Hurt, Beautiful

This is the empty container for the antibacterial soap we found worked best for Odd Trundles’s yeasty paws. I…couldn’t toss it just yet. So it sits in the windowsill, where I see it while I do dishes and I think about that little fellow and how much I love him still.

The cracks in my heart make it bigger, make it easier for that beast to expand. But oh, sometimes…they ache.

And this is Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot, who has put on several pounds and a layer of gloss to his coat and is hoping very much that you are bringing pets or a treat for a Very Good Boy. He has lost his shyness and become the goofball I suspected he was under all the trembling uncertainty.

So many things hurt. So many things are beautiful, too. Some days I can’t tell the two apart. I would not trade the pain to make the beauty more, or trade the beauty to make the pain less. It’s not the ache I dread, but going numb.

It’s been a long week, chickadees. Let’s all have a bit of a reward for getting through it in still-breathing fashion. Be kind to yourselves this weekend, please.

Over and out.

Going Gets Tough

I’ve been blogging for a long while now. There are dry periods, where I have nothing much to say except for the minutiae of daily life–how the book-sausage gets made, what the dogs have done now, how publishing is changing. Oh, and the weather. Of course the weather is a constant concern.

I partly blame reading military history; weather is always the third general upon the field, and one who can’t be ignored. Today the rain has washed away everything except a few sheltered snow holdouts. The streets are awash, the roof kissed over and over by falling drops. The dogs aren’t going to like our outing, at least not when the initial oh boy we’re outside WITH MUM wears off.

That takes about ninety seconds in a downpour. They must love me a lot.

This morning I woke up with Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone yelling “Oh, man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!” Which meant I had to go listen to What a Fool Believes and then onto a Twitter rant about how much I love that damn movie and how it’s probably responsible for my current career.1

Now you know who to blame, I guess? When the going gets tough

Copyedits continue apace. I spent some serious time yesterday looking into Ingram Spark and mass-market paperback trim sizes. If I get the whole PDF cover template thing done, the first experiment is Steelflower in mass-market size.

It’s a great time to be self-publishing, IF one knows what one’s doing. If one doesn’t, the options available might boggle one into inaction or worse, signing away one’s rights without proper compensation. Or one might think that because of a crying fit brought on by frustration (I fucking hate PDF cover templates, let me sing you a whole song about how I hate them) the entire thing isn’t worth doing, and toss it all out the door.

Yes, I was tempted yesterday. But today’s a whole new day, I’ve got my spark back and the heat set to the wick. Today is for more copyedits, and when I can’t do that anymore because my head will explode if I look at one more comma placement question, I might put together a soundtrack for HOOD and poke a bit more at cover templates.

But for right now, it’s raining and the dogs need a walk. See you around, chickadees.

Read ’em and weep. I always do.

C Is For…

…when I surface from a post-dinner writing jag, blinking and disoriented, and the Princess hands me a freshly baked cookie and says, “I wanted dessert. Here.”

Yes. Like that.

It’s good to be loved, and to be given tasty things. May you know both this weekend, concurrently or consecutively, as it pleases you.

A Dusting to Halt

This is the amount of snow it takes to close down school for the day. Mostly because the buses have to get out before dawn and the roads were ice-coated; who needs parents breathing down their nape because a bus went a little wonky? Of course, there are lots of transplants screaming “this ain’t snow, why, back home we have to dig our way out of the garage on the regular,” as if the Pacific Northwest is somehow the same as Minnesota. *eyeroll*

It’s supposed to be subzero tonight, which means the road will be another icy hellscape early tomorrow. But for today, we have a lot of hot cocoa, a lot of reading, and a lot of chunky sweaters and lap-blankets, not to mention dogs who have suddenly rediscovered humans have body heat too.

Poor Boxnoggin; this appears to be the first time he’s seen this White Coat of Death on everything, and he keeps giving me looks like Mum, make this stop, why are you doing this? He picks up each paw EXTRA high and gives it a shake when he’s forced to walk outside, and outright refuses to get near the gate because that means walkies and walkies mean OMG COLD ON MY WIDDLE FEETSIES.

Miss B, of course, is built for all weathers, but she’s old now, and quite content to stay inside where it’s warm and soft. Just because she can doesn’t mean she will wander outside more than the bare necessary. Currently she has moved from behind my chair to the Big Spacious Fancy Dogge Bedde near the heater, and is likely to remain there for as long as possible.

I wish you warmth and relaxation today, my friends. Sadly, I cannot take a day off, for my office is just down the hall from my bedroom, and going into work does not require anything more dangerous than tripping over a few dog toys and my own pre-caffeinated feet. There’s a short story to revise and the initial go-through on CEs for The Maiden’s Blade to cross off my list today. No rest for the weary or the wicked, but if I get those things done I might settle on the couch with tea and both dogs, and just watch the hill freeze solid.

Over and out.

Safety, Sudden Ice

The cherry tree down the street is still attempting to bloom, in dribs and drabs. I’ve noticed some volunteer nasturtiums, too. Plenty of crocuses have poked their heads up, their hoods swelling with color that will eventually be flowers.

I want to grab all of them and say, softly but with great force, “Don’t. You don’t know what could happen, it’s only January, please, keep yourself safe.”

They don’t listen to me, of course, their knowledge is deeper than my fear.

My children are sixteen and twenty now. They are beautiful, caring, empathetic human beings–and I worry about predators and sick systems who prey upon such. I hope I’ve given them enough tools to spot the douchewads and jerks, I hope I have loved them so deeply and flagrantly that they know, no matter what, that they are worthy of such love and the predators who would convince them otherwise won’t find a purchase.

I know I can’t protect them from everything, much less sudden frosts. Yet the desire to keep them safe turns my hands into fists and my eyes into lamps, searching the dark waves past the safe harbor I’ve painfully assembled during the course of living.

I don’t understand those who see the vulnerable, the beautiful, and only wish to mar. I don’t understand people who see an expanse of unbroken snow and can’t rest until there are footprints or stains. I know they exist–I saw them, even as children, stripping leaves from branches not even hanging in their way, kicking the helpless and breaking ice on puddles just to hear the shattering, growing up to maim all those in their orbit one way or another.

There is no understanding to be reached, I suppose, only defense.

I know the cherry tree will survive and the crocuses will rise triumphant even if the ice comes. My Princess and Little Prince will meet terrible things in their lifetimes despite all my best efforts to protect and insulate. I have to trust that the tree, the flower, the young ones I carried in my own body have at least a fighting chance.

Spring is coming. One year it will pass me by…but not this year. I’m still here, searching the waters, calling out when the storm edges close. I am still longing to wrap the cherry tree in enough love to keep the frost at bay, to whisper to the crocuses you’re doing so well, to hug my almost-grown-up children and repeat the truth under all truths.

I love you so much. Please be careful, please be safe.

Safety may be an illusion in a cold, uncaring universe. Still I maintain the harbor for my beloveds, as long as I endure.

If the cold comes, it will find me ready.

Only Tuesday

My eyes are watering furiously. It’s probably leftover from the fry bread experiment last night–I found a recipe and went all in. I’m thinking I want to do it in shortening instead of canola oil next time, and further thinking I want to work a little something into the dough to make it a teensy bit less stiff. Not a lot, because that’s how you get the pockets, but a little bit.

The Princess, not to be outdone, went to work on this marshmallow recipe after dinner. So, this morning there’s the smell of frying and a whole pan of springy, fluffy marshmallows. I’m not sure what it means, other than the fact that the Princess is coming into her own as a candy maker. She’s going to Willy Wonka the world, I can just tell.

She never used to like working with meat or high-temperature sugar cooking, but flour is a gateway drug and now she’s in it to win it. I’m surprised she isn’t chocolate-dipping the marshmallows. Half of them are going to go to a friend’s house, which is good, and if there are any left on Sunday I’ll be having a giant mug of hot chocolate STUFFED with homemade mallows.

All in all, things are pretty quiet here despite my deepening cough and the dogs’ insistence that running around screaming constitutes exercise. I could take them for a run, but I’m not sure my ankle would hold up. On the other hand, Sir Boxnoggin will be getting a bath today, and that will tire him out more than any amount of running and yapping.

I’m on my second jolt of coffee and thinking about another scene between Friar Tuck and Prince John today. I’m also hoping that when I go back to HOOD yesterday’s efforts will not be in vain. I mean, I’ll probably have to throw out half of it, but that’s better than having to throw out the whole thing, right?

Right?

Anyway, that’s the news that’s fit to print. This upcoming weekend is for more Lightning Bound (I kind of want to do a big banquet scene again) and for a hot date with Caesar’s Gallic War, because my Latin is rusting and I need to get back with it. Unfortunately it’s only Tuesday, so Latin, the witch and the storm god, and homemade marshmallows have to wait.

It’ll just make the indulgence sweeter when I get to it. Or so adulthood tells me.

I hope that’s not a lie. Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Atlanta Bound

That’s right, my friends–the fourth and final season of Roadtrip Z is now making its way in the world!


Nothing matters to the walking dead but finding live flesh to chew on, and nothing matters to Ginny Mills except getting back to her family. Nothing matters to Lee Quartine but keeping his small band of survivors–including Ginny–alive. Upstate New York is overrun, other survivors are more of a danger than a help, and the rumors have begun. There’s a place where organization and government still exists, a place where a cure for the zombie virus is underway.

The problem is, that place is Atlanta, and there’s a hell of a lot of road to cover to get there. Hopefully, Ginny’s family is safe. With a little luck, Lee can get them all south without anyone else dying.

But in the middle of a winter wasteland full of chewing, shuffling undead, hope–and luck–are in short supply…

Now available in ebook directly, through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and independent distributors. The paperback edition is here. The Kindle edition is available here, because–well, keep reading.

ETA: After six emails and four calls to KDP’s “customer service” line (where I get hung up on halfway through the option tree) there is still no move on Amazon’s part to fix their mistake. Despite having a full, complete, and final .mobi, they sent out a corrupted file to preorder customers. Of course they waited until release day to tell me, and I immediately uploaded another fresh, full, complete .mobi file. (This can be seen in the “look inside” portion of the Amazon detail page.)

One of the reviews on the detail page says that Amazon customer service sent her the full, correct file when she gave them her preorder number, so at least there’s that. But the detail page is still locked, and I don’t know if other preorder customers have gotten theirs. There is literally and absolutely nothing else I can do here; Amazon is simply refusing to do their job.


It’s been a heckuva ride; huge thanks to my subscribers on Gumroad and Patreon for being a part of it. I’m sad to say goodbye to Ginny, Juju, Lee, and the gang, and maybe someday I’ll do the story of Kasie Frank, Mandy, Carline, and Shura Halloran’s little group coming together and fighting their way to safety.

But that’s sometime in the future, if it arrives at all. In the meantime, the story rests at equilibrium, in a cafeteria. Thank you ALL for being a part of it.

The next serial is HOOD, and you can read all about it here. (You can also read the first episode for free over on my Patreon!)

And now I’m going to go put my head in a bucket, as is my wont on release days. See you in a little while…