Soundtrack Monday: Victorian Vigilante

It’s another Soundtrack Monday!

I just finished the massive revise on both seasons of Hell’s Acre, getting the books polished from zero level–finished, steaming, just having slid free–to submittable draft. The first book’s with the agent now, and we’ll see what she says. If a publisher doesn’t want to get in on the action, it’ll go out through the self-pub pipeline. Either way there’s several more edits, copyediting, and proofing to get through. But the raw creation and first polish is done.

In celebration, here’s Abney Park’s Victorian Vigilante, which a particular fan (thanks, Tal!) suggested very early in the serial’s first few chapters. It’s rather evocative, and is definitely playing when Avery waltzes into the Marauders’ pub to kill McNeiss. I even gave the Rook a malacca cane during the fight, which was all sorts of fun.

I enjoyed writing Avery a great deal. He doesn’t hesitate, he doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and he doesn’t dither about what he wants. The instant he sees Gemma he makes up his mind, and though he’s a product of his environment he doesn’t ever belittle her, or think of her as lesser. Every time some new dimension of her talents shows, he’s just as pleased as if he’d discovered them in himself. Out of all my heroes he’s probably one of the least problematic, even with his, erm, habit of murdering evildoers.

He also has a great sense of style. The cane–snatched from a Dickens reference–appealed to him a great deal, and the instant he saw the wrist crossbow in Rook’s Rose he was like, “I’ll just be taking that, mate, thanks.”

He’s also profoundly lonely when the serial starts. One rather gets the idea he was just waiting to find a lifelong cause rather more solid than mere vengeance, and Gemma happened along at just the right time. Both of them shift names and identities, though Avery is far more practiced. I think he has a more solid core of who he is, which makes it easier for him, but little Beth was raised Respectable and has a wee bit more trouble.

The rest of the serial’s soundtrack can be found here. I think it’s in its final fighting form now, just like the books themselves. Well, that’s not quite precise since the books will have edits and so on, but…oh, you know what I mean. I’m recovering from this round of revision, and my brain is porridge.


Beltane and a Book

It’s Beltane again–not my favorite holiday, we all know what that one is, but a good one nonetheless. And tomorrow will be taken up with the release of Spring’s Arcana.

I’m nervous. Well, I’m always bundle of ragged nerves before a launch, so that’s no change. I did make the playlist for the duology live, so you can listen to the music that informed both books here. (It is Soundtrack Monday, after all.) And of course there’s the Goodreads giveaway if you want a chance to win a copy, and I’ll be attending the virtual launch tomorrow if you’d like to sign up for that.

Most of what I’ll be doing today is prep for the release. There’s a blog post to write, a newsletter alert to put together, a little unboxing and reading to do on Twitch. However, I’ll be spending most of the day sunk in proof pages for an entirely different series, because publishing is like that. By the time a book reaches the shelves, the writer is several lengths down the road.

It’s not bad. It is, however, an exercise in delayed gratification, and human beings are generally not the best at that. I could call it good practice, except it’s so damn frustrating.

Of course, no matter what else is going on Boxnoggin needs his walkies. He got some celebratory Cheetos in his breakfast bowl this morning, which he proceeded to pick out of the kibble and eat with every evidence of enjoyment, leaving the rest of his meal strictly alone. I mean, I don’t blame him–dogs are big furry toddlers, and what child wouldn’t pick the good stuff out and leave the rest? It’s a far cry from when he arrived a few years ago. Back then any scrap of food was manna from heaven. It’s nice that he’s gotten picky; it shows that he knows there will always be more.

With that cheerful thought I should finish my coffee, grab my own breakfast–probably gruel, since the stress nausea is very bad this morning–and get to it. A bit of physically grueling exercise will make everything easier to handle, purging stress chemicals and the like, but first I’ve got to get the rest of the morning out of the way.

It’s pretty hilarious that Nat Drozdova’s story is going live just after May Day. I suspect the new incarnation of Spring arranged as much specifically, with (of course) a nudge from old Grandmother Winter. I’ll be laughing over that today, when I’m not heaving into the office wastebasket with sheer nervousness.

What can I say? I know how to celebrate a holiday.

See you tomorrow…

Soundtrack Monday: Disease

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! This week we’re going old-school, all the way back to the Society series.

Delgado (for all his sins and mine) really liked Matchbox Twenty. I could reliably get into his head playing a couple of their tracks–not to mention a few bits of the soundtrack for the La Femme Nikita TV series, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. One of the most reliable songs was Disease, which still makes him start talking inside my head.

Of course, Del considered himself not just irretrievably broken but also contagious, a feeling helped along by the awe and fear everyone except Henderson (and Yoshi, and later Rowan) held him in. He absolutely considered himself beyond redemption, especially in the first half of Hunter, Healer. I borrowed a lot of Roy Dupuis’s stonefaced suffering from the Nikita series (and Rowan’s hair does come from Peta Wilson’s amazing platinum mane in a lot of that show), but to this day I don’t know where his particular psychic talent came from. In face, I didn’t even know what he actually did until the second draft of the first book.

Naturally I knew he had some psionic ability, but the details were fuzzy. Once he finally opened up and told me about it, things started to make much more sense and his fear of connection was placed in proper proportion.

A lot of that series also came from X-Men fanfic I wrote in my high school days. None of it survives (thank goodness), being safely hidden in landfills, but its ghost is still on the compost pile inside my head. Nothing is ever truly lost, especially in a writer’s head. Stories germinate in a mound of fertile, rotting material left over from other half-told (or fully told, or even just imagined) tales.

I know there must be people whose heads aren’t full of this stuff, but I’ll be damned if I can imagine how that must be.

Anyway, the Society series could go on–there’s Cath’s story, naturally, and later events. Plus the whole shebang is set in the same universe as the Watchers and Danny Valentine; speaking of which, if you look really closely, there are a few Watchers still around in Danny’s time, though Circle Lightfall’s goals have changed out of all recognition by then. But if I went on with Cath’s story a few dreadful things would have to happen to other characters I like quite a bit and I don’t want to write that. So it’s best to just…let things rest, even though I know what happens next.

There’s no shortage of other stories to tell, after all.

To-Dos and Wild What-Ifs

Rolled from the bed’s sweet flannel embrace, took the dog out, dealt with moderation reports, downloaded a couple print proofs, ran off another print interior (dear gods, Vellum is amazing), got confirmation from the accountant (let’s all heave a huge sigh of relief), and the coffee is still warm. Not hot, but warm is good enough, considering.

Yesterday was blustery and sunny in turns, which meant my sinuses were throbbing like a disco beat, complete with the flashing colors whenever I blinked. Disorienting, even if I can find a bit of amusement in it. Today will be a bit calmer. We’re really noticing the difference with the cedars gone; the house rattles under the east wind like it never has before. I don’t know if the laurels will grow enough to become a buffer, or if I should plant something else along the new (hallelujah) fence.

That’s a problem for another day. I have all of summer to think about it.

The only drawback to all this productivity is that no task I’ve accomplished so far is on today’s to-do list. I should probably change that and cross off a few things just to get the dopamine flowing. Nothing quite like drawing a heavy line through an item one’s already done; I highly recommend putting at least one thing already accomplished on any to-do list just to get the pump primed.

Today will be all about approving proofs, waiting for one last bit of paperwork to sign, and revisions. I can finally get serious about the Sons of Ymre #2 revise, so that will occupy me for a few days and subscribers might get to see an updated bit of that book. Plus I’ve got prep for the Spring’s Arcana release, including lots of deep breathing and bracing for the virtual launch. I’m growing increasingly nervous, as usual, and the only cure for that is enough work that I’ don’t think about it’m too busy to brood. The wild What-Ifs murmuring in my ear (what if the book sucks, what if everyone hates it, what if no publisher ever wants you again, what if, what if, what if…) can be reduced a dull roar if I’m distracted with keeping other chainsaws in the air.

I woke up with Charlie Puth’s Attention playing inside my head again–just the point where the beat drops, over and over again. Which isn’t bad, but I would like a change. Fortunately walkies and a run today will be full of other music, so there’s a chance. I think my brain just uses any leftover RAM to run music, so clearly the fix (if one is even needed) lies in giving it other things to play with. Keeping it occupied, just like any other toddler.

The trees are dancing like they do in springtime. It’s different than the cold, sleepy lashing of winter; I can only think the rising sap makes them move differently. The butterfly bush is greening, and the Japanese maples have started budding out. No sign from the dogwoods yet, but there’s time. The magnolias are beginning to shed waxy petals, a different snowfall.

And now the coffee is cold, too. I just drained the dregs, which means it’s time for brekkie and walkies. Boxnoggin is stirring, though he hasn’t trotted down the hall to get me moving yet. He’s not the type of herder Bailey was, but eventually he’ll show up to nose me for the door.

I’d best get moving.

Hissing on the Rollercoaster

Ah, Monday. We meet again.

I opened the bedroom drapes and was immediately forced to hiss and retreat from that bright yellow stuff. Shambled through Boxnoggin’s wake-up loo break and making coffee, and now I’m in my office, still blinking and hissing a bit because dear gods, it’s too much. I miss the cedars along the back protecting us from the daystar.

I had a different earworm yesterday, but today it’s the New Radicals crooning wake up, kids, we’ve got the dreamer’s disease. The video’s kind of fascinating, in a time capsule manner–and I can only imagine the weariness of the people who had to clean up afterward. Everyone wanted to be Michael Stipe back then, and the malls were dying but we didn’t quite believe it yet. How strange, how very strange.

At least the flood of sunlight means the glass stuff on my windowsill glows like jewels. It’s about time to get another piece, as soon as I have a victory to celebrate. Maybe finishing this revision will do it–if I actually do finish. I’m back in semi-doldrums despite objective proof (landing in the past few weeks no less) that I do finish things. Imposter syndrome never takes a day off, and I’m kind of in the same boat. It’s hard to keep moving forward under such uncertainty; I’ve been in crisis mode since ’16 and it’s not letting up anytime soon.

I’d really like things to just…calm the fuck down for a second. alas, such is not the world we live in.

I did get the monthly newsletter out this past weekend, along with the announcement of a virtual launch for Spring’s Arcana. We’ll see how that goes. I’m nervous enough about the release that I’ll be sideways that day anyway, so it might even be fun. There’s something to be said for the relaxation of, “welp, can’t stop it now, might as well enjoy the ride.” I call it the Rollercoaster Principle, and it’s the reason I find those particular carnival rides so relaxing. Once you’re strapped in and the machine’s moving, you’re in the hands of the gods. Nothing can alter your fate, you’re simply at the mercy of physics. Being irresistibly drawn along has a certain charm.

Though only sometimes.

Right then. I’d better get some gruel and strap Boxnoggin into his walking harness. The coffee’s still warm and has a little cardamom in it, though…so maybe I’ll just sit here for a moment, close my eyes, and bask in the deadly radiation showering down, filtered by the atmosphere and driving all life on earth.

It’s all just a bigger rollercoaster, if one zooms out far enough philosophically. And with that (terrifying, I suppose) thought, I’d best get started.

Already With a Gift

The atmospheric river is dying down, though they say there’ll be some kind of freeze in higher elevations tomorrow morning. It will not be a repeat of last year’s snow in April, please gods–that was the blanket of wet, heavy white that did for our roof. Which was kind of fortunate, in that we had a new set of shingles for the winter’s wild weather and the past few days’ worth of sky-river, but still.

Finding the silver lining is a habit, but one I wish I didn’t have to practice so goddamn tenaciously. Still, it’s how I cope and sometimes even how I fight. Might as well continue.

Combat today has mostly consisted of struggling out from the bed’s warm embrace. I could’ve stayed there for another eight hours without much trouble at all except getting someone else to take the dog out for loo breaks, which meant it’s just more efficient to get the hell up, I suppose. Between the push to finish two zero drafts, various other assorted work crunches, the drama over the back fence, health issues, and some Family Stuff, I feel like a couple years have been jammed into the past few days. Of course I’m still operating on pandemic time; I barely know what day it is, let alone the year.

If not for electronic minders and to-do lists, I suspect I’d be in very bad shape.

In the most recent Reading with Lili, a couple people in chat asked me if I’d read from my own works. It didn’t really occur to me to do so, but I suppose I can find some time since I’ve received a flood of “please, please do so” responses. It won’t be on Fridays, since that space is taken for other people’s books. But occasionally I might do it over on Twitch, and let the recording fall out of sight naturally since those sessions are only kept for a couple weeks or so. I’ve been kicking around the idea, and might do one of my favorite sequences from the Valentine books first–the one that made a copyeditor comment that I was playing so many games with language and structure they were afraid of making a single change.

I copied that particular aside out and kept it, because what a compliment, my gods.

I also might get the Harmony soundtrack put together again and posted. Slowly, slowly getting the music lists up and running; I should go back to burning CDs for each individual book. I’m a big fan of physical media anyway; I think I still have a stack of blank shiny discs around somewhere. Probably in that one side of my desk I never open up, because the door hits the bottom of the microphone’s clamp. And for those inquiring why I’m using Apple Music for soundtracks instead of Spotify, it’s what’s convenient for me and I cannot in good conscience go back to the latter. You do you.

I didn’t have to make my own coffee this morning, so the day’s already started out with a gift. Getting out during a break in the rain for Boxnoggin’s walkies will be another, if I can manage it. He was quite displeased with the amount of damp yesterday, and acted a damn fool when we saw a part-husky out with its owner so our ramble was cut short. But today there should be little problem and when the rain returns I can go for a run. The sidewalks will be awash but also mostly empty of other people, which is–not gonna lie–just the way I like it.

After that, more administrivia beckons, and making a few decisions. If I do want to bring Hell’s Acre out to wider publication I’ll need to start making arrangements now. I’ll probably decide while running; physical motion is best for shaking things loose and clarifying what I actually want instead of what I think I should want.

Age is also good for that. If I’d known my mid-forties would be this awesome I’d’ve hurried to get here. Still, things take the time they take, and there’s no getting around it without a higher cost than I’m usually willing to pay. So, here we are.

If I can’t go back to bed I suppose I should get started. Breakfast would be a good idea, so…off I go.

Soundtrack Monday: Chevaliers de Sangreal

It’s another Soundtrack Monday! And I have a lovely piece for you today, my friends.

I just finished the zero draft of Rook’s Rose, and this piece was quite integral to the writing of the entire serial. Hans Zimmer is pretty reliable writing music for me, and the Chevaliers de Sangreal track from the Da Vinci Code movie reliably got me into Gemma and Avery’s world each time. It’s a stirring piece, and given that I’m working with some of the same conspiracy theories and historical stuff (albeit very loosely, as usual) it hits a nice sweet spot.

I often see a smoke-and fogbound New Rome while listening to it, perhaps with the Rook and Miss Dove doing their running-across rooftops thing. It’s very cinematic, but there’s also a love theme in it as well. Avery Black knows what he wants very early on in the entire situation, while Gemma takes a while to come around. Mostly because she has her own problems to solve, as heroines do; if there’s music playing during the crossing-the-Channel scene near the end–or the end credits, which I do see in my head for some books–this is it.

Anyway, the whole soundtrack to the serial can be found here. I think it’s achieved its final fighting form since I’m done with the brute creation work of Book 2. And my brain still resembles pudding at the moment, so I’ll stop here.