what i do The Little Prince is beginning to fall into a school-morning routine, with only the usual and expected amount of teenage grumbling. The Princess, bright and shiny as a new penny, is settling into her first job.

That’s right, my baby is gainfully employed. It was a pretty painless process, since she’s fearsomely organized and cheerful. (No, I don’t know where she got that from. I am as mystified as anyone else.) I am still agog that the squalling bundle pulled out of me eighteen-ish years ago is a productive adult. For making it up as I go along, maybe I haven’t parented too badly. Of course, any credit goes to her for being a wonderful human being from the get-go. I’m just glad I didn’t mess everything up. When I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to escape. It’s pleasant and wonderful that the Princess actively wants to stay home. To her, this is a safe place, and I am glad.

School has been such a thing for so many years now that it’s kind of weird not to be sending her off each day at the usual time. It’s also weird to be adding adult things to the relationship–things like her taking over some of her own filing and paperwork, or shifting communication protocols now that she doesn’t have to check in with me about her location as frequently. We’re both pretty conscious that these things are changing, and most days it’s easy enough to keep up. Every once in a while, though, one or both of us needs a hug and some deep breathing.

Who am I kidding? It’s mostly me. For so many years you guard your child’s every breath, and the process of easing up as they grow into an adult works against that habit something fierce. This is all new for her, taking her first steps into the world she’s hopefully pretty prepared to make some headway in. I have to remember to slow down and take things I’ve been doing for decades–balancing a checkbook, say, or knowing how to jockey a bureaucracy–and break them down into easily digestible components for her. I mean, I’ve always done that, but the process has accelerated a bit of late.

The Prince, of late, is also changing. He’s no longer the baby, being Fourteen and All Grown Up Now. Seeing his sister take on some of the trappings of adulthood means he needs to bump his nose against some boundaries just to be sure they’re still there, still cradling him. It would be frustrating if I didn’t understand how scary it is when you’re that age and things start changing rapidly. As it is, it’s damn hard to keep a straight face when he does the boundary testing.

Through it all, the writing flows, some days easier, other days harder. The book I’m working on now is taking its sweet time, and what began as a simple gift for my agent has turned into something I know I have to finish, just because. It was a method of saving my sanity between contracts, but now that I’m 30K in and there’s (still) no contract in sight, finishing is somewhat talismanic. My own version of a nervous tic. Each time life gets more complex, I turn to writing. Sometimes I think it’s to process, other times I’m pretty sure it’s an escape, and there are times I know the truth: that it’s a lifeline, and keeps me balanced when everything around me is shifting.

Now it’s time for a run, to sweat out the stress. Later it’ll be time to spin a whole world out of whole cloth, from my brain to my fingers and onto the page. Last but not least, to hug both my children, no matter how grown-up they are. “Mom hugs are the best hugs,” the Princess tells me.

“Even when you’re a legal adult?” I ask.

“Especially then,” says she. And hugs me harder.

Squirl Swim

squirl swim

That spate of hundred-degree days that gave us the Saga of the Heat-Crazed, Gargoyle-Murdering Squirl prompted me to do something I said I would never, ever in a million years even consider.

“Put out some water for them,” a kind commenter said. “They’ll love you forever.”

While the latter half of that advice is extremely questionable, the former just seemed like a decent thing to do. After all, if I was thirsty all day, the little rodent fucks probably were too. My compassion thus appealed to and my good sense suppressed by the broiling, I set out some water for the squirrels.

Who ended up having an orgy in their new swimming pool. No, I won’t describe it fully. Just know that whatever you’re imagining, it was a hundred times more uncomfortable to witness. Apparently, what the commenter meant was, with access to a swimming hole, they’ll love each other forever.

I still haven’t drained the damn thing. I just don’t want to touch it.

School, Quiet

Well, school has started for one-half of the children a la Chez Saintcrow. The Princess is graduated, so it’s just the Little Prince September-scrambling to get every duck in a row. Fortunately, we have enough leftover school supplies to equip a whole army of teenagers. Except a binder. A one-inch binder. I didn’t happen to have one lying about, so it was ambling through the doors of the office supply store at opening this morning to pick one up.

On the way I saw a man vomit a truly amazing volume of liquid onto the parking lot. I would have stopped to ask if he was all right, but he wiped his mouth and walked away quickly, in a straight line. So…I’m guessing he felt better?

Today there’s a long run–Miss B will be upset because she’s not allowed to come along–and a few emails I’ve put off sending. Then it’s more work on Harmony, which I will probably finish in spite of myself, and give to my agent as a gift. I spent a pretty productive hour yesterday, while waiting for the Princess who was in a job interview, sketching out the Harmony compound and listing the different people involved in the group. That sort of noodling adds depth and richness to one’s imagined world, but it’s so very easy to mistake that effort for actual writing work. One can end up with binders full of ephemera and no book. There’s no substitute for doing the damn work.

The neighborhood is very quiet since the kids have gone back to school. Especially in the evenings. I am unsure whether the incidence of broken glass on park paths will go down. Half my regular running routes are unsafe for Miss B’s paws. I’m not quite shaking my cane and yelling “YOU DAMN KIDS,” but it’s…close. Oh, how time flies.

So, in the new quiet, I’ll run, and breathe. And marvel at time flowing ever onward, as one is wont to do when one has survived multiple years past one’s expectancy.

Over and out.

Squirl Overheat 3: Squirl Beshat

bugsyipe So there I was, watering can in hand, watching the poo and the squirrel and the Aussie fly. Miss B landed with a yelp, though it was more of surprise than pain–thank goodness, because I don’t think she could take another few weeks of enforced idleness while a muscle healed. Or, God forbid, a bone.

Kowalski!Squirl, still screaming for Stella, landed too. Only he did not hit the ground. No. That would have been too damn simple.

Instead, I watched, clutching the empty watering can, as the heat-crazed, screaming squirrel landed directly on a poop-spewing, very excited Odd Trundles. What resulted was, in Cleolinda Jones’s memorable parlance, a FURSPLOSION.

Odd Trundles: NEWFRIEND? *snortfartshartwhistlegaspbark* NEWFRIEND WHERE IS YOU?
Me: *horrified gasp*

Now, even though Odd must have sensed, dimly, on some level, that the sudden weight on his back was his new, exciting buddy, and though Odd is so sweet he would no doubt do his best to be a trusty steed ridden into the chaos of battle, there was just one problem.

Object permanence.

Now, I know Odd is not the only dog who has trouble with the concept. Miss B, of course, understands that when I put the treat under something, her job is to knock it over and collect the sweet, crunchy food reward. Odd, however, just looks mystified, sad, and awestruck. Mystified because, well, where did it go, sad because the treat is Obviously Gone Forever, and awestruck because hoomins are MAGIC and can make things vanish at will.

So, Odd had just crapped himself and his new friend had vanished, and there was a sudden weight on his back. There’s another aspect to this, of course. Poor Odd is so corkscrewed that his hind end only exists for him because he has working legs back there. He can’t see his own ass, or lick it, like other dogs. His back might as well be Shangri-La, for all he’s ever seen it. This creates a number of strange behaviors, the most interesting of which is when he has gas and is frightened into thinking some form of stenchful whistling beast is RIGHT BEHIND HIM and READY TO POUNCE.

Normally, when Odd is frightened, he makes a beeline for my ankles. However, I was up on the deck, which meant there were stairs between him and that precarious safety. So, every synapse in his doggy brain fused, and he decided the best thing to do was just to…run away, as fast as his stubby, blurring little legs could carry him. His immediate lurch to put this plan into motion, as it were, dislodged Kowalski!Squirl, who thankfully had not landed claws-down. No, the tree-rat was shaken away, and landed in the streak of digested extrusion his appearance had called forth from Odd Trundles’s capacious bowels.

In other words, my friends, the squirrel ended up in the shit.

Odd: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALP! *barkbarksnortwhistlefartbarkscrabble*
Miss B: *staggering, cocking her head* WAIT, HOLD UP, I AM SUPPOSED TO DO SOMETHING, I KNOW I AM, LET ME THINK…

Odd blundered into the shade-garden boxes, uphill on the north end of the yard. Kowalski!Squirl, besmeared and bespattered, took off for the vegetable garden at the south end. I reeled towards the stairs, though I don’t know what I could have done at that point unless it was just to wait for events to reach their natural and fully inevitable conclusion.

My poor, sweet, silly bulldog made it to the other side of the shade garden at high speed and dug in his claws, digging a furrow across an astilbe that will never be the same. Kowalski!Squirl extended in a full running lunge and hit the ground a few feet away from the Cesspool of Despair, throwing up a pine cone in his haste. He was so rattled, I guess, he didn’t make for the fir in the middle of the yard. He zoomed right past it, and (as I said) straight for the vegetable garden. I mention this again only because, to understand what happened next, it bears repeating.

Miss B, bright as she is, finally took complete stock of the situation she was enmeshed in. There were two objects moving at high speed, but she was pointed toward the southerly one, and not only that, the southerly one was a small arboreal rodent, making a lot of noise and powerfully fragrant. Can you guess what happened next? Can you, my dear Reader?

I’ll tell you.

The Australian shepherd bellowed “HEEEEEEEEEEEERD IT!”

And the Chase for the Beshitted Squirl was on.

To Be Continued…

Squirl Overheat 2: HEY STELLA

I knew the squirrel was out there in the blinding heat. The dogs were mostly oblivious, since DINNER eclipses most if not all of their brainspace whenever it rolls around. I did not relish the thought of taking them outside, but I relished the thought of their eventual bowel-emptying on carpet even less. Besides, I reasoned, it was too damn hot for the squirrel to make mischief.

A little voice in the back of my head did pipe up to tell me those little fuckers could cause mischief on the surface of the sun, for Christ’s sake, and who did I think I was kidding? So I checked and rechecked my footwear, said a small prayer to whatever gods protect one from arboreal rodents, and thought long and hard about going outside armed. The Sekrit Weapon was downstairs, but I am never more than arm’s length away from anything that can be used to wallop an intruder. I fretted over whether to grab a broom, a bokken, a shinai, one of the katanas…well, there were shovels out in the shed, maybe…you get the idea.

Miss B pushed at the back of my knees, insistently, and Odd Trundles did not understand why I wasn’t opening the door so he could prance outside and Do His Business. He began making a noise somewhere between a whine and a groan, his very own I-gotta-go cry. So I cautiously opened the door, stepped out into heat that smelled (and felt) like the inside of a feverish hobo’s mouth, and followed the dogs as they scrambled for the stairs. I tried to look everywhere at once, and though I had just about talked myself out of the need to be armed I still grabbed the (empty) watering can from the table. A fuzzy idea of splashing a squirrel to dissuade it drifted through my head and away, because that was when the noise started.


I can only surmise the damn squirrel was heat-crazed. Because it darted down from the tree near the deck, yelling for Stella, and boomed across the yard, straight for B and Odd, who had begun snuffling just downhill of the shade-garden boxes. Miss B froze, perplexed for a few split seconds. While she is perfectly comfortable attempting to herd a whole battalion of tree-rats, having one attempt to herd her is Not Quite The Thing, as we used to say. Especially since she had been looking forward to a nice leisurely evacuation of her lower intestine. Dogs are creatures of habit, and first comes the dinner, then comes the clearing of space for said dinner to digest, world without end, amen. So, Miss B stood, head cocked, looking down the barrel of a one-squirrel banzai charge.

Odd, for once, was quicker on the uptake. Or maybe he just wasn’t troubled by any thoughts of role reversal or manners. All he knew was that there was a NEW FRIEND coming to greet him, and the pressure in his abdomen could be ignored for a bit while he attended to this marvelous, wonderful development.

I love that dog, but he does not make good decisions.

Miss B: *still staring, mildly perplexed*
Odd Trundles: NEWFRIEND! *snortwhistle* NEWFRIEND NEWFRIEND! *snortwhistleshart*

Yes, friends and neighbors, Odd was so excited his wriggle turned into a scamper directly for the NEWFRIEND, a scamper that squeezed his peristalsis into overdrive, a scamper that had a brown streak at one end. It exploded forth, impelled by Odd’s sheer glee.

The problem, alas, was that Miss B was right behind him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a leap quite like the one she performed to avoid the, erm, blowback. Straight up, her limbs splaying, almost catlike in its fluid authority. Unfortunately, her landing was a bit less than graceful, and she yelped.

Kowalski!Squirl: STELLAAAAA!
Odd Trundles: NEWFRIEND! *shartwhistlesnortbark*

And what, you may ask, was I doing during this? Simple: I was on the deck, staring, with my mouth slightly agape, an empty, green, plastic watering can dangling from my hand. I hadn’t even made it to the stairs.

This takes much longer to tell than the event needed to transpire. So, just to set the scene: there was an airborne squirrel, airborne poo, and an airborne Australian shepherd all at once. I was inhaling, about to yell something stupid (like “OH MY GOD *Odd Trundles’s full name* YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING…”) when time sped up with a snap. Miss B staggered sideways. Kowalski!Squirl hung in the air over Odd’s back for slightly longer, but when he touched down, well, that was when the real fun began.


Boom Boom Cower

EXPECTOPATRONUMsmall Happy “Let’s Have Drunk People Blow Shit Up and Terrorize All Our Pets” Day, everyone! In the grand tradition of anyone with half a functioning eardrum left, I will be closing up the house early and drugging my canines so they don’t freak out. Odd is mostly sanguine, though he mistakes some of the bigger booms for gigantic canine motherships trying to call him home. It’s B who has most of the trouble, and when she starts to wig out, Trundles thinks perhaps he should too, seeing as how she’s older and wiser and reminds him to breathe all the time and all.

So, yeah. Pharmaceutical help for Miss B is definitely in the works. We have meds squirreled away for just this occasion, thank heaven and the veterinarians who work there.

The cats, of course, just hide downstairs. Except the Mad Tortie, who we bring in and keep in well before late afternoon, even though she haaaates it, so that when the cannonade starts she can hightail it for–of all places–my closet.

I don’t know, man, I just work here.

And yes, I am working today. Holidays are only for the salaried in publishing. So after wordcount, it’s cleaning the cavy cage and clipping Bandit’s nails. No doubt he’ll enjoy that; he actually doesn’t seem to care about the fireworks but OH GOD BIG PINK THING IN CAGE WITH ARM ATTACHED MUST BE SNAKE PREY ANIMAL POWERS ACTIVATE! I feel bad for stressing the little rodent out, which must be a first. (And yes, I ALWAYS make sure I’m wearing shoes when approaching his cage. You just never know.) Then there’s the hoovering to do, too, and and and.

So it’s time to go back to work, now that I’ve told you all about the wonder and glory that is Life with the Chez Saintcrow Menagerie. Miss B is nervously licking my ankle while I type this, wanting to be sure I’m still here and ready to protect her from the Big Noises.

Either that, or she thinks the cocoanut oil I’ve slathered on is delicious. I am now marinated, apparently.

Over and out.

Fine, Really.

First up, the obligatory shilling: there are new perks for the MARKED Indiegogo campaign, and the first sneak peek for June is up at my Patreon. Also, if you like what I do, you can buy me a coffee. Oh, and Cloud Watcher, book four of the Watchers series, is $.99 on Kindle right now.

It’s tremendously uncomfortable to be highlighting all of those things at once. I try to stay away from marketing and self-promotion as much as possible, being allergic to the whole thing and wary of saturating the airwaves with a whole bunch of “OH HEY BUY MY SHIT.” But really, one has to do a little of that in this job. (Well, one has to do a LOT, but I keep trying to get away with the minimum.)

ANYWAY. Hello, dear Reader. How are you? I’m…fine. Really. Really I am.

The bellows clamp holding the seal on the front door of the washer failed last night. Today I have to find a new one, because if there is one appliance that sees daily use around here, it’s the dishwasher BUT the washer is a close, close second. Plus there’s water all over the utility room floor, and publishers aren’t paying me.


That’s pretty much where I am. Fortunately, there’s the zombie apocalypse book and the alt-history series to keep me occupied, as well as revisions on Cormorant. I know the publisher isn’t in love with the title for the last, but I may dig my heels in a little, because it’s the right one. That book tore itself out of me so quickly I’m still feeling the twinges, the scar tissue is still delicate enough to tear again if I really force it. Maybe that’s why everything in me is resisting and the zombie apocalypse story is pouring out instead.

So today I find out who in town has a bellows clamp so I can repair the goddamn washer, I write the slow realization in a conference room that everything is fucked and the zombies are coming, and I snuggle my dogs and my kids as much as I can because the news is still dreadful.

It’s gonna be a long day.