Smokeless Fire

Samhain has passed, and we’ve had a bit of rain. We’re about to have more, but the long stretch of sunny days and cool dry nights gave us some color before the grey descends. This particular tree in the neighborhood blazed for three days straight, a smokeless fire.

I love fall.

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…

Most Glorious

It’s that most glorious of days. Crisp weather, bowls of candy on the dining-room table, acres of good food to be made, the beginning of a new witch-year to celebrate. The Little Prince is home from school–eacy year I am amused by the reactions when I call and inform them he won’t be in, it’s a religious holiday for us.

My joys are small, but they are mine.

Lately I’ve been touching the chunk of bloodstone on my desk whenever the light overhead flickers. I wasn’t sure why until I realized it’s the first anniversary of a passing. The body remembers, even if the conscious mind doesn’t. Of course, once you realize what you’re carrying, the load becomes lighter. Human beings need a reason, and if they can’t find one, they’ll make one.

This is, like everything else to do with humanity, both blessing and curse.

Time to smear some sunscreen on and get the morning’s run in, then begin the first round of prep. I want chicken soup, which means I need to roast the defrosted fowl. I’m also going to make these, something the kids are looking forward to with great anticipation. In between, there’s writing to be done and release day prep to finish. Now that I know what I’m about and the last day of the year is here, I can put a few things to bed.

I can’t wait.

Working Time

I’m waiting for the coffee to settle before I go on a longish run, and thinking about the day’s work. There’s Beast of Wonder to get decent wordcount in on; the book wants to be written piecemeal with a dialogue skeleton first. Which is my very most un-favourite way to write a book, but since this one probably won’t see publication, I can let it take the shape it wants over however-long. There’s also the YA my agent wants. Which makes two projects that will perhaps never see publication. It’s not a good use of my working time on the whole, but the next bit of Roadtrip Z needs some thought. I know what happens, I just need the proper entry into that phase of the story. Which requires thought.

I know what I’ll be thinking about for most of my run. Frustration will mount, and by the time I get home, I’ll be no closer to a solution but at least I’ll feel like I’ve taken action Later today, maybe in the shower or while cleaning in between writing sessions, the opening will appear to me and I’ll wander away from what I’m doing to write it down. (Hopefully not in the shower, it’s no longer summer.) Or maybe while knitting, which means I’ll drop my yarn and start typing furiously.

There are other projects waiting, like an attempt to go back to Deadroad and maybe resurrect that poor story. Not to mention Harmony, which needs another 30k. It’s a monster of a book, but since it’s only for one person, I suppose that doesn’t matter. Today, though, I’ll write to please myself. Especially since we’re coming up on the release of Steelflower at Sea. I’m excited for the new release, of course, but I’m also…well, the book has had a long hard road to publication. I still get stress nausea when I open the mostly-done third book (Steelflower in Snow) and go back into that world. A lot of writers don’t talk about the emotional cost of people outright stealing our work. It’s damn near crippling on some projects.

I’ve my work cut out for me, but first I need to get my coffee down and get out the door. The wind it up, so my eyes will be stinging and leaves will be flying. Of course I’ll return with my hair full of leaves, needles, and possibly bees. I do try not to carry the bees too far from their territories, but if they’re going to crawl into my hair, well, they get what they get. The other day I also had a beetle nestling in my braid, for what purpose I do not know. Maybe I’m just public transport for pollinators.

I also lost some writing time last week doing the website revamp. Do you like it, fair Readers? It should load far more quickly now.

That’s all the news for today. It’s the end of the witch’s year, and tomorrow the kids are home to celebrate Samhain with me. There will be food, and fun, and baking. And not a little sugar.

Over and out.

Looking for Love

Me: I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Louis: YOU’RE A REAL PAL. OKAY, SO IS THIS A GOOD POSE?
Me: I guess?
Louis: YOU’RE NOT HELPING.
Me: Look, the last time I saw you, you were shooting at everyone.
Louis: I SAID I WAS SORRY.

Louis: SO OKAY, IT SHOULD GO, SINGLE MALE LOOKING FOR FRIENDS.
Me: Friends?
Louis: YEAH, WELL, IT’S GOTTA START THERE, RIGHT? LIKES: LONG WALKS, NATURE, COLD BEER. SHOULD I PUT DISLIKES?
Me: I’m not sure there’s space.
Louis: GOOD POINT. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. DID YOU GET MY GOOD SIDE? DO I LOOK RELAXED?
Me: …you look fine.

Louis: OKAY, SO HOBBIES. LET’S SEE.
Me: Well, what do you like to do?
Louis: KILL ZOMBIES.
Me: …other than that.
Louis: DRINK BEER.
Me: How about reading? Do you like to read?
Louis: WEAPONS MANUALS.
Me: *trying to keep a straight face* Cooking? Do you like to cook?
Louis: I CAN ROAST A SQUIRREL.
Me:

Yeah, poor Louis is looking for love. I’m not sure online dating is for him, but he’s insistent, and since he’s going to be living in the backyard with the rest of the crew, I might as well try to be helpful.

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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Different Speeds

A dream of trying to get to a petrol station with a janky old minibus told me it was definitely time to get up this morning. I’m not allowed to run today–stressing my flu-ridden body with easy 5km jogs for the past couple days was just enough to scratch the itching under my skin, but not enough to tip me back into mucus, coughing, and wishing I could just crawl under a rock. The dogs turned their noses up at breakfast, since it didn’t have bacon grease smeared on the bottom of the bowl.

They are spoiled little things. When they get hungry enough, they’ll eat.

Stories often follow the same principle. The surrealist book I’m attempting is a painful word-by-word slog, each one chipped out and deleted three or four times as its sentence is tweaked, honed, and settled like a jigsaw piece. On the other hand, I fall into Broken Profile for an hour or so, enjoying myself by just transcribing the movie in my head. And the nascent YA is somewhere between the two, a steady process of building. Each book is different, but when one reaches the point where they refuse, setting out the bowl of kibble and waiting is often the best (or only feasible) strategy.

You can’t bat if you’re not waiting at the plate. (There, that’s my one sports metaphor, now I can go for months without making another.)

In the meantime, I knit a few rows, tap a little on Abyssrium, think about the story, test words inside my head like testing a handhold while climbing. Fingertips first, the rest of my body clinging to the rock, then a decision–a slow transferring of weight, or a sudden lunge?

It’s the former more often than you’d think, though I prefer the latter.

Anyway, I’ve gotten my amnesiac narrator onto the city streets, and next comes the meeting with the bargain-basement psychopomp. Maybe I should write the bathtub scene, though–that’s what’s filling my head right now with a ripple of water and clumps of black-tar desperation.

It’s a sunny morning. Maybe, instead of fighting with this, I’ll walk Miss B around the block. By the time I get to the end of the street, the problem will be solved.

Over and out.