Multiplicity of Mortal Reasons

The Marked

After a few dry days, the rains have moved back in. It’s a dark, damp morning outside my office window–just the way I like it, and my soul expands with each drop hitting the roof. October was extremely difficult all the way ’round, not least because the rain just wouldn’t come. But that’s over now, thank goodness. And there’s another holiday sale, to add to the Winter Portal Fantasy fun!

From December 8 to December 12, The Marked–a horror suspense novel featuring grief, danger, and living tattoos–is $4.99USD in the US and Canada through Kobo. I can still remember the Indiegogo campaign that gave me the time and funds to write it, which I’m still super grateful for. I do have to get around to its follow-up The Oracle, but it’ll be a while. I still have to get through the rest of Hell’s Acre plus the other serial planned for after Gemma and Avery’s adventures are finished.

Although “finished” is a merely relative term. I know what happens to each of my characters, even the bit players, after a book or series is “done”. Sometimes I choose not to continue with a series (like the Romances of Arquitaine) because I know what looms ahead and prefer not to write some aspects of it. I don’t know if other writers are the same, but I’m sure some must sense what happens after.

Sometimes I don’t continue because “what happens after” is private, meant only for me and the characters in question. And sometimes the vagaries of the publishing industry mean I don’t have the resources to continue–like with the Bannon & Clare books, or the Hell Wars trilogy featuring little Liana Spocarelli from the Danny Valentine series.

In short, there’s a multiplicity of reasons, mortals being what they are.

Yesterday was a marvelously productive day, including getting the narration done for the next Great Chapters episode. The next Reading with Lili will feature Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore, which I haven’t read in a hot minute and am delighted to be encountering again as if for the first time. So I’m looking forward to that, but only after I get some more serious work on Hell’s Acre and another chunk of revisions knocked off today.

After three years of pandemic, and now a triple pandemic (big fun!), I have to pay for each productive day with a few which…aren’t so kind. Still, I was afraid this entire week would be taken up with nonsense, and am relieved that only half of it was. Small mercies, silver linings, and all that. Though I have been afflicted with some coughing, heaviness in the lungs, and nasal drip since Monday–if being forced to endure that bloody useless endeavor infected me despite careful mask-wearing (because precious few of the people I was required to sit near followed suit) I will be Quite Put Out.

There’s precious little recourse since I’m not independently wealthy enough to make the State treat me like an actual human being. It’s enough to drive one mad.

…I am rather cheerful this morning, aren’t I. At least the coffee is soaking into my poor benighted tissues, so I should head brekkie-ward. Boxnoggin will absolutely despise walkies in cold rain, but the alternative is rather worse and all his protests, besides availing him naught, will wear him out so he behaves in a moderate fashion for the rest of the day. He’ll probably curl up next to the heater in my office afterward, though I hope he doesn’t keep licking the damn thing.

This dog, sheesh. I don’t even know.

Thursday is well underway, and it’s time to gnaw on some toast. I wish us all luck today.

Given how 2022 has behaved so far, I think we’ll need it–in case the year has one last hurrah planned…

Soundtrack Monday: The Hunter

Remember lockdown? I know, how on earth could we ever forget. We all had our ways of coping. Mine was…to write.

Big shocker, I know.

I was occupied with paying projects, sure. But there was a story that just wouldn’t let me go–an image of a blood-red, massive sun hanging in a tired sky over a giant castle, its stone walls fraying as the will keeping it whole faltered. The vision kept returning, and I knew someone was about to go through a door and find themselves near the structure.

And so I started writing Moon’s Knight. The story burned through me hard and fast, every waking moment I wasn’t occupied with survival or other projects eaten by its hungry flood. And while I was writing, Sam Tinnesz’s The Hunter burst into my musical algorithm. It was quite fortunate, because the song fit “the prince in black” perfectly. By the time I first heard it, I knew the basic dimensions of the story, I knew Ginevra Bennet was the woman stumbling through the door, and I even knew who the traitor could be. (It was a choice of three characters, and I was surprised as anyone by the time the zero draft was finished.)

It snowed this past weekend, which made me think of the book’s opening, Gin’s drunken stagger ending at a door in the ivy, and naturally I had to listen to the entire soundtrack again while doing my weekly housecleaning chores. And I also peeked at some of the scenes from the book again, particularly the Whispering.

It’s not a bad little book, I think. My agent–and several beta readers–said it should go out into the world; if it provided me with a little relief from the terrible uncertainty of those days, it could perhaps help someone else. I’m a sucker for that kind of argument, and of course my fabulous cover artist went super pulp with its jacket.

Every time I hear The Hunter now, I think of the prince in black, the terrible cat-creature he rides, and his take-no-prisoners loneliness. He’s rather a pitiable figure, silver fingers and all; astute readers will recognize both the Wild Hunt and more than a tinge of Hades and Persephone in the tale.

I suppose he received the ending he deserved. I think everyone in the story did, and that pleases me. Even if some pearl-clutcher had a problem with Gin’s language.

But that’s (as always) another blog post.

Winter Portal Fantasy Sale

I told you there was going to be a sale this month, didn’t I? Well, there’s more than one, but…let me explain.

From now until Boxing Day, the portal fantasy I wrote during lockdown is $4.99USD in ebook on certain platforms.


Moon’s Knight

Drunk and disoriented after her best friend’s funeral, Ginevra Bennet stumbles through a door in an ivy-covered wall…and finds herself in a dry wasteland under a dying crimson sun, the only possible shelter a giant stone castle.

If it’s a hallucination, it’s a deadly one; the Keep is full of beauty, luxury, courtly manners–and monsters. The inhabitants rejoice in her arrival, dress her in white, and call her a queen. Greenery returns to their gardens, and the prince of the realm, with his silver-ringed eyes, seems very interested in Gin indeed. It should be the answer to every lonely young woman’s dreams.

But nothing in Gin’s life has ever been what it’s seemed. Not her best friend, not her upbringing, and most especially not her nightmares. Drowning, violent death, a stone roof, and the hallucinatory prince have filled her nights, and Gin hopes she’s going mad–because the alternative is just too scary to contemplate.

Caught in a web of manners, intrigue, and betrayal, Gin has to depend on her sorely tested wits and uncertain sanity. There are Gates at the edge of the wasteland, and if she can escape the castle and its beautiful, terrifying inhabitants, she might just find a few answers and be able to get home.

Assuming, of course, home is where she really wants to be…

Available at sale price here until December 26, 2022; trade paperback and hardback also available at regular price.


I’ve also dropped the ebook price on a lot of my other self-published tales (including That Damn Werelion Book) and I know some of my publishers have holiday sales going on, so if there’s a story you’ve been aching to read, maybe mosey on over to the Books page and take a look. You never know, the price might be lower for a while.

There’s also some news that isn’t quite a sale, but it’s pretty cool so I’m putting it here. Two of my books, left publisher-less when Fireside Fiction folded, were re-acquired, have brand-new covers and are being re-released!

That’s right, Rattlesnake Wind and She-Wolf and Cub have been re-covered (if that isn’t the term I’m making it the term) and will be out in new form later this month. (December 13, if you’re keeping track.) So if you missed them the first time around, now’s a good chance to pick them up. Both were books of my heart in different ways, and I’ll forever be grateful to Fireside (especially the inimitable Brian White) for believing in them–and in me. I was sad to see the press go down, but I’m glad I was able to be a part of it in some small way.

I’ll be doing a bigger cover reveal and announcement later in the month for both books, but you get to hear about–and see–it a little earlier right here. I’m pretty excited–if you can’t tell.


The Marked

From December 8 to December 12, The Marked–a horror suspense novel featuring living tattoos–is $4.99USD in the US and Canada through Kobo.

I really do have to write The Oracle, which is the follow-up book featuring Preston and Jude’s further adventures, as well as a shadowy secret society determined to bring down several governments. But I need a chunk of time and funding in order to do that. Ah well, maybe it can be a serial one of these days. (After I finish the serial planned for after Hell’s Acre, naturally…)


Last but not least, another thing that’s not a sale. You guys know I often do “soundtracks” for my books–music I listen to while writing, or to get certain characters to speak. I had a lot of them up on Spotify, but I left there before the whole Rogan debacle. (Less said about that, the better.)

I’ve slowly been getting a few soundtracks up on my Apple Music profile. Even if you don’t use that platform, you can still see the songs, and I’ll be putting up more when I have the time. I know a lot of you are curious about my writing process, and music is a significant part of that. So, enjoy!

Now if I can just get to the 31st without a disaster, I’ll be glad to put this year to rest. It’s been a weird one, and that’s saying something after 2020…

Boxnoggin Bartleby

Woke up with the Decemberist’s Yankee Bayonet playing in my head. It’s on the Gallow & Ragged soundtrack, but the sea-shanty aspects of it also always make me think of HOOD. It’s the sort of song Alastair Crenn and Jeremy would hum while on the rails, and Alladal would play with for a performance in one of Sharud’s many kultur-dives. I think Ged would know it, certainly, and might even think of it while dreaming of resting in Marah’s arms.

Some songs make lateral connections between stories for me, a type of musical connective tissue. And there’s no doubt it’s a catchy tune.

It’s the first day of December, so holiday stuff is in full swing. Which means I’ll be hiding at home for the foreseeable future unless absolutely forced to go somewhere. The amount of unhappiness and tension swirling around scrapes against all my nerve endings, mixing with childhood trauma. When I was young, this time of year was always mounting, deadly anticipation of the worst until the inevitable explosion, and I still can’t fully relax.

There are bright spots. I’ll be busy, head-down in a revision I’d rather not do but it’s paid work so that’s fortunate. The Jolene, Jolene story may–may–have found a home, we’ll see. If I bring all my engines to bear I might also get the second season of Hell’s Acre to at least zero draft status by New Year’s, which will give me comfortable running room to prepare the next serial. And I have a really fun sale planned for you guys, going until Boxing Day–but more about that tomorrow, I’m slightly behind myself this morning. (Or ahead. Not sure.)

The forecast is muttering about snow, but that’s probably just up in the hills. Here we only get wintry mix, as a rule, and I should’ve named Boxnoggin “Bartleby” instead, because he would really prefer not to, especially while it’s raining. While he’s inside he cannot wait for walkies, but once we actually get outside he is incensed that I would force him “to do such a thing, Mother, how dare!” Then, when we arrive home, he goes to one of his (several, cushioned, very comfortable) beds (including my own) and curls up, giving me super reproachful glances every time I walk by. For the rest of the day getting him to go outside for loo breaks is a Grand Production of Preferring Not To, Mother, Thanks Very Much, and I am clearly the worst pet owner in the world for forcing him to unload outside and return to a nice warm house. By tomorrow morning the entire experience will have left his empty but surprisingly thick skull wholesale and the cycle will begin anew.

This dog, I swear. I will never lack for laughter while he’s around.

In any case, Boxnoggin Bartleby complained all during his first loo break of the day but has since forgotten it and visited my office twice now, eager to move me toward breakfast and walkies. He’ll realize his mistake as soon as we step outside, I’m sure. Right now he is ensconced at my office door, gazing intently at me. I can feel the weight of his expectations against my shoulder, not to mention the side of my head.

Off we go then, upon the merry-go-round of canine amnesia. There are even several leaf blowers hard at work in the neighborhood–the music of autumn’s ending, indeed. Most of the leaves are down, except for that one willow tree…

…but that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

See you around.

Soundtrack Monday: She Cries Your Name

Welcome back to Soundtrack Monday! This week’s track is Beth Orton’s beautiful, driving She Cries Your Name, which I listened to over and over whenever I needed to get into Robin Ragged’s head. Robin grew up in a trailer park, and Orton’s voice reliably brought her into focus for me. (The soundtrack for the entire trilogy is here.)

The Bannon & Clare books weren’t doing as well as the publisher liked, so my editor (my very favorite editor ever, actually) asked what else I had. As I recall it we were mid-contract, and normally I would have insisted that we stick with the last three books planned in that series (the trilogy where Emma and Archibald go to their world’s versions of China, America, and India, respectively) but…I trusted her.

That trust is one of the most valuable things a writer has. So, I said, “…all right, I’ve got this other thing. It has to do with the fae.”

And my editor said, “Great. Gimme.”

So I began writing about Jeremy Gallow, who hated himself far more than he did anyone else, and Robin Ragged, whose kindness was always used against her. Alastair Crenn showed up later; I only had a faint intimation of his presence while writing the first book. Sometimes characters surprise you like that, and every time I had to write Crenn I had to listen to another song…

…but that’s another Soundtrack Monday post, my beloveds, and this one appears to be done. Enjoy!

Change and Social Detox

Didn’t have time for a Soundtrack Monday post yesterday. I am incredibly irritated with a world that will not simply leave me alone to write my weird little stories. Descending into the sewers to live as a cryptid–or donning a cape and wandering into the woods, never to be seen again–sounds very appetizing indeed. If I could get coffee and reading material delivered in either situation, I’d probably be gone like a shot.

I suppose some of the irritation is detoxing from Twitter. The site seems to be imploding, and despite knowing it would happen, I’m still upset. A sizable chunk of my professional life and connections were stored there, largely because I had no choice. We all knew it was a bad deal, but it was the only one on offer.

This is no longer the case. It’s fascinating to see the realization percolate.

It’s also interesting to watch a lot of people fleeing the implosion, attempting to get the same dopamine hit and rush of indignation elsewhere. I’m hearing the same complaints I did when Twitter started, when Livejournal died, during the Yahoo buyout of Tumblr (now there’s a cautionary tale for dumb billionaires), during the several waves of Facebook emigration, etc., etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum. In particular, watching people arrive on Mastodon and try to replicate Twitter experience on a platform that was specifically designed to avoid some of birdsite’s more rancid problems and practices has been…well, I wouldn’t call it entertaining, but there’s certainly an aspect of can’t-look-away. Making the shift to a place that isn’t centrally controlled, where ads aren’t part of the ecosystem and the “home” algorithm isn’t controlling what you see and when, is disturbing for a lot of people trained by years of the Twitter Character of the Day, the ads, and the constant shadowbanning and suppression not of fascists but of their opponents. Add to that the fact that people are mourning the loss of a service that wanted, as Dorsey himself admitted, to be a public utility and gave many the hope and interaction they needed to get through the first few years of pandemic, and it’s rough.

It’s really rough. A lot of people aren’t being their best selves right now. Change is difficult–I joke about dogs and toddlers being absolutely unable to cope with disruptions to routine, but adult humans aren’t far behind. The server slowdowns of a decentralized, volunteer-run system looking to absorb such massive waves of new users are entirely reasonable and expected–but not pleasant.

I’m really looking forward to marginalized communities coming out from under the weight of having to fight Twitter’s deliberate devaluation of their posts, as well as the encouragement and intentionally engineered ease with which birdsite was used for harassment and silencing of women, people of color, and indigenous groups. I’ve heard the objection that defederation and banning on Mastodon will lead to “silos”, and I think it’s entirely specious. We already know that bad actors don’t want to be locked into their own little cesspools, they want to pollute the drinking water for everyone else, and force us to listen to their nasty bigoted howling. That’s their entire goal, and being able to lock such people out with a few clicks of a button–especially if one is an instance admin–is in my opinion a net good that will only increase over time.

“But social justice won’t go viral on Mastodon!” Uh, I’ve already seen calls for help, calls to action, and news rip through the fediverse at light speed. The only difference is that they often have content warnings. So I find this objection to be specious as well, from my own direct experience.

“But Twitter was freeee!” some people howl, like the rusty gates of hell. I dunno, my friend, was it really? Already the internet requires the investment in hardware and privilege to access, and birdsite only appeared free because user info was being sold, ads were being forced into the stream, attention was being bought by corporate actors, and governments were busy subsidizing and payoff-placating Dorsey the way they have been subsidizing Musk, Bezos, Murdoch, the Waltons, and Mango Mussolini (among others) for decades. It was never free, you just didn’t see the cost because it was folded into the daily scramble to make a living and pay taxes, both activities which end up lining the pockets of bazillionaires because that’s how our society is set up.

But then, I’ve been on Mastodon since ’17, keeping my eggs in more than one social media basket the way I keep publishing eggs in more than one container. (The effort required to do so is disruptive to my productivity, but can’t be avoided under current conditions.) I’m in the luxurious position of already being over the first bump of the learning curve–and there really is one, with any social media platform–but the angry biting from some people who are determined not to like a new-to-them system because “it isn’t Twitter and I’m mad and grieving” is counterproductive in the extreme.

Not that it can be helped. We’ve seen this all before, every time a social media system implodes under the weight of corporate malfeasance and greed.

I just want to write, dammit. And manage this detox. The way Twitter and Facebook–and Instagram, and and and–are engineered to take advantage of some very basic brain chemistry is amazing, but it also makes tapering off and moving away rather hellish. Maybe I’m wrong and the site won’t fully implode. I’m astonished that World Cup traffic hasn’t done it in, though I still can’t reply to anyone in DMs and the user experience is growing increasingly janky. I thought it would break irreversibly this past weekend, and can’t decide whether I’m happy to be mistaken.

And I keep thinking, if breaking the addiction to birdsite is so uncomfortable for someone who has been in the process of mitigating exposure to it for five-plus years, it must be dreadful for those who never wanted to leave. Things will shake out, though, and people will eventually find other ways of getting the connection and access to breaking news they need. Personally, I’m using CounterSocial for news and Mastodon for most everything else, though at least one of my publishers really really wants me to keep my Instagram fresh and oh fuck, how did I get on YouTube anyway?

If you’re suffering a dopamine shortage from fleeing Twitter’s protracted strangulation at the hands of Manbaby Melon Husk (one of my favorite euphemisms for the site’s new owner, I gotta admit), try to be kind to yourself. It feels uncomfortable because your brain was being hit with the equivalent of weapons-grade casino-type sucker-retention tricks daily, and now it’s…not. It’s gonna take a little while for things to normalize.

Me? I’m gonna finish my coffee, grab some toast, and get Boxnoggin walked. He certainly doesn’t care about a massive shift in the online social ecosystem–he’s got things to sniff, and at least one attempt to crap in oncoming traffic to check off his daily to-do list.

But that’s (say it with me) another blog post. See you around.

COVER REVEAL: The Salt-Black Tree

“But Lili,” I hear you say. “You just did a cover reveal not too long ago.” And yes, you are absolutely correct–but the two books of The Dead God’s Heart will be out within months of each other, so the publisher’s getting ducks-in-a-row now. It will be nice, since readers won’t have to wait too long for the series to be “finished”, per se. Two whole years’ worth of work will pay off…next year.

That’s publishing, baby. Anyway, are you ready?


Isn’t it pretty?

Since the series features American divinities and one hell of a roadtrip, of course there are cars–Dima Konets’s low black sports car, Maria Drozdova’s old Léon-Bollée, a Cadillac driven by a certain Coyote, and more. I’m also pleased about the snake, which is kind of a vehicle all its own.

There’s a burst of furious activity happening behind the scenes right now–copyedits, page proofs, queries on said page proofs–so everything is in place for the release of Spring’s Arcana next May. Considering that I wrote these books during lockdown and other assorted pandemic foolishness, it’s feeling rather strange to see them inching towards their debut.

The wind is up, and I’ve much more to do today. I just had to share the loveliness, though. Happy Thursday, my friends. We’re almost through the week…