Goal Post August 2018

Pretty Tree

(Photo taken by me of a flowering tree in our yard – no clue what it is though.)

Hi everyone! Racing the Wind will be back tomorrow since you’re all interested (I hope) in the outcome of the contests between Eridan and Angharad. But as this is August 1st, it’s time for the goal post. Yay!

Let’s look at last month’s goals and see how I did. *cringe*

I will blog every weekday, unless there is something going on. If there is, I’ll post a brief explanation of my missed days on the weekend. This way I don’t have to try to get a full post up on the weekends, which oddly enough can be even busier on the farm than the weekdays.

Okay, so this one didn’t exactly turn out like I hoped. Not only did I NOT blog every weekday, I also didn’t post my brief updates on the weekends. *sigh* I’m going to get this blogging thing figured out eventually.

I’m going to post a vlog once a week, a gaming video at least once a week, and do a stream at least once a week. I need to get my digital presence back up and moving.

So, no vlogs, but there’s a reason for that. My phone has been giving me fits for the past month and within the last week or so it has finally crapped out. I can barely make phone calls on it. I can’t record videos and upload them to YouTube since I can’t connect to our wi-fi and I’m not using data (it’s expensive through my phone provider)…if I could even get a signal. Our house doesn’t lend itself for getting any kind of signal. The gaming videos are picking up, though for a while I couldn’t even bring myself to do them. I’ve got a bunch recorded and I’m posting them every day so far. I’m going to do more as I can and keep scheduling them out as far as I can. I managed my first stream last Saturday at 7:30 PM PDT. I’m rather proud of myself on that one. I haven’t touched my Twitch account in months.

I am going to start being more active on Twitter, since I’ve all but vanished off of it lately. It doesn’t do me much good to ignore a good social media platform if I plan on developing relationships with friends and finding fans.

I started this at the beginning of the month. I really did. And then…….I kinda quit. Facebook is much easier to engage with people on. Conversations happen much quicker and it’s easier to follow them.

I’m going to finish chapter 3 in Into the Flames and at the very least start chapter 4. If I finish it, that’ll be a bonus. But I at least want to get it started.

Well I did that. Then I scrapped that whole version and started over with the book. My characters gave a new shiny idea for their story that fits with their personalities better. So we’ll see how this one goes. I have reached chapter 2 with it, so I’m having fun.

I will do 20 minutes of yoga every day and go for a walk at least three times a week. My goal is to get down to 200 lbs by the end of the year (I’m at 240 lbs right now), so I need to get my ass in gear and get moving.

*sigh*

I don’t even want to talk about this one. Not only have I NOT done any yoga, but I’ve gone on maybe three walks the entire month of July. I’ve also regained 10 lbs, so I’m up around 250 again. I doubt I’ll get down to 200 lbs by the end of the year now, since a healthy weight loss is around 8 lbs a month. I just fell off the bandwagon.

So…THIS month’s goals.

1. Blog every weekday. If I miss a day, oh well. Life happens. Shrug it off and move on. Also on Fridays post a goal update so I can hold myself accountable. (I’m lazy and this should be a good motivation for me. Though I may not get one posted on the 4th…that’s our big grocery trip into Salem. If I do get one done, it won’t be until late in the afternoon/evening.)

2. Get back on Twitter for an hour every day and limit my Facebook time to one hour a day. I seriously spend way too much time on Facebook, and that cuts into my work time. So I’m going to see if I can cut back on all my time wasters.

3. Continue working on Into the Flames. No set chapter goal this month. This is a whole new story to me with the same characters so I’m working slowly to make sure I get everything down. Of course, this is a first draft so it’s definitely not perfect. We’ll have to see if I continue liking it or if I’m going back to the other version.

4. Vlog once a week, post YouTube videos weekly (daily if possible), and stream every week (if possible). My phone problem will be solved (hopefully) on Wednesday. A kind friend (from Facebook XD) is mailing me her husband’s Nexus 5. He upgraded and it was never used that much anyway. So as soon as it gets here I’ll get a vlog up. My weekly streams are tentatively scheduled from 7:30 PM PDT to 8:30 PM PDT on Saturday nights. It may change, I may add more. I don’t know yet. We’ll have to see.

5. 20 minutes of yoga every day, one walk every day, and whatever other physical activity I can get in. Also, cut back on my food portions and cut out soda completely. I sit too much on my butt at my computer. I know it. I need to get out and do more physical activity since that’s one of the contributing factors to my weight. I also eat too much. I know this too. So I’m going to cut my portion sizes down. I also have to cut soda out completely. I keep saying I’m going to do it, and then I go and buy a 1 liter Mountain Dew when I’m depressed. I’m going to force myself not to do that because going cold turkey is the only way I’m going to stop myself from drinking it.

So that’s it for today’s post and this month’s goals. Anyone want to take bets on how much of this I’m going to actually accomplish? *grin* I am DETERMINED TO SUCCEED!!!!!!!!!

Rewrite hell…but I’m having fun!!!

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So…I think I’m making more work for myself with Into the Flames now.

While I was working on baking snickerdoodles this morning (this was at 4:30 AM, mind you) I let my mind wander. I’ve been struggling with the rewrite, finding the characters stiff and not willing to comply with what I’m trying to get them to do. They’re resisting like nothing else and since I’m a pantser, uncooperative characters make it really difficult to do anything.

As far as I’m concerned, Fury & Co. are sadistic assholes. They’re demanding several new major plot points (and one character is asking me to write her out and put a new character in – she could have her own book in the series, she’s so fascinating to me) which would require so many character changes, plot detail changes, and massive dialogue changes that it would take forever to get it done.

The current rewrite is only 5 chapters in, so it’s not like I’d lose that much – just around 30k words. Given that this thing is over 400k right now, that’s not a bad thing. And if it improves the story, it’s not such a bad idea. But what if it is a bad idea? What if my characters are guiding me down the wrong path?

I save all my drafts. No matter how many I make, I save them. I have emailed copies of each version in my sent folder (I email them to my husband, who stores them in a folder on his email as a form of backup for me) as well as storing them in Google drive. As soon as I figure out where it went (again) I’ll be saving them on a thumb drive too. So if this doesn’t work I won’t lose everything I’ve already done and can pick up where I’m leaving off.

But what if I don’t want to? What if I like the new version? Well then, we’ll go from there. Let’s see what happens. Fury and Kuen haven’t done much to lead me astray so far. We’ve had some instances where I’ve had to pester them until I got the whole situation from them, but we’ll see what happens.

*waves and wanders off to do farm work and some writing*

A father’s love

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Photo via Visual hunt

Elena grinned as she danced around the living room, the silk dress moving against her skin. “Dad, you are awesome,” she said.

Peter Wilkins smiled at his eighteen year old daughter. People often wondered why a man like him had adopted sweet blind child back when she was only five years old. Especially when he himself was blind and had to be helped by his wife Angela. But both Angela and Peter fell in love with Elena and wouldn’t let anyone tell them that they’d made a mistake.

Angela had died when Elena was thirteen and everyone was sure Peter would send Elena back into the foster care system. He refused. Peter hired someone to cook and clean for them, and continued to live in the small house with his brilliant, musically inclined, little girl.

“When is your date supposed to be here?” Peter asked.

“At seven,” Elena said. Both of them listened as their antique grandfather clock chimed the hour.

“Any minute then,” Peter said with a laugh.

Elena stopped moving. “I’d look out the window, but I don’t think it would do me any good.”

“Probably not, faerie child,” Peter said. “I doubt you’d see much, given how dark it is.” Both of them snickered. Their blindness was a constant source of amusement to them.

Someone knocked on the door. Peter heard the Southern drawl of their housekeeper, a fiery tempered woman named Greta, as she spoke to whoever it was. He heard two sets of footsteps. “Pete, this string bean says he’s Elena’s date to prom,” she said as she led someone into the room.

“Hi Jake,” Elena said breathlessly.

“Hi Elena.”

Pete frowned. There was something in the boy’s voice he didn’t like. Something cold. Elena must have heard it too. “Is something wrong, Jake?”

“You didn’t tell me your dad was a black man,” Jake said.

“I didn’t know he was,” Elena said.

“Come on, Elena. You expect me to believe that you didn’t know you were living with a nigger?” Jake asked, his voice full of disgust.

“Jake, I’m blind. No one ever told me, so how am I supposed to know?” Elena asked.

“Our date is off, Elena. I won’t go out with a girl who’s father is dirty like that.” Jake stormed out of the room. A few seconds later the others heard the door slam.

“Greta, is my dad black?” Elena asked.

“Yeah,” Greta drawled. “He is. You’re white. I’m somewhere in between. It don’t matter. You two love each other. That Jake’s the filth, not you and not your dad.”

Peter heard the rustling of the dress and the thwump as his daughter landed on their couch. He knew she was crying. Peter maneuvered his way through the furniture and sat down beside her.

“Listen faerie child, as much as it hurts, there are a lot of people like Jake in this world. There’s a lot of hate. We’ve been blessed with not experiencing much of it. But it’s out there, and as you go out on your own, you’re going to have to deal with more of it,” Peter said.

Elena sniffed. “I wish mama was here.”

Peter reached his arm out and wrapped it around his daughter. “So do I, faerie child. So do I.” He held her until she finished crying.

“Come on, Elena,” Greta said. “I’ll help you get out of that.”

“Thanks Greta,” Elena said. Peter heard the two women leave the room.

“Ah Angela, you’d have skinned that boy alive for breaking Elena’s heart without even touching him,” Peter muttered. “They’d never have found the body either. I do miss that magic of yours.” He held out his hand and tried to summon the energy that had once coursed through him, hoping to bring up enough of it to send a curse after the bastard who’d broken his daughter’s heart.

As usual, he felt a faint tingle in his fingers, but that was it. A spike of pain in his right temple forced him to stop. He sighed and let his hand fall to his lap. Elena’s blindness was a birth defect. His was the result of a spell gone wrong, and the physical pain that came from it would last him a lifetime.

Avoid Dropbox

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Photo via Visual hunt

This is going to be a quick post. Two days ago, I got an email from Dropbox saying I went over my free 2 GB limit and I had to pay to upgrade to their 1 TB storage system. When I went to check my files, since the last time I checked I hadn’t even hit 1 GB, I found someone had dropped over 6 GB of files on my account.

I did some research on troubleshooting how to resolve the issue. I looked for the files. I found them but couldn’t delete them. So I did more research and was told by Dropbox that only the person who added them to my account could delete them. I told them that someone hacked my account. They told me that I’d have to remove his access. So I looked at how to remove someone’s access to my account since I never gave anyone permission to access my account. I learned how to do it and tried to find where he’d accessed my account. There was no record of his access and I couldn’t remove him.

So I contacted Dropbox again. I told them what was going on and asked them to remove the files and let me redo the security on my account. They refused, stating that since I gave the person the access I had to remove his access and get rid of the files on my own. When I told them again that I’d been hacked they said they’d “review my complaint.”

24 hours later, I got their response. “We can’t find any evidence of your complaint. You will have to upgrade to the 1 TB storage to continue using your account.” That was a real big “fuck you” from Dropbox, who I’ve been using for the past four years. So I told them to go fuck themselves and deleted my account.

I forgot to download everything first because I was so pissed, so I lost years of work. However, I look at that as a chance to start those projects with a fresh eye and a clean slate. But seriously, don’t deal with Dropbox because their customer service sucks.

The Mages and the siblings

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Photo via Visualhunt

Caara looked at Willem. “Are you sure we should have signed on with them?” she whispered, shifting from foot to foot as she waited in the corridor.

“What else are we going to do? We don’t have anywhere else to go.” Caara’s older brother was irritated. Caara couldn’t blame him. She’d been asking him the same question for the past two ninedays.

“But the Mages, Will,” Caara said. “Mum and Da will be wailing in the afterlife for us doing this, considering what happened.”

“I know, Caara,” Willem said, scowling. “But Gran and Aunt Iola refused to take us in. We’re both old enough to get employment, but neither of us has the physical capability to do anything useful. So it’s the Mages or the Apothecaries. Do you want to deal with what the Apothecaries would do to us?”

Caara shuddered. The Mages weren’t exactly the most savory bunch, but the Apothecaries were far, far, far worse. No one who entered their service lived more than a year, barring a small handful who proved resilient. Neither Caara with her one blind eye and one deaf ear nor Willem with his twisted leg would be among the survivors.

A black door set with glowing red runes opened. “Caara and Willem Hapsen,” a gaunt man in gray robes called, staring out at the gathered young people with blank eyes. Willem settled his crutch under his arm and took Caara’s hand in his free one. The two of them approached the Mage. He frowned. “You are Caara and Willem Hapsen?”

“We are,” Willem said.

“Name your infirmities,” the Mage said.

“I have a twisted leg that prevents me from walking far or fast, and my sister is deaf in her right ear and blind in her left eye,” Willem said.

“Is she mute as well?” the Mage asked.

“No sir,” Willem said.

“Then she must speak for herself,” the Mage said. He turned to Caara. “What are your infirmities?”

“My brother already told you,” Caara said. “I am blind in my left eye and deaf in my right ear.”

The Mage nodded. “Follow me.” He led them back through the door.

The corridors they were led down were dimly lit with flickering torches. Caara moved closer to Willem. He held tightly to her hand. The Mage escorted them into a small room lined with mirrors. Two mages in bright scarlet robes were sitting at a table in the middle. The gray clad Mage bowed and left the two young adults to face the Red Robes.

“Each of you, speak your name,” the first Red Robe said. Her eyes were the amber of a cat’s, and were just as intense as she looked at them. Caara and Willem gave their names.

The second Red Robe was watching for something. He frowned when Willem gave his name, but nodded in satisfaction when Caara gave hers. “The young man will leave. The young woman will stay,” he said.

Before either of the siblings could speak, the door opened and the Gray Robe returned. He took hold of Willem’s arm and dragged him from the room. Willem struggled briefly, but with a small gesture, the Gray Robe took control of Willem’s body and forced him out of the room. The mixed look of fear and rage on his face twisted in Caara’s stomach.

She turned back towards the Mages. “Why can’t my brother stay?” she asked. “I need him with me.”

“He is not worthy to serve in the position we have for you,” the female Red Robe said. “Question us again and you will be killed where you stand.” Caara closed her mouth.

The male Red Robe stood and handed her a small mirror. “You will keep this with you no matter what happens,” he said. “If you lose it, we will not rescue you from any trouble you get into.” Caara tucked it into the pouch she kept under her bodice.

The woman gestured to one of the mirrors. A border of golden runes appeared. “Step through the mirror.”

Caara wanted to ask how she was supposed to do that, but was too frightened of the Mages to speak. She moved slowly across the room. Pausing in front of the shimmering glass, she took a deep breath and put her hand against it. Her fingers passed through the surface. She moved forward.

A faint heat rushed across her skin and everything twisted around her. When her vision cleared, she realized it was a scorching day wherever she was. She looked around. The land was barren, dead trees jutting out of the ground.

“What do you see?” It was the voice of the female Red Robe. It was coming from the mirror under Caara’s bodice.

“A dead place,” Caara said.

“Explain,” the woman said. Caara described what she saw. “Not suitable for our needs. Step back through the mirror.”

Caara turned around and saw the mirror still hovered behind her. She hurried back through it. The mirror returned to normal briefly before another border of golden runes appeared. The pattern was different and Caara realized that this meant it was probably going somewhere else.

“Step through,” the woman said. Caara took a deep breath and slid through the light.

One man’s trash is one woman’s treasure

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Photo via Visualhunt

Sora stared at the ruins of her planet from space. “This is awful,” Coperno, her reproduction partner, said.

Sora tilted her head to one side. “You expected anything different?”

“No, but it was still nice to believe in the false hope the Elders gave us that we could return home with no transitional issues,” Coperno said.

Sora nodded. She’d never believed them. Unlike Coperno – and the majority of those from Nursis – she was a product of war. Her parents were soldiers, fighter pilots to be precise, and had sold their skills to the highest bidder until her mother got pregnant with her third child. As required by the law, she and her reproduction partner were forced to settle on the nearest planet to raise their children to their age of majority. Only then could they resume their previous occupations. Sora could still remember the constant bombardments, evacuations, and near misses flying with her parents.

She heard a soft murmur and turned to look over her shoulder. “The Elders are here.”

Coperna took her arm and led her to where the remnants of the settlers from Nursis were gathering. “I know it looks bleak,” one of the Elders said. “But the scans are promising. The majority of our settlements are intact, though there will be some rebuilding necessary. The problem will be food. The most damaged areas are the farms.”

“The Consortium has offered to share with us the secrets to their hydroponic grows, and will give us the necessary equipment,” another of the Elders said. She paused. “But the price they require us to pay is steep.”

“What is it?” someone asked.

“We are to give over our second born, no matter what they identify as, to be soldiers for a term of five solar cycles,” the first Elder said. “Fifteen percent of our harvests are to be packaged and sent to the central repository, along with the same amount of the seeds produced by the plants we grow, to further the genetic research being done on the flora of the galaxy.”

“I’ll accept those terms if it means I get to go home,” a woman said. There were shouts of agreement. Sora didn’t say anything. The Consortium was as corrupt as any government, but they would help impose order on Nursis. That was something the Elders couldn’t manage to maintain no matter how hard they tried.

“Then if that is the will of the majority, we will accept their offer,” the second Elder said. With that, the nineteen Elders turned and left.

It took a month for the farmers to get used to the hydroponic bays. Once they learned how to manage them, the Consortium shuttled the residents of Nursis down to the surface and helped set up the hydroponic farms before handling out supplies. The armada that had driven off the Kitarthi departed, leaving two battle cruisers and five frigates to continue assisting the survivors of the bombardment.

Sora and Coperno returned to their house with their three children. The girls were terrified of everything around them, clinging to their parents as they walked down cracked and scorched streets.

The house was relatively untouched, though the windows would need to be replaced and the main door was slightly warped. Coperno forced it open and the five of them walked in. “Go to your rooms,” Coperno said. “See what harm has been done to your possessions.”

“Yes Coperno,” the eldest of the three said. She led her sisters back into the house. Sora shook her head. Coperno refused to let the children give him the appropriate honorific traditionally granted to the paternal genetic donor.

“I’m going to our room,” Sora said.

“I’ll look over the kitchen and see what needs to be repaired,” Coperno said. The two adults headed into separate parts of the residence.

The door to the bedroom was completely broken. Sora dragged the scraps of thin metal away and walked inside. There was no power, but she found the flashlight that she always kept on a shelf next to the door. It was on the floor, but it still worked.

She turned it on and started inspecting the furniture. There were some cracks, some scratches, but nothing was broken. She looked at the exposed conduits. There were a few circuits that would need replaced, but that was easy enough for Coperno to do.

Sora finally went over to a blank spot on the wall. It was paler than the rest, an obvious sign that something was there. She pressed her fingers against a latch that was barely visible in the dim light. It slid open.

Coperno knew about the small hiding hole. He had one himself somewhere in the house, though Sora didn’t know where his was. He wasn’t aware of what was in it though, and would most likely have insisted she destroy what she kept secreted inside if he did know.

Her treasure was a thin metal case, no wider than a circuit board and about as large as one of the data pads. She cracked it open. Inside was a black and white portrait of a man and woman. Both were dressed in something far more elegant than Sora had ever seen, and they seemed to be gazing at each other with an emotion that she couldn’t identify.

These were the founders of her mother’s genetic line. They’d lived on Old Earth nearly three thousand years earlier, long before the Kitarthi tried to enslave humanity. She ran her fingers across the front of the image. One of her mother’s ancestors had sealed the portrait in a protective composite of some kind, preserving it for all time. This picture was the greatest treasure her mother had, and she’d given it to Sora before leaving Nursis to resume her life as a pilot. Sora sealed it back in the case and put it back in its hole. She closed and locked the panel before rejoining her family.

 

100 POSTS! And a little more

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Photo via tookapic via Visual Hunt

WOO! THIS IS MY 100TH POST!

I started this blog last October. I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I have some interesting posts on my old blog. But I wanted something more from my blog that I couldn’t get from Blogger, so I came here. Even after a year, Google still refuses to admit this blog exists and constantly refers people back to my Blogger blog. There is a link to this one in the final post on the Blogger one, but if you want to find current information for me, you have to use a different search engine. It’s sad, given Google is the most popular search engine in the world, that you can’t rely on it to be accurate.

But I’m not here to talk about Google. I’m here to talk about me. I seem to spend a random amount of time talking about my life on here. Sometimes I talk about life on the farm, my struggles with mental illness and physical health, and my writing. Other times I just post stories. However I do it, I’m trying to get the blog posts up on a semi regular basis. I like blogging. I just never know what to post, so you get the interesting musings of my incredibly random mind.

Now, onto the writing career update. I’ve been working on a short story for a bit called “Death’s Day Off.” It’s my submission for Zombies Need Brains LLC’s The Death of All Things anthology. It’s based on the personal mythology of my fantasy world, so it’s not gong to be the usual story they’d get. At least I hope it won’t. It’s under the 7500 word count limit. I sent it off last night. I won’t know until closer to the end of February if I’ve been accepted or not, but I’m a little scared and a little excited.

I’ve completed the next draft of Into the Flames, formerly known as Fury. I’m needing to go over it one more time before sending it off to a beta reader or two. I’m currently working on Return to the FlamesItF‘s sequel. It’s going slowly as I’m having an argument with my characters over who the POV character is going to be. The woman who was the POV character in ItF wants to be the POV in RttF. But her husband makes better sense as the POV character for RttF. So we’re going to wait and see what happens.

I have an appointment with my neurologist this week. Unless something drastic comes out of it, I probably won’t talk about it any more than this. Farm life moves on. Spring will bring with it some new challenges, and as they happen, I’ll document them here along with everything else.

As a final note before heading off for the day, please come support me on Patreon. I’m going to start posting patron-only short stories and (bad) poems, blog posts that you won’t see here, and more updates on my writing career there. I’ll also be posting other random bits of things there before they hit here, so if you want the first scoop on things as they happen, please think about sponsoring me there.

Everyone have a wonderful week and I’ll see you on Wednesday!