Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.

A Cracking Start

So it’s Monday, and we’re off to a cracking start. First the dogs attempted murder through sheer exuberance (stepping all over me while I was helpless and recumbent in bed), then through positioning–i.e., tripping Yours Truly several times when I finally achieved some measure of verticality. Then I almost missed a stair on the deck while taking them out for morning unloading, and had to grab at the banister with both hands, while whatever I was holding was flung in a high arc and landed in a rhododendron. Then I was standing, staring myopically at Horace de Brassiere and wondering why his little blue light wasn’t turning on, and for good measure why the red one wasn’t on either.

Then I realized the damn coffeemaker wasn’t even plugged in, let alone turned on. And to top it all off, a little while later I forgot I was holding a pen (making notes on today’s to-do list) and went to push my hair back, stabbing myself in the face.

So, yeah. We’re doing well around the Chez this morning. Super well.

Today is for working on Hell’s Acre, and also starting revisions on the second Ghost Squad book. The latter is Klemp’s book, eagerly awaited by many Readers if my inbox is any indication; the zero draft got a highly positive reaction from beta readers and the second draft did very well with the editor. I’m glad to be working on revisions instead of generating new text, for once; I’m exhausted and dredging up New Words sometimes seems an insuperable difficulty–unless it’s Space Werewolves, apparently? I don’t know, my brain is a smoking wasteland, I just live here.

The monthly newsletter went out yesterday, so there’s that, too. And the werelion story’s free teaser is doing rather well at the moment. We’re on the final two weeks of that book being up as a serial before I take it down and start sending it through the editing pipeline. There’s also The Dead God’s Heart duology needing its final brush-up before it goes into copyedits. It will be nice to have that last one put to bed, not to mention getting covers and preorder links for it so I can do up a books page.

In other words, there’s no shortage of work, and maybe if I can get some caffeine in and stop stabbing myself in the face I might even get a chunk of it done between walking the dogs, forcing my own corpse to run for a few kilometers, getting estimates for house repair (that snowstorm, my gods), and planning dinner–I had a whole chicken and an InstantPot, so yesterday was very tasty indeed. And Miss B is still holding steady, so that’s a giant relief.

I’m taking things on that last front one day at a time.

One thing I’m not doing is checking the news, or very much social media. Any tenuous calm I might have achieved lately won’t bear that weight without snapping. News, especially bad news, filters into my sphere without it anyway; I can’t escape. Nor do I want to, precisely–but I do need a bit of amelioration.

Here’s hoping I don’t break a limb if Monday began as it means to go on. I did eventually figure out that I should actually turn Horace on if I wanted coffee, and caffeine is currently soaking into my starved tissues like a blessing from heaven. Plus, a bit of Good Mischief I performed before the weekend has finally reached its intended target, and hearing that it made someone’s day (and will provide them with a little relief) has done my mood no end of good.

Welcome to the week, my beloveds. I can hope it will turn out well, or will at least end in a stalemate.

Over and out.

New Chair and Basic Division

The dogs are somewhere between excited and unnerved this morning, since there have been ch-ch-ch-changes at the Chez. For one thing, we had the insurance adjustors out on Tuesday, and that meant an hour of poor, unhappy dogs barking excitedly from my bedroom (Boxnoggin) or my office (Miss B)–separated because if they’re put in Durance Vile together they start wrestling, and I didn’t want our visitors to think we had a pack of wolves hidden down the hall. I needn’t have bothered; they made just as much noise separately as they would have in the same room. At least there wasn’t any further damage.

So they’ve already had one Big Change in the Holy Routine. Then I committed the grave sin of moving some office furnishings around, in preparation for the new chair. That’s right, I finally broke down and bought a Pipersong after months of dithering. Now I can sit cross-legged or squatting while I write, and the difference is phenomenal. Said chair arrived early yesterday morning, and the Princess laid claim to the box as soon as it thumped on our front steps.

She loves putting together furniture, not to mention doing home repairs. “It’s like puzzles,” she says, excitedly. Give her an allen wrench and some Ikea furniture, and she’s a happy camper. So, since I loathe the entire experience of assembling, I left her to it–and left the house to acquire groceries, which the dogs were also upset over. Not only had boxes been rearranged and the monstera plant moved into the office where Mum spends most her time, but there is also a new contraption in here.

Anyway, they were brats all yesterday afternoon, unnerved by even this small amount of change. And this morning they’re clingy and needy, wanting all sorts of reassurance. Any change is bad, according to them, and they want lots of petting and praise and attention to normalize the world again. On the bright side, in a short while they’ll forget things were ever otherwise, and the new chair (not to mention the new office configuration) will be the new normal.

As for the chair itself, it’s marvy. I was going back and forth about the price, but the Princess pointed out that I’ll be using it literally every day, and if it lasts a year that’s basically a dollar’s worth of comfort daily. Not to mention it’ll practically pay for itself with increased productivity. The most productive time in my working life was when I could write sitting cross-legged in my papasan chair, a lapdesk and laptop upon my knees. Now I have an actual desk, but I can sit cross-legged, or squat, or turn the backrest around and lean on it while I sit tailor-fashion. And it’s glorious. It will also mean that I shift position more during the day, which will cut down on the rising back and neck pain.

My wrists are going to feel better too. My previous chair was a big-and-tall version, which I could sit cross-legged in with a bit of work, but I often didn’t. It was also a bit too low, so my wrists got entirely too much stress. They’re a little twinge-y at the moment, because I just finished the serial-revision of the werelion book. It’s now up on a serial platform under a pseudonym (though several of you have already found it, good work, you madcaps) and will remain there until June, when I’ll take it down, possibly put some of the spicier bits back in, and let it out into the wild as a book. That should happen around September-ish.

I wasn’t able to test this particular serial platform fully under my Real Author Name, since they’re just so horrible at author services. I figured finishing the testing under a pseudonym instead was acceptable, and now I know the platform’s back end and will watch how the complete story performs for a couple months. I figured since I was just going to have this book lying around and it was probably unpublishable (at least in trad or even indie) I might as well have a go, as they say. That way I can also add to the knowledge pool of other writers when we get together to swap war stories.

There is a basic division in humanity between “I suffered through the horrifying thing so I want everyone else to suffer as well” and “I tried the horrifying thing so you don’t have to.” This is also clearly shown in the “debate” over canceling student loans. One side says, “I suffered through servicing predatory lenders and I want everyone who desires an education to feel that pain” and the other says, “I suffered through it and I don’t want anyone else to do so ever again, so let’s find something better.” The difference is ontological, and crucial.

Anyway, the dogs are simply beside themselves, though I haven’t even finished my coffee yet. On the bright side, the shooting agony in my neck whenever I spend more than a quarter-hour at my desk have vanished, so there’s that. I don’t have to focus through the discomfort to get anything done. The bloody chair’s already paying for itself, and ahead of schedule too.

Time to grab some toast and get the dogs on track. I suspect they’ll calm right down after a few traditional morning scraps, and even more after walkies. But in order to do that, I’ll have to stop nattering at you, my beloveds.

Off I go then, to give Thursday a new contour. See you around.

Finish and Insurance

The radio inside my head was tuned to Culture Club this morning. I stood in front of Horace de Brassiere humming and wondering if Boy George ever introduced himself as, “George, Boy George,” when ordering a martini.

My brain is a wonderland. An exceedingly weird one.

I’m six chapters away from uploading the end of the werelion book. I have to say, it’s absurdly freeing to know it’s semi-hidden, and not expecting anyone to find it. It’s an homage to VC Andrews and Cat People, and I expected there to be more erotica. But the book takes the shape it wants, not the shape I think I want, and apparently I was more interested in purple prose poetry and some of the underlying plot features of Andrews’s work. It annoys me to a certain degree, I longed to test my smut-writing.

Ah well. I still have the pseudonym, and once the book rests a bit I might do a “director’s edition” with all the stuff I didn’t put into this iteration. That’s the freedom of choosing another name. One pays for it by having to start all over with building an audience, but sometimes that price is acceptable. And I can view this as just one more lesson in letting the work take the contours it, in its infinite wisdom, desires. The story knows what it needs better than I do in some cases, and part of this career is knowing when those times are.

We’re in the last days of the April sale; Damage is no longer on sale but Rose & Thunder still is until the 30th. I should decide what I want next month’s sale to be, or even if I want to run one. I’m tired right now, from the end of a zero draft as well as the revision to get it into serial format, so I probably shouldn’t be making any decisions until the damn thing is done and I have a few minutes to breathe.

And we have an insurance adjustor coming today to view the storm damage. I am unhappy about this, since the insurance company has never done right by us, but I’m waiting to see if this will be the moment that bucks the trend. I know adjustors are just people trying to do their job and the real problem is the institutionalized nastiness of giant corporations, especially those which profit off human misery and fear (what else is insurance, really?) so it’s no trouble to be polite…and at the same time, I am nervous and so stressed the dogs can sense it, and are tetchy as well.

So today will be a great deal of fun, for a certain value of the word. At least there’s the prospect of one giant project finishing today, so as soon as the adjustor is gone upon their merry way and I upload the last chapter I can heave a sigh of relief and wander out of my office like the shell-shocked survivor of some great disaster. I might even be able to go to bed early, or at least collapse on the couch and groan with feeling while the dogs lobby hard to clamber up and use me as a cushion.

It will be a relief to get back to paying projects, especially if the insurance company tries to weasel out of their contractually obligated replacing and repairing. And I’m taking a week off the other serial before it starts Season Two, so at least there’s that. Maybe I’ll even get some real rest in.

It’s doubtful, but the hope keeps one going. I can feel the coffee soaking in and the dogs are eager for their toast-crust, so I should be about my business. I’ll be calmer, not to mention far more gracious, after we finish with walkies and I get my weary corpse prodded through a run. Exercise works wonders, and while I’m running I won’t have to chew over Great Life Problems, being entirely occupied with dragging in enough oxygen to fuel my shamble and untangling plot snarls in whatever story decides to torment me while I’m out of the house.

…I did have more to say, especially about that silly oligarch attempting to buy Twitter just so he can ban people who mock his silly oligarch self and invite an orange shitgibbon back in to stink up the joint, but I’m not in the mood for that. I do think it’s interesting there was a giant purge of bots along with a mass exodus from hellsite as the news began to filter out, and I have some (probably inaccurate, but I don’t think so since I’ve learned never to underestimate the greed of rich white men) thoughts on what that means. But why ruin my day (and yours) further by unpacking that?

Honestly, I’d rather finish my coffee and get started. Those final six chapters aren’t gonna revise themselves, more’s the pity.

See you around, my beloveds.

Sixth Time Friday

Snow? Ha. I scoff at such inclemency!

How is it Friday? Wait. Is it Friday?

…I checked, for the sixth time this morning. It is indeed and irrevocably Friday, and I’m pretty sure the recent freak snowstorm was winter’s very last gasp. Sometimes seasons like a long drawn-out death, like certain movie villains. Remember Alan Rickman’s death scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Everything about that movie was fantastic, except for Kevin Costner.

Christ, I’m old.

Anyway, it’s Friday. There’s an upcoming Tea with Lili today, where we’ll be talking about how to deal with snapback. (I will still be knitting on the same damn shawl.) I’m sure there will be other tangents and subjects, as per usual.

It is a hushed, dripping, misty morning, and the neighborhood is quiet. This is, I suspect, a mercy of short duration. Even the dogs are subdued (don’t worry, this won’t last) and I am only a third of the way through my coffee. The week is bouncing around inside me, trying to find a place to settle, and I dislike the feeling intensely.

I’ll be working all weekend, but at least I can take a deep breath while the fog wraps the trees–blooming or simply leafing out–in cotton and the birds gather on the Yankee Squirrel Flinger. I do really have to tell you guys about Boxnoggin and the windchimes, you guys will enjoy that story even if it’s embarrassing–for him, mind you, though he’s forgotten all about it already.

I was wearing shoes and thus escaped shame. (Mostly.)

Have a lovely weekend, my dears. May your weather be fair, your pets hilarious, and your relaxation epic.

See you next week.

After the Snow

We had quite a lot of wet, heavy snow (especially for April, in this part of the world) falling very quickly yesterday morning. It was lovely…until the crashing started all through the neighborhood. The firs around the house lost some huge branches, and as a result there’s a call in to the insurance company. I’m sure there were a rash of similar calls, because even though the deadly silence of snow you could hear the breaking and thudding everywhere.

This fellow could have gone straight through the house, but did not.

This particular limb is hanging across the deck; it landed on the roof crosswise and slid, bending the gutter and punching through the deck’s upright slats. There’s another one just as big lying over it up on the roof proper, and you can see both from the front of the house, over the roof-crest. This is just a sliver of the damage the storm did. You can also see a bit of the leftover slush-ice, which is lingering in shaded patches.

So far the insurance company seems genuinely helpful, but that’s no indication. All my phalanges are crossed, because it’s a lot of fallen crap and we simply can’t get to the roof to figure out if it’s whole. I guess we’ll find out when the thunderstorms move in later today?

Added to that, the faucet in the kids’ loo needs replacing. Fortunately the Princess likes puzzles and home repair, so she’s given Yours Truly a list of supplies, which are wending their way through the supply chain. It’s…very odd, to have someone in the house to rely on. I’m used to doing everything alone, world without end, amen. Learning to loosen my grip a little and accept help is quite a journey.

The zero draft of Hell’s Acre‘s Season One is finished, and the last chapter will probably go out to subscribers this week. I am spiking for the finish of the Sekrit Projekt’s zero, too–the VC Andrews/Cat People thing–and that will be lovely to have off my docket. It’s possessed me for long enough, I think.

They’re saying thunderstorms and wintry mix today, so that’s going to be grand. There’s still snow on the roofs too, though it seems to have largely melted off boughs–which is a mercy, because more rain atop the wet slush is heavy and could bring down even more weakened limbs, and we’ve had quite enough of that, thank you.

And that’s all the news I can think of this morning while my coffee cools. We could have done without this, but if it had to happen, at least the tree-arms didn’t fall point-first. Any one of the fallen could have punched straight through both floors if they’d hit wrong. So we’re fortunate in that respect, and I am thanking every lucky star I can think of.

At least nothing’s hitting the roof this morning. The dogs were quite put out with both the absence of walkies and the constant noise of impacts all through yesterday. Boxnoggin was a nervous wreck and even Miss B got a little tetchy, pressing close to my leg and looking up at me as if to say just make it stop, Mum, why are you doing this? Poor thing, she’s dead convinced I had some sort of control over what was happening. It’s probably too terrifying for her to contemplate otherwise.

Tuesday promises to be busy, but at least I can crawl into work for a short while and escape. (Unless some-damn-thing else happens.) I do have a SquirrelTerror tale to tell you (how Boxnoggin got tangled up in windchimes) but that’ll have to wait for another day.

See you around.

Pre-Clean Phase

We had a bit of a breeze last night and a giant limb fell across the lower half of the deck stairs, shattering the trellis for the hop vine. On the bright side, the trellis’s sacrifice means the stairs are fine, so at least there’s that. And the coffee tastes particularly good this morning since I don’t have to do any jackleg carpentry.

One repair per weekend is enough. I know, I know–a house means repairs. But I already did plumbing this weekend, for godsake. Okay, I have to be honest, it was simply replacing a lever on the downstairs loo, but I swore five or six times so it still counts.

I’m contemplating doing a complete Kon-Mari on the kitchen. There are plenty of things we don’t use, and freeing them to fly into the world and find those who need them might mean my daughter can finally fit an air fryer into the cabinets somewhere. We aren’t getting any more appliances until we have room for them, and she’s been eyeing air fryers and griddles with hungry, hungry eyes. I wouldn’t mind a stovetop griddle myself, but we’re positively choked with other kitchen things and besides, the All-Clad lids are very inefficiently organized.

So I’m in the pre-clean phase, where I’m poking around cabinets and making decisions. Eventually I’ll decide what I actually want to do, and then a burst of activity will unnerve the dogs and make the children wish they’d never put the bug in my ear about griddles, of all things. I already have a list of things that need to move on to new homes; I just need to think about how I want to stack things in the freed-up space.

I can’t tell if my mood is a result of pre-coffee branch-wrestling, the attempt I made to slow down and not-work this weekend, or any of a hundred other unpleasant things like taking care of everyone else’s emotional needs and neglecting my own. A run will probably set me right, but in order to get there I have to grab brekkie and walk the dogs. For once, though, I’d like to just do the things that please me.

Wouldn’t we all.

It’s all Monday, I suppose. I have two questions for today’s Tea with Lili and there’s work to be done if I can just get everything else out of the way. I suspect I’m cranky because I haven’t written more than a bare 200 words per day for the weekend, and the itch to simply crawl back into a fictional world is mounting. At least inside a book I know what I’m doing.

I suppose I’d best get started since nothing at all will get done with me sitting around and moaning. I’ve a list, I’ve the dogs, and I’m in my running togs.

See you around, my dears.