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Episode 5, We Built This City

Our fifth podcast where we discuss realities of life in medieval (or thereabout) Europe and how to incorporate these facts into your game, campaign, setting, or book, particularly in the context of city building. Also known as the podcast where we get a lot of little details wrong and enrage fanboys and historical buffs alike.

Corrections:

The Picts, though quite widespread, primarily inhabited parts of Scotland, not Ireland.

The character Holo from Spice and Wolf was a wolf god, not a fox god.

The early plot element in Spice and Wolf mentioned involved silver coins, not gold coins.
  • Mood: Isolated
  • Listening to: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
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  • Watching: Sage Vs.
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  • Eating: Rice Pilaf and Peas
  • Drinking: Diet Coca-Cola
Still recovering from an odd little bug and waiting for my laptop's screen to be repaired (thank you, ThinkGeek, for making an excellent, durable messenger bag with a horrible, breakable strap). Here's another teaser image for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II: The Argument

Oh yeah, one more thing.

Remember how I said I would never work with Lobo Leo again and he would not be working on this book?

Well, I lied.
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  • Watching: Parks and Recreation
  • Playing: Darkest Dungeon
  • Eating: Chocolate Chips
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As I write this, I'm recovering from a nasty bout of eye-strain that periodically hits me when I a) don't get enough sleep due to insomnia b) am stressed and/or c) have spent too much time staring at screens. It doesn't make composing this post any easier but here we go.

The Kickstarter for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II failed. We did raise a little under 1,000 USD from 38 supporters which, actually, is very impressive. I said it once and I'll say it again: To those of you contributed - whether through cash, plugging the project and/or asking other people to plug it - from the bottom of my heart, thank you! 

I confess I started expecting this to happen a week following the project's commencement. Why? Simply put, a target of 3,000 USD was too high, too much to ask. That said, let me walk you through my reasoning for setting such a lofty goal.

First, let's do some math. I plan on having a minimum of 9 full-color drawings (including the cover) and 6 black and white drawings. The average/expected commission fee for these (which is indeed more or less what the artists I'm working with charge) is 150.00 USD and 75-100 USD, respectively. Thus the total cost for the illustrations alone will be around 1500.00 USD. This is significantly more than what I paid for the first book for two reasons: there were only 12 illustrations in book I and Lobo Leo, being a fan of the series, gave me a discount on his regular rates. There are also some minor, miscellaneous costs involved such as ordering proof copies, marketing, ISBNs, etc. Finally, there's the cost of the rewards had the Kickstarter been successful. I calculated the price of each reward and subtracted it from the amount pledged to determine how much the rewards could cost. I estimated it would be 1000.00-1500.00 USD for the shipping, printing, etc. depending on what rewards were claimed. Finally, take into account Kickstarter takes 5% of any successfully funded project and that 3,000.00 USD becomes 2850.00, leaving only a little wiggle room for a couple hundreds dollars for myself at the end (maybe). Suddenly, 3,000 USD doesn't seem so outrageous.

Maybe I should have set a lower goal so I could at least partially fund the book. The thing is, it took me a year just to break even on the first book after its initial release and while making money isn't the point of this project, my financial situation has changed since then. My cost of living is much higher and paying for all of this out-of-pocket isn't terribly attractive, especially since I'm trying to build up my savings. I could do it, but realistically I could only commission, say, one or two illustrations a month. I couldn't do this earlier while writing the revision because my income was even tighter then (hell, I was doing private tutoring on the side just so I could actually save a little each month!). A successful Kickstarter would have accelerated things greatly and made the second book much less risky financially.

Finally, I did some research on other publication Kickstarters before starting my own. Many of them had goals in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and were reaching them; I can only recall one with a goal below 1K. And some of these, to be honest, didn't look much better or worse than The Lycanthrope Club in terms of the author experience, book, rewards, professionalism, subject, etc. Maybe they owe this success to aggressive social media advertising. As soon as I started the Kickstarter I received several messages from individuals and companies offering to promote the project via Facebook, Twitter, etc. I passed on all the offers as a) these people are usually scammers and b) I dislike most major social media networks, but perhaps that was the secret to their success. In any case, this, along with the reasons above, is what convinced me to set the 3,000 USD goal for the Kickstarter. 

I still think it was worth the effort. I've learned a bit about crowdfunding and raised the profile of the series (or at least I hope I did!) It also reminded me that, while I only have a small number of fans and readers, they are extremely dedicated and supportive ones. 

The book is still going to be published, but I'm not going to attempt to fund it through Kickstarter again. Apart from the fact working through KS is a bit of a pain during and following the fund-drive, I got the impression many of you couldn't contribute because they don't let you pledge through PayPal. Instead, it's going to be the same process as book I. I'll steadily commission illustrations as money become available while working on the final draft. I won't be able to add any of the extra stuff I wanted (I had even planned on commissioning a short comic strip had the fund-drive gone particularly well) but you'll still get the 15 illustrations, bonus stories, and concept sketches in the full color edition. It's just going to take longer. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get back to writing original stories in both The Lycanthrope Club universe and elsewhere. I've been focusing too much on this damn Kickstarter and book II and need to sit down and do some actual writing!

I want to thank the folks over at FA for providing me with free large banner advertising space for the last couple of days of the Kickstarter; it was extremely generous. I'd also like to thank the artists, Jean and Ashley, for plugging the Kickstarter on their respective social media outlets. 

The fifth episode of the Daemoneye Podcast has been recorded and should be up in a couple of days. 

One last note. Once in a while, someone in the comments suggests I should try to do this professionally, i.e. dedicate myself to writing and try to make a living off it. Well, after this I think I can say that's really not an option. The series and my work simply aren't popular enough. I'm quite satisfied with my small but loyal reader base and being a hobby author and publisher. 
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Click here to support The Lycanthrope Club: Book II Kickstarter!

EDIT: The final cover art for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II is now complete! Let's all give ashkey (ashkey.deviantart.com/) a big hand! Also a big thanks to the folks over at FA who gave the kickstarter a couple of days of free advertisement on their site!

I had a bit of a disheartening day. Nothing particularly depressing or related to my writing, but it certainly put me in a foul mood. I'm not going to into the details.

We're down to less than a week on the The Lycanthrope Club: Book II kickstarter. I'm not going to lie - it's looking less and less likely that the project will be funded. There is often a rush of pledges towards the end of a kickstarter but seeing as we're not even half-way funded...well, we'll see. Thanks to those who have already contributed! There aren't too many of you but you've been extremely generous.

I'll make one final plea to you, my readers: I've made an effort to promote the project via online advertisement and garnering plugs but I need you to get the word out as well! If you can't contribute funds but still want to help the kickstarter, one of the best things you could do is contact friends, websites, groups, clubs, authors, and artists who might be interested in The Lycanthrope Club: Book II project and ask them to plug the kickstarter. Seriously, one good link could draw hundreds and possibly even thousands of people, making the difference between success and failure. 

Bit of good news: I just submitted the manuscript to my editors. While I wait for them to go over the draft I'll continue work on the long-awaited, often requested sequel to A Nurse in Wolf's Clothing and First Night - the story of Melinda and Phillip's first night in the woods as werewolves. These short stories will be included in the print and full-color pdf versions of the book. 

More production sketches may be coming soon to the kickstarter. Keep your eyes peeled.

That is all.
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  • Watching: Let's Drown Out (Yahtzee19)
  • Playing: Clockwork Empires
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Click here to support the project!

We're nearing the half-way mark on the funding deadline. To those of you who have pledged, thank you! That said we're going to need a big push over the next two weeks to reach our goal.

I've been working to raise the project's profile, including buying ad-space and getting plugs from the artists working on the illustrations. Getting plugged by webcomic artists, authors, and news sites is actually some of the best advertising you can get online. If you know any such individuals with an audience that may appreciate the story, please contact them and (very politely) ask them for a mention or even a recommendation. It could literally mean the difference between being funded or failing. 

Speaking of artists, I've been in touch with Dirk Tiede link - one of the artists who worked on the first book. He's been on an extended sabbatical recovering from repetitive motion injuries. While it isn't a sure thing yet, he has expressed an interest in providing illustrations for the project(!), which is awesome. Again, it could still go the other way, but there's a very good chance he'll be back for the second book! 

Also, I realize I haven't fully described what the second book will be like. The full-color edition of The Lycanthrope Club: Book II will include... 
  • The revised novel-length (~55,000 words) sequel to the first book, The Lycanthrope Club: Book I. 
  • Eight full-page color illustrations and six inked illustrations by Ashley Vanstone, Jean Harrell, Dirk Tiede(?), and possibly more. 
  • Three bonus short stores: A Nurse in Wolf's Clothing I and II, and First Night, the latter chronicling Phillip Dodd's first night as a werewolf with his girlfriend, Melinda. 
  • Production sketches and early concept art 
The only difference between the full-color and black and white editions will be that the color illustrations will be in greyscale. The free-for-download edition, which will be available a month or so after the initial release on the Daemoneye Publishing website, will only feature the revised story and illustrations (greyscale in the case of the color images). 

I'm going to post some production sketches on the Kickstarter page. Enjoy!

That's it for now! 
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  • Watching: Let's Drown Out (Yahtzee19)
  • Playing: Clockwork Empires
  • Eating: Homemade Minestrone
  • Drinking: Diet Coca-Cola
Well, it's on. 



Kickstarter Link
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1…

UPDATE: International shipping for rewards is now available!
There will be an additional 10.00 USD shipping fee (20 USD for one of the rewards as I will send multiple books and it will therefore be heavier), but otherwise we're golden!

First, thank you for all your support thus so far. That said, I need you, my fans, now more than ever.

$3,000 USD seems a bit steep for a project of this size, but trust me, it isn't. First, Kickstarter takes around 5% of the funds, so only $2,850 USD will actually go into the project. Second, if you factor in the predicted cost of the art AND the price of printing and mailing the rewards I'll barely break even if the project gets its minimum funding. I've crunched the numbers. And that doesn't take into account time and fussy little miscellaneous payments that will inevitably crop up. 

I need you, my gentle readers, to get the word out. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your acquaintances. Tell anyone that might be a) a carbon-based life-form and b) vaguely interested in reading a story involving werewolves, high school, or *groan* young adult literature themes, etc. I plan on paying for some advertising for the project but I am heavily dependent on word-of-mouth. Oh, and contribute to the project, if you are able. Every little bit helps!

I've always maintained that is a hobby business; something I do in my spare time for fun rather than an attempt to make even part of a living out of writing. Well, this is still true, but the truth is I wouldn't mind taking it to the next level, i.e., making it a semi-serious pursuit. This Kickstarter is a litmus test. Rest assured, the book will be published whether or not the Kickstarter is successful, but if I can get it funded...well, I'm going to take it as a message that I can do more with it. That and the art will be better and it will get out faster!

In case you're unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works, you are only billed if the project is successfully funded. That is, Kickstarter will return ALL of your money if the goal isn't met.

Also, I created a small video for the project using Windows Live Movie Maker but for some reason the picture seems stuck on the preview frame. I set the bitrate to under 1500 kbps as recommended, so I don't know what's wrong. If anyone thinks they might have a fix, please contact me! The Youtube video (see above) works fine [link]

Thirty days and counting...here's hoping it works out!

Oh, and the new Daemoneye Podcast, Episode 4 - What Measure Is Non-Human?, is up. Check it out here: [link]
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Just uploaded a little teaser for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II. 

Starting to assemble the initial art and iron out the fussy details. The Kickstarter should be up very soon along with more information, previews, and a release date.

...Goddamn this is still taking too long, but at least it is happening. 

Happy New Year!

EDIT: The next Daemoneye Podcast is going to be a bit late. To make for this, we've decided to ask you, our listeners, what the topic should be. Please vote below.
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I was hoping to get the Kickstarter for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II up and running by December, but some (not all, mind you) of the artists I commissioned to draw the preliminary illustrations have proven to be less than reliable. I haven't lost any money, but have lost nearly a month's time. I've gotten a hold of some replacements whom I've worked with before and are dependable, but they're busy over the holidays so the Kickstarter, let alone the book proper, probably won't be ready until the end of the year. 

Let me take this opportunity to address any would be artist out there - professional, semi-professional, or hobbyist - who takes commissions. I've dealt with a lot of freelance artists over the years and, everything else being equal, I'd take a decent artist who is dependable over a fantastic artist who is unreliable and uncommunicative any day of the week. I realize good art takes time and that delays can and do slow you down. That's fine. But if problems do arise, it's critically important you keep your client updated! Do not go dark for a month or longer after accepting a commission, especially a commercial one but especially if you've already been paid in part or in full!  And respond to your clients' inquires! It literally takes less than a minute to reply to an email asking for a status update, so as long as you aren't being bombarded with them daily (in which case you're well within your right to ask them to back off) there's little reason not to respond! 

...And yes, if your client, for whatever reason, is fine with unreported delays, communication blackouts, and general unprofessionalism so long as they (eventually) get their artwork, all of the above is waived. But otherwise, it's a given

Bitter? Me? Nah, not at all. 

EDIT: Bit of good news, the artist who did the cover for the first book (look to your left) has agreed to draw the cover for the second: ashkey.deviantart.com/
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Fair warning, Tyler and I geek out pretty heavily on this one, discussing Hawking Radiation, zero-point energy, famous science fiction/fantasy authors, the works. 

[link]

I've started commissioning artwork for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II so there's something to preview in the Kickstarter. The second book is getting closer and closer to completion!
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You've all been very patient waiting for the Lycanthrope Club: Book II so I've decided to post a short preview of the revised novella. This is a new passage and was not a part of the original Lycanthrope Club. See if you can figure how where it is in the story.

* * *

    Melinda sucked in air through her teeth.

    "I'll call a club meeting," she said. "I'll explain what happened and try to convince them to let you decide whether or not you want to join." She grimaced. "I'm going to catch a lot of flak for this, but we have bigger problems to deal with right now so I think they'll let it go."

    "Thanks Melinda," said Phillip.

    "No, thank you, Phillip," said Melinda. "After everything that's happened over the last few weeks...I needed this." She rose from the bed. "Have my parents come back?" she inquired.

    "I didn't hear anything."

    "Well, they should be home pretty soon, so I should change," she said, nodding towards the hallway.

    "Change? But you're clothes are...oh, yeah."

    "Speaking of which," sighed Melinda, turning back to the bed.

    She grabbed the edge of the blanket and folded it back, revealing a tangled mess of torn clothing.

    "Terrific," said Melinda in a deadpan voice. She plucked the remnants of a yellow T-shirt from the mattress and dropped it, shaking her head. "Thank God I wasn't wearing jeans."

    "Uh, yeah," murmured Phillip, staring at the ruined raiment.

    "You, uh, you might want to get going," said Melinda, shrugging her broad shoulders. "It's getting late."

    "Y-Yeah," said Phillip, rubbing the back of his head. "I gotta get a good night's rest. Tomorrow is the last band practice before the dance."

    "Would you mind taking the clothes down to the garbage bins on your way out?"

    "Uh, no prob," said Phillip. He scooted along the mattress and started gathering Melinda's torn clothing into a bundle. Meanwhile, Melinda stepped over to her closet and began picking out a new set of apparel.

    "Phillip?"

    Phillip, who had been dangling Melinda's bra in the air, goggling it, quickly stuffed the  undergarment in the bundle with the rest of her clothes and whirled around, blushing.

    "Y-Yeah?"

    "Are you...sure you're OK?" said Melinda anxiously. "I mean, if I were in your shoes I-...I'm sorry," she shook her head. "Can you promise me you won't tell anyone about this?"

    "Of course, Melinda!" said Phillip earnestly, stepping towards her. "I promise I won't tell anyone about your secret!"

    "Pinky swear?" said Melinda mischievously, extending a paw.

    "Um, yeah," said Phillip, chuckling at the absurdity of it.

    He reached out and hooked his pinky finger around Melinda beclawed equivalent. As soon as he let go Melinda suddenly lurched forward and embraced him, wrapping her massive arms around his body.

    "Thank you, Phillip," she whispered into his ear. "You're the best."

    Phillip nodded vaguely, trying not to think too hard about the two furry mounds pressing against his head.

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I was hoping to post a Halloween related short story, but I couldn't finish it in time. I may upload it in November.

Still looking for artists for book II...
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If you're one of the possibly thirty people who actually listened to the first Daemoneye Publishing podcast, I sincerely apologize. The audio quality was atrocious.

In other news, episode 2 of the Daemoneye Podcast is up! It doesn't sound nearly as terrible as the first so I actually made it public instead of direct access only. This month's topic: Fear and Horror in Gaming - how to successfully incorporate fear and dread into table-top and electronic games. Also a story at the end where I am scared shitless by a bear.

Check it out! -> [link]
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I'm over half-way through the initial hard edit of The Lycanthrope Club: Book II. I finally feel as though I've made enough progress to start scouting for prospective artists.

First of all, no, Lobo Leo is not going to be among them. Disappointing, I know, but I just don't think it would work out. I will contact Dirk Tiede as a courtesy since a) he did excellent work in the first book and b) his art style closely resembles that of Leo's, but given his situation I'm not sure he'll be up for the project. This means there's a good chance all the illustrations in book II will be provided by new artists. I don't have anyone in particular at mind at present, so if you have any suggestions I'd be happy to take them. Just bare in mind their style should at least somewhat resemble Leo and Dirk's, i.e., realistic comic book/anime. This is more for consistency's sake than simply trying to emulate the previous artists.  I'm also going to need a couple of dedicated editors (I may even hire a professional one if everything goes well; see below). 

As some of you may remember, I'm going to try to fund this project via Kickstarter (most of the costs will be artist fees). I'm still working out the details, but once I've found some willing and capable artists I'll set a minimum goal with stretch goals being additional illustrations (and/or more full color ones). Perks may include advance copies of the book, signed copies, additional Daemoneye Publishing merchandise, a commissioned story from me or piece of art from the artist(s), a cameo in the story, and more. 

Make no mistake, the finished product is still months away, but for the first time I can see the finish line. 
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Thought I'd share an interesting little story.

One of my colleagues recently attended a weekend Immunology department retreat at Monterey. While there she learned from one of the attendees that I write/self-publish novellas. Curious and bored, she looked up it up online. She found The Lycanthrope Club: Book I entry on Amazon.com and noticed something incredible. One of the book's artists, Dirk Tiede, happens to be a good friend of hers! (she moved to San Francisco from Boston). They used to watch Game of Thrones together. Pretty amazing coincidence, no?
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I just recorded Daemoneye Publishing's first podcast and it can be viewed/listened to here

The audio quality...well, it's not the best, but I'm still working out the kinks. It technically isn't even a Podcast yet since it lacks a RSS feed and isn't on a dedicated podcast server. I also unlisted it and turned off comments since this initial recording a) is a little rough and b) is mostly for existing fans. The episode centers around table-top roleplaying game design. Think of this as the 'pilot' episode. Let me know what you think and if you have any advice to improve the quality of the podcast, I'm happy to listen. 
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...I spent well over a minute trying to come up with some onomatopoeia to convey the guttural, frustrated sounds I've been making as of late while writing to put in the entry header, but nothing came close.

I'm around halfway through the hard edit of The Lycanthrope Club: Book II and have gotten through some of the parts that needed the most work, but there's still a crap-load to go.  Don't forget it'll require another revision or two after I pass it along to an editor.  On top of that, I still need to write the long-promised sequel to "A Nurse in Wolf's Clothing" and "Phillip and Melinda's First Night." Then there's the first draft of my research article for the laboratory, my six-month evaluation form, other side projects...

Long story short, I'm not suffering so much from writer's block as writer's fatigue. That said, I really can't (or don't want to) take a break now. I need to get this stuff done.

Can't promise anything new for a while because all my projects are long-term at present and I don't have the energy to tack on new ones.  The podcast, oddly enough, is pretty easy to do since most of it is plug-n-play and I already have a website (and separate media host, of course). Once I check in with my business partner and do a test run I'll get started.  There's something to look forward to in the immediate future, at least.

Also...

Robin Williams
1951-2014
Rest In Peace
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Work on The Lycanthrope Club: Book II is coming along.  Although there are already multiple projects on my plate and I don't have a lot of free time these days, I'm hungering for more.  Glutton for punishment, I suppose.

I've been thinking about starting a Podcast with my friend/business partner Tyler Barrell.  It'd primarily focus on paper-and-pencil gaming, electronic gaming, board gaming, and all manner of miscellaneous geek culture, i.e., it'd be like just about every other podcast on the net.  Not expecting to make any money off it (I was surprised to learn one could!) - just something to do for fun.  Whaddaya think?

P.S. for the handful of you who are also fans of Daemoneye Publishing's tabletop RPG, Dead Stars: Universal Decay, we're having some trouble with Lulu right now so for the time being the print book is unavailable (The Lycanthrope Club: Book I is still available, though, and now also available as a text-only pocketbook).  

EDIT: The issue has been resolved.  The Universal Decay: Dead Stars Rule Book is available for purchase again.
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I just uploaded another chapter of The Last Recruit.  Sorry for the delay.  It's a bit on the short side, but represents the end of the story prologue.
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I'm actually making decent progress on The Lycanthrope Club: Book II.  However, the more I get done the more apparent it becomes that it's going to take at least twice as much effort as the first book.  There are lots of little details to go over - plot revisions, dangling threads that need cutting, additional scenes to be written, etc.  Not to mention two original short stories that will be included in the 'deluxe' edition of the book, i.e. Melinda and Phillip's first night in the woods and the sequel to 'A Nurse in Wolf's Clothing.'  THEN I have to find and retain a (semi)professional editor(s) and new artists.

I'm aware of Lobo Leo's return alfaluna.deviantart.com/.  It's nice to see him back and all, but let's be honest: he's done this many times before.  In all likelihood he'll vanish again without warning, pop up a half-year later and the cycle will continue.  I'm not bitter or even disappointed by this; just indifferent to it.  That said, it's due to this chronic unreliability that I will not be commissioning any additional artwork from Leo.  Sorry.  

I had my laptop looked at and apparently the problem isn't with the hard drive.  If anything, it's either the motherboard or cooling system.  Given the laptop doesn't overheat it's probably some flaw with the motherboard.  I haven't experienced another blue screen for over week so hopefully it's a rare system glitch that won't come up again (for a while).  That said, I'm definitely in the market for a second computer now.
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Hey everyone,

My ASUS laptop has started crashing a lot recently - really came out of the blue since I'm very careful with what I download, run, and install.  Because I need my computer for my postdoc appointment I've been hesitant to use it unless necessary. As a result, I haven't gotten a lot of writing done.  I'm going to take it to a computer repair expert and hopefully get the issue resolved.  I can't afford to replace it and can probably barely afford to fix it now.

EDIT: This is NOT a plea for donations/more purchases!  I'll be OK and should be able to fix it.
  • Mood: Unhappy
  • Listening to: NOTHING!!!
  • Reading: NOTHING!!!
  • Watching: Arrested Development
  • Playing: NOTHING!!!
  • Eating: Crackers and Cheese
  • Drinking: Diet Coca-Cola