Attempting Recovery, Again

I finished the zero draft of Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book) this past weekend, and stick a fork in me, I’m done. My wrists are hashed, my brain is liquid–the last day’s push to get the book out settled at 10.7k wordcount, which is a bit excessive even for me–and my back aches, but at least the zero is done and I won’t have to write it ever again.

Revise it, sure. Take it through copyedits and proofs, yeah. But I won’t ever have to produce this particular zero ever again, and the thought makes me feel like singing.

Consequently I’m taking today off. Well, as much as I ever take a day off. Thursday looms large this week; there’s going to be a lot of food and I should start prepping now. Plus I didn’t get regular household chores done this past weekend because I was busy with Klemp and Beck’s story, not to mention setting up Book 3, which is Tax’s. (You guys are gonna love him.)

So today will be all about watching documentaries, cleaning, preparing for Thursday’s feast, and adding to the list of last-minute items needing to be acquired tomorrow. I won’t be leaving the house for a while after Tuesday’s planned trip, because Black Friday looms and I’m not about to deal with that ruckus during a pandemic, no sir.

I’d write more, but my hands ache. So I’ll simply bid you a civil adieu for the day, my beloveds, and go attempt recovery. It always takes three times as long as one thinks it will, and is dreadfully uncomfortable to boot. I had planned to get some damn revisions in this month too; I suppose there’s still time.

Just not today. In fact, once the dogs are walked, my sole overarching desire will be to go back to bed, and everything I attempt recovery-wise will only be marking time until I can crawl back into that warm safety.

See you around, beloveds.

Covers and Schedules, Oh My

Oh look, The Bloody Throne has a cover! Whew. I’m still waiting for the author’s copies, which will mean the series is all the way done instead of just mostly done, but it’s very nice to reach each semi-final milestone.

Winter–such as it is in the Pacific Northwest–has arrived. The first line of real, lovely storms moved in, dumping rain and stripping plenty of leaves. The clinging remainders are brightly colored, as a rule; there are bits of wet flame everywhere. The dogs are extremely glad for the heated mattress topper1 on my bed; Miss B’s old bones and Boxnoggin’s slick coat mean they both enjoy the heat on “their” side.

Yes, they have a whole side of the bed. In the first place, I’m a sucker. In the second place, they’ll alert me of hijinks and intruders, and that’s part of their job.

They work hard, the fuzzy little brats.

I spent the weekend with kitchen chemistry. My candymaking is improving by leaps and bounds, mostly due to having the proper tools. It’s been a real journey of, “Oh, this is why they recommend using one of these! Who knew?”

I did not work on the NaNoWriMo book more than lightly. Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book, for those playing along at home) is moving right along. It’s about time for the first real danger, which I think will be cut brake lines.

I just have to figure out what in hell the cutter of said brake lines is bloody well thinking. They’re utterly convinced of the rightness of this course of action, while I’m mystified. They’ll tell me in a bit, I’m sure, I just have to trust the Muse knows what the hell she’s doing when she insists on something like this.

Never been wrong yet, but there’s always a first time.

I also have to reserve a significant amount of time today for revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I’m getting to the point where I distrust both projects, revising or in the process of creation, which is normal at their respective parts of the process but hardly comfortable, especially when I’m staring at the NaNo book and muttering, “why the fuck did I think I could do this, who the fuck do I think I am, everyone is going to hate this book, YOU MIGHT AS WELL STOP WRITING NOW, LILI.”

Plus ça change, and all that. Plus there’s the pressure of other deadlines looming. My ability to distinguish between “deadline RIGHT NOW” and “deadline a little later” is all caddywumpus, despite all the scheduling software I use to keep on track. (I like Cushion.) I thought I could also work on Jake’s book (Sons of Ymre #2) at the same time, but instead of being able to juggle four projects at once I’m down to two slots during the day when I can give my full attention to things.

I’m torn between “lo, how the mighty have fallen” and “this goddamn pandemic, we could have been past this by now if YOU PEOPLE2 would just cooperate.” Neither are particularly comfortable.

At least there’s some rain. Most mornings are nice and grey, just the way I like them. Boxnoggin is definitely not pleased by that, but he loves the occasional blaze in the fireplace, cuddles on the couch, and (of course) the heated mattress topper, which sometimes I turn on during the day for his napping pleasure.

There are good things in this season, even for a summer dog.

My scheduling app informs me that it’s time to swill the rest of this coffee and get the canines walked. We’re a bit early this morning, because there’s a lot to do. I suppose I should get started.

Let’s hope our respective Mondays behave, my dearests. If not, I’ve got that ashwood Louisville Slugger ready.

It’s nice to have a plan.

Goodbye, September

Yesterday the full canine complement of Chez Saintcrow was washed, dried, and flea-treated, the grocer’s and pet store were visited for supplies, linens and towels were washed as well, a great deal of other housework was done, and the copyedits on Sons of Ymre #1 were finished. There’s a few final global changes to fold in on the very last, but those are tiny and it’s ready to be sent off and turned into proofs.

And I am so fatigued I had difficulty sleeping. Apparently I’m in the stage of burnout (yes, by now I’m sure it’s not The Plague™) where I’m too wound up for proper rest and just have to push for pure exhaustion to grant me some surcease. If I play my cards right and do the proper kind of work in the proper proportion today, that might happen this evening.

I’m hopeful.

I also received an amusingly nasty missive yesterday, telling me to “shut up about politics and just write [stories]”. I am baffled how the letter writer thinks any of my work is divorced from politics, since I happen to be a human being, and have no intention of hiding my thoughts on the state of the world. Honestly, the things some people will say, thinking the internet grants them anonymity. (Spoiler: IT DOESN’T.) I had to laugh at the absurdity.

On a brighter note, as a treat and reward for finishing CEs, I got myself a subscription to the Criterion Channel, which I’ve been eyeing for some time and saving pennies out of the budget for. I’ve loved their Kurosawa and Kieslowski collections, and am looking forward to diving into the rest of their offerings. After I finish prepping this week’s subscription drop, I might settle with a plate of brownies, plus some cold milk, and watch something black-and-white. (Probably an Ingmar Bergman.)

Hopefully it will be soothing enough that I can crawl into bed early and do something more than just toss and turn. Come tomorrow (October approacheth, good heavens, where on earth did September go? Pandemic time is an elastic rollercoaster) I have to turn all my engines–such as they are, straining and whining–to the proofs of the final Hostage to Empire book. Maybe after that’s marked up and sent back I can take a slightly longer break. (Spoiler: Probably not.)

Miss B and Boxnoggin are no longer damp, but both are a bit perturbed at smelling like shampoo instead of their usual doggy selves. It must be a bit like vanishing; heaven knows when I can’t smell the world due to nasal drip I feel somewhat adrift. They’ll be back to their usual healthy aroma in no time, though, and today’s walkies will no doubt help with that. I’m seriously dragging, but they have kindly allowed me to consume a double jolt of coffee without insisting to be taken around the block posthaste, for which I am utterly grateful. I think they can sense my exhaustion.

I also have an idea for yet another romance novel, which I should stick in a fresh Scrivener doc and set aside to marinate just in case. My romance editor likes suspense, and this one’s a dilly. The brain never stops, even when trembling on the edge of deep burnout. I suppose I’m just not built to rest.

At least there’s lovely grey cloud-cover today and the prospect of rain later. If I had to deal with summer temps and the associated ills I might well turn into a puddle and save all the pearl-clutchers trouble by expiring from pure heatstroke.

And with that, my tongue firmly in cheek and my temper thoroughly reined by sheer tiredness, I shall embark upon prepping brownie supplies and walking very clean (and disgruntled) canines. September and the week are almost over, and my very favorite month approaches.

See you around, beloveds.

Heat, Exceeding Savory


The first of the season’s blackberries have arrived in our demesnes. We’d need a bit of rain–even a drizzle–to make them sweet and plump, but that’s not going to happen so they will be exceedingly savory for the time being. Especially with the heat wave.

Still, they’re good for the birds, and vines growing in swampy places will get enough moisture to make them perfect. Said swampy places are buried in thickets and protected by thorns, so the wildlife will get the best–but honestly, with what we’ve done to the planet, the fauna deserve the berries more than humans.

The dogs are eager for walkies, and my coffee is almost done. Sadly, neither avocado is ripe, which means my toast will not bear mushed green deliciousness, alas. Somehow, though, I shall carry on.

It is a Friday, after all. Happy weekend, beloveds. We’re almost there.

Mileage and Cheese

A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.

Marshmallow, Sun Storm, Tuesday

It’s a grey Tuesday morning and there is not enough coffee in the world. A solar storm is expected to hit the earth today, and frankly I’m not bloody surprised, the way things have been going.

At least the cicadas are quiet, since the temperature drops overnight. They’re probably waking up the same as I am, lethargic and blinking, staggering towards their version of coffee, preparing for an entire afternoon of screaming in the treetops.

Lucky bastards.

Even the dogs are a bit beside themselves this morning. They won’t eat their breakfast and Boxnoggin is in a fractious-toddler mood. I’d say “you need a nap, dog,” but we literally just rolled out of bed. It could be he’s sensing my crankiness.

There are bright prospects, though. The other day I made an offhand comment about using Cocoa Pebbles and Rice Krispies to make treats–you know, butter, marshmallow creme, all that. The Princess got That Look, and when she came home yesterday she was loaded with Cocoa Krispies, tiny chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a plan.

I pointed out there were Cocoa Krispies but no Cocoa Pebbles (her very favorite cereal) in her supplies and my eldest child fixed me with an arch look of amusement. “The recipe I found was for Krispies, so I’m doing it that way first before I alter it.”

I could only nod sagely and mumble, “That means more marshmallow treats for us all, so I can’t complain.”

To which my child replied, just as her mother would, “Damn right.”

She even divided the pan into quarters. One was plain, one was studded with sea salt flakes, the third had tiny chocolate chips, and the last was drenched with homemade salted caramel sauce. Needless to say, that last bit was my favorite, though everyone else in the house is split between the plain and salted quarters.

So, there’s a crispy-crunchy experiment at some time in my future, possibly with caramel. That’s not a bad prospect; it’ll get me through a day of internal wires sparking through worn-off insulation, a both-hands deathgrip on my temper, and my fingertips aching from keeping my claws sheathed.

In any case, I should probably get some breakfast to balance out the caffeine once my stomach settles, the it’ll be time to walk the furry brats. I’m sure there will be hijinks; Carl the Crow has taken to accompanying us on walks around the block. She flits from tree to tree, eyeing me sideways and occasionally letting out raucous yells. I’m not sure if she’s adopted us or is waiting for me to look away so she can torment Boxnoggin–I believe she has not forgiven him for the Jerry Incident.

Speaking of Jerry the Crow, his tail feathers appear to be healing, and he’s having a lot more luck with flying. He’s still apparently only capable of short hops, and he tends to hang around our yard all day because I’m leaving sunflower seeds and the like in easy-to-reach places for him. Sandra and Carl are okay with this too; they keep bringing peanuts and cracking them in the birdbath, filling the damn thing with peanut shells. I think someone in the neighborhood thinks they’re feeding squirrels, though why anyone would do such a thing is beyond me.

We also have a ring-tailed squirrel (christened Einstein) who is up to No Good and seems positively bent on tormenting my daughter. Maybe it’s a family inheritance thing.

I do have a Backyard Tale to tell you concerning Norbert (long-time Readers will remember Norbert the Shattered Gargoyle) but I need more time and energy to write it than I possess today, so it’ll have to wait.

And with that, my beloveds, I shall bid you a fond adieu. Getting out the door before the marine layer breaks and the temperature rises is the name of the game, and since I’ve finished my coffee, breakfast is next. I can only dread what sort of hijinks will occur once I strap the dogs into their harnesses and leave the house.

Wish me luck…

Good Morning, Vitamin C


Apparently my body wanted something only to be found in potato-leek soup last night, because I had two bowls, went to bed afterward, and am feeling much better this morning. The quiet, shaky sense of returning strength–I hesitate to call it health–is entirely welcome. It’s akin to the relief after one finishes throwing up and slumps trembling near the cold porcelain of a commode, knowing illness will return in a short while but savoring the temporary relief.

So to speak. And you’re welcome for that mental image, I’m sure. Still, it’s the only one that comes close to expressing the feeling.

This morning the sun came through the deck door, making everything on the dining room table glow. The oranges looked good; I could almost taste the light and vitamin C in each one just by watching.

A bowl of soup, a pile of oranges in morning light–such are the simple things that end up saving us. Short-term relief or not, I’ll take it. Maybe if I sleep enough today the tremulous sense of survival will strengthen.

I wish you a sunny Friday and a peaceful weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves; we’ve all been through a lot lately.

Over and out.