A Short Green Hiatus

I’m not supposed to work today.

I was complaining to the kids about how publishing takes several hiatuses during the year, and they put their collective foot down. Apparently a holiday will make me more effective, more efficient, and less cranky–or so they say–so I’ve been banned from working since Friday. The ban ends tomorrow, and I’m not even allowed to spend much time in my office because work is seductive and I apparently cannot be trusted.

A lot of gardening has gotten done, and I finally caught up on the hoovering. Also, I woke up with Melanie Martinez’s Play Date inside my skull at the usual high volume. The radio station in my skull is combing the aether, I suppose; I’ve heard the song a total of four times in my life but now it’s burrowed in.

The blood lily has also finished one of its dormant periods and sent up quite the fan of leaves. The giant castor and angel trumpet are both doing well, and I think sinking the Very Large African Violet into a fresh pot might have been the right move. We’ll see if it survives.

Other than that, all the peppers are in garden boxes and the rest of the seedlings in the ground, except for some mugwort. I went a little crazy with the artemisia, perhaps. I know it’s a quasi-weed but I want to make sure some actually takes root, dammit. And some aconite; it’s slow to take off.

That’s all the news from a holiday morn, unless you want to know that I *whispers* just filled out a cover art questionnaire for Moon’s Knight. Technically, that’s not work, right?

Right?

*whistles innocently, strolling back to vacation*

Not Quite Vacay

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It’s raining, and I woke up with Rain’s Sad Tango playing in my head. Which isn’t bad on either count. I get to run while water is falling from the sky, and there’s also a catchy groove to do it to.

I meant to take this week as a vacation, at least from serial writing. Unfortunately life has other ideas. Cold North is still going great guns; the elementalist has left that world’s variation on Nargothrond and is heading for a hill topped with red foliage. (Turin Turambar fans are going to get a kick out of this part of the tale.) I’m also getting plenty of progress in on Hell’s Acre, which has a scaffolding somewhat resembling an outline–though anything approaching an outline gets thrown out about two-thirds of the way through any work.

I just can’t stick to directions when it comes to a story. It has to take its own organic shape, and though I can often predict said shape, the execution is always much different than the projection.

…I just took the first gulp of today’s coffee, and my gods is it ever welcome.

I’m having to switch back to tea in the afternoons, since sleeping is becoming difficult again. On the one hand, I could just get up and work when insomnia strikes. On the other, I’m getting older (surprise, surprise) and the very thought of pulling all-nighters the way I used to makes me even more tired. I might as well give my body all the help I can. Besides, tea is stuffed full of anti-depressive chemicals, and that’s always a bonus.

I’m also ready to open up my Discord server for a new round of members, so come on in, the water’s fine! The invite link will last for a week, unless we get an influx of bad actors. (Which sometimes happens, this being the internet and all.) Patreon and Gumroad folks get special access on the server, and I’m kicking around the idea of doing some voice chats with subscribers–an AMA or two sounds like a good time, especially with a cuppa. The server has a living room, a place to discuss the books of Yours Truly, a place to discuss other authors’ books, a hellhole where politics are discussed, and more.

I’m slowly working my way through coffee. It’s a nice quiet grey morning, and after listening to Sad Tango on repeat I figure I’ll shift to the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, look over the day’s work, and finish said java before taking the dogs on walkies. Boxnoggin will be extremely put out that it’s damp, but B will be just the same–she’s all-weather, all the time.

OH! I almost forgot. The Princess informed me yesterday that the Yankee Squirrel Flipper is doing its duty, and a squirrel has been flung at least once into the Venerable Fir. Sadly, I did not get to witness the occasion, but I have to admit to a bit of evil laughter, especially since the damn arboreal rodents have been digging up my seedling trays to bury their bloody peanuts.

Yes, someone in the neighborhood is still feeding them. I don’t even know.

That’s the news that’s fit to print, I suppose. There are rumbles in the distance, both concerning Cold North and Moon’s Knight, but nothing definitive yet. And come June 1, not only will Hell’s Acre be live, but I’ll have to shift engines to do revisions on Sons of Ymre, which should be out later this year (but will probably be retitled, so stay tuned).

My goodness, that’s a lot. I started this post thinking there was very little if any news, but apparently I was wrong. It’s a good thing I don’t mind being wrong. I even enjoy it, in some cases.

This vacation is turning out busier than many regular work weeks, but that’s my own fault…

…as usual. Onwards, upwards, and inwards to Thursday, beloveds.

Rest Aggressively

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There’s so much to do, and yet the power to do any of it seems beyond me today.

This particular fatigue is definitely not from the vaccine, but it’s still deep and wide. The relief is so huge I think I need another twenty-four hours or so for things to settle. I’ll be doing as much work as I can today, but…that’s not going to be much at all.

I’ve been reduced to Barba Streisand’s Broadway album. That’s how ragged my nerves are, unreeling in sheer relief. I’m trying to aggressively rest, if there is such a thing–there are seedlings to start, and laurel volunteers to put along the back fence in case the fellow living over it gets another wild hare and tries to take out the rest of the cedars.

The dogs need walking, though Boxnoggin’s tummy is a little unsettled this fine morn. I suspect the weather change, as well as humans leaving the house not once but twice on Saturday, has made him briefly nervous. I thought he was excited to get out the door and see a squirrel or two this morning, but he was on a beeline to a particular place near the fence to vomit.

Get your excitement where you can, I guess. He’s absolutely fine, sometimes he just has a day where his tummy decides not to go with the program. By dinner he’ll be right as rain.

We were supposed to get rain, as a matter of fact, but everything is suspiciously dry. It may be time to turn the sprinklers on, but I know as soon as I do there will be a deluge. Fool me twice, and all that.

I’ll be starting mugwort and comfrey and moonflower datura seedlings, and probably a few other things. There’s a whole tray of nasturtiums, just waiting for the seeds to crack their tiny brown heads and release broad peppery green fans. The eensy grow light I bought is going to do so much work this summer; I might even get a second one for the violets proper.

I’m also looking at the next few years’ worth of work and feeling vaguely hopeful. Having to face the fact of my own survival is…odd. There’s been a few times in my life I’ve been genuinely surprised to find myself alive, and this year seems to be one of them. I was absolutely convinced the last administration’s malignant, aggressive incompetence was going to somehow snatch away the vaccine at the last minute. Now, home and safe, I’m looking at the damage and groaning slightly.

Cleanup is the worst part of any disaster. At least, for survivors.

It bothers me that we–the whole country, natch–haven’t had a reckoning, and probably won’t for a long while since *waves hands* all this is ongoing. The grief is going to be a real lulu, and that’s only the first step.

There are seeds to plant, dogs to walk (gently, at more of an amble than our usual brisk pace) and books to schedule. I’m hopeful to hear about Moon’s Knight soon, and if the answer is good, great! If the answer is not so good, well, I’ll need to pull together a cover from somewhere.

That won’t be bad. I’m surprisingly sanguine about the whole thing.

We’ve gone from bright sunshine to dark clouds while I’ve typed this; volatile spring weather, except it’s not dropping any real rain. Maybe I’ll just think really hard about the sprinklers, and that will fool the meteorological gods.

It’s worth a shot. Let’s see if it works…

Retrenchment

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I should continue blogging. It’s not that I want to stop–I enjoy it, which is a good enough reason for continuing. And it’s not quite a journal or diary, because those are separate and private. I suppose it’s always been a way of shouting into the void, even during the ol’ LJ days.

Man. Livejournal. That takes me back.

Every once in a while I look to see if I want to keep doing it. I used to have more post ideas–there were Soundtrack Mondays and Friday Writing posts, for example. But then 2020 hit, and kept hitting.

And kept hitting, and kept hitting. And kicked for good measure.

I know everything changes. Still, I miss telling backyard stories. (There was a squirrel on the deck while we were having dinner just the other day, and the quick movement when all three of us involuntarily checked for footwear was hilarious.) Norbert the Gargoyle is in a new home–I never did tell you guys how that turned out–and the gnomes, from Emphysema Joe on down, are their usual cranky selves. We have a new crop of squirrels, though–the old ones have either changed their territories or moved on.

Brief is the life of a garden squirrel.

In short, there’s a lot going on, but getting it all down is the difficult part. There’s been so much else to talk about. Plague, war, fascist coup–all of it’s exhausting.

There’s no ringing conclusion or grand decision today. I’m just…looking at things. And I don’t think I want to make any hard and fast resolutions until there’s been at least a short period of calm. The news cycle hasn’t been pummeling me like it did last year, for which I am devoutly grateful, and yet the hole we were cast into is just so deep, getting out is an epic in and of itself.

Speaking of which, how am I writing two epics at once? There’s Hell’s Acre (which premieres in June) and Cold North, both massive undertakings. But then, I’m not really myself if I’m not juggling slightly1 more than I think I can manage. I’ve edits coming down the pike too–a final look at The Bloody Throne, revision on the second half of The Black God’s Heart, and today I hear from an editor about Sons of Ymre.

Publishing is such a delayed-gratification game. It’s unreal. By the time a book hits shelves, I’m already two years farther down the road. Also, Moon’s Knight is resting with a certain other editor now, and if they don’t take it, I’ll be looking for a cover. Because dammit, my beta readers deserve to see that book out in the wild, sooner or later.

The amount of work I managed to get done last year is somewhat shocking. I didn’t think I’d done anything at all. Looking back and realizing “no, Lili, you kept working frantically because the alternative was sinking in quicksand” is…well, not quite uncomfortable, but not pleasant either.

I suppose it’s a measure of hope that I keep going, both with the books and with blogging. I’ve always hoped that seeing the life of a working writer a little closer–though not intimately, I save that for other spaces–might help other writers feel a little less alone. This kind of career is both achingly lonely (when there’s nothing but you and the blank page) and shockingly crowded (when one deals with agent, editors, marketing, production staff, and all the other quality-control staff). The dichotomy can drive one mad.

I mean, if one isn’t already mad just contemplating this kind of work. It does tend to rattle one’s bolts.

Case in point: When I started this post, I was thinking solely about whether or not I wanted to continue blogging. I’ve ended up amazed at the amount of work I did last year under some harsh conditions, and am bracing myself for another glut of revisions to fall on my head.

So it goes, I guess. And through it all, the dogs need walking and I need caffeine–the withdrawal headaches are no fun at all. So I bid you a fond adieu, beloved Reader.

But only for a short while. I think I’ll keep blogging after all.

Over and out.

Supposed To, Should, Maybe

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I’m supposed to be resting today.

I did line edits, then a final revise on a submittable manuscript, back to back. The big scab on my forehead from Boxnoggin’s antics has fallen free, though the ones on my hands and knees are still clinging for all they’re worth. (I know, you really wanted to hear about that, you’re welcome.) I feel just generally run-down and like my body’s fighting off a cold, though it could just be my immune system screaming “COME AT ME, MOTHERFUCKERS, I GOT ENOUGH AMMO FOR ALLA YOUSE.”

…my immune system, she is just like me.

Yes, I should be resting today. Instead I’m considering a Viking fantasy gothic werewolf book1, and looking at my production schedule for next year to see where I could ram one in. Bonus if it turns out that I can do the Rebecca-from-vampire-Mrs-Danvers-POV novella2 as well, since that’s been boiling in the back of my head.

It’s… nice, I suppose? To feel books jostling inside my head again, and to feel like I might, if I budget carefully, have the energy to finish another one? I’ve spent most of 2020 feeling down in the dumps because my productivity has taken hit after massive hit. I have a lot of Tolkien to read too, and I should be planning nothing more taxing than a day on the couch with a stack of Unfinished Tales and History of Middle-Earth, drinking tea and chortling while I make notes for Fall of Gondolin fanfic.

I am making the supreme sacrifice–no run today, because I rolled over in bed this morning and my body informed me that if I suit up for one, it will have some Strong Words for the management. I figure I’ve put my faithful old corpse through enough lately, so it’ll be ibuprofen and just a gentle ramble with both dogs. Miss B’s hind leg is bothering her a bit, so we keep our pace almost glacial, which drives Boxnoggin almost to distraction. Still, the two of them wrestle with abandon after lunch and dinner, so they get plenty of exercise and Boxnoggin’s “Gawd, will you just come on,” dance burns a lot of energy as well. Or so I hope.

Maybe I’ll yell some more about the Silmarillion or related things3 later this week. If I do–I’m not saying it’s a given, mind you–is there anything in particular you guys want me to cover? I don’t think I’m up to Children of Hurin4 but other stuff is fair game. I kind of wish ol’ JRR had novelized the Kingdom of the North, but that could be because I’m a total Witch King of Angmar fangirl.

…anyway, the dogs want their walkies and the coffee is down to dregs, so I suppose me and the faithful carcass that’s been hauling me around since birth should get a gentle ramble in. Then it’ll be time for ibuprofen and tea.

A writer’s life is full of excitement, kiddos.

Over and out.

Out of Season

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Sunday chores mean my desk is somewhat better organized–not too organized, since a little bit of mess allows room for creativity to sneak in. Or maybe too-neat just stresses me out of any kind of proper work mindframe. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The weather is turning, so there’s some sniffles and sneezes in the house. Every time one of us reaches for the tissues I tense up, wondering if it’s the plague, if it’s the moment I have to start making awful decisions.

Fortunately, it seems to be nothing more than the usual postnasal drip that happens along every time our damp autumn wanders in and settles down to. But still, my nerves twitch all sideways when I hear a sneeze. We’re still enduring lockdown and masking up whenever forced to leave the house, except for during outside exercise. When the rains start there will be nobody on the sidewalk to infect, either; I won’t have to hop out into the road when a middle-aged white man decides he’s going to take up the entire bloody walk with his waddling self.

The zero draft of The Bloody Throne, full of holes and bracket notes, is set aside to marinate–generally one of the hardest times to endure during project, since it’s still smarting and itching like a fresh scab. I have revisions on Damage and Moon’s Knight to distract myself with and get out the door, as well as continuing work on HOOD‘s Season Three and The Black God’s Heart. I forced myself to only write on things that do not resemble work over the weekend, which means there’s 8k of text I’ll probably never use–a mismatched pair of occult detectives who talk like an old BBC serial is great fun, but I don’t think it’s publishable, you know? Still, it was therapeutic, and bits of it might be used elsewhere, who knows?

The coffee tastes particularly fine this morning. I long for caffeine to soak in and finally give me a spark or two. Taking three days off should be enough to recover from an epic fantasy, right? I should be right as rain now.

Except I have the sneaking suspicion I’m not, and it’ll hit me in the middle of revisions. Normally it takes three times as long as one thinks to truly recover form the end of a project; unfortunately, nothing about the time is normal. It’s all out of whack, if not completely out of joint.

At least there’s no time to be lonely when I can sink into characters. Not that I ever feel lonely anyway; there’s generally so much to do and see and think about. I did have Midsommar flower-crown dreams, so maybe it’s time for me to poke at that one story with the wolves, the snow, and the flowers out of season. That sounds a lovely way to procrastinate, doesn’t it?

But no, the bloody revisions need attention. Whatever I’m going to procrastinate with will have to creep around the edges, stealing precious bits of sweet forbidden time.

Maybe another book will hash my wrists on its way out of my head. In any case, sunrise has strengthened behind the cedars, and the dogs are longing for me to finish my damn coffee and get to the real work, which is taking their fuzzy asses on a ramble. My human concerns are all very well, but they have actual business to conduct, or so they keep reminding me.

I’d best be off, then. We survived another weekend; I want to hide in my closet until after the election but I have to work. And my ballot needs to be dropped in a box instead of mailed; I’m taking no chances this year. So that will mean a short drive this morning too.

May we vanquish our Monday, dearly beloveds. I’m not anywhere near ready, but that’s why we have coffee, isn’t it.

Over and out.

Proof Positive, For Me

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Woke up with a few story ideas running around my head, which hasn’t happened for about a week and a half. For most of that time I was absorbed in finishing a (messy, oh so messy) zero draft of Moon’s Knight.

I don’t know why my mini nervous breakdown needed me to shred my hands producing around 10k words of a portal fantasy every day for over a week, but that’s what it demanded so that’s what I did. Now the story’s finished and I’m on a much more even keel. (Well, as even as my keel ever gets.) My hands hurt, but ice, stretching, and ibuprofen will take care of that; I feel oddly clear, like a just-washed window.

I suppose I needed to prove to myself I could still finish something. It feels like 2020 has lasted decades and I haven’t “finished” a single thing. Irrational, yes–but when the Muse gets an idea in her head, it’s almost impossible to dislodge. She is rather stubborn.

Anyway, the proof positive that I can, indeed, finish a whole-ass 100k portal fantasy (that will never be published, I’m pretty sure) has managed to paper over some bare nerves, and I’m ready to lunge through the last half of HOOD‘s Season Three, catch up with The Bloody Throne, and keep The Black God’s Heart at a low burn by poking at it after dinner and around the edges of the other two projects. It will do me no end of good to be working on actual paid projects instead of being possessed by something I know is necessary for my mental and emotional well-being but not quite salable.

Maybe I just needed something simply and solely for me, however janky, farfetched, or outlandish. It’s been a while since I wrote something purely for my own enjoyment, managing to turn off the inner critic for a substantial period of time. Or maybe the Muse just threw that into my pit because she needed a rest from the other three projects. Who knows?

Tomorrow there’s a new release; later today my newsletter and subscriber fiction drops go out with links to a brand-new giveaway. (Subscribers–either newsletter or Patreon/Gumroad–get first crack at giveaways; don’t worry, I’ll post the link here and on social media after the weekend.) I recovered from finishing the zero by prepping all that yesterday, so I should be good for a full day’s work.

One of the things I’ve learned after decades in this job is when to just simply let things arrange themselves. When taking a break will actually make me more productive in the long term, when to follow that tiny internal voice whispering this is what you need now, trust me. I used to think working myself into the ground was the only way to get anything done. Now that I’ve been around a while, I know a little better–or I’ve simply accumulated a large enough body of work to be able to rest once in a while while the gravity of that body slings me through orbit without needing much fuel.

…now there’s a metaphor.

Off I go to update a series page, since Finder releases tomorrow. I’m already feeling the anticipation and dread of release day. It’s a good thing my nerves are re-wrapped, at least a little.

See you around, beloveds.