A Dead Book

Roaring lioness
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Mist hangs between the trees today. Our morning run will no doubt turn Miss B into a crinkle-puffy floof–her fur acquires zigzags when wet. Today’s run will be very gentle, very easy, recovery instead of pushing. It will frustrate us both, but pushing myself today will only lead to an injury, I can just tell.

I had to make a very difficult decision this past weekend. A book is dead in the water, with no hope of revival. Part of the murder was a series of unfortunate events at the publisher, a perfect storm I’ve never encountered in my professional life and will likely never encounter again. Nobody was a douche, nobody was ultimately responsible, it was just a collection of bad luck. The bad luck was fatal to the book, and admitting as much to myself and others was…difficult, to say the least.

But that’s why I have a writing partner, and friends, and an agent–so that when a series of complete disasters hits a book, I have outside measures by which to measure the scale of the disaster and my response. Often, my response is emotionally disproportionate, and the triad of objective feedback sources tells me so in no uncertain terms so I don’t go off the rails. (Or, at least, I don’t go very far off the rails.) This time, while my decision is not precisely optimal–I could phone in a spiritual corpse of a book, I suppose, if forced to; I could cause myself lasting damage by beating this dead book, if I forced myself to–it’s the only one I can take, and the triad agrees. While I am the kind of writer who will rip out her own entrails in bloody handfuls for a book because that’s the way it has to be, I am not the kind of writer capable of just phoning it in.

And tearing out my own entrails is only acceptable if there’s a recovery path afterward. Mixed metaphor, I know, but accounting for the emotional toll a book takes on you is good self-care.

It’s never easy when a book dies. I’ve had two die on me, and one was only resuscitated after years of patient care and a few unpopular decisions. This one…will not be resuscitated. I just can’t. Maybe I’m too old to keep throwing effort down a well, maybe I’m too tired and the world is too aflame for me to perform a necromancer’s trick when I could be writing other stories.

Either way, I have mourned, and now I’m moving on.

‘Nuff said.

Into the New Year

Today’s the last day before the Princess and Little Prince go back to work and school, respectively. Which means that whoever rang my doorbell at 8:30 might have needed something, but I was not getting up. Despite Miss B’s insistence that she had to herd whoever rang that bell–properly Pavlovian, my beloved hound.

But no. I did not get up. I rolled back over and stole another twenty minutes of delicious sleep before finally sighing and resurrecting myself after a feverish dream of blood-colored rain that turned to red flowers starring concrete walks, hard-cracking roots digging in with blind persistence. I’m pretty sure the visual aesthetic was from a War of the Worlds movie. I’ve been thinking a lot about the common cold killing invaders of our watery home this season.

What? Oh, no reason. It’s just one of those things I think about. No, no reason at all. Nothing to see here, move along.

Yesterday was full of challah, black-eyed peas, coffee, and ham stock. The first blush of the stock went for cooking the black-eyed peas, and I left the hambone in the crock pot overnight. This morning I am rewarded with a lovely dark stock full of minerals and intense flavor. It will make a fine soup, probably for tomorrow’s dinner. Something nice and hearty for the kids after they come home from their first day back at the grindstone.

Other than that, there’s proof pages to do. I may try to do them in PDF form this time, despite my preference for hardcopy. I feel like I just don’t see enough if it’s not on paper, but we’re under a time crunch and this book has already been the most difficult in my career. So…maybe the PDF has something to recommend it. Maybe I’ll do fifty pages or so and see how it works. Christ knows I just want to get this book off my plate by now, it’s been a few years of sheer hell. I mean, I love all my books, and I think this one is very good, it’s just had a very…difficult…birth. I shouldn’t have been surprised, it was a more complex and terrible (in the old sense) undertaking than I’d ever attempted before, one of those projects that takes one’s craft a quantum leap forward. (Or at least, one hopes.) No growth without the pain of stretching.

At least I only have a short run today, and no shortage of coffee. Since the kids are home, they can deal with cleaning the kitchen. There are occasional advantages to spawning, I will say that much.

Into the New Year we go, then. Over and out.

Fidgets

Roaring lioness
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I took yesterday mostly off. It ended with knitting and watching the last half of L’Eclisse, which is a pleasant way to spend an evening. Good Lord but Alain Delon was pretty, back in the day. It makes me want to watch Le Samourai again.

I didn’t even have to make dinner–the Princess brought home a take-n-bake pizza. “It’s your day off,” she said. “Copyedits were hard.” (The pizza was delicious, too.)

This morning is strangely sunny, one of those weird weather spots. I can’t settle to a single thing, though, so I blame both the Godzilla ridge and Mercury being in retrograde. I know the latter doesn’t matter, but any excuse for this itchy feeling is welcome. I’m sure once I get out the door and halfway through a run, I’ll settle somewhat.

Both dogs have been particularly needy this morning. They didn’t care that I needed caffeine in order to prop my eyelids up; no, they wanted pets, and since I have two dogs, that took care of my full hand complement. Honestly, I stopped at two children for just this reason–never have more Truly Important Things than you can carry (or keep hold of) in a disaster. That, and I knew I couldn’t give more than two children high-quality parenting. Knowing one’s limits is a necessary art.

The next thing on my docket is a thorough, hard revise of Season 3 of Roadtrip Z. For those asking, there will be four seasons, and after the fourth is done and released there will be a compilation. I may just release the compilation in ebook, since it’s going to be a beast, size-wise, and I’m not sure the price point for putting it in print will be sustainable. As usual, Patreon folks get the ebooks for free, up to and including the compilation.

So that’s the big overarching thing I’ll be focusing on, as well as Beast of Wonder and the finishing touches on the NaNo book’s zero draft. Enough work to take me into the new year, indeed. It will feel good, I’m sure, once I get my run out of the way this morning and the fidgets worked out.

Onward to Tuesday, I guess.

Difficult to Settle

It’s Monday. I have copyedits to do. The coffee, despite being strong enough to eat a spoon, is not waking me up. There’s also NaNo to finish, and the holiday put me behind. I will not be taking Miss B on this morning’s run, which means she’ll be snotty with me all day.

Such is life.

I can’t decide whether this NaNo project is going to be 100K, or whether I’ll have to just break it up into smaller chunks and write my agent a whole series instead of just one novel. I know I should be focusing on things that have a prospect of being published, I really do, but…I want to do something nice for her, and this is what she’s asked for. Plus, I’m in too deep to stop now. I’ll just finish out the 50K and then shift the project to the back burner, I suppose, while the front is taken up with other things.

Winter has moved in. The trees painted themselves and now have dropped their veils; when a band of rain moves in it gets twilight-dark even at 3pm. When I can hear rain on the roof, work gets easier. The grey soothes me, cradles me; I’ve never understood people who move to this part of the country and complain about the rain. It’s like moving to California and complaining about sunshine. (Of course, I probably would, that big yellow ball in the sky wants to kill me.)

I also have to revise Harmony, that book needs to be about 30K longer. At least Rattlesnake Wind has found a home–or, more precisely, I have a verbal promise, nothing signed yet. Good enough for right now, and I need to get Season 3 of Roadtrip Z past the zero stage. Beast of Wonder should probably get some attention, too.

In short, I am a long-tailed cat in a roomful of robotic rocking chairs, finding it difficult to settle in one place. There’s so much to be done, and the business of living to attend to while doing it. It’s the latter that fills me with dull almost-rage. I resent having to stop the work to eat, to sleep, to care for my corpus. I don’t mind feeding the dogs, or attending to the daily wants of the kids. It’s my own needs I resent.

Which is a sad comment on the socialization of females in our culture, isn’t it.

Anyway, I am full of sharp thoughts this morning. A run will shake most of them out and clear the pipes for work. There’s 400+ pages of CEs, if I knock off a hundred a day I might get these back under the deadline. Might. It’s worth a try.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY! In the Ruins

That’s right! Today, In the Ruins is in the wild. The ebook edition is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly; the paperback can be found here.

I’m pleased as punch to bring you the second season of Roadtrip Z. Special thanks goes to my faithful Patreon subscribers, who are bankrolling this project and already reading Season 3; I’m hard at work on the fourth and final season. I will be bringing out an omnibus once it’s all done, definitely in ebook but I’m not sure about paper.

I hope you enjoy the continuing adventures of Ginny, Lee, and the gang. Now I’m going to go deal with my release day nerves with gallons of tea and yet more of that thing I do whether I’m nervous or calm, happy or sad, tired or energetic–writing more tales for you to read.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Steelflower at Sea

After pitched battle, betrayal, and escape, Kaia Steelflower has enough gold to feed her troupe of outcasts through the winter. She can settle them in a small villa in Antai, that queen of maritime cities, and look forward to welcome boredom.

Unfortunately, there’s a pirate-infested sea to cross, her difficult new talents to corral, her traveling companions’ problems to solve, a princeling’s attentions to manage, and once in Antai, people keep trying to kill her. Or, more precisely, assassinate the barbarian Redfist, and Kaia keeps getting in the way.

Even the Steelflower can’t kill every assassin in the city. It’s going to take all her sharp wits—and sharper blades—to even try…

Now available at Amazon. Will be available at Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores as soon as the distribution propagates.

That’s right, my darling Readers! Kaia’s further adventures are now available. It’s been a long hard road to get here, indeed.

Please note that Steelflower at Sea will not be released in ebook for the foreseeable future. And yes, there’s a teaser for Book 3 at the end of this edition. I don’t have a projected date for Book 3–Steelflower in Snow–just yet, but I’m thinking maybe late 2018.

And now I’ll go soak my head in a bucket to calm the release day nerves…

Three Words Count

Some things need to be written by hand. Rattlesnake Wind was that way, and parts of Khir’s Honour are proving so as well. Then there’s nighttime, when I crawl into bed with a grateful sigh, rescue my zibaldone from the bedside table, and fish out a pen.

Sometimes I have plenty to record. Things I’ve thought about during the day, sometimes the weather, often I log reading and wordcount. Looking back over those entries, I see just how many days are obstacle courses. Just getting through can take all one’s finesse, skill, energy, courage, and restraint.

Conversely, I’m surprised by how often I note what’s turned out to be a pretty good day. Each time I haven’t been completely drained to transparency by the business of getting through daylight hours, it’s a gift. Maybe it’s bad that my bar for “good day” is so low, but I’ll take it.

Other things go into the zibaldone–dreams that don’t make it into the separate dream journal, memories, complaints, passages from books read during the day, words I want to look up, quotations I’m not sure of the provenance of, lists of things to remember, reminders to pick up this or that, political musings.

And yet, there come those days when I uncap the pen, stare at the page and the date, and finally write: Tired. No entry. I log the usual three-card tarot spread, think about it for a while, and close the journal. I rescue the bedside book from the pile I keep meaning to stack neatly, sigh, and read because I can’t sleep without doing so. Eventually the meds kick in, the light turns off, and I’m ready for night’s restorative journey.

Yes, handwriting is good. Wordcount is good. But even those three words–tired, no entry–count. They keep me in the habit of distilling each day into the journals, old ones ranged neatly on a shelf in my office because I no longer have to hide them.

Certain days might be a slog to get through. But even those three small words count, and keep me on the right track. Don’t ever discount small, incremental actions. They can keep you alive through the secret hollows of the night, when otherwise your grip might slip.

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