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.

Sort Of Recovering

Season 2 of HOOD starts today for my lovely subscribers. I’m pretty pleased, even if I might need three seasons instead of two after all, to get the arcs to fall right. Ah well, never rains but it pours, and that gives me more time to plan other things, I suppose.

The stress of the last week and a half is receding, though not nearly as quickly as I’d like. As I get older, it takes more time to bounce back from the killing worries, both financial and personal, that go along with this career–and, let’s face it, being a single mother. I suppose from outside it looks successful enough, but that semblance hides the fact that our household is hovering barely above the poverty line and it only takes a single bad event–or a single publisher refusing to pay what they owe–to trigger catastrophe. It doesn’t help that I spent the early part of last week working furiously, almost to the edge of burnout, to make sure HOOD: Season One was out properly and to get Incorruptible prepped for release. (The latter won’t be out until September; don’t worry, you’ll know as soon as preorders are up.)

So I’m a little shaky, and even though the worst of the disaster has been addressed, I’m still vibrating in place. (Not quite fast enough to be a squirrel twin, but… close.) The kids were a little worried, since normally I tend to keep a pretty granite poker face; they know that when that calm cracks it means things are Very Bad Indeed.

Anyway, I am recovering, and there are good things. Like the ebooks of my Beauty & the Beast retelling, Rose & Thunder, being on sale for the month of August. (You get about 28% off the regular price.) Also, I may be writing some more romances to keep the wolf from the door, but that’s good because I have a couple stories that fit that treatment perfectly and the editor interested in them is a gem.

The saving grace of the last week and a half has been my subscribers and patrons. That trickle of monthly support provides a thin cushion I’m ever grateful for, and means I can write still more for their delectation. It’s a virtuous circle–I produce better and more when I can sleep at night instead of lying awake in the darkness, my heart pounding, worrying about losing the house.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, I’ve this week’s fiction offerings to put together, and as soon as the cover for Incorruptible lands, the finishing touches can be put on September’s release and I can start thinking about November. Not quite sure if I’ll have anything finished and prepped by then, but hope springs eternal. I have a rather punishing publication schedule.1 A lot will depend on if publishers decide to snap up one or two projects my agent is making the rounds with.

I like self-publishing, but it would be a relief to outsource some of the brute work–formatting, listing for sale, editing–to a company that has deeper pockets and more labor than my own small, sweet self. A vacation’s out of the question, but a break, now that would be nice.

But today there’s coffee to finish, subscription stuff to get up, dogs to walk, a kitchen to clean, and maybe some laundry to do. The fun never ends chez Saintcrow, and I suppose I’d better like it, since it won’t change anytime soon. Making a virtue out of necessity is a writer’s survival strategy.

Over and out.

Soundtrack Monday: Boom Swagger

Ever wonder what’s playing in my head when Jill Kismet walks into the Monde? It’s Boom Swagger Boom, by the Murder City Devils.

I’m pretty visual as writers go; I see the action in my head and can stop, freeze-frame, swing around (bullet time!) to examine different angles, the whole works. I actually wrote Hunter’s Prayer first, followed by Night Shift when my editor said “but how did Jill meet Saul?”, and the very first glimpse I had of our dear Kismet was her walking, hipshot and dangerous, into the Monde to serve justice–and, not so incidentally, to thumb her nose at Perry.

It was a long weekend, I’ve received quite a lot of bad news, and I’m not recovered yet, so that’s where I’ll leave you, dear Reader, listening to the boom and the swagger. Enjoy!

An Actual Weekend

Steelflower in Snow

Ever have one of those days where nothing goes wrong for you, precisely, but everyone around you keeps getting packets of bad luck?

Yeah. Like that. Friday came along with terrible news, kept going through car trouble, and ended with me having to stop a teenage bigot from vomiting hatred-harassment, so by the time I got home I was more than ready to throw my purse in a corner and crawl into bed.

I’m finally feeling more like myself again, probably due to the work I did over the weekend. A ticklish scene in HOOD‘s Season Two gave me the answer to a plot problem I had heretofore only trusted would end up fixed eventually (my faith in the Muse knows very little bounds) and I got all sorts of stuff done in Tower of Yden. It was like a mini-vacation, writing exactly what I wanted, and since I ruthlessly closed my doors and was unavailable for anything else, a good deal of housecleaning got done too.

Normally my weekends take a few days to recover from, since I tend to cram in all sorts of things I can’t get to during the working week. But I’m actually feeling almost…rested? Is that the word?

I know, I know. Saying it aloud is a sure way to get hammered sideways by Something Quite Unexpected.

Anyway, today I feel my way through a scene with Robin Hood, Little John, Much the Miller’s Son, and Alan-a-dale. I know it’s important, and there’s a whole tangle of plot and counterplot going on, but I don’t quite have the shape of it yet. After I finish poking, it’s revisions on Incorruptible, which is lingering at about 60K words and will only get bigger. A truly angelic cover is needed, so it’s off to Indigo Chick Designs to look at premades, just to get an idea. (I love all Skyla’s covers.)

It’s also going to be very warm here today, after a couple weeks of decent (if somewhat humid) weather. I should get my run in early so I don’t get laid out in a puddle of hyperventilation and sweat.

In short, I’m somewhat optimistic about the week, despite publishers refusing to pay me. My entire life might explode as a result, but right at this moment nothing’s on fire and I can take a breath, so I might as well.

If it does explode, I’ll deal with it then. I suppose that’s adulthood. I could do without the lingering anxiety, but I suppose nothing is ever perfect.

Stay cool and hydrated out there, chickadees. Catch you tomorrow.

Oh, Publishing…

HOOD

Just a reminder: you can still download the first few chapters of HOOD: Season One for absolutely free.1 So if you want to see if Robin Hood in Space is to your tastes, this is a good way to find out!

Mornings here have been nice and grey, the marine layer shielding us from the worst heat. Of course, that means the humidity’s been through the roof, but at least it hasn’t been hot and feeling like the inside of Mother Nature’s mouth.2 The dogs are puzzled, but I explained to Miss B that this is what summers used to be like back before climate change accelerated.

Boxnoggin, of course, is absolutely surprised by everything the moment he steps outside. Rain, insects, wind touching his rump–it’s all a cavalcade of new sensations every damn time. He’s like a goldfish swimming circuits past a castle decoration and thinking it’s a new one every time. (“Look, Benny, we’re on the Rhine!”)

Yesterday I sent a sample of Hell’s Acre to my agent. So if a publisher wants Assassin’s Creed crossed with Da Vinci Code in an alt-Victorian London, they’d better get on the stick. I’m so tired of trad publishing saying “write the entire series, then give us the first book and in six months we might condescend to look at it.”3 That makes one book pulled from submission (Incorruptible), one full book out (Reader’s Shadow), and two samples (Sons of Ymre and Hell’s Acre) out in the world. I haven’t had this few works on submission in ages; it feels almost like a vacation.

Of all of them, I’m most worried about Reader’s Shadow because the protagonists are teens. I don’t want to set a toe in YA publishing again; twice was enough and both Harmony and Rattlesnake Wind are doing well without having the “YA” imprimatur. Sure, I’d love it if those books could get to the teens who need them, but going through a bunch of people who want me to water them down so some Bible-belt evangelical doesn’t get their panties in a wad takes time and effort I’d rather spend on writing new books.

Anyway, I think for a little while I’m going to concentrate on the serial and samples. I’m tired of a lot of things in publishing, and glad that my career is at a stage where hybridization is a possibility. You’d think the publishing industry would understand that without writers they don’t have jobs or profits, but we’re treated like embarrassing afterthoughts and hated stepchildren. Which sucks because I like trad publishing; I like not having to deal with plenty of the minutiae of producing a reasonable printed product. I’m an easy audience, and trad seems set on driving me away.

In any case, none of that changes the fact that I’ve work to do. Today is slated for a chapter in HOOD‘s Season Two, a chapter in Sons of Ymre, and making baked pasta with yesterday’s homemade red sauce.

My dance card’s packed, and the dogs are very excited at the prospect of walkies. First, though, it’s time for a run. Hopefully by now the cereal and coffee are resigned to their fate and will not attempt a high-speed escape.

It’s the little things. Over and out!

Not Enough Scratching

HOOD

I spent yesterday getting the tail-end of HOOD‘s Season One all arranged. It looks like the completed season will drop on or near the end of next month; subscribers, of course, get the unedited and final ebooks for free. (Nest Egg subscribers get weekly fiction AND the serial, if that’s your jam.)

I’m testing a new delivery platform with this series; it should solve some of the preorder problems we’ve experienced with KDP. If not, well, I already have a work-around.

The weary and the wicked alike receive no rest, and I’ve tomato plants to get in the ground too. They’re sad little orphan things, but I couldn’t just leave them where they were to die, so it’s into the ground they go with a whispered song. There’s a daphne that doesn’t like confinement, too, that will probably go near the back fence. If it survives it’ll screen the back of the house since some idiot took down some perfectly good cedars.

What? No, of course it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have gotten rid of healthy cedars that went into shock for a bit when you tore the dead body of one of their fellows free. The poor things were grieving and a neighbor got talked into letting the people who took out the dead cedar (rightfully so, though they also crushed the fence and one of my garden decorations) take out the shocked ones as well. They probably laughed all the way to the bank about said neighbor’s gullibility, too.

Ah well. I did like the cedars, but a daphne and maybe some lilacs if the neighbor doesn’t replace the cedars might do. I do not want to see that neighbor’s yard, and I’m sure he returns the feeling.

It’s enough to make me wish I’d bought property out on the fringes where one doesn’t have to see neighbors, but with only one car that wasn’t a good idea. A single mother, even one with adult children, needs a little more infrastructure than can be found in rural areas.

Anyway, being head-down in publishing prep all day yesterday means I’m more than ready to get back to writing instead of revising and formatting. I’m beginning to feel itchy, even if several things have been crossed off the master to-do list. Revising is enough like writing that the itch can be touched, but formatting most definitely is not and it’s beginning to get painful. I’m not myself when I don’t write.

I did get a fragment down in my diary last night, about the Reaper. I’m not sure if I want to write that story, but it’s certainly interesting. Psychopomps interest me, and living ones doubly so.

Anyway, there’s also Sons of Ymre and Lightning Bound to think of. The latter holds promise of being a trilogy, and maybe that’ll be another serial. I haven’t decided yet.

That’s my day sorted, then. I wish my dear Readers a likewise happy Tuesday.

Over and out.