Mileage and Cheese

A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.

Febrile Hibernation

Yesterday was just plain awful. The heat crested at 115F–all official according to the weather app, and I think it might have been a little warmer–and all we could do was huddle in the house with the AC and every fan on. Even with that it was uncomfortable and lethargic. I went out several times to fill the birdbath and put some ice water in pans for the backyard fauna, and each time I felt worse after retreating into our air-conditioned haven.

But the birdbath and other water pans were fully utilized by pretty much every backyard denizen, from the crows who used it to bathe and wash ripe cherries to the squirrels who barely even bothered to scamper away when I approached. I was wearing shoes and not yelling, so I guess they figured it was safe enough–and it was too goddamn hot to chase them. I think they understood that much.

It irks me to have lost a whole day’s worth of work, but such is life when enduring climate emergency and pandemic. Not to mention ongoing attempted fascist coup–they’re attempting to do it legally now, repeating history as violent authoritarians always do. *sigh*

We finally watched the marine push come through on the weather app, temperatures dropping swiftly as regular weather reasserted itself. Of course we still kept the house closed and the AC on all night, since it would still be almost-80F at midnight; our power bill will not thank us this month but honestly, nobody in the house cares.

I’m a little shaky today. Ever since that one incident of heatstroke in San Diego (I was there for Comic-Con one year) I’ve been peculiarly sensitive to hot weather. After I finished watering yesterday evening (my poor seedlings, and someone’s been grubbing them up too, probably a squirrel, GODDAMMIT) I was nauseous and apparently looked like death warmed over, so I took a cool shower and went to bed.

Both the kids are still sacked out, recovering. The Princess worked through the worst of the heat, and though her workplace has plenty of AC it was still not very comfortable. The Prince, on his summer of freedom after high school (he’s not allowed to work or do ANYTHING until September except goof off) holed up in his dark room and slept through most of the worst. Febrile hibernation, I call it, and wish I’d’ve been able to do the same.

We’re back to “normal” weather, albeit a bit warmer than usual. 90F+ days used to be exceedingly rare. Now, well…thanks, corporate-fueled climate change. That’s just great, thank you.

Sigh. Today is for lots of ice water, a very short run–because I will bloody well strangle something if I don’t get at least a few kilometers in–and whatever work I can manage. There’s administrivia to perform, and wordcount on the serial (not to mention two romances) to get sorted. That one combat scene in Hell’s Acre has been hanging fire for a while now, and needs to be finished.

It’s like jumping rope on the playground–you watch, gauging the rhythm, before you hop in. Hopefully I won’t trip over my own rope and fall flat on my face.

But, you know…given how this week’s started, I can’t rule it out. The coffee’s soaking in, so it’s time to go.

Stay cool, my beloveds. In every way.

Another Zero Bites Some Dust

Late on Tuesday–I think it was Tuesday, yes?–I finished the zero draft of Black Land’s Bane, first in the Cold North trilogy. That’s the Tolkien Viking werewolves, for those keeping score.

I thought it would sell before now. But oh well, at least it’s another zero in the bag. It will need a significant amount of working-in and embroidery; right now it’s very lean even at 103k words. There’s some serious epic chonk that needs to go into this bad boy, including expanding the Giant Spiders section.

If there’s anything this book needs, it’s more giant spiders. The Valkyrie shieldmaid Arneior steals most of, if not all, the scenes she’s in, and the emotional heart of the book is the relationship between the elementalist and said shieldmaid. Men come and go, after all, but a childhood friend with a spear and a temper is forever.

The cicadas are already starting in the treetops, which means it’s going to be very hot indeed. We don’t get the seventeen-year kind out here, but I can well imagine the din in other places. Regardless, the insects know about the coming heat ridge, and even the dogs are subdued.

Black Land’s Bane finished easily; I wasn’t even aware I was pushing for the end. I thought, huh, in two more scenes we’ll get to the natural terminus, then before I knew it I was there. It’s by far the easiest a zero’s ever finished itself, which makes me nervous.

I keep waiting for a shoe to drop, so to speak. And since I didn’t reach the end with screeching tires, all the energy of pushing through the book is ricocheting inside my entire body. It’s unpleasant, but I just have to let it settle. Next up comes revising Sons of Ymre, sending off the line edits on book three (the final volume!) of Hostage to Empire, and then turning my engines to writing two more romances and the zero of Hell’s Acre. I’ve even put some throwaway text on the beginning of Book 2 of Cold North, which opens with Solveig and Arneior imprisoned in an elvish citadel because of course it does, as Arneior would mutter, how could we have expected anything different?

I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad the elves didn’t decide to put them in an oubliette, but Labyrinth references might make the book even more of a hot mess.

*is thoughtful* Not that it’s a bad thing, mind. Maybe I should add more giant spiders and an oubliette, or even a Pit of Despair. After the extended Turin Turambar references and the Glorfindel anagram I’m sticking in, I’m not sure there’s really a good place to stop. MORE IS MORE, AFTER ALL.

Still, that’s for revision. Today is for preparation, bracing ourselves for the coming bad weather. All we can hope for is some part of the predicted heat ridge cracking earlier than expected. At least we’ve the downstairs, which stays cool even in the most torrid weather.

I’m devoutly hoping for no gender reveal parties kicking off border-jumping wildfires this year, too. It’s a small dream, but it’s cherished. I might be recovered enough from this zero draft to risk heat prostration; if I set my alarm early enough I can get out while it’s still relatively cool.

Not today, though. Today I try to get the flywheel inside my head to spin down. As easy as finishing the zero was, recovery is correspondingly harder. I knew there was a catch to a stroll over the finish line instead of a desperate scramble.

The dogs need walking, and I think I glimpsed Carl in the backyard. Maybe I should take the Sekrit Weapon (i.e., the Golf Club) along.

Further bulletins as events warrant…

Between Music and Tomatoes

I got all the tomato plants into the ground on Sunday, but I did not hoover. There’s always a catch.

On the bright side, I didn’t work? At least, on anything sellable? So that’s a plus?

The kids put their collective foot down; I gather I was looking a little wild-eyed. I was absotively, posilutely not allowed to work on anything for a couple days. It got so bad they would glare every time they passed my office. “You’re not…working, are you?”

“NO NO I’M WRITING WEREWOLF EROTICA, FURTHEST THING FROM WORKING POSSIBLE, I SWEAR…”

On the bright side, the Selkie pinged me on Saturday and we ended up bombing into Portland for an Everyday Music trip. Masked up and vaccinated, we found all sorts of goodies–she had a list, but I, of course, just winged it.

Consequently I got a set of old radio plays1 and a Gormenghast DVD set2 as well as some, well, actual music. Including a still-sealed CD which made my nose twitch3. We’ll see if anything comes of that.

Between music and tomatoes, I didn’t get a lot of household chorin’ done, but I suppose that’s okay. It is summer, after all. And I’m halfway between projects, shifting gears rapidly and repeatedly to get edits done at the same time I’m producing new text.

Today I want to get Avery through the rest of that damn combat scene in Hell’s Acre, and if I’m still near the end of Cold North (at least, if they aren’t attacked again in the forest) I can get everyone to the hidden city and thrown into the dungeons, which will be a nice place to end the first volume of what promises to be a very long trilogy.

This is, of course, assuming the heat doesn’t prostrate me and the kids don’t tie me to the couch yelling “YOU’RE NOT DONE NOT-WORKING YET.”

Considering it’s a Monday, this could go either way…

Ridiculous Heat

The heat put paid to any real work yesterday, despite my best efforts and the air conditioning. Of course, I’ve been going without any real rest for a while, so the Muse just threw up her hands and brought everything to a screeching halt. On the bright side, now I know the next handhold to swing to in Cold North, and the next combat scene in Hell’s Acre is just about settled in my head. The only thing I have to get down is the entrance to the battlefield and the first few moves. The rest of the fight depends on the attacker getting to a certain point in the room, and the most efficient way of doing that will break his cover, which he needs until the very last moment. So he might have to amble, or let the opponents get a few shots in while they’re dragging him to meet their boss–which is precisely where he wants to be.

…they take only short time to read, but combat scenes often take a ruddy long time to write. Everything has to be just so.

On the bright side I can go down to the punching bag and work off some angst blocking out the close-quarters part of the fight. I have quite a few Tuckerizations courtesy of my lovely subscribers–sometimes I put out a call for character names, and mostly those walk-ons die in terribly gruesome ways.

So, yesterday was suboptimal but the heat seems to have broken, which means I can walk the dogs and get a nice reasonable run in, as well as leave my office window open a bit to cool it down–unless, of course, the weird alarm in the neighbor over the back fence’s yard keeps going off. I think he meant it as a squirrel deterrent, but it goes off at the least breath of wind and the thing is annoying.

I did finish that book on Rome and the Silk Road; I’ve moved on to a WWII memoir. I’m saving a scholarly Viking book for when a certain question involving Cold North is settled. At least I got some reading in during the heat, between lying on the floor as a puddle and making questionable food choices. (I regret nothing, though my digestion is a bit unhappy. NOTHING, I TELL YOU.)

I knew things were getting ridiculous yesterday when I realized it was 2pm already and I hadn’t even gotten a hundred words. That set off a death spiral where I was convinced, convinced my career was over and I’d never write again. It was a sign I needed some kind of break, so I carried said book to the floor and settled into reading and internal grousing, while the dogs did not pile onto me–it was too warm–but were extremely proximal, attempting to soothe.

They were paid for their care in French fries, and considered that quite acceptable indeed.

So, today I finish an elementalist and a shieldmaid having a heart-to-heart, then get an elf stabbed with a poisoned blade. And for good measure, I get a certain Hellion to the precise spot in a pub’s private room where he can commit maximum mayhem. Pretty sure he’s going to defenestrate someone–by request, actually, a soon-to-be-Tuckerized subscriber really wanted death by window ejection and I have no objection.

For I love my darling Readers and beloved subscribers, and if a little thing like tossing a character through a window will make them happy, who am I to deny it?

My mood has lifted considerably now that I’ve talked my way into defenestration. I suppose that’s the Thursday mood.

Over and out.

Tuesday Tuckerizations

They’re saying 95F today. I’ve already closed the house and turned the AC on. The ceiling fan in the stairwell is going too. Such as it is, we’ve got some remedy against the heat.

In plenty of the country, it wouldn’t be considered bad weather. But here, we are pale temperate mushrooms, and this dries us out. Even the moss in our crevices is cracking. (Hyperbole? Yes, but only a little.)

Of course it means I’ll be able to crouch in my darkened office and work today, since the holiday weekend is over. I managed double wordcount on Cold North yesterday, but only a pittance on Hell’s Acre. Which isn’t bad (just a reminder, you can read the first few chapters of the serial for free) and today I get to write a chapter where I Tuckerize some of my beloved subscribers. It will probably end in their eponymous characters’ gruesome deaths (Avery has a temper, and quite a bit of training in mayhem). I was kind of unprepared for how many people wanted to, erm, risk a violent end in the serial.

Sometimes the deaths are pretty neat–a certain character in Roadtrip Z got to be an end-of-movie hero, bit by a zombie and saving one last bullet in the chamber for himself. (Hullo, MM!) And since I’m writing a combat scene today I have a list of names to use now, and I think at least one is going to switch allegiances mid-fight.

In other news, I got a very nice letter from Reader B. L., who liked Steelflower very much and entreated me to continue the series. I do go back and look at The Highlands War from time to time. If I can open the file without stress nausea burning a hole in my gut I’ll put it on the writing docket.

Unfortunately, it remains one of my most-pirated series. The level of theft means I literally can’t afford to work on it, and the emotional cost is super high too.

But again, if I can get to the point where I can open the Highlands file without the stress nausea, I’ll consider it, because I really do need that arc finished. Originally it was to be a trilogy–the first book where everyone meets, the Skaialan book, and then Kaia and Darik’s return to G’maihallan–incidentally, that last book was to explain D’ri’s scar, and tie a bunch of other narrative threads pretty neatly.

Best-laid plans and all.

In any case, I’ve got to get the dogs walked and my own corpse through a run before the heat mounts to an unlivable degree, so I’m out the door as soon as the last bit of coffee is swilled. Happy Pride Month, everyone, and I hope your Tuesday goes smooth as silk.

If it doesn’t, we can get out the machetes and the RPGs, and teach it not to mess with us.

Over and out…

HELL’S ACRE, In June


It’s June, and you know what that means–Hell’s Acre is now underway! An all-new serial adventure, delivered weekly, and full of stuff Bannon & Clare fans might like–carriages, dresses, a London where the Roman Empire never fell, rooftop battles, assassinations, and the like. There won’t be any magic, per se, but a great deal of semi-combat sorcery Mikal might approve of.

If you’re interested, you can get the first three chapters for free here.

It’s a holiday Monday, so I’m off to walk the dogs before it gets too warm. They’re saying 90F or near it for the next couple days, and I am a pale Pacific Northwest mushroom who shrivels in such temperatures. I plan to work only a half-day today and then retire to the couch to knock off the rest of a book on the Ancient Rome and the silk trade. (It’s all Rome, all the time in here lately.)

I wish you a blessed Memorial Day, my friends. I woke up with Dolly Parton playing inside my head, so I’m hopeful for a good day.

Over and out!