Chalk Tangle

Since it’s summer, I can use one of the running routes that goes through an elementary school. I vary my routes constantly, on the principle that my body will respond to exercise better if it doesn’t get bored and (more importantly) anyone watching me won’t be able to tell which route I’m going to choose when–elementary safety for a woman in this society, even one with a faithful canine guard literally attached to her hip.

Anyway, since school let out, I’ve been watching this wall gather more and more chalk. It seems a gentle way to give a message to the world: “Unicorns!”, “Confidence is Power”, “Love is Wealth”, “Valerie was here”.

It makes me happy, so the last time I went by, I had to stop in the middle of the run and take a snap. Miss B, confused, kept pulling at the leash around my waist, so if it’s a bit blurry, my apologies. But you get the idea.

Unicorns, indeed.

Summer, Overwhelmed

The Summer Queen is in her full array, and last night was almost too warm for sleeping. Poor Odd Trundles doesn’t like it when it’s warm, and his breathing kept me awake for a long while. I mean, his breathing is always audible, because of his poor compromised airways, but last night it was particularly stentorian. I’m sure it informed my dreams, which included astronauts, pregnancy, and murder. (Sort of a cross between that ST:TNG episode where Troi gets knocked up by a tiny shimmering alien and that Charlize Theron movie, The Astronaut’s Wife.) Poor Trundles, summer means all his crevices need to be greased daily and his preferred napping spot is on cold hardwood or tile instead of comfy carpet.

Also, revisions for Rattlesnake Wind have landed, so I’m in the “running around like a headless chicken” phase. I have to revise both Rattlesnake and Harmony, when I’d rather be writing HOOD. Late mornings always make me feel overwhelmed, and that goes double for revisions. I should also leave the house to fetch kibble for the four-legged carnivores I live with, and perhaps for the two-legged omnivores as well.

But first I have to run, which will be just fabulous in the sticky humidity. All signs point to an exceedingly uncomfortable day. I should just get on with it instead of sitting and staring blankly at my desktop screen.

Oh, hey! There’s an interview with me over on Unreliable Narrators today. The Princess listened to it and thought it was aces, so perhaps I didn’t sound as uninteresting and silly as I often feel while being recorded.

I don’t mind summer, but this one is turning out to be particularly…moist. And now it’s time to hit the pavement before it gets any worse outside. Thankfully, most of today’s run-route is shaded, and it’s a tempo run, so it will be over quickly.

Stay frosty out there, my friends.

*disappears in a cloud of steam*

Storm, Season

I spent the weekend getting Jozzie & Sugar Belle–that infamous “nutless kangaroo shifter novella”–up for preorder. I didn’t mean to, mind you, I thought I’d bring it out in October, but it was so fun once I started the prep I decided a July release would be fine. I’m pretty sure nobody will buy it, but it made me laugh until my belly hurt, so I’m going to release it into the wild and see what happens.

There were also plenty of housecleaning chores, and the Little Prince is out of school for the summer. He attended a friend’s birthday party, and came home exhausted. I gather there were at least six teen males stuffed into one house, and the gaming was particularly fierce. (Those parents must be saints. Good heavens.)

So…it was a busy weekend, and finished off with thunderstorms Sunday evening. Miss B came slightly unhinged–she does not like thunder–and had to have half an anti-anxiety tab. Of course Odd Trundles was oblivious, until a strike less than three miles away gave forth a peal of thunder that came in my office window and startled him a bit. I closed my window, but he was already locked on BORK BORK BORK, so it took a little while to get him calmed down. By the time he did, the tab was working for B, and they both slept peacefully while the sky-gods battled.

I love storms; we don’t often get them here. Yesterday was strange because the thunder didn’t stop after one or two halfhearted rumbles. It was a proper, honest-to-goodness summer storm front, and the flashes and rumbling were almost constant whenever a cell moved overhead. It was glorious, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. This morning’s run, as a result, was somewhat steamy and sticky. I don’t mind the bees catching a ride in my hair, or the metallic-looking ones who want to drink my sweat–I mean, I’m producing it, they might as well get it while it’s there–but my eyes were watering, which happens on some runs, and the sweat bees decided that was MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Crawl on my arms, hang out in my hair, that’s fine, but they were going for the eyes and that was not fine by any stretch of the imagination.

In any case, I returned home sopping wet, and there were (miraculously) no casualties. B, glad to work off her fidgets, was a right little snot all the way through, busily trying to herd me in every direction except the one I wanted to go. She keeps thinking she has a vote in our route.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anyway, she’s sacked out in the hall, napping the nap of the fully justified, and in a little while I’ll roust both her and Trundles for his afternoon constitutional. He also gets an epsom-salt paw soak and I am kicking around the idea of bandaging said paw with a clean white sock and tons of antibiotic cream.

I’m sure that will go over well.

In any case, now that preorders are well underway, I can turn my attention back to HOOD and Harmony. And oh look–are those edits in my inbox? No rest for the weary or the wicked, and the birds are storm-flittering outside as if the weather’s going to give us another round. Plus, a couple squirrels seem to have taken up residence in the apple tree outside the dining room window.

I’m sure that will end well…

Tiny Graces

Yesterday was awful, and now I have plenty to catch up on. I’m happiest when I’m working, I guess, but all the same…I’d like to layabout for a few more days and stuff my head full of fun things. Alas, administrivia and wordcount beckon.

On the bright side, I pulled a beautiful four-shot this morning, and here it is for your delectation. It smelled great, and cut with a little cream, tasted even better. And one of the kids loaded the dishwasher already, so that’s one less thing I have to do. Such little things–a cup of coffee, a dog’s nosing at one’s hand, finding the dishwasher already loaded–make life bearable. When I look to find what makes life worth continuing, it’s the tiny graces that end up outweighing all else.

I wish you a day full of small, beautiful things, my friends.

On to the Next

I began poking at HOOD–that’s the Robin Hood in Space story–yesterday. Frankly it was a relief to work on something that wasn’t Maiden’s Blade or Atlanta Bound, not because I dislike them, but because a new obsession is a good way to get rid of old ones and I need time off from both stories if I’m going to be able to revise them properly later.

At the same time, shifting my engines from one story to the next is always difficult. I have to slow (or speed) the flywheel inside my head to the proper speed for the new story, and make the teeth fit so it will pull with the minimum of grinding. It’s a matter, as always, of sitting and picking, picking, picking, until an internal click happens and the story starts to slide out through my fingertips in fits and starts. Yesterday, it was the name of Maid Marian’s spaceship that triggered the click. I hadn’t even realized it was a necessary component.

A funny thing about writing stories, at least for me, is that the way is hardly ever straight and broad. Everything happens in ellipses. So, I spent my run yesterday thinking about a particular scene that involves a sort of speeder race (Maid Marian is a woman of many talents, indeed) and the question of her spaceship’s name wasn’t even on the horizon. But it was a long chain of thought from the speeder-race scene, which may or may not make it into the book, to Marah Mad├ín’s introductory scene, where she’s skinning her knuckles in her ship’s engine room and contemplating a frozen death in the wide reaches of space if she can’t get things working again, involving (among other things) how to get into and out of a gravity well, faster-than-light messaging, whether the book’s main setting should be a space station rather than a planetary system, how wartime rationing loosens after victory or defeat, and on and on until suddenly, staring into the distance, it occurred to me that the ship’s name was Ivanhoe and the click sounded.

Consequently, I fell into the book and almost missed dinner; thankfully, it was the Princess’s night to deal with that problem. The dogs were dancing with impatience, thinking that perhaps their servant-goddess had forgotten the Magic Foodtime. Which means I surfaced from writing Guy of Gisbourne’s intro to find Odd Trundles’s long, very disconcertingly warm tongue curling around my ankle. I’m not sure whether he was asking for my attention, or just obeying his usual habit of licking any patch of bare skin he finds, or realizing I’m made of meat. Consequently, I hurried to fill the bowls with kibble, and was a little miffed that I couldn’t jump right back into the book.

Today is going to be all about Hood. And Harmony‘s revisions. I have a couple comic-book scripts I should start outlining, too. And I’m sure edits for Rattlesnake Wind are going to drop anytime now. Recovery is over, it’s on to the next.

It pleases me. There are always more stories, they line up around the block, some standing patiently, others elbowing. What’s in short supply is the time and effort needed to sit and let them come through. That time and effort needs to be guarded like a dragon hoard. Protect your writing time, chickadees, your stories need it.

I’d better get some more coffee and get back to work.

Hood and Harmony

It’s only 9am as I start this post, but dear gods above, my daily teaspoon of patience is quickly being licked dry. It’s only uncaffeinated fumbling, and if I just wait a little bit for the stimulant to finish hitting my bloodstream I suppose I’ll be fine. Right now, though, I am in a somewhat savage mood. So are the canines; Miss B got shirty with Odd over breakfast (she keeps trying to get into his bowl, for God’s sake, even though they both get the same damn thing) and poor Odd, while extremely mellow, does not like that. So I had to stand between them and encourage both to eat from their own damn bowl, but then Odd got stubborn, as he is wont to do sometimes, and decided FINE, he would simply GO DOWN THE HALL and SLEEP IN THE OFFICE and when his tummy gets upset later, THAT WILL SHOW EVERYONE.

Really, the only person it will show is me. Yep, I’m going to be looking at dog vomit later, unless I coax him to eat a bit of kibble directly from my palm to take the edge off. It’s a good thing I love both of these damn creatures.

The weekend was nice, though. I planned to keep away from work the entire time, and largely succeeded. Unfortunately that makes my mood a whit savage, since the discomfort of not writing for two days is cresting under my skin, itching and uncomfortable. I get to go back to HOOD today, and also start Harmony revisions. The latter needs its last third expanded, and it will probably be a monster book after it’s done. Today I get to write Maid Marian’s fixing of a starship engine and her copilot arguing with an android about all sorts of things, but mostly the music the android plays to “up Terran efficiency by a few percentage points.” Heh. I’m getting to like the android; I can’t decide if he has a great sense of humor or none at all.

Then again, I’m the same woman who has long conversations with china squirrel figurines. We’ll anthropomorphize anything around here. (It reminds me of #8 here, which is honestly what I consider really close to what an android would actually think of humans.)

So that’s going to be fun. I need to spend some more time thinking about interplanetary travel and other aspects so the Robin Hood story is a valid response to the world’s constraints. And of course I’m going to name Hood’s home system “Sagittarius,” because it amuses me to no end. I could do a whole zodiac-themed series with different star systems…but that’s a thought for another time.

Today’s run will be all about putting those pieces in place while I sweat and curse. At least it’ll get rid of some of my fidgets, and probably B’s as well. Maybe she’ll come home and be less of an asshole to Odd Trundles. If not, I’m going to have to referee dinner too.

Running will also refill my teaspoon of patience, so I’m going to get to it. Happy Monday, dear Readers, and I hope your teaspoon is full.

Khan’s Daytime

Sometimes, Khan doesn’t want to be tucked in for his daily rest. Instead, he half-naps outside the covers, keeping a watchful eye and enjoying the air. I don’t mind, for I know a bear is a wild thing at heart, but sometimes he mutters about needing to be on guard during the daytime, and I get concerned.

He tells me not to worry, for he is a bear of much strength and canniness, as evidenced by his many mighty feats during the Nightmare Skirmishes. He is a bear of much tenderness, too, and doesn’t wish me to be concerned. Perhaps he does just want some air, but there’s a warning glint in his dark eyes.

So on days he wishes to be outside the covers, I take extra care. I check the street an extra time before crossing, I reread thrice before I hit “send”, I drink plenty of water and try to be as gentle with myself as I am with my loved ones. And when I crawl into bed at the end of the day and Miss B hops up to settle herself for the night journey, I hug Khan and thank him.

What for? his eyes say, and I settle him in his usual spot.

“For caring,” I say, and open the book I’m currently reading.

It’s good to care, and to be cared for.