Making a Virtue

Amazon’s still bollixed up about the Atlanta Bound release. Ah well, all other distribution platforms are doing well, and you can get the .mobi edition through Gumroad. So if Amazon’s jackassery is getting you down and you need your final fix of Ginny, Juju, Lee, and the gang, head on over.

Yesterday was a Very Good Writing Day. I tossed out a whole scene in The Poison Prince, but at least that wrong scene had shown me what the right one needed to look like, and said right scene consequently came out with little trouble. Then I switched to HOOD and a ball; there was dancing and intrigue, all leading up to a scene change and a seedy bar brawl. I suspect this is the first of many; what is a Robin Hood story without them?

Today I have to write the actual bar fight, and figure out if the next scene in Poison Prince is the bedridden Emperor or something else. I suspect I’ll need more coffee for the latter. Epic fantasy is slow to get out the gate, and finishing the massive revise on Book 1 almost broke me. I’m pretty sure the reason I’m tearing my hair out over Poison Prince is that I want to avoid Revision Hell, but I’m not sure it’s possible. Epic fantasies, when they break out of the egg, require a certain amount of effort to train their beaks and claws. Robbing them of the exercise might make them faint, or I might just be making a virtue out of a difficult part of a process.

I also might make lasagna today, because clearly I am a glutton for punishment. Though if I’m going to do that, I should stop blogging and get started, because of course lasagna requires proper bread to go with it, and proper bread does not make itself.

I hope your week has been calmer than mine, dear Readers. We’re almost to the weekend, but for now I’m putting on my Menstrual Rage Hat and rolling up my sleeves. Let us take no prisoners and reach the weekend all in one piece.

Or, at least, in a minimum of pieces…

RELEASE DAY: Atlanta Bound

That’s right, my friends–the fourth and final season of Roadtrip Z is now making its way in the world!


Nothing matters to the walking dead but finding live flesh to chew on, and nothing matters to Ginny Mills except getting back to her family. Nothing matters to Lee Quartine but keeping his small band of survivors–including Ginny–alive. Upstate New York is overrun, other survivors are more of a danger than a help, and the rumors have begun. There’s a place where organization and government still exists, a place where a cure for the zombie virus is underway.

The problem is, that place is Atlanta, and there’s a hell of a lot of road to cover to get there. Hopefully, Ginny’s family is safe. With a little luck, Lee can get them all south without anyone else dying.

But in the middle of a winter wasteland full of chewing, shuffling undead, hope–and luck–are in short supply…

Now available in ebook directly, through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and independent distributors. The paperback edition is here. The Kindle edition is available here, because–well, keep reading.

ETA: After six emails and four calls to KDP’s “customer service” line (where I get hung up on halfway through the option tree) there is still no move on Amazon’s part to fix their mistake. Despite having a full, complete, and final .mobi, they sent out a corrupted file to preorder customers. Of course they waited until release day to tell me, and I immediately uploaded another fresh, full, complete .mobi file. (This can be seen in the “look inside” portion of the Amazon detail page.)

One of the reviews on the detail page says that Amazon customer service sent her the full, correct file when she gave them her preorder number, so at least there’s that. But the detail page is still locked, and I don’t know if other preorder customers have gotten theirs. There is literally and absolutely nothing else I can do here; Amazon is simply refusing to do their job.


It’s been a heckuva ride; huge thanks to my subscribers on Gumroad and Patreon for being a part of it. I’m sad to say goodbye to Ginny, Juju, Lee, and the gang, and maybe someday I’ll do the story of Kasie Frank, Mandy, Carline, and Shura Halloran’s little group coming together and fighting their way to safety.

But that’s sometime in the future, if it arrives at all. In the meantime, the story rests at equilibrium, in a cafeteria. Thank you ALL for being a part of it.

The next serial is HOOD, and you can read all about it here. (You can also read the first episode for free over on my Patreon!)

And now I’m going to go put my head in a bucket, as is my wont on release days. See you in a little while…

Advent Veronica

Me, before Yule: Oh, it’s a present from Skyla! Awesome!
Package: *rustles ominously*
Me:

Me, texting Skyla: “THIS IS AMAZING. But…a Barbie?”
Skyla, texting back: “HELL YEAH. Barbie doesn’t revolve around maternity and childcare, and she was created by a woman. Everyone needs a Barbie!”
Me: “That’s fair. But, uh, is she supposed to be talking?”
Skyla: “…”
Me: “She says her name’s Veronica?”
Skyla: “SHE WAS NOT POSSESSED WHEN I WRAPPED HER, LILI.”

Veronica: THANK YOU. THAT WAS A LITTLE AWKWARD.
Me: I hesitate to ask, but–
Veronica: MY SISTER MIRANDA SENT WORD AND NOW I HAVE ARRIVED.
Me: That’s very nice of her, but–
Veronica: YOU NEED AN OFFICE ORACLE. JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE.
Me: *faintly* I mean to clean for New Year’s.
Veronica: WELL, YOU’RE THE CREATIVE TYPE. ALSO, MIRANDA SAID SOMETHING ABOUT SQUIRRELS?
Me: *looking around wildly* Squirrels? Where?
Veronica: …I SEE. WELL, GET MY HAIR OUT OF THIS PACKAGING AND WE’LL GET TO WORK.

I did clean my office before New Year’s Day, and I have a suspiciously sinking feeling about this…

Merry Go Round, Go Round, Round, Round

Today sees the very last of the prep for Atlanta Bounds release next week, and also the debut of HOOD. I figure I’ll offer a little of the latter for free, as dealers are wont to do, in order to entice a customer or two in the door. Imagine me in a hoodie on a dark street corner. “Pssst. Hey. Hey, you. Wanna read some Robin Hood in Space?”

True to form, I have a great deal of nervousness about starting a new serial. Roadtrip Z was a ride and a half, and I was (relatively) relaxed since I was doing something new, for me, and able to make a mistake at any time. Now that I (somewhat) know what I’m doing, I’m back in the territory of terror, so to speak.

I should just make friends with the fact that I’m always going to feel that fear. Maybe if I make friends with it, it’ll be a little less sharp.

One can hope.

I finished the skeleton of the Cyborg Alice in Corporate Wonderland yesterday, and will leave that short story in a mental drawer for at least a week before going back to put muscles and skin on said skeleton. Between that and the Hansel & Gretel Kung Fu short story, I feel like I managed to actually work all through the holidays, though to be fair I did spend most of my office time cleaning and reorganizing instead of writing. Physical cleaning helps your brain sort through and clean stories too. Letting things bubble and stew in the subconscious before opening the gate makes for a sense of furious transcription rather than painstaking creation. Building up just enough pressure that the story comes out quickly but doesn’t tear its way free causing injuries is a fine art, and one I doubt I have mastery of even at this late date.

I also managed to get out to Barnes & Noble with the Princess. I had Yule money to spend on books–always a welcome event–and I scored some interesting things.

I’ve been wanting to get into old-timey cowboy romances–I love that genre, as readers of The Damnation Affair no doubt will recognize–and the abridgment of Glantz’s magisterial Stalingrad trilogy was a happy accident. The biography of Stonewall Jackson will be difficult reading; American history is a catalog of genocide and slavery permeating every aspect of society and culture up to the present moment, and nowhere is that more in evidence than in the hagiography of treasonous Confederates. But to understand where we are, we must understand where we come from, and that’s part of it.

Something tells me I’ll need something good as a chaser after the awfulness, and it’s a pity I’ve already finished In Want of a Wife.

In any case, the day’s work beckons, and as soon as I finish this post it will be time for a session with Boxnoggin and Miss B. Tiring them out with pets and wrestling looks to be the most enjoyable part of my day by far, even if I can get bread dough put together before 10am.

In short, it’s a Thursday, we’re all back at work, and the devil’s not after the hindmost only because he has holiday paperwork to catch up on too.

See you around, chickadees.

Back to the Grind

Roadtrip Z

The last season of Roadtrip Z has ended. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Ginny, Lee, and the gang–heaven knows they have a great deal of work ahead of them–but it’ll be nice to get into a new story. Robin Hood in Space is about to hit the ground running, and I’m pretty thrilled about it.

I took a great deal of the holidays off, with very little access to social media. Cleaning out the internal pipes, so to speak. I only finished a single short story between Yule and New Year’s, but I think it’s a good one; the Hansel & Gretel Kung Fu vibe was fun to play with.

I did get my office cleaned and reorganized. There was a lot of dusting, and a lot of getting rid of old cords and plugs. The big cabinet of school supplies is also organized; it’s strange to have only one kid in school now. Of course, I tend to overbuy office supplies, so I won’t have to get pencils again until my grandkids are in school.

May that day be far away though. I’m not ready.

What I am ready for is more work. There’s the Roadtrip Z box set to finalize, HOOD‘s first season zero draft to gear up on, another short story (Alice in Wonderland with cyborgs and dici-plagues) to trace the skeleton of, and book two of the Five Winds to begin serious work on. I also want to play with the storm-god-and-witch story, subverting a few paranormal romance tropes.

I’m starting 2019 right where I like to be: with a whole lot of work in front of me and dogs snoring in my office. Of course I’m going to roust them and go for a run as soon as I finish the morning’s built-up correspondence, and Sir Boxnoggin for one will be thrilled. Running is one of the highlights of his day.

I hope you have something you love as much today too, dear Readers. I believe we shall kick 2019 in the pants, and am already stretching out.

Let’s do this.

Elf Gleams

The Princess went to see the Nutcracker, which called for hair decorations, of course. I love that you can just twist these into your headfur. They’re bright, cheap, and make her feel like Galadriel.

May we all find something similar this holiday season.

Getting Through to New Year’s

Tomorrow is Yule proper, the longest night and the celebration of light returning–or at least, the hope of such. Today is the absolute earliest day I will allow Christmas music in the house; however, the Princess and Little Prince rarely want it. It saturates all public spaces; this is, by contrast, our refuge.

The dogs sense my tension. Boxnoggin is determined to fix whatever has my tail tied in a knot; Miss B dimly suspects this has happened before and is more sanguine. Come the morning of the 25th, when the cooking begins, both of them will be excited and anticipatory. I wonder what Boxnoggin’s other Christmases have been like. No doubt he’ll calm down once he’s stuffed full of ham, belly-scrubbings, and treats.

Growing up, this time of year was inevitably one of mounting unease culminating in explosion. I used to try to decide which was worse: several small fires or the menacingly quiet build-up to a terrifying conflagration. On the one hand, the several small rages and punishments kept me in a state of low-level terror until after New Year’s, on the other, the tension leading up to the huge explosion made me sick with anticipation and I eventually feared for my life during the inevitable culmination. Year after year it was a roulette.

The first time I spent a quiet Christmas just by myself was revelatory. Nobody was screaming, breaking plates or my toys; nobody was hissing that I didn’t deserve presents or that I was a selfish child for having been born; the day passed quietly without me sneaking away to hide under my bed or vomit hopelessly behind a locked bathroom door that could still be screwdriver-opened at any moment. I wasn’t dragged out to “participate”, I wasn’t glared at while I opened presents and tried to guess which ones would be taken away after extended family went home and the war I’d never signed up for returned.

It was wonderful.

When my children arrived, their obvious and visible joy in the holiday frightened me. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to live up to their expectations, I worried that they secretly felt as awful as I had during the whole thing and were suffering trying to hide it, I worried that I wasn’t providing enough gifts, enough “traditions”, enough of anything, especially on Christmases where the budget didn’t permit much in the way of presents. It’s kind of funny now–both kids tell me they’ve always loved the holiday and I’ve always made it special for them. They don’t really understand my unease, since it’s always been a time of joy for them, a time to roll around in evidence that their Mum indeed loves them fiercely, completely, utterly.

I still can’t decide which was worse, the ongoing small fires or the huge explosion. The latter generally cleared the air for a while, but the absolute unremitting fear for my life during it seems a high price to pay. On the other hand, the grinding tension of several small pokes, slaps, pinches, nasty comments, glares, tiny humiliations occurring in clusters before a relatively smaller eruption turned me into a big-eyed, quivering wreck, afraid to even breathe deeply.

There’s really nothing to recommend either.

The kids, of course, are oblivious, looking forward to tree-decorating and a glut of good food. Presents? Well, they have everything they want, really, but I was able to afford some small things this year, and it pleases me to think of their joy when the Glorious Morn rolls around.

Among my friends this year, I feel like I’m the strong one. I just want to get everyone through to New Year’s with a minimum of damage. I feel like I’m clinging grimly to a lifeboat’s sides, making sure everyone has their vests secured and rationing our shipboard biscuits while we wait for rescue, comforting who i can and soothing as far as I am able.

Sometimes I long for the brief period in my life where I could let this entire time of year pass without decoration or remark, safely curled up inside my shell. I only participate for others, and some years I wish I didn’t have to.

All the same, participating for the joy of others is exponentially better than the conflagration or the wilderness of small random fires. It’s even quite beautiful in its own way, and I’m happy to bring joy to the people I care for. It gives me a deep satisfaction that helps battle the residual stress, the way Christmas decorations or the collection of holiday smells make my stomach clench with pained panic. I often feel that being incapable of enjoying the damn holiday season detracts from the joy of people I love, and worry that it indeed makes me the selfish brat I was accused since birth of being.

For me, even the best Christmas isn’t as good as a regular day spent working. It’s a gauntlet to run through, something to endure, and I’m always deeply glad when it’s over.

I’m buckled in and buckled down, prepared to see it through. Let’s hope we all reach the New Year with the minimum of damage, my friends.

Over and out.