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!

Not Quite Vacay

It’s raining, and I woke up with Rain’s Sad Tango playing in my head. Which isn’t bad on either count. I get to run while water is falling from the sky, and there’s also a catchy groove to do it to.

I meant to take this week as a vacation, at least from serial writing. Unfortunately life has other ideas. Cold North is still going great guns; the elementalist has left that world’s variation on Nargothrond and is heading for a hill topped with red foliage. (Turin Turambar fans are going to get a kick out of this part of the tale.) I’m also getting plenty of progress in on Hell’s Acre, which has a scaffolding somewhat resembling an outline–though anything approaching an outline gets thrown out about two-thirds of the way through any work.

I just can’t stick to directions when it comes to a story. It has to take its own organic shape, and though I can often predict said shape, the execution is always much different than the projection.

…I just took the first gulp of today’s coffee, and my gods is it ever welcome.

I’m having to switch back to tea in the afternoons, since sleeping is becoming difficult again. On the one hand, I could just get up and work when insomnia strikes. On the other, I’m getting older (surprise, surprise) and the very thought of pulling all-nighters the way I used to makes me even more tired. I might as well give my body all the help I can. Besides, tea is stuffed full of anti-depressive chemicals, and that’s always a bonus.

I’m also ready to open up my Discord server for a new round of members, so come on in, the water’s fine! The invite link will last for a week, unless we get an influx of bad actors. (Which sometimes happens, this being the internet and all.) Patreon and Gumroad folks get special access on the server, and I’m kicking around the idea of doing some voice chats with subscribers–an AMA or two sounds like a good time, especially with a cuppa. The server has a living room, a place to discuss the books of Yours Truly, a place to discuss other authors’ books, a hellhole where politics are discussed, and more.

I’m slowly working my way through coffee. It’s a nice quiet grey morning, and after listening to Sad Tango on repeat I figure I’ll shift to the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, look over the day’s work, and finish said java before taking the dogs on walkies. Boxnoggin will be extremely put out that it’s damp, but B will be just the same–she’s all-weather, all the time.

OH! I almost forgot. The Princess informed me yesterday that the Yankee Squirrel Flipper is doing its duty, and a squirrel has been flung at least once into the Venerable Fir. Sadly, I did not get to witness the occasion, but I have to admit to a bit of evil laughter, especially since the damn arboreal rodents have been digging up my seedling trays to bury their bloody peanuts.

Yes, someone in the neighborhood is still feeding them. I don’t even know.

That’s the news that’s fit to print, I suppose. There are rumbles in the distance, both concerning Cold North and Moon’s Knight, but nothing definitive yet. And come June 1, not only will Hell’s Acre be live, but I’ll have to shift engines to do revisions on Sons of Ymre, which should be out later this year (but will probably be retitled, so stay tuned).

My goodness, that’s a lot. I started this post thinking there was very little if any news, but apparently I was wrong. It’s a good thing I don’t mind being wrong. I even enjoy it, in some cases.

This vacation is turning out busier than many regular work weeks, but that’s my own fault…

…as usual. Onwards, upwards, and inwards to Thursday, beloveds.

Just Breathing, Blessing

It’s finally raining again, and I can run again. Between recovery from the massive, crashing relief of getting our second vaccine shot and certain other personal events, the weekend was a lost cause and Monday just about the same.

Fortunately, this morning I could run in the rain, always guaranteed to lift my spirits. The burst of endorphins and burning off of stress chemicals means some of my equilibrium has returned.

It’s a big week; subscribers get the unedited ebook of HOOD‘s Season Three (the edited one is still being proofread) and also a special surprise involving Hell’s Acre. When June begins, so will that new serial, and frankly I’m looking forward to it.

Other things are hanging fire. Publishing is always festina lente and everyone is congenitally behind and overworked. This could be solved by paying a reasonable number of people a living wage, including creators, but…well, there seems to be a great deal of resistance to that strategy in every industry, not just the one I work in.

I’ve also had a burst of frantic activity in non-work-related areas. For a very long while, I’ve been convinced I wouldn’t survive, and consequently some things have been of less importance than others. (Like, for example, weeding.) Now that competent adults are somewhat in charge and vaccination is available, I’m having to face my own continued existence in a different manner.

I’m technically on vacation this week–which only means I’m only writing what I care to, and I am unavailable for certain business inquiries–so I’ll probably be running a lot, weeding even more, and complaining about the Muse. Not to mention bitching that my recovery process seems to involve writing a lot of werewolf erotica I’ll never be able to publish.

Such are the drawbacks of this career, but they’re faint and fading indeed next to the satisfaction of being able to set my own schedule and behave largely as I please in my own office. Lying on the floor talking to myself and waving my arms while I arrange a combat scene inside my head might be frowned upon in other work environments, after all.

I don’t know how to even begin processing the last year and a half, let alone the complex bubbling stew of feelings swirling against my mental dams and canals once the second dose of vaccine was thrust into my willing flesh. Right now I’m just grateful my head isn’t being constantly shoved under the surface by the daily news cycle. Just breathing is a blessing at the moment.

It might irritate some people to hear me working through these feelings in public, but…well, this is my site, I say what I please here, and if being honest about the effects of truly historical events upon one’s mental health can help even one other person feel less lonely, I’ll consider it time well spent.

In other news, I’ve hung up the Yankee Squirrel Flipper once more, full of sunflower seeds. Boxnoggin has chased not one, not two, but three squirrels (or the same squirrel thrice) in the past few days, and I get the idea they’ve discovered how easy it is to taunt him. I get the further idea that to a squirrel, it’s a lot of fun.

This, I suspect, will not end well. But it’ll be hilarious, I’m sure, and I’m doubly sure it will involve me being shoeless and screaming.

The world could use a little more hilarity right now. I’d say “nature is healing” but I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m just going to await developments…

…and make sure I’m wearing shoes.

Season of Headaches

Funny how a Large Company can ignore one for multiple years, but the instant one’s patience reaches an end and one starts asking, “Where do I send the invoice for my lost working time while dealing with this issue?”

…well, all of a sudden responses become very punctual indeed.

Especially after one highlights one’s hourly rate, as well as the fact that emails and messages are billed in quarter-hour increments and there are additional surcharges for repetition, not to mention aggravation.

Yes, I know this is tilting at windmills. Just call me quixotic.

There’s also been a rash of Reply Guys, mansplainers, Rando Calrissians, and Well Actuallys lately. I’m glad for Block Party on a daily basis anyway, but this just makes my appreciation hit new heights. Auto-muting randos is one of the great joys in life.

Fortunately, both projects currently taking the bulk of my writing time are growing organically. Hell’s Acre is climbing the trellis I had planned by leaps and bounds, acquiring muscle and nerve over bare bones. The protagonist is a bit cagey, of course–she didn’t want to tell me everything, suspecting (quite rightly) that I have plans of my own. But I have the benefit of patience.

Mostly.

As for Cold North, Sol and her shieldmaid just surprised me. Solveig clearly feels they’ll have no better chance to slip free of a very nasty fate, so she’s making her move. It won’t end the way she thinks it will, but it’ll be a lot of fun to watch, and honestly that’s the one thing keeping me going this morning.

Honestly, giggling behind my hand while thinking, “No, *character name*, this won’t end the way you think it will…” is one of the great joys in life. I wonder if the gods feel this way about us.

The dogs are patiently awaiting their walkies. I need to figure out how, exactly, a few things in either book will happen. My head’s a bit stuffy from the swiftly shifting barometric pressure–spring is the season of headaches, alas–and I can just tell any sunshine today will continue driving the inhabitants of this normally grey place quite mad indeed.

If I time it right, I might be able to run with some cloud cover. But I might as well put sunscreen on anyway; one never knows. I do have to think about the right way to do the next few scenes in Cold North, because an invisible hook for the rest of the story is hanging very close by and needs at least a few threads hung over it to get the entire thing to drape correctly. (60k+ in and we’re not quite halfway there…) And that kind of work is best done while moving, whether at an amble or a gallop.

I could do a whole post about the rhythm of walking or just plain moving jolting free plot points and the like, but that’s for another day. My coffee is still warm; I’d best finish it and move on.

Yet another day’s post: I hope that squirrel on the deck has decided to go elsewhere and stop tormenting Boxnoggin.

But I doubt it.

Over and out…