A Very Interesting Weekend

I have resurrected, bleary and blinking, from a weekend that was extremely… interesting. It got so strange I pulled out the cards during daylight, and that hasn’t happened in a while.

Anyway, I’m home again, and back in the saddle. There’s HOOD‘s Season Two to finish prepping for publication today, which means a blurb and finding a specific code. Last night I got the ISBNs sorted, so that’s good. It’s looking like the release will be mid-April, and now I can turn my attention to other things–once, of course, I get the listing, the blurb, and the rest sorted today.

Today also sees a new post over at Haggard Feathers! This one’s all about formatting, and only for paid subscribers. it should drop about 11am PST, so I’ll be warbling about it from the rooftops once it does.

There’s also the Free Agent February giveaway, still ongoing. I can’t wait to draw the winners near the end of the month and send these bad boys out.

I’m told we’re very near sorting out Finder’s Watcher, and there’s a revision pass on Damage I should get under my belt before moving on to finishing Sons of Ymre‘s zero, working on HOOD’s Season Three, and doing the preliminary work on The Bloody Throne. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get done with everything I need to this year, but then again, that’s usually the feeling in February. The shortest month of the year, but also the one where the needle drops into the groove and starts bringing the music up.

…some time passed since that last paragraph, since I flicked to the Sons of Ymre window open on my desktop and fell into the story again. It’s probably procrastination; gods know I don’t want to squeeze out 40k to finish the zero this week. I have other things to do, the Muse just isn’t listening.

She often ignores me.

Anyway, I’ll be fighting both that siren call and my own stomach’s rolling today. It was a very, very strange holiday weekend, and one I’m glad is over.

I was going to close with a wish that we could all kick Tuesday right in the pants, but I’m sensing the day is just as tired as we are. So instead, I’ll wish for all of us to have some rest. I think we’ve earned it, after the past few days. I wonder if Mercury is retrograde or something.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear ones. We’re hurtling at almost unimaginable speed through inimical space studded with meteors and other strange things, whirling on a speck of rock around a massive nuclear reactor.

We need all the help–and all the kindness–we can get.

Monday Plan

Lord Boxnoggin, in protest against winter, has taken to bed. My bed, to be precise, and he isn’t pried loose without a groan or two, even for walkies. I don’t know what he’s complaining about–he’s a different dog than the one we brought home. For one thing, he’s several pounds heavier. He has more than enough insulation now to get through a chilly day, the lovable chonk.

Of course, he is a Dog Not Allowed to Catch Squirls or Even That Cat, which means he is poor and put-upon, and he cannot believe the things I make him endure. Like waiting until dinnertime, only bacon grease on his kibble, and getting out of a warm nest made of my coverlet and down comforter in order to pace the neighborhood and pee in his regular spots.

Even the ham from Thanksgiving hasn’t changed his loud grumbling and groaning. Nothing makes him happy, this dog–or, rather, he groans and grumbles until he gets ear-skritches and cooing who’s a good boy. Then all is right with the world again, until I make him get off my bed.

Miss B would like to complain, I’m sure, but she’s an old dog now and doesn’t have the energy. She settles for waiting until after dinner, then pounces on Boxnoggin for post-prandial playtime. Having a companion keeps her young; having a companion keeps Boxnoggin on his toes. Really, they’re made for each other.

Let’s see, what can I tell you about the long holiday weekend? There was ham, there was dream pie1, there was “window weather”2, and there were 5-6k days trying desperately to finish Finder’s Watcher.

I did clear the 50k NaNo benchmark (easily) but the zero isn’t done yet. I’m probably going to take another week to put it to bed, then it’s into Poison Prince revisions. After all, publishing is shut down until new Year’s, if I turned the latter in during December it would just sit on someone’s desk. Somewhere in there needs to be a weekend of working on a Short Sekrit Projekt, and this is the week I need to go back to running.

In short, the working vacation is over, and now it’s back to just-plain-working. I have Beth Hart playing and a half-full cup of coffee, and this blog post is almost finished. A few hundred words on Finder’s, then the dogs get dragged out on their rounds and the daily stretching has to be performed. I can no longer crouch over a keyboard for ten hours straight without Consequences of the Muscular Sort.

I’d feel bad about not finishing Finder’s on time, but… the guilt would get in the way of actually working, which means I need to pack it away until the zero’s done. Then I could conceivably keep working until I expire, putting off the guilt over and over and finally escaping it when I flee laughing through the portal into What Comes Next.

It’s as good a plan as any, I suppose. Especially for a Monday.

Over and out.

Salad Rolls of Fate, Intervened

I meant to spend the weekend finishing HOOD‘s Season Two zero draft, and possibly knocking off a chunk of Finder’s Watcher as well, but unfortunately Fate (in the form of a couple salad rolls, I suppose) intervened, and I spent Saturday night with a rather violent bout of food poisoning.

To be absolutely fair, it might not have been the salad rolls, but they were the only thing consumed in the right timeframe. Well, there was some cake a bit later, but… anyway, the point is, Saturday night was the kind of party nobody ever wants to have.

Except maybe the dogs, who were extremely excited at the break in routine, and wanted very much to get their noses into whatever I was producing from the top end (Mum is a magical food-making machine!) while not quite so enchanted with anything produced from the, erm, the other end. (Mum, that… doesn’t seem right…) Additionally, when I collapsed halfway between loo and bed–mostly because why bother trudging all the way back to pillows and sheets when I was just going to be back in the loo posthaste–they took turns nosing and snuggling me, either to encourage me to get up so the predators didn’t think I was weakened or to see if maybe I had produced more magical food.

In other words, it was an experience, and I spent most of Sunday staring blankly at whatever task was in front of me. There’s never an opportune time to get food poisoning, but I suppose it was lucky that I’ve been working ahead on just about everything. I would have prepped Soundtrack Monday and the final post for my NaNo series yesterday, but I was having trouble stringing words into coherent clauses, let alone sentences. I did get the red sauce and focaccia for the week done, since I’d spent most of Saturday (before the cyclone hit) doing prep work, so everything was to hand and easily done.

Consequently I’m feeling rather low this morning. Physical misery puts a pall over everything, and I’m tender in every direction from my midsection. There’s two scenes left to write in Season Two, but I can’t decide just what Robin Hood should be caught doing. Murder (utterly justified)? Theft (for a good cause, of course)? Something else? He isn’t talking, which doesn’t surprise Maid Marian one bit, so I suppose I might have to send Guy of Gisbourne in to irritate Robb into making a move. Sub rosa, of course, since Giz is already occupied in escaping an exploding spaceship.

I should note that characters have a funny dual existence inside my head. On the one hand, there’s the story; on the other, they’re all at a round table inside my head, jostling and discussing and telling different lies to each other. Sometimes one has to set a character against themselves or dangle something they want very badly before they’ll start talking. It’s not enough to know what happens next, I need to know why, and sometimes with a cagey character, I’m forced to play dirty.

Anyway. I should make a list, otherwise nothing will get done today; yet I don’t want to because I’m pretty sure only half of what I’d put on the list will get done at all, for no other reason than I’m still not feeling quite myself. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Off I go, chickadees. I hope your weekend was less… interesting… than mine.

Sweater Weather, Memory Police

Woke up with the Neighbourhood’s Sweater Weather echoing inside my head. I don’t think it goes on a book playlist, but I’m still listening to it as I type. Giving the earworms what they want just like I grant the Muse her little idiosyncrasies, I suppose. Got to keep the engine fueled.

A little later this morning the second of my NaNo posts will drop over on Haggard Feathers; today I’ve wordcount to achieve on Finder’s Watcher, a second assassination attempt in HOOD, and some stuff scheduled for subscription folks on Patreon and Gumroad.

Tomorrow, though, I’m going to take a day off and write what pleases me. It might be Wangsty Dracula, it might be Moon’s Knight, it might be something else. I’ve been going rather at full tilt lately, and realized yesterday I somewhat resented it and need a small break. One must learn to keep the throttle open and also to back off when the needle’s been in the red for too long.

I read Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police last Sunday while waiting for news of a very personal sort; it’s been a long time since I fell wholesale into a novel. I don’t tend to read much fiction nowadays because I’m always looking under the hood at how the writer does certain things, weighing the choices made. In short, I read like an editor, and have retreated into nonfiction because I have to revise my own stuff so much it’s not a vacation to read others’.

The Memory Police reminds me of Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading; there’s the same dreamy, terrifying absurdity lurking between precise words. The translator did a marvelous job, very much as Duras’s translators for Pantheon–which reminds me, I need to read Invitation again, and probably Sailor from Gibraltar as well. It’s that time of year, just as high summer is the only time for The Little Horses of Tarquinia.

Anyway, The Memory Police is set on an island where things… disappear. Once they’re gone, any lone items that fall through the cracks must be burned or otherwise disposed of. That is, if you don’t want the Memory Police of the title, well-dressed even when the rest of the island is starving, to come to your door and drag you away to a fate nobody quite knows the specifics of.

Only one person–the old man–returns from the clutches of the Memory Police, and the understated horror of what was done to him while they had him is one of the most chilling parts of an already terrifying book.

The narrator is a novelist, and she decides to hide her editor in a secret room. Why? Because he can remember the things that have been “disappeared”, and even though the narrator can’t, she’s impelled to save what reminders she can steal. Your heart, the editor tells her and the old man, is doing everything it can to preserve its existence.

That particular line hit me so hard I had to text it to a friend and email it to my writing partner. And put it on a Post-it, added to the crop on my desktop.

One of the glories of this book is that, like Invitation to a Beheading, it can be read as a parable for totalitarianism or authoritarianism, the pressure to conform even in free societies, the tyranny of time itself, the erosion of memory, gendered violence, or or or. It holds a truth deeper than its prosaic thought experiment plot synopsis, and I swallowed it all on a winter afternoon, my heart in my mouth and my fingers almost sweating with tension. It’s beautifully done, and I recommend it.

And now I’ve the dogs to walk, a run to get in, and a whole crop of work to get in before tomorrow’s planned hooky. At least it’s raining a bit this morning, which bodes well for the rest of the day. I am told some people have snow, but here among the cedars and mushrooms that’s not usual. Just the rain, in its many forms, falling like a gift on weary, sleeping earth.

Over and out.

My Favorite Game

There’s a filthy haze lingering on the horizon today–an air stagnation advisory until next Tuesday, for gods’ sake. I can already feel the weight in my lungs. This is going to make running a little more difficult than usual.

Admittedly, hauling my ass at a fast shamble is never easy, but still.

There also hasn’t been rain for ages, and consequently I’m a bit out of sorts. It’s winter, there is supposed to be water falling from the sky, and I feel rather as the dogs must when the weather doesn’t suit them and they expect me, as the Human in Charge, to do something about it.

The only trouble is, even the Head Bitch in Charge (that would be me, thanks) can’t do a damn thing about it.

Ah well. Sooner or later the rain will return and I’ll be productive again. As it is, I spent yesterday prepping the weekly subscription offerings. The great race and big heist are happening in HOOD, and non-serial subscribers got a little bit of Broken Profile, which I keep going back and staring longingly at in between finishing other stuff.

I also prepped next week’s NaNo post. There’s a series of four to inaugurate the Haggard Feathers Substack, which should take us through the month. (A “haggard” is a term for a hawk caught in adulthood, as well as a descriptor of my usual state, thanks.) Once December hits I might hive off all my technical writing-about-writing posts there. It’ll be fun. I’ve decided to stop offering formatting and cover copy as well as editing; I just don’t have the time while I’m working at this furious a publishing pace. At least all my clients are cleared and happy.

I suppose I should drain my coffee and get out the door with the dogs. Yesterday I managed wordcount on Finder’s Watcher, and I’m getting near the end of the revised bits, almost ready to start adding fresh chapters. I have the whole shape of the book inside my head, and the characters are beginning to speak much more clearly. I might not find a publisher for it, but there are Watcher fans out there who are excited about the book, so it might just be a case of tapping my beloved cover artist for a pretty cover and damning the torpedoes.

Always my favorite game.

I woke up with Queen playing inside my head–Who Wants to Live Forever, in specific. Which means at this moment I’m jamming along to Another One Bites the Dust, because I really don’t want Connor MacLeod in my head. Not today, thanks.

The music just shifted to We Will Rock You, so I guess that’s my cue to hop to the day. Let’s kick Thursday in the throat, my friends, and shake a living out of him.

Over and out.

Slow Meatspace

Good morning, chickadees! Today I’m over on the good ‘ol Substack with a post about NaNoWriMo. I’ve decided on a schedule of Soundtrack Mondays, Writing Tuesdays, and Friday Photos, which should keep stuff around here hopping.

I’m not just an author, I’m a damn experience.

It’s foggy this morning, the inversion and Stagnant Air Advisory combining to wrap the world in cotton wool. Yesterday I could smell the sea in little pockets, bits of rank salty kelp rotting on a shore. While there’s a scrim of welcome moisture on the ground–yesterday was so dry my hair rose up in staticky rebellion–I still can’t wait for rain. We’re having a dry, cold autumn, which is not usual.

I need falling water.

On the bright side, new shoes have made a dent in the plantar fasciitis. Barring hobbling in the middle of the night and right when I wake up, I’m actually feeling pretty good. I’m sure as my running mileage increases, slowly but surely, I’ll feel better and the pain will fade. The first few weeks are just going to be a bitch, because that’s how it always is before slight changes begin echoing through my carcass.

Meatspace is sloooooow, my friends. At least, mostly.

I’m toying with the idea of asking for beta reader(s) on Finder’s Watcher. The big thing is that I can’t pay an hourly rate; the most a beta could get is a free ebook of the unedited and edited versions. I’m hesitant because I don’t think it’s a fair price for the time spent reading and organizing one’s thoughts on a book, though I’m only asking for reactions, not critique or editing. If I can satisfy myself that it’s a fair trade, or add something to make it a fair trade, I might put out a call for applications.

That extra hour of sleep I was so happy to get has vanished, but I’m not upset. It was fun while it lasted. Now I just have to train the dogs in ten-minute increments to their new dinnertime.

I’ll probably fail, because I’m a sucker for their big brown eyes and hopeful snoot-boops. (AutoCorrect tried to make that snoot-goops, which is what Gwyneth Paltrow’s company shoves up rich people’s noses. Ugh.) Still, if one has to be a sucker for something, it’s not bad.

Time to shut this circus down, wrap the leashes around my waist, and take the dogs a-walking. I’ve wordcount on Finder’s Watcher and on HOOD to get done, a shower to take, plenty of hot tea to fuel me and keep the chill at bay, figure out the giveaway for this month, and and and. Yesterday the Muse wouldn’t let me go to bed until I made a few more stabs at Corvinus Reborn, which is Wangsty Dracula wanting more of my time than he’s getting.

He’s going to have to suffer. Which, being a Main Character of Wangst, he’s completely suited for. I only hope it doesn’t make him unmanageable.

Come, Tuesday. *chambers a round* Let us dance.

Monday To-Do

NaNoWriMo is underway; I’m doing a fresh new Watcher book for it. Right now it’s like pulling teeth because the word gain has to come in revision, but at least I’ve the damn thing quasi-outlined.

I never use a very tight outline, and the thing’s main purpose is to be thrown out once I get three-quarters of the way through the book, but them’s the breaks. One is tied to what works.

So for this month, HOOD‘s Season Two zero needs to be finished, and also Finder’s Watcher. I’m also waiting on edit notes for The Poison Prince, so there’s something to look forward to.

You know me. Unless I’m drowning in work, I’m not happy.

Also, I’m think I might move (or just propagate) Soundtrack Mondays over to my Substack. Might as well get some content over there to prime the pump. I’ve been wanting to get back into writing-about-writing, and this might be a good way to do it, probably on Tuesdays since Thursday is subscription day. I’m going to have to think about it.

This morning, I got into the driveway with both dogs just as some chucklefuck ran down the street with his dogs. Which wouldn’t have been an issue–except Chucklefuck’s dogs were unleashed.

Lord van der Sploot almost went mad. Miss B, once she recognized what the hell was happening, chose not to go completely mad over new friends, but instead sought to bite van der Sploot in order to calm him down.

I could have told her it wouldn’t do a damn thing.

In any case, I had to stand and wait until Chucklefuck was out of sight, then move forward cautiously, both dogs hanging from their harnesses like wet washing. I just cannot even with people, some days. At least Chucklefuck’s poor dogs didn’t bolt across the road to say hi to my fuzzbuckets, so small mercies, I guess.

I just sat and stared at the screen, feeling overwhelmed. Guess it’s time to make a to-do list and put a few things on it I’ve already done, otherwise I’ll just noodle around and forget to make any real progress.

Such is life. It’s the first Monday after we gained our extra hour of sleep back, and even the tea I’m pouring down isn’t helping. I tried like hell not to work all weekend, with varying success.

I’ll leave you with this: if I do put together a subscription Substack, what would you want me to write about? I had thought just telling personal stories and writing about writing, whatever I feel like at the time, but if anyone’s got a burning desire or a really good idea, this is the time to say something.

Over and out.