Dry Snow Day

Dry and crunchy.

This part of the world doesn’t often get fine powder-snow. I haven’t seen this weather since Wyoming–the particular pale tinge to a winter sky near the horizon, the dry crunch of several inches of snow, the wind coming fast and bright, air so cold and un-humid it sparkles like champagne. The road is a skating rink, the backyard a wonderland, the birdbath wearing a fuzzy white fur hat.

What with the wind it’s well below freezing, and has been all night. I have never forgotten the low moan of moving air against a house’s corners (Rattlesnake Wind is named after that sound) but I didn’t think I’d hear it here.

The melt is coming, or so the meteorologists say. It will be nice to have all this washed away so we can get back to walkies, morning runs, and the like…

…but I’m also enjoying the snow and song, for as long as it lasts. I’ll be working all weekend, so it probably didn’t matter that I snuggled in bed a little longer today, cuddling Boxnoggin and listening to the weather speak.

Monday will be warmer, my beloveds. See you then!

Shivering Thankful

Another snowpocalypse. This is getting depressingly regular, but at least this time it’s dry powder, not wet dense stuff, and there’s no freezing rain to coat everything, snapping branches plus power lines with its weight. Boxnoggin is mildly put out that he will not have walkies today, but the backyard is so cold and the snow so unpleasant on his tender tootsies he’s willing to be magnanimous, especially if I give him a treat or two.

Or four.

With the cedars gone the east wind smacks the back of the house, including my office window. Which is less than ideal…but nothing can be done, so here we are. At least the melt, when it happens, will give me plenty of fodder for the epic fantasy, where the main character is trekking across a frozen swamp and hoping spring will stave off for long enough to get to the other side. I think next they’ll hear the hunting horns of their enemies, because of course things can always get worse in one of my books.

Both bridges over the river are at a standstill, and all authorities are pleading with people to stay put, don’t try to travel, just for the love of god stay off the roads. I am wincing for everyone who feels they have to go out in this mess, especially those who literally can’t afford to miss work. Weather events are one thing, but late-stage capitalism is a much worse catastrophe, and it seems goddamn near unending. Each week brings a fresh hell; I am legitimately surprised guillotines haven’t made a serious comeback.

The snow is pretty, though, and I’ll build a fire in a wee bit. The last of the cedar will probably go up the chimney today. If this had to happen, things worked out as well as possible. I’m no optimist–I swear–but when I think of how bad it could be I’m damn near shivering with thankfulness.

A lot of dry snow is being kicked up by the wind. I haven’t seen this kind of feathery airborne stuff since Wyoming. The good news is, it’s clearing off the tree branches even as it rattles against the windows. I’d forgotten how clear the air gets in this kind of low-humidity freeze; it damn near sparkles, like champagne. I’m not going to go trudging around in the drifts, but it is rather beautiful.

I wish you toasty warmth and a bit of peace today, my dears. If I am very good and get all my projected work done, I might even play hooky with a sort of noir-ish thing…

Multiple Marathons

I meant to get a solid night’s sleep, but come 2am my brain simply decided no, did you forget who you’re locked in here with? So there was a lot of staring, a whole lot of thinking, and not very much rest. Consequently I’m more tired than when I lay down, though I forced myself to stay still in the darkness, allowing the body some simulacrum of quietude.

At least it’s daylight now, and the weird wiggins that hit around three in the morning have passed. Boxnoggin’s presence kept them to a minimum, though his habit of burble-breathing into my armpit leaves a little to be desired. I don’t know why he’s so determined–maybe it’s the terrier in him? Maybe he finds the smell comforting? I mean, I can’t imagine who would, but here we are.

There are crocuses in the yard, and snowdrops in the back corner. Unfortunately the fellow whose negligence took the fence down is dragging his feet about replacing it. Good fences make good neighbors, and all that; I suppose I’m finding out which type he is. It’s enough to make me sigh heavily, not to mention pinch the bridge of my nose. Which is what the kids refer to as a warning sign.

I have to think whether I want the next scene in Hell’s Acre to be one I’ve already written. I’ll have to rip it apart and restructure, of course, but I think the bones are there. And if I get that done today I might moonlight with a bit of experimental writing, since Fall of Waterstone has gone quiet. I’m sure it’s just readying for the final push, and that my current low-energy state is simply the result of blazing through the proofs for Salt-Black Tree. They went well–the copyeditor for that particular book was a marvel and I’d love to work with her again–but even good stress is still stress, as the saying goes.

The duology is done, save perhaps a few leftover proofreader queries. It was a massive, wrecking effort, now I’m enduring the snapback. Plus steadily mounting nerves until release day, but that part’s normal. Always fun.

At least there’s coffee. And I took some time off this weekend to watch Altered Carbon‘s first season. My writing partner was right, it suited me very well though I will not be reading the books. I also won’t be watching Season Two, since I think the first ended perfectly, but the noir body-hopping was precisely what I needed and I enjoyed it very much. It had the right ending, not the happy ending, and you know how I feel about that. It makes me want to Franken-bolt something similar to some Jupiter Ascending fanfic, since I love that movie desperately but it didn’t fulfill even a fraction of its potential.

I know the huge problem in my doldrums is feeling behind on Waterstone. There’s nothing for it but putting my head down and plodding through. This is the endurance part of the game, where a lot of washing out happens. I’ll feel better once the decompression sickness from finishing proofs abates, and especially once I get another zero draft dusted. There’s no shortage of work, but stoppages elsewhere in the book pipelines have left me feeling nervous, and it’s difficult to write when one’s physically ill besides. Art takes all types of energy, and when that force is being spent on questions of bare survival…well.

In any case, I have frameworks for both books on the burners now, a piece of fic to play hooky with, and walkies with Boxnoggin to clear my head and get everything inside me jolted into place. The movement will help, even if I’m dragging.

A book is a marathon, and I’m often running multiple ones at once. It would be nice to take an actual break, but heaven knows I’d get itchy-edgy and end up with another story falling out of my head. For better or worse, this is the rocket I’m bound to.

Time for some breakfast.

Almost a Mercy

I need more coffee.

This is somewhat of a constant, but this morning the necessity feels particularly dire. I’m in a state I recognize from other books–itchy, annoyed with anything that takes me away from the work. The two projects on deck right now are both in uncomfortable spots. One is spiking for a conclusion, the other has just reached a scene that’s been in my head for over a year. The Muse is demanding, my fingers ache with the urge to get cracking, anything that takes me away from work gets a side-eye, and quite possibly the stink-eye too.

The recent unpleasantness seems to have died down a bit, since I have a habit of making general announcements instead of giving individual bad actors any oxygen or direct attention. It also helps that I’m not really on Twitter anymore, and the places where I am hanging out–Mastodon and Tumblr are where I’ve settled–have robust block and mute tools.

Still, that was an uncomfortable few days.

My office window is still too bright with the cedars gone, but the low-light plants hanging in the windows seem to be enjoying the change. Fortunately there’s little to no chance of actual sunburn, they’ll just grow a bit differently, which may mean needing to be watered or fed more frequently. This is a happy problem to have, and one I don’t mind at all. Of far more daily consequence is having to harness Boxnoggin every. single. time. we go out into the yard, since the back fence is now nonexistent. The neighbor swears they’ll get that taken care of; I hope they’re truthful.

A week off running didn’t do me any favors, either. Of course the weather was awful, I avoided slipping on ice-patches and cracking my fool skull, and it was time to give my body a rest anyway. So it was fortunate…but still wears on one’s nerves. Which has been the theme lately. “Well, this isn’t the worst it could be, it’s actually almost a mercy, it’s annoying but it will end up better in the long run…”

When on earth did I become an optimist? Or maybe it’s just self-defense, given what we’ve all endured the past few years.

I’m shifting nervously in my chair as I type, very ready to be in another world. There’s the subscription drop to finagle today, and also some news about a new Patreon tier. If I get that all settled before lunch I can spend the afternoon getting Hell’s Acre ready for the lunge-to-the-finish of Book 2, and then it’ll finally be time (once I’m warmed up) to attempt Naciel’s Run.

Not bad for a Thursday, even if I could never get the hang of those.

See you around.

Deepened With Waiting

It’s been very chilly for this part of the world; yesterday the Prince insisted he knew how to split wood. I found the axe, he rolled out the cedar chopping-block the guys were kind enough to leave us (more about that in a moment), and by golly and garters, he split wood. He used a rubber mallet to wedge-and-maul a lot of it, I am told, and he was so proud. This achievement matched that of the Princess, who built her very first fire from scratch (instead of using a Duraflame log) while I was busy battling the hordes at the grocery store.

We have the firewood because of the cedar that came down in the backyard during that awful windstorm. The neighbor across the back fence got the rest of the cedars taken out wholesale (barring two small survivors to the north of the fir tree) a few days ago, and now when I glance out my window there’s…a house, instead of the green screen of beautiful trees.

This is not ideal, but given that the whole row went into shock when he had some fly-by-night grifters–who had no clue what they were doing, and overpriced as well–come out to “trim” some of the cedars years ago, it was inevitable. His bad choices have had consequences, and despite that I’m being gracious.

For now.

There are still a core of reasonable people masking up in public places, and for that I am grateful. Masked folks are allowed much further into my personal space than disease-breathing naked-facers, and I hope some of the latter have been shamed by my visible (even behind my own mask) disgust with their complete lack of sense.

I finally got to the attack on the elvish city yesterday; it was a good day’s work. I do think I have to go back and rethread the final bits of it, since I want a particular person to find the narrator as she stands watching doom approach. But that’s easy enough, and I know precisely what happens for the next eight thousand words or so. I’ve been looking forward to this, especially the section titled Naciel’s Run, for well over a year. I like letting things marinate, sure, but I was actually unable to work on this book due to stoppage at the publisher end instead of the usual reasons.

I can only hope it will have deepened with the waiting.

It should warm up to the usual damp winter chill by tomorrow, but we’ve one more frigid day. I suppose once Boxnoggin is walked I’ll clean the fireplace and get another blaze going. The cedar smells lovely, even if I would rather have the trees, and it takes a lot of pressure off the heating system. The dog, of course, was extremely hesitant about a change, but soon realized he could bask in his nice cushioned bed, radiant heat bathing his every hair, and has grudgingly decided this is acceptable as long as the humans are closely supervised while poking at the warmy-box.

Imbolc has passed and the light strengthens. My office is far too bright; hopefully we’ll get something else planted as a privacy screen once the fence is repaired. If it’s not one thing, it’s another–and now my coffee is finished and Boxnoggin needs his walkies.

Onward to Thursday. Here’s hoping it’s a quiet one, I have the ruin of a city to write…

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.

Fire and Gnomes

Oh I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen gnomes…

(Apologies to James Taylor.) The portable firepit has rendered signal service; we’ve roasted marshmallows over bits of the downed cedar and spent a lot of time gazing into the flames. Well, the kids have done more of the former and I’ve done more of the latter, thinking about plot tangles and considering which things to cut out of my life. it’s been exhausting, even with friends-who-have-chainsaws helping to get the bulk of the fallen cedar dealt with.

My health is not what it used to be. But the less said about that the better.

Phil and Willard liked the display too; you can see them basking. Willard tends to moan a bit and rock back and forth when the flames get high; Phil says his friend’s not upset but very cautious of fire, as zombies tend to be. When it gets too much, Phil pops a pebble into Willard’s mouth and takes him back to Miranda, who does a bit of comfort-singing. (She’s very fond of Carole King.) Phil, of course, is just fine with backyard bonfires; he and Emphysema Joe sit around with their green and trade rather recondite philosophical arguments.

The entire backyard gets in on it, except for the squirrels. They are quite put out at the falling of the cedar and the attendant damage to the highway–i.e., the back fence. They’re not even taunting Boxnoggin during his loo breaks, which is highly unusual. I suppose they’ll figure out alternative routes, poor things.

Anyway, it’s Friday the 13th and raining too hard for us to drag out the firepit again. So we’ll have to wait until it dries for another marshmallow roast. Maybe Emphysema Joe will even get his guitar out, though he and Phil are too busy arguing over tuning for anything to actually get played. (Everyone’s a critic, and everyone’s got to have a hobby.)

I hope your weekend holds similar delights, my beloveds. Have a good one.