Dog-Day Retrenchment

Significant wordcount on Sons of Ymre 2 yesterday. I suspect the book is spiking for a finish and it can’t happen soon enough. I want the blasted thing done so I can throw it in a drawer to rest, finish a few other projects, and then come back to the mess. I know revisions will be hell–at least, the first round will, since there are a lot of notes in double brackets and I have to figure out the exact geographics. I know precisely where Book 1 was set though it’s not really mentioned in the text, but Book 2 is being somewhat cagey about the whole matter of location.

Of course, this book–like the last few–has had to endure somewhat acid-test conditions. The news cycle has not been kind to my productivity, nor to what passes for my sanity. And to top it all off there’s another heat advisory for today. I’ll be crouching in my office, hoping the AC doesn’t give out and feeling the sun press against my house-walls, attempting to slither through and strike.

All I want is for the rains to come back, and maybe some pumpkin spice.

Boxnoggin is sprawled on the office floor, listening to birdsong filtering through the window. At least it’s cool enough to open the house in the early mornings, changing out the air and bringing the temperature down. We won’t need to close windows until 10am or so. At least, that’s the hope.

I still have plans for the Moby Dick reading–Chapter 1, with commentary, it’ll probably be a two-parter–which still sounds like a lot of fun. And I’m still eyeing Filmora if I want to do certain other types of readings. I can’t believe I’m actually considering video editing; the entire prospect sounds like a deep circle of hell but the end result will be nice. (Like so much else in life.) And of course this will cut into what little spare time I have, but what else am I doing with it?

Watching true crime and scaring myself, that’s what. All sorts of ideas and observations are floating around inside my head; eventually I’ll stop blogging about the damn weather and move on to other things. I do like the throat-clearing aspect of blogging; it forces me to clear out the gunk and get the word-engines humming first thing in the morning, which is valuable. And I like the idea that a peek into the life of a working writer helps readers understand just what it takes to make these stories they enjoy.

Still, sometimes I think about…not blogging anymore. Or moving over to Pillowfort and doing a private journal, or or or. Don’t worry, I’ve no plans yet. It’s just that after near-daily blogging since ’05 or so (first on LJ, then on my own site mirrored to LJ, then my site got hacked, then just on my site after LJ was bought out and turned into a hive of villainy, then downloading and deleting everything before ’16 because it was getting unwieldy…) I might be ready for a change. It does rather seem a case of diminishing returns, like so much else authors are forced to do. I suppose I’ll continue as long as I like doing it, as with so many other things.

I’m not sorry I closed down comments, however. The daily sorting through spam and harassment on the back end reached nasty levels even with a few plugins mitigating the flood, and while I enjoyed the rest of the comment culture, dealing with the firehose of bullshit (largely invisible to readers, thank goodness) took too much time. I haven’t regretted shutting that off, and every time I realize I don’t have that particular chore to attend to my heart recovers a little of its usual song.

I suppose the end of summer is always a time of retrenchment, so to speak. Spring and the very tail-end of the dog days are good for looking at what one’s spending energy on and doing slight course corrections to avoid larger ones later.

The coffee has cooled and Boxnoggin is eager for walkies. I also need to get a run in before the heat becomes unbearable. The itch to go back to the second Sons book and just go until it’s done, no matter the cost, is steadily mounting. It will be nice to finish another zero draft; I need the dopamine hit from considering something “done for now”, even if the snapback will be deeply uncomfortable. Taking a break to talk about Melville (and his “NOTICE ME, SENPAI HAWTHORNE”) will be irksome but actually valuable, forcing me to take a break and rest the mental writing muscles. So…maybe I’ll slap on some extra eyeliner and do that today if the book doesn’t behave. Maybe.

Basically things are up in the air, and I won’t know what the hell until I arrive somewhere. You’d think that with as much time as I spend in this particular state it would be old hat, but it’s a surprise each time. Maybe once the caffeine soaks into my starving tissues things will appear differently. They generally do, after all.

See you around.

Back to Business

The sun is a bit above the horizon, but it’s still dim under the firs. The cedars along the back fence are limned with gold, though, and the coffee tastes pretty divine. I’ve got book pages to add to the site (Spring’s Arcana is up for preorder, my goodness) and there’s next month’s release to plan for as well as October’s–at least, if I get these CEs turned around there’ll be an October release. Just in time for spooky season!

The advent of autumn is bringing bit of renewed energy. The nights are reasonable sleeping temperature again, and hopefully we won’t have many more gasping-hot days before the rains arrive and I can be truly productive. I love water falling from the sky, it’s partly why I live on this slice of the globe. I mean, there’s also the lack of venomous bite-y things, but that’s a smaller consideration. Generally the bite-y things and I observe an armed truce; they leave me alone, I return the favor wholesale and with relish.

Boxnoggin has had a rather rough weekend, and is sulking on my bed. Oh, he got all his usual treats and walkies and pets, but I’ve had to leave the past few mornings to look after a friend’s menagerie while they were out of town and Lord van der Sploot did not like that, no sir, not one bit. Now that we’re back to the regular schedule he’ll settle in and cheer up, but he’s extremely unhappy with any disruption in routine as only a toddler can be. He got a treat and pets each time I returned, but I think he smelled other animals on me (not my fault, cats are affectionate and chickens are, well, chickens) and wished I’d take him along to make acquaintance.

The thought of the chaos such a maneuver would cause is hilarious, sure. Especially with the turkey. (Yes, there was a turkey. No, it did not attempt murder this time.) But also, it makes me tired.

It’s going to be a busy week. I’d like to get the Moby Dick reading on Twitch at least half done, the CEs of the second Ghost Squad book need to be turned around, and there’s wordcount to get in on the serial and the second Sons of Ymre before I have to add revising Cold North to the mix. Plus there’s website updates to do and I’d really like to at least do a trial reading of some Victorian erotica.

Still not sure if I’m going to put that last item on an OnlyFans, or a dedicated YouTube channel. I mean, I have this paperback of The Pearl lying about, and it’ll be great training to see if I can keep a straight face all the way through. I won’t be dressing up, however–it’ll probably be strictly audio, with perhaps a static image or two as the visual component. There’s a certain amount of fun to be had in reading high-grade historical smut in a low, even tone while wearing schlubby sweats.

I suppose I should see if Filmoria will work for that sort of thing. Hrm. The world apparently wants me to learn some kind of video editing, though I hate it. We’ll see.

I’m happiest while writing, second happiest while revising and the like, and just generally content when I’ve too much work to handle. Consequently, September’s going to be a banner month–but I have to get through the last few days of August to get there, and they promise to be jam-packed.

The sun has reached a gap in the cedars, and the coffee has cooled. Boxnoggin has decided sulking won’t get him anything and is shaking his collar, preparatory to trotting down the hall to check on me. I’m in running togs, which is a good sign as far as he’s concerned, but he’s very unsure whether or not the garage door is going to open and Mum disappear for a few hours. He would very much prefer not, thank you very much; a run is one thing but leaving in the car quite another. He’ll be all right once it’s clear we’re back to business as usual, though I’m sure he’ll miss the extra treats.

Let us gird ourselves for Monday, my beloveds. It’s a deadly day, but we outnumber it and I’ve got the baseball bat handy. Upward and inward, excelsior, and all that.

Attend to Stitching

Yesterday I freshened up the ol’ eyeliner, got the new microphone situated, and did what I’ve been threatening–a reading of My Immortal. I lasted seven chapters, and though they are very short chapters, the fic absolutely broke me. To be fair it was one of the author’s notes that did me in, and I ended up somewhat helpless with laughter. So now I can say I’ve done it, just like I can say I managed all the way through Eye of Argon.

The next Reading with Lili session will be the first chapter of Moby Dick1, with commentary. I really want other people to know what an absolute BANGER the book is, and offer some commentary. It probably won’t be as popular as the first two reads, but that’s okay. I’m really only doing this to please myself. it might have to be broken up into two sessions, because while it’s only three-four pages in my Norton Critical edition, the type is pretty small and there’s a lot going on.2

The only danger in the reading is that I’ll have to drop the history I’m working my way through and go through Moby Dick again. My headcanon is that Queequeg survived, and reached his own island where he was a king again, dreaming of his lost love. Because he did love Ishmael.3

Ahem. I have strong feelings about the book, which is strange. I’d attempted Billy Budd and Moby Dick in high school, but bounced hard off both. Years later, after coming across a certain Twitter bot, I attempted the latter again and was pleasantly surprised, not to mention somewhat overwhelmed. It’s a wild ride; I can’t wait to enthuse over it with you.

Yesterday was rather warm and today promises to be the same, but–thankfully–not so bad that I’ll have to close up the house and turn the AC on. Boxnoggin loves this weather; the rest of us are waiting (with varying degrees of desperation) for autumn. I’m a pumpkin spice bitch all the way to my core, and I need the rains. It’ll be another month before we have a good soaking, and I’m already fidgety with anticipation.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print this morning, beloveds. There’s walkies to get through and a run to accomplish, the weekly subscription stuff to load, and I was disturbed by rendering aid late yesterday afternoon so I have to spend correspondingly longer today with Sons of Ymre 2. The CEs for the second Ghost Squad book have dropped, and a little bird told me The Dead God’s Heart is now up for preorder. Once I have actual cover art I’ll do up book pages for that duology. My work is cut out on a Thursday; now I must attend to stitching.

See you around.

Time and Amusement

Woke up with Joe Cocker playing inside my head again–all weekend it’s been Bye Bye Blackbird, which features rather heavily on The Dead God’s Heart soundtrack. Not only that, but it played while I was driving home t’other day, all the windows down and sixty mph roaring through. It’s a song for end of summer; I think I’ve also had my last Pink Floyd until next spring.

I just can’t listen to the latter when the nights are long or the days are grey.

The morning is quiet, Boxnoggin is very ready for walkies but has prioritized a nap on my bed first. He even got a bath this weekend, poor fellow. He dries very quickly, slick-coated gentleman that he is, but good heavens he haaaaates not being stinky. I could run him through the mud with the hose and he’d be chuffed, but warm water and soap? Get thee behind him. Fortunately he also knows there’s no use in protesting–if Bailey couldn’t weasel her way out of getting bathed he has no chance, and I think she probably informed him haughtily of that at least a million times.

There’s a great deal of work to get done this week. I also have to test the new microphone for streaming/reading. My daughter is absolutely THRILLED that I’ll be reading at least the first chapter of My Immortal. I still don’t know what this thing is, though she’s given me a link; I will, like with Eye of Argon, go in completely cold. The only thing I’ve been told about this is that it’s a piece of fanfic, so…I don’t know quite what I’m bracing for, but it’s sure to be something.

I also found out who sent me Edmund the King Raven–one of my lovely beta readers took credit, so I have thanked her kindly. (You’re a peach, J.P.!) I think he might help me with this reading fanfic-thing. We’ll see.

The new microphone means I might do some other tracks, just reading Victorian erotica in a soothing voice. If all goes well that may be one more side project I offer, but I’m going to have to test to make sure I can keep a straight face through some of it. I know I’m a champion–my kids absolutely trained me to Olympic level on that front–but I suspect some bawdy bits of The Pearl might undo me. Ruining half a dozen perfectly good takes with giggles will put rather a damper on the whole project, since the time investment will become prohibitive even if the amusement factor is high.

But I’m thinking about it, my beloveds. My brain is full of ideas.

The day’s work is pretty much cut out for me–Gemma and Avery have a bit of a walk in Hell’s Acre, and the second Sons of Ymre is heading for the finish line. I need to write the lead-up to the great crisis now, since the couple from the first book have shown up and that will kick off the endgame. If I can get through reasonable wordcount on both I’ll drag out the new microphone and do a few tests. It’ll be nice to stream without my headset on, but first we’ll have to see if this works.

Always a catch.

There’s also walking Boxnoggin to be dealt with, and getting my own corpse run before the heat builds. I’m beginning to think I have a shot at catching up to a couple deadlines, and maybe even as a whole. That would be a welcome change from the first half of the year. I’d love to feel like I’m not all the way behind and desperately scrabbling.

Targets are acquired, Monday is on notice. I suppose I’d best get to toast before the morning gets older.

See you around.

Heavy Work, No Rain

There is a lens of cloud from horizon to horizon, I have that Sting song in my head, and it hasn’t cooled off overnight. It’s sticky, and clingy, and though I’m pretty happy the giant nuclear eye in the sky is covered, my lungs would like a word with atmospheric conditions. Ah well.

Today is Thursday, which means a subscription drop. Also, I have Big Dreams of reading the second half of Eye of Argon to you all this afternoon. So my schedule is jam-packed, and I ought to get Boxnoggin walked before it gets even more stifling. I long for a storm, some rain, thunder, anything to break the tension. Of course, poor Box wouldn’t like loud skybooms at all, so it’s probably best there are none in the forecast.

Yesterday was productive…sort of. It was a day of several catch-up tasks taking bites of time, so by the end everything was neatly arranged but I felt no real progress had been made. It didn’t help that I had to rip out and remodel the last 5k written in Sons of Ymre 2, since the story calmly let me know–at 3am, in fact, while I was busy trying to sleep–that it wanted to go in a completely different direction and I’d best catch up if I had any intention of finishing the damn thing.

I wasn’t mad. Well, not very mad. Okay, I was irritated beyond belief, but the feeling is great fuel and wouldn’t have changed anything anyway. So that’s done, and the last quarter of the manuscript is all set up for breathless action and maybe a cameo by the couple from the previous book. It will be hell to revise from zero to first draft, but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And I also need to block out the next assassination attempt in Hell’s Acre. I need a few more scenes of the serial done and dusted before I shift to revising the Tolkien Viking Werewolves.

At least with the house closed up tight against the heat Boxnoggin isn’t alerting to the roofing happening down the street. Ours is done–thank every god that ever was or will be–but one of the neighbors is getting a new topper for their own domicile, and the hammering, not to mention the ripping and nail guns, sends Lord van der Sploot into a positive cascade of “OMG MUM DID YOU HEAR THAT, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, ALERT, ALERT, FIRE, FLOOD, SMOOOOOOOG!”

Poor fellow. He means well.

I’m trying not to look at the news cycle, with varying degrees of success on an hourly basis. The best vengeance is continuing my work, and all that. It might clear up in a bit, so I’d best get moving. The last thing I need is heatstroke added to everything else. I’m really looking forward to reading to you all today; Eustace has been positively beside himself wondering what happens to Gringr the Ginger Barbarian. I would’ve thought he’d be more interested in the Girl with the Golden Brassiere, but there’s no accounting for taste.

Onward, upward, excelsior, into the breach and all that. May we all survive Thursday intact, my beloveds.

Let’s get started.

ETA: The Demon’s Librarian sale will go on next month; there were some Technical Difficulties. My apologies, my friends.

Past the Crest

I’m choosing to find more things hilarious these days. It’s a welcome change, even if the laughter has somewhat of a scream-y edge. As a coping mechanism, it’s better than many others.

Not much work got done yesterday, but correspondence and a video meeting were dealt with, so there’s that. I might be doing a livestream reading of The Eye of Argon in the near future. (Blame Curtis for this one. HE’S RESPONSIBLE, IT’S NOT MY FAULT.) I know of the novella, certainly, but I’ve never read it before. So I’d be doing it completely cold, until I can’t go on or the story is finished. It sounds like a good bit of fun, and I’ll keep the recording up for a couple weeks. I might even ask Eustace the sock monkey (my newsletter readers know all about him) or Clara the rubber vulture for help during it. (Harlowe, Eustace’s best friend, isn’t interested.) So there’s that.

I also got the most hilarious review late yesterday evening. Normally I don’t look at reviews, but I happened to glance at a certain werelion book‘s page while updating some info and…well, apparently picking a VC Andrews-esque cover, crafting breathlessly purple copy to go with it, and OPENLY saying “this book is an homage to the wonderful nuttery that the writer of Flowers in the Attic was known for” wasn’t enough to warn some people, and they might be…shocked. Or startled.

Good. I don’t know how to signal any more clearly “there are nutbar hijinks in this book”–one would have thought the shamelessly brazen pseudonym alone would give it away–but here we are. Do not get me wrong–it’s a fabulous review, it shows that I did exactly what I set out to do, and I am utterly grateful for this particular Reader, not to mention all the others. I’m absolutely chuffed. I could not have asked for better feedback, and I am still giggling like a mad chipmunk this morning every time I think about it.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing one not only understood the assignment, but knocked it out of the park.

Also, it smelled like rain this morning. There won’t be any, we’re still in the dog days and the sky is that pale shade presaging a very dry, warm afternoon. But we’re past the crest of summer and it’s all downhill toward autumn’s damp from here, and I’m ready. So, so ready. The first real rains will probably trigger a great burst of productivity from me, which is grand. I need it.

It’s probably over a month away, too, but at least I can look forward to the event.

My coffee has cooled, Boxnoggin cleaned his breakfast bowl for once (the dab of bacon grease in the bottom might have something to do with it), and there is a cool draught from my office window. The birds are calling every once in a while, readying themselves for the day, and the birdbath has seen a great deal of action already to judge by the peanut shells littering its bottom. I’ll clean that out before I go on a run.

I wish you a pleasant day, my beloveds. Try to laugh a bit, if you can. Everything is absurd and we’re all locked in the same room for a while.

Might as well enjoy it.

Kicking Small Rocks

The heat broke early yesterday, high pressure unraveling as another front swept in. My sinuses are deeply unhappy, but the rest of me is very glad not to be trapped in a sweatbox. So…silver linings, I suppose. Even Boxnoggin was getting a bit slow and sleepy under recent conditions; this morning, however, he is right back to his old bouncy self. Walkies are going to be great fun, since he has a couple day’s worth of sluggishness to work off.

I haven’t quite been laid low by heat exhaustion either, which is grand. It’s meant a lot of crouching in air-conditioned darkness, working at only half speed and guarding my rest time with the vigor of a hoard-squatting dragon. It’s hard to tell people no, especially the ones I care about, and at the same time I have got to either catch up with work or at least not fall further behind. Not to mention focusing on work is significantly better for me than, say, watching the news cycle.

Yes, I did see the FBI executing a search warrant on Cheetolini’s palatial Florida retreat. I’m not going to celebrate until the orange blivet suffers some actual consequences. I am fully aware that might be never, due to America’s love affair with and rewarding of narcissistic abusers in positions of power. There have been too many years–all my life, frankly–of seeing the bastards get away with anything as long as they can lie brazenly enough.

But I am smiling, just a bit, as I sip my coffee.

Hell’s Acre is coming along. There are some interesting wrinkles I didn’t quite plan, and I think I’m going to have to set aside one of my very favorite scenes. I knew it was a throat-clearing when I wrote it, so it’s not exactly a surprise that it won’t make the cut into the finished zero. But I love it so much and it pains me a bit to move it from “handhold” status–as in, this is a scene I know will fit in, so I’m actively working towards it–to “bits and bobs”, the name of the graveyard where I stick scenes and bits that didn’t make it into the zero just in case they’re needed for other nefarious purposes. Bits and bobs functions partly like a net catching fallen performers, and partly like a compost heap for ideas that didn’t quite make it this time but have a place somewhere.

Still, I’m a little resentful. I love the scene so much, and it won’t get its chance to shine unless a great deal about the book changes in the next week or so. I will be doing the equivalent of kicking small rocks and muttering vexed things for a bit after I move it, but I can always go back and reread when I need a bit of cheering.

I got some good wordcount on Sons of Ymre 2 yesterday as well, but I think I might have to rip out and remodel bits of the last scene written. The “hero” made a pretty interesting choice under conditions of duress, and I need to think about what that means. I expected him to throw himself at the tentacled monster, but he went in an entirely different direction. Not a bad direction, mind you, since there were already a half-dozen people dealing with said monster and the “hero” (quotes are definitely needed, he has not quite redeemed himself the whole way yet) decided to look at everything else happening in the room before acting, which is a rare and wonderful bucking of his usual trend. So I need to make sure that particular choice is happening for the right reasons, and figure out why on earth he would surprise me so.

Characters, man. You get these imaginary people inside your head, you feed and water them, you set them in a particular universe…and then they have the cheek to go do things you didn’t expect. I mean, it’s a sign that all things are working as they should and the story is behaving in an organic fashion, sure. It’s also frustrating as all get-out when one starts internally screaming “why would you DO that” and the imaginary people simply smirk, folding their arms.

Boxnoggin has pranced into the office twice now, attempting to get me moving toward toast. I can spend the time during walkies (and exercising my own shambling corpse at a slightly higher speed) putting the day’s work into various mental boxes, so I’m ready when I finally settle to it. And I can keep telling myself I’m not really behind, there was just a damn werelion VC Andrews homage book that happened.

…my life is weird, yes, but I like it. Quite a bit, in fact.

Happy Tuesday, beloveds. At least it doesn’t feel like Monday again. Small mercies…