Cardio, Conundrum


I got all my cardio before coffee this morning so I’m shaky and sweating, crouching on the new (well, not new anymore) office chair and sucking at coffee hoping for a sedative effect. There’s also a mini heatwave (90F+, apparently) today and tomorrow, so that’ll be pleasant, I’m sure. At least all the nonsense is now out of the way early–unless there’s more waiting as soon as I decide what the hell.

…I just sat and stared for at least half a minute, unable to figure out what I had hazily planned to write. There’s a round-robin of songs playing inside my head, as if my mental radio can’t quite decide which station to settle on. It doesn’t usually do that unless I am super disturbed, so I suppose I just wait for the silt to settle. After a bit of brekkie things should calm down a bit, and then I’ll make decisions about running today. I know exactly what the day’s work entails otherwise; I’m back to juggling three projects at once and couldn’t be happier, though it does mean I am not allowed to do more than glance at the news.

I’m struggling with not looking, though. Part of it is the hypnotized stare of an animal watching something terrible creep closer and closer; I also suspect it’s partly like watching an avalanche one has foretold move with majestic, deceptive slowness down a mountainside. None of this is surprising, it was always depressingly obvious, nobody listened, why should I bother with further witness? Cassandra has done lost her voice.

At the same time, I have always felt that it’s a writer’s duty to bear witness, not to shy away. Still, I can’t do my own work effectively while watching the (predicted and predictable) collapse. It’s a quandary. I still have to hit my deadlines and care for my household, not to mention my small tribe, as best I can. So the system lurches on.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the Tamam Shud case. It reminds me of Goddard’s In Pale Battalions for some reason. I’m sure the explanation is prosaic, but the mystery endures. We love a good conundrum, us humans. I think we like the questions more than the answers, because of the possibilities–at least, many of us do. There are some who dislike ambiguity, who want everything cut-and-dried.

I am not the writer for them.

My pulse has returned to its usual pace, though I’m still a bit shaky from adrenaline. A run probably is necessary to purge all that, then I can rinse off and settle to the day’s work. In Hell’s Acre I need Avery Black and his boyos to prepare for a certain event, the second Sons of Ymre needs the transition to the second act, and the Tolkien Viking Werewolves, while given a good start, needs some serious word count and worldbuilding. It’s good to have clearly defined goals for the day–but breakfast first, and maybe just a wee bit more caffeine.

Purely because it seems a good idea, mind. Not because I’m putting off having to run with the promise of heat dragging at my limbs. Certainly not that…

Particularly, Blissfully

Some mornings, that first sip of coffee is particularly glorious. I mean, it’s always good, but sometimes it’s more than good. I can almost feel the caffeine molecules jumping across fleshly barriers to kick-start my brain. It could be merely psychological, but caffeine does go straight across the stomach barrier, so…

Monday again, and I may have recovered from the roof replacement. Certainly I’ve been sleeping better, which could be a function of cooler weather. Not to complain–we had perfect conditions for roofing, and the cloudy coolness afterward has been likewise perfect for the amount of gardening I had saved up (since the sprinklers are now working again too, hallelujah).

What I’m not doing this morning is looking at the discourse. Nope, sorry, nerves can’t take it, I can remain blissfully unaware of both news and analysis for a few more days. I’m just too emotionally exhausted. Sure, I’ve been reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall all my life, I saw this coming, I even wrote a whole goddamn book about it. I don’t have to keep looking, I know perfectly well what’s going on.

I worked furiously ahead before Bailey’s passing, too, knowing the grief would knock me caddywumpus, and it’s time to get back to it. Even thought Sons of Ymre 2 has around 40k words, it’s only a little over halfway done and I’m not going to be able to turn it in on time. I hate that. I don’t mind if publishers/editors fall behind–there are a lot of moving parts for them to corral, and honestly a worldwide pandemic plus fascist coup are good reasons for disruption–but I despise being behind myself. So it’s time to either catch up or just do my best.

All of which means reserving what sanity and energy I have by not looking at the news. I can feel my will to live being sucked away each time I even glance at the mess.

So. Today I rework (again) this goddamn scene in Hell’s Acre, I clear a pile of stuff so I can get Sons of Ymre 2 into the mix, and I open up the Tolkien Viking Werewolves again. Book 2 of that little series needs some attention now too. Closer to the end of the month I have line edits on Ghost Squad 2 to eyeball; I think the book will hold up pretty well to that last real read before copyedits. At least I don’t have to worry about That Damn Werelion Book until after the first of the month; the paperback should be live in early August and the ebook is in September.

And Guilder to frame for it. I’m positively swamped.

Of course, now that I have a plan for attacking the mountain of work looming before me, the Muse wants nothing more than to fool around with the follow-up to Strange Angels. Which will probably never see light of day, but I did tinker with it this past weekend in dribs and drabs, more to keep my hand in than anything else. But it’s Monday now, such things must fall by the wayside, and there’s also the dog to walk. Which I should get to, as soon as this coffee has been finished.

It’s gonna be a busy week, my beloveds. I hope your weekend was restful and that we’re all in fighting trim. I’ve got the machete on one side, the Louisville Slugger on the other, and I’m ready to rumble.

See you around.

Gingham Deck

Unexpected order.

I was too tired to bring everything back up the stairs yesterday after the roofers left, but it meant I was greeted with this beautiful pattern when taking Boxnoggin out for his morning potty break. Sudden order and regularity make me happy in a deep, very specific way; the precise angle of sun needed to make this is temporary, and had I come out a little earlier or later, I’d’ve missed it.

Sure, I need to clean and refinish the deck…but for the moment, I can take a deep breath and enjoy what’s already been accomplished. The roof is finished, the sprinklers are working again, my nerves are shot, but we’re crawling back up out of the abyss. Or so I hope–ever since 2016, getting to the lip of the hole has meant being kicked in the teeth and falling back in.

I keep climbing. Keep struggling, hand over hand. Clinging to the side to catch a breath, looking up to figure out the next hold. Dum spiro, spero, and all that.

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope it’ll be a good one…

Shingle Games

Remember the giant freak snowstorm we had in April? Finally, finally we’re getting some repairs. Well, a new roof, at least. The fences and deck will never be the same–no insurance company is a good neighbor, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

It’s been plain awful. First there was the bloody insurance company–the adjustor was a gentleman, but he was hamstrung by “company policies”–and then there was the mortgage company insisting on inserting themselves in the process where literally nobody wanted them. Then there was getting several different estimates, and then scheduling the actual work. I figured we’d be lucky to get the roof done before autumn rains moved in.

And we’re lucky, yes. Yesterday morning was the stress of being awake at 3am plus the agony of getting everything set up, and the afternoon was full of thumping, banging, one of the roofers singing along with the radio (he has a fine voice), Boxnoggin beside himself at all the ruckus, a midday video appointment, and finally my nerves were so shot I decided cake for dinner was acceptable. I haven’t cooked for a couple days, between the heat wave and this; I should really do something with the tomatoes on the counter.

It will be nice when it’s finished, and what a first-world problem to have, really–I’m very aware of that. But it’s still stressful; I zonked out hard last night, facedown in a book on the Thirty Years’ War. I hadn’t realized all three fellows survived the Defenestration of Prague. It was a fifty-foot drop, after all, and one of them injured himself on his own sword after the landing. That was as far as I got before sleep claimed me, and I barely woke up at 2am with the bedside lamp still on and a drool spot on the corner of the hardback.

I wasn’t able to work a lick yesterday, and I suspect today will be the same except for making sure the subscription drop has no issues. Which is fine, it’s why I worked all the way through the weekend…but still, Hell’s Acre needs some uninterrupted time. The plague has been super hard on that story; it requires some love. At least with the roof done a major worry will be cleared and I can use all the energy freed up to catch up, so to speak.

This morning Boxnoggin has been showing his displeasure by treating me as if the chez is some sort of democracy instead of a benevolent dictatorship where he’s concerned. If he made better choices, he would be right. But he doesn’t, so he was gently scolded and driven up the stairs with a click of the tongue and some firm but emphatic pointing. He is refusing his breakfast in protest–at least until I drop a toast crust in–and will be upset when the roofers arrive to finish the job, but such is life.

The funny thing is, by the time they’re done he will be dead certain the footsteps and crashing overhead have always been happening, and the quiet will give him the wiggins. He needs a good long ramble this morning before the workers arrive, so I’d best get the coffee swilled and my toast dealt with beforehand.

At least we’ve had wonderful weather for it–not too hot, which I was worried about with the 95+ days earlier in the week, but not rainy either. So all in all it’s worked out really well, and we’ve kept the roofers supplied with snacks and lemonade. I suppose I should view it as all working out for the best, given how it could have gone. Looking on the bright side is a defense mechanism at this point, I might as well continue. I’m grateful no squirrels have ended up in the mix. I mean, can you imagine?

Happy Thursday, my beloveds. I wish us all luck getting through; I’m gonna keep repeating “could be worse, could be worse,” under my breath…

Heat, Hose, Happy

It hit the upper 90s yesterday (Fahrenheit, thank goodness for small mercies) and I am still a headache-y puddle despite air conditioning. I just don’t do well with the heat, though the garden is extremely happy. It would be better if I could have gotten the sprinklers turned on, but what with one thing and another that hasn’t happened and I don’t really truck with plumbing or electricity. Best to let the professionals do it, because so much could go wrong.

In any case, I got to the forty-chapter mark in the proofreaders’ changes yesterday; That Damn Werelion Book is ticking along. Another day should see me through, then I can look at global changes, one last circuit through the thing to check for formatting errors…then it’ll be time for the wrap template to go to the cover artist. That’s one of the very last steps before final release scheduling.

I might also do a sale for Moon’s Knight next month; I haven’t decided yet. So many things to think about, and even working through the weekend I haven’t been able to catch up with other stuff. I’m not quite chicken-with-head-cut-off yet…but it’s close.

Birds are yelling outside my office window–wide open to catch what coolth is possible this morning–and the cicada in the Venerable Fir is already droning. Boxnoggin needs to be walked and I should suffer through another run today, too, which means I need to get started very soon indeed. But the coffee isn’t even halfway finished.

It is rather satisfying to go through the proof. There are less errors than I thought, which is always welcome. Any page not bearing marks or highlighting is a gift. I want the paperback out well before the ebook, for obvious reasons, and come September I’ll be glad I set it all up beforehand. Future Me will be thanking Present Me, but Present Me is in a bit of a nasty mood, muttering balefully into a coffee mug.

The high point of yesterday was taking Boxnoggin’s collar off and making him sit in the backyard, then picking up the hose, setting the nozzle to “jet”, and watching him lose his tiny little mind while he chased a spray of water. He loves it. I will never be as happy with anything as that dog is with a water-jet, my gods. A few years ago he could easily go for twenty minutes, but now that he’s safely out of puppyhood (well, at least physically) it only takes about eight to ten before he’s exhausted, happy, soaked, and ready to nap the rest of the day. It’s a nice, easy way to wear him out during hot weather. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and all that.

Some canines mature as they get older; Bailey was born old, I suspect. Others remain puppies, at least mentally, all their life. Max was, and Boxnoggin is, the latter. Lord van der Sploot will always be a puppy, mildly baffled when his body doesn’t cooperate. Just this morning he forgot he’s adult-sized and almost rolled off the bed–I wasn’t even giving chest skritches, for heaven’s sake, though he gave me a reproachful look as if I should have telekinetically moved him back from the edge.

Little weirdo.

The sooner I get started on the rest of the day, the sooner I can settle in the cool dark cave of my office and return to folding in proofreader changes. I don’t often talk about this part of the process because I suspect it’s intensely boring for readers to know about, even though it’s crucial. But so many people seem to think books just…appear, without grasping the months (if not years) of hard work that go into them. Or these people pretend not to grasp the truth so they can steal ebooks (that’s what piracy/torrenting is) without consequence.

Thinking about that will only make me upset, and I spent most of yesterday in a hole of “why bother, you should quit this gig anyway, so many asshats are going to steal, it’s a losing game.” I have no desire to return to that mental space.

Off I go to finish coffee, choke down some toast, and take Boxnoggin on a ramble. It’s not chasing the hose, but he loves walkies almost as much, and his joy will dispel some of my sadness. We don’t deserve dogs; it is a miracle they love us so.

Gods grant I become even close to the human he thinks I am. And that’s a good prayer for a Tuesday, indeed.

Werelion Proof

The weekend was spent looking over the proof of That Damn Werelion Book, and now all the changes from that pass (and the proofer’s pass) can be folded in–which should take me a couple days, but at least it’ll mean the paperback will come out relatively soon. After the final changes are done, it will be time to cut a final ebook and a PDF interior proof, then get the wrap cover for the latter. Then I can load everything, set the final pub dates (maybe a little earlier than the October 31 that’s currently scheduled) and…

…go back to other work, probably while there are roofers banging away overhead. Naturally Boxnoggin will be beside himself during the replacing of the Chez’s roof, which will be super fun for all involved. But once that’s done I’ll stop worrying so much about it, especially when autumn rains move in.

That will be a distinct relief, and I can turn my attention to the bloody washing machine afterward. It’s always something.

Maybe I’ll even take a day off afterward. I did take half a day on Saturday, but the itch to get this damn book sorted was well-nigh unendurable and slotting it around other books wasn’t working too well. I sense a spate of furious activity looming, probably as a means of ignoring other things, and I’m only grateful that the social media sabbatical seems to have re-wrapped my nerves to the point that I can work again. I’m still not going to look at the news; I can’t bear it and I have to write or we don’t eat.

That sound you heard in the distance was my heavy, gusty sigh.

At least the werelion book is relatively fun, even if it didn’t do what I wanted. Letting a work take the shape it wants to instead of the shape I think it should have is a constant theme. I do not bemoan it; I’m far more comfortable with letting others do what they need to as long as it’s not hurting anyone. There’s no reason why that shouldn’t extend to books as well.

I should probably mention that last week’s Tea with Lili was about writing dialogue, and ended up with a piece of life advice about testing for toxic people. The life advice at the end of a tea seems to be the direction we’re going, though I don’t think I really have much to give beyond stuff that essentially boils down to “don’t be a dick.” On the other hand, human beings invent so many ways to be dickish I might as well find a multiplicity of ways to encourage people not to be–certainly a thankless and never-ending task, but part of aiming to be a decent person, I suppose.

And with that (and the July sale) I shall be about my business. Boxnoggin needs a walk, my tired corpse needs to be hauled through a run, and thankfully folding in proofreaders’ changes takes far less time than proofing the goddamn book itself. The day’s work is all cut out, as the saying goes. Oh–there was an episode of squirrelterror over the weekend, too. Yes, it ended with me shoeless and screaming; no, not a single arboreal rodent was harmed. Though I do have rug burn, and bruises from tiled floor.

Off I go, then, with a beady-eyed glare in Monday’s direction. It will have to do as a warning shot, since I need both my hands for typing and can’t reach for the machete at the moment.

See you around.

Daisy, Answer, Do

Give me your answer, do…

Fighting off whatever bug the Princess brought home from work (tests say it isn’t the plague, but how can one be sure, I ask you) means no running. But I can take long rambles, with Boxnoggin and without, and I know where to find the daisies.

At least there’s that.

The social media sabbatical did me nothing but good. I think I’ll have enough spoons to stream today, which is good because someone asked me about dialogue yesterday and I apparently have Things to Say. Oh, and don’t forget the July sale(s); right now Finder is on sale until the 15th, courtesy of the publisher, and I have something scheduled for after that.

I wish you a soft, pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Try to take care of yourself, if you can. Hopefully you can find a few daisies of your own, but if not…here, have mine.