Find the B

Can you spot the B? Not the bees, there are a ton of those, but the giant fuzzy goober who worked her way under this mass of greenery in pursuit of what must have been an absolutely fantastic smell?

Yep, there she is. That’s my big old fuzzbutt. I often lose my joy, but somehow, she always finds it–this morning, she tried to search for it up my nose, and it hastily reappeared on a spate of laughter as I tried to keep her questing schnozzola out of my mouth.

Dogs, man. We don’t deserve them.

Oh, Publishing…

HOOD

Just a reminder: you can still download the first few chapters of HOOD: Season One for absolutely free.1 So if you want to see if Robin Hood in Space is to your tastes, this is a good way to find out!

Mornings here have been nice and grey, the marine layer shielding us from the worst heat. Of course, that means the humidity’s been through the roof, but at least it hasn’t been hot and feeling like the inside of Mother Nature’s mouth.2 The dogs are puzzled, but I explained to Miss B that this is what summers used to be like back before climate change accelerated.

Boxnoggin, of course, is absolutely surprised by everything the moment he steps outside. Rain, insects, wind touching his rump–it’s all a cavalcade of new sensations every damn time. He’s like a goldfish swimming circuits past a castle decoration and thinking it’s a new one every time. (“Look, Benny, we’re on the Rhine!”)

Yesterday I sent a sample of Hell’s Acre to my agent. So if a publisher wants Assassin’s Creed crossed with Da Vinci Code in an alt-Victorian London, they’d better get on the stick. I’m so tired of trad publishing saying “write the entire series, then give us the first book and in six months we might condescend to look at it.”3 That makes one book pulled from submission (Incorruptible), one full book out (Reader’s Shadow), and two samples (Sons of Ymre and Hell’s Acre) out in the world. I haven’t had this few works on submission in ages; it feels almost like a vacation.

Of all of them, I’m most worried about Reader’s Shadow because the protagonists are teens. I don’t want to set a toe in YA publishing again; twice was enough and both Harmony and Rattlesnake Wind are doing well without having the “YA” imprimatur. Sure, I’d love it if those books could get to the teens who need them, but going through a bunch of people who want me to water them down so some Bible-belt evangelical doesn’t get their panties in a wad takes time and effort I’d rather spend on writing new books.

Anyway, I think for a little while I’m going to concentrate on the serial and samples. I’m tired of a lot of things in publishing, and glad that my career is at a stage where hybridization is a possibility. You’d think the publishing industry would understand that without writers they don’t have jobs or profits, but we’re treated like embarrassing afterthoughts and hated stepchildren. Which sucks because I like trad publishing; I like not having to deal with plenty of the minutiae of producing a reasonable printed product. I’m an easy audience, and trad seems set on driving me away.

In any case, none of that changes the fact that I’ve work to do. Today is slated for a chapter in HOOD‘s Season Two, a chapter in Sons of Ymre, and making baked pasta with yesterday’s homemade red sauce.

My dance card’s packed, and the dogs are very excited at the prospect of walkies. First, though, it’s time for a run. Hopefully by now the cereal and coffee are resigned to their fate and will not attempt a high-speed escape.

It’s the little things. Over and out!

Hungry Feet

Two fine fellows–one quadruped, one gastropod–met upon a driveway. The quadruped sensed a delicacy and prepared a good chomp.

Fortunatley, a biped noticed and dragged the quadruped away. The gastropod went about their business unmolested–probably to eat the biped’s hostas, which is a funny way of thanking your savior.

But we’ve all got to eat, one way or another. Boxnoggin was dragged into the house and given a treat along with much bellyrub, I was content with toast, and the snail wandered away on their lone stomach-foot, in search of greenery.

I wish them well.

Rain, Dogs, Office

The Princess has gotten me into watching The Office. I know it’s nine seasons long, but the episodes are only about twenty minutes (thank you, Netflix) and so far it’s hysterically funny in that “I’ve seen this train wreck before” way. The Princess is thrilled that I’m enjoying it. Of course, she’s told us many of the plot points at dinners for the past year or so; it’s fun to witness them myself and discuss what either of us got out of the scenes.

I also watched Castlevania because the Little Prince loved it, so after I finish these nine seasons I’m going to have to ask him for another recommend. The kids love it when I try things they liked, even if I end up not admiring them as much. The mere fact of attention is enough.

So far I’m enjoying the shows; I don’t think I’d ever have watched either on my own. I have to say I am incredibly glad I don’t do office work any more. It’s almost as bad as retail.

Almost.

Anyway, today’s for brute wordcount. I’m waiting on a wrap for HOOD‘s Season One cover, and once that’s done I’ll upload everything and hit the button. It’s looking like Season One will be available at the end of next month. You can read a little bit about why I chose Robin Hood (in Space!) and sign up for the serial if it so moves you; we’ll be going into Season Two soon, where there’s a speeder race, a ball, and treachery everywhere, as well as a rising body count. In other words, big fun.

We had some lovely thunderstorms yesterday evening. I quite miss Odd Trundles’s sanguine disposition; neither lightning nor firework bothered him. Miss B hates both with a passion, and poor Lord van der Sploot was quite beside himself. I went to bed early, though, and as soon as I was settled (they get half the bed, Miss B sleeps near my shoulder and Sir Boxnoggin at the foot) van der Sploot was out like a light, curled into a tight ball. It took B about a half-hour of shaking and whining slightly before she too sacked out, sprawled luxuriously over one of my pillows and looking so peaceful I didn’t have the heart to move her, so I slept cockeyed all night.

It’s a good thing I love those beasts.

Anyway, a short run and a day’s worth of wordcount on both HOOD and Sons of Ymre, which I really want to get done at least in skeleton form before too much longer. A new wrinkle in Hell Tide just showed up, and I have to seriously think about if I want Lia Spocarelli’s story to be a single book or a duology. I’m not sure yet.1

So that’s it, I’m sorted for the rest of the day, which looks to be cloudy, grey, and quite pleasant. Let’s hope the cloud cover holds during my run. Maybe I’ll even get rained on, which is nice for the sheer luxury of peeling out of wet clothes when I get home, showering, and putting on dry socks. (Nothing better, my friends. Not even coffee.) That might mean the bees will leave me alone–it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I’m afraid of hurting the little fellows.

Anyway, my day’s packed. See you around, chickadees.

Running, an Inch

Steelflower in Snow

This morning, I was in a bit of a mood. Out the door with two fractious dogs into cold rain, one dog unfazed and the other wanting to pull ahead to finish the damn deed so he could go home and dry off, my patience was all but exhausted.

And yet, while my feet pound and my breath comes high and hard, I realize, this is not who I want to be. The irritation falls away; I leave it like a discarded skin and run into the future of who I do want to be.


Years ago, the stark grief of a broken heart pushed me further, faster. I ran until I couldn’t, without dog, bee, or any other companion, and when I stopped and closed my eyes, all that touched me was sunshine, dust, and the knowledge that I had done what was necessary. It still hurt.

It hurt.

And yet, when I opened my eyes, there was nothing to do but keep moving. I had to get home, after all. Sitting in the middle of a street and waiting for the rest of my life is not who I want to be.

So I chose differently. And kept going.


I began running because it was something I could do on a treadmill in the solarium. A single mother can’t leave her babies unprotected; besides, my body had become a stranger. I ran at first because it was the best of several bad options, then I kept running because the endorphins had me hooked, then I ran because it had become a habit.

Now I run because it soothes me, because it is still the only time I have to be truly alone. Despite the company of dogs, it is while running that my soul expands a little. The rest of the world falls away and I can see who I’ve been, and more importantly, who I want to be.


Irritated? I write. Happy? I write. Sad? I write. I do it because it’s what I was meant and made for, what I was designed to do. I am helpless to stop writing.

But running is a choice. The static vanishes. Physical motion, the thunder of my pulse, dripping sweat–all reminders that I can choose. There is only an inch allotted to us, a small, separate piece caught in the net of circumstance, privilege, physics, and obligation. They can take every inch of me–they have certainly tried, all my life–but one.

That small piece keeps me human. It is the part where I choose.


The dogs don’t like it when I run alone. Boxnoggin is protective; Miss B simply thinks it’s her duty to crawl under my skin and stay there. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, whether because of injury, weather, or other considerations, I find myself solitary.

I am alone, but I am never lonely while that small inch of me remains.


B slows near the end of even short runs now. She doesn’t want to, but she is becoming elderly, and her body does not do as she wishes. It doesn’t matter. Speed isn’t the issue. Looking down and seeing her grin as she paces me, in her accustomed place and all right with her world despite our slowness, fills me with aching love. I have so little time left with her; I slow as much as she needs.

Boxnoggin doesn’t quite have the rhythm down yet. He’s young, and though it’s been months, he learns at his own pace. Above all, he wants to protect his pack; the constant changing of our route during runs to make it easy for him to behave and get accustomed to the fact that when I need him to snap or growl I’ll let him know takes a lot of bandwidth. Still, we persevere. Eventually he’ll learn, and I will have become the person who gave him the space for that teaching to sink in.


When I was a child, my primary female caregiver wanted me to become a doctor. It was her own unfinished dream, and I was responsible for seeing it through. The knowledge loomed on the horizon like a mountain at the end of a sea journey, just a smear at first and for a long time neither larger nor smaller no matter how fast one sails. Suddenly, it begins to grow, and the shadow of expectation pressed on me from crown to soles. I couldn’t breathe.

I chose passive resistance to her dreams all my young life. But when I left that house, I had no idea how to find out what I wanted to be–or even who I was. I’ve spent decades trying to unravel the mystery, making false starts, drowning in other people’s needs, pouring myself into black holes, lighting myself on fire to keep others warm.

And then I began to run.


“I can tell you haven’t run today,” the kids say.

“I can tell you haven’t run today,” my writing partner says.

I can tell I haven’t run that day, and I close my eyes, imagine my feet hitting pavement and the wind making that low sweet sound in my ears. Even when I don’t run I can choose who I want to be. Running only reminds me. It shakes me, and while everything is whirling inside my skin I realize there are some things nailed down, some handholds I can trust on my internal cliff-face.

There is a me who can decide. I just have to give her an inch.


Today it was raining. The dogs were both tetchy, their fidgets not quite worked out yesterday. It took twenty damn minutes for the red cloud of irritation around me to blow away. Both beasts needed constant reminding and redirecting. Before I snapped, I took a deep breath, slowed my pace, untangled both of them, and swallowed the unkind things I might have muttered at their poor, silly, excited selves.

Unkind is not who I want to be.

The carapace falls away and I am damp and new, slowing to a walk and petting the canines who depend upon me. I tell them they are good, and they believe me. Sometimes–not very often–I slow enough to listen to them tell me I am good, and I try to believe them, too.

We walk home. Because we choose to.


I have kept a single inch to myself, one thing I have never mortgaged, sold, smothered to please someone else. I have fed others from my broken body and kept a single crust from the feast despite those who tell me it is selfish treachery to avoid subsuming myself completely. The world is hungry, abusers are famished; they will take even that last inch and leave for other tables while your bones rot.

I hid that inch so successfully it took running to find it again. And, over and over again, it expands to fill me while I write.

Running doesn’t fill me. It strips away the noise, the constant pressure, the weight of people who sold their inch or never found it, who want to crack my bones and eat my marrow to fill their own unending hunger where that small space used to be.

I learn, over and over again, that I choose who and what I am. There is an inch of me beyond reach, a table in the presence of mine enemies, and every time I lace up and buckle the dogs in, reach the end of warmup and pitch forward to take the first few steps into the uncertain future, I realize again that I am not lonely.

How can I be, while I run?

Time Passes

FISH

I would really, really love not to have Wichita Lineman stuck in my head when I wake up. It would be super swell not to hear that song again for a while. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just ready for a new record to hit the needle inside my skull.

*time passes*

I had a big long post planned for today, but then I fell into a rabbit hole or two, went for a run, a bee tried to fly inside my mouth twice (or more properly, two bees tried the same thing on two different occasions) and Lord Boxnoggin decided it was too warm for running, so he stopped in the shade and I had to carry him across four lanes of traffic (plus the divider) to convince him we were going home and he could, in fact, walk.

I don’t blame him, we’re still learning where his comfort levels are. I’m heartened that he actually stopped instead of just trying to do what he thought I wanted and hurting himself.

Recovering from the zero of Poison Prince proceeds apace. I was not allowed to work yesterday, so some cleaning I’d been putting off got done, I set up today’s subscription stuff to go out, and I watched some movies I’d been meaning to get around to, like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. Both were much better than the Avengers franchise–less stupid, pointless misogyny, better plotting, and I’m interested to see where those directors go next.

Speaking of subscriptions, I should probably shill those a bit, since they take a great deal of worry off my back and also give my darling Readers something nice at the same time. So, if you like the idea of Robin Hood in Space (and free ebooks of each version!) or of weekly fiction drops, head on over to the subscription page and check it out.

This week’s offerings will drop at 2pm PST, and if you sign up to any of my Gumroad offerings you get the latest one sent to you immediately.

Anyway, I should probably get at least a token amount of work done to salve my conscience, but not too much or recovery will be jeopardized. It’s a fine line, and I think I need coffee in order to keep my balance.

Over and out.

Adversarial Book

Took a bit of a sabbatical last week, at least from the blog and most social media. It was nice to do some deep breathing and restore my sense of proportion. I keep thinking I can save the world.

The world, however, either doesn’t want saving, or the job’s just too big for me. The latter isn’t so much of a consideration–I take on jobs too large for me all the time–but the former is. You can’t save those who want to drown.

The Poison Prince has broken the 60k mark, and I’m beginning to think I can pull this off. There’s no reason for the dividing line between books 2 and 3 to be placed exactly where it is; I can slide it back and forth as the need arises. Everyone in this book is talking when I need them to get to the dying.

This is probably a common problem in epic fantasy creation. *snork*

I’ve been moonlighting with a couple other things–Sons of Ymre, and the other Watcher book. Neither are moving very quickly because I have to fit in wordcount around the big bulk of Prince. I want to be done with this book so badly, it keeps me up at night sometimes. I have to drag myself away from the keyboard, because if I end up pulling all-nighters I’ll need longer to recover when I finally get a blade in the bowels of this fucking book and it breathes its last.

*eyes former paragraph* I may be having an adversarial relationship with this bloody book. Anyway.

It’s a cloudy morning; hopefully there won’t be anyone with unleashed dogs at the park. I’m having to stagger Miss B accompanying me; she’s getting to the age where the shorter runs are all she’s comfortably capable of. Of course she wants to go on every run, bar none. She would gladly run her heart out if I asked it of her, but I don’t ask it. In fact, I actively discourage such a thing, being a cruel and unjust owner who wishes to keep her safe and sound for a few more years.

It was awful to lose Odd Trundles, but the awfulness was somewhat ameliorated by the fact that we expected to lose him at any point, so it wasn’t exactly a shock. B, though…when she ascends to the great kibble bowl in the sky, I’m going to be devastated. It’s going to hurt worse than just about anything.

All the more reason to take care now while she’s with me, and snuggle her a bit more. If I can get her to hold still for it–she’s always wriggling free to go play with Boxnoggin. He is somewhat of an elixir of youth for her, their wrestling, yapping, and chasing serving to exercise them both. She’s pretty pissed every time he goes on a run alone with me.

Poor Miss B. She just longs to supervise everyone and everything, like the busy little bossy bee she is. Speaking of bees, there are no doubt going to be plenty of them trying to infiltrate my skull. Maybe I should braid my hair to give them more places to cling instead of a ponytail.

Well, that’s my morning work cut out for me. I suppose I should get moving.

Over and out…