Picking Battles, No Not Those Ones

Coming back after a long, long weekend, looking at a particular thread in email, and deciding, “Welp, I can be done with this issue, it can be dead to me,” is particularly liberating. I’m not sure I would have arrived there without the past few days spent consciously and resentfully Not Working.

Maybe that’s why everyone likes vacation so much; it repeatedly massages one’s sense of the possible and acceptable with a giant stick.

It’s not a bad thing. I already have as much work as I can handle. I just wanted things arranged a particular way and if that’s not going to happen, fine. Moving on.

Today will be all about retrenchment and planning. Fortunately it’s a lovely cool morning and the marine layer is doing good things. This weather is far more to our liking–and by “our” I mean not only the humans and dogs, but the trees and shrubbery, not to mention smaller green things. If I could just suss out the problem with the sprinklers, we might be sitting easy–but as it is, I’m still watering by hand.

Not a bad price to pay for some tomatoes; the seedlings are past the most critical stage. Still not sure why the squirrels seem intent on grubbing up a few things, but I guess that’s arboreal rodents for you.

Speaking of squirrels, the Princess saw one with a ring-striped tail the other day. (Are you sure it wasn’t a baby raccoon, I asked, and she whipped out her phone with a long-suffering sigh. It was, indeed, a squirrel, and she had proof.) “It sashayed right across the deck. It stopped to LOOK at me when it was near the door, Mum. I had to check that I had shoes on even though I was inside.”

Which is, as we all know, the most reasonable thing to do when faced with one of those hyperactive little barstids.

I do have a Tale of the Backyard to tell you, but it has to wait. Today is for other things, like rearranging the ol’ publication schedule and divvying up the day between revisions on Sons of Ymre, an audio proofing (listening as the book is read), revising a combat scene to get it to acceptable zero-draft status, a run, and as much coffee as I can stuff down my word-pipe.

Coffee goes in, gory little stories come out. It’s the circle of life. It’s gonna take a much longer time to finish Cold North‘s trilogy now…but that’s okay. We can wait for good things, and besides, this means it can be told the way it wants to be, without well-meaning interference. So on the bright side, there’s that.

Anyway, as soon as I can, I’ll take a few pictures and tell you all about the Gargoyle’s Body. But that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Today’s full-up, no more can fit, that’s too many battles, put some battles back.

Over and out.

A Short Green Hiatus

I’m not supposed to work today.

I was complaining to the kids about how publishing takes several hiatuses during the year, and they put their collective foot down. Apparently a holiday will make me more effective, more efficient, and less cranky–or so they say–so I’ve been banned from working since Friday. The ban ends tomorrow, and I’m not even allowed to spend much time in my office because work is seductive and I apparently cannot be trusted.

A lot of gardening has gotten done, and I finally caught up on the hoovering. Also, I woke up with Melanie Martinez’s Play Date inside my skull at the usual high volume. The radio station in my skull is combing the aether, I suppose; I’ve heard the song a total of four times in my life but now it’s burrowed in.

The blood lily has also finished one of its dormant periods and sent up quite the fan of leaves. The giant castor and angel trumpet are both doing well, and I think sinking the Very Large African Violet into a fresh pot might have been the right move. We’ll see if it survives.

Other than that, all the peppers are in garden boxes and the rest of the seedlings in the ground, except for some mugwort. I went a little crazy with the artemisia, perhaps. I know it’s a quasi-weed but I want to make sure some actually takes root, dammit. And some aconite; it’s slow to take off.

That’s all the news from a holiday morn, unless you want to know that I *whispers* just filled out a cover art questionnaire for Moon’s Knight. Technically, that’s not work, right?

Right?

*whistles innocently, strolling back to vacation*

Febrile Hibernation

Yesterday was just plain awful. The heat crested at 115F–all official according to the weather app, and I think it might have been a little warmer–and all we could do was huddle in the house with the AC and every fan on. Even with that it was uncomfortable and lethargic. I went out several times to fill the birdbath and put some ice water in pans for the backyard fauna, and each time I felt worse after retreating into our air-conditioned haven.

But the birdbath and other water pans were fully utilized by pretty much every backyard denizen, from the crows who used it to bathe and wash ripe cherries to the squirrels who barely even bothered to scamper away when I approached. I was wearing shoes and not yelling, so I guess they figured it was safe enough–and it was too goddamn hot to chase them. I think they understood that much.

It irks me to have lost a whole day’s worth of work, but such is life when enduring climate emergency and pandemic. Not to mention ongoing attempted fascist coup–they’re attempting to do it legally now, repeating history as violent authoritarians always do. *sigh*

We finally watched the marine push come through on the weather app, temperatures dropping swiftly as regular weather reasserted itself. Of course we still kept the house closed and the AC on all night, since it would still be almost-80F at midnight; our power bill will not thank us this month but honestly, nobody in the house cares.

I’m a little shaky today. Ever since that one incident of heatstroke in San Diego (I was there for Comic-Con one year) I’ve been peculiarly sensitive to hot weather. After I finished watering yesterday evening (my poor seedlings, and someone’s been grubbing them up too, probably a squirrel, GODDAMMIT) I was nauseous and apparently looked like death warmed over, so I took a cool shower and went to bed.

Both the kids are still sacked out, recovering. The Princess worked through the worst of the heat, and though her workplace has plenty of AC it was still not very comfortable. The Prince, on his summer of freedom after high school (he’s not allowed to work or do ANYTHING until September except goof off) holed up in his dark room and slept through most of the worst. Febrile hibernation, I call it, and wish I’d’ve been able to do the same.

We’re back to “normal” weather, albeit a bit warmer than usual. 90F+ days used to be exceedingly rare. Now, well…thanks, corporate-fueled climate change. That’s just great, thank you.

Sigh. Today is for lots of ice water, a very short run–because I will bloody well strangle something if I don’t get at least a few kilometers in–and whatever work I can manage. There’s administrivia to perform, and wordcount on the serial (not to mention two romances) to get sorted. That one combat scene in Hell’s Acre has been hanging fire for a while now, and needs to be finished.

It’s like jumping rope on the playground–you watch, gauging the rhythm, before you hop in. Hopefully I won’t trip over my own rope and fall flat on my face.

But, you know…given how this week’s started, I can’t rule it out. The coffee’s soaking in, so it’s time to go.

Stay cool, my beloveds. In every way.

A Hot Blue Monday

Yes, it’s an historic heatwave. We trembled at 111F for a bit yesterday; today is looking to be just as awful before a marine push brings back “regular” summer weather.

Helluva time for the sprinkler system to stop working. *sigh* At least I’ll always have New Order.

Something diurnal has been ripping out seedlings, too. I think it’s the squirrels, though what they want with a cucumber, pennyroyal, sage, and a couple other squash is beyond me. The little arboreal fucks dig the poor seedling out and leave it, and I don’t find it until the wilt has set in irreparably. If I ever catch one of them in the act there will be Hell To Pay, because gods damn it, if they just waited a bit there would be food for everyone.

I’m sure there’s some behavioral reason why they’re doing it, but it’s irritating as all get-out.

I sent off line edits for the third and last Hostage to Empire book; now that project is done except for the last round of CEs and proofs. July 4 is coming up, which means publishing will go on another one of its grind-to-a-halt holidays.

I’m in the wrong end of the profession. Writers don’t get salary or vacays, more’s the pity. And we’re creating the thing the entire industry rests upon. Go figure.

In any case, the only thing on the docket today is planning the next few months’ worth of work in finer detail, since some moving parts haven’t quite, well, moved. (At least the Cold North zero can be crossed off the list, well ahead of schedule.) I’m just irritable enough from the heat to take care of finicky details, with plenty of hydration and frequent breaks–since my office, naturally, is on the other side of the house from the bloody AC.

We have every fan out and running, too.

There’s breakfast that needs having, though one doesn’t feel much like eating under these conditions. Yesterday I worked my way through a box of prepared ice cream cones; it was the only thing I felt even remotely capable of ingesting.

Worst of all, I can’t run in this nonsense. It didn’t dip below 80F last night–and before you scoff saying, “That’s a normal summer night in MY part of the world,” just stop and don’t, because it is not normal here. Barely thirty percent of local domiciles have AC, and the unhoused are having a positively dreadful time of it too. We just don’t have the infrastructure to handle this weather.

Maybe I’ll crawl into some other werewolf story today. Or maybe I’ll just move slowly through the scheduling process, taking several breaks to swear, and finish by flopping on the couch as soon as possible, turning into a puddle until the temperature goes down a bit and I can re-congeal.

Either way, it’s going to be a Monday. Ugh. I feel like some part of me is stuck back in 2020. Time has lost all meaning, and so has everything other than lying in front of a fan with a spray bottle.

Stay cool out there, beloveds. Mask up, hydrate, wash your hands, get your vaccine if you can. We’re still in the thick of it.

Over and out.

Another Zero Bites Some Dust

Late on Tuesday–I think it was Tuesday, yes?–I finished the zero draft of Black Land’s Bane, first in the Cold North trilogy. That’s the Tolkien Viking werewolves, for those keeping score.

I thought it would sell before now. But oh well, at least it’s another zero in the bag. It will need a significant amount of working-in and embroidery; right now it’s very lean even at 103k words. There’s some serious epic chonk that needs to go into this bad boy, including expanding the Giant Spiders section.

If there’s anything this book needs, it’s more giant spiders. The Valkyrie shieldmaid Arneior steals most of, if not all, the scenes she’s in, and the emotional heart of the book is the relationship between the elementalist and said shieldmaid. Men come and go, after all, but a childhood friend with a spear and a temper is forever.

The cicadas are already starting in the treetops, which means it’s going to be very hot indeed. We don’t get the seventeen-year kind out here, but I can well imagine the din in other places. Regardless, the insects know about the coming heat ridge, and even the dogs are subdued.

Black Land’s Bane finished easily; I wasn’t even aware I was pushing for the end. I thought, huh, in two more scenes we’ll get to the natural terminus, then before I knew it I was there. It’s by far the easiest a zero’s ever finished itself, which makes me nervous.

I keep waiting for a shoe to drop, so to speak. And since I didn’t reach the end with screeching tires, all the energy of pushing through the book is ricocheting inside my entire body. It’s unpleasant, but I just have to let it settle. Next up comes revising Sons of Ymre, sending off the line edits on book three (the final volume!) of Hostage to Empire, and then turning my engines to writing two more romances and the zero of Hell’s Acre. I’ve even put some throwaway text on the beginning of Book 2 of Cold North, which opens with Solveig and Arneior imprisoned in an elvish citadel because of course it does, as Arneior would mutter, how could we have expected anything different?

I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad the elves didn’t decide to put them in an oubliette, but Labyrinth references might make the book even more of a hot mess.

*is thoughtful* Not that it’s a bad thing, mind. Maybe I should add more giant spiders and an oubliette, or even a Pit of Despair. After the extended Turin Turambar references and the Glorfindel anagram I’m sticking in, I’m not sure there’s really a good place to stop. MORE IS MORE, AFTER ALL.

Still, that’s for revision. Today is for preparation, bracing ourselves for the coming bad weather. All we can hope for is some part of the predicted heat ridge cracking earlier than expected. At least we’ve the downstairs, which stays cool even in the most torrid weather.

I’m devoutly hoping for no gender reveal parties kicking off border-jumping wildfires this year, too. It’s a small dream, but it’s cherished. I might be recovered enough from this zero draft to risk heat prostration; if I set my alarm early enough I can get out while it’s still relatively cool.

Not today, though. Today I try to get the flywheel inside my head to spin down. As easy as finishing the zero was, recovery is correspondingly harder. I knew there was a catch to a stroll over the finish line instead of a desperate scramble.

The dogs need walking, and I think I glimpsed Carl in the backyard. Maybe I should take the Sekrit Weapon (i.e., the Golf Club) along.

Further bulletins as events warrant…

Between Music and Tomatoes

I got all the tomato plants into the ground on Sunday, but I did not hoover. There’s always a catch.

On the bright side, I didn’t work? At least, on anything sellable? So that’s a plus?

The kids put their collective foot down; I gather I was looking a little wild-eyed. I was absotively, posilutely not allowed to work on anything for a couple days. It got so bad they would glare every time they passed my office. “You’re not…working, are you?”

“NO NO I’M WRITING WEREWOLF EROTICA, FURTHEST THING FROM WORKING POSSIBLE, I SWEAR…”

On the bright side, the Selkie pinged me on Saturday and we ended up bombing into Portland for an Everyday Music trip. Masked up and vaccinated, we found all sorts of goodies–she had a list, but I, of course, just winged it.

Consequently I got a set of old radio plays1 and a Gormenghast DVD set2 as well as some, well, actual music. Including a still-sealed CD which made my nose twitch3. We’ll see if anything comes of that.

Between music and tomatoes, I didn’t get a lot of household chorin’ done, but I suppose that’s okay. It is summer, after all. And I’m halfway between projects, shifting gears rapidly and repeatedly to get edits done at the same time I’m producing new text.

Today I want to get Avery through the rest of that damn combat scene in Hell’s Acre, and if I’m still near the end of Cold North (at least, if they aren’t attacked again in the forest) I can get everyone to the hidden city and thrown into the dungeons, which will be a nice place to end the first volume of what promises to be a very long trilogy.

This is, of course, assuming the heat doesn’t prostrate me and the kids don’t tie me to the couch yelling “YOU’RE NOT DONE NOT-WORKING YET.”

Considering it’s a Monday, this could go either way…

Damp Sledgehammer Monday

Rain! Marvelous, glorious rain all yesterday. I do have to dump out the basins and catchers under the seedling pots, and even though today is already quite busy I should get some of said seedlings in the ground to take advantage of all the nice skywater.

It’s almost enough to make me tranquil. Except revisions have landed, there’s a million chores I didn’t get to yesterday, and school administrators are doubling down on their bullshit instead of simply doing the necessary thing and moving on.

The fact that I just knew they were going to continue with the bullshit when they were called on it makes it even more irritating.

Anyway, there’s the rain to listen to, the dogs to walk, a run in lovely warm summer damp to accomplish, and revisions on the third and final Hostage to Empire book to begin. If I get those final edits out the door this week I might be able to knock off the Sons of Ymre edits next week and be ahead of the game–except for I also need to be producing on Hell’s Acre that entire time. I’m ahead, of course, but not as comfortably as I like to be in a serial. At least the combat scene isn’t giving me trouble.

A scene that takes a writer weeks to craft might be read in a few moments, and sometimes people think it detracts from the value of the writer’s labor. Far from, my friends, far from.

What I really want to be doing is lunging for the end of Cold North. Sol the elementalist and her merry band of companions are in a bad fix indeed; though I know how they get out I am not entirely sure a few of them will make it alive. I suspect, of course, and I’m pulling for them…and yet. It’s hard on a writer’s nerves, not knowing which of the characters will meet a bad fate in the text.

I mean, there are intimations, and occasionally I absolutely know when a character is doomed, but most of the time it’s a surprise even to me. An uncomfortable one, to say the least.

Miss B is very ready for walkies, and is nudging at my knee. Time to get out the door and embarked upon a Monday which has started very Monday indeed and looks fair to continue.

It’s enough to make me grab the goggles and reach for a sledgehammer. I’m ready to tango.