Simple, Not Easy

come n say 'hello' to my new friend It’s a cold morning. I did glance up and see the entire east sky a rather disconcerting shade of pink behind the cedars, a sight so arresting I watched until the color bled away. It didn’t take long–Aurora is a vibrant goddess, but she moves very quickly. By the time she’s gone and Sol has fully risen–and in winter, he fills my office with his morning glow for a brief fifteen minutes before going about the rest of his business–I am settled and chipping words out of my cranium, one at a time.

Of course, the temptation to get up and start wandering the house, or to sit and stare or surf the glorious interwebs, is stronger on some days. Today’s one of them. I have a serious case of the “I don’t fucking want to”s. Even this post–the words you’re reading this moment–are a form of procrastination. At least with a blog I feel like I have to write at least something on a semi-regular basis, and it often serves as sort of a throat-clearing for the day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my advice to people who “want to be writers.” I say “do it every day, then. No day is so busy that you don’t have ten minutes to write. Writers write, writers write daily.” This is usually met by howls of indignation–how dare you tell me when to write, how dare you imply I’m not a writer if I don’t write every day! I mostly just shrug at that point, because, well, it’s time to get back to work. I realize there are professionals who don’t write “every day,” but you weren’t asking them for advice, you were asking me, and I say, write every fucking day.

Now, many people will take that for an answer and go think about it, but there’s always those charming individuals who start howling afresh. “But what if I’ve been in/on a car accident/earthquake/hospital/alien starship examining table, huh? WHAT THEN?” Well, then you’ve got some great fucking material. That upheaval in your normal life is going to affect a lot of stuff. Writing is part of a writer’s normal daily life; if your daily life is all fucked up by catastrophe, fine, get that settled and go back to writing.

“BUT WHAT IF MY LIFE NEVER GETS SETTLED?” Then you need to rethink things, honey, but that’s not my problem. You asked me about being a writer. There are people who live on crisis, there are even people who adrenaline-junkie thrive on it. (I should know, I was one.) If your crises are constant, maybe look at what need of yours is getting fulfilled by that constant emotional upheaval–and start writing that shit down.

Usually, once my questioner has gotten themselves worked up to the point of “what if my life never gets settled?” I disengage. At that point, it’s not about writing, it’s about my questioner wanting me to validate them on some emotional level I don’t have the energy to coddle anyone but my kids or occasionally very close friends through, and they’ve picked writing as a subject in order to get their indignation addiction fed or some sort of emotional tea-and-cookies session. I am considering a change in my behavior here, to disengage at least one step earlier, at the “what if I’ve been abducted by aliens” point.

Life is never going to be “settled,” for you or me or anyone else. You’re never going to “feel like it.” I never do either, despite writing being a deep psychological (almost physical) need, as well as the means by which I feed my dependents and my book habit. It’s a daily struggle. I enlist habit and discipline as allies to get that need (and my mortgage payment) met. It is extremely simple, but never easy.

There, throat-clearing done. Now that I’ve given myself this stern reminder as well, I have to go back to Cal and Trinity, and get him shot and her arrested. It certainly helps that I enjoy my job on days like this.

Over and out.

photo by: linh.ngan

As It Deserves

Locked I hadn’t realized what a drag on my daily energy level wading through the mod queue was. This morning, as I remarked to the Selkie, I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders again. It’s amazing how many people misconstrue politeness, silence, or reticence as weakness.

The sun is out, though it’s a trifle chilly. Not a deep freeze, just what my grandfather would have called a “frost on the punkin morning.” I sent off a clutch of emails I owed to varying people as I was absorbing coffee, and now am struck with the thought that perhaps some of them were not quite grammatical. Oh well. This bothers me, in that it may be perceived as impoliteness.

I have mad thoughts of embarking on a grand experiment–a month, or three months, or even (if I get really, really ambitious) a year of following Amy Vanderbilt’s etiquette rules. (Except the horrid ones, like the homophobic bits the linked article points out.) I am a naturally rather formal person anyway–at least, to strangers. I can engage in great doses of informality, when appropriate, but by and large I won’t call you by your first name until given clear permission, I will hold doors, I will say please, thank you, and beg your pardon, and it’s an effort to say “nice to meet you” instead of “how do you do.” (Nobody says “how do you do” anymore. This is a fact I mourn daily.)

*looks over previous paragraph* I am parenthetical today too, it seems.

Miss B is heavily engaged in her post-run coma, possibly internally cataloguing all the delicious and varied smells she gorged on while we ran. I shall leave her to it and get cleaned up, throw on my I can kill you with my brain T-shirt, and begin the day’s work. The current book is about super-secret agents infected with a super-secret virus, and I am having a delirious amount of fun with it. More on that later, when I’m allowed to announce…certain things.

Come along then, Readers. Let’s kick Tuesday in the pants as it deserves.

Winter Light

morning sun

Due to the kids being in school and the shortness of winter days, I get sunlight through the office window after I’ve already been writing for a little bit–that is, if it isn’t cloudy. Those mornings are particularly golden. There’s a quality to winter light that makes writing a little easier, in some ways.

It’s about time for me to go looking for another glass apple, too.

COVER REVEAL: Trailer Park Fae

So, remember the Gallow story I was beating my head against not so long ago? Revisions are done, proofs turned back in, and Trailer Park Fae now has a cover!

Trailer Park Fae

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae – by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

Also, I put up a short (ten-minute or so) recording of me reading the first scene on Patreon, for my lovely patrons–if you become one, you can listen too! Of course, Odd Trundles was moaning at the door, since I locked him out of the office. So the reading is really with bonus Trundles, but I’m not sure that’s an inducement to pledge or not. *snork* Now that the new year is here, I’ll be putting up more sneak peeks and fun things up–even a vlog, if a certain goal is reached. We’ll see.

Anyway, between TPF coming out in June and KIN coming out in March, things are going to be busy around here. Plus there’s revisions, as always, and even more exciting news I can’t share just yet. Stay tuned…

ETA: For those curious, the cover artist is Dan dos Santos.

Back From the Brink

Broken Time Well. I’m back. I hope your holidays, of whatever stripe, were fabulous. Mine were very quiet, just the way I like them. I got a lot of work done–one of the things about publishing is that just before all the salaried (editors etc.) go off on vacation, there’s a massive push to get things out to “freelancers”–authors, copyeditors, and the like. Which means one ends up doing a ton of work while everyone else is celebrating. Fine by me, really. I’ve mentioned before how every “holiday,” growing up, was so inordinately stressful that I am allergic to the very thought of gatherings at certain points of the year, including my own blessed natal day.

Anyway. Revisions were sent back, more revisions were done, and I’m currently in the middle of updating and revising the Society series for re-release. Note that they’re not re-released yet! I have every hope for new covers, though.

Also, someone sent me a very nice gift–a Wheel of the Year clock. So far, the sender has not identified him/herself, and there was no card/indication on the packaging. Please, if you sent it, drop me a line so I may thank you?

Who sent me?

Who sent me?

Later today I’ll be vlogging (or recording) a reading of one of my books for my Patreon patrons. I just have to figure out which book I want to start with…

Mental Muscles

quote-card-lilith-saintcrow That’s right, Pack is on sale through the holiday season. A story to keep you warm, as it were.

Frost is thick over everything this morning. I’ll have to wait a bit before I head out on my run. Fortunately it’s a short one–I’ve finished one training program and begun another, this one designed to build my base. So it’s kind of like going back to square one, though not to the place where I couldn’t run for thirty seconds without gasping and wanting to puke and pass out, not necessarily in that order. Instead of pushing myself through a long run, instead I’m forcing myself to stop just when I’ve gotten warmed up. It’s exercising a different set of mental muscles, that’s for sure.

Also exercising a different set of mental muscles: piano practice. I now have the third minuet down and am working on refining it, and have moved on to a polonaise. I picked through the right-hand bit of it last night during practice. Going back to the beginning in my old lesson-book is beginning to bear fruit, I’ve slowed down and am playing even the three-minute-theory bits several times, really thinking about what it’s supposed to teach me. Since my teacher’s gone to Florida–I wanted to shift to another teacher, but the receptionist at the lessons-place was so rude and dismissive to me I decided not to–I’m left to pick through on my own, using the internet to answer questions I can’t figure out for myself. It’s nice to have a teacher, but it’s also nice to go at my own pace, beating my head on the problems in my own fashion. I’m sure I’m not playing Bach right, of course, but it satisfies me and that’s all I care about now. Once I have the minuets in my fingers I’ll slow down again and play with the metronome. It’ll be a whole new series of problems for me to gnash my teeth over!

I meant to get the sample chapters for Agent Trinity done yesterday, but finishing The Poison Carnival seems to have scraped my brain dry. I barely squeezed a thousand words out. Today, though, I’m ready and raring to go, and my (short and freezing) morning run will be devoted to getting the next scene or two right inside my head. Later, the whole skeleton and arc of the book will become apparent, but right now I have to find the right beginning. Start well to end well, I guess.

I should also haul the Yule tree out of storage. The kids have been giving little longing glances at our neighbor’s light-bedecked house. Tis the season, and all that.

Back to it, then. Let us kick Tuesday in the pants, dear Readers.

That Lovely Sound

swac Good morning, chickadees. I hope your Thanksgiving was low-stress and full of good food. For those who were on the barricades and protesting on that day (all through the weekend in some places, I’m told), I hope all went well and someone at least organized coffee.

News! I have news. Issue 18 of Fireside, with chapter three of my ongoing cyborg-Western-vampire serial She Wolf and Cub, is now live! If the serial ends up being a success, there might even be a book of the collected chapters, so if you’re wanting to read a monthly chapter of something from me while you’re waiting for, say, Trailer Park Fae or Kin, that’s an option.

There are upcoming details about Rose & Thunder, one of my retellings of Beauty & the Beast–still my favorite fairytale–and there is movement on the Steelflower 2 front, though I can’t announce anything just yet. (Publishing: moves at the speed of glaciers during the Ice Age!)

And in still more news, NaNoWriMo is done. I finished both Rattlesnake Wind and the second Gallow & Robin book, which was my collective goal for November. In honor of finishing NaNo, some editing services are back in stock! First come, first serve, and all regular disclaimers apply. Please read the FAQs and Guidelines before you decide to purchase editing services, though. Some packages require a down payment.

It’s hovering at freezing here. Yesterday’s run took me past several crystallised puddles, and I could tell the ones kids had seen by the shattered ice. It made me wonder at what age my first instinct became to admire and leave well enough alone instead of breaking a solid sheet of ice just to see it fracture and hear that lovely sound. I never was a fan of breaking things the way some kids seem to be, but I did do my share of splashing in puddles when I reasonably sure I wouldn’t get caught and beaten for getting dirty. Sometimes the thrill of transgression is worth it.

I think it’s simply that now I could step through the ice if I wanted to, it’s up to me. When given a choice, I lose the desire to break. It makes me wonder how much breaking and burning is done by those who have no alternative. That’s as close to a comment on current events as I’ll get today.

And now, back to work on sample chapters, and revising Agent Zero

Two Awesome Things

Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox) Yesterday two utterly awesome things happened.

The smaller awesome thing: I finished the zero draft of Rattlesnake Wind. That was my NaNoWriMo goal this year, and it happened. The book has been tormenting me for YEARS and it’s finally, finally done. It’s no longer unfinished. It is an ex-partial. It will be put in a drawer for a while, so I can finish the zero draft of Gallow 2. (No rest for the wicked.) If I can manage to get Gallow 2 to zero draft form by the end of November I’ll consider myself a badass for at least a week.

The bigger awesome thing, though…my girl C had another PET scan yesterday. The cancer-masses of Hodgkin’s (she calls them “cancer nuggets” because she is just that hilarious) that were visible last time?

Gone. Gone, gone gone. GONE.

She still has to finish the remaining months of chemo, but we have official proof that it’s working. She’s officially in remission. This is the best possible news at this stage. You could knock me over with a feather, I’m so weak-kneed with relief and happy enough to explode. Her fighting chance just got a whole lot better.

I know a lot of you sent help and support in various ways. Thank you so much. Thanks are also due to the fabulous cadre of medical professionals fighting for my girl.

And now, the sun is coming up and it’s time for me to head back to work. I’m hoping today is only moderately awesome. Yesterday about did me in.

Over and out.

photo by:

Motion

Silk Road #10 One of the things about regular running is the glory of taking a rest day. Just one at a time, though, because if I don’t run for a couple days, I start feeling itchy and dissatisfied, everything under my skin crawling. It makes me wonder what might have been if I’d known cross-country running was done mostly alone in high school. Of course, I loathe team sports and even at that tender age I had very little patience for the verbal abuse often masquerading as “coaching” in schools–I was getting enough of that at home, thanks–but if I could have run, alone, for significant periods of time…I just wonder. Of course I couldn’t have let anyone at home know I liked it, or it would have been taken away, but still.

I’ve also regained my balance after the past week. I’m seeing the funny side of everything now, which is good. Once I start seeing the absurdity, it means I’m okay.

Anyway, today is a rest day. I’m within striking distance of finishing Rattlesnake Wind and near the big crisis of the second Gallow book; I plan on trying to finish them both at the same time. Hopefully it won’t make liquified brain matter slide out my ear-holes. We’ll see.

There’s motion happening on Steelflower 2, though it might not seem like it. Someone suggested I look into funding it through Patreon instead of Kickstarter. It would mean changing that to a monthly patron thing, and doing the book as a serial with a chapter every month. What do you guys think of that option? (Note that I might not be swayed by any opinion but my own on the whole thing, but I’m still asking.) My agent and I are discussing how long we should wait for publishers to decide go/no go. So things are happening, they’re just behind the scenes.

And with that, it’s time to turn up the music (a lot of Ennio Morricone today) and get started on the day. Damn the torpedoes and the liquified brains, and full speed ahead…

Dry East

Winter fairy The dry, east-wind part of winter–the Gorge is a giant wind tunnel–is the least fun for me. Everything gets desiccated: houseplants, dogs, the tender skin around the mouth. The new windows are holding up, despite a little condensation. I much prefer when the rains move in, even though everything starts to smell of moss and other less-savory things. The weekend was full of yard work, things like planting fava beans (they overwinter well here and fix nitrogen in the soil) and getting stormwrack into piles for the landscapers. I had to rake, which is normally not my favorite thing, but it’s really not so bad when someone isn’t going to take a belt to you if you don’t get every leaf.

Dawn is coming up as I write this, the children mostly ready for school, Odd Trundles snoring on the dogbed. Miss B, who would normally nose him off the bed or take the lion’s share of it for herself, is instead supervising the making of school lunches, hoping to be paid with a dab of peanut butter for her efforts. There is very little she won’t do for peanut butter or Cheetos.

The cedars outside my office window have stopped tossing. I pause and stare at them for a while, usually while getting the next string-sentence together in my head. Today I start on the sample chapters for the second Agent Zero book, and there’s word count on Rattlesnake Wind and the second Gallow book to catch up with. Plus, bread to make–the Little Prince requested “Mombread,” which is what he calls my 50% poolish loaves. He likes it toasted, with butter and a fried egg, in the mornings. I should also get up on the roof and deal with the storm debris there, always one of my favorite things.

All in all, it’s a Monday. I’d better stop staring out the window and get started on the rest of the day.

Over and out.

photo by: katmary