Recovery and Triple Irritation

I have my hands back again–the left one is no longer so swollen as to look like a sausage, though a little edema lingers around the bruising. The gouges are healing, and there’s only a little pain. All in all, recovery is proceeding as well as can be expected.

The copyedits, however, are not proceeding well. I should be able to get more than fifty blasted pages a day done, dammit and tarnation. The trouble lies in the fact that everyone else in the room (everyone other than Yours Truly and a single blessed beta reader, that is) appears to fucking hate these books, and swimming against that tide is difficult work. It might’ve been better to self-publish them.

Ah well. Live and learn, heavy accent on the latter. I’m sure a great deal of what I’m feeling is the annoyance from having to stop while not one but two zero drafts are on the cusp of completion–scribus interruptus, as it were. I want something finished instead of having to deal with pettifogging and the insertion of commas everywhere. I happen to think readers can deal with complex sentences and clauses, and do not, need, commas, everywhere a breath, might be taken, in a sentence. There’s been a definite effect on writing in other areas from Twitter character limits over the years.

Of course, my constant refrain has always been, “Readers are smart, they’ll get what I’m saying.” I think readers are hungry for longer, more durable, chewier sentences and stories. I have to believe in these books; I’m all they’ve got.

Anyway, these CEs are working against double irritation–triple, if one counts the bloody back fence still not being fixed and various other frustrations. I had things all set to finish two zeroes this week and then move into the copyedits after some other things on the publisher’s side had been cleared up. It didn’t work out that way, which is nobody’s fault (not even the Romans’) but as usual, it’s the writer who pays the price in sleep, not to mention stomach lining. The stress nausea is back with a vengeance, so that’s fun.

Vanishing into the bog and only coming out every six months to drop another manuscript sounds ever so satisfying. But by this time next week I should be back on track. The main thing I want to do is finish the Rook’s Rose (season two of Hell’s Acre) zero, since that’s the most time-critical thing. Once that’s done a whole chunk of my time is freed up for working ahead on the next-planned serial, which I can barely wait for. You guys are going to be so excited, I can’t even.

I am fidgeting with glee…

That’s all the hinting I can do for today. Brekkie has to be gulped, Boxnoggin exercised, a run inflicted on my weary corpse, and it’s back to slogging through CEs. I hate the thought that I’m going to be spending another few years in stomach-ulcer-land trying to get these babies written and shepherded through the process under such conditions, but it can’t be helped and in any case it’s a valuable lesson. Just what it’s teaching me I don’t know quite yet, unless it’s the depths of my own endurance.

Like I needed any more evidence of that, ha! But the universe seems to have a vastly inflated idea of my capabilities. The only thing I can do is live up to it in whatever fashion possible. Onward to Thursday, devil take the hindmost, all torpedoes loaded, dead ahead full speed, and all that.

See you around!

Experiment Continues Apace

Was banging my head against Riversinger and Minnowsharp last night. I know I’m close to the end, I can feel it, but the scene just wasn’t cooperating and I couldn’t scrap it entirely. I threatened, grumbled, stared at the screen, paced my office, tried a bit of the t’ai chi video I’m attempting to relearn the movements from. (Long story, another blog post.)

Nothing doing. Absolutely nothing fucking doing, and Introvert Me is drained from all sorts of socializing in the past few days. So I finally threw up my hands, decided I was the worst writer in the world, and went to bed early. I watched an episode and a half of a Chinese costume drama, read some of Gosden’s History of Magic (Genji is irritating me, so it was time for a break), and turned off the light while gnashing my teeth.

And then, this morning, while Boxnoggin was attempting to wedge his nose more firmly into my armpit and my sunrise clock was just beginning to glow, the missing piece of the damn puzzle sashayed into my head. Either a passing spirit took pity on me, the Muse had enough fun and decided to stop fucking around, or my subconscious could finally get through the static. Can’t guess which, don’t care, just glad I’ve got the goddamn scene now.

The only thing remaining is to write it. After breakfast and walkies and running my corpse, during which I’ll turn the whole thing over and over inside my head, planning and looking for weak spots. I did think I’d get at least one zero draft done this week, but it doesn’t look likely. And the weekend will be spent with copyedits which do rather need to be addressed even with everything else going on.

*sigh* It’s always something.

The Attempting To Be Kind To Myself experiment continues apace. Part of that is not agonizing over using the block button. As Cory Booker so memorably put it, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. And I don’t have to put up with annoying randos, especially the “I didn’t bother to read the article you linked and I have an objection (covered by the article itself) that I DEMAND you answer” ones.

There’s all sorts of stuff happening–publicity requests for the Spring’s Arcana release, household purge-cleaning to do, this business thing and that business thing, nervously anticipating tax season…honestly I don’t even have time to walk into the sea, though the thought of disappearing into a bog and only returning to town every six months with a new manuscript to send in sounds marvelously enticing.

I’ll feel better once this zero is done, and once these goddamn copyedits are off my plate. It’s hard when one feels nobody else in the room even likes the series one has spent so long polishing, let alone is excited about it. Ideally the books would have at least one other advocate; unfortunately that seems impossible under current conditions. I have to believe in the bloody story thrice as hard to make up for it–which is a masterclass in being kind to myself, I guess.

I would have liked some more time on easy mode, but the universe has a vastly inflated idea of my capabilities. Fortunately stubbornness–and a little spite–might be able to compensate.

After all, I’ve come this far. Believing in myself just a wee bit might not be a bad thing, and is perhaps even warranted.

We’ll see.

Lunch With a Prince

He’s a tramp, but they love him…

Reading The Tale of Genji, all I can hear is Peggy Lee crooning about breaking a new heart every day. I mean, I know Genji is the shining one and a paragon, but he’s more a Beowulf paragon than a knight parfait y gentil, if you know what I mean.

All the same, it’s nice to have lunch with him. It’s also nice to lie in bed, rain tapping the roof, and tell Boxnoggin all about what that sonofagun Genji’s doing now. (Lord van der Sploot has no idea what I’m talking about, but he likes being included.) I have zero idea where this book is taking me and the cultural divide means I’m probably missing most of the landmarks, but I wouldn’t miss this journey. Not for anything, no sir and ma’am.

It feels like this week has seen a sea change, doesn’t it? Still…I’m not relaxing yet. Here’s hoping the weekend is tranquil or exciting, in whatever measure you personally prefer. (And don’t forget, tonight is Friday Night Writes.)

See you around, my beloveds.

Ides, Madness, and Sales

It’s that time again–there are March sales going on, and I’ll be listing them in this post when they’re scheduled or as they go live.

My love song to Baba Yaga and Wyoming, Rattlesnake Wind, is $1.99USD in ebook on March 3. This is a one-day sale.

Another one-day sale is on March 22; She-Wolf and Cub is $1.99USD in ebook.

From March 1-15, the second book of the Society seriesHunter, Healer–is on sale for $.99 in ebook at AmazonBarnes & NobleApple, and Kobo.

I do often get asked if I’ll ever return to that series; I don’t really plan to since the next story is Cath’s and I like Zeke a great deal. The stories go on inside my head, including what eventually happens to Del and Rowan, but I often keep such things entirely to myself. It’s part of the joy, and bitter curse, of a writer’s life.

From March 14-16, my portal fantasy written at white heat during the worst of lockdown–Moon’s Knight–will be on sale for $2.99USD in ebook.

From March 21-23, the ebook of the collected, the complete Roadtrip Z (all four seasons!) will be $7.99USD–almost half price–through certain retailers.

From March 16-27, the Complete HOOD omnibus ebook (all three seasons) will be 30% off at Kobo.

From March 16-28, Harmony (folk horror, with bonus cult!) and The Marked (living tattoos, granting superpowers) will be 30% off at Kobo.

On March 20, Throne of the Five Winds is a Kindle Daily Deal, for $2.99USD.

Many of my ebooks are 50% off during the Smashwords Read an Ebook Week, from March 5-11.

There may be more sales listed soon, so stay tuned…

Private Delights, Delayed

It’s cold here. The birdbath is frozen in the morning, but it thaws throughout the day. Boxnoggin is prancing-happy to get out for brisk walkies, and even happier to return to his warm bed for a nap afterward. The mud in the park isn’t as deep as it will get, and the moles are busily building galleries in the drier spots. I just recently read Wind in the Willows for the very first time, and liked it a great deal. My favorite bit was the search for the young otter and Pan’s appearance. Toad is a complete git and his friends deserve better, but I suppose every circle has one of those.

Good morning, and happy Thursday! Tomorrow I’ll have some sale news, so stay tuned for that. But today there’s an excerpt of the upcoming Spring’s Arcana up over at the Tor Forge blog, enjoy!

I have proofs on the docket for this weekend, and once those (and any leftover queries) are done there’s only waiting for release. The second book in the epic fantasy trilogy is coming along well; all these scenes that have been in my head for over a year are now on paper. That’s a good feeling, but also a sad one. Execution lags behind imagination, but that’s what revision is for–and that’s what the details a writer keeps privately hoarded in their skull-case are for too.

Publishing is all about delayed gratification, and humans are very bad at said delay. I suppose learning to tolerate it makes one a better person, though it doesn’t get easier. Rather, one’s strategies for dealing with the inevitable discomfort are refined. Now that I’m a few books down the road, I look at the ones coming out this year and vaguely remember the stress of writing them, but the ache is distant, a long-healed sunburn.

It’s been an awful few years.

Anyway, yesterday the Princess was rereading some LJ Smith YAs–the Forbidden Game series, and we started talking about the Dark Vision ones too. “That’s where I loved to learn problematic male antagonists,” she informed me, with a twinkle in her eye. I had to laugh, remembering the first time she found those on the big bookshelves and took them to her room for plundering. The rule in our house has always been “If you can reach it, you can read it–and if you can’t reach it, find a stepstool.” I found it much better to simply let both kids know I was available for any questions they had, no matter how banal or embarrassing, about any media they found and consumed. Attempting to lock them out of questionable media would merely have made the forbidden far more enticing, but if it was a simple matter of hitting the back button or asking Mum, all the questionable delight was drained away and they were encouraged to think critically. The strategy seems to have paid off tenfold, since both are reasonably functional adults now.

My gods, how time flies.

So there’s plenty to do today, including getting some Viking werewolves and their elf friends embroiled in a spring-melting morass while the elementalist desperately tries to bear the weight of the artifact that’s melded itself to her physically, and going through Avery Black’s realization that maybe a certain grey-clad girl doesn’t dislike him at all. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday Night Writes, because I want to get a fair chunk of work done before the weekend hits and I’m knee-deep in proof pages.

Knee-deep isn’t eyebrow-deep, so there’s that at least to be grateful for. And there’s still candy on clearance everywhere, even if most of it’s wrapped in red and pink foil. It still tastes the same.

My office is still too bright with the cedars gone, but I suppose I’ll adapt. And now the coffee is almost gone, so it’s time for toast (or gruel) and walking the beast.

See you around.

A Very Short (Rattlesnake) Sale

I don’t often post on Wednesdays, but I had a few minutes and there’s a one-day sale going on. Today (February 1, 2023) only, Rattlesnake Wind–my “Baba Yaga in Wyoming” book–is $1.99USD in ebook through certain retailers.

Rattlesnake Wind

The first night we spent in that ancient mobile home, the wind mouthed its corners with a low whispering almost like words from another room.

Desiree Sarpe and her family–minus their domineering, abusive patriarch–have settled on the Wyoming plains, where the wind speaks, the grass whispers, and power comes in the strangest, most ordinary of forms. Unfortunately, the past and its terrors can’t be easily shaken, and Dez is about to find out how brutal, bloody, and costly magic really is…

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google, and Kobo.

The soundtrack for the book is available here, too.

The book has a teenage protagonist, but it is definitely not a YA novel. (I should be very clear about that.)

And now I have an elvish city to sack, and hopefully enough caffeine to get me there. See you tomorrow…

Fire of Many Sources

Got up, took Boxnoggin out, made coffee, built a fire. We have to use up those cedar rounds, after all, and it’s cold enough. I’m feeling very Foxfire Books right now. I mean, it’s not scrubbing the bristles off a boiled pig carcass, but it’s something. (The dog, wiser than I, has already gone back to bed.)

I finished John Rechy’s City of Night this past weekend. I can see why the book was so formative, especially for the non-Shakespeare bits of My Own Private Idaho. A lot of it rang very true; it’s amazing how much street life doesn’t change through decades. Of course, the experience of a male hustler is significantly different than that of a young girl, and yet the faces are absolutely the same. The beat is there, even if the music is variations. I kept thinking Rechy was what Kerouac so desperately wanted to be, but didn’t have the courage (or the writing chops, the honesty, or the discipline) to pull off.

But we all know my feelings on Kerouac. Anyway, next up is Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness, which feeds The Black Land’s Bane, naturally. A great deal of the current trilogy was inspired (very loosely) by The 13th Warrior–though I never read Eaters of the Dead–while both 13th and Eaters rely heavily on Ibn Fadlan. There are even, I am told, great chunks of Eaters taken wholesale from translations, which shows that at least Crichton knew to take from the best.

The rest of Black Land is Tolkien, with a heavy dose of influence from Neil Price’s magisterial work on Viking magic. No book ever springs from one source; many are the freshets and streams which make the river of a story. And I’ve got to get this elvish city sacked in the next few days’ work, dammit. It’s taken too long, I want falling masonry, flame, and swordplay.

Of course, I’ll have to nurse the fireplace along until the kids are up to help. It takes a lot of strain off the rest of the heating system, plus the cedar is very fragrant. The sky is lowering and it smells like snow, though I’m sure we’ll only get sleet as the next warm front pushes in. I hear there’s actual white stuff (again) a few hundred miles north, but here the river often manages to keep such things at bay.

I mean, it didn’t over Yule–that ice storm was something else, and the winds right after brought down the cedar we’re burning now–but generally we escape real long-term cold. I’m sure many of the insect eggs burrowed into the ground to wait for spring are dying off, as well as the slug and snail eggs too. Which is a mercy; their numbers have been ravaging for a while.

It’s about time to go feed the fire again. I can hear it popping happily from my office. At least the chill means there’s a lovely draw up the chimney, and the ash, worked into compost, does wonderful things for the garden. Boxnoggin will yawn and mosey out as soon as I make a move toward brekkie, and though he’ll complain the cold will also force both of us to move rather swiftly. Not a bad prospect, all told.

I’m not feeling well lately. I suppose it doesn’t matter much. Putting my head down and simply enduring has carried me through worse. At least there’s the fire, the winter light, and the prospect of actually getting some damn wordcount.

It’ll have to be enough.