Every Permutation

So far this morning I’ve spent an hour in the car, walked the dogs, and swallowed a few correspondence toads. As a result, I’m somewhat at sixes and sevens, and longing for more coffee. I just can’t tell if more caffeine will help or hinder, given the amount of fog brewing in my head.

It’s a continual amazement to me that so many people will put off responding to one’s communications but expect one to drop everything and leap upon theirs. I’m getting better at shrugging and filing things for later reply, and it would be inaccurate to suggest I feel no pleasure in doing so. I’m also getting better at dead-eyeing entitled little brats (of any age) into behaving better while out in public.

The end of summer is always a strange flux time, especially when one has children in American public school. Three months off is just enough time to settle into much slower habits, and the scramble to organize and prepare in August makes me long for year-round schooling. It seems a much more humane way to do things, but of course, America won’t implement the humane way of things until we’ve tried every. other. possible. choice. and failed at each and every one.

I suppose that sounds ill-tempered, but I’m *mumblemumble* years old and have earned a little temper by surviving as long with a brain (and in a country) that wants to erase me.

In any case, yesterday’s grey skies and rain did good things all over. The trees are much happier; I could feel my soul expanding with every drop hitting the ground. Consequently, today is much better than I expected, even as I was rudely (and somewhat early) dragged from strange dreams.

Even my open window, full of cursing and hammering from numerous last-minute construction and renovation projects in the neighborhood (as well as a particularly musical storm of cursing at random intervals as a hammer strikes a thumb or some other disaster occurs) provies just enough backdrop noise to make things interesting. Yesterday’s scene in HOOD needs its guts torn out and rearranged, too–sometimes one can’t do a scene properly until one’s taken a trial run and found out what doesn’t work.

At least I don’t have to try every permutation. Once is enough.

The romance–Damage–is also coming along well, though I’m far enough along on the first third that a few days of tender care situating the entire thing just so is necessary before I can settle into the long middle doldrum. It will be nice to hit the end, especially since I know pretty exactly how the book wants to swing and stretch. It doesn’t even matter that it wants to be written piecemeal, because the signposts are so large and the structure so easily discerned.

In other words, I have my work for the day cut out indeed. Here’s hoping for more rain (though the weather app tells me such hope is in vain) and for whoever’s currently cursing a blue streak to get a bandage and some better luck. (It sounds like there was a slight mishap with a staple gun; I’d curse too.)

Over and out.

Busy Meatspace

The past few weeks have been hell on my daily writing time. If it’s not the stress it’s family events, and if it’s not family events it’s back-to-school arrangements, and if it’s not any of that it’s scrambling to catch up with stuff that fell by the wayside because of stress, family events, and back-to-school arrangements.

It’s enough to make me wish for a cave in the woods. A cave with an electrical outlet or two, of course, so I could work in peace.

Single mothers are superheroes. No co-parent to take the pressure off even for a moment, as well as a constricted choice of jobs (so as to be available for childcare) and seventy-odd cents on the dollar a man would make besides. It’s surprising that any woman would choose to reproduce under these circumstances, which is, of course, why birth control and abortion are consistently made unavailable.

The State, you see, needs warm bodies, and there’s only one way to make those.

I finished Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain last night; it was like finishing one of the large, hearty sanitarium meals he describes so lovingly. Poor Settembrini, and poor Joachim. And poor Ellen Brand, taken advantage of by that damn doctor. Hans I have less than no sympathy for, even though he’s the reader’s entry into the tale. It was a lovely meal nonetheless, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m sated and can push away from the table. I do like it better than Death in Venice; this book came along at just the right time.

I’ve still got an hour to spend in the car today, all told, and a good half-hour taking care of various things once I reach my destination. I’d best get started, especially if I want to get in wordcount. Subscription stuff needs to be sent out today, too–I could have taken the weekend to get a few weeks’ lead time set up, but instead I spent it taking care of life out here in meatspace.

The disconnect between how long it takes to write a book and how long it takes to read, let alone buy, one is huge. Related: I’ve noticed another spike in piracy lately, and there’s been a concomitant spike in people getting shitty with me in email about my request that people not steal my work.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like more Steelflower books in a reasonable time. (If you know someone who torrents, let them know they’re stopping you from getting more books from me.)

Anyway, the only thing I need now is breakfast to settle so I can run. I need the zen more than ever, from now until September.

Over and out.

Meat, Grit, Other Forms

Viral Agents

I’m contemplating going back into category romance for a while. I like writing them–the very narrow strictures mean one has to be extremely creative and I’m at my best when there are rules to subvert. I might even extend the Viral Agents series with Project Psyche.

Another thing I like about working categories is that Harlequin pays on time. There’s never been a problem with them meeting their end of the financial contract, unlike some other trad publishers I could name.

Mostly, though, I want to write a few things that please me. I’m exhausted by Afterwar and the cold reception my warnings received, as well as a few other things. If people don’t want the meaty, gritty stuff unfiltered, fine. I’ll put the meat and grit in other forms and serve it with a smile.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d love to tell a few stories that have unalloyed happy endings, too. They do exist, and right now they’re at the front of the line, having waited patiently for several years.

Often, I sense the stories that want to be told in a line out my office door. They shift slightly, cough politely, and wait their turn. The line’s fluid; some are beckoned out early and some move forward only to halt when an insoluble problem appears, some plow through all other waiting before them and run through me at high speed, leaving everyone gasping.

It’s like that scene in Ghost with the ghosts lining up to hop into Whoopi Goldberg.

Anyway, it’s a Thursday, there’s a run to accomplish, the dogs are frisky with wanting their own exercise, and I have coffee to absorb before anything else is even possible. HOOD‘s Season Two just passed 40k words yesterday, too. It’s going to be a long weekend, and one of the few bright spots is going to be time I can use for putting stories together inside my head while my body is otherwise occupied.

At least it’s a cloudy morning, so I won’t expire of heatstroke the moment I step out the door. Small mercies, my friends.

Onward to Romancelandia, my friends. Over and out.

Soundtrack Monday: Into Something Good

Strange Angels

Sometimes a character requires the most outlandish things. For example, Christophe Reynard in Strange Angels has an extremely narrow musical taste–as in, it pretty much stopped changing when Buddy Holly died. Doo-wop and be-bop, in his opinion, will never die.

The fellow considers Herman’s Hermits, while somewhat late to the party, the absolute acme. So much so, that the very first scene I tried writing from his point of view is Christophe in a grocery store (right after the first time he’s met Dru) humming I’m Into Something Good. It didn’t make it into the finished book–the entire Strange Angels series is told from Dru’s POV, but sometimes I wrote small scenes from other characters just so I could figure out what indeed was happening.

Of course, the song playing during those few short but extremely intense moments of his and Dru’s first meeting (the one that ends up with Christophe catching a shotgun blast courtesy of our favorite svetocha) is, of course, Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.

He’s a funny fellow, Christophe is, but I guess when your murderous, sociopathic dad’s the current king of the vampires you can be forgiven a few quirks. Psychological standards for djamphir, he would say, notwithstanding.

He might even, being Reynard, say it with a small, fanged smile.

Sort Of Recovering

Season 2 of HOOD starts today for my lovely subscribers. I’m pretty pleased, even if I might need three seasons instead of two after all, to get the arcs to fall right. Ah well, never rains but it pours, and that gives me more time to plan other things, I suppose.

The stress of the last week and a half is receding, though not nearly as quickly as I’d like. As I get older, it takes more time to bounce back from the killing worries, both financial and personal, that go along with this career–and, let’s face it, being a single mother. I suppose from outside it looks successful enough, but that semblance hides the fact that our household is hovering barely above the poverty line and it only takes a single bad event–or a single publisher refusing to pay what they owe–to trigger catastrophe. It doesn’t help that I spent the early part of last week working furiously, almost to the edge of burnout, to make sure HOOD: Season One was out properly and to get Incorruptible prepped for release. (The latter won’t be out until September; don’t worry, you’ll know as soon as preorders are up.)

So I’m a little shaky, and even though the worst of the disaster has been addressed, I’m still vibrating in place. (Not quite fast enough to be a squirrel twin, but… close.) The kids were a little worried, since normally I tend to keep a pretty granite poker face; they know that when that calm cracks it means things are Very Bad Indeed.

Anyway, I am recovering, and there are good things. Like the ebooks of my Beauty & the Beast retelling, Rose & Thunder, being on sale for the month of August. (You get about 28% off the regular price.) Also, I may be writing some more romances to keep the wolf from the door, but that’s good because I have a couple stories that fit that treatment perfectly and the editor interested in them is a gem.

The saving grace of the last week and a half has been my subscribers and patrons. That trickle of monthly support provides a thin cushion I’m ever grateful for, and means I can write still more for their delectation. It’s a virtuous circle–I produce better and more when I can sleep at night instead of lying awake in the darkness, my heart pounding, worrying about losing the house.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, I’ve this week’s fiction offerings to put together, and as soon as the cover for Incorruptible lands, the finishing touches can be put on September’s release and I can start thinking about November. Not quite sure if I’ll have anything finished and prepped by then, but hope springs eternal. I have a rather punishing publication schedule.1 A lot will depend on if publishers decide to snap up one or two projects my agent is making the rounds with.

I like self-publishing, but it would be a relief to outsource some of the brute work–formatting, listing for sale, editing–to a company that has deeper pockets and more labor than my own small, sweet self. A vacation’s out of the question, but a break, now that would be nice.

But today there’s coffee to finish, subscription stuff to get up, dogs to walk, a kitchen to clean, and maybe some laundry to do. The fun never ends chez Saintcrow, and I suppose I’d better like it, since it won’t change anytime soon. Making a virtue out of necessity is a writer’s survival strategy.

Over and out.

From Every End

I finally have coffee this morning, no thanks to the dogs. Now I just have to wait for it to cool to a drinkable temperature.

It’s always something.

I spent the weekend doing housework and watching Buzzfeed Unsolved videos. (I like the true crime ones; life is always, always weirder than fiction.) It was pleasant to stay away from the news, though I made the mistake of looking Sunday morning.

The murderous carnival continues, piping merrily down the road to fascist hell.

Anyway, Season Two of HOOD starts this week. I’m going to try to get everything done in two seasons for this serial, but there’s no promises–there’s the FĂȘte and then the Rescue, and they might need a season apiece. After that, unless a publisher buys it, we’ll start Rook and Rose, the first book of which is Hell’s Acre.

That’s the plan, at least. Things are all up in the air here. It would be nice if a Certain Publisher would pay me what they owe; that way I could get the bank holding the mortgage in a fractionally better mood. Writers get it from every end, from theft of our work by piracy or plagiarism to credit woes because we’re basically freelancers. If we don’t pay our bills we suffer consequences, but if publishers/distributors don’t pay us we have little recourse unless we’re already wealthy enough to afford legal representation. It’s a shitshow, frankly, and though I’ve hustled to keep body and soul (and children and dogs) together for multiple years now I’m beginning to get a bit tired.

Just a bit.

In any case, I have plenty of cardamom in my coffee, everyone here at least has their health, and I have more work coming out. I even started writing a story last night, longhand in a spiral notebook as if I was still in high school. It may want to be written entirely that way, which means it’ll already be half-revised by the time the zero’s done, since I’ll have to type it from the handwritten pages. That will be interesting, I’ve rarely had a book come out that way before. Much of Rattlesnake Wind was written that way, and some of She Wolf and Cub. The lucky book choosing to come out that way this particular time is Memory Game, where a woman wakes up in a hospital bed and doesn’t know who she is.

I need to research trauma amnesia now. Hm.

Anyway, best to keep it sharklike–keep swimming or I’ll drown, and wear a big smile. At least there’s coffee, and I can worry about the stack of paperwork on my desk later.

Over and out.

Zombie Rhubarb

This the the rhubarb Odd Trundles kept digging up. For some reason–maybe he thought he was helping me, or that the poor plant had insulted his mother–he just had it in for the thing. I’m sure its position in a damp, shady spot had a little to do with its struggle, too.

But for six straight years, this motherfucker refused to die. It clung to life like a heroine with a gun, and finally I transplanted it to a nice spot with three-quarters sun and no Trundles.

And this year, it’s at it again. It simply refuses to quit.

Things are extremely stressful chez Saintcrow right now, what with publishers refusing to pay me what they owe and the bank consequently threatening to take the house. But if the zombie rhubarb can survive all the bullshit, I suppose I can too.

I’m not going to be outdone by rhubarb. I don’t even eat the stuff. If it can cling so tenaciously, though, the least I can do is put it in a better spot.

So onward and inward, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Let’s kick Friday in the teeth, my friends.