Recovery and Triple Irritation

I have my hands back again–the left one is no longer so swollen as to look like a sausage, though a little edema lingers around the bruising. The gouges are healing, and there’s only a little pain. All in all, recovery is proceeding as well as can be expected.

The copyedits, however, are not proceeding well. I should be able to get more than fifty blasted pages a day done, dammit and tarnation. The trouble lies in the fact that everyone else in the room (everyone other than Yours Truly and a single blessed beta reader, that is) appears to fucking hate these books, and swimming against that tide is difficult work. It might’ve been better to self-publish them.

Ah well. Live and learn, heavy accent on the latter. I’m sure a great deal of what I’m feeling is the annoyance from having to stop while not one but two zero drafts are on the cusp of completion–scribus interruptus, as it were. I want something finished instead of having to deal with pettifogging and the insertion of commas everywhere. I happen to think readers can deal with complex sentences and clauses, and do not, need, commas, everywhere a breath, might be taken, in a sentence. There’s been a definite effect on writing in other areas from Twitter character limits over the years.

Of course, my constant refrain has always been, “Readers are smart, they’ll get what I’m saying.” I think readers are hungry for longer, more durable, chewier sentences and stories. I have to believe in these books; I’m all they’ve got.

Anyway, these CEs are working against double irritation–triple, if one counts the bloody back fence still not being fixed and various other frustrations. I had things all set to finish two zeroes this week and then move into the copyedits after some other things on the publisher’s side had been cleared up. It didn’t work out that way, which is nobody’s fault (not even the Romans’) but as usual, it’s the writer who pays the price in sleep, not to mention stomach lining. The stress nausea is back with a vengeance, so that’s fun.

Vanishing into the bog and only coming out every six months to drop another manuscript sounds ever so satisfying. But by this time next week I should be back on track. The main thing I want to do is finish the Rook’s Rose (season two of Hell’s Acre) zero, since that’s the most time-critical thing. Once that’s done a whole chunk of my time is freed up for working ahead on the next-planned serial, which I can barely wait for. You guys are going to be so excited, I can’t even.

I am fidgeting with glee…

That’s all the hinting I can do for today. Brekkie has to be gulped, Boxnoggin exercised, a run inflicted on my weary corpse, and it’s back to slogging through CEs. I hate the thought that I’m going to be spending another few years in stomach-ulcer-land trying to get these babies written and shepherded through the process under such conditions, but it can’t be helped and in any case it’s a valuable lesson. Just what it’s teaching me I don’t know quite yet, unless it’s the depths of my own endurance.

Like I needed any more evidence of that, ha! But the universe seems to have a vastly inflated idea of my capabilities. The only thing I can do is live up to it in whatever fashion possible. Onward to Thursday, devil take the hindmost, all torpedoes loaded, dead ahead full speed, and all that.

See you around!

Dogs in False Spring

Good morning, happy Monday, and whew.

Throne of the Five Winds is a Kindle Daily Deal ($2.99USD) today. If you like intrigue, battle, pretty dresses, hairpins, assassinations–well, who doesn’t? And there’s a whole lot of all those things in that series.

In other news, I am typing very slowly because my left wrist is rather swollen and there are gouges on it as well as the back of my hand. People, leash your goddamn dogs. I don’t care how friendly you think they are–Boxnoggin definitely is not. My dog doesn’t step outside without a harness that puts Victorian-era straitjackets to shame, because he can’t be trusted and I have to make good decisions for him. Letting your pooch wander into traffic or, gods forbid, wander up to mine and start some shit only ends poorly for us all.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

We had a few sunny days; now the rain is back. Everyone was out in their yards and gardens celebrating false spring the past few days, and even I got a few things trimmed and tidied. But it’s back to being grey and dull, drippy and mossy; I’m thrilled. This also means the sidewalks will be thinly populated during walkies, which is a blessing since I only have half the usual number of hands to deal with Box’s shenanigans.

He’s a good dog, and he wants to be good. Unfortunately he also has zero self-regulation and a whole lot of ideas just bright enough to be incredibly dumb and dangerous. Why Bailey chose him for a companion I will never know; perhaps she wanted another dog she could do the thinking for since she had such an excess of mental horsepower–Max (Odd Trundles), bless him, could forget to breathe and had to be reminded, which was one of Bailey’s self-chosen jobs, performed with zest and glee.

Don’t get me wrong–Boxnoggin’s entirely loving, and goofy, and a darling. I just wish he were a little less enthusiastic when I’m wounded. Ah well.

Dawn is coming up, the firs are dripping. I miss the cedars along the back fence–well, there’s no fence there either, but that’s a complaint for another day as well. There are copyedits to get through and various other bits and bobs to accomplish today. I’d best get started, since I’m moving at about half speed.

See you ’round.

Recovery, Reading

I keep working weekends then being surprised at how tired I am during the week proper. I think the elastic has snapped, though; finishing the proofreader queries for Salt-Black Tree has finally managed to…well, not quite break me, but certainly give me a painful sting on the wrist, like popping a really big rubber band. I’m going to have a welt from this one, I can just tell.

The queries are the very last wicket before a book goes into production. Well, other than the poor managing editor collating the proofreaders’ and my marked-up proofs, wading through a thicket of finicky changes, stets, and occasionally (okay, well, frequently) comments from a long-suffering author who at this point hates the book as much as everyone else who’s had to read it fifteen times and try to stay alert for tiny changes each go-round. This is like being on the last mile of a marathon, with all applicable attendant discomfort.

All the energy reserved to keep a slot on my schedule open for further queries and go-rounds on the duology is about to be rerouted elsewhere, but first it has to settle. I wish there was an easy changeover strategy, but that much mass and momentum is difficult to halt, especially when it’s been going for years. (Years spent writing the books, years spent getting them through trad publishing, this game is never about instant gratification.)

So I’m sort of spark-spinning, waiting for the flywheel to decelerate enough for hooking up to some other project. It doesn’t help the the current stress is also provoking some health problems, but maybe those will ameliorate now that I’m getting a handle on the biggest quandary. All the waiting patiently for schedules to align is about to be over, so at least there’s that.

Anyway, the recovery process is difficult because I can’t simply shift to another project and write away the exhaustion. The artistic well needs filling; I’ve been running on low fuel and low oil for a long time now. So, I’m doing some catch-up reading, and also stuffing other things into my head. I took a spin through wonderful bonkers LJ Smith YAs, polished off the History of Underclothes, got to read an upcoming re-release of Dixon’s (and Macdonald’s) Knight’s Wyrd, took a run through Bukowski’s Post Office because I wanted a little modernity, and finished up a positive blaze of reading activity with E. E. Smith’s First Lensman, which was as utterly bananas as anything written in the sci-fi pulp 50s. Next up is an old paperback translation of The Tale of Genji, though I’d really like a Norton Critical edition, and Davies’s Europe: A History.

Of them all, I’ve probably enjoyed Knight’s Wyrd the most on a purely personal level, since it’s wonderfully structured and just the sort of medieval wonder-tale I dig. I will admit I was expecting it to be a simple sausage-fest, but by the time I got to the first ghost I was both disabused of that notion and all in. First Lensman was posolutely absotively banana-bonkers, and I’m sure that if my own work survives a comparable number of years someone will think the blind spots in it are just as jaw-dropping. Time moves ever on and on, like the Road, down from every door whence it begins.

All of this means I’m feeling ready to get back to work, but I know how this goes. I’ll have a couple good working days, then my body will take vengeance for me daring to re-enter the snakepit after only a token nap and hurried snack. If I took another day off to watch a Cdrama (look, Dylan Wang walking around in velvet robes is a vibe, and I am here for it) I’d possibly escape that part of the process, but I really do have to get some-damn-things done.

There are also birthdays and tax prep this month, both busy in different ways. I’ll be glad when the latter is finally off my plate and I can bloody breathe again. Of course something else will come along to stopper my lungs, I’m sure, and there’s two zero drafts (Rook’s Rose plus Riversinger and Minnowsharp) looking like they want to be finished at about the same time.

I’m sure that will be fun. And Boxnoggin needs his walkies, come hell or high water–but not snow or freezing rain. His tootsies are just too tender, thanks, and my own aren’t happy with that sort of thing either. Fortunately the Early Cherry down the street is making gestures like it wants to bloom, and that will mean spring is assured.

I suppose I’d best get to it as well. The road is difficult, but we’ve got a fighting chance.

Happy Tuesday, my beloveds.

Private Delights, Delayed

It’s cold here. The birdbath is frozen in the morning, but it thaws throughout the day. Boxnoggin is prancing-happy to get out for brisk walkies, and even happier to return to his warm bed for a nap afterward. The mud in the park isn’t as deep as it will get, and the moles are busily building galleries in the drier spots. I just recently read Wind in the Willows for the very first time, and liked it a great deal. My favorite bit was the search for the young otter and Pan’s appearance. Toad is a complete git and his friends deserve better, but I suppose every circle has one of those.

Good morning, and happy Thursday! Tomorrow I’ll have some sale news, so stay tuned for that. But today there’s an excerpt of the upcoming Spring’s Arcana up over at the Tor Forge blog, enjoy!

I have proofs on the docket for this weekend, and once those (and any leftover queries) are done there’s only waiting for release. The second book in the epic fantasy trilogy is coming along well; all these scenes that have been in my head for over a year are now on paper. That’s a good feeling, but also a sad one. Execution lags behind imagination, but that’s what revision is for–and that’s what the details a writer keeps privately hoarded in their skull-case are for too.

Publishing is all about delayed gratification, and humans are very bad at said delay. I suppose learning to tolerate it makes one a better person, though it doesn’t get easier. Rather, one’s strategies for dealing with the inevitable discomfort are refined. Now that I’m a few books down the road, I look at the ones coming out this year and vaguely remember the stress of writing them, but the ache is distant, a long-healed sunburn.

It’s been an awful few years.

Anyway, yesterday the Princess was rereading some LJ Smith YAs–the Forbidden Game series, and we started talking about the Dark Vision ones too. “That’s where I loved to learn problematic male antagonists,” she informed me, with a twinkle in her eye. I had to laugh, remembering the first time she found those on the big bookshelves and took them to her room for plundering. The rule in our house has always been “If you can reach it, you can read it–and if you can’t reach it, find a stepstool.” I found it much better to simply let both kids know I was available for any questions they had, no matter how banal or embarrassing, about any media they found and consumed. Attempting to lock them out of questionable media would merely have made the forbidden far more enticing, but if it was a simple matter of hitting the back button or asking Mum, all the questionable delight was drained away and they were encouraged to think critically. The strategy seems to have paid off tenfold, since both are reasonably functional adults now.

My gods, how time flies.

So there’s plenty to do today, including getting some Viking werewolves and their elf friends embroiled in a spring-melting morass while the elementalist desperately tries to bear the weight of the artifact that’s melded itself to her physically, and going through Avery Black’s realization that maybe a certain grey-clad girl doesn’t dislike him at all. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday Night Writes, because I want to get a fair chunk of work done before the weekend hits and I’m knee-deep in proof pages.

Knee-deep isn’t eyebrow-deep, so there’s that at least to be grateful for. And there’s still candy on clearance everywhere, even if most of it’s wrapped in red and pink foil. It still tastes the same.

My office is still too bright with the cedars gone, but I suppose I’ll adapt. And now the coffee is almost gone, so it’s time for toast (or gruel) and walking the beast.

See you around.

Superlative, Swimming

I’m staggering around blinking blearily this morning, feeling rather like a frayed wire. The coffee is sinking in, Boxnoggin is very eager for walkies, and I can’t even think about the prospect of breakfast yet.

On the other hand, I had quite possibly the best copyediting experience of my professional life so far in the past few days, and that’s been amazing. The Salt-Black Tree is now sent back to the publisher, ready for the proofs stage. (After multiple drafts and copyedits, no, it’s still not done. We are right on schedule for the release date, though.) It feels like I’ve been working on these books for a century, but part of that is them being written during pandemic(s). Time has become a very fluid beast indeed.

It was such a relief to discover that not only were the copyedits highly reasonable–I glanced through them before the holidays, though I couldn’t get to work on them until after the New Year–but the copyeditor, bless their heart and everything else, had entirely understood the assignment and seemed to “get” me as a writer too. A happy synchronicity which made it ever so much easier for me to do my end of the work. Sometimes things just…mesh, and it’s beautiful. I’ve had great copyedits before, don’t get me wrong. This one was simply superlative, and I enjoyed it to the hilt.

The weather has also cleared, so I might be able to get the firepit out again soon and toast some s’mores over dry, fallen cedar boughs stripped from the fallen tree. It’s also a relief having that dealt with, even if the back fence is in bad shape. Poor thing tried its best, but having nearly a hundred feet of tree dropped on it isn’t ideal.

Honestly, I can relate.

All in all things seem to be rather looking up. I know saying that is an invitation for the Universe to kick me in the teeth (my, how pessimistic I’ve become) and yet I cannot help feeling relieved and treasuring the feeling of at least part of the current swimming the right way again.

So. Today I get Boxnoggin walked, dial up the third assassination of the day in Hell’s Acre, write an elf and a werewolf verbally sparring in front of a woman who is definitely not interested in hearing either’s bullshit, and…I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something else on the docket. The dog is leaning against my chair, giving me the oh please can you just stop with the glowing box and let’s GO, mother, come on treatment.

I might even be able to take a half-day off sometime soon. (Shocking, I know.) But in order to get there, I’d best slither off my chair and get some fuel so the canine can have his ramble. We both need the movement; I’m feeling a bit scattered after the massive effort of the past few days. All aboard and full speed ahead, damn any torpedoes and devil take the hindmost.

…not that I’d think that gentleman will want me, but at least we’re on speaking terms. And with that cheerful thought, I’m off to have brekkie. And another quad shot of espresso; yesterday I had a bathtub’s worth of tea, but I think I need jet fuel to get me underway for Tuesday.

See you around.

A (Not So) Restful New Year

Welcome to the new year, everyone. I took (gasp!) some time off, though it was more to catch up than to rest. Because of course it was not restful at all. What with the ice storm over Christmas (we celebrate Yule around the solstice, using the 25th more as an excuse to sleep in and have a nice dinner) and the 50mph winds knocking over one of the cedars along the back fence to ring in the New Year, it was the very opposite of relaxing. Then there’s the CEs hanging fire and the epic fantasy nearly killed by editorial neglect and the worry over a short story and and and…

Yeah. What is this “restful” people speak of? I’m glad to be back at work; maybe now I’ll get a ding-dang chance to breathe.

…lest I sound like I’m complaining, there was a lot of good food and the kids had a great time. And the big cedar coming down missed the house by a whisker; some friends came over with chainsaws and got it chopped into firewood chunks too, so we’re lucky on both counts. Also, Boxnoggin has a whole box of plush toys to dismember at leisure, so he is thrilled to the gills–when he’s not being nervy because things have chaaaaanged, and all change is baaaaaad, Mum! Pretty soon he’ll see all this as the new normal, just in time for things to shift again. Poor fellow, at least he’s got walkies to look forward to.

Speaking of things to look forward to, one of my publishers is running a Goodreads giveaway! One hundred lucky readers will win a paper ARC of Spring’s Arcana, the first in the upcoming Dead God’s Heart duology, which releases in May 2023. Just click on the graphic to the right and you’ll be whisked right to it, thanks to the magic of the internet.

This is the first time I’ve been able to announce a giveaway like this. I think a YA publisher did one for Strange Angels back in the day, but I didn’t know about that until it was over. My, how time flies.

I spent all of yesterday tending the firepit and burning non-firewood-shaped bits of the cedar that came down. Despite washing off the instant I got back inside, I can still smell smoke; it gets everywhere. Nevertheless, the fire was extremely therapeutic. I could even toss a few other things in, saying goodbye to them and cutting ties in the most dramatic way possible. Laughing and muttering “fire, fire,” in my best Beavis voice was also intensely fun. I mean, I was always more of a Daria, but sometimes one just has to do a good Beavis voice.

…and now we all know exactly how Gen X I am, which is very.

With that, I should get myself together and get some breakfast forced down. There’s a biography of Robespierre to read while I consume it, then it’s time for Boxnoggin’s holy walkies. The wind is up again today, though nowhere near as badly as it was the night the cedar came down, so he’ll spend the entire walk being very put out at cold, invisible fingers touching his fur. And he’ll keep giving me filthy looks; since I am the goddess who rules his days, I am therefore responsible for everything including the weather. I wish I had even a fraction of the power this dog attributes to me.

On the other hand, maybe I don’t. It sounds a hideous burden, frankly. I’m glad to just be a struggling hack.

Happy Monday, my beloveds, and happy new year. We’ve survived into another one, which is cause for celebration. (Or something…) May it bring us peace, joy, and plenty of snacks.

Atlas Break

The longest night is over. There’s a band of grey in the east, and the cedars are dancing on a frigid wind. The weather folk say snow today, with an additional helping of freezing rain. The moisture shouldn’t move in until afternoon, but already things are frozen solid–I had to move the birdbath’s dish so it can drain when the polar stuff is done.

We don’t often get snow here (or we never used to, thanks, climate change!) so people are losing their minds with preparations on top of the usual holiday ruckus. I’m sure kids are thrilled at the prospect of a Christmas looking like a Currier-Ives tin. I heard Fred Meyer’s (Kroger’s, for my nonlocals) was out of deicer and rock salt. Even though I got out of the house early yesterday, there were still too many people out and about, and all in various stages of deep stress.

I didn’t put out a vigil candle this year. Just didn’t have the spoons, and I figured others could do the observances to bring the sun back. Intellectually I know that flaming ball of nuclear hydrogen will handily outlast our species, but spiritually it’s a different matter. Ah well, I’ve carried the world on my shoulders long enough. Even Atlas needed a break every now and again.

The revisions are finally gathering steam–4k in new text added yesterday, even with significant deletions in the mix. I have a few bad-tempered things to say at this point in the process, but professionalism means keeping those under wraps, downing another quad-shot (or cuppa) and simply getting back to work. Illness and holiday scramble have put me even further behind schedule, but that was only to be expected. I knew that jury duty nonsense would cost me serious time and annoyance; there should be some sort of recourse for being forced to sit near maskless mouthbreathers.

You can tell I’m in a bright, cheery mood. Relief is just as exhausting as tension, after a certain point.

Boxnoggin wants his morning walkies, but he does not want the cold wind. Our ramble will be severely truncated since I don’t want either of us freezing to death; naturally, he will blame me for the weather since I am In Charge, and clearly the immortal creature he lives with–who produces light with a flick of her fingers and food at will–is capable of dealing with little things like rain and ice. He seems to think I have ineffable reasons for such misery, and bears with it patiently, grumbling only the minimum amount.

For all that, he took forever to find a place suitable for peeing this morning. I can perhaps be forgiven for wondering aloud, “I got out of a warm bed for this?”

He gave me a look of hearty agreement, yet could not unload until he found the precise perfect spot. This doesn’t bode well for our midmorning constitutional, but maybe the idea that a certain amount of prudent haste is advisable will work its way through his thick skull. A subzero wind chill does tend to concentrate the mind wonderfully, at least in the initial stages.

Ah, yes. One more thing I wanted to say. Some of you have reached out with kind words; thank you very much, they are appreciated. I cannot respond to every single email in detail, but please know your missives are attentively read, and cherished.

I suppose I’d best get some toast, find my gloves, and prepare for a polar trek. It will make returning home even nicer than usual, which is saying something. We’ve gone through one more wicket; only a few remain until the new year.

Stay warm, my beloveds.