ugh Good morning!

*is handed a note, checks clock*

Ahem. Good afternoon, rather.

There is news coming on a few fronts, but unfortunately today is a “run around and put out the fires” sort of day, so I won’t make any huge announcements. Suffice to say I’m undertaking a project that’s very near and dear to a number of Faithful Readers’ hearts.

But first, I need more coffee. Books don’t write themselves, sadly.


The Demon's Librarian So the re-edited Demon’s Librarian is now available in ebook! With an all-new cover that is mantitty-licious!

If you want the revised edition in paper, just look for the new cover. Revisions to paper editions take a while to work through the system.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Chess and Ryan, boy, you’re in for a treat. This is one of my favorite books I’ve ever written, just because it was so much plain FUN.

When demons are preying on schoolchildren in her city, Francesca Barnes does what any red-blooded librarian would—she looks a few things up and goes hunting. But the books she finds in a secret cache don’t tell her the whole story. Chess has no idea what she’s just stepped into—or just how special she really is . . .

Ryan is Drakul, part demon, and a loyal servant of the Order. He doesn’t expect a motorcycle-riding librarian to be messing around with demonic forces, and he doesn’t expect her to smell so damn good. But now he’s got bigger problems. His partner has disappeared, and the forces of Darkness are rising. Now Chess is Ryan’s only hope of finding his partner, and Ryan is Chess’s only hope of survival, because the demons now know Chess exists—and that she is the heir to a long-lost power that could push back their dark tide.

If Ryan can keep her alive long enough, she just might be the key to destroying the demons completely. But Ryan doesn’t know he’s been betrayed by the very Order he serves. And if Chess does, by some miracle, survive, he won’t ever be able to touch her again . . .

The only other book that was nearly this fun was The Damnation Affair, but that’s (say it with me) another story…

A Strange Arena

sleep. This morning I get to carry a struggling beast with icepick claws and very sharp teeth into a strange arena where they will be poked and prodded, and naturally wish to bite me for disturbing their heretofore-tranquil existence in such a manner.

Yep. I’m taking a cat to the vet. We who are about to lose gallons of blood to a tiny fur-bearing demon salute you.

In other news, I cleaned my office this weekend, while it was ninety-eight fricking degrees outside in the shade. Once I get home from the morning’s fun and games (and replace the lost blood, not to mention bandage myself) I’ll be able to dive into Projects One and Two easily. I spent my run yesterday morning getting the next few bits of the arc of each story clear in my head. Now there is only the writing.

Assuming, of course, that said cat hasn’t bitten my fingers off and swallowed them. I wonder if insurance covers the loss of working time I’d have after such an injury?

Yes, today is a day for Cheerful Thoughts.

Wish me luck.

photo by: Frozen Hell.

Cheap Therapy

cheap therapy

There really is nothing better than bringing a load of plants home and getting them in the ground. The urge to cultivate each inch of the land about one’s cave is ancient, I suppose.

There’s a white fragrant clematis, some marigolds, Japanese blood grass, a lamb’s ear, some rue (worn with a difference, indeed), lemon balm, purple salvia, alyssum…just filling in the corners and edges, so to speak. They didn’t have any mugwort, so I must keep a sharp eye out for the remainder of the summer. Along with true wormwood and rue, mugwort is the last of the trinity of herbs I need for a witch’s garden. Once I have those three, I can continue with the boxes. I have some Powis Castle wormwood, but I need the real stuff. I might even take a whack at growing asafoetida, since a bit of that in a handful of salt will deter most anything in a hurry.

But that’s another story.

One Way to Spend

Tightrope Last night I drank wine and watched the first Magic Mike movie. It went about as well as one would expect. I could do a whole blog post of analysis, but who wants that? Suffice to say it’s a sports movie, has all the usual beats of of a sports movie and plot holes you could drive large automobiles through, and there are intimations of another, darker and more interesting movie struggling to get out from under the mess that never quite makes it. I would have loved the movie to star Joanna the psych major doing her fieldwork among Tampa’s male strippers. Or even something like The Wrestler, but about the Kings of Tampa.

Sadly, it was not to be. *removes tongue from cheek*

Anyway, that was one way to spend a Monday night.

Here, have the Onion reporting on Harper Lee’s new book. Trust me, it’s worth it. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

There’s about 117 pages of Gallow 2 copyedits to get through today. If I make it, I’ll reward myself with a different movie, maybe. Or just collapse on the couch and drool my way into the evening.

Right now, either seems a good option.

REVIEW: The Siege

The Siege - Cover I finished Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Siege yesterday. His Captain Alatriste books are autobuys for me, I love that character with a fiery passion. The rest of Perez-Reverte’s oeuvre is good enough to warrant a look whenever I find it. His Queen of the South is, in my humble opinion, one of the few times a male author has actually written a believable female character, and of course The Club Dumas–with its attendant movie The Ninth Gate–is just straight-up fantastic, even if the latter is directed by Roman Polanski.

The Siege was a bit difficult in places, because even though Perez-Reverte’s written a believable woman once or twice, there is no guarantee for any of his other female characters. There’s a certain amount of brutal historical misogyny–the setting is, after all, Cadiz in the Napoleonic era–but the one female main character, Lolita Palma, is…problematic, at best. (I mean, really, you’re going to choose that name for a grown woman who’s supposed to be this serious, spinsterly paragon?) Palma’s relationship with the corsair Pepe Lobo veered into quasi-romance when it shouldn’t have; it could have been much more effective as a friendship based on mutual respect. Poor Dona Palma was sadly misused; I could have read a whole book about just her if the “ohGod gotta put a romantic subplot in here” bug hadn’t bitten the author. Also, Ricardo Marana, Lobo’s first mate, is the tubercular Doc Holliday to Lobo’s nautical Wyatt Earp, and I could have read a whole book about just their exploits, too. I didn’t get enough of Marana, the Letter of Marque corsairs, or a believable Palma.

The rest of the book is a murder mystery set during the siege of Cadiz, and it’s full of the sort of historical detail I’ve come to expect from Perez-Reverte. The French artillery captain Desfosseux is the hands-down the most enjoyable way I’ve ever read about trajectories and cannon fire; the taxidermist Fumagal served nicely in his appointed role and could have filled a whole book in his own right, but where The Siege really shines is in its sounding of the depths of Rogelio Tizon, the unscrupulous, oddly magnetic comisario of Cadiz’s police force.

Tizon is a nasty bit of work. Cruel, venal, and brutal, he’s also strangely engaging. He makes no excuses for what he does, and it’s that honesty that gives him depth and interest. He veers between offhandedly calling most women “whores” to deciding not even a “whore” should be brutally murdered–whipped to death with a wire whip, their backs flayed to ribbons and internal organs exposed. It’s those murders and the choices Tizon makes while hunting the murderer that function as the spine of the book. Tizon’s chess-playing alter ego Barrull was my initial guess at the murderer, and sometimes I think it might have been more satisfying if he’d turned out to be the actual killer instead of just a scholarly foil for Tizon and a way for Perez-Reverte to do some exposition. The added layer of mystery–the murderer invariably chooses places where a French shell has landed (or memorably, is about to land) is well done, treading the edge of believability and a chilling meditation the eerie logic of chance and instinct.

There are….problems, though. It’s telling that as well as making Dona Lolita Palma into a soapy paragon of a love interest instead of a believable character in her own right, only one of the murdered girls (because of course girls are the killer’s preferred target) is “respectable” and she is the one that ends up being “avenged.” The others are almost doll-like, their bodies only there to provide Tizon with his angst and to mark his changing (or slowly revealed) inner landscape.

There’s plenty in the book to love–the historical details, the naval battles, the picture of a city on the brink, the unblinking enumeration of all the things a siege does to human beings trapped by war, and some outright lyrical writing even in the middle of describing brutality. I’m glad I read it, but I hope next time Perez-Reverte treats his female characters as, well, human beings in their own right, as he’s sometimes done so memorably in the past.

All in all, two thumbs up, recommended, checked out from the library and would buy to keep in my personal library.

Happy Day

[Opera House staircase, Paris, France] (LOC) Today is library day! It always makes me feel like singing. A weekly trip to that temple of goodness and literacy is a fantastic way to bond with the children and also get a little reading time in. I am happy-dancing in my chair just thinking about it.

I wrote a piece on how writers have to pee like everyone else. Okay, fine, it’s about how quality isn’t free and why I think people should kick a few pennies to Fireside Magazine’s Year 4 fundraiser.

I had a whole screed planned about how if books weren’t worth paying for, why do people get so furious when writers don’t write “fast enough” and related issues, but I’m in too good a mood to tilt at the windmill of entitlement today. It’s like the writing advice I used to give–I get tired of repeating myself, and furthermore tired of the whining from people who don’t want to understand that this is a craft, it takes work and dedication. Their loss.

The garden is doing well, the dogs are content, I have a little extra time to catch up on copyedits, and it’s no longer so ungodly warm outside. All in all, it’s too lovely a day to be my usual misanthrope self. I’ll just take the machete and go dancing into the streets.

Ha. Made you flinch. (Whether it’s for the machete or for my dancing, I’ll leave to the imagination.)

Over and out.

Relaxation Can’t Hurt

"Castle Romeo" atmospheric nuclear test - March 1954 I expected an apocalypse yesterday, and it didn’t happen.

Bother. Suppose I should get back to work, then.

I am told that Trailer Park Fae is having a good initial showing! Thank you very much. The better it does, the more likely I’ll be able to continue the series. (Hint hint. Nudge nudge. Say no more, say no more.) There. That’s my contractually-obligated cheap shilling for the week.

This morning’s run was slow and heavy, despite being an easy 5km. The cooldown, walking home, took me past a knot of men standing around a DitchWitch and a concrete cutter, sharing a joint while they divvied up the day’s work. I’m, um, not sure getting blazed right before handling that sort of machinery is a good idea, but I suppose a certain amount of relaxation can’t hurt. I’m also not sure the guys trying to hide the joint as I passed could tell I can still understand Spanish pretty well, even though my four years of high-school language lessons are regrettably dusty. Yes, I did know that wasn’t a cigarette, yea, I know you made a joke about me and my dog being two bitches out walking–but thanks, young dude, for commenting that my ass is just right. I think so too.

When we turned onto our street, B and I were greeted by the sight of a squirrel darting under a truck. B immediately perked up and trotted forward, stopped only by the leash, and I checked nervously to make sure I was still wearing shoes. We crossed the street, much to B’s dismay, but the squirrel made it into a neighbor’s juniper bush and began to chitter-scream something that sounded suspiciously like “Vive le Squiiiiiiiirrrrrl!

This doesn’t bode well. Later today I’m going to go talk to Emphysema Joe–he’s been hiding in the very back of the green since the Flying Gnome Disaster. I think he still feels a trifle ashamed. (And well he should, but enough is too much, as one of my grandmothers used to say.)

There’s more copyedits, too, on the second Gallow & Ragged book. *cracks knuckles* I’d better get started.

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