Insulation, Burning

I’d rather be writing Robin Hood in Space or the kind-of-angel romance, but instead, this epic fantasy won’t bloody end. I keep stabbing it and stabbing it, and it just won’t die. I know I’m on the downhill slope, I know it will be finished, I just…I’m tired. I’d rather be revising Jozzie & Sugar Belle, even, and I’m pretty sure that damn novella won’t get any sales traction, ever.

I know, I know. Here I am complaining about a book under contract, one with the perfect editor, one I’m so close to finishing. I can find anything to bitch about, really.

This morning is cloudy and cool; I want to get out and run before the layer of insulation burns off my nerves and the sky. First I’ll have to find some socks, and that seems a difficult if not insurmountable task at the moment. I keep hoping that when the espresso hits I’ll feel less like I’m using concrete blocks for feet.1

I know the exhaustion is normal at this point in the writing process. I know plenty of it is the fact that I wasn’t completely recovered from Afterwar; I wasn’t even close to recovered. I know it’s a grueling endurance race and the June 1 deadline can be moved a bit. I know, intellectually, that I’m not letting the editor down if I need more time, especially with a giant sprawling cast-of-thousands2 book.

I still feel that hitch of uncertainty in my chest whenever I glance at the calendar and notice just how close I am to the drop-dead date. And the fact that the editor’s going to see the zero instead of a draft I’ve had time to let marinate is anxiety-producing as well.

The only way out is through, as usual. I’ve upped my running mileage as much as I dare to try and work off some of the cortisol and assorted stress chemicals. Deep breathing is always acceptable, but curling up in the corners is only useful in short doses. Miss B is nosing at me, ready to get out the door and work even though the weather means fewer people out with their canine buddies.

Guess I should find some socks and get over myself. All I have to do is keep writing. Sooner or later this book will finish like all the rest.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Afterwar

That’s right, my dears! The book I’ve been agonizing over for multiple years is now out in the world.


They say the war’s over when the surrender is signed. It’s a lie.

America’s bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it’s supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann’s Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there’s no such thing as a home to return to.

Swann and his crew of partisans work for the Federal Army now, hunting through the wreckage for war criminals and kamp officials. Their next quarry is carrying something explosive, something that can level the nascent Federal government and turn the entire continent into a hellscape- well, more than it already is.

Across America, working against time and chaos, Swann’s Riders are back in the fight. And Lara, whose secrets may well end up consuming her too, has a vengeance of her own to deliver…


I finished the zero draft of Afterwar in March 2017. The book itself was brutal to write, for obvious reasons. Then, things started going wrong. Orphaned twice1 and delayed at every production step, last-minute proofing hassles, payment snafus…I joked to Kevin Sonney that if the printers didn’t catch fire and sink into a swamp, I would be surprised. There was just that much bad luck during the publication process. Every once in a while a book gets a perfect storm of Shit Happens, I guess I was due for one anyway, and the fact that it came on the heels of finishing what was probably the most emotionally difficult story I’ve ever written was just icing on a terrifying anxiety-laden cake.

Every book deserves acknowledgements, and I don’t usually do them on release day, but this is a somewhat special case. I want to take a moment and thank Devi Pillai and Miriam Kriss, who believed I could do something bigger and were there to encourage and help me when I (frequently) doubted, Lindsey Hall, who had to deal with me at my very-most-frazzled, Mel Sterling for support above and beyond even the call of Best Friend Duty, Lauren Panepinto for not strangling me when I became difficult and for a great cover, the Deadline Dames and the MurderFriends for a constant mutter of support, cat gifs, and zaniness, Sarah Guan for taking the book through the home stretch and soothing a Very Tired Writer, and my children, who I wrote this for. I should also add thanks to the many service members, in various branches of the armed forces, who answered my bizarre questions with patience and good humor, especially Jeff Davis.

I’m very tired, having spent a restless night, and the release day anxiety is particularly bad. I can barely believe the book made it out into the world, and am at once relieved and scared almost witless. Waiting for another shoe to drop, as it were. So I’m going to go and spend this day the way I spend other release days–shaking, soaking my head in a bucket, and writing. (One of those options may not be quite feasible; I doubt I have a bucket clean enough after the recent stomach flu.)

Come back on Thursday, and I’ll tell you some more about Afterwar. In the meantime, I have a Fanchat Discord you can join; just be sure to mark your spoilers.

Over and out.

Old Decrepit Me

Last week the stomach flu tore through our household like a hot knife through the solidified fat of your choice. I’m still a little weak-kneed, but I have an easy run scheduled for today and both B and I need the work. She was up and down with me the entire time; the only difference between a toddler and a dog watching you puke is that the dog wants to get their nose in the loo bowl.

It’s kind of exotic, the kids being old enough to want to puke on their own. Neither of them wanted me in the loo with them while they heaved. I mean, I don’t blame them, I hate vomiting more than just about anything else, but it’s kind of strange when your kids don’t want you to hold their hair, rub their back, and make soothing sounds. I contented myself with washing sheets, running bowls, and reassurance. Thank goodness we got sick round-robin instead of all at once; the Princess brought home a megaton of saltines and I had some PediaLyte stashed, and we had quite a few “get your own dinner” nights. All three of us sitting glassy-eyed at the table, staring at bowls holding minuscule portions of something bland, and every once in a while laughing because none of us could finish a damn portion.

Anyway, we’re all much better now. The kids, still young, chewy, and bendy, bounced back much more quickly than old, decrepit me. *sigh*

So today it’s that gentle run, with a few walking stops to make Miss B work at heel and distance, and a regular day’s work–revising a chapter of Atlanta Bound from zero to first draft status, then wordcount on The Maiden’s Blade. I’ve finally gotten to the part where I can do the kidnapping, so most of the run today will be thinking about that and putting the pieces together inside my head. Several breaks for water and stretching will have to result, too, because heaving (go figure) fucks up your back and being unable to stretch without retching is Not Fun. Even my intercostals ache, and my abdominals haven’t had this much of a workout since my dancing days.

Also, tomorrow is release day for Afterwar. Which, I’m sure, is a component of the leftover nausea. Release days are always high-stress, and this particular book had so. much. go. wrong. with the publishing process. I’m amazed the printers didn’t blow up and sink into a swamp, I’m still waiting for Yet Another Piece of Bad News and unsettled when none arrives.

On the bright side, the new dishwasher works wonders, and I was able to make rice noodles last night. I was stirring said noodles in a pot when I realized I wasn’t dreading cleanup and I was actually, finally, cooking again. So much of my identity is bound up in motherhood and feeding the kids, I feel somewhat at sea when I’m not performing that function daily.

And this morning a squirrel fell out of a fir tree, through an apple tree, and just narrowly escaped a wandering Siamese cat. The laurel bush the squirrel eventually took shelter in is suspiciously quiet, though the Siamese ran away with a bottle-brush tail. I suspect things are about to get very interesting in the New Kingdom of Backyard…

Stacked-Counter Disaster

Well. Last week ended without me having developed pyrokinesis and burning everything in sight, so that’s good, right? Between doctor’s appointments1 and loved ones having difficulties and the ongoing dishwasher saga (still not installed, don’t ask, maybe Tuesday will change all that) and being behind on this monster of an epic fantasy (that they’re going to title something WRONG IMO but oh well, they know what they’re doing) and the Princess needing an emergency trip or two and the Little Prince needing some tough love when it comes to his homework AND the dogs AND AND AND…

…you get the idea. Every once in a while a week comes along where the universe, not content to load one up with a single disaster, crams ever more into a short timeframe and lights a match, smirking.

Consequently, I took yesterday off except for Regular Sunday Chores, but I’m still twitching. Normally I have the luxury of feeding my introvert nature, spending great chunks of each day alone.2 I also–because clearly I don’t have enough to do–broke down, got a domain, and put together the bare bones of a fan wiki.3 That part was fun; the problem with every other wiki or bulletin board install I’ve done in the past is trying to run it off my main site instead of just getting a domain and putting it there, which cratered EVERYTHING. I did it in fifteen-minute chunks in between washing up, hoovering, brushing and bathing the canids, and assorted other household maintenance items.

Consequently, today I’m kind of…staring and twitching, again. I have a chapter of Atlanta Bound to revise and wordcount on said giant epic fantasy to catch up on, a long run to get in, and all I want to do is go back to bed. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for emotional energy is beginning to feel hideously familiar, even though I’ve telescoped in a lot of other commitments. The only cure is getting some things off my plate, and that won’t happen without work.

It would also be nice to have the kitchen put back together. Everything in the cabinets that the installers will need taken out in order to do their job easily has been living on the counters for…a while, now. I would never have thought such a thing would irk me–one of the accusations leveled at me since childhood is that I’m a messy person and mess obviously doesn’t bother me the way it should. I could find anything on my bookshelf or in my room in seconds flat and never lost my school papers, though, so I guess I wasn’t so much messy as it was a convenient thing to yell at me about. When the kids came along, a certain amount of mess didn’t bother me because Tiny Chaos Machines are gonna Tiny Chaos Machine, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I am…surprised, and a little baffled, that the kitchen being a stacked-counter disaster bothers me as much as it does. I mean, the house is crammed with books and dust and fun things, but I want to put the goddamn waffle iron back in its home.

Go figure.

This is turning out to be yet another year of things I didn’t question about myself because I was told them over and over by toxic caregivers proving to be not quite true. It’s unsettling, but also pleasant. Maybe that’s also costing emotional energy.

Meh. Time to get back to work. The morning run won’t accomplish itself–more’s the pity–and neither will the bloody books.

Over and out.

Bundle of Cheer

Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got the wind knocked out of me on Monday evening, and I suspect it won’t come back any time soon. I am beginning to hate April; it’s just one thing after another this month. Not to me–I’m doing well–but people I care about are having somewhat of a rough go, and all I can do is support. I long to take a katana to the problems, but that would require enemies one could simply dispatch with a blade.

Life is full of those, but also full of ones you can’t. Plus, swinging an edge often leads to paperwork, and nobody has time for that.

So instead it’s budgeting my energy and retracting somewhat into a social shell so I can reserve enough to be an effective support and get my writing done. It’s a good thing I deactivated Facebook; one could so easily sink into a morass there.

Today marks the beginning of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. There’s a lot planned for this final season, it’s a real stunner. Once the road trip is over, I’m really thinking the next serial will be Robin Hood in Space, so I’d best get that underway.

The trouble is, Hostage to Empire wants to chew up all my bandwidth. Book 1 now wants to be called The Maiden’s Blade, which should make the editor happier. It’s also hit 80K and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I have to write the kidnapping, the assassination attempts, and an emperor’s death. Hopefully I can get it in at least rough zero form by July; the timeline is compressed because it’s taking the place of the dead book. *sigh*

So. It’s time to get the first two chapters of Atlanta Bound prepped for subscribers, revise another two chapters of the same for next week’s offering, and get in daily wordcount on Maiden’s Blade. Also, some yoga needs to be done, because I am pushing myself hard while running and as a result, my entire body feels like one big bruise. Oh, and I should probably leave the house to fetch milk, right?

I’ve had eight shots of espresso this morning, the therapy lamp is on, and all I want to do is go back to bed. My eyelids need toothpicks to prop them open. If I’m a very good girl and get all the things on my list accomplished today, maybe I’ll plant some beans in the garden boxes.

It’s not much, but at least it’s one small unstressful something I know how to do.

Hug the people you care about today for me, please. Tell someone you’re there for them, and do something nice for yourself, too. We’re all stuck on this rock hurtling through space, and caring for each other is the only way we’re gonna get through it. I mean, life is inevitably fatal, but at least we can do some good before going to sleep.

Yeah, I’m just a bundle of cheer and optimism today. Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Pocalypse Road

That’s right, my hoopy froods! Season 3 of Roadtrip Z is now out in the world.

Winter has arrived, the walking dead are hungry, and Ginny and Lee’s small group of survivors is making its way towards New York. Other survivors, shaking off the daze of catastrophe, are moving as well. In a wasteland of snow and failing power, of course the zombies are dangerous…

…but it’s the other people you really have to watch out for.

Season 3: Pocalypse Road is now available direct, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at independent bookstores.

I had a lot of fun with this season. Things just had to keep going wrong, and more wrong, and more-more wrong, in the grand tradition of every zombie apocalypse tale. Be on the lookout for Tuckerized readers, callbacks to old zombie movies, how to haul ammo in a snowbound wasteland, and finally, finally, Lee Quartine getting a break or two, as well as the mystery of just what was in Colonel Grandon’s case from Season 1.

And now, since it’s a release day, I’m gonna go stick my head in a bucket and hope the anxiety dies down. Enjoy!

Book Synchronicity, Again

Spring Break is over. The Little Prince is back in school, and the Princess tells me her fellow retail workers are kind of thrilled there won’t be kids racing the mobility scooters in the aisles anymore.1 Consequently, the house is very quiet.

Too quiet.

We’ve had a couple days of houseguests to close out the holiday as well, which means the dogs were all excited over the regular routine being broken. So excited, in fact, that Odd Trundles is seriously behind on his napping, and eschewed most of his brekkie today in favor of trundling back to the office and his Super Fancy Dog Bed. Miss B is tired but also a bit frazzled from Constantly Supervising New People, so she’ll accompany me for a gentle half-hour run to work all her fidgets out and wind her down so she can sleep. It’s lovely to have people over, but it’s also lovely to have the house back afterward.

I’m also waiting with various stages of patience for the home warranty company to get in touch with me about NEW DISHWASHER. I fidget whenever I think about it, especially since I did a lot of cooking this past week. The pasta pot needs scrubbing, and so does the giant crock pot. I am willing to make cookies for whoever delivers and installs a new goddamn dishwasher, then shoo them out the door and test-drive said new dishwasher.

In other news, Season 3 of Roadtrip Z releases on April 17, and yes, there will be a paperback, it’s just not dropping until my faithful subscribers get their free ebooks. (Serial subscribers get free ebooks of the unedited AND edited seasons. I try to make it a good deal for my peeps.) And we’re coming up on the release of Afterwar in May, which…you know, I typed “finis” at the end of that zero draft over a year ago, and that book has had such a hard road to publication I’m expecting AWFUL NEWS ABOUT IT every day from now until it actually goes on sale. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, there was just a perfect storm of Things Going Wrong Outside Everyone’s Control, but dear God I have only just recovered from it.

…as I was writing this, my new editor at Orbit tweeted a picture of a stack of Afterwar, so synchronicity is alive and well, AND the printers didn’t burst into flame and sink into a swamp2 which is ALL TO THE GOOD and maybe the book will go out without any further disaster.

I just winced, typing that. I’m sure the gods of publishing are laughing at me. Loudly.

I had other plans for this blog post, but it kind of derailed, and I’ve got to get out for a run. I also got our last houseguest loaded into his car during the writing of this, so any train of thought I had is well and truly derailed. Maybe I’ll do like the dogs and take a nap?

Maybe. But only after I run.

Over and out.