Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Month: November 2015

Another Nano15 Update

I’m still going on my Nano project. I Validated the day Validation opened up and have been entering my wordcount totals since then. I’m going for the 30-day badge which is given for entering a wordcount all 30 days of November. I figured why not? I’m not sick of my WIP, though I’ve “slowed” to getting one scene written a day.

Right now, I’m letting the next plot card for the outline percolate. This has been a day when I haven’t wanted to work on it, though I know I’ll enjoy it once I get started. I just have to get started. LOL

Things in the plot are progressing well, and I’m guessing now that this book will come out somewhere around 200k. Gonna be a doorstopper. Frankly, I expect all the MOTS books to be pretty long. There’s a lot going on in this series.

I’ve decided some things for the worldbuilding. For one, while people get vacations, holidays aren’t observed by the government. So, there’s nothing like a Christmas shut-down, even in the locales where it would have happened previous to the current world government. There’s a firm separation of the religious from the secular, and secular things go on their merry way if they have no firm ties to any particular religion, and followers of all religions are expected to show up to work during their religious holidays, particularly if they work in the government in any capacity, unless of course they’ve applied for vacation time for the duration.

This changes some basic things about the school system—including the university of magic two of my MCs are attending. There’s no Christmas break from classes. There’s only a long summer break from May-August; school time runs from September 1 to April 30. And yes, I’m using our calendar. I don’t think they even celebrate New Year either.

I’m doing this not because this is easier than researching the holidays of at least the major religions in the modern world, though it is (and I expect to be looking at some point later on, so this is only a reprieve from the research, not a complete avoidance). I’m doing this because I’m trying to make Wevae different from our current, modern world. Though I’m including aspects of it in Wevae, I don’t want it to be a perfect mirror of our world. My creative mind doesn’t function that way. Yes, this is supposed to be steampunk, but I’m doing it my way.

Sounds

I like to control the sounds in my environment as much as possible. This is because it’s a stressor for me to be out, particularly in transit. If I don’t have a friend with me, I want to have something to make a noise, some sort of sound for me to focus on. This does a couple things. It enables me to deal with the stress of being out by helping me focus on something besides the fact I have to interact with other people, and it helps me interact with other people in a polite and respectful manner so my bipolar hypomania doesn’t drive me into being excessively rude and inconsiderate because of the stress.

I can be rather rude and inconsiderate at times, even with something to distract myself with, but the vast majority of the time, it helps me slow down and think before I go off the deep end. The more stressed I am, the more rude and inconsiderate I become, so I really need something to distract me from the anxiety which drives up my stress.

Most of the time, this sound is music. I have two mp3 players. One I wear at all times; the other is a backup. On each of these, I have playlists and songs I listen to on repeat, because having one song on repeat tends to help me best; random songs aggravate my anxiety. Mostly, I listen to a song I see as being related to a story I’m writing, but sometimes not; for instance, right now, I have a number of Christmas songs ready to play on my main mp3 player right now.

For times I can’t listen to my music—as when I’m waiting for an appointment to commence after checking in—I have other methods of introducing sounds, and thus stress relief.

My earlobes have been pierced three times. On days when I expect to be spending a lot of time without my headphones and music, I wear dangly earrings arranged in such a way they’ll ring together whenever I move my head. When I get to the place where I can’t have music, I shake my head to make the earrings tinkle. Sometimes I’ll also wear a charm bracelet my mother gave me. It’s an entirely girly thing, but I enjoy the way I can make it tinkle to a beat by sharply twisting my left forearm; it doesn’t get much use, mainly because I’ve found a combination of earrings that tinkle and don’t also cause my ears to hurt.

And then, for the holiday season from US Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I wear an actual bell.

I have no idea why I’m like this. All I do know is that I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve listened to music to go to sleep with, and usually had some sort of music playing whenever I’ve gone out on my own. One of the best Chrismases I had when I was a child was the year I got a Sony Walkman cassette tape player, and when the Discman came out, I was thrilled. I’m even happier with mp3 players, because of the variety and amount of music they hold. I’ve just always wanted to have music, and it’s always kept me from going off the deep end and turning into a total ass whenever I’m out.

VR&E Program

I mentioned, briefly, in last week’s no-post announcement that I’d been out to an appointment up at the VA. This appointment was the result of my previous application, late last month, for Chapter 31, or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. I had to go in to orientation, then to see a case worker who helped me determine my eligibility for the program.

My appointment was for 8:45 in the morning. The building it was in up at the VA didn’t open until 8:30, and I arrived about 30-45 minutes early. It was a cold, rainy, snow-flurry morning, but I was well bundled. Several VA employees apologized for not letting me in out of the cold, but Security didn’t start work until close to 8:30, so I couldn’t be let in. I also refused to enter when offered by one person who seemed to desperately want to get me out of the cold, but I didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, and I didn’t know if the lobby was video-monitored when the guards were off duty, so I refused. It was fine, though. Not windy at all, so it wasn’t like I was frozen. Security arrived at about 8:25 and let me in at the same time, and I passed through the metal detector.

Since I hadn’t slept, I’d stopped by the coffee shop in the hospital and picked up a couple bottles of caffeinated soda. I drank about half of one while waiting for orientation to start, and one other applicant arrived while I waited. At 8:45 or so, we were invited into a small meeting room, where we watched a video, someone gave a slide presentation describing the steps we’d take through the VR&E program, then a liaison between the VR&E program and the local State Employment Office spoke with us about what she could help us with.

Afterward, my fellow applicant and I went off to meet our caseworkers. This was the step where we determined my eligibility. This required being able to answer three specific questions with a decided “no.” For me, all three of these questions were correctly answered, which means I qualify for the program. Michele, my case manager, went over my work history and made copies of my college transcripts, and I explained to her (because I thought she might want to know) the reason why I did so poorly in classes was because I’d gone to college after high school “because that was what you did” and that I had no idea what I was going for, so wasn’t committed, and thus didn’t apply myself.

I also told her I’d researched things and determined that Medical Coding and Billing might be the right career for me. We discussed options for education—she wasn’t sure if the local Community College’s Medical Coding and Billing course had certification, so mentioned that Intermountain Health Care periodically partnered with the University of Utah to present Medical Coding and Billing courses in which I would be trained to use IHC’s specific programs. I was willing to consider this and told her so, and she told me she’d look things up, but that I needed to perform an Assessment Exam first. This concluded our meeting, with Michele promising to send me the link and login and password she created for the Assessment.

I went home, zoned for the rest of the day, and then went to bed. Wednesday, I rose, and I found in my email the link and information my case manager had promised for the Assessment Exam, and performed it. After I finished, I told her I’d done it and went on with my writing.

Friday, Michele asked me to come in Monday, so I replied that I would and went in yesterday, arriving, as usual, early. She took me in early, and she we discussed my reactions to high-stress situations and she mentioned a friend of hers who manages the billing office of a hospital or clinic. According to Michele, this friend has had to cut hours or fire employees during times when there isn’t much work, and there are periods where there is a rush to get billing information out. While Billing and Coding isn’t always a high-stress job, there are times when it does involve high stress, and Michele felt it wasn’t the correct career option for me for that reason.

So we did some research online. Michele had previously worked up in Idaho with their labor division and used an assessment form they had online to help me develop a list of possible careers and jobs which I might be able to gain training for. Unfortunately, most of what we found didn’t have any educational opportunities locally. We finally discovered a possible career for me: Library Assistant.

Research led us to an online educational program which would bring me up to an Associates or Bachelors degree for Library Science. Career opportunities here in my city and county had a good outlook. Michele assigned me the goal of contacting the City Library, whose main branch I live two blocks away from, and sent me on my way. When I got home, I contacted the library asking for links to Volunteer and Career opportunities and educational requirements.

This morning, I received a note from an administrative assistant at the library. He provided links to their career and volunteer opportuinties, then told me that they weren’t looking for any Volunteers at this time. His further advice, specifically for getting a paid position, was for me to get a Masters of Library Science degree.

I contacted Michele with this information, and checked my email a while ago to find her suggested solution. Essentially, I’m to check the Library’s site for Volunteer positions for the next few weeks, primarily because she didn’t see any indications the online course she found for Library Assistant made it possible to get a Masters Degree in Library Science online. She told me she knows for a fact a Veteran with no degree was hired on at the City Library, so I think she believes I can Volunteer my way into a paid position, which I’m not averse to doing at all.

Nano15 Update and Other Things

This past week, I’ve made a fair amount of progress on my Nano. I’m less than 150 words from breaking 40k on it, which is good. This has been my best official Nano ever.

I’ve been making more progress on the series this book opens too. Recently came up with another book title and basic idea for it. This brings the total books of the series up to four, but that may expand a bit as I come up with more ideas. The entire idea is still open-ended.

I’ve also got a better idea where I want to end the third plot thread in this book. Previously, I wasn’t sure; I thought I’d have the current ruler of Wevae assassinated about the middle of the book, but now I’m thinking I’ll have her killed closer to the end.

Timeline concept of the MOTS series is also becoming clearer to me as well. I have to cover about two years or so in the first book—if things go as planned—and I’m expecting it to take upwards of 120k or more in wordage. This is fine by me. MOTS is my Epic Fantasy Series and I’ve always wanted to have at least eight books for this series. Most of the story focuses on my to primary MCs and their plotline, but I’m still working with the tertiary MC to set events for the next book up. I think the overall timeline is going to pretty much inch along in all the books and may have to adjust the current book’s timeline in order to make the book fit the timeline I’m seeing.

I expect to be adding at least one new pov in the next book of the series. This is because I’ll be taking a side character and elevating him to POVMC. I’m giving the basis of his backstory in this first book, but I want to show more what drives him to become the antagonist.

Some things I need to do before I can continue writing this series beyond book 1:

  • Find a blank world map to draw governmental territories on
  • Find various maps of the countries, preferably with cities of note marked on them
  • Finish worldbuilding Wevae’s governmental system (it seems simpler than it is)
  • Work out general plot arcs for the following books
  • Research Victorian England
  • Hunt out and read some more Steampunk Fantasy books and others (not necessarily Steampunk) set in Victorian times and/or written during that Era

Most likely, I’ll get to various aspects of this list as I write the next books, but I must absolutely get those maps and work up Wevae’s governmental territories and do more work on the governmental system. In any case, this is proving to be a fun series so far, so I’ll more than likely do whatever needs to be done even though I’m not a fan of research. This looks like it’ll be fun, though, and I’m looking forward to making this series go.

No Post for 10 Nov 2015

I have been out of it for most of the afternoon since returning home from my appointment. Couldn’t recollect everything that had just happened when I got home, and even further from it now. It is now 5:19 and I’ve been awake since about 10:00 yesterday morning. I will write a post about the appointment tomorrow, and post it next Tuesday, along with any updates I happen to make over the interim (I’m expecting a link to some aptitude tests).

Saga of the Lost Nano WIP

I spent most of Thursday not writing. Don’t get me wrong. I was up bright and early, and I was ready to write, but after a little adjustment of my plot points in Scapple, Homer II, my desktop computer, decided to throw a fit twice in one hour. It had been having problems for the past several days, where the computer would freeze and I couldn’t access any of my programs. But Thursday morning, between the hours of 10:00 and 11:00, it did it twice, and I decided I’d had enough and shut the computer off for good, using the power button.

Now, I neglected to make sure the tower was completely off. Usually when I shut it down with the power button, my screen goes off first—turns blue with a “No Signal” box that drifts around bouncing off the edges of the screen. Thinking that the computer was all the way off, I disconnected my USB hub that I use to pretty much constantly keep Portaplotty (my portable external hard drive) and the thumb drive I keep my writing on connected to whatever computer of mine I happen to be using.

Then I set up my laptop, Rover II, and connected all its peripherals, including the USB hub—with Portaplotty and my Writing thumb drive still attached. I proceeded to start up the different programs I use on my computer, and since I hadn’t turned on my laptop since Scrivener’s last update, which changed the format of files for upcoming mobile apps, I had to download the new version of the program. I did that off of my BlogPosts Scrivener file and opened no others before the download was complete, which took a few minutes and the closure of the BlogPosts file. In the meantime, I finished starting up all the other programs I use

And I spent a while looking for a way to get rid of the idiotic Windows 8 Start Menu which hijacked the Windows 10 Start Menu I happen to like.

That pissed me off, so I reopened Scrivener, now assured it was fully functional with my new files. I opened BlogPosts again first; this is generally the first Scrivener file I have open. Then I opened another Scrivener file which I usually have open.

Then I opened my Wevae Scrivener file—the world where my Nano project is set.

And found it lacking.

I had the original first two scenes, all the plot cards I’d made for the new version, and notes with the most recent character list. But no story file. Just two old scenes I didn’t want any more.

Fine. I went to Dropbox.com, where I had just the previous night, after doing all the day’s writing, backed up the Wevae file (among others). Opened the correct folder. Downloaded the backup copy, saving it to the file location of the original file, confident I would discover my work in all its glory in the downloaded copy.

Opened it.

Completely blank writing file. I still had the character list, plot cards, and story notes, though, so I wasn’t completely lost, though I did weep a bit. But I was willing to keep trying. I was not going to give up on the 14k+ words I’d written over the course of the past four days. I was determined that if I was not able to restore the actual story file, I would write like the wind to replace what I’d lost.

So I tried again. From Dropbox. Downloaded the same thing. Wept a little more, got more determined. Aha! I’ll go to the backup that I keep on Portaplotty! Searched it out, copied it to the file location on my thumb drive I open all my Scrivener work from—to find the two original scenes I wrote and didn’t want any more, five piddly plot cards, and a character list with a grand total of three names on it.

SOBBED

This was around noon, and about this time, one of my good efriends came online. I lamented the loss of my Nano project to her over instant messaging and she offered to help. I emailed her the share link to my Dropbox backup file. She opened it, and discovered it had bee corrupted—it lacked the story, but had the plot cards and character list and notes.

I wept a little, but decided now was the time to admit defeat—only my friend wasn’t willing to call it just yet. She advised me on how to find the backup file my computer had. So moved Rover II aside and turned on my desktop once more, hoping I’d be able to get into it, start up Scrivener for the search, extract the file, and get out of the program before Homer II decided to freeze again.

My good friend gave me the file path to seek out the file, but I couldn’t find it outside of Scrivener. So I opened Scrivener and checked the backup page in its Options section. There I found the file path, and I copied it to paste into a window in my file search. And there I found five copies of my Wevae project. I chose the most recent by date and time (about 11:30 or so Wednesday night).

Sent it to my friend. She opened it. Everything was in it. She emailed me a copy of the Wevae Scrivener file, then departed her computer to take one of her kids to work. I tried to open the file, found I could download a completely blank file, wept, then decided it was time to go exercise. I needed some stress relief, and I wasn’t willing to spend money on ice cream or donuts. Hit the gym, came home, told my friend that the email attempt had failed.

I think we tried it again before she came up with the idea of sending it to me as a PDF. This worked, after a fashion. I got the character list, some story notes, and the body of the story, but not the plot cards. And I also wasn’t able to import them into scrivener because it doesn’t recognize PDF files for import. Tried copy-pasting and that didn’t do very well since the PDF file wasn’t editable on my end.

Contacted my friend, thanked her again for the help she’d given, and asked for everything as RTF. She sent that in two files. 1) Project notes, character list, and body of wip; 2) plot cards. This worked! I was able to copy-paste everything into Scrivener—did it that way ’cause I wasn’t sure just what importing would do to the files and I wanted to be picky about how my outline was handled—and spent the remainder of the evening thanking my friend over and over for helping me recover my wip.

All told, this took five or six hours from the time I shut Homer II off between 10:00 and 11:00 this morning. I cried a lot, despaired, and, just like the heroes in some books, made things far worse before they got better with the help of a friend.

Seasons

Part of the reason why I’m glad to be in Utah (and particularly the northern half of it) is the fact there are four distinct seasons. Not that other places I’ve lived haven’t had four distinct seasons, but that these seasons follow the course I was taught to expect seasons to follow.

You know, the Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter cycle—all by itself.

There isn’t much seasonal change in Florida. Temps don’t drop much below the 60’s Fahrenheit during the day, though some nights may drop into the 30’s, at least in the Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral area where I spent most of my years in Florida.

I never lived long enough in New York State (around Syracuse), to recall much of anything beyond one hot summer as a high school graduate and one winter in sixth grade I tromped through snow up to my hips to get to school.

Northwestern Oregon was mostly rainy, and so was the southern part of Washington state, right across the Columbia River, where I lived in Oregon. Sometimes we got snow. Rarely. Most of the time, we didn’t see snow unless someone drove up the mountains to fill their pickup and bring it down to us in our more “temperate” clime. The brief times we spent in various other places in Oregon resulted in more seasonal variation, but my memory is unclear on which locations had that variation as well as precisely when I lived in all of them except Baker, Oregon, where I recall we got a fair bit of snow and had a decently warm summer.

And in North Carolina, where I spent about half my adult life, we had Spring, Hot and Humid, Hurricane, and Ice Storm. Not exactly the seasonal variation I longed to experience. Hurricane season (which happens sometime between midsummer and winter) was never fun, for we lived in various mobile homes throughout our years in NC, and mobile homes aren’t exactly firmly attached to the ground. Some of those hurricanes that happened on the coast still managed to tear up Fayetteville, where I lived.

Before moving here to Utah, I’d always, always, always wanted to live in a location where there was a decent, predictable seasonal variation. One wherein there weren’t any possible life risks (like hurricanes). Don’t get me wrong. Of all the places I’ve lived, I’d have to say I loved NC the best—after Utah.

But here in northern Utah, I have the seasonal variation I craved. We’re right now sliding down into true autumn temperature-wise. The heat in my building, which is controlled by a central unit to be employed by our individual apartment units, has been on for about two weeks now. Outside, the leaves are turning color, and it’s necessary to have some sort of warmth-garment for being out past sunset though the days can still be quite comfortably warm (if one isn’t particularly cold-blooded), especially when in direct sunlight. We’re having more rain, too, and we desperately need it after the lack of snow we had last winter (3, maybe 4 snow days, and it didn’t stick). I’m hoping we get more snow this year.

My favorite season has always been Fall, at least anywhere I’ve lived where there have been trees whose leaves changed color. I love crunching through the dried leaves on the ground and will frequently detour into carpets of them on the ground whenever the opportunity presents itself; this is something I’ll even take off my ever-present headphones for, just so I can hear the crunch of the leaves. I also love the fact that it’s the time of the year when the weather’s cooling down. Here in Utah, autumn comes at just about the right time for me—right when I’m getting sick of the hot weather and want it to be cool again.

My second-favorite season is Spring. For pretty much the same reason, though in reverse, as I enjoy fall so much. In Spring, it’s warming up, just about the time when I’m tired of the cold and sick of the snow (when we get it). I may have a small amount of Seasonal Affective Disorder, though it’s never been diagnosed, because when Spring comes around and things start warming up and the days start getting visibly longer, my mood always rises a little. I appreciate the fact that I no longer have to bundle up in layers of clothing and a thick coat with hats and scarves and gloves (which I resist wearing no matter how cold it gets because I’m with my hands the same way some people are with their feet). I’m happy to go back to wearing my hoody and sweaters for cold-weather garments, and the rain (if we get any), is an anticipated sign that things are really getting warmer.

And if I have to pick a third-place in the Seasonal Games, I’d have to say that’s Winter. Yes, even with the difficulties it can pose to getting around. All my really nice clothes are long-sleeved, and my best jeans are too dark for summer wear, so through fall and winter, I’m able to wear my winter garments. I find it particularly fun to bundle up throughout most of winter, especially if it gets really cold, and I enjoy the holiday spirit in December (probably because I’m no longer quite so concerned with shopping for gifts for people).

Which makes Summer the season I like least. I won’t say I detest Summer—at least not here in Utah. In North Carolina? Hated Summer. But here I find Summer easier to bear, mostly because I live in high desert and it’s rarely very humid here in summer, even after a good thunderstorm. It’s still not my favorite season. Mostly because I’m overweight and it’s uncouth for someone of my weight to traipse about in bikini tops and boy-cut shorts—even if I felt comfortable wearing them. In fact, the I absolutely hate the clothing associated with summer, mostly because the only way I can be comfortable is if I wear femmy stuff, and I refuse to do that, which means I’m relegated to tee shirts.

© 2019 Ashe Elton Parker

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑