Maintenance and Morning

So last night, while I was doing some site maintenance, a plugin choked and tossed about twenty old, old posts–from 2017–into the blog-subscription-queue. I’m so sorry about that, guys–I hate getting my inbox snowed under, and I can only imagine how much you guys do. I apologize; that plugin has been told to go sit in the corner and THINK about what it’s done, and that was the end of my Wednesday.

I decided, after that, it was time to go to bed.

This morning went from fog to a pink-striped, cotton-candy sky. I watched the sun rise while lying warm and safe in bed, Miss B snuggled against my side and Boxnoggin snoring in a furry lump, as he is wont to do. Both dogs were worn out after yesterday’s rainy fun and games. I found out that yes, I do still need breakfast on running days, and furthermore found out that Boxnoggin can practically drag me home if necessary. (He didn’t have to… but he could have, and it was a comfort.)

Now I’m up, and have a few toads to swallow before I can get back to Sons of Ymre. I think that’ll be the thing I finish next. I have an idea of what I want to do with the story, which hinges on the fact that the Sons can’t really trust their own perceptions in certain cases. Being under constant siege from the whispers of a mad god has a certain effect on one, and it’ll be a hat trick to delineate the mounting dread of a certain main character. Especially once their safe haven is broken into and it becomes a road-trip book.

Other than that, Damage is with a beta reader, I’m clearing my submissions queue by the end of February (which means nothing will be out on sub come April), there’s Season Two of HOOD to CE, proof, and format, the third installment of Hostage to Empire to write now that I have the structure of the book decided, a monthly price on my writing advice column to decide upon–I’m thinking $6/mo–not to mention Season Three of HOOD to get underway–and Guilder to frame for it.

I’m swamped.

You know I like the feeling of having too much work; it’s oodles better than not enough. Some exciting stuff I can’t talk about is coming down the pike, and I might, might be able to squeeze in writing a good chunk of The Highlands War (that’s a fresh new Kaia Steelflower book, natch) for upcoming serial purposes. Don’t get your hopes up yet, though–I’ve so much else to do, I might not be able to, and of course the people who write to me demanding (not encouraging, not telling me how much they like Kaia’s adventures but flat-out DEMANDING) more of that world are doing more harm than good.

I haven’t forgotten that one person who was extremely vocal about demanding other Steelflower books/chapters was the person putting them up on thieving torrenting sites. (Yes, I include a nag and specific typos in certain things, so I can pinpoint who’s listing my stuff on pirate/thievery sites.) So, outright demanding that I write more Kaia makes me want to dig in my heels and is extremely counterproductive.

Anyway, the dogs need a brisk walk to shake off morning fidgets, and I need it in order to shake off the logy feeling of not nearly enough caffeine. I might make myself another jolt if I still feel woolly-headed when we come back home.

Again, I’m super sorry about last night’s snafu, guys. I take being invited into your inbox very seriously, and accidents are embarrassing. You can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be deleting that plugin during the next scheduled maintenance session.

And tomorrow’s Friday. It can’t come soon enough…

Unmatched Stubbornness

So there was a book release, a zero finished, then another book release–this one ultra-stressful for a variety of reasons–and a beloved pet dying.

No wonder I feel like the last few weeks have been an endurance contest, and one I’ve got the worst of. There was also a shift to a new desktop, which is mostly pleasant–as in, my damn computer isn’t requiring a restart every ninety minutes–and partly goddamn annoying. (Catalina broke my Time Machine backups. Fortunately, I have several different automatic backups for work, so it wasn’t a catastrophe, just a series of minor disasters to be surmounted with ingenuity and stubbornness.

I have a limited stock of the former, but my stubbornness is unmatched.

My master to-do list has finishing the zero for HOOD‘s Season Two (featuring a speeder race, a giant heist, and various other fun things) next, but I think I’m going to shift to revising Damage, which needs to go out and start making the rounds. I’ve several projects out on submission; you’d think I’d have a single bite so far. *sigh* Festina lente, that’s publishing. I’m getting to the point where I’ll set time limits for them; if they don’t respond, it’s time to get a damn cover and format something myself.

I’m very tired of being treated like a nuisance instead of the person whose work (creating the damn books) makes everyone else’s job possible.

At least I’ve cardamom coffee, shoes that don’t make my feet hurt (my gods, Alegrias are magic), said new desktop (shiny and new and organized after this past weekend’s drive to get everything in its place) and the kids are healthy. The dogs are attempting to move me out the door for walkies through crisp dry fallen leaves, I can ease back into short interval runs because I’m not walking on knives, and my windowsill is full of freshly dusted and cleaned glass apples.

In short, things are as best as can be expected, in this most semi-perfect of worlds. And I might be able to plug in a beautiful papier-mâché lamp that was a gift many years ago, and contemplate its beauty before whipping a zero into first-draft shape.

It is indeed the little things. Here’s hoping Monday doesn’t get worse than this. I know I missed the Soundtrack Monday last week (grief does funny things to time) but I’ve got a good one for you this week, my friends. It’ll drop this afternoon.

See you then.

Stubbornness and Experience

Just a short note today, since I am so close to the end of Damage I can almost taste a few days off. Usually I have a long doldrums in the center third to four-fifth of a book before lunging to the end; this particular story began gathering steam at the halfway point and is full speed, arm the torpedoes, pass the butter and devil take the hindmost, amen.

Which also means I’ve had the usual “this book is shit, I am shit, and everyone who depends on me will starve to death because of it” in fast-forward, compressed into a smaller length of time but not at all ameliorated. Instead of the usual endurance match it’s a battering on the ropes.

Fortunately, I’ve stubbornness and experience on my side. And icepacks for my damn heel; I’m going to have to get some dixie cups and ice my forearms after this as well. Taking care of one’s hands is de rigeur for a scribe, and my fingers are a little tired. Normally I break in the middle of the day, shifting between two projects; spending all my time focused with white-hot intensity on one is giving me aches I could do without.

I might be pushing so hard on this book because I can’t run for a short while–plantar fasciitis is a bitch–and I need something to keep my brain from eating itself. Yoga sadly doesn’t cut it.

So it’s ice, and ibuprofen, and swearing under my breath every time I have to get said icepack out. This draft is extremely lean; that’s all right, I think it’s more a category romance than anything and the leanness of the draft will give me plenty of room to add the necessary touches and still be under wordcount limit.

Of course, if the category publishers don’t get off their rear ends and move in a reasonable amount of time, it will no doubt grow to a different proportion and be brought out through my own inimitable services. Either way a reader wins. I’m getting less and less willing to wait for trad publishers to, in my grandfather’s pungent phrase, shit or get off the pot.

Also, it’s subscription day, and I should really get the monthly newsletter out. If I get the denouement done this morning, that will be a lazy afternoon’s work.

Meanwhile there’s coffee to suck down, ice to put under my heel until it stings and grows numb, the dogs to walk while I wince and step carefully. The rain has retreated for now; the sunshine is unpleasant but at least it’s not gasping-hot anymore. Summer’s spine has broken and autumn has ascended the throne.

It’s got to be enough.

Only Moderate Pain

The Society

It’s a dark morning, a nice thick cloud layer shielding us. The rain has brought greening at the bottom of summer-yellowed grass and the trees are lifting their arms again, turgor pressure rising. Miss B is philosophical–her coat is wash and wear, and she’s a fan of chilly temperatures.

Boxnoggin, however, is from the South, and this cold, damp bullshit is not at all to his liking. Plus, he’s got a lovely slick coat that doesn’t bulk up like B’s. Consequently, he goes out in the rain and his first act is to crane his head over his shoulder and look at me mournfully. Clearly I am a vengeful goddess who is making water fall from the sky for the express purpose of inconveniencing his four-legged self.

B’s just happy summer is over. She gets warm, even with the air trapped in her coat.

As for me, I am delighted with the rain. Already my productivity’s spiked; 4k on Damage yesterday alone. I’m in the space where I hate the book, I loathe it, nobody’s going to want to read it, and we’ll all starve to death because I’m a terrible writer.

So, just as usual, then. I wish I could escape that terrible feeling for at least one book, but it hasn’t happened yet after fifty-plus, so it’s probably just one of those things. Like death, taxes, and the stupidity of rich white men.

This morning requires some walking in the rain. I know exactly what happens next, but there’s two gory combat scenes I need to block out, and since the injury running is out of the question for a while. Fortunately I can still walk with only moderate pain, and I need to be moving.

Also fortunately, I can swing the sledgehammer. I sense a lot of that in my future.

Oh, hey–we’re also a week away from Incorruptible‘s launch! Remember, you can download the first six chapters for free; you can also preorder just about everywhere.

And now, the shilling of my wares done, I need to get a jacket on and get the dogs out the door for walkies. At least when it’s raining Boxnoggin keeps up a brisk pace, wanting to get back to shelter as soon as possible. I don’t blame him, especially since it’s good exercise.

But first, there’s coffee to be absorbed while I blink frowstily at yesterday’s work, trimming just a few words and getting back into the rhythm. It may be a terrible book, but it will not be a terrible unfinished book. One can work with a whole corpse, after all, much better than one can work with fragments.

Happy Tuesday, my dears.

Blank, Pointy-Tooth Screens

Cormorant Run

The weekend passed in a blur, between chores and getting wordcount in on Damage. The best thing about it was the rain moving in. It is now officially autumn, and I couldn’t be happier.

I always work best when the rains settle like an inverted grey bowl, tip-tapping the roof and window, hissing between leaves beginning to turn, plopping into puddles. Maybe it’s all the negative ions being thrown up, maybe it’s the ambient white noise, maybe it’s the petrichor, maybe it’s the cleaning of the air. Maybe it’s all of them.

I also watched Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 and its two “sequels”, the latter only loosely related to the first movie but starring Jason Scott Lee. I don’t quite uncritically love them, I’m aware of how bad all three movies are. The first one played with some extremely interesting themes and the third had the right ending1 instead of an action-movie Gary Stu vomit-fest, so all in all, they’re not bad.

Vampires are a blank screen we use to project a number of anxieties onto. I know–I’m guilty as charged, between Selene2 and the scurf in the Kismet series.3 Both had their uses, and I might be ready to write Tarquin’s story. Or even Imprint, the Beguine vampire smexy-story I’ve been adding chunks to over literal years.

But first I’ve got to finish Damage and get the Season 2 zero of HOOD out of the way. Now that I’m in the productive half of the year, that might even happen in a hurry. And of course there’s running, running with dogs, walking with dogs, parenting, and making sure my meatsack doesn’t give out under the pressure.

It feels like juggling chainsaws, complete with the risk of lopping off a hand when one grabs the wrong way. Tiger by the tail, and all that.

I should also get the monthly newsletter out of the way. Incorruptible goes on sale later this month, too, so there’s housekeeping to do for that.

It’s a good thing the rainy season’s long in these parts. I’d probably never get anything finished otherwise. Time to finish absorbing my coffee and get with the program; it might be dangerous to stay in one place.

Over and out.

Small Prices

She-Wolf & Cub

I promised myself I wouldn’t start autumn’s round of baking until the daily high temp became a comfortable mid-seventies1 or so. The forecast appeared good, I put together a starter while prepping the pot roast yesterday…

…and today the forecast has changed and the goddamn high is supposed to be in the eighties, just where I didn’t want it.

Ah well. A little sweat is a small price to pay for the season’s first bread.

Last night Damage finally dropped into its groove with a deep, satisfying internal click. One of the characters is a cagey beast indeed, and I had to wait just outside his mousehole for him to get interested and stick his nose out. Now I’ve got him, and the real work can start.

So much of this job is patience. Waiting, while frustrating, is often the most efficient strategy. If childhood didn’t teach me that, motherhood certainly did, and writing’s just sealed the deal, so to speak.

I also have to put together a short survey. I may cancel HOOD after only two seasons and shift to a different serial. It’s sad, but the story is structured like a TV series and that might be a little too much for some readers. Sometimes when the audience numbers aren’t there, one has to refocus.

So if you like Robin Hood in Space, be ready to say so when the survey comes around. Only actual Serial Time or Nest Egg subscribers will get a chance to vote, since they’re the ones funding the whole deal.

I’ve the dogs to walk, bread to mix and set for its bulk rise–if I get it done early enough I might escape the heat later–and more of Damage to write. It’s going to be a busy day, just how I like it.

And so, off I go.