Rested Monday

I’ve surfaced blinking into Monday, wondering what the hell happened. I actually slept last night, I have caffeine standing ready as I type, and the birds are going mad in the back yard. The smoke is gone, and weather-heads are using words like “fire-season-ending rain” for later in the week.

It can’t happen soon enough according to yours truly. I’ve missed falling water with a passion, as I do every summer, but the smoke just put a capper on the longing. Also, the dogs were exhausted from being on high alert for basically an entire week, nervously waiting for the fire they could smell to engulf us, so they barely moved all night too.

Consequently I’m starting Monday rather late but feeling somewhat rested, which is not at all a usual thing lately. And an idea for a new romantic suspense (Romancing the Stone meets Treasure of the Sierra Madre) crawled inside my head and doubled this weekend, too, though I didn’t write any of it–just dropped a sentence or two into a throwaway Scrivener file and let it go. If it wants its time at centre stage, it’s going to have to wait until the paid projects grind through.

I did spend some time with Seeker, Slinger, though. It was nice to poke at something solely for home consumption.

My email tells me a box of author copies will arrive today. I’m just not sure which book. Normally this would mean putting together a giveaway, but lockdown being what it is the less time I spend in public places (like the post office) the better. I do have some audiobook codes; maybe that will do for a giveaway. Or maybe I might skip this month.

Six months into a pandemic we could be dealing with effectively if there were non-fascist adults running the federal government, I am beginning to run out of both hope and energy. I’m told this is unavoidable, a sign of adjusting to a new normal. It makes sense, I just still don’t like it.

So today is for serious wordcount on The Bloody Throne and a new chapter in HOOD, which has just entered its final phase of its final season. Maid Marian, Little John, and Friar Tuck are off in a spaceship to find King Richard and bring him home, while those left planetoid are fending off Prince John’s advances, and poor Guy of Gisbourne is stuck in the middle. I do love a good villain redemption, as long-time readers will know.

I’ve been watching quite a few Donnie Yen movies lately. It’s extraordinarily healing to watch that man land a punch or two. Every time he kicks the shit out of someone on-screen, my heart gets glued a fraction or two back together.

Small pleasures, yes. But they’re mine, and on a Monday I shall cherish them. I wish you likewise joys, my friends.

Today, Comic Relief

There was some clearing last night, and I was ecstatic at the prospect of maybe, just maybe, being able to run this morning. Alas, I woke up to more dense smoke and the air quality advisory extends until noon. Pretty sure we’ll get to noon and said advisory will shift to “lol u thought we were done? nope.”

I have coffee, so my mood will almost certainly improve… but not soon. At least the caffeine will make me a little less cranky. And tomorrow there’s rain in the forecast, which will be a boon and a blessing–if it actually happens, of course, meteorology being what it is. Weather is a highly complex system, and the tiniest invisible thing can throw a forecast wide of the mark.

I’m pretty sure my role today is “comic relief”, and that’s best performed with an edge under one’s humor–well hidden, like a straight razor tucked in a pile of folded silk. The important thing is that edge must never, under any circumstances, punch down–you must always employ it at least laterally (at your own privilege) or ideally upwards (at those more privileged).

The dogs are unhappy with only a block’s worth of walkies each day instead of a proper ramble. I start coughing as soon as I step outside–another reason why I’ll probably climb onto the treadmill even though I’m absolutely aching to pound some pavement–and it can’t be good for their lungs either. But they don’t understand things like air quality, climate change, or elections. To them, I am the sole goddess of the world, and though my ways are strange they do not question, merely complain.

Loudly, in some cases.

In any case, I’ve drained my coffee cup, and yesterday’s work in The Bloody Throne was late but satisfying. I’m at the point where planned scenes can be thrown merrily out the window because the final shape of the book is now visible, and all that’s necessary is to fill in the blocks left over. The book isn’t quite ready to break free and gallop for the finish, but it’s only a matter of time.

I’m ready. I wish I was back at my pre-lockdown productivity rate, but I’m having difficulty switching between projects for the first time in my life. Something in my innards has broken, and I’m not quite sure how to keep us all fed (not to mention the lights on) if I can’t work at least at 75% of my norm. At least I can sit cross-legged while writing now, and that is making my back ever so much happier.

So today I walk the dogs, climb begrudgingly on the treadmill, and find some humor amid the pile of wreckage. The last bit will save me, I suspect; if I can laugh, I’m some version of all right. My sense of humor tends to be pretty mordant and bleak anyway; today, however, there’s going to have to be some slapstick amid the smoke.

We’re on the downhill slide, almost done with the week; soon we’ll stagger past Friday and be able to celebrate another small victory.

I can’t wait.

Small Signs

After a morning spent chasing the sound of squirrels on the roof and attempting to break down the sliding glass door because one of the little fuzzy bastards was on the deck, the dogs demanded walkies. I was forced to comply, with the hope that said walkies would wear them the fuck out and halt the sonic assault, not to mention the bowling-me-over thing.

There are small signs the smoke is thinning–things have shadows now, the sky is dingy white instead of nicotine yellow, and (amazingly!) I saw the sun behind a shifting veil of smoke and vapor. Not to mention the birds are screaming in every tree they can find, and the squirrels are out in force looking for snacks. It’s warmer, too–the eerie chill of the past few days is breaking in bits and pieces.

Back home now. The walkies were too short, just barely scratching the canine itches for movement, but it was getting hard to breathe. The deep drilling pain in my lungs is matched by the eye-watering, my nose filling up, and even my ears aching. I’m so ready for this to be over.

Today is for avocado toast (I have one ripe avocado left and plenty of good sourdough) and an epic battle scene, not to mention a villain-motivation scene. If I can just get those two done I can call it a day. I suspect it’ll be easier now that the smoke is thinking somewhat, though not nearly quick enough to suit.

At least Boxnoggin hasn’t attempted to fling himself through the sliding glass door more than once this morning. Small mercies. The light is strengthening outside my window; I never thought I’d miss blue sky. I’m generally more comfortable with the grey of a rainy Pacific Northwest winter, but I find myself longing for a clear day. Being able to run will do me no end of good; the smoke has worked its way into the garage so even the treadmill is off. I haven’t quite collapsed in a breathless puddle yet, but my lungs are telling me it’s close.

And now, breakfast. Tuesday is looking to be as quiet as can be expected. Maybe I can even curl up for a nap sometime this afternoon. Frankly the prospect of crawling back into bed is the only thing getting me through today, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Onward to a morass of blood, swords, cavalry, and trumpeted charges–no, in the book, not out here in meatspace, although the way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised. 2020’s looking to fill everyone’s bingo card.

See you around.

Smoke, Lens, Still

I had hoped for a break in the smoke today.

The weekend was… eerie. Saturday was dead silent outside, with no trace of birds, squirrels, rabbits, stray cats, or any of the other local fauna. The sky was a dirty yellow lens, sheer and featureless; there wasn’t even a bright spot to show where the sun was hanging.

Sunday there was some movement, and the fog slowly turned white over the course of the day. This morning it’s not as fuggy-close, but it’s getting all your minerals in one breath out there. We need rain; falling water shouldn’t be uncommon in September in the Pacific Northwest, but here we are.

Climate change is a helluva thing.

The strangest thing about the smoke is the unsettling quiet. No leaf blowers, no animals, very few people out walking, very little traffic. The combination of fog and smoke swallows all sound. It’s still close to a London pea-souper out there. I half expect to see Jack the Ripper leaning against a streetlamp post.

On the bright side (assuming there is one) I only worked a half day on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend cleaning and stuffing new media into my head. I watched The Blue Angel and Fritz Lang’s M because I finished reading Siegfried Kracauer’s From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film. I also watched Goedam, a series of eight-minute Korean horror films, and the first episode of Arthdal Chronicles. And half a Humphrey Bogart movie just to round things out.

I suppose I’m adapting to apocalypse. But I hate that any of us have to.

If not for the treadmill, I probably would go mad. But at least I can run in the garage and my lungs don’t feel like dry Brillo pads afterward. Small mercies.

I’m eyeing my Monday warily. As long as we can agree not to hurt each other, we’ll get through the start of the week fine. I have some combat scenes I want to write, especially since we’re getting into the part of The Bloody Throne where the barbarians arrive and all three warring countries are in the field. Big sweeping epic battles are some of my favorite things to construct, next to individual combat and scenes full of fashion snappy multilayered dialogue. (I’m also fond of angst and forehead kisses, but then, we knew that about me and I contain multitudes.) And plenty of characters who deserve it (as well as one or two who don’t) aren’t going to make it out of this story alive.

If you imagine me as a raccoon rubbing its paws together and giggling, you’re pretty close to how I look this morning. Smoke be damned, there’s a story to write, and I suppose I’d best get to it.

See you around.

Smoke, High-Strung

The sun is a red disc hanging low in the sky, it reeks of smoke, and I can’t stop coughing. Running today is going to be an adventure, I can just tell. At least this is what we have the treadmill for; I can run inside and not perish. At least, hopefully.

The smoke is from the California and Oregon fires; we’re right on the border between Oregon and Washington. Come afternoon it will probably stream out to sea, but in the meantime we’re breathing it. I can barely imagine what it must be like in California right now. Last night my writing partner remarked “I said 2020 could go die in a fire, and I guess it took me up on the offer.”

I’ve been using the D&D fanfic to keep myself going. There’s a certain Murder Himbo NPC my character’s getting involved with, which is a lot of fun. In game and in fiction, it’s super hot. In real life, it’s a restraining order waiting to happen, and I’m exquisitely glad for that division. It’s fun to play my psychotic teenage id constrained only by dice rolls and the whim of the DM, but it’s also good to crawl into my nice safe bed with the dogs each night.

I mean, I love me a good murder himbo, but I wouldn’t want one around the house. Imagine the cleanup.

Today is for dropping a lit match onto the carefully stacked kindling in The Bloody Throne. Throne is Book 3 (The Poison Prince comes out in November), so it’s the payoff I’ve been building towards for two and a half massive chunks of text. I’m also in the last half of the third season of HOOD, and just about to write Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, and Little John breaking a planetary embargo to bring back King Richard and end Prince John’s reckless, despotic rule. So each writing session is slow but paradoxically mentally a bit easier than usual, because I’ve stacked all the blocks carefully and now just have to make sure they fall in the correct pattern when I yank the keystone out.

That’s a lot of mixed metaphors, but you get the idea.

I may have to take a couple days off soon, because my wrists are still hashed from the portal fantasy I wrote during my semi-nervous breakdown and also from spending the weekend dumping out 16k or so of the D&D fanfic on top of regular work. The spirit is more than willing–work, running, or game sessions are the only times I forget everything else happening in the world–but my flesh is beginning to think I’m a bit of a martinet.

Ah well. Ice, stretching, and ibuprofen are the order of the day. I am wondering if it’s worth taking the dogs out for a walk in this smoke-haze. Boxnoggin is a Sensitive, Nervous Fellow, and is already skittish from the few days of high winds. He really, really doesn’t like the smell of burning. Miss B is sanguine, of course–not much disturbs her as long as I’m nearby. She has largely consigned both winds and smoke to the realm of “things my goddess does I don’t understand” and leaves them to me to sort out. Which is as it should be, but Boxnoggin still thinks he has some sort of responsibility to Take Care Of It, and of course he’s manifestly unfit so it stresses him out.

I keep getting nervous, high-strung pets nobody else will take. Gee, I wonder why.

I’m glad of my own precarious bubble of safety today; I wish I could share it with everyone on earth. Be kind to yourselves, dearly beloveds. Right now, survival–in whatever forming whatever fashion–is winning. Illegitimati non carborundum, and all that.

Bastard Latin, yes, but it gets the point across. Happy Thursday, over and out.

Cockroach of Hope, Plus Giveaway

Hello, Monday. We won’t hurt each other, will we?

I might have recovered from breakdown, portal fantasy, and release day all in quick succession. Might. At least I have coffee, though it’s too hot to drink just yet. And I’m not allowed to work on the next unsellable book–honestly, the Muse is pissing me off at this point–until I at least have the last season of HOOD‘s zero in the can.

I know exactly what I need to write, at least. So there’s that. Mornings for HOOD, afternoons for Bloody Throne, and evenings after dinner for The Black God’s Heart. It’ll be a fine schedule and will get me to deadlines intact if I can keep it.

Ay, as Hamlet would groan. There’s the rub.

I suppose if I don’t look at the news I might even be able to do it. The march of cruelty, stupidity, and fascism seems overwhelming in scope and durability. All I want is to go back to writing squirrel stories and violent kissing books, dammit.

In any case, at least one beta reader has informed me that the portal fantasy doesn’t suck. Which is nice, even though it won’t sell. Pretty sure the aliens-arrive-and-boy-is-everyone-pissed romance won’t either, but that one isn’t having thoughts of usurping my regular working time. It will have to be content with weekends and stolen bits around the edges, at least until HOOD‘s zero is in the can. You never know, the aliens story might have enough legs (ha ha) to end up as a serial.

I do need to spend some time thinking about what story will go into the serial slot after HOOD reaches its end. I like to have a few months’ worth of chapters saved up so subscribers don’t miss a single Thursday of fiction-y goodness. Because life happens, and apparently, so does *gestures* all this.

I also have an announcement! The August Zombie Audio Giveaway is now live! Three lucky winners will receive free Audiobook.com codes for Cotton Crossing, first in the ROADTRIP Z series. Multiple daily entries are allowed, too. Newsletter as well as Patreon/Gumroad subscribers got first crack at the giveaway, of course. So if a free audiobook is your jam, just hop on over and enter.

Maybe Monday isn’t that bad after all. Of course, it’s not even 8am yet, so it’s far too early to tell. I have hope, even though I’d rather not because it’s so painful when slowly crushed by endless 2020 bullshit. But though fragile, that motherfucker is hard to kill.

Like, say, cockroaches. I’m trying to be a tiny little cockroach of hope.

And with that simply stunning (I’m sure) mental image, I shall bid you a civil adieu for your own Monday, dear Reader. May we all get through today without hurting each other.

It’s all I’m hoping for, right now.

RELEASE DAY: Finder

That’s right, my lovelies! Today is the (long-awaited) day the sixth book in the Watchers series drops!


He’s not the only one watching her. . .

For years Jorie Camden has been quietly helping her police friends pursue cold cases, and she’s paid the price over and over again, her talent for Finding stretched to the limit. Now something different is stalking the streets, taking children–something old, and foul, and Dark. The cops won’t admit there’s a problem, so what can a Lightbringer do but solve the mystery on her own?

Caleb is a Watcher of Circle Lightfall, and his mission is simple: protect the witch he’s assigned to–the witch who just happens to be able to touch him without causing agonizing pain. It’s his one shot at redemption, and it’ll take every weapon he has, plus his willingness to play dirty. Even if his witch seems to be chasing something no one can see.

Yet something Dark is indeed in their city. And now that it’s aware of pursuit, it has plans for Jorie and her talent–plans not even Caleb might be able to stop. . .

NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZONB&NKOBOGOOGLE, AND APPLE.


It’s been a long, long time. This book has had a particularly difficult road to publication (though nothing like Afterwar, thank every god there ever was or will be) and honestly I never thought it would see the light of day. But it has, it’s finally here, and I’m super glad. A big shout-out goes to Brenda Chin, editor extraordinaire, who didn’t give up on the book (or me!) when the going got tough, plus the crew at Belle/ImaJinn who didn’t either. And, as always, a special thank you to my lovely Patreon and Gumroad subscribers, who got to see little bits of the book and cheered me over the finish line; last but not least, thank you to all the fans who wrote to reassure me that yes, you would like to read another book about the Circle’s black-leather knights.

I have other news in the pipeline, but today is for performing my usual release day feat of sticking my head in a bucket of ice water and staying there until the performance anxiety abates a bit. Soon enough I’ll be back at work, as usual; it’s nice to reach a mountaintop and gaze at all the peaks yet to climb, breathing deep and knowing you’ve at least scaled one.

Some days, one is enough.