Kicking Small Rocks

The heat broke early yesterday, high pressure unraveling as another front swept in. My sinuses are deeply unhappy, but the rest of me is very glad not to be trapped in a sweatbox. So…silver linings, I suppose. Even Boxnoggin was getting a bit slow and sleepy under recent conditions; this morning, however, he is right back to his old bouncy self. Walkies are going to be great fun, since he has a couple day’s worth of sluggishness to work off.

I haven’t quite been laid low by heat exhaustion either, which is grand. It’s meant a lot of crouching in air-conditioned darkness, working at only half speed and guarding my rest time with the vigor of a hoard-squatting dragon. It’s hard to tell people no, especially the ones I care about, and at the same time I have got to either catch up with work or at least not fall further behind. Not to mention focusing on work is significantly better for me than, say, watching the news cycle.

Yes, I did see the FBI executing a search warrant on Cheetolini’s palatial Florida retreat. I’m not going to celebrate until the orange blivet suffers some actual consequences. I am fully aware that might be never, due to America’s love affair with and rewarding of narcissistic abusers in positions of power. There have been too many years–all my life, frankly–of seeing the bastards get away with anything as long as they can lie brazenly enough.

But I am smiling, just a bit, as I sip my coffee.

Hell’s Acre is coming along. There are some interesting wrinkles I didn’t quite plan, and I think I’m going to have to set aside one of my very favorite scenes. I knew it was a throat-clearing when I wrote it, so it’s not exactly a surprise that it won’t make the cut into the finished zero. But I love it so much and it pains me a bit to move it from “handhold” status–as in, this is a scene I know will fit in, so I’m actively working towards it–to “bits and bobs”, the name of the graveyard where I stick scenes and bits that didn’t make it into the zero just in case they’re needed for other nefarious purposes. Bits and bobs functions partly like a net catching fallen performers, and partly like a compost heap for ideas that didn’t quite make it this time but have a place somewhere.

Still, I’m a little resentful. I love the scene so much, and it won’t get its chance to shine unless a great deal about the book changes in the next week or so. I will be doing the equivalent of kicking small rocks and muttering vexed things for a bit after I move it, but I can always go back and reread when I need a bit of cheering.

I got some good wordcount on Sons of Ymre 2 yesterday as well, but I think I might have to rip out and remodel bits of the last scene written. The “hero” made a pretty interesting choice under conditions of duress, and I need to think about what that means. I expected him to throw himself at the tentacled monster, but he went in an entirely different direction. Not a bad direction, mind you, since there were already a half-dozen people dealing with said monster and the “hero” (quotes are definitely needed, he has not quite redeemed himself the whole way yet) decided to look at everything else happening in the room before acting, which is a rare and wonderful bucking of his usual trend. So I need to make sure that particular choice is happening for the right reasons, and figure out why on earth he would surprise me so.

Characters, man. You get these imaginary people inside your head, you feed and water them, you set them in a particular universe…and then they have the cheek to go do things you didn’t expect. I mean, it’s a sign that all things are working as they should and the story is behaving in an organic fashion, sure. It’s also frustrating as all get-out when one starts internally screaming “why would you DO that” and the imaginary people simply smirk, folding their arms.

Boxnoggin has pranced into the office twice now, attempting to get me moving toward toast. I can spend the time during walkies (and exercising my own shambling corpse at a slightly higher speed) putting the day’s work into various mental boxes, so I’m ready when I finally settle to it. And I can keep telling myself I’m not really behind, there was just a damn werelion VC Andrews homage book that happened.

…my life is weird, yes, but I like it. Quite a bit, in fact.

Happy Tuesday, beloveds. At least it doesn’t feel like Monday again. Small mercies…

Dinosaurs and Dog Days

Last week felt like Monday up until sometime mid-Thursday. I’m interested to see what this particular seven-day stretch has planned.

I did have a nice weekend, though. It ended with me crouching in air-conditioned dimness, eating cold cereal and watching Prehistoric Planet. Attenborough is always a good time, but the real star of the show was the carnotaurus mating dance. For lo, I am a simple creature, of uncomplicated delights.

There’s still a heat advisory on until this evening. It’s good that we have the downstairs and the heat pump to give some relief–the PNW is not built for 90F and above–but my body is still loudly protesting all this bullshit. I’ll have to drag my corpse through Boxnoggin’s walkies no matter how the meatsack expresses its displeasure, but hitting the pavement for a solo shamble probably won’t happen.

Bother. After watching all the dinosaurs I’m feeling a lot better about my running form, and somewhat eager to imagine myself loping through prehistoric jungle instead of along more prosaic sidewalks. Screeching like a pterodactyl at anyone who attempts to stop me to ask for the time or a weather report is a highly entertaining prospect.

Either way, I get to spend the entire day getting some serious work in on Hell’s Acre, and I have the next scene on Sons of Ymre 2 all set up. The former will be mosaic, carefully arranging scattered bits, while the latter has a bit of fun to keep me going–a tentacle monster erupting from the heroine’s new bathroom. I just have to decide what flavor of tentacles–dry and gristly, or damp and rubbery? Choices, choices. At least the hero has his weaponry back, so we’re going to see some stabbing with real knives instead of the crowbar he was swinging.

…some days I really truly do love my job.

Also, Last week’s Tea with Lili is up on YouTube; it was about some of the recent ruckus in publishing and the frustrations (not to mention joys) of building characters. I am also kicking around doing some how-to self-publishing videos, but the prospect of video editing makes me want to curl into a little ball and give up metabolism, not to mention heartbeat, immediately. So we’ll see.

Boxnoggin has taken himself back to bed, but as soon as I slither off my office chair and make my way kitchenward he’ll be prancing attendance, wanting toast scraps and his walkies in that precise order. The joke is partly on him; I’ll be having cereal this morning, which means no toast crust. Yet the joke is also on me, for I’ll dig out a pittance of Cheerios to scatter in Boxnoggin’s bowl so he feels he’s received part of the pack’s kill.

Yes, I am a sucker. This is not news.

Stay chilly, my beloveds. The dog days are well upon us, and won’t be over for a while. Time to cue up some Florence + the Machine

Alien Flowers

Take us to your leader.

Boxnoggin and I found these fellows on morning walkies. I love it when succulents bloom; they always look so alien. They make me think of the Cambrian Explosion, which I really should use in a story–Daisuke Igarashi did in Witches, which I just read recently, too.

It’s August, and though we’re about to have another bit of awful heat the mornings hold just the faintest tinge of ripening harvest. I can’t wait for the rains to move in, though I’m sure Boxnoggin will be miserable when they do. Being from Texas, he enjoys the heat, but only until it reaches a certain pitch because he’s been with us in the land of damp and grey for four years now.

We just passed the anniversary of his homecoming, in fact, celebrated with treats and cuddles. To him it was just another day since he regularly gets a plethora of both. I mean, he wouldn’t turn his nose up at more, but he seems aware he’s got a pretty sweet deal going here. (Even if we won’t let him have a cat of his very own.)

I’ll perhaps see you at tea this afternoon, but if I don’t I wish you a pleasant, tranquil weekend. I hope it is precisely as quiet or as exciting as you prefer.

Over and out.

Attacking Story

Woke up to a heavy marine layer and a reasonable temperature, which is a blessing in August. It won’t last–they’re saying 100F on Sunday–but I’m going to enjoy while it’s here. If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that. Along with, “Use the good china, because life is short and we like pretty things.”

The wind rose as evening fell yesterday, a push from the west bringing in this lovely cooler weather. It smelled fantastic, and I had dinner alone–both children were sacked out early, they’ve been busy lately–with a book, Daisuke Igarashi’s Witches. Slowly consuming garlicky pasta while turning pages is a joy I’ve not had much of for a while, and I used it to the hilt. I was also attacked by a short story, which I should have fended off with my fork but I was too hungry.

So right after dinner I hurried to the desktop, opened a new Scrivener file, and dumped in a few hundred words of skeleton for said short story. Shorts aren’t my favorites; I find them much more difficult to write than novels but sometimes it’s the only structure possible for a certain tale. A novel is a protracted, endurance-based duel; a short story (for me, at least) is an iaido strike. The former engages with changing conditions over a long period of time, the latter must be whole, complete, and stainless before it’s initiated.

Of course, you can make the case that a novel is also whole before it’s even attempted, and for some writers I’m sure it is. Not for me, though. I’d rather endure the battering of a novel than agonize over a short story, and I know some writers feel the exact opposite. Normally I only write shorts to spec, when I’m tapped for an anthology.

But sometimes, a “keyhole” story–a single glimpse, seen through a chink in wall or door–attacks. They feel different. Novels come from a seed, sprout, and struggle for the sky. Novellas (again, for me) are short, dreamlike interludes, usually created in a few days of furious work. A short story is a lightning flash which paradoxically may require several attempts (draws) to get the branching and evanescent strike correct.

So I’ve added the short story to the round-robin of projects on the docket right now. I don’t think it’ll find a home, but maybe this is an invitation from the universe to finally collect all the shorts I’ve written and put them in a single book. The only thing stopping me is the required time and energy, which could be said of anything. But…maybe soon, since apparently I’m going to be attacked by the bastards over pasta now.

Still, it’s going to have to wait its turn, which will probably be after I finish both the Rook’s Rose and Sons of Ymre 2 zeroes. I have the bones of the short story down, so it’ll keep in stasis until I can give it the attention deserved. I complain, sure, but it’s really nice to have stories bubbling up through the subconscious layers of their own accord again. The stress of recent years (since 2016, really) has had a rather deleterious effect on my productivity, though you wouldn’t know it to look at my bibliography, and I am glad to feel even fractionally more like myself.

Boxnoggin would very much like for me to get moving, and I suppose I should grab some toast. Luxuriating in the weather doesn’t change the amount of work waiting for me today, and there’s a run to get in as well. I’ve been feeling like it’s Monday all week; maybe today will feel like the Thursday it is.

Worth a shot, at least. See you around.

Jumprope Tuesday

My body is taking vengeance for atmospheric conditions neither it nor I control. The heat’s broken–at least, the really terrible stuff has, there’s still the garden-variety summer terrible to deal with. But that’s fine, it cools off at night, and in a couple days I’ll have fully bounced back.

At least, that’s the hope. I’m keeping coffee down, which is a blessing and a half. Attempting to deal with all this sans caffeine is an unpleasant prospect at best.

Today’s the official day for That Damn Werelion Book‘s paperback release. Amazon’s still listing it as “preorder” even though the release date is August 2. Ah well, it wouldn’t be a book release without some giant headache. In my more charitable moments I ascribe it to a lot of moving parts having to be just right. In the less-charitable, well…the less said about that, the better.

I managed a reasonable amount of work yesterday, and have high hopes for today as well. It’s akin to watching a jumprope as it rises and descends, catching the rhythm, and jumping in. The next scene in Hell’s Acre wanted to be written dialogue-first, so now it’s a matter of stitching around what the characters say, adding action and description tags to make clear how they said it. In certain cases I want the emphasis clear, in others the reader must supply their own. With that done I can also start building on the groundwork for the heroine in the second Sons of Ymre to figure out things in the temple aren’t what they appear to be (and now Prince’s Thieves in the Temple is playing inside my head) and the “hero” needs a bit more grinding into the dirt before I’ve forgiven him.

He was a total jackass in the first book, after all.

Boxnoggin is very happy this morning. In the first place, the windows are open and he can trot from place to place, getting a good snootful of a dawn breeze. In the second, it wasn’t gasping-hot last night, so I wasn’t as restless as I’ve been and he got more than the briefest of snuggles this morning. His walkies won’t be a misery, either, which is all to the good.

I have the strangest feeling today is Monday since yesterday was so physically miserable as to blur into a smear. I don’t quite dislike Mondays–they get a bit of an unfair reputation, being the first day back after weekends and all that–but I really don’t want to suffer them twice a week. Once is plenty. I have to keep glancing at the top of my screen to verify that yes, it’s Tuesday. Perhaps it’s my brain cooking from the weather.

The sun has reached a gap in the cedars, filling my office with summer gold. The particular quality of light in different seasons has always fascinated me, as well as the difference between, say, a hazy light-blue summer sky (you can tell it’s going to be hot and there’s no rain in sight) to the aching, piercing deeper blue of autumn-on-the-knife-edge-of-winter. A pale thin gold of sunshine in winter is distinct from the heavier, richer light of certain fall afternoons, and the rain-washed blue of spring sky seen between heavy clouds is in a class all its own. There are things to love about each and every shade.

In fact, I’ve been gazing out the window so much, enjoying a cool morning breeze, that this has taken a bit longer to write than usual. My coffee is tepid now, and Boxnoggin is waiting patiently for me to make some toast since that’s the next step before walkies. I might even keep said toast down, as it’s not still sticky-hot and humid. The only way to find out is to finish this, bolt the last of said coffee, and get started on the day.

I just had to check again to make sure it’s Tuesday. I can’t decide if this bodes ill or means I have an extra day’s productivity stored up in my fingers, waiting to be unleashed.

Suppose I’d best go find out. Wish me luck, my friends, and I wish you a pleasant (and hopefully temperate) day in return.

Relatively Unfiltered

The heat is awful, but there are signs of it breaking. We might even have a temperature crest below 90F today, which will be a distinct relief. None of us are sleeping well except Boxnoggin, who is from Texas so this must feel homelike to him. This morning, however, he is pacing the house whining because I won’t let him chase the neighbor’s cat, and he can hear squirrels in the cedars because all the windows are open to catch some morning breeze.

Poor Lord van der Sploot; his is a life of woe.

Tomorrow the paperback for That Damn Werelion Book releases. The ebook will be out in September, and the soundtrack for writing it is here. I’m nervous, naturally, even if it’s under a different name; I didn’t intend to publish it. But why the hell not–it might sink like a stone anyway and in any case after 2020 I’ve decided life is short, why not in a number of areas. Maybe it’s only a function of hitting my forties and I can’t blame it on a specific (albeit historic) year. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I meant to spend the weekend doing rereads so I can jump back into new text on the two projects which absolutely must be finished soon. Unfortunately, heat sensitivity meant I could barely drag myself through the usual weekend housework, and that had to take priority. I spent the remainder of the time flat on my back, cursing the weather and my unreliable meatsack while wishing I could bloody well work. Ah well, today is another chance.

Last week’s Tea with Lili is also up on YouTube. It was about the current crop of reboots, reader expectations, and (of all things) Cinderella. I’m not sure if I’m getting this streaming thing down; it’s full of weirdness and I’d much rather not be on camera. But people seem to respond to the conversational format, and to it being relatively unfiltered. And frankly it’s the internet, so if someone doesn’t like it they can hit the back button or close the tab and be done with it. I’m sure there will be those who want to troll instead, but I have a zero-tolerance policy for that bullshit.

At least it hasn’t been too hot for coffee–I don’t know what I’d do without the morning jolt, and I dislike iced caffeine. Cooling to tepid is fine, but sticking ice in it and downing it cold is just not for me. Someone else can have my share of that.

And at least I recognized a plot problem in the last 4k or so I wrote of Sons of Ymre 2; I can fix it on the read-through I’m going to give all my attention to today. It’s best to not make an error at all, of course, but it’s also good to realize one’s in the process of committing it and immediately stop to tear out and fix it. I might even get the zero of this book done this month. Might.

There’s a lovely cool breeze through the window, and my skin is positively bathing in it. Boxnoggin and I will enjoy his morning ramble, but we’d best get out there. I don’t quite trust the weather app saying it won’t be awful today, and should get anything outside done sooner rather than later. A good ten degrees (Fahrenheit, naturally) cooler will make a difference, right? I certainly hope so.

Welcome to Monday, my beloveds. Let’s hope the day behaves itself. If not I may have to reach for the machete–or even the Peace Prize. I’m not quite expecting the day to step out of line…but I’m ready.

See you around.

Ripening, Memory

At least someone’s doing well.

I am wilting, any plant not in a watered yard is turning crisp-yellow, and the trees are turning inward, driving their roots deep. But the blackberries are having a lovely time. I saw these fellows on one of Boxnoggin’s rambles; most of the berries are still green but there’s a significant minority ripening early.

The birds need feeding, after all, and I’m sure the blackberry taproots are finding whatever moisture remains in the soil for them. From a wet spring we’ve gone to gasping dust, and I hate it. Still…nature’s doing her best to look after her own. It seems a hopeful sign.

I wish you a peaceful weekend, my beloveds. I think I’m going to have to reread two projects from the beginning in order to catch the rhythm; I was lying in bed this morning and realized I’d created a rather significant plot hole. Better to fix that now that later, I suppose, and to do so I’ll need to refresh even my steel-trap (for books, anyway) memory.

See you around.