Covers and Schedules, Oh My

Oh look, The Bloody Throne has a cover! Whew. I’m still waiting for the author’s copies, which will mean the series is all the way done instead of just mostly done, but it’s very nice to reach each semi-final milestone.

Winter–such as it is in the Pacific Northwest–has arrived. The first line of real, lovely storms moved in, dumping rain and stripping plenty of leaves. The clinging remainders are brightly colored, as a rule; there are bits of wet flame everywhere. The dogs are extremely glad for the heated mattress topper1 on my bed; Miss B’s old bones and Boxnoggin’s slick coat mean they both enjoy the heat on “their” side.

Yes, they have a whole side of the bed. In the first place, I’m a sucker. In the second place, they’ll alert me of hijinks and intruders, and that’s part of their job.

They work hard, the fuzzy little brats.

I spent the weekend with kitchen chemistry. My candymaking is improving by leaps and bounds, mostly due to having the proper tools. It’s been a real journey of, “Oh, this is why they recommend using one of these! Who knew?”

I did not work on the NaNoWriMo book more than lightly. Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book, for those playing along at home) is moving right along. It’s about time for the first real danger, which I think will be cut brake lines.

I just have to figure out what in hell the cutter of said brake lines is bloody well thinking. They’re utterly convinced of the rightness of this course of action, while I’m mystified. They’ll tell me in a bit, I’m sure, I just have to trust the Muse knows what the hell she’s doing when she insists on something like this.

Never been wrong yet, but there’s always a first time.

I also have to reserve a significant amount of time today for revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I’m getting to the point where I distrust both projects, revising or in the process of creation, which is normal at their respective parts of the process but hardly comfortable, especially when I’m staring at the NaNo book and muttering, “why the fuck did I think I could do this, who the fuck do I think I am, everyone is going to hate this book, YOU MIGHT AS WELL STOP WRITING NOW, LILI.”

Plus ça change, and all that. Plus there’s the pressure of other deadlines looming. My ability to distinguish between “deadline RIGHT NOW” and “deadline a little later” is all caddywumpus, despite all the scheduling software I use to keep on track. (I like Cushion.) I thought I could also work on Jake’s book (Sons of Ymre #2) at the same time, but instead of being able to juggle four projects at once I’m down to two slots during the day when I can give my full attention to things.

I’m torn between “lo, how the mighty have fallen” and “this goddamn pandemic, we could have been past this by now if YOU PEOPLE2 would just cooperate.” Neither are particularly comfortable.

At least there’s some rain. Most mornings are nice and grey, just the way I like them. Boxnoggin is definitely not pleased by that, but he loves the occasional blaze in the fireplace, cuddles on the couch, and (of course) the heated mattress topper, which sometimes I turn on during the day for his napping pleasure.

There are good things in this season, even for a summer dog.

My scheduling app informs me that it’s time to swill the rest of this coffee and get the canines walked. We’re a bit early this morning, because there’s a lot to do. I suppose I should get started.

Let’s hope our respective Mondays behave, my dearests. If not, I’ve got that ashwood Louisville Slugger ready.

It’s nice to have a plan.

The Very (Dog) Pink

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NaNoWriMo continues apace. I’m doing writing sprints on my Discord in the afternoons; sometimes I even dust off my old gaming headphones and you can hear me softly swearing in the ChitChat audio channel–if, that is, you like that sort of thing.

Plus, we’re a really fun crew; we just instituted a Pet Tax channel, and the pics of everyone’s fluffy, furry, feathered, scaled, or other companions are wonderful. Between that and the Bob Ross birthday marathon on YouTube, I’m feeling much more balanced. Not quite better, and not anywhere close to recovered, but less unsteady.

I’ll take it.

Many of you were a bit concerned about Miss B. Don’t worry, she’s just an elderly statesdog. Sometimes she decides to snub her breakfast, especially if there’s not enough bacon grease or something similarly high-value in it, and that can lead to weird things even if she condescends to eat her dinner the same day. Sometimes her tummy just decides, “nope, we’re not doing this,” and that leads to a night of her producing some bile, needing to go outside to clear the other end, and just generally resetting her poor ol’ digestive system.

This is normal in some elderly dogs. The vet isn’t concerned unless other danger signs are present. As long as B’s well-hydrated and the tummy stuff doesn’t last more then 24hrs or so, she’s fine and there’s no need to disrupt routine and drag her to the pet ER. In fact, breaking routine and stressing her when there’s no need could disturb the delicate equilibrium of an old dog, so I’m under orders to just keep calm and carry on when she does this, while watching for true danger signs.

Boxnoggin, of course, is in the very pink of health. His largest problem is that after nights when B and Mum are up and down, neither of us are very bouncy during morning walkies, and he is forced to go at a somewhat more sedate pace than he would otherwise choose. On those days, the kids play with him as soon as they’re home from school/work or have resurrected from the lethargy of a morning lie-in. There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of squeaks from plush toys, and while B and I hide in the office to escape the rampage, we can still hear the fun and eventually Boxnoggin is exhausted.

Tired dogs are well-behaved dogs. Mostly.

Today is subscription day. This week in Hell’s Acre, a gentleman is asked twice; in She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero, which my Crow’s Nest patrons are seeing me write almost in realtime, there’s murder, arson, and soup. Big fun.

It’s going to be a great Thursday. Miss B spent last night resting comfortably, and aside from the piles of baking soda around my bedroom (cleanup, it’s always cleanup) there’s no indication she was ever feeling poorly. I may even get to run my poor old corpse, which will do me no end of good.

I’d best get started. These books won’t write themselves, more’s the pity. Steady on, my beloveds. Eventually we’ll get there.

NaNo Weather

Samhain came, and went. It was a very quiet day; we all needed as much. There’s still bowls of candy on the dining table, but that’s a problem which will fix itself in due time.

We didn’t even hear the shouts of excited children up and down the street. We’re so close to kids getting the vaccine, I think a lot of parents felt like this is the last gate to make it through. There will be other Halloweens, after all. Especially if one cares for one’s child enough to get them a lifesaving poke.

I also spent a great deal of the time watching the Bob Ross marathon on YouTube. I’d had no idea about the Kowalskis and their theft of Ross’s legacy from his family, so I won’t be buying any Ross merchandise again until that’s all cleared up. But the YouTube and Twitch marathons don’t appear to benefit the Kowalskis, so they’re probably safe to consume. (The YouTube marathon is going on until Nov 6, 2021; the Twitch channel is here.)

NaNoWriMo is also upon us; I’m doing Klemp’s book (Ghost Squad #2) for it, and have revisions on The Black God’s Heart diptych to get done as well as working ahead on Hell’s Acre. So November will be even busier than usual. Alas, I won’t have a great deal of time to argue with strangers on the internet.

It will probably do me nothing but good. I’m sick of being patient with murderous trolls. The pandemic has severely depleted my ability to care about the deliberately, viciously obtuse. At this point, if you call yourself “conservative” or wear a red baseball cap, you know exactly the message you’re sending, and I shall respond accordingly. I suppose at the very least it’s easy to see who’s a murderous bigot, since they’re self-marking with such lockstep discipline these days.

Silver linings, and all that.

There’s dogs to walk and work to do today, so I’d best get to it. I’m sure the “holiday” season will be anything but calm, between the supply chain issues and the habit of publishing to offload all the work onto freelancers right before holidays as all the salaried people are clearing their desks. (If you imagined me rolling my eyes and sighing as I typed that sentence you’d be spot-on, my ducklings.)

It’s not going to slow down until mid-February. Might as well get off the mark now.

At least the weather is wonderful–misty and cool, with masses of color hanging on deciduous trees and rain coming in waves. The evergreens, helped by a stiff wind, have shed most of the heat damage, though the rhododendrons are still looking a bit draggled. Summer seemed endless; I’m so glad we’re not suffering it at the moment.

Onward and upward, then. One last swallow of coffee before we get out the door. Caffeine is a gat-damn miracle, but you already knew that.

See you around.

Thursday, With Trepidation

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Yesterday was a bit of a rough one. Wednesday had all its bullshit on, and even my newly acquired Peace Prize wasn’t enough of a bludgeon.

Consequently I decided to have a little fun. The kids and I were talking about orcas while folding towels, and a little later a whole new superhero was created, suitable for fanficcing.

I should explain, but there is too much, let me sum up: Harry the Orca needs an intervention, and mighty is the power of SANDBUTT. I also watched Carol Kane in Office Killer, which was pretty amazing, especially for its dead-on 80s magazine-publishing sets. The aura of grunge, grime, cigarette smoke, and hairspray was thick enough to cut with a spork.

Anyway, Wednesday is over now; Thursday and I are eyeing each other with some trepidation, and every so often I reach for the Peace Prize’s ashwood handle, considering whether an application of force might be necessary as a prophylactic measure.

We’ll see.

On the work front, Hell’s Acre is taking left turns with glee and abandon now. I’ve got to figure out how Avery gets to the charity ball. I suppose he could just be chasing Season One’s villain from the other end, but the solution seems too simple. Of course, the Rook’s very interested in simple solutions to complex problems, even if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth where Miss Dove is concerned–and chewing to his knee, I might add. He’s so adaptable and calm in other situations, but something about our fair heroine just puts him constantly on the back foot. Which I like, he’s got to be taken down a peg or two. The fellow’s possessed of quite an ego.

This does mean that I’ll get to use the ballroom scene, with significant cuts and emendations. I’m going to try to get that far before November hits and I shift to revising The Black God’s Heart on one hand and writing Ghost Squad #2 for NaNo. Klemp’s book has been marinating in my head all this while, and getting him and Beck out into the woods for the crisis is the only thing I haven’t figured out yet.

The characters will get where they need to go. They always do, I just have to keep writing, and trust the process. At least that hasn’t changed.

Walkies have to be accomplished before too much longer. Boxnoggin, while still adoring the concept, has grasped yet again this year that the rain isn’t going away, so is reconsidering this entire “go outside” thing. Miss B, of course, is an all-weather pooch, and will not let him deviate from the daily schedule. Poor Boxnoggin is caught between the fact that he loves walkies and the concomitant fact that all change, to a canine of his temper, is terrible, no good, very bad. He cannot quite understand why his human, goddess that she is, considers wet falling from the sky necessary and doesn’t arrange a drier clime for his slick-coated self.

Each time I expect him to walk in the rain he’s just so perplexed. But you are the hoomin, he seems to say, head cocked and eyebrows up. You control EVERYTHING, why are you making us do this?

I wish I was even half as powerful as he clearly considers me. It would make things ever so much easier. Either that or increase my burdens beyond bearing, I can’t decide.

Coffee is sinking into my tissues, so I should probably get some toast down the hatch and my shoes on. The books won’t write themselves, more’s the pity.

Just be careful, Thursday. I’m watching you, and I have weapons handy.

Over and out.

Music and Meatsack

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Yesterday was a bit of a wild ride. A very dear friend put me on a dedications page1, another dear friend liked the short story I made for her2, I formally left the house for the first time in ages, and remember those proofs I turned around in 48hrs so a book could come out in November? Well, turns out there’s no room in the November schedule so it’ll be January after all.

Which isn’t bad, mind you! It just means that Future (December) Me will be extremely grateful to Past (October) Me for getting things squared away. It’ll be a little gift to December Me, and also to my editors’ and publishers’ December selves. Frankly, by that point in the holiday season, I’m sure we’ll need all the help we can get.

Today looks to be a little less of a rollercoaster. Oh, sure, the weather people say there’s going to be a “Rain Event” around dinnertime, and the dogs are attempting to make sure I don’t leave the house again today–they had both kids to supervise while I did yesterday, but apparently that wasn’t good enough–and I really have got to get a newsletter out.

In short, all my internal spaces are echoing and it might be time to dust off Beck’s Sea Change album, just to soothe my nerves. I can’t do Pink Floyd since it’s past the equinox, so I’m forced to other measures.

As for the day’s work–once I get the newsletter out of the way–the first third of Hell’s Acre needs a top to bottom reshuffle. Sometimes one has to go down a road a bit to see where it leads, and sometimes even if one knows a book’s general outline…well, things happen. Stories are organic things, and grow in their own way. You can have the skeleton, but the flesh gets distributed differently.3

Anyway, once I get the throughlines in Hell’s Acre arranged, I can move the costume ball (and the interrupted assassination) earlier in the book, which can trigger the prison heist, which will lead to the culmination of Season One. Everything is going along swimmingly, and with that taking one half of my working days I can shift to revising The Black God’s Heart in the other half. And once that’s done, the Tolkien Viking Werewolves can get a second book, and so on, so forth.

I absolutely have all the work I can handle, and it’s a glorious feeling. I also have Klemp’s book (Ghost Squad #2) to get off the ground. It’s been marinating in the back of my head, so I might even do it as my NaNoWriMo this year. We’ll see.

Before that, though, the dogs want their walkies. Yesterday disturbed their usual rhythm, and they’re eager to get back to it. I also have new running shoes to break in, which is a joy and should get rid of that nagging pain in my hip.

Meatsacks, man. Always something aching, always something bruised, always some weird discharge or something. Of course the benefit of piloting one are immense as well, and yet…well, no silver lining without a cloud, and vice versa.

And with that butchering of a proverb, I’m off to start Thursday’s merry-go-round. I’m hoping for more of a slow carousel than Wednesday’s death-defying rollercoaster.

We’ll see how it turns out.

A Dawn Refused

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Woke up to the very last (I should think, I hope) proof queries for The Bloody Throne, which I answered and sent back while absorbing coffee. The series has had a particularly difficult birth, what with orphaning (though my editors have all been stellar) and pandemic, but I think–or I fondly hope–it has come through all right. Mostly due to my beloved and long-suffering sensitivity readers, I suspect.

In any case, I won’t heave a sigh of relief until the author’s copies come, because that will mean it’s really-for-true done, not just sort-of-done.

Tuesday started with a rosy dawn, a clutch of work coming down the pike, and some very excited dogs. Both B and Boxnoggin are prancing about, eager to get to walkies; Boxnoggin in particular has already barked his fool head off at a delivery once this morning and, I suspect, cannot wait to get strapped into his harness and cause some kind of mischief outside the house.

I’ve a newsletter to get out, some more Hell’s Acre to write–Gemma, I think, has an uncomfortable interview with the director of an orphanage and then is accosted at dinner–and some She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero to get done too. (The antagonists are arguing, the hero is tied to a post, and I think I know how this scene ends but I could be wrong…) All in all, it’s a very busy day, and I’m…

[[time passes]]

…I had to get up twice to calm Boxnoggin down. He is just beside himself this morning, since the aforesaid delivery came much earlier than expected and consequently constitutes a Change. And, of course, for this dog–even more than for usual canines–ALL CHANGE IS BAD. Even good change causes him a great deal of upset. He’s as nervous as a tired toddler, all the damn time.

Poor fellow. I do my best to keep everything calm and even for him, but sometimes even a human with opposable thumbs and a swollen prefrontal cortex can’t deal with everything, sheesh.

I suppose that’s my cue to get my teeth brushed and the silly fur-covered critters ambled. Boxnoggin’s not going to rest until he gets me out the door, and Miss B’s getting into the act as well. It’s a wonder I get anything done with these fuzzy-ass toddlers “supervising” every breath.

At least I was able to lie in bed for about ten minutes while dawn tiptoed through the east, and could see a slice of pink clouds through my window. Rising with the sun is never my favorite thing, so being able to throw an arm over my eyes–peeking out every once in a while to see the beauty–and refuse to do so was pleasant indeed. Alas, I was coaxed out of my warm bed (for a certain value of coax, Boxnoggin is really earning his “von Titzpunch” title lately) and set upon the day, so I suppose I’d best get to the next thing on the to-do list.

I keep giving longing glances at the new baseball bat, but I can’t practice with it inside. That’s just a recipe for disaster. Ah well.

We are embarked upon Tuesday, my beloveds. Please keep all limbs inside the carriage, and don’t look too closely at Wednesday’s formlessness in the distance. (The abyss tends to look back into one, and that’s never comfortable.) Make sure you’re buckled in, and remember, just getting through the day is a victory in and of itself. Take the win, no matter how small, where you find it.

Over and out.

COTTON CROSSING, On Sale!

Roadtrip Z

Since we’re in the middle of my very favorite month, Season One of Roadtrip Z, COTTON CROSSING, is $2.99 across ebook retailers—Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, and Kobo—until Halloween! (If you’re buying the book through my Gumroad store, use the code SPOOPY2021 at checkout to get a matching discount.)

Zombie stories are traditional this time of year, right? Might as well have a four-season epic through a snowy wasteland full of chewing, shuffling undead to celebrate.

Come November 1, prices will return to normal–but by then I’ll probably have something else to announce, so don’t worry.

Enjoy!