COVER REVEAL: Rattlesnake Wind

There are some books that live very close to the writer’s heart, and this is one of mine.

When I was much younger than today, we moved from Great Britain to Wyoming, and the culture shock was immense. The only thing to love about the place was the wind coming over vast sweeps of long grass and whispering secrets into my aching ears. When we left again, this time to move to the Pacific Northwest, I cried as quietly as I could in the car, telling the plains and the wind I’d be back.

It took many a year, but I finally returned. Not physically, but I’m not sure it matters.

Fireside was the only publisher willing to take a chance on this book, for a variety of reasons, and the only publisher I felt comfortable trusting its bloody beating heart to; this beautiful cover was made by Eleanor Chuah. I’m proud and honored to invite you into this book, my dear Readers, and I hope you enjoy it…

The first night we spent in that ancient mobile home, the wind mouthed its corners with a low whispering almost like words from another room.

Desiree Sarpe and her family–minus their domineering, abusive patriarch–have settled on the Wyoming plains, where the wind speaks, the grass whispers, and power comes in the strangest, most ordinary of forms. Unfortunately, the past and its terrors can’t be easily shaken, and Dez is about to find out how brutal, bloody, and costly magic really is…

Coming in December 2018; now available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent retailers.

Die Hard and Ham

They’re about to start playing Yule music everywhere you go. Honestly, they started even before Samhain; pretty soon the consumerism ramp-up will begin in July. I despise Yule music with a passion; it partakes of my feelings around the entire holiday. Especially my feelings from when I worked retail and saw overstimulated children dragged around by tired, snappish parents. The world might be better off if we stopped this ridiculousness, but as long as there’s money to be made we won’t.

Which is pretty par for the course with humanity, really.

You can probably tell I’m in a Monday mood. I’m sure lots of people really like Yule, but it was always such a source of stress and tension growing up I am allergic to the very mention. I’ve always seen it as a great pretense–people pretending to love their family get-togethers, people pretending they have the cash to spend on unwelcome gifts, you get the idea. Add in the fact that no gift I received as a child was permanently given or free1 and you can see why I just want to cancel the whole thing.

Fortunately, my kids feel the exact opposite way. To them, Yule has always been a soft, relaxing time, full of good food and happiness. It makes me feel good to see their joy; indeed, it’s the only reason I participate in the holiday anymore. But even so, I’d really like it if the whole thing didn’t send its tentacles creeping out to strangle other holidays I like better.

…it’s over a month away and already I’m done with the bullshit, it’s going to be a long holiday season.

In any case, there is a gentle jog to accomplish on my strained ankle, possibly while a dog or two tries to re-injure me, and there’s work to be done. There’s always work to be done, and perhaps I can work straight through all the foolishness and only start decorating on the solstice.

It’s worth a shot.

At least there will be Die Hard and ham, and a ham bone means split-pea soup. Which the kids despise, even after I christened it Dragon Snot Soup, so there’s more for me. It requires fresh bread, too, and that’s always a fun task. Now that I’ve finished my yearly complaining, I’ll be turning on my “ignore” blinkers and moving ahead.

Just kidding. I’ll complain more in the weeks to come. It’s a holiday tradition, after all.

*snork* Over and out.

Poor They

Sir Boxnoggin and I found this unlucky bundle of feathers while out running. The crows have already been at them, and Boxnoggin was extremely interested, but I did not let him give more than a token sniff.

Poor birdie. Nature’s cleanup crew has already recycled most of them by now, I reckon. Such bright plumage, on such a grey day.

Let Me Be Wrong

Afterwar

I’ve talked before about how difficult and draining  Afterwar was to write, and how bumpy the road to publication was. The pain is still somewhat ongoing; I feel an ignored Cassandra, shouting into the wind. I fucking told you so,

*sigh* I was prepared for the book to be ignored, but I was not prepared for the feeling of…well, I feel like I did my best and it still wasn’t enough. It’s a common, creeping little feeling, lying in wait for any unsuspecting (or even suspecting) writer.

I just keep looking at current events and shaking my head. I saw this coming in 2015, I think, and the weight of seeing ahead, along with the weight of witnessing my country descend gleefully into totalitarian filth, wears on me daily. I can barely stand to look at the news. My heart aches.

Our midterm ballots arrived last week. The Princess and I (the Prince has not yet reached voting age) sat down at the dining room table, shielding our ballots, and passed the state voter’s guide back and forth, reading campaign statements and filling in little boxes. She’s hopeful.

I…don’t know.

History tells me what comes next. The camps and dehumanization are already here, and growing worse daily. The “Fuhrer worship” of that small-handed orange shithead grows, racists and nationalists cavort openly with their fascist buckles jangling, and our major journalism is supine. The police are full of rage, hatred, and military surplus; they are the Mango Mussolini’s private army now.

I know it’s always been bad. Even Eisenhower saw where the military-industrial complex and its pursuit of more profit by fear and murder would end. There’s been no shortage of warnings. America was a genocidal slave state from the start, and refusal to look at that plain fact lets exceptionalism, fascism, and murder grow like rank weeds in rich soil.

I just…I am in despair. I poured my heart and soul into a warning cry, and suspected it would be ignored. The small hope that it wouldn’t is thoroughly crushed.

So I continue writing. What else can I do?

I just finished a romance because after  Afterwar and the epic fantasy, I wanted something lighter. Now I’m struggling with guilt because how dare I write something I enjoy, knowing what I know?

The enjoyment is necessary. We’re not just fighting to halt evil, but also to preserve what is precious and joyful and good. Intellectually I know this.

I just have a hard time convincing my heart that it’s not a waste of time, that I’m not fiddling while Rome burns.1 I already feel like no matter what I do, it won’t be enough. Nobody will be saved, nothing will be preserved, the horrifying things will come to pass and all I’ve ever accomplished is dust in the wind.

I have to believe that it is the attempt itself that matters. I have to believe that daily decency, kindness, listening, boosting marginalized voices, and refusing to let the despair paralyze me matters.

Some days, though, heartsick and sore, I can’t bring myself to. Some days I have very little faith in anything other than humanity drowning itself and the planet in its own blood. Some days, like today, I am not even furious, just exhausted, terrified, and sure that nothing matters.

Please, dear gods, let me be wrong.

Please let me be wrong.

Waited Half the Year

The rains have arrived again. False summer has fled, heat-stressed leaves have dropped and those who survived the drought have begun to turn. Miss B is sanguine–she remembers, however dimly, that water falling from the sky is a thing.

Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot, however, is agog. Things were not like this in Texas, he informs me, every time he has to step outside. I tried to remind him of a hurricane or two, but he informs me archly that what he remembers is dust and heat, not this damp bullshit.

Lord van der Sploot is not a big fan of change. I don’t blame him, he’s had more than his fair share. He needs a good long chunk of boring, nothing-ever-changes time, and we’re doing our best. It helps that feeding time, running time, and playing time is all the same, even if there is water where there shouldn’t be.

I took a forced rest this weekend, in order to gear up for the big push to get Steelflower in Snow out before the end of the month. I managed not to work except for a thousand words or so on Incorruptible, mostly because I don’t want to lose momentum. It was a chore to keep myself from working, but I did get all my Sunday cleaning chores done early. Other than that, I stuffed a lot of movies into my head, watched another couple episodes of Castle Rock–though I must say, the Queen episode brought everything nicely to a halt for me and I’m not sure I want to continue–and managed to read a good chunk of The American Slave Coast, which I’ve had to take in small pieces because it’s just so devastating.

Once I’m finished with that, I can reward myself with finishing Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart, the Middle English edition. Right now the main characters there are in Ruck’s secret fastness and I want them to stay there until I can return.

In order to get there, though, I’ve got to work. The siege portion of Steelflower needs some heavy revising to make it ready, and I should probably go looking for the glossary, too.

*sigh* No rest for the wicked, ay? There’s also a run in the rain to accomplish, while Sir Boxnoggin complains next to me. He’ll settle down once it’s clear we’re outside to work. I may even have to get him a little coat, since he’s shorthaired and runs warm. He’s glad to have a nice bright home to return to, full of comfy beds, pets at the drop of a hat, and regular mealtimes, and his gladness helps when I start dragging.

Other than that, I have my SAD light on just to stay ahead of the game. I’ve been more productive on rainy days than I was all bloody summer. And bonus, with the rains, not so many people will be out letting their dogs off leash or wanting to stop me while I run in order to exchange commonplaces about the bloody weather.

I’ve waited half the year for this, and dammit, I’m going to enjoy it.

Over and out.

Breakfast at Leisure

This morning brought a leisurely breakfast with the Princess. We haven’t seen each other for a couple days, so it’s good to catch up, even though both of us are coughing, hacking, and filling wastebaskets with used tissues at a truly alarming rate. The dogs were glad both of us were in the same place for an extended period–they hate when anyone leaves, and both canines want to herd the hoomins into a tight bunch so they can supervise with little effort.

So the Little Prince was off to school and the remaining monkeys were in the same room, which sort of balanced everything out. Now, however, we’ve separated to begin our days, which means Sir Boxnoggin is trotting up and down the hall and Miss B is curled next to my chair, eyeing me reproachfully. Why, oh why, can I not stay where she places me?

In any case, I’m not as physically miserable as I was Sunday, and feeling better than yesterday. The Princess is a couple days behind me on this cold cycle, so today will probably be the worst. Thankfully, she can spend it on the couch with a box of tissues and plenty of liquids.

I might even make triple-garlic chicken soup for dinner. We all sorely need it.

Incorruptible continues apace, and revisions on Steelflower in Snow do too. If I can get the “Karnaugh” section of the latter revised, I’ll count it a day well spent. I’ve decided the next serial will be the gunslinger story, so I should start making preparations for that, too. A placeholder cover will be fun to do once I accomplish everything else today.

And maybe, once all that is done, I can make another pair of super shiny earrings. I’m experimenting with cup chain, which is sparkly but finicky. And so. many. jump. rings. I must have wasted at least six trying to get everything connected on yesterday’s pair.

Shiny!

But the finickiness is so worth it, since these were EXACTLY what I wanted. Bright, swinging armor. I can’t wait to make more of them, frankly. People keep asking if I’m going to sell them on Etsy, and if I get to a place where I’m comfortable about my craftsmanship, I’ll probably put a few pairs up. It seems like a cool way to lose a little cash, and better than shipping books around.

So that’s my day. I might shoehorn a run in, too, if I get really ambitious. But for now, it’s time to brush my teeth, make some more coffee, and get down to Incorruptible.

Over and out.

Solace and Camouflage

The nights are finally cool enough to leave a window open and sleep through. Trees are burning their summer leaves, letting them drop, and emerging naked from the fire. Rain lingers though the afternoons warm; the ground is damp. The Great Pumpkin approaches.

I can’t wait. My favorite time of the entire year-wheel is upon us. I hate raking leaves, but the joy of being forty-plus is that I don’t have to. There’s always neighborhood kids or landscapers looking for an extra buck, and I will gladly pay for a little peace of mind. The scars on my palms from childhood raking have stretched and whitened, submerging until I can only feel them when I spread my fingers and stay tense for a little while. I’m sure they’ll pain me as I grow older, but that’s fine.

I don’t understand people who fear getting older. Sure, there’s facing your own mortality, but one can die by misadventure, violence, or sickness at the drop of a hat at any age. The further I am from my helpless childhood, the better. I have my own car, my own money, my own home full of things I love. I don’t have to speak to my past tormenters or allow them any of my mental real estate.

And, frankly, the longer I endure the more chance I’ll outlive them, and be granted the real freedom of knowing they’re permanently barred from harming me.

Perhaps that’s why fall is my favorite. It reminds me that I’ve survived so far by hiding under ice and bare branches when necessary, conserving my strength and fire until needed. In the rain, tears can’t be seen, and the blurring of falling water gives me both solace and camouflage.

I write, I run, I care for those under my aegis. But sometimes I stop and take a breath, feeling a bone-deep gladness that I have seen many autumns now and each one takes me further from a horrifying pit of bleak despair.

It’s good to survive. Many don’t, and we who do carry them curled inside us. We carry those who cannot crawl any further, and those who were subsumed in the darkness. Each day we are granted, each day we fight through, is a victory for the forever silent as well as for ourselves.

If you’re carrying, today, try to take a deep breath.

I’m with you. We’re gonna make it.