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.

Perpetual Endeavors

A hazy dawn is rising, and I woke up with Hell’s Acre moving and shifting inside my head. Looks like the serial will be two seasons after all, because the last lingering bit I needed for the back half just dropped into place and it’s a rawther elegant solution, if I do say so myself. Pulling the story off Vella did a great deal of good–I still have an experiment lingering there, though not under my real name. The platform treated me so dreadfully over a support ticket I don’t want my name associated with it.

In any case, it’s a Thursday, and I had a run planned but what with one thing or another it will have to be some yoga instead. The dogs are eager for walkies–Miss B in particular is attempting to get me on her schedule instead of the other way ’round. It is a perpetual endeavor, one she has been engaged in for well over a decade (we’ve been together a while) and I think her baffled spite when it doesn’t work is part of the reason she’s still in such good shape.

Spite is a wonderful motivator. Keeps one young at heart, and all that.

I have to feel out the dimensions of the gap in the VC Andrews/Cat People werewolf story, because I know what needs to happen but I don’t quite see how to get there yet. And in Sons of Ymre #2 I have left the heroine feeling rather badly now that she’s discovered a few things about her monster-hunting protector, and I don’t quite know if she’s going to try to wriggle out the window before the other monster hunters get there. She’s seriously considering it, I think it’s a bad idea, and we’re hashing it out. The process takes time.

I was able to settle in bed last night and knock off a respectable bit of Fire in the Lake. I’m gutting it out; it’s slow going, especially with the stress of current events. After this I have some of Anais Nin’s diaries to read. I splurged a bit (call it research, that’s what I’m doing) and bought a set. I’ve always wanted to read them, and now is a good time to cross that off my bucket list. Once I wend my way through the set I’ll see if the itch is scratched. At least there’s no shortage, Nin was prolific.

Still trying not to look at the news. The world’s pain is prowling just outside my mental doors, eager to rush in and consume me. Of course I feel terrible that I can’t do more, that I’m sitting here writing my little stories as the burning intensifies. It’s all I can do. On my better days I tell myself that people need stories, need escape and catharsis, now more than ever. On my worse, there’s nothing else I can do anyway so I might as well get some work done while I’m waiting for the mushroom cloud.

The worse days predominate lately. Any optimism I might have been able to lay claim to has been severely strained.

So I just keep swimming. Gary Moore is playing inside my skull this morning too, while the plot-building machine whirrs and jolts. I’m also thinking about tomorrow’s tea–we’ll talk about the difference between the Inner Editor and the Internal Censor, always a fun time. I’ve finally reached the point where I’m exporting old teas to YouTube, where they can live after they drop off Twitch’s two-week cycle. We’ll see how long this experiment lasts. My agent tells me I’m witty and personable, but all I feel in front of a camera is doltish, atavistic fear. At that point my most devout hope is that nobody is watching, which I suppose defeats the purpose of the whole thing? It’s irrational on many levels, but I trust my agent and if she says to try this, I suppose I should.

Well, frankly, she wanted me to TikTok, but that’s a lot of work for no return at all and I’m already in publishing, I’ve got enough of that, thanks.

I should bring this to a close and get toast underway. Miss B just perked up as I glanced at her–she can sense, with unfailing canine intuition, that I am about to cave and give her what she wants. Action! Adventure! A stroll around the block, during which she gets to sniff all her favourite things and be cranky at Boxnoggin’s exuberance! And finally, the pièce de résistance, a treat when we return home, because her owner is a sucker and she is, after all, an elderly statesdog who has turned in years of diligent work.

Have a lovely Thursday, my dears. Today’s subscription drop is prepped and scheduled, and I have plenty of work to keep me occupied. If the day behaves we might reach the end without having to get out the baseball bat.

Maybe I’m more of an optimist than I thought…

Not Quite Stunt

Well, it’s Thursday. I got a lot done yesterday, including some semi-reasonable wordcount, hallelujah. Swimming against the weight of the world–current events, administrivia, this that and the other, all the things it uses to try to keep one from creative endeavor–is a risky and exhausting business. Maybe it’s not really the world but human systems of exploitation, but the difference is scant on a practical level.

There’ll be sometime special for subscribers today, and it’s pleasant to anticipate that. There’s also a sale going on now, another sale pending, and a release later this month. I feel like I’m chasing my own tail to a ridiculous degree, even for 2022.

I also have to get to the bloody post office. I keep putting it off because the pandemic is still going strong, but there are things to send and I can’t wait any longer.

Ugh. Leaving the house, my least favorite thing. At least I have plenty of masks and can largely arrange things so I’m in and out during the off hours. Someone vandalized the PO boxes during lockdown, so one can’t go in after-hours anymore. (This is why we can’t have nice things, ARGH.)

I’m still juggling Hell’s Acre (got the knife fight finished yesterday, hooray) and Sons of Ymre #2 (it’s about time to get our monster hunters caught by the larger monster-hunting organization), not to mention the Sooper-Sekrit Projekt. The last alternately delights and terrifies me, but trick writing is like that. It’s not quite stunt writing, but it’s close. The best thing is stuffing in all sorts of references and knowing that some of them will only be understood by me. Easter eggs for readers are great, and for writers? Well, they’re one reason to continue with this benighted career.

Among others.

The dogs are now lobbying for toast-crusts, and that means it’s almost time for walkies, not to mention the morning run. After I sweat through a few kilometres I’ll feel better, and may even be able to face the day without wishing I could reach for my baseball bat.

Maybe.

Hang in there, beloveds. We’re almost to Friday, after all…

Wise and Motivated…Nah

“It’s Wednesday,” I told myself yesterday. “You don’t have to run, you don’t have to stream. All you have to do is write. Hey, you can even get ahead on the two paying projects, right?”

I agreed with myself. I felt very wise and motivated. And then…

…I wrote 6k on the werewolf erotica I’ll probably never publish. *headdesk*

I’m not mad, though. Apparently I just needed to crawl into a story and not come out for a while. No stakes, no real danger, just me and some super-dumb characters doing weird things while rain swept the roof and the dogs power-napped. They were exhausted by all the water falling from the sky, I guess.

And it was lovely. My wrists hurt a little, but that’s to be expected. Ice and stretching all day, and I honestly intend to get back to paying work. I mean, it can’t always be werewolf pr0n. I do have a combat scene in Hell’s Acre to get onto (pretty sure Avery’s going to try a fancy knife-drop-catch thing before someone special shows up to save his bacon, and I need that blocked out to a fare-thee-well before writing) and I’ve got to get the pair of monster hunters caught by the big monster-hunting organization before too much longer, since I pretty much know the turn in the second Sons of Ymre book now. There’s no shortage of work.

I just hope I won’t be seduced into the werewolf story again. I know how it ends, but there’s another 70-80k to get there and the damn thing is already in the neighborhood of 86k. It’s just so…big.

*snork*

Anyway, the world is still on fire, though a nasty bully seems to be getting some kind of comeuppance. Of course it’s hurting his victims at home more than it’s hurting him at this point, and the body count will only rise before he’s levered out of power, and plenty of his coevals and henchmen will probably escape scot-free…but at least it’s something, I guess.

I put a dollop of bacon grease in the dogs’ kibble bowls this morning. Boxnoggin turned up his nose, but Miss B dug in her bowl until she found the prize, then proceeded to casually stroll over to Boxnoggin’s bowl and do the same. She did get plenty of kibble with it–I’m no fool, I mashed it all together for just this occasion–and it will keep her coat nice and shiny. And Boxnoggin will have nobody to blame but himself when he condescends to finally put his nose in his brekkie-bowl and discovers there was once bacon grease, but now there is none. He will make a huge production over it, I’m sure, and will beg extra hard for toast scraps from my own breakfast and/or lunch.

I’m trying not to look at the news more than a few times per day. Doomscrolling isn’t good for anyone, and each nadir I reach when the world bursts into fresh flame is a little lower than the last. Endurance is my specialty, but this is fucking ridiculous. Even the absurdity isn’t helping.

In any case, I should get the morning’s toast choked down and the dogs walked. It looks like a reasonably un-cloudy day, which I hate, and I will have to get my morning run out of the way before the sun rises too high. Otherwise there will be people all over the sidewalk, emerging blinking from their holes into bright sunlight, and who needs that? Not a curmudgeon like me, certainly. I’d wish for more rain, but even my gloomy self understands saturated earth needs a moment or two to rest and let some runoff happen. I’ll settle for being cranky until I get back home and shut my door on the outside world.

Maybe I’ll give myself a little bit of werewolf writing after dinner today. As a treat, you understand. I definitely won’t spend another day head-down in something that’ll never sell. Honestly.

Yup. Sure. Imagine me staring into the camera, The Office-style. Best-laid plans, and all that.

See you around, beloveds.

Education in Continuing

At least the radio in my head received a jolt (probably from the rain) so this morning it’s playing Kim Carnes. It’s not that I minded the Michael Bolton or Leo Sayer, but I was ready for a change.

There was a lot of rain, even for this part of the world. It was pretty glorious, though I did have to wring myself out when I arrived home after a run. Even Miss B, who is normally an all-weather pooch, was giving me resentful “why the hell are you doing this?” looks during walkies. And of course the tree trunks are still wet, glistening black and damp.

Not only that, but I did get some work done yesterday once the shakes and anxiety from streaming died down. The Tea with Lili experiment is still going strong, and I’m hoping that in time I’ll become desensitized to performance anxiety. I mean, I never want to get completely comfortable in front of a camera, but a little less like my heart might explode from sheer panic? That I would like, very much. I am hoping against hope it’s not like the anxiety from book releases, which seems to never ever get better even if my coping mechanisms become fractionally more effective each time.

I figured out the problem in Hell’s Acre. Avery didn’t want to engage upon the rooftop battle without at least seeing a certain lady first, and said “chance” meeting was a good move structurally to bracket the fight. So now Gemma knows something is amiss, Avery has drawn the attackers away, and today if the gods let me I can finally write a scene that’s been in my head since I started this damn serial. Writing this particular story during pandemic has been…interesting. If I were to be charitable I could call it an education in continuing under extreme stress, but I’ve already had a few of those and don’t need any more, thanks.

Shame the world isn’t listening.

I also got almost the daily complement of wordcount in on Sons of Ymre #2, tentatively titled Stray Dog but that will change. I like the Mifune overtones, though. (I should watch that movie again.) It’s about time for some kind of chase. The “hero” (I hesitate to call him that at this point) is desperately trying to keep things together without admitting he has no idea what to do, which is a terrible place for someone who prizes competence–and indeed, builds their whole identity around it–to be in.

He deserves every moment of agony and angst, frankly, yet I still feel bad. Once he’s groveled enough he’ll get a bone or two. I’m pretty terrible to my heroes, but we knew that.

There’s a slight break in the rain, and Miss B is at my knee, resting her chin and reminding me she has not been walked yet today, thank you, and would really like her silly human to get on that instead of staring at the glowing box and making clicky-clicky sounds. I often wonder what she thinks typing is, or if she just consigns it to the realm of cosmic riddles she’ll never unravel. So much of what her biped does is probably mystifying in the extreme.

The world is still burning, and I feel guilty for the grace and peace I am granted. I’m trying not to look at the news, and trying not to think about historical parallels. Today’s run should help; yesterday’s purged a bit of stress and I’m looking forward to burning off yet more panic-chemicals this morning. In order to do that, though, I should swallow some toast and get the dogs walked before this break in the weather is over. It can dump rain on me all day and I don’t mind, but Miss B is old and Boxnoggin slick-coated, and neither of them needs another dunking for a while. I’m sure they’d be very happy to hear me say that.

Courage, my friends. And I say this because it helps me remember. Chin up, mask on (fuck you, CDC, I will not sacrifice immunocompromised friends or strangers), and baseball bats ready, let us stride into Tuesday.

There’s work to be done.

Damp and Dry

Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

Not That Broken

Today we have both the plumbers and the appliance repair people scheduled to come by–one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It would have been just the appliance repair people to look at the dishwasher, but apparently fixing the leak under the sink last week created a new leak under the sink.

2022 continues to keep giving.

Everyone will be masking and I’ll sanitize what I can between the visits. The dogs will be Very Upset at being placed in Durance Vile–i.e., one in my office and the other in a bedroom, both with highly cushioned resting places they will not use because they will be busy screaming, “MOTHER! HOW DARE!” through the door.

It will be very Man in the Iron Mask around here. Or like the scenes in Ruyi’s Royal Love when a schemer is dragged to the Bureau of Punishment.

Last night the kids were washing dishes and the handle of one of our red cappuccino mugs decided to separate from its bowl. The Prince rolled a critical dex save and caught the bowl on its way down between his hip and the counter, gauging the force perfectly so nothing else broke. From the expostulations I thought something else had gone wrong with the plumbing, so I hurried into the kitchen and found both children (I should call them something else, they’re both of age to vote and smoke by now, and fifty percent of them can legally drink) laughing like loons.

“It’s broken, yeah,” the Prince gasped through his merriment, “but not that broken.”

Which is sort of the running theme around here. Broken, yeah, but not that broken. We’ll make do, route around the damage until we can’t anymore. Perhaps things will be better before it reaches the “can’t anymore” point.

I also have the ball in Hell’s Acre to write, as well as figuring out whether or not the ambulance in the beginning of the second Sons of Ymre book is staffed by regular people or…otherwise. I think it’s the former but I can’t be sure until I actually get there, so it will be exploratory writing, feeling my way in the dark until I reach a flash that illuminates the room. I’m glad to be head-down in stories again; I am having very little luck with the world outside.

The inner ones are always better.

Of course, Avery’s being cagey about what precisely his plan is other than burning down a few buildings. He has to have a deeper gambit; it’s not like him to stop at a wee bit of arson. He has to be hoping to find something elsewhere (since he got all dolled up like a gentleman for the evening) and may or may not be expecting…

…but that would be telling. I’m sure he suspects there’s a spy or two even among his Rooks, so I’ve got to go very carefully and see what on earth he has planned. It’s not yet time for me to gently remind him who’s in charge of this entire rollercoaster; I figure I’ll let him run a bit before I apply the leash.

So to speak. The imaginary people inside my head are a real carnival of fun, kind of like ordinary outside ones.

I will be glad to see the back of today, no matter what happens. I can’t believe it’s only a week and change into January, it already feels like this year has been a century long. Pandemic time is as weird as publishing time, and that’s saying something.

Let’s all get through today however we can. And keep our baseball bats handy.

Over and out.