Beginning the Magic Mountain

Strange Angels

Well, it’s a Monday. I spent the last bit of my (very busy) weekend on the couch with Mann’s The Magic Mountain, which is going to be rather slow but enjoyable, like a caramel. Some of his asides remind me of Melville, but that could be a function of the translation.

I’ve taken to logging completely out of Twitter whenever I walk away from it, and the small change (along with a blocking app during the day) has done wonders for my peace of mind. I like being in contact with Readers, one has to be somewhat visible on social media today if one has any kind of artistic career, and I like being aware of the larger zeitgeist, yes.

It’s just the misogynists, bigots and fascists I don’t like, and their little bot armies. It’s gotten to the point that Twitter’s a firehose spewing raw sewage more often than not. This explains why most of the time I’m over on my Mastodon instance instead. (If you’ve a domain name and a five euro a month you can have your own instance; I highly recommend it.) With the crossposter, I can keep my presence on Twitter but I don’t have to bathe in the torrent unless and until I feel ready. Having to log in from scratch each ding-dang time does me no end of good. Already some of the stress I’m swimming in has gone down.

A few of you have contacted me privately about the current situation. Yes, it was bad; it’s mostly managed now. I thank you for your kindness–you know who you are –and though I didn’t need much of what was offered, it is extremely, heartbreakingly comforting to have been offered anything at all. So thank you.

I’m up relatively early, trying to get my coffee absorbed so I can get a damn run in before it gets too hot to breathe, let alone move, outside. A little exercise, a little Latin, and a whole lot of work today, since HOOD isn’t going to write itself; I am already sensing this season might start breaking for the finish line even though it’s only around 30K words right now. If I wasn’t so used to stories doing what they damn well please I might even be a little afraid to loosen the reins and let this one gallop.

After the number of novels I’ve written, you’d think it would get easier to tell what a given story wants before one is in the position of having it half-wrought. (Hint: It’s…not.) I just keep muttering, “if it were easy, everyone would do it” interspersed with dire obscenities–a song of deeply committed insanity, as it were.

I’m already waiting for the end of piano practice tonight, so I can settle on the couch and lose myself in a mountain sanitarium again. Aside from a few strange things it might do to my dreams, chances are good it’ll be a rest cure. I just hope it won’t take me seven years (lean or fat) to finish reading.

Over and out.

At a Glance

I got an astrology app for my phone, mostly because other people were posting the small daily notifications and they were hilarious. It certainly didn’t disappoint, especially that particular Sunday.

I am never lacking in fear. Sometimes I think I feel little else. But fear must be a spur instead of a wall–don’t let it stop you, let it drive you. Of course, there are utterly reasonable fears that keep us from running amok or running stop signs, but a healthy appreciation of consequences isn’t quite fear. It’s survival.

In any case, my friends, be bold. Go ahead and feel the fear, it’s all right. Just don’t let it stop you, especially when it comes to making the art you were put here to create. Nobody else can do it.

So get going.

Sort Of Recovering

Season 2 of HOOD starts today for my lovely subscribers. I’m pretty pleased, even if I might need three seasons instead of two after all, to get the arcs to fall right. Ah well, never rains but it pours, and that gives me more time to plan other things, I suppose.

The stress of the last week and a half is receding, though not nearly as quickly as I’d like. As I get older, it takes more time to bounce back from the killing worries, both financial and personal, that go along with this career–and, let’s face it, being a single mother. I suppose from outside it looks successful enough, but that semblance hides the fact that our household is hovering barely above the poverty line and it only takes a single bad event–or a single publisher refusing to pay what they owe–to trigger catastrophe. It doesn’t help that I spent the early part of last week working furiously, almost to the edge of burnout, to make sure HOOD: Season One was out properly and to get Incorruptible prepped for release. (The latter won’t be out until September; don’t worry, you’ll know as soon as preorders are up.)

So I’m a little shaky, and even though the worst of the disaster has been addressed, I’m still vibrating in place. (Not quite fast enough to be a squirrel twin, but… close.) The kids were a little worried, since normally I tend to keep a pretty granite poker face; they know that when that calm cracks it means things are Very Bad Indeed.

Anyway, I am recovering, and there are good things. Like the ebooks of my Beauty & the Beast retelling, Rose & Thunder, being on sale for the month of August. (You get about 28% off the regular price.) Also, I may be writing some more romances to keep the wolf from the door, but that’s good because I have a couple stories that fit that treatment perfectly and the editor interested in them is a gem.

The saving grace of the last week and a half has been my subscribers and patrons. That trickle of monthly support provides a thin cushion I’m ever grateful for, and means I can write still more for their delectation. It’s a virtuous circle–I produce better and more when I can sleep at night instead of lying awake in the darkness, my heart pounding, worrying about losing the house.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, I’ve this week’s fiction offerings to put together, and as soon as the cover for Incorruptible lands, the finishing touches can be put on September’s release and I can start thinking about November. Not quite sure if I’ll have anything finished and prepped by then, but hope springs eternal. I have a rather punishing publication schedule.1 A lot will depend on if publishers decide to snap up one or two projects my agent is making the rounds with.

I like self-publishing, but it would be a relief to outsource some of the brute work–formatting, listing for sale, editing–to a company that has deeper pockets and more labor than my own small, sweet self. A vacation’s out of the question, but a break, now that would be nice.

But today there’s coffee to finish, subscription stuff to get up, dogs to walk, a kitchen to clean, and maybe some laundry to do. The fun never ends chez Saintcrow, and I suppose I’d better like it, since it won’t change anytime soon. Making a virtue out of necessity is a writer’s survival strategy.

Over and out.

Not-Sleeping with Segur

Desires, Known

Not a single flicker of sleep last night, and my head is as tender as an overripe pumpkin. To think I used to endure insomnia three days out of five–well, I was younger then, and most assuredly am not at the moment. I’m fast losing my ability to string words together, and coffee is losing its utility to boot.

I used to think of nighttime as both a balm and a personal enemy. On the one hand, once I left my childhood home the darkness held very little in the way of terrors. It became a vast aquarium I could hide in, a small quick fish just out of reach.

Plenty of my best work has happened in those long dead times when the rest of the world is deep in slumber. The staticky feedback of so many conscious minds nibbling like mice at a gingerbread wall ceases, and one can think. Plus, what else was I going to do while I was up?

Well, other than read and listen obsessively to Mahler’s Fourth. Everyone’s got their own little quirks.

Even the sleep deprivation of having babies barely made a dent. I was so used to functioning under extreme exhaustion; it was probably easier on me than on many new parents. (Not to mention I’d been caring for small humans since I was eight.) I didn’t consider the insomnia as anything out of the ordinary, but maybe that’s why postpartum depression almost killed me. I was literally too tired to care about my own personal survival.

When I went on meds, the most marvelous revelation was being able to consistently pass out on a nightly basis. I’m sure it added years onto my life, and nowadays I sleep more often than not without chemical enhancement.

But not last night. No, last night was tossing and turning, my heartrate suddenly deciding to rocket into the stratosphere, wild What-Ifs crawling into my ears, and just generally a bad scene. At least I had Ségur to keep me company.1 I read Caulaincourt on the same events some while ago, and it’s interesting to see the overlap.

It’s not so bad, except I’m running out of words. Even writing this has taken far longer than it should; I stop and stare between sentences or even between syllables. Coffee is nice and the night is beautiful… but I think I prefer sleep.

I’ll rest well tonight. At least, so I hope.

Soundtrack Monday: Pumped Up Kicks

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! Today’s track is Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks, which is what’s playing on the jukebox inside a pool hall near the beginning of Nameless–my retelling of Snow White.

That song in particular was for Nico, who is not quite a Prince Charming. For one thing, Nico’s a Family boy, and Family is forever. For another, Nico also has some rage issues, and an important part of the book was the protagonist deciding that Prince Charming could do his own fucking emotional labor, she wasn’t going to anymore. (I almost felt like cheering when that scene arrived in its final form.)

Nameless was the first of what I call my Human Tales–retold fairytales, basically, where I aim for the heart of whatever story has its claws in me. It’s also important that in the books, Cami, Ruby, and Ellie save each other in turn. It’s not up to a man (or boy) to do so; the saving grace lies in the friendship of three girls on the cusp of adulthood. That’s one thing I had to fight for–my first editor got it, though, so I felt comfortable sticking to my guns all the way down the line (through several orphanings, I might add) when the Powers That Be, Marketing Or Otherwise, wondered if I couldn’t bring the romance just a teensy bit forward.

I could have told them to save their breath. Men don’t save teenage girls; teen girls save themselves.

Anyway, listening to this track will give you Nico’s anger and the rhythm of a pool hall, violence just under the surface of an ordered game. Enjoy!

From Every End

I finally have coffee this morning, no thanks to the dogs. Now I just have to wait for it to cool to a drinkable temperature.

It’s always something.

I spent the weekend doing housework and watching Buzzfeed Unsolved videos. (I like the true crime ones; life is always, always weirder than fiction.) It was pleasant to stay away from the news, though I made the mistake of looking Sunday morning.

The murderous carnival continues, piping merrily down the road to fascist hell.

Anyway, Season Two of HOOD starts this week. I’m going to try to get everything done in two seasons for this serial, but there’s no promises–there’s the Fête and then the Rescue, and they might need a season apiece. After that, unless a publisher buys it, we’ll start Rook and Rose, the first book of which is Hell’s Acre.

That’s the plan, at least. Things are all up in the air here. It would be nice if a Certain Publisher would pay me what they owe; that way I could get the bank holding the mortgage in a fractionally better mood. Writers get it from every end, from theft of our work by piracy or plagiarism to credit woes because we’re basically freelancers. If we don’t pay our bills we suffer consequences, but if publishers/distributors don’t pay us we have little recourse unless we’re already wealthy enough to afford legal representation. It’s a shitshow, frankly, and though I’ve hustled to keep body and soul (and children and dogs) together for multiple years now I’m beginning to get a bit tired.

Just a bit.

In any case, I have plenty of cardamom in my coffee, everyone here at least has their health, and I have more work coming out. I even started writing a story last night, longhand in a spiral notebook as if I was still in high school. It may want to be written entirely that way, which means it’ll already be half-revised by the time the zero’s done, since I’ll have to type it from the handwritten pages. That will be interesting, I’ve rarely had a book come out that way before. Much of Rattlesnake Wind was written that way, and some of She Wolf and Cub. The lucky book choosing to come out that way this particular time is Memory Game, where a woman wakes up in a hospital bed and doesn’t know who she is.

I need to research trauma amnesia now. Hm.

Anyway, best to keep it sharklike–keep swimming or I’ll drown, and wear a big smile. At least there’s coffee, and I can worry about the stack of paperwork on my desk later.

Over and out.

Cherry Cherry

My neighbor came home with way more cherries than they needed after visiting a valley farm, and–because they are amazing–I got enough for a pie. And my writing partner lent me her cherry pitter because she’s cool that way.

Of course my favorite favorite pie is lemon meringue, but who has time for hand-made meringue? Cherry is my other favorite, especially with mountains of whipped cream.

I also get to eat myself sick in the preparation phase of piemaking, so there’s that. Never underestimate a good cherry pitter, my friends, and have a lovely weekend.