Out of Season

Sunday chores mean my desk is somewhat better organized–not too organized, since a little bit of mess allows room for creativity to sneak in. Or maybe too-neat just stresses me out of any kind of proper work mindframe. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The weather is turning, so there’s some sniffles and sneezes in the house. Every time one of us reaches for the tissues I tense up, wondering if it’s the plague, if it’s the moment I have to start making awful decisions.

Fortunately, it seems to be nothing more than the usual postnasal drip that happens along every time our damp autumn wanders in and settles down to. But still, my nerves twitch all sideways when I hear a sneeze. We’re still enduring lockdown and masking up whenever forced to leave the house, except for during outside exercise. When the rains start there will be nobody on the sidewalk to infect, either; I won’t have to hop out into the road when a middle-aged white man decides he’s going to take up the entire bloody walk with his waddling self.

The zero draft of The Bloody Throne, full of holes and bracket notes, is set aside to marinate–generally one of the hardest times to endure during project, since it’s still smarting and itching like a fresh scab. I have revisions on Damage and Moon’s Knight to distract myself with and get out the door, as well as continuing work on HOOD‘s Season Three and The Black God’s Heart. I forced myself to only write on things that do not resemble work over the weekend, which means there’s 8k of text I’ll probably never use–a mismatched pair of occult detectives who talk like an old BBC serial is great fun, but I don’t think it’s publishable, you know? Still, it was therapeutic, and bits of it might be used elsewhere, who knows?

The coffee tastes particularly fine this morning. I long for caffeine to soak in and finally give me a spark or two. Taking three days off should be enough to recover from an epic fantasy, right? I should be right as rain now.

Except I have the sneaking suspicion I’m not, and it’ll hit me in the middle of revisions. Normally it takes three times as long as one thinks to truly recover form the end of a project; unfortunately, nothing about the time is normal. It’s all out of whack, if not completely out of joint.

At least there’s no time to be lonely when I can sink into characters. Not that I ever feel lonely anyway; there’s generally so much to do and see and think about. I did have Midsommar flower-crown dreams, so maybe it’s time for me to poke at that one story with the wolves, the snow, and the flowers out of season. That sounds a lovely way to procrastinate, doesn’t it?

But no, the bloody revisions need attention. Whatever I’m going to procrastinate with will have to creep around the edges, stealing precious bits of sweet forbidden time.

Maybe another book will hash my wrists on its way out of my head. In any case, sunrise has strengthened behind the cedars, and the dogs are longing for me to finish my damn coffee and get to the real work, which is taking their fuzzy asses on a ramble. My human concerns are all very well, but they have actual business to conduct, or so they keep reminding me.

I’d best be off, then. We survived another weekend; I want to hide in my closet until after the election but I have to work. And my ballot needs to be dropped in a box instead of mailed; I’m taking no chances this year. So that will mean a short drive this morning too.

May we vanquish our Monday, dearly beloveds. I’m not anywhere near ready, but that’s why we have coffee, isn’t it.

Over and out.

Glass Apple, Silence, Flames

The glass apples along my office windowsill are all dusted, because I take them down and play with them sometimes while a story hides in my brain-folds. A lot of people don’t understand how physical a job writing really is–after all, you’re just sitting there, right? Just typing.

But everything you write lodges in your body. Not just that, though–characters speak while you’re in the shower, while you’re exercising, while you’re driving and thinking of something else. Getting up and moving to work out a plot problem or block out a scene becomes a habit.

The kids–and my writing partner–know that when I stop in a middle of a sentence and stare into the distance, sometimes it’s because a story has decided now is the time to express a few home truths, or make a connection. “I can see the story going on behind your eyes,” is what my writing partner says.

The kids, having grown up with me, are used to me checking out mid-sentence to work on a particular plot problem, solving or marking it, then coming back and finishing my sentence as if no time has passed. Oddly, for me, no time has. Sometimes I’m vaguely aware I’ve stopped to solve a story problem, but mostly I return to ordinary consciousness like flicking a light switch and continue with what I was saying.

Story-time exists on some other plane, I suppose. Of course the check-outs never occur while I’m operating heavy machinery, so to speak. One must feel safe before one can stop in the middle of a sentence, knowing that one’s interlocutor will give you space and time to finish.

My writing partner does it too, you know. Often, especially when we’re at lunch or dinner together, one of us will stop talking and gaze into the distance, our version of the thousand-yard stare. The other will wait, quietly, until they come back. It’s a good thing, to be able to trust someone with the quiet like that. Everyone is the star of their own movie, of course, but it’s rare and wonderful to find someone who doesn’t mind being the type of star who lets their best friend finish a chain of thought in peace, and doesn’t make them pay for the momentary inattention later.

The kids have their own moments of wanting to finish thoughts in peace, and I’ve seen them giving each other that space and gift. It seems good training, even if other people will probably take advantage of it. But at least they have the skill, and can deploy it when needed.

…I was going to write about other things today, but I’m curled in a tight little armored ball. I am very close to finishing a zero of The Bloody Throne–messy and full of bracketed notes, but still, the whole corpse will be out and on the table, ready for resting before revision begins. I can’t imagine what it will feel like to be done with this book. The entire series has had a difficult birth; I haven’t had this sort of emotional trouble with a book since Afterwar. Of course it’s not the same type of trouble, or in the same degree, and the problems that plagued Afterwar‘s publication process aren’t plaguing this series. Still, being orphaned midway, added to pandemic and fascist coup, means it’s been extraordinarily difficult to persevere through the end of an epic fantasy.

I mean, how dare I write about court intrigue and pretty dresses and love triangles when the world is burning? How dare I write a love song while everything is in flames?

I have no choice. I have to sing, even through the fire. I’ll go mad if I don’t, but it doesn’t stop the feeling that somehow, in some way, I’m failing because I’m Not Helping Enough.

So. Today is for chipping away at the book, accelerating through the crisis I saw from the very first sentence, writing what I’ve been working towards for years. I knew how the entire thing was going to play out from the beginning, and maybe that’s part of the problem. In a book, justice is a possibility.

I’m beginning to feel like outside the pages I write, it never is. Hope, mercy, redemption… in a book, these things are possible.

Outside? Well.

I suppose we’ll see.

Pretty, Survive

It’s still dark outside, though dawn is coming up. The marine layer is often so thick we don’t see the sun for days in winter, and while that was disconcerting during the summer smokestorm, it’s pleasant and cheerful now, like a warm blanket. At least the gloom is natural, things still have shadows, and there’s no tinge of burning to make the animal muscle just below my occipital ridge tighten.

I took Sunday all the way off. No work allowed (after a 4k push on The Bloody Throne on Saturday), only housecleaning (the fall purge and nesting is well underway) and watching movies. I watched a Shyamalan flick everyone panned but I thought was pretty good, an episode of Generation War which was difficult, and a weird low-budget WWII horror film, which shall remain unlinked because I’m not at all sure about the intentions of the people who funded it.

Consequently I’m up early, and the caffeine is soaking in. Two weeks ago I thought I’d finish this zero, now I’m just tired and plodding, head-down. It’s like that moment in any action movie where the protagonist is so physically damaged one almost can’t bear to look, but I don’t have to be pretty when this ends.

I just have to survive.

I meant to get some friend-reading done–the reading one does for writer friends, that it–but the broken and stripped wires inside my head meant I didn’t have the bandwidth. Still, this morning I managed a little while still in bed before dawn, the dogs still dead asleep and heavy against my shoulder, hip, and knee.

They do like to spread out.

Anyway, I’m privileged to read a draft of The Silent Places, and it’s good. It’s really good. So good I’m resenting having to lay it aside and turn to my own work, which is a sign of recovery in and of itself.

Slowly, hand over hand, I’m climbing free of the pit. But I’m not out yet, and this zero has to die. I have two revisions due in mid-November, too, so I have got to get this off my plate. Yet I can’t push at the pace I want; for one, I literally can’t physically sustain it and for another, the book will balk. It takes the time it needs.

May we all take the time we need today. It’s hard, especially with disaster barking at our heels, excited to make our acquaintance. But I hope, my beloveds, that you get to take a deep breath today, and that there is some moment of grace lurking between the tasks that must be finished, the posts that must be doomscrolled past, and the breathless hurrying in the face of catastrophe.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but a tiny moment is all I have today so I’m sharing it with both hands. Autumn has arrived and we still endure, you and I. If you’re reading this, you’ve survived this far. And that–as I keep saying–is the victory. We’re still alive, Koroku, we’ll manage somehow.

Pretty or not, here we are.

Coffee, Cats, Banquet

My goodness, I get mail. Do I ever get mail.

In response to several recent questions, no, there is not a projected date for The Highlands War, which is book 4 of Steelflower. The ongoing piracy means I can’t afford to take time to write it, frankly. Yelling at me because you want to download it for free off a torrent site is not going to make me work on it, either.

Just sayin’.

Anyway, it’s a Tuesday, and the only thing dragging me out of bed was the prospect of coffee. Well, that and the fact that the dogs needed a loo break after a hard night spent trying to get under me to sleep. They both long to be as close as possible, though Miss B is, like many elderly beings, a light sleeper and is up and down several times a night to seek the tile floor in the loo when she gets too warm.

Boxnoggin, however, picks a spot and stays there, at least until B moves and he can get into a better spot. He’s a great believer in patience winning the battle of location. Although he rarely uses said patience for anything else in his canine life. Especially cats.

Man, does he ever want to catch a cat or two. Even the rabbits down the street don’t fill him with as much frustrated longing, although you’d think a terrier would be more into rodents than felines. But no, it’s a big juicy cat Boxnoggin wants, to love and lick and SHAKE.

I’ve tried explaining to him that they’ll last longer if he just cuddles them, but the terrier in him is absolutely baffled by this chain of logic and insists shaking is the proper way to show affection to small things. So, no cats for him, just toys.

It will frustrate him, but better that than the alternative.

Today I have a Banquet of Death to write in the epic fantasy. All sorts of stuff has been boiling away, and it’s about to bubble over. I realized last night I could cut a planned sub-arc and that will save me around 15-20k words, although the arc can be added in later if the rest of the book isn’t hanging properly. But I think it’ll be fine.

If I can turn in another few 5-6k days like yesterday, I might even finish a messy, hole-laden zero this week, which would be ever so nice. There’s a whole lot of brackets in this thing, though, since the entire last half of the book has been laboring under pandemic stress.

I suppose I’d best get to it. Tuesday is marshaling its forces, and I’d really like to get this particular Big Goal off my plate. All I need is to draw a line through the zero; that’s all I’m asking out of this week. We’ll see if it happens; be kind to yourselves today, my beloveds; remember, survival is the victory.

RELEASE DAY: Finder

That’s right, my lovelies! Today is the (long-awaited) day the sixth book in the Watchers series drops!


He’s not the only one watching her. . .

For years Jorie Camden has been quietly helping her police friends pursue cold cases, and she’s paid the price over and over again, her talent for Finding stretched to the limit. Now something different is stalking the streets, taking children–something old, and foul, and Dark. The cops won’t admit there’s a problem, so what can a Lightbringer do but solve the mystery on her own?

Caleb is a Watcher of Circle Lightfall, and his mission is simple: protect the witch he’s assigned to–the witch who just happens to be able to touch him without causing agonizing pain. It’s his one shot at redemption, and it’ll take every weapon he has, plus his willingness to play dirty. Even if his witch seems to be chasing something no one can see.

Yet something Dark is indeed in their city. And now that it’s aware of pursuit, it has plans for Jorie and her talent–plans not even Caleb might be able to stop. . .

NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZONB&NKOBOGOOGLE, AND APPLE.


It’s been a long, long time. This book has had a particularly difficult road to publication (though nothing like Afterwar, thank every god there ever was or will be) and honestly I never thought it would see the light of day. But it has, it’s finally here, and I’m super glad. A big shout-out goes to Brenda Chin, editor extraordinaire, who didn’t give up on the book (or me!) when the going got tough, plus the crew at Belle/ImaJinn who didn’t either. And, as always, a special thank you to my lovely Patreon and Gumroad subscribers, who got to see little bits of the book and cheered me over the finish line; last but not least, thank you to all the fans who wrote to reassure me that yes, you would like to read another book about the Circle’s black-leather knights.

I have other news in the pipeline, but today is for performing my usual release day feat of sticking my head in a bucket of ice water and staying there until the performance anxiety abates a bit. Soon enough I’ll be back at work, as usual; it’s nice to reach a mountaintop and gaze at all the peaks yet to climb, breathing deep and knowing you’ve at least scaled one.

Some days, one is enough.

Portal, Book, Coping

I hit the wall last week. Bigtime. I’m still twitchy, but taking a few days completely off social media performed a wonder or two.

It didn’t catch me up with actual work, mind you. But it did mean I am three scenes from finishing a zero draft of a 100k portal fantasy. That’s right, Moon’s Knight is within spitting distance of being done. I don’t know why the Muse chose this particular story as therapy, but I don’t really care. It’s enough that the words are still coming, even if I am now terrified that I’ve thrown my publishing calendar off for the year.

Whatever. Between pandemic and fascist coup, I’m glad to be writing anything, frankly.

I suppose it’s like leaving the house with small children–one always triples the estimate of necessary time, one always has to carry a tonne of supplies, and one has to be ready to stop and go home at a moment’s notice.

The problem is, home is burning merrily. A fully involved, five-alarm fire, so I can only stand on the kerb with my aching hands and bits of stories, watching the light flicker.

Isn’t that a terrible mental image.

Anyway, my method of coping was to become utterly possessed with a book that will probably never be published, and to sink into it when I should have been working on other things. I did realize what was going on and gave myself until today to get it sorted, which means I’m only a few scenes from the end and can go back to regular work either this evening or tomorrow.

The dogs still need walking, I still need a run. We’ve had the hottest part of the year so far, and it’s been gross. Plus the Princess’s bike was stolen from her work this past weekend, which is just cherry on the cake. She doesn’t want me to do anything about it, wants to handle the situation herself. My mother-instincts went into Godzilla mode, but the Princess’s needs take precedence, so I’m biting my tongue and wringing my hands.

There’s a lot of that going around lately. But at least there’s one more book in the world–even if nobody else will ever read it–and I’ve proven to myself that I can indeed still finish a story. I needed the reminder badly indeed.

I suppose I’d best get started. Moon’s Knight isn’t fully finished yet, after all. Just three more scenes. It always takes longer than one thinks it will, but I have a small glimmer of hope and the rest of Monday.

It’s going to have to be enough.

Audio ROADTRIP, and FINDER!

Well, isn’t this a banner Tuesday?

I’m pleased and proud–as punch, as Lee would say–to announce that Roadtrip Z is now in audio! Narrated by the amazing Erin deWard, the adventures of Ginny, Lee, Juju, and the gang are now available in a silken voice, ready to slip into your ear-holes. Cotton Crossing and In the Ruins are both available now; Pocalypse Road and Atlanta Bound are forthcoming.

I don’t often go back to previous work, but last night I got down the omnibus. Paging through it, I just had to smile; Lee is just so Lee and Ginny is so damn Ginny, and Juju’s the absolute best. Of course I couldn’t tell a zombie story without a dog and a road trip, either.

I do have some free audiobook codes, and if I can scrape together the energy newsletter subscribers and other patrons will get a chance to win a few.

But that’s not all the news I have for you today, my beloveds. Oh, no indeed.


You guys have seen bits of Finder’s Watcher here and there; my subscribers have, of course, seen more. I am also pleased and proud to report that the latest Watchers book (my goodness, we’re up to six now) has a cover, and will release on August 21, 2020.

He’s not the only one watching her…

For years Jorie Camden has been quietly helping her police friends pursue cold cases, and she’s paid the price over and over again, her talent for Finding stretched to the limit. Now something different is stalking the streets, taking children—something old, and foul, and Dark. The cops won’t admit there’s a problem, so what can a Lightbringer do but solve the mystery on her own?

Caleb is a Watcher of Circle Lightfall, and his mission is simple: protect the witch he’s assigned to—the witch who just happens to be able to touch him without causing agonizing pain. It’s his one shot at redemption, and it’ll take every weapon he has, plus his willingness to play dirty. Even if his witch seems to be chasing something no one can see.

Yet something Dark is indeed in their city. And now that it’s aware of pursuit, it has plans for Jorie and her talent—plans not even Caleb might be able to stop…

The preorder links are coming up as I type this (Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Google, and Apple) and there will be a paperback release too. As soon as I have the links for the latter I’ll update the series page.

It’s been a long, difficult time getting this book to print; I couldn’t be happier that we’ve finally done it. Now, of course, I need to be thinking about the next one… but that’s for another day.


I woke up pretty down about the state of the world, but there are good things happening right now too. I have to keep telling stories or I’ll drown; hopefully, said stories will provide other people with a little relief.

And as usual, there’s dogs to walk and maybe a run to get in, though the latter might take a back seat to a nap. I don’t feel rested at all, and there’s miles yet to go today.

I suppose I’d best get started, then.