Damp and Dry

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Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

Temporal Slip

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I was convinced for most of yesterday that although the day was definitely named Monday, it was Tuesday in all else. Which should surprise nobody, pandemic time being what it is, but it means it was near noon when I realized, “no, the plumbers aren’t coming today, it’s a federal holiday and FURTHERMORE not the day they scheduled,” so…yeah.

That rhythmic thudding you heard? That was the sound of me banging my head on my desk. It’s highly therapeutic, though painful.

I had all sorts of work planned, but nothing happened. Sitting and staring at paying projects is not producing any appreciable wordcount. (The book keeps refusing to write itself, so rude.) The fanfic proceeds better, but I don’t want even that now. I’m pretty sure I’m just in the incubation period for a spate of furious activity once the dam breaks, and this is just a necessary frustration before the iceberg calves.

But it’s so goddamn annoying. And with all the other stress, my nerves are on their very last fibre.

I am hopeful today’s plumber visit will be the very last. They’re very nice fellows and I like them, but strangers visiting in the midst of a pandemic is bad for all of us. If this work could possibly be put off I would–but at the same time, our country is being held hostage by antimaskers and antivaxxers, so this isn’t going to be finished anytime soon. We’re on the third year of this bullshit, so the things I’ve put off “until it’s safer” have now grown several heads and become critically pressing.

“Safer.” What a word. I am beginning to expect that will never happen, and it disturbs me mightily. It’s also becoming harder and harder to keep the pandemic out of my fiction, though publishing lead times means that things I wrote well before are beginning to see the end of the pipeline now.

The lag is fascinating and I’m sure historians will have great fun dissecting it. Enduring it as an artist is much less amusing. Not quite prepared to put this massive trauma into fiction yet, thanks, especially as I am extremely uncertain our household will survive either its primary OR its knock-on effects. And isn’t that a lovely thought for a Tuesday morning?

At least we still have absurdity. The world is mad, might as well laugh in bleak wonder at its manifestations. Fiction has to “make sense,” while Real Life is unendingly fuckered-up and divorced from any such requirement.

Anyway, I’d best walk the dogs. The trio of local crows depending on Boxnoggin for amusement tend to fly away around ten-thirty, having other business in the neighbourhood, and they (plus Boxnoggin) will probably be sad if they don’t get their daily interaction.

See? Absurdity. It’s all absurdity, all the time. Might as well laugh, because screaming takes too much energy and I’m bloody exhausted.

See you around.

Busy January

Selene

Monday is upon us again. Boxnoggin is having difficulty settling even though we’ve had nothing but the usual daily routine; I think he senses the plumbers are due out today–again, for the fourth time–to get the pipes under the sink right. I long to be able to put everything back in its home and further long to free up the very large bowl that’s been catching the drips.

In the plumbers’ defense, the leak has moved–as soon as one thing is replaced, the thing adjacent decides to start being troublesome. Which is a function and feature of many a complex system, let alone a simple one. So it’s not their fault, they are fabulous fellows, and at the same time I really would like this Finished, Thank You.

Miss B could not care less; to her, this is just another day and all she’s concerned about is keeping herself firmly in my vicinity. I cannot be allowed to roam anywhere, even inside the house, without her close supervision. Heaven knows what trouble I might get into, after all. Especially in these benighted times.

I should get her a soft plush toy to exercise all her maternal and supervisory urges on, but Boxnoggin would likely disembowel it. None of us can handle that particular bullshit right now.

The Dark Watcher sale is over, but I decided the last half of January needed something nice too so Selene is on sale for $2.99 across ebook formats until the end of the month. I’ll probably take February off, since the HOOD omnibus also drops the 25th of this month. The paper edition seems to already be out, thank goodness; for Kindle readers, the omnibus won’t be listed on Amazon but you can get a .mobi edition from Gumroad.

So January is very busy, and I’m going to take February off of sales and the like. Come March I should have some more good news.

I am trying to pull myself, hand over hand, out of the abyss. It’s difficult, to say the least, with successive daily retraumatizations. The rate of daily bad-news bludgeoning has slowed down since Papaya Pol Pot no longer has access to the nuclear button and the news cycle has in consequence somewhat slowed, but the massive institutional failure on every level is difficult to live with. There’s no chance to mourn or even catch one’s breath. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

There’s coffee to finish, some breakfast to choke down, the dogs to walk–Miss B is already restlessly eager for that part of the daily ritual–and getting the workspace cleared for the re-advent of the plumbers. (I just want that last thing sorted with, for gods’ sake. Four visits, while natural when dealing with plumbing issues, still seems a bit excessive.) In between all that, wordcount has to be made. Hell’s Acre needs some attention, since I think I’ve finally figured out what Avery’s plan is; the second Sons of Ymre also needs another pass at that damn first chapter to weed out repetitions and up the tension.

If I just put my head down and work, maybe I can get through the day without worry-induced nausea or panic attacks. Maybe.

We’ll see how it works out.

DARK WATCHER, On Sale!

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To kick off the New Year, the first book in the Watchers series is $.99 across ebook retailers–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple! The sale ends on January 15; by then, I’m sure I’ll have other news. *cue evil laugh*

There’s a special place in my heart for this series; it was my very first “real” sale back in the 2000s. I was just a baby writer then, starting out in paranormal romance.

My, how time flows on, doesn’t it. I’ve been writing all my life, but publication was a brave new world indeed. Sometimes I laugh to think of how uncertain I was back then. It’s been a wild ride, and one I’m endlessly grateful for.

You might be interested to know that the Watchers are set in the same universe as the Society series, and the Dante Valentine series is set there as well, just 600 years later. Circle Lightfall is indirectly responsible for the Great Awakening Danny talks about in the Valentine books, and there’s some indication they quietly funded the Society as well. Plenty of my beloved Readers have written me asking for verification on both counts, and I’m glad to give it.

Not bad for the first sale of the new year, huh? Stay tuned, my dears, that’s only the beginning…

RELEASE DAY: She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero

Happy Yule, my beloveds! It’s the darkest night of the year and the day the kids and I celebrate even if we miss the festival on the 25th. Tonight a candle will hold vigil for me, since I have lost the desire to be awake all night. And boy howdy, do I have something fun for you!

You may or may not remember one of IndigoChick Design‘s premade sales, where I snapped up a lovely, enchanting cover I really do have to write something serious for. It was the tagline on the cover that got me, though: She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero. It reminded me of those 70s pulp gothic romances–women with great hair fleeing old houses. Of course I had to buy it, and I had to write a story.

And this is what happened.


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She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero

Titness McHawttie has fled her marriage to the disturbingly virile Byron Blackheart, Lord Chestthumper. Can she survive a night upon the moors with her faithful almost-unicorn–and will Byron find his vanished bride in time?

Now available direct from Gumroad, from Barnes & NobleAppleKobo, or Amazon. (Paperback also available.)

Note: This is a short story, about 10k words.


There’s all sorts of stuff jammed in here–gothic romance conventions, a pinkish almost-unicorn named Chicken, a dashing highwayman, an aged herbalist beldam, a cold-hearted baroness, Rocky Horror Picture Show callbacks, references to the divine Bette Midler, a distinct whiff of the SNL Scorched Corset skit, and more! Some of my beloved subscribers, whose support gave me the time and resources to write the dang thing, are also Tuckerised in it.

The “Lady” comes from my Yule gift to myself–an honest-to-gosh Scottish title–and “Alana Smithee” is a long-standing in-joke between Lady Skyla Dawn Cameron (also a Lady now) and Yours Truly. It’s 10k+ words of hilarity, and I had a great time putting it together.

I also begged my long-suffering cover designer for a new pulpy cover, and she gave me something great. I mean, just look at it. (I’m particularly fond of the 99p sticker. Takes me back, that does.)

So, just in time for Yule–I was waiting last night for one last sales platform to update; it’s near Christmas and everyone is overwhelmed–Titness McHawttie is fleeing across Heathencliffe Moors, and Byron Perssy Blackheart, Lord Chestthumper (who has fought more than one duel with persons mispronouncing his title) is in somewhat more-than-lukewarm pursuit. I hope you enjoy this little tale, my friends. I had a wonderful time with it.

And with that, I’m off. We’ve a busy day here at the chez, between some last-last-very last-minute shopping to prepare for the weekend, the dogs needing walking, a few spiritual observances, running my weary corpse, and some more work on Hell’s Acre. One I finish my coffee and swallow some toast I’ll be flying low with no brakes; should you hear a howling in the distance, don’t worry, my friends. It’s just me, moving at speed.

See you around.

From Books to Mortality

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Happy Monday, my dears. I greeted the day finishing Shaun Bythell’s Confessions of a Bookseller in bed, twelve out of ten, utterly delightful, can recommend. My writing partner (who owned a bookstore for many a year, an event for which I was indirectly responsible, long story) recommended it. “It’s like my old Tales of the Bookstore posts, a whole year of them.” And she was right.

Mr Bythell’s shop is The Bookshop, Wigtown, which sounds amazing as all hell. It takes the patience of a saint to run a place like that; I have never owned a bookstore, being content to merely offer my services as a buyer, shelver, and patient ringer-up. Which takes its own kind of fortitude, but one can always blame the boss when a customer becomes impertinent. “Sorry, I can’t do that, the boss won’t let me.”

Anyway, it was a lovely palate-cleanser, since I’ve been reading only true crime and depressing history for months now. Also, we had snow yesterday–fortunately, it only lasted about twenty-four hours and today there’s no sign that there was ever a slushpocalypse at all. The dogs were extremely vivacious during their walk yesterday morning, apparently determined to toss me headlong into a pile of wet ice at the first opportunity. Arriving home in one piece and relatively dry was a victory, one I celebrated with a feverish round of housecleaning, it being Sunday and all.

I am waiting for one last sales platform to get itself together, then I’ll have something special for you all. If everything goes well I can make the announcement tomorrow. It’s not huge, but it is extremely amusing, and I am on tenterhooks waiting for that one…last…platform. Ah well, it’s the holiday season; everything’s moving slowly.

This week I turn my engines fully toward Hell’s Acre. If I can get through the charity ball before knocking off for Yule I’ll be happy; I desperately need some more murder in this book.

I also need to brave the wilds for some further Yule supplies–just last-minute things, but getting them done will mean I can spend the upcoming holiday weekend cooking without worry. The kids voted a resounding “no” to decorations this year. (The actual vote was two and a half for “fuck no” and one-half abstaining, so no decorating. We’re just too tired.)

2021 has been a bit of a bear, what with the second year of pandemic and the slow-mo fascist coup still attempting to metastasize in the body politic. I alternate between nervous hope and complete despair, as I have since before 2016.

There was also a strange bit of ectoplasm near my loo door this morning. I have spent most of my life as a mother by this point, so I merely glanced at it as I staggered out of bed, returning to discern its source and true nature only once I had coffee in hand. It turned out to be a bit of bile from Miss B, who occasionally has a small amount of stomach upset, being the old lady she is. Brewer’s yeast tablets seem to have largely sorted her on that front, which is a blessing; still, I am facing the evidence of her upcoming mortality with quite a bit of pre-grief. She’s still got some time left, but I can see the end, and it will be a dark time indeed when she decides she’s ready to go.

Of course, I am dead sure she’ll return in some form or another, since I cannot be trusted to supervise myself and it is her self-chosen job to fill that role. The Princess is of the opinion that Miss B will choose to inhabit the body of a corgi next, which will be all kinds of fun for all concerned. But that’s still in the future, and for now I am making the most of the time remaining in this incarnation. Our elderly statesdog wants for nothing, and shall for as long as she deigns to remain in my care.

Using the time we have will not make the eventual grief lighter, but it will give me something to hold when it arrives.

And on that note, I shall be about my business. Miss B, unmindful of my mood, is pressing for walkies since I was lazy and lay abed for a half-hour finishing that book. The daily schedule is in danger, and she cannot abide that; routine and ritual are her watchwords. Boxnoggin, of course, is content to follow her lead, so he’s attempting to wriggle under my office chair as I type this. Since he’s a good sixty pounds of muscular, youngish doge, the chair is in danger of giving out completely, which is not a great deal of fun but would manage to pry me away from the glowing desktop box said dogs are completely mystified by. (“She just…stares at it, and taps with her little monkey paws. Humans are weird…”)

See you around.

Boostered, and Well-Filling

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The Princess, being a frontline worker, had her booster appointment on Tuesday; the Prince and I went along to ask if they were doing walk-ins as well. Fortunately, it was one of the few pharmacies in the area offering them, there was nobody else in the store, so all three of us got our booster and flu shot at once.

The relief is immense. So immense, in fact, I’m not sure how much of being absolutely wiped out yesterday (and frankly, almost totally wiped out today) is psychological, and how much is my immune system pitching a gigantic fit. Either way, it’s far, far better than suffering the plague or influenza, so here we are.

The kids both had mild arm soreness and a wee bit of fatigue. So far their side effects are very small, which I am unendingly grateful for. I am logy, still a bit feverish, and brain-fogged, but the fatigue has gone down a bit. I will say, whether it was the relief or the fever, I had hypersaturated, very odd dreams.

None of them were worthy to turn into a short story, let alone a book, so that’s a bit disappointing. But I shall persevere. Gods know I have enough material to keep me busy, even after shoving three books out the door and into the wild, wild world.

All my engines can turn to Hell’s Acre for a short time now, then I can give Ghost Squad #2 a bit of a shake and a towel-down before sending it off to beta readers. At the very least I have to get all of the brackets out.

Song that never ends, no rest for the weary or the wicked in our benighted world, and all that.

Before I forget, a huge shout-out to everyone who told me what movies, books, songs, and the like they’re using to refill their wells right now. You guys are a very eclectic bunch! (Feel free to add what you’re reading/watching/loving right now! I always love hearing about it.) I’m reading Burkert’s Homo Necans (because that is my idea of fun) and have been talked into watching the Wheel of Time series on Amazon.

I knew a few WoT fans in high school, and their behavior over the book(s) convinced me I wanted nothing to do with the entire thing. Later, I shelved them during my many stints as a bookstore worker, and the behavior of the male fans there just deepened my conviction. But, as one of my friends pointed out, misogynistic neckbeards are up in arms over the Amazon Prime adaptation being “diverse” and “woke”, so it’s probably worth a try.

I like the costuming (I am Team Suspenders, and some of the sweaters delight my inner knitter) and the CGI is great, not to mention Rosamund Pike and Daniel Henney. (The latter sparked one of my favorite characters in the Livi Talbot series.) So, all in all, it seems pretty awesome and I might give the books a try, though that Rand guy irritates the living DAYLIGHTS out of me already and I can’t wait for him to get stabbed by a giant trolloc or eyeless thing already. I’m only a couple episodes in, so we’ll see. I might even give the books a whirl, who knows?

So today is for gently getting back to work–only for a few hours, there’s no use in courting burnout–and getting subscription stuff out the door. Not to mention walking the dogs and prodding my poor bewildered corpse through something approaching a run. I haven’t had a run in days and it’s beginning to wear on my nerves.

I never, ever can get the hang of Thursdays, but one must suffer them all the same. Time to strap some shoes on, grab some toast, and get the dogs walked.

See you around, beloveds.