Thinky-Thoughts

Pomegranate I took the whole weekend off from the internet, and I feel cleaned-out and more at peace. I needed to do some thinking about my career, and it’s hard to do if I’m flitting around on social media all the time. I cleaned, I read, I moved a bunch of books from the “Favourites” shelves back into General Fiction to make room for more of the reference texts–Norton Criticals, dictionaries, fairytales from different cultures, medical manuals, the Victoriana shelves. Since I’m not writing Bannon & Clare any longer, the last can probably be moved too, but I don’t have the time today.

…what? No, of course I wasn’t thinking of quitting writing. I was thinking about what to write next, what direction to go in, and if a part-time job would be a good idea. The idea of a paycheck that arrives when it’s supposed to is very attractive, but really, what am I fit for? Writing, maybe teaching writing, I dunno. Maybe I should sign on at Starbucks. I like coffee. Except the idea of dealing with that amount of people, either behind or before the counter, makes introvert me want to curl up in a hole somewhere.

That’s the problem with writing as a career: I’ve become used to setting my own schedule, being with my own thoughts, and once I have the luxury of spending great swathes of time in solitude, it’s hard to go back.

I’ve thought of offering online workshops before. It seems a good way to capitalize on my experience AND do so around my writing schedule. But then I look at the initial startup costs and all that, and the math just doesn’t work out. It especially doesn’t now that I’m taking the hit to write Steelflower 2. Which is another struggle–I’m past the new shiny and into the long slog of the book, and feeling the pinch. These are also the times I wish I had another adult in the house to share some of the parenting workload–and not so incidentally, bring me coffee occasionally–but the idea of piling the emotional work of a relationship on top of everything else makes me shudder.

Oh well. Time to do what I’ve always done when this feeling shows up: buckle myself down, work harder, and keep an eye on online job applications. You never know. I could end up being hirable.

Okay. *wipes away tears of laughter* Yeah, that was sort of a joke. Time to go write.

Bundle of Cheer

Duck is judging us all.
Duck is judging us all.
Odd is groaning, the Prince can’t find his shoes (six pairs, and he can’t locate the ones he wants) and Miss B has her nose firmly glued to my calf. The Princess made snickerdoodles last night, so a sugar jolt right after toast made both kids extremely active for a few minutes. I can’t seem to get enough caffeine in, Bandit keeps talking and talking, and all in all, I want to go back to bed.

Sadly, I am committed to being vertical and actually working, so it’s going to be some tea and Olympic-level self-restraint. At least I got the proof for The Demon’s Librarian re-release done, and have only to turn it in. We’re almost out of milk (Christ, I swear the kids bathe in the stuff) and the apples are gone…

Oh. Wait. It’s Monday.

That explains everything.

I’m getting a lot of mail asking me to “Please write more Bannon & Clare!” Guys, I’m not able to write more of them because they didn’t sell well enough. I’m dreadfully sorry, but there it is. I had four more books in that series planned, but it just wasn’t to be.

I do have some tentative good news on the Steelflower front. I can’t say anything just yet. It remains a severe financial hit for me to continue with Kaia’s adventures, and I have children to feed. Not to mention the dogs, who will hold off on eating me for a while, and the cats, who most definitely will not. *sigh* Maybe it will all work out, I don’t know. Right now I’m so damn tired of people demanding things I can’t do without harming myself, I’ve grown a bit sharpish.

All right. Today I go over revisions for Roadside Magic. Soon I’ve to get the third Gallow & Ragged not just boiling in my head but on the page. The problem with getting most things done early is that people begin expecting it, and exhausting myself by scrambling begins to become the norm.

I’m just a bundle of cheer and happiness today, aren’t I. I’m going to go cue up the Pet Shop Boys, fetch my brass knuckles, and have a talk with Monday. We’ll see if it makes the week behave…

THE RIPPER AFFAIR Released!

ripper It’s here! It’s here! The Ripper Affair is now officially released!

Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul…

A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.

Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, executing poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference…but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.

Once more Emma Bannon is pressed into service; once more Archibald Clare is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.

The game is afoot…

Available now through Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Indiebound, and maybe even (yep, still this thing going on) at [amazon text=Amazon&asin=0316183725]. As always, you can also purchase signed (and personalised!) copies through Cover to Cover Books–just fill out the Stock Inquiry form, and they’ll hook you up.

This is the last Bannon & Clare adventure for a while. I did have a few Emma & Archibald Go Traveling books planned, but other stuff intruded. Maybe later. As it is, this one opens with a bang (literally) and closes at just the right moment. I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

PACK and the Ripper Affair!

Saintcrow_Pack(ES) Here’s the cover for PACK. Isn’t it pretty? It’s an upcoming Orbit Short Fiction drop (similar to Unfallen) and it’ll be available on 9/23. But I was able to get permission to share the cover with you, my dear chickadees.

Pack is a weird little story. It’s related to my Fireside Fiction short Maternal Type, in a way–whenever I set out to write a short story, I have several weird almost-false starts. I call them “almost-false” because each one teaches me a little more about what the story actually needs to be, and sometimes they develop into finished works in their own right. I find shorts very, very difficult to write, but sometimes the starts uncover another story that was waiting to be told. Pack is one of them.

Readers of Maternal Type (and those waiting for the upcoming serial in Year 3 of Fireside Magazine) will see commonalities, from the feral child to the no-nonsense protagonist. But I think each story stands on its own.

And there’s something else exciting, too…

ripper I got boxes of author copies of The Ripper Affair yesterday! (It officially goes on sale August 15.) Amazon is still being nasty and not letting people preorder it, but Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Indiebound can hook you up. If you want a signed (or personalised!) copy, all you have to do is order from Cover to Cover, my friendly local indie. It’s the last Bannon and Clare book for a while, but I think it’s a good one.

Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul…

A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.

Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, murdering poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails unseamed on cold autumn nights would make no difference…but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.

Once more Emma Bannon is pressed into service; once more Archibald Clare is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.

The game is afoot…

I’m so excited about this, I’m having trouble sitting still. I’m hard at work revising the first Jeremy Gallow book, as well as working on a super-sekrit YA that probably won’t sell, but I love it and I’m going to finish it anyway.

Back to work…

Storium And Other Stuff

Road Well. There’s news!

First, I’m now a Storium stretch goal! It’s a Kickstarter for an online storytelling game. The world I’d build for it centers on a Keymaster–someone who can open doors between here and elsewhere. The only trouble with opening a door is that things from the other side can come through, and those things might be what the Brothers Grimm kept warning everyone about. It promises to be a lot of fun.

Selene The Selene ebook is now available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble as well as directly. I’m also happy to report the paperback is coming in June–or before, if the proof copy I receive is up to snuff, and I have every reason to expect it will be. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Last but not least, The Ripper Affair–the last Bannon & Clare book–is now available for preorder at B&N, and also at Amazon! It’s very exciting.

Regular blogging will resume next week. In the meantime, enjoy the first few days of the merry month of May.

A Temporary Thing

Money Tax day! I have never, ever been so glad for my accountant. Every time I see her I want to hug her. She’s bemused by this, of course–mostly, people see her as the bearer of bad news around this time of year. For me, however, she’s saving me from hours and hours of stress my stomach is not equipped to handle, and worth every (tax-deductible, as a professional expense!) penny I pay. If you’re a writer in my area, I highly recommend her entire office. It’ll save you time you can use for more writing, that’s for damn sure. Or for plotting the downfall of your enemies. Whatever works.

Today’s morning is for revision work on Ruby’s story–one more pass before we go into CEs and proofs. I’ve received assurances that KIN will indeed be published, so that’s good. The first rough chunk of the Fireside serial is resting with the editor, and this afternoon will probably be for another chunk of it and at least one session with Rattlesnake Wind.

My crisis of career confidence, springing from two series abruptly showing bad numbers, proceeds apace. Part of me wants to say people just didn’t understaaaaaand the fairy-tale retellings, but every time I see a writer say that I cringe internally because the fault lies with the writer, right? My bad. I thought they were good when I finished them. Some parts I thought were flat-out great, I was growing as a writer and Trying New things…but it wasn’t what people wanted, I guess. There’s some comfort in chalking a bit of it up to “I’m just not a mainstream writer”, but that comfort is erased by the fact that I honestly thought Cami and Ellie and Ruby had fucking fantastic stories and I was just the person to tell them…and I was maybe very wrong.

Oh well, live and learn.

As for Bannon & Clare petering out, well, in my humble opinion steampunk isn’t a genre, it’s an aesthetic, and the market of an aesthetic gets saturated really quickly. (For those asking, don’t worry, the Ripper Affair IS coming out, you can preorder it.) I’m endlessly glad that my Orbit editor is always open, honest, and flexible when it comes to my work, and that she believes in me so strongly. That belief is an anodyne on days I don’t feel so well.

In the end, this is a temporary thing. Every writer’s career has points like this, and my own is a mild case compared to some stories of “career bed-death” I’ve heard on loops and during some extremely honest barcons[1]. I’m still making the mortgage and I still have the best Readers ever. (That’s YOU, my chickadees.) So it’s been nice to wallow, but I’m back at work now, determined, in Louisa May Alcott’s words, to “take Fate by the throat and shake a living out of Her.” Every other part of writing for a living has been about endurance, outliving and out-stubborning the forces arrayed against one.

This, indeed, is no different.

Over and out.

[1] The part of a convention where writers converge on the bar and in vino veritas begins.

A Productive Wallow

Road So yesterday I had a good bit of a wallow. Yes, I actually scheduled my wallow in self-doubt, pity, and questioning.

And dumped out 2K wordcount on the suspense-romance I’m doing for my writing partner. It was a most productive wallow.

So now, instead of finishing Bannon & Clare in Hong Kong, I’m working on Agent Zero–the suspense-romance–and the second Jeremy Gallow book, as well as Rattlesnake Wind. Of the three of them, Agent Zero will probably be the one I finish first. It’s heating up and I’m about to start the mad dash for the end. I might send it to the agent once it’s done and see if it can find a home.

Rattlesnake Wind will take a while longer. For one thing, the book wants to be written in a spiral notebook, as if I’m fifteen again. Transcribing it to Word will tax my patience, I’m sure, and I don’t know…once I’m done with it, I may go to a public place and just toss the notebook. Burn it, or something. Maybe give it a Viking funeral over water, I do live near a river. Then I’ll put it away on my hard drive and never look at it again.

Then, the second Gallow book. The first one’s already finished, and I’m boiling the second in the back of my head, bits of the plot arcs, both large and small, coalescing. Wrenching my brain away from China in the 1890s and into almost-modern-day trailer-park sidhe playing both Courts, Seelie and Unseelie, is a little…exotic. I’m sure once I finish another book this weird sense of cramping inside my brain will go away. I had a minor bit of tears welling up when I put the research books for The Jade Crane Affair back on the shelf, I must admit.

But Bannon & Clare are left in a good place, at a natural endpoint for the Londinium books. Maybe one day I’ll go back to them. Doubtful, but possible.

Thanks for all the support and kind words. I’m actually quite lucky, in that I had something else to give my editor when it became clear Bannon & Clare wasn’t doing well. Another instance of the shotgun theory of publishing (produce, finish, rinse, repeat, and sooner or later someone will want something you’ve written) serving me in good stead. It may not work for everyone, but right now, I’m pretty grateful I followed the impulse to finish the first Gallow book. And I’m ever so grateful my editor is honest and flexible, as well as committed to me.

Last but not least, I am really grateful for you, my darling Readers. I’m going to get back to work making more stories for you.

Right now.