Dreams, Revisions, and Screaming

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.

A Browne Day

Woke up with Jackson Browne’s In the Shape of a Heart on my mental radio; the dogs, while understanding nothing of the song, are nevertheless quite happy to have me croon to them. Especially if it’s accompanied by ear-rubs or chest-skritches, and they like Browne far better than, say, the mornings I wake up with Penderecki or Marilyn Manson on the dial.

The stormwrack has largely been cleaned up. The damage isn’t as bad as I feared, but it’s still going to need an insurance adjustor to come out and take a look. Fortunately, that’s scheduled. Snow is pretty, but I could have done without all this bullshit.

I’m pushing to get the werelion story fully uploaded as a serial; it’ll be up until June, then pulled and refurbished for actual publication. Might as well; my recent experiment in trying to channel just the tiniest fraction of the massive, entitled self-confidence of a mediocre dumbass is bearing fruit. Sure, it’s a terrible story, the literary equivalent to scenery-chewing. But it’s not unfinished and everyone I’ve told about the damn project–or given tastes, teasers, or chunks to–has said it should be out in the world. So…here we go.

I also want to get it posted and out of the way before revisions for Ghost Squad #2 land. That’s Klemp’s book, and the beta readers liked it well enough. Now I can incorporate some of their suggestions with the editor’s, and the book will be stronger for it. Maybe that’s why I have this particular song running around inside my cranium. It does seem to fit Klemp and Beck, except the ending is far, far less bittersweet.

I think my editor would have been very cross if the book had decided to end otherwise, though. She really likes Klemp. (Wait until I get to Jackson’s story. The entire Squad is in for a rough ride on that one…)

Anyway, the dogs are quietly getting their first morning nap out of the way while I absorb coffee, but will soon wake up again and start lobbying for toast scraps. They got tiny dabs of grease in their breakfast kibble, but apparently nothing is as valuable as dry sourdough I’ve slobbered on. The little furry weirdos obviously think it some manner of manna, which mystifies me. But at least they wait patiently, then “sit pretty” for their scraps, and both enjoy the ritual. So do I, though I don’t consider it quite as necessary as they seem to.

Time to get this song off repeat and dump some bread in the toaster. Thursday’s going to be busy, especially since there’s a tonne of special stuff going out to subscribers, and if I work through the weekend the werelion story will be fully (though temporarily) out of my hair. Which might mean a day off, and by then I might even be tired enough to take a mini-vacay instead of simply using the time to catch up on correspondence and administrivia left hanging fire while I get the damn werelions sorted.

Of course, I could cue up Somebody’s Baby, since it’s apparently a Browne kind of day. That’s a good song to dance around the kitchen with while sourdough’s being turned into toast, and the dogs will be more than happy to waltz along.

There’s the day’s lesson, my dears. Don’t forget to do a little dancing–the world’s on fire, we might as well.

I’ve been saying eh, we might as well a lot lately. It’s probably not healthy, but it’s better than screaming. Or so I keep telling myself.

See you around.

First Hit

Woke up with P!nk’s True Love playing in my head. I am puzzled–I barely know the song, it’s my daughter who’s the hardcore P!nk fan around here. But the radio inside my skull picks tracks on its own schedule, never mine, so I guess I just roll with it until something else burrows in. At least my habit of listening to music most of the day means I’ll get another earworm in short order, if not while doing the morning work then while running. I should rearrange my running soundtracks to keep everything fresh, too…but maybe not this week.

There’s a dense fog advisory on, but our particular tiny biome–a couple of blocks on the side of a hill–is clear. The dogs were incredibly eager to get outside this morning, then both turned their noses up at breakfast and are now engaged upon their first nap of the day while I am forced to remain upright and (presumably) conscious. Sometimes I envy the damn canines. On the other hand, I’m not fond of chasing squirrels or licking my own paws, so I guess it works out.

I spent the weekend attempting to do something like resting, but it didn’t quite happen. Consequently I’ve a severe case of Monday exhaustion and my nerves are only half-wrapped. The sparks are pretty, though, and I’ve a baseball bat right by the desk.

The week’s first punch just maddened me. You know that trope where someone hits a fighter and said fighter just regards the opponent with a blood-grimed grin, very happy they’ve finally been given the chance to unleash their temper? Yeah. Like that. Each mouthful of coffee is another weapon in my arsenal.

I’m also looking forward to the upcoming launch of the third and last Hostage to Empire book. My goodness, the series had a rocky road, and the final book was written during lockdown so whenever I read passages I remember the uncertainty, and shiver a little. I’m glad to be moving on to new things, and very thankful for the production crew.

I unboxed my author’s copies of said book on last Friday’s Tea With Lili, which will stay live for about two weeks before being replaced. I’m going to give the streaming another month to see if the performance anxiety goes down. Each time I do one of those things I end up shaking with stress and anxiety, though I’m told I appear very calm; maybe it’s my habit of slowing down when things get weird that does it. Holding the appearance of calm is necessary when one has dogs or small children, since they largely take their cues from the adult in the room. If I start losing my shit they start ramping up, and that’s not good for anyone.

I might throw caution to the winds, get some correspondence and administrivia out of the way today, then spend the rest of the day doing an initial polish on the werewolf story before making some decisions about whether or not I want to serialize it. If I put the Carnivale soundtrack on repeat I might even shake every other earworm out of my head, and maybe the brainweasels will stop yelling too. There are a lot of them crowding my bone headpan.

Brainweasels. Earworms. Sleeping dogs. Sun burning through fog, and I keep looking around my office thinking I should clean this place up. There are several things I’ve just stuck in corners or on top of the cabinets because I don’t have any bloody time to deal with them during a pandemic, and they’ve now been sitting, solidifying, for years. Might as well rearrange things and give them a permanent home…

after I get some toast, walk the dogs, run my corpse, spend two hours getting paperwork to the accountant, and do everything else on the list today. No rest for the weary or the wicked, and these days I’m both to the very hilt.

Happy Monday, my friends. I hope you have a baseball bat handy too, and that the first hit only makes you mad. One way or another, we’ll get this week sorted.

See you around.

RELEASE DAY: HOOD Omnibus

Today is a frabjous day, calloo callay, because the omnibus of HOOD–all three seasons in one place–is now available!


Anglene is smoldering. The galactic insurrection is supposed to be crushed. Robbhan Locke, a Second Echelon soldier, has returned to his birth planet along with other veterans, finding Sharl Notheim holding all of Sagittarius in his mailed fist for Parl Jun the Regent.

If the Gran Parl Riccar can be found, he could save all of Anglene. In the meantime, Robb, Marah, and their friends are going to have to do it themselves–if they survive.

The war is over, but “peace” is a relative term

Available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and direct at Gumroad. Paper edition available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Note: Due to Amazon’s policies, the ebook will not be listed there, but don’t despair–if you’re a Kindle reader, we’ve got you covered! If you order through Gumroad, you’ll automatically get access to a .mobi you can add to said Kindle or Paperwhite.


Big, epic thanks are due to my beloved subscribers, without whom this series would never have seen light of day. (A surprising number of publishers didn’t want Robin Hood IN SPACE, but that’s their loss, I think.) Several subscribers are also Tuckerized, which always gives me a happy feeling when I reread.

Special thanks must also be given to the veterans who answered my questions about what “coming home” was like for them; I did my best to tell the truth, as you told it to me.

If you’d like to listen to the music that fueled the serial, you can find the playlist here.

In other news, every roof in the neighborhood has a thick white layer of frost on it, and the fog has also furred branches with soft white. As the sun mounts things will start to drip, and there will be brief gilding on every surface. Everything is oddly still since we’re still under some kind of inversion; this weather is odd indeed. It raises the hackles.

Still, coffee must be had, the dogs must be walked, and I’m hard at work on other stories. January’s turned out to be a busy bee of a month indeed.

See you around…

RELEASE DAY: HOOD, Season Three

I have been an extraordinarily busy bee lately! HOOD‘s third and final season came to a close in May, but pandemic woes and hassles put off its wider debut. I meant to have this out in early August at the latest, but the world had other plans.


HOOD: Season Three

Robb Locke’s trapped in a high-security Panoptikon and Sharud is under embargo, the military governeur Notheim’s fist is tightening around the throat of the entire system for his master Jun Planetagen, and all hope is lost. Somewhere at the edge of charted space, the true ruler of Anglene is drifting in a wrecked flagship.

If Marah Madán can reach Gran Parl Riccar before the oxygen runs out, she can not only save Robb but also the rest of Anglene. It’s going to take all her wit, all her resources, and a collection of spies, codejackers, rebels, and outright criminals, not to mention betraying her other childhood friend–Ged Gizabón, a dangerous adversary with secrets of his own.

Anglene is boiling, ready for yet another bloody civil war–and when it ends, Jun will be not only the Parl but the unquestioned dictator of the entire galaxy. Unless Marah and her ragtag alliance can stop him.

No hero ever stands alone…

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Amazon, and direct; print edition available here.


I loved writing my little Robin Hood…in SPACE! I especially loved the feedback from serial readers as we got to things I’d been planning and leaving Easter eggs for all through Seasons One and Two. Writing and finishing a final season under pandemic conditions was…not ideal, let’s say. But every time I thought “maybe I should just stop this, refund everyone’s subscription, and walk into the sea” someone wrote me saying that the last chapter had gotten them through something horrid, or that they were eager to know what happened next, or thanking me because they could look forward to weekly chapters of Robb and the gang’s death-defying stunts.

Like clockwork. That sort of thing makes a writer endure.

I wrote a little bit before about the literary influences of the serial, and there’s an Apple Music playlist. (I had to leave Spotify, my friends. Long story.) But if I absolutely have to be one hundred percent truthful, a lot of the serial’s genesis lay in a particular BBC series, and a particularly fine-nosed actor’s portrayal of Guy of Gisbourne.

Plus there were all the neckbeards writing me about how my faster-than-light communications (fittles, in the serial, for FTL), not to mention travel (starsteal), generation ships, and other stuff didn’t obey their particular neckbeard ideas about how sci-fi should be written. I was getting my ovaries all up in their space opera, and they didn’t like it–to complete the job of pissing them off, there’s a whole chapter stuffed full of Star Trek references, because if you’re going to come for me about sci-fi, assholes, you’d better come correct, and even your holy Asimov and Heinlein, not to mention Roddenberry, did a great deal of hand-waving. I shall not apologize for my own McGuffins.

The series is completely finished now; all three seasons are out in the wild, and there are plans for an omnibus edition. But for now, I’m going to take a breath and marvel at the fact that this particular season, written during lockdown and brought out under acid-test conditions, is finally having its book birthday.

A huge and hearty thank you is due to my beloved subscribers, without which this trilogy (not to mention Roadtrip Z) would not be. Said subscribers are currently funding Hell’s Acre, which I’m having a lot of fun with. The direct support, allowing me to tell longer, more complex stories which might not find a home in traditional publishing, is positively amazing. So, thank you, my friends, and I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve got planned next.

And as usual on a release day, here’s a link to my Discord server, where fans can discuss at leisure. (Said link will only be live for a medium-ish while, to dissuade bad actors.)

It’s been a long, strange ride. I’m not even feeling release-day exhilaration, just the regular nerves and a faint sort of harassed wonder that it’s whole and complete, especially under these conditions. I suppose I should go put my head in a bucket and do some deep breathing.

See you around, my friends.

The Jam Loosens

I woke from a dream of cleaning a house I’ve never lived in, with music playing in my head. The former doesn’t happen that often, but the latter is pretty much a constant. I rolled over, got Boxnoggin’s wet nose stuck in my face (he was attempting to get me to wake up so we could go do fun things, Mum, come on!) and heard the plucky opening riff to the Muppets’ Happiness Hotel.

Pretty sure that means a good day, even if an unrelentingly weird one.

The weirdness has been off the charts lately. The only thing I can think to do is begin my fall nesting–a few of my friends already have, and with the current plague news, well, I’m going to need my tiny safe nook to be as cosy as possible.

Especially if we need to share space with friends or family suffering fallout.

In any case, I’ve a list of Autumn Preparation Things. Some of them are small and will fit around the bigger list of Work Things What Landed In The Past Few Days. It’s feast or famine in publishing, dry spell or monsoon. CEs (the third and final Hostage to Empire book is top of the list) and proofs (HOOD fans, the omnibus proof just landed, so very soon Season Three will be out and the omnibus will be available for preorder) and cover drafts (Moon’s Knight is that much closer to publication; once I get the final cover the trigger can be gently squeezed), not to mention revisions on the diptych of The Black God’s Heart.

Plus there’s Hell’s Acre to get daily wordcount in on, and the sequel to Damage to build. (And Guilder to frame for it. I’m positively swamped.)

In between all that is cleaning and arranging for fall–the most wonderful time of the year, frankly. I’m ready for it to cool off; the recent heatwave is no fun and doesn’t really break overnight. We have some air conditioning, so we’re a little better placed than most, but it’s still unrelentingly bad. And gods know we need some proper rain.

I’ve recovered some little bit of my harmony. The tetchiness and ill feeling have subsumed under the sheer amount of work; maybe I just need to be buried under Stuff To Do before my mood improves. Having safe spaces to vent some of my feelings at current events helps as well. Holding that sort of thing in, no matter how useful a skill, eventually curdles and turns one rancid.

I don’t like being angry. Sure, I’m often irritated, but outright anger isn’t usual for me. I can count the number of times I’ve been actually, for-real angry in my life on one hand and have fingers (plural) left over. Current affairs, however, are managing the feat splendidly, and I hate it.

Anyway. There will be a glut of news in the near future, my beloveds–preorder information for Moon’s Knight once that gets all sorted, Season Three of HOOD and the omnibus scheduled, maybe something good on the Tolkien Viking Werewolves front, so on and so forth. But today is all about copyedits with some Zoe Keating in the background to drown out the noise in my head, not to mention the dogs needing their morning walk. I won’t be able to run until the weather breaks; heat sensitivity is an awful thing.

I am cherishing the return of my usual equanimity, even if it means the Muppets will be playing inside my skull when I wake. All in all, it could be worse. Oh, and thank you all for telling me how you’re getting through this; your comments helped me see good things.

Onward and upward, excelsior and all that. The dogs have been very patient, but they need walkies before it gets too hot to breathe. Time to bolt the remains of my coffee and embark.

See you around.

Return, Usual Harmony

…well, it’s Monday again.

Not that I mind, really. I just finished a difficult revision and have a crop of administrivia as well as fresh writing scheduled for the day. It’ll be nice to get some actual new-text production going instead of just trimming and tweaking formerly written stuff. I want a lot more lead time in Hell’s Acre than I have; it’s time to do a kidnapping or two.

So to speak.

I also have to move some things on the detailed writing schedule for the next few months. This career being what it is, all sorts of things are in flux until a contract’s signed, then it’s time to work like a demon. Generally I can plan a year or two in advance, but when I get to the six- or three-month planning mark the longer-range benchmarks often have to be thrown out or altered to bear no resemblance to their original form.

Specifically, the Cold North trilogy (also known as the Silmarillion Viking Werewolves) will have to be written around paying projects, but several of those spaces have also opened up, so we’ll see what fits in them. It means a much longer timeframe before the adventures of Solveig and her shieldmaid can meet the world, but such is publishing.

I’m just glad the irritation and crankiness from earlier in the month have gone their merry way; upping my running mileage and clearing a difficult project both mean some of the usual harmony tiptoed back into my corpus. I don’t like feeling prickly as a herd of adamantium porcupines; keeping a deathgrip on my temper is unpleasant (though necessary, because friendly fire isn’t) work.

Let’s see, what else can I tell you? I read a few Vietnam War memoirs this past week, and might read a few more; I also have Emma Southon’s A Fatal Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, about murder in Ancient Rome.

I suspect I shall savor the latter with quite unbecoming enthusiasm.

The morning music queue is serving up a lot of Portishead, and I’m not quite sure what to think about that. I suppose I’ll just groove with it, since Past Me is the one who went on a mad trip-hop jag while finishing up revisions. I’ll add some Copland and Gershwin, not to mention some thrash metal, to confuse the algorithms later in the day.

I am large, I contain multitudes.

So today is for the last bit of finish work before sending revisions in well in advance of their due date (love it when that happens) and a great deal of administrivial paperwork set aside during the push to get said revision done. On the one hand it’s got to be done and has lingered long enough.

On the other, I absolutely despise bureaucratic triplicate. I often mutter, “Why doesn’t your mother commit murder more often?” and both children chime, “Because it makes paperwork, that’s why!”

…look, one has to go with the objection that works, and if the disdain for paperwork keeps me from running amok, I’ll use it.

One of the neighbors put in a backyard fountain this past weekend, so I suspect Carl, Sandra, and Jerry will disdain our plebeian birdbath’s stagnation for this new luxury. Being what they are, I suspect they’ll tear the damn thing apart in their enthusiasm and I will be treated to someone else screaming at the local fauna for once.

It’ll be a nice change. I’m almost looking forward to it.

Enjoy your Monday, my beloveds. It’s a tricksome day even in the best of weeks, but with all of us watching it can hardly do more than twitch, right? At least, we can operate under that assumption for now. I’ve the machete ready and I don’t even want to know what the rest of you have stashed.

Over and out.