A moofable feast.

Be brave enough to burn and you'll be brave enough to fly.

Wednesday, April 14th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Okay. So, I've internalized my lesson about planning to do a newsletter over the weekend... next lesson to get down is keeping my docket clear for April 15th. (Or, you know, doing more stuff in the three and a half months of the year that precede it.) The mid-April newsletter will still go out this week. It will still be superherocentric and fiction heavy.

The good news is that the most stressful feast day of the freelancer's liturgical calendar is now passed, and that's one source of background anxiety gone. We're also in a late cold snap... in just a couple of days we've gone from 85 degree weather to overnight lows in the low 30s. Which isn't so great during the day, but it's very helpful at night.

Those 85 degree days were enough to show me the difference between 85 degrees in an all-weather artist's garret and 85 degrees in a room on the middle level of a house with ALL OF THE WINDOWS. The attic used to get 14 or degrees warmer than the ambient temperature on a sunny day, which meant that it would be pushing a hundred on days like that. Here with the windows open and a nice crossbreeze, my digital thermometer is telling me that it's eighty some degrees inside, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

The real test will come when summer gets here and stays here, but I do have a window A/C.

The State of the Me

Still clawing my way back to a decent sleep schedule. Melatonin is leaving me really logy in the morning, but I think I'll be able to cut it out by the end of the week.

Plans For Today

Just a reminder that Tales of MU is still on a Friday update schedule... I'm so glad I didn't try to force my way back to Wednesday this week.

Block 1 is working on the newsletter.

Block 2 is working on Harper's Folly.

Block 3 is working on Tales of MU.

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Tuesday, April 15th
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alexandraerin
It's a busy day today, so I'm not making a full status post. As a total sidenote to anyone who missed out on the chance to sign up for the dragon collecting/training game Flight Rising yesterday, the registration window has been extended until 1:30 PM PST, which is still a few hours away.

http://flightrising.com/

(I'm on there as alexandraerin, if you want to friend me and/or put my name in as a referral.)

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Monday, April 14th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Well, it's a new week. Since Friday night, I've been going to bed early and taking pills each night to ensure I get some sleep, and then getting up first thing in the morning. It made for kind of an exhausting weekend, but it means I'm starting the week most of the way towards having my sleep schedule repaired. I've been a bit of a slow starter today due to lingering fatigue and multiple external circumstances, but I'm generally feeling a lot better than I have been recently.

I was a lot more happy with the chapter I finished on Friday than the couple that immediately preceded it. The story works better when I focus on my goals for a given chapter rather than the goal of having a chapter finished.

Today or tomorrow, a new newsletter will be going out. The major theme of it is going to be SHN stuff... a couple months back, on my Patreon feed, I teased a concept for a sort of interwoven set of short stories in that universe built around the idea of new heroes auditioning for a team. It was an interesting idea but I've been having trouble developing it further than that. The frame story wasn't coming together, and the interviews I started didn't seem to have the right tone. Well, I've come up with a new concept that might be a better fit. More on that in the newsletter.

The State of the Me

See the above. The hardest thing I've had to do all day is drag myself out of bed.

Plans For Today

I'm going to be doing things in two blocks here.

Block 1 is going to be working on the aforementioned story idea.

Block 2 is going to be devoted to the newsletter.

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Friday, April 11th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Well, I'm feeling pretty good about my decision (made late yesterday on Twitter) to *not* try to wrestle the publishing schedule back to Wednesday by next week, because I realized this morning that pushing for Wednesday would mean I was writing the bulk of the chapter on... April 15th. That would have ended badly. The fact that I hadn't put that together before is just one sign of how much the calendar's been slipping away from me lately.

I feel really conflicted about missing my schedule target at all, as I usually do, but while the schedule's moved around, it still is a chapter a week. While my long term goal is to not have the publishing schedule tied to the production schedule... sometimes I'm slower than other times. This is one of those times. It's probably going to be one of those times for a while.

The State of the Me

I did some real stock-taking yesterday about my current state of mental and physical well being. There's just been a lot of stuff snowballing together: I've been having unusual difficulties sleeping, I've been sleeping late and thus not keeping up with my usual breakfast and morning caffeine routine and getting a late start to my day... and on top of this, I've been running out of the pills that I use to keep my body and mind ticking along on a relatively even keel.

I restocked some of the pills earlier this week and will be getting the rest soon.

Last night, I went to bed at nine and took melatonin and valerian together for the first time in a long time. The results were sort of mixed. I woke up way more often than I would have liked, but I avoided the laying awake for hours in grim contemplation thing that's been happening since March. And I felt pretty good at seven o'clock in the morning, when I woke up properly.

Plans For Today

I'm honestly not making them yet. I'm going to first off have a big breakfast and take a bath, give my body time to decide whether I'm actually awake for the day or if I'm going to need to crash some.

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Thursday, April 10th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Yesterday, I stumbled near the end of the day and ended up a little bit short of what I consider to be the safety margin for the day before a chapter is due. In thinking about how it could have prevented, I realized I've become hidebound about my process.

Now, the process is important. It gives structure to what I do. But when the structure confines rather than supports, it's harming rather than helping.

There are two traps I've fallen into here.

One is the idea that the four day writing process should always be four days. When I decided to stick with a predictable weekly schedule, I considered that it would give me an extra day each week to absorb the shocks of life... if something happened on one day, I'd have another day to make it up. I didn't consider ever using it in the matter of course to spend another day writing when a chapter just seems like it would need/benefit from it. I don't want to routinely take five days for a chapter because I like the padding and they don't all take that, but I need to adjust my thinking to see five days as an option rather than a failure.

The other is getting too locked into my blocks of time, particularly the idea of keeping them at more or less the same length every day and always giving them over to different things. I almost always start my last block at the same time in the afternoon, and it's almost always Tales of MU. And that's almost always enough. But for the day that I call the "major writing day", the day where my highest goal is to have the chapter functionally done and my fallback goal is to have it doable with one more working day, it just makes sense to start earlier and devote more time for it.

There's a reason I don't just throw an eight hour block of time at each chapter, and that's because it's just not fruitful to force things. But there's a lot of ground between "the entire day" and "one block at the end of the day".

So, that's going to be two adjustments to my work process: I'm going to start writing earlier in the day on day 3, and leave open the option of making day 4 into another day 3.

The State of the Me

I'm pretty sure I was asleep before 2:00 a.m. last night. I slept through my alarm today... my phone got buried in the blankets, which tends to muffle it. But I woke up feeling pretty good, so I'm inclined to think I needed it.

Plans For Today

Block 1 is going to be spent... kind of warming up. It's a slow wake up day. I'm going to be doing some writing exercises, and some introspection.

Block 2 and 3 are going to be Tales of MU. Given that I don't want to push this chapter back a day, rather than just starting block 3 earlier, I'm giving it most of the day.

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Wednesday, April 9th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Just as a reminder, Tales of MU will be updating on Thursday this week, and then back to the normal (Wednesday) schedule next week.

I'm sorry the FPS Twitter has been dark for so long, especially now that Harper's Folly is on a temporary hiatus/episode break. My intention was to quickly find a more convenient/better tweet queuing program or service, but that didn't pan out and then life got distracting. I've put a couple of transitional tweets into the queue for today and then I'll be warming it back up.

The State of the Me

Last night I bit the bullet and set an alarm. I don't usually rely on alarms to wake up because a lot of my sleep cycle management has to do with letting my body find its own rhythm, but right now that's not working. I expect to be tired through most of the day today, but it might help me fall asleep by a more reasonable hour.

Plans For Today

Block 1, Harper's Folly ebook for episode 3. My aim is to have the entries compiled and formatted so I can focus on the extra content.

Block 2, miscellaneous writing. No specific plans because I may need some brain rest.

Block 3, Tales of MU. Day 3 of writing, so I'm going to be fleshing out the chapter.

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Tuesday, April 8th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

I used to write a fair number of blog posts about the problems of old media/old economy thinking and how people being stuck in those mindsets causes them to miss opportunities, both for themselves and for society/the marketplace in general.

I don't do that so much any more, partly because it was a lot of repeating myself, and partly because as I grow more mature I've come to realize how often I get stuck in "old thinking" in the face of a new reality.

For instance, I've had a bit of a dilemma when it comes to long form fiction that doesn't fit well into the serial paradigm, because my brain's all keyed into the immediate rush of immediate publishing. And that's part of why I'm excited about Patreon, because it gives me a quick and easy way to share works in progress with very little maintenance or work on my part (I mean, work that would distract from the work of writing) without putting the rough stuff out there for everyone to see.

And I've talked about this before. I've even done it, with Harper's Folly.

But I haven't internalized it. I still get hung up on the thought of, "Oh, this longer project is off to such a good beginning... but I can't tell anyone about it and it's going to be so long before it pays off..." and then running out of steam. I still write things and then never actually post them.

And that's old thinking. That's Pre-Patreon thinking. I'm working on shaking myself out of it, but it will probably be a few more months at least before it's anything like second nature.

Aside from reminding myself to do this stuff more often, this is also to say that there will be a new thing for Patreon sponsors to read shortly after I finish this post. It's the first two chapters of a novel. Working title is "Keeper's Quarry".

Think YA-ish fantasy, kind of a mash-up of traditional high magic adventure fantasy and the kind of struggle-against-dystopia meme that's been so popular lately with the Hunger Games. There's definitely influence from my recent forays into Dragon Age, as the central conceit of the world is reminiscent of the Templars vs. Mages conflict in DA, without being identical: the Keepers act to eliminate wizardry rather than being watchdogs over mages.

Ironically, this story came about mostly from my ruminations about writing a straight-forward D&D style adventure fantasy without-a-twist.

The State of the Me

I'm basically soldiering on. I'm sleeping enough, but not at the right time. Today I tried to correct that by getting up early and ended up exhausting myself in the morning, but I think it'll help me get back on track tonight, possibly.

Plans For Today

Block 1 is done.

Block 2, I'm organizing some material I've been writing for The One Called Wander. If I end up with enough of a linear draft, I'll put it up on Patreon, too.

Block 3 is writing Tales of MU. Day 2, find a beginning.

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Monday, April 7th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

So, April began last week. I didn't miss the start of a new month, exactly, but I was a bit adrift at the time and so I didn't do my usual stock-taking and plan-making.


When I reached my first Patreon funding benchmark before the end of February, I made the decision to hold off on pushing for more sponsorship for a month to give myself (and everyone else) a break from self-promotion. The results were predictable, but also very stark. Other than one fairly big pledge from someone who I knew would be switching over at the start of the month, there were no new sponsors in March. The stream didn't slow to a trickle, it just stopped.

I guess that shows the importance of getting out and pushing. I suppose in addition to beating the drum here, I could change up the presentation on my websites.

My Amazon total for the month of March was also down a bit, though still around $30 net. This month I'm adding another MU Omnibus and another Harper's Folly episode to my Amazon repertoire, so that should give things a shot in the arm.

Of course, new Amazon sales don't pay out for a couple of months, and right now I'm trying to save/raise money for my WisCon accommodations. My Sellfy store doesn't have the HF stuff yet (I need to settle some design/presentation problems for the blog-esque material in other formats), but anything purchased there does immediately benefit me.

The State of the Me

I was awake by ten and at work by 11, which is an hour off from where I want to be, but getting closer.

On a more general note: I've had my windows here open for about a week now, I think. Today might be the day that I close them, as it's not supposed to get above 49, but I think spring really is well and truly here.

Plans For Today

Block 1 is organizing ebook material. I'm planning on having three or four new releases this month.

Block 2 is going to be working on a story thing that I've been working on. I'll probably say more about it tomorrow when I have a better idea of the shape of it.

Thinking block is Tales of MU. Today's day 1 of the next chapter's process, which means it's conception phase.

Block 3 is going to be roleplaying game stuff. There will probably be a blog post.

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Wizards & Weapons
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alexandraerin
So, I've been browsing some copies of roleplaying books beyond what I normally read to try to jumpstart some ideas that are jostling around in my head, and I've noticed a weird trend in the Rifts books: after a certain point, Kevin Siembieda and/or his co-authors started inserting long, chiding arguments with a generalized representation of the game's players about how they're Doing Magic Wrong. Now, I've only found three examples of this in a fairly large product line, but I'm not looking at the whole line, and it's in all three of the books I looked at, and that's kind of weird.

Kevin Siembieda dropping an editorial into the front of his books (or the middle of his books, or the middle of a sentence) isn't anything new or unusual. It's just weird to see this specific trend popping up in the middle of a well-established and mature product line.

In order to not mischaracterize what's happening, I'll be clear that they're not arguing against house rules. In fact, these editorial passages often include (or even conclude with) "If you don't like how it works, change it!" Siembieda's all about the house rules. In fact, it's rare that he releases a book that's playable without house rules, because the rules as written are contradictory, unclear, or missing important particulars.

The crux of the argument boils down to the fact that wizard characters in Rifts usually end up packing conventional weaponry. Now, conventional weaponry in Rifts means handheld weapons of mass destruction. The reason for this is the same reason that Wizards in pre-4E D&D would have carried a plasma cannon if they were available: because you can carry reloads for a plasma cannon, but you can't carry reloads for your magic missile.

My unfavorite setting in the Palladium universe has a version of this problem with psionics and magic. Heroes Unlimited gives actual superpowered characters a slate of powers that they can use usually completely at will, and wizards and psychics have energy points... which again and still, can only be recovered by resting. A lot of the super abilities were created by adapting (i.e., cutting and pasting) the effects of multiple spells. So by picking one major power, you can outperform a high level wizard in a single broad area. And you can do it forever.

There are some ancillary reason for this phenomenon that are specific to Rifts. Rifts is a mash-up of... well, everything that Palladium has ever had a hand in, but mostly high fantasy and high tech. The high tech combat rules and modern/futuristic weaponry rules were written with things like vehicle dogfights and giant robot attacks in mind, and the ranges tend to reflect that. The fantasy spells are largely copied and pasted from the D&D clone in which they originated, where they were competing with crossbows and thrown daggers. So a lot of the spells have a really restrictive range compared to the kind of handheld artillery that's available, which means wizards are either 1) packing heat or 2) wearing powered armor so they can survive to get within range of the rail-gun wielding mechsuit.

Now, this doesn't mean that they don't use magic. It just means they're not using magic to zap enemies. And that's a sound tactical decision. When you can rain fire and death on your foes without expending a precious resource that can also do things that technology can't, it kind of makes sense that you'd save the precious resource for those things, you know? It's not like Palladium doesn't have fun and interesting magic beyond straightforward attacking. In fact, the generic attack spells are some of the most blah things about the system.

And a world where the state of the art of physical warfare has progressed to the point where it exceeds what can be done with magic but doesn't require overly onerous training (point and click interface!)... there's nothing wrong with that as a fantasy setting.

But it's not the world Siembieda envisions. In his world, choosing to play as a "man of magic" (this dude seriously genders everything, even when there's no reason, and then insists that it's unisex) means you've made a decision to choose the elegance of magic over the clunkiness of fighting and using mundane technology. This isn't reflected by the rules, he just feels it should be the obvious and natural character choice. And he lays out this thesis again and again.

And if you don't think that wizards are worth it, you have his permission to change the system. But it apparently never occurs to him that this is might be a systemic problem.

They already have it as an official line that magic on Rifts is just more powerful and more abundant than anywhere else in the Palladium Megaverse. How hard would it be to re-write the ranges for Rifts? How hard would it be to up the energy refill rate? Just making it so you regain energy slowly even when not resting would help, because then it wouldn't be "I only have this much spell juice until we stop and rest for the night", it would be, "I'd better use some spell juice now, because I'm full which means all the points I would be getting back right now is just wasted potential".

How hard would it be to give all the spell-slinging character classes a couple of simple magical attacks that are second nature to them and thus can be used without restriction? They don't have to be powerful. In fact, they could be weaker compared to the available conventional weapons, but the fact that they're free and don't take ammo would ensure that more wizards wiz than currently do.

All of this has cemented my belief in the absolute necessity of infinitely repeatable spells in a high magic world setting. I mean, wizards in D&D can't generally carry plasma cannons, but think about how ubiquitous the Wizard With A Crossbow became in 3rd Edition. "Of course they have a crossbow, they're a Wizard!" is one of those things that suggests a wonderfully quirky magic system... and though it does derive from a quirk of the magic system, it's not a great one.

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Friday, April 4th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Last day of the week.

...there seems to be a thing where Harper's Folly will have technical difficulties at the end of an episode. The last post of episode 3 was meant to post yesterday, but it didn't. I went to check to see why it didn't, and it was sitting there with a scheduled post date of 4/3/2014 at 20:0something. No idea what was up with that. I changed the time by a minute and updated it, and it posted, appropriately back dated.

Things like this really mess with the verisimilitude of the storyline, since... well, spoilers.

Anyway, the HF blog will be enjoying a little hiatus while I gather my thoughts on episode 4.

I have been so caught up in other things that I almost forgot that the episode ended this week. I'm sort of just now really noticing that the month has changed. Next week, I'm going to map out what I'm doing with myself this month.

On the subject of "my, how time flies", it's now less than two months until Wiscon. I've got one more Patreon payday before the date, which will give me (as of right now) a bit over $200 more towards my hotel goal. I'm still about $500 short of where I really need to be. Anyone who feels like helping out, either by getting in on Patreon or just kicking in directly, would be deeply appreciated.

The State of the Me

Doing better. Climbing out. Building up.

Plans For Today

Block 1, I'm working on something I'm going to be putting up a draft of on my Patreon page... it's the thing I mentioned yesterday that started out as the plotline for an interactive story and then just became a story.

Block 2, I'm not really sure about yet. I'll have to see what I'm feeling.

Block 3, Tales of MU.

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