RELEASE DAY: Damage

Good morning, everyone! We’ll get to the Friday photo in a bit. It’s a release day! That’s right, today Damage is out in the world.


Damage

Keeping her safe will be his hardest assignment yet. . .

Reeling from trauma and divorce, Cara Halperin takes what should be a simple job with an expensive agency. As a nanny to rich children, she shouldn’t have much to worry about, and her job is just complex enough to keep her from brooding. Unfortunately, the agency’s sent her into a trap.

Vincent Desmarais wants to go back into the field, but instead, he’s put on leave. The diagnosis? PTSD. No problem–he can pick up security work on the side to keep himself sharp–that is, if the side work isn’t just as dangerous as the bloody places he’s longing to get back to.

When the lights go out, Cara and her young charge have only one option: to trust the new security guy. Vincent finds himself unwilling to abandon them to fate or let them out of his sight. If the trio wants to stay alive, they’ve got to trust each other. . .

. . .but that may just be what their enemies are counting on.

Now available from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, and Kobo.


It’s strange to see stuff I worked on during lockdown (not the book itself, but the publication and production process) reach release. Publication takes a long time, which means we’ve been in lockdown for what seems like bloody well forever. But the book–my love song to a particular movie starring Matthias Schoenaerts–is out now, it’s live, and I’m going to be spending most of the day roaming the house and twitching from release-day nerves.

You’d think it would get easier after so many titles. Alas.

As for the Friday photo, get a load of this guy.



Yep, that’s Boxnoggin attempting to disembowel one of my favorite couch pillows. I gather–and this is my translation, so it might be a little blurry–that it “looked at him funny.” Fortunately he didn’t manage to eat much of the stuffing, so that was all right. And I had another slightly less wounded pillow to stuff into the case too. Small mercies.

Have a good weekend, everyone. I’ll be trying to recover from release day and revisions at once. Multitasking self-care saves time, right?

Right? (If I’m not right, don’t tell me…)

Over and out.

Order, Ritual, Merry-Go-Round

Tomorrow’s a release day, and I am all at sixes and sevens. I have even snarled, “oh, for fuck’s sake” thrice before coffee, which isn’t quite a record but does herald an Interesting Morning.

The dogs are trotting up and down the hall, peeking in to see if I’m moving towards walkies yet. Soon Miss B will settle herself with a sigh in my office door, so I can’t possibly leave without tripping over her. Boxnoggin, of course, is keeping watch out the front window. If a gust of wind comes down the street, he’ll start screaming his fool head off, in the hope of drawing me out to see what the ruckus is, and while I’m out there of course he might as well ask about walkies.

There is an order and a ritual to mornings chez Saintcrow, and the canines don’t want us to forget it.

I dreamed of snow, which isn’t usual in spring. Snow, and wolves, and black pines under a white coat. The coffee is helping get the images stowed properly; what I really want to be doing is working on The Cold North. Instead, I’ve the revisions on Black God’s Heart to finish, Book 2 of that to write, Hell’s Acre to get underway (though the entire thing is outlined, as far as I ever outline anything) before I can even think of slotting the Tolkien Viking Werewolves into the merry-go-round.

Still, it’s a good sign that a book’s living in my head. The past year has been so strained, I sometimes thought I’d lose words altogether. I’ve only lost words once in my writing life–that was post-divorce, buying the house–and it’s a terrible feeling. Even having a book up and die on me (like the Steelflower sequels, or Deadroad) isn’t so painful.

I’m also moonlighting with The Innkeeper’s War, which centers on a very cranky ex-mercenary who runs an inn, and one day her old adventuring friend the wizard shows up with a farm boy in tow. Then her inn gets burned down, and…but that’s giving the game away. Maybe I’ll write it, maybe I won’t; for right now it’s fun to have bits of different things for the machine inside my skull to chew on.

Keeps it from chewing on me. At least, that’s the idea.

I suppose I’d best finish this coffee and stagger for the door, which will trigger a cascade of excitement from the canine component of the household. I was wise enough to get my shoes tied without their help this morning, though, which qualifies as a win.

At least, I’m going to treat it as such. And try not to think about a release day tomorrow. Fingers crossed, and all that.

See you ’round.

COVER REVEAL: Damage

That’s right–my subscribers got this cover reveal before the weekend, but now it’s out in the world! Meet the first Ghost Squad novel, beloveds!


Damage

Keeping her safe will be his hardest assignment yet. . .

Reeling from trauma and divorce, Cara Halperin takes what should be a simple job with an expensive agency. As a nanny to rich children, she shouldn’t have much to worry about, and her job is just complex enough to keep her from brooding. Unfortunately, the agency’s sent her into a trap.

Vincent Desmarais wants to go back into the field, but instead, he’s put on leave. The diagnosis? PTSD. No problem–he can pick up security work on the side to keep himself sharp–that is, if the side work isn’t just as dangerous as the bloody places he’s longing to get back to.

When the lights go out, Cara and her young charge have only one option: to trust the new security guy. Vincent finds himself unwilling to abandon them to fate or let them out of his sight. If the trio wants to stay alive, they’ve got to trust each other. . .

. . .but that may just be what their enemies are counting on.

Now available for preorder from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.


Isn’t it lovely? I really like that the heroine looks exactly like she did in my head–which doesn’t happen a lot, as you well know. I’m also looking forward to writing a few more Squad books; the next one is already assembling itself inside my head. I like writing romance a great deal.

For those asking about other platforms, it will be available, they just take some time for preorder links to populate. (Looking at you, Apple.)

Long-time subscribers will also know that this particular book is my love song to a certain movie starring Matthias Schoenaerts; they also got to see bits and pieces while I was writing it.

I do write a lot of love songs, come to think of it. I’m gonna call that a good thing.

Anyway, we’ve got this book to look forward to at the end of March, my dears. I’m already nervous over an upcoming release day, but that’s usual. I figured, what with it being the Monday after Daylight Savings, not to mention the Ides of March, we could all use something pretty, and this certainly qualifies.

I’m going to go finish my coffee and hope a pleasant day befalls us all. And maybe hyperventilate into a paper bag because a cover reveal means a release day approaching like a slinking lion, and those always play havoc with my nerves…

Blur Crocus

This photo would have been a lot nicer, but the dogs were yanking at my waist, eager to get on with things. But it’s nice enough, I think, for a sunny Friday. Spring is here (Spring is here, life is skittles and life is beer…)

We had snowdrops before (and after) the snow, jonquils hard upon their heels, and now there’s crocuses and daffodils. Cherry trees are beginning to bloom, except for the one down the street, which has been blooming early as it does every damn year.

I think that tree knows something I don’t. But that’s not unusual. The magnolias are full of furry buds, too. The hydrangea and clematis are bearing fresh green. I’m trying to be hopeful for the roses and the grapevines.

It should be a season of renewal, but I simply feel exhausted. Part of that could be working through the weekends, as I will have to do for the foreseeable future. But a surfeit of work is better than a scarcity, world without end, amen.

Next week there’ll be a cover reveal, and later this month a new release. The omnibus edition of HOOD, not to mention Season Three, is inching its way through the pub process. And Boxnoggin is next to my chair, with great sad puppy eyes, begging for the morning walk. He absolutely needs to get his snoot in a few more crocuses before they’re gone, and heaven help the hyacinths once they bloom.

I suppose I’d best tie my shoes (with a dog’s help, of course) and get going. Happy Friday, beloveds. Get some sun if you can, and take a deep breath.

Maybe, just maybe, things are getting better.

Supposed To, Should, Maybe

I’m supposed to be resting today.

I did line edits, then a final revise on a submittable manuscript, back to back. The big scab on my forehead from Boxnoggin’s antics has fallen free, though the ones on my hands and knees are still clinging for all they’re worth. (I know, you really wanted to hear about that, you’re welcome.) I feel just generally run-down and like my body’s fighting off a cold, though it could just be my immune system screaming “COME AT ME, MOTHERFUCKERS, I GOT ENOUGH AMMO FOR ALLA YOUSE.”

…my immune system, she is just like me.

Yes, I should be resting today. Instead I’m considering a Viking fantasy gothic werewolf book1, and looking at my production schedule for next year to see where I could ram one in. Bonus if it turns out that I can do the Rebecca-from-vampire-Mrs-Danvers-POV novella2 as well, since that’s been boiling in the back of my head.

It’s… nice, I suppose? To feel books jostling inside my head again, and to feel like I might, if I budget carefully, have the energy to finish another one? I’ve spent most of 2020 feeling down in the dumps because my productivity has taken hit after massive hit. I have a lot of Tolkien to read too, and I should be planning nothing more taxing than a day on the couch with a stack of Unfinished Tales and History of Middle-Earth, drinking tea and chortling while I make notes for Fall of Gondolin fanfic.

I am making the supreme sacrifice–no run today, because I rolled over in bed this morning and my body informed me that if I suit up for one, it will have some Strong Words for the management. I figure I’ve put my faithful old corpse through enough lately, so it’ll be ibuprofen and just a gentle ramble with both dogs. Miss B’s hind leg is bothering her a bit, so we keep our pace almost glacial, which drives Boxnoggin almost to distraction. Still, the two of them wrestle with abandon after lunch and dinner, so they get plenty of exercise and Boxnoggin’s “Gawd, will you just come on,” dance burns a lot of energy as well. Or so I hope.

Maybe I’ll yell some more about the Silmarillion or related things3 later this week. If I do–I’m not saying it’s a given, mind you–is there anything in particular you guys want me to cover? I don’t think I’m up to Children of Hurin4 but other stuff is fair game. I kind of wish ol’ JRR had novelized the Kingdom of the North, but that could be because I’m a total Witch King of Angmar fangirl.

…anyway, the dogs want their walkies and the coffee is down to dregs, so I suppose me and the faithful carcass that’s been hauling me around since birth should get a gentle ramble in. Then it’ll be time for ibuprofen and tea.

A writer’s life is full of excitement, kiddos.

Over and out.

What Weekend?

I spent the weekend on line edits for an upcoming romance (you guys are gonna love this one) and crashed pretty hard Sunday afternoon. Every wound and swelling left over from Boxnoggin trying to murder me via pavement was speaking up, and I had a headache so bad I was thinking “brain bleed, Lili, you’re gonna die.”

So I made dinner and went to bed early, figuring if I was going to shuffle off the mortal coil I might as well be snuggled under comforters when it happens. There were confused dreams of the fall of Gondolin mixed with a bank-heist caper and a Shannara-style wishsong sequence through a city overgrown with giant sentient tentacles, too.

It was fun inside my skull last night.

In any case, the headache is gone as if it never existed, I feel a thousand percent better, and the swelling has gone down dramatically. Of course I just needed rest, and was unwilling to take it because there was work to be done, dammit.

I also learned a new word this past weekend: Irisu. Apparently it’s Japanese for “not answering the doorbell even though you’re home.” It pleases me there’s an actual term for it.

I don’t know if this is exactly accurate–if a native or educated speaker is reading this, feel free to correct in the comments–but it’s a concept I love. The doorbell, like the telephone, is a convenience, not an obligation, and in a world where we’re expected to be “on” all the time it feels delicious to carve out a little space for oneself. (Especially when it’s employers expecting us to cater to corporate whims 24/7.)

In any case the line edits are sent off–my editor is a bloody saint, I love her, and she is available for hire if that NaNo novel of yours wants a shot at rising to the top of the query or slush pile–and today I take a short easy run and a whirl through the portal fantasy one last time before it goes out the door and on submission. That should eat up half the day, and maybe if I play my cards just right I’ll be able to take half Monday off in recompense for working all damn weekend.

I don’t want to relax too much, though. For one thing, the sudden release of pressure might cause the bends.

Boxnoggin feels pretty bad about the murder-by-pavement thing; I might not take him on a run for a while just in case. His stomach seems a little nervous, probably because I was not my usual self this weekend, being mostly nonverbal and stare-y. He keeps trying to lick at my healing wounds, his big brown eyes full of pleading when I flinch and say “ow, kiddo, maybe not that.” Miss B, of course, has decided to show her concern by relentlessly bossing and herding both of us. Boxnoggin will break off playing with her to trot back to the office and check on me, his head cocked at an anxious and inquisitive angle; she will race down the hall and skid into said office to give a sharp, half-muffled bark (since I will snap “don’t take that tone in my office, woman” at her) and nips and herds him out to the living room to play some more.

It’s a good thing they have each other to keep occupied. Just thinking about amusing either of them for a stretch makes me tired.

And now it’s time to get out the door, since I’ve already crossed off a few things on the to-do list. Retreating to the couch with Unfinished Tales sounds like a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and might even give me more fuel for yelling about Tolkien™ at a later date. Which I’m sure you’re in breathless anticipation of, my dears. (I have a lot to say about Feanor, but who doesn’t?)

Anyway. Happy Monday, beloveds, we’re on the downward slope of 2020 and it looks like the coup might have failed this time (of course, they’ll just try again harder in 2024, I’m sure) but the damage is deep enough to satisfy even the worst sociopaths in office.

…yeah, I’m not very optimistic today. Maybe it’s the scabs and the residual swelling.

Over and out.

Mad March Scheduling

Well. It’s March, it’s a Monday. There is a pea-soup fog; even the cedars across the back yard are hazy and indistinct. I meant to get up early and start my spring-forward on the right foot, but… the dogs were heavy, I was dreaming about a glass labyrinth, and the enormity of a few professional steps I’ve taken lately has come crashing down.

I have to write an agent query letter. I have never had to write an agent query letter, so this should be fun. (Yes, there are a lot of things in publishing I don’t know about. Always learning is the name of the game.)

This week, Serial Time and Nest Egg subscribers get the unedited ebook of HOOD‘s Season Two, and next week they get the edited one–well before it goes on sale anywhere, I might add, though I do need to update the buy links on the book page. I’m hard at work on Season Three, where all the characters come together–the double-crosses are revealed, Ged Gizabón commits murder, Robb Locke commits even more, Parl Jun makes his bid for absolute power, Marah decides to hell with deportment and responsibility because all of Anglene needs to be saved, Bookman Trick finds out he’s not a coward after all, and Alladal finally gets a few things she wants.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And then there’s breaking an embargo, a deadly speeder chase, not one but two jailbreaks, and a whole lot else planned.

I mean, I knew writing Robin Hood IN SPACE was going to be fun, but I didn’t know it would be this fun. I’m eyeing what I have to pull off and rubbing my hands together with glee.

There’s also a podcast I want to listen to, which doesn’t happen often. I should have cued it up yesterday while I was doing housework, but I was busily dancing to the book soundtrack for The Calling Knife. (That’s what the trunk novel is calling itself now.)

So the work schedule looks like: HOOD‘s Season Three, The Bloody Throne (third and final Hostage book), The Black God’s Heart (which is American Gods meets John Wick meets Conan the Destroyer), and The Highlands War (which is the last Steelflower book for a while; I probably won’t write her and D’ri’s return to G’maihallan). And there’s revisions on Finder’s Watcher to get done, as well as line edits on The Poison Prince–that’s book two of Hostage to Empire. Plus Sons of Ymre and Damage both need another draft, since both are somewhere between zero and first draft status.

I also need to write that damn query letter, and it would be super great if I could also make The Calling Knife leave me alone for a little while. Basically I’m running in circles screaming with my hair afire, but you know I prefer too much work to too little, indeed. And some gardening this month wouldn’t be amiss either.

Right now, though, I should focus on finishing my coffee and getting the dogs walked. The rest of it will happen in due time. Breaking tasks into bite-size pieces is the name of adulthood’s game, and I’ve had all the rest I’m allowed–or want.

Plus, I’ve got this machete handy. Monday had better behave, and March had better straighten up.

*wanders away muttering, slurping at coffee*