Stir-crazy COVID-19 report from the Murkworks

Noting out of the gate: the entire Murkworks household is well. Dara, Paul, and I, along with George, are staying at home as much as we possibly can. We were doing so even before Governor Inslee issued the stay-at-home order for Washington state–and really, at least for Dara and Paul, being at home all day isn’t much different from pre-COVID-19 days. Dara’s “day job” is to be the landlady for our rental house, and Paul’s been working from home for months now, ever since his employer shut down their Seattle office.

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New front in the battle of me vs. entropy

Y’all have doubtless noticed I haven’t released anything in a while. There are reasons for that. A lot of them are political. I, like a lot of other creatives, have been having a bitch of a time trying to muster the will to work on anything since the 2016 election.

But honesty dictates that I note for the record that that isn’t all of it. I have come to realize over the past few years that one of my character flaws is that I get paralyzed if I have too many things I have to organize at once. I wind up looking at all the things I keep meaning to do, and keep never frigging doing them. That, coupled with the world being generally on fire (politically, but if you happen to live on the West Coast, in a lot of cases also literally), has dropped me into a many-months-long bout of “fuck it, I have just enough brain to handle dealing with my day job so I can keep the bills paid and the food bought, and I’ll spend the rest of my waking hours playing Dungeon Boss and Gummy Drop”.

At the end of the day, though, this doesn’t get books written. Or released. And Orycon is coming up. I’ve promised to work a table again with Madison Keller, since they and I make good table partners. But I’ve also run flat out of print copies of Faerie Blood. And Third Place Press is no longer going to have the espresso book machine available–which means I need a new way to produce print copies of Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, and anything else I decide to release.

I’ve also been (grumpily) thinking for some time that it’s stupid that the print copies of my books aren’t available on Amazon. So I’ve been intending for a while to get my print editions up on Amazon for purchase that way. It should help with my discoverability, as well as just making it easier for people to buy books from me without having to track me down in person, or even contact me online.

All of which are good intentions. But y’all know what the road to hell is paved with. See previous commentary re: being paralyzed by too many things I haven’t finished yet. Here is a list of some of those things:

  • New print edition of Faerie Blood
  • Finish Walk the Wards
  • Restart work on Warder Soul
  • Finish the edit pass on Queen of Ghosts (the book formerly known as Queen of Souls)
  • Restart the Bilingual Lord of the Rings Reread
  • Restart the Trilingual Harry Potter Reread
  • Finish the posts I never finished about the trip to Quebec last summer and Camp Violon Trad 2017
  • Finish reviewing all my old Livejournal posts so I can finally delete my Livejournal
  • Pull a lot of my old mail off my Gmail account and onto the mail server
  • Finish porting a lot of old content onto my personal/fannish site,

And that’s just a partial list of all the projects. There are more. And I got tired of never actually making any progress on them due to my tendency to paralysis.

So I thought about this a bit and realized that at the day job, we tackle big projects via a very loose Agile-ish methodology. Roughly speaking, this means we split big projects down into component tasks, ballpark how long it’ll take to do those tasks, and then plan to do tasks X, Y, Z, etc., in however many two-week sprints it takes to get the project done.

And I thought, “well hell, wouldn’t it be nice if I had some sort of way to do this with personal projects too?”

I’ve never been content with Apple’s Reminders app in macOS and iOS. It’s not really conducive to planning out larger projects. So I researched around to see what other options were out there, and I finally came across a program called Things. It’s available on both macOS AND iOS. And what made me decide to throw money at it was its ability to organize tasks by not only giving each task a date, but also by assigning them to larger projects.

So here’s what the “Third Edition of Faerie Blood” project currently looks like:

Third Edition of Faerie Blood in Things
Third Edition of Faerie Blood in Things

And here’s what I’ve done already:

More Faerie Blood in Things
More Faerie Blood in Things

I’m not going to say this thing has changed my life yet. But I will say that I really like the design of it, and it’s very galvanizing to have a nice list of tasks to check off every day. The Faerie Blood project isn’t the only one I’m working on, either. I’ve got active work going on the deletion of old Livejournal posts, as well as the review and archiving of old email.

Here’s what today’s task list looks like so far:

Things Logbook
Things Logbook

Just being able to have a visual thing to point at, as evidence that I have in fact accomplished things today, makes me feel like I might actually manage to chip away at the mountain of entropy that’s been slamming me down for some time now.

And in summary, if you’re a macOS/iOS person? Things. I recommend it.

The web server is stabilized again! And other fun forthcoming news!

I’m pleased to report that Dara and I have gotten the web server stabilized again, and after quite a few days of work recovering assorted webpages, I can resume proper posting here. Be on the lookout for several Boosting the Signal posts I was going to share with you that I hadn’t been able to thanks to the server going down.

This whole server recovery effort has been particularly enlightening for me, since we discovered that the probable entry point onto our server was via one of the WordPress blogs we host. So I’ve been learning how to tighten up certain aspects of Apache in general and of WordPress in particular. And I’ve pulled a couple of the blogs we host into a general network with my OWN blogs, so that they share space and I can keep a closer eye on all of them. Plus, I’ve been working on porting the website for LexFA (the Lexington SF and Fantasy Association, a fandom group in Kentucky that Dara and I were in while we lived there) into WordPress. It hadn’t been before, and the site was sorely out of date as a result.

I’m glad though that the bulk of this work is over and I can get back to my usual business. Which means actually getting some writing and editing done! Currently on tap: a copyedit pass through Queen of Souls, which is coming off the queue and is very, VERY likely to be released this summer or fall. When I finish that edit pass, I’ll be swinging back to tightening up the now-complete novella currently called “A Power in the Blood”, AND proceeding with the next novella owed to Kickstarter backers. More bulletins on this as events warrant!

Next week there WILL also be a Le Vent du Nord concert report, because I’m going to go see mes gars in Vancouver again at the Rogue, and it will be awesome.

And right on the heels of that, Dara and I are going to Conflikt! This will be particularly exciting this year as Dara is the official Toastmaster Toastmuppet for the convention, marking her first time as a guest of honor at a con. HUGELY exciting. She’ll be performing, of course. And I’ll be contributing by manning a table for her in the convention’s little dealers’ room. Conflikt is a music convention, but since the Bone Walker soundtrack is related to my books, I’ll have copies of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker to sell along with Dara’s music. So if you’re going to Conflikt, come say hi to me at the table! And look for Dara being in charge of proceedings as only she can. (Be sure to duck if you see her going for the heat ray!)

And then in February I will be going back up to Canada AGAIN, this time for a music workshop. Because I got invited to attend a special small workshop being held by none other than Andre Brunet, fiddler for De Temps Antan, and second place contender for the title of Anna’s Favorite Fiddle Player from Quebec. This will be huge, huge fun. Particularly since I have also been informed that these shenanigans will involve a participants concert for anybody attending the workshop who wants to get up and make musical noises.

Which means: I will actually have a chance break out the guitar and sing something, from my years of experience whipping through the Great Big Sea songs I know. Which gives me reason to actually bring the General with me on this trip, as well as various flutes and whistles.

Which further means: I’d be singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of someone who has actually performed with Great Big Sea.

(Because as I’ve often liked to relate, both my love of Great Big Sea and my love of Quebec trad can be traced right back to the very same concert, the first time I saw both GBS and La Bottine Souriante, way back in 2000 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Andre was in La Bottine at the time, though I didn’t know that then!)

And this really kinda blows my mind a bit. *^_^*;; Singing Great Big Sea ditties in earshot of someone who has actually shared a stage with them is only slightly less scary than singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of actual Great Big Sea members.

But am I gonna do it? HELL YEAH. I will in fact be whipping out my very best GBS songs for this occasion. I’m thinking “Jack Hinks” and “Trois Navires de Ble”. Hell, this workshop’s featuring a Francophone fiddler, I feel almost obligated to sing something in French, and my options for “things GBS has recorded in French” are pretty minimal! But “Trois Navires de Ble” IS special to me regardless as the very first thing I learned how to play and sing at the same time, the very first thing I learned how to play on an instrument with strings, and the very first thing I learned to sing in French. :D

The next few weeks are going to ROCK, you guys. I look forward to sharing them with you all!

I have a cunning plan

Which is to say, I’m going to take the entire week of Labor Day off since I have the vacation time to spare, and work on finishing my edits. To further this goal, I will be also dropping off the net for the duration of that week. I’ll still be answering email, but I won’t be monitoring Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, and for the most part I’ll only be answering email sent directly to me (as opposed to any of the mailing lists I’m on, or comments on any of my posts).

Noting this now by way of general accountability. I may post status updates during that week–again, for purposes of accountability–but I can’t guarantee I’ll answer any comments on them.

We’ll see how much I can get done before then; any little bit I can get done before does after all further the goal. And anything I can write above and beyond finishing the edits on Lament will be bonus. Christopher and Kendis are looking VERY expectant in the back of my brain, you know.

So there you have it. If you think you might want to get a hold of me during that week for whatever reason, email, text, or phone will be best! If you think you should have those means of contacting me and you don’t, let me know.

Wait, WHAT, Faerie Blood is nigh?!

So we had our monthly chat on tonight, and some of the first words my editor greeted me with were “Faerie Blood is coming out this weekend!”

My jaw dropped. I boggled. I pointed out I haven’t even seen cover art yet, but Deena swears up and down the book is imminent. I don’t know if we’ll pull this off yet, given that this is a holiday weekend, but keep your fingers crossed, folks! The book may in fact be about to drop.

Lament of the Dove status check

The last several months have been shaky for me on getting new writing done, in no small part to all the medical crap I’ve had to deal with. So I’ve been focusing on getting editing done instead–and in particular, in carrying out the recommendation of two different agents to edit Lament of the Dove down hard.

Those of you who’ve followed the progress of this book on either of my LJs know that the first draft of this thing was a monster, weighing in around 167K in the word count. By the time I started seriously querying it to agents last year, I’d managed to beat the tally down to 137K.

Now, the target is 117K. If I get there, I’ll have killed 50,000 words out of it. That’s half a book right there. The whole process is teaching me a lot about how to make sure that every last word in a novel absolutely, irrefutably needs to be there–because in Lament, with three different POVs, I’ve got a lot going on. And I can’t waste words describing it.

As of this writing, I’m 4,500 words away from hitting the mark, and I’m finishing up Chapter 18 out of a total of 24 chapters and an epilogue. I think I can get there, hopefully by the time of my (hopefully final) surgery later this month.

Wish me luck.