Ever since he was a frail, sickly puppy, there have been some days when Odd Trundles cannot settle or sleep unless he is as close to Miss B as he can possibly get. We often (half)joke that she reminds him to breathe. When faced with something unfamiliar, Odd’s default is to hide between my ankles, but if for some reason that shelter is unavailable, his first instinct is to glance at Miss B for guidance.
Miss B was used for breeding too early in her life, and still has medical problems resulting from that. Additionally, if she can’t herd something, she’ll attempt to mother it. Really, it was a stroke of luck we came across Odd, because from the instant he showed up, she’s been ready to unceasingly guide, correct, boss, and direct him about. Odd, bless him, needs such constant supervision, and B’s need to supervise is large enough to cause problems if not properly directed.
Really, they were made for each other. It hurts my heart to think of the inevitable, but I know that if Odd ends his sojourn on earth first he’ll wait for her spirit to tell him what to do, and if B goes first, Odd will have someone waiting for him when he goes.
This morning’s run was six kilometers, in the rain. Miss B about expired of satisfaction, since the rest of this week is tempo runs. She’s been aching to get all her fidgets worked out, and is currently sleepy-eyed and loose across the door to my office, enjoying well-earned exhaustion. A tired dog is a mannerly dog, after all.
I have revamped my Patreon tiers! If you’re interested, go on and take a look. The major new thing is recorded readings from some of my published works. If you’ve wondered what certain things sound like in my head, sign on up! I do reserve the right of choice, but I will entertain suggestions.
Right now I have three different projects on the boil. There’s a rather sweet (but a little bloody) romance about a smartmouth genie and the depressingly organized, rational, and very stick-in-the-mud woman (who loves spreadsheets, I believe she works in insurance) who just happened to get the ring he’s bound to. Secret societies and wishing hijinks abound!
Then there’s another, much darker story about a woman who makes amulets, and people who want them. This particular story had its genesis in a very vivid, unsettling dream I had not too long ago, and I’m pursuing it to see where it ends up. Purely for my own amusement, it will probably never see publication.
The third is, of course, the book I really want to work on, my homage to Stalker and Roadside Picnic. I am always curious about repercussions of large events at the local level, so I’m having to dig into this world one layer at a time, thinking out why certain things are certain ways. I am also staving off the inevitable request for a glossary with footnotes. I’m not sure anyone will buy this book, but if they do, dammit, I won’t have to make a glossary of neologisms. I have Personal Feelings about such things, and while they are strong I realize they are not exactly shared.
Odd Trundles has just risen from his midmorning nap and is sleepily blinking in my direction, smacking his lips to remind me it is almost lunchtime and hence, time for him to Do Some Business Outside before he settles in my office for his early afternoon, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon naps. It’s hard, living the Trundle life.
So, today is full of a barfight, two ambushes, and a little exposition. Not so much of the last, however–I really do love throwing the reader straight into the action and letting them swim, I love reading a book that assumes I can follow what the hell it’s talking about. But first, Trundles is right. A little lunch is in order.
A light frost last night, so I’m waiting for more warmth before I take Miss B out. The last thing I need is for either of us to trip and break a leg. Of course, the leg broken will likely be mine, since B is more agile, closer to the ground, and just generally more graceful than top-heavy ol’ me. She thinks monkeys are built strangely, but can’t deny the opposable thumbs and the ability to buy kibble more than make up for it, though.
On the bright side (there’s always one) the sunshine today will do good things for the garden. And tomorrow it’s back to rain, which is at least warmer during the night. The glass apples on my office windowsill are glowing. Of course, my office is a total and complete disaster, but at least the apples are cheerful. Creative mess, to be sure, and at the point I’m at–three different projects cooking at once–it helps to have a certain amount of disorder around. Wordcount comes more easily when I am not in a surgically clean environment.
With the dogs and kids around, there has never been anything close. It was worse when I was cleaning up after my ex-husband too, but that’s another story. *eyeroll* February means I need to start setting aside a few minutes every day for filing paperwork, as the end of the year has come and gone. That will cut down on the clutter, but never fear–it won’t make the damn mess any less creative.
Well. I’ve been coming back to this post multiple times over an hour and a half, and I only have 300ish words to show for it. That’s a signal I need to get out the door and run, so I can settle somewhat. My irritation level is cresting, and Miss B is a right nuisance when she knows I have my running clothes on but haven’t taken her out yet.
Every once in a while a day comes along where everything is hilarious, almost without exception. Child wakes up late for school and his bedhead is truly epic? Laughter. Dog trips me going down the stairs and I almost fall to my death? Giggles. Squirrel on the deck taunting said dog (I believe I saw an obscene gesture or two)? Chuckles. Cavy keeps yelling about how he’d rather listen to Lana del Rey than Rossini? Well, not quite hilarious, but certainly amusing. (At least del Rey keeps him quiet. He’s taken over poor passed-on Critic’s role.)
I do not want to leave the house today. We are low on bread flour, but I am cogitating upon using whole-wheat and vital gluten to add to the poolish. I only hope the math involved does not cause my head to explode. Although, really, if it does, I shall no doubt find that funny as well.
In other news, Kevin Hearne has been saying some very nice things about Roadside Magic. (Apparently it made him forget a manspreader next to him on a plane. HIGH COMPLIMENT INDEED.) There’s nothing quite like hearing another author “getting” what you were trying to do with a book. It’s like when my agent said, “Well, you’re more of a writer’s writer,” and I actually choked with surprise before beaming all the rest of the day.
Well. There’s wordcount to be done, vital gluten to measure, a poolish to whisper into bread, cavy nails to clip, all the laundry I didn’t get done yesterday because the kids were doing theirs (not complaining) and various other bits and bobs to do. First, though, a run, during which I’m sure B will try to kill me. (HIJINKS WILL ENSUE.) Let’s hope I’m rolling 20s on my avoid-ass-over-teakettles.
Odd Trundles wishes to inform you all that it is RAINING, and he does not like getting his paws wet in order to Do His Business outside. He further wishes to inform you that Mum is very busy and will not throw the bestest toy for him another ten times, and that his breakfast was not satisfactory because it is now gone. He is a dog of discriminating taste and many talents, and the least we could do is give him an eternal, infinite brekkie.
Clearly I am the cruelest puppy-mommy in the whole UNIVERSE, and he told me so in ten solid minutes of groaning and sighing before settling with his face on the heater, basking and snoring.
Poor Trundles. He does not understand that Mum has to stare at the glowing screen and do weird tiptap things with her monkey paws in order to assure his supply of kibble. The monkey paws are, in his humble opinion, for giving him ear-skritches and feeding him lots of treats. CLEARLY I am falling down on my duties, but he will magnanimously allow me to make it up to him with the aforesaid infinite breakfast and many skritches. After, of course, he finishes broiling his face on the heater.
Every so often he actually licks the heater’s surface. (It’s one of those portable heated-oil thingummies.) I am deadly afraid he’ll burn himself, but he hasn’t yet. The little weirdo must, despite all appearances, have some sense of self-preservation. Faint and fading, but there it is.
Moxie the squirrel, however, does not seem to. She was in the compost heap again yesterday, and there was a brief but glorious second where Miss B thought she had finally achieved her life’s dream (again) of catching one of the little rodents. (This time, for once, I believe Miss B had plans for what to do afterwards.) There was an explosion of decaying matter, Moxie went flying (screaming “FWEEDOM!” and something about “HAUNTH THE NIGHTHTHTHTHHHHP!”) and Miss B got half-stuck in the bin. I had to drag her out and try to brush her off, all while she twisted and moaned in my grip, a blackened banana peel caught on her rump, while Moxie sprawled dazed under the lilacs still chittering something about “GET DANGEROUTH!”
I did not let go of Miss B’s ruff until Moxie had gathered afresh some of her, well, moxie. Once Moxie was staggering for the fence I let B go, and she bolted straight for the punch-drunk arboreal rodent.
Who gathered herself enough to scream “FWEEDOM!” again, and by that point Odd Trundles had noticed something was going on. As I struggled to get banana peels and other crap off a wriggling Miss B, he had begun scuttling across the yard. Though he is only capable of short bursts at top speed, once he has achieved it, momentum provides him with a great deal of force. He was not barking, for once, he was too excited at the prospect of NEWFRIEND*snortwhistle*NEWFRIENDNEWFRIEND!!! to utter a single sound. (Plus, he was probably out of breath in a big way by the time he had achieved full steam.)
So, I let go of Miss B just as Odd appeared in my peripheral vision as a cream-and-brown blur.
Of course I yelled “OH FUCK NO–” It wouldn’t be a squirrel story if I didn’t.
Anyway, Moxie made it to the noble laurel at the corner of the fence and began climbing for her life. Miss B probably planned to levitate after her, and was gaining speed. Odd Trundles, having veered just slightly to account for Moxie’s flight path…
…crashed headlong into that corner of the fence, bounced off, picked himself up, and tried to throw himself at it again. I believe he thought some insidious monster mimicking a fence-pole overgrown with laurel branches had eaten his new friend, whom he was now desperate to save. Miss B leapt, I screamed another cavalcade of obscenities, and Odd staggered backward in a semicircle. His high-pointed ass struck the fence near the apple tree and he jumped, thinking it was an attack, and in his dazed condition he reverted to default: Bark, and hightail it toward the safest place in the world.
I.e., right between my ankles. At least B didn’t land on him (again). She hit the ground, levitated again, Moxie began screaming words I hesitate to repeat (though I believe “nutfucker” is not purely a squirrel term) and B, balked twice and full of compost, decided the only thing she could do was take off on a running tour of the yard. (I should mention: I WAS WEARING ACTUAL SHOES. HALLELUJAH.)
Miss B, bless her tiny doggie brain, is capable of amazing speed, but that didn’t worry me. What did worry me was the imminent arrival of sixty pounds of terrified bulldog at my ankles. I barely had time to throw a foot out and drop into the most beautiful demi-plie in second I’ve done in years.
So it was that Odd Trundles sped right between my ankles, dig his nails in, and created a furrow all the way to the compost bin, which he crashed into the front of and consequently almost broke the plank holding the pile back. (There is a definite dent there.)
I took advantage of Odd’s being stunned to coax him toward the stairs, while Miss B ran in circles yapping. Finally, to finish everything off, she zoomed to her favorite denning site behind a rhododendron and began digging frantically. I believe at that point she had forgotten about Moxie, who I am sure had reached the safety of her Sooper-Sekrit Arboreal Rat Lair and was nursing her shattered nerves.
So it was that I had to give Odd a muscle relaxer (head trauma is bad for his spine) and pet and make much of him. I did not let Miss B in until I brushed all the gunk (and fresh dirt from her denning) away. Thank every god there is that an Aussie’s coat is wash-and-wear; all sorts of things just dry up and flake off. I am sure there are bits of compost all over the house by now, though. And the two of them are relatively quiet this morning. I believe yesterday’s fun and games, when added to a five kilometer run for Miss B and the intense excitement of houseguests screaming the names of landmark court cases (teenagers studying for an AP Gov final), require much napping to speed recovery.
And that, my darling chickadees, is how a bulldog and an Australian shepherd team up with a squirrel to turn my compost pile so I don’t have to.
That’s right, chickadees–Gallow and Ragged are back, and the stakes just keep getting higher.
Robin Ragged has revenge to wreak and redemption to steal. As for Jeremiah Gallow, the poison in his wound is slowly killing him, while old friends turn traitor and long-lost enemies return to haunt him.
In the dive bars and trailer parks, the sidhe are hunting. War looms, and on a rooftop in the heart of the city, the most dangerous sidhe of all is given new life. He has only one thought, this new hunter: Where is the Ragged?
This book was hard to write. Robin’s grief was a stone in my own throat, and Alastair Crenn is the sort of character where you’re writing him and constantly saying “oh, honey, NO…” Jeremiah, of course, is full of so much self-loathing it’s difficult to be inside his head.
The entire series was triggered by a dream (the Boy Scout, my writing partner’s husband, sat up in the middle of the night and said the elves are dying) and opened up inside my head, full-blown, in the space of a few seconds when the Selkie told me about said dream. It’s an odd feeling, that–a sort of vertigo, the outside world a faded irritant while the space inside my skull turns becomes the only world I’m interested in. I’m sure other writers have that moment, where everything about a book/series opens up.
Anyway, I hope you like it, dear Readers. I’ve noticed some people saying the language is difficult–“faux-Shakespearean” is my favourite–as if that’s a bad thing. I love words, I love to roll around in them, I love to build rhythmic sentences. And really, the sidhe have been alive so long, of course they sound archaic. Even Spenser might be too modern for them. I am comforted by the sheer number of Readers who have written me to say they love the language, and that the sidhe’s double-edged meanings and layers of recondite insult and compliment are pleasing indeed. Thank you, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the second book’s adventures and betrayals.
Now I’m headed off to cower in a corner and nurse my release-day nerves, biting my nails and just generally being an anxiety-ridden nuisance to myself. As I do every time a book hits. You’d think it would become easier.
So I burned myself on the toaster, banged my head on a cupboard, tripped twice…but at least Miss B didn’t try to kill me on our morning run.
Monday proceeds apace. Three projects to achieve wordcount on, after a weekend of chores and activities. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend, for God’s sake. That might be why I’m late off the mark, here. There’s also planting herb starts to be done today, and setting up to record a reading from one of my books for my Patreon folks–at least, the ones that signed up for them. I have to brush up my diction. (*snork* Because I am a twelve-year-old on the inside.)
I’m almost at the point in two of the three projects where I start building handholds–little bits further down the line that tell me where the story is likely to want to go. That takes up a day of concentrated thinking and internal feeling around, rather like crawling in a dark room with a plug and looking for a socket. One runs blindly into furniture and can’t really see the shape, though one can sense it. But finally, when you find the socket, a light comes on, and all of a sudden you can see the decor.
Tomorrow is release day–Roadside Magic will be going live! So get your preorder on, if you want. I’m hoping people like it. I also have a few posts planned talking about the world of Gallow and Ragged, and where it came from, since people have been asking many questions.
Of course, I am going to be a ball of nerves for release day, as I always am. At least it’s not today. I don’t think my poor corpse could handle it.