Waiting for the Deluge

The prospect of rain has me positively giddy.

At first they said “Wednesday” but now the fronts appear to be arriving Friday, and I’m sure that will change too as the day gets closer. But it’s September, the rain is on its way, and soon I’ll be able to run while water falls from the sky. Puddles and grey skies and relief from incessant glare and heat–oh, I’m ready. I’m so ready.

My favorite time is almost upon us. There is a Spirit Halloween pop-up very close by; it’s the one time a year I can get decorations matching my everyday aesthetic, and at a good price too. The only thing I miss is giving out candy, but between the dogs and the plague, well, that’s going to have to wait. Some years I would put a large bowl of candy and a “take one” sign out, and while the younger kids could absolutely be trusted several parents and teenagers apparently cannot.1

The “ruin it for everyone” crowd starts small, and close to home.

I’m very sure my irritation will also smooth out as soon as the first drops are well and truly fallen. I’m looking forward to the spike in productivity rain always brings me, too. I could use it; I’ve spent the last few weeks doing formatting, forcing a certain print distro to do their bloody job or communicate with something approaching professionalism2, proofing, CEs, spot-reading–all the stuff around writing that isn’t writing.

I have finally gotten through all that (except for the proof pass which will land next week, I think, and finishing up that book will be such a relief) and it’s time for me to settle into more actual writing instead of just stealing a few minutes here and there. Of course so much in life conspires to keep me from the keyboard, and I resent a great deal of it. Just leave me alone to write, I want to howl. Leave me alone with my thoughts and the thing I was meant to do.

I don’t often close my office door–for one thing, even though the kids are grown the old habit of being on call 24/7 for them does not go away–but I’m considering it. Not to shut out anyone in the house, though the dogs will probably play some version of Rum Tum Tugger3.

No, instead it will be a signal to shut the rest of the world out, including online. My empathy has been pummeled like a speed bag, and I need time to heal. Or something, I’ll just be glad when the drubbing stops. I need a breath, even just half a breath.

Maybe my furious productivity all year to keep from sinking was a bad strategy. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe I’m just tired and longing for rain. I won’t know until the first drops fall and I feel that huge, numinous relief.

Other people are hopeful in spring. I’m hopeful when the PNW turns grey and chilly, when sodden leaves clog gutters and storm drains, when the world smells like cold wet fir and mushrooms in moldering forest litter. Maybe this winter I’ll feel like baking again; I did practically no bread last year–why bake when there was no hope, or so little hope I had to reserve it for tiny spoonfuls?

…I didn’t mean to write most of this, but I think I’ll let it stand. There must be other people anticipating the advent of autumn with quiet, longing relief. Besides, there are the dogs to walk; Boxnoggin will not like the return of wet days but very much likes being toweled off when we return from soggy rambles, and also loves the office heater when I am forced to drag it out every fall.

I didn’t even have the spoons to put it away in spring. There are many little things I’ve looked at all year and just thought, “I have no energy for that, it’ll keep.”

Which turned out to be right, but every time I look at some of those small things I feel a definite draining sensation. Maybe this weekend I’ll forego the usual chores and just have a day of doing things I’ve put off. But that’s days and days from now, and I’ve writing to do.

Always, there’s writing to do. I can’t wait to get to it, so I bid you a very civil adieu, beloveds. I hope you have something pleasant to anticipate today, if not all week.

Ambitious Blue-Word Hilarity

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It is a lovely grey morning. I get to run today, after tweaking my ankle last week on the stairs. Everything should be healed up and ready for another brutal road-thumping session.

I can’t wait.

Before that, though, coffee must be absorbed, the dogs need walking, and some breakfast probably wouldn’t go amiss. Once I get all that done and my corpse pushed through a few kilometers at what passes for high speed, the rest of the morning will be given to administrivia like answering correspondence, since there seems to be a fresh crop springing up like mushrooms after rain.

But the afternoon, ah! The afternoon will be for a combat scene (Hell’s Acre is coming along nicely) and some hilarity in a short story (She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero) for my subscribers. I might also be able to shoehorn a bit of Klemp’s book in, too. I am ambitious today.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the bandwidth to feel ambitious. Maybe I’m adapting.

Last week ended with a great deal of hilarity. Someone was very upset at the fact that there are (gasp!) bad words in my books, and that the protagonist of Moon’s Knight standing at the funeral of her best friend was angry at a god.

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What precisely have you been reading of my work, that this is a surprise?

I find this fascinating as well as risible. I did a whole five-book series about a Necromance, a seven-book series about a hellbreed hunter whose feelings on her own Catholic god are complex at best, both full of bad words galore, and all my books have violence and questionable content, let alone wrestling with questions of belief and going toe-to-toe with the divine. Said books, not to mention my social media feeds, let alone this very blog, are stuffed with four-letter and blue words deployed for maximum effect, hilarity, or emphasis.

What, precisely, about a grieving character thinking–not saying aloud, mind you, but thinking–a few bad words in a sky-fairy’s direction while standing at the side of her best friend’s grave offended in a way that the constant use of every bloody-blue word I wish to employ doesn’t? How exactly could this ever be a surprise to anyone with even a cursory relationship to my work? It’s baffling and hilarious at once.

I don’t mind the one-star rating–you do you, Anonymous Reader, you’re entirely entitled to your opinion–but the pearl-clutching does irritate me a bit. It seems just a teensy tad disingenuous, considering my oeuvre. And yes, the only reason I’m highlighting this is because said person is entirely anonymous and will stay that way. Otherwise my amusement would be entirely private.

Though no less intense.

At least I can laugh at the absurdity. It’s always nice to have a chuckle or two on a Monday. Sets everything going in the right direction.

The dogs are crowding close, expressing their ardent desire to get out the door for their usual sniff-and-trot. Miss B is reminding me I am, after all, made of meat, and Boxnoggin is using the strategy of giant dark puppy eyes to slather on a layer of guilt. I suppose I should get moving instead of snort-laughing while I type.

Let’s kick Monday in the pants, my friends. See you, as my grandfather used to say, in the funny pages.

Gilding the Web

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A delicate balance on each strand.

On mornings when the mist is just right, spiderwebs are decorated with tiny jewels.

There’s a low juniper hedge on our walkies route ideal for arachnids (no doubt it’s a huge buffet) and some mornings, the bling catches the early sun and turns gold. Other times, it’s silver gilding, and while the dogs sniff at the bottom of the hedge, eager for news and the passing report of small animals, I look at the webs and feel a great sense of calm.

I hope you find a tiny bit of beauty today, my beloveds. And I hope the long-legged ones get their fill, once the mist burns off.

Have a good weekend!

Back to Scratching Itch

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I’m settling down to my blog post a little late this Thursday, mostly because I’ve been fighting with print distributors. Well, fighting is a strong word. I’m simply being very clear about expectations and deadlines.

*sips tea*

I tested a new-ish print distro with four books, and have seen a 75% failure rate. Certainly not ideal by any measure, and let’s not even talk about people not bothering to read an email before they cut-and-paste a reply. To be fair, I know the reps are quite probably overworked–which is why I try to make it easy, giving all details for maximum clarity in every. single. email.

To be even more fair, the matter has finally escalated to the level where something has a chance of actually getting done, so that’s a good thing.

Had I been in publishing less than almost two decades (my, how the time has flown) I would probably just have given up on all four editions, but I know when to be stubborn by now. I have been treading the edge of Karen as this thing wears on, because by the gods, I will not be undone by a bureaucracy.

I will say the irritation was great fuel for the morning’s run. I woke up with grandson’s “Oh No!!!” in my head at high volume, so that was on repeat for a nontrivial number of kilometers. I’m still a bit sore (and dotted with various bruises) from the swift and complete moving job we did for a friend Tuesday, too. Stretching, a tonne of hydration, and going to bed early tonight will probably make me right as rain.

Today I get a burrito for lunch, some fun subscription stuff drops for my beloveds, the dogs are relatively calm, and while very warm the weather is not overly awful. And I get to throw both a heroine and her suitor into a Very Dangerous Situation, with bullets flying.

It feels good to be writing again, instead of dealing with distribution hassles, formatting, edits, or proofs. Just scratching the itch for twenty minutes or so on a day when I’m exhausted juggling other chainsaws is not optional. For the rest of this month I’m back to producing new words instead of dealing with the ones I’ve already written, and it is marvelous.

I wish you a lovely Thursday, my friends. May we all get a chance to do something we like today, instead of enduring what we must.

Over and out.

Schlepping and Small Talk

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There’s a forest of Post-it reminders festooning my desk, things are stacked on every horizontal office surface, and even coffee isn’t jump-starting my brain today. I could blame the holiday weekend, but really it’s a function of six months’ work crammed into the last two weeks and now another week full of things having a social component, which wears me out almost as much as multiple edits.

I did mean to clean my office yesterday, but Other Things intervened. I won’t get a chance today, either. I shouldn’t mind so much, but also I won’t get a chance for more than a half-hour or so of writing time. I’m going to be masked and carrying heavy objects for a great deal of the day, and while I don’t mind the workout (I swear to the gods I’m getting a run in today too, I needs it, precious) I am flinching in advance at the requirement to make small talk with people during the schlepping.

Small talk being one of the banes of my existence, naturally.

It must also be Toxic People Home Week, because I’ve spent a nontrivial amount of hours so far patiently repeating, “This is not normal, this is not fine, and you don’t have to put up with it” to people I love, with a heaping helping of “no, that shit’s toxic, it’s a trap, maybe consider not engaging.”

And it’s only Tuesday.

I don’t know if it’s the change of seasons, being out of the house more, the Delta variant, or the horse paste, but it seems like not only are nasty people looking to practice cruelty on not just their usual victims lately but also a whole clutch of new ones. I’m hoping it’s the last gasp of a dying, venomous creature, and that if it’s dodged we can collectively move on.

We’ll see.

At least if I get a run in I’ll have my zen and patience fully refreshed. I’m looking forward to it, and looking forward even more to that half-hour of writing time. Both will get me through the day–and coffee, yes. Coffee will help. Everything is an endurance contest now, and while I don’t find such contests pleasant, at least I know how to handle them at this stage in my life.

Small mercies. And it’s a lot easier when one has decided, frankly, that one has no more fucks to give. The Post-its can stay where they are for another day, it won’t hurt anything.

I wish you a pleasant Tuesday, beloveds. Fall approaches, and it’s a great time to go no-contact with horrid people if one can. If one can’t, the grey rock method can also help.

And with that advice, I’m off to walk some lovable, furry brats. See you around.

Horace, of the de Brassieres

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Horace de Brassiere, espresso machine and man about town

There’s been a positive plague of googly eyes around the house lately, since the Princess got an idea from Tumblr. (Apparently halving a bell pepper and sticking googly eyes on it is a good time. Who knew?)

My big Breville espresso machine needs a bit of care, so it’s sitting in the garage waiting patiently for the end of the pandemic. This fellow has stepped in to provide signal service, and for his pains he has been given…eyes.

I’m leaning into my mad scientist urges, I guess.

I was too lazy to go downstairs and get the glue gun, but it occurred to me, in a blinding flash of creative joy, that we had a whole cabinet of school supplies in my office and neither child is going back to school anytime soon. (College, maybe, once the damn pandemic…oh, you know the drill.) So I hied myself down the hall at high speed, startling the dogs into giving chase, and tore into said cabinet like a kid on Yule morning.

One glue stick and two very confused dogs later, I bolted back down the hall, and Horace’s surgery was performed posthaste while I treated him to a rousing rendition of a song about his cousin Phillip (the very worst of the French patent thieves).

…we used to sing that a lot in high school. Sometimes you’ve got to make your own fun, and if some cheap plastic from the craft store helps, there’s no reason to refrain.

Horace wishes you a very pleasant weekend, my beloveds. And so do I.

Puzzled By Cruelty

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Yesterday was all about line edits; Sons of Ymre #1 is inching that much closer to publication. (Yes, as soon as there’s preorder information, I will absolutely let my beloved Readers know.) I was up what passes for relatively late last night–the dogs went to bed without me, and are bright-eyed and fresh this morning while I drag.

I am a night owl by temperament, but years of having to get the kids ready for and delivered to school have left a mark. Now that’s over, the dogs are still on a schedule and creatures of habit who view All Change as Very Very Bad do not take kindly to schedules shifting. Left to my druthers I’d be up around 1pm, work until 3-4am, and fall into bed around 4-5am, depending.

Alas, it is not possible, and my body’s protests must be listened to though they change not a whit of what must be. Ah well.

The news from Texas yesterday put a dent in me, as well. I know a certain proportion of people just plain enjoy cruelty; it is a fact of existence on this planet, like gravity or nitrogen. Still, it’s puzzling. Why spend all your time being a racist, misogynist asshat when there’s a literal infinity of other things to fill one’s earthly time with? These people could go touch grass, learn how to unicycle, write songs, watch some movies, or even just take a goddamn walk.

Instead, they apparently want to be nasty little fascist dipshits. Why spend that kind of effort? It’s absolutely and literally easier to just…not, to simply be kind or at the very least leave other people alone.

I suppose that’s part of why I write. Not deepest, most overarching reason–I am, quite frankly, unable to stop, and have been ever since second grade–but an important one nonetheless. The addiction of some people to cruelty has baffled me literally all my life, starting with childhood caregivers who hurt me apparently just for funsies. It made no sense to Child Me and makes even less to Adult Me. (For whatever value of “adult”, I suppose.)

I wish I knew why. Attempting to understand might be the writer’s curse or just a function of empathy, I haven’t decided. Yes, I’ve written villains; I’ve even written characters who enjoy cruelty for its own sake–Perry in the Kismet series, for example, or a few of the antagonists in Afterwar, not to mention Summer in Gallow & Ragged.

Now that I think about it, “comfortable with cruelty” is a hallmark of many of my villains or antagonists. Yet those characters, foul as they are, cannot hold a candle to the petty, nasty, apparently endless brutality and mendaciousness of real-life authoritarians. Even Perry, and he was dead set on killing the entire world if it got him what he wanted from Jill.

Fiction has to make sense on some level. Real life, alas, does not.

I wish I understood. It’s long been my fervent belief that understanding breeds compassion, and while I’m fully aware sociopaths and narcissists view compassion as weakness it’s still integral to me, I will keep it that way, and it doesn’t mean I’m unprepared to enforce my boundaries. I can even view the understanding as a way of anticipating the behavior of those who like cruelty for its own sake, so I can protect me and mine from their depredations.

I suppose the only hope is to keep writing. There’s finicky little changes to go over in Ymre now that the bulk of the line edits are done, I just approved a shiny hardback for Moon’s Knight, and today is subscription day. The next major project is revisions on The Black God’s Heart diptych, but there’s a fellow writer’s book to beta read and an article to copyedit for another friend in the queue, so those will be loaded to the cannon first.

Not to mention walkies with a pair of excited, bratty, furry toddlers and a run to get in. The latter, at least, will help me concentrate and get through the rest of the day. I will mull over the mystery of why some people are cruel goddamn dipshits during both, I’m sure, and arrive at no answer other than, “They like it, and the best we can do is protect ourselves from them.”

It is not a satisfying explanation, but at least it grants some succor. It will, as I often say, have to be enough.

Over and out.