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)
It's time for ... drumroll ... the annual awards eligibility post! This year I only have one thing, so it's easy. And it's a short story, so it's also easy to read!

Escape Pod published "In Their Image" in February 2016. You can read the story or download the MP3 here:

This is a sci-fi story about religions on alien planets and finding your purpose. It contains philosophy, fuzzy pink murderbears, and good intentions.

Readers say:
"just that fantastic"
"... Speaker for the Dead which this reminded me strongly of, in a good way."
"What a great story about social pigeonholing. I could write stuff about how much that happens in real life, but it would come over as preachy, and one of the (other) great things about this story is that it isn't preachy. "
"Great fodder for discussion, especially among the inquisitive and open-minded."

Read it!

I did write a fair amount last year, but it was mostly longform and so it didn't result in many published short stories (although I've already sold 2 that will most likely be coming out in 2017). Stay tuned for posts about what I was writing last year and what's coming up next year.

(SFWA folks, Nebula Awards nominations are open until February 15th. The Hugo Award nominations are also open. You can nominate if you have/had a membership to the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Worldcons.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I'm an invited local pro at CONvergence, and these are the panels I'll be on this year! Tell me--what questions do you have on these topics? What concerns would you like to see addressed?

Friday, July 1

Risk of Going Nowhere
As a safety and headline driven nation, how will we explore dangerous, distant places that are inherently unsafe without losing the public will or disrespecting the lives of those who go? Panelists: Desiree Schell (mod), Sarah Prentice, Jim Tigwell, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Rebecca Watson

Westerns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
These days, the Western is the genre equivalent of peanut butter: not often served on its own, and yet it seems to go with just about everything. Why is the Western so appealing and adaptable, and what are the best examples of great Western fusion? Panelists: William Leisner, Camille Griep, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Bradford Walker, Eric Heideman

Saturday, July 2

Diversity in Writing
"If you want more diversity, you should go out and create it." That's just part of what needs to be done to get more representation in fiction. We will discuss the importance of creation, good representation, and support. Panelists: Michi Trota, Briana Lawrence, Jessica Walsh, Mark Oshiro, Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Face Value: The Truth is Trickier Than You Thought
That thing you posted? It's not real. Why do humans keep believing false things over and over, even though it's easier than ever to check the facts? We'll discuss the history and psychology of false beliefs and how they apply to the modern digital era. Panelists: Siouxsie Wiles, Kavin Senapathy, Brianne Bilyeu, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Stephanie Zvan
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Hugo nominations close on March 31. To nominate, you have to be an attending or supporting member of Sasquan (Worldcon 73), MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74), or Worldcon 75. You have one week!

I do have a couple of eligible stories from last year. If you read them and enjoy one of them enough to nominate, please do so! (I like you too, but please don't nominate based only because of any personal liking.)

Best Short Story
"And Other Definitions of Family" is a light, humorous SF story about a xeno-anthropologist who takes a very intimate approach to field research. Read it for free here:

Best Novel
A Circus of Brass and Bone, which I published writing as Abra SW, is a post-apocalyptic steampunk serial novel about a circus traveling through the collapse of Reconstruction Era America. The review says, "It's a dark, supernatural and altogether bizarre examination of the human condition and it remains true to form for a post-apocalyptic novel: It's also a class commentary that asks how we'd adapt to a world in which society, with all its benefits and ills, suddenly and violently imploded." It's no longer available to read for free, but you can read a good-sized sample at Amazon or Google Play Books before buying.

Best Novelette
"A Stranger Comes to Town" is a post-apocalyptic steampunk Western. It's a stand-alone installment from A Circus of Brass and Bone. You can read it for free at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play Books, and it's $.99 on Amazon (because that's the cheapest they'd let me make it). It reached the top 100 for its category on Amazon.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Market List Logo

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 4/15/2015.
Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives:

Editor's Note
After I finished launching my post-apocalyptic steampunk novel, I took a couple of months off from writing to try and catch up on all the writing-related things that I was (and still am, alas!) so very far behind on. Critiques! Editing! Marketing! Transcribing! Researching! Learning!

Ahem. Sadly, I am still not actually all caught up, though I did manage to get a few more short stories that had been benched for edits into circulation. I didn't start any new writing projects, though. For the longest time that seemed to be fine. Sure, I could tell that my brain was spending a few extra creative cycles on "unlikely but horrible things to worry about," but mostly I was fine. I found this worrying. If I no longer need to write, the question becomes whether I should. That's complicated.
However! Last Saturday, it happened. I felt the need gathering in a tense ball of mustwrite-haveto-nowdamnit between my shoulder blades. I found myself zoning out in the middle of talking to people, because there was an almost gravitational force pulling my attention toward my next story project.
No need for soul-searching after all. Hurray!
Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (manatee)
Why are there suddenly posts here? Well, I don't currently have a work-from-home project (though I did over this weekend and a tiny bit of yesterday), so I've been having more than an hour of writing time (which is what daily posting comes out of most of the time). And I've been wanting to post more than tidbits, so--voila!

I finally made it to physical therapy for the sacroiliac joint/pubic bone pain that I've been having. The pubic bone pain started 3-4 months ago, the sacroiliac joint pain more recently. Now I'm kind of cranky that I didn't push the issue with my doctor and get the referral until now. Turns out my hips are misaligned due to basic uselessness of ligaments in pregnancy, and that's putting stress on everything. So I now have a list of exercises to strengthen related muscles, and one exercise to realign things, and a belt designed to hold my hips in place. Hopefully some of it will work, and this won't get worse, and it takes care of itself once my ligaments firm up again. If not, further intervention will be necessary.

Also, I've started having sporadic painful contractions. This is normal and means nothing at this point.

In more mundane and happy news, I potted some of the miscellaneous spider plants I've had in water/starter pots for the last couple of months, and I picked 5 cups of raspberries from the raspberry bushes in our backyard. Both spider plants and raspberries are producing ridiculously much. I plan on adapting this blueberry tart recipe to use many of the raspberries, but I'm going to have a dozen or so unclaimed spider plant babies. Anybody want some spider plants?

Oh, and I sold a story!

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 13

New words: 441
Total words: 75,648
Overused word: Lacey
Gratuitous word: nails
Type of scene: Time to go.
Challenge(s): Linking between previously seen/written scenes.
Which line is it anyways?"You said add a warning. I ain't no hand with writing, but I figure that'll do. Cook said we couldn't use it, so I ain't wasting food."
Notes: This girl sharpshooter character is kind of developing her own subplot.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log
* Submitted “Passings” to The Washington Pastime. I caught up! All 14 of my previously unpublished, ready-to-submit stories are out! Next up, submission status queries. Then edits (*shudder*) and attempts to sell reprints.
* And I sold a story! Which is good reinforcement for the whole “need to remember to actually submit things” thing. Processed acceptance of “Good Help is Hard to Find” by Bosley Gravel’s Cavalcade of Terror.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Sunday, I finished that work project and then puttered. Sorted out some stuff in the fridge, cleaned up some, had Phil trim my hair.

Writing Log
Notes: No Circus of Brass and Bone stuff was done on Sunday.
Other writingy stuff:
* Read Duotrope newsletter and updated market list from it.
* Submitted “Good Help is Hard to Find” to Bosley Gravel’s Cavalcade of Terror.
* Signed up for SugarSync for free 5G online backup/file sync (referral link: and set it up to automatically back up my writing files. Three cheers for automatic backups (and it saves versioning, too!).
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)
For me, at least, there is always a logjam somewhere in the writing process. And now and then I have to stop, figure out where the logjam moved to, and break it up. In other words, redistribute my precious writing time. If you've read this journal for a while, you will have noticed this tendency.

The logjam right now is submissions--or, to be more accurate, right now I have logjams all over the freaking place, but that's one that's actively keeping things that are ready from being published. (Also, all the audience members at 4th Street were thoroughly scolded for having things not sent out. Can't say that didn't apply to me!)

So! As needed, the first thing done in my "mandatory writing hour" will be getting one submission out the door. In a couple of weeks, I should have that logjam cleared out, and then it will only come into play occasionally, as I have other things to send out.

Yes, I did say a couple of weeks. I told you it was a big logjam!

I really wish I had more time, but I just don't see that happening any time soon, for some reason....
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
I've been very busy with work for the last two weeks, so I haven't gotten much done, alas.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 12

Other writingy stuff:
* Updated one submission to reflect the loooong reported response times (9+ months!) of, queried a second time (to a different email) for another that I’d sent to Escape Pod, and emailed a “since I haven’t gotten a response to my status query, I consider my submission rejected/withdrawn/never received,” to Bizarro Magazine. Hate it when that happens.
* Finally posted market list update to Fb/Twitter
* Recorded intro for MinnSpec podcast, Episode 4: Organization.
* How to manage being a business manager, marketer, and artist:
* Pricing ebooks:
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):


Apr. 6th, 2011 10:48 am
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing)
I swear, my sleep capacity has doubled. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But I used to function on just under 8 hours. These days? I need to be in bed at 9 PM unless I've already had a 3-hour nap in the afternoon.

Did I mention the naps? They eat my productivity like whoah. But on the days when I'm not going in to NgithOwl to work, they are almost irresistible. The senior center afternoons (I work one evening, one afternoon, and one morning every week) are even worse. The old lady tends to take a nap then, and I swear she's pumping out sleep pheromones. I can sit in the living room with my laptop, fully intending to get work done, and I end up struggling to keep my eyes open.

So the last two days in a row? Afternoon naps. The cats love it. They think I am finally spending my time sensibly.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log


Episode 12

New words: 421 (It was actually more than that, but I deleted a large chunk of previously written scene that was no longer needed. The perils of writing out-of-order!)
Total words: 68,283
Overused word: monkey
Gratuitous word: skittered
Type of scene: Fooled you!
Challenge(s): Integrating previously written scenelets with current narrative.
Which line is it anyways?In retrospect, I'm very grateful that I did no such thing. If I had, our bones would be mouldering in that forest, a freak show curiosity for anyone who found them.
Notes: How many episodes am I going to spend in New York anyway? Harrumph.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log.
* Freewriting warmup because it was writing itself in my head.
* When Not to Google:!5788772/when-not-to-google-searches-youre-better-off-making-elsewhere
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 (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 (Default)
Phil is no longer feverish! Huzzah! This doesn't mean he's well, precisely, but it does mean he's going in to work today. Although the fever's gone, the joint pain and swelling remain. We're going to give it a couple of days and then make a doctor's appointment if that symptom doesn't go away too.

This meant I didn't have to make a doctor's appointment for him yesterday, after all. So I had a pretty routine day, with work all day and then coming home and blueberry yogurt pancakes for dinner (so delicious, so easy, so my favorite) and dishes and laundry.

I also listed Dichroic Mirror's Nocturnal Garden CD on ebay. It's kind of classical goth music, so if you're into that sort of thing, you should check it out:

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log Total

3/7/12, Monday, full work
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Worked on MinnSpec crits.
* A shnibblet of writing on CoBB.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Sunday, much miscellaneous writingy stuff was finished. Aside from that, it was the usual (except no church, because Phil was still sick).

I did a fair amount of cleanup of photos from the family reunion last summer. I am a bad, lazy person--people *have* been wanting to see these sooner. On the other hand, nobody paid me, and non-paid photo work tends to go to the back of the burner. So there's a steady trickle of cleaned-up photos. But there were some lovely photos. I think this one is my favorite so far:


though this one says a lot about my family:


I did laundry and dishes, and I took out the recycling. Because everything was all melty, the latter meant balancing our recycling on top of a piece of cardboard to keep the paper bags from soaking through and having their bottoms fall out. We do have a recycling container . . . buried somewhere underneath the five-foot mound of snow behind the garage. We think.

I finally upgraded my new/old computer memory (up to a rollicking 1 G!). There was some panicky calling of tech friends when the computer would not start afterward, but then I figured out that it was because the memory didn't go in the thingamabob right because I hadn't pressed down exactly at the same time as I flipped the doohickeys. But then I did, and all was right in the world.

Circus of Brass and Bone Total

3/6/12, Sunday
* A smidge of writing on CoBB.
* Updated CoBB episode saved to the computer (wrong version--the finished one was on the laptop) and uploaded it so meta-data would be right.
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Worked on creating MinnSpec iTunes feed, which included creating a MinnSpec icon.
* Finished taking down Spec the Halls links and adding Circus of Brass and Bone links to the rest of my website.
* Started on critiques for MinnSpec meeting next weekend.
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 (Default)
Abra Staffin-Wiebe

March 2019

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