Do a Bask & a Protec

Lord van der Sploot wishes you a happy Friday, resting secure in the knowledge that he can do a bask and a protec at once. This is his favorite perch on a sunny day; he can watch the street while he recharges.

He is a fine figure of a dog, isn’t he? Look at those ears. 15/10, would definitely bring his silly goofball ass home from the shelter again.

On HOOD

I’m almost ready to submerge again. Almost ready to turn off all socializing1 and dive into finishing a zero draft. Season One of HOOD wants to be born, and quickly.

It’s not the usual point in a draft for me to submerge. Normally it’s the last quarter of a book that comes out in a white heat. This time, a full third of the book wants my complete and total attention, mostly, I suspect, because of the speeder race. I also suspect that HOOD, while partly a tongue-in-cheek Robin Hood in Space2, is also about grief, and trauma, and survivor guilt.

I mean, plenty of my work centers on those issues anyway. Write what you know, right?


One of the more fascinating things about Robin Hood is how the legend changes. Taking it solely from the 1800s, Robin Hood has changed from Ivanhoe‘s cheerful patriotic fellow through a tights-clad, smirking mustachioed Errol Flynn to a somewhat smoldering3 combat veteran, with a detour through Disney4 and ending up somewhere between Russell Crowe’s constipated expression and Jonas Armstrong’s cocky but utterly forgettable second-fiddle to Richard Armitage’s tormented Guy of Gisbourne.

It’s the latest that gave me the kernel of HOOD, really. I know, it’s obvious, but I didn’t realize it while the seed was sprouting below conscious level. Robbing the rich to feed the poor is particularly germane to our current times, and it’s a great and worthy cause. But…it’s never as simple in implementation. Resistance is a business all its own, with all a business’s pitfalls.

Consequently, Alan-a-dale and Marian have taken center stage. Both work at different ends of resistance, Marah by using her social position to shield who she can and Al by somewhat more direct action. No doubt many will find Al’s methods reprehensible but more worthy, seeing in Marah’s choices a certain abnegation of responsibility.

I’m not so sure. Both, to my mind, are equally brave.


Robin, Guy, Friar Tuck, Little John–in HOOD they’re all veterans, and they return to a changed world. Plenty of my friends have. “Undeclared” wars and “police actions” are brutal, unholy euphemisms and leave only shattered bodies and minds in their wake. Once you’ve survived such a thing, how can you ever return? How do you find the way back to those left at “home”? How do you find your way towards a peacetime self, once you’ve had to do terrible things to survive?

Sometimes I think I write about nothing else because I’m trying to find the way to do so myself. I’ve often thought, in the black bleakness of 3am, why bother surviving if it makes me feel like this?

I keep writing because I can’t stop, but it’s also largely (I suspect) to push that question away. Answering it seems beyond my faint powers, but that’s no reason not to attempt doing so. Anything less than utter dedication to the attempt is spitting in the face of the great good luck that allows me to still draw breath.


One of the best treatments of Robin Hood I ever read was Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood, which was the first time the actual logistics of a band of forest outlaws intruded upon my young consciousness in the form of Robin’s blisters from digging privy ditches. Retreating to the woods to harry the oppressor requires iron will, craftiness, and an undying commitment to sanitation so half (or more) of your small force doesn’t succumb to parasites and sickness. Along with Jennifer Roberson’s Lady of the Forest, which centers on Marian’s position as a Saxon noblewoman faced with Norman invaders and institutional misogyny, Outlaws showed me that the real story wasn’t with Robin’s derring-do or Errol Flynn exploits.

Of course, myths survive because they are protean; they change their shape to suit our needs and deep desires. Right now, at this particular point in history and time, Robin Hood is a complex story about trauma, responsibility, the misuse of power, revolution and its habit of eating its young, and more–at least to me.

And of course, I’ve tossed in lightsabers, land speeders, faster-than-light travel and communications, Will Scarlet as a synthetic a la Aliens, generation ships, dualistic religion, the fact that human nature destroys the best ideological edifice, and more. Every writer is a magpie.


In any case, the first season is about to take me in its jaws and gallop for the finish line. I’m sure my version of Robin Hood says more about me and my current historical moment than anything else…

…but any story told by any human being is the same. We are fixed in time and space for a few brief moments, and we do what we can to mark the occasion.

See you in a bit, chickadees.

Cautionary Cranky

Yesterday I did All the Things. There was revision, there was fresh formatting to do for a paperback of Quill & Crow1, and revising on HOOD. Plus cleaning the kitchen, dinner to make, dogs to run, and a whole raft of things I had scheduled because it was a “holiday” and I had it in my head I wasn’t working.

Except I did. And now I feel like I need a weekend to recover from that one-day holiday. I spent a restless night toss-turning between two dogs who really just wanted the bed to themselves, and consequently am a bit cranky.

Check that. Majorly cranky.

There are things I should do: suit up and run, clean the kitchen again, bang my head some more on revisions, get a good chunk of text on The Poison Prince–I want the astrologer and the general to introduce a new layer of complexity and the lady-in-waiting needs her father’s signet and another marriage proposal–and figure out what to make for dinner as well as get some laundry in. There’s fifty million other things I should be doing.

I suspect, however, that what I will be doing is following the current plagiarism drama in Romancelandia (it’s a dilly) and poking at Lightning Bound since the witch and the storm god are working at cross-purposes while trying to save each other, and that’s a catnip dynamic for me. I love writing tension and scenes where two people who should be allies are actually working against each other.

I might even get to feeling enough like a lazy slug to accomplish a few things on the to-do list. Maybe it’ll even wear me out enough to sleep tonight, despite canines and their liquid sleeping habits. (As in, they turn into heavy liquid and spread, and spread, and spread…)

Don’t be like me, chickadees. Let your days off be days off, so you don’t arrive at the first day back at work exhausted. It’s too late for me, I suspect I shall be doing this until I die2, so learn from my cautionary tale.

*wanders away muttering about to-do lists and dogs, not necessarily in that order*

Redo the To-Do

Spent the weekend getting mass-market paperbacks prepped for distribution. That included putting together wrap PDF proofs for the Roadtrip Z books, which reduced me to a crying fit several times early in the game. Now that the learning curve is no longer so steep I want to make pretty wrap covers, but that’s a bridge too far in current circumstances.

So quite a few books will be available in mass-market format very soon. It’s a neat experiment, one I’ve longed to do for quite some time. Vellum‘s new extended proof sizes are awesome; if you’re self-publishing, the program itself is well worth paying full price for.

I do, however, need to reframe my master to-do list. The Roadtrip Z omnibus is packed and stacked (especially in the back, ha ha) and I’m about to start the big push to get the zero of HOOD Season 1 out while still building the internal architecture for The Poison Prince. The latter is kind of a secret, one I’ll let you guys in on when it happens…but it’s 200K of epic fantasy I’ve got to put in enough load-bearing scenes to carry, and then there’s the decision between the portal fantasy and Lightning Bound to make. I know I’ll finish them both, but it’s the matter of when and how I’m worried about. I don’t want to be trying to birth them together; they’re an unholy set of twins.

Then there’s Season 2 of HOOD to consider. Pretty sure it’s only two seasons, mostly because with any fairytale you have to know where to stop. Robin Hood only works under certain conditions, and since I’ve arranged them so carefully it’s incumbent upon me to make sure the story ends in the right place.

Which is going to be a long desperate race for a capital city with stuff blowing up all around our main characters, alliances honored in observance or breach. The practice for that set of scenes is Marah’s Race, and between those two poles the serial will be ordered.

I just have to figure out who’s out on the flats with a long-range weapon playing guardian angel to our Maid Marian during the race, since our Robin Hood will be doing an arms heist with Alan-a-Dale, who is turning out to be the major character. She won’t be the one who changes the most, because she’s comfortable with who and what she is, but she’s definitely the biggest engine and the one with most clearly defined wants at this stage.

Anyway, I also did a Spotify playlist for HOOD. If you want to listen to the music fueling the serial, here it is. Enjoy!

And now it’s time for a run to shake everything out and get the day’s work into proper proportion. I have my fingers in Monday’s throat and I do not intend to let go.

Over and out.

Hurt, Beautiful

This is the empty container for the antibacterial soap we found worked best for Odd Trundles’s yeasty paws. I…couldn’t toss it just yet. So it sits in the windowsill, where I see it while I do dishes and I think about that little fellow and how much I love him still.

The cracks in my heart make it bigger, make it easier for that beast to expand. But oh, sometimes…they ache.

And this is Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot, who has put on several pounds and a layer of gloss to his coat and is hoping very much that you are bringing pets or a treat for a Very Good Boy. He has lost his shyness and become the goofball I suspected he was under all the trembling uncertainty.

So many things hurt. So many things are beautiful, too. Some days I can’t tell the two apart. I would not trade the pain to make the beauty more, or trade the beauty to make the pain less. It’s not the ache I dread, but going numb.

It’s been a long week, chickadees. Let’s all have a bit of a reward for getting through it in still-breathing fashion. Be kind to yourselves this weekend, please.

Over and out.

Going Gets Tough

I’ve been blogging for a long while now. There are dry periods, where I have nothing much to say except for the minutiae of daily life–how the book-sausage gets made, what the dogs have done now, how publishing is changing. Oh, and the weather. Of course the weather is a constant concern.

I partly blame reading military history; weather is always the third general upon the field, and one who can’t be ignored. Today the rain has washed away everything except a few sheltered snow holdouts. The streets are awash, the roof kissed over and over by falling drops. The dogs aren’t going to like our outing, at least not when the initial oh boy we’re outside WITH MUM wears off.

That takes about ninety seconds in a downpour. They must love me a lot.

This morning I woke up with Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone yelling “Oh, man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!” Which meant I had to go listen to What a Fool Believes and then onto a Twitter rant about how much I love that damn movie and how it’s probably responsible for my current career.1

Now you know who to blame, I guess? When the going gets tough

Copyedits continue apace. I spent some serious time yesterday looking into Ingram Spark and mass-market paperback trim sizes. If I get the whole PDF cover template thing done, the first experiment is Steelflower in mass-market size.

It’s a great time to be self-publishing, IF one knows what one’s doing. If one doesn’t, the options available might boggle one into inaction or worse, signing away one’s rights without proper compensation. Or one might think that because of a crying fit brought on by frustration (I fucking hate PDF cover templates, let me sing you a whole song about how I hate them) the entire thing isn’t worth doing, and toss it all out the door.

Yes, I was tempted yesterday. But today’s a whole new day, I’ve got my spark back and the heat set to the wick. Today is for more copyedits, and when I can’t do that anymore because my head will explode if I look at one more comma placement question, I might put together a soundtrack for HOOD and poke a bit more at cover templates.

But for right now, it’s raining and the dogs need a walk. See you around, chickadees.

Read ’em and weep. I always do.

Flood Watch

The Keepers

The snow is worn away by waves of rain, and yesterday I went looking through my old notes for avatar. I left Michael crucified in midair, and maybe he’s hung there enough. I really never liked him, but maybe I was a wee bit vengeful…

…nah, probably not. Maybe he needs to stay there a bit longer.

Anyway, I’ve got to get out and move. The snow was nice, but I’ve got to run, and Sir Boxnoggin needs his edges worn off. Today is all copyedits all the time the instant I settle to real work, and that’s going to quite make my mood. Of course I have to make a few changes to the map of a fictional country, and that will quite make my mood as well.

The dogs don’t care that it’s raining–yet. They care only that they haven’t been run and I managed to get my hair into a ponytail, which means WALKIES ARE ALMOST UPON US. I suppose nothing is really harmed by running them in the rain; it’ll just make the house smell like wet dog.

…just as I typed that, my phone beeped. There’s a flood watch–all the snow, now all the rain washing it away. Great.

Well, the water will only rise from here. Might as well get out while it’s still a trickle instead of a flood. That way when I come home, everyone can dry off, warm up, and be glad to be inside for the rest of the day.

And I’ll leave Constantius hanging for some while longer. I have to edge up onto this book, which means thinking about its habits and feeding while I’m neck-deep in six other projects, including Dolls. That one’s going to be fun.

Every once in a while, thinking about my own mortality, I say I can’t die yet, I have edits to finish. It’s my own personal wall against misfortune; I cannot be killed until I have finished my work, and plenty is left undone. I know, realistically, it doesn’t matter–Death does not play favorites, nor does she care for unfinished business–but it makes me feel better and more productive during the time I have, so I aim to continue.

Off we go into curtains of rain. Boxnoggin will be ecstatic for roughly the first four minutes, before it penetrates his thick skull that we’re not going back inside to shake off anytime soon. Miss B, of course, will only care about getting done so we can go inside to shake off. This is the great division between them, and instructive to watch.

Happy Monday, hoopy froods. May your toad-swallowing for the day be performed quickly, cleanly, and with a minimum of fuss, as I hope my own will be.

*laces shoes, nods, and takes off into the rain*