Particularly, Blissfully

Some mornings, that first sip of coffee is particularly glorious. I mean, it’s always good, but sometimes it’s more than good. I can almost feel the caffeine molecules jumping across fleshly barriers to kick-start my brain. It could be merely psychological, but caffeine does go straight across the stomach barrier, so…

Monday again, and I may have recovered from the roof replacement. Certainly I’ve been sleeping better, which could be a function of cooler weather. Not to complain–we had perfect conditions for roofing, and the cloudy coolness afterward has been likewise perfect for the amount of gardening I had saved up (since the sprinklers are now working again too, hallelujah).

What I’m not doing this morning is looking at the discourse. Nope, sorry, nerves can’t take it, I can remain blissfully unaware of both news and analysis for a few more days. I’m just too emotionally exhausted. Sure, I’ve been reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall all my life, I saw this coming, I even wrote a whole goddamn book about it. I don’t have to keep looking, I know perfectly well what’s going on.

I worked furiously ahead before Bailey’s passing, too, knowing the grief would knock me caddywumpus, and it’s time to get back to it. Even thought Sons of Ymre 2 has around 40k words, it’s only a little over halfway done and I’m not going to be able to turn it in on time. I hate that. I don’t mind if publishers/editors fall behind–there are a lot of moving parts for them to corral, and honestly a worldwide pandemic plus fascist coup are good reasons for disruption–but I despise being behind myself. So it’s time to either catch up or just do my best.

All of which means reserving what sanity and energy I have by not looking at the news. I can feel my will to live being sucked away each time I even glance at the mess.

So. Today I rework (again) this goddamn scene in Hell’s Acre, I clear a pile of stuff so I can get Sons of Ymre 2 into the mix, and I open up the Tolkien Viking Werewolves again. Book 2 of that little series needs some attention now too. Closer to the end of the month I have line edits on Ghost Squad 2 to eyeball; I think the book will hold up pretty well to that last real read before copyedits. At least I don’t have to worry about That Damn Werelion Book until after the first of the month; the paperback should be live in early August and the ebook is in September.

And Guilder to frame for it. I’m positively swamped.

Of course, now that I have a plan for attacking the mountain of work looming before me, the Muse wants nothing more than to fool around with the follow-up to Strange Angels. Which will probably never see light of day, but I did tinker with it this past weekend in dribs and drabs, more to keep my hand in than anything else. But it’s Monday now, such things must fall by the wayside, and there’s also the dog to walk. Which I should get to, as soon as this coffee has been finished.

It’s gonna be a busy week, my beloveds. I hope your weekend was restful and that we’re all in fighting trim. I’ve got the machete on one side, the Louisville Slugger on the other, and I’m ready to rumble.

See you around.

Dreams, Revisions, and Screaming

My dreams have been even more vivid than usual. None have the particular tsunami-quality that would make them good books (or even novellas); I think it’s just my brain cleaning house under current stressful conditions. This morning’s skull-movie was waking up in a particular bedroom I’ve seen before (but never in real life), bars of thick golden sunlight coming through the wide windows with wrought-iron muntins, and being addressed by a horned figure with tiger stripes who moves from one shadow to the next.

Oddly, the horned figure speaks in some version of French, and I woke up trying to conjugate a verb so I could reply. Go figure.

I am told some people dream in black-and-white, and some in color. My own dreams are so hypersaturated real life seems pale in comparison, but that’s no surprise since the story-hallucinations I often have are the same. Realer than real isn’t just for portal fantasies.

Anyway, it’s Thursday, I’m almost halfway through revisions on the second Ghost Squad book, and I think I’ve got all the screaming out of my system. I did take some time to put together discrete playlists for both Damage (playlist here) and Book 2, but I think that was the last gasp of procrastination before I buckled down. The dogs kept checking on me yesterday, as they always do when an edit letter lands and I take some time to privately vent my fury.

I’ve talked before about the process of getting all the “how dare you suggest altering my deathless purple prose” out of the way before settling to revisions. Editors are here to make your book/story/whatever better, and they are human beings, not punching bags. Get all your angst, sturm, und drang out of the way on your own, either in your office, locked in your bathroom, screaming into a pillow, or venting to a trusted friend (with their permission and the Cone of Silence, of course). There’s no need to direct any of it to the editor, who is only trying to help. And ninety-nine and a half times out of a hundred, said editor has a good point.

Now, I have been revenge-edited before, but that is exceedingly rare and behaving professionally in that event is even more crucial. Partly out of spite–you don’t want to give this person any further ammunition–but also as a point of personal pride. And it’s easy to mistake one’s knee-jerk reaction to the first round of having a book one has worked very hard on for months or years judged by an onlooker for revenge editing, so you don’t want to open your mouth and be proved wrong later when the dust settles, the emotion clears, and you realize that yes, the editor is right and something needs a fix.

So I alternated my working time yesterday between revisions (got almost halfway, hurrah) and lying on the office floor with the dogs, muttering into their fur about how cruel and unjust the world is to us poor tender writers. They’re used to that sort of thing, and offered no advice, just friendly licks and insistent “well, then, pet us and forget about it.” All in all, wasn’t a bad day, and I’m beginning to think this book isn’t bad at all.

Which is always a relief, since it’s a sign that I’ve achieved enough distance from writing the damn thing to contemplate it calmly. Always a blessed event.

And yet I am only halfway, and I have dogs to walk, my own corpse to run, and the subscription drop to get sorted before I can go back to it. The drop might be put off to Friday, as sometimes happens if I find I don’t want to break momentum. We’ll see.

So…it will be a busy Thursday, my beloveds, and I’d best get started. At least there are a couple eclairs left to soothe the sting, and if I am a Very Productive Writer who gets the damn revisions done by the weekend I can work on the space-werewolves-and-pro-wrestling erotica as a treat.

It’s good to have things to look forward to. I bid you, my darlings, a civil adieu.

Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.

A Cracking Start

So it’s Monday, and we’re off to a cracking start. First the dogs attempted murder through sheer exuberance (stepping all over me while I was helpless and recumbent in bed), then through positioning–i.e., tripping Yours Truly several times when I finally achieved some measure of verticality. Then I almost missed a stair on the deck while taking them out for morning unloading, and had to grab at the banister with both hands, while whatever I was holding was flung in a high arc and landed in a rhododendron. Then I was standing, staring myopically at Horace de Brassiere and wondering why his little blue light wasn’t turning on, and for good measure why the red one wasn’t on either.

Then I realized the damn coffeemaker wasn’t even plugged in, let alone turned on. And to top it all off, a little while later I forgot I was holding a pen (making notes on today’s to-do list) and went to push my hair back, stabbing myself in the face.

So, yeah. We’re doing well around the Chez this morning. Super well.

Today is for working on Hell’s Acre, and also starting revisions on the second Ghost Squad book. The latter is Klemp’s book, eagerly awaited by many Readers if my inbox is any indication; the zero draft got a highly positive reaction from beta readers and the second draft did very well with the editor. I’m glad to be working on revisions instead of generating new text, for once; I’m exhausted and dredging up New Words sometimes seems an insuperable difficulty–unless it’s Space Werewolves, apparently? I don’t know, my brain is a smoking wasteland, I just live here.

The monthly newsletter went out yesterday, so there’s that, too. And the werelion story’s free teaser is doing rather well at the moment. We’re on the final two weeks of that book being up as a serial before I take it down and start sending it through the editing pipeline. There’s also The Dead God’s Heart duology needing its final brush-up before it goes into copyedits. It will be nice to have that last one put to bed, not to mention getting covers and preorder links for it so I can do up a books page.

In other words, there’s no shortage of work, and maybe if I can get some caffeine in and stop stabbing myself in the face I might even get a chunk of it done between walking the dogs, forcing my own corpse to run for a few kilometers, getting estimates for house repair (that snowstorm, my gods), and planning dinner–I had a whole chicken and an InstantPot, so yesterday was very tasty indeed. And Miss B is still holding steady, so that’s a giant relief.

I’m taking things on that last front one day at a time.

One thing I’m not doing is checking the news, or very much social media. Any tenuous calm I might have achieved lately won’t bear that weight without snapping. News, especially bad news, filters into my sphere without it anyway; I can’t escape. Nor do I want to, precisely–but I do need a bit of amelioration.

Here’s hoping I don’t break a limb if Monday began as it means to go on. I did eventually figure out that I should actually turn Horace on if I wanted coffee, and caffeine is currently soaking into my starved tissues like a blessing from heaven. Plus, a bit of Good Mischief I performed before the weekend has finally reached its intended target, and hearing that it made someone’s day (and will provide them with a little relief) has done my mood no end of good.

Welcome to the week, my beloveds. I can hope it will turn out well, or will at least end in a stalemate.

Over and out.

Mark of Survival

I…may have recovered from the zero draft of Ghost Squad #2? Maybe?

I mean, the holiday didn’t help (even though there was pie, my gods, SO MUCH PIE) because I was on tenterhooks the entire time. The idea of getting some cheap Goodwill plates/other crockery for smashing early in the day–just to get the whole thing over with so I can relax–is highly seductive, and I might even brave said Goodwill one of these days before Yule.

If I can find a time when their parking lot isn’t flooded, either with maskless hordes or actual water. Our local Goodwill is…something else.

Anyway, I may have rewrapped my nerves a bit, which means next I turn all my engines toward a little more Hell’s Acre (now on Kindle Vella, too) but mostly onto revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I finished the latter’s zeroes during lockdown (amazing how many things I am saying that about lately) and both books undid me. It will probably be exhausting to revise them, but hopefully not in a bad way. After that I’ve Sons of Ymre #2 to write (Jake and the heroine are both speaking inside my head, albeit softly) and the second book of the Tolkien Viking Werewolves.

So my schedule is bloody well packed but I have a few things crossed off the master to-do list. The Hood omnibus is ready for its drop in January 2022, the zero of Klemp’s book is done, and I survived NaNoWriMo. January should also see Sons of Ymre #1 released, though I have no preorder links just yet. It’s enough to know the book’s on its way.

So I’m in that fragile stage of recovery where I can easily hurt myself by pushing. This is when most re-injury and spiraling back down into burnout generally happens, so I’m not allowed to work too hard.

That’s the balance. Working hard enough to stay afloat, but not so much that I tear all the scars back open. It’s like riding a unicycle while juggling flaming chainsaws and whistling a song one’s only heard once, and the penalty for any dropped note is an earthquake.

Fun, right? Why on earth would I choose any other job? Heh.

It’s Monday. The dogs are ready for their walkies, and there’s a run for my weary corpse to be accomplished–I took last week off and the itch under my skin is well-nigh unbearable. The coffee is almost absorbed; consequently, I am almost, almost fit for human consumption. I’ve also been unsubscribing from many a newsletter this morning, so am almost ready to start the new year with a clean digital slate.

Almost. Year-end housekeeping is generally a chore; this time around it’s a mark of survival. We’re still here, you and me.

Might as well get to work.

Rarely, Never Permanently

I am TRYING to take some time off. Really and honestly I am. My brain is porridge, my fingers twitch while I’m thinking–trying to type as I go about my day, naturally, and I keep drifting away in the middle of conversations as overloaded neurons collapse under the weight of small talk.

And there’s a holiday this week, too. One final trip for last-minute stuff, then I will stay home until Monday because I am not dealing with any Black Friday nonsense. Not this year, Satan.

Well, technically, not any year. But you get the idea.

In any case, I’ve a whole list of essentials to grab today, and I’ll be setting up the weekly subscription drop. Before 2020 I was doing really well at having at least a month’s (sometimes more) lead time for serial and subscription chapters; lo, how the mighty have fallen. In my defense it took a worldwide pandemic and fascist coup(s) to dent my productivity; I suppose I can feel a teensy bit justified.

The zero draft is still ringing in my head. I’m in the part of recovery where I still doubt the book is any good, and the urge to just throw the whole thing in the bin, tell my editor I’m never writing again, and flee screaming into the night is at its peak. I don’t know where the urge to destroy a just-finished work comes from; I’ve rarely given into it and never permanently.

Though it’s been close a few times. Very, very close.

So it’s probably good I’ve a long to-do list today, starting from walking the dogs to getting through the grocer’s without having to tell some maskhole to quit breathing disease on everyone. There’s boosters to schedule and some pre-cooking to do for Thursday, and it looks like a rainy enough day that I can also settle on the couch and get some reading done.

I’ve been too exhausted to do much other than stare at a glowing screen instead of reading for a couple days, and it’s bothering me. I’ve got a book on Agrippina just dying for some attention.

Not looking forward to leaving the house today, but it’s gotta be done. I suppose I’d best get started, so I can get home earlier, get into some comfortable pants, and begin cooking.

Technically, I’m out of the office until Monday. We’ll see if I can refrain from working at all until then. Gonna be rough, but maybe all the ham on Thursday will help. (I never turkey if I can help it.) Miss B will be extremely pleased–one year, she managed to get half a pig-butt off the counter, and was trying to arrange things so I’d blame the late, lamented Odd Trundles for the whole affair…

But that’s another story. See you in a few days, my dears.

Attempting Recovery, Again

I finished the zero draft of Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book) this past weekend, and stick a fork in me, I’m done. My wrists are hashed, my brain is liquid–the last day’s push to get the book out settled at 10.7k wordcount, which is a bit excessive even for me–and my back aches, but at least the zero is done and I won’t have to write it ever again.

Revise it, sure. Take it through copyedits and proofs, yeah. But I won’t ever have to produce this particular zero ever again, and the thought makes me feel like singing.

Consequently I’m taking today off. Well, as much as I ever take a day off. Thursday looms large this week; there’s going to be a lot of food and I should start prepping now. Plus I didn’t get regular household chores done this past weekend because I was busy with Klemp and Beck’s story, not to mention setting up Book 3, which is Tax’s. (You guys are gonna love him.)

So today will be all about watching documentaries, cleaning, preparing for Thursday’s feast, and adding to the list of last-minute items needing to be acquired tomorrow. I won’t be leaving the house for a while after Tuesday’s planned trip, because Black Friday looms and I’m not about to deal with that ruckus during a pandemic, no sir.

I’d write more, but my hands ache. So I’ll simply bid you a civil adieu for the day, my beloveds, and go attempt recovery. It always takes three times as long as one thinks it will, and is dreadfully uncomfortable to boot. I had planned to get some damn revisions in this month too; I suppose there’s still time.

Just not today. In fact, once the dogs are walked, my sole overarching desire will be to go back to bed, and everything I attempt recovery-wise will only be marking time until I can crawl back into that warm safety.

See you around, beloveds.