RELEASE DAY: Afterwar

That’s right, my dears! The book I’ve been agonizing over for multiple years is now out in the world.


They say the war’s over when the surrender is signed. It’s a lie.

America’s bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it’s supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann’s Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there’s no such thing as a home to return to.

Swann and his crew of partisans work for the Federal Army now, hunting through the wreckage for war criminals and kamp officials. Their next quarry is carrying something explosive, something that can level the nascent Federal government and turn the entire continent into a hellscape- well, more than it already is.

Across America, working against time and chaos, Swann’s Riders are back in the fight. And Lara, whose secrets may well end up consuming her too, has a vengeance of her own to deliver…


I finished the zero draft of Afterwar in March 2017. The book itself was brutal to write, for obvious reasons. Then, things started going wrong. Orphaned twice1 and delayed at every production step, last-minute proofing hassles, payment snafus…I joked to Kevin Sonney that if the printers didn’t catch fire and sink into a swamp, I would be surprised. There was just that much bad luck during the publication process. Every once in a while a book gets a perfect storm of Shit Happens, I guess I was due for one anyway, and the fact that it came on the heels of finishing what was probably the most emotionally difficult story I’ve ever written was just icing on a terrifying anxiety-laden cake.

Every book deserves acknowledgements, and I don’t usually do them on release day, but this is a somewhat special case. I want to take a moment and thank Devi Pillai and Miriam Kriss, who believed I could do something bigger and were there to encourage and help me when I (frequently) doubted, Lindsey Hall, who had to deal with me at my very-most-frazzled, Mel Sterling for support above and beyond even the call of Best Friend Duty, Lauren Panepinto for not strangling me when I became difficult and for a great cover, the Deadline Dames and the MurderFriends for a constant mutter of support, cat gifs, and zaniness, Sarah Guan for taking the book through the home stretch and soothing a Very Tired Writer, and my children, who I wrote this for. I should also add thanks to the many service members, in various branches of the armed forces, who answered my bizarre questions with patience and good humor, especially Jeff Davis.

I’m very tired, having spent a restless night, and the release day anxiety is particularly bad. I can barely believe the book made it out into the world, and am at once relieved and scared almost witless. Waiting for another shoe to drop, as it were. So I’m going to go and spend this day the way I spend other release days–shaking, soaking my head in a bucket, and writing. (One of those options may not be quite feasible; I doubt I have a bucket clean enough after the recent stomach flu.)

Come back on Thursday, and I’ll tell you some more about Afterwar. In the meantime, I have a Fanchat Discord you can join; just be sure to mark your spoilers.

Over and out.

Old Decrepit Me

Last week the stomach flu tore through our household like a hot knife through the solidified fat of your choice. I’m still a little weak-kneed, but I have an easy run scheduled for today and both B and I need the work. She was up and down with me the entire time; the only difference between a toddler and a dog watching you puke is that the dog wants to get their nose in the loo bowl.

It’s kind of exotic, the kids being old enough to want to puke on their own. Neither of them wanted me in the loo with them while they heaved. I mean, I don’t blame them, I hate vomiting more than just about anything else, but it’s kind of strange when your kids don’t want you to hold their hair, rub their back, and make soothing sounds. I contented myself with washing sheets, running bowls, and reassurance. Thank goodness we got sick round-robin instead of all at once; the Princess brought home a megaton of saltines and I had some PediaLyte stashed, and we had quite a few “get your own dinner” nights. All three of us sitting glassy-eyed at the table, staring at bowls holding minuscule portions of something bland, and every once in a while laughing because none of us could finish a damn portion.

Anyway, we’re all much better now. The kids, still young, chewy, and bendy, bounced back much more quickly than old, decrepit me. *sigh*

So today it’s that gentle run, with a few walking stops to make Miss B work at heel and distance, and a regular day’s work–revising a chapter of Atlanta Bound from zero to first draft status, then wordcount on The Maiden’s Blade. I’ve finally gotten to the part where I can do the kidnapping, so most of the run today will be thinking about that and putting the pieces together inside my head. Several breaks for water and stretching will have to result, too, because heaving (go figure) fucks up your back and being unable to stretch without retching is Not Fun. Even my intercostals ache, and my abdominals haven’t had this much of a workout since my dancing days.

Also, tomorrow is release day for Afterwar. Which, I’m sure, is a component of the leftover nausea. Release days are always high-stress, and this particular book had so. much. go. wrong. with the publishing process. I’m amazed the printers didn’t blow up and sink into a swamp, I’m still waiting for Yet Another Piece of Bad News and unsettled when none arrives.

On the bright side, the new dishwasher works wonders, and I was able to make rice noodles last night. I was stirring said noodles in a pot when I realized I wasn’t dreading cleanup and I was actually, finally, cooking again. So much of my identity is bound up in motherhood and feeding the kids, I feel somewhat at sea when I’m not performing that function daily.

And this morning a squirrel fell out of a fir tree, through an apple tree, and just narrowly escaped a wandering Siamese cat. The laurel bush the squirrel eventually took shelter in is suspiciously quiet, though the Siamese ran away with a bottle-brush tail. I suspect things are about to get very interesting in the New Kingdom of Backyard…

All Mod Cons Operational Again

On Tuesday, the Grand Dishwasher Saga came to a close.1 And thank goodness, too, because Wednesday night I came down with the stomach flu the Princess caught from her best friend, who brought it back from college in Seattle.

Consequently, a lot of bowls needed to be washed, and now that I’m on the mend (shaky, back and head aching from dehydration, but not spewing) all the cups we’ve attempted to drink from need washing as well. And linens. Gastroenteritis is a messy business, and with the sudden violent onset of this particular virus, there were a lot of linens needing some soap and water.

Thank God the washing machine wasn’t out of commission. Things could have gotten dire.

Anyway, our complement of mod cons is now complete again. I’ve lost most of this working week, though, and I was already behind. Guess we all know what I’m doing this weekend.

That’s right. Loading the (functioning!) dishwasher. And writing.

Over and out.

Stacked-Counter Disaster

Well. Last week ended without me having developed pyrokinesis and burning everything in sight, so that’s good, right? Between doctor’s appointments1 and loved ones having difficulties and the ongoing dishwasher saga (still not installed, don’t ask, maybe Tuesday will change all that) and being behind on this monster of an epic fantasy (that they’re going to title something WRONG IMO but oh well, they know what they’re doing) and the Princess needing an emergency trip or two and the Little Prince needing some tough love when it comes to his homework AND the dogs AND AND AND…

…you get the idea. Every once in a while a week comes along where the universe, not content to load one up with a single disaster, crams ever more into a short timeframe and lights a match, smirking.

Consequently, I took yesterday off except for Regular Sunday Chores, but I’m still twitching. Normally I have the luxury of feeding my introvert nature, spending great chunks of each day alone.2 I also–because clearly I don’t have enough to do–broke down, got a domain, and put together the bare bones of a fan wiki.3 That part was fun; the problem with every other wiki or bulletin board install I’ve done in the past is trying to run it off my main site instead of just getting a domain and putting it there, which cratered EVERYTHING. I did it in fifteen-minute chunks in between washing up, hoovering, brushing and bathing the canids, and assorted other household maintenance items.

Consequently, today I’m kind of…staring and twitching, again. I have a chapter of Atlanta Bound to revise and wordcount on said giant epic fantasy to catch up on, a long run to get in, and all I want to do is go back to bed. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for emotional energy is beginning to feel hideously familiar, even though I’ve telescoped in a lot of other commitments. The only cure is getting some things off my plate, and that won’t happen without work.

It would also be nice to have the kitchen put back together. Everything in the cabinets that the installers will need taken out in order to do their job easily has been living on the counters for…a while, now. I would never have thought such a thing would irk me–one of the accusations leveled at me since childhood is that I’m a messy person and mess obviously doesn’t bother me the way it should. I could find anything on my bookshelf or in my room in seconds flat and never lost my school papers, though, so I guess I wasn’t so much messy as it was a convenient thing to yell at me about. When the kids came along, a certain amount of mess didn’t bother me because Tiny Chaos Machines are gonna Tiny Chaos Machine, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I am…surprised, and a little baffled, that the kitchen being a stacked-counter disaster bothers me as much as it does. I mean, the house is crammed with books and dust and fun things, but I want to put the goddamn waffle iron back in its home.

Go figure.

This is turning out to be yet another year of things I didn’t question about myself because I was told them over and over by toxic caregivers proving to be not quite true. It’s unsettling, but also pleasant. Maybe that’s also costing emotional energy.

Meh. Time to get back to work. The morning run won’t accomplish itself–more’s the pity–and neither will the bloody books.

Over and out.

Morning, Serenading Peas

I hadn’t planned on blogging today, since I was due at a medical centre early for a friend’s PET scan. Unfortunately, the scheduler got it wrong, so it’s another half-hour, early morning drive later in the week.

I did get home in time to call the home warranty folks about the dishwasher again. The poor installers had nine jobs yesterday, mine was #9, but the first seven were builder/apartment complex jobs, which meant each. one. took. forever. The delivery/install window was 1-5pm, and they didn’t end up getting here until past nine. Then, as soon as one of them touched the dishwasher shutoff valve, well, there was a brand new leak in my kitchen.

Which often happens in older houses, I guess. The valves stay open, who on earth shuts them? Sot he rubber gasket dries out and cracks, and the instant it’s disturbed, well, water longs to be free, and will take any path it finds.

I have to confess, I closed my eyes and leaned against the fridge for a few moments, and I could sense the installers giving each other nervous looks. I had to count to seven and take a few deep breaths before saying, “Are you sure you won’t have a cup of tea or some hot cocoa?” They looked quite done in.

Poor fellows insisted on making sure the new dishwasher was settled safely in the garage, and told me several times to call them if the home warranty people got shirty.

Bless them, the poor boys. They really wanted to go home, but paused to make sure I was okay. They seemed genuinely disappointed that they couldn’t get the blasted thing sorted. I am still not quite able to laugh about the whole thing yet, though I’m sure I’ll get there in a few days.

On the bright side, I girt my loins for calling the home warranty people, only to find out they were a step or two ahead of me (many thanks to Samantha in the Georgia call centre) and already had a new repair/installer vendor ticket created. So…I just wait for the vendor to contact me to schedule a time for them to come by, fix the dripping valve (thankfully, the fellows made it so it was just dripping, not a steady stream) and finally, finally put the bloody dishwasher in. I haven’t even looked at the new one, really, beyond making sure it wasn’t dented. I suppose I should go and take a peek at it once I’ve had another jolt of coffee. My eyelids feel like they’re going to slam shut at any moment.

I’ll probably go out in the garden and check on the pea starts again, too. The snails didn’t seem to have found them when I looked yesterday afternoon. They could just be slow starters (ha) but I’m hopeful. The new tomatoes are all caged (lest they run rampant) and have taken to their growing work with a will. The dogs, exhausted from the excitement of last night and this morning (Mum was UP! and SHOWERED! and LEFT!) have both achieved liquid status, though Miss B will be up as soon as I move, determined not to let me stir a step without her if she can help it.

So…that was my morning. At least I’ll get some wordcount today, which I was pretty sure wasn’t going to be the case. Small mercies. But first, more coffee, and some time spent singing to the garden. I need a reset after the past couple days, and serenading the peas–not to mention the grapevines–will do just fine. I might even read them a little Caesar, if they still seem interested.

Over and out.

Life, Slightest Provocation

So today is that most blessed of days. That’s right, my friends, it’s NEW DISHWASHER DAY.

At least, if the installers don’t get caught in traffic or an accident, and if new dishwasher will fit in the space we’ve got–it should, of course, but “should” in appliance replacement is just another word for “ha, you thought you’d actually get this done without a fight?” I suspect we haven’t reached the end of the little gifts the Do-It-Yourself-er who owned the house before us left. I can hope, at least.

All of which means the kitchen needs attending, the rubbish and recycle bins moved and the choke point past the fridge measured–there’s another way into the kitchen, but I think the way past the fridge might work and it’s way shorter–and several cabinets to clean out and stack the contents of on the counters so the installers can get at everything they need. If I’m really ambitious I might even make them biscotti, because I am just. that. excited.

There’s a morning run to get in and the initial revise on another chapter of Atlanta Bound, both before noon. Working on a serial means working ahead, because life can and will happen at the slightest provocation, and one needs a cushion.

Life has been happening to a rather startling degree around here. I’m fine and the kids are great, but people we care about are having Extremely Rough Things happen. It’s gotten to where I wince every time my email notification goes off, since I’m sure it’s more bad news. There’s a special kind of hell called “not being able to help”, there are some things even my stubbornness can’t fix. If I could, I would fling myself on the problems and stab them until they stopped moving, but…they aren’t that sort of problems.

*sigh*

Intellectually I know that offering support and being a safe place for friends to dump their feelings–no matter what those feelings are–is valuable, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough. I mean, I was raised to feel like nothing I did was ever going to be good enough anyway, but…yeah.

I have my own support network in place so I can support the people who need it right now, and I’ve severely retracted a lot of socializing in order to have the emotional energy to support and to write. It’s all I can do. As far as I’m concerned, the entire shitty current month can go die in a fire. Just when I think we’ve hit the worst news yet, more happens along.

My regular sunny optimism (ha!) has taken somewhat of a beating. At least if the new dishwasher ends up installed (and working, let’s not forget working) a rather startling vista of free time will show up. We’ve been washing up by hand for months now, and while it’s just fine, I am looking forward to the convenience of loading a machine and pressing a button.

Mod cons, my friends. Mod cons.

And of course there’s wordcount in Maiden’s Blade to get in today. I revised the length requirement for that project in Scrivener and promptly choked when the daily goal skyrocketed. I know I’ll meet it, but it was still a vertiginous moment. Before publication, chop wood, carry water, write; after publication, chop wood, carry water, write.

Time to get out the door. I hope your April is going better than mine, dear Readers, and I hope every bit of news we all get today is good.

*wanders away, muttering about dishwasher specifications*

Bundle of Cheer

Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got the wind knocked out of me on Monday evening, and I suspect it won’t come back any time soon. I am beginning to hate April; it’s just one thing after another this month. Not to me–I’m doing well–but people I care about are having somewhat of a rough go, and all I can do is support. I long to take a katana to the problems, but that would require enemies one could simply dispatch with a blade.

Life is full of those, but also full of ones you can’t. Plus, swinging an edge often leads to paperwork, and nobody has time for that.

So instead it’s budgeting my energy and retracting somewhat into a social shell so I can reserve enough to be an effective support and get my writing done. It’s a good thing I deactivated Facebook; one could so easily sink into a morass there.

Today marks the beginning of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. There’s a lot planned for this final season, it’s a real stunner. Once the road trip is over, I’m really thinking the next serial will be Robin Hood in Space, so I’d best get that underway.

The trouble is, Hostage to Empire wants to chew up all my bandwidth. Book 1 now wants to be called The Maiden’s Blade, which should make the editor happier. It’s also hit 80K and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I have to write the kidnapping, the assassination attempts, and an emperor’s death. Hopefully I can get it in at least rough zero form by July; the timeline is compressed because it’s taking the place of the dead book. *sigh*

So. It’s time to get the first two chapters of Atlanta Bound prepped for subscribers, revise another two chapters of the same for next week’s offering, and get in daily wordcount on Maiden’s Blade. Also, some yoga needs to be done, because I am pushing myself hard while running and as a result, my entire body feels like one big bruise. Oh, and I should probably leave the house to fetch milk, right?

I’ve had eight shots of espresso this morning, the therapy lamp is on, and all I want to do is go back to bed. My eyelids need toothpicks to prop them open. If I’m a very good girl and get all the things on my list accomplished today, maybe I’ll plant some beans in the garden boxes.

It’s not much, but at least it’s one small unstressful something I know how to do.

Hug the people you care about today for me, please. Tell someone you’re there for them, and do something nice for yourself, too. We’re all stuck on this rock hurtling through space, and caring for each other is the only way we’re gonna get through it. I mean, life is inevitably fatal, but at least we can do some good before going to sleep.

Yeah, I’m just a bundle of cheer and optimism today. Over and out.