Out is Through

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© 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.

Good Wallow

So. We survived 2017. Idiots in the neighborhood busted out (now-illegal-within-city-limits) fireworks, so Miss B was huddled near me until we went to bed, where she promptly passed out and only twitched at the booms and bangs. I guess once she’s on The Hoomin’s Bed, nothing can harm her. I do wish she wouldn’t have needed her snout thrust firmly in my hair before she did the said passing-out, though.

’17 was awful. The world is on fire, there seems no way to stop the flames, and I’m tired. I took a good wallow in the last week, playing video games, letting myself eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, only producing 200 words or so a day–just enough to scratch the itch–and just generally rolling around in a pile of “waaaaaaaaaaah”.

I know time is subjective, I know today is technically just the same as yesterday and the change in year only has power because we all agree on it. The Witch’s Year started on Samhain, and one of the things I enjoy is the lying-fallow period from the winter solstice to the other New Year. Often I try to scramble, to get work done during that time, but I’m forced to accept that I need, well, not to.

It doesn’t help that salaried publishing people tend to clear their desks right before major holidays, which means work lands on freelancers–including the writers producing the content the salaried people are selling. Just one more way the industry is kind of benighted; eventually our culture will appreciate the creatives it’s built on and needs so desperately.

And while I’m dreaming, I’d also love a war unicorn to gore my enemies.

ANYWAY. We made it. I’m here, you’re here too, and there’s exciting stuff coming down the pike. Check out my new Subscriptions page–if you’re in the mood for a monthly or weekly hit of fiction, or access to the ongoing Roadtrip Z serial, or if you just want to throw a little in the tip jar, there are plenty of options.

After my run, while the laundry is chugging away and Miss B is exhausted into happiness again, I’ll be cleaning off my desk a bit at a time and redoing my master to-do list. It’s nice to see what I crossed off over the past month. The lying-fallow period has one great advantage: when it ends, I am more than ready to get back to work.

*puts on helmet, and goggles* Let us go forth together, my dear Readers, and kick some ass.

photo by: Miia Ranta

Post-Yule

Yule has passed, plenty of sugar has been consumed, there was ham. And bourbon! The dogs each got a chewable item, a Very Large One in Trundles’s case–that way, he can’t get bits stuck in his poor compromised airway. Plus, they get ham scraps in their kibble, which is, from their reaction, sweet sweet manna from heaven.

Oh, to be so easily satisfied.

You know what does not satisfy? Some jerkwads deciding to try and scam writers over the holiday. Then, when said jackasses are caught doing it and the internet falls on their head, sending out a racist, self-serving “nopology”–Foz Meadows has the rundown on it, here.

Remember Yog’s Law, my darlings: money flows to the writer. A “reading fee”, 99.999% of the time, is a scam. Just don’t do it. And don’t get talked into doing things “for exposure.” People–and careers–can die of “exposure”.

It snowed on Christmas Eve, and the white stuff is still lingering, as it’s been slow to warm. The roads are only moderately slick, but fir boughs are still painted with lacy white. Running is out for a little while, unless I use the treadmill, but I think I’m going to focus more on yoga for a few days. The stress of the holidays has settled in, and I don’t want to sweat it out just yet–being kind to my poor old corpse with hydration and stretching is what’s called for now.We’re in the trough of the year, and I’m bracing myself. 2016 was bad, 2017 said “hold my beer”, and I’m not looking forward to the incoming.

Anyway, there’s a proof to go through and the dogs are giant balls of neediness and energy this morning. I have to wash Odd’s big fancy dog bed, too. No rest for the weary, the wicked, or those owned by canines.

Over and out.

Zero Drafts

I finished the zero draft of the first Combine’s Shadow book last night. So today is kind of an off-day, though I still have to get out the door for a run. God knows I’m feeling the pressure to get a whole chunk of Beast of Wonder out of my head today, too.

Every once in a while I get a rash of people asking “what’s a zero draft?” so I thought I might as well do a whole post on it, since I just finished one and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have another soon. (Beast of Wonder really, really wants to be written now, and I need it out of my head.)

It’s been said that all good writing is rewriting, and like all old chestnuts, it contains a grain of truth. Certainly there are occasions when a chunk of text falls out of my head and needs only minimal polishing before it’s ready for primetime, when I fall into a fugue state and churn out something beautiful. (The Muse does have to give me random rewards in order to keep me addicted, after all.) Those gifts are Easter-egg sprinkled through every draft, hidden hinges and visible ones for the story to hang on.

Zero draft means the work is done. It has the beginning, middle, end, there aren’t any places saying [[shit happens here]] or [[why isn’t this working, figure out the muppet here]] or [[jesus christ I have to kill this character soon]] or, one of my favorites, [[sex scene here?]]. It’s in recognizable book/short story/novella form; the corpse is whole and laid on the table. Celebrate, get a beverage of your choice, soak up the congrats of all your writer friends. You’ve given birth!

Now comes the hard part. Nobody else sees this draft. Oh, no. Are you kidding? It’s not even ready for mew writing partner or beta readers yet.

The zero draft is the raw steaming lump of creativity. I set it aside, for at least a week. More difficult works sometimes have to marinate for longer. This serves two purposes: it helps ease the snapback, and it gives some slight but critical emotional distance from the big, messy word-baby you’ve just laid. You need that distance in order to make the word-baby better, prettier, more appealing, truer to its shape and intention.

Once it’s marinated for a little bit, you can go back and do the initial revision pass. You can fix typos, you can trim and craft better sentences, do continuity checks–basically, the initial pass is for arranging the corpse prettily on the table, embalming it, fixing structural problems, changing your dialogue tags to action or description tags, and the like. After that pass, it becomes a first draft.

Now other people–writing partner, beta readers, etc.–can see it. Now you can let it marinate for a little while longer before another revision pass if you can tell it needs more. A zero draft is the skeleton; a first draft is that skeleton with padding and clothing added. (Yes, I’m gleefully abusing metaphors here to make a point. You’d think I was a writer.) Work doesn’t stop at a first draft–I know writers who get to at least the third before they even consider letting an agent or editor near it. I tend to work hot and lean even in my first drafts, so I need agent/editor feedback on where the lacunae are, those things I can see so clearly in my head I forget the reader doesn’t have that image as well. It’s rare that I keep a book until the second or third draft.

Why don’t I call a zero a first draft? Because it’s finished, yes, but it’s not quite arranged, painted, or aesthetically where I want it. The brute work of typing is done, but it’s the cut and polish that makes it better. Still, the zero is a thing to celebrate. You’ve got to give yourself a break and a reward or two for finishing the damn story before you can gather the energy to make the corpse ready for the viewing.

It doesn’t mean the work is over, but you’ve got to take the good things where you find them.

Brown Sugar

So, over Thanksgiving, I decided to try some brown sugar bourbon. It was extremely good in spiced apple juice, though I don’t think I’d sip it neat. It wasn’t as ungodly sweet as cinnamon the whiskey, though, so I could see sipping it on its own, but why when one can add it to unsweetened hot cocoa?

It went down extremely easily, and was very warming. Given current events, I’m wishing I had some left. *sigh*

(For the curious, I purchased it at Trader Joe’s. You can also order it from a local distillery, I believe.)

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*

Egg-Carton Treatment

The thing I find most interesting about this is the amount of resources allotted to shepherding a relatively small number of white supremacists to “safety”.

The main group was escorted several blocks to the Farragut West Metro station, which was then temporarily closed to allow the neo-Nazis and white supremacists time to escape. Spencer, meanwhile, was hustled into a waiting SUV. (ThinkProgress)

Can you imagine the same egg-carton treatment given to, say, a small number of BLM protestors? Or a tiny group of Planned Parenthood supporters? I mean, I can imagine the police allowing, say, an SUV driven by a racist misogynist to plow into a group of either and inflict a casualty. But the white glove treatment for either? Clearing a whole Metro station? Something other than pepper spray, truncheons, and zip ties?

I can’t see that at all.