A Heckin Good Protec

The dogs want a run this morning. They won’t get one, mostly because my ankle is still tender. Maybe some walkies, if I can get enough coffee in me. As it is, I’m staring at the screen while sucking down as much caffeine as practicably possible, and wondering, as I perennially do after a release or a revision, why recovery takes so goddamn long. 

Even when I force myself into a couple days of doing absolutely nothing that can be considered work (I’m only allowed two hundred fresh words on such a day) it STILL takes longer than I think, and I inevitably try to go back to work, have a spasm of productivity, and then sit, staring and blinking, for about three days.

You’d think I’d have this down by now, but I don’t.

The dogs, meanwhile, are ecstatic. I cook a lot while in recovery, which means the kitchen is full of dropped scraps and lovely smells. There is much snuggling and rolling about on the floor, much playing with toys, and much repeating of “you are a GOOD dog, yes you are!”

The spasm of productivity was getting Atlanta Bound all prepped for preorder and the final chapters of Roadtrip Z prepped and scheduled for patrons and subscribers. That takes a significant load off my diminished capabilities until after the first of the year, which is welcome. It’d be nice to get the box set (all four Roadtrip Z seasons, paper costs may mean that comes out only in e-format, which would be a shame) all settled and ready to be put in the preorder pipe in January, but that’s a pretty high bar, especially if I want to re-edit the whole thing.

*sigh*

Sir Boxnoggin is letting out a series of chesty barks at short intervals, summoning me to come peer out windows at neighbors who are doing yard work. If he glimpses movement, or hears a car door slam/tree branch fall, he is ALL OVER THE BORKING. Which means, of course, that Miss B has to be all over the borking as well. After that, there’s nothing for it, Mum has to get up and investigate and make much of Boxnoggin for alerting and Doin A Heckin Good Doggo Protec. Then Miss B has to horn in and get some snuggles and pets because she did a good heckin protec too.

Consequently, I can’t finish a damn thought. Time to wrap this up and get the dogs leashed for walkies. After they stuff a great many scents into their snouts, they’ll have to come home and process, which means napping. Which means some quiet while I figure out omnibus paper costs.

Wish me luck.

Prospective Jacket

Both dogs are exhausted by roughhousing after breakfast. Which is fine by me, it’ll make walking them easier. It’s also chilly today, with a brisk wind, which Sir Boxnoggin does not enjoy. Miss B, thanks to her wonderful Aussie undercoat, is an all-weather dog, but Boxnoggin may need a jacket if it gets much colder.

I have deep philosophical objections to pet costumes, but a little pink plaid jacket to make Boxnoggin feel like a warm boy sounds delightful. I’ll have to take a handful of treats and measure him up.

He will probably try to eat the tape measure, but such is life with canines.

I spent a good seven hours hunched over revisions yesterday, which was at once a vacation–because my work days are generally about ten hours long–and a torment, because my back has decided it doesn’t like the super-fancy office chair at the moment. Time for pillows and other such things until my back decides once more I and the chair can be trusted.

I almost, almost got to the point where I need to shoehorn another scene in. I think the bastard prince needs to be on a caravan heading into the capital city of his country’s greatest enemy, and seeing the sheer size and scope of said city will have a few effects on him. He’s very much a “go big or go home” character, and it’ll be interesting if he decides to do the former in the series.

As it is, though, I just want this goddamn revision over. The book’s crept past 185K, and if one more person says “but it needs more politics!” I am going to scream like a Munch painting. Since a certain game of thrones has become popular, everyone wants to shoehorn similar things into every damn fantasy, losing sight of the fact that it’s characters people care about that drive the whole thing. Publishers are always looking to force the Last Big Thing into the Next Big Thing, whether it wills or no. Fighting that tendency is exhausting sometimes.

All the same, I love my job, and I’m sure when this book achieves its final fighting form I’ll be proud of it. I’m just tired right now, that’s all.

Which means it’s time to get out the door with the dogs. If we keep moving the wind won’t trouble us much. At least, that’s the plan.

Over and out.

COVER REVEAL: Rattlesnake Wind

There are some books that live very close to the writer’s heart, and this is one of mine.

When I was much younger than today, we moved from Great Britain to Wyoming, and the culture shock was immense. The only thing to love about the place was the wind coming over vast sweeps of long grass and whispering secrets into my aching ears. When we left again, this time to move to the Pacific Northwest, I cried as quietly as I could in the car, telling the plains and the wind I’d be back.

It took many a year, but I finally returned. Not physically, but I’m not sure it matters.

Fireside was the only publisher willing to take a chance on this book, for a variety of reasons, and the only publisher I felt comfortable trusting its bloody beating heart to; this beautiful cover was made by Eleanor Chuah. I’m proud and honored to invite you into this book, my dear Readers, and I hope you enjoy it…

The first night we spent in that ancient mobile home, the wind mouthed its corners with a low whispering almost like words from another room.

Desiree Sarpe and her family–minus their domineering, abusive patriarch–have settled on the Wyoming plains, where the wind speaks, the grass whispers, and power comes in the strangest, most ordinary of forms. Unfortunately, the past and its terrors can’t be easily shaken, and Dez is about to find out how brutal, bloody, and costly magic really is…

Coming in December 2018; now available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent retailers.

Paradox, Revisions


Already this morning I’ve woven in 400 words, gone through yesterday’s added scene twice to layer in detail, and made a couple global changes. The Maiden’s Blade is growing slowly, tortuously, and now the largest problem is where to salt in the other scenes needed to bring another character’s arc forward here instead of in the second book.

I know what happens, but just when is largely a matter of choice, not chance. A project this large means the paradox of absolute submission to the work and absolute control over its fine points is even more marked, and holding both horses steady instead of letting them careen in different directions to tear the work in half is a matter of balance and one-pointed concentration so fierce it almost robs me of breath.

It doesn’t help that the revisions are late for a number of reasons, not least of which is the complexity of the task. I haven’t attempted anything this complex in one single volume before; even Roadtrip Z is split up over several seasons. (Which reminds me, I have to get the last season’s unedited ebook formatted for my beloved patrons this week, too. Never rains but it pours.)

So it’s Tangerine Dream on the playlist, a gallon of tea, and cross-checking fictional dynasties. All favorite things, and they make a hard task bearable.

See you on the other side, chickadees.

Rush Resurrection

I resurrected in a rush this morning, since Sir Boxnoggin, He Who Chases Squirls, was trying to get under the covers with me and ended up punching me in the face. My yelp must have been puppylike, for it brought both dogs to try and lick anything of me they could reach. “DON’T WORRY, MUM, WE’LL SAVE YOU!”

After that, well, there was no more room for sleep, and my heart was pounding anyway, so…I rolled out of bed and into my running togs. The dogs both need some work to settle them so they stop stealing each others’ rawhides.

We never could have rawhide while Odd Trundles was around. The danger of it getting stuck in his poor compromised airway was too great. There was the time the Mad Tortie fished an old chunk of it out from under the couch, thinking she was Being Helpful, and that didn’t end well, let me tell you. It was one of the many times we almost lost that little fuzzy snuffler.

I was just thinking yesterday about how much I miss Trundles. He was a good dog. Smelly, yeasty, constantly in need of medical attention…but a lovely dog. Not a mean bone in his body.

Anyway, I’ve another 20K to add in revision for this damn epic fantasy. I’m hoping I can get the needed effects without making the book break 200K. I’m already sick of the story and there’s two more in the trilogy to write. I need a break, but I’m not going to get one. Plus there’s Atlanta Bound to format into ebooks, and the whole Roadtrip Z omnibus to put together to go on sale after the first of the year.

No rest for the weary or the wicked. Time to swallow the last bit of coffee, get the leashes buckled around my waist, and take the dogs for some work. Hopefully they won’t pull in different directions very often. But if they do, I’ll drop my center of gravity and keep going.

Funny, how that skill translates into other areas of one’s life.

I wish you safe running on this Monday, my friends. Just drop your navel a little and keep going.

It’s the only way through.

Better than Monday

Things I’ve said already today:

  • “You dropped a sock. I’m hanging it on your doorknob.”
  • “NOT ON MY TITS, DOG.”
  • “Clearly this fellow’s only experience of sex comes from Clive Cussler novels.”
  • “What’s the right time to tell your date about your barbed penis?”
  • “I’d read that for charity, but I’d need a LOT of weed.”
  • “No, Mary Berry wouldn’t be disgusted. She’d just be disappointed.”
  • “NOT ON MY BLADDER EITHER, DOG.”

As you can tell, it’s been A Morning. Tuesday is already better than Monday, though. I seem to have processed most of my less-than-ideal feelings about yet another revision in record time, and today’s going to be full of working that book into the ground. I finally know how to fix the major thing the editor wanted addressed, and can do it in a way that provides depth as well as the simple answer.

Being edited initially feels like having someone yell from the audience while you’re juggling chainsaws. You’re already working at capacity and some asshole has advice. It’s not the editor’s fault, they’re working to make the book better just like you are. Still, it initially feels not only like a judgment (and a particularly harsh one, at that) but a personal affront.

Getting through that shitty-ass feeling and into the headspace where you can take the advice calmly is part of a professional writer’s toolkit of necessities. Schedule in enough time to stamp your feet and scream, or, like I do, print out an edit letter, curse vociferously, and throw the thing across the room.

It’s surprisingly therapeutic, and calms one down wonderfully.

So. I have largely recovered from the most Monday of Mondays, and am even feeling philosophical about Thursday. (Mostly.)

Time for a run, and then I pick up the edit letter again and get to work.

Over and out.

Fog, Cobbler’s Bench

Sometimes the stars align, and my once-monthly insomnia (no doubt a hormonal thing) rouses me not at 2am or at 3am, but at 5:30am and I can lie in the dark, thinking, and roll out of bed early because the urge to write is filling me from toes to scalp with raw tingling.

The Muse is a bitch, but sometimes that’s useful.

So I got up, fed the dogs, swallowed my porridge while grumbling about the injustice of having to feed my own meatsack, and made some very, very strong tea. And now I am typing, which is where I longed to be ever since opening my eyes.

It’s quiet outside because of the fog. It’s not quite a pea-souper, wrapping its fingers around each leafless branch; the wind earlier in the week stripped most of Autumn’s finery and hurried her home. Now all I’m waiting for is the rains. Cold, dark, damp, that’s when I’m most productive, lighting a candle to keep the night at bay.

Of course, lying in bed, I knew what the Friar Tuck on a Spaceship scene I was struggling with yesterday needed. The answer arrived on little cat feet like the fog itself, and is one of the reasons I’ve rolled out of bed. And, of course, the storm king and the witch are finding their feet. The witch needs kidnapping, of course, just so I can write the scene with her beating the shit out of thugs in a van and eventually bursting out of the vehicle on a puff of flame and shrapnel, dusting off her motorcycle jacket as the daimon and the storm god arrive to “rescue” her and find out she’s rescued herself, thank you very much, and when’s dinner?

Of course, there’s revisions on The Maiden’s Blade to deal with, too, but those are proving troublesome. I need a certain lord to do something, but he’s proving cagey. Plus, plenty of that book rips my heart out, and I’m already feeling a bit sore and tender in the cardiac area.

So today’s work is cut out for me, and I bend over my cobbler’s bench, cutting and stitching, my fingers pricked and bleeding. Friar Tuck needs to understand just what sort of snake-pit Prince John’s court is, and his crisis of faith–already well underway–needs some higher stakes. I was trying to write it yesterday, but Robin and Gisbourne kept intruding, and I finally had to write a conversation between the two of them. I wanted to do it while they sparred with lightsabers, but I think they need to have a different convo while they do that, an exceedingly male “let’s punch each other and then go for drinks” one.

Dawn has strengthened. Everything is grey, though the cedars are black lacework blots. They’re not whispering this year, having gone to bed early; all the trees round here are determined to sleep deeply. It’s like they sense something coming.

…dear gods, I hope they’re wrong, but they’re trees, and as such, it’s not likely. But for today, there’s work to be done.

Over and out.