From Life Lesson to Soda

Nick Chill Photography / Foter

Life Lesson Lili Learned Today: whereas once a banana was enough to get me through a five-mile run, now a banana and three shots of espresso are most definitely not enough. I compensated with extra chia seeds in my post-run oatmeal, and as soon as my blood sugar started coming back up I vowed Never To Do That Again.

That said, I made pretty good time. Even on days when I feel slow and deliberately hold my pace back I’m clocking 10.5-minute miles. It’s a far, far cry from where I started however many years ago, being unable to run for even thirty seconds without feeling like my lungs were going to tear themselves out of my body and go find a more congenial atmosphere, followed by my cardiac muscle.

Today is Take Your Child To Work Day. I gave both the Little Prince and Princess the option to stay home, but they didn’t want to. The Princess wanted to see what school was like with hardly anyone there–her classmates were quite vocal about taking any sort of vacation they could–and the Prince, after staying home with a cold yesterday (without video games, I should add) was hellbent on getting back to his Teacher Crush.

Go figure. Of course, they see me work all the time, staring at the screen and muttering, and they know it’s Revision Time. Which is about as fun to watch as seeing me hit myself repeatedly in the head with a hammer. Despite the initial amusement value, it gets old right quick.

What does NOT get old: cucumber soda with a shot and a half of Ten Cane rum, torn-up mint, and a splash of Key Lime juice; Jim Hines posing like a man; figuring out that crazy is sometimes code for really awesome; and clarifications of plagiarism.

Another thing that doesn’t get old: the endorphins that hit usually about the end of the second mile, especially when running on a nice cloudy spring day, one where the rain waits until you get home to start pouring down and everything smells fresh and green. Hopefully the endorphins will get me through this line edit.

If not, I suppose there’s always lavender soda and gin…

Choosing Herself

Victor Bezrukov / Foter

From my email inbox:

Dear ms. St. Crow,

I just finished reading Reckoning and was extremely curious about why Dru decided to not choose between Graves or Chritophe, I’m a little perplexed since I was in suspense about which boy would win Dru’s heart the whole series, and found myself heart broken when she decided not to choose. The reason I’m dumbfounded is that the cover says it’s the last book of the series, a unique way to end the story, but the question has been bugging me a lot.

Thank you for your time.

*name redacted* (from email)

And my reply:

Hello *name redacted*,

Thank you for reading my books.

I get this question a lot. My answer is: why does Dru have to choose, why does she have to “end up” with someone? A girl is not defined by who she is “with” or who she “ends up” with. Graves and Christophe are both pretty terrible boyfriend choices, for different reasons–Graves is broken, both by abuse and by Sergej, and no matter how much Dru loves him she can’t fix him. He has to fix himself. And Christophe is far too adult (despite being djamphir) for her, not to mention he doesn’t give her the information she needs to make informed choices. Dru may eventually grow further and decide to engage with Christophe on that level, but at the moment she has made the decision to put herself first. Which is something I think a lot of young girls may not do.

A girl or a woman is not defined by who she’s dating. A girl or a woman defines herself, and it would have been unconscionable for me to make Dru’s story all about who she wants to kiss next. Dru’s story was about growing up and surviving, and while kissing may be a (sometimes pleasant) part of that, it isn’t the only or even the most important thing about finding out who you are and, as her Gran would say, “where ya iron’s at.”

I am sorry you were heartbroken. Dru was too, and since I suffer with my characters, so was I. But Dru is stronger than that–she survived Sergej, which means little things like deciding not to date anyone for a while kind of lose their sting. In the end, I think she made the right choice–to take care of herself first. That’s a difficult choice for any young woman, and some of us never master the trick of it.

I hope this helps, and thank you again for reading,

Lili St. Crow

I still believe with everything in me that Reckoning‘s ending was the correct one. (I do not think I shall ever be convinced otherwise.) My private titled for Reckoning was actually Sacrifice, because it was the book where Dru made the decision to give up her own life if she had to (when she tells Dibs to go ahead with the transfusion) to buy her friends just a little more time. For me, that will always be the correct title–and Dru choosing as she did, the right ending.

Over and out.

Take A Letter

Tal Bright / Foter

Dear Homeless Man Digging In Church Dustbin,

I know we surprised each other, me out for a run, you looking for…whatever it is you were looking for. However, I am not the police, and though I am sorry to have frightened you, I am not sorry for the filthy name I called you when you chucked a bit of wood at me and my dog. I am further not sorry she decided to lunge for you, though you were never in any danger since the leash was wrapped around my waist and you were, after all, inside a metal dustbin.

Should I see you again, I hope we can ignore each other. I can’t speak for my dog, though. She remembers things.

Sincerely,

Me

Red Plague Zero

fabbriciuse / Foter

So yesterday, in a blaze of something suspiciously like glory, I finished the zero draft[1] of the next Bannon & Clare, The Red Plague Affair. There are holes and sloppy bits and it needs serious atmosphere poured into the chinks between dialogue and action, but it’s done. It is no longer a terrible unfinished book.

Which means that today will be spent collapsed on the floor and drooling, while my throbbing head (seriously, the zero clocks in at 60K words, 8 of which forced their way through my tender cranium yesterday in a skidding slide for the finish) slowly cools. I may take myself to lunch somewhere, if the annoyance of driving doesn’t seem an insurmountable difficulty. I have to power-wash the inside of my skull today, for tomorrow I go back to line-edits on the all-new YA. I suppose I should talk about that…

…but not quite yet. I have a breakfast to accomplish, a schoolbus to get the Little Prince on, and some drooling to do. Oh, the glory of this writing life.

Over and out.

[1]The “zero draft” is the initial finished corpse of a story. It’s not perfect, it’s messy as hell, but it’s DONE. It gets set aside to rest for two weeks to a month, then I go back and revise it to make it a “first” draft that someone else–my beta or my editor–can read.

Snippets

Toni Blay / Foter

Agility Training:

Dog: I CAN’T GO ON.
Me: Two more miles.
Dog: I AM DYING. DYING, I TELL YOU.
Me: Two more miles.
Dog: YOU ARE A CRUEL MISTRESS. DYING. AM DYING.
Me: Mile and a half.
Dog: DYI–ohai! SQUIRREL! HEEEEEEEERD IT! *bolts*
Me: *leash wrapped around waist cuts me in half* AUGH!

Villains:

Code Boy: Why “Code Boy”? Why not, I dunno, “Black Hat” or something?
Me: Because that’s the villain in a Western.
Code Boy: …
Me: One where they wear pastel neckerchiefs.
Code Boy: I think you’ve watched too many.
Me: Don’t be a villain there, cowboy.
Code Boy: …yeehaw.

Scorpion:

Little Prince: Look, see, I made it for you. It has wings.
Me: That’s lovely.
Little Prince: It’s a scorpion. The wings turn into claws.
Me: …okay…
Little Prince: Flap flap! Chomp chomp!

Affection:

Miss B: MISSED YOU!
Code Boy: AUGH!
Me: ??? Hello?
Code Boy: Dog…
Me: Oh yeah, she goes for the nuts first. It’s how she shows affection.
Code Boy: …ow…
Me: We’re remarkably similar.
Code Boy: …will…remember…that…

History

Princess: It’s like Disney’s going back to its roots.
Me: The Forties? Or McCarthy hearings?
Princess: I didn’t watch that one, Mom. I meant Snow White.

Limits

Me: It’s a My Little Pony wedding video.
Code Boy: Don’t do this to me.
(Related: “Now, the erotic cosplay scat fetishists…there’s a thought.”)

Casa Saintcrow: always an adventure.

What-Damn-Else, Jedi Bathrobe?

….Tim / Foter

This is what my Thursday is like:

6:30 AM: Cat attacks my arm, gets another free flying lesson. I am beginning to suspect she likes this, or has just fallen into a routine.

7AM: Radio clicks on. The Cure is doing Pictures of You. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING UP THAT TERRIBLE HIGH SCHOOL MEMORY, ROBERT SMITH. *sigh* Get up, roust kids. Shrug into Jedi bathrobe because it’s damn cold. Trip over dog.

7:15 AM: Coffee in hand. Lunches being made. Dog facedown in food bowl. Child mutiny over the last of the Froot Loops is narrowly avoided by the Mommy Voice barking either figure it out or you’re both having raisin bran, dammit! Mother of the Year award: taken away. That’s okay, I never dusted the damn thing anyway.

7:30, :45, :50, :55 AM: Remind Little Prince to brush teeth and get dressed. Openly wonder if he is part sloth today. Attempt to eat breakfast. Attempt fails each time. Coffee, however, is slugged religiously until gone.

8AM: Driving Princess to school. Sudden storm of tears. Someone is overwhelmed. No doubt hormones play a part. I will not throw a sobbing child out of the car at school.

8:02 AM: Driving Princess home. Realize I could conceivably spend the rest of the day in my Jedi bathrobe. Seriously consider said notion.

8:10 AM: Driving Little Prince to school. He is twitching with eagerness to see his teacher. “She’s like you, Mom. Only she’s not cranky in the mornings.” Gee, thanks, kid.

8:20-9AM: Go home, soothe Princess, make list of errands to be done. Decide not to stay in bathrobe after all. Leap into shower, turn shower off, have forgotten to rinse, hop back into shower. Shampoo in eyes. Curse and weep a little.

9:10-:55 AM: Post office. Grocery store. Princess is dragged along–if she’s not going to school, she’s going to help carry things. (She should be happy I’m not in the damn robe.) Prescriptions picked up. Princess makes longing remarks about the bagel shop. I roll my eyes, give her some money, and tell her I’ll schlep the bags to the car while she goes and gets an Eggel. My stomach growls. I stomp through the rain, get everything in the car, walk back to collect the now-beaming teenager, suspect I’ve been played the whole morning, decide she can clean the catbox later today. Gloat a little, secretly. Tell the madwoman canvassing the parking lot for drug money “not today, sorry” while cutting her away from my child. Stomach growls again. Child’s Eggel smells really good.

9:56 AM: Fall from dietary grace includes a couple hash-brown patties and an Egg McMuffin. Because I feel the need for wax and trans fats, okay? OKAY? And I don’t want to go into the bagel shop, because they have pumpkin bread, and I will not stop until I have eaten it ALL.

10:04 AM: Arrive home, chewing on the McMuffin while backing into the garage. Am slightly proud of myself for pulling that off. Princess is suitably impressed, helps carry groceries in, and throws her arms around me. “You know what, Mom? You’re really great. Really, really great.”

10:05 AM: Smiling, I realize I still have to do laundry and get a blog post up. Oh, and the book? It’s been simmering in the back of my head all this time, and I still have no idea what Emma Bannon is going to find when she opens up that door.

10:06 AM: Sigh heavily. Stare longingly at chocolate stash. Suppress grease-McMuffin burp, and know I’m going to regret all of this later.

10:30 AM: Wrapping up blog post. Look at couch, thinking nap might not be a bad idea. Trip over dog on way to couch, almost break leg, sit and swear through simmering pain-tears for a solid minute, Princess observes a deathly silence from her room where she is doing makeup work for her absence today. (Wise of her. If I’m swearing, I’m all right.) She pokes her head out when the storm passes. “You okay?”

“Yes,” I sigh, and drop heavily back down in my chair. “Just got told to get back to work.”

“Take a break. You work too hard, Mum.”

And I’m smiling again. She’s a good kid.

I can’t wait to see what-damn-else will happen before noon.