Recovery

It’s January, and I’m seeing crocuses raise their tiny green heads. I want to tell them it’s too soon, that they’re really risking it, that late February is better, but what do I know? They’ve decided it’s time, and I can only wait and watch.

I suppose I should get the garden in shape. Winter’s been rough on us all.

I’m still slowly recovering. Beast of Wonder is revising, bit by bit. It’s a strange little novella. It wanted to be told, and I have faithfully done so, and now in revision it wants more care and crafting than a full-on book. Perhaps that’s because it’s shorter, and each word has to tell. I’m pretty sure nobody will precisely like it, but I’m going to find a cover and put it out there anyway. Not-liking does not mean lacking-in-worth.

I am continually brought up short by recovery taking far longer than I think it should. Even when I give myself what I think is a perfectly reasonable span of time for healing, it never seems to be enough. It takes as long as it takes–or perhaps I’ve simply grown more unwilling to harm myself by pushing, and have reached a point in my career where I can afford, however imperfectly, to allow myself time to develop scar tissue.

Anyway, a piece of extremely good news landed today, so there’s that. It’s raining, which means if I take B on a run there will be fewer other dogs for her to desperately wish acquaintance with, and consequently fewer chances for her excitement to lay me flat on the pavement. There were even English muffins for breakfast, courtesy of the Princess, which means I will probably eat nothing else today.

Speaking of the Princess, she’s listening to the audiobook of Fire & Fury. Our dinner conversations have consequently grown a little…exotic. The Little Prince’s eyes are the size of saucers as she details some of the bad behavior described in the book. The whole thing is bloody amazing, and not in a good way.

Anyway, all is reasonably quiet here. Not very quiet, for Odd Trundles, exhausted by brekkie and unloading, has staggered to his fancy dog bed and is snoring loudly enough to vibrate my desk. B, of course, realizes I’m in my running togs and will not risk being left behind, which means every time I shift in my chair she perks up, ready for us to hit the pavement.

I am hoping today will continue to be reasonable. Over and out.

Out is Through

Single
© Twds2 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Yesterday was spent hip-deep in proofing Afterwar. I’m pretty sure this book is some of my best work, but the emotional cost of its difficult birth has drained me almost to transparency. Not that anyone’s been anything less than enthusiastic, there’s just been a confluence of factors and bad-fucking-luck attending this book-birth. The constellations were probably all out of whack.

Anyway, today should see the last of the proofing, if I can just get underway early enough.

Oh, also–several people asked if I’d written anything about the shift from Patreon to Gumroad after Patreon’s recent shenanigans. I did, and it’s now live on Gumroad’s blog. So enjoy, if that’s your jam.

I have a short run scheduled today, too. Miss B will be happy about that; she is full of fidgets that need working out. Odd Trundles had one of his spinal episodes last night. Bulldogs are so corkscrewed, spinal issues are incredibly common among them. Half a muscle relaxer and a good night’s sleep fixed him right up, but carrying him up and down the stairs to the yard, then coaxing him out into the grass to relieve himself, was an experience. There was nothing else for it, he had to pee and he couldn’t manage the stairs. At least he knows not to wriggle while I’m carrying all sixty-plus pounds of him down a steep incline. Also, it’s been at least a year since his last episode, so that’s a good thing. He hasn’t had a seizure in a good long while either; his life is arranged very comfortably to avoid triggers and excess excitement.

Given that he can get excited over tuna juice, a strange sound, or when his own unwieldy body produces a bit of flatulence, keeping him calm is a little more difficult than you’d think.

Anyway, it’s back to the grindstone so I can get a few more pages proofed before the itch mounts under my skin and I have to run. I love this book, I really do, but by the time proofs hit on any project I’m so, so tired all I want is to get it over with so I can rest a bit. Not to mention I’m sure this book, like Cormorant Run, will garner a bit of baffled hatred which I will do my level best to be oblivious to. I’m dreading quite a few things about 2018, and that’s one of them.

Oh well. The only way out is through, the only cure is to run and to work and to rub behind Odd’s ears. And Miss B’s. And the Mad Tortie’s for good measure, since she wants to be inside and in my business while it’s chilly-damp out.

Which isn’t so bad, you know? Maybe there’s some hope after all.

Over and out.

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.

Uh, whoops…

Yeah, so, yesterday I changed a single tag on some SquirrelTerror posts and WordPress decided to vomit them ALL up as new posts, everywhere. Sorry about that. :/ (I am told Mercury is retrograde, so that’s what I’m blaming.)

Yesterday I could barely settle to a damn thing until around 3pm, when I’d achieved enough caffeine to impersonate a satellite launch. Fortunately, after that things were much easier; Beast of Wonder, Pocalypse Road, and Combine’s Shadow all lined up for work and were attended to in order. I think spending most of the day on Mastodon instead of Twitter improved my productivity tenfold. Twitter is a garbage fire of harassment, even though I have a truly robust block list. The effort of swimming through that toxicity is gargantuan; still, though, I have to retain a presence there because I’m a mid-list author. Having to hold one’s nose and do something is full adulthood, my friends.

So today: wordcount, revisions, Latin, Greek, piano practice. A full docket, and I have to get out the door for some speed work. I’m not sure I’ll take Miss B–she’s not fond of intervals. They probably interfere too much with her trying-to-kill-me rhythm.

So, I’m sorry about yesterday’s email blizzard, blog subscribers. Next time I change a tag…well, maybe I just won’t, because oh my God who needs that kind of hassle? Forgive me.

*zooms away into the sunshine*

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.

That Old Publishing Pendulum

All I want to do is knit and watch Antonioni movies today. I’ve been on an Italian kick lately, a bunch of Fellini crawling in through my eyeholes and scratching a deep dream-urge or two in my visual cortex. Antonioni is a natural next step, but I’ve got work to do. I managed to catch up on NaNo wordcount, and those copyedits aren’t getting any fresher.

*time passes*

I wandered away to do some website setup, was balked several times, and finally threw my hands up in despair. I’ve a run to get in this morning too, though as soon as I step out the door I’m sure a torrential downpour will appear. The only question is whether or not to take Miss B with me. On the one hand, it will tire her out. On the other hand, a soaked and enthusiastic dog climbing all over me all day.

Choices, choices. What I’m really doing is resisting finishing Reader’s Shadow.

Part of my foot-dragging is the fact that any book with a teenage girl as a protagonist is viewed as “girly YA” unless it’s written by a Franzenesque white dude. (Then it’s regarded as “Serious” and “Literary.”) Which drives me to a type of jaw-clenched irritation bordering on actual vexation. It’s not that I dislike YA as a genre, or that I don’t want to write those stories. The trouble lies with the marketing and packaging. I had to push back so, so hard against pressure from publishers to water and dumb down teenage characters, the entire experience left an awful lingering taste. Kids swear, kids think about adult subjects, kids are far smarter than our society can admit. The pathological worship of pliable female youth in our culture is a mess of malignancy, and like all cancers, it does its best to eat up anything around it. Getting sucked into that black hole, having to fight against its pull, is difficult and draining on a daily basis. When you add having to fight for your work, for characters you believe in, it can wear you down to threadbare right quickly.

That’s a big reason why I don’t want to “publish YA.” It’s not the fans or the stories, both of which I love. It’s the uphill battle against marketing committees who want me to dumb down, water down, filter, bullshit the story. Even a whiff of that bullshit will turn readers off; their noses are extremely sensitive. After tearing one’s heart and guts out to write a novel, having to go into battle daily against the drip-drip-drip of “couldn’t you just change this one little thing? then this other little thing? oh, and this tiny thing? oh, and this?” can drive one to a cyanide well.

“You can’t have them drink. You can’t have them swear. What will the Bible Belt mothers think? If even one of those biddies complains we get scared. You can’t have teenagers acting like teenagers! We’ll lose sales!”

There are dedicated, fantastic people working in YA. But the pressure from bean-counters and marketing–even if those bean-counters and marketing folks are dedicated and personally quite winning–wears away at the edges until, if you’re not careful, you end up with pablum reeking of aforesaid bullshit. It’s more of an institutional culture than an individual failing, and it dragged at my keel until I sank. I’m sure it didn’t help that I was writing YA under terrific pressure in my personal life as well. (It was painful, let’s just leave it at that.)

So, writing teenage protagonists right now reminds me of all that. My faithful agent, to her credit, keeps trying with the YAs I write just for her, but my unwillingness to blunt any of the sharp edges means it’s a matter of finding exactly the right editor at exactly the right house, and that takes time. She believes in the books; I’m endlessly grateful for that.

But I doubt I’ll ever do trad publishing with YAs again. Or even self-pub, with the current one I’m working on and Harmony, which is out on sub now. “The problem is,” I remarked to said faithful agent, “they’re not ‘young adult.’ They’re books that just happen to have teenage protagonists, that’s all. ‘Young adult’ has become a somewhat ossified designation.”

She insists they have a very teenage voice–either a testament to skill or a mark of how I manage to vanish so the characters’ broadcast comes through–and wants to see them out in the world. I can’t fault her for that. I’m the biggest obstacle to getting them out, because I’m so gun-shy. I’m also extremely conscious it’s a luxury, to be able to wait, to hold out, to have the time to do so. I’m grateful for it.

Nothing in publishing lasts forever. The pendulum will swing again, I’m sure.

But in the meantime, I wait, and write these things for my darling agent, and tear my heart out for characters who won’t see the light of day until the swinging starts.

It’s enough.

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.