On HOOD

I’m almost ready to submerge again. Almost ready to turn off all socializing1 and dive into finishing a zero draft. Season One of HOOD wants to be born, and quickly.

It’s not the usual point in a draft for me to submerge. Normally it’s the last quarter of a book that comes out in a white heat. This time, a full third of the book wants my complete and total attention, mostly, I suspect, because of the speeder race. I also suspect that HOOD, while partly a tongue-in-cheek Robin Hood in Space2, is also about grief, and trauma, and survivor guilt.

I mean, plenty of my work centers on those issues anyway. Write what you know, right?


One of the more fascinating things about Robin Hood is how the legend changes. Taking it solely from the 1800s, Robin Hood has changed from Ivanhoe‘s cheerful patriotic fellow through a tights-clad, smirking mustachioed Errol Flynn to a somewhat smoldering3 combat veteran, with a detour through Disney4 and ending up somewhere between Russell Crowe’s constipated expression and Jonas Armstrong’s cocky but utterly forgettable second-fiddle to Richard Armitage’s tormented Guy of Gisbourne.

It’s the latest that gave me the kernel of HOOD, really. I know, it’s obvious, but I didn’t realize it while the seed was sprouting below conscious level. Robbing the rich to feed the poor is particularly germane to our current times, and it’s a great and worthy cause. But…it’s never as simple in implementation. Resistance is a business all its own, with all a business’s pitfalls.

Consequently, Alan-a-dale and Marian have taken center stage. Both work at different ends of resistance, Marah by using her social position to shield who she can and Al by somewhat more direct action. No doubt many will find Al’s methods reprehensible but more worthy, seeing in Marah’s choices a certain abnegation of responsibility.

I’m not so sure. Both, to my mind, are equally brave.


Robin, Guy, Friar Tuck, Little John–in HOOD they’re all veterans, and they return to a changed world. Plenty of my friends have. “Undeclared” wars and “police actions” are brutal, unholy euphemisms and leave only shattered bodies and minds in their wake. Once you’ve survived such a thing, how can you ever return? How do you find the way back to those left at “home”? How do you find your way towards a peacetime self, once you’ve had to do terrible things to survive?

Sometimes I think I write about nothing else because I’m trying to find the way to do so myself. I’ve often thought, in the black bleakness of 3am, why bother surviving if it makes me feel like this?

I keep writing because I can’t stop, but it’s also largely (I suspect) to push that question away. Answering it seems beyond my faint powers, but that’s no reason not to attempt doing so. Anything less than utter dedication to the attempt is spitting in the face of the great good luck that allows me to still draw breath.


One of the best treatments of Robin Hood I ever read was Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood, which was the first time the actual logistics of a band of forest outlaws intruded upon my young consciousness in the form of Robin’s blisters from digging privy ditches. Retreating to the woods to harry the oppressor requires iron will, craftiness, and an undying commitment to sanitation so half (or more) of your small force doesn’t succumb to parasites and sickness. Along with Jennifer Roberson’s Lady of the Forest, which centers on Marian’s position as a Saxon noblewoman faced with Norman invaders and institutional misogyny, Outlaws showed me that the real story wasn’t with Robin’s derring-do or Errol Flynn exploits.

Of course, myths survive because they are protean; they change their shape to suit our needs and deep desires. Right now, at this particular point in history and time, Robin Hood is a complex story about trauma, responsibility, the misuse of power, revolution and its habit of eating its young, and more–at least to me.

And of course, I’ve tossed in lightsabers, land speeders, faster-than-light travel and communications, Will Scarlet as a synthetic a la Aliens, generation ships, dualistic religion, the fact that human nature destroys the best ideological edifice, and more. Every writer is a magpie.


In any case, the first season is about to take me in its jaws and gallop for the finish line. I’m sure my version of Robin Hood says more about me and my current historical moment than anything else…

…but any story told by any human being is the same. We are fixed in time and space for a few brief moments, and we do what we can to mark the occasion.

See you in a bit, chickadees.

Cautionary Cranky

Yesterday I did All the Things. There was revision, there was fresh formatting to do for a paperback of Quill & Crow1, and revising on HOOD. Plus cleaning the kitchen, dinner to make, dogs to run, and a whole raft of things I had scheduled because it was a “holiday” and I had it in my head I wasn’t working.

Except I did. And now I feel like I need a weekend to recover from that one-day holiday. I spent a restless night toss-turning between two dogs who really just wanted the bed to themselves, and consequently am a bit cranky.

Check that. Majorly cranky.

There are things I should do: suit up and run, clean the kitchen again, bang my head some more on revisions, get a good chunk of text on The Poison Prince–I want the astrologer and the general to introduce a new layer of complexity and the lady-in-waiting needs her father’s signet and another marriage proposal–and figure out what to make for dinner as well as get some laundry in. There’s fifty million other things I should be doing.

I suspect, however, that what I will be doing is following the current plagiarism drama in Romancelandia (it’s a dilly) and poking at Lightning Bound since the witch and the storm god are working at cross-purposes while trying to save each other, and that’s a catnip dynamic for me. I love writing tension and scenes where two people who should be allies are actually working against each other.

I might even get to feeling enough like a lazy slug to accomplish a few things on the to-do list. Maybe it’ll even wear me out enough to sleep tonight, despite canines and their liquid sleeping habits. (As in, they turn into heavy liquid and spread, and spread, and spread…)

Don’t be like me, chickadees. Let your days off be days off, so you don’t arrive at the first day back at work exhausted. It’s too late for me, I suspect I shall be doing this until I die2, so learn from my cautionary tale.

*wanders away muttering about to-do lists and dogs, not necessarily in that order*

Redo the To-Do

Spent the weekend getting mass-market paperbacks prepped for distribution. That included putting together wrap PDF proofs for the Roadtrip Z books, which reduced me to a crying fit several times early in the game. Now that the learning curve is no longer so steep I want to make pretty wrap covers, but that’s a bridge too far in current circumstances.

So quite a few books will be available in mass-market format very soon. It’s a neat experiment, one I’ve longed to do for quite some time. Vellum‘s new extended proof sizes are awesome; if you’re self-publishing, the program itself is well worth paying full price for.

I do, however, need to reframe my master to-do list. The Roadtrip Z omnibus is packed and stacked (especially in the back, ha ha) and I’m about to start the big push to get the zero of HOOD Season 1 out while still building the internal architecture for The Poison Prince. The latter is kind of a secret, one I’ll let you guys in on when it happens…but it’s 200K of epic fantasy I’ve got to put in enough load-bearing scenes to carry, and then there’s the decision between the portal fantasy and Lightning Bound to make. I know I’ll finish them both, but it’s the matter of when and how I’m worried about. I don’t want to be trying to birth them together; they’re an unholy set of twins.

Then there’s Season 2 of HOOD to consider. Pretty sure it’s only two seasons, mostly because with any fairytale you have to know where to stop. Robin Hood only works under certain conditions, and since I’ve arranged them so carefully it’s incumbent upon me to make sure the story ends in the right place.

Which is going to be a long desperate race for a capital city with stuff blowing up all around our main characters, alliances honored in observance or breach. The practice for that set of scenes is Marah’s Race, and between those two poles the serial will be ordered.

I just have to figure out who’s out on the flats with a long-range weapon playing guardian angel to our Maid Marian during the race, since our Robin Hood will be doing an arms heist with Alan-a-Dale, who is turning out to be the major character. She won’t be the one who changes the most, because she’s comfortable with who and what she is, but she’s definitely the biggest engine and the one with most clearly defined wants at this stage.

Anyway, I also did a Spotify playlist for HOOD. If you want to listen to the music fueling the serial, here it is. Enjoy!

And now it’s time for a run to shake everything out and get the day’s work into proper proportion. I have my fingers in Monday’s throat and I do not intend to let go.

Over and out.

Planning Indispensable

This morning was a mad scramble to get everything done, since the Princess has come down with a stomach bug. I got a run in, thank goodness, and so far I’m holding steady. Traditionally I’m the last to get the heaves; sometimes I simply refuse to get ill until everyone else is over the sickness.

I just…I need to be left alone while I vomit, really. I hate throwing up, and if I have to do it, it’s best to just give me some damn space.

I wanted to get some serious writing in The Poison Prince done today, but there’s also HOOD to think of, and last night I got the setup for the lightsaber duel all settled–it involved Tuckerizing a couple people. I am a little in awe of how many folks want to die messily in one of my books. Maybe it’s a rite of passage? There’s subscription stuff to get out the door, yakisoba to prepare for tonight assuming nobody is violently emptying their digestive tract in different directions, a pair of headphones to charge (I think I need another way of shutting out the world while I write) and and and…

…I’m going to have to make a list, or nothing will get done. I mean, I have a list, but it’s one I made last night and events are moving somewhat quickly. No plan survives contact with the enemy, but planning is indispensable, and all that. I suppose another day of letting the duel scene gestate won’t be so bad. Generally the longer something like that cooks the easier it is to get a reasonable zero draft, but I want to be done with this little love-fest between Robb and Giz1 so I can write the landspeeder race.

So it’s another jolt of coffee, praying my stomach doesn’t decide to reject the offering, and list-making. Then it’s going down the list, bit by bit and one by one, and remembering not to kick myself if I somehow don’t get everything done while juggling a nauseous child and another child who may end up that way at the drop of a hat. I’m also chilled today; I haven’t been warm since the dogs nosed me out of bed–giving me an almost-split lip in the process, I might add.

Boxnoggin is VERY EXCITED when he hears me beginning to stir in the morning, and that excitement requires FLYING LEAPS onto the bed, back off again, then onto the bed once more, rinse and repeat.

At least Robin Hood only had crapping in the woods and a wicked sheriff to deal with. He got off easy, the jerk. Maybe I can make my Robin lose a hand…

*wanders away muttering nasty things about her characters*

Full Dance Card

So the Kindle edition of Atlanta Bound is now back up at Amazon. Since it’s coming through Draft2Digital, I can be assured you’re getting the whole file and there’s no hanky-panky. Amazon’s still refusing to make things right with me, for lo I am just a poor content creator. I’ll just take my toys and go elsewhere. I’m considering shifting plenty of my previous works off KDP–don’t worry, they’ll still be available for Kindle and on Amazon itself, I just won’t be listing them through the KDP interface.

Oddly, the books I haven’t listed through KDP seem to do ever so much better than the ones I have. Which makes me very…thoughtful.

Very thoughtful indeed.

In any case, it only took two weeks, severe aggravation, and multiple emails both from me and from angry Readers. Practically a bargain, right? (/sarcasm)

Anyway, I have Robb and March drinking tai, a servant girl and her mistress, and a daimon and a Celestial Representative to write today, as well as Latin, piano practice, running, snuggling the doggos, and dinner to think about. It’s a full card, and why I jam-packed my holiday Monday I have no idea. Unless it was that I felt so good on Sunday I made out the list for the next day’s work in a fit of deep optimism.

Even the best of us have those moments, I’m sure.

Anyway, it’s time to get the next few things on the list checked off so I can run with two dogs trying to pull me in opposite directions. I’ve never seen the Chariot card played so plainly in real life. It’s enough to put me off tarot for a week, except I need the practice.

See you around, folks.

Seasoning, Not Dish

I’ve taken to making a list of the next day’s proposed work before I go to bed at night, and leaving it on my desk. It’s yet another way to get the engines beneath the floor of my consciousness to work on what I want them to work on instead of chewing up random stuff and spitting it at me at 3am.

I mean, that’s kind of fun and there’s room in my life for it, but it needs to be a seasoning, not the whole dish.

Yesterday I was struggling with The Poison Prince. It’s the second in a trilogy, so the bridging requires careful thought. It’s early days in the project, so I had to take a deep breath and let the book do what it wants. It worked–a scene I didn’t expect fell out, a character moving forward and taking her place in the sun. She gets an arc of her own, this young lady, but I’m not sure where it ends.

I have to write and find out.

Then it was HOOD, untangling a discussion between Alladal and Marah. Al’s a romantic lead all her own, and she wants the Dirty Dancing soundtrack all the time. Marah, of course, has been carrying a torch for someone all this time. There are several relationships happening at once when Marah, Robb, Giz, and Al are all onscreen, and a vast majority of them are unrequited.

It’s fun. And deconstructing the Robin Hood mythos is even better. I’m fascinated by the idea that terraforming and generation ships won’t necessarily lead to a fairer and more equitable society. Plus it’s difficult to have the whole Robin Hood thing without a huge inequality, whether corporate or feudal or–what I’ve eventually gone with–both. It’s also fun to swim around in the history and myth and pull out the threads one wants, clipping them fast and building a whole new structure. After working with many different influences, it’s like slipping into a warm bath to return to one’s own backyard.

Anyway, today I get to write Little John and Maid Marian, as well as John and Robin Hood puffing and blowing like the two stiff-necked veterans they are. It doesn’t help that both of them are drunk and wounded from separate barfights.

Well, write what you know, right?

There’s also Latin flashcards, piano practice, and running the dogs. My dance card’s full, and that’s the way I like it.

Let’s kick Thursday in the pants.

Kept From Brooding

I finished up the revisions on two short stories yesterday–the Hansel & Gretel kung fu story and the Alice in Wonderland/Resident Evil one. Both are sent off to the editors now, since they need another pair of eyes to figure out where the lacunae are. The stories are so vivid inside my head I forget the reader can’t peek inside my skull and watch them. Maybe one day technology will allow for that–I remember a Tanith Lee novel where someone had a job doing as much–but for right now, text is the tool I’ve got to pry the stories out of my head.

There’s an update on yesterday’s post about Atlanta Bound. It’s particularly telling that KDP only responded once I unpublished the book, which cuts into their profits. I expect Amazon to drag its feet over listing the book as distributed by Draft2Digital, too, especially now that I’ve publicly called them out. Which isn’t perfect, it is an inconvenience I did my best to prevent, but there’s nothing to be done for it.

Anyway, today I have a scene in The Poison Prince to rip apart and rework–an Emperor and his second concubine having a long-overdue conversation–and Alan-a-Dale has to visit Maid Marian’s clinic besides. My work is cut out for me, and there’s also lasagna to be made for the Princess’s houseguests. Somewhere in there the dogs need walks, and I should probably take a shower before the morning gets much older.

The Princess greeted me with coffee this morning as I shuffled into the kitchen, a truly welcome event. Boxnoggin and B are still worn out from yesterday’s wind and long-ish run, and the advent of visitors will explode their Tiny Little Minds. There’s a lot of excitement planned for today.

I should probably get started. No rest for the weary or the wicked, my loves, and sometimes I prefer it that way. It keeps me from brooding.

Or at least, it tries to. I’m pretty sure I can brood anywhere, anytime.

Over and out.