A Smaller Sun

The name’s Ra. Ra Nunculus.

I woke up sick with dread, literally nauseous with anticipating yet more bullshit today.

Hyperempathy is a great tool for writing characters. It’s far less great while living under late-stage capitalism in a failing state run by sociopaths and those who collude with them. The worst part of this is a repeat of the exact hopelessness I used to feel as a child trapped in an abusive household. The people hurting me enjoyed my pain and weren’t going to stop. I was encouraged–by school, by television, by songs–to attempt saving myself. I was told I could and should tell teachers or other “authority figures” and the abuse would stop. That it was my duty to say something.

So I did. And nothing happened, except “being sent home to be beaten again because I’d dared to say something.”

The very worst part about this is twofold. The people we voted in at great cost to stop the bloodshed and agony have done and will do nothing except empty posturing to please the sociopaths we hired them to stop. And I have screamed myself hoarse, warning everyone I can as I am told it is my duty to do…and I’ve been mocked, belittled, and outright ignored. You’re overreacting, you’re too emotional, typical female, whatta librul, shut up or I’ll hit you again.

Four and a half decades of being kicked in the teeth when one tries to do something about injustice, about pain, about the rancid hatemongers who are abusing all of us, wears on one. I’m tired. So, so tired.

At least the dogs are reasonable. At least the trees are kind, and the buttercups and daisies do not hurt me. The smaller suns–waxy yellow ranunculus, the dot in the center of a bellis blossom–warm me, whispering in their tiny voices, concerned only with enough light, enough water, enough dark to rest in. Kindness is the lowest and simplest energy state.

I don’t know what to do. All I feel is dread and weary revulsion. The world is so beautiful, yet there is a slice of humanity that will not stop until they have violated, stabbed, broken, and shat upon every piece of it. And the rest of us, who outnumber them by orders of magnitude, will apparently do…nothing, even as the entire planet cries out in pain. No one is coming to save us, and apparently the vast mass will not bestir to save themselves, and will even savagely maul those who attempt to do the bare minimum of describing and warning of the problem.

I’m enduring, I suppose. I have to believe that telling stories, even the ones that are ignored, is important. I have to somehow believe that providing single, solitary people a few hours’ worth of relief from the mass of violence and hatred is important, because it’s all I can do.

It’s all I’ve ever been able to do.

I don’t want this. I never wanted this. Walking into the forest–or the sea–and never coming back would be preferable to this. I am trapped here, and must endure as best I can, continue working as long as I can. But oh, please, dear gods, I am so tired.

And I feel nothing–nothing–but the world’s pain.

Pain and deep, nauseated dread.

That’s all.

From Roof to Dementia

blank

So I’ve been fighting with the mortgage company, which decided to insert itself into the claims process–remember that freak snowstorm that damaged the roof, the deck, and our fences? Well, the insurance company won’t pay out what’s required (they are not good neighbors, let’s leave it at that) but they did pay out enough to defray the cost of a new roof, so that’s what we’re doing.

The fences and deck, well, they’ll have to wait their turn. We could already have the roof repaired if not for the sodding mortgage company. It’s taken six phone calls–four of which “customer service” or the phone tree hung up on–over the last two days to politely but firmly insist they get their asses together. I’ve been dealing with bureaucratic phone trees and judo-ing institutions ever since I knew phones existed, so this is simply annoying, but the very last bit threatens to fill me with actual anger.

The check they insisted they had to endorse as well? They’re attempting to send it back first-class. No tracking number, no insurance, nothing. Not only does this company try to nickel, dime, and squeeze “service fees” and everything else out of those unfortunate enough to have their mortgages acquired (without our consent, I might add), I have the sneaking suspicion they’re going to try to “lose” the insurance payout check. It’s as if they want to delay repairs until properties becomes uninhabitable, likely so they can scoop up said properties on the cheap and resell them at a huge profit.

I am THISCLOSE to publicly naming and shaming this institution. I don’t have much, if any, social media clout, but by the gods sometimes I’m tempted to use what little I have to teach nasty bullies and scammers the error of their ways.

Anyway. The news at large has also been dreadful, I have been unable to work with all the rest of this going on, and May is also historically a terrible month for me. I’m almost at the point of considering all this absurd and breaking down into screechy laughter, which will be terrifying for anyone in the vicinity but will also mean I’m focusing on the absurdity of suffering life under these conditions instead of the pain I’m witnessing daily.

On the other hand, I’ve gulped and put that damn werelion book up for preorder. Come June 1 it will be taken down from the serial platform, and my plan is to get the bloody thing out in September, though I’ve given myself all of October as well. It’s always better to be able to release a preorder early than to ask for more time to complete it; a padded schedule is just good practice. The book might be terrible, but it’s not unfinished, a few serial readers and beta readers have told me it was just what they needed, and I have to believe that even amid All This the world needs a few stories to just forget about the rest of the nonsense with.

I tell others “trust the work”, and I suppose it’s only fair life arranges things so I’m forced to do so as well. (What? You mean I have to take my own advice? Who came up with that rule?)

At least I’m beginning to see the funny side. Not of the news cycle–there is nothing funny about the cavalcade of horrors we’re forced to endure under late-stage capitalism and its attendant racism and misogyny. But my own particular fight with windmills does have its hilarious bits. My stubbornness has been engaged, and if you’ve hung around here for any length of time at all, you know that’s a recipe for mordant wit and sarcastic disaster.

So today is a toss-up between writing the space-werewolf-pro-wrestler erotica, or finishing formatting a certain other book. I have to believe that telling even my weird little stories has some value, that providing a few hours’ worth of relief for my readers can somehow ameliorate the pain. I have to believe it, otherwise…well, let’s not talk about otherwise.

But dear gods, it’s difficult.

At least this is not the week I lose Miss B. The time is fast approaching, but I have a few more days to spend with her. That’s a bright spot even if her doggie dementia is rapidly getting worse. She gets anxious if she “loses” me in the house, though she does accept Boxnoggin as somewhat of a substitute when I have to go for a run or a quick shopping trip. Fortunately, she doesn’t get violent at all, just confuzzled and attempting-to-herd, and Boxnoggin doesn’t mind her bossing him about. He treats it like play, and wears her out until they collapse in a puppy-heap.

When she chose him as a companion, she chose very well indeed.

So that’s the state of the Lili this Thursday, my beloveds. I hope your day is much more peaceful; barring that, I hope you can see the absurd side. It’s better than screaming, I guess. (If it’s not…well, don’t tell me.)

Over and out.

Blues and Fuzzy Toddlers

blank

It’s a bright morning, though “sunny” might be a bit of a misnomer, what with the marine layer and assorted haze. I woke up with Robert Johnson playing inside my head, so of course it’s a day for Delta blues. Later today I’ll probably shift to some Mississippi John Hurt–Chicago instead of Delta–because I always seem to end up with him on some warm sunny afternoons with a certain amount of dust in the air.

But we’ll see. Guessing the music is always harder than guessing the weather.

I did a lot of gardening this weekend–and even escaped sunstroke, a pleasant victory. Today is for catching up on some correspondence and giving Ghost Squad #2 a last bit of varnish before it’s scheduled to go out the door. That should occupy all my working time nicely, especially since I’m continuing a sort-of social media fast. I just can’t handle the firehose of bad news, so in the mornings I’ll have most of it blocked. Which should be great for my productivity even if I do miss eyeing a few group chats while I’m sipping coffee.

I might even get a bit of the space werewolves written today, if I have any energy left beyond prettifying the revisions and getting them scheduled to go out on the deadline.

…this has taken an unexpectedly long time to type, because Miss B is in one of her queenly moods and demanding a great deal of attention, not to mention a great many trips out into the backyard. Some mornings she simply wants to be sure I’m paying attention, like any fuzzy toddler. She would very much like me to get my toast so she may have a toast scrap, and of course after that it’s time for her real goal, walkies.

I haven’t had to carry her up the hill again, so that’s a hopeful sign. Regardless, we are in the sunset of her time with us, and it pains me. So if she wants praise and petting and trips out to the yard, she’s going to get them. She’s earned that, and far more.

I’m on the very dregs of my coffee. The bird-identification app my writing partner enthused over is pretty cool; I use it on the deck in the mornings and on quiet evenings. Dark-eyed juncos, robins, song sparrows, house finches, some goldfinches, flickers–it’s pretty wizard that the app can distinguish between the songs, grab a picture of the likely bird in question, and show it to me all at once. We live in the future, of course, and any sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable from magic and all that, but still. The wonder of seeing such things are possible is a pleasant sensation indeed, and one I hope I never lose.

While I might decide hope is useless, wonder never is. And with that (cheery?) thought I’m off to the races. A certain fuzzy toddler needs her toast, after all, even though she’s temporarily turned her nose up at the bacon grease in her bowl. “What? No human carbs? For shame, Mother. For shame.”

I hope your Monday is as peaceful as my morning has been, my dears. It’s a pleasant way to begin the week, and we haven’t had too many of those lately, now have we.

See you around.

Deck Grin

blank
Of course I anthropomorphize this.

It’s not much, just a hole in the deck where one of the massive fir branches knocked down by the freak snowstorm slid off the roof and punched straight through. It looks like a smiling mouth, and the glimpse of greenery below gives me a bit of the willies. I’m not precisely afraid of heights–I haven’t been terrified since I did my own form of exposure therapy–but I don’t like them.

All the same, I don’t want to hurt the deck’s feelings. So I smile back whenever I see the hole.

I should absolutely start getting estimates to repair the damn thing. Maybe once I get revisions done I can get on that, but I’m already dealing with the roof proper and…I’m tired. A boat is a hole in the water one throws money into, a house is a cave one…throws money into. At least under our current system of property rights, that is.

I do have a list of subjects for Tea with Lili today, so there’s that to look forward to. But at the moment I am absorbing coffee and looking at the revisions I also have to get done. It’s going to be a busy day.

At least the deck greets me with a weary grin, and Miss B is still holding steady. This isn’t the week I lose her, and I’m utterly grateful for it. We’ll see what the next one holds.

Over and out.

Dreams, Revisions, and Screaming

blank

My dreams have been even more vivid than usual. None have the particular tsunami-quality that would make them good books (or even novellas); I think it’s just my brain cleaning house under current stressful conditions. This morning’s skull-movie was waking up in a particular bedroom I’ve seen before (but never in real life), bars of thick golden sunlight coming through the wide windows with wrought-iron muntins, and being addressed by a horned figure with tiger stripes who moves from one shadow to the next.

Oddly, the horned figure speaks in some version of French, and I woke up trying to conjugate a verb so I could reply. Go figure.

I am told some people dream in black-and-white, and some in color. My own dreams are so hypersaturated real life seems pale in comparison, but that’s no surprise since the story-hallucinations I often have are the same. Realer than real isn’t just for portal fantasies.

Anyway, it’s Thursday, I’m almost halfway through revisions on the second Ghost Squad book, and I think I’ve got all the screaming out of my system. I did take some time to put together discrete playlists for both Damage (playlist here) and Book 2, but I think that was the last gasp of procrastination before I buckled down. The dogs kept checking on me yesterday, as they always do when an edit letter lands and I take some time to privately vent my fury.

I’ve talked before about the process of getting all the “how dare you suggest altering my deathless purple prose” out of the way before settling to revisions. Editors are here to make your book/story/whatever better, and they are human beings, not punching bags. Get all your angst, sturm, und drang out of the way on your own, either in your office, locked in your bathroom, screaming into a pillow, or venting to a trusted friend (with their permission and the Cone of Silence, of course). There’s no need to direct any of it to the editor, who is only trying to help. And ninety-nine and a half times out of a hundred, said editor has a good point.

Now, I have been revenge-edited before, but that is exceedingly rare and behaving professionally in that event is even more crucial. Partly out of spite–you don’t want to give this person any further ammunition–but also as a point of personal pride. And it’s easy to mistake one’s knee-jerk reaction to the first round of having a book one has worked very hard on for months or years judged by an onlooker for revenge editing, so you don’t want to open your mouth and be proved wrong later when the dust settles, the emotion clears, and you realize that yes, the editor is right and something needs a fix.

So I alternated my working time yesterday between revisions (got almost halfway, hurrah) and lying on the office floor with the dogs, muttering into their fur about how cruel and unjust the world is to us poor tender writers. They’re used to that sort of thing, and offered no advice, just friendly licks and insistent “well, then, pet us and forget about it.” All in all, wasn’t a bad day, and I’m beginning to think this book isn’t bad at all.

Which is always a relief, since it’s a sign that I’ve achieved enough distance from writing the damn thing to contemplate it calmly. Always a blessed event.

And yet I am only halfway, and I have dogs to walk, my own corpse to run, and the subscription drop to get sorted before I can go back to it. The drop might be put off to Friday, as sometimes happens if I find I don’t want to break momentum. We’ll see.

So…it will be a busy Thursday, my beloveds, and I’d best get started. At least there are a couple eclairs left to soothe the sting, and if I am a Very Productive Writer who gets the damn revisions done by the weekend I can work on the space-werewolves-and-pro-wrestling erotica as a treat.

It’s good to have things to look forward to. I bid you, my darlings, a civil adieu.

Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

blank

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.

A Cracking Start

blank

So it’s Monday, and we’re off to a cracking start. First the dogs attempted murder through sheer exuberance (stepping all over me while I was helpless and recumbent in bed), then through positioning–i.e., tripping Yours Truly several times when I finally achieved some measure of verticality. Then I almost missed a stair on the deck while taking them out for morning unloading, and had to grab at the banister with both hands, while whatever I was holding was flung in a high arc and landed in a rhododendron. Then I was standing, staring myopically at Horace de Brassiere and wondering why his little blue light wasn’t turning on, and for good measure why the red one wasn’t on either.

Then I realized the damn coffeemaker wasn’t even plugged in, let alone turned on. And to top it all off, a little while later I forgot I was holding a pen (making notes on today’s to-do list) and went to push my hair back, stabbing myself in the face.

So, yeah. We’re doing well around the Chez this morning. Super well.

Today is for working on Hell’s Acre, and also starting revisions on the second Ghost Squad book. The latter is Klemp’s book, eagerly awaited by many Readers if my inbox is any indication; the zero draft got a highly positive reaction from beta readers and the second draft did very well with the editor. I’m glad to be working on revisions instead of generating new text, for once; I’m exhausted and dredging up New Words sometimes seems an insuperable difficulty–unless it’s Space Werewolves, apparently? I don’t know, my brain is a smoking wasteland, I just live here.

The monthly newsletter went out yesterday, so there’s that, too. And the werelion story’s free teaser is doing rather well at the moment. We’re on the final two weeks of that book being up as a serial before I take it down and start sending it through the editing pipeline. There’s also The Dead God’s Heart duology needing its final brush-up before it goes into copyedits. It will be nice to have that last one put to bed, not to mention getting covers and preorder links for it so I can do up a books page.

In other words, there’s no shortage of work, and maybe if I can get some caffeine in and stop stabbing myself in the face I might even get a chunk of it done between walking the dogs, forcing my own corpse to run for a few kilometers, getting estimates for house repair (that snowstorm, my gods), and planning dinner–I had a whole chicken and an InstantPot, so yesterday was very tasty indeed. And Miss B is still holding steady, so that’s a giant relief.

I’m taking things on that last front one day at a time.

One thing I’m not doing is checking the news, or very much social media. Any tenuous calm I might have achieved lately won’t bear that weight without snapping. News, especially bad news, filters into my sphere without it anyway; I can’t escape. Nor do I want to, precisely–but I do need a bit of amelioration.

Here’s hoping I don’t break a limb if Monday began as it means to go on. I did eventually figure out that I should actually turn Horace on if I wanted coffee, and caffeine is currently soaking into my starved tissues like a blessing from heaven. Plus, a bit of Good Mischief I performed before the weekend has finally reached its intended target, and hearing that it made someone’s day (and will provide them with a little relief) has done my mood no end of good.

Welcome to the week, my beloveds. I can hope it will turn out well, or will at least end in a stalemate.

Over and out.