Time Passes

FISH

I would really, really love not to have Wichita Lineman stuck in my head when I wake up. It would be super swell not to hear that song again for a while. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just ready for a new record to hit the needle inside my skull.

*time passes*

I had a big long post planned for today, but then I fell into a rabbit hole or two, went for a run, a bee tried to fly inside my mouth twice (or more properly, two bees tried the same thing on two different occasions) and Lord Boxnoggin decided it was too warm for running, so he stopped in the shade and I had to carry him across four lanes of traffic (plus the divider) to convince him we were going home and he could, in fact, walk.

I don’t blame him, we’re still learning where his comfort levels are. I’m heartened that he actually stopped instead of just trying to do what he thought I wanted and hurting himself.

Recovering from the zero of Poison Prince proceeds apace. I was not allowed to work yesterday, so some cleaning I’d been putting off got done, I set up today’s subscription stuff to go out, and I watched some movies I’d been meaning to get around to, like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. Both were much better than the Avengers franchise–less stupid, pointless misogyny, better plotting, and I’m interested to see where those directors go next.

Speaking of subscriptions, I should probably shill those a bit, since they take a great deal of worry off my back and also give my darling Readers something nice at the same time. So, if you like the idea of Robin Hood in Space (and free ebooks of each version!) or of weekly fiction drops, head on over to the subscription page and check it out.

This week’s offerings will drop at 2pm PST, and if you sign up to any of my Gumroad offerings you get the latest one sent to you immediately.

Anyway, I should probably get at least a token amount of work done to salve my conscience, but not too much or recovery will be jeopardized. It’s a fine line, and I think I need coffee in order to keep my balance.

Over and out.

Endurance Novel

HOOD

5k on The Poison Prince yesterday, and I can see the shape of the end. All I have to do now is hang on long enough, and it will sort itself out. It’s 85k of epic fantasy, and will only get bigger through the publication process. For right now, though, it’s all mine, and all on me.

I did get to play ES Posthumus’s Kalki several times and write a particular chase scene I’ve had in my head since the series started. So that was pretty awesome. I had to stop before I was absolutely exhausted and done-in for the day, giving myself enough candle to burn today, and I resented every moment of having to feed myself and sleep when what I’d rather be doing is writing, but that’s a given when I get so close to the end of a project. Especially a HUGE one like this.

The third book is going to kick my ass, I can tell. But between then and now, I need to finish the zero of this one, and the zero fo HOOD‘s Season One too. After those two zeroes are in the can and marinating, I can take a look around and think about what I want to do next. Probably Dolls, though I want to write a high fantasy epic with dragonriders and do it right.

What I don’t want to do is write The Highlands War, which was next on the list. Most people have been exceedingly lovely about the format choices for Kaia’s stories, but there’s always the bad apples. It will happen if it’s meant to, I suppose.

I feel like I’ve always been writing Poison Prince, like there’s never been a day I’ve not been writing it, and like I will be writing it for-fucking-ever, world without end, amen. Every novel is an endurance race, this one’s just…longer. If I stay stubborn enough, I’ll eventually get there.

…it occurred to me I have Harmony and Incorruptible to revise, so maybe I’ll do that while the zeroes are marinating and push off the decision about a fresh new world to play in for a little while longer. Getting more work out and before the eyes of the ravenous public would certainly feel better than this hack-slash-cut at a book that refuses to die no matter how many times I stab.

Five more scenes at bare minimum, then I can be done with Poison Prince. I’ll love the book again, probably in revision when I come across bits I don’t remember writing. But for right now it’s just one more enemy to slay.

I’m ready. I think. I mean, I suppose.

*buckles on goggles*
*the goggles do nothing*

Advent Madge, and Clarence, Too

Gallow & Ragged

April was difficult. Between recovering from several birthdays, late celebrations of said birthdays, freaking out over approaching epic fantasy deadline, and worrying about everything under the sun, it’s a wonder I didn’t lose what little sanity remains to me.

I did wake up today with Jody Watley and Glenn Campbell duking it out inside my earworm space, so at least there’s that. And I have, courtesy of a bead show, some new chandeliers to try earring designs with.

There’s also this beautiful lady:

Her name is Madge. I did some work for Dee’s Darlings, and Madge decided to come work for me for a bit as a thank-you. She is adorable and gets along well with Veronica and Isabelle. (You’ve met Veronica the Office Oracle, Isabelle is…difficult to explain. Maybe later this week.) Veronica in particular is happy to have an amanuensis, though Madge’s shorthand is impossible for anyone but her to read.

Veronica: CHICKEN SCRATCHES. AND I’VE NEVER SEEN A CHICKEN.
Madge: YOU CALL IT SCRATCHES, I CALL IT JOB SECURITY.
Isabelle: YOU TWO AREN’T FIGHTING, ARE YOU? WE ALL NEED TO GET ALONG.
Veronica: NOBODY’S FIGHTING, IZZIE.
Madge: *scribbles furiously*
Isabelle: ARE YOU SURE? BECAUSE I COULD BRING YOU SOME FISH–
Madge and Veronica, in tandem: NO FISH.

…yeah, things have been interesting around here lately. I should tell you guys about Clarence the Squirrel. It’s more of a title than an actual name, because Clarence is “the squirrel what’s actually got the peanut, you see,” and dinner hour a la Chez Saintcrow has gotten really strange since the kids love to put out a handful of peanuts while we eat, then wait for developments.

Anyway, the Clarence is the mug what’s got the peanut, and Ralph and Jeff are the mugs what don’t, and the deck has become the scene of a dinnertime drama almost Lynchian in its feverish intensity. (I almost made a Blue Velvet ether-sniffing joke the other night and caught myself just in time.) Clarence constantly wishes to keep their find from Jeff and Ralph, and the instant one of those picks up a peanut they become Clarence. (It’s kind of like Olsen Twins, who, being older no longer vibrates at such a high frequency.) Jeff and Ralph usually team up against the Clarence, and once a squirrel loses a peanut they become a Jeff or Ralph.

Understand? Good, because I didn’t for days and the kids had a sort of “Who’s on first” routine they were running. And poor me, with my head stuffed full of preindustrial technology and travel times, not to mention worrying about the damn mortgage, didn’t quite catch up with the train for a bit.

Parenthood, man. It never stops being a complete and total trip.

I even got some gardening done this weekend, which only brought home how much more there is to do. Maybe I’ll just grow nasturtiums this year instead of turning over the veggie garden.

In any case, it’s time for a run, and if I play my cards right, I can finish the zero of The Poison Prince this week. It would be nice to get that corpse on the table so it can be revision time instead of “I keep stabbing this book and it won’t DIE” time. Of course once I do, it’s time to get the zero of HOOD‘s Season One out. Then there’s revisions on Harmony, and and and…

…so, just as usual, my chickadees, I bid you a fond farewell until tomorrow, and vanish, cackling, in a cloud of scented smoke.

Pondering

Rattlesnake Wind

Here’s a short list of the things I’m wondering about lately:

  • Reading about the bombing of Europe in WWII, I came across a description of the frantic effort to save cultural treasures from the air war. In particular, a Botticelli was spotted on the floor among men drinking tea, and it halted me in my tracks. I know the painting, of course, and I thought about what it would mean if it was lost in a bomb attack before technological advances made the art galleries available to anyone with a few spare bucks a month to pay for electronics.
  • The democratization of media–“highbrow” and “low”–made me think of this Sententiae Antiquae piece on classical learning and how it functioned as a gatekeeper for a long time…until, that is, technological advances opened up access. Nowadays, of course, the rich just pay for their kids to flood schools with the leftover prestige of yesteryear.
  • Nora Roberts is suing that CopyPaste Cris woman. Which is great, but I’d love to see Amazon as a codefendant, because we all know they’re profiting from the book-stuffers and plagiarists. They refuse to take down stuffed or plagiarized books until public outcry reaches a certain pitch, they don’t offer refunds as a matter of course, and if one is so unfortunate as to publish solely through them, their terms and conditions make it difficult if not impossible to get recourse (financial and otherwise) against plagiarizers or against Amazon itself as a bad actor.
  • It’s also very…interesting that the moment Amazon does take any steps to cut down on book-stuffers and plagiarists, the scammers in question already have a back door, one they share through their forums and “author” loops. Some of the scammers even have their own dedicated KU reps. I’m sure those “reps” get bonuses for their pet authors gaining “sales rank.” I am naturally a suspicious type, and I smell something foul in the water.1
  • Gelatin used to be only for the higher castes, which makes me laugh and laugh.

Just little things I ponder, turning them over and over inside my head and examining them from different angles. I think a lot about how the infrastructure for electronic communication isn’t ubiquitous, though it feels like it is when you’ve enough money to get an entry device (even a smartphone). I also think a lot about humanity’s habit of war and what it costs not only in terms of blood spilled but also cultural progress frittered away.2

I ponder and I wonder, and sometimes I find a piece of the puzzle that leads me in a different direction entirely. Such is life. I’ve met people who dislike the sensation of active thinking–there are quite a lot of them–and I don’t understand, finding it quite pleasant.

Right now, though, I’ve got to stop the wondering and get out the door. We took yesterday off, and while the enforced rest did both Boxnoggin and me good, we’re both itchy and a little peevish this morn. Miss B will be extremely peevish at being left home, but she is an Elderly Statesdog now, and is only taken on short jaunts. She gets plenty of exercise playing rough-and-tumble with Boxnoggin, and it’s keeping her young–but after mid-range runs she limps a bit, and while I know she would run her heart out if I asked, I wouldn’t.

What are you thinking about this fine Thursday morn, chickadees?

Freeing, Not Optimal

Jozzie & Sugar Belle

Writing epic fantasy is very…different. For one thing, I’m not getting the “oh, this phase of the project is done” hit of dopamine as regularly as I’m accustomed to, and that makes me cranky. For another…well, let’s just say that working under another name is freeing, certainly, but it’s not even close to optimal. It would be better if the books weren’t regularly orphaned, or if I wasn’t treated like an embarrassing bodily noise instead of the person who’s writing the damn books everyone else’s job relies on.

But hey, you know…nothing’s perfect.

Anyway, I’m super cranky today. Lord Boxnoggin is whistling with his desire to get out the door for a run or get down the stairs to find a cat, whichever. And yes, his whine is so high and prolonged it sounds like a whistle. Not a train whistle, more like a kettle at low boil, right before all the water evaporates and you’re left with a lump of metal melted to the stovetop.

Not that I’d know anything about that, no sir. *clears throat*

I know exactly why I’m so upset. I dislike being ignored when it’s my work that creates the value for everyone else in the stream; if I’m not going to be granted a reply to my quite reasonable questions I shall work to please myself, and that might mean finishing another story or two for some sweet sweet dopamine before I go back to this beast. I have to have faith, and trust that the Muse knows what the hell she’s doing. Fifty-plus books in and I’m still having to hold my nose and step blindly where that bitch leads.

It’s enough to make me want to call the girls for a drunken night, stay absolutely sober, and write another Jozzie & Sugar Belle. At least that was fun and I got answers when I bothered to ask anyone about Tuckerisation or the like.

I suppose a run will put me in a better mood. I’m not being allowed to do my usual detailed work from start to finish with these books, and it irks me far more than I thought it would. In any case, I’ve learned my lesson: if I ever write YA or epic fantasy ever again, it will have to be for a publisher who doesn’t think readers are stupid or treat me like a rancid afterthought.

I hope such beasts exist.

*wanders off to run, muttering*

Irritability, Meet Shark

One of the kids has been leaving the heat on overnight, which, added to flannel sheets and my favorite green blanket, means I sweated almost to death last night and the one before. It’s definitely time to change out of said flannel sheets. Contrary to popular belief, winter is over.

Boxnoggin, however, loves the heat. Loves it. Miss B doesn’t mind, since she has all the air trapped in her undercoat to keep her insulated, but she’s spending more and more of the night flat on tiled loo floor, soaking up coolth.

There’s been a lot of rejection a la Chez Saintcrow lately. Publishers (both trad and otherwise) don’t want to make a decision within a reasonable timeframe, so I’ve been taking my toys and going home. Technically I’m the one doing the rejecting, but it’s also frustrating as fuck. If you don’t want my work, just say so in the first round and we’ll be done. Don’t try to keep me in your back pocket while you shop around for something younger, sweeter, more tractable. I never was that girl, and that goes double now.

I don’t mind a publisher saying “not for us, thanks!” What I do mind is them sitting on submitted work for silent months, then getting shitty with me or my agent when we pull the work they’ve had for a significant amount of time to make a decision on. If they’re too understaffed to make a decision, that’s not my problem–a publisher’s poor planning is not my emergency.

Nobody’s poor planning is my emergency, except for my kids’. That’s it.

It’s nice to be at the stage in my career where I have the confidence and the tools to say so and make it stick, but I wish I could work with these people instead of despite them. We could do such amazing things together.

I’m probably also a little irritable because I’m on somewhat of a social media fast. I took the Twitter app off my phone and only interact with birbsite during scheduled, outside-of-work times. Of course I have Whalebird open while working, but Mastodon (especially my instance) isn’t nearly as toxic. It feels exactly like a detox, and I’m in the cranky phase.

Add to that the problem of The Poison Prince1, and I’m snarling halfheartedly at everything in sight. It doesn’t help that my running mileage has taken a helluva hit lately.

So today I’ll probably do a reset. Take the dogs on a long walk, put my headphones in and my head down, and stretch my legs while I think about things. I need to decide what mountain I’m going to scale next–probably the Dolls book, but in order to get there I need to clear Poison Prince off my deck and get both the new Watcher book and maybe the lightning-god book at least to zero draft.

It would be nice if I could sleep at night, too, so today means no more flannel sheets. I’ll miss crawling into a bed that isn’t cold to begin with, but such is the price of waking up without damp sheets clinging to hip, ankle, wrist, neck while sixty-plus pounds of dog attempts to put his nose in my ear.

That’s probably why I’ll never date again, honestly. I hate sharing the bed, unless it’s with dogs. At least when they keep me up it isn’t because they have a need to tenderize their victim for psychological warfare, it’s because they really can’t help it. I could just toss my dates out but that sounds like too much effort, and I don’t like sleeping in other people’s beds. It would take something very special indeed for me to change my mind, and I’m almost halfway through my life with no time to look. I’ve got too much to do.

…wow, this post has gone everywhere, hasn’t it? The irritation means it’s time for me to get back to work. But first, a ramble with the canines, both to work their fidgets out and to make some decisions.

Publishing requires one to be sharklike–never stop swimming lest you suffocate, and always smile. Some silly people think the smile is weakness instead of an amused warning.

See you later, chickadees.

Cinnamon Roll Prospects

It’s one of those mornings. I’m barely vertical and even getting coffee down the hatch seems an impossible task. At least it smells like rain soon, and yesterday I had the great good fortune of getting my finger and toe claws into The Poison Prince. I even got my teeth into that fucking book, and shook it like Sir Boxnoggin with a squeaky toy.

Consequently, now I have a better scaffolding, and I feel like the book, while huge, is also manageable. If I keep biting, eventually I’ll bleed it into compliance. Most of the time, I settle into the story’s world with a thump, like the floor dropping a little during an earthquake. This time, the sensation is of my hands and feet aching and tense, my jaw clenched, while i see which direction the damn thing will veer in.

The Princess and her best friend are in the kitchen. I’m told there’s a prospect of cinnamon rolls soon, but I’d best get out to run before it happens. Maybe, now that I have all my spikes in Poison Prince, I can also juggle it with another work instead of letting it monopolize me. It would be great if I could just work on one book at a time, but the mortgage needs paying and the kids have this habit of eating.

Speaking of which, The Complete Roadtrip Z is available in ebook format through Gumroad now! It’s available for preorder but won’t be released on other distribution platforms until April 9, and Amazon might be later still because they won’t allow you to set an ebook for preorder unless you’re listing through KDP.

Of course, Amazon also lets plagiarists and scammers keep going, because they bring the ‘Zon cash. Which surprises exactly no-one. I’m still waiting for those assholes who came at me yelling when I pointed out “Amazon is not your friend” years ago to produce apologies. Something tells me I’ll wait forever.

I might as well write while I do, but not until I get this coffee finished. My stomach’s rolling like a heavy sea and I can’t wait to get out the door and shake all the fidgets away. I might even leave the last half of my coffee to do so.

Maybe. *eyes mug* Or maybe not. Over and out, dear ones.