Ordinary Day

And it's all your state of mind...


First book roundup of the year
Book Geek
annathepiper
Catalyst

Catalyst

A bit delayed on this, but it’s taken a while to get enough titles queued up as acquisitions to actually make it worth doing a post! I’ve been focusing lately on reading the books I actually own versus buying a whole lot of new ones–and as a result, I’ve actually built up a sizable credit balance on Barnes and Noble’s website. Which is kinda funny, given that I’ve stopped using them as my major source of ebooks!

But ANYWAY, here’s some recent titles I’ve picked up.

Acquired in print:

  • Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno. This is exactly what it says on the tin. More specifically, it’s the prequel story to the events of the movie Rogue One, getting into the backstory of the Erso family, and how Galen became involved in building the Death Star. I felt this sounded like fun, and to my pleasure, Dara gave me a hardback copy for my birthday.

Acquired in digital from B&N.com:

  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Grabbed this because it’s the sequel to Binti, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Grabbed on general “because it’s Seanan McGuire, duh” grounds, but also because a) I’ve been enjoying reading novellas lately, and b) I liked the base concept of this, a ghost who’s working on a suicide hotline.
  • Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages. Another Tor.com novella (see previous commentary re: enjoying these lately), which I have grabbed because why yes, a story about queer women in San Francisco in 1940 has my attention.
  • The City, Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. SF. Got this on the strength of James Nicoll’s review of it. It sounds like a surprisingly pacifistic post-apocalyptic scenario, and given the times we live in, that feels strangely reassuring. This’ll be the second thing of Murphy’s I’ll have read and while I was ambivalent about her Hobbit pastiche, I liked it well enough that I’m willing to try another book of hers.

This’ll make five so far for the year.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Oh hey look a cover rough for Warder Soul!
Alan YES!
annathepiper

YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS.

Dara and I are deep in working with artist Nicole Cardiff on the cover for the forthcoming Warder Soul. And as of tonight, I am delighted to report that BEHOLD! We have a color rough!

This is going to be developed as Nicole adds a lot more depth and nuance to the coloration. But this is now a real good rough idea of what y’all can expect on the cover of this book. Book’s not remotely close to done yet, but having a cover being developed in conjunction with the actual story is exciting, y’all!

And now I give you Christopher MacSimidh!

Warder Soul Cover Rough

Warder Soul Cover Rough

I may not be the only fantasy novelist in the world with a bouzouki player in an urban fantasy series, but I think I can now make a solid case for being the first one with a bouzouki player on a cover. 😀

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Status check on Warder Soul, and a new Here Be Magic post
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

It was my turn to post up on Here Be Magic again today, and it was only a couple of days ago that I realized this meant I’d be posting on Inauguration Day. Given how the election had kicked my creativity in the teeth and how I’d run out of reasons (at least for the time being) to post about Star Wars, I was genuinely stumped as to what the hell I could actually post about.

But then I realized that I had legitimate things I could say about the necessity of listening to your muse, even if your muse is telling you you need to chuck 20,000 words into the bin and start over. I had to do this with Warder Soul, and I’m pleased to say that so far, I feel a lot better about the results.

Go check out the Here Be Magic post for what I had to say about the benefits of listening to your muse.

And here. For NO PARTICULAR REASON OR ANYTHING TODAY, I felt compelled to share with you all this new version of the first scene in Chapter 1 of Warder Soul. In which my young heroine of color is going to the wedding of her two gay housemates. There are fairies. The fairies are demanding cake. I feel like we could all use a bit of consolatory cake today. (Also vodka, but that’s going to have to wait till I get home from the day job.)

There’s a brief excerpt of the scene in the Here Be Magic post, but if you want to just read all 2,000 or so words, I’ve put up a PDF here. This is a direct export from Scrivener (which, OH HEY, does indeed export nicely to PDF)!

Also: I have officially decided that this story will in fact remain titled Warder Soul, while the story previously known as Queen of Souls is going to be renamed Queen of Ghosts, just so that I don’t have the titles sounding too much like one another. I wanted to keep the Persephone story Queen of (Something), and am a bit chagrined that it took me this long to think of a one-syllable word that could still fit the tenor of the tale. The relevant pages on my site will be updated to reflect this title change shortly.

Also #2: I am very pleased to note as well that I have secured a new cover artist for Warder Soul, since my previous artist, the excellent Kiri Moth, is no longer available. The new artist is Nicole Cardiff and you can see her stuff here. She’s got a sketch in progress already and I hope to be sharing some glimpses with you soon of what Warder Soul‘s cover will look like!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


What do you do when sick of a work in progress?
Great Amurkian Novel 2
annathepiper

For those of you who didn’t see this on my social networks today, I was very pleased to announce that I’d been invited to send in a post for the Nanowrimo blog, now that they’re doing a series of posts on the general theme of “Now what?” for folks coming out of doing Nanowrimo this past November.

My post went up today and can be found here! (The Nano blog is hosted on Tumblr, so if you’re a user there and you feel so inclined, reblog it, won’t you? Thank you!) If you’re coming to my blog from that post or from places it got shared today, hiya and welcome!

This post, though, is in response to a question that I got asked on Twitter:

This, I felt, is an excellent question. So here’s a post about that.

First, at least in my experience, there are a few different variations of “sick of your novel” that might happen. So I’m going to talk about each, and what I’ve been able to do about them.

Oh god oh god I have been trying to pull words out of my brain for this thing for MONTHS NOW and they’re just not working and AUGH.

If I’ve been pounding my head against a work in progress for what seems like forever, and it feels like the words just don’t want to flow, this is usually a warning sign that something about what I’m doing isn’t actually right for the story. What I have to do for this is take a step back, see if I can figure out what is not working, and come at it from a new angle.

This is in fact something I’m wrestling with on my current work in progress, Warder Soul. I got about 20,000 words in on it, but with this lingering sense of discontent with what I was doing. But after talking it out some with my wife (who, while not a writer, is an EXCELLENT refiner of my ideas), I decided to try the beginning again with a new strategy.

I am unbelievably stressed out right now and the sheer thought of looking at my word processor is making me want to pitch my computer out the window.

There are times, though, that the failure to produce words isn’t necessarily the fault of the story. If I’m too stressed out by external causes, this can kick my creative productivity in the teeth and make pulling words out of my brain about as fun as pulling teeth out of my mouth.

I’ve got a stupidly complicated medical history for somebody my age, and as a result of this, I’ve had long stretches in the last 12 years in which it was impossible for me to get any creative work done due to having to recover from assorted medical things.

Similarly, I have come to learn that if I’m stressing out about other sorts of things (like oh, say, the election that just happened), this can also kick my productivity in the face.

What I have learned to do about this: give myself permission to not write. Which might seem counterintuitive to the whole “but I’m stressing the fuck out about not writing to begin with” thing, sure. But the thing is, for me, a certain level of pressure to get a novel done can be useful. Too much pressure, on the other hand, is setting myself up for creative burnout. I have had to learn to tell myself that it’s okay if I need to take a creative break. Even if it’s a long one.

In times where it would stress me out almost as much to not actually be writing, I compromise with myself and set a stupidly low daily word count goal. Say, two hundred words. Something tiny like that which doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating as, say, five hundred or a thousand. And if I can achieve a much smaller goal like that, sometimes the sense of satisfaction I get from it is enough to make me want to keep going.

But again, it’s also important to tell myself that if all I have in me for a day is two hundred words, it’s okay if I stop.

I have been revising this novel SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME AND I CANNOT STAND TO EDIT YET ANOTHER WORD.

Any writer who’s gotten past the first draft knows this pain, boy howdy let me tell you. Editing can be deeply satisfying for me sometimes–digging into a scene or a chapter, and finding little nuances I can change about it to improve it. On the other hand, if I go six or seven drafts (and I HAVE), this can get really tiresome really fast. Particularly given that I do also have a full time day job, and I often just don’t have enough brain left over after a full day at work to come home and beat a chapter’s worth of edits into submission. (This, by the way, would be why I haven’t been able to finally edit Queen of Souls yet.)

And sometimes, if I go long enough editing a given book, I just start missing actually creating brand new words.

Which is exactly why I have multiple works in progress. If I get sick of editing something, I can go throw words at something else for a while. Which does help.

Non-writing-related breaks also help. For me, that’s usually a) getting on the treadmill, b) picking up an instrument and practicing tunes, or c) playing games.

I’m doing Nanowrimo as fast as I POSSIBLY CAN and oh god oh god I can’t stand the thought of one more day of this AUGH.

Nanowrimo demands you write at least 1,667 words every day of the month to hit that 50,000 word goal. And y’know what? That’s frickin’ hard for a lot of writers, even people who have been writing for years. It’s okay if you start feeling burned out by the pace.

When I’m trying to do Nano, it helps immensely to remind myself that while hitting that 50,000 word goal is fun and all, at the end of the day (or the month, as it were), the actual end goal is to write a novel. And even if I don’t manage to do the 50,000 words in November, if I keep going and eventually wind up with a book, I still win.

And part of what I learned from my very first Nanowrimo is that, in fact, I usually can’t manage a Nano-level daily word count. My much more standard goal is 500 words a day.

If you try Nanowrimo and find that that daily word count is too much for you, it is entirely okay if you pull back to a pace that better fits your creative speed. Every single writer has different capacities. Every single writer has different ways they’ll need to do things. Find the pace that works for you.

How about the rest of you?

Those are the major ways I’ve found to date that I can get sick of a work in progress, so now I’ll turn it over to my fellow writers and Nanowrimo regulars out there: how have you found yourself getting sick of works in progress? What do you do about it when it happens? Tell me about it in the comments!

Editing to add: The writer who sent me that tweet above now has a post up about this! Check it out!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Starting off the new year by solving problems
Final Test
annathepiper

Dara has been on a big kick with the turn of the year to get rid of a lot of things we don’t need anymore, and this has rolled over onto me a bit to make the first week of 2017 one of solving a bunch of small problems.

Problem #1: Backups weren’t working correctly on our servers.

How this was solved: Discovering that rdiff-backup wasn’t going to create a directory for me in the backup location if that directory didn’t already exist, unless I gave it a –create-full-path argument. Also discovering that scripts in cron.daily, cron.weekly, and cron.monthly should not actually be in cron format, unlike anything you put in cron.d. Once I figured out both of these things, I was finally able to get backups working properly.

Problem #2: My older laptop got unacceptably warm after a few minutes of use, particularly when booted into Windows 10.

How this was solved: Taking Winnowill apart, which let Dara not only give the inside a good cleaning, but ALSO let her discover that the goop that’s normally supposed to provide some insulation conductivity between the CPUs and the heat sink had dried out. A lot of it had in fact crumbled away. So she ordered some new goop and put new layers of that on the CPUs, and then we put the machine back together.

This made the machine much happier when booting into Windows 10 and actually trying to do things in that OS.

Meanwhile we’re also updating the hard drive from its current 500GB one to a 1T, and going from a Western Digital Blue to a Western Digital Black. Which, Dara tells me, should mean an increase in hard drive performance and hopefully another reduction in the likelihood of it overheating.

In general this should also hopefully increase the lifespan of this machine. Given that I got it way back in 2007, and this box is still chugging along, that’s still a pretty impressive lifespan for a laptop. I was thinking of selling it, but Dara says she’d like to keep the box around just for the sake of having an older and still functional Mac. Eventually it might become our new Time Machine server if Elda gives up the ghost.

All of this did at least also give me a chance to take a picture of what the inside of Winnowill looks like!

Winnie's CPUs

Winnie’s CPUs

Problem #3: The cushion on the left ear of my Bluetooth headphones split a seam.

Apparently this is a thing with Jabra move headphones? A couple weeks ago I noticed that there was a split seam on this ear cushion, and when I googled for it, I found quite a few other users complaining about the same thing. This has happened often enough that Jabra sells replacement cushions, and the replacements are supposedly sewn and not glued. I ordered a pair of the replacements and got the new one for the left ear on there okay with Dara’s help. Keeping the cushion for the right side in reserve on the assumption that this will eventually happen on that side, too.

There are other things I’m in the middle of doing that are more domestic–replacing old bras and old jeans–and Dara and I will also be looking into replacing our mattress. But the techie problems are more interesting, so the post is about those!

Any problems y’all have solved so far with the new year?

Editing to add: By “goop” on the CPU I actually meant, of course, conductivity rather than insulation. Oops! Many thanks to userinfoalinsa for pointing that out.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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On the closing of AllRomanceEbooks
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

I saw news breaking this week, first on The Digital Reader, and then by both Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Dear Author. Both of these sites have mentioned how Romance Writers of America is deeply unamused by the entire affair.

In short: All Romance Ebooks is closing, and there has been a firestorm of bad reaction about this, because of their attempt to offer impacted authors ten cents on the dollar for outstanding royalties owed. Since I’m not a romance author, and since what romance titles I’ve purchased for my own reading have been through either Kobo or B&N, I don’t have an immediate horse in this race. But I wanted to relay the news in case anyone who reads me hasn’t seen it already–and in case any of you are actually customers of the site. If you are a customer of the site you should see about backing up your library from them RIGHT NOW.

And for any authors who read me and who have had titles there, and who will have your income impacted by this: my profoundest sympathies. It all sounds generally horrible and deeply disappointing.

If you want more data, check out the links at the top of the post.

Editing to add: Writer Beware now has a post up about the matter, including discussion of how there were no particular classic warning signs about this implosion and how nobody knew anything was apparently wrong before this week.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


FYI: For those of you still using Livejournal
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

I’m seeing a lot of posts on my reading lists on both Dreamwidth and LJ talking about how apparently, LJ’s conducted a quiet move of remaining US-based servers into Russia.

Note this post by DW user mdlbear, and this one by DW user feuervogel.

I am in the middle of conducting an import of all my LJ entries over to my Dreamwidth account, and I will be deleting a lot of my old LJ content. I am seriously considering whether it’s now time to delete my LJ account.

At minimum I will no longer be posting locked content of any kind to Livejournal, though I will continue to mirror posts there from angelahighland.com, for the time being. If I change my mind, I will be posting again to let folks know.

LJ friends, if you’re not already on DW and you want to add me to your DW reading list, I’m annathepiper in both places, so feel free to add me to your DW filters if you want.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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Fiddle geekery, and new question for the string players
Musical Jack
annathepiper

(Doing this as a blog post instead of a post to Facebook, since this is really too long for a status update.)

Okay, so my monthly-or-so lessons with Lisa Ornstein have been going swimmingly. Yesterday I had another lesson with her, and we started talking about how to do string transitions so that I could start to do simple arpeggios and if I’m feeling really ambitious, really simple tunes.

The arpeggio drill has been good, letting me practice walking from the tonic, to the third, to the fifth, and then up to the octave, and then back down again. So yay!

We’ve also been talking about four types of string transitions:

  • Open string to open string
  • Finger on a string to open string
  • Open string to finger on a string
  • Finger to finger

And, Lisa’s advised me that when I’m doing scales in particular, and I’m coming down from an open string (the fifth) back down to the fourth on the string below, that’s an open-to-finger transition. And she’s got me doing a “stop, drop, and roll” thing that’s seeming to click well with my brain to try to make the scale as smooth as possible. I’ve just tried it today, and it’s gotten me the smoothest scales I’ve managed to play yet.

Then I tried to get a bit ambitious, and this is where the question for string players who follow me comes in.

I’ve been toying with “Frere Jacque” since it’s a real simple little children’s tune, and I figured playing with something like that to start with would be within my capabilities. So we did a bit of that in yesterday’s lesson, applying to it the same techniques I’ve done in workshops learning session tunes: i.e., breaking it down into pieces and thinking about how to play each piece.

I also asked Lisa when I should be changing bow directions, and she told me, I should change direction when I change notes. (IMPORTANT NOTE: I already know just from observing fiddle players in session that there are plenty of times when this is not in fact the case, and just from screwing around on my own instrument, I discovered that oh okay playing a bunch of notes on a single stroke is apparently how you do slurs? But for purposes of this question, I’m assuming I need to keep it simple for my newbie self and stick to “change directions when I change notes.”)

Given this, and given breaking “Frere Jacque” down into its constituent pieces, it seems to me like the bowing pattern gets a little weird and I’m not entirely sure how to handle it. The pieces look like this:

1st piece: Fre-re Jac-que, Fre-re Jac-que (Down-up down-up, down-up down-up)
2nd piece: Dor-mez vous? Dor-mez vous? (Down-up-down, down-up-down)
3rd piece: Son-nez les ma-ti-nes, Son-nez les ma-ti-nes (Down-up-down-up-down-up, down-up-down-up-down-up)
4th piece: Ding-dong-ding, ding-dong-ding (Down-up-down, down-up-down)

So it’s the 2nd and the 4th pieces that are confusing me a bit, because those are tuples, not doubles. And I can’t do two down strokes in a row, right? So should I go down-up-down, up-down-up? That would seem like the right thing to do, but I am not a hundred percent sure.

Any string players want to advise me?

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


RIP Carrie Fisher
Han Says NO
annathepiper

I just saw the news breaking: Carrie Fisher has passed away at the age of 60, following a recent medical emergency.

Goddammit 2016. :~(

I was afraid we’d see this, when the news originally broke about her medical emergency a few days ago. I’d been at least a little hopeful given that we then saw news that she’d been stabilized… but apparently, this shitstorm of a year just had to get in another punch and take General Organa from us.

Much has been said on the various blogs I follow about Fisher’s openness talking about her past addiction issues, as well as her capabilities as a script doctor in Hollywood, something she hasn’t gotten nearly as much credit for as she should have. But for me, of course, she will forever be Leia Organa, princess and rebel and general. Given how important Star Wars has been to me as an SF/F fan–particularly with my history of playing Han on Star Wars MUSH, which of course meant that I roleplayed with multiple people playing Leia, so yeah, the character is real important to me–it’s safe to say that she’s one of the most iconic characters of my childhood. And arguably the most important female character I encountered early on, in my initial exposure to SF/F.

Star Wars was the first movie I can consciously remember seeing in a theater. I’ve written before about the visceral memory I have of seeing that opening shot of the Star Destroyer rolling up the screen. But I also have very early memories of me and my brothers having Star Wars action figures, and my always being a little jealous and protective of the Leia figure.

And of course when Empire came out, I had gotten old enough to start crushing on Harrison Ford. Part and parcel of this, of course, was how vital Leia was as a part of that–because sure, Han was totally swoonable and all, but Leia’s part of all their wonderful scenes in Empire are just as critical to me as Han’s.

Han: C’mon, admit, sometimes you think I’m all right.
Leia: Maybe. Occasionally. When you’re not acting like a scoundrel.
Han: Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.
Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han: I’m a nice man.
Leia: No you’re not–
*SMOOCH*

Not that I’ve memorized that scene or anything. :~}

But oh god yes her lines in Star Wars, too.

“You came in that? You’re braver than I thought.”

“Will someone get this walking carpet OUT OF MY WAY?”

Fuck. Fuck this fucking year.

I think I gotta rewatch A New Hope and Empire now. I was kinda going to do that anyway after seeing Rogue One… but now, yeah.

To all my fellow Star Wars fans, many hugs.

To Carrie Fisher’s family and loved ones and all her fans, deepest condolences.

I choose to believe that General Organa has damn well gone to become one with the Force. As she damn well should, y’know, being Force sensitive and all.

Han and Leia

Han and Leia

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Blow This Thing
annathepiper
Rogue One

Rogue One

I now get to say this twice in a row: that? That was a goddamned Star Wars movie.

Dara and I went to go see this thing in 3D IMAX today, and when the credits rolled, we took off our glasses and looked at each other. We’d both been crying. And we nodded knowingly to one another as we realized that, and came out of the theater talking about how we both had ALL THE FEELS.

Because yeah, even more than The Force Awakens (which, let me remind you, I quite adored), this movie grabbed hold of everything I loved from A New Hope and brought it roaring back to life.

Open the shield for transmission because I am about to broadcast SPOILERS.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


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