The Rock of Morning

Read a little Anais Nin in bed while my alarm clock finished waking up–it’s one of those sunrise clocks, where the light begins simmering gently a half-hour before the alarm, which sounds like birds twittering. A good investment from years and years ago, though I stopped using it so much in poor Bailey’s senescence because as soon as it began its cycle she was up, gods damn you, and if she was up I had to be nosed and bullied out of bed along with Boxnoggin, and the dear old dog would do so with a lot of cranky because she needed more rest.

Whereas if I got up in the dark (or semi-dark with the curtains pulled) and started going about my day, she slept on, figuring I was Just Doing Weird Human Things and she’d herd me when she got around to it. It was simply easier, and she needed that gentle time in the mornings.

I miss her so much.

Anyway, Boxnoggin could not give a single hoot nor holler about the alarm clock. He must be rousted from the bed’s comfort with his special morning song and some snuggle time, and may all the powers of earth and sky help you if there is not enough snuggle, because he will mope. I have, however, found out that the snuggles can be achieved while I do a bit of reading, since that’s merely a continuation of the nightly ritual–his nose in my armpit as I awkwardly page through the current book.

Once he’s up he requires a bathroom break, and right after that he turns his nose up at brekkie and goes back to bed while I get coffee and settle in front of the glowing box for the morning session. He won’t eat his own breakfast until right before walkies, when he wolfs down as much as possible to get his peristalsis primed. This is entirely separate from the toll of toast crust or little bit of my morning gruel that must be slopped into his bowl, which he will eagerly partake of before going back to bed, turning his nose up at ordinary kibble.

This is the same dog who was underweight and famished when he arrived, thinking that same kibble veritable manna from the gods. I’m glad he feel secure enough to be picky, frankly.

…I meant today’s blog post to be about other stuff, but best-laid plans founder on the rock of morning. Last night I put Horace de Brassiere‘s washable parts in the dishwasher, on the theory that today’s Lili would find them nice and fresh for the morning potion. Today’s Lili, though, spent a significant amount of time staring at poor Horace, trying to put the parts together in some configuration that would make getting coffee a possibility, and cursing her past self for being somewhat of a sadist.

Eventually I found the missing part in the dish drainer and things began to make more sense. Now caffeine is slowly filtering into my system and I have consigned both yesterday’s self and the morning’s first iteration safely to the realm of “well, that happened, let’s laugh.”

I’m about halfway through Nin’s Cities of the Interior, which is four of her interconnected novels in one. It’s much easier to see the throughlines now, especially after the read of her diaries I did last year. I’m in The Four-Chambered Heart at the moment, and seeing her alchemy of fictionalization is doing good things for me. Filling the artistic well, as is so crucial. Last year ended in exhaustion and bad health, too many things taking time away from writing, so it’s good to be back after the first few weeks of this year were spent pruning. Already my productivity is slowly creeping back up to the usual pace.

Over and over again, I learn the lesson of protecting the work. One has to fight quite fiercely for one’s writing time, especially if one is femme-presenting; other people will assume they are entitled to your time and energy as a matter of course. The people worth keeping around are the ones who take no for an answer, but cutting the others out is painful and requires a lot of energy too. And that’s not even counting the voraciousness of the world at large, especially lately–the news cycle and corporate greed won’t let anyone rest if they can help it.

The idea of going back to bed a la Boxnoggin is intensely appealing. But there’s the actual conversation between the Rook and Miss Dove to write today–now that he’s managed to slip in through her garret window, which is not a euphemism–and yesterday’s almost-drowning of an almost-prince in The Fall of Waterstone has implications that kick off the next big chain of plot events. If I get both done I might be able to burn the last bit of cedar wrack in the firepit, which would please me intensely.

None of that will happen until after walkies and running my own poor corpse, so I suppose I’d best get started. It’s a Tuesday feeling like a Monday, always a lot of fun. If all goes well I’ll be able to get to a kidnapping in one project today, and perhaps–if I’m lucky–set up the river race in another.

It’s good to have things to look forward to. Off I go, then.

Soundtrack Monday: Your Protector

Occasionally a song will end up on not one but two soundtracks. It’s rare, but it does happen; rarer still is the piece with lyrics that does so. Most tend to be instrumental-only, for obvious reasons.

Fleet Foxes’s Your Protector ended up on the Romances of Arquitaine soundtrack partly because of the change between soft, plaintive courtly love and driving danger. It’s very much a song Tristan d’Arcenne might abstractly hum while setting up some bit of intrigue, his mind mostly on how the situation will play out and that corner of him thinking upon Vianne, as it always does. The Queen’s Guard might sing it during their famous ride from Arcenne to keep their spirits up, and while Vianne might know it, it’s probably not one of her favorites.

She’s much fonder of Jesse Cook.

I haven’t put the Romances soundtrack up yet because some of the tracks have been lost while shifting from one music platform to another. I have them written down, of course, but it’s slow work resurrecting when I’ve so much else to do.

The other soundtrack Your Protector appears on is the Gallow & Ragged one, which is up and public. I didn’t even realize that particular track was on both until I was writing Roadside Magic, which has a fair bit of both Robin and Jeremy “running from the devil”, so to speak. It is very much the sort of music the Good Folk love, as is a lot of Fleet Floxes (and Linda Ronstadt, strangely enough). Mostly it’s Jeremy Gallow trying to come to terms with the fact that he loved in Daisy merely the dead-leaf echo of Robin Ragged–as Nabokov would put it, a dead russet echo in a ravine.

Robin is too preoccupied with survival and mistrust to really do more than simply take notice of a line or two, and think for a longing moment how it might be to sing without destroying everything in her voice’s path. So often, an abused child is told they are at once helpless–because the big people keep hurting them without consequence–and inordinately, maliciously powerful, because if they dared to openly tell what they’re suffering the abuser’s entire house of cards will come tumbling down. The mixed messages can really fuck a kid up, and when a talent such as the Ragged’s voice gets added to the mix…well.

I may have wrought better than I knew in that series, but what else can one do when writing of the Folk?

Tristan and Vianne had a somewhat-happy ending; the Ragged and the Gallow not so much, though Crenn would beg to differ on that last account. (Only if his pride would let him, of course.) On the other hand, I know what happens to the Hedgewitch Queen and her Left Hand years afterward, and I know whether or not the Ragged ever goes back to Summer…

…but that’s another story, or two.

Fire and Gnomes

Oh I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen gnomes…

(Apologies to James Taylor.) The portable firepit has rendered signal service; we’ve roasted marshmallows over bits of the downed cedar and spent a lot of time gazing into the flames. Well, the kids have done more of the former and I’ve done more of the latter, thinking about plot tangles and considering which things to cut out of my life. it’s been exhausting, even with friends-who-have-chainsaws helping to get the bulk of the fallen cedar dealt with.

My health is not what it used to be. But the less said about that the better.

Phil and Willard liked the display too; you can see them basking. Willard tends to moan a bit and rock back and forth when the flames get high; Phil says his friend’s not upset but very cautious of fire, as zombies tend to be. When it gets too much, Phil pops a pebble into Willard’s mouth and takes him back to Miranda, who does a bit of comfort-singing. (She’s very fond of Carole King.) Phil, of course, is just fine with backyard bonfires; he and Emphysema Joe sit around with their green and trade rather recondite philosophical arguments.

The entire backyard gets in on it, except for the squirrels. They are quite put out at the falling of the cedar and the attendant damage to the highway–i.e., the back fence. They’re not even taunting Boxnoggin during his loo breaks, which is highly unusual. I suppose they’ll figure out alternative routes, poor things.

Anyway, it’s Friday the 13th and raining too hard for us to drag out the firepit again. So we’ll have to wait until it dries for another marshmallow roast. Maybe Emphysema Joe will even get his guitar out, though he and Phil are too busy arguing over tuning for anything to actually get played. (Everyone’s a critic, and everyone’s got to have a hobby.)

I hope your weekend holds similar delights, my beloveds. Have a good one.

Adulting and Pruning

Yesterday was a flurry of adulting. Correspondence needed tackling, decisions had to be made, pruning to be done–and the firepit required tending, since limbs, branches, and twigs off the dead cedar which came down during 50+mph winds (fortunately not taking my office with it, falling just perfectly to avoid clipping the house or killing the back gate) had to be dealt with in some manner. The entire yard smelled of cedar incense and damp earth. It was wonderful, and I made quite a few decisions while staring into the flames. I also got a great deal of plot-noodling done while moving around, breaking up wooden bits, and watching the fire.

The kids were thrilled; they did most of the processing, snapping and sawing cedar into smaller chunks. Boxnoggin was extremely unsure about the whole thing, but enjoyed being part of the ruckus while outside. He also seemed more than happy to go back inside after a few token circuits of the yard and sniffing at the wind, though he usually wants to be where everyone else is with a vengeance. I think the smoke made him uneasy, poor fellow.

Bailey was a partner; Boxnoggin is definitely a subordinate. He’s most comfortable when I tell him exactly what to do. We were worried he might need a companion, since Bailey bossed him unremittingly and he thrived under that direction–we joked that she told him when to breathe, and how, and he liked the reminders. But he seems to have adjusted to only-dog status quite happily. The only trouble is that I prefer to ask instead of command, and he wants to be told in no uncertain terms. I suppose we’re both learning, even after four-plus years.

Things seem to be settling in certain areas. I left CounterSocial since I wasn’t quite comfortable there, and due to health concerns I’m also taking a hiatus from livestreaming. Don’t worry on the latter account, though–old streams will stay up on my YouTube channel, and if my health improves I might come back to some version of Reading with Lili. And of course I’m playing with the idea of videos for patrons. The trouble with streaming is that it takes energy away from writing, and that can’t happen. Both my sanity and the mortgage depend on the bulk of my energy going towards digging up stories.

In related news, I’ll be mostly on Mastodon and Tumblr going forward. I simply can’t handle the toxicity on Twitter anymore. It’s kind of awful–I was just beginning, after over a decade, to get some real traction on birdsite. But I can’t lend myself to its current incarnation, so…here we are. I am still squatting on my username so an impersonator can’t pick it up thirty days after deletion, but it’s become just a signpost pointing to other places.

So today is all about the subscription drop, writing a conversation in a cold dark garret for Hell’s Acre, and moving ahead on The Fall of Waterstone. If I can get to the Viking elementalist saving the princess’s intended from drowning in the latter I’ll call today well spent. There’s no shortage of work despite the pruning, which is the way I like it.

I always forget how free and oxygen-rich the world feels after a good purge, whether it be of household clutter, yard detritus, or subscriptions that don’t quite serve a need. I’m no Marie Kondo, but I do enjoy seeing a good mess turn into open space. A certain amount of crowding is necessary–I keep my desk slightly messy, since creativity (for me) seems to do best in that condition–but one must periodically practice a bit of ruthlessness in clearing the undergrowth.

Anyway, the only problem with yesterday was that we didn’t feel like using the s’mores supplies we had in stock, but if the weather’s clear on Saturday we might do another session to clear the last of the wrack. And that will call for celebratory marshmallow flambé.

It’s a new year, after all. The decks are being cleared, and there’s space to breathe. But before all that, breakfast has to be approached, and Boxnoggin wants his walkies. That’s one thing which will never change, world without end, amen.

See you around.

Superlative, Swimming

I’m staggering around blinking blearily this morning, feeling rather like a frayed wire. The coffee is sinking in, Boxnoggin is very eager for walkies, and I can’t even think about the prospect of breakfast yet.

On the other hand, I had quite possibly the best copyediting experience of my professional life so far in the past few days, and that’s been amazing. The Salt-Black Tree is now sent back to the publisher, ready for the proofs stage. (After multiple drafts and copyedits, no, it’s still not done. We are right on schedule for the release date, though.) It feels like I’ve been working on these books for a century, but part of that is them being written during pandemic(s). Time has become a very fluid beast indeed.

It was such a relief to discover that not only were the copyedits highly reasonable–I glanced through them before the holidays, though I couldn’t get to work on them until after the New Year–but the copyeditor, bless their heart and everything else, had entirely understood the assignment and seemed to “get” me as a writer too. A happy synchronicity which made it ever so much easier for me to do my end of the work. Sometimes things just…mesh, and it’s beautiful. I’ve had great copyedits before, don’t get me wrong. This one was simply superlative, and I enjoyed it to the hilt.

The weather has also cleared, so I might be able to get the firepit out again soon and toast some s’mores over dry, fallen cedar boughs stripped from the fallen tree. It’s also a relief having that dealt with, even if the back fence is in bad shape. Poor thing tried its best, but having nearly a hundred feet of tree dropped on it isn’t ideal.

Honestly, I can relate.

All in all things seem to be rather looking up. I know saying that is an invitation for the Universe to kick me in the teeth (my, how pessimistic I’ve become) and yet I cannot help feeling relieved and treasuring the feeling of at least part of the current swimming the right way again.

So. Today I get Boxnoggin walked, dial up the third assassination of the day in Hell’s Acre, write an elf and a werewolf verbally sparring in front of a woman who is definitely not interested in hearing either’s bullshit, and…I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something else on the docket. The dog is leaning against my chair, giving me the oh please can you just stop with the glowing box and let’s GO, mother, come on treatment.

I might even be able to take a half-day off sometime soon. (Shocking, I know.) But in order to get there, I’d best slither off my chair and get some fuel so the canine can have his ramble. We both need the movement; I’m feeling a bit scattered after the massive effort of the past few days. All aboard and full speed ahead, damn any torpedoes and devil take the hindmost.

…not that I’d think that gentleman will want me, but at least we’re on speaking terms. And with that cheerful thought, I’m off to have brekkie. And another quad shot of espresso; yesterday I had a bathtub’s worth of tea, but I think I need jet fuel to get me underway for Tuesday.

See you around.

A (Not So) Restful New Year

Welcome to the new year, everyone. I took (gasp!) some time off, though it was more to catch up than to rest. Because of course it was not restful at all. What with the ice storm over Christmas (we celebrate Yule around the solstice, using the 25th more as an excuse to sleep in and have a nice dinner) and the 50mph winds knocking over one of the cedars along the back fence to ring in the New Year, it was the very opposite of relaxing. Then there’s the CEs hanging fire and the epic fantasy nearly killed by editorial neglect and the worry over a short story and and and…

Yeah. What is this “restful” people speak of? I’m glad to be back at work; maybe now I’ll get a ding-dang chance to breathe.

…lest I sound like I’m complaining, there was a lot of good food and the kids had a great time. And the big cedar coming down missed the house by a whisker; some friends came over with chainsaws and got it chopped into firewood chunks too, so we’re lucky on both counts. Also, Boxnoggin has a whole box of plush toys to dismember at leisure, so he is thrilled to the gills–when he’s not being nervy because things have chaaaaanged, and all change is baaaaaad, Mum! Pretty soon he’ll see all this as the new normal, just in time for things to shift again. Poor fellow, at least he’s got walkies to look forward to.

Speaking of things to look forward to, one of my publishers is running a Goodreads giveaway! One hundred lucky readers will win a paper ARC of Spring’s Arcana, the first in the upcoming Dead God’s Heart duology, which releases in May 2023. Just click on the graphic to the right and you’ll be whisked right to it, thanks to the magic of the internet.

This is the first time I’ve been able to announce a giveaway like this. I think a YA publisher did one for Strange Angels back in the day, but I didn’t know about that until it was over. My, how time flies.

I spent all of yesterday tending the firepit and burning non-firewood-shaped bits of the cedar that came down. Despite washing off the instant I got back inside, I can still smell smoke; it gets everywhere. Nevertheless, the fire was extremely therapeutic. I could even toss a few other things in, saying goodbye to them and cutting ties in the most dramatic way possible. Laughing and muttering “fire, fire,” in my best Beavis voice was also intensely fun. I mean, I was always more of a Daria, but sometimes one just has to do a good Beavis voice.

…and now we all know exactly how Gen X I am, which is very.

With that, I should get myself together and get some breakfast forced down. There’s a biography of Robespierre to read while I consume it, then it’s time for Boxnoggin’s holy walkies. The wind is up again today, though nowhere near as badly as it was the night the cedar came down, so he’ll spend the entire walk being very put out at cold, invisible fingers touching his fur. And he’ll keep giving me filthy looks; since I am the goddess who rules his days, I am therefore responsible for everything including the weather. I wish I had even a fraction of the power this dog attributes to me.

On the other hand, maybe I don’t. It sounds a hideous burden, frankly. I’m glad to just be a struggling hack.

Happy Monday, my beloveds, and happy new year. We’ve survived into another one, which is cause for celebration. (Or something…) May it bring us peace, joy, and plenty of snacks.

New Year, First in Series

The Marked

Well, we made it to the new year, so I reckon that calls for a few celebratory discounts.

My book about grief and living tattoos–The Marked–is $2.99USD at Kobo until January 31, and is also part of their Buy One, Get One sale on thrillers until then. Which is a pretty sweet deal, I have to say.

Roadtrip Z

Cotton Crossing (book one of Roadtrip Z) and HOOD’s Season One are both available through certain retailers for $1.99USD until January 31. Just click on those links (or the covers in this post) to be taken right to the list of where to find them at that price.

You can also find them on Payhip for the sale price–Cotton Crossing here, and HOOD‘s Season One here.

If you like HOOD, the Complete Serial ebook is 25% off at Kobo, with the code “25JAN” entered at checkout, from January 19-30.

Remember That Damn Werelion Book? From January 17-31, it’ll be on sale for $2.99USD through certain retailers, and on January 4, She-Wolf and Cub will be on sale for $1.99USD in ebook.

Please take special note of the dates and links; I can’t alter either the dates or the distribution platforms these sales are available through once they’re listed.

And another first-in-series sale! From January 16-31, book #1 of the Watchers series will be on sale for $.99USD at AmazonBarnes & NobleApple, and Kobo.

It’s not quite a sale, but the publisher for The Dead God’s Heart is running a Goodreads giveaway from January 9 to February 6, 2023. You can enter here.

Please note that the giveaway is for a print ARC of Spring’s Arcana, which comes out in May 2023, and I am not running it–the publisher is. I have never really done a Goodreads giveaway before (though I think maybe a YA publisher did one for Strange Angels back in the day) so questions about eligibility and the like should be taken up with said publisher or Goodreads.

Speaking of Spring’s Arcana and The Salt-Black Tree, Barnes & Noble is running a 25% off preorder sale! Preorder either (or both!) from January 25-27 with the code “PREORDER25” at checkout, and come release day (Spring’s Arcana in May 2023, Salt-Black Tree in August 2023) you’ll get the discount.

…holy Happy New Year, that’s a whole lotta sales. I’ll be updating this post if more come in, so stay tuned.