Birthday Month Snowpocalypse

Of course yesterday–the day I had to spend mostly outside the house–was the day it decided to snow. It didn’t accumulate, thank goodness, but the roads got super sloppy and everyone piloting a car was stressed out and consequently a bit wavering. On the bright side, I got through the grocer’s between waves of “OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO SNOWPOCALYPSE DIIIIIIE” people, and noticed only that the bottled water had been pillaged. There was still plenty of dairy.

Today I can rest a bit. But only a bit, since I have to perform yet more Birthday Month-related things. I also have a run to get in; the dogs need their fidgets worked hard. They get stressed during any excitement; Mum leaving a houseful of guests in their care for hours at a time (well, the Princess was home and entertaining, so the dogs weren’t entirely on their own while performing supervisory duties) has made them Nervous.

I should get out the door if that’s what I’m planning. I was allowed a bit of a lie-in this morning, thankfully dog-free since the Princess came in, set a cup of coffee on my nightstand, and dragged both canines out. For no reason at all, she said, except she thought I’d like it.

I have good kids.

If I can just get through next week, the birthday month craziness should die down and I’ll get a chance to breathe. That will be a lovely change, and I’ll relish it.

The enforced rest has done some good–I’ve been getting research reading in, and that always deepens the worlds I play with. I’m only getting bare wordcount, 200-400 words a day, since most of my energy’s going elsewhere. I get itchy and tetchy when I don’t write, but at least 200 words is a prophylactic measure. I’m only slightly annoyed with the world as a result.

So today is for running, listening to kulning (a new obsession) and being grateful to my Past Self for scheduling subscription stuff so I don’t get home today and have to engage in a scramble to get that done. Hallelujah and thanks, Past Self! I’ve almost forgiven you for that “[[put sex scene here]]” you pulled last week.

Almost

Cold, Critical Gloss

I find myself muttering, “Christ I wish I still drank” more and more often these days. Breaking out in hives the morning after I indulge in any alcohol isn’t as much of a deterrent as it might be.

It’s a busy month. Birthdays, tax preparation, phone calls to be endured. At least I have a few recipes to work on and perfect. I’m considering leek and potato soup in the Instant Pot, but we’ll see. I also want to try focaccia with the method in SALT FAT ACID HEAT. Normally I’m not a fan of enriching bread with anything that’ll coat the starches and keep the gluten from firming up, but there’s always room in life for experimentation, right?

All the social and life obligations mean less time for writing. I’ve been working at white heat for a while but apparently, it hasn’t been enough. I wanted to have a zero of HOOD‘s Season One by this point, but it just hasn’t happened. Plus, The Poison Prince needs steady filling work, being the middle book in a trilogy. Everything needs to be balanced just-so, and being called away from the work at this point is frustrating in the extreme.

It’s also very chilly, which means the dogs don’t want to go outside unless they can use me as a windbreak. And each time we do so, my hair rises up in rebellion and does its best to strangle me. I suppose I should tie it down but then my nape and ears get cold. At least there are no bees nesting in my mop; they generally wait for warmer months.

I also have, by virtue of an excellent best friend, a tea bush–an actual tea bush–that was raised locally so is hardened to our peculiar conditions. I want to wait until it’s no longer so frigid to get it in the ground, maybe right next to the butterfly bush or in one of the southern garden boxes. Just imagine–one’s own tea leaves, hyperlocal and hand-dried.

I did get a few books knocked off this weekend on the reading instead of the writing end, including a kind of useful but startlingly stuck-up review of just-before-modern Japanese literature. I’ve been defeated by The Tale of Genji numerous times but with annotations, lit crit, and glosses, one day I might climb that mountain, and critical works are a good way to begin to figure out what to look for in books I don’t understand the milieu of. I want to value what I read properly, and that means I must search for understanding.

My TBR has a dent in it and I should shelve everything on the “this has been read but not yet put away” section of my office just to get some breathing room. Maybe I’ll just take March as more reading-friendly than working-friendly, throw up my hands, and call it good…

…but I wouldn’t bet on it. I am, I suppose, a stubborn pumpkin, and one who needs a run no matter how cold the wind.

See you around, my dears.

What We Want

“But what if they don’t get along?” I worried, over and over. “Yes, I know Miss B chose Boxnoggin at the shelter from a range of contenders, but what if they don’t bond?”

Reader, I worried for nothing, as this fuzzy (in more than one way) photo confirms. I came around the corner, disturbing their snoozing, and was treated to a double ration of “Why did you disturb us, traveler?”

I mean, I shouldn’t have doubted in the first place. Miss B always knows what she wants–unless she’s faced with the choice of herding cats or squirrels, and even then her answer is a resounding “BOTH!”

May both you and I know exactly what we want today, and go after it with all the speed of Miss B herding or Boxnoggin running for the simple joy of it.

Cardio, Achieved

A bright, clear, cold morning has risen, and brought with it…several notifications from the bank, needing me to call in and verify some charges so we can be sure they’re mine. I don’t mind it–I’m glad they’re paying attention–but good gravy Marie, my heart is going a million miles an hour now. I don’t need today’s planned cardio anymore, thanks.

We had some show showers yesterday, but none of them stuck. It’s a shame, it would have been nice to have a snow day…except we live on a hill, and inevitably, someone slides sideways down it whenever there’s the least trace of ice. And I don’t just mean pedestrians. Pretty much every car belonging to a garage down the hill has slid down sideways at least once in the *mumblemumble* years we’ve been here. Thanks, climate change!

In any case there’s sun, which I will ignore as best I can, and I got 2K out on HOOD yesterday. I’m looking for today being similarly productive; whether that happens in going over yesterday’s wordage or hammering out the consequences of the Big Explosion (that isn’t even the crisis of the book, hurrah!) leading up to the race and Maid Marian’s finding out about King Richard’s proposed return is up to the Muse. I’ve thrown up my hands and consigned the entire mess to hers.

Serves her right, too.

I’m beginning to hate this book and long for it to be over. I’d say “right on schedule” because this is the next step in the process, but it seems to be happening two-thirds instead of three-fourths of the way through, and that makes me glare uneasily at the whole damn text. If it has something up its sleeve, I’d like to know–but the only way of finding out is continuing to work.

Goddamn Muse. I’m telling you, chickadees, that bitch’s sense of humor is almost as uncomfortable as mine.

So. A run to get all the adrenaline soaking my system out and away, a shower, tea, and glancing over yesterday’s work–the morning is packed, and the afternoon not far behind. Plus there’s subscription stuff to get out. I wonder what I’ll choose to send to my Crow’s Nest peeps. There’s an embarrassment of riches on that front.

If I don’t freeze to death while running, that is. I probably won’t feel a damn thing, I’ve got so much cortisol racing through me.

*vibrates out the door*

Spark, Work, Spark Again

2.5K on HOOD’s Season One yesterday. All in revision, which would bother me–except I’m getting ready for the huge push to get the zero out. Then I can switch to The Poison Prince and get that skeleton all arranged and padded. It lingers in my reveries like to a step-dame or a dowager, long withering out a young man’s revenue.

Not that it’s a bad thing, I’m just dreading it because by the time it’s over it’ll be another 200K that I have to trudge through CEs for, probably at short notice since it’s always a case of festina lente. If a publisher paid me enough to be my only client I wouldn’t mind so much, but none of them do anymore and as a result, I do mind and I will not be harried into working weekends when salaried employees don’t.

Well, I will work weekends, but only for me, myself, and I. That’s the only client paying me enough, frankly.

In any case, I am in that twitching, raw space where I want to get this done and move on to the next project. The instant I finish The Bloody Thone–number three in the epic fantasy trilogy–I am going to feel so. damn. liberated. The only problem is that there’s proofs on Book 1, then the whole process on Books 2 & 3, to get through.

I shouldn’t complain. I wanted to stretch my wings and write something different. And I love several parts of this series. There are just…behind the scenes issues dragging at my fingers while I type, which is my very least favorite way of writing. You’d think, after a decade and a half in the business, that some people would assume I know what I’m doing.

Anyway, I am sparking with low-level irritation and the desire to get things done. If I can manage to get to the end of revisions today I’ll be set up for the run for the finish, which will include Marah’s Race and some domestic terrorism for spice, as well as a giant arms heist and the ending stinger–because upping the stakes with King Richard’s return is good narrative fuel. Friar Tuck needs more screen time, he’s the moving part I care least about but that doesn’t mean I’ll spend less time polishing and crafting him or his story.

Well, that’s the work before me. It’s a sunny Tuesday with snow clinging in the corners, bright, inexorable, and dangerous. The dogs wish for a run, but taking their tender paws out onto ice (not to mention the risk of falling myself) isn’t cricket at all.

So it’s upward and inward, and all those things I’d fiddle with to procrastinate have been folded away and put to bed. Nothing before me but the task I must accomplish…

…and there’s some shortbread dough in the fridge, of course, but that’s neither here nor there. One needs something to look forward to in order to work most effectively, right?

Right?

On Formality

I am a somewhat formal creature. My emails start with “Dear Sir/Madam” most of the time, and I will never call someone by their first name until specifically asked to do so, and even then it will be Ms/Mr Firstname for a while.

This meshes somewhat uneasily with my chosen career. Generally the people I write to are glad of the formality–politeness, after all, is a plus when dealing with editors, publishers, or other writers.

But it also means that the modern slide into informality irritates the living daylights out of me. Strangers who start their missives with “Hey Lili” or “Hey Lilith” get an automatic strike, and guess what? If I haven’t deliberately told you to address me informally at least once, you’re a stranger.

I wouldn’t mind so much, except for the Saintcrow Law of Informal Address1: the informality of address by a stranger is precisely proportional to the “favor” they wish to extract from you, and their concomitant fury when denied is multiplied by each factor and then squared.

In other words, I see “Hey Lili” at the beginning of a stranger’s email and wince, knowing ahead of time that I will be asked for something and when I say “no” I’ll get a screed2 in return.

It never, ever fails. I can count the exceptions to this rule on one hand and have fingers left over, and that’s after being on the goddamn internet for decades now.

By contrast, the emails I get with formal address (including, hilariously, missives sent to an entirely nonexistent “Mr Saintcrowe”, because somehow if I’m a man the extra “e” needs to be added, don’t ask me, I just work here) are uniformly much better spelled, not to mention more reasonable in content, and when I send a gentle “I am sorry, I cannot,” the letter writer takes time to pen a short, very polite, forgiving missive to close out the interaction.

Consequently I am much more likely to use the extremely limited time allotted to correspondence to respond to a letter or email using formal address than the alternative.

I offer this insight not to complain3 but to advise. The joking informality currently in fashion might be working against you if you want people to go out of their way or read past your greeting. Especially if you’re asking a busy person for a favor.

I realize my habit of formal address is often seen as cold or standoffish, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for behaving in a decent fashion according to my own lights. I’ve never had a person call me rude for using proper address4. So, of course, your mileage may vary…

…but if you don’t get responses to your familiar, joking little emails, you might want to consider how you’re starting them out.

‘Nuff said.