THE MARKED Preorders!

themarked-lg That’s right, you can now preorder The Marked!

A winding road, a freak storm, and a lightning strike. Jude Altfall’s life, just beginning to coalesce after her divorce, is shattered afresh. Dazed with grief, she’s not sure if the weird things happening around her are hallucinations…or something more. And there’s the mark on her hip—a tattoo she can’t for the life of her remember getting.

Preston Marlock left a shadowy government agency two years ago, to hunt a killer. Each time the bastard strikes the trail goes cold, and not even Marlock’s more-than-natural abilities are helping. Now the killer’s taken one of his very few friends, and there’s a surviving witness. The Altfall woman is now that most precious and fragile of targets, newly Marked. All Marlock has to do is dangle her like bait, and the killer will eventually show up.

The Skinner knows some people are different. Special. He has a collection of stretched skin and pretty pictures, each harvested with care. The trick is to take them while the victim is still struggling, still alive, otherwise their power is lost. He is careful, methodical, and precise, but chance robs him of a prize. Once he realizes Jude Altfall has what he covets, and has possibly seen his face, her fate is sealed. And just to be cautious, the Skinner might swat at the annoying fly who has buzzed along his trail for two years…

Ebook editions are currently available for preorder at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. (Note: The paper version is coming soon!)

A great big thank you goes out to EVERYONE who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign. It would have taken a LOT longer to bring this baby to the light if not for you. I am pleased as punch to give you the book about grief and semi-sentient tattoos I’ve been talking about for so damn long. Preorders may–may–ship early, but not for at least a week.

And now I’ll be a quivering mass in the corner, as is usual at this point in the book process. I’m already hard at work on the next few stories for your delectation.

Dragging, Pulling

Macro Monday This morning I got the Prince off to school, absorbed coffee, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, and took Miss B and Odd Trundles for a morning walk. Trundles, despite dancing around my office groaning with the urge to Do Something, did not like that the Something required Effort. Maybe he had a game of tug in mind, but if he was going to grumble at me, a walk it was to be. He dragged the entire way, while B pulled, half a block down the hill and half a block back.

It was a looooooong half-hour, let me tell you.

Also half-pulling, half-dragging is the book. I’ve now gone too deeply into Harmony to come out now. I should be working on Afterwar, but until I know that series has a home, I can’t afford the time spent on it. Besides, Harmony is…not easier, but more assured. Less of a tightrope act and more of an unfolding.

Preparations for The Marked are on schedule, still. The copyedits have gone back to the editor, and I should have some draft covers for my perusal later this week. We’re on track for an October release, which means, of course, that Indiegogo backers will get it mid-September, at least a week (if not more) before it’s released to the world.

There’s a collaborative project on the horizon, and some decisions I need to make. But for right now, I’m happily working away on a book that’s purely a gift for someone I care about, and that’s a good feeling. I needed it, especially after the craze of revisions on Cormorant Run. Which has been orphaned, so it’s still up in the air. That sucks, because I think it’s some of my best work to date, and there’s a very real chance it won’t be published for a long, long while. *sigh* Publishing: dragging and pulling just like everything else. I should be irritated, but instead, I just keep telling myself “what do you expect, you’re a Gemini, everything is opposites.”

Not for the faint of heart, this career. With the rains returning and plenty of hot tea, though, I go soldiering on.

The Madhouse Reopens

WhatsOperaDoc After two years, the Madhouse fan forum is back open! It had some significant teething troubles, but I think it’s at least workable now. Enjoy.

We’re also coming up on the release of Wasteland King, the third and final installment of the Gallow & Ragged series. It drops on the 27th, and people are already emailing me with questions and begging for ARCs. I’m sorry, but I have no ARCs to give. (The Madhouse also has a dedicated Gallow & Ragged forum.) I should also say, if you liked the series, please leave a rating or review on the online bookstore of your choice. It really does help, and the more it helps, the more books I can write for you!

Okay, that’s all the shilling I’ll do for today. I know I have to do marketing stuff, but I always feel like a jerk when I do.

The kids have roped me into playing Pokemon Go. The Princess chose Red Team, the Prince chose Blue, so I had to choose Yellow as to keep things fair. (I kind of wanted blue, but alas.) I can see why it’s so popular, but the kids are not allowed to go hunting alone. The risk of walking into traffic or something similar is just too high. On the bright side, I’ve found it can be up while Runkeeper is logging my run, so I can grab a Pokestop or two on my morning sweat-and-stride. I do not catch Pokemon while running, though I will admit to thinking, maybe I should double back and get that one when I’m finished.

So the kids have to buddy up or go with me, and we did a nice long walk last night. We all three bagged a Clefairy, which is good, I guess? I still think someone is going to get badly injured or God forbid killed while doing it, and that dulls any enjoyment a great deal as well as making me somewhat of a wet blanket to go on expeditions with. But the kids are all agog and it’s something we can do as a unit, so there’s that.

And now it’s time for me to go get some of these short stories out of my head, including one told from Perry’s POV for an upcoming Urban Enemies anthology. It’s going to take a couple stabs before I get that one out whole, and there’s the carnivorous mermaid one, as well as one titled Fifteen Wings I need to take a running start and bounce off from before it will settle down. I have no idea why my brain is suddenly turned to short stories; they are viciously difficult for me and I don’t really enjoy them as much as, say, fresh wordcount in a novel. That’s what the Muse wants, and what she wants she gets, at least while I’m in that magical, fairy-dusted period between deadlines.

Fine, Really.

med12 First up, the obligatory shilling: there are new perks for the MARKED Indiegogo campaign, and the first sneak peek for June is up at my Patreon. Also, if you like what I do, you can buy me a coffee. Oh, and Cloud Watcher, book four of the Watchers series, is $.99 on Kindle right now.

It’s tremendously uncomfortable to be highlighting all of those things at once. I try to stay away from marketing and self-promotion as much as possible, being allergic to the whole thing and wary of saturating the airwaves with a whole bunch of “OH HEY BUY MY SHIT.” But really, one has to do a little of that in this job. (Well, one has to do a LOT, but I keep trying to get away with the minimum.)

ANYWAY. Hello, dear Reader. How are you? I’m…fine. Really. Really I am.

The bellows clamp holding the seal on the front door of the washer failed last night. Today I have to find a new one, because if there is one appliance that sees daily use around here, it’s the dishwasher BUT the washer is a close, close second. Plus there’s water all over the utility room floor, and publishers aren’t paying me.

JOY.

That’s pretty much where I am. Fortunately, there’s the zombie apocalypse book and the alt-history series to keep me occupied, as well as revisions on Cormorant. I know the publisher isn’t in love with the title for the last, but I may dig my heels in a little, because it’s the right one. That book tore itself out of me so quickly I’m still feeling the twinges, the scar tissue is still delicate enough to tear again if I really force it. Maybe that’s why everything in me is resisting and the zombie apocalypse story is pouring out instead.

So today I find out who in town has a bellows clamp so I can repair the goddamn washer, I write the slow realization in a conference room that everything is fucked and the zombies are coming, and I snuggle my dogs and my kids as much as I can because the news is still dreadful.

It’s gonna be a long day.

A Full Weekend

Markedcover2 I’ve added new perks to the Indiegogo campaign for The Marked. If you have an idea for a perk, do let me know.

This past weekend, the Princess graduated from high school. (Good Lord, I feel old.) Yes, I cried. That seems the only appropriate response when you’ve successfully managed to get a tiny dependent being through the eighteen years of childhood and early adolescence. The ceremony to mark such a thing, while boring, is still important because it’s a ritual, drawing a nice bright line between the phase of “public school” and the entry into young adulthood. I rarely have the patience for communal rituals, but I recognize their import.

My baby, growing up. *sniffles a bit*

She’s handling the transition better than I am. You get into the habit of feeding, caring, listening for their breathing, constantly blocking traffic for them, guiding, watching, loving them so hard your very bones ache when they’re in any kind of pain. It leaves an imprint. Learning to let go, bit by bit, as they grow, is hard. You wake up one day, and they’re doing things like BEING ALL GROWN-UP. And the feelings get so big they leak out of your nose and eyes and mouth.

The other thing I did this weekend was run a writing workshop for teens. It was interesting. I have often thought of running online writing workshops, and it was fun to do sort of a dry run and see what kinds of questions people ask, how a workshop is structured, and how to keep an audience interested. I think it went rather well.

Still, all the emotion, and the public speaking, left me drained down to a bare shadow of myself. I suspect I’ll need another day or so to recover, then it’s on to Cormorant Run revisions. I planned to start them at the beginning of the month, but the zombie apocalypse story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I think I was using the zombies to decompress, or just plain to escape.

…yeah, my wiring is weird. But then, if you’re reading this, you quite probably knew that already. I’m retreating, also, because the news is so terrible, and I am old enough to realize it’s very likely nothing will be done. People simply love their fear and their hatred too much to change; it terrifies me that my children will be going into such a world.

So I’m off to refill my creative well, and to go back into a world I built a while ago. If there’s hope, it lies in creating. Or at least, so I tell myself. It’s all I have to fight the fear.

Over and out.

THE MARKED, and a Workshop

Markedcover2 The Indiegogo campaign for THE MARKED is now live! There are all sorts of perks, and if you have a suggestion for one, please let me know.

Awful things happen. Sometimes you’re left alive, but it leaves a Mark. They aren’t tattoos, and they express your hidden powers—and your hidden desires. They grow as you use them. And someone wants them very, very badly…

A winding road, a freak storm, and a lightning strike. Jude Altfall’s life, just beginning to coalesce after her divorce, is shattered afresh. Dazed with grief, she’s not sure if the weird things happening around her are hallucinations…or something more. And there’s the mark on her hip—a tattoo she can’t for the life of her remember getting.

Preston Marlock left a shadowy government agency two years ago, to hunt a killer. Each time the bastard strikes the trail goes cold, and not even Marlock’s more-than-natural abilities are helping. Now the killer’s taken one of his very few friends, and there’s a surviving witness. The Altfall woman is now that most precious and fragile of targets, newly Marked. All Marlock has to do is dangle her like bait, and the killer will eventually show up.

The Skinner knows some people are different. Special. He has a collection of stretched skin and pretty pictures, each harvested with care. The trick is to take them while the victim is still struggling, still alive, otherwise their power is lost. He is careful, methodical, and precise, but chance robs him of a prize. Once he realizes Jude Altfall has what he covets, and has possibly seen his face, her fate is sealed. And just to be cautious, the Skinner might swat at the annoying fly who has buzzed along his trail for two years.

Sometimes you survive, and you bear a Mark.

And some things are worse than death.

Not only that, but I’ll be running a workshop for young authors this upcoming Sunday.

BN Bookfair Flyer (PDF version for downloading.)

I don’t normally do events, but the local Barnes & Noble has supported me over the years, and I love them deeply. So I’ll be practicing my own inimitable form of writing kung-fu this Sunday. Even if you’re not a teen writer, you can help out by printing out and using the vouchers to make a purchase that weekend. Please do, because it benefits the regional library system.

And that’s all the news for today, my dears. Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the SquirrelThings Five, and why I still have a bruise on my tuchus.

Run, Think, Write

bang. Afterwar is taking a direction I don’t want, don’t like, don’t care for, and one I almost don’t understand. It wants to be a much bigger book, and it wants me to get inside the head of a banal evil. Part of me knows it’s the next step in my evolution as a writer, but the rest of me is digging in its heels for several reasons.

I haven’t yet reached the point of no return, where the story punches its spurs into my sides and pulls my hair, refusing to let go. Once I do, I’ll have to finish the damn book, even if it takes staying up nights because I’m working on paying projects during the day. There’s plenty of fear involved–fear of doing it wrong, fear of not serving the book well, fear that it will be the thing that breaks my career. Every step forward is accompanied by these wrenching feelings, and it gets…well, not precisely old, but I heave an internal sigh and think okay, so we’re on THIS merry go round again.

The only path is straight through, the only cure is work. So I’m taking this week to do all Afterwar, all the time, except of course for those moments when I’m chasing down people who owe me things. (Including money. The least-glamorous part of being a writer: submitting invoices and politely but firmly demanding they be paid.)

Miss B’s leg is better, but I’m not taking her running for a while yet. She, of course, despises this turn of events and grudgingly accepts ambles with Odd Trundles as better than nothing. I’d forgotten what it was like to run without her, really, and I miss my partner. On the other hand, I don’t have to drop my center of gravity and keep going nearly as much, and I don’t have to do fancy footwork to avoid her getting tangled up underneath me when a delivery vehicle or another dog passes by. It’s much calmer, and I fall into the peculiar trance of effort and sweat, things shaking loose and my subconscious busily putting together the next few scenes for when I sit down and focus.

So for this week, I run, and I think, and I write. It should at least give me an idea of where and what this book actually wants to be when it grows up. And after I spend some quality time with it, I can turn to Cormorant Run with fresh eyes and insert all the things I glossed over in its messy, very quick birth. That particular book tore itself out of my brain like it was on fire and needed to get to a lake. Now that I have some distance from it, I can see where the holes are, and fortunately I know everything that goes on inside those holes.

Which means at least there’s something I know how to do coming up. It’s a small comfort, but I’ll take it.