Busy January

Selene

Monday is upon us again. Boxnoggin is having difficulty settling even though we’ve had nothing but the usual daily routine; I think he senses the plumbers are due out today–again, for the fourth time–to get the pipes under the sink right. I long to be able to put everything back in its home and further long to free up the very large bowl that’s been catching the drips.

In the plumbers’ defense, the leak has moved–as soon as one thing is replaced, the thing adjacent decides to start being troublesome. Which is a function and feature of many a complex system, let alone a simple one. So it’s not their fault, they are fabulous fellows, and at the same time I really would like this Finished, Thank You.

Miss B could not care less; to her, this is just another day and all she’s concerned about is keeping herself firmly in my vicinity. I cannot be allowed to roam anywhere, even inside the house, without her close supervision. Heaven knows what trouble I might get into, after all. Especially in these benighted times.

I should get her a soft plush toy to exercise all her maternal and supervisory urges on, but Boxnoggin would likely disembowel it. None of us can handle that particular bullshit right now.

The Dark Watcher sale is over, but I decided the last half of January needed something nice too so Selene is on sale for $2.99 across ebook formats until the end of the month. I’ll probably take February off, since the HOOD omnibus also drops the 25th of this month. The paper edition seems to already be out, thank goodness; for Kindle readers, the omnibus won’t be listed on Amazon but you can get a .mobi edition from Gumroad.

So January is very busy, and I’m going to take February off of sales and the like. Come March I should have some more good news.

I am trying to pull myself, hand over hand, out of the abyss. It’s difficult, to say the least, with successive daily retraumatizations. The rate of daily bad-news bludgeoning has slowed down since Papaya Pol Pot no longer has access to the nuclear button and the news cycle has in consequence somewhat slowed, but the massive institutional failure on every level is difficult to live with. There’s no chance to mourn or even catch one’s breath. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

There’s coffee to finish, some breakfast to choke down, the dogs to walk–Miss B is already restlessly eager for that part of the daily ritual–and getting the workspace cleared for the re-advent of the plumbers. (I just want that last thing sorted with, for gods’ sake. Four visits, while natural when dealing with plumbing issues, still seems a bit excessive.) In between all that, wordcount has to be made. Hell’s Acre needs some attention, since I think I’ve finally figured out what Avery’s plan is; the second Sons of Ymre also needs another pass at that damn first chapter to weed out repetitions and up the tension.

If I just put my head down and work, maybe I can get through the day without worry-induced nausea or panic attacks. Maybe.

We’ll see how it works out.

From Books to Mortality

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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.

Cactus, Get Me Through

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Just get me through December.

Yesterday was a very bad brain day, full of brain-weasels. Which required the big guns–I retreated into Nabokov and spent the day with Lolita; I think one more time through Invitation to a Beheading (my favorite of ol’ Vlad’s) will set me relatively right.

Or so I hope. I’ve simply got to get this revision turned in, it’s been hanging in the “goddammit” category for far too long.

The winter cactus is blooming, and I woke up with Alison Krauss’s Get Me Through December playing inside my head. Last night was chilly, but I had the dogs to cuddle and didn’t want to slither out of bed at all today…yet I have. Canine bladders and my responsibility to the mortgage won’t wait. Some days I’m even grateful for the chainfall of duty dragging me free of whatever hole has swallowed the world’s light.

…it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to write this, since Miss B keeps demanding my attention for pets, a brushing, her morning treat(s), and yet another trip outside though she could have just peed when I let her out the first two times instead of standing on the deck and deciding it’s too cold. (The lady is wearing a fur coat, but she is delicate.) Boxnoggin, of course, has to be in on everything she does, except going outside.

He’s no fool, and it’s chilly out there.

I wish you a calm, pleasant weekend, beloveds, and I hope for one in my corner of the world as well.

Just…let’s get through December. That’s all I’m asking, at this point.

Over and out.

The Very (Dog) Pink

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NaNoWriMo continues apace. I’m doing writing sprints on my Discord in the afternoons; sometimes I even dust off my old gaming headphones and you can hear me softly swearing in the ChitChat audio channel–if, that is, you like that sort of thing.

Plus, we’re a really fun crew; we just instituted a Pet Tax channel, and the pics of everyone’s fluffy, furry, feathered, scaled, or other companions are wonderful. Between that and the Bob Ross birthday marathon on YouTube, I’m feeling much more balanced. Not quite better, and not anywhere close to recovered, but less unsteady.

I’ll take it.

Many of you were a bit concerned about Miss B. Don’t worry, she’s just an elderly statesdog. Sometimes she decides to snub her breakfast, especially if there’s not enough bacon grease or something similarly high-value in it, and that can lead to weird things even if she condescends to eat her dinner the same day. Sometimes her tummy just decides, “nope, we’re not doing this,” and that leads to a night of her producing some bile, needing to go outside to clear the other end, and just generally resetting her poor ol’ digestive system.

This is normal in some elderly dogs. The vet isn’t concerned unless other danger signs are present. As long as B’s well-hydrated and the tummy stuff doesn’t last more then 24hrs or so, she’s fine and there’s no need to disrupt routine and drag her to the pet ER. In fact, breaking routine and stressing her when there’s no need could disturb the delicate equilibrium of an old dog, so I’m under orders to just keep calm and carry on when she does this, while watching for true danger signs.

Boxnoggin, of course, is in the very pink of health. His largest problem is that after nights when B and Mum are up and down, neither of us are very bouncy during morning walkies, and he is forced to go at a somewhat more sedate pace than he would otherwise choose. On those days, the kids play with him as soon as they’re home from school/work or have resurrected from the lethargy of a morning lie-in. There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of squeaks from plush toys, and while B and I hide in the office to escape the rampage, we can still hear the fun and eventually Boxnoggin is exhausted.

Tired dogs are well-behaved dogs. Mostly.

Today is subscription day. This week in Hell’s Acre, a gentleman is asked twice; in She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero, which my Crow’s Nest patrons are seeing me write almost in realtime, there’s murder, arson, and soup. Big fun.

It’s going to be a great Thursday. Miss B spent last night resting comfortably, and aside from the piles of baking soda around my bedroom (cleanup, it’s always cleanup) there’s no indication she was ever feeling poorly. I may even get to run my poor old corpse, which will do me no end of good.

I’d best get started. These books won’t write themselves, more’s the pity. Steady on, my beloveds. Eventually we’ll get there.

Thursday, With Trepidation

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Yesterday was a bit of a rough one. Wednesday had all its bullshit on, and even my newly acquired Peace Prize wasn’t enough of a bludgeon.

Consequently I decided to have a little fun. The kids and I were talking about orcas while folding towels, and a little later a whole new superhero was created, suitable for fanficcing.

I should explain, but there is too much, let me sum up: Harry the Orca needs an intervention, and mighty is the power of SANDBUTT. I also watched Carol Kane in Office Killer, which was pretty amazing, especially for its dead-on 80s magazine-publishing sets. The aura of grunge, grime, cigarette smoke, and hairspray was thick enough to cut with a spork.

Anyway, Wednesday is over now; Thursday and I are eyeing each other with some trepidation, and every so often I reach for the Peace Prize’s ashwood handle, considering whether an application of force might be necessary as a prophylactic measure.

We’ll see.

On the work front, Hell’s Acre is taking left turns with glee and abandon now. I’ve got to figure out how Avery gets to the charity ball. I suppose he could just be chasing Season One’s villain from the other end, but the solution seems too simple. Of course, the Rook’s very interested in simple solutions to complex problems, even if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth where Miss Dove is concerned–and chewing to his knee, I might add. He’s so adaptable and calm in other situations, but something about our fair heroine just puts him constantly on the back foot. Which I like, he’s got to be taken down a peg or two. The fellow’s possessed of quite an ego.

This does mean that I’ll get to use the ballroom scene, with significant cuts and emendations. I’m going to try to get that far before November hits and I shift to revising The Black God’s Heart on one hand and writing Ghost Squad #2 for NaNo. Klemp’s book has been marinating in my head all this while, and getting him and Beck out into the woods for the crisis is the only thing I haven’t figured out yet.

The characters will get where they need to go. They always do, I just have to keep writing, and trust the process. At least that hasn’t changed.

Walkies have to be accomplished before too much longer. Boxnoggin, while still adoring the concept, has grasped yet again this year that the rain isn’t going away, so is reconsidering this entire “go outside” thing. Miss B, of course, is an all-weather pooch, and will not let him deviate from the daily schedule. Poor Boxnoggin is caught between the fact that he loves walkies and the concomitant fact that all change, to a canine of his temper, is terrible, no good, very bad. He cannot quite understand why his human, goddess that she is, considers wet falling from the sky necessary and doesn’t arrange a drier clime for his slick-coated self.

Each time I expect him to walk in the rain he’s just so perplexed. But you are the hoomin, he seems to say, head cocked and eyebrows up. You control EVERYTHING, why are you making us do this?

I wish I was even half as powerful as he clearly considers me. It would make things ever so much easier. Either that or increase my burdens beyond bearing, I can’t decide.

Coffee is sinking into my tissues, so I should probably get some toast down the hatch and my shoes on. The books won’t write themselves, more’s the pity.

Just be careful, Thursday. I’m watching you, and I have weapons handy.

Over and out.

Manner of Doldrums

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It’s a gloomy Pacific Northwest autumn morning, which suits me perfectly right down to the ground. The rain has been wonderful, the wind amusing; Boxnoggin loses his tiny little mind when invisible air-fingers are touching his hind end, and while I can’t blame him–it must be disconcerting–it doesn’t stop the whole thing from being hilarious. Miss B, of course, is unbothered by anything and everything except dinner being even a fraction of a minute late.

It’s the close of the witch’s year. We’re coming up on two years’ worth of pandemic, too, though the vaccine mandates seem to be making a bit of a dent. It’s about bloody time. If only we’d had adults (instead of fascist toddlers) in charge initially, we might have already been done with all this. My nerves are bare wires, despite all the attempts to re-wrap them.

But my favourite holiday is almost, almost here. Candy has been stored–we won’t hand it out, of course, trick or treaters will have to wait since the dogs go mad every time the doorbell rings and there’s the little matter of plague. Instead, it’ll go in a big bowl on the table, and we’ll have sugar for days.

Such are the tiny joys I’m looking forward to.

Work yesterday was interrupted by a series of minor catastrophes, so I got barely 700 words in and was quite vexed. I couldn’t even tell if they were good words, and by the end of my working day I was hangry enough to snarl. I did not, though it was a near thing, and I couldn’t go back after dinner for another session, alas.

Ah well. Today is another day, the dogs need another walk, and there’s another round of restless rain sweeping the roof. I’ll see if yesterday’s work was any good once the coffee soaks in, and I should shoehorn in a run for my weary corpse.

Everyone I know is in some manner of doldrums. Two years of All This, even with slight and fitful progress by getting semi-reasonable people back in charge–though they seem to be more interested in caving to authoritarian billionaires than doing the jobs the rest of us hired them for–is enough to dent anyone’s harmony.

I’m turning off the news today, and only glancing briefly at social stuff. I can’t take even one more goddamn thing, and I want some more lead work of Hell’s Acre before November hits and with it the drop-dead date for revisions on The Black God’s Heart, not to mention a couple other projects needing some serious attention before the end of the formal year. Oh, and Cotton Crossing is still $2.99 across ebook retailers until October 31. I’ve enjoyed running that promotion and may have to dream up a different one for November.

Miss B is napping near the door, ready for the slightest twitch on my part–it will, after all, mean walkies are closer to happening. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as excited for anything as her and Boxnoggin are for their daily ramble, but I can at least witness their joy. It’s one of the things getting me through, lately.

We’re all hanging in, all doing the best we can. Good for us–and I don’t mean that sarcastically, either. I’m truly and honestly amazed by the amount of resilience we’ve all displayed. Ideally we would never have had to call upon it…but it’s worthy of a bit of pat-on-the-back just the same.

Good job, everyone. Let’s keep going. The only way out is through, and all that…

A Dawn Refused

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Woke up to the very last (I should think, I hope) proof queries for The Bloody Throne, which I answered and sent back while absorbing coffee. The series has had a particularly difficult birth, what with orphaning (though my editors have all been stellar) and pandemic, but I think–or I fondly hope–it has come through all right. Mostly due to my beloved and long-suffering sensitivity readers, I suspect.

In any case, I won’t heave a sigh of relief until the author’s copies come, because that will mean it’s really-for-true done, not just sort-of-done.

Tuesday started with a rosy dawn, a clutch of work coming down the pike, and some very excited dogs. Both B and Boxnoggin are prancing about, eager to get to walkies; Boxnoggin in particular has already barked his fool head off at a delivery once this morning and, I suspect, cannot wait to get strapped into his harness and cause some kind of mischief outside the house.

I’ve a newsletter to get out, some more Hell’s Acre to write–Gemma, I think, has an uncomfortable interview with the director of an orphanage and then is accosted at dinner–and some She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero to get done too. (The antagonists are arguing, the hero is tied to a post, and I think I know how this scene ends but I could be wrong…) All in all, it’s a very busy day, and I’m…

[[time passes]]

…I had to get up twice to calm Boxnoggin down. He is just beside himself this morning, since the aforesaid delivery came much earlier than expected and consequently constitutes a Change. And, of course, for this dog–even more than for usual canines–ALL CHANGE IS BAD. Even good change causes him a great deal of upset. He’s as nervous as a tired toddler, all the damn time.

Poor fellow. I do my best to keep everything calm and even for him, but sometimes even a human with opposable thumbs and a swollen prefrontal cortex can’t deal with everything, sheesh.

I suppose that’s my cue to get my teeth brushed and the silly fur-covered critters ambled. Boxnoggin’s not going to rest until he gets me out the door, and Miss B’s getting into the act as well. It’s a wonder I get anything done with these fuzzy-ass toddlers “supervising” every breath.

At least I was able to lie in bed for about ten minutes while dawn tiptoed through the east, and could see a slice of pink clouds through my window. Rising with the sun is never my favorite thing, so being able to throw an arm over my eyes–peeking out every once in a while to see the beauty–and refuse to do so was pleasant indeed. Alas, I was coaxed out of my warm bed (for a certain value of coax, Boxnoggin is really earning his “von Titzpunch” title lately) and set upon the day, so I suppose I’d best get to the next thing on the to-do list.

I keep giving longing glances at the new baseball bat, but I can’t practice with it inside. That’s just a recipe for disaster. Ah well.

We are embarked upon Tuesday, my beloveds. Please keep all limbs inside the carriage, and don’t look too closely at Wednesday’s formlessness in the distance. (The abyss tends to look back into one, and that’s never comfortable.) Make sure you’re buckled in, and remember, just getting through the day is a victory in and of itself. Take the win, no matter how small, where you find it.

Over and out.