Flood-Time, Back Into Joint

Working through the weekend means Monday arrives a little before one’s ready. Though I did take half Sunday off to do chores, bake bread, and get a coq au vin in the oven–which made the house smell glorious indeed. An evening on the couch listening to gamelan music and reading the back half of a Murakami novel (Kafka on the Shore, the subject of last week’s Reading with Lili and Great Chapters) was exactly what I needed, too. I hadn’t visited that particular book since 2014, and a lot of temporal water has gone under the bridge since. It’s been a recuperative experience and I’m looking forward to polishing it off entirely tonight.

But first I need to get through a full day’s work, what with the serial and Cold North revisions. The latter need the bulk of my time now, since I should turn them in before the new year.

In the “very good news indeed” column, the recuperative period for running injuries has passed and I can start building mileage again, which is a gat-damn blessing. I need those endorphins. It’s the dark half of the year and holiday strain is mounting; balancing all that out with some sweat and purging of the unpleasant stress chemicals will help me keep my footing. Plus it’s nice and grey and gloomy, so the sidewalks and road-margins are largely mine again.

Oh, there are other people out even in the worst weather. Some dog walkers, plenty of other runners, the occasional bicyclist or seven1. But the aggravations of summertime–ambling middle-aged men taking up all the space and attempting to stop me to chat about the weather, assholes with unleashed dogs making problems for everyone, Karens sashaying from one side of the space to the other while yelling into their phones–go elsewhere when the rains descend. Every year I breathe a gusty sigh of relief when the weather turns, and not just because it’s my most productive time but also because the road clears.

There’ll be a glut of new exercisers on the path just after New Year’s, slowly trickling down to those who have managed to make an actual habit somewhere near the end of March. But for now, as the year wends to its darkest point, I’m often alone while running.

And I like it.

In a few days we’ll haul out the tree and decorations. I have not been Whamageddon’d yet, but when I go for last-minute feast prep and to pick up some cheap crockery for smashing2 I run the risk. Either I’ll get to Boxing Day having won Whamageddon or Whampocalypse3, so it doesn’t matter. My writing partner and daughter are already well in the latter, and enjoying it muchly.

Speaking of Boxing Day, the Winter Portal Fantasy Sale is still ongoing. After that I’ll take a break from sales for a wee bit.

I’ve had a great deal of synchronicity lately; it seems like the universe and timeline are attempting to heal, plucking at seams and Franken-stitching stuff together. Another blessing, frankly. I don’t think I could handle much more of everything being out of joint, as it were.

The coffee is at its dregs, my office is cleaner than it was before the weekend, Boxnoggin has not yet trotted down the hall to roust me for breakfast but that will certainly happen before much longer. I suppose I must embark upon the week. It will happen whether or not my coracle is caulked, so I might as well commend my soul-craft to whatever gods look out for weary writers and push away from shore.

Here we are, my beloveds, and time floods onward. Let’s check the wind, set our sails, and get to it.

Fuss Minimum

The first coffee molecules have hit my epithelial cells, so I’m just waiting for the rest of me to get the sweet life-giving caffeine memo. Boxnoggin is a little perturbed that we’re up while it’s still dark outside, but he’ll adjust. Especially if there’s toast involved, which there will be as soon as my stomach settles and the morning mug is drained.

Yesterday was unsatisfying, but then again, what did I expect of a Monday? I did get some work done, but multiple rounds of updates for the desktop meant plenty of perfectly good working time was spent doing things that weren’t writing. Sure, some administrivia and cleaning got handled, but what I wanted was to be creating. Just settling in my office chair, stretching my fingers, and slipping into other worlds is my preferred way to spend a rainy day. The more I work now, the easier November will be.

At least it is raining, the air is nice and clean, and I got a bit of a run in. I think part of the problem is being unable to really hit the pavement; I miss the endorphins. In any case, I hit a horrid mood halfway through the afternoon, and even cinnamon rolls didn’t help. Fortunately, dinner put paid to most of my nasty temper, and I could spend a little time afterward fiddling with a new video opener. I meant to do a bit of narrating too, but the smoke rasp is still lingering in my throat.

Today I get to run again. Not for long, and not quickly, but it will have to be enough. And Boxnoggin will get a long ramble to wear himself out with. While I’m occupied with both I can build the next few scenes in both Hell’s Acre and Fall of Waterstone so when I settle at my desk both will flow with a minimum of fuss. If all goes well and I treat my throat with gallons of tea today, I might even get the narration done. Of course that last is a completely self-chosen task, but I’d still like to get it handled. I think you guys’ll like what I’m planning.

Boxnoggin is draped across his office bed, not-quite-snoring. Of course, we just rolled out of my bed a little while ago, and he grumble-groused all through the visit to his grand outdoor loo. I think he’s put out that his morning nap schedule has been altered somewhat, and also very annoyed at the damp. Each winter it’s the same thing; he believes that naturally I am in charge of the weather and for some incomprehensible reason have decided to personally inflict rain on his poor delicate paws. “THIS NEVER HAPPENED IN TEXAS,” he moans, despite the fact that we all know it does, indeed, rain in the Lone Star State. (Sometimes quite heavily, too.)

He’ll adjust, but it’ll take a week or two of constant bitching. I can’t throw stones, I react in much the same way to the advent of summer. Between the two of us, nobody’s happy. Enduring relationships have been built on far less, and though I am a cruel goddess whose methods and means are inscrutable to his poor canine brain, I’m also the benevolent matron who dabs bacon grease in his bowl, brushes him, and provides treats on a daily basis. So he puts up with the rain, figuring I must have my reasons, and I put up with his bratty self during walkies, figuring the joy of his presence more than makes up for it. (And, to be fair, plenty of people see him strapped to my waist and decide to give us a wide berth, which is all to the good.)

The world is quiet. The east is greying. The coffee is cooling, and today I have to get Miss Dove home, plan the Rook’s next assassination attempt, and get a Viking elementalist into the throne hall of a particularly stiff-necked elvish king. Oh, and narrate a half-hour or so of something marvelous. All told, it’s nice work if you can get it, and hopefully most of the day will go to plan. I’m sure there will be a few misbehaving moments, but at least it’s not a Monday anymore.

Small mercies, and all that.

Who’s the (Sprained) Boss?

I don’t even know.

I should’ve known something was up when I woke with the Who’s the Boss opening theme stuck in my head. I managed to lever myself out of bed, took one look at how Boxnoggin was prancing around the house, and decided he needed to be in his harness for outside time just in case. It’s a good thing, too, because my ankle gave out on the deck stairs and down I went like a tonne of bricks.

It may have been a stealthed pinecone. (Well, technically fir cone, but who’s counting?) I was a bit too busy to look for proof.

The music stopped right before it happened, and didn’t come back until I hobbled to my desk chair. I’d’ve preferred it to stay away, of course–oh, the tune is unobjectionable, and at least it wasn’t Charles in Charge, but still. (I’ll take Tony Danza holding me closer over that Baio jerk anytime.) I’m probably not going to get a run today, and the jury is out on whether or not I’ll even be able to walk Boxnoggin. Who is moderately displeased that he had his jacket on for pee-time, but I couldn’t take the risk of him getting it in his fool head to chase something.

I suppose things work out as they’re meant to, but ouch. This is upsetting, and I was already feeling sideways because I haven’t been able to run as much as I need to this past week. And now it’ll be even longer before I can lace up and hit the pavement. Gods damn it.

At least I have coffee, and I don’t need my ankle in order to fire up the webcam and tell you guys all about Dracula. But Christ on a cracker with a side of pimento, I didn’t need a sprained–or strained–ankle. I never need one, but I particularly don’t now.

I should get some breakfast and a moderately large amount of ibuprofen down the hatch. Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. Yes, it’s Friday, but that is apparently no insurance…

The Morning, With Gentlemen Jays

One of the Gentlemen Bluejays is screaming from the back fence. I’m not sure if it’s Ed or Stede, because they both produce an amazing amount of noise. There’s also a strange ratcheting cry from some bird I haven’t identified–the Merlin app wanted all sorts of personal information, and I’d rather wait for a glimpse on my own. Dawn is well underway, the smaller birds are weighing in, and I’m sure some of what I’m hearing is an early squirrel out to make a name for themselves.

By screaming. I mean, I don’t blame them.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be decent enough weather today, I’m prepping for the next Reading with Lili (I think we’re going to go straight into Dracula, since you guys like Varney well enough but are eager to move on) and this evening another story from The Pearl goes live on Reading Before Bed. I can’t believe I’m actually narrating Victorian erotica for funsies, but here we are.

Most of today will be taken up with revisions on Cold North. I want to get to the underground elven city at least, especially since I have to rework the battle there. I don’t know if I want the protagonist to see said battle, so today during walkies and the morning run I’ll have to think about the underlying structure a bit. I know exactly what I want to do, but not precisely how I want to do it. Physical movement will jar all of that free; it always does.

It will be nice to run again. I’m antsy and cranky, since the weekend was full of work and yesterday was taken up with sealing the deck and some Hell’s Acre. I don’t mind either, and the deck sorely needed attention. Of course if I hadn’t pushed to get it done we’d be having buckets of rain right now, but since I did push, I’m sure the autumn deluges will hold off for some time. Because that’s just how things work.

Boxnoggin has trotted down the hall once already to nose at my ankle and get some skritches. He is fully aware that brekkie is next on the morning docket, then it’s time for a long-ish ramble. He’s taken over Bailey’s herding and supervisory responsibilities to a certain extent, and as I’ve been typing this the morning chorus has faded. The sun has cleared the horizon by now–in between sentences I’ve been taking care of administrivia and other early morning tasks, getting my fingers ready for another day full of typing.

Though I can still hear one of the Gentlemen Jays screaming from a neighbor’s yard, and the twittering of smaller birds in the cedar. “Quiet” is only a relative term in the Kingdom of Backyard.

Happy Tuesday, my beloveds. We’ve got a long way to go, and short time to get there–a little Jerry Reed for you, since I’m trying to get a couple other earworms out of my skull–so I suppose I’d best slither off my office chair and get started.

Constants and Striving

Today’s the last day my folk-horror novel Harmony is $3.99 across ebook platforms! Next month there will be another sale (at least, so I hope) of a self-published Lili book; but for today, you can get Val’s story for a song. (And if you’ve read the book, that particular turn of phrase might give you a small shiver.)

It’s a lovely grey, cloudy morning, and I’ve a vast amount of work to attempt today. At least an hour on Hell’s Acre–I need to reread a bit to pick up the thread(s), since the book is telling me it might want to be one long season instead of the two planned–and then some more revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I am in full-fledged writerly revolt on one or two points, and bracing myself to do a bit of battle.

But that’s usual in this part of the process, on both counts. Misbehaving zero drafts and well-meaning editorial interference are constants, yea until the end of time they shall be with us, amen.

Some last-minute proofreader queries for The Bloody Throne arrived today, too. I thought I was done with this book, but it just doesn’t want to let go.

Lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a two-year-old won’t get the work done, though it’s immensely satisfying to contemplate. Dogs need walking, coffee needs swilling, my corpse needs a good run–after taking last week off my speed has increased a bit, but the rest of me is distinctly unhappy even with short jogs.

The body will adapt, and even be grateful for the rest and the renewed exercise. The endorphins yesterday almost took the top of my head off, and it was a welcome relief from the sense of spiders crawling under my skin.

I got a moderate amount of work done yesterday, and am not supposed to push since I’m still technically in recovery. It will be difficult not to scream “DO ALL THE THINGS!” and then wake up tomorrow with a did-all-the-things hangover. The crushing realization that Doing All the Things just means there are New Things To Do Tomorrow has not managed to fully sink into the consciousness of my inner child; I still, on some level, think there’s an end to striving.

I mean, technically there is–I will rest in my grave-urn, unless something extraordinary interferes–but I’m not resigned to it yet…

yet, of course, being the operative word. Maybe just a few minutes of lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a toddler are in order, just to get it out of the way. I’m sure the dogs will love that.

Well, the coffee’s gone and I have the new baseball bat to hand. Perhaps I should formally embark upon Tuesday.

See you around.

Running Body, Rewards Chosen

This morning’s mood is best summed up by, “give me the coffee and nobody gets hurt.”

Not that I’d actually hurt anyone (without severe provocation) but the threat has a few salutary effects. One takes what one can get.

The weather watchers say we’re going to have another heat wave–not as bad as the recent dome, but it won’t cool off at night like it usually does, which is a recipe for disaster in this part of the country. Very few people have air conditioning and we’re used to opening up windows overnight to keep the houses livable. The cumulative effect of hot days and nights bearing no relief stresses the very young, the very old, and the chronically ill.

I’m upping my running mileage too, so this will mean getting out the door early, for whatever variety of cool can be found. I’d forgotten how an alteration of the running schedule makes the entire body feel different–my legs feel a lot longer, for example. And different parts of my arms ache because running is a whole-body effort and if your trotters are tired concentrating on your arms can provide the last bit of help needed to keep you going.

I suppose I’ve been running for a bit now, and it’s completely reshaped my body. I’m pretty sure even my bones bear the marks, with muscle attachments pulling at them in specific ways while I jog along. A lot of people don’t realize just how dynamic one’s bones are; they respond like muscles do, changing shape and reinforcing areas of high stress.

Pretty sure mine are mad at me right now, but it can’t be helped.

I feel at once taller and more compact when my mileage goes up, especially when intervals are added to the mix. Running also requires a very particular brand of kinesthetic attention, like dance, combat, or climbing–knowing where one is in time and space, thinking a few moves ahead while staying loose and ready for surprises.

Maybe that’s why I like all those things; they make my brain stop eating itself for short periods because the whole mass of walnut-folded grey matter is busy making sure I don’t accidentally dart in front of a bus or tumble off the damn wall.

If I fall in front of a bus, I want it to be deliberate, you see.

Someone’s started messing with a leaf blower, which means the neighborhood is officially awake and the day has begun. The dogs got a handful apiece of yesterday’s party Cheetos in their respective bowls; the Prince had his vaccinated friends over to play video games, eat pizza, and watch Miyazaki movies. It was a roaring success, though a little strange to have people I didn’t give birth to in the house again.

And with that, it’s time to walk said shaggy beasts, then get out for that increased mileage. There’s Hell’s Acre to write today–the heroine is about to pay a call which will alter her entire life, though she doesn’t know it yet–and maybe a little werewolf erotica, since I’m done with that difficult revision.

My reward structure is all messed up. “You did good! Here, have some anxiety-thumping caffeine, go out and run until you think you might throw up, and write some monsterfucking–you’ve earned it!”

What’s even funnier is that I choose those rewards. I don’t know whether it’s being a writer or just being wired strangely. Ah well, I’ve been a weirdo for 40+ years, there’s no point in stopping now.

At least by the time I find out where the leaf blower noise is coming from the coffee will have sunk in, providing its tranquilizing effect. Small mercies, the only kind we ever get around here.

Happy Thursday, my beloveds.

Mileage and Cheese

A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.