Vapor Lock

Busy week. Busy, busy, busy week. Patreon updates. Making sure In the Ruins is absolutely, positively, no-foolin’ ready for next week’s release. House-sitting and animal feeding. NaNo-ing. (Technically every month is a novel-writing month, but you know the drill.) Latin. French. Greek. Copyedits just landed. Kids both busy with their own lives, so arranging the clockwork of everyone’s schedules to run smoothly requires a bit of negotiation at the dinner table.

I just want to go back to bed.

But! I will be at the Powell’s Authorfest this Sunday, 3-7pm, signing books and blinking owlishly at people. Want your books signed? Come on out!

…I had a lot of other things planned for this blog post, but I just vapor-locked, sitting here staring at the screen while my fingers twitched uselessly. Which doesn’t bode well. Time to make a list and go down it, checking things off ruthlessly, and no knitting until I get at least half of it done.

I can’t promise everything will get done today, but by golly, I have caffeine and I’m going to damn well try. Except for the copyedits. Those can wait for next week.

Over and out.

Cough, Cover Copy

I don’t get ill very often anymore, so when I do, it’s somewhat aggravating. My body is valiantly fighting off what is turning out to be a mild flu, given the low-grade fever and joint aches. I had thought that with enough hydration and rest for the past few days, I’d be running again today.

BOY WAS I EVER WRONG.

*sigh*

So I’m twitchy, well enough to itch under my skin, but not well enough to go out for a few kilometers. Especially since the cough has moved into my chest. Of course, I’d feel great, flush with endorphins, just after the run, but by tomorrow morning the stress on the organism would have me wishing I’d stayed in bed. Not that I don’t normally wish that anyway, but…yeah. I think the expressive writing experiment dredged up some toxins, and my body is pushing them out with alacrity. Overall, it’s good for the health of my corpus, but in the short term, it’s near misery.

So it’s tea, knitting, and doing cover copy surgery. Cover copy is the stuff on the back of a book, or on the inside flap, that makes you want to buy it. I flat-out love writing cover copy, which, I gather, makes me somewhat of an oddity among writers. I suspect I’d also like writing catalog copy, especially if it was for Harriet Carter. Of all the catalogs I love paging through and snaking, the old HC has to be #1. I fancy I’m a bit of a dab hand at it, and I like it when friend-writers throw a cit of copy at me and say, “WORK YOUR MAGIC.”

I damn near chortle with glee.

It’s perfect for days when I’m physically not tiptop, too, because each project has a definite starting and ending point. Working in twenty-minute increments makes for appreciable progress on cover copy, where it might not for novel-writing. I might also get super crazy and do some yoga today. If I can breathe deeply without coughing this afternoon, that is.

So that’s the state of the Lili today. I’m sexing up descriptions of books from people I love to read and hang out with, which is pretty spiffy. Even though it’s not a perfect day, there is tea, rain on the roof, tea, dogs to snuggle on every work break, and I get to do something I love.

Not bad, my friends. Not bad at all.

Chewable Air

This morning’s 7km run was a beauty, except for one thing: the air quality. Apparently the haze that makes the light so deliciously golden is a way of getting all one’s minerals in one’s breath, so I ran most of the last half with deep drilling pain in both lungs. I’m sure I’ll be coughing up chunks of interesting colors later in the day. At least at home, with the windows closed and the ionizers going, it’s a little less thick.

And, strangely enough, the haze made each band of smell on my route more intense. Fabric softener, a few small nasty threads of bloating roadkill, honeysuckle, asphalt, jasmine, roses, passers-by and their cologne, dogs with their dry-oily notes, cut grass, warm earth. My sensory map of the neighborhood is undergoing constant revision, probably because the utility work is bringing up a bunch of weird smells from underground and every time I pass a work site I get a blast of diesel and sweat. You could probably plonk me down anywhere in a mile radius with a blindfold on and I’d know where I was by scent alone. You’d think all the crap in the air would deaden my nose, but it just makes my chest tighten up.

At least I have some post-lunch coffee to get me through the afternoon. I intend on getting the last half of Roadtrip Z’s Season 2 revised today, after I get the Patreon episodes scheduled. *cracks knuckles* After that my focus shifts to the zero of Season 3, where the dominos start falling and people–well, more people, at least–start dying. I have all the dominos arranged and I know what happens, with only a few gaps in my understanding for the series to surprise me.

Once the Season 3 zero is in the can, I’ll think about if I want to finish it as a serial. It would be nice to bring it full-circle, but we’ll see if people are still interested at that point.

So today is all about grinding, slow, picky, detail-oriented work. It’s for the best, what with the Little Prince starting school this week, I’m already in a take-care-of-details mode. Once he’s settled nicely in the school rhythm, I can have whole chunks of the day back for the fierce, one-pointed concentration necessary to keep all the moving parts in this story working together instead of zooming off in different directions.

Well, onward, I guess. Excelsior, and all that.

The Ballad of Canary Shed

Morning. I am absorbing my coffee at the dining table and thinking about the day’s work–another fifty pages of revisions is my short-term goal. I swear to all the gods I intended a hundred a day, but this book is…crunchy. And complex.

ANYWAY, all of a sudden, there is a noise.

Not your average noise, no. Not even a regular morning noise, like Odd Trundles’s back end terrifying him with a sudden trumpet blast, Miss B chewing on one of her paws while she looks blankly at me and wonders when the hell we’re getting out the door, car doors slamming as neighbors set out for work, or (when the wind is from the east) a train whistle or (when the wind is from the west) chimes and playground noise from the local elementary school.

No, this was more like…a gong. And claws.

Me: What the fuck?
Miss B: I HEAR SOMETHING! ALERT! BORK!
Odd Trundles: *startled out of a sound sleep* HUHWHUH? DANGER! ALERT! *snortwhistle* BORK BORK BORK!
Me: *cannot hear anything*

I made it to my feet, temporarily deafened but still possessing enough mental horsepower to triangulate the sound. Peering out the door to the deck, I can’t see anything amiss, so I made a terrible decision.

That’s right. I opened the door.

In my defense, I was only partially caffeinated and Miss B was producing a lot of noise. Odd, still ensconced on my bed, began to get a little worked up. He is used to following Miss B’s lead, and of course, if she’s barking he has to, but he was All Alone and I did not immediately come into the room to soothe him. Plus, I think he’d gotten turtled on his side or back, sprawled amid my pillows.

Miss B was out the door like a shot, and I belatedly realized that was not my smartest move. I checked to make sure I had footwear and shuffled out onto the deck, cradling my coffee protectively. Miss B scrabbled down the stairs and set off for the far back corner of the yard. I couldn’t see much, because the fir was in the way. I weighed the advisability of just going back inside and waiting for Miss B to…

Oh, hell no, I couldn’t. I just could. not. She’s a lovely dog, my companion and buddy, but she does not make good choices.

I still couldn’t see from the landing, but I began to get a sinking sensation, because the claws-on-metal sound had returned, and the only thing in that quarter was…

…the shed.

Our shed.

I peered around the fir, and my worst fear was realized.

It was Canary!Squirl, and she was atop the sheet metal roof. Perhaps she’d fallen from the overhanging cedars, or just wanted to explore. In any case, now she was there, and stood with squirrel-arms akimbo, and two things occurred to me at once.

First, Miss B was going to flatten the lavender, and already Emphysema Joe was cussing.

And second, I could see how Canary!Squirl had dropped onto the shed, but I could not, for the life of me, see how she could possibly get down.

…TO BE CONTINUED

Revisions, and Canary

Traffic on a highway at night
© Adam36 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Well, I’m awake. Or at least, vertical. And about to start revisions.

This book is having a…difficult…birth, to say the least. I’m almost at the point of crying with sheer frustration, but not quite. I mean, why bother revising when the publisher has told you they don’t even want the damn book? Because I’m a professional, that’s why. *fumes a little*

You can tell my mood is less than sweetness and light this morning. Also, there’s this happy horseshit–Amazon, as usual, doing everything but the right thing. But you all know my feelings on that.

The squirrels in the cedars are at war with those in the firs. There is much chittering and throwing of pinecones, and already this morning a dead branch carrying a tree-rodent plummeted to earth. Slightly stunned, the rodent–oh, let’s call her Canary–rolled out into the yard, and lay there for a few moments.

Drawn by the noise, I stood in my office window, and nervously checked to make sure I was wearing shoes. Miss B was also very interested, doing her best to get her paws on the windowsill. Unfortunately, it’s too high for her, but she chose the next best thing, bracing her paws on my hip and DEMANDING to be told what in the many canine hells was happening.

Miss B: WHAT IS IT MUM WHAT IS IT OH TELL ME TELL ME PLEASE
Me: It’s, uh, a squirrel. Ow. Stop it.
Miss B: OOOOOH I CAN HEEEEERD IT PLEASE PLEASE…
Me: I think it’s dead?
Miss B: I’LL STILL HEEEEEERD IT!
Me: No. Get down.
Canary!Squirl: MOTHERFUUUUUUUUUUCKERS!
Miss B: *drops to all fours, looks up at me with her head cocked* …WHAT WAS THAT?
Me: *taking a sip of my coffee, glad I’m not outside* Oh dear.
Canary!Squirl: IMMA COME BACK UP THERE AND YOU’LL BE SORRY!

The squirrels in the firs went silent. The ones in the cedars, however, did not quite get the memo. Canary staggered to her feet, shaking her wee rodent head, and I was heartened that she was at least moving. Maybe I wouldn’t have to bury YET ANOTHER SMALL ANIMAL in the rose garden.

She bolted for the back fence, and twenty minutes of screaming, shaking, claws on bark, and a very interested Australian shepherd still trying to reach my office window later, the battle is still ongoing. Girl has stamina. But the squirrels in the firs are deadly quiet.

I think they’re waiting to see how this all pans out…

Roll for Adulting

I finished Kenneth Stampp’s The Peculiar Institution yesterday, during a break from the Sekrit Projekt. I had to take the book in small chunks, because so much of it is sickening. If one wishes to understand America, one must look unflinchingly at chattel slavery. It’s that simple.

It took a little while, sitting on the deck with my eyes closed, for the nausea to go down. Part of it was that Stampp’s attempt at “balance”–Christ knows he probably wouldn’t have gotten the book published without it–delved into the “moral quandaries” of slavery for the owners. I have long been, and remain, completely unimpressed by the idea that whites were somehow forced to enslave others, and unsympathetic to their moaning about how haaaaard it was to do so. The sheer number of mental contortions they had to perform to convince themselves what they were doing was somehow acceptable is astonishing. It’s akin to the just-as-breathtaking contortions conservatives perform today, both in number and in kind.

Next up: Harrison Salisbury’s The 900 Days. Which is a terrifying book already, since I’m familiar with the Siege of Leningrad from other books on the Eastern Front. I’m only about a hundred pages in, and I can’t look away, the suspense is awful.

In other news, I got 3K words in on the Sekrit Projekt, did an hour of yoga (my hips felt weird afterward) and almost forgot about the new short story up for preorder. It’s one I wrote a while ago, when I was first thinking about doing a werewolf novella. Unfortunately, the narrator had other ideas. It’s not often a short story comes out in a whole, bloody chunk, but this one did on a very cold winter afternoon. Funny how I tend to write winter stories in summer, and vice versa.

Anyway, I’ve a 6km run today, and another push to get the bulk of the Sekrit Projekt done before I have to shift to revisions. The revisions are for a book I doubt the publisher will take anyway, but when professionalism demands, the writer performs. I mean, I’ll certainly bitch about it to my writing partner, but I’ll do it to the very utmost best of my ability. Roll for adulting, +3.

Over and out.

Deciding to Decide

Winter Sunrise
© Mark6138 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
The weekend was…difficult. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized it was somewhat of a perfect storm, between release-day nerves and finishing the revision of the Afterwar zero, not to mention a traditionally stressful time of year.

I mean, I should have figured it out when all I wanted to do was knit and sob while watching a cryfest K-drama (oh, my God, Jung is the BEST PRINCE IN SCARLET HEART RYEO and if you don’t think so I WILL FITE YOU) and drinking endless cups of tea while it rained outside, but eh, emotional exhaustion doesn’t lend itself to such realizations. I was also in the dolors thinking I had no more books left in me, which is a GIGANTIC NEON BILLBOARD SIGN that I’m not thinking clearly and I need to call a time-out for self-care.

On days like that, the best bargain I can make is “just get through today. If you’re still breathing when you go to bed, it’s a win.” When things get truly dire, it’s “just get through the next 60 seconds.” I haven’t had a 60-second day in a long, long while, and gods willing, I won’t ever again. I’ll take the “just getting to bedtime.”

In any case, the sun has risen on another rainy day, and I feel scraped-hollow but mostly at peace. I’m thinking of adding Greek to my daily language rounds, simply because it seems a good way to understand botanical terms. Also, if one is set to learn Latin, one must at least nod to Greek. Or so I’m told. We’ll see if the alphabet breaks me.

So today is for eyeing the next hill. I’m not sure if it’s the vampire smut novella, or if I want to go in a different direction. Someone asked me for a scarecrow moment (oh, you’ll recognize it when you see it) and my very favorite editor is asking me for epic fantasy. Plus there are other things I want to get done, but I’m not in a condition to really make the decision of what to put into the hopper just yet.

I’m taking a page from the transtheoretical model of change, which is just chock-full of useful applications. I’m not deciding what to work on just yet, I’m deciding to decide. Which is a small and very useful distinction, one I wish more people were familiar with. If you don’t know a change/project is possible, if you haven’t even entertained the notion, you’re cut off before you start. Setting aside time to think over possibilities, deciding to decide, is a good thing.

Of course, it’s pouring outside, and I’ve a run to get in. The physical misery will no doubt force me to make a few decisions, most likely accompanied by swearing. At least when it’s raining this hard I might not get bees trying to fly into my mouth.

Small mercies.