New Roo, Mum

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When you open a package from your Australian friend–who was there and drinking the night the whole nutless-kangaroo-shifter-story thing happened–and you find this fellow breaking into your fucking Kinder Eggs, and you say “who the fuck are YOU?” and he wipes his snout with his paw and says, “er, um, your new roo, mum,” and you DM your Australian friend hysterical with disbelieving laughter…

…yeah. Like that. Exactly like that.

(Yes, that’s a kangaroo scrotum holding a corkscrew, which is how this whole thing started. But that’s another story…)

Bundle of Cheer

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Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got the wind knocked out of me on Monday evening, and I suspect it won’t come back any time soon. I am beginning to hate April; it’s just one thing after another this month. Not to me–I’m doing well–but people I care about are having somewhat of a rough go, and all I can do is support. I long to take a katana to the problems, but that would require enemies one could simply dispatch with a blade.

Life is full of those, but also full of ones you can’t. Plus, swinging an edge often leads to paperwork, and nobody has time for that.

So instead it’s budgeting my energy and retracting somewhat into a social shell so I can reserve enough to be an effective support and get my writing done. It’s a good thing I deactivated Facebook; one could so easily sink into a morass there.

Today marks the beginning of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. There’s a lot planned for this final season, it’s a real stunner. Once the road trip is over, I’m really thinking the next serial will be Robin Hood in Space, so I’d best get that underway.

The trouble is, Hostage to Empire wants to chew up all my bandwidth. Book 1 now wants to be called The Maiden’s Blade, which should make the editor happier. It’s also hit 80K and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I have to write the kidnapping, the assassination attempts, and an emperor’s death. Hopefully I can get it in at least rough zero form by July; the timeline is compressed because it’s taking the place of the dead book. *sigh*

So. It’s time to get the first two chapters of Atlanta Bound prepped for subscribers, revise another two chapters of the same for next week’s offering, and get in daily wordcount on Maiden’s Blade. Also, some yoga needs to be done, because I am pushing myself hard while running and as a result, my entire body feels like one big bruise. Oh, and I should probably leave the house to fetch milk, right?

I’ve had eight shots of espresso this morning, the therapy lamp is on, and all I want to do is go back to bed. My eyelids need toothpicks to prop them open. If I’m a very good girl and get all the things on my list accomplished today, maybe I’ll plant some beans in the garden boxes.

It’s not much, but at least it’s one small unstressful something I know how to do.

Hug the people you care about today for me, please. Tell someone you’re there for them, and do something nice for yourself, too. We’re all stuck on this rock hurtling through space, and caring for each other is the only way we’re gonna get through it. I mean, life is inevitably fatal, but at least we can do some good before going to sleep.

Yeah, I’m just a bundle of cheer and optimism today. Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Pocalypse Road

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That’s right, my hoopy froods! Season 3 of Roadtrip Z is now out in the world.

Winter has arrived, the walking dead are hungry, and Ginny and Lee’s small group of survivors is making its way towards New York. Other survivors, shaking off the daze of catastrophe, are moving as well. In a wasteland of snow and failing power, of course the zombies are dangerous…

…but it’s the other people you really have to watch out for.

Season 3: Pocalypse Road is now available direct, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at independent bookstores.

I had a lot of fun with this season. Things just had to keep going wrong, and more wrong, and more-more wrong, in the grand tradition of every zombie apocalypse tale. Be on the lookout for Tuckerized readers, callbacks to old zombie movies, how to haul ammo in a snowbound wasteland, and finally, finally, Lee Quartine getting a break or two, as well as the mystery of just what was in Colonel Grandon’s case from Season 1.

And now, since it’s a release day, I’m gonna go stick my head in a bucket and hope the anxiety dies down. Enjoy!

Book, Bandwidth

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Season 3 of Roadtrip Z goes live tomorrow, which means I’m having release-day nerves all the way down. Maybe that was why my Sunday was full of staring and not getting much done.

Thankfully I get to run today.

*time passes*

My frustration with the home warranty company still dicking me around over the dishwasher replacement reached a certain level that usually leads to stomach irritation, so I tied my shoes and hit the pavement with Miss B. Who was quite pleased, thank you very much, and is now exhausted enough to be a Very Good Dog for the rest of the day. I mean, I know she’s always a Very Good Dog, but this will make her a Very Calm Dog as well. Or at least, as calm as an Australian shepherd can get.

She’s currently sprawled in the hallway, opening an eye whenever I pass. She would like, no doubt, to be snugged up against my office chair, but she suspects I have plans of moving about, and the hall remains the place she can keep track of me without hauling herself upright to supervise my peregrinations.

Today I have release day nerves and concomitant self-care to attend to, as well as seeing if I can get this lady-in-waiting kidnapped and a pair of unlikely rescuers. I have to get through several other scenes to do so, or I could just say “to hell with it” and write the kidnapping/rescue first, then go back and fill in the piercing, the confrontation in the market, the next arranged marriage, and a couple assassination attempts.

This is going to require some thought, and more coffee. I’m hoping the book’s architecture will let me work on it non-chronologically, but that may be borrowing trouble. We’re at almost 80K words for this damn story, it’s only book one, and there’s at least a third more of the whole thing to cram into writing time over the next couple months.

I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Plus, this is something I’ve never attempted before, and the anxiety over maybe fucking it up beyond repair is…mounting. Even sweating for multiple kilometers doesn’t erase that completely. The only way out is just doing the best I can and seeing if I can hit the updated draft deadline. On the bright side, a book usually takes over all my available bandwidth like this right before it spikes towards the finish line.

It’s just that instead of having only 10K words or so to get out of this monster, I have more like 30, and that’s if I’m lucky.

I keep meaning to reserve a little energy to work on Robin Hood in Space–the first season will probably be titled Hood, Home–but when I get to the end of working on Khir’s Honor for the day, I’m worn out. I’m not sure anything else can give in order to free up energy. Dog care, child care, running–those are non-negotiable hard points, and I’d really love to keep on with Latin and piano since the latter is one of the few times my brain doesn’t eat itself during the day, and Latin makes me happy. I have so much crammed into a day, and need to cram in even more.

Well, complaining about it won’t get it done. Time to set a timer and get the fingers to working through the setup for the kidnapping scene. I may have to throw it out later, but at least it’s progress.

Over and out.

Tobacco Trees

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On warm days in spring–just a few of them, when the temperature and the breeze are just right–these trees smell like a tobacconist’s shop. Since we no longer have the plum tree in the backyard–the only thing I miss about the old house–it’s running under these trees and taking deep breaths that convinces me yes, spring has returned, the winter has been survived, and we just might make it after all.

It’s good to feel that one has survived. And that one might continue to, despite everything.

Two Sentences

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I read Pliny before bed every night. Every once in a while, I get to wishing it was Caesar instead, because the ol’ dictator really had quite the winning literary style. But then I roll across some of the crazy-ass shit Pliny writes about, and it makes me out-and-out gleeful.

Colophone in Apollinis Clari specu lacuna est cuius potu mira redduntur oracula, bibentium breviore vita. Amnes retro fluere et nostria vidit aetas Neronis principus supremis, sicut in rebus eius retulimas. (Loeb Classical, translated by H. Rackham.)

The first sentence deals with an oracular shrine where drinking from the river shortens your life but gives you powers of prophecy, which is a story idea if I ever heard one. The second is a mention of Nero’s death, and of rivers running backward to mark the occasion. “Even our generation has seen,” he says, and adds, “as we have recorded.” Of course this Pliny, being the Elder, survived Nero and was a personal friend of Vespasian, so it would be de rigeur for him to add a subtle jibe at Terrible Nero since it was impolitic, to say the least, to do otherwise. (Much as it was impolitic to refer to Mary Queen of Scots’s legitimacy in Elizabeth I’s time.)

One of the fascinating things about Pliny is that he had a scientific bent, and he wrote down what seemed reasonable and verifiable to him. It was perfectly possible for the Mephitic Caves to be the work of a god taking sacrifices without requiring human agents to kill said sacrifice. Stranger things happened. Of particular interest is Pliny’s listing of “what is known” about earthquakes and the like.

Anyway, those two sentences in juxtaposition delighted the hell out of me a couple nights ago.

Pliny, man. *shakes head*

Mail Call

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Man Reading his Mail
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Reader mail has picked up again, and so has my energy level. So I’m thinking about doing a weekly “from the mailbag” post. Or biweekly, depending on the volume of actual reasonable mail to hatemail.

Some days, the proportions are a bit bent.

Anyway! Let’s grab a few from the mailbag and take a look, shall we? First up is Reader E.P.:

I’m reading the Dante Valentine omnibus for the sixth time, I am simply drawn back to read it again and again, and I was wondering about Japhrimel’s feelings throughout the books. You do give us a brief insight into his feelings especially when he kneels before Dante and speaks to her of his failure. In numerous points in the books Dante notices his attention on her and I can’t help but wish to know more of what and how he is feeling, such as when he waits for Dante while she rides the slicboard or when he watches her spar with Jace. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love these books and will continue to enjoy them over and over, and I know the story is from Dante’s point of view, but more from Japh would be amazing, maybe his side of the story about his fall and how he deals with the infuriating Dante even though he loves her?

Sometimes I think about writing Japh’s POV. The problems with it are numerous–for one thing, he thinks in demon, not in English or even Dante’s Merican, so the translation is a bit…difficult. There’s also the fact that I dislike him so intensely. The key to Japh, for me, was my writing partner’s throwaway comment about demons destroying what they love. And to Japh, his love is intimately bound up in the idea of controlling the environment and everything around Dante in order to “protect” her. He’s not human, he wasn’t ever human, and his priorities, morals, and ethics are not human either. So…I don’t have any plans yet, though there are the books dealing with Gabe’s daughter (who is a Magi) and also the short story featuring Danny, Selene, Nikolai, and Japh all working together that have been bubbling in my head for a while…

Next up is Reader D.W.:

I’m currently reading your second Roadtrip Z book. I’m a little confused as to where Cotton Crossing is located. I thought it was maybe in Florida, but there is way too much snow and ice for that area. It would really help me enjoy the book more if I wasn’t constantly trying to figure out where they are. I’ve tried looking online for the answer, but couldn’t find it. Thanks!

About all I can say is that Cotton Crossing is not on any map, though Lee tells me it’s somewhere in Missouri.

It’s been a month for people asking me about the Valentine series, I guess. Next comes this, from Reader S.F.:

Hello, thank you for writing the Dante Valentine series. It was very enjoyable. I was wondering, however, do you think you will you ever write about Lucas Villalobos? Your afterward said that Dante and Japhrimel’s story is over, but I am curious about the Deathless and would love to read more about him.

Lucas is…difficult. (He’s always been difficult.) He doesn’t talk about where he comes from, and can disappear for long periods of time if you press. I can say that if you read Coming Home in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, you’ll find out some of what happens to Lucas after the events of the Valentine series, and that it involves Gabe and Eddie’s daughter.

If you’ve got a question, you can use the form on my Contact page. I cannot answer even a quarter of the missives I receive, but you never know–if I start doing mail calls biweekly or weekly, you just may see your question here.

Now it’s time to go for a run. Over and out.