Choice and Ambiguity

One step forward, half a step back.

I shambled to bed early last night, my head caving in. The sudden changes in barometric pressure kicked off one of my infrequent but very bad headaches–not quite a migraine, just close enough to rob me of any chance at working for the day. I managed to stay up through dinner and feeding the dogs, then downed a couple homemade edibles and slithered into bed. The dogs were not averse to this, since it meant I was flat on my back somewhere they could supervise and “help” me; Boxnoggin in particular wanted to lick my temples since I was clutching at my head and obviously in distress.

Miss B settled for lying across my knees; when I tried to tell her that was not helpful she gave me a look of such wide-eyed doggy surprise I meekly reclined and shut up, attempting to breathe through the pain until relief kicked in. Once it did and I clearly wasn’t going anywhere else she condescended to move aside, taking up half the bed as is her usual wont. She likes a particular space so I can simply throw an arm over her in the middle of the night, mistaking her for a giant teddy bear.

This morning, I’m shaky and nauseous but much better. Even a gentle run isn’t out of the question, and that should shake off any remaining pain though I’ll have trembling fits for the rest of the day as my body tries to sort itself out.


Some people have deliberately consumed and worship nothing but whitebread American sitcoms, and it shows. Playing with other narrative structures or character types often raises a howl of protest from such creatures, who want their familiar line-line-“joke”-canned audience laughter and they want it now, with everything tied up neatly at the end of a half-hour and any female main character safely shackled to their problematic, highly abusive fave. The idea of female characters who prioritize themselves, or prefer people who don’t try to manipulate them, is treated as a deadly insult, as is any ambiguity. I understand these dull, banal elves.

I am simply not the writer for them.

Seriously, folks. There are two men–count ’em, two–in Hostage to Empire who don’t try to manipulate, use, or use-and-kill Komor Yala. One ends up an Emperor and the other…well, that would be telling. But the idea that Yala could finally go against the strictures of her class and culture after an apocalyptic battle in which she literally sacrifices both her life and honor, that she can go on to choose someone who doesn’t lie to her, manipulate her, or attempt to use her as a political game-piece seems to drive some readers into a particular type of baffled fury, much as Dru Anderson‘s refusal to select a boyfriend from the frankly not-so-great options on offer or Robin Ragged‘s preference for freedom seemed to.

Cultural misogyny is a helluva drug.


Perhaps I’m simply tired; my patience for such malignant, deliberate idiocy is at an all-time low. Frankly, my patience for a whole lot of things has been exhausted, partly as a function of hitting my mid-forties and partly from surviving the neverending hell of 2020 and its knock-on years.

Monday’s Tea with Lili was about character names and selecting good writing groups, with bonus knitting. I should talk a little more about good groups and the like on Friday, if I remember it. My performance anxiety over being on camera is not abating, so I’ll give this another month to shake out and then see if I want to continue.

I’m up relatively early but the dogs are certain this only means I will be having breakfast toast early as well, which means they will get crusts. So they are both expectantly crowding my office chair though I haven’t even worked halfway through my coffee yet. Hope springs eternal in the heart of dog, and all that. A heavy grey cloud just covered the newly risen sun, but the birds aren’t fooled–they’ve already sung the dawn chorus and won’t be tempted into encore.

I suppose I should finish my coffee and do some stretching. The dogs will attempt to supervise and “help”, eager to rush me through the morning so they can get to crusts and walkies. I’m pretty sure Boxnoggin will knock me over at one point or another, so I have to be ready to fall the right way, avoiding further injury. It’s good training, at least.

Happy Tuesday, my beloveds. Revel in ambiguity, do not be afraid to choose yourself. It’s nice to have other people along on the ride of life, but it’s not a set-in-stone necessity.

I promise.

Roses, Damage, Sale

It’s a new month, and that means a new sale–or two! First up is Rose & Thunder, one of my Beauty & the Beast retellings. (I’ve…written a few.) It’s $2.99USD in ebook for the month of April–fitting, I suppose, since the heroine’s arrival means a spring of sorts for the hero. The ebook is available direct, and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

I think I like the fairytale so much because the Beast is basically trammeled in a tower waiting for rescue, which is normally a princess’s game. Imagining Tremont as Princess Peach amused me all during the writing–not least because my son was playing Smash Bros obsessively in the background.

My goodness, he was young then. How time flies.

The publisher is also offering Damage (book one of Ghost Squad) for $.99USD in ebook until April 15. (Tax day is gonna be great this year…) This one’s also available from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, and Kobo. ETA: This sale lasted until the 15th and is now over.

I’ve said before that this book is my love song to a particular Matthias Schoenaerts movie; I enjoyed his tamped-down, almost-silent performance a great deal. Almost as much as I liked Gosling’s in Drive, frankly, which is extremely high praise from me.

I don’t think there’s a release or anything else on the calendar, so these sales will have to hold us all through April. I’m looking forward to a month’s worth of work, and hoping I can cram it all in.

Happy Spring, my beloveds. Enjoy!

RELEASE DAY: The Bloody Throne

That’s right, my beloveds–the third and final Hostage to Empire book is officially out today!


The Bloody Throne

The great Zhaon empire is in turmoil. The emperor is dead and the crown prince has fallen to hidden schemes, leaving his most dangerous brother to assume the throne. The imperial court is seething, and whispers of war grow to shouts. The once-vanquished kingdom of Khir marches again to regain their honor, the savage Tabrak raid the borders after ravaging the South, and assassins lurk in the shadows seeking imperial favor. 

Komor Yala, her own position uncertain, finds shelter in marriage to the cunning Third Prince. But there is little safety in Zhaon. Death and destruction mount as a blood-drenched summer ends, and to the victor will be left an empire—if it is not turned to smoking ruins first. 

The wheel of destiny is turning, and all will be caught under its weight…

Now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and independent bookstores.


The entire series has had a difficult path to publication–no book is easy, mind you, but some are a little more challenging than others. Plague, uncertainty, changes in the editing team, all sorts of outside events all conspired against the entire trilogy. I’m rather surprised to have reached this point, frankly. There were several times during the writing, let alone the production process, where I thought it couldn’t possibly be finished.

But, like all love songs, it managed to reach triumph in at least one way.

Release-day nerves have me firmly in their grip. A run might blunt the sharp edges, but only a little. I’ll be hard pressed to settle to any real work today; I might try my hand at a livestream around lunchtime if I can scrape together the energy and ignore the anxiety. (But don’t bet on it.)

There’s a certain sadness to seeing years of work–not just my own, but that of the editorial and production crews–come to fruition. Of course there’s a great deal of joy and relief, I’m just feeling the pangs of separation. The book (and the series) has to make its own way in the world now. Publishing means that I’m already working several books past the end of this one; it’s like seeing one’s past self encased in amber. If not for delayed gratification, there would be none at all in this industry.

Anyway, I’m halfway through my coffee and the office is quiet. So is the grey morning outside my window. The dogs have not yet started lobbying for me to make toast and get underway, so I suppose I’ll take a deep breath and enjoy the peace while I can.

Have a lovely Tuesday, my dears. See you around.

March, Semi-Madness

HOOD

It’s about time for a new sale, isn’t it? This month Season One of HOOD–my now-finished Robin Hood in SPACE serial–is $2.99USD across ebook platforms. (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play, and direct through Payhip.) I figure a little space opera might help get us through the month.

It’s no secret I started writing HOOD because I found Richard Armitage’s Guy of Gisbourne fascinating. But more than that, I know many veterans and listening to them talk about “coming home” breaks my heart sometimes. Not to mention I was interested in how a society shaped by centuries on generation ships in a great fleet might alter once it reached its destination, not to mention the time afterward. The Robin Hood mythos doesn’t really work without a semi-feudal oppression, and whether that oppression is corporate oligarchy or hereditary royalty the problems are similar.

Maid Marian also gets to fly several spaceships, so there’s that. And if you’re interested in the music that fueled the serial, you can find it here.

The Society

Not only that, but the publisher has put The Society (book one in the Society series, which I put underground bases in because I love X-Men) on sale for $.99USD until the end of the month at AmazonBarnes & NobleApple, and Kobo, too.

And the third and last Hostage to Empire book is due to drop near the end of March. (ETA: It’s dropped!) You guys are gonna love it, it’s a real dilly.

Goodness, that is rather a lot, isn’t it? Just yesterday I was feeling rather down on myself since I haven’t made the amount of wordcount I’d like lately, but with all this going on it’s no wonder. Whew. I hope the month gets a little less frantic…

…but I’m not betting on it.

THE MARKED, On Sale

The Marked

It’s about time for another sale, don’t you think? This month, The Marked is $2.99USD across ebook retailers! Since I’ve switched to Payhip you don’t need a coupon code if you buy there, and you’ll also get both .epub and .mobi editions there, for Reader convenience.

The genesis of this book was an intense, recurring nightmare I had when the kids were young–really young, just toddlers. I suppose every parent has a version or two of this particular fear; of course, I decided to exorcise mine with fiction. It grew in the telling, of course; Preston Marlock came almost out of nowhere and the idea of “living” tattoos had been kicking around in my head for quite a while. The latter is fascinating enough that I might return to it.

Jude’s grief was difficult to soak in. Once the book was finished, though, the nightmare became an every-few-years event instead of an almost-weekly one, which was a ginormous relief.

I still mean to write the second book, featuring the shadowy secret society and a great deal more of Marlock’s trauma. Unfortunately, like so much else, it has to wait until there’s enough money, enough time, and (very important) a clear spot on the writing schedule to invest. In the meantime, the characters are at a resting point, however tenuous…

Ebook discounted at Payhip, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Amazon until March 1.

DARK WATCHER, On Sale!

To kick off the New Year, the first book in the Watchers series is $.99 across ebook retailers–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple! The sale ends on January 15; by then, I’m sure I’ll have other news. *cue evil laugh*

There’s a special place in my heart for this series; it was my very first “real” sale back in the 2000s. I was just a baby writer then, starting out in paranormal romance.

My, how time flows on, doesn’t it. I’ve been writing all my life, but publication was a brave new world indeed. Sometimes I laugh to think of how uncertain I was back then. It’s been a wild ride, and one I’m endlessly grateful for.

You might be interested to know that the Watchers are set in the same universe as the Society series, and the Dante Valentine series is set there as well, just 600 years later. Circle Lightfall is indirectly responsible for the Great Awakening Danny talks about in the Valentine books, and there’s some indication they quietly funded the Society as well. Plenty of my beloved Readers have written me asking for verification on both counts, and I’m glad to give it.

Not bad for the first sale of the new year, huh? Stay tuned, my dears, that’s only the beginning…

From Books to Mortality

Happy Monday, my dears. I greeted the day finishing Shaun Bythell’s Confessions of a Bookseller in bed, twelve out of ten, utterly delightful, can recommend. My writing partner (who owned a bookstore for many a year, an event for which I was indirectly responsible, long story) recommended it. “It’s like my old Tales of the Bookstore posts, a whole year of them.” And she was right.

Mr Bythell’s shop is The Bookshop, Wigtown, which sounds amazing as all hell. It takes the patience of a saint to run a place like that; I have never owned a bookstore, being content to merely offer my services as a buyer, shelver, and patient ringer-up. Which takes its own kind of fortitude, but one can always blame the boss when a customer becomes impertinent. “Sorry, I can’t do that, the boss won’t let me.”

Anyway, it was a lovely palate-cleanser, since I’ve been reading only true crime and depressing history for months now. Also, we had snow yesterday–fortunately, it only lasted about twenty-four hours and today there’s no sign that there was ever a slushpocalypse at all. The dogs were extremely vivacious during their walk yesterday morning, apparently determined to toss me headlong into a pile of wet ice at the first opportunity. Arriving home in one piece and relatively dry was a victory, one I celebrated with a feverish round of housecleaning, it being Sunday and all.

I am waiting for one last sales platform to get itself together, then I’ll have something special for you all. If everything goes well I can make the announcement tomorrow. It’s not huge, but it is extremely amusing, and I am on tenterhooks waiting for that one…last…platform. Ah well, it’s the holiday season; everything’s moving slowly.

This week I turn my engines fully toward Hell’s Acre. If I can get through the charity ball before knocking off for Yule I’ll be happy; I desperately need some more murder in this book.

I also need to brave the wilds for some further Yule supplies–just last-minute things, but getting them done will mean I can spend the upcoming holiday weekend cooking without worry. The kids voted a resounding “no” to decorations this year. (The actual vote was two and a half for “fuck no” and one-half abstaining, so no decorating. We’re just too tired.)

2021 has been a bit of a bear, what with the second year of pandemic and the slow-mo fascist coup still attempting to metastasize in the body politic. I alternate between nervous hope and complete despair, as I have since before 2016.

There was also a strange bit of ectoplasm near my loo door this morning. I have spent most of my life as a mother by this point, so I merely glanced at it as I staggered out of bed, returning to discern its source and true nature only once I had coffee in hand. It turned out to be a bit of bile from Miss B, who occasionally has a small amount of stomach upset, being the old lady she is. Brewer’s yeast tablets seem to have largely sorted her on that front, which is a blessing; still, I am facing the evidence of her upcoming mortality with quite a bit of pre-grief. She’s still got some time left, but I can see the end, and it will be a dark time indeed when she decides she’s ready to go.

Of course, I am dead sure she’ll return in some form or another, since I cannot be trusted to supervise myself and it is her self-chosen job to fill that role. The Princess is of the opinion that Miss B will choose to inhabit the body of a corgi next, which will be all kinds of fun for all concerned. But that’s still in the future, and for now I am making the most of the time remaining in this incarnation. Our elderly statesdog wants for nothing, and shall for as long as she deigns to remain in my care.

Using the time we have will not make the eventual grief lighter, but it will give me something to hold when it arrives.

And on that note, I shall be about my business. Miss B, unmindful of my mood, is pressing for walkies since I was lazy and lay abed for a half-hour finishing that book. The daily schedule is in danger, and she cannot abide that; routine and ritual are her watchwords. Boxnoggin, of course, is content to follow her lead, so he’s attempting to wriggle under my office chair as I type this. Since he’s a good sixty pounds of muscular, youngish doge, the chair is in danger of giving out completely, which is not a great deal of fun but would manage to pry me away from the glowing desktop box said dogs are completely mystified by. (“She just…stares at it, and taps with her little monkey paws. Humans are weird…”)

See you around.