Every Permutation

So far this morning I’ve spent an hour in the car, walked the dogs, and swallowed a few correspondence toads. As a result, I’m somewhat at sixes and sevens, and longing for more coffee. I just can’t tell if more caffeine will help or hinder, given the amount of fog brewing in my head.

It’s a continual amazement to me that so many people will put off responding to one’s communications but expect one to drop everything and leap upon theirs. I’m getting better at shrugging and filing things for later reply, and it would be inaccurate to suggest I feel no pleasure in doing so. I’m also getting better at dead-eyeing entitled little brats (of any age) into behaving better while out in public.

The end of summer is always a strange flux time, especially when one has children in American public school. Three months off is just enough time to settle into much slower habits, and the scramble to organize and prepare in August makes me long for year-round schooling. It seems a much more humane way to do things, but of course, America won’t implement the humane way of things until we’ve tried every. other. possible. choice. and failed at each and every one.

I suppose that sounds ill-tempered, but I’m *mumblemumble* years old and have earned a little temper by surviving as long with a brain (and in a country) that wants to erase me.

In any case, yesterday’s grey skies and rain did good things all over. The trees are much happier; I could feel my soul expanding with every drop hitting the ground. Consequently, today is much better than I expected, even as I was rudely (and somewhat early) dragged from strange dreams.

Even my open window, full of cursing and hammering from numerous last-minute construction and renovation projects in the neighborhood (as well as a particularly musical storm of cursing at random intervals as a hammer strikes a thumb or some other disaster occurs) provies just enough backdrop noise to make things interesting. Yesterday’s scene in HOOD needs its guts torn out and rearranged, too–sometimes one can’t do a scene properly until one’s taken a trial run and found out what doesn’t work.

At least I don’t have to try every permutation. Once is enough.

The romance–Damage–is also coming along well, though I’m far enough along on the first third that a few days of tender care situating the entire thing just so is necessary before I can settle into the long middle doldrum. It will be nice to hit the end, especially since I know pretty exactly how the book wants to swing and stretch. It doesn’t even matter that it wants to be written piecemeal, because the signposts are so large and the structure so easily discerned.

In other words, I have my work for the day cut out indeed. Here’s hoping for more rain (though the weather app tells me such hope is in vain) and for whoever’s currently cursing a blue streak to get a bandage and some better luck. (It sounds like there was a slight mishap with a staple gun; I’d curse too.)

Over and out.

Busy Meatspace

The past few weeks have been hell on my daily writing time. If it’s not the stress it’s family events, and if it’s not family events it’s back-to-school arrangements, and if it’s not any of that it’s scrambling to catch up with stuff that fell by the wayside because of stress, family events, and back-to-school arrangements.

It’s enough to make me wish for a cave in the woods. A cave with an electrical outlet or two, of course, so I could work in peace.

Single mothers are superheroes. No co-parent to take the pressure off even for a moment, as well as a constricted choice of jobs (so as to be available for childcare) and seventy-odd cents on the dollar a man would make besides. It’s surprising that any woman would choose to reproduce under these circumstances, which is, of course, why birth control and abortion are consistently made unavailable.

The State, you see, needs warm bodies, and there’s only one way to make those.

I finished Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain last night; it was like finishing one of the large, hearty sanitarium meals he describes so lovingly. Poor Settembrini, and poor Joachim. And poor Ellen Brand, taken advantage of by that damn doctor. Hans I have less than no sympathy for, even though he’s the reader’s entry into the tale. It was a lovely meal nonetheless, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m sated and can push away from the table. I do like it better than Death in Venice; this book came along at just the right time.

I’ve still got an hour to spend in the car today, all told, and a good half-hour taking care of various things once I reach my destination. I’d best get started, especially if I want to get in wordcount. Subscription stuff needs to be sent out today, too–I could have taken the weekend to get a few weeks’ lead time set up, but instead I spent it taking care of life out here in meatspace.

The disconnect between how long it takes to write a book and how long it takes to read, let alone buy, one is huge. Related: I’ve noticed another spike in piracy lately, and there’s been a concomitant spike in people getting shitty with me in email about my request that people not steal my work.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like more Steelflower books in a reasonable time. (If you know someone who torrents, let them know they’re stopping you from getting more books from me.)

Anyway, the only thing I need now is breakfast to settle so I can run. I need the zen more than ever, from now until September.

Over and out.

Meat, Grit, Other Forms

Viral Agents

I’m contemplating going back into category romance for a while. I like writing them–the very narrow strictures mean one has to be extremely creative and I’m at my best when there are rules to subvert. I might even extend the Viral Agents series with Project Psyche.

Another thing I like about working categories is that Harlequin pays on time. There’s never been a problem with them meeting their end of the financial contract, unlike some other trad publishers I could name.

Mostly, though, I want to write a few things that please me. I’m exhausted by Afterwar and the cold reception my warnings received, as well as a few other things. If people don’t want the meaty, gritty stuff unfiltered, fine. I’ll put the meat and grit in other forms and serve it with a smile.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d love to tell a few stories that have unalloyed happy endings, too. They do exist, and right now they’re at the front of the line, having waited patiently for several years.

Often, I sense the stories that want to be told in a line out my office door. They shift slightly, cough politely, and wait their turn. The line’s fluid; some are beckoned out early and some move forward only to halt when an insoluble problem appears, some plow through all other waiting before them and run through me at high speed, leaving everyone gasping.

It’s like that scene in Ghost with the ghosts lining up to hop into Whoopi Goldberg.

Anyway, it’s a Thursday, there’s a run to accomplish, the dogs are frisky with wanting their own exercise, and I have coffee to absorb before anything else is even possible. HOOD‘s Season Two just passed 40k words yesterday, too. It’s going to be a long weekend, and one of the few bright spots is going to be time I can use for putting stories together inside my head while my body is otherwise occupied.

At least it’s a cloudy morning, so I won’t expire of heatstroke the moment I step out the door. Small mercies, my friends.

Onward to Romancelandia, my friends. Over and out.

A Night Creature

Gallow & Ragged

By all rights I should be fast asleep.

I am a night creature, despite having to impersonate a daywalker for nigh onto two and a half decades. Left to my druthers, I roll into bed between 2 and 5am, sleep until well past noon, watch the sun go down, then get to work in the productive, nurturing hours of darkness.

Unfortunately, my children were both morning people. Extreme morning people. And then, getting up to get them to school–and being on call in case something happened during the school day–meant being awake when my entire body cried out for sleep instead. In a couple years that consideration will be gone, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to shift to the clock my circadian wants.

I wonder if dogs can be night creatures? I know they’re crepuscular, but changing around Miss B’s schedule is not a happy occurrence. (Her tummy tends to protest any large change at all, from grief to a new bedtime.) I’m sure Boxnoggin would treat it as an adventure, as long as the markers were in the right place–roll out of bed, take dogs out, feed dogs, that is the Holy Trinity of Morning no matter when the first event occurs. While B requires that events be on time, Boxnoggin only requires that they follow the proper sequence, which is as neat an explanation of their two personalities as can ever be found.

It feels like I’ve been waiting all my life to obey the dictates of my own damn body. The pressure is creative fuel, true, and some part of me wonders if I’ll be able to work without it despite evidence that I in fact work better when I’m not fighting a ridiculous, arbitrary current.

I suppose, if I’m ever not the last line of defense and on duty during daylight hours, I’ll find out. Until then, I just exhaust myself during the hours of sunlight so I can force myself to sleep when my circadian is shrieking this is the time you were built for, get up and get started.

I’m not quite complaining. I’m just remarking.

Anyway, I’ve an assassination to plan and another project to spend some serious time on, so I’d best get started. Miss B has informed me it is time for walkies, and woe betide the human who falls behind.

Over and out.

Soundtrack Monday: Into Something Good

Strange Angels

Sometimes a character requires the most outlandish things. For example, Christophe Reynard in Strange Angels has an extremely narrow musical taste–as in, it pretty much stopped changing when Buddy Holly died. Doo-wop and be-bop, in his opinion, will never die.

The fellow considers Herman’s Hermits, while somewhat late to the party, the absolute acme. So much so, that the very first scene I tried writing from his point of view is Christophe in a grocery store (right after the first time he’s met Dru) humming I’m Into Something Good. It didn’t make it into the finished book–the entire Strange Angels series is told from Dru’s POV, but sometimes I wrote small scenes from other characters just so I could figure out what indeed was happening.

Of course, the song playing during those few short but extremely intense moments of his and Dru’s first meeting (the one that ends up with Christophe catching a shotgun blast courtesy of our favorite svetocha) is, of course, Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.

He’s a funny fellow, Christophe is, but I guess when your murderous, sociopathic dad’s the current king of the vampires you can be forgiven a few quirks. Psychological standards for djamphir, he would say, notwithstanding.

He might even, being Reynard, say it with a small, fanged smile.

Beginning the Magic Mountain

Strange Angels

Well, it’s a Monday. I spent the last bit of my (very busy) weekend on the couch with Mann’s The Magic Mountain, which is going to be rather slow but enjoyable, like a caramel. Some of his asides remind me of Melville, but that could be a function of the translation.

I’ve taken to logging completely out of Twitter whenever I walk away from it, and the small change (along with a blocking app during the day) has done wonders for my peace of mind. I like being in contact with Readers, one has to be somewhat visible on social media today if one has any kind of artistic career, and I like being aware of the larger zeitgeist, yes.

It’s just the misogynists, bigots and fascists I don’t like, and their little bot armies. It’s gotten to the point that Twitter’s a firehose spewing raw sewage more often than not. This explains why most of the time I’m over on my Mastodon instance instead. (If you’ve a domain name and a five euro a month you can have your own instance; I highly recommend it.) With the crossposter, I can keep my presence on Twitter but I don’t have to bathe in the torrent unless and until I feel ready. Having to log in from scratch each ding-dang time does me no end of good. Already some of the stress I’m swimming in has gone down.

A few of you have contacted me privately about the current situation. Yes, it was bad; it’s mostly managed now. I thank you for your kindness–you know who you are –and though I didn’t need much of what was offered, it is extremely, heartbreakingly comforting to have been offered anything at all. So thank you.

I’m up relatively early, trying to get my coffee absorbed so I can get a damn run in before it gets too hot to breathe, let alone move, outside. A little exercise, a little Latin, and a whole lot of work today, since HOOD isn’t going to write itself; I am already sensing this season might start breaking for the finish line even though it’s only around 30K words right now. If I wasn’t so used to stories doing what they damn well please I might even be a little afraid to loosen the reins and let this one gallop.

After the number of novels I’ve written, you’d think it would get easier to tell what a given story wants before one is in the position of having it half-wrought. (Hint: It’s…not.) I just keep muttering, “if it were easy, everyone would do it” interspersed with dire obscenities–a song of deeply committed insanity, as it were.

I’m already waiting for the end of piano practice tonight, so I can settle on the couch and lose myself in a mountain sanitarium again. Aside from a few strange things it might do to my dreams, chances are good it’ll be a rest cure. I just hope it won’t take me seven years (lean or fat) to finish reading.

Over and out.

At a Glance

I got an astrology app for my phone, mostly because other people were posting the small daily notifications and they were hilarious. It certainly didn’t disappoint, especially that particular Sunday.

I am never lacking in fear. Sometimes I think I feel little else. But fear must be a spur instead of a wall–don’t let it stop you, let it drive you. Of course, there are utterly reasonable fears that keep us from running amok or running stop signs, but a healthy appreciation of consequences isn’t quite fear. It’s survival.

In any case, my friends, be bold. Go ahead and feel the fear, it’s all right. Just don’t let it stop you, especially when it comes to making the art you were put here to create. Nobody else can do it.

So get going.