Kaia Steelflower meant to spend her winter resting, but the high price upon the head of her barbarian companion Redfist has drawn her out of safety and through the northern passes to the Highlands.
Bandits, blood, and treachery, Kaia’s seen it all before. But something else lingers in the snowy wastes north of the mountain Rim. Ancient power has found a new host, plans have been laid for rebellion, and the giants of Skaialan do not take kindly to foreigners. Saving Rainak Redfist will demand all the skill, strength, and cunning the Steelflower can muster; saving herself–and her new princeling husband–might be impossible.
Winter in the Highlands is brutal, and it’s only just begun…
Please do not email me with scolding or asking for other formats. Again, once the sales channels propagate, Steelflower at Sea should be available through Kindle, Nook, and the like, but for right now, buying direct from yours truly is the best way to get it.
I am at work on Book 4, tentatively titled The Highlands War. But it’s far down on the list and I won’t get to it for a while. In the meantime, enjoy Kaia’s adventures among the mad Northern giants. Many thanks to Skyla Dawn Cameron, without whom Kaia would never have made her return. Go buy a book or some cover art to thank her, hmmm?
I’m going to go do my usual release-day run and soak my head in a bucket to get rid of nerves. Or, at least, to try to get rid of nerves. Even a head-bucketing might not do the trick.
I finished the big push of Steelflower in Snow revisions yesterday. Today is for writing cover copy, formatting, all the minutiae that attends upon packaging a book. Filling out the ISBN information, getting the title page done up, page count once the PDF proof has all its bells and whistles attached…these are things a publisher does, and doing them oneself is time-consuming but necessary. That’s why writers often job that particular set of tasks out to trad publishers, it’s just so much easier with an economy of scale going on.
As soon as I have ordering information, you guys will know. It’s been a long hard road to get here, and I’m not at all sure I can continue with The Highlands War, but at least this book is coming out. Patreon and Gumroad subscribers have already had teasers and tastes, and I can’t wait for devoted Readers to finally know the first half of what happens to Kaia in the cold, cold north.
The dogs are somewhat upset that I’m not running this morning, but frankly, after yesterday I doubt I could find my way home if I go a block or two the wrong direction. If I can get cover copy done and finalized today it will be somewhat of a miracle.
That said, I should go stare at a blank page for a little bit. I do have a skeleton of cover copy hidden somewhere, I just have to figure out where. Wish me luck, huh?
This morning brought a leisurely breakfast with the Princess. We haven’t seen each other for a couple days, so it’s good to catch up, even though both of us are coughing, hacking, and filling wastebaskets with used tissues at a truly alarming rate. The dogs were glad both of us were in the same place for an extended period–they hate when anyone leaves, and both canines want to herd the hoomins into a tight bunch so they can supervise with little effort.
So the Little Prince was off to school and the remaining monkeys were in the same room, which sort of balanced everything out. Now, however, we’ve separated to begin our days, which means Sir Boxnoggin is trotting up and down the hall and Miss B is curled next to my chair, eyeing me reproachfully. Why, oh why, can I not stay where she places me?
In any case, I’m not as physically miserable as I was Sunday, and feeling better than yesterday. The Princess is a couple days behind me on this cold cycle, so today will probably be the worst. Thankfully, she can spend it on the couch with a box of tissues and plenty of liquids.
I might even make triple-garlic chicken soup for dinner. We all sorely need it.
Incorruptible continues apace, and revisions on Steelflower in Snow do too. If I can get the “Karnaugh” section of the latter revised, I’ll count it a day well spent. I’ve decided the next serial will be the gunslinger story, so I should start making preparations for that, too. A placeholder cover will be fun to do once I accomplish everything else today.
And maybe, once all that is done, I can make another pair of super shiny earrings. I’m experimenting with cup chain, which is sparkly but finicky. And so. many. jump. rings. I must have wasted at least six trying to get everything connected on yesterday’s pair.
But the finickiness is so worth it, since these were EXACTLY what I wanted. Bright, swinging armor. I can’t wait to make more of them, frankly. People keep asking if I’m going to sell them on Etsy, and if I get to a place where I’m comfortable about my craftsmanship, I’ll probably put a few pairs up. It seems like a cool way to lose a little cash, and better than shipping books around.
So that’s my day. I might shoehorn a run in, too, if I get really ambitious. But for now, it’s time to brush my teeth, make some more coffee, and get down to Incorruptible.
Saturday I attended the Taste of Style with a friend, and while that was nice, I woke up Sunday morning with my head full of snot and my entire body aching. The first (let’s hope it’s the last) cold of the season has arrived, and certainly wasn’t helped by my silly (but entirely adult) decision to have a drink with early dinner and a couple glasses of gallery-opening-quality wine.
Apparently I am not allowed to drink at all, according to my body, and murder causes paperwork, so I’m going to have to find a different way of coping with the current political situation.
Being physically miserable kind of put a dent in the housework I wanted to do yesterday, but nobody’s going to die if I don’t dust. I got the dogs brushed, the upstairs hoovered, and the my laundry was already done, so I called it a win and spent most of the day staring vaguely into the distance while fumbling for a box of tissues.
The good kind, with lotion. Don’t ever skimp on your kids, your books, your asswipe, or your nosewipe, my friends. If I’ve learned anything from adulthood, it’s that.
Today is the drop-dead date for starting Steelflower in Snow revisions.1 I’m thinking that will be released late October or early December, since November is set aside for a completely different book.2
I’ve also been playing around with placeholder covers, like for Incorruptible.
Of course everyone I showed versions to said my name needs to be bigger, but that feels like hubris. And don’t worry, this book isn’t out yet. I may even do it as a serial, I haven’t decided yet.
In any case, I have some cold medication to swallow and the dogs to wear out. Since I couldn’t run or ramble yesterday, they are both fidgety as fuck, needing something or another to bleed off that excess energy. I won’t be able to move very quickly, but at least sniffing all sorts fo interesting new smells will keep them occupied and give them something to process when they collapse for a nap.
Nap. That sounds good. But I’ve miles to go before I sleep, even for a bare twenty minutes.
All right, Monday. We’re not going to hurt each other, right?
I walked away from social media last week after finishing the revisions, and it was…pretty nice. The Maiden’s Blade is now back with the editor, and I thought I’d give it a couple days before diving into the next huge task.
Instead, I spent a few days watching documentaries, cleaning the house, and spending long dinner hours with the kids. I kept glaring at my to-do list, hoping that something on it would begin to sound vaguely do-able, but I was so drained and exhausted the thought of starting another round of revisions–or pushing to complete a zero draft–made me want to spill out of my chair and rest, weeping aimlessly, on the office floor.
So, yeah. It was time to do some cleaning. All the loose paper is off my desk and filed, I hoovered twice, plants have been watered and the kitchen scrubbed, the windowsills have been dusted and polished, I drank a LOT of coffee, and the dogs got twice-daily walkies.
Which all means I’m ready for something new on a Monday. The next thing on my list is Steelflower 3 revisions–at least that bloody zero is done–but I might spent the day working on Incorruptible instead. I’m in the mood for writing romance, and I’ve got the main characters in a truck heading west. It’s about time to start getting them into trouble, and maybe I can stage a shootout in a nice hotel or two today. Or a falling elevator, that would be swell. Add in a car accident and there will be lots of room for love to flower, right?
…I may have to just write the action bits, I’m not sure it’s in me to write any smexxors today. Though, as I’ve said before, the two are very close–you want tension rising to a crescendo1 and a short curve downward after. Tension, explosion, falling action.
Regardless, it’s time for another jolt of coffee, some deep breathing, and getting my running shoes laced. Sir Boxnoggin needs some fidgets burned off, and Miss B might even get to come along if she promises to behave reasonably.
She probably won’t, but that’s a problem for later. Right now I’m off for more coffee.
On Monday, I added net 8k words to The Maiden’s Blade in the process of getting the last third revised. Yesterday morning I finished a few small detail bits and sent the whole shebang off to my editor, who was no doubt relieved that I hadn’t run away with the manuscript clenched firmly in my jaws never to return.
I mean, I thought about it, but the prospect of carrying that 180k motherfucker for even a mile makes me tired. I spent the rest of yesterday doing errands and staring at a Resident Evil movie or two.
Today I am a bear of exceeding little brain, and will be folding laundry or doing other chores that don’t require much in the way of decision-making. I am all decided out, my friends. And tomorrow I move to the next thing on my list–revisions on the next Steelflower book.
No rest for the wicked or the weary, but there might be a day of little brain to perform all the minutiae of daily life that adds up when you spend weeks buried inside an epic fantasy. Things need to be dusted, hoovered, washed, dried, put away instead of just in a pile. The dogs, no doubt, will be very interested in the process, and Sir Boxnoggin in particular will want to help.
He is a dog of Very Much Help. If his nose isn’t in whatever you’re doing, just wait thirty seconds. Miss B, today, is a Dog of Very Much Herding, and she is nipping at Boxnoggin’s heels to induce him to be Even More Helpful.
…I’m already tired. Maybe I should go back to bed. Except then the dogs would pile on, and any rest I achieved short-lived indeed.
Onward and upward, my friends. Onward and upward, over and out.
I needed some time off from eighteen-hour revision days, so my writing partner said, “Lacey. Let’s go to Lacey.” What the hell is in Lacey, you ask? LOTS OF STUFF.
For example, there’s Shipwreck Beads. A warehouse. Of beads and beading supplies. Lest you think, well, that’s not so amazing, let me just reiterate: a WAREHOUSE. Bigger than my own domicile. In fact, multiple domiciles stacked on top of each other, because there were two floors. (We did not head upstairs, the bottom floor was more than enough for multiple hours of browsing.) I’m glad we made a circuit once, looking over everything, and then decided on purchases, because if we’d taken a cart (yes, they have CARTS, for BEADS) neither of us would have gotten out with any money left at all.
I sent that picture to the kids, and the Little Prince responded with, “You’re hitting the right…beads!”
Punning is apparently in his genetic code.
Anyway, once our endurance was exhausted there we broke for lunch and found the continent’s sketchiest Mexican restaurant right next to a biker garage. (The number of Harleys in the shared parking lot was approaching critical mass.) We also found a much less sketchy restaurant, and if I could ever drink tequila that would have been the place for it.
*sigh* I can’t drink at all anymore, but it’s nice to contemplate, I guess.
“I just wanted to see your eyes out on sticks,” my writing partner said, and they were. That particular Cabela’s is warehouse-sized too, but an order of magnitude larger than Shipwreck. And it was packed, both with goods and with people. You could do a lot worse than settle on one of the benches there and people-watch, listening for dialogue snippets. (All things feed the work.)
In the middle of the vast space was a two-story fake hill covered with taxidermy animals. Yes, you read that right.
What I didn’t take a picture of, though I should have, is the hollowed-out interior of the hill, where the aquariums are. Sturgeon, trout both rainbow and speckled, pike–and big fish, too, just swimming around. Oh, and catfish. Boy howdy, were there ever catfish. I’m pretty sure that when the poor things get large enough they’re hauled out and consumed by the employees. There was even a polar bear (shot in 1970, according to the placard) and–are you ready?–a whole zebra, which was not on the fake hill but on a platform jutting out from the mezzanine.
We did not see a huge chunk of pink camo, which my writing partner assures me is otherwise a staple of the place. (She was a bit put out by this, to tell the truth.) But I scored some good hoodies for a fair price, which is what I wanted out of the place. Now, along with new jeans, I’m totally ready for winter. Which is good, because today began with grey skies and glorious rain, finally.
The weirdest thing about Cabela’s was in the loo. There was a biohazard sharps container on the wall, and it was pretty full. We figured there’s probably a lot of diabetes in their customer base, because it had a bunch of blood sugar testing strips among the insulin needles.
Cabela’s is also where my writing partner found a stuffed wolverine while I was writing Weasel Boy. I had to go by and say hello.
We returned home with plenty of crafting materials, a squeaky rabbit toy for Sir Boxnoggin, a smoked rawhide bone for Miss B (which she is guarding assiduously while I type this) and various other odds and ends. It was good to get out of the bloody revisions for a little bit, all the characters were starting to blur together and I needed something other than chewing the bones of an epic fantasy for a few hours. And now, of course, along with proper hoodies I’ll live in come winter I have enough earring material for MONTHS.
Today, of course, it’s back to the grind of revision–taking each sentence, turning it upside down, shaking it, using a scalpel to pare it down to bone. I’ll work better for having had a brief break, and I might even get this bloody revision done. I’m so far in the weeds I can’t even think about what it will feel like to have this book off my plate, and it irks me every time I look at my task list.
So that was my weekend, my hoopy froods. I hope yours was similarly enchanting and terrifying.