Heat, Hood, Cool

Robin Hood
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Almost every window is open, the birds are furiously attempting to entice mates, and this morning’s run was a little too warm for my comfort or B’s. Nevertheless, we stuck to shaded routes, saw a number of crow feathers–it must be molting season–and Miss B is no longer looking around the house for Trundles constantly. (Just frequently.) She seems to have consigned his whereabouts to the large pile of mysteries she knows she is not to worry about, mysteries meant for Mum who seemingly controls all things.

I wish I were as easily soothed.

In any case, she’s sacked out in the hallway, enjoying the cool. Soon it’ll be time to close the house up and turn the AC on, turning the entire structure into a dark cave. I’ll miss the birdsong, but heat is definitely not my friend. Ever since that one time in San Diego when I got heat exhaustion so bad I thought I’d die1 I’ve been sensitive to the mercury rising.

Fortunately, burrowing into a dark cave will let me work on HOOD with the proper mindset. Hiding in the woods, coming out to strike a swift blow, retreating…yes, that’s a very Robin Hood thing, and I think my version of him actually enjoys it. Whether he does or not, the exigencies of the situation call for it. He’s got a whole planet to hide on, but he might like the urban wilderness better. I just have to find enough rich people for him to steal from.

There’s no shortage of those with class-based inequality going around.

Anyway, my head is stuffed full of generation ships, folklore, Sir Walter Scott, and picaresque. Hopefully that rich stew will help this story rip its way free of my corpus. I should get the subscriber benefits for the week out of the way, too.

Hopefully you have a dark cave to rest in too, my friends.

Over and out.

Gore, Battle, Danger, As Usual

Once a month I get mild insomnia; I’m sure it’s hormonal, and I bear it with good grace because now, with the meds, it’s a monthly instead of a nightly occurrence. I settled in bed once everything had cooled off outside–around midnight, really–and read the Lazarillo de Tormes I’d managed to grab as a Norton Critical edition. I love Norton Criticals, and this one doesn’t disappoint, but I’m beginning to note a lot of homonym abuse in academic texts and translations. They can’t all be intentional; it’s just something I’m noticing. My inner editor twitches, and I have to glance up from the page.

Reading for pleasure gets kind of iffy sometimes when you’re in publishing.

Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed, unrested, and have managed a run. Miss B was ecstatic, and we stuck to shaded pavements. Still, we were both glad to get home. Someone up the street has taken out a massive cedar tree; apparently all the neighbors are intent on deforesting this hill so it slides down into the river during the next overly wet winter.1 Added to a new driveway going on, the entire street is full of mechanical noise. Whirring, buzzing, stamping, dropping, engines running. When it gets hot enough, I’ll close up the windows and turn the AC on, and that will provide some relief from the racket.

I also managed a solid 4k words yesterday, mostly in Incorruptible but a significant portion in HOOD. It feels good to be working again, even if I do still catch myself looking for Odd or surfacing from a scene to think that’s strange, he’s really quiet, what’s going on? Moving the furniture helped immensely, I’m not expecting to see him leaning against where the couch used to be or thoughtfully examining trailing geranium leaves from the coffee table.

We even got a lovely card signed by the entire vet office, with condolences for our loss. Once the card comes, I guess, that’s closure. Sometime this week or the next I’ll have to go get his ashes, the last gauntlet to run through.

For now, though, I’m crackling with dried sweat, absorbing coffee, and looking forward to another productive day. I decided to send in the demons early, to get Incorruptible off the ground. I don’t want that book to be a slow burn, I want to write gore, battle, and danger.

As usual, I guess.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Readers. The most dangerous time is when you’re feeling a bit better, and you think you’re cured and want to push it. Gently, softly, even when you feel like a tenuous balance has been reached. That’s all my advice for the day, use it as you will.

Over and out.

Halfway Works

Coming Home
© Kwest19 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Days and days of heat, the weather report says. Which means a lot of closing up the house and keeping the fans on. It’s not likely to cool off enough to make a difference at night, either. Miss B is sacked out on my office floor, worn out after a moderate morning run. Said run had to be uncaffeinated, because I rolled out of bed late and had to get us outside before the heat became unbearable.

My mood is perhaps best described as “sharp, don’t touch.” I have shaken off the numbness and now I am firmly in the anger stage. I am filled with fumes, and any spark will do. I am holding myself gingerly, my internal grip strong and severe, so I don’t snap at anyone I care for.

There is no Trundles asking to bask on the deck for fifteen minutes before being ushered inside to flop on cool tile. No Trundles snoring blissfully among my pillows or grousing because it’s too warm and sprawling in the hall. Come dinnertime, he’s not snuffling in corners or underfoot as I cook–Miss B can’t take up all his kitchen space and hers too. I am not in danger of tripping every third step between the two of them, and it’s strange. There is so much room.

I spent yesterday in a blaze of cleaning and rearranging furniture. Apparently grieving fills me with the desire to dust, hoover, rearrange. We also got some more concrete laid in the backyard–with no Trundles underfoot or investigating the humans’ fascinating activity for signs of something edible, it went a little more quickly than usual. His busy self was a part of everything that occurred chez Saintcrow; Miss B is content to supervise from any handy promontory, as long as I’m in sight, but Trundles wanted to be Involved.

His crate is folded up and in the garage. I didn’t have the heart to clean it. His bedding, however, is laundered and neatly folded. At some point, this week or next, I will pick up his ashes and bring them home, settle them among my pillows, and let him sleep on my bed for as long as he likes.

I told myself that if I could just get through yesterday’s cleaning, rearranging, laundry, folding, watering, and everything else, I would be okay. Not okay-okay, but…okay enough.

I’m not quite sure if it was true, but having the furniture moved helps. I am not looking at Odd’s favorite nesting-spots and feeling the black ball of tears rise in my throat. Grief is a ball bouncing in a box. Part of the gauntlet grip I hold myself in is immobility so the pain-button won’t get punched. It only halfway works, but it’s better than nothing.

At least I can settle and write today. I am not staring while my fingers idly work at the keyboard, typing and deleting random, stinking sentences. At least while I’m working I’m thinking of other things. The work is not a panacea, but it is a true companion. Sad? Write. Mad? Write. Grieving? Write. Frightened? Write.

So today, gently, I will. Soon I’ll tell you guys about the new birdfeeders, the pole that holds them, squirrels, and Crisco. It’s a funny story; it would probably have been funnier with Odd around. But squirrels–and time–stop for no man, and no bulldog either.

Over and out.

Eggs, Multiple Baskets

Today, I have placed my thumb upon my sword-guard, and there is an inch of blade showing. I am ready. READY, I TELL YOU. But that’s neither here nor there.

The Verge has a good article up about Cockygate and Kindle Unlimited. After a careful reading, I’ve made the decision to start taking the Anna Beguine books out of KU. It’s just not worth the risk of their algorithms suddenly deciding I’m doing something naughty. Basically, KU seems like a giant scam that other giant scammers are taking advantage of, and who suffers? Real authors, and readers. Fortunately I only have two books left in there, and the last will be free in October.

An object lesson in not putting all one’s publishing eggs in one basket, indeed. I’m glad I’m already conversant with

The only other news is that I have an appointment to take Odd Trundles to the vet today. He’s just…not himself. It’s not like him to turn his nose up at food, and the weight loss is marked enough that I’m concerned. So it’s loading him into the car today, always fun, and then the poking and prodding he’ll put up with because he is a sweet-natured pup even when he isn’t feeling well. I really could have done without a vet bill this month, but it’s a small price to pay for his goofy, lovely little self.

I’m tense and shaking already, hoping it’s something easily fixable. But he’s getting old for a bulldog, and his health has never been ultra-good. It’s hard when one of the furbabies isn’t feeling well; they can’t use human language to tell you what’s wrong. If it’s something severe I’ll be kicking myself for not taking him in earlier, if it’s something small I’ll be relieved and a little guilty at stressing him out by dragging him to the vet. And of course Miss B will be furious at being left behind, even if I ran her hard this morning to get her fidgets out.

You just can’t win most days, so I’m not even going to try. Just doing the best one can is enough.

Over and out.

Too Damn Hot

I think the recent heat has disarranged Odd Trundles. His appetite has diminished, which is…not usual. At least he’s still scrabbling after whatever hits the ground, but he’s lost some weight and doesn’t seem interested in his kibble. This all started with a couple nights of it being too warm to sleep comfortably even with the AC on, so hopefully a break in the weather and sleeping outside his crate on some cool hardwood will help. Yesterday he was lethargic, but the heat enervated everyone at chez Saintcrow.

Us pale Northwest mushrooms don’t do well when the mercury climbs.

I spent the weekend running, running, running to get the daily trivia of life packed away. Now that it’s Monday, I’m exhausted, and going for a run before caffeine probably didn’t help. I used to get up, grab a banana and some milk, and head out, saving coffee for when I returned. Seems like that might not be the best strategy anymore. In any case, I came home, washed off the sweat, and had second breakfast with my usual two jolts, and I’m waiting for it all to settle.

I know I should be working on HOOD. I know I should be gearing up for revisions on Maiden’s Blade. Nothing seems to be working right on the page, though. I had to toss a hard-fought chapter in HOOD and re-do it from the ground up, and though it certainly worked after I finished, the aggravation was intense. How long will it be before I gain any joy in what I’m writing? Lately it’s been a slog. A miserable one, too, considering I get itchy and weird if I don’t write. Annoyed if I do, driven to distraction if I don’t–it’s enough to make me want to swear off the whole thing and become a plumber. A taxidermist. Something, anything else.

The only way out is through. I know this. I also know this is leftover stress from the various problems with Afterwar, cumulative rasping on the physical mechanism until it frays. Knowing it doesn’t make the deep snarl running just under my skin any easier to soothe. Current political events don’t help my mood, either. I’m having to institute a moratorium on news just to save what little insulation I have on my wires.

Meh. I’m too anxious and annoyed to go on complaining. I suppose I could simply retreat to the couch and read something happy today, or curl up and watch a Shaw Bros. movie. Or I could just get over myself, get some ice water, and get back to work.

Guess which one is more likely. Go on, guess.

Over and out.

Conversation, Research, Edits

Yesterday, my writing partner and I played hooky and hit the Concordia Library book sale, where I got a solid foot of Penguin Classics for eight bucks and Costain’s four-book History of the Plantagenets in its original box. Since we were on the south side of the river, a trip to Everyday Music was in order, too. Then a leisurely lunch at Ginger Pop, and by then the heat was getting a bit much, so we called it a day.

The entire time we were sharing industry gossip, finishing conversations we started years ago, continuing ones we started even further back, and starting new ones. Along with in-jokes, meta analysis, and just plain zaniness, it makes for a stimulating verbal stew.

Of course I came home to a fresh crop of hatemail about Afterwar. I was going to do a whole post about it, but for fuck’s sake, who’s got time to deal with preshus manbaby feefees? If you’re afraid you might be mistaken for a nazi because you act like one, well, try not acting like one. *shrug*

Today it’s back to work while the air conditioning hums and Odd Trundles snores, blissful in the coolness. I should get a run in as soon as my sunscreen finishes soaking in and before the worst of the scorch settles; I must also decide what to spend serious working time on before Lammas. Maybe I can get the vampire erotica in reasonable zero-draft shape; it’s a relatively short work. And there is, of course, Robin Hood in Space to consider. Lammas, of course, is when I have to start serious revisions on The Maiden’s Blade; the competing agendas in that book need to be clearer. Half the edit suggestions are “why is X doing Y?” and my frothing reply of “BECAUSE A, M, AND S” isn’t helpful because it’s not in the text. Just because it’s clear inside my head doesn’t mean it’s reasonably outlined on the page, and that’s one of the major reasons to have an editor–to have another pair of eyes searching for those lacunae.

Which also means, now that I’ve finished Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician, I should begin the clutch of further research reading I need for Maiden’s Blade and its two follow-up books, starting with a survey of Japanese literature in the shogunate. I’m really looking forward to that and to an exegesis of The Tale of Genji, but the REAL prize is a doorstopper anthology of women writers in ancient China with accompanying critical articles. If I’m very good, I might even split my daily reading between the anthology and the survey, and keep the exegesis for a chaser.

So that’s the plan. And now, before it gets too hot to breathe comfortably, there’s a run to accomplish.

Over and out.

Release Day: JOZZIE & SUGAR BELLE

Five or six friends got together in a Google Hangout. All writers, mostly drunk, they are Very Funny Ladies. Happily, I was one of them; sadly, I was stone-cold sober. One of the ladies is an Australian, and her care packages sent to us poor benighted fools in the Northern Hemisphere are legendary; apparently, a recent one sent to a Dear Husband of a Writing Lady included several kangaroo-scrotum tchotchkes.

Because yes, they use all parts of the ‘roo, and the scrotums can be coin purses, corkscrews, bottle openers–you get the idea. (Look, I’m not gonna link any of this, you can traumatize yourself with Google just fine.) The Dear Husband could not contain his glee, and showed off his new gifts.

“Wait,” someone said. “What if that was a kangaroo shifter’s ballsack instead?”

Being the only sober one in the room, I was charged with writing the story. A few hours later, we had all the main characters fleshed out for a fucking series of these things. (The echidna-shifter one sounds particularly hilarious.) The Writing Ladies eventually separated to nurse their upcoming hangovers, or, in my case, shambled to bed giggling.

And lo, I wrote the kangaroo-shifter novella. The working title was Scrotum Search, but good luck getting that past any Amazon algorithms, amirite? And now, my dear friends, you can read it too!

Jozzie & Sugar Belle This ‘roo has problems.

Jozzie Shale, missing a particularly intimate piece of his person, lands in LA with a hangover and plenty of determination. He needs help, fast–and fortunately, he’s got the address of a witch who owes his buddy Petey a favor.

She’s a solution.

Sugar Belle, of the Virginia Belles, is only mildly amused when a drunken shapeshifter shows up in her tattoo chair. Add a warlock with a necromantic book, coyote shifters, the end of the world, plus a few hundred pounds of cheese, and even a witch of Sugar’s caliber might be in for a bad night.

It’s gonna be a bumpy weekend…

Available through Gumroad, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. The print edition is now available, too.

As for the others there that night (you know who you are), the gauntlet’s thrown, bitches. I expect your novellas in short order.

*runs away, laughing*