light from the windows. There was the traditional repayment of pizza and (root) beer.

I also scheduled the various pre-natal classes I should attend, so that's all lined up.

And that evening, there was M's birthday dinner/drinks at Grumpy's. A bit loud for conversation, but it was good to see and talk with people that I haven't for a while. As per our budget restrictions, we stayed for (1) beer and (1) soda and then absconded. The whole "no spending extra money on things like food" means that we really have a 2-hour socializing limit, because that's when I need to eat, or bad things happen.

As you might guess, this left not much time for writing stuff, but! I finished Circus of Brass and Bone, Episode 10. However, I didn't get any actual writing in on Saturday, which broke my chain of 13 days of writing. Curses!

I am using the X-on-the-calendar when main project writing is accomplished (even if only a couple hundred words) method to motivate me. The power of the chain compels you (to write)!

2/26/11, Saturday
* Read iTunes’ full podcast manual. Blech. I basically have to redo the whole feed.
* Worked on fixing the broken links on my main website (that I broke myself, when I tried to change them a couple of weeks ago).

2/25/11, Friday

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode X

New words: 775
Total words: 60,980
Overused word: corpse
Gratuitous word: acrid
Type of scene: How you gonna negotiate with that, huh?
Challenge(s): Wrapping up the episode at a good point.
Which line is it anyways?The other passengers pressed past them, swarming up the wide stone steps to the imposing brick building.
Added to spellchecker: salvagers
Notes: Didn't get as far into the city plot outline as I'd hoped this episode, but I think this was important texture stuff. Hrm. At least the next episode will have action.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Marked TweettheMeat as a dead market. ::sniff:: RIP.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
When I followed up on the whole HARP refinance program for homeowners who owed slightly more on their house than it was worth but want to take advantage of the current low rates and maybe lower their monthly payment some, I found out that we're also eligible for the HAMP program, the one for homeowners who have some financial hardship and have more than 31% of their income going to their mortgage. Ug. It's nice knowing that we'll be able to refinance, but knowing that we qualify for the federal program for homeowners who are completely fucked? Not so reassuring.

However! We won't be doing the HAMP program, because it totally messes up the credit score. HARP is looking likely if we get a deal that would make significant savings. That requires negotiations with our bank mortgage holder, though. The federally approved, free financial counselor was very nice and walked us through our finances and everything and sent the report on our conversation to both our bank and to us. I also have the number for the follow-up program, who are basically the people to call if the bank gets sticky about something. Then they swoop in wearing their shiny armor and fix everything. The next step is to contact our bank and talk brass tacks.

PSA: If your significant other is the only person on the mortgage, have them authorize you to have conversations with the bank and such. Do this now. It will save you much hassle in the future. The same goes for if you're on their health insurance or other benefits.

I set up an interview with Pro Staff for today. More of an interview+tests, actually, but it has to be done. Any nest egg growth/debt clearance we can get before August is a reallyreally good thing. In preparation, I did a PowerPoint tutorial--probably should have been doing tutorials for the last week, but I wasn't. It's been ages since I've been on this side of an interview. I think I have some anxiety about it, since I didn't sleep well last night and two out of three of my dreams (more about which anon) were related. The third dream was about a T-Rex.

I trekked to the post office and mailed off our federal taxes. Go go gadget moneyback!

I cleaned out the Roomba's gearbox and discovered the brushes still aren't spinning. This exhausts my Roomba fix-it knowledge and means it is probably really broken (the battery was dying anyway). Phil says there is no budget space for a new Roomba, but if it comes on Woot, we'll see about that. Roomba is necessity, like dishwasher. :(

2/24/11, Thursday

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 10

New words: 1,067
Total words: 60,205
Overused word: people
Gratuitous word: gewgaws
Type of scene: How the city works now.
Challenge(s): How much is too much, how much is not enough.
Which line is it anyways?Of course, the instant she tried not to think about it, her imagination conjured up all sorts of gruesome images.
Researched: New York transport history
Added to spellchecker: horsecars
Notes: I find this sort of thing fascinating--how society changes after a disaster like this. But I worry that readers will want more action. Of course, Episode 11 should satisfy that need. Also, I'm at the wrap-it-up wordcount for this episode, which means it'll probably go live (for those with early access) early next week.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Fiddled with trying to get the CoBB iTunes feed working. Needs more work. Damn iTunes-specific feed crap.


cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Abra Staffin-Wiebe

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