Old, Protective Friend

An old, old friend–the last time I regularly wore this particular ring, I was writing Jill. It was part of a set of armor–moonstone, bloodstone, amber, silver–I wore daily for years.

I still have all those rings, but I’ve shifted to mostly plain silver now–just as much armor, and won’t leave distinguishing marks if I have to punch someone. I mean, I never want to punch anyone… but if I have to, I won’t break my fingers because I need those bitches for typing, and I won’t leave an easily traced pattern in the contusions.

Anyway, I put this old friend on a spare hand-slot yesterday, needing a bit more in the way of defense. (It’s been a super rough week.) And I remembered just how good it felt to be protected.

I even nibbled on the stone a bit, as I was wont to do when in deep thought writing combat scenes many years ago. Time is a wheel, indeed.

Have a good weekend, chickadees. Whatever you need to protect yourself is valid and necessary, and I wish you peace and soothing.

Edging In With the Lake


I’m edging back into piano practice again, and it feels good. Of course, every time I play this I expect to see a red-eyed Natalie Portman, but that’s a price one pays.

I want to finish this book of exercises and go back to doing Bach. Next year I’ve got to start working seriously on my Goldberg Variations Before I’m 50 bucket-list item, so it would be good to practice before then. And a session after dinner starts the evening most agreeably; it forces my brain into a different mode that makes it easier to not-work before bed.

Bonus bit: Long-time readers will know I put a Swan Lake reference in the Valentine series; it was super fun. I did have thoughts of doing a short story with a psion bounty hunter who also dances, but it died on the vine. Probably for the best, the last thing Danny needs in her life is to shoot someone in a tutu.

It’s almost the weekend, my dears, and the holidays are almost over. We can do this.

Over and out.

Soundtrack Monday: White Flag

Dante Valentine

Sure, everyone who reads Danny’s story has feelings about Japhrimel. I mean, the Devil’s assassin is kind of impossible to be neutral on, especially when you’re inside a certain Necromance’s head.

I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you.

But I really treasure the few letters I get about Jace Monroe. Mostly because, while Japhrimel coalesced out of several books and strange oddments, Jace is an amalgamation of two men I knew, both of whom were better to a half-crazed young me than she deserved.

Of course Danny expected mainthusz–that faithfulness–from Gabe Spocarelli, and was never disappointed. But from Jace, Danny never expected anything but pain no matter how good he was to her, and I think that’s truly where their relationship foundered.

It’s hard to hug someone who’s bracing for a punch all the time.

I’ll let it pass, and hold my tongue. And you will think that I’ve moved on.

Anyway, Jace’s arrival in Working for the Devil surprised me. When he showed up on the Nuevo Rio transport dock (“Spare a kiss for an old boyfriend?“) I wasn’t prepared for just who he reminded me of.

I didn’t really have a song for him, other than a certain malagueña during his and Danny’s sparring session in WFTD, until I was driving late one fall evening and Dido’s White Flag came over the speakers.

I will go down with this ship. I won’t put my hands up and surrender.

It could have been Danny herself singing, but it’s ever and always Jace’s song. It reminds me, very specifically, of those two separate men from my younger days, and in that moment I had the key to his character.

We all–Danny included–think Danny Valentine is the strong one, and yet… Sometimes a person simply decides, and that’s that.

Of course Dead Man Rising wrecked me–you know the scene I’m talking about. It had to be, it was ordained from the moment he saw her, and Jace’s loa warned him over and over again. (I have a short story written about one of those warnings that will never see light of day. It’s too sad, and entirely too private.)

Monroe’s answer was the same every time.

There will be no white flag above my door. I’m in love, and always will be.

No quarter asked, none given. If Dante had ever understood as much, things might have been different. But we’re blind to what we’re most akin to, ever and always.

Chango love you, girl, Jace would say, rubbing at his temple and cocking his head with that familiar grin. Never do anything the easy way.

Just like you, Monroe.

Just like you.

Price for Acuity


My nose was out of commission for a couple days, thanks to the flu; this morning, however, I cleared it with a honk into a somewhat overstrained tissue and can finally smell again. It’s a bloody relief to have that primary sense fully back instead of only dimly usable when something like a dog’s excited digestive system emits a pungent dambreaker. (So to speak.)

Of course, now that it’s back, I’m sure the house will be full of unpleasant corners. But if that’s the price I pay for acuity, so be it.

I went to bed super early last night, just after my second Inktober drawing–I’m not following any prompts, I’m just doing whatever I feel like. The kids like bringing their own sketchpads into my office in the evening, and we listen to Forensic Files cases while sharpening pencils and sharing pens. They used to draw while I knitted, but now that I’m drawing too they’re extremely pleased. One couldn’t ask for a more supportive audience; I’m no good at visual arts but they gravely remind me that it’s having fun that matters.

Youth is wise, indeed.

I’m pretty sure it was the flu; I still ache all over. Not like I was beaten with a truncheon anymore, which is a relief, and the fever’s receded though it didn’t break in a gush of sweat and clarity as it usually does. But I’ll take it. I can probably even start jogging again, very gently and on the treadmill. I don’t care if my plantar fascia gets upset, I’ve got to move and get some of this itching out.

The October Valentine Test Giveaway is still going strong, and don’t forget you can get more entries by clicking in daily. So far the response has exceeded my wildest expectations, and I’m already thinking of what to give away next month. Maybe a Gallow & Ragged set, or a couple Kismet omnibuses. (Omnibi?) It depends on what I’ve the postage for.

I should also get the monthly newsletter out the door, as well. But first there’s the rest of my coffee to absorb, and a little bit of deep breathing before I hit the damn treadmill. It’s always something, and I can’t wait to write some more Wangsty Dracula Reboot. The only thing I’m not doing is making it an epistolary novel, because I frankly don’t have the patience. I love reading epistolary, but writing it is a whole different ballgame.

Good gods. How did we arrive at Thursday without me knowing? I suppose I’d best get started.

Over and out.

The Valentine Test Giveaway

Dante Valentine

The fever is still hanging around and I’m hacking into tissues like a consumptive heroine in a Victorian novel. Of course, this means I have all sorts of ideas that may or may not be good ones, so here we go:

I’m trying something new this month, dear Readers: a giveaway!

I’m testing a giveaway process for signed, personalized author’s copies. Since I don’t sell said copies, and since I don’t do signings anymore (except for the Powell’s Authorfest. which sadly I have to miss this year due to a punishing publication schedule), the copies are piling up. I only need a very few of them for my brag shelf and associated personal uses, so what to do with the rest?

Well, give them away, I guess.

So. From now until October 15, you can enter to win one of two (2) signed, personalized copies of the Dante Valentine UK omnibus. Winners will be chosen on the 18th. I’ll personalize and sign your copy, then send it anywhere in the world. Future giveaways might be restricted to the US or the US, UK, & Canada, depending on what kind of cash I have for postage that month. I may even do a dedicated giveaway page on the ol’ website, I’m not sure yet.

Time will tell if this is a great idea or a terrible one, but if it gets the boxes out of my garage and maybe makes a few Readers happy, I’m down with it.

I may even do giveaways of less-physical objects in the future, though probably not ARCs due to piracy concerns. But, for example, a manuscript critique or a free cover copy revise? That’s do-able.

Anyway, if you’re interested, scroll on down and enter. We’ll see how it goes.

Soundtrack Monday: Out of My Mind


One of the things about Selene is that we never see inside Nikolai. We don’t see how similar to Selene he really was, as a paranormal1 trapped by Grigori. In his mind, he’s much better than Grigori ever could be, because he allows Selene a few choices.

You become what you despise, you become the mask you wear, so be careful of both.

Anyway, if Selene was ever a movie, Duran Duran’s Out of My Mind would be playing at the end–Nikolai waking alone, Selene embarking upon her immortality, free at last. I did plan on writing Selene’s adventures as a standalone, but piracy of the book put paid to that. I simply couldn’t afford to.

How could you dare to become so real, Not just a ghost to me? That’s Nikolai, baffled by how Selene manages to slip through all his defenses and strike at the only tender, mortal part he has left. I often wondered when Selene would realize he let her go, once Grigori was gone, because of the old adage about when you love someone.

I played this track over and over while writing the last chapter of Selene, and had to listen to it obsessively while writing Just Ask.2 If I do end up writing the Hell Wars with little Lia Spocarelli, we’ll get to glimpse this pair again.

In the meantime, enjoy the music.

Soundtrack Monday: Pump Up the Volume

Dante Valentine

It’s Soundtrack Monday again! This one is for the readers of the Dante Valentine series.

One of the things I loved about Danny’s world is slicboards. Flying skateboards are just plain cool. This particular song, MARRS’s Pump Up the Volume, was what I played repeatedly and obsessively while writing a certain bit of Saint City Sinners. Readers will remember when Danny goes to the Hole to find Konnie Basileus’s slictribe; this particular track is also, incidentally, the closest to the sound of Krewe’s Control and the Hover Squad, Jace Monroe’s favorite and preferred provider-of-jams, that is currently available.

I do want to write the Hell Wars trilogy, which centers on Lia Spocarelli and her adventures. (You can find a taste of that in the short story Coming Home.) One of these days I’ll have the time to do so.

Or so I hope. Japh would probably tell me to do it quickly, since mortal lives are so regrettably brief.