Soon My Own

Blue I am perhaps a very selfish being, because I cannot wait until this saga of home repair is done with and my house is my own again. Now that I’ve had a taste of life with solitude when I require it, it’s difficult to go back. I remember writing in the living room of the old place, cross-legged in my papasan, while two toddlers and the cats all wanted my attention at the same time. The intense work of that stage of child-rearing paid off in prime when I needed to write through heartbreak and stress, but it wasn’t comfortable. I’ve found I much prefer my current environment.

I don’t often talk about the flipside of “ass in chair, hands on keyboard.” Allowing oneself time to think, to dream, to fill the well so you have that something to draw upon, a raw material to spin into stories, is also critical. I am a champion of stealing moments to turn inward. Now that I can do so without having to steal, the pleasure is just as unalloyed. It still feels secretly shameful to realize I’ve been putting things together inside my head, staring out a window, brain tuned to that low hum of expectancy.

An interesting thing–I came across this article about “maladaptive daydreaming”. It’s well worth a read. For me, there was an a-ha! moment buried deeply in the last third.

A few clicks later, I came across Somer’s research in The Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. The paper examined six subjects who daydreamed excessively. Unlike me, they were victims of abuse and were unable to function well socially or in the workplace. But I had struggled with coordination difficulties and a painful constellation of autoimmune conditions, all of which went undiagnosed for years, so my poor health—like other people’s abusive circumstances—may have made fantasy more compelling than real life. I was especially intrigued that most of Somer’s subjects moved in idiosyncratic ways when they daydreamed, just as I had. “When I daydream,” one subject reported, “I often hold an object in my hand, say, an eraser or a marble. I toss [it] in the air. This repetitive monotone movement helps me concentrate on the fantasy.” (The Atlantic)

Like the author, I have little difficulty functioning well in the workplace. (Socially, well, that may be another story.) I remember escaping into other, vivid, sensory places during particularly brutal bits of my childhood. The type of daydreaming the author describes sounds exceedingly familiar to me. It was my refuge, and probably why I choose to tell stories today. Translating my worlds–I contain legions, I want to say in a creepy undertone–into fiction is like breathing. I’ve done it for so long I don’t know if I could stop, even if I wanted to. I could go into them and never come back, and there are times when I’ve wanted to. I don’t know why I didn’t, especially during a few not-so-nice events.

No, I don’t want to stop. My inner worlds are private, they are mine, and the ones I share slices of are still mine. Learning the skills to put them on paper seemed natural. Often, I forget I’m writing, my hands intimate with the keyboard as I record the sensory impressions, describing what I see, taste, sense. There’s a fine balance in feeding your head enough that it will allow the act.

Creation’s a funny thing. I am extremely glad it didn’t become what the author calls maladaptive.

I felt a great deal of relief as I read the Atlantic article. I used to think I was an alien, since I could call up all these visions and walk among them. When I was older, I thought I was insane, but in a socially acceptable way that could be harnessed. Now, I’m relieved to find out I simply stumbled upon a cognitive event, so to speak, and practiced until it was burned into my neurons.

Beware what you practice, for so you shall become.

Now, I have a fresh cuppa and the contractors are out collecting other supplies. I have a little space to breathe, and so I will write something to please myself.

Over and out.

photo by:

Interpretive Gif Dance

*sigh*

My day started like this:

whatevs

With Odd Trundles beginning to groan at 5am that he needed to peeeeeeeeeeee, despite having been out before bedtime last night. His real goal, of course, was climbing onto my bed when he got back inside, because I will occasionally on a Sunday let him do so. The fact that I did not this morning–I wanted another little bit of sleep before my alarm rang–has made the Cruelest and Most Unjust of Humans.

And then there was this:

run away

What happens when a car backfires while Lili and B are running? LOTS OF ADRENALINE, THAT’S WHAT. Also, getting home and checking email, and taking a deep breath to open the filtered emails, and seeing the toxicity in there. Dear trolls, maybe you should take up knitting? You seem a little wound up.

And now it’s like this:

jared is disappoint

Because I accidentally dumped a quarter-cup of heavy cream in my tea, and couldn’t drink it, as my arteries began screaming as soon as I looked at it. (Waste of a good cuppa. Sigh, again.) And Trundles is groaning because he’s finished his morning nap but Miss B is exhausted from running so she won’t play with him, the Mad Tortie is wailing to go outside, I have on three layers of eyeliner already, and these characters won’t stop kissing.

ugh

Wake me up when it’s bedtime.

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.

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…

Fantastic Hat

A quilled snowflake The weather report’s been screaming about possible snow for a little while, but there’s nothing but cold and wind outside. It is nice and dry after the last few days, so if any of the white stuff comes down, it’ll probably stick. Which means people will go mad on the roads. Also, I should put the tire chains in the trunk, if I haven’t already. Better safe than sorry, as the Selkie and the Boy Scout always say.

Speaking of the Selkie, she got me the most fantastic hat ever.

Warm and fuzzy.

Warm and fuzzy.

I’ve been wearing it pretty much everywhere during the cold snap, and people keep complimenting it. Apparently the Selkie has FABULOUS taste, but then, we knew that. I will probably be able to wear it when my hair grows out, too–it’s stretchy enough to cover the mane. I may never walk around bareheaded ever again.

At least, not until it warms up.

I’m still hard at work on copyedits for Trailer Park Fae (I feel compelled to note once again that the title was not my idea.) Fortunately, Kin is put to bed, and I think there’s nothing left for me to do until it comes out in March. I want to get the zero drafts of Rattlesnake Wind and Gallow 2 (this is the follow-up book to Trailer Park Fae) done before the end of November, and now I can announce that Agent Zero and its follow-up book (as yet untitled) have both sold to Harlequin! I’ll have more details on that as soon as I get them. My agent, the fabulous Miss M, is chasing down the possibility of getting a publisher interested in Steelflower 2–once she has an idea of if that’s likely to happen I’ll start making decisions.

I have thought (long and hard) about and crunched the numbers for the Kickstarter for Steelflower 2, but the ridonkulous amount of money necessary for that to be viable–we’re talking $15K minimum, to cover time off from other projects as well as editing, cover art, and various other incidental expenses like perks–rather unnerves me. I would much prefer to have a publisher in my corner on that one, since even a small press will ease the burden of editing, cover art, and the numerous quality control arrangements necessary. I’m not willing to have Kaia’s story get any less than quality care.

On the bright side, Rose & Thunder (one of my retellings of Beauty and the Beast) is close to the start line, and the Anna Beguine books may have another incarnation soon.

So, while it might look like I’m just lounging around popping writerly bonbons into the Muse’s gaping maw, really I’m madly juggling chainsaws behind the scenes. Got to get a lot done before publishing shuts down (again) for months around the holidays.

Speaking of which, I’d better get back to those damn CEs. The wind is still up, no sign of snow yet, but copyediting waits for no woman. Or something.

Stay warm out there, chickadees.

photo by: starshaped

Super Flail time

psychoanalysed Another weird weekend, weather-wise and life-wise. It’s like the week is saving up for a gigantic splurge of “OMFG” on Saturdays and Sundays. If it’s not kids making Questionable Choices it’s dogs thinking it’s the End of the World, or the weather deciding hail and thunder is a Good Idea. The Selkie had raptor troubles, and life is imitating her art to such a wicked degree now I fear she’ll write about an author whose friends have various nasty things happen to them (as one does) and the result will be even MORE weirdness here a la Chez.

I’m waiting on a couple things before I make a decision on Steelflower 2. Whatever that decision is, I’ll let you guys know. Thanks for all the awesome feedback and suggestions! I’m sorry I couldn’t reply directly to all of them. I am very, very grateful.

And now it is time for to get back to work. The revisions on Agent Zero are nipping at my heels, and I’m finishing off a little Keymaster today, as well as getting back into producing serious wordcount on the second Gallow book. In other words, SUPER FLAIL TIME ACTIVATE.

Enjoy your Monday, chickadees. I’ll be wearing the tinfoil hat and talking to myself over here. So, just as usual.

Proceeding Stubbornly

winter moon It’s a misty, beautiful dawn, red and gold, the moon peering through veils as she sails slowly for her rest. The Princess took pictures of it–she has a good eye for composition, probably from all the manga she reads and draws. The mist smells of drying leaves and that hint of spice-decay before the rains move in and turn it all to damp fungus-food. All India Radio playing softly behind me, my coffee mug slowly being drained, and for a few minutes, everything’s peaceful in the morning’s rush and bustle.

Work proceeds apace on the second Gallow and Robin novel, with today’s work a running battle in the middle of a goblin market. I’ve reached the point where what I thought was going to happen in the book is thrown out the window and what actually happens because the characters have thoughts of their own leaps in to fill the gap. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve written, but it’s always the same–I despair of finding my way through the labyrinth, then turn around and find the thread in my hand. It’s like the logic of dreams. Speaking of those, I chose not to write mine down this morning, and now can’t remember what I didn’t want to remember about them.

Jacking and hacking your own brain is a weird sport.

Today’s run is almost-10K tempo. Which means 1.6km slow-running, 3.2km “fast,” a three-minute recovery, another 3.2km fast, and 1.6 slow-running. Since it’s over 8km I can’t take Miss B, and her annoyance at being left behind will require much petting and soothing. Odd, of course, won’t care as long as he gets to sleep on my bed. He’s beginning to hit the “floor potato” stage of bulldog-hood. He believes he’s doing a grand duty by holding the carpet down, and of course we pet and praise him for doing so.

Rattlesnake Wind is also heating up. I want to lunge for the end of that book, then heave a sigh and put it in a drawer. It’s had a hard gestation. I should never, ever let an unfinished zero draft out of my hands. I know this, and yet I talked myself into it, and as a result…well. Just got to finish it and put it to rest in a crypt.

My hair is still sticking up all over my head. I look like a scrubby-brush.

And that’s all I have to say. There’s other projects that need attention today too–edits on upcoming chapters of She Wolf and Cub, Storium stuff (my, game-writing is a different beast, there’s a HUGE learning curve) and piano practice, hopefully not as frustrating as yesterday’s hour of banging my head on the keyboard and moaning. It seems I’m doing that more and more, these days. Just stubbornly whacking at things. I know pathological stubbornness is my greatest asset and biggest talent, but it’s tiring.

Here’s hoping we all get through Thursday with only good surprises…

Chipping, Incognito

come n say 'hello' to my new friend Chipping the words out, one by one. Yesterday was difficult–the scene I had to stitch into the first Gallow book took a different direction, and though I wanted to make it a neat little package it refused, point-blank, to do what I wanted. Just like coaxing a small animal out of hiding–you have to work on the animal’s schedule and comfort level, not your own.

That goddamn Muse, people. I’m telling you. Today she had better not give me any shite at all.

In better news, Ann Aguirre is signing at Book Bin East in Salem this evening. I’ll probably be there incognito. Come on out and show some Northwest love, if you can. It’ll be fun!

But first, back to the revisions. If I can wring another scene out of my head today and get a chunk of already-finished scenes eyeballed and tweaked, I’ll count it a win.

photo by: linh.ngan

Soundtrack Monday: ANGEL TOWN

Angel Town Redemption Alley and Heaven’s Spite were too painful to have soundtracks. Or, to be more precise, they have soundtracks, but every time I listen to them I’m reminded of the awful time I had with both books. Jill wasn’t the only one feeling a bit battered by the end of Heaven’s Spite.

Angel Town was just as emotionally difficult, but it completed the circle for me. And by the time I finished writing it my personal life had calmed down somewhat, too–or at least, I was certain I was going to survive. (It was touch and go for a little while.) So, in a very real way, the ending of the series, while painful, is also very hopeful for me. I know what happens to Jill, Saul, and the crew afterwards, of course…but I don’t know if I’ll ever write that. Maybe it’s better to just let her rest.

And now, the soundtrack!

In My Own Grave Sweet Talk, The Killers. If the hunters have an anthem, this is it.
Caretaker Michael Dirty Hands, Bear McCreary. The thing about hellbreed is, the other side is just as bad.
Perry/I Know You Somehow Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love, Pink Martini. Perry has a fondness for cabaret music.
Theron/Get To The Barrio Starbuck Takes On All Eight, Bear McCreary. Theron just can’t keep his mouth shut.
Anya/Where Did You Go? Wrong, Sister Machine Gun. Anya takes no prisoners. She’s named for my editor.
Saul Bring On the Wonder, Sarah McLachlan. Again, if Saul and Jill’s genders were reversed, nobody would ask the nasty questions I get asked about them.
Galina In The House of Stone and Light, Martin Page. Galina’s such a gentle soul.
My Dear Kiss Darn That Dream, Billie Holliday. The awful thing is, Perry loves Jill, at least as far as a creature like that can love.
Suiting Up Back In Black, AC/DC. The original, and still the best.
The Pattern/Betrayals Love the Way You Lie Eminem/Rihanna. “Your pattern blows. It hurts innocent people.” “It is all we have.”
Kismet’s Theme Ebla, E.S. Posthumus. This will always be Jill, to me.
As Long As Saul Survives I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash.
Call The Hunters Niveneh, E.S. Posthumus.
Hyperion’s Gambit/Argoth Pompeii, E.S. Posthumus. I listened to this over and over again during the writing of the final battle. You can hear the point at which she flings herself into the hellmouth…
Nothing Could Be Worse Than Losing You Crossfire, Brandon Flowers. I won’t lie, it’s mostly the video that makes this one.
Driving Into The Desert Paris, Texas, Gotan Project. A girl, her boy, and her dog, driving into the sunset.

Heat

Heat Wave End of April, and the weather forecasters are telling us eighty degrees. (That’s between twenty-six and twenty-nine for you Celsius folks.) Beltane is going to be like August, for God’s sake, and right after that we go back to mid-sixties, as is normal and reasonable this time of year. GO HOME, WEATHER, YOU’RE DRUNK.

The Fireside serial continues apace. I have Chs 1-3 in to the editor and we should have finals on those in a couple weeks. It premieres in August, but before then, you still have time to get in on Chuck Wendig’s Forever Endeavor. I highly recommend you do. In any case, I have the cyborg in a desert town, about to fight off others of her kind. It’s a showdown, and you can see the tumbleweeds. Something tells me I’ll be listening to a lot of Ennio Morricone for the remainder of that particular story.

Other than that, Rattlesnake Wind is doing well, but May 1 is the drop-dead date for me to start revisions on the first Jeremy Gallow book. True to form, the editor wants more–more details, more backstory, more of everything. I tend to produce very lean and light first drafts, because the story is so clear and vivid inside my head. I often forget the reader doesn’t have a window into my brain. Which is just one of the many valuable services an editor provides, like telling me when I’m being ridonkulous and threatening me when I kill off characters. Heh.

So the order of the day is: editing work, as much of Rattlesnake Wind as I can write, and maybe weeding. Because getting out and getting my hands in the dirt is a Good Thing.

Over and out.

photo by: MSVG