Halloween Desires…Known

In honor of spookytimes, October will see two sales! And the first one’s a real doozy–that’s right, my genie-and-accountant Halloween romance is just $2.99USD for the month!

Desires, Known

A ring. A man. A centuries-old secret.

To accountant Emily Spencer, the junky thrift-store ring is perfect for her Halloween costume. A few too many drinks, a slip of the tongue, and all of a sudden there’s a guy calling her mistress and demanding to know her desires. If she just ignores the weirdness, it’ll go away, right?

Wrong. Hal is a creature of almost limitless power, eternally bound to serve the owner of the ring. Though modern technology is puzzling, he has no difficulty deciding he likes being out in the world again. Even if he has to train a reluctant but undeniably attractive new mistress.

Unfortunately, the man who lost Hal’s ring so long ago is still around—rich, unscrupulous, and more than a little insane. He’ll try anything—deceit, treachery, torture—to regain control of Hal. Anything at all.

Including murder…

Ebook available direct, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, or Google Play. (Paperback available here, though not on sale.)

This book holds a special little place in my heart, mostly because of the scene where Hal and Em are at the library. Writing a genie discovering the romance section was an outright ton of fun. (Gotta amuse yourself in this business; it’s the only way to stay relatively sane.)

The second sale won’t hit until the 15th, so watch this space. And I might even have some good release news, too…

First Darling Dahlia

Happy to meet you.

Due to climate and other conditions, I cannot grow tomatoes no matter how hot the PNW summer is. It irks me, but I’ve decided to grow what I can–always the best course of action. At least the lemon balm and mugwort do well, especially once the latter gets established. And you know what also grows well here? Dahlias.

So I splurged a bit on a few bulbs, and my efforts have been rewarded with one lovely flower. The rest have plenty of greenery and are preparing to flower next year, I think. I have just been telling them how happy I am to see their leaves, and using the tomato cages or wire hoops to keep them (and the roses, and the peonies) off the ground. So far everything’s doing well. I can focus on getting the laurel and holly volunteers where I want them, babying along the lilac ones, and cogitating on perhaps turning the front yard into some kind of native pollinator space instead of lawn.

A garden is always a work in progress, rather like a mind. If one thing doesn’t adapt and grow, well, time to plant another. The whole thing got a lot easier once I decided, “well, if weeds are the only thing I can keep alive, by golly I’m gonna grow the best damn weeds in the county.” It frees one up to do so much.

Not that I’m implying dahlias are a weed. They’re nice and hardy, and by this time next year I’ll have more flowers to admire. Plus the roses will have settled in after being moved, and with a bit of spring pruning will come back twice as strong. (And twice as thorny.)

Happy Friday, my beloveds. Remember to relax and grow what you can.

The rest is Ma Nature’s problem.

Twitching in the Right Direction

The algorithm did indeed find my Dracula, HO! reading session, and that led to exactly what I dreaded. Having to clean shitty, entitled comments out of a moderation queue is one of my least favorite things in the whole wide world, and it honestly makes me want to stop with the teas and readings. I just don’t have the time to deal with moderating a whole lot of selfish pisshats spreading their selfish pissy comments all over. I’m going to see if it calms down, and will be streaming Dracula, YO! on Friday. I mean, I’ve done all the prep so I might as well.

If the shitty entitled behavior keeps going I might nuke the entire YouTube affair except for the saucy narrations. Or I might completely shut comments off for the main channel. I don’t want to do either, but I guess some people are just determined to ruin everything for the rest of us. And after three years of pandemic I have neither the hours nor the patience to engage in such a battle; I’d rather escalate to solving the problem in definitive fashion right out the gate.

Of course, that’s always been a component of my personality, but it’s grown far more marked of late. I’m sure reaching my mid-forties is part of that, and the situation since 2016 (and after 2020 in particular) has just been icing on the top of that particular cake.

Anyhoo. Let’s talk about something nicer. I was pleasantly surprised by revisions yesterday, having arrived at the first truly knotty problem and finding, to my relief, that all the work I’d done so far meant the knot was seriously eased. I did not have to slice it in half as I’d feared; part of the solution was cutting a few extraneous days spent knocking about the elven city. I’m sure plenty of Readers would like to know the history of every stone set in the roadway, but my editor will throttle me if I give it and besides, I can always keep those bits and use them for supplementary material.

I also deliberately provoked Hell’s Acre until the solution for another problem showed up ready for combat, at which point I bowed graciously and ushered said solution right into the story at high speed. So sure, the book’s probably angry at me, but at least it’s moving. It can be as mad as it wants as long as it twitches in the right direction.

We’ve had three lovely misty mornings in a row. By the time Boxnoggin and I return home from walkies, his undercarriage is damp and my hair dewed with fog-beads. I adore this weather. He is a bit disgruntled–he doesn’t like moisture, but at least he’s not getting overheated either. As soon as one discomfort is overcome another arises, and if that’s not a description of life I don’t know what is. It’s damn near a kenning.

Oh! I should tell you: The kids and I went to the local pop-up Spirit Halloween yesterday. One of the storefronts vacated during the pandemic must be a good deal for them; we were hoping the migratory orange-and-black would return. The dream is to almost completely decorate the house in that fashion, since this is the only time of year the wider world shares my aesthetic. I scored a new tea mug and a couple hanging plaques to match last year’s Welcome to Derry, We All Float Here and Beetlejuice signs. So now Camp Crystal Lake is honored in the foyer as well; maybe next year I’ll get a Haddonfield sign and/or an Overlook Hotel one. I have a Room 237 keychain, which pleases me to no end and hangs on the cork board in my office. (Right next to a Normandy quote from Bayerlein; I contain multitudes.)

I had to be somewhat restrained from getting a six-and-a-half foot automated monkey with cymbals. I had thoughts of bringing him home, naming him Steve, and perhaps using him to deter those who try to use our driveway as a turnaround, but the kids pointed out it was a lot of money for something that might get run over. I mutinously mumbled that getting run over would only make Steve more authentic, but allowed myself to be overruled since they were undoubtedly right.

Adulthood is full of delayed gratification. Maybe next year I’ll be able to justify a similar purchase.

In any case, it’s time to get some brekkie and usher a certain square-headed canine out the door. Thursday is for the subscription drop and telling everyone about October’s sales, so that’s on the list today. Might even do another saucy narration tonight–how is this my life, that reading Victorian erotica aloud is the fun keeping me afloat? Things have grown truly strange around the Chez of late.

…well, that’s incorrect. It’s always been strange around here, I’m just leaning into it more now. Excelsior, and all that.

See you around.

Hobbling Through Habit

Another quiet morning, this one misty instead of outright foggy. Boxnoggin has calmed remarkably, though that could be my own relief at the advent of autumn slopping over onto his sensitive little self. He’s such nervous little fellow–not his fault, just a function of life events before he finally found his forever home. At the moment he’s engaged upon his first morning nap since I’m absorbing coffee at the glowing box in my office, since this is the daily ritual.

Ritual and habit are Good Things, according to most dogs. The world is large and confusing, especially with humans involved, and having rituals cuts down on that paralyzing uncertainty. Toddlers are by and large the same way; adults are only slightly less enamored of habitual solidity. The great innovation of adulthood is learning to choose and hack one’s own habits to get the effects one wants. It’s hard work, what with habit being the best of servants and worst of masters, as the saying goes1.

My ankle is still swollen, and the band of bruising is changing colors. The term flesh fireworks comes to mind, but if I put that in a story I can already hear an editor somewhere screaming2. I can handle the daily walkies, if I take a handful of ibuprofen at the right time. Boxnoggin rather enjoys me having to hobble since that means he gets even more time to stick his nose in various items; I will never in my life be as happy as this dog when he’s salivating over something rancid on the sidewalk. Keeping him from eating random objects takes up most of our walking time, with corralling his enthusiastic screaming at other dogs as a distant but significant second-place activity.

Yesterday held some good work. Hell’s Acre is coming along, and I managed to settle on Cold North revisions. I know the fix for the first big structure problem–which wasn’t a problem per se, just an editorial preference I’ve decided to honor–and today will be for weaving that in. Maybe I’ll get to write a set-piece battle instead of a smaller raid or clash; that would be nice, especially with the wingless dragon involved.

Can’t have a sack of Nargothrond without Glaurung, after all.

I didn’t have a video meeting last night either so I was able to do some more saucy narration–if YouTube gets shirty about the content, I may have to switch over to OnlyFans3. Victorian erotica is already kind of hilarious, but it’s even more so when one has to stop, turn away from the microphone, and ask the dog quietly but with great force if he would please at least consider halting the licking of his own gonads, or taking that activity elsewhere because it’s hard enough to read that sort of thing with a straight face, let alone aloud.

There’s a couple sales this month, so I should probably get the sticky post for them up before finishing coffee. The day’s work beckons, and there’s cold cereal for brekkie instead of toast. Habit is good, yes, but sometimes one must buck it to keep fresh or even just for fun.

Tuesday proceeds apace. I can’t hear the birds because my office window is closed, which means autumn has definitely arrived. It’ll be open later today, don’t fear–Ed and Stede will be able to distract me all afternoon since it’ll be a sunny one.

Some things change, others remain the same, ad nauseam, ad infinitum4.

See you around.

Daytime Animal

The first fog of autumn has found us, creeping on large padded feet. The east is slowly turning grey and a pine flicker is calling, lonely clicks and mellow flutelike moans. There was a jay screeching a few moments ago too, but oddly hushed as if even Ed and Stede hesitate to break the vaporbound quiet.

It smells like autumn, but a very specific period before the rains have moved in. Crisp with an undertone of spice, dry straw soaking up all the moisture it can find after summer’s dust and crackglaze drought. With warm days and cool nights we’ll probably get some lovely leaf color, if the trees have anything left after all the heat stress. The robins are starting to call now, and the jays are gaining volume and tetchiness.

As for the house, it’s very quiet. Even Boxnoggin would like a wee bit more of a nap, thank you. I’d be happier if this were the end of my working day and I could slither into bed as dawn rises, but the world isn’t built for me. Shifting the dog’s schedule to nocturnal is more trouble than it’s worth, so I guess I’m still a daytime animal for a few more years.

There are worse things.

I also got to spend an entire day this weekend with a pair of Auggie puppies. Apparently that’s what Australian shepherd / corgi mixes are called, and they are 110% adorable. Needle-sharp puppy claws, needle-sharp puppy teeth, romping, slobber, belly rubs, coursing and herding behaviors in play, and bumbling cuteness all added up to a great deal of relaxation for me, and they were perfectly happy to cavort all over me as I kept one foot elevated. It was probably the only thing that could have made me sit still that long without writing, and there were tea and scones too. I felt moderately guilty about not working entirely through said weekend, but the puppies alleviated all stress pursuant to said guilt. Boxnoggin was very interested in every whiff he could find on my clothes when I returned to the chez, and was only a little miffed that I hadn’t taken him along–he got to stay and supervise at least one human, so the day wasn’t a loss for him.

We’re back at Monday, and that means an important scene in Hell’s Acre, as well as more revisions on Cold North. The former needs a ratcheting up of tension before I start letting dominos fall, and I’m coming up on the first major problem that needs to be addressed in the latter. How do I describe a battle for almost-Nargothrond when the protagonist is deliberately kept away from it? I have ideas, naturally, and they’ll all work within the structure of what I’m trying to accomplish. But walkies today will be spent thinking of which particular idea I want to deploy–there’s not quite an embarrassment of riches, but it’s close.

Last week’s Reading with Lili was Dracula, Ho! and is up on YouTube. The algorithm seems to have found it, though, and I’m waiting to see if exactly what I wanted to avoid is going to go down, which is nerve-wracking. I enjoy nerding out about literature so much, I hope nobody does anything shitty to break that.

Dawn has continued to rise as I type. The birds seem confused; there’s not much of a morning chorus. It’s nothing like the Silent Hill pea-soupers we’ll get later in the season, and I’d kind of like to get out with Boxnoggin before it fades. My ankle bears a bracelet of colorful bruising, but I can hobble at a reasonable speed with enough ibuprofen. The dog needs his exercise, after all, and I suppose at a certain point healing requires gentle activity. Not sure how gentle it’ll be if he gets it into his fool rectangular head to chase something, but I suppose even if I’m knocked off my feet my sheer mass will render him incapable of getting into too much trouble–especially since the leash is attached to my waist.

I’m down to the last swallow of coffee and there’s a lot to get done today. Heading out for a ramble before the clouds burn off is the name of the game, so I’d best get to it. Maybe the fog will keep the squirrels from being taunting poor Boxnoggin.

…yeah, that’s probably a vain hope, but better than none. See you around, beloveds.

Who’s the (Sprained) Boss?

I don’t even know.

I should’ve known something was up when I woke with the Who’s the Boss opening theme stuck in my head. I managed to lever myself out of bed, took one look at how Boxnoggin was prancing around the house, and decided he needed to be in his harness for outside time just in case. It’s a good thing, too, because my ankle gave out on the deck stairs and down I went like a tonne of bricks.

It may have been a stealthed pinecone. (Well, technically fir cone, but who’s counting?) I was a bit too busy to look for proof.

The music stopped right before it happened, and didn’t come back until I hobbled to my desk chair. I’d’ve preferred it to stay away, of course–oh, the tune is unobjectionable, and at least it wasn’t Charles in Charge, but still. (I’ll take Tony Danza holding me closer over that Baio jerk anytime.) I’m probably not going to get a run today, and the jury is out on whether or not I’ll even be able to walk Boxnoggin. Who is moderately displeased that he had his jacket on for pee-time, but I couldn’t take the risk of him getting it in his fool head to chase something.

I suppose things work out as they’re meant to, but ouch. This is upsetting, and I was already feeling sideways because I haven’t been able to run as much as I need to this past week. And now it’ll be even longer before I can lace up and hit the pavement. Gods damn it.

At least I have coffee, and I don’t need my ankle in order to fire up the webcam and tell you guys all about Dracula. But Christ on a cracker with a side of pimento, I didn’t need a sprained–or strained–ankle. I never need one, but I particularly don’t now.

I should get some breakfast and a moderately large amount of ibuprofen down the hatch. Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. Yes, it’s Friday, but that is apparently no insurance…

Autumn Shift

Slowly swam into consciousness this morning; my sleep was heavy as it has not been for weeks. I knew why when I lay still and listened.

Rain! Tapping at the roof, but not hissing through the leaves–they were already too wet. A good soaking has descended from heaven, trickling through the gutters, beading up on the freshly sealed deck, replacing some turgor pressure in tree limbs, cleaning the air, and blanketing tired dust. Now all yesterday’s activity makes sense–there were at least seven male stellar jays in the backyard most of the afternoon, screeching and carrying on amid several robins and a whole host of smaller birds. The corvids periodically came through as well, moving almost in a picket line while digging through grass and shrubbery; the squirrels were in a fury of burying anything nutlike and chasing each other away from hidden caches. Stink bugs were climbing any surface they could, a great risk while the birds were out, and it was just generally a busy rumble.

Boxnoggin is nonplussed. It took a bit of coaxing to get him out of bed, since the window is still dark. Dawn is obstructed by a pall of heavy grey–just the way I like it, in fact, the only proper way to greet that rosy-fingered goddess–and he was very nice and cozy. I rousted him for a trip to the backyard, following our usual morning protocol, and while he is very fond of habit and routine, the fact remains that he immensely dislikes rain since it is cold on his delicate paws. He gave me a startled look when the first drop hit his shoulder, then proceeded with a long-suffering sigh to attend his business before hurrying back inside. Now he’s in the living room, resentfully tongue-cleaning whatever fragments of moisture managed to reach him.

He’s not going to enjoy walkies as much as usual, but them’s the breaks.

My soul is expanding. I needed rain. And while I was rising through layers of consciousness, the solution to a particularly knotty plot problem in Cold North appeared, laid in my brain like a gift. I knew the Muse would drop it on me while I was occupied with something else; it was only a matter of time. The solution will mean a little more work, but at least I have it now.

The shift has happened. The world has tilted, and things are as they should be. The cedars are murmuring with joy, and the Venerable Fir’s boughs have started to lift again. There is even a bluejay on a handy branch along the back fence; I think it’s Ed, though he’s not screaming. He’s merely surveying his domain with a satisfied air, and probably waiting for Stede to arrive so the two of them can get into trouble with their gentleman crew.

Today holds a mountain of work. Now that I know the next solution in the revisions, it remains only to reach the particular point where it needs to be inserted. If I keep my head down and go straight through there might even be time for some narration after dinner. (The “narrate Victorian erotica with a straight face” project proceeds apace, too.) There was a Twitch outage yesterday so I couldn’t do the planned Reading with Lili, but I think I’ll do it this Friday instead of a tea.

Adaptation is the name of the game. And the title will be “Dracula, HO” because I am twelve inside.

There’s even homemade banana bread with plenty of walnuts for breakfast, once I finish coffee. I keep stopping to gaze out my office window at the inky-wet cedars, and each time I do my soul heaves another small sigh of relief and expands just that fraction more. Rain. Rain, rain, rain. Thank the gods.

Summer is over; I can begin to live–and work–again.