Old Decrepit Me

Last week the stomach flu tore through our household like a hot knife through the solidified fat of your choice. I’m still a little weak-kneed, but I have an easy run scheduled for today and both B and I need the work. She was up and down with me the entire time; the only difference between a toddler and a dog watching you puke is that the dog wants to get their nose in the loo bowl.

It’s kind of exotic, the kids being old enough to want to puke on their own. Neither of them wanted me in the loo with them while they heaved. I mean, I don’t blame them, I hate vomiting more than just about anything else, but it’s kind of strange when your kids don’t want you to hold their hair, rub their back, and make soothing sounds. I contented myself with washing sheets, running bowls, and reassurance. Thank goodness we got sick round-robin instead of all at once; the Princess brought home a megaton of saltines and I had some PediaLyte stashed, and we had quite a few “get your own dinner” nights. All three of us sitting glassy-eyed at the table, staring at bowls holding minuscule portions of something bland, and every once in a while laughing because none of us could finish a damn portion.

Anyway, we’re all much better now. The kids, still young, chewy, and bendy, bounced back much more quickly than old, decrepit me. *sigh*

So today it’s that gentle run, with a few walking stops to make Miss B work at heel and distance, and a regular day’s work–revising a chapter of Atlanta Bound from zero to first draft status, then wordcount on The Maiden’s Blade. I’ve finally gotten to the part where I can do the kidnapping, so most of the run today will be thinking about that and putting the pieces together inside my head. Several breaks for water and stretching will have to result, too, because heaving (go figure) fucks up your back and being unable to stretch without retching is Not Fun. Even my intercostals ache, and my abdominals haven’t had this much of a workout since my dancing days.

Also, tomorrow is release day for Afterwar. Which, I’m sure, is a component of the leftover nausea. Release days are always high-stress, and this particular book had so. much. go. wrong. with the publishing process. I’m amazed the printers didn’t blow up and sink into a swamp, I’m still waiting for Yet Another Piece of Bad News and unsettled when none arrives.

On the bright side, the new dishwasher works wonders, and I was able to make rice noodles last night. I was stirring said noodles in a pot when I realized I wasn’t dreading cleanup and I was actually, finally, cooking again. So much of my identity is bound up in motherhood and feeding the kids, I feel somewhat at sea when I’m not performing that function daily.

And this morning a squirrel fell out of a fir tree, through an apple tree, and just narrowly escaped a wandering Siamese cat. The laurel bush the squirrel eventually took shelter in is suspiciously quiet, though the Siamese ran away with a bottle-brush tail. I suspect things are about to get very interesting in the New Kingdom of Backyard…

Stacked-Counter Disaster

Well. Last week ended without me having developed pyrokinesis and burning everything in sight, so that’s good, right? Between doctor’s appointments1 and loved ones having difficulties and the ongoing dishwasher saga (still not installed, don’t ask, maybe Tuesday will change all that) and being behind on this monster of an epic fantasy (that they’re going to title something WRONG IMO but oh well, they know what they’re doing) and the Princess needing an emergency trip or two and the Little Prince needing some tough love when it comes to his homework AND the dogs AND AND AND…

…you get the idea. Every once in a while a week comes along where the universe, not content to load one up with a single disaster, crams ever more into a short timeframe and lights a match, smirking.

Consequently, I took yesterday off except for Regular Sunday Chores, but I’m still twitching. Normally I have the luxury of feeding my introvert nature, spending great chunks of each day alone.2 I also–because clearly I don’t have enough to do–broke down, got a domain, and put together the bare bones of a fan wiki.3 That part was fun; the problem with every other wiki or bulletin board install I’ve done in the past is trying to run it off my main site instead of just getting a domain and putting it there, which cratered EVERYTHING. I did it in fifteen-minute chunks in between washing up, hoovering, brushing and bathing the canids, and assorted other household maintenance items.

Consequently, today I’m kind of…staring and twitching, again. I have a chapter of Atlanta Bound to revise and wordcount on said giant epic fantasy to catch up on, a long run to get in, and all I want to do is go back to bed. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for emotional energy is beginning to feel hideously familiar, even though I’ve telescoped in a lot of other commitments. The only cure is getting some things off my plate, and that won’t happen without work.

It would also be nice to have the kitchen put back together. Everything in the cabinets that the installers will need taken out in order to do their job easily has been living on the counters for…a while, now. I would never have thought such a thing would irk me–one of the accusations leveled at me since childhood is that I’m a messy person and mess obviously doesn’t bother me the way it should. I could find anything on my bookshelf or in my room in seconds flat and never lost my school papers, though, so I guess I wasn’t so much messy as it was a convenient thing to yell at me about. When the kids came along, a certain amount of mess didn’t bother me because Tiny Chaos Machines are gonna Tiny Chaos Machine, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I am…surprised, and a little baffled, that the kitchen being a stacked-counter disaster bothers me as much as it does. I mean, the house is crammed with books and dust and fun things, but I want to put the goddamn waffle iron back in its home.

Go figure.

This is turning out to be yet another year of things I didn’t question about myself because I was told them over and over by toxic caregivers proving to be not quite true. It’s unsettling, but also pleasant. Maybe that’s also costing emotional energy.

Meh. Time to get back to work. The morning run won’t accomplish itself–more’s the pity–and neither will the bloody books.

Over and out.

Life, Slightest Provocation

So today is that most blessed of days. That’s right, my friends, it’s NEW DISHWASHER DAY.

At least, if the installers don’t get caught in traffic or an accident, and if new dishwasher will fit in the space we’ve got–it should, of course, but “should” in appliance replacement is just another word for “ha, you thought you’d actually get this done without a fight?” I suspect we haven’t reached the end of the little gifts the Do-It-Yourself-er who owned the house before us left. I can hope, at least.

All of which means the kitchen needs attending, the rubbish and recycle bins moved and the choke point past the fridge measured–there’s another way into the kitchen, but I think the way past the fridge might work and it’s way shorter–and several cabinets to clean out and stack the contents of on the counters so the installers can get at everything they need. If I’m really ambitious I might even make them biscotti, because I am just. that. excited.

There’s a morning run to get in and the initial revise on another chapter of Atlanta Bound, both before noon. Working on a serial means working ahead, because life can and will happen at the slightest provocation, and one needs a cushion.

Life has been happening to a rather startling degree around here. I’m fine and the kids are great, but people we care about are having Extremely Rough Things happen. It’s gotten to where I wince every time my email notification goes off, since I’m sure it’s more bad news. There’s a special kind of hell called “not being able to help”, there are some things even my stubbornness can’t fix. If I could, I would fling myself on the problems and stab them until they stopped moving, but…they aren’t that sort of problems.

*sigh*

Intellectually I know that offering support and being a safe place for friends to dump their feelings–no matter what those feelings are–is valuable, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough. I mean, I was raised to feel like nothing I did was ever going to be good enough anyway, but…yeah.

I have my own support network in place so I can support the people who need it right now, and I’ve severely retracted a lot of socializing in order to have the emotional energy to support and to write. It’s all I can do. As far as I’m concerned, the entire shitty current month can go die in a fire. Just when I think we’ve hit the worst news yet, more happens along.

My regular sunny optimism (ha!) has taken somewhat of a beating. At least if the new dishwasher ends up installed (and working, let’s not forget working) a rather startling vista of free time will show up. We’ve been washing up by hand for months now, and while it’s just fine, I am looking forward to the convenience of loading a machine and pressing a button.

Mod cons, my friends. Mod cons.

And of course there’s wordcount in Maiden’s Blade to get in today. I revised the length requirement for that project in Scrivener and promptly choked when the daily goal skyrocketed. I know I’ll meet it, but it was still a vertiginous moment. Before publication, chop wood, carry water, write; after publication, chop wood, carry water, write.

Time to get out the door. I hope your April is going better than mine, dear Readers, and I hope every bit of news we all get today is good.

*wanders away, muttering about dishwasher specifications*

New Stuff

I’ve opened up my waitlist for freelance services again! I’m using Airtable to handle clients and stages, and Cushion to handle time-tracking and invoicing, so we’ll see how it goes. I’d love to get some integration between Cushion and Airtable, but I might decide just to go to PayPal invoicing. We’ll see. Learning new things is fun.

I decided to go with an hourly rate and down payments because of the nature of this type of work. This means I have to get serious about time-tracking, which I normally avoid like the plague. But it will be fun to see how much time is spent on different things–especially administrivia and web stuff. It might also help me stay on track, since I tend to flit if a particular task is not interesting, or if I hit a bump. For some things flitting is okay and even necessary, but for others it’s not optimal. The big thing, of course, is that I’ll get data about just how much time administrivia eats up. Ugh.

In any case, Airtable is pretty robust, and much better than the waitlist options I had before. We do truly live in the future, and it’s nice to be able to take advantage of some of these things. Offloading tasks like scheduling onto electronics means I have more bandwidth for writing stories, which is the whole point of the game. Freelance work is more of a moonlighting thing, but there’s no reason not to make it as professional as possible. Things like cover copy are actually relaxing for me; formatting, now that I have the capacity, is oddly soothing. It’s nice to have all this technology and experience and be able to use it in new ways.

Anyway, that’s the news this morning. There was an Incident involving Odd Trundles’s hind end after his walkies, which was not nearly as nice as setting up invoices, client tracking, and project schedules. Poor fellow, his peristalsis is boom or bust, and walkies trigger a boom cycle.

There’s also grocery shopping that needs to get done today, if I’m to have any hope of producing edible dinners over the next two weeks. At least I don’t have to time-track that.

*puts on goggles* Cover me, I’m going in.

Refill Time

It started on Friday, a marvelous late-morning coffee session with Curtis Chen (read his Kangaroo books, they are AWESOME); then I went home and pushed to get the rest of Sparked finished and sent off to the agent. (That’s the YA she wanted me to write, the one I found out needed another character arc jammed into its structure.) Both good things, but together they turned me into a quivering mass of nerves. Then, Saturday rolled around, and while I was twitching a friend texted, “YOU HAVE THE DAY OFF. COME PLAY.”

So we went…out. There was even window-shopping clothes, which was oddly soothing. Socializing for hours kept my brain busy so the usual post-book eating-itself was relegated to a thin, exhausting background mutter. Then Sunday came around, full of household chores and turning the earth in the most southerly garden boxes. We may still get a cold snap, but I planted hardy things like Alaska peas and fava beans. Hopefully I got enough of them in the ground that the squirrels and their buffet habits won’t wipe out the entire crop before it can sprout.

All of that was good, but I ached all over by evening, and spent a restless night with blisters and a headache. Now it’s Monday…and all I want to do is sit and stare. The massive flywheel of Finishing A Book has wound down, but I’m hollowed out, scraped dry, and need a chance to refill.

I have a slightly longer run today, but still within Miss B’s range. She’ll enjoy the chance to get out and work–she spent yesterday’s gardening time chasing squirrels, digging in her approved spots–I’m glad I bought a house so I don’t have to worry when she digs–and attempting to help me plant favas and radishes. Her attempts to help are mostly “Mum, you dropped this and it got covered with dirt, but I found it for you! I are good dog!”

Meanwhile, Odd wanted to stay inside, since his nails got clipped and he got his long walk of the week, which meant he was exhausted by all the activity. Not too exhausted, though, to moan-mumble at me when I came back inside, piqued that I had dared to do things without his supervision. Had it been a wee bit warmer, he would have wished to sunbathe in one of his Particular Spots, but I’m kind of glad he was achieving a liquid state inside. There was enough squirrel action that Miss B threw clods of dirt everywhere. Thankfully, she didn’t run head-on into any trees, but it was a close call. I believe the furry arboreal menaces were enjoying the game. At least they didn’t bomb me with pinecones, though I’m sure they marked each spot I planted something with extreme interest.

…I had another post planned, about infrastructure, ubiquity, and privilege, but I’m far too snarky today. I have very little patience left, and my give-a-fuck-o-meter is pretty well busted. My forties are gonna be the decade of rolling my eyes and deciding not to sugar-coat, I guess. A couple times lately I’ve had spoons and time enough to call a few people in my mentions on bullshit instead of just muting and moving on, and visibly doing so feels like a Good Deed. It’s no substitute for direct action in other ways, but an addendum.

Anyway, I have crossed the Sparked revise off my master to-do list. Up next is prepping Roadtrip Z‘s Season Three for release when the serial reaches that point and working ahead on the fourth and final season, not to mention giving Harmony a hard revise. It’s about time for a new master list as well, since I’ve crossed off five of the eight things on the current one.

But first, a run–and I’m going ahead with my Lovecraft re-read. I might spend the entire day curled up on the couch reading about Cthulhu with gallons of hot tea. It’s not quite a vacation…but close enough for me.

Over and out.

Struck Match

Robin Hood
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
So, the recent flu-and-fever had some weird effects. My dreams were even more highly color-saturated than ever, and a persistent smell of struck matches threaded all through my days. I could smell it even when my nose was partially blocked. The first few times, I went hunting for the source, alone in the house. Not finding any was…concerning, until I realized the smell didn’t have the burnt-yellow color of the physical aroma.

Now on the mend, I think I’ve also finally recovered from Afterwar. That book was the hardest on me of them all, and I want something else now. I was noodling around watching a movie with Jon Bernthal as a speechless converso in 13th-century Ireland and all of a sudden I wanted to write two things: Bone Wolves, a werewolf high fantasy I’ve been noodling on for a year or so, and a Robin Hood in Space story.

…I don’t know, I’m just wired weird. But it’s nice to have things to stuff into the cannon once I get this damn YA in reasonable draft form and start serious work on Roadtrip Z‘s fourth (and final) season. It’s nice to feel like I have the energy for a couple more projects, instead of being so completely drained by a bad-luck book (and whatever could go wrong, did, for no other reason than I suppose I was due for one of Those) that I could barely scrape together reasonable wordcount.

All the same, I launched a novella during that scraping, too, so I suppose my productivity didn’t suffer as much as it has under the current political bullshit or over the blasted holidays. Having enough energy to actually feel excited is flat-out great. There were a couple days when even eating seemed like too much trouble, and forget about washing or cleaning.

The true test, of course, will be if I get any damn laundry done today. I should wash my sheets, too, as I don’t want to sleep in sick-smell. Maybe I’ll sweat out the last of the struck-match stuff on my (very easy, don’t worry) run today. It’s not the first time I’ve been sick enough to have strange sensory issues–if the fever was worst, I might even expect it, since I tend to heat up at the drop of a hat. My body apparently decides it needs to cook every single bug that comes by.

Not that I’m complaining, really. It’s not optimal, but at least it makes my dreams interesting.

Off I go to get a YA in shape, do laundry, run, get Ginny and Lee and the gang to New York (finally), and decide just how soon I want to produce a workable zero of Robin Hood in Space. Never a dull moment, my dears.

Over and out.

Somewhat Cranky

Of course, the instant I step out the door to take both dogs for Odd Trundles’s constitutional, EVERYONE has to come down our street, from the rattling delivery trucks Miss B lunges at to schoolchildren she and Odd both desperately want to make acquaintance of, and bicyclists Miss B wishes to herd as well. And then there’s the guy walking his Rottweiler who sees me retreat into my driveway with both my dogs, OBVIOUSLY not wanting to interact, but crosses the street with his dog anyway and walks at the edge of my driveway while Miss B barks and lunges and Odd, excited now that Someone Is Making Noise, does everything possible to get in on the action. Then, once he was past my house, he went back to the other side of the street. He just could have stayed on that side to begin with and saved us all trouble.

Thanks, Creepy Dude. That was a beautiful fucking start to my morning.

Anyway, we persevered, and now Odd has been walked and is settled for his morning nap. As soon as I absorb some coffee and am relatively sure it will stay down, it’s out the door for a run, and I’m seriously considering not taking B. I’m not sure I have the patience to cut traffic for her today; both of us are somewhat cranky. I might simply make a circuit, take her for half my planned distance then bring her home and finish the other half on my own.

My subscribers get a fresh new chapter of Pocalypse Road today, and I aim to get at least 5k of wordcount in between Atlanta Bound–which is season four of Roadtrip Z–and the not-really-YA. It’s the latter that will really make me grit my teeth, probably because I’m worried my agent wants to sell the YA despite me telling her it’s not going to. And…well, I have feelings about YA publishing. Not writing books with teenage protagonists, which I like doing well enough when there’s a story that wants me to tell it. But the constant pushback from institutions scared of Bible Belt buckle-idiots clutching their pearls if a teen character says “fuck” or thinks about sex or drugs or any of the normal things teens sometimes do think about is exhausting, and was the thing that drove me away from YA. I still read it when I can, and I write stories with teen protagonists, I just…really don’t want to have to fight those uphill battles anymore. I do not have the energy.

Regardless, my agent asked for this book, and I promised, so it’s going to be as good as I can make it before it goes out the door to her. Which means serious wordcount, and putting in that POV I had no idea needed to be inserted until the zero draft was done, and which gave me a vertiginous feeling of telling the story from the wrong point of view anyway…but not really, because we need the other main POVs to understand just why this one is so compelling.

All in all, never a dull moment a la Chez Saintcrow. Also, this morning, I went down a side-road involving telepathic dogmen and frontier myth-making. So yeah, I can tell today’s going to be fun.

Over and out.