Percy Rolls For Me

We’ll return to the tale of Boxnoggin, Travis, and the Venerable on Monday. For right now, meet Percy, my liver-shaped D&D mascot.

My current D&D character (I’m playing online with a few friends; we’re using Roll20 and Discord to handle communications and other minutiae) is a baby high elf cleric with an… interesting… upbringing. Somehow, she’s gotten in the habit of collecting organs from those NPCs silly enough to choose combat over discussion with our group1, so her best in-game friend (the rogue with several false identities who just had to steal from the banshee during that one session, don’t ask, we survived, it’s good enough) sent her this beautiful plush liver from IHeartGuts.

His name is Percy, and during our next D&D sessions he’s going to roll for me. Maybe he’ll have better luck with the strength checks than I do. I can hope, right? (Of course, who needs strength when your charisma’s insanely high?)

The world is on fire, but I’m looking forward to having some fun with my group tonight. I hope you have something pleasant to take refuge in as well, dear Reader. If anything can save us, it’s human connections–and it doesn’t get much more human than playing games.

Have a lovely weekend.

Parenthetical Tuesday

The only thing that levered me out of bed this morning was the idea that I could have coffee, and already this morning I’ve had to block someone trying to mansplain the publishing industry to me.

Tuesday is going to be a laugh a minute, I can already tell.

Things I’m thinking about today:

  • The only thing that’s going to stop the selfish asshats who won’t wear masks (in the middle of a pandemic spread by respiratory droplets) is social disapprobation, shunning, and shaming. Next time you see someone not wearing a mask when they should, remember that.
  • There are many divisions in the family of humanity. On my optimistic days I think the biggest one is between those who say “I suffered, so everyone else has to as well” versus those who say “I suffered, so I never want anyone else to go through that.” On my pessimistic days it’s “people who actively like causing pain” versus “people who are horrified at causing other people pain.” Today? It’s a toss-up. You could say that both those Venn diagrams line up perfectly, though. Maybe they’re BOTH right.
  • For a long time, reading history, I’ve had a theory that every nation-state, if it endures long enough, eventually has a fascist stage analogous to a teenager flirting with shitty selfish behavior just to try it out. It is a stage in development with hideous casualties, and it seems inescapable. Nothing about current events has disabused me of this view.
  • If the infrastructure goes down and coffee becomes scarce I will probably become a juggernaut of cranky destruction.
  • More than I already am, I suppose.

Also, someone got to this site by searching “what is Mikal in the Bannon & Clare series” and it makes me smile a little. I love that people are still reading and engaged with those books, and wish I could have written the companion trilogy where Emma and Archibald go traveling. (Of course the middle book in that series was them going to their world’s version of America, and featured Jack and Cat from The Damnation Affair.) But as for what Mikal is… all the clues are there, especially when Emma meets Rudyard, but it will have to remain implicit unless and until I write the second trilogy.

I like giving Readers the space to make up their own minds, and I especially like the satisfaction that comes from figuring out a riddle or two. I don’t hand-hold, and I prefer to leave many things between the lines. So, all the clues to what Mikal is are there, but the more interesting questions are why he attended the Collegia, why he broke Shield conditioning for Emma, and what precisely he intends to do with her later in their life together. The latter is the easiest to answer, I think, since we already know what he regards her as. (A stone is a stone…)

And with that I’m off, since the dogs are ready for walkies and I have consumed the serving of magic morning bean-juice that renders me calm and agreeable (or as close to those states as I ever approach) instead of the silent-snarling misanthrope I habitually roll out of bed as. Today will be a hot day (for our part of the world) and I want to get all my outside duties done before too many humans are up and moving around (since the sun seems to drive them mad) or I expire of the heat.

(Also, today seems to be very parenthetical, as some days are, and I regret not a single bracket.)

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.

Tired. Just Tired.

Yesterday I did a thread about how much I hate seeing female action stars (or backup dancers) in heels. Cue a deluge of asshattery in my email inbox from guys who tell me I’m ruining all movies by having an opinion on social media.

Just another day, ho hum. No death threats yet, but they can’t be far behind.

I suppose I should view it as a sign that what I’m saying is almost becoming important, since the Misogyny Troll Brigade only comes after women they think have a chance of being heard and believed. At the same time…I’m tired. I’m just so damn tired.

Even getting up in the morning is becoming a chore. Tearing my heart out, over and over, to write stories is what I was meant and made for, but it’s still exhausting and the mass of misogyny, violence, bigotry, and hatred makes for rough swimming.

I often think about how much better it would be–how many more amazing stories, paintings, music, sculpture, poems–there would be if we weren’t struggling under that mass. It would be lovely…but so many people contribute to the stone over our living graves, either by inertia (very common) or by conscious evil (least common) or by just not caring when the boot lands on a human face as long as the face doesn’t look like theirs (most common of all).

Then I shake myself, smile ruefully, and get back to work. And yet…I’m so tired.

So, so tired. And I have no answer.

It will be better tomorrow, I suppose. But every once in a while, I wonder why I bother when so many people are seemingly determined to either be cruel or ignore cruelty until it reaches their very doorstep–and by then it’s too late.

*sigh* I’m gonna go pet the dogs now, and let them help me feel better. It’s not a panacea, but it’s damn close and I’m lucky to have it.

Over and out.

Revise Your Hatemail

Cormorant Run

The first third of Harmony has been revised; today’s for the second third as well as a scene or two in the gift-fic I’m doing for my writing partner. If I can get Harmony revised and proofed, I can format it, be ready to drop the cover in, and break for the hills.

The gift-fic continues apace, too. The focus is tight on just two characters, even though the story wants to sprawl through a whole city and explore the political ramifications of assassination as a tactic. I could expand it later, I suppose, but I’ve so many other plates in the air I’m reluctant.

Some fellow (and before you ask, yes, it was a man) sent me a long email about how he didn’t understand Cormorant Run and would therefore rewrite it for the “small” fee of $499. I know a lot of people were upset because the cover made them think they were getting a chicks-in-leather urban fantasy when in fact they were buying a love song to Soviet sci-fi, and the marketing did nothing to dispel that confusion, but…this is a little beyond the pale, even for my inbox.

I suppose I might even have felt insulted if the email hadn’t been stuffed full of spelling errors, typos, and grammatical sins. As it is, I read with this face:

…and promptly took to social media to anonymously roast the fellow. Responding directly would make him think I care about his opinion or his offer. (It also might tip him over some internal edge that will add him to my already-full stable of dipshit stalkers/harassers; there’s no more room there, thanks.)

I suppose I feel bad for the dude, in some ways. Imagine thinking this is a good idea, and further imagine thinking that you can get a trad-published author to give you a work already licensed to said trad publisher for you to bastardize and sell. I’m sure this guy has a bridge or two he wants to offer to a discerning buyer, too.

Anyway, folks, remember: if you’re going to send me hatemail or a terrible “offer,” make sure you get your missives spell-checked and proofed. Otherwise you’ll just get laughed at, possibly publicly. I am often tempted to correct hatemail for spelling, grammar, and other errors before returning it with an injunction to revise and resubmit, but then I remember I have real work to do, chuckle softly, and move on.

And now I should get out the door for a run. Work doesn’t stop because some random jackhat gave me a morning’s worth of amusement, more’s the pity.

Over and out.

If You Want More…

People have finished reading the latest Steelflower, and I’m starting to get emails. Most of them are lovely. There are the usual asshats thinking that being nasty over my decision to release first in print will somehow change my mind, but they’re few and far between, for which I am grateful.

Many of you have asked when the next Steelflower is out, including one despairing soul who pleaded, “please tell me I don’t have to wait another year!”

I…I can’t tell you that, my friends. But if you want to make it easier for me to write these things you love, there’s a few things you can do to help me out. The list starts with, of course, buying my books instead of torrenting them, since the more royalties I lose from people stealing my work, the less I can afford to work on things that don’t pay me up-front–like the Steelflower books.

If you’re one of those kind folks who does buy my books, and likes them, a few moments spent giving a review–even just a star rating–on the distribution platform (Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) of your choice helps more than you think. Once the star ratings/reviews reach a certain threshold, the books get bumped in algorithms, and more people get to (possibly) experience the deadly lunacy that is my brain.1 And if they enjoy it and dip into my backlist, that means I get paid to write more.

I also offer a variety of subscription options, where you can get peeks at stories in progress and free ebooks of the serial-in-progress. The subscriptions give me a steadier monthly income, which frees me up to write more of those things you love but a publisher won’t (or can’t) initially invest in. Gumroad’s best, but I know a lot of you folks like Patreon, and that’s okay too.

As it is, The Highlands War has to take its place behind the epic fantasies I’m working on, and the next serial (HOOD) and maybe Dolls and Tower of Yden too. I know exactly what happens (and who dies) but getting enough paid working time down so I can afford to write more labor-of-love stories (like Steelflower) is the trick here.

I’m sure I’ll be inundated (again) by the usual trolls telling me that I shouldn’t write for the money, that I’m a sellout, and that it’s their gods-given right to steal my work. But for the non-trolls, these are the things that will help free up more of my time so I can tell you what happens to Kaia, Darik, Redfist, and the troupe in a brutal winter insurgency, and how that all shakes out. Funny thing, I’ve always known Kaia’s story is a trilogy, but it ended up that the last book was so massive I had to split it in half, which is why Steelflower in Snow ends where it does.

Anyway, more than one person has asked about The Highlands War, and that’s the answer. I’ll be moderating replies pretty thoroughly to weed out the bloody trolls–you’d think these people would have something better to do, my gods–but as long as you’re not yelling at me for not being a vending machine, your comment will get through. It just may take me a little while to weed through the queue.

Now I’ve got to run the dogs, and settle into the day’s work.

Over and out.