Friends, Wi-Fi, and Gift Cards

Recently,  I promised to help a friend set up his phone so he can get on the internet. I don’t know why… or how… but the concept of wi-fi passed him up, even though he just walked out of a store with a brand new smart phone. (Do I know what he expected for his smart phone bucks? No, I do not.)

So I will be putting him online sometime this week.

And with that comes the question of internet commerce. (See: Ways to get pulled into setting up someone’s phone.)

You see, he asked where I got my phone case, and I said “Amazon.”

And he said–a little dejected–that he did not have a computer at home.

And I said… you guessed it. Uhm… why don’t you use your phone?

So, despite having a phone, and having recently purchased a card for said phone that almost certainly includes data… And which can use Wi-Fi…. Yeah. I’m setting up the phone.

I’m going to encourage him to use gift cards rather than credit cards to make purchases on the internet. It keeps him from typing his credit-card number into whatever random site strikes him, and it limits the amount of money he can lose, even if he makes his password “password” and uses public wi-fi at the laundromat.

I don’t want to just buy the phone case for him, because I think making internet purchases is a useful skill to have.

But realistically?

Sometimes old-fashioned, common-sense security is the best.

If I Could Just Give Up Eating…

I’m off in search of the perfect meal replacement shake. Something I can yank out of the refrigerator for 5 am writing, and not feel bad, if I wind up calling that my whole breakfast.

I was doing Soylent for a while, but I’m backing off the soy.  I’m not so sure it’s as good for me as it could be. So, if anybody knows of a replacement that is soy-free, and reasonably nutritious…

This is where my day falls apart. The breakfast concept. The thing where I wake up with a finite amount of time to do my own work on a full tank, and I don’t want to spend any of it frying eggs or brewing coffee.

And obviously, skipping breakfast is not a long-term solution.

If I could just hook myself up to an IV and type for an hour or so while it infuses my blood with nutrients and energy, I would.

Do doctors put caffeine in IV solution?

StoryTime Blog Hop January 2018

A robot looks into a mirror

Megan’s Virus

By the time she dragged the last piece of her mother’s ancient computer out of the garage, Megan was sweaty and sore, and there were spiderwebs stuck to her hands and face.
She connected the cables, flipped the switches, and held her breath. If it didn’t work, she might as well have spent the afternoon cleaning the garage.
The monitor took time to warm up, but eventually, the machine did boot, and a blinking green rectangle appeared on the monochrome screen.
Megan wiped the sweat out of her face.
Worth it.
So worth it.
She sat on the floor in front of the computer and picked up the keyboard.
The code was the easy part.
A little old-fashioned, and clunky, but weirdly familiar.
An hour and a half, and the code was ready for magic.
Megan wasn’t all that good with magic. There was no logic to it, no predictable… anything. Three drams of wolf’s blood for a love potion, an ostrich feather for good luck in sports or cattle trading. Nothing about magic made sense.
She pushed her hair back from her face, poured out a glass of saltwater, and said an incantation.
The program would pull from the magic, and the magic… well, if everything went right, the magic would pull the program through the wires, and into the ether that lined the barriers between past, present, and future. And once it got to the past, the program would self-replicate.
Non-magical types would see fifteen lines of nonsense.
A practical joke. Teenagers causing mischief. Her father… he’d get caught. He’d apologize, of course… and he’d be sentenced to probation.
It wasn’t really her fault. That had happened. It had already happened by the time she was born. And her father always smiled, just a little, when he remembered the time he spent doing court-ordered public service. He didn’t notice the loop. He didn’t know he hadn’t actually written the virus.
She wasn’t changing history.
No. She was just enhancing it.
And the magic… it wasn’t even as strong as a love potion. Nothing that could un-do freewill. She wasn’t forcing anyone to do anything. An eye-opener. Something to make sure people knew when they met the love of their life. It was worth a shot. Anything to keep her parents together.
She connected the magic to the program, and typed RUN.
The machine processed the commands slowly–as slowly as a computer from 1987–and then, she couldn’t be sure. Pink sparkles. Or maybe they were just sparks.
Either way, the screen flashed twice, and went dark.
She could still hear her parents arguing in the bedroom.
“At least tell me why, Kathy.” Her father’s voice was tinged with frustration and anger. “We have a good life.  You were always happy before.”
He probably didn’t know he was shouting.
Her mother slammed the bathroom door, and Megan could barely hear the words. “I just know, Allen. I want to be with him. He’s the one.”
 This is a blog hop, so be sure you visit the other writers to read the rest of the stories.

Writers Groups by Library and Coffeehouse: The Search Continues

With all the extra time off, I decided to take a look at to see if there were any writers’ groups I might be able to attend in neighboring towns. As it turns out, Meetup has two groups listed, with a flock of evening meetups. (Between my morning shift and getting up early to write, evening a couple of towns over is rarely an option.)

Okay, so I’m daydreaming, again.

The groups have very different “feels” to them. The first meets in a library, and has an incredibly clear THIS is the process type of expectation. A whip-cracking, write that manuscript NOW! kind of thing. (And yes, Write that Manuscript NOW! is something fairly close to the group’s actual name.) The description is very clear about what will happen in the group, and the process the woman who started it follows, and includes several admonitions not to start editing now. (That’s a later week, damn it.)

The second group–clearly more affluent–meets in a coffee shop, and sometimes in members’ homes. (And posting home addresses on the internet? Braver than I am.) There’s less whip-cracking, but the organizers list their credentials for running a group/workshop. (There’s actually a paragraph about each of them in the FAQs.) If I were going to go to one or the other, it would probably be this one.

In both cases, you have people who are setting themselves up as “the experts,” or “in charge,” but in the case of the coffeehouse group, I’m not sure they realize they’re doing it. The coffeehouse group also leaves a lot more flexibility for writers in all stages of creation, so there’s that.

The library group–and again, I’m not sure they understand this–really does restrict the number of writers they’re likely to attract, if they’re trying to run a group with everyone in lockstep. Don’t edit yet?!! Well, that’s exactly what I am doing. There are not enough serious writers in most areas for a group to do well, if it tries to attract only writers in one part of the creation process.

And honestly, I don’t think I’d thrive with someone standing over me saying, “are you done yet? we are moving on to editing, now.”

And it’s not the “workshop” part of the coffeehouse thing that’s appealing. It’s the social hour before hand. The organizers have their credentials, but they aren’t credentials to make a writer swoon. They’re… uhm… well, so does Bob and Ellen, and Kate and Bill and Fred… type credentials. (I do like the idea that they’re going to keep the individual workshop groups small, but again… split by the organizer might not be the way we would split organically.)

Right now, my thought leans toward going there incognito to observe the dynamic in person.

By the time I’m done with that, I’ll probably have my hours back and be unable to go again for quite some time.

Convenient Inconveniences

I would like to point out for the record that it is cold. It’s hovering right around freezing, and here is my little creek to prove the point.

It’s warmer than it has been, and I made it outside for a little sunlight and exercise. The Fitbit informs me that my cardio-health has gone up a whole point, which places me squarely in the middle of average.

Courtesy of managerial incompetence at the day job, I’m getting an extra day off…. uhm… every week. For… HR informs me it shouldn’t be all that long, and please, please, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t quit. Well, you know how it goes. Someone higher up spends money he doesn’t have, and then the company has to make that up somehow.

And I get extra editing and revision time.

We are not going to discuss this with coworkers, of course, because a lot of them are struggling to… feed kids and hobbies like that. They’re even less amused than I am. Right now just happens to be good timing for me.

(I also have a lot more paid personal hours than a lot of people.)

Right this second? My thought is to use the time to finish revising the novel, maybe put together the podcast I’ve been muttering about. Thin out the blog, and maybe re-do my biography. Fiddle around with some short stories.

Sell some short stories.

And maybe I’ll get an exercise bike. Might be interesting to be a little above average.

Did I mention I’m thinking of quitting?

Well, after I soak up the unexpected free time.

Attempted Revision

I am impatient to finish my revision. I feel like it should go faster than it is, and I just can’t kick it any harder.

Sometimes, I think I might be making more progress than I think I am. I have a tendency to work in spurts, and divide my attention between multiple scenes, so nothing gets crossed off the list, but work is still being done.

Today, I decided to sit down and work on just one scene. I want to finish something, damn it. I want to know that I am making progress… or at least be able to fill in a bullet in my brand new shiny bullet journal.

So, I am making progress. That’s one or two bullets that I could fill in…

But they just don’t feel finished.

There’s a lot to be said for the way a scene feels at the end. There are some that feel unfinished, and some that just feel uhm… not mine.

I also have a brief list of marriage-therapy type topics for them to discuss, once they’re alone together. They’ll start with that time she tried to kill him, and work their way up to the time she drugged him and put him in a box.

I’m no expert, but keeping attempted homicide bottled up just doesn’t sound healthy to me.

Bullet Journal Beginnings

Between continental breakfast and travel soda-pop, there is a massive amount of sugar in my body right now. Probably more than I’ve had in the last month. And that does remind me of all the reasons why I shouldn’t be slurping down the sugar. I’m not diabetic, but it does knock me out of the even-tempered, steadily energetic race.


I’m in the process of migrating old goals into the new bullet journal, and the current scenes-to-revise count is ten. Wait a minute… yeah. Ten. There is one scene left that is probably more than one scene, but at least it’s in the right place. And there is one scene that may not belong in this book, at all.

I’m making progress.

I’ve decided I need a layout for the stories I put up on Reprobate Typewriter, and a second layout for the stories I intend to submit to outside publications. (And I do. Honest. And this year… well, why not just refer back to last year for the resolutions?)

I’m also putting in a layout for my ongoing quest to read all the Hugo and Nebula winners (just the ones I’m still working on, at this point) and a layout for reading in general.

If I can stick with it, I think it will work for me. I always wind up walking away from a bullet-journal style to-do list with a much clearer idea of what I have to do to meet my goals. The problem is that I don’t do it often enough, and I don’t always have a clear sense of when I’ve moved from clarity to drifting.

I do far too much drifting.

And maybe weekly or daily layouts will help with that. We’ll see.

I’m also going to work on recording time spent revising and the number of new words I come up with in a day.

Anybody have any suggestions before I get too entrenched in my ways? What works for you?

Half an Hour to Go

I’m writing this from the workplace break room. I’m never totally sure what the best way to be productive during an hour full of interruptions. Headphones? A nice, anti-social Rottweiler by my feet? Maybe the truth is that the social stuff is building my network of cheerleaders for when I finally do publish. Uhn… well, it would be, if I were the share the book with the co-workers type.

There’s a very specific look I’ve come to expect when I explain the premise of the novel. Oh, really? Is there a medication you should be on?

You can actually recognize the closet sci-fi readers because they’re the ones who don’t give you that look. Really? Quantum entanglement across time? I thought I was the only one.

The last few days, I’ve had very chatty lunches. Today? Silence.

I really can’t decide whether I’d tell people I write, if I had it to do over again. I go back and forth on that. Are they really being encouraging, or are they just watching for the explosion? Maybe the truth is they ask about the novel the way I ask about their kids. Thrilled that everything is going well, but they don’t really want to hear about the toilet training.

Checking My Sneakers for Earthworms

I’m in the process of researching literary agents for my next round of submissions, which is to say there’s a list. It’s a long list, and it exists on index cards. One agent to a card, and they’re currently organized in blocks, according to genres represented. Whenever I run across a new tidbit of information–if it’s something that matters to me–that goes on the card. And that could be… well, almost anything. (I need things to obsess over.)

Some of this is objective. (Represents Fabulous Author A–a fact.)

And some of it is subjective. (Looks like Cousin Fred. YES. I KNOW. But do you really want a literary agent who reminds you of the exact texture of a sneaker full of earthworms?)

And some of it is stuff I’m still in the air about, but which probably deserves further consideration. (Did THING. No idea how I feel about that, but look. I drew a daisy to indicate I’m thinking about it.)

A list on note cards has a beautiful fluidity to it, and the note cards move back and forth.

Nope. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Putty-ing in the Plot Gaps

I finally worked out exactly what my main characters will be doing while they are hiding from a homicidal mob. That’s a little bit of an accomplishment for me, since the plot more or less requires them to keep their filthy hands off each other. And it’s not like there’s a thriving night life in most caves or wilderness hiding spots.

They’ll be fine.

I suppose the truth is I could skip directly from them finding the cave to the next step in their poor, author-plagued lives, but I think some development of the relationship between them would be nice.

The original schedule has been all blown to hell looking for a solution for this gap in my plot, but I’m more or less happy with what I’ve come up with.

Might be time to get to work.