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…

Monday, No Prisoners

It’s not even 10:30 in the morning and already I am DONE with TODAY, thank you very much.

It wouldn’t be so bad if PayPal wasn’t being so awful. I live for the day that company either becomes a public utility or we get a good challenger for its market share. Now, I honestly don’t blame the customer service department for being awful–they’re overworked and paid a mere pittance, and they’re doing the best they can. But the CEO and assorted higher-ups? I BLAME THEM, CERTAINLY.

Anyway. I shouldn’t be getting this irritated before coffee. It’s not good for anyone.

I find myself in a take-no-prisoners mood more and more lately. Probably a function of being over forty, and a further function of surviving since 2016. I’m reaching the stage of being the cranky old hermit on the mountaintop that young heroes visit to get the movie-ending Secret Ultimate Move. “Yeah, go do this, it’ll make you able to split rocks with your pinkie, now LEAVE ME ALONE, KID.”

Both dogs are staring intently at me, ready for walkies. I’m hopeful for some rain today, but it doesn’t seem possible according to the weather report. (And now I have a Sting song in my head.)

On the bright side, the clouds mean productivity, and that I might not have to water as much. The sprinklers aren’t on yet, because I know as soon as that’s done we’ll be inundated. I might as well just lug around the hose–which Boxnoggin is very excited over. If it gets much warmer he might be allowed to chase a high-powered jet of hosewater, his very favorite thing. He forgets he’s not a puppy and catches serious air; the dog is obsessed with H20 at high volume and speed.

Miss B, of course, decides to hide behind me every time I get the hose out, on the theory that’s the safest place. Which means I have to be careful while watering, in case I step back and trip over her, landing flat on my back.

It’s happened before. Then she stands over me with a puzzled look like, “Mum, what are you doing on the ground? That’s not quite proper.”

I’m in such a state I don’t even have the day’s work swirling inside my head. I need to figure out what Solveig and the Northerners come across when they leave the secret passage, and there’s a fun third-person omni POV to write in Hell’s Acre. But at least I have the music for the day–Sting and Dvorak, the latter played by Jacqueline du Pré.

Somehow, I’ll muddle through.

The “walkies nao” beams from the dogs are reaching epic proportions. I should probably attempt tying my shoes, slathering on some sunscreen, and getting out the door. Maybe it’ll even help my mood.

Happy Monday, beloveds. Get the baseball bat, I’ll grab the machete, and we’ll make today bend to our will.

Exeunt, trailed by an evil laugh…

Not Quite Planned

Rain last night and a sunny morning; I can almost feel the grass stretching, not to mention the grapevines, the hop vine, and the salvia. I’m sure the foxglove out front is pretty happy too, and the blueberries appear to have taken transplanting well. I also woke up with Janet Jackson’s Black Cat in my head at high volume, so of course I had to listen to it and dance a bit before brekkie.

Yesterday was a complete, total, utter Monday. At least it lived up to its name; one has to admire the thoroughness with which some days set out to become annoyances. Oh, I have to admit Monday wasn’t bad; I got basic wordcount on both Hell’s Acre and Cold North.

But that wordcount was mostly me ripping out and redoing the architecture on a foundational scene so that things I plan for later in the serial have a proper footing. So I wrote about 1.2k, but deleted a good 800+ words, so it was fiddly, finicky work that felt like running in place. And of course after a couple of 4k+ days on Cold North, the characters are exhausted and I barely got 600 words out of them.

At least the latter were good words, and I know more about a certain character now. I think he’s got a thing for the heroine, but she’s oblivious and in any case they have plenty of problems, including escaping an elvish cave-city. The Valkyrie in the story is having a bit of a day, too. Fortunately she has a spear, and with a spear all her problems become things to be stabbed.

Funny how that works.

I don’t quite have today planned out yet. All I know is that the dogs need walking and I must run. Yesterday I burned off a lot of anxiety by hauling my carcass along at what passes for high speed–I am not anything approaching swift, mind you, but I can keep a steady pace just about forever. As long as the zombies aren’t sprinters I should do just fine. Then I think I’ll go through some more Hell’s Acre to make sure all the foundation-stones are in place before edging into new territory, and get everyone in Cold North ready to leave the damn city.

I do have revisions on Sons of Ymre to turn around in the next few months, but right now I’m going to work on fresh wordage rather than editing. I’ve spent the majority of my time recently in revision, and while I don’t really mind–it’s where a lot of magic happens–I still prefer the heat of creation.

Both dogs are slumped in a rare sunbeam coming through my office window; mornings are often cloudy and the cedars along the back fence generally block any direct glare this time of day. It’s rare for them to be able to bask, and they’re enjoying every moment of it. Still, the instant I shift to take my empty coffee cup into the kitchen and lace up my shoes, they’ll be beside themselves with glee and anticipation.

I have only a few more minutes of quiet left before that, and I plan to use them breathing deeply. See you around, beloveds.