There were a lot of songs on the Incorruptible playlist. (I am now hearing Pete Puma say “a whoooooole lotta lumps.”) But pride of place for that particular book has got to be taken by Delerium’s Chrysalis Heart.
I listen to a lot of Delerium while writing. Sometimes it’s just background, but other times a song will slide through my ears and pierce the throbbing heart of a story, and this was one of those times. I had Michael Gabon first, of course, Jenna had to hang back and see if she could trust me before she’d consent to let a few scenes be told from her point of view.
Reliably, though, I could pop some Delerium on, wait for this particular track, and Jenna would come creeping softly like a stray cat from her hiding place. Patience was rewarded, for once–give her time, Michael kept saying, but dammit, I had a book to write.
In any case, I’m trying to shoehorn another Legion book in this year’s schedule. There’s a certain sassy EMT who knows to keep her mouth shut when strange things happen, and I think a certain Decurion’s going to stumble across her. Those two just need to marinate a little longer before I can find their through-line, I think.
No wonder I feel like the last few weeks have been an endurance contest, and one I’ve got the worst of. There was also a shift to a new desktop, which is mostly pleasant–as in, my damn computer isn’t requiring a restart every ninety minutes–and partly goddamn annoying. (Catalina broke my Time Machine backups. Fortunately, I have several different automatic backups for work, so it wasn’t a catastrophe, just a series of minor disasters to be surmounted with ingenuity and stubbornness.
I have a limited stock of the former, but my stubbornness is unmatched.
My master to-do list has finishing the zero for HOOD‘s Season Two (featuring a speeder race, a giant heist, and various other fun things) next, but I think I’m going to shift to revising Damage, which needs to go out and start making the rounds. I’ve several projects out on submission; you’d think I’d have a single bite so far. *sigh* Festina lente, that’s publishing. I’m getting to the point where I’ll set time limits for them; if they don’t respond, it’s time to get a damn cover and format something myself.
I’m very tired of being treated like a nuisance instead of the person whose work (creating the damn books) makes everyone else’s job possible.
At least I’ve cardamom coffee, shoes that don’t make my feet hurt (my gods, Alegrias are magic), said new desktop (shiny and new and organized after this past weekend’s drive to get everything in its place) and the kids are healthy. The dogs are attempting to move me out the door for walkies through crisp dry fallen leaves, I can ease back into short interval runs because I’m not walking on knives, and my windowsill is full of freshly dusted and cleaned glass apples.
In short, things are as best as can be expected, in this most semi-perfect of worlds. And I might be able to plug in a beautiful papier-mâché lamp that was a gift many years ago, and contemplate its beauty before whipping a zero into first-draft shape.
It is indeed the little things. Here’s hoping Monday doesn’t get worse than this. I know I missed the Soundtrack Monday last week (grief does funny things to time) but I’ve got a good one for you this week, my friends. It’ll drop this afternoon.
So Incorruptible is out, and I’m aching to get back into the swing of things after the usual release day nerves. You’d think after however-many books out, I’d be almost blasé about a release day. But that’s not what happens. I still get just as nervous-anxious-upset, each damn time.
It’s like the speed of light, I should just take it as a constant and arrange for it, then move on.
I woke up this morning wanting to write a Dracula reboot with reincarnation and angsty blood-drinking, not to mention the monster getting the girl. Which is strange, because one of my biggest turnoffs in a narrative is the creator not being willing to hurt their monster. Maybe it’s a function of reading Caroline Kepnes’s You and Providence in the same weekend; I got halfway through Hidden Bodies and decided that the Very Angry White Guy Joe Goldberg was going to get everything he wanted and I didn’t need to be around for that. You was pretty amazing, but Providence left me wanting something quite different. I’ll probably return to Hidden Bodies later, just because I’m a completionist and paging to the end to see what happens doesn’t quite satisfy, especially when I’m reading critically.
Having a monster without consequences just isn’t my jam. There’s nothing wrong with wish-fulfillment fic, far from. I just usually want something different and I’m a little bemused at my sudden urge to write it myself. I suppose one could do wish fulfillment and consequences, that would be a worthy hat trick.
Anyway, I’m just noodling. I have HOOD‘s Season Two to work on, and Memory Game, which I think will be the next project-of-my-heart finished. Then I can make decisions about Dracula reboots. I have all the major parts for the last bouncing around inside my skull; I should probably just get them into a Scrivener doc so they’ll stop dancing around and making noise…
…stop laughing, dammit, I swear I’m not going to work on it, I’m just gonna write a few things down.
Okay, yes, I give up, if you’re thinking I’m probably going to play hooky and write at least the first few scenes of a Dracula reboot wish-fulfillment thing today, you’re right. Like REO Speedwagon, I can’t fight this feeling anymore.
Goddamn Muse. I suppose I’d best get started so I have some time left over for actual work today, too.
Are you excited, dear Readers? Heaven and hell both know I am. Today is the day Incorruptible is free in the wild!
Falling was only the beginning…
Jenna Delacroix is determined to keep her life as simple as possible. Maybe if she tries hard enough to be normal the nightmares and strange occurrences plaguing her all her life will finally recede. But then the monsters arrive—and with them, the man who says he’s her protector.
Lonely and disciplined, Michael Gabon is just a grunt in the Legion’s endless war, but now he’s stumbled across something special—a living, breathing Incorruptible, the first one he’s seen in more decades than he can count. She’s also being hunted. And now, so is he.
On the run without backup, the diaboli haunting their trail, their only hope is working together. Even that might not be enough, because the unclean seem to know more than they should. Whether it’s treachery or bad luck doesn’t matter to Michael. The only thing he cares about is seeing his Incorruptible safe…
It’s rather a sweet romance, though with plenty of gore–this is, after all, me. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. And now I’m going to go soak my head in a bucket, because release-day nerves are shaking me like a rat in a terrier’s teeth.
I’ve only twenty minutes before I have to shove the icepack back into the freezer and hop in the shower. I don’t care if my plantar fascia hurts, I have to run. I have been going mad with the enforced rest, and tomorrow is a release day.
I already have release day nerves, so I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard this morning. If I can get tired enough I might even be able to sleep tonight. I finished the zero of Damage late last week. It’s only around 46k, but there’s plenty of room for expansion if it gets sold as a category.
I’m trying to work out what comes next. Orphaned and out of contract is never a fun place to be as an author, especially in this economy. It’s one of those days I think I should pack it all in, become a plumber or something, and only write for home consumption, so to speak.
Don’t despair, dear Readers. The feeling is normal, I get it right before every release day. You’d think it would get easier to deal with, but each time it wears right through the carpet and cuts a groove in my mental floor.
In any case, I have Hell’s Acre, Memory Game, and HOOD‘s Season Two open in Scrivener. The last needs a stiff reread to get back into the groove, and if I push I might get a zero out in the next month. That would be nice; I’ll probably work on Memory Game next since I’m still in a suspense/thriller mood.
But in the meantime, I’m going to finish icing my heel and stagger for the shower. Getting back to work after finishing a zero is always an exercise in stubbornness, like hopping in to jump double-dutch. I never quite got the hang of that, but it didn’t stop me from trying. One day I’ll time it right.
It’s a dark morning, a nice thick cloud layer shielding us. The rain has brought greening at the bottom of summer-yellowed grass and the trees are lifting their arms again, turgor pressure rising. Miss B is philosophical–her coat is wash and wear, and she’s a fan of chilly temperatures.
Boxnoggin, however, is from the South, and this cold, damp bullshit is not at all to his liking. Plus, he’s got a lovely slick coat that doesn’t bulk up like B’s. Consequently, he goes out in the rain and his first act is to crane his head over his shoulder and look at me mournfully. Clearly I am a vengeful goddess who is making water fall from the sky for the express purpose of inconveniencing his four-legged self.
B’s just happy summer is over. She gets warm, even with the air trapped in her coat.
As for me, I am delighted with the rain. Already my productivity’s spiked; 4k on Damage yesterday alone. I’m in the space where I hate the book, I loathe it, nobody’s going to want to read it, and we’ll all starve to death because I’m a terrible writer.
So, just as usual, then. I wish I could escape that terrible feeling for at least one book, but it hasn’t happened yet after fifty-plus, so it’s probably just one of those things. Like death, taxes, and the stupidity of rich white men.
This morning requires some walking in the rain. I know exactly what happens next, but there’s two gory combat scenes I need to block out, and since the injury running is out of the question for a while. Fortunately I can still walk with only moderate pain, and I need to be moving.
Also fortunately, I can swing the sledgehammer. I sense a lot of that in my future.
And now, the shilling of my wares done, I need to get a jacket on and get the dogs out the door for walkies. At least when it’s raining Boxnoggin keeps up a brisk pace, wanting to get back to shelter as soon as possible. I don’t blame him, especially since it’s good exercise.
But first, there’s coffee to be absorbed while I blink frowstily at yesterday’s work, trimming just a few words and getting back into the rhythm. It may be a terrible book, but it will not be a terrible unfinished book. One can work with a whole corpse, after all, much better than one can work with fragments.
Well, I’m awake.1 The good thing about taking time off is that even a half-day lets me recharge. The bad thing? I get itchy, and resentful that recovery is taking so long, so I do silly things like go for a run, push myself, and get injured. Or read true crime for a few days straight and freak myself out.
So, when I left the story last week, I had resorted to bringing a two-foot plastic penguin to the coop. I propped Shirley on the concrete stepping-stones along one side of the coop, and Turkey Boy was so incensed at this new arrival he forgot all about me. I was able to fill chicken kibble and collect a few eggs unmolested, and was quite cheerful at the thought that the problem had been solved.
Now, a dog might be intelligent, but turkeys are downright crafty. Turkey Boy, despite being fine and feathered, could not stand the interloper at the coop even though she stood quietly outside the fence, turned in profile so she was regarding them mildly in the manner of another prey animal. Of course, distracting him was the whole point, but I’d forgotten about one thing.
Namely, the Goose Girl.
I’ve dealt with geese in flocks and singles, and they’re filthy but wonderful beasts. They’re stubborn, smart, bad-tempered, and sacred to Juno–what’s not to love? Plus, they can only pinch you with their beaks and have no spurs. They’re loud and nasty-tempered, but relatively harmless. Relatively.
And they have very long necks. But that comes later.
One hot, bright morning2 I set Shirley down in a slightly different spot, changing it up to keep Turkey Boy interested. I wasn’t sure whether his gobbling was akin to Tormund seeing Brienne for the first time or a string of raging obscenities, so I nipped into the egg room to perform my tasks at high speed and ignore the rats at the same time.
What? The rats? Don’t ask, just know that when you have chickens, you’ve got rodents, too. The scratch grain takes care of that.
Anyway, I had just gathered most of the henfruit when the entrance to the coop yard darkened. I glanced in that direction and saw a familiar snood poking through, but I got the shovel-head over the opening in time.
Which just meant, really, that Turkey Boy finally had something within reach to vent his feelings upon, and he appeared to need it.
In short, he flung himself at the shovel-head blocking the entrance so hard he almost ripped the handle out of my fingers, and I may have let out a Graham Chapman-worthy “Jesus CHRIST.” It was a trick of both stretching and agility to get the remaining henfruit into the kibble can, and if a rat had come along then it would have found me seriously distracted. Thankfully, one did not, but I was faced with a quandary.
You see, I had the kibble can in my left hand, loaded with eggs. I had the shovel-head blocking the entrance to the coop-yard, the handle clasped firmly in my right, and the door was behind me.
Quite a bit behind me, as a matter of fact. Now, the coop is basically a medium-sized shed, but that’s still a lot of territory to cover when one is being pursued by a maddened, spur-crazy Meleagris.
I had no choice but to conduct a fighting retreat. The threat of the shovel kept Turkey Boy mostly at bay, and I managed to get the door flung closed and braced with the bucket of oyster shell.3
He hit the door twice, not bothering to gobble. Turkey Boy meant business, and he had discerned that Shirley’s presence might mean that I was sneaking about, gathering eggs, and daring to feed him and his cohort.
That, apparently, could not be borne.
It occurred to me that I could place Shirley on some stacked wood or a yellow rain barrel, and the novelty of altitude might overcome Turkey Boy’s native cunning for a short while. Of course, it occurred to me standing in a dark antechamber amid cans of chicken feed, while the eggs in the kibble can rattled a bit. Whether they were settling from my recent burst of motion or my hands were shaking, I shall leave you to imagine as pleases you.
So I loaded the eggs in plastic bags for transport to the house–where they would be washed, dried, and put in cartons for anyone I could unload them onto4–and closed up the coop annex, then came around the corner to collect Shirley.
I rounded said corner, in fact, just in time to see Goose Girl stretching her neck through the fencing, determined to get her beak close to this new interloper. I whisked Shirley into a saving embrace and sighed, while Goose Girl retracted her sinuous neck and honked a few mad words at me. She visibly realized my presence outside the annex meant the trough inside was full of kibble, though, and hurried away to take advantage of that before her midmorning bath.5
Turkey Boy, however, had scurried through the tiny coop-yard door once more, and came at the fence meaning business. The thought that I was either going to have to fend him off with a plastic bag of eggs or Shirley herself crossed my mind in a flash, and I dropped my center of gravity slightly, prepared for whatever may come.
But Turkey Boy stopped short of the fence, knowing from other attempts that it would resist his foul (ha ha) plans. He regarded me sideways with one beady little eye, wings held down, not stomping or gobbling, his tail fan-high and his snood turning crimson at its tip.
He wasn’t angry, that posture said. Rather, he was thinking.
“Uh-oh,” I told Shirley on our way up the hill. “Maybe we should get you some tinfoil armor.”
I forgot about the suggestion almost as soon as it was made, but it might have been better if I hadn’t. Because the next day, the goddamn turkey used a goose as a tool.