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good Jenny Odell interview:

Q. …these days, we’re all almost on the hook to have something to say about everything as soon as it happens.

A. Yeah. I find there to be something a little bit profane about that, given what’s happening right now.

Tuesday, time for new tunes! you may have had this recommended by a hundred people lately, but they’re all right: Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters. standout track: Shameika. 🎵

just ordered the first book for this summer’s Camp TOB: The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. I haven’t done a group book club like this before; little worried that time pressure will make it less fun. but going to give it a shot & read some books I otherwise wouldn’t! 📚

Novel Progress, 5/17/20 – in which writing resumes and critiques continue

Novel Progress, 5/17/20

It has somehow been nearly a month since I last posted, claiming I would be resuming active work on the novel. And I have! Yay, me.

I took that small-fonted, thin-margined printout I mentioned last time, and read it cover to cover. I found a few consistency issues, some ways to trim it down a little, and bunch of little typos. I marked those in pen on the printout, and am about 70% of the way through fixing them in the manuscript. That separation of reading from writing, of not being able to edit it as I find issues, definitely helps me focus. Having a full printout was nice, but I’ll probably go back to PDFs for the next pass. Using even the minimal paper I squeezed this onto still makes me feel too guilty.

I have a couple of things going on the critique front: the critique partner I’ve been working with is willing to try switching gears to higher level beta-reading. I also signed up for Scribophile, and have poked around a little to learn how it works. Their system of “karma” and various kinds of “spotlights” seems overly complicated, to the point that I’m surprised there are so many people on there, seeming to know how it all works.

I also received the critique I bought with my entry in the Writers’ League Manuscript Contest. I haven’t fully processed that yet, but it pointed to more work on the opening scene along the lines of what I’ve heard from others. Which I thought I’d addressed, ha ha, but that’s okay.

That critique also reinforced a realization I had during my own recent re-read: the genre for this thing isn’t urban fantasy, despite its occult magical aspects, it’s more of a thriller! My confusion about the genre has been nagging at me for a while, so I’m really glad to have finally realized this.

I’ve done pretty well at spending at least a brief time each day working on this (80% over the past 30 days, according to Streaks), and that’s been a big boost to a feeling of momentum. There’s a long way to go, but I’m going.

that FT Times article you should read:

Trump will continue to dangle the prospect of miracle cures. Every week since the start of the outbreak, he has said a vaccine is just around the corner… The previous fastest development was four years for mumps in the 1960s.

4th Tap Brewing’s Supernaut
#saturdaybeer ?

A video suggestion for New Tunes Tuesday this week: a live performance from the hallowed KEXP studio: Wussy, from July 2014. this way you can see the gang in action, including pedal steel guitarist John Erhardt (RIP). standout track: the first one, Teenage Wasteland ?

no commencement for our daughter’s college graduation (not that she was very excited to attend anyway). this pic from her Animal Crossing self-celebration, complete with correct UNT colors, will do ?

Goose Island Brewing’s Bourbon County Stout (2016)
#saturdaybeer ?
this bottle, given by chance to me by her uncle last year, has been waiting to be opened since our daughter started college. today she’s a graduate, and we couldn’t be more proud

McSweeney’s: Sure, the Velociraptors Are Still On the Loose, But That’s No Reason Not to Reopen Jurassic Park

And keeping things just below widespread public outrage levels is our gold standard for all of the decisions we make here at Jurassic Park.

New Tunes Tuesday: Signal by Automatic. a debut with as solid of post-punk jams as I’ve heard in a while. standout track: I Love You, Fine ?

New Tunes Tuesday: Space Cadet by beabadoobee. music as fun & cool as the artist’s name. standout track: Sun More Often ?

a really niche thing but I couldn’t figure it out for ages, until today! Smart Playlist rules are interpreted differently in the Mac and iOS Music apps. “genre is not classical”, for example, includes tracks with no genre specified on MacOS, but omits them on iOS!

Celis Brewery’s Violet Crown Quad
#saturdaybeer ?
(They were out of labels so the bottles were signed by the owner, Christine Celis.)


How about this pandemic, huh? I’m grateful to be on the really lucky end of the spectrum so far: healthy, working remotely at my relatively secure job, an introverted homebody with plenty of company in the form of a family that includes zero school-aged kids. That acknowledged, the stress of this crazy time is not nothing. My mental capacity for spending time on an amateur work of speculative fiction has, you know, seen better days.

But I’m back, or at least I’m going to try to be. After the initial mondo sprint of NaNoWriMo, I’ve never really put huge chunks of time into this, but I’ve been pretty regular. The slow and steady tortoise, carving out a couple of mornings or evenings each week to sit down at the laptop and open up Ulysses and chip away at this thing. Those have fallen off, but I’m going to try to get back to them. In fact, I’m going to try to spend at least a little time on writing every day (I know, resolutions, bleh, but I’m aiming for a “most days, that’s fine” attitude more than a I’LL DIE BEFORE I BREAK THAT CHAIN one).

The Writers’ League hasn’t officially cancelled or online-ified June’s Agents & Editors Conference, though I can’t imagine it will go ahead as planned. So that’s a big milestone for my year gone. I submitted a synopsis and first however-many pages to their manuscript contest; I hope to still get feedback from that, regardless.

I’ve given the full manuscript to a small number of people, and haven’t had any of them finish it yet, which I’m trying to be cool about. It is a very small sample size, and I knew all along that reading this whole unpolished, unprofessional rough draft was a big favor to ask. I have gotten feedback that it has a slow start, and I’ve been worried for a while that there’s more going on than there needs to be. So I’m thinking that before continuing with lower-level edits – I want to bring the narrative voice closer to the protagonist’s point of view – that I should read it over from a higher level. Try to judge the pacing of the story, character introduction, world-building, etc., and not get bogged down in touching up the words and sentences. To that end, I just exported a PDF with a really small font and margins, and sent it to the on-demand printers at Office Depot. Tomorrow I’ll pick up 70 double-sided pages crammed with text, and start it all over again.

Adelbert’s Brewery’s Tripel Treat
#saturdaybeer ?

Austin Beerworks’ Blonde Joke Golden Stout
#saturdaybeer ?

4th Tap Brewing’s Bat Country Stout w/Wild Gift Cold Brew
⭐️__ __
(shown: pandemic-era crowler without the real label; this was a little more smoky/porter than I’d like)
#wednesdaybeer ?

Austin Beerworks‘ Gold Fist
#saturdaybeer ?

local breweries are still open for beer-to-go, so I decided to do my part by supporting five of them (Adelbert’s, Austin Beerworks, Celis, 4th Tap, & Circle). Prost! ?


Deschutes Brewing’s The Abyss (2019)
⭐️__ __
#saturdaybeer ?

Rogue Ales’ Dead ‘N’ Dead
#fridaybeer ?
After waiting in line like shopping at HEB is an amusement park ride, I just couldn’t resist this name ?‍♂️?

Bandcamp Supporting Artists Affected by Pandemic – in which you’re encouraged to buy some great new music for yourself, and directly support musicians who can’t tour for a while ?

Bandcamp Supporting Artists Affected by Pandemic

As I’ve written here before, I love Bandcamp. Artists keep 80-85% of their sales on the platform, making Bandcamp the only digital music store that I feel as good about patronizing as I do about buying a band’s CD at their show.

And today, Friday, March 20, as the world is grinding to a pandemic halt and all concerts are off, they’re helping out those artists by letting them keep 100% of their sales today. I personally will be stocking the hell up.

Now, a lot of of the biggest names in music are on major label deals that aren’t sold by Bandcamp. But there are also a lot of really excellent bands, some of my favorites of all time. A non-comprehensive selection, in no particular order:

  • Sleigh Bells
  • Wussy
  • Moving Panoramas
  • Flock of Dimes
  • The Decemberists
  • boygenius
  • She Keeps Bees
  • Los Campesinos
  • Hop Along
  • Courtney Barnett
  • Heartless Bastards
  • The Besnard Lakes
  • Juana Molina
  • S / Jenn Champion (new old release!)
  • Summer Cannibals
  • Diet Cig (preorder!)
  • Gina Chavez
  • Automatic
  • Screaming Females
  • Chumped
  • EMA
  • Bleached
  • Torres
  • Waxahatchee (preorder!)
  • case/lang/veirs
  • Nervous Dater
  • Speedy Ortiz
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
  • Charly Bliss
  • Lucy Dacus

Now get over there and start shopping!

these free nightly opera streams from the Met are really good. bonus points for their app on Apple, Amazon, and Roku (no account or login needed, just select “free preview” to watch the day’s freebie in its entirety) ?

awakened before the alarm clock by our smoke detectors blaring for a few seconds. better at 6:00 than at 3:00 or 4:00, but being jolted from deep sleep like that is never how I want to start the day. it stopped as suddenly as it started. dust? a tiny spider, now deaf?

Martin House Brewing’s The Morrigan
#saturdaybeer ?

Lakewood Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Temptress
#saturdaybeer ?

unsurprisingly blistering reaction to yesterday’s impeachment outcome from press around the world:

Trump, his followers and the majority of the Republicans are, together and wilfully, breaking down the foundations of democracy.

Starting to Get Feedback – in which I let anyone else in the world read a word of what I’ve been writing for four years, and live to tell the tale (pun very much intended)

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