Swimming, Smile

The morning has started with Boxnoggin jostling Miss B into punching Yours Truly in the mouth with her paw. Of course when I let out a short blurt of surprise and recoiled, both dogs realized their human was hurt in some fashion and scrambled to attempt aid. Which meant stepping upon my recumbent self, nose-punching me in the eye, scraping my shoulder with doggie nails, and then getting into a shoving match with each other. I had a swollen lip before I even rolled out of bed, and my eye is still watering.

This doesn’t bode well for Thursday, but maybe the day’s just getting everything out of its system early?

At least I have coffee. Some days the java just tastes better, and this is one of them.

I only got 450 or so words on HOOD‘s Season Three before dark yesterday. Once the sun went down, though, things got better and I ended up with a solid 2k+. Of course I’ll have to look today to see if any of them are good words that can be retained.

No silver lining without a cloud, naturally.

Once I get the zero of Season Three out, it’ll be time to cross that off my big to-do list and figure out the next six months’ worth of writing. Normally I juggle one serial, two trad publisher books, and one project Just For Me at a time, with small breaks for revisions, copyedits, and the like. With the loss of productivity due to pandemic, fascist coup, and related stress, I’m not sure if that’s do-able.

But if I don’t write, we don’t eat. It’s that simple. Not to mention I can’t go a day without writing at least something, or I start to feel diamond-tipped insect-feet itches under my skin.1 It’s just easier to continue pushing myself than to allow any sort of break.

It’s very… sharklike. Keep swimming so I don’t suffocate, and wear a smile.

So. Thursday is antsy, but so am I. My coffee has cooled rapidly while typing this, and the dogs are very eager for walkies. I find myself eager to get out for a run; getting rid of cortisol and other stress chemicals through sweat has been a real sanity-saver. Of course, it doesn’t balance out the stress-eating, but then again nothing’s perfect.

Except for dogs, that is. Even when they punch me in the face first thing in the morning.

All right, Thursday. We’re not going to hurt each other (any more), are we? Because I’m in a mood to lay some napalm if you get dodgy.

Over and out.

Repair or Gasp

I should be occupied with the copyedits and with finishing HOOD‘s Season Three. I have errands to mask up for–things that can’t be put off, no matter how much I want to. We’ve been in strict lockdown since last year (my gods, what a sentence to type) but groceries still have to be obtained, and delivery is too expensive.

At least there’s rain; the downpours and flood watch means not a lot of other people will be out unless they have to be. The dogs won’t like their walk being so damp, but it’ll mean Boxnoggin won’t feel he has to defend my honor against another dog or a passing van, at least. He’ll be too busy complaining about the wet.

For all his square head (he’s often mistaken for a nanny dog) and big mouth, he is a surprisingly dainty and nervous fellow. Miss B, of course, is an all-weather pooch; still, she is becoming an elderly statesdog and I don’t like making her endure rough weather.

I closed yesterday asking for tiny victories and little hopes, and goodness, did you lot answer! A lot of Readers are into pottery, which I love but haven’t had a chance to indulge in since high school. I took one pottery class and was absolutely enthralled by the wheel. I remember reading in a history book that pottery’s big revolution was the building of a container around nothing, which also represented a leap forward in human understanding, and the idea has lingered in the back of my head ever since.

Everything about pottery fascinates me. Jude’s breakdown while slamming clay in The Marked gives me goosebumps to reread; writing it was one of those times I felt I was channeling something else instead of Being In Charge, so to speak.

If I had the energy, I’d go on a digression about the different altered states one falls into while writing, or indeed during any creative endeavor. I’m not sure what portion of creativity is fueled by the fact that humans just love getting high in whatever fashion–the states of flow or channeling or grace or what-have-you while Making New Things have a lot of similarity with chemical enhancement of various sorts.

I’ve also been told that I’d enjoy The Repair Shop, which I should add to my queue. I do have to watch the second season of The Mandalorian first though, since my beloved Left Hoof really wants to nerd out over it with me.

It’s strange to be looking forward to things, however dimly. I spent a lot of 2020 just trying to keep my head above water. I’m swinging wildly between faint hope and deep despair, for obvious state-of-the-world reasons, and each time I’m in hope there’s just so many good things lying about to be discovered.

The despair, though… it’s a real doozy.

Enough. I’ve to finish this coffee and get started. The lights are flickering; the wind and rain might put paid to any errands. Which would be upsetting, since I’m setting aside a run today to get them bloody well done, but it would also be all of a piece with 2020’s lingering effects. I’m unsure whether the faint flickers of hope are the timeline healing itself or the last gasps before we plunge downward yet again.

I know it’s not a cheerful thought, but it’s where I am this morning. I’ll probably feel better once coffee (and dog-walking) is done.

I wish you safety today, dear Readers, and I hope if you have errands they can be achieved quickly and with a maximum of social distance. I can’t right the entire timeline, but I can try not to make my tiny part of it worse, and that’s my entire goal today.

Dream big, and all that.

See you around.

Knitting Weekend

The weekend was almost as exhausting as the week it closed out, wasn’t it. Whew.

But it also held good things, and this morning I want to focus on the good things. On Saturday I decided to do something I’ve never done before, and livestreamed a bit on Twitch. It wasn’t much–just me sitting, knitting, bitching, and answering questions from the chat. There were a lot of questions about writing, and a lot of me staring blankly because I couldn’t think of anything to say. I am told I have a restful voice, though.

It was an interesting experience. I intend to have some regular Saturday sessions, only for as long as it’s fun. I’ve promised myself the power to can the whole experiment the moment it becomes un-fun. it was nerve-wracking and exhausting but also cool to get Reader questions in realtime, though I’m sure my frequent digressions are maddening.

Come Sunday, there was a full day of chores, and finally I could settle with more knitting and Secrets of Great British Castles, which was fun to binge and deeply interesting. (There was a lot of knitting this weekend.) Of course I did a lot of doomscrolling, too.

I can barely look away.

Still, it’s Monday, which means work. There are copyedits to get done, and the last thing on the master to-do list hanging over my desktop–finishing the zero of HOOD‘s Season Three–to strike off. I have been waffling about what serial to do next. It might be Division Seven, it might be the story spurred by my Sapphire & Steel binge… I am also thinking about whether or not I want to try The Highlands War as a serial, but the chance of someone being pissy and torrenting chapters, thereby killing the entire series all over again, is not really one I want to run.

Before I get started on that, though…

Last Thursday I blogged about cookies and the fascist rioters storming the US Capitol. I woke up this morning to find a commenter (who has apparently had comments approved here before, which is how this particular one got through the mod queue) taking issue with my loathing of fascists, and telling me I had LOST a READER because of it.

I shall repeat my response here, so there is absolutely no confusion, grey area, or lack of clarity: GOOD. If my loathing of racists and fascists means you won’t buy my books, GREAT. I do not want you or your money. Off is the direction in which you may fuck.

I am deeply and genuinely baffled that this commenter thought they’d get any other response. At least it gives me the chance to be absolutely clear about where I stand. And that, as they say, is that.

I’m doing my best to focus on the good things–the dogs thrilled to be embarking on another day of adventures and snuggles, the kids going about their own lives full of daily victories and setbacks to share, books to write, knitting to do, friends to cheer on and console, the cedars at the back fence to talk to, a run to accomplish, coffee to drink, the prospect of lunch, the fact that I’m still breathing. There are good things still, and things worth fighting for.

Gods grant I don’t forget it.

So, to end in a more pleasant place, what good/fun things are happening in your slice of the world? Tell me all about it, if you’ve a mind to–no matter how small. Tiny victories are still victories, indeed.

After all, we’re still here. And I think that’s grand.

Lemon and Rocket


I’ll, um, probably be taking a few days off social media (or simply not looking at replies) since a particular thread went quasi-viral. (Don’t worry, it was reply-locked; I have been a woman on the internet for long enough to practice some basic self-protection.) But it’s Friday, which means two things: a Friday Photo post, and there’s D&D tonight.1

Anyway, way back on New Year’s Eve2 I decided to make my first-ever lemon pig, a blurry photo of which I now offer for your amusement. Behind him (his name is Punkin, don’t ask) is the Rocket figurine the Princess brought back from Hawaii for me.

“Of all the Guardians,” she said, “I think you’re most like him.”

I mean, I’d prefer to be Gamora, but we all know I’m a filthy-mouthed raccoon with a love of firepower, penchant for mayhem, and a million self-defensive reflexes instead. No shame in admitting what one is.

It is, after all, the first step in trying to be better.

So. Punkin and Rocket bid you a happy New Year, and beg you to wash your hands, wear your mask, hydrate, take a deep breath, and look after yourself (and each other) as best you can.

Interesting times certainly are… interesting, aren’t they.

See you next week, beloveds.

Create, Innate… Cookie?

Not the cookies in question, but still good.

Yesterday was… an experience. I was already exhausted, unable to sleep Tuesday night; I finally got up, let the dogs out and fed them, and grabbed my phone on the way back to bed, thinking I could at least have a bit of a lie-in.

Boy, was I wrong.

I found out white supremacist terrorists were rioting in federal and state capitols, egged on by their Dear Orange Leader. It was unsurprising–I did, after all, write a whole book about this back in 2015–but still terrifying.

I’ve read history. I know what could happen, what’s likely to happen. I don’t mind telling you I’m not sanguine about any of this. Most of all, I’m pretty sure none of the racist fuckwads attempting a coup for their Tangerine Twitler will suffer any real consequences.

The Princess was home from work, too, and had glanced at the news early in the morning–then remained fixed to it, horrified. Every time some-damn-thing else happened, one of us would call down the hallway. The Prince, busy with distance-learning, spent the entire day holed up in his room with schoolwork, and consequently had only faint intimations of trouble until we all convened for dinner. I was glad both of my children were safe and home where I could see them. Probably irrational, but powerfully comforting nonetheless.

What I really want to talk about, though, is chocolate chip cookies.

The day ended, for me, with hugging my children–though both of them are much taller than I am now, they still find comfort in Mum’s closeness–and reassuring them. Reminding each other to breathe, reminding them that we have plans in case things go haywire, reminding ourselves that we’re in fact extremely privileged and lucky. I retreated to bed hoping against hope for some sleep.

Helped by exhaustion (and, let’s face it, a dose of Tylenol PM) I did manage to pass out. My dreams were feverish, ending with some guy in a flying lawn chair swooping through neighborhood backyards. (I don’t know, don’t ask me.) And when I resurrected in the clear light of dawn to take the dogs out once more, there were chocolate chip cookies on the dining-room table.

“Yeah,” the Princess muttered, when she shuffled out of her bedroom for breakfast. “World’s on fire. Figured I’d bake.”

“The cookies,” I said, through a thick fog of pre-caffeination, “didn’t exist before, now they do. We’ll eat them and they’ll be part of us forever. You made something out of other things. That’s just so cool, and it doesn’t have to be monetized although we’re trapped in late-stage capitalism.”

My daughter grinned, in the particular way that means she understands but can’t resist poking me. “Get some coffee, Mum.” She paused. “I love you.”

Kids, man.

Really, they weren’t just cookies. They were a cry in the face of destruction, a hope for something better, a way to say I love you not just to me but to her brother as well, a soothing reminder that we can build and make and do things that weren’t there before.

Creativity–making things–is powerful and healing at the same time. Making something that wasn’t there before is an old, old human magic, and so innate we overlook it. Magic is changing consciousness at will (thank you, Aleister, you were a jerk but you did have a way with words sometimes) but it’s also willing something into existence. The human capacity to create is natural as breathing; we take it for granted. And it’s also therapeutic when some assholes seem determined to be as hateful and murderous as possible.

Creating doesn’t have to be monetized, it doesn’t have to be a side gig. It’s a natural human function performed in a hundred little ways each day. It’s also a powerful way to say fuck you to those murderous, treasonous assnuts who like to poison themselves, not to mention the rest of us, with racism and violence.

I have a whole rant about how choosing that poison means throwing away their humanity, but now’s not the time.

If you’re utterly exhausted by all this, if you can’t look away, if you can’t seem to focus on much else, well, welcome to the club. Don’t beat yourself up over it! It is an utterly reasonable response to this fuckery. And this is not a call for you to drag yourself forth and have to deal with one more thing. You don’t have to make something right now. It’s okay if you don’t have the energy.

I’m just saying there are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, because the Princess made them. People are making things, people are sticking together, lots of people are staying home to protect others during a pandemic and lots of people are trying like hell to do something, anything, whatever they can to make the world a little better.

We outnumber the racist, destructive, poisonous assnuts. We always have. The news is dire and the situation is bad, and (not but, AND) the human capacity to care and to create is so innate, so reflexive, that we’re still making and doing and caring for each other despite that. It’s natural and sane to feel overwhelmed right now. It’s also natural and sane to make something if you’ve the urge and the energy. Both are okay.

That’s what I’m clinging to, this first Thursday of 2021. There are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, and once consumed they’ll be part of us forever. It doesn’t feel like a lot when I stare at the news, I’ll admit.

It’s still important, and still a comfort.

Over and out.

Of Many Minds

This morning I peered at the internet, said “what in the Sam Hill…” and immediately thought of Stonehenge. It’s pretty certain the saying was around before Hill built it, but I never let that get in the way of a good free-association.

Yes. Hello. Good morning, it’s Tuesday, my brain is twenty-four coked-up monkeys partying inside a skull full of breakable things and odd ends, and that’s even before coffee. Once caffeine gets in there, it’s going to be a real party.

Yesterday was spent on the first third of Black God’s Heart, which needed trimming and shaping in light of the finished arc of the book. It’ll get easier as I go along, since the more I wrote the more of it I could see, and I eventually arrived (in a series of oscillations) right where Book One needed to halt.

Or… maybe not. I’m of two (more) minds about the ending, which has never happened to me before. I think I’ve the right one, though it’s counterintuitive; I would prefer the book to end a different way but a story does as it does.

Which means the ending’s a question for a different day. Today is for revision now that I see the shape and have a whole corpse, even if the fringe at the toes may need a slightly different trim once I finish this pass. My urge to pack a lunch, get in the car, and drive up the Gorge to see the ol’ Henge again probably has something to do with avoiding work and wanting to sink into a good long drive where I can dream and build new stories.

It’s so uncharacteristic of me to want to leave the house at all, let alone for a car journey, that I’m a little weirded out. I’ll ascribe it to pandemic stress and the urge towards solitude; I haven’t had the house to myself in months. Not that it’s bad–I have doors to close should I need it, and can always go for a rambling walk in the park(s). I know I’m lucky. And yet if even I’m feeling the urge to flee, well, I can imagine how bad it is for others who don’t have my luck.

*sigh* So it’s back to revision today. Yesterday’s work was not all I’d hoped for, but it will get easier as I go on. I’m waiting for the point where The Gangster in the story finally clicked into place and I saw his motivations clearly, plus once I’ve salted in a few more mentions of the Big Bad (not the garden-variety bad) the entire fabric of the book will hang much more smoothly.

At least I know what has to be done. Which is far better than just wandering around in the dark with a machete and a cord, looking for a socket or a monster, whichever happens first.

The coffee is half done. The monkeys have noticed I’m imbibing it. The dogs are waiting for their walk. And yet I linger here, glancing at the cedars out the window every once in a while, waiting to hear their whispers.

Sooner or later, they say.

Sooner… or later, you’ll be free.

I just have to work a bit first, that’s all.

Back To Work, 2021

It’s a totally new year1 and already I’m irritated. I mean, I knew the companies who said “we’re gonna help you during the pandemic” really don’t want to help anyone but themselves, but it’s still galling to see just how true that maxim is. *sigh*

Also, I woke up this morning with Toto’s Roseanna stuck in my head, which is faintly disturbing since I haven’t listened to that song in literal years. I have CaballĂ© singing Norma to wash the interior of my skull clean, but I’m not sure it’ll work. I do have a run this morning, and my exercise playlist is full of catchy stuff, so that’ll probably help.

I just… Toto? Why? The wiring inside my brain is a mystery even unto me, and I’m carrying the whole damn apparatus around.

I took the time between the 25th and New Year’s mostly off; I did finish the zero of The Black God’s Heart‘s first book. This week is all about getting that draft free of bracketed notes and sent off the the editor with queries, some notes, and a suggestion about cover art. I normally don’t do that last; I’m dismal at visual stuff. But I’ve got something good, something I think will really do well for the book(s), and I’m excited to share it.

I did spend some time cogitating restlessly upon a problem in the crisis of HOOD‘s third season, which will be solved in the writing I’m sure but it wouldn’t be a Lili book if I didn’t endlessly agonise over things like that. And I wanted to take a crack at writing a Viking werewolf gothic, but the story isn’t claustrophobic enough for a gothic since all the Tolkien I’ve been reading has crept inside and made itself at home.

I mean, I’m not mad, but I would have liked to be at least consulted about this change of plans.

I know, I know–that’s not the Muse’s style.

Anyway, there’s HOOD‘s Season Three to finish, Black God’s to brush up, and then I send a few chapters of the Viking werewolves to my agent because I think it’s got some legs. It would be nice to get something else sold soon, even if only on proposal.

I used to wait until I had the entire book written, but lately I’ve been working more on proposal. Either way there’s fierce performance anxiety, but after however-many years in the biz, I’ve come to the realization that there will be the same amount of anxiety no matter how I arrange the damn thing, so… yeah. Might as well just live with it.

I’m not going to proffer any wishes for the New Year. For one thing, I’m just too exhausted and glad (Maybe? Is that the word?) to have survived 2020 to scrape up any celebration or good thoughts. I hate the holidays, and long to go back to that short time in my life when I could just hide until they were all over.

Anyway. Our Eve was very quiet, except for the people setting off (illegal) fireworks, but those got rained out in short order just after midnight. It’s not like I quite blame them–after surviving pandemic and ongoing fascist coup, I might’ve wanted to blow some shit up too–but it was unpleasant for both the dogs and my nerves, and I won’t deny a single cackle slipping from my lips when the downpour started and the crackles, booms, bangs, and fizzes were abruptly cut off.

No, I’m not going to offer any wishes. Instead I’m going to say congratulations, my friends. We survived. Lots of people didn’t and we still haven’t had a chance to mourn. We’re still here, and still going. As Stitch so memorably said, “Little, and broken. But still good. Yes, still good.”

…I have not only woken up with Toto in my head, but I’m quoting Disney movies. Time for a run, then to get to work.

It’s a whoooole new yeeeeeear, after all. *strangles the Aladdin theme inside head, runs away screaming*