On My Feet

On My Feet

After a run, Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot, is tired and wishes to curl up upon his bed. But if the human moves, he will groan, and when the human bends to pet him, he will spill out of the bed and onto her feet, looking up reproachfully.

Don't go, he'll moan. I just got comfortable. Stay here and pet me.

Poor fellow. I can pet him for a while, of course, and make much of him, but eventually I do have to go shower. But for those few minutes while he's on my feet and I'm telling him what a good boy he is, he's content.

Better Than We Deserve

I feel somewhat like I’m wandering in zombie-infested woods with a crossbow, really–no sooner is one slain than another appears, and by the gods I’m hungry, tired, filthy, and irritated. Current events are bad for my state of mind, not to mention my health.

I really wanted to feel hopeful. I did! But instead, the historian in me is looking at my febrile country, and taking a deep breath.

It’s hard to work under these conditions. I lost a couple days’ worth of working time, poking along and adding a mere hundred words or so, here and there. Thank goodness for Viki; since DramaFever went under it’s my go-to for Kdrama. I’ve been watching Ghost Detective and Hwayugi, both are fine storytelling and I like the stars.

The dogs don’t understand why I’m so upset. After all, their dinner comes at exactly the same time, even if the humans have changed their own to an hour later. They still get walkies and pets and treats, they are still barred from going down the stairs to commune with the cats. (Or eat them, in Boxnoggin’s case.) The only thing they’re unhappy about is the weather, and only Boxnoggin is upset about that.

He may need a little jacket or two, if it gets colder.

When the panic attacks try to overwhelm the medication, the dogs sidle up and require pets and love. The distraction is often enough to calm me. Dogs, you know? Much better than we deserve.

I’m shutting off social media (except for Mastodon) for a little while, so I don’t have the firehose of bad news constantly pouring down my throat. I understand I am privileged to have that option, and I’ve got to work or we don’t eat.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Readers. I have very little else to say.

Over and out.

If You Want More…

People have finished reading the latest Steelflower, and I’m starting to get emails. Most of them are lovely. There are the usual asshats thinking that being nasty over my decision to release first in print will somehow change my mind, but they’re few and far between, for which I am grateful.

Many of you have asked when the next Steelflower is out, including one despairing soul who pleaded, “please tell me I don’t have to wait another year!”

I…I can’t tell you that, my friends. But if you want to make it easier for me to write these things you love, there’s a few things you can do to help me out. The list starts with, of course, buying my books instead of torrenting them, since the more royalties I lose from people stealing my work, the less I can afford to work on things that don’t pay me up-front–like the Steelflower books.

If you’re one of those kind folks who does buy my books, and likes them, a few moments spent giving a review–even just a star rating–on the distribution platform (Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) of your choice helps more than you think. Once the star ratings/reviews reach a certain threshold, the books get bumped in algorithms, and more people get to (possibly) experience the deadly lunacy that is my brain.1 And if they enjoy it and dip into my backlist, that means I get paid to write more.

I also offer a variety of subscription options, where you can get peeks at stories in progress and free ebooks of the serial-in-progress. The subscriptions give me a steadier monthly income, which frees me up to write more of those things you love but a publisher won’t (or can’t) initially invest in. Gumroad’s best, but I know a lot of you folks like Patreon, and that’s okay too.

As it is, The Highlands War has to take its place behind the epic fantasies I’m working on, and the next serial (HOOD) and maybe Dolls and Tower of Yden too. I know exactly what happens (and who dies) but getting enough paid working time down so I can afford to write more labor-of-love stories (like Steelflower) is the trick here.

I’m sure I’ll be inundated (again) by the usual trolls telling me that I shouldn’t write for the money, that I’m a sellout, and that it’s their gods-given right to steal my work. But for the non-trolls, these are the things that will help free up more of my time so I can tell you what happens to Kaia, Darik, Redfist, and the troupe in a brutal winter insurgency, and how that all shakes out. Funny thing, I’ve always known Kaia’s story is a trilogy, but it ended up that the last book was so massive I had to split it in half, which is why Steelflower in Snow ends where it does.

Anyway, more than one person has asked about The Highlands War, and that’s the answer. I’ll be moderating replies pretty thoroughly to weed out the bloody trolls–you’d think these people would have something better to do, my gods–but as long as you’re not yelling at me for not being a vending machine, your comment will get through. It just may take me a little while to weed through the queue.

Now I’ve got to run the dogs, and settle into the day’s work.

Over and out.

Poor They

Sir Boxnoggin and I found this unlucky bundle of feathers while out running. The crows have already been at them, and Boxnoggin was extremely interested, but I did not let him give more than a token sniff.

Poor birdie. Nature’s cleanup crew has already recycled most of them by now, I reckon. Such bright plumage, on such a grey day.

Achievement, Unfulfilled

There are now not one, not two, but three very rotund squirrels who take it as their personal mission to taunt Sir Boxnoggin whenever the opportunity arises. I’m pretty sure one is Batgirl, and though Olsen Twins is much rounder these days he’s just as nervous and his tail is a sad, sad little crooked thing. The third might be Preggers, but I’m not exactly sure.

Yesterday one scuttled up the fence by the remaining cedars and Boxnoggin went up after it. It’s a considerable board fence, but he still gained enough air–multiple feet, I tell you–to make me seriously concerned. That dog would rock an agility course, once he settled down and decided to seriously work it. As it is, he’s too young.

They said “three, three and a half years old” at the shelter, but if that dog was a day over two when we brought him home, I’ll eat every hat I own, without ketchup even. He’s old enough that running on pavement won’t damage his joints, thank goodness, but he is otherwise chewy and bouncy and full of the energy of youth.

Right now he’s prancing up and down the hall, ready to get out the door and go. We have a middling run today, and no doubt he’s eager to stick his nose in everything we pass. It will take him some time to calm down and actually work on our runs, but that’s okay. Gods know it took Miss B a few years to grasp the concept.

But those goddamn squirrels. They dangle their tails over the fence, chittering with amusement, and Boxnoggin goes absolutely mad. He head-butted the fence at high speed the other day, because Olsen Twins had vibrated right through it to escape him. If he ever catches one of those fuzzy bastards, it’s not going to be like Miss B’s infrequent achievement, where she freezes with the squirrel dangling in her mouth and looks at me, clearly asking now what? No, Boxnoggin knows what to do when he grabs a tiny bundle of fur–shake it until it’s limp, then disembowel it.

I kind of hope he never gets one. As much as I despise the nasty little arboreal rats, that seems a terrible fate for even their ilk. And then there’s the cleanup. Getting Boxnoggin into the bath isn’t the all-day event it was with Odd, but it’s still an undertaking, and carrying a wriggling boxer-terrier covered in squirrel guts into the house might manage to put a dent in even my

I’m going to finish the first HOOD book for NaNo, which means I need to get Atlanta Bound revised posthaste in order to shove HOOD into that daily work slot. I’m only halfway through. Maybe tomorrow I’ll splurge and finish it in a candy-fueled haze. Thank goodness neither the squirrels nor Boxnoggin have access to sugar.

It’s the little mercies that keep me sane. Or, relatively sane.

I hope your Samhain is fun and fruitful, my friends. May the turn of the Witch’s Year usher in the fulfillment of hopes for us all.

Except Boxnoggin. I hate to break a dog’s heart, but I want the squirrel guts to stay firmly inside the damn beasts…

Crawl, Resurrect

I resurrected at a crawl this morning. Both dogs are eager, anxious, and dancing; I am none of those things. I’m heavy, blinking, barely moving from one sentence to the next. I can’t imagine how I’m going to run. Maybe I’ll just let Sir Boxnoggin pull me along wet pavement.

I did have a nice weekend. I met up with the stellar April Daniels and had a lovely time nerding about the Eastern Front and various other things. That was pretty much the highlight; I also scored a couple books I’ve been wanting for a while like Caroline Kepnes’s You. Sunday was full of housecleaning and thunderstorms, as well as a trip with the kids to pick out their pumpkins. The month of no-added-sugar is going to end in a blaze of corn syrup, pumpkin guts, and glory.

What I did not do was work. Oh, sure, I added about 200 words in revision on Atlanta Bound, but my heart was not in it. I worked just enough to to turn down the itch under my skin, which means I am nervy this morning. The need to write has been physical for most of my life; if it ever ends I’m going to be seriously at sea.

The news is a dragging weight on every finger, toe, limb. The stories are ships upon an angry sea. I can feel the panic attacks waiting outside the charmed circle of medication, body and brain trying to respond to the danger. The worst is knowing I’m somewhat protected–only a little–and people I care for are in far deeper danger.

As soon as the coffee sinks in I’ll grab my running togs from the dryer. Sir Boxnoggin will dance and prance, Miss B will moan and yip at being left behind. I can’t take her today, it’s a slightly longer run and her elderly puppy self is not fit for it anymore. She’ll get praise and pets upon our return, and her daily exercise will come from wrestling with Boxnoggin. He is still young and chewy, and can run with me and play with her all day. It wears him out, she gets worn out as well, and with them amusing each other I can attend to work.

At least the rains have moved in. This is the most productive time of the year for me, and I’ve got a glut of work to take advantage of it. If I can just lift this crushing weight enough to breathe, I might be able to get some speed.

Let’s hope.

A Strange Repast

I came out Wednesday morning with the dogs to find out someone had left a half-eaten crabapple and part of a ginormous mushroom on our deck railing, snugged into a corner for ease of snacking. I'm sure whoever left it will return–once the mushroom wears off, that is.

All that's missing is a sign saying "EAT ME"…