Thursday, With Trepidation

Yesterday was a bit of a rough one. Wednesday had all its bullshit on, and even my newly acquired Peace Prize wasn’t enough of a bludgeon.

Consequently I decided to have a little fun. The kids and I were talking about orcas while folding towels, and a little later a whole new superhero was created, suitable for fanficcing.

I should explain, but there is too much, let me sum up: Harry the Orca needs an intervention, and mighty is the power of SANDBUTT. I also watched Carol Kane in Office Killer, which was pretty amazing, especially for its dead-on 80s magazine-publishing sets. The aura of grunge, grime, cigarette smoke, and hairspray was thick enough to cut with a spork.

Anyway, Wednesday is over now; Thursday and I are eyeing each other with some trepidation, and every so often I reach for the Peace Prize’s ashwood handle, considering whether an application of force might be necessary as a prophylactic measure.

We’ll see.

On the work front, Hell’s Acre is taking left turns with glee and abandon now. I’ve got to figure out how Avery gets to the charity ball. I suppose he could just be chasing Season One’s villain from the other end, but the solution seems too simple. Of course, the Rook’s very interested in simple solutions to complex problems, even if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth where Miss Dove is concerned–and chewing to his knee, I might add. He’s so adaptable and calm in other situations, but something about our fair heroine just puts him constantly on the back foot. Which I like, he’s got to be taken down a peg or two. The fellow’s possessed of quite an ego.

This does mean that I’ll get to use the ballroom scene, with significant cuts and emendations. I’m going to try to get that far before November hits and I shift to revising The Black God’s Heart on one hand and writing Ghost Squad #2 for NaNo. Klemp’s book has been marinating in my head all this while, and getting him and Beck out into the woods for the crisis is the only thing I haven’t figured out yet.

The characters will get where they need to go. They always do, I just have to keep writing, and trust the process. At least that hasn’t changed.

Walkies have to be accomplished before too much longer. Boxnoggin, while still adoring the concept, has grasped yet again this year that the rain isn’t going away, so is reconsidering this entire “go outside” thing. Miss B, of course, is an all-weather pooch, and will not let him deviate from the daily schedule. Poor Boxnoggin is caught between the fact that he loves walkies and the concomitant fact that all change, to a canine of his temper, is terrible, no good, very bad. He cannot quite understand why his human, goddess that she is, considers wet falling from the sky necessary and doesn’t arrange a drier clime for his slick-coated self.

Each time I expect him to walk in the rain he’s just so perplexed. But you are the hoomin, he seems to say, head cocked and eyebrows up. You control EVERYTHING, why are you making us do this?

I wish I was even half as powerful as he clearly considers me. It would make things ever so much easier. Either that or increase my burdens beyond bearing, I can’t decide.

Coffee is sinking into my tissues, so I should probably get some toast down the hatch and my shoes on. The books won’t write themselves, more’s the pity.

Just be careful, Thursday. I’m watching you, and I have weapons handy.

Over and out.

Music and Meatsack

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Yesterday was a bit of a wild ride. A very dear friend put me on a dedications page1, another dear friend liked the short story I made for her2, I formally left the house for the first time in ages, and remember those proofs I turned around in 48hrs so a book could come out in November? Well, turns out there’s no room in the November schedule so it’ll be January after all.

Which isn’t bad, mind you! It just means that Future (December) Me will be extremely grateful to Past (October) Me for getting things squared away. It’ll be a little gift to December Me, and also to my editors’ and publishers’ December selves. Frankly, by that point in the holiday season, I’m sure we’ll need all the help we can get.

Today looks to be a little less of a rollercoaster. Oh, sure, the weather people say there’s going to be a “Rain Event” around dinnertime, and the dogs are attempting to make sure I don’t leave the house again today–they had both kids to supervise while I did yesterday, but apparently that wasn’t good enough–and I really have got to get a newsletter out.

In short, all my internal spaces are echoing and it might be time to dust off Beck’s Sea Change album, just to soothe my nerves. I can’t do Pink Floyd since it’s past the equinox, so I’m forced to other measures.

As for the day’s work–once I get the newsletter out of the way–the first third of Hell’s Acre needs a top to bottom reshuffle. Sometimes one has to go down a road a bit to see where it leads, and sometimes even if one knows a book’s general outline…well, things happen. Stories are organic things, and grow in their own way. You can have the skeleton, but the flesh gets distributed differently.3

Anyway, once I get the throughlines in Hell’s Acre arranged, I can move the costume ball (and the interrupted assassination) earlier in the book, which can trigger the prison heist, which will lead to the culmination of Season One. Everything is going along swimmingly, and with that taking one half of my working days I can shift to revising The Black God’s Heart in the other half. And once that’s done, the Tolkien Viking Werewolves can get a second book, and so on, so forth.

I absolutely have all the work I can handle, and it’s a glorious feeling. I also have Klemp’s book (Ghost Squad #2) to get off the ground. It’s been marinating in the back of my head, so I might even do it as my NaNoWriMo this year. We’ll see.

Before that, though, the dogs want their walkies. Yesterday disturbed their usual rhythm, and they’re eager to get back to it. I also have new running shoes to break in, which is a joy and should get rid of that nagging pain in my hip.

Meatsacks, man. Always something aching, always something bruised, always some weird discharge or something. Of course the benefit of piloting one are immense as well, and yet…well, no silver lining without a cloud, and vice versa.

And with that butchering of a proverb, I’m off to start Thursday’s merry-go-round. I’m hoping for more of a slow carousel than Wednesday’s death-defying rollercoaster.

We’ll see how it turns out.

Finding a Way

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Every time we reach this particular slice of sidewalk during morning walkies, I think I really should get a picture of that. The cracking and litter remind me of the Westron Wastes in Hostage to Empire.

Most deserts are fine upstanding biomes with a surprising amount of life thrumming just under their surface. Even salt waste as cracked as this little section of sprinkler runoff provides food, shelter, and solace. Of course there’s a locust tree overhead, which you can somewhat see from the wrack and litter–as well as a maple seed.

Life finds a way, even in tiny inhospitable corners.

Have a lovely weekend, my beloveds.

Laundry Games

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So there I was, sweating and shaking next to my bed in the middle of the night, prepared to do battle in the dark.

…maybe I should back up.

I washed my sheets yesterday, in between starting revisions on The Bloody Throne, thumping school administrators once again (it’s turned into a saga, my gods, why can’t these people just do their jobs?), and various other chores.

Now, to understand the rest of this, one must understand that we try to be eco-conscious here at the Chez. We recycle, we compost, we do our bit even though the filthy corporations outweigh our meager efforts by several orders of pollutive magnitude. This extends to laundry.

Anyway, I was distracted while making my bed. For one thing, the dogs wanted to “help” and getting them out of the room so I could get the job done in a reasonable length of time was impossible, since they would simply snuffle and make sad noises under said door, leaving me feeling like the absolute worst monster in history. And when I open the door, there’s usually a mad scramble to plunge into the room, convinced it has somehow changed and needs to be circled twice at high speed in order to settle into its usual contours.

I don’t even know. Dogs, man.

Alternately, they leap on each other in a stunning display of gymnastic though completely playful aggression, making so much noise I’m surprised everyone in the house doesn’t have hearing damage. Said yipping, yowling, growling, and snapping echoes down the hall, which has a hardwood floor perfect for bouncing soundwaves.

Besides, there’s the problem of getting them outside the damn door. One of them follows my urging while the other slips back into my bedroom, and Miss B is sometimes fond of hiding in the master loo in such cases, and it’s just a three-ring circus all the damn time. Often, I just work around them, on the principle that it’s more efficient to deal with canines underfoot than spend precious minutes ushering them out or listening to the sad snuffles or mock-combat.

Look, I was just grateful to get the damn sheets on, and the coverlet as well. The day went on, as days tend to do, and I was exhausted by the end. Revisions take a lot out of one; dealing with administrators who just won’t stop being nasty ill-tempered petty Napoleons does too.

Anyway, I settled in bed, stared at a book on the Battle of the Bulge for a short while, then turned off the light and passed out.

But Monday wasn’t done with me yet. Oh no. At some point last night I rolled over, and I felt something that shouldn’t be there.

It wasn’t a dog. It wasn’t Khan the Teddy Bear. It wasn’t even a toddler–though both kids are well into adulthood, sometimes I half-wake in the middle of the night expecting a tiny child having night troubles to climb over me, elbows and knees sinking into every internal organ I possess, to get comfortable taking up three-quarters of my bed despite their (seemingly) small size during waking hours.

I even had a half-moment of thinking it was poor Odd Trundles, back from the grave and happy to see me. But it was not, alas, the ghost of my poor dear deceased bulldog.

Now, it’s faintly heartening that my reflexes are still good. The chain went something like this:

  1. Blissfully sleeping, dead to the world
  2. Rolling over, sensing something not quite right
  3. Lunging out of bed, my hand flashing for…
  4. …a weapon, in its handy spot I have trained myself to reach towards
  5. Ending up on my feet, sweating, shaking, and COMPLETELY AWAKE…
  6. …while both dogs snore.

The house was dead silent. It’s been a long time since I had a panic attack in the middle of the night, and this didn’t quite qualify. For one thing, I wasn’t having trouble breathing; for another, I was unnerved but not, well, panicked.

My room was its usual nighttime self. Miss B slowly raised her head, licking her lips. Boxnoggin was dead to the world. Absolutely nothing was out of place.

I was about to mutter what the hell but that might wake the dogs up further and give them the impression that Mum was Doing Something Fun, and that aforesaid Something Fun might Need Canine Supervision. So I simply made a circuit of my room, armed and ready, and even stood at the closed door, listening intently in case something in the house had triggered my alarums.

But the dogs, who would have been up and at ’em, as the saying goes, had there been an intruder or any other kind of distress, were peacefully snoozing. Either they were Falling Down On the Job, or I was simply Being An Idiot. Evidence was heavily stacked in favor of the latter.

As usual, I might add.

Consequently I got a drink of water, put the weapon back in its place, and snuggled back down into bed, half certain I’d never get back to sleep.

And then I felt it. Something nubbly and solid, where nothing but mattress and pillow should be.

I damn near levitated, making the bed squeak and waking both dogs up for realsies this time. And then I realized what it was.

You see, being eco-conscious here at the Chez, we have dryer balls. (I snicker every time I refer to them, too, because I am twelve inside.) Most of them are hard plastic with nubbins, though I’ve made others out of leftover wool yarn.

Somehow, in making my bed, I hadn’t noticed a plastic dryer ball in one of the pillowcases. I’d just jammed my pillow in, shaken it once, tossed it onto the bed, and continued merrily. In my defense, I was also dodging two very interested canines and thinking about revisions at the same time, as well as muttering baneful imprecations at school administrators.

My bandwidth, as they say, was fully utilized.

Furthermore, I hadn’t even noticed the damn thing while reading in bed, since it had migrated to a pillow-corner. I’d turned over onto it in the middle of the night and, in a fine display of paranoia, scared myself half to death, not to mention leapt from my bedding ready to do battle.

With a dryer ball.

The dogs weren’t quite sure why I was twitching or why I was laughing. I fished the offending article out, set it on my nightstand, managed to convince Miss B that no, it was not a toy or a snack or anything else deserving of her attention, convinced a sleepy Boxnoggin that he did NOT need to stamp all over me while denning back down again, then I lay in the dark almost vibrating with adrenaline for a good hour or so before sleep decided I was safe enough to visit.

At least the whole episode didn’t mean an entire night of insomnia. That’s what’s called progress.

Currently the dryer ball is on my nightstand. I’m probably going to forget it’s there, since carrying the damn thing downstairs requires a whole-ass trip I don’t want to make. I could put it in my office next to my bag so that the next time I have to leave the house (whenever that is) I see it and take it down.

I am damnably sure, though, that wherever I put it, I’ll have a moment of staring while wondering what the hell is that doing there at some point in the future, because that’s just How I Roll. I am also dreadfully sure I will be weirded out by its sudden appearance, and for at least half a moment I will suspect either that it’s become sentient and is attempting escape or that I’m losing my damn mind and leaving little articles all over the house at random.

Either, frankly, would not be much of a stretch around here.

And that is how I scared the stuffing out of myself with a dryer ball, and ended up standing in the dark next to my bed fully armed, hyperventilating, and sweating.

Never a dull moment, my friends. Tuesday promises to be just as fun as its predecessor. At least my instincts are still working. That’s something, I suppose.

Over and out.

Tuesday Tuckerizations

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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…