Insomnia, Incubation, Illumination

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Monday has rolled around again, with a great deal of cold winter rain. Which is quite pleasing, both to me and the thirsty cedars. Summer was dreadful for us all.

I was lying in bed last night, drifting towards slumber–or, more precisely, staying very still and quiet hoping insomnia wouldn’t notice me–when all of a sudden, I was jolted by the solution to a particular plot problem in Hell’s Acre.

More specifically, I had reached a blockage during a dinner (not a dinner party, but it might as well have been) and had to throw up my hands, leaving the entire damn thing for the Muse to work on under the floorboards while I did something, anything else. The fact that I’m beating my head against revisions for The Black God’s Heart doesn’t help.

Said revisions (there are Problems, fortunately I am in the business of Solutions) are threatening to kick my ass, so I had to throw up my hands and call in reinforcements. I am always very chary of such a maneuver; growing up, asking for help was a sure way to get the stuffing kicked out of one. It’s taken a lot for me to begin to quietly, carefully, in certain very circumscribed ways–and always as a last resort–ask for assistance from selected individuals.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that said carefully selected individuals are flat-out thrilled to be asked, and furthermore, it is possible to get said help without paying an extortionate, painful price for it. Growing up has been good for that much, at least.

The sudden bursts or jolts of insight that occur after one has reached an impasse in a particular work are of a different character, though, and they rely on the same incubation-illumination dynamic as the rest of creativity. So there I was, in the dark, minding my own business, when I realized that the point of the whole dinner wasn’t solely what I originally thought but instead a means of additionally bringing in the complication among Avery Black’s Rooks.

It only took weeks of agonizing before the Muse finally dropped that little aside, lighting up the whole back half of the serial’s first season from another angle, so of course I had to make a goddamn note of it, because if one doesn’t write that sort of thing down it might flee into the cracks between sleep and waking, never to return.

I had to run the risk of insomnia finding me if I moved, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, you know. And this morning there was the note, scrawled haphazardly in the dark. Now, of course, it’s safely put in the manuscript margin, inside brackets, and I feel a lot better about things.

So it was a weekend full of (a little) rest and (a lot of) retrenchment, reading giant gulps of Nabokov and getting a truly stunning amount of revisions and housework out of the way. Of course said revisions aren’t even half done and this upcoming week is full of at least twelve-hour working days to catch up from the bloody vapor-lock…

…but that’s the way it goes, and I am lucky to have as much, I know. So here I am, eyeing the next glut of work and the bloody to-do list, and the dogs are lobbying for their walk. They have forgotten entirely the fact that it was pouring when they went out for pre-breakfast bladder-unloading, and will be discomfited all over again when we embark. At least, Boxnoggin will, for he despises the rain. B, of course, is an all-weather pooch, though I’m sure her joints ache a bit nowadays. She is an elderly statesdog, and no mistake.

Welcome to the week, beloveds. Keep your hands and arms inside the carriage, and don’t make eye contact with Tuesday. We have all we can handle right now, and the ride has commenced.

Over and out.

Cactus, Get Me Through

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Just get me through December.

Yesterday was a very bad brain day, full of brain-weasels. Which required the big guns–I retreated into Nabokov and spent the day with Lolita; I think one more time through Invitation to a Beheading (my favorite of ol’ Vlad’s) will set me relatively right.

Or so I hope. I’ve simply got to get this revision turned in, it’s been hanging in the “goddammit” category for far too long.

The winter cactus is blooming, and I woke up with Alison Krauss’s Get Me Through December playing inside my head. Last night was chilly, but I had the dogs to cuddle and didn’t want to slither out of bed at all today…yet I have. Canine bladders and my responsibility to the mortgage won’t wait. Some days I’m even grateful for the chainfall of duty dragging me free of whatever hole has swallowed the world’s light.

…it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to write this, since Miss B keeps demanding my attention for pets, a brushing, her morning treat(s), and yet another trip outside though she could have just peed when I let her out the first two times instead of standing on the deck and deciding it’s too cold. (The lady is wearing a fur coat, but she is delicate.) Boxnoggin, of course, has to be in on everything she does, except going outside.

He’s no fool, and it’s chilly out there.

I wish you a calm, pleasant weekend, beloveds, and I hope for one in my corner of the world as well.

Just…let’s get through December. That’s all I’m asking, at this point.

Over and out.

INCORRUPTIBLE, on sale!

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Welcome to December, my beloveds! And in celebration of the new month, Incorruptible is $3.99 across ebook platforms–Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and Amazon. You can also buy it direct at my Gumroad store; if you enter the code “ANGEL” at checkout there, the discount will automagically apply!

I really liked Michael Gabon and Jenna, and have ideas for a second book in their world. (In all my copious spare time!) Plus, the cover, by the inimitable Indigo Chick Designs, is absolutely thrilling. (She thought it would be “too much.” Pshaw, as if.)

If you’re not sure whether this is a book for you, the first few chapters are available for free to help you decide. ‘Tis the season for gifts, after all.

Come January 1, regular pricing will resume and I may (or may not) have another book on sale. We’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy Jenna and Michael’s cross-country, demon-infested road trip…

Constants and Striving

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Today’s the last day my folk-horror novel Harmony is $3.99 across ebook platforms! Next month there will be another sale (at least, so I hope) of a self-published Lili book; but for today, you can get Val’s story for a song. (And if you’ve read the book, that particular turn of phrase might give you a small shiver.)

It’s a lovely grey, cloudy morning, and I’ve a vast amount of work to attempt today. At least an hour on Hell’s Acre–I need to reread a bit to pick up the thread(s), since the book is telling me it might want to be one long season instead of the two planned–and then some more revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I am in full-fledged writerly revolt on one or two points, and bracing myself to do a bit of battle.

But that’s usual in this part of the process, on both counts. Misbehaving zero drafts and well-meaning editorial interference are constants, yea until the end of time they shall be with us, amen.

Some last-minute proofreader queries for The Bloody Throne arrived today, too. I thought I was done with this book, but it just doesn’t want to let go.

Lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a two-year-old won’t get the work done, though it’s immensely satisfying to contemplate. Dogs need walking, coffee needs swilling, my corpse needs a good run–after taking last week off my speed has increased a bit, but the rest of me is distinctly unhappy even with short jogs.

The body will adapt, and even be grateful for the rest and the renewed exercise. The endorphins yesterday almost took the top of my head off, and it was a welcome relief from the sense of spiders crawling under my skin.

I got a moderate amount of work done yesterday, and am not supposed to push since I’m still technically in recovery. It will be difficult not to scream “DO ALL THE THINGS!” and then wake up tomorrow with a did-all-the-things hangover. The crushing realization that Doing All the Things just means there are New Things To Do Tomorrow has not managed to fully sink into the consciousness of my inner child; I still, on some level, think there’s an end to striving.

I mean, technically there is–I will rest in my grave-urn, unless something extraordinary interferes–but I’m not resigned to it yet…

yet, of course, being the operative word. Maybe just a few minutes of lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a toddler are in order, just to get it out of the way. I’m sure the dogs will love that.

Well, the coffee’s gone and I have the new baseball bat to hand. Perhaps I should formally embark upon Tuesday.

See you around.

Mark of Survival

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I…may have recovered from the zero draft of Ghost Squad #2? Maybe?

I mean, the holiday didn’t help (even though there was pie, my gods, SO MUCH PIE) because I was on tenterhooks the entire time. The idea of getting some cheap Goodwill plates/other crockery for smashing early in the day–just to get the whole thing over with so I can relax–is highly seductive, and I might even brave said Goodwill one of these days before Yule.

If I can find a time when their parking lot isn’t flooded, either with maskless hordes or actual water. Our local Goodwill is…something else.

Anyway, I may have rewrapped my nerves a bit, which means next I turn all my engines toward a little more Hell’s Acre (now on Kindle Vella, too) but mostly onto revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I finished the latter’s zeroes during lockdown (amazing how many things I am saying that about lately) and both books undid me. It will probably be exhausting to revise them, but hopefully not in a bad way. After that I’ve Sons of Ymre #2 to write (Jake and the heroine are both speaking inside my head, albeit softly) and the second book of the Tolkien Viking Werewolves.

So my schedule is bloody well packed but I have a few things crossed off the master to-do list. The Hood omnibus is ready for its drop in January 2022, the zero of Klemp’s book is done, and I survived NaNoWriMo. January should also see Sons of Ymre #1 released, though I have no preorder links just yet. It’s enough to know the book’s on its way.

So I’m in that fragile stage of recovery where I can easily hurt myself by pushing. This is when most re-injury and spiraling back down into burnout generally happens, so I’m not allowed to work too hard.

That’s the balance. Working hard enough to stay afloat, but not so much that I tear all the scars back open. It’s like riding a unicycle while juggling flaming chainsaws and whistling a song one’s only heard once, and the penalty for any dropped note is an earthquake.

Fun, right? Why on earth would I choose any other job? Heh.

It’s Monday. The dogs are ready for their walkies, and there’s a run for my weary corpse to be accomplished–I took last week off and the itch under my skin is well-nigh unbearable. The coffee is almost absorbed; consequently, I am almost, almost fit for human consumption. I’ve also been unsubscribing from many a newsletter this morning, so am almost ready to start the new year with a clean digital slate.

Almost. Year-end housekeeping is generally a chore; this time around it’s a mark of survival. We’re still here, you and me.

Might as well get to work.

Cactus, On Time

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Right on time.

A whole lotta food was cooked and consumed yesterday (all the piiiiie, my gods) and the Christmas cactus from the old bookstore (the plant that survived the massive fire) is blooming again. I’ve a bit of work to do today, mostly stuff interrupted by the holiday, and then the weekend can start.

I’m looking forward to it.

Don’t forget Harmony is on sale for $3.99 across ebook platforms, and there’s my Books and Subscription pages if you’re looking to do a little Black Friday shopping. (There. That’s my Black Friday marketing done. Hallelujah.)

I hope you had a pleasant Thursday, my friends, and are anticipating an even more pleasant weekend. See you Monday.

Rarely, Never Permanently

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I am TRYING to take some time off. Really and honestly I am. My brain is porridge, my fingers twitch while I’m thinking–trying to type as I go about my day, naturally, and I keep drifting away in the middle of conversations as overloaded neurons collapse under the weight of small talk.

And there’s a holiday this week, too. One final trip for last-minute stuff, then I will stay home until Monday because I am not dealing with any Black Friday nonsense. Not this year, Satan.

Well, technically, not any year. But you get the idea.

In any case, I’ve a whole list of essentials to grab today, and I’ll be setting up the weekly subscription drop. Before 2020 I was doing really well at having at least a month’s (sometimes more) lead time for serial and subscription chapters; lo, how the mighty have fallen. In my defense it took a worldwide pandemic and fascist coup(s) to dent my productivity; I suppose I can feel a teensy bit justified.

The zero draft is still ringing in my head. I’m in the part of recovery where I still doubt the book is any good, and the urge to just throw the whole thing in the bin, tell my editor I’m never writing again, and flee screaming into the night is at its peak. I don’t know where the urge to destroy a just-finished work comes from; I’ve rarely given into it and never permanently.

Though it’s been close a few times. Very, very close.

So it’s probably good I’ve a long to-do list today, starting from walking the dogs to getting through the grocer’s without having to tell some maskhole to quit breathing disease on everyone. There’s boosters to schedule and some pre-cooking to do for Thursday, and it looks like a rainy enough day that I can also settle on the couch and get some reading done.

I’ve been too exhausted to do much other than stare at a glowing screen instead of reading for a couple days, and it’s bothering me. I’ve got a book on Agrippina just dying for some attention.

Not looking forward to leaving the house today, but it’s gotta be done. I suppose I’d best get started, so I can get home earlier, get into some comfortable pants, and begin cooking.

Technically, I’m out of the office until Monday. We’ll see if I can refrain from working at all until then. Gonna be rough, but maybe all the ham on Thursday will help. (I never turkey if I can help it.) Miss B will be extremely pleased–one year, she managed to get half a pig-butt off the counter, and was trying to arrange things so I’d blame the late, lamented Odd Trundles for the whole affair…

But that’s another story. See you in a few days, my dears.