Blank, Pointy-Tooth Screens

Cormorant Run

The weekend passed in a blur, between chores and getting wordcount in on Damage. The best thing about it was the rain moving in. It is now officially autumn, and I couldn’t be happier.

I always work best when the rains settle like an inverted grey bowl, tip-tapping the roof and window, hissing between leaves beginning to turn, plopping into puddles. Maybe it’s all the negative ions being thrown up, maybe it’s the ambient white noise, maybe it’s the petrichor, maybe it’s the cleaning of the air. Maybe it’s all of them.

I also watched Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 and its two “sequels”, the latter only loosely related to the first movie but starring Jason Scott Lee. I don’t quite uncritically love them, I’m aware of how bad all three movies are. The first one played with some extremely interesting themes and the third had the right ending1 instead of an action-movie Gary Stu vomit-fest, so all in all, they’re not bad.

Vampires are a blank screen we use to project a number of anxieties onto. I know–I’m guilty as charged, between Selene2 and the scurf in the Kismet series.3 Both had their uses, and I might be ready to write Tarquin’s story. Or even Imprint, the Beguine vampire smexy-story I’ve been adding chunks to over literal years.

But first I’ve got to finish Damage and get the Season 2 zero of HOOD out of the way. Now that I’m in the productive half of the year, that might even happen in a hurry. And of course there’s running, running with dogs, walking with dogs, parenting, and making sure my meatsack doesn’t give out under the pressure.

It feels like juggling chainsaws, complete with the risk of lopping off a hand when one grabs the wrong way. Tiger by the tail, and all that.

I should also get the monthly newsletter out of the way. Incorruptible goes on sale later this month, too, so there’s housekeeping to do for that.

It’s a good thing the rainy season’s long in these parts. I’d probably never get anything finished otherwise. Time to finish absorbing my coffee and get with the program; it might be dangerous to stay in one place.

Over and out.

Fermentation Giggles

These silicon disks with vents in the middle are known as “pickle pipes”, but I call them “fermentation nipples” because, along with sounding more scientific, it makes me giggle like a schoolgirl each time I say it. Or type it. Or even think about it, frankly.

They fit on any wide-mouth Mason jar, and the nipples (*snork*) allow gases created by fermentation to escape while not allow oxygen in, so you get that lovely anaerobic reaction. I have a HUGE crock for making sauerkraut, but these will do for smaller batches, leftovers from filling said huge crock, and experimenting with things like carrots, cucumbers, and other ferment-able veggies.

Singing “Like a Pickle” to the tune of “Like a Virgin” and dancing around your kitchen giggling hysterically is entirely optional, but I think it makes the results taste better.

…sorry, I can’t stop laughing. Enjoy your weekend, chickadees.

The Nose Knows

Rattlesnake Wind

The rains have moved in. It smells like the cusp of autumn–cedars drinking deep after dusty drought, the dust itself breathing out spice before it turns to mud, summer-yellowed grass stirring and greening at the roots, leaves preparing to dry and drop. It’s one of the better olfactory landscapes, and one of my favorites.

It was an article of family catechism that I always had a runny nose; my caretakers–such as they were–dosed me with Sudafed on an almost daily basis because my sniffing irritated them. The only time I escaped it was when we lived in Wyoming; the air was so parched I couldn’t have mustered postnasal drip if I tried.

It’s strange. I can close my eyes and remember how every place my peripatetic family ever lived smelled, even when I was supposedly a sniffle-blocked child. I know smell is one of the more basic senses; often, that’s where I start when building a scene or a character.

Moving to western Washington after the dry altitude of Wyoming meant relentless, insulting “teasing” by the adults, centered on my nose. It was a comparatively small thing considering the level of other abuse I endured, but I found myself thinking about it yesterday while I stood on the deck and breathed deep of autumn.

I don’t think I had any more postnasal drip than any other child. I think that the so-called adults just picked something tiny to gaslight me about as part of a wider pattern, and medicated me with Sudafed (to the point that decongestants based on pseudoephedrine no longer work when I actually have a cold) in order to have one more reason to beat or harass me when I forgot my dose. I think that, contrary to their long-held beliefs and constant harping, I was actually quite normal but ended up getting into the habit of paying a great deal of attention to smell.

I also think, my gods, what a stupid, stupid thing to fixate on as a parent. I’m just glad it didn’t develop into Munchausen-by-proxy. Instead, they were far more prone to neglect when it came to my actual medical needs, which I never thought I’d be grateful for.

Anyway, I stood on the back deck for a while last night between rain squalls, inhaling deeply, and I thought about Wyoming. I thought about long grass, about dry membranes, about the taste of pseudoephedrine pills, about the niggling penny-ante parts of abuse, about rain and leaves and lightning.

My nose always told me the truth, unlike so-called parents. And I find myself, at forty-plus blessed years old, untangling yet another lie I was told so often I half believed it, and appreciating my faithful, wonderful sense of smell.

Freedom smells like a dry wind roaring through car windows when I was finally eighteen and driving away. It smells like the books I can leave wherever I like in my own damn house without fear of their being shredded or tossed in the rubbish, like the shampoo I can buy myself and use without fear of being screamed at for using too much, like my own bed in the middle of the night when I wake and realize there will be no heavy, stealthy footsteps creeping into my room while I lie rigid and anticipating pain.

And I realized a deep truth, painful like lancing a boil: Of all the varied smells that have passed through my life, I like freedom the best. And I wish you, my friends, a deep draft of whatever means “freedom” to you.

Every Permutation

So far this morning I’ve spent an hour in the car, walked the dogs, and swallowed a few correspondence toads. As a result, I’m somewhat at sixes and sevens, and longing for more coffee. I just can’t tell if more caffeine will help or hinder, given the amount of fog brewing in my head.

It’s a continual amazement to me that so many people will put off responding to one’s communications but expect one to drop everything and leap upon theirs. I’m getting better at shrugging and filing things for later reply, and it would be inaccurate to suggest I feel no pleasure in doing so. I’m also getting better at dead-eyeing entitled little brats (of any age) into behaving better while out in public.

The end of summer is always a strange flux time, especially when one has children in American public school. Three months off is just enough time to settle into much slower habits, and the scramble to organize and prepare in August makes me long for year-round schooling. It seems a much more humane way to do things, but of course, America won’t implement the humane way of things until we’ve tried every. other. possible. choice. and failed at each and every one.

I suppose that sounds ill-tempered, but I’m *mumblemumble* years old and have earned a little temper by surviving as long with a brain (and in a country) that wants to erase me.

In any case, yesterday’s grey skies and rain did good things all over. The trees are much happier; I could feel my soul expanding with every drop hitting the ground. Consequently, today is much better than I expected, even as I was rudely (and somewhat early) dragged from strange dreams.

Even my open window, full of cursing and hammering from numerous last-minute construction and renovation projects in the neighborhood (as well as a particularly musical storm of cursing at random intervals as a hammer strikes a thumb or some other disaster occurs) provies just enough backdrop noise to make things interesting. Yesterday’s scene in HOOD needs its guts torn out and rearranged, too–sometimes one can’t do a scene properly until one’s taken a trial run and found out what doesn’t work.

At least I don’t have to try every permutation. Once is enough.

The romance–Damage–is also coming along well, though I’m far enough along on the first third that a few days of tender care situating the entire thing just so is necessary before I can settle into the long middle doldrum. It will be nice to hit the end, especially since I know pretty exactly how the book wants to swing and stretch. It doesn’t even matter that it wants to be written piecemeal, because the signposts are so large and the structure so easily discerned.

In other words, I have my work for the day cut out indeed. Here’s hoping for more rain (though the weather app tells me such hope is in vain) and for whoever’s currently cursing a blue streak to get a bandage and some better luck. (It sounds like there was a slight mishap with a staple gun; I’d curse too.)

Over and out.

A Night Creature

Gallow & Ragged

By all rights I should be fast asleep.

I am a night creature, despite having to impersonate a daywalker for nigh onto two and a half decades. Left to my druthers, I roll into bed between 2 and 5am, sleep until well past noon, watch the sun go down, then get to work in the productive, nurturing hours of darkness.

Unfortunately, my children were both morning people. Extreme morning people. And then, getting up to get them to school–and being on call in case something happened during the school day–meant being awake when my entire body cried out for sleep instead. In a couple years that consideration will be gone, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to shift to the clock my circadian wants.

I wonder if dogs can be night creatures? I know they’re crepuscular, but changing around Miss B’s schedule is not a happy occurrence. (Her tummy tends to protest any large change at all, from grief to a new bedtime.) I’m sure Boxnoggin would treat it as an adventure, as long as the markers were in the right place–roll out of bed, take dogs out, feed dogs, that is the Holy Trinity of Morning no matter when the first event occurs. While B requires that events be on time, Boxnoggin only requires that they follow the proper sequence, which is as neat an explanation of their two personalities as can ever be found.

It feels like I’ve been waiting all my life to obey the dictates of my own damn body. The pressure is creative fuel, true, and some part of me wonders if I’ll be able to work without it despite evidence that I in fact work better when I’m not fighting a ridiculous, arbitrary current.

I suppose, if I’m ever not the last line of defense and on duty during daylight hours, I’ll find out. Until then, I just exhaust myself during the hours of sunlight so I can force myself to sleep when my circadian is shrieking this is the time you were built for, get up and get started.

I’m not quite complaining. I’m just remarking.

Anyway, I’ve an assassination to plan and another project to spend some serious time on, so I’d best get started. Miss B has informed me it is time for walkies, and woe betide the human who falls behind.

Over and out.

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.

An Actual Weekend

Steelflower in Snow

Ever have one of those days where nothing goes wrong for you, precisely, but everyone around you keeps getting packets of bad luck?

Yeah. Like that. Friday came along with terrible news, kept going through car trouble, and ended with me having to stop a teenage bigot from vomiting hatred-harassment, so by the time I got home I was more than ready to throw my purse in a corner and crawl into bed.

I’m finally feeling more like myself again, probably due to the work I did over the weekend. A ticklish scene in HOOD‘s Season Two gave me the answer to a plot problem I had heretofore only trusted would end up fixed eventually (my faith in the Muse knows very little bounds) and I got all sorts of stuff done in Tower of Yden. It was like a mini-vacation, writing exactly what I wanted, and since I ruthlessly closed my doors and was unavailable for anything else, a good deal of housecleaning got done too.

Normally my weekends take a few days to recover from, since I tend to cram in all sorts of things I can’t get to during the working week. But I’m actually feeling almost…rested? Is that the word?

I know, I know. Saying it aloud is a sure way to get hammered sideways by Something Quite Unexpected.

Anyway, today I feel my way through a scene with Robin Hood, Little John, Much the Miller’s Son, and Alan-a-dale. I know it’s important, and there’s a whole tangle of plot and counterplot going on, but I don’t quite have the shape of it yet. After I finish poking, it’s revisions on Incorruptible, which is lingering at about 60K words and will only get bigger. A truly angelic cover is needed, so it’s off to Indigo Chick Designs to look at premades, just to get an idea. (I love all Skyla’s covers.)

It’s also going to be very warm here today, after a couple weeks of decent (if somewhat humid) weather. I should get my run in early so I don’t get laid out in a puddle of hyperventilation and sweat.

In short, I’m somewhat optimistic about the week, despite publishers refusing to pay me. My entire life might explode as a result, but right at this moment nothing’s on fire and I can take a breath, so I might as well.

If it does explode, I’ll deal with it then. I suppose that’s adulthood. I could do without the lingering anxiety, but I suppose nothing is ever perfect.

Stay cool and hydrated out there, chickadees. Catch you tomorrow.