Every Permutation

So far this morning I’ve spent an hour in the car, walked the dogs, and swallowed a few correspondence toads. As a result, I’m somewhat at sixes and sevens, and longing for more coffee. I just can’t tell if more caffeine will help or hinder, given the amount of fog brewing in my head.

It’s a continual amazement to me that so many people will put off responding to one’s communications but expect one to drop everything and leap upon theirs. I’m getting better at shrugging and filing things for later reply, and it would be inaccurate to suggest I feel no pleasure in doing so. I’m also getting better at dead-eyeing entitled little brats (of any age) into behaving better while out in public.

The end of summer is always a strange flux time, especially when one has children in American public school. Three months off is just enough time to settle into much slower habits, and the scramble to organize and prepare in August makes me long for year-round schooling. It seems a much more humane way to do things, but of course, America won’t implement the humane way of things until we’ve tried every. other. possible. choice. and failed at each and every one.

I suppose that sounds ill-tempered, but I’m *mumblemumble* years old and have earned a little temper by surviving as long with a brain (and in a country) that wants to erase me.

In any case, yesterday’s grey skies and rain did good things all over. The trees are much happier; I could feel my soul expanding with every drop hitting the ground. Consequently, today is much better than I expected, even as I was rudely (and somewhat early) dragged from strange dreams.

Even my open window, full of cursing and hammering from numerous last-minute construction and renovation projects in the neighborhood (as well as a particularly musical storm of cursing at random intervals as a hammer strikes a thumb or some other disaster occurs) provies just enough backdrop noise to make things interesting. Yesterday’s scene in HOOD needs its guts torn out and rearranged, too–sometimes one can’t do a scene properly until one’s taken a trial run and found out what doesn’t work.

At least I don’t have to try every permutation. Once is enough.

The romance–Damage–is also coming along well, though I’m far enough along on the first third that a few days of tender care situating the entire thing just so is necessary before I can settle into the long middle doldrum. It will be nice to hit the end, especially since I know pretty exactly how the book wants to swing and stretch. It doesn’t even matter that it wants to be written piecemeal, because the signposts are so large and the structure so easily discerned.

In other words, I have my work for the day cut out indeed. Here’s hoping for more rain (though the weather app tells me such hope is in vain) and for whoever’s currently cursing a blue streak to get a bandage and some better luck. (It sounds like there was a slight mishap with a staple gun; I’d curse too.)

Over and out.

Busy Meatspace

The past few weeks have been hell on my daily writing time. If it’s not the stress it’s family events, and if it’s not family events it’s back-to-school arrangements, and if it’s not any of that it’s scrambling to catch up with stuff that fell by the wayside because of stress, family events, and back-to-school arrangements.

It’s enough to make me wish for a cave in the woods. A cave with an electrical outlet or two, of course, so I could work in peace.

Single mothers are superheroes. No co-parent to take the pressure off even for a moment, as well as a constricted choice of jobs (so as to be available for childcare) and seventy-odd cents on the dollar a man would make besides. It’s surprising that any woman would choose to reproduce under these circumstances, which is, of course, why birth control and abortion are consistently made unavailable.

The State, you see, needs warm bodies, and there’s only one way to make those.

I finished Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain last night; it was like finishing one of the large, hearty sanitarium meals he describes so lovingly. Poor Settembrini, and poor Joachim. And poor Ellen Brand, taken advantage of by that damn doctor. Hans I have less than no sympathy for, even though he’s the reader’s entry into the tale. It was a lovely meal nonetheless, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m sated and can push away from the table. I do like it better than Death in Venice; this book came along at just the right time.

I’ve still got an hour to spend in the car today, all told, and a good half-hour taking care of various things once I reach my destination. I’d best get started, especially if I want to get in wordcount. Subscription stuff needs to be sent out today, too–I could have taken the weekend to get a few weeks’ lead time set up, but instead I spent it taking care of life out here in meatspace.

The disconnect between how long it takes to write a book and how long it takes to read, let alone buy, one is huge. Related: I’ve noticed another spike in piracy lately, and there’s been a concomitant spike in people getting shitty with me in email about my request that people not steal my work.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like more Steelflower books in a reasonable time. (If you know someone who torrents, let them know they’re stopping you from getting more books from me.)

Anyway, the only thing I need now is breakfast to settle so I can run. I need the zen more than ever, from now until September.

Over and out.

Beginning the Magic Mountain

Strange Angels

Well, it’s a Monday. I spent the last bit of my (very busy) weekend on the couch with Mann’s The Magic Mountain, which is going to be rather slow but enjoyable, like a caramel. Some of his asides remind me of Melville, but that could be a function of the translation.

I’ve taken to logging completely out of Twitter whenever I walk away from it, and the small change (along with a blocking app during the day) has done wonders for my peace of mind. I like being in contact with Readers, one has to be somewhat visible on social media today if one has any kind of artistic career, and I like being aware of the larger zeitgeist, yes.

It’s just the misogynists, bigots and fascists I don’t like, and their little bot armies. It’s gotten to the point that Twitter’s a firehose spewing raw sewage more often than not. This explains why most of the time I’m over on my Mastodon instance instead. (If you’ve a domain name and a five euro a month you can have your own instance; I highly recommend it.) With the crossposter, I can keep my presence on Twitter but I don’t have to bathe in the torrent unless and until I feel ready. Having to log in from scratch each ding-dang time does me no end of good. Already some of the stress I’m swimming in has gone down.

A few of you have contacted me privately about the current situation. Yes, it was bad; it’s mostly managed now. I thank you for your kindness–you know who you are –and though I didn’t need much of what was offered, it is extremely, heartbreakingly comforting to have been offered anything at all. So thank you.

I’m up relatively early, trying to get my coffee absorbed so I can get a damn run in before it gets too hot to breathe, let alone move, outside. A little exercise, a little Latin, and a whole lot of work today, since HOOD isn’t going to write itself; I am already sensing this season might start breaking for the finish line even though it’s only around 30K words right now. If I wasn’t so used to stories doing what they damn well please I might even be a little afraid to loosen the reins and let this one gallop.

After the number of novels I’ve written, you’d think it would get easier to tell what a given story wants before one is in the position of having it half-wrought. (Hint: It’s…not.) I just keep muttering, “if it were easy, everyone would do it” interspersed with dire obscenities–a song of deeply committed insanity, as it were.

I’m already waiting for the end of piano practice tonight, so I can settle on the couch and lose myself in a mountain sanitarium again. Aside from a few strange things it might do to my dreams, chances are good it’ll be a rest cure. I just hope it won’t take me seven years (lean or fat) to finish reading.

Over and out.

Sort Of Recovering

Season 2 of HOOD starts today for my lovely subscribers. I’m pretty pleased, even if I might need three seasons instead of two after all, to get the arcs to fall right. Ah well, never rains but it pours, and that gives me more time to plan other things, I suppose.

The stress of the last week and a half is receding, though not nearly as quickly as I’d like. As I get older, it takes more time to bounce back from the killing worries, both financial and personal, that go along with this career–and, let’s face it, being a single mother. I suppose from outside it looks successful enough, but that semblance hides the fact that our household is hovering barely above the poverty line and it only takes a single bad event–or a single publisher refusing to pay what they owe–to trigger catastrophe. It doesn’t help that I spent the early part of last week working furiously, almost to the edge of burnout, to make sure HOOD: Season One was out properly and to get Incorruptible prepped for release. (The latter won’t be out until September; don’t worry, you’ll know as soon as preorders are up.)

So I’m a little shaky, and even though the worst of the disaster has been addressed, I’m still vibrating in place. (Not quite fast enough to be a squirrel twin, but… close.) The kids were a little worried, since normally I tend to keep a pretty granite poker face; they know that when that calm cracks it means things are Very Bad Indeed.

Anyway, I am recovering, and there are good things. Like the ebooks of my Beauty & the Beast retelling, Rose & Thunder, being on sale for the month of August. (You get about 28% off the regular price.) Also, I may be writing some more romances to keep the wolf from the door, but that’s good because I have a couple stories that fit that treatment perfectly and the editor interested in them is a gem.

The saving grace of the last week and a half has been my subscribers and patrons. That trickle of monthly support provides a thin cushion I’m ever grateful for, and means I can write still more for their delectation. It’s a virtuous circle–I produce better and more when I can sleep at night instead of lying awake in the darkness, my heart pounding, worrying about losing the house.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, I’ve this week’s fiction offerings to put together, and as soon as the cover for Incorruptible lands, the finishing touches can be put on September’s release and I can start thinking about November. Not quite sure if I’ll have anything finished and prepped by then, but hope springs eternal. I have a rather punishing publication schedule.1 A lot will depend on if publishers decide to snap up one or two projects my agent is making the rounds with.

I like self-publishing, but it would be a relief to outsource some of the brute work–formatting, listing for sale, editing–to a company that has deeper pockets and more labor than my own small, sweet self. A vacation’s out of the question, but a break, now that would be nice.

But today there’s coffee to finish, subscription stuff to get up, dogs to walk, a kitchen to clean, and maybe some laundry to do. The fun never ends chez Saintcrow, and I suppose I’d better like it, since it won’t change anytime soon. Making a virtue out of necessity is a writer’s survival strategy.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: HOOD, Season One

That’s right, folks–Season One of HOOD is now available! Robin Hood–IN SPACE!


HOOD

The Great Migration was centuries ago; two generation ships reached the Anglene galaxy with its clutch of terraform-suitable planets and performed their work.

Anglene is smoldering. The galactic insurrection is supposed to be crushed. Robbhan Locke, a Second Echelon soldier, has returned to his birth planet along with other veterans, finding Sharl Notheim holding all of Saggitarius in his mailed fist for Parl Jun the Regent. 

There’s no redemption in homecoming. Even Marah Madán and Ged Gizabón, Robb’s childhood friends, have been forced into accommodation. The Sharl won’t stop squeezing until he’s made maximum profit for his royal patron–and covered up all his wartime indiscretions.

Heroes aren’t needed here, but even a damaged man can fight…

Available in e-edition direct (.epub and .mobi for Kindle users), through Amazon or Kobo; paper edition available through Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, independent bookstores, or Amazon.

You can also download a free sample–the first few chapters, in .mobi, .epub, or PDF format!


You can also read a little bit about the genesis of the story here. It’s been a long strange road, and I’ve got so much more to tell you, my friends. There’s going to be a race, a heist or three, betrayals, and ballroom dancing, not to mention murder, intrigue, and quite a few lucky shots. I hope you enjoy Season One, and in August Season Two starts with somewhat of a bang–or the aftereffects of one.

But for today, I’ve release-day nerves to fret with, a bunch of housework I’ve put off to address, and dogs to amuse. I’m swamped.

Over and out.

Brain, Thunderdome

HOOD

I’m a little excited, my dear little sparrows. HOOD‘s Season One comes out next Tuesday (you can download a free teaser here) and I’m trying some new things with distribution and marketing, so we’ll see how that works out. It’ll be nice to have the first season off my plate, since I’m already 30K into the second. I think I can get this done in two seasons, and if publishers don’t snap up Hell’s Acre I’ll do that as the next one. (Considering Season 2 is going to be long, though, there’s plenty of time. For once.)

I’m also revising Incorruptible, which will probably drop in September. There’s other releases scheduled around then, but none under my real name. (Yes, I know you’ll all want details. As soon as I can disclose them I will, not a second before or after.)

Today, however, Serial Time subscribers (on Gumroad or Patreon) get the final ebook for HOOD: Season One way before anyone else does. It’s a tiny thank-you for their support. That small, consistent support means I can plan around several vagaries of daily life and publishing, which means the rest of you get more to read. So, thank you, subscribers! All my other readers owe subscribers a vote of thanks as well, because the books resulting from that support go out into the world.

New release stress is pleasant (mostly), but it’s still…well, stress, and added to the illness of a dear friend and a few other woes, I’m feeling rather in the low end of the pool lately. Work is the only panacea, even if one has to swim against the current of imposter syndrome.

In short, I’m a little tender-skinned. Summer is hardly my favorite time, though by all rights it should be–it’s when the kids are home from school (though the Princess is out of school and working by now) and work dials back a bit. You’d think I’d enjoy it, but I find myself longing for autumn and the rains.

I always work better when it’s raining.

I suppose there’s nothing to do but stick to the plan. It’s never comfortable when one’s brain decides to try killing its container, but like any villain, it can be outwitted. Having an adversarial relationship with one’s own brain isn’t the recommended way to get through life, but one works with what one has.

Anyway, I’d best get a run in before the heat makes everything unbearable. Despite my current bleak mood, I am excited for Robb, Marah, Giz, and the gang to make their debut. It’s just that the excitement is trapped in Thunderdome with a particular brand of anxiety-laced depression.

I can’t decide if I’m Max or Auntie. I suppose I just have to wait to see what happens.

Time to get punching on Thursday, chickadees. Over and out.

Similar Productivity

She-Wolf & Cub

It’s a lovely grey morning, just cool enough that a soft draught comes through the window and caresses my arms. The dogs, having consumed breakfast, are sprawled in various places to embark upon the first of the day’s naps.

B has turned over many supervisory duties to Boxnoggin, since there are enough humans in the house that both of them are required to stick their cold wet noses into every situation and it’s a rather large job even for an Australian Shepherd. Backup is always pleasant, at least when it does exactly what B wants it to.

Boxnoggin does not always do exactly what B wants, so he is added to her list of things to nose-bump and grouse at. Her herding instincts nowadays seem to center on bossing him about, and he’s a good fellow about the whole thing. Every once in a while he simply stubbornly refuses to do what she wants, then they wrestle, and when she’s distracted enough he wanders off to do what he wanted to in the first place and she throws herself down on the carpet to rest after the flurry of activity.

It’s a pretty perfect friendship they have, really.

Yesterday was amazingly productive. 1.7k on HOOD‘s Season Two, then 2k added in revision to Incorruptible. There’s a few nuggets in the latter I don’t remember writing, which is always a pleasant surprise when the nuggets are gold, and only mildly annoying if they’re dross.

Today I am hoping for similar productivity, but only once the coffee has been absorbed. I’ve misspelled everything this morning, my fingers doing a double or triple tap instead of striking true. My speed remains, it’s accuracy I’m after now. Once my accuracy hikes again I’ll start working on speed once more. It’s a serpent eating its own tail.

…I had more to say, but it’s left my head as caffeine has stolen into my bloodstream. I should probably go back to prepping for the day’s work and finding my running shoes. I know where they are, of course, but there’s many a slip twixt the sock and the foot when you have two dogs helping you with every aspect of your morning.

Happy Tuesday, chickadees, and remember: you need the whole corpse on the table before you can begin sculpting and painting it. Get the entire work out, then go back and revise. Don’t be afraid to change midstream, finish a book with its back half vastly different, and retcon it in revision.

Over and out.