COVER REVEAL: The Salt-Black Tree

“But Lili,” I hear you say. “You just did a cover reveal not too long ago.” And yes, you are absolutely correct–but the two books of The Dead God’s Heart will be out within months of each other, so the publisher’s getting ducks-in-a-row now. It will be nice, since readers won’t have to wait too long for the series to be “finished”, per se. Two whole years’ worth of work will pay off…next year.

That’s publishing, baby. Anyway, are you ready?


Isn’t it pretty?

Since the series features American divinities and one hell of a roadtrip, of course there are cars–Dima Konets’s low black sports car, Maria Drozdova’s old Léon-Bollée, a Cadillac driven by a certain Coyote, and more. I’m also pleased about the snake, which is kind of a vehicle all its own.

There’s a burst of furious activity happening behind the scenes right now–copyedits, page proofs, queries on said page proofs–so everything is in place for the release of Spring’s Arcana next May. Considering that I wrote these books during lockdown and other assorted pandemic foolishness, it’s feeling rather strange to see them inching towards their debut.

The wind is up, and I’ve much more to do today. I just had to share the loveliness, though. Happy Thursday, my friends. We’re almost through the week…

Halfway to New

The wind came through hard last night, cold skybreath combing the trees, leaves and needles and cones shaken free. A lot of stuff tapped the roof, but we were all warm and snug in our beds. Especially Boxnoggin, as I spent part of yesterday washing bedding and switching to flannel sheets. Which meant a fresh, dryer-fragrant comforter for him to sleep on, several blankets for warmth and cushioning, and the heated mattress topper, all toasting him from below. He was a happy, happy doge.

I wasn’t so bad myself. It was high time to switch to flannel and more blankets. Most of my trouble sleeping lately has been stress, but some was certainly the change in weather. Now I am roasty-toasted, and feel halfway to a new woman. (Only halfway, the rest is the same old bitter hag.)

Remember the cover reveal for Spring’s Arcana? Well, in a few days we’ll have another for Book 2 of the duology, The Salt-Black Tree. They both release within a few months of each other next year, so you won’t have long to wait between books. It’s very exciting; I haven’t had this kind of trad publisher support before. Maybe it’ll go well?

I can’t think about that or I’ll go mad with worry. Best to just put my head down and continue, one foot in front of the other.

I should’ve been working on different things yesterday. (I won’t list them; on that path lies madness.) Instead, I banged out 3.4k words on the Jolene, Jolene story. It needs a bit of polish and some trimming, then it’ll be off to the agent for her delectation. Depending on what she says it might make the rounds–if it doesn’t, I might just keep it to gloat over, a shiny treasure in my hoard. Don’t fret, though, subscribers will definitely get a taste.

It was pleasant to feel like I could still accomplish something, and to get the dopamine hit from finishing a piece. The crisis of confidence from…certain publishing industry hijinks, let’s say, hit me hard. Fortunately I have lost my patience and as a result become somewhat close to tranquil, and part of that process was apparently writing a short story based on a Dolly Parton song.

What can I say, I’m wired really weird.

Today will be split between the serial and the NaNo book. All the hard work resurrecting a dead series over the weekend is about to pay off. The nausea has gone down, and after I get a run in I’ll probably feel closer to zen than I have in a long time. Of course, before I get out the door I should do some of that trimming and polishing on the short story. It would be nice to send that off by the end of the day. I should collect and re-edit a bunch of my shorts, too, put them in an anthology–in all my COPIOUS spare time, ha. It would be nice to have them in one place.

Last week–and the weekend–were kind of awful. But there’s a silver lining, of course; there always is, even if it’s only a thin thread. I went through a whole-ass process at warp speed instead of letting a certain situation drag out for many more months, and now I can get back to work. That’s one grand thing about my mid-forties. I am no longer prepared to waste much, if any, time. If that makes me a bitch, fine. That’s what they call a woman who won’t let you take advantage of her anyway. Might as well wear it like a badge of honor.

The wind seems to have slackened. There will be plenty of downed stuff and wrack for Boxnoggin to get his nose into, and he’ll enjoy the sunshine. I’d prefer rain, though this is all right–the air doesn’t quite sparkle like champagne, but it does go down smoothly and I’ve the glow of a finished story to keep me warm.

Let us clamber into Tuesday, my beloveds, and see what the day holds.

Necromancer’s Monday

I spent the weekend dragging a dead series out of its grave. Difficult work, involving a lot of squelching and nausea–but what the hell, I’m sometimes a necromancer, it’s all part of the game. At least I’ve done it before, most notably with Steelflower, so it’s not like it’s my first time.

The weather has turned with a vengeance. I can’t believe it was 80F in October, and now we’re edging down to heavy frost, nights lingering near freezing. The garden needs to be put to bed, but it’s a Monday. I’ve other things to occupy me today–like said shambling corpse of a series, resurrected but not entirely rejuvenated. Frankenstein ain’t got nothing on me, my friends.

I spent whatever time I wasn’t heaving over my office wastebasket doing chores, and getting around 2k of the Jolene story written. Three organic mentions of that song means the Universe has decided it’s time and I think I can do it in six scenes. At least that’s the kernel of the story, and I can add more on either side of the high beats if the structure ends up needing it. I don’t know why I’m being attacked by this short when I have a bloody shambling undead fantasy hulk to deal with and I really need to do a revise on the second Sons of Ymre, but if I’m not drowning in work I’m not really happy so…here we are.

I mean, nobody wants to see me with idle hands. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

The light has changed, too. While it was smoke-hazy and way too warm for October, any sunshine had an eerie apocalyptic cast. Not like the bad smokes the previous two years, just enough to make the little atavistic muscle right under one’s occipital ridge tighten. Now the sky has paled and any sunlight is a thinner gold, especially when it falls on frost-laden roofs and the steam rises. The trees are merrily changing their leaves; next will come shedding them entirely. The ones falling so far are dry and spicy instead of wet-sludgy since the rains have given us a moment or two to think about things. I’d prefer rain, of course, but this is acceptable. Especially since the chill generally means I can run without dodging weird men on the sidewalk.

The only downside is that other dog walkers will be out in the clear light, enjoying the lack of humidity. I like that just fine, but Boxnoggin loses his damn head. I often have to pick him up by his harness-handle, scolding him. “This is why nobody wants to play with you…you’re being a big bully…don’t you feel ridiculous now? If you wouldn’t scream you could probably say hello…no, screaming it is! Fine. Scream all you want, it won’t change the outcome.”

Poor fellow. Four-plus years of work have made him much calmer, but the instant he sees another dog (who isn’t Bailey, since she put up with exactly zero nonsense from him) he turns into a screaming toddler. Some part of it is probably resource-guarding, but I think he’s just one of those dogs whose circuits fuse at the slightest provocation. A squirrel, a cat, another dog, and his cranium is the equivalent of an action movie explosion. I have to walk away, grimly not looking while carrying sixty-plus pounds of writhing canine.

There are worse jobs. It’s hilarious, I will never be as excited over anything as this dog is for the hose, a fleeing cat, or another dog friend. Or walkies. Right now he’s got his nose pressed to my ankle and is huffing deeply, on the principle that this once got me off my office chair and moving brekkie-ward, so he’s going to try it every time now just in case.

Monday is full of frost-laden light and the sound of delighted canine snuffling. My marching orders have been given and my sock is a little damp, so I bid you a pleasant adieu, my beloveds.

Broken Giant

Shattered on the shoulder.

I’m late to the Friday photo post, my beloveds. Things are suboptimal right now–a series that was very much books of my heart has been killed, and I am mourning. We’ll see what happens once the dust settles–it may be that I just have to write the damn thing anyway in my copious spare time. (Yeah, go ahead, laugh. But where there’s a will there’s a mothafuggin way, and I am slopping over with willpower.)

Heartache or no, Boxnoggin needs his walkies. We were ambling uphill, and he stopped to sniff this scattering of concrete or rock–can’t tell which, I am no geologist. But I looked at the detritus and thought, even a pebble can bring down a giant.

It’s not quite as catchy as some phrases, but it’s giving me a lot of solace today. Also, the arrangement of stone and stem made me think of trees with stone leaves, and that’s an image going into a book someday, I can tell you.

The weekend is almost here. I’m so weary, friends. And yet as long as I can reach a pebble, I have a chance of bringing down whatever I need to.

It’s gonna have to be enough.

November Zombie Sale

In honor of enduring three years of this bullshit–and in honor of the recent spookytimes funfest–The Complete Roadtrip Z will be on sale in ebook for $8.99USD all through November! That’s all four seasons of the hit serial (funded by my beloved subscribers, whom I thank) for the price of one.

The Complete Roadtrip Z

Cotton Crossing was a dead end, but not for Ginny Mills. She’s just marking time, getting experience in the county library system, before moving back to a decent urban environment. Then the phones stop working.

Lee Quartine knows there’s no way the pretty girl at the library will even look at him. Especially since he can’t open his mouth. He knows he’s a hick, but when the power starts going out and the woods are full of strange creatures, it’s good to have someone around who can build a fire. And kill.

Ginny and Lee and their small band of survivors can’t stay put, and moving is dangerous. The infected are shambling in the hills and the concrete canyons of cities.

It’s gonna be a long trip…

Available direct, or through Kobo and these other fine ebook retailers.


Not only that, but my latest release is Duty, the second in the Ghost Squad series.

Duty

After nearly dying on his team’s last mission, Paul Klemperer is heading home for the first time since signing up for the Army. His hometown’s grown a little. The inhabitants are older. And life has moved on, but some things are still the same. Like the way he feels about the girl he left behind—who ended up marrying someone else.

Beck Sommers has a divorce in the works; if she can just hold on, she’ll be able to leave this godforsaken town. Unfortunately, her soon-to-be-ex-husband has other ideas. Her first love Paul has returned as well, making things even more complicated. And then there’s the corruption, the drugs…and murder.

Beck’s determined to fix what’s gone wrong, but she has no idea how deep the corruption goes. And Paul? Well, he’s a little behind on the local news, but one thing’s for sure—he’s not letting Beck get away this time.

First, though, he’ll have to keep her alive…

Now available from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, Kobo, and independent bookstores.

If you’re interested, the book’s soundtrack is here.


And if you’re in the mood for a VC Andrews homage, That Damn Werelion Book is now available too. November’s certainly a crackerjack of a month around here and there might be even more, so stay tuned…

Yes, All Souls

The holiday yesterday was just what I needed. My nerves were frayed down to bare wires, sparking dangerously–to be fair, this has happened with increasing frequency as the pandemic wears on. It’s still uncomfortable as all fuck, so taking a day is more of a necessity than a luxury.

It was flat-out wonderful. I did a surprise Halloween stream (reading my favorite all-weather Poe story to my darling viewers, it’ll be up on YouTube later today), ate a lot of candy, hung out with the kids…and, despite being barred from work, I moonlighted with a quasi-fanfic and wrote about a thousand words. Because my ideal reward for work is–you guessed it–MORE WORK.

But now it’s All Souls’, the blessed day of Clearance Candy (go forth and conquer, my friends) and the very first day of NaNoWriMo. This year I’m using the NaNo slot in my writing schedule for The Fall of Waterstone (which might be titled The Elder Jewel when it finally comes out), so fifty thousand words of epic fantasy in November is pretty much a given. The other slot this month is for Hell’s Acre. I am deeply annoyed at only being able to juggle two projects at once. If the goddamn fascists would quit and our public health “authorities” do something about the bloody pandemic, I could be back to juggling four projects at once. As it is, I’m swimming against the deep, awful current of stress from People Behaving Shittily.

Still, the morn is quiet and misty. We had a right proper deluge yesterday; I feel sorry for the poor candy-chasers. I’m sure a lot of them were disappointed. We’re used to rain in this part of the world, but still it’s kind of a misery when you’re a kid in a costume looking to score some sweet sweet sugar rush. Boxnoggin was also deeply nonplussed by the amount of water falling from the sky–his trips outside to relieve bladder pressure, usually long and full of celebratory sniffing in every corner, were instead quick and mournful. I’m sure this morning’s walkies will be altogether too damp for his liking, though the rain has temporarily halted and saturated soil is slowly draining.

There will be a sale for November; I’ll announce it in a bit. Right now I’m busy absorbing the last little bit of the morning’s caffeine jolt. My office window is closed but I can still hear a couple bluejays screaming–it’s probably Ed and Stede, though I thought they would have migrated or something by now. Maybe they’re bemoaning the fact that the Yankee Squirrel Flinger DEATHRIDE 5000 seems to have given up the ghost lately despite all the battery charging, and I really hesitate to get another with all the corporate price-gouging going on. Alas and alack.

I suppose I’d best start ambling towards toast. Despite the saturation outside, Boxnoggin is determined to get his walkies and has just pranced into my office, ready to nose me breakfast-ward. Goodness knows I can’t be trusted to keep to a schedule without his supervision, oh no.

Off I go then, my beloveds. I wish you happiness today–and many a good bargain on leftover spooky candy.

Back to Reading

Spent yesterday doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work–you know, the type of effort that’s necessary to prepare for forward movement, yet at the end of the day leaves one feeling rather like nothing’s moved at all. As a result, I went to bed feeling rather tetchy.

But it’s a new day, and I have exciting things to report. People seem to like Reading with Lili, and I’ve received a lot of requests–mostly polite, thank goodness–for more straightforward readings without the commentary and footnotes as well. The commentary seems to attract one set of viewers/listeners, but there are those who like a more truncated experience, or who would like to hear some of the text en clair, so to speak. So! I’ve started a Great Chapters playlist, where I’ll take the text I’ve dissected in a Reading with Lili session (or something else from the same book/work) and just…read it, straight through. I’ve started with the first chapter of Moby-Dick.

I did a lot of narration and video editing yesterday, so between now and Samhain there’ll be a new Great Chapters video daily to bring us up to speed. Then I’ll shift to doing a Reading with Lili stream at the usual time and shortly thereafter both the livestream and the “just-the-text-ma’am” will go up on YouTube. This feels like a good way to handle things for the foreseeable future.

This week’s Reading with Lili will be an examination of Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow, which is a fascinating collection, and I might even read a whole short story from it for the Great Chapters segment in honor of this year’s spoopytimes. (I also need to get out to the store and grab a few bags of candy for home consumption, hurrah.)

I only got about two hundred words apiece on both current writing projects, alas, but with everything else out of the way I can spend a little time with Hell’s Acre today, and a whole lot of time with The Fall of Waterstone, which may end up being titled The Elder Jewel. Not so sure about how it’ll eventually be named, which is usual at this point in the process. Getting my Viking elementalist to the throne room, where she will be called upon to give a message to an elvish king and might even pass out from despair, is the name of today’s game.

I’m also able to give more braincycles to just-plain-reading, which is a blessing. I finished Wilson’s The Thirty Years War, which felt like it took almost as long as the hostilities lasted to read, just last week. Last night I knocked off the final bit of Katharine Gerbner’s Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World, which was absolutely illuminating. The connections between Protestantism and white supremacy are deep, especially once the former crossed the Atlantic. One of the points Gerbner relentlessly makes and bolsters with fact is that originally, the term for “free” in the sugar islands (and on the American continents) was “Christian”; once a few transported and enslaved Africans converted and also gained legal manumission the process of creating whiteness as the category meaning “free” instead was kick-started. She also explains, patiently and in detail, how literacy was used by the enslaved to claw back some measure of freedom–with predictably violent responses from planters and enslavers, not to mention a complete abdication of responsibility by European missionaries. All in all, it was a fascinating read and answered a lot of questions about just why current white supremacy finds such a congenial home in evangelical (and even bog-standard) Christianity.

Next on my TBR pile is an ancient paperback of Dick Gregory’s No More Lies, which I’m really looking forward to. You’d think the pandemic would have given me more time to read, but the associated stress simply meant I couldn’t concentrate worth a damn and had to save all my resources for work. The plague isn’t over yet–far from–but I seem to have adjusted, to some degree. (Probably as a function of giving up any hope that people as a whole will Do the Right Thing, ever, unless and until they are forced by a lack of other options.) So I’m getting back into reading a few chapters of something not work-related before turning off the light, and it’s such a huge bloody relief.

I plan on getting Boxnoggin out for early walkies. The timing and the change in weather means we’ll probably miss any other dog walkers (thank the gods) though I’m sure plenty of cats, rabbits, and other prey animals will be out in force, which will mean dropping my center of gravity when the fool dog lunges. I have been half thinking of taking him on easy, gentle runs now that there’s absolutely no danger of him being too young for that sort of exercise, but I can’t trust him the way I did Bailey. He’s simply too reactive, still. Maybe another six months’ worth of patient training during walkies will ameliorate, I don’t know. And certainly the long rambles to wear him out are good for my health as well.

We had a terribly dry autumn, but that seems to be washed away now. About damn time; I hope the rain is reaching the local forest fires. I’m just glad not to be breathing smoke anymore. Of course next summer will probably be dreadful, but I’ve enough to worry about here-and-now without adding that anticipation to my poor frayed nerves. Suppose I’ll just deal with it when the time comes, like everything else.

And that’s my Thursday, beloveds. It’s time for some toast, and for getting the day moving in some approximation of the right direction.

I wish us both the very best of luck…