Win NaNoWriMo by Being Rude

NaNoWriMo is the writing event for everybody, not just authors and English majors. Although I’m not playing by all the rules this year, I’m still participating. Also I figured this blog could use an update, and this update is especially bloggy with all the bold text. Anyway, my secret to NaNoWriMo success, which has allowed me to write 50,000 words during five separate Novembers, is: Be rude.

I don’t mean trolling the NaNoWriMo forums or yelling out car windows for stress relief.  I mean that if you give your writing priority above not just your own personal distractions, but the demands of your family and friends too, you are more likely to write all 50,000 words in November.

Here are the rude things I do to make my wordcount:

  • Bring a notepad, writing phone app, or laptop everywhere, including movie theaters and other people’s homes when they make the mistake of inviting me over during November.
  • Ignore others’ social media and blogs (which will still be there in December).
  • Take advantage of early voting and mail-in ballots instead of wasting time in line on election day.
  • Write while people are talking about something inconsequential.
  • Write while people try to get me to watch TV with them (sometimes in front of the TV).
  • Screen all phone calls.
  • Turn down social engagements at which I cannot write (unless it’s a family event).
  • Make somebody else drive or fly me to Thanksgiving dinner so I can write on the way.
  • Make somebody else cook most of Thanksgiving dinner (ideally providing one dish so the family must admit that I contributed).
  • Gain a few pounds if “bad” food and lack of exercise improve concentration or buy extra time. As a fat American I’ve found that existing while fat is apparently quite rude.
  • Mutter while writing in public (it’s part of my process).
  • Eavesdrop on others’ conversations and put their unattributed quotes in my characters’ mouths.
  • Threaten to name villains and red shirt characters after people who interrupt me.
  • Write sex scenes in a location where innocent passers-by might see the paper/screen.

So rude! So inconsiderate!

And yeah, if you know me then you know I’m like this about reading all year. In the other eleven months these behaviors can become bad (yet productive) habits. But during November, giving your writing priority over everybody else’s crap may get you to the NaNoWriMo winner’s circle.


Barbary Station has been picked up in a three-book deal with Saga Press! I’m writing a sequel (by the end of NaNoWriMo, idealy). An editor will edit these books! They will, to answer Mom’s question, be on Amazon and in Barnes and Nobel someday relatively soon.

My excitement’s gone past mania and come back around to appearing calm and under control, but the subsurface squee levels are still well above normal. I’m looking forward to honing my writing skills with additional professional advice, and to seeing how the final product turns out and what it communicates to folks. In game terms, it already feels like I gained a level and selected some fantastic new perks with my skill points.

Hi new visitors! I don’t blog much at the moment, but news is news.

Iridian’s Rules for Life in Space

  1. You shouldn’t feel the atmo. If it’s humid, you’re wasting water. If it’s dry, you have plumbing problems (or the habitat runs dry and you’ll get used to it, but check first). If it’s hot or cold, you’re wasting energy or a sensor’s broken. If it’s blowing, you have a fan using too much power or a hull breach.
  2. Do what I do. If you’re worried about any aspect of habitat life, imitate the most experienced spacefarer in the room. If you’re alone, find one to hang out with.
  3. If you see something, say something. Spacefarers like to laugh at Earthers, so reporting a spurious concern will do us a favor. And if it’s not spurious, you’re saving all our asses and we’ll thank you for that too.
  4. Find out what grav to expect before you board. On a ship, what’s the pilot’s grav philosophy? Is their priority passenger comfort, evading enemy fire, speed of transit, or protecting delicate cargo in a particular area of the ship? On a station, does it spin? If so, what’s the g generated? This will help you react to emergencies the right way and keep you from puking.
  5. Speaking of which, carry puke bags. Until you’re very used to life in the cold and the black, carry puke bags everywhere you go. They’re light and small and they’ll keep you from polluting the enviro while you acclimate. You never know when a shift in grav will be the last straw for your inner ear.
  6. Where a mask when someone’s sick. People tend to wear masks when they’re sick, which is polite but doesn’t do much. If someone else is sick, you’re less likely to catch it through a face mask. Sneezing in micro-g is extremely inconvenient.
  7. In micro-g, hang onto your stuff. You’ll see spacefarers let go of something in micro-g and it’ll hang there until the spacefarer wants it again. That’s because we know all about how forces interact and we know what grav to expect. If you do that it will end up in somebody’s eye, and that somebody will be pissed.
  8. It’s not fixed until somebody fixes it. Nothing in a habitat fixes itself, not even the AI. If something stops displaying symptoms before somebody works on it, that just means it’ll start up again at the least convenient moment. Maintenance records are public knowledge on civilized habs. Look them up.
  9. Pay attention to personal space. There’s not a lot of it in most habs, so respect what people have. Don’t shove yourself into it without asking. Don’t let your stuff drift into it. Don’t fart. Recognize when somebody’s offering you some of their personal space and thank them.
  10. Learn the emergency procedures. I put this last instead of first because it should be obvious, but if there are nine rules people want ten. Most procedures are standardized and work the same way on every hab. Your hab will have a manual or poster about them, even if it’s a ferry you’re on for fifteen minutes. Read it. And take the practice drills seriously, even if they start at 02:00. They’ll keep you alive, and that’s what these rules are all about.

About Corinthian…

You may or may not have heard about the collapse of the Corinthian Colleges Inc. system. Here’s an academic perspective and a journalistic perspective on the closure. And since I work for a private, non-profit college (which I need to avoid naming for social media policy reasons), I have Opinions on this.

We have several campuses in “teach -out status” like Corinthian’s were. At our school that means that even if it takes years, our students get the chance to finish their degrees before we close the campuses. Our teach-out students receive full administrative, financial aid, and career services support, just like any other active student. That’s how this is supposed to work.

The federal department of education, and multiple accreditation agencies they recognize, allowed Corinthian to melt down completely. Campuses aren’t teaching out, they’re closing. Those students will have a hell of a time transferring their credits into programs at other schools, because the accreditation agencies and the feds will hold the other schools responsible for Corinthian’s inept instruction.

This situation is infuriating because it’s avoidable. First, of course, Corinthian should have improved their education practices instead of lying about their graduation and graduate job placement rates. The state and federal laws about advertising and financial aid are terrible and self-contradictory, so I understand colleges getting in trouble over that. But it’s irresponsible to say “I see nobody’s hiring __ anymore. Let’s keep telling desperate potential students they will be hired after paying us a huge amount of money to tell them we told them how to do __.”

And second, their accreditation agencies allowed them to keep enrolling students long, long past a point at which Corinthian would have been able to fund a reasonable teach-out of their obviously doomed campuses.

I imagine all those extensions were granted in an effort to avoid situations like this one. But if that’s the case, the feds shouldn’t have put an intolerably huge punishment fine on the school system (because of course they would try and fail to pass that on to the students). I mean, that money has to come from someplace, and tuition clearly wasn’t sufficient.

So my opinions are:

  1. Don’t listen to anybody saying “poor little Corinthian.” They brought this on themselves.
  2. The accreditation agencies completely failed to do their jobs.
  3. Reducing the number of regulators will not solve this problem, because no matter how the responsibility is spread out, it’s still useless if nobody does what they’re supposed to do.

And also 4) my college that works extremely hard to do what our various regulators require of us. Please don’t lump my school in with dreck like Corinthian!

Oh Yeah, The Blog…

The husbandthing is always going on about how vulnerable WordPress is to hacking, but failure to update is a much bigger threat to this blog.

So, I’m in school again! For medical office assisting, this time. Might as well add a health science degree to my list. So far I’ve learned sneaky tactics for keeping the patient flow moving in a doctor’s office and a surprising amount about PC hardware for a course targeted at people who will never crack open their work computers.

Actually putting the curriculum and instruction degree to use in the day job, improving student assessments. Whee, data!

And editing. I dream in the novel universe now, but that’s the extent of the news on that front.

Now I have a forum post due, so I should probably come up with something plausible to say there. Perhaps something that starts with how the husbandthing is always going on about WordPress vulnerabilities…

Representation! Progress! Happy Holidays!

<Farnsworth>Good neeeews, everyone!</Farnsworth> My current novel is now represented by Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency! Who also represents… Women Destroying Science Fiction…. like… my story?! ::dies like a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man::

::reinflates:: Thanks to all of you visiting and being so friendly on Twitter! I’ve taken my first step into a larger world.

And now I have revisions to do! Part of my yearly holiday funk has to do with having just finished a project and fishing around for something to work on next. Now this project’s back on the editing screen! I am such a border collie in human skin. Ooh, don’t picture… sorry.

Anyway, happy holidays to you! See you with Actual News in 2015!

On Writing Motivation

And here I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write for this month’s blog! Ha.

First, shout out to newlyweds Terri and Paul! Great party, wonderful to see you, thanks for letting us crash on your fancy futon.

The folks over at Webucator asked some questions in honor of NaNoWriMo. I’m not NaNoing very hard this year. I’ve never written a novel in more than a month, and I’m curious about what that’s like. However, the questions are mildly interesting, so I shall answer them:

When I started writing, I just wanted to make a story like the Narnia books, only with better character names. My age was in single digits at the time. These days, I want to write instead of manage curricula, but that’s not happening anytime soon. The college administration gig pays well enough, and leaves me enough brainpower to write in the evenings, which are the important things.

I keep writing because I can’t help doing it, and if I don’t work to improve I will only write bad stuff (freeze frame scenes, lazy little short stories that don’t get finished, etc.). It takes some discipline to finish a story, edit it, and find the right place to publish it. It’s also effort well spent.


Short entry to report that a) the black helicopters are buzzing the house again, and b) the novel I’ve been messing with for, oh, a year is done! Completed the last nitpicky edit to the glorious electronic screams of the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” OST. Ahahaha!

Now I’ve spoiled next month’s entry. I will have to talk about Life, or the next novel, or something.

Break Your Mental Habits

The current novel is so, so close to being finished. I’ll mostly keep my head down until it’s done.

With this exception: I had another of those “Oh yes, I’m speaking to the entire internet” moments on Twitter the other day. It was caused by a coworker tracking down my personal email address when she really wanted something. That’s the address associated with my Twitter account, the one with my real full name on it. One does that, of course, to make oneself easier to find.

During my ill-spent 90’s internet youth I developed an attitude of anonymity through obscurity which doesn’t apply anymore, if it ever did. I first typed “home email address” above, because I felt like someone followed me from work to where I live.

Public social media accounts are social performance. If I want meaningful interactions with real people, I need to do that somewhere protected, or behind a properly obfuscating screenname. Quotes out of context are fun for journalists, politicians, and comedians, but I’m just kicking my future self in the ass by leaving so many opportunities out there now.

Break your mental habits. They’re not all as useful as they seem.

Happy 4th

I skipped June’s blog post because nothing new’s going on. Nothing new’s going on now either, but look! I’ve updated the blog.

Back to work.