Storm, Season

I spent the weekend getting Jozzie & Sugar Belle–that infamous “nutless kangaroo shifter novella”–up for preorder. I didn’t mean to, mind you, I thought I’d bring it out in October, but it was so fun once I started the prep I decided a July release would be fine. I’m pretty sure nobody will buy it, but it made me laugh until my belly hurt, so I’m going to release it into the wild and see what happens.

There were also plenty of housecleaning chores, and the Little Prince is out of school for the summer. He attended a friend’s birthday party, and came home exhausted. I gather there were at least six teen males stuffed into one house, and the gaming was particularly fierce. (Those parents must be saints. Good heavens.)

So…it was a busy weekend, and finished off with thunderstorms Sunday evening. Miss B came slightly unhinged–she does not like thunder–and had to have half an anti-anxiety tab. Of course Odd Trundles was oblivious, until a strike less than three miles away gave forth a peal of thunder that came in my office window and startled him a bit. I closed my window, but he was already locked on BORK BORK BORK, so it took a little while to get him calmed down. By the time he did, the tab was working for B, and they both slept peacefully while the sky-gods battled.

I love storms; we don’t often get them here. Yesterday was strange because the thunder didn’t stop after one or two halfhearted rumbles. It was a proper, honest-to-goodness summer storm front, and the flashes and rumbling were almost constant whenever a cell moved overhead. It was glorious, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. This morning’s run, as a result, was somewhat steamy and sticky. I don’t mind the bees catching a ride in my hair, or the metallic-looking ones who want to drink my sweat–I mean, I’m producing it, they might as well get it while it’s there–but my eyes were watering, which happens on some runs, and the sweat bees decided that was MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Crawl on my arms, hang out in my hair, that’s fine, but they were going for the eyes and that was not fine by any stretch of the imagination.

In any case, I returned home sopping wet, and there were (miraculously) no casualties. B, glad to work off her fidgets, was a right little snot all the way through, busily trying to herd me in every direction except the one I wanted to go. She keeps thinking she has a vote in our route.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anyway, she’s sacked out in the hall, napping the nap of the fully justified, and in a little while I’ll roust both her and Trundles for his afternoon constitutional. He also gets an epsom-salt paw soak and I am kicking around the idea of bandaging said paw with a clean white sock and tons of antibiotic cream.

I’m sure that will go over well.

In any case, now that preorders are well underway, I can turn my attention back to HOOD and Harmony. And oh look–are those edits in my inbox? No rest for the weary or the wicked, and the birds are storm-flittering outside as if the weather’s going to give us another round. Plus, a couple squirrels seem to have taken up residence in the apple tree outside the dining room window.

I’m sure that will end well…

On to the Next

I began poking at HOOD–that’s the Robin Hood in Space story–yesterday. Frankly it was a relief to work on something that wasn’t Maiden’s Blade or Atlanta Bound, not because I dislike them, but because a new obsession is a good way to get rid of old ones and I need time off from both stories if I’m going to be able to revise them properly later.

At the same time, shifting my engines from one story to the next is always difficult. I have to slow (or speed) the flywheel inside my head to the proper speed for the new story, and make the teeth fit so it will pull with the minimum of grinding. It’s a matter, as always, of sitting and picking, picking, picking, until an internal click happens and the story starts to slide out through my fingertips in fits and starts. Yesterday, it was the name of Maid Marian’s spaceship that triggered the click. I hadn’t even realized it was a necessary component.

A funny thing about writing stories, at least for me, is that the way is hardly ever straight and broad. Everything happens in ellipses. So, I spent my run yesterday thinking about a particular scene that involves a sort of speeder race (Maid Marian is a woman of many talents, indeed) and the question of her spaceship’s name wasn’t even on the horizon. But it was a long chain of thought from the speeder-race scene, which may or may not make it into the book, to Marah Madán’s introductory scene, where she’s skinning her knuckles in her ship’s engine room and contemplating a frozen death in the wide reaches of space if she can’t get things working again, involving (among other things) how to get into and out of a gravity well, faster-than-light messaging, whether the book’s main setting should be a space station rather than a planetary system, how wartime rationing loosens after victory or defeat, and on and on until suddenly, staring into the distance, it occurred to me that the ship’s name was Ivanhoe and the click sounded.

Consequently, I fell into the book and almost missed dinner; thankfully, it was the Princess’s night to deal with that problem. The dogs were dancing with impatience, thinking that perhaps their servant-goddess had forgotten the Magic Foodtime. Which means I surfaced from writing Guy of Gisbourne’s intro to find Odd Trundles’s long, very disconcertingly warm tongue curling around my ankle. I’m not sure whether he was asking for my attention, or just obeying his usual habit of licking any patch of bare skin he finds, or realizing I’m made of meat. Consequently, I hurried to fill the bowls with kibble, and was a little miffed that I couldn’t jump right back into the book.

Today is going to be all about Hood. And Harmony‘s revisions. I have a couple comic-book scripts I should start outlining, too. And I’m sure edits for Rattlesnake Wind are going to drop anytime now. Recovery is over, it’s on to the next.

It pleases me. There are always more stories, they line up around the block, some standing patiently, others elbowing. What’s in short supply is the time and effort needed to sit and let them come through. That time and effort needs to be guarded like a dragon hoard. Protect your writing time, chickadees, your stories need it.

I’d better get some more coffee and get back to work.

Hood and Harmony

It’s only 9am as I start this post, but dear gods above, my daily teaspoon of patience is quickly being licked dry. It’s only uncaffeinated fumbling, and if I just wait a little bit for the stimulant to finish hitting my bloodstream I suppose I’ll be fine. Right now, though, I am in a somewhat savage mood. So are the canines; Miss B got shirty with Odd over breakfast (she keeps trying to get into his bowl, for God’s sake, even though they both get the same damn thing) and poor Odd, while extremely mellow, does not like that. So I had to stand between them and encourage both to eat from their own damn bowl, but then Odd got stubborn, as he is wont to do sometimes, and decided FINE, he would simply GO DOWN THE HALL and SLEEP IN THE OFFICE and when his tummy gets upset later, THAT WILL SHOW EVERYONE.

Really, the only person it will show is me. Yep, I’m going to be looking at dog vomit later, unless I coax him to eat a bit of kibble directly from my palm to take the edge off. It’s a good thing I love both of these damn creatures.

The weekend was nice, though. I planned to keep away from work the entire time, and largely succeeded. Unfortunately that makes my mood a whit savage, since the discomfort of not writing for two days is cresting under my skin, itching and uncomfortable. I get to go back to HOOD today, and also start Harmony revisions. The latter needs its last third expanded, and it will probably be a monster book after it’s done. Today I get to write Maid Marian’s fixing of a starship engine and her copilot arguing with an android about all sorts of things, but mostly the music the android plays to “up Terran efficiency by a few percentage points.” Heh. I’m getting to like the android; I can’t decide if he has a great sense of humor or none at all.

Then again, I’m the same woman who has long conversations with china squirrel figurines. We’ll anthropomorphize anything around here. (It reminds me of #8 here, which is honestly what I consider really close to what an android would actually think of humans.)

So that’s going to be fun. I need to spend some more time thinking about interplanetary travel and other aspects so the Robin Hood story is a valid response to the world’s constraints. And of course I’m going to name Hood’s home system “Sagittarius,” because it amuses me to no end. I could do a whole zodiac-themed series with different star systems…but that’s a thought for another time.

Today’s run will be all about putting those pieces in place while I sweat and curse. At least it’ll get rid of some of my fidgets, and probably B’s as well. Maybe she’ll come home and be less of an asshole to Odd Trundles. If not, I’m going to have to referee dinner too.

Running will also refill my teaspoon of patience, so I’m going to get to it. Happy Monday, dear Readers, and I hope your teaspoon is full.

Housecleaning, Steelflower, Monday

The Bear and the Beehive
© cc0images | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Late Friday evening, I compiled the first draft of The Maiden’s Blade into a Word doc, eyeballed it for formatting…and sent it off to editor and agent. Consequently, I spent the weekend twitching, desperate for something to slow down the flywheel inside my skull. The kids flat-out told me I wasn’t allowed to do anything resembling work; I gather I looked a wee bit haggard.

Well, you know, more haggard than usual.

So there was a lot of cleaning, especially in the kitchen. Since the dishwasher seems to be settling in all right (thank the gods) I decided it was time to do the regular spring cleaning. Even the kids got in on the act, mopping, shaking rugs, finding things to tidy all over the house. Come Sunday afternoon, we could all achieve our liquid forms in various parts of the house and settle to reading or video-gaming, which was quite pleasant. The tidiness won’t last, of course, daily living (not to mention dogs) takes care of that.

But it’s nice while it endures, and the fact that I didn’t have to do it all myself is golden.

The Little Prince is attempting a Narnia read-through. So far, he’s in the wilds of The Magician’s Nephew, and he can’t get over how creepy Uncle Andrew is. “All I want to know is where’s Polly, and this guy has cocoa powder in a box and won’t tell me!” he fumed at the dinner table last night, and I just kept telling him, wait until you get to the White Witch, my son.

We are also the (proud?) owners of a Cards Against Humanity set, and I’m contemplating inviting a few people over to play. I’m not social even at the best of times, and I hate competitive games1 but getting a bit tiddly2 and putting together several filthy MadLibs with people whose verbal agility and sense of humor are just as hyperactive as mine sounds like a great time.

And now that I’m not pushing to heave this bloody epic fantasy out of my head posthaste, I might even have some energy left over. (Maybe.)

The big project this week is finishing the top-to-bottom first revise of Atlanta Bound; then it’s on to revising a YA I wrote about getting enfolded by a cult. The latter needs its crisis to be drawn out a little more; it chose to come out in a tight first-person POV and by the end of it (120K words, I think?) I was tired, tired, tired. I’m pretty sure nobody will buy it, since my YAs feature kids who cuss and suffer things I did growing up, but eventually it might see the light of day elsewhere. The thing after that on my big to-do list is a revise of Steelflower in Snow, which is tentatively planned for an October release. There is one more Steelflower book after that, if the current ones do well. I don’t think I’ll write her eventual return to her homeland, I think maybe I’ll just let her adventures in the Highlands reach their natural conclusion and bid farewell to the series. Mostly because I’m tired of people yelling at me over them.

Odd Trundles is Extremely Put Out this morning, since he refused to leave the Fancy Office Dog Bed and as a result got splattered with saline. (Don’t ask. Just…don’t ask.) To add to his discomfiture, the Mad Tortie has decided she wants to play, but only wants to play according to her rules, which shift so quickly Odd can’t keep up. He keeps getting smacked on the nose–with no claws, the Mad Tortie is velvet-pawing him–and looking at me with this long-suffering but I’m doing what she wants, Mum, make her staaaaaaaaaaahp look.

In short, it’s Monday all over, for the bulldog as well as yours truly. When I head out for a run he’ll moan, groan, eventually settle for his morning nap, and be snoring gustily by the time I return.

Would that we were all so lucky.

Trim and Holes

Flying hair
© Cherrymerry | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got out the door for a run before the heat spiked. Apparently, after a few days of reasonable temperatures, we’re going to be roughly the surface of the sun for a while.

I hate hot weather. Snow, cold, rain I can handle, but I just…I hate sweating, unless I’m running or dancing. You can always put another layer on, but you can’t take off your skin and cool down that way.1 Not that I’d want to, with all the pet hair around. Having that stick to one’s raw muscles would be suboptimal.

Anyway, B and I got out for a run, and my knees didn’t hurt at the end, which is a sure sign that I needed new trainers. The new socks are pretty spiffy too; the old ones have so many holes they’re not much use against blistering anymore. Poor things, I tend to wear them until they’re more hole than sock. Considering a sock is just a hole you put your foot in, maybe they don’t mind.

Once home, I trimmed my hair so I don’t have to do it again for six months, and while wielding the shears, I suddenly knew how the last assassination attempt in The Maiden’s Blade happens. Or at least, most of it. After sweating over it all through my run and coming up blank, it was like a gift. Pikes are the traditional defense against horsemen, after all. Once I have that scene, it’s a straight shot to the end of the scaffolding, and then I’ll have a (very rough, full of holes) zero draft. I’d like more time to polish it into a reasonable first, but since the book I was supposed to write died on the vine, this one has moved into its space and created a time crunch.

At least the corpse will be whole once I get even a scaffold-zero down. It’s comforting; if I have little faith in my ability to finish at this point in every book, I know I have a great deal of ability when it comes to revision.

It’s just…that first step is a lulu.

Time to get the pikemen into position, and a main character messily murdered. I hope your Tuesday is as…uh, I was about to type “pleasant,” but that’s not the right word, is it? Nor is “eventful.”

I suppose I should simply stop while I’m ahead. Over and out.

Changing Paths

Roaring lioness
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Attempting new things, because the old way isn’t working. Sometimes old ways work for a while but peter out, or everything around the path changes and you have to change the path to suit.

So, the big change is moving my run to before morning blogging. Getting out the door is difficult even on good days. I mean, I roll out of bed and into my running clothes, but peeling myself out of the house is another animal altogether. Attacking the run while relatively fresh is a good idea, and now I can use blogging as a chance to prime the pump and get words flowing from my fingers.

The weekend was…nice. I got out of the house for a hot date with a girlfriend; we went to see Deadpool 2. Matinee tickets, so I would have left as soon as the fridging occurred, but I had to stay. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed Domino (wish the movie had been about her instead) and Cable (Josh Brolin is distressingly sexy, even after all these years1) and the Rob Liefeld jokes (dear God, and Shatterstar in the helicopter blades) were well worth the price of admission. Still…can we just not have fridging and manpain as narrative fuel in superhero movies? It’s old, it’s tired, I’m done with it.

I also braved the depths of a beauty store and emerged victorious, carrying a few shades of eyeliner that aren’t black2 and–are you ready? LIPSTICK. I know, I love Russian Red lipstick, but a dark purple-red actually suits me better. When I came home bearing my prizes (and several things for the children, since the beauty store is near an import shop full of neat things) I was told I looked like a pissed-off Wednesday Addams. An awesome compliment, to be sure, especially since Wednesday is merely unamused and rarely deigns to get actually angry.

The comparisons just write themselves.

Anyway, today I crowbar’d my way out of the house, finished my run, and rolled into jeans, a hoodie, lipstick, and my favorite Sarto heels. They’re not my Capezios; I can run and fight in the latter, but I’d have to kick the Sartos off to run. Which makes them suboptimal, but I’m not leaving the house and I think I can relax enough to wear non-running shoes in my office. And yes, those are my requirements for any piece of clothing. Can I run in it, and can I fight in it? All other considerations are secondary.

It feels good to be braced for the day like this. Next comes getting back into The Maiden’s Blade and putting more pieces together. I’ve decided to do dialogue-heavy scenes first, and layer in the color and scenery on the next pass. I was trying to do both at once and banging my head on the slooooooooowness. I need scaffolding before I can make the fabric of this book hang correctly. A certain king needs to give the go-ahead for his daughter to be assassinated and there’s a day at the races with two princes to write as well. If I can get both of those scaffolded, I’ll count today a win.

See you around the bend, darlings.

*throws kisses, vanishes in a puff of smoke*

Panic, But No Disco

The Bear and the Beehive
© cc0images | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Yesterday was cool, cloudy, and utterly exhausting. Not only is The Maiden’s Blade fighting me like a rabid weasel, but I’m also getting paralyzed by the fact that its deadline is approaching and I seriously doubt I’ll finish even a zero on time. It’s my own fault, since the previous book I was supposed to do for this publisher died on the vine and we had to shift to this one. So of course, when I said, “you can have ANY OF THESE OTHER BOOKS” they picked the longest, most complex one.

I don’t blame them, I kind of suspected it, and it’s nice to be working at full capacity again trying something new and even more complex than usual. But the scrabbling performance anxiety is unpleasant. A certain feature of deadlines is the almost-paralysis as one draws near, and I tend to push myself hard at the end of a zero draft anyway. It’s a double whammy.

Also, yesterday I went to a doctor’s appointment with a friend of mine. Being a calm, steadying patient advocate is something I’m apparently good at, and while I’m focusing on that I’m not thinking about other things. Unfortunately, the cumulative stress and worry smacked me with a panic attack once the appointment was over and I was heading for the grocer’s. I suppose I’ve been somewhat spoiled, since the meds brought me down from half a dozen-plus attacks daily to long stretches of weeks and months without. Apparently the habit of just focusing to get through them and not let anyone see vulnerability is still strong, since nobody even glanced twice at me all through the store. Finding out that I can still perform that feat isn’t comforting at all; I would gladly get rid of that talent born of practice if it meant I wouldn’t have panic attacks for the rest of my life.

Because they’re flat-out terrifying. Palms sweating, tunnel vision, rushing in the ears, heart pounding like a hummingbird’s wings about to explode, taste of copper, a tremor in the arms and legs one has to conceal so as not to appear weak or distracted, intensifying in random waves so one can’t brace for the next one…yeah.

Anyway, I got home without incident, the kids unloaded the groceries, and the Princess took over dinner. Just frozen pizzas, really, but it was one thing I didn’t have to do, so that was welcome. Dinner, a lot of deep breathing and some emergency meds later, I staggered to bed and collapsed.

At least the meds mean I can sleep, and not linger in a twitching twilight insomnia.

Today is for a run to work off whatever stress chemicals are still swilling around in my bloodstream, and some serious work on Maiden’s Blade. I can collapse the last two assassination attempts and torment the lady in waiting with a failure, and once I bring that arc to a close I can go back and see where the fabric of the book is hanging too slack or too taut and tweak the other arcs, adding some and reining in others, so it presents a unified fabric. Or at least, close to one, and the editor will be able to see flaws I can’t.

That’s the plan, at least. I should also leave the office window open, since Odd Trundles is upset that I won’t let him lick light sockets and has settled with his hindquarters pointed directly at me, and I know what that means. I don’t have a gas mask, so an open window it is. The poor fellow swallows so much air and it has to escape somehow, especially when he’s in a bad mood.

Hopefully your Thursday will be less…fragrant, my friends.

Over and out.