A Hood and Wonder May

HOOD

May has begun, and I thought I’d run another sale. Or two!

The first season of HOOD–my Robin Hood in space serial–is now $2.99USD in ebook until June 1.

Season One

The Great Migration was centuries ago; two generation ships reached the Anglene galaxy with its clutch of terraform-suitable planets and performed their work.

Anglene is smoldering. The galactic insurrection is supposed to be crushed. Robbhan Locke, a Second Echelon soldier, has returned to his birth planet along with other veterans, finding Sharl Notheim holding all of Sagittarius in his mailed fist for Parl Jun the Regent. 

There’s no redemption in homecoming. Even Marah Madán and Ged Gizabón, Robb’s childhood friends, have been forced into accommodation. The Sharl won’t stop squeezing until he’s made maximum profit for his royal patron–and covered up all his wartime indiscretions.

Heroes aren’t needed here, but even a damaged man can fight…

On sale direct, or through Barnes and Noble, Apple, Amazon, and Kobo.


And because that’s not enough, my surrealist novella (20k words) is pay-what-you-want through Payhip until June 1. This deal won’t be available anywhere else, it’s Payhip only, though you can find the ebook elsewhere for a set price.

Beast of Wonder

She wakes up in an airport, staring at a baggage carousel.

She remembers nothing, not even her name.

And then, the danger begins…

Again, the pay-what-you-want is only available through my Payhip store. If you like it, and want it in paperback, that’s here–but the paperback has a set price.


And if you like HOOD, you can use the code “MAY40” to get 40% off the ebook box set over at Kobo until May 23rd. (US, UK, CA, AUS, & NZ, I think.) Just put the code in at checkout! ETA: This sale is now over.

HOOD: The Complete Serial

Anglene is smoldering. The galactic insurrection is supposed to be crushed. Robbhan Locke, a Second Echelon soldier, has returned to his birth planet along with other veterans, finding Sharl Notheim holding all of Sagittarius in his mailed fist for Parl Jun the Regent.

There’s no redemption in homecoming. Even Marah Madán and Ged Gizabón, Robb’s childhood friends, have been forced into accommodation. The Sharl won’t stop squeezing until he’s made maximum profit for his royal patron–and covered up all their wartime indiscretions.

If the Gran Parl Riccar can be found, he could save all of Anglene. In the meantime, Robb, Marah, and their friends are going to have to do it themselves–if they survive.

The war is over, but “peace” is a relative term…


I think that’ll keep us warm until June. Enjoy!

Blues and Fuzzy Toddlers

It’s a bright morning, though “sunny” might be a bit of a misnomer, what with the marine layer and assorted haze. I woke up with Robert Johnson playing inside my head, so of course it’s a day for Delta blues. Later today I’ll probably shift to some Mississippi John Hurt–Chicago instead of Delta–because I always seem to end up with him on some warm sunny afternoons with a certain amount of dust in the air.

But we’ll see. Guessing the music is always harder than guessing the weather.

I did a lot of gardening this weekend–and even escaped sunstroke, a pleasant victory. Today is for catching up on some correspondence and giving Ghost Squad #2 a last bit of varnish before it’s scheduled to go out the door. That should occupy all my working time nicely, especially since I’m continuing a sort-of social media fast. I just can’t handle the firehose of bad news, so in the mornings I’ll have most of it blocked. Which should be great for my productivity even if I do miss eyeing a few group chats while I’m sipping coffee.

I might even get a bit of the space werewolves written today, if I have any energy left beyond prettifying the revisions and getting them scheduled to go out on the deadline.

…this has taken an unexpectedly long time to type, because Miss B is in one of her queenly moods and demanding a great deal of attention, not to mention a great many trips out into the backyard. Some mornings she simply wants to be sure I’m paying attention, like any fuzzy toddler. She would very much like me to get my toast so she may have a toast scrap, and of course after that it’s time for her real goal, walkies.

I haven’t had to carry her up the hill again, so that’s a hopeful sign. Regardless, we are in the sunset of her time with us, and it pains me. So if she wants praise and petting and trips out to the yard, she’s going to get them. She’s earned that, and far more.

I’m on the very dregs of my coffee. The bird-identification app my writing partner enthused over is pretty cool; I use it on the deck in the mornings and on quiet evenings. Dark-eyed juncos, robins, song sparrows, house finches, some goldfinches, flickers–it’s pretty wizard that the app can distinguish between the songs, grab a picture of the likely bird in question, and show it to me all at once. We live in the future, of course, and any sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable from magic and all that, but still. The wonder of seeing such things are possible is a pleasant sensation indeed, and one I hope I never lose.

While I might decide hope is useless, wonder never is. And with that (cheery?) thought I’m off to the races. A certain fuzzy toddler needs her toast, after all, even though she’s temporarily turned her nose up at the bacon grease in her bowl. “What? No human carbs? For shame, Mother. For shame.”

I hope your Monday is as peaceful as my morning has been, my dears. It’s a pleasant way to begin the week, and we haven’t had too many of those lately, now have we.

See you around.

Deck Grin

Of course I anthropomorphize this.

It’s not much, just a hole in the deck where one of the massive fir branches knocked down by the freak snowstorm slid off the roof and punched straight through. It looks like a smiling mouth, and the glimpse of greenery below gives me a bit of the willies. I’m not precisely afraid of heights–I haven’t been terrified since I did my own form of exposure therapy–but I don’t like them.

All the same, I don’t want to hurt the deck’s feelings. So I smile back whenever I see the hole.

I should absolutely start getting estimates to repair the damn thing. Maybe once I get revisions done I can get on that, but I’m already dealing with the roof proper and…I’m tired. A boat is a hole in the water one throws money into, a house is a cave one…throws money into. At least under our current system of property rights, that is.

I do have a list of subjects for Tea with Lili today, so there’s that to look forward to. But at the moment I am absorbing coffee and looking at the revisions I also have to get done. It’s going to be a busy day.

At least the deck greets me with a weary grin, and Miss B is still holding steady. This isn’t the week I lose her, and I’m utterly grateful for it. We’ll see what the next one holds.

Over and out.

Dreams, Revisions, and Screaming

My dreams have been even more vivid than usual. None have the particular tsunami-quality that would make them good books (or even novellas); I think it’s just my brain cleaning house under current stressful conditions. This morning’s skull-movie was waking up in a particular bedroom I’ve seen before (but never in real life), bars of thick golden sunlight coming through the wide windows with wrought-iron muntins, and being addressed by a horned figure with tiger stripes who moves from one shadow to the next.

Oddly, the horned figure speaks in some version of French, and I woke up trying to conjugate a verb so I could reply. Go figure.

I am told some people dream in black-and-white, and some in color. My own dreams are so hypersaturated real life seems pale in comparison, but that’s no surprise since the story-hallucinations I often have are the same. Realer than real isn’t just for portal fantasies.

Anyway, it’s Thursday, I’m almost halfway through revisions on the second Ghost Squad book, and I think I’ve got all the screaming out of my system. I did take some time to put together discrete playlists for both Damage (playlist here) and Book 2, but I think that was the last gasp of procrastination before I buckled down. The dogs kept checking on me yesterday, as they always do when an edit letter lands and I take some time to privately vent my fury.

I’ve talked before about the process of getting all the “how dare you suggest altering my deathless purple prose” out of the way before settling to revisions. Editors are here to make your book/story/whatever better, and they are human beings, not punching bags. Get all your angst, sturm, und drang out of the way on your own, either in your office, locked in your bathroom, screaming into a pillow, or venting to a trusted friend (with their permission and the Cone of Silence, of course). There’s no need to direct any of it to the editor, who is only trying to help. And ninety-nine and a half times out of a hundred, said editor has a good point.

Now, I have been revenge-edited before, but that is exceedingly rare and behaving professionally in that event is even more crucial. Partly out of spite–you don’t want to give this person any further ammunition–but also as a point of personal pride. And it’s easy to mistake one’s knee-jerk reaction to the first round of having a book one has worked very hard on for months or years judged by an onlooker for revenge editing, so you don’t want to open your mouth and be proved wrong later when the dust settles, the emotion clears, and you realize that yes, the editor is right and something needs a fix.

So I alternated my working time yesterday between revisions (got almost halfway, hurrah) and lying on the office floor with the dogs, muttering into their fur about how cruel and unjust the world is to us poor tender writers. They’re used to that sort of thing, and offered no advice, just friendly licks and insistent “well, then, pet us and forget about it.” All in all, wasn’t a bad day, and I’m beginning to think this book isn’t bad at all.

Which is always a relief, since it’s a sign that I’ve achieved enough distance from writing the damn thing to contemplate it calmly. Always a blessed event.

And yet I am only halfway, and I have dogs to walk, my own corpse to run, and the subscription drop to get sorted before I can go back to it. The drop might be put off to Friday, as sometimes happens if I find I don’t want to break momentum. We’ll see.

So…it will be a busy Thursday, my beloveds, and I’d best get started. At least there are a couple eclairs left to soothe the sting, and if I am a Very Productive Writer who gets the damn revisions done by the weekend I can work on the space-werewolves-and-pro-wrestling erotica as a treat.

It’s good to have things to look forward to. I bid you, my darlings, a civil adieu.

Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.

A Cracking Start

So it’s Monday, and we’re off to a cracking start. First the dogs attempted murder through sheer exuberance (stepping all over me while I was helpless and recumbent in bed), then through positioning–i.e., tripping Yours Truly several times when I finally achieved some measure of verticality. Then I almost missed a stair on the deck while taking them out for morning unloading, and had to grab at the banister with both hands, while whatever I was holding was flung in a high arc and landed in a rhododendron. Then I was standing, staring myopically at Horace de Brassiere and wondering why his little blue light wasn’t turning on, and for good measure why the red one wasn’t on either.

Then I realized the damn coffeemaker wasn’t even plugged in, let alone turned on. And to top it all off, a little while later I forgot I was holding a pen (making notes on today’s to-do list) and went to push my hair back, stabbing myself in the face.

So, yeah. We’re doing well around the Chez this morning. Super well.

Today is for working on Hell’s Acre, and also starting revisions on the second Ghost Squad book. The latter is Klemp’s book, eagerly awaited by many Readers if my inbox is any indication; the zero draft got a highly positive reaction from beta readers and the second draft did very well with the editor. I’m glad to be working on revisions instead of generating new text, for once; I’m exhausted and dredging up New Words sometimes seems an insuperable difficulty–unless it’s Space Werewolves, apparently? I don’t know, my brain is a smoking wasteland, I just live here.

The monthly newsletter went out yesterday, so there’s that, too. And the werelion story’s free teaser is doing rather well at the moment. We’re on the final two weeks of that book being up as a serial before I take it down and start sending it through the editing pipeline. There’s also The Dead God’s Heart duology needing its final brush-up before it goes into copyedits. It will be nice to have that last one put to bed, not to mention getting covers and preorder links for it so I can do up a books page.

In other words, there’s no shortage of work, and maybe if I can get some caffeine in and stop stabbing myself in the face I might even get a chunk of it done between walking the dogs, forcing my own corpse to run for a few kilometers, getting estimates for house repair (that snowstorm, my gods), and planning dinner–I had a whole chicken and an InstantPot, so yesterday was very tasty indeed. And Miss B is still holding steady, so that’s a giant relief.

I’m taking things on that last front one day at a time.

One thing I’m not doing is checking the news, or very much social media. Any tenuous calm I might have achieved lately won’t bear that weight without snapping. News, especially bad news, filters into my sphere without it anyway; I can’t escape. Nor do I want to, precisely–but I do need a bit of amelioration.

Here’s hoping I don’t break a limb if Monday began as it means to go on. I did eventually figure out that I should actually turn Horace on if I wanted coffee, and caffeine is currently soaking into my starved tissues like a blessing from heaven. Plus, a bit of Good Mischief I performed before the weekend has finally reached its intended target, and hearing that it made someone’s day (and will provide them with a little relief) has done my mood no end of good.

Welcome to the week, my beloveds. I can hope it will turn out well, or will at least end in a stalemate.

Over and out.

Dogwoods, Irreversible

Rust, or blood?

The dogwoods are in full, exuberant flower–there’s a legend that they were used for the cross bearing the Christian Jesus, and that their flowers bear nail-marks in sympathy. Lilacs are beginning their dramatic show, the white violets have returned to simple green growing but the purple ones are a creeping mat of flowers. Lithadora and vinca still putting on a good show, as is the alyssum.

By the time the dogwoods bloom spring is irreversible, and I let myself believe winter is over despite all my armor of coping. (If I expect the worst, I cannot be disappointed, only wearily unsurprised or happily wrong.) Plus, it’s getting warm enough for the bees, so I have to be ready for them to attempt nesting in my hair during walks, or crawling into my mouth or ears during a run.

Miss B is holding steady. Though it won’t be long, this is not the week she’ll leave me. I am…grateful, for that. Give me another week, a few more days, a few more hours. I will use them well.

Have a lovely weekend, my dears. Be gentle with yourselves, and each other. And since it’s Friday the 13th, remember our vow: Do no harm–and take no shit.

Over and out.

Habit’s Candle

I’m vertical, and coffee has been not just attempted but achieved. All I want is to crawl back into bed, but tossing and turning there will do no good. I’m tormented by news of the outside world, of course, and struggling with the feeling that my stories don’t matter in the face of all this horrific destruction, all this hatred.

I know I started writing because I was unsatisfied with the ending of a Little Golden Book. I think I continued, at least partly, to figure out why my childhood caregivers hated me so much and kept harming me. Sometimes Child-Lili thought if I could just find the right words I could make them understand they were hurting me, and that would naturally make them stop. Later, I realized that they already knew, they had known from the start, and they either didn’t care or actively enjoyed my pain.

Maybe that realization constitutes growing up? But in any case, I kept writing. By then the habit was too strong.

I write because I must; I also write to transmute the pain of daily life into something else, something a little better. All creation is transformation, whether of materials or of grace. How many times will I create only to see it ignored, torn down, cast aside? How much more of this despair, abuse, pain, and hatred do I have to watch? I know my job as a writer, as an artist, is never to look away. Yet I’m only human, and I’m so, so tired.

It could be that it isn’t writing itself which has me exhausted, but publishing through all this–pandemic, fascist coup, rising tide of hateful xenophobia and misogyny, all the pain and horror and death. And really, what use are my stories in this current mess? Great stories might change things, but mine may be, well, other than great.

I used to tell myself that if a story saved even one person from the deep end, if it ameliorated the pain even once for one person, it was more than enough and I could consider it time and effort well spent. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong and I don’t regret a single story, and yet I find myself wondering if I should just…give up, sink, let the water take me. Nothing I do seems to truly matter, especially when I go to the grocer’s and the vast mass of people wander around with naked face-holes, breathing disease, not caring if they kill an elderly person, a child under five who can’t be vaccinated yet, an immunocompromised person. And then I come home and a fresh hell descends with the news cycle.

The selfishness, the uncaring, is just my childhood caregivers repeated over and over again. They get what they want, and don’t give a damn about–or they actively enjoy–the pain they cause. Ever since 2016 I’ve felt trapped in my childhood again, beaten both physically and emotionally with no relief or escape in sight. I thought there was some small hope with a change in administrations, but the people we voted in with such sweat and heartbreak won’t fight on our behalf. Instead, they seem content to cash their lobbyist checks and make performative gestures, like the teachers who reported my bruises and lacerations but in the end did nothing to save me.

I fled, I saved myself. But now it feels like I’m right back in the middle of that, albeit with no physical wounds. Where it hurts can’t be seen, and consequently hurts more.

Intellectually I know this is trauma speaking, retraumatization and revictimization. I know it’s the depression, and that depression lies. I know I have to continue because this world doesn’t have honor enough to simply strike me down–even if the meteor is approaching, there’s no guarantee it will get here before we starve to death so I’m forced to keep going, keep trying. I’m still caught between knowing there are people and creatures who depend on me and the irrational, deep, unavoidable feeling that if I vanished–this moment, today, next week, next year–nobody would notice or care. It’s a hideous place to be in, and the worst thing is, it’s familiar.

I’ve lived here before.

This isn’t a call for help; everyone else has all they can handle just keeping their head above water and no rescue is coming for any of us. This is simply a record, because I realize, after all, that I am incapable of stopping. Even this–even this–is a sharing, so that if others are feeling the same way at least you know you’re not alone. This is my candle in the darkness, guttering but still alight, and I am holding an inadequate shelter against the hideous hateful storm, inviting you to share it for a moment or so. To rest, before you continue your own battle.

I am creating meaning out of this suffering, putting it into words, and setting the work free to find and comfort who it can, in whatever way it can. Even at my lowest, even amid All This, the habit is too strong to break. Turns out I don’t need hope, I simply need to continue.

I hope it carries us both through, my friend. I’m so sorry it’s like this. I wish it were better.

But it isn’t. And it’s all I can do to keep this candle alight, even as I sink.