Revise Your Hatemail

Cormorant Run

The first third of Harmony has been revised; today’s for the second third as well as a scene or two in the gift-fic I’m doing for my writing partner. If I can get Harmony revised and proofed, I can format it, be ready to drop the cover in, and break for the hills.

The gift-fic continues apace, too. The focus is tight on just two characters, even though the story wants to sprawl through a whole city and explore the political ramifications of assassination as a tactic. I could expand it later, I suppose, but I’ve so many other plates in the air I’m reluctant.

Some fellow (and before you ask, yes, it was a man) sent me a long email about how he didn’t understand Cormorant Run and would therefore rewrite it for the “small” fee of $499. I know a lot of people were upset because the cover made them think they were getting a chicks-in-leather urban fantasy when in fact they were buying a love song to Soviet sci-fi, and the marketing did nothing to dispel that confusion, but…this is a little beyond the pale, even for my inbox.

I suppose I might even have felt insulted if the email hadn’t been stuffed full of spelling errors, typos, and grammatical sins. As it is, I read with this face:

…and promptly took to social media to anonymously roast the fellow. Responding directly would make him think I care about his opinion or his offer. (It also might tip him over some internal edge that will add him to my already-full stable of dipshit stalkers/harassers; there’s no more room there, thanks.)

I suppose I feel bad for the dude, in some ways. Imagine thinking this is a good idea, and further imagine thinking that you can get a trad-published author to give you a work already licensed to said trad publisher for you to bastardize and sell. I’m sure this guy has a bridge or two he wants to offer to a discerning buyer, too.

Anyway, folks, remember: if you’re going to send me hatemail or a terrible “offer,” make sure you get your missives spell-checked and proofed. Otherwise you’ll just get laughed at, possibly publicly. I am often tempted to correct hatemail for spelling, grammar, and other errors before returning it with an injunction to revise and resubmit, but then I remember I have real work to do, chuckle softly, and move on.

And now I should get out the door for a run. Work doesn’t stop because some random jackhat gave me a morning’s worth of amusement, more’s the pity.

Over and out.

Sudden Realization

She Wolf & Cub

It’s a damp, grey morning. One of the dogs has already decided to go back to bed. The other is quite put out by her playmate’s refusal to eat breakfast, but willing to take up the slack despite the humans gently and firmly denying that any such thing is necessary.

In other words, “Leave his damn breakfast alone, B, you’ve got your own.”

I’d love to return to bed myself, but all I’d do is stare at the wall or ceiling, worrying. I might as well get up and work. I’m doing a romance for my writing partner (she wants to see me break a priest, and I decided to make him an assassin too because that’s how I roll) and the zero of HOOD‘s Season One is burning in my head and needs to get out.

I could, I suppose, break HOOD into three seasons, with the first ending on Awakening Night or slightly later. It’s possible; then Season Two could be the race and the maneuvering for Riccar’s return. (You just can’t have a Robin Hood tale without the incipient return of King Richard. It’s just not done.) That would make Season Three involve two set-piece battles, and actually work for the overall shape of the whole story better.

I originally wanted HOOD to be two seasons, but three is probably best. It will require moving a few things around, but such is the nature of the beast. Which means I’d be midway through Season Two instead of working on the zero for Season Three, which also means I could shift aside and do some revision on a couple zeroes instead of killing myself to get this one out.

Huh. I did not know, when I started writing this post, that I would solve a seemingly intractable problem just by typing. So it was already worth getting out of bed this morning.

I just glanced through the amount of work waiting ahead of me, even with this lovely little brainwave, and decided I might be wrong about that last part. I had other things to talk about this morning, a whole post planned, but now I’m excited and I want to see if this will really solve everything or if I’m just gasping before drowning.


Well, what do you know. It will actually work better if I chop it up into three seasons. Who knew? I think I’ll go type some more and see if I can’t solve any more intractable problems. This means I can schedule out the whole rest of Season One for my beloved subscribers.

Just when you think you’re going to go under the third time, the Muse pulls you out. I wish she’d do it a little earlier, dammit.

*wanders away muttering*

Ramune and Yum

Peach Ramune and a bowl of ramen. This was during the heatwave last week, a most favonian time; what you can’t see is my writing partner grinning at her own bowl of noodles across the table.

It’s a cloudy day. Maybe I should take a book and have lunch out. It’s been an Extremely Productive Week (and, incidentally, an extremely emotionally draining one) and I’m feeling a little run-down.

I wish you something delicious today, my dears.

Running, an Inch

Steelflower in Snow

This morning, I was in a bit of a mood. Out the door with two fractious dogs into cold rain, one dog unfazed and the other wanting to pull ahead to finish the damn deed so he could go home and dry off, my patience was all but exhausted.

And yet, while my feet pound and my breath comes high and hard, I realize, this is not who I want to be. The irritation falls away; I leave it like a discarded skin and run into the future of who I do want to be.


Years ago, the stark grief of a broken heart pushed me further, faster. I ran until I couldn’t, without dog, bee, or any other companion, and when I stopped and closed my eyes, all that touched me was sunshine, dust, and the knowledge that I had done what was necessary. It still hurt.

It hurt.

And yet, when I opened my eyes, there was nothing to do but keep moving. I had to get home, after all. Sitting in the middle of a street and waiting for the rest of my life is not who I want to be.

So I chose differently. And kept going.


I began running because it was something I could do on a treadmill in the solarium. A single mother can’t leave her babies unprotected; besides, my body had become a stranger. I ran at first because it was the best of several bad options, then I kept running because the endorphins had me hooked, then I ran because it had become a habit.

Now I run because it soothes me, because it is still the only time I have to be truly alone. Despite the company of dogs, it is while running that my soul expands a little. The rest of the world falls away and I can see who I’ve been, and more importantly, who I want to be.


Irritated? I write. Happy? I write. Sad? I write. I do it because it’s what I was meant and made for, what I was designed to do. I am helpless to stop writing.

But running is a choice. The static vanishes. Physical motion, the thunder of my pulse, dripping sweat–all reminders that I can choose. There is only an inch allotted to us, a small, separate piece caught in the net of circumstance, privilege, physics, and obligation. They can take every inch of me–they have certainly tried, all my life–but one.

That small piece keeps me human. It is the part where I choose.


The dogs don’t like it when I run alone. Boxnoggin is protective; Miss B simply thinks it’s her duty to crawl under my skin and stay there. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, whether because of injury, weather, or other considerations, I find myself solitary.

I am alone, but I am never lonely while that small inch of me remains.


B slows near the end of even short runs now. She doesn’t want to, but she is becoming elderly, and her body does not do as she wishes. It doesn’t matter. Speed isn’t the issue. Looking down and seeing her grin as she paces me, in her accustomed place and all right with her world despite our slowness, fills me with aching love. I have so little time left with her; I slow as much as she needs.

Boxnoggin doesn’t quite have the rhythm down yet. He’s young, and though it’s been months, he learns at his own pace. Above all, he wants to protect his pack; the constant changing of our route during runs to make it easy for him to behave and get accustomed to the fact that when I need him to snap or growl I’ll let him know takes a lot of bandwidth. Still, we persevere. Eventually he’ll learn, and I will have become the person who gave him the space for that teaching to sink in.


When I was a child, my primary female caregiver wanted me to become a doctor. It was her own unfinished dream, and I was responsible for seeing it through. The knowledge loomed on the horizon like a mountain at the end of a sea journey, just a smear at first and for a long time neither larger nor smaller no matter how fast one sails. Suddenly, it begins to grow, and the shadow of expectation pressed on me from crown to soles. I couldn’t breathe.

I chose passive resistance to her dreams all my young life. But when I left that house, I had no idea how to find out what I wanted to be–or even who I was. I’ve spent decades trying to unravel the mystery, making false starts, drowning in other people’s needs, pouring myself into black holes, lighting myself on fire to keep others warm.

And then I began to run.


“I can tell you haven’t run today,” the kids say.

“I can tell you haven’t run today,” my writing partner says.

I can tell I haven’t run that day, and I close my eyes, imagine my feet hitting pavement and the wind making that low sweet sound in my ears. Even when I don’t run I can choose who I want to be. Running only reminds me. It shakes me, and while everything is whirling inside my skin I realize there are some things nailed down, some handholds I can trust on my internal cliff-face.

There is a me who can decide. I just have to give her an inch.


Today it was raining. The dogs were both tetchy, their fidgets not quite worked out yesterday. It took twenty damn minutes for the red cloud of irritation around me to blow away. Both beasts needed constant reminding and redirecting. Before I snapped, I took a deep breath, slowed my pace, untangled both of them, and swallowed the unkind things I might have muttered at their poor, silly, excited selves.

Unkind is not who I want to be.

The carapace falls away and I am damp and new, slowing to a walk and petting the canines who depend upon me. I tell them they are good, and they believe me. Sometimes–not very often–I slow enough to listen to them tell me I am good, and I try to believe them, too.

We walk home. Because we choose to.


I have kept a single inch to myself, one thing I have never mortgaged, sold, smothered to please someone else. I have fed others from my broken body and kept a single crust from the feast despite those who tell me it is selfish treachery to avoid subsuming myself completely. The world is hungry, abusers are famished; they will take even that last inch and leave for other tables while your bones rot.

I hid that inch so successfully it took running to find it again. And, over and over again, it expands to fill me while I write.

Running doesn’t fill me. It strips away the noise, the constant pressure, the weight of people who sold their inch or never found it, who want to crack my bones and eat my marrow to fill their own unending hunger where that small space used to be.

I learn, over and over again, that I choose who and what I am. There is an inch of me beyond reach, a table in the presence of mine enemies, and every time I lace up and buckle the dogs in, reach the end of warmup and pitch forward to take the first few steps into the uncertain future, I realize again that I am not lonely.

How can I be, while I run?

Coal Seam Impression

Spent the weekend watching Turkish serials, which was the best use of my internet connection since finding streaming Kdrama. Now it’s Monday and I’m back at work, which is going exactly how you’d think it would, especially since the dogs are In a Mood. Their morning run was full of bad behavior, probably because I didn’t take them out Saturday and Sunday is our rest day. I always get to feeling like my skin is full of itchy ants whenever I take a rest day, and it’s ever so much more worse for them, I suppose.

It was nice to have the time off. I did get recognized in the wild by a librarian last week, and had a pleasant chat. And I am currently typing on a keyboard presented to me by the Princess, because I ended up dumping thirty-two ounces of lemon water over the old one and the spare just wasn’t optimal.

So there are good things this week, but it’s hard to get back in the groove. I looked at the news this morning and absolutely should not have. I never thought I was the type to develop an ulcer about world events, so congratulations, I guess?

I know you guys are going to ask, so my favorite set of clips from a Turkish serial this weekend was Black White Love. Holy cow, can Ibrahim Celikkol smoulder. The man does a great impression of a coal seam burning for years until oxygen hits an exposed surface and WHAM. Lord, there was my narrative crack all over

Why, yes, I was scribbling notes on the smoulder the entire time, why do you ask? I have a type, and it’s repressed bad boy. Nice to watch, certainly, but very bad to be involved with. That’s part of the glory of being in my forties: I can enjoy the vibe without getting caught in it.

I am mildly amused it took me this long to learn, but oh well.

I have to decide if I want to do a fantasy or a vampire hitman for my next gift book–oh, what’s a gift book, you ask? It’s a book I write for someone. For example, I know my agent likes my YA stuff, so I wrote Harmony1 for her; I was in a generous mood so I wrote Jozzie & Sugar Belle for my Evil Ladies.2 I like taking a character or a situation that a friend gives me, spinning it out in my own inimitable fashion, and presenting it wrapped up in a bow. It’s one of the weird ways I show affection, like being willing to bring a tarp and a shovel at a moment’s notice or fussing at you to eat.

Right now the vampire hitman is winning out. I think it would be fun to write him, once I finish figuring out exactly what makes him tick.

…I’m sure I had something interesting to say when I started out, but it’s gone by the wayside as I’ve had to get up and deal with dogs and laundry. Time to put the headphones on and plan the day’s work, and if I’m very good, I’ll reward myself with a vampire priest hitman chapter or two.

Man, I have the best job.

Grab your weapons, chickadees. Let’s take Monday by storm.

Cracked, And Serviceable

My favorite mug has survived a bookstore fire, losing its handle, having its handle glued back on, having the glued handle fall back off, and various other mishaps. It still works, though it’s a bit battered, and I plan to use it until it doesn’t.

The fact that it yells “I AM GOING TO HEX YOUR FACE OFF” is just…a bonus. I forget where I saw that particular term–I think it was in a Harry Potter fanfic about Bellatrix (and she’s probably the character who would most likely utter such a thing, unless Molly Weasley got really angry) and it just encapsulates my every feeling before sweet, sweet life-giving caffeine goes down my throat.

I’ve rarely had things stay in my life. The mug has lasted longer than my marriage at this point, and given me quiet steadfastness the last years of said marriage utterly lacked. That’s enough reason to keep it around.

Plus, every time I see its smoke-scarred glaze, I’m reminded that we survive, we endure, and just because a thing is cracked or discolored doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful and worthy and good. The older I get, the more I appreciate the cracked, discolored, and still quietly serviceable.

My other favorite mugs say It’s Motherfucking Tea Time and She Who Must Be Obeyed. I…suppose that says a lot about me, but nothing Readers didn’t already know.

Remember, even if we’re cracked, we’re still useful, beautiful, and worth keeping. Have a good weekend, chickadees.

Time Passes

FISH

I would really, really love not to have Wichita Lineman stuck in my head when I wake up. It would be super swell not to hear that song again for a while. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just ready for a new record to hit the needle inside my skull.

*time passes*

I had a big long post planned for today, but then I fell into a rabbit hole or two, went for a run, a bee tried to fly inside my mouth twice (or more properly, two bees tried the same thing on two different occasions) and Lord Boxnoggin decided it was too warm for running, so he stopped in the shade and I had to carry him across four lanes of traffic (plus the divider) to convince him we were going home and he could, in fact, walk.

I don’t blame him, we’re still learning where his comfort levels are. I’m heartened that he actually stopped instead of just trying to do what he thought I wanted and hurting himself.

Recovering from the zero of Poison Prince proceeds apace. I was not allowed to work yesterday, so some cleaning I’d been putting off got done, I set up today’s subscription stuff to go out, and I watched some movies I’d been meaning to get around to, like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. Both were much better than the Avengers franchise–less stupid, pointless misogyny, better plotting, and I’m interested to see where those directors go next.

Speaking of subscriptions, I should probably shill those a bit, since they take a great deal of worry off my back and also give my darling Readers something nice at the same time. So, if you like the idea of Robin Hood in Space (and free ebooks of each version!) or of weekly fiction drops, head on over to the subscription page and check it out.

This week’s offerings will drop at 2pm PST, and if you sign up to any of my Gumroad offerings you get the latest one sent to you immediately.

Anyway, I should probably get at least a token amount of work done to salve my conscience, but not too much or recovery will be jeopardized. It’s a fine line, and I think I need coffee in order to keep my balance.

Over and out.