Safely in Springtime

I survived another release day, and made it through the weekend after finishing yet another awfully hard revise. Now I can go back to actual creation, for some short while.

Unless, of course, I want to proof an omnibus. It’s gotta happen, and yet I have a deep and severe case of the Don’t Wannas. All I wanna do is write, dammit, preferably with some video game music going in the background.

I was real, real close to paying for a month or so of WoW this weekend too, but Borderlands scratched the itch. I’m still not sure if Blizzard deserves my cash. Until my conscience is easy on that account, I’m going to have to refrain.

Although listening to Darnassus music on loop is good for certain kinds of writing. Video game soundtracks are designed to be immersive and easily looped, which makes them great for wrestling with plot problems.

Anyway, I should send off the revision today and take the dogs for a walk. I’m slow and logy this morning, probably because of the wild weather sweeping through. My writing partner reported big fat wet snowflakes (someone’s shaking Baba Yaga’s counterpane) this morning, though they didn’t stick; my sinuses warm me there will be barometric fluctuations. Fortunately I’ve written with atmospheric pressure changes sending spikes through my skull before.

It might even add something to a combat scene. Who knows?

Anyway, the wild weather and plum blossoms have us safely in springtime. The dogs are gleeful and we did a lot of cleaning this past weekend. There was even mopping, which is one of my Least Favorite Things, especially since I didn’t have the damn spoons for it all last year. Bit by bit, the rebuilding continues.

Time to throw another hoodie on and get out the door. I mean, the dogs could technically walk themselves, but they don’t make good choices. It’s best I go along to keep them from chasing something they shouldn’t.

*wanders away, humming about manic Mondays*

RELEASE DAY: Damage

Good morning, everyone! We’ll get to the Friday photo in a bit. It’s a release day! That’s right, today Damage is out in the world.


Damage

Keeping her safe will be his hardest assignment yet. . .

Reeling from trauma and divorce, Cara Halperin takes what should be a simple job with an expensive agency. As a nanny to rich children, she shouldn’t have much to worry about, and her job is just complex enough to keep her from brooding. Unfortunately, the agency’s sent her into a trap.

Vincent Desmarais wants to go back into the field, but instead, he’s put on leave. The diagnosis? PTSD. No problem–he can pick up security work on the side to keep himself sharp–that is, if the side work isn’t just as dangerous as the bloody places he’s longing to get back to.

When the lights go out, Cara and her young charge have only one option: to trust the new security guy. Vincent finds himself unwilling to abandon them to fate or let them out of his sight. If the trio wants to stay alive, they’ve got to trust each other. . .

. . .but that may just be what their enemies are counting on.

Now available from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, and Kobo.


It’s strange to see stuff I worked on during lockdown (not the book itself, but the publication and production process) reach release. Publication takes a long time, which means we’ve been in lockdown for what seems like bloody well forever. But the book–my love song to a particular movie starring Matthias Schoenaerts–is out now, it’s live, and I’m going to be spending most of the day roaming the house and twitching from release-day nerves.

You’d think it would get easier after so many titles. Alas.

As for the Friday photo, get a load of this guy.



Yep, that’s Boxnoggin attempting to disembowel one of my favorite couch pillows. I gather–and this is my translation, so it might be a little blurry–that it “looked at him funny.” Fortunately he didn’t manage to eat much of the stuffing, so that was all right. And I had another slightly less wounded pillow to stuff into the case too. Small mercies.

Have a good weekend, everyone. I’ll be trying to recover from release day and revisions at once. Multitasking self-care saves time, right?

Right? (If I’m not right, don’t tell me…)

Over and out.

Order, Ritual, Merry-Go-Round

Tomorrow’s a release day, and I am all at sixes and sevens. I have even snarled, “oh, for fuck’s sake” thrice before coffee, which isn’t quite a record but does herald an Interesting Morning.

The dogs are trotting up and down the hall, peeking in to see if I’m moving towards walkies yet. Soon Miss B will settle herself with a sigh in my office door, so I can’t possibly leave without tripping over her. Boxnoggin, of course, is keeping watch out the front window. If a gust of wind comes down the street, he’ll start screaming his fool head off, in the hope of drawing me out to see what the ruckus is, and while I’m out there of course he might as well ask about walkies.

There is an order and a ritual to mornings chez Saintcrow, and the canines don’t want us to forget it.

I dreamed of snow, which isn’t usual in spring. Snow, and wolves, and black pines under a white coat. The coffee is helping get the images stowed properly; what I really want to be doing is working on The Cold North. Instead, I’ve the revisions on Black God’s Heart to finish, Book 2 of that to write, Hell’s Acre to get underway (though the entire thing is outlined, as far as I ever outline anything) before I can even think of slotting the Tolkien Viking Werewolves into the merry-go-round.

Still, it’s a good sign that a book’s living in my head. The past year has been so strained, I sometimes thought I’d lose words altogether. I’ve only lost words once in my writing life–that was post-divorce, buying the house–and it’s a terrible feeling. Even having a book up and die on me (like the Steelflower sequels, or Deadroad) isn’t so painful.

I’m also moonlighting with The Innkeeper’s War, which centers on a very cranky ex-mercenary who runs an inn, and one day her old adventuring friend the wizard shows up with a farm boy in tow. Then her inn gets burned down, and…but that’s giving the game away. Maybe I’ll write it, maybe I won’t; for right now it’s fun to have bits of different things for the machine inside my skull to chew on.

Keeps it from chewing on me. At least, that’s the idea.

I suppose I’d best finish this coffee and stagger for the door, which will trigger a cascade of excitement from the canine component of the household. I was wise enough to get my shoes tied without their help this morning, though, which qualifies as a win.

At least, I’m going to treat it as such. And try not to think about a release day tomorrow. Fingers crossed, and all that.

See you ’round.

Snail-House Rock

I have coffee, and have pulled back from some social media. Last week was not optimal for a variety of reasons, but I’m sure having access to all that at my fingertips didn’t help. It’s time for yet another “retreat into the snail house” period, not least because we’re having more sunshine (spring hath definitely sprung) and that means all sorts of mad people are out on the sidewalks.

It’s not that I think the sidewalk are mine alone, of course. I’d just like it if others shared with a bare minimum of courtesy, that’s all.

In any case, I attempted to take half Sunday off. It worked moderately well; I’m only itching to get back to work the usual amount instead of beside myself with furious scratching. So, progress! This book isn’t going to revise itself, more’s the pity.

Of course even if it would I might not let it.

So it’s getting the dogs walked between bands of rain, getting my own weary corpse shambled at what passes for high speed just afterward, onward, excelsior and all that. The good thing about the werewolf story I spent last week moonlighting with is that it’s so different than anything else I’m writing it was almost like a vacation, and it provided a crucial bit of distance. Now I’m fairly sure I won’t need to rip out a lot of under-structures in The Black God’s Heart; I think I can fix another intrinsic problem with a single scene. Which is a blessing, since I don’t want to add too much more to Book 1.

Have to leave some dishes for the second course, and all that.

All things considered, I’m glad to be back to work. It wasn’t comfortable to skirt the edge of burnout the way I have for a few weeks. Trying to process last year and still keep moving with current projects is deeply un-fun, and leaves little time for anything else.

I know NaNo is in November but I’m probably going to do one in April just to get this book off my plate. My fingers are already throbbing with the thought. It will be nice to be out of revision and into creation again; I’m definitely more comfortable in the latter state than the former. A period of high focus is just what the doctor ordered, and of course, before I forget, there’s a book dropping later this month.

It’s neat to have preorder graphics! I like it a lot.

I’d best finish my coffee and get to it, then, hadn’t I. The book won’t revise itself, and Monday won’t machete itself either. The work of the weary or the wicked is never done.

See you around.

Magnolia, I Say


One of the local magnolias has finally burst its fuzzy bounds, but the flowers aren’t quite ready yet. We have a lot of these trees in the neighborhood. They’re second in popularity only to roses; it seems like everyone gets a few of each to put in their yard. They’re pretty for a few brief moments in spring, then there’s some cleanup and they’re nice trees with waxy green all summer, providing welcome shade.

The sheer amount of magnolias surprises a lot of transplants to the area. Everyone thinks they’re deep-South trees, and I suppose they’re probably happier there. But we have whole streets of them, and Portland just over the river is called the Rose City.

Of more interest to me each year are the plum trees. We had a giant one in the backyard of the old place, and every year when it bloomed I knew things were going to be okay. I’m forced to other plum-tree measures in this house. The cherries are all in bloom now, but the plums haven’t quite gotten there yet.

I can wait a little longer. This week’s been very stressful, and I haven’t gotten the work I need to done. Maybe once the electrician leaves today1 I can take a deep breath.

At least, that’s the hope. But in the meantime, I have the cherries and the magnolias to remind me that things may, indeed, work out. In fact, they’ve worked out so far.

I just hope the trend continues.

Third-Quarter Temper

Keeping a deathgrip on my temper is harder than usual lately. I think it’s a result of the “third quarter of the pandemic” thing. Not only am I retracting inside my shell even harder than lockdown requires, but I’m also more likely to just scorch the earth around a question than deal with any attempted bad faith.

Translation: Bringing petty bullshit to my yard right now is a very, very, VERY bad idea.

I could list the grievances currently boiling away, but that’s counterproductive. I’m trying to focus on good things instead–the strengthening availability of vaccines (though there are still rich bastards jumping the queue, as always) and the fact that we’ll get rain today, the words that are coming (though not in a project I’m being paid for, indeed, not in a project anyone will pay for) and the dogs being their usual dopey, happy selves. I’m trying to focus on “this feeling is temporary, and it will go away in a little while.”

I was also reading a graphic novel treatment of Parable of the Sower last night, and all the pain Lauren sees in that book feels like it’s lodged in my own bones as well. Usually when I’m in this state I read true crime or horror, since both give me a (probably false) sense that justice is available somehow–justice, or at least a narrative. So much in real life is so utterly, well, senseless. But even true crime isn’t helping, I keep flinching at all the pain.

I suppose I’m also cautious about lockdown potentially ending. So many people want to be out in public again, but I’m exactly the opposite. I don’t trust what will happen; nothing in the past two years gives me any confidence that anyone will behave in a reasonable manner once lockdown is eased. For one thing, it will probably be eased (because someone is eager for some kind of profit despite the danger) before vaccination is widespread, which means we’ll have another rash of purely avoidable deaths. For another, the reports I’m hearing of school districts across the country already pressuring parents to pack vulnerable children in poorly ventilated petri dishes are highly concerning.

Maybe it’s just a writer’s habit of running through alternatives. I can see so clearly how things will go wrong. Possible permutations are my stock-in-trade.

So if you’re feeling edgy, like your wires are bare of insulation and sparking, it might be the third-quarter thing. You’re absolutely not alone. I’m trying not to be a huge pessimist; I know things are getting better. We just started out so deep in a hole, it’s difficult for them to get better quickly, or evenly.

*sigh*

In any case, it’s going to rain today, so at least there’s that. And no matter how bad I’m feeling the dogs need walking and there’s a run to get in. Running will help. While I’m pounding the pavement I’m not thinking of what could go wrong on a global scale, only about the next intersection.

It will be a relief, although of too-short duration. Still, any relief is better than none, especially lately. I hope you have something that gives you a little relief today, beloveds.

Over and out.

COVER REVEAL: Damage

That’s right–my subscribers got this cover reveal before the weekend, but now it’s out in the world! Meet the first Ghost Squad novel, beloveds!


Damage

Keeping her safe will be his hardest assignment yet. . .

Reeling from trauma and divorce, Cara Halperin takes what should be a simple job with an expensive agency. As a nanny to rich children, she shouldn’t have much to worry about, and her job is just complex enough to keep her from brooding. Unfortunately, the agency’s sent her into a trap.

Vincent Desmarais wants to go back into the field, but instead, he’s put on leave. The diagnosis? PTSD. No problem–he can pick up security work on the side to keep himself sharp–that is, if the side work isn’t just as dangerous as the bloody places he’s longing to get back to.

When the lights go out, Cara and her young charge have only one option: to trust the new security guy. Vincent finds himself unwilling to abandon them to fate or let them out of his sight. If the trio wants to stay alive, they’ve got to trust each other. . .

. . .but that may just be what their enemies are counting on.

Now available for preorder from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.


Isn’t it lovely? I really like that the heroine looks exactly like she did in my head–which doesn’t happen a lot, as you well know. I’m also looking forward to writing a few more Squad books; the next one is already assembling itself inside my head. I like writing romance a great deal.

For those asking about other platforms, it will be available, they just take some time for preorder links to populate. (Looking at you, Apple.)

Long-time subscribers will also know that this particular book is my love song to a certain movie starring Matthias Schoenaerts; they also got to see bits and pieces while I was writing it.

I do write a lot of love songs, come to think of it. I’m gonna call that a good thing.

Anyway, we’ve got this book to look forward to at the end of March, my dears. I’m already nervous over an upcoming release day, but that’s usual. I figured, what with it being the Monday after Daylight Savings, not to mention the Ides of March, we could all use something pretty, and this certainly qualifies.

I’m going to go finish my coffee and hope a pleasant day befalls us all. And maybe hyperventilate into a paper bag because a cover reveal means a release day approaching like a slinking lion, and those always play havoc with my nerves…