Finding a Way


Every time we reach this particular slice of sidewalk during morning walkies, I think I really should get a picture of that. The cracking and litter remind me of the Westron Wastes in Hostage to Empire.

Most deserts are fine upstanding biomes with a surprising amount of life thrumming just under their surface. Even salt waste as cracked as this little section of sprinkler runoff provides food, shelter, and solace. Of course there’s a locust tree overhead, which you can somewhat see from the wrack and litter–as well as a maple seed.

Life finds a way, even in tiny inhospitable corners.

Have a lovely weekend, my beloveds.

Days Off and Electronic Sobbing

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I stayed up relatively late last night finishing the bulk of the copyedits on The Bloody Throne (book 3 of Hostage to Empire, which is wending its way towards publication slowly but surely). I think it’s pretty much done except for one last brief pass to tuck in a few stray threads. It was written last year during lockdown (like a couple other things) and my body remembers the stress and strain. I was wondering why I felt so nauseous and unsettled reading some of the passages before I remembered when, precisely, it had been created.

The body knows, my friends. It always knows.

Fortunately this morning is cloudy and very cool. It’s the first time in weeks I don’t feel like I’m gasping for breath, and I’m not sweating while standing absolutely still. It’s GLORIOUS and I want more. The weather app says the heat will return tomorrow, but after that it might taper off a bit. A high of 75F is ever so much nicer than a high of 85F. I know people who live in warmer places will scoff at the PNW’s delicate mushrooms, but honestly, I live here for a number of reasons, not least the temperate clime.

We’re about a week from the ebook version of Moon’s Knight being officially out too; the print version should have been released today but isn’t propagating through channels just yet. Ah well, that’s the cost of testing new distribution methods. And honestly…I don’t think the book will do much. Of course, this is a constant refrain; part of pre-release nerves is the deep unshakable belief that one’s book will sink like a stone, with nary a ripple.

As soon as I finish the Bloody Throne copyedits for realsies and schedule their turn-in, I think I might attempt to take a day off. The kids are making noises about tying me to the couch again–jokes, I’m sure, but with a glint in their eyes I recognize from the mirror.

I get super nervous on “days off”, though. A day without writing causes an itch to begin under my skin, and the discomfort mounts until I literally, physically have to write in some fashion. Of course I usually solve this problem by working with something I deem unpublishable on “days off”, but a significant number of those projects have actually sold, so…I’m not sure what to do. I’m happiest while working, which is fortunate because if I ever stopped the entire casa might sink into a mire, House of Usher-style.

Past Me also put the entire Nibelungen cycle on the playlist at some point, so that’s thirteen hours of Wagner playing in the background. I don’t know whether this was a prescient choice or a penance. I know I can halt the queue and change it at any moment, but I’m curious how this will play out. I may have to alter it slightly and go on one last Pink Floyd binge before summer ends and I can’t listen to them again until the next summer solstice. The poor music algorithm doesn’t know what to suggest to me next, throwing up its digital hands and reduced to electronic sobbing.

One thing I’m going to try not to do today is look at the news. I feel incredibly guilty, since it’s long been an article of my faith that part of a writer’s job is never to look away from the hard bits of living. We’ll see if I succeed. The torment of falling down on my duty by not looking may well outweigh the damage of gazing at the fire.

In any case, the copyedits are almost done and dusted, and once they’re finished the only thing left on that trilogy will be proofs for the final book. It’s not a bad story, I think, but unfortunately a constellation of outside forces conspired to make it extremely stressful. Soon, good or bad, it will be over, and that will be a relief. On to fresh fields and pastures new, so to speak.

I hope you get a chance to breathe today, beloveds. It’s been a while since I could take a deep lungful, and it feels sinfully good. Be kind to yourselves, and excellent to each other.

Over and out.

The Jam Loosens

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I woke from a dream of cleaning a house I’ve never lived in, with music playing in my head. The former doesn’t happen that often, but the latter is pretty much a constant. I rolled over, got Boxnoggin’s wet nose stuck in my face (he was attempting to get me to wake up so we could go do fun things, Mum, come on!) and heard the plucky opening riff to the Muppets’ Happiness Hotel.

Pretty sure that means a good day, even if an unrelentingly weird one.

The weirdness has been off the charts lately. The only thing I can think to do is begin my fall nesting–a few of my friends already have, and with the current plague news, well, I’m going to need my tiny safe nook to be as cosy as possible.

Especially if we need to share space with friends or family suffering fallout.

In any case, I’ve a list of Autumn Preparation Things. Some of them are small and will fit around the bigger list of Work Things What Landed In The Past Few Days. It’s feast or famine in publishing, dry spell or monsoon. CEs (the third and final Hostage to Empire book is top of the list) and proofs (HOOD fans, the omnibus proof just landed, so very soon Season Three will be out and the omnibus will be available for preorder) and cover drafts (Moon’s Knight is that much closer to publication; once I get the final cover the trigger can be gently squeezed), not to mention revisions on the diptych of The Black God’s Heart.

Plus there’s Hell’s Acre to get daily wordcount in on, and the sequel to Damage to build. (And Guilder to frame for it. I’m positively swamped.)

In between all that is cleaning and arranging for fall–the most wonderful time of the year, frankly. I’m ready for it to cool off; the recent heatwave is no fun and doesn’t really break overnight. We have some air conditioning, so we’re a little better placed than most, but it’s still unrelentingly bad. And gods know we need some proper rain.

I’ve recovered some little bit of my harmony. The tetchiness and ill feeling have subsumed under the sheer amount of work; maybe I just need to be buried under Stuff To Do before my mood improves. Having safe spaces to vent some of my feelings at current events helps as well. Holding that sort of thing in, no matter how useful a skill, eventually curdles and turns one rancid.

I don’t like being angry. Sure, I’m often irritated, but outright anger isn’t usual for me. I can count the number of times I’ve been actually, for-real angry in my life on one hand and have fingers (plural) left over. Current affairs, however, are managing the feat splendidly, and I hate it.

Anyway. There will be a glut of news in the near future, my beloveds–preorder information for Moon’s Knight once that gets all sorted, Season Three of HOOD and the omnibus scheduled, maybe something good on the Tolkien Viking Werewolves front, so on and so forth. But today is all about copyedits with some Zoe Keating in the background to drown out the noise in my head, not to mention the dogs needing their morning walk. I won’t be able to run until the weather breaks; heat sensitivity is an awful thing.

I am cherishing the return of my usual equanimity, even if it means the Muppets will be playing inside my skull when I wake. All in all, it could be worse. Oh, and thank you all for telling me how you’re getting through this; your comments helped me see good things.

Onward and upward, excelsior and all that. The dogs have been very patient, but they need walkies before it gets too hot to breathe. Time to bolt the remains of my coffee and embark.

See you around.

Little Things, Right

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Much depends on a single magnolia petal, sprinkler-starred, lying in thick grass.

I’m struggling lately, my beloveds–as you can probably tell. Every time I think there’s a little hope, some-damn-thing else happens.1 I suspect my resilience is reaching a limit, and that is an Unhelpful Thought.

I’m trying to find little things to focus on–cuddling a happy dog, a tiny victory for one of my (grown, when did that happen, my gods) children, a sip of good coffee, a small break in the gasping, terrible heat of summer. If I pay attention to those, maybe I can get through all the rest of it.

At least there’s some rain today. Not much–a bare drizzle, tops–but it smells lovely and cleans the air, and a little relief from the heat is better than none. And walking the dogs mean I have to stop often and look at the things which interest them.

Like a single magnolia petal from a tree fooled into blooming again by the release of the heat dome, and tiny jewels of sprinkler-water glittering in the sun. Sometimes, looking at the small things, I know everything’s going to be okay.

I just hope I’m right.

Heat, Exceeding Savory

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The first of the season’s blackberries have arrived in our demesnes. We’d need a bit of rain–even a drizzle–to make them sweet and plump, but that’s not going to happen so they will be exceedingly savory for the time being. Especially with the heat wave.

Still, they’re good for the birds, and vines growing in swampy places will get enough moisture to make them perfect. Said swampy places are buried in thickets and protected by thorns, so the wildlife will get the best–but honestly, with what we’ve done to the planet, the fauna deserve the berries more than humans.

The dogs are eager for walkies, and my coffee is almost done. Sadly, neither avocado is ripe, which means my toast will not bear mushed green deliciousness, alas. Somehow, though, I shall carry on.

It is a Friday, after all. Happy weekend, beloveds. We’re almost there.

Mileage and Cheese

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A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.

Garden Amelioration, and Glitter

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It’s a quiet, cool Monday morning–a lot nicer than the last Monday I suffered, and that right out the gate as well. Even the coffee tastes better today for some reason.

It could be the long run I took on Saturday, a sign that I can carefully start upping my mileage. I was quite pleased to find that out, except for the fact that it means I’m going to have to do interval training as well. If there’s anything I hate, it’s the bloody intervals, but they help with a lot of things and cut down on injuries so I suppose I must.

Today is for retrenchment, scheduling, and decision-making. I might even get the kitchen mopped if I’m extraordinarily ambitious. But mostly it’ll be revisions on Sons of Ymre, as well as a rooftop battle in Hell’s Acre. The latter’s gone about as long as it can without someone getting knifed atop a crumbling alt-Victorian tenement.

My joys are tiny and petty, but they are entirely mine own.

The sprinklers are finally working again. (I will say the solution was hysterically simple, and made me laugh like a hyena for HOURS.) Which means that some of the garden damage will be ameliorated soon. The ferns are already luxuriating in the change, and the honeysuckle’s very glad indeed. It’s a good thing plenty of bushes were already well-established or that heat dome would have put paid to them all. As it is, I think we’ve lost at least two rhododendrons. The poor things just couldn’t take it.

Plenty of the evergreens in the neighborhood are showing crispy needle-ends. Even some of the lavender is looking scraggly, and once established that plant likes a great deal of benign neglect. At least I saved the tomatoes and most of the peppers.

I suppose I should quit nattering about the garden and get the dogs walked. I’m going to need to lace my shoes loosely today, but not so loose they slip free when I hit warp speed. It’s all a balance.

The big event of the weekend (so to speak) was walking up to the craft store to get round magnets. One session with a glue gun later, and I have more fridge magnets made out of bottle caps. The cackling of joy when I realized yes, I am capable of wielding a glue gun was probably disconcerting as all get-out, too. You know they have glitter sticks for those things?

The mind boggles.

In any case, I’d best take advantage of the quiet while it’s still here. As soon as I shift to tie my shoes I’ll have Canine Halp, and that doesn’t even cover the entire brushing-my-teeth situation. I suppose I should be thankful the dogs are seeking to be helpful, because it they set out to be actively obstructionist I’m afraid the house might be reduced to splinters ere long.

I’m cautiously hopeful Monday’s going to cooperate. It would be a nice change.