Week, Story, Pursuit

I have decided I will not leap like a feral wolverine upon the fresh new week. Instead, I will pursue it like a stoat, steady and fixated, until the arbitrary sevenday drops dead of exhaustion and I may feast.

…I may have been watching a lot of Casual Geographic lately, can you tell? In any case, I’m more comfortable as a pursuit predator anyway. I may not be awfully fast (save for when I’m teleporting to save a toddler or a dumbass canine from Bad Decisions) but I am patient, and there’s plenty of endurance lingering in this ol’ wreck.

Anyway, welcome to Monday, everyone. We were at dinner last night and my daughter obliquely referenced Edmund Pevensie’s taunting of the Telmarines. I commented that Edmund being known as “the Just” was as close as CS Lewis could get to admitting he admired the Jesuits, then I laughed like a loon and both kids looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

Which happens rather a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I always wanted to write a story where Aslan was the Big Bad, Jadis the White Witch and Edmund were the heroes, and the other three Pevensies were kind of bumbling impediments except for Susan, who is awesome no matter which way you slice it. And it is my firm headcanon that Susan never forgot Narnia, she just knew her homeworld needed her more. Because let’s face it, Aslan is a complete, humorless, psychopathic, unjust, incredible dick and I wouldn’t want him yanking me around more either.

Any Christian allegories have a difficult time covering up the sheer maliciousness of their sky god, especially in the Old Testament; really, the problem with allegory is that it lays bare a great deal of what one wants to hide as well as the truth one wishes to distill and reveal. I always suspected Lewis wrote ol’ Screwtape more to convince himself than anyone else. Tolkien seems to have viewed Lewis as Treebeard, taking so much of “the long view” as to be paralyzed with indecision; on the other hand, an Ent’s crisis of faith or confidence might not be visible to even an elf walking alongside through shadowed woods.

November was supposed to be the month I wrote the second book of A Particular Series, or at least 50k of it. Alas, it was not meant to be, but at least I think I’ve resurrected the damn thing. It took a lot of work, a lot of dry-heaving over my office wastebasket, forcing my recalcitrant body to the task. Of course my meatsuit is taking revenge at the moment. Apparently I will patiently coax any creature except my own stubborn self. Regardless, today is for stepping back into that world; this trilogy is having a difficult birth. Misunderstood by everyone but its mother, I suppose. I have to have some kind of faith it will all come out right, that it will reach the people who need it.

Sometimes I admire Lewis’s faith. Sometimes I pity his loneliness–always waiting for someone else to rescue one, instead of building a raft of whatever trash is to hand. The problem with the waiting is that the bones of those who waited in vain are silent; it’s only the “saved” we hear from, confirmation bias at its most absolute. I want the skeletons to stand up, to take their murderers and betrayers to account.

These are the things I think about on a Monday morning while my coffee cools. When I finally down the dregs, Boxnoggin will be waiting for me to make breakfast, beside himself with joy at the prospect of crusts and walkies. To him I am the changeless elf, a sorceress who can make light with a flick of her fingers, a goddess who provides kibble, warmth, direction. Makes me wonder if the gods see humans as we view dogs–they don’t make good choices, but they’re loving. Look how I dressed mine up! Oh, ouch, I can’t afford to take this one to the vet…why, oh why, are their lives so short?

I can’t decide if we make stories to escape the confines of the world, or because our world is so impossibly beautiful. Porque no los dos, right? In the end, what matters is the transmutation, the act of creating, the act of love.

So I lope after this week, reserving my strength, following tracks in sand as the wind rises, noting broken branches which speak of my prey’s direction and speed, discerning slight scuffs on bare rock. I hunt this arbitrary division of time, moving through other universes written into being by people long dead, creating my own out of the infinite multiverses lingering in my own bones and breath, the stories lined up around the block waiting for their chance to speak through me.

As I pursue, so am I pursued. That chain is infinite too.

But I’m done with coffee now and Boxnoggin is prancing down the hall. The hunt is afoot, and so I must be as well. See you around, my beloveds.

(But Aslan’s still a dick. I SAID WHAT I SAID.)

Necromancer’s Monday

I spent the weekend dragging a dead series out of its grave. Difficult work, involving a lot of squelching and nausea–but what the hell, I’m sometimes a necromancer, it’s all part of the game. At least I’ve done it before, most notably with Steelflower, so it’s not like it’s my first time.

The weather has turned with a vengeance. I can’t believe it was 80F in October, and now we’re edging down to heavy frost, nights lingering near freezing. The garden needs to be put to bed, but it’s a Monday. I’ve other things to occupy me today–like said shambling corpse of a series, resurrected but not entirely rejuvenated. Frankenstein ain’t got nothing on me, my friends.

I spent whatever time I wasn’t heaving over my office wastebasket doing chores, and getting around 2k of the Jolene story written. Three organic mentions of that song means the Universe has decided it’s time and I think I can do it in six scenes. At least that’s the kernel of the story, and I can add more on either side of the high beats if the structure ends up needing it. I don’t know why I’m being attacked by this short when I have a bloody shambling undead fantasy hulk to deal with and I really need to do a revise on the second Sons of Ymre, but if I’m not drowning in work I’m not really happy so…here we are.

I mean, nobody wants to see me with idle hands. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

The light has changed, too. While it was smoke-hazy and way too warm for October, any sunshine had an eerie apocalyptic cast. Not like the bad smokes the previous two years, just enough to make the little atavistic muscle right under one’s occipital ridge tighten. Now the sky has paled and any sunlight is a thinner gold, especially when it falls on frost-laden roofs and the steam rises. The trees are merrily changing their leaves; next will come shedding them entirely. The ones falling so far are dry and spicy instead of wet-sludgy since the rains have given us a moment or two to think about things. I’d prefer rain, of course, but this is acceptable. Especially since the chill generally means I can run without dodging weird men on the sidewalk.

The only downside is that other dog walkers will be out in the clear light, enjoying the lack of humidity. I like that just fine, but Boxnoggin loses his damn head. I often have to pick him up by his harness-handle, scolding him. “This is why nobody wants to play with you…you’re being a big bully…don’t you feel ridiculous now? If you wouldn’t scream you could probably say hello…no, screaming it is! Fine. Scream all you want, it won’t change the outcome.”

Poor fellow. Four-plus years of work have made him much calmer, but the instant he sees another dog (who isn’t Bailey, since she put up with exactly zero nonsense from him) he turns into a screaming toddler. Some part of it is probably resource-guarding, but I think he’s just one of those dogs whose circuits fuse at the slightest provocation. A squirrel, a cat, another dog, and his cranium is the equivalent of an action movie explosion. I have to walk away, grimly not looking while carrying sixty-plus pounds of writhing canine.

There are worse jobs. It’s hilarious, I will never be as excited over anything as this dog is for the hose, a fleeing cat, or another dog friend. Or walkies. Right now he’s got his nose pressed to my ankle and is huffing deeply, on the principle that this once got me off my office chair and moving brekkie-ward, so he’s going to try it every time now just in case.

Monday is full of frost-laden light and the sound of delighted canine snuffling. My marching orders have been given and my sock is a little damp, so I bid you a pleasant adieu, my beloveds.

Yes, All Souls

The holiday yesterday was just what I needed. My nerves were frayed down to bare wires, sparking dangerously–to be fair, this has happened with increasing frequency as the pandemic wears on. It’s still uncomfortable as all fuck, so taking a day is more of a necessity than a luxury.

It was flat-out wonderful. I did a surprise Halloween stream (reading my favorite all-weather Poe story to my darling viewers, it’ll be up on YouTube later today), ate a lot of candy, hung out with the kids…and, despite being barred from work, I moonlighted with a quasi-fanfic and wrote about a thousand words. Because my ideal reward for work is–you guessed it–MORE WORK.

But now it’s All Souls’, the blessed day of Clearance Candy (go forth and conquer, my friends) and the very first day of NaNoWriMo. This year I’m using the NaNo slot in my writing schedule for The Fall of Waterstone (which might be titled The Elder Jewel when it finally comes out), so fifty thousand words of epic fantasy in November is pretty much a given. The other slot this month is for Hell’s Acre. I am deeply annoyed at only being able to juggle two projects at once. If the goddamn fascists would quit and our public health “authorities” do something about the bloody pandemic, I could be back to juggling four projects at once. As it is, I’m swimming against the deep, awful current of stress from People Behaving Shittily.

Still, the morn is quiet and misty. We had a right proper deluge yesterday; I feel sorry for the poor candy-chasers. I’m sure a lot of them were disappointed. We’re used to rain in this part of the world, but still it’s kind of a misery when you’re a kid in a costume looking to score some sweet sweet sugar rush. Boxnoggin was also deeply nonplussed by the amount of water falling from the sky–his trips outside to relieve bladder pressure, usually long and full of celebratory sniffing in every corner, were instead quick and mournful. I’m sure this morning’s walkies will be altogether too damp for his liking, though the rain has temporarily halted and saturated soil is slowly draining.

There will be a sale for November; I’ll announce it in a bit. Right now I’m busy absorbing the last little bit of the morning’s caffeine jolt. My office window is closed but I can still hear a couple bluejays screaming–it’s probably Ed and Stede, though I thought they would have migrated or something by now. Maybe they’re bemoaning the fact that the Yankee Squirrel Flinger DEATHRIDE 5000 seems to have given up the ghost lately despite all the battery charging, and I really hesitate to get another with all the corporate price-gouging going on. Alas and alack.

I suppose I’d best start ambling towards toast. Despite the saturation outside, Boxnoggin is determined to get his walkies and has just pranced into my office, ready to nose me breakfast-ward. Goodness knows I can’t be trusted to keep to a schedule without his supervision, oh no.

Off I go then, my beloveds. I wish you happiness today–and many a good bargain on leftover spooky candy.

Fuss Minimum

The first coffee molecules have hit my epithelial cells, so I’m just waiting for the rest of me to get the sweet life-giving caffeine memo. Boxnoggin is a little perturbed that we’re up while it’s still dark outside, but he’ll adjust. Especially if there’s toast involved, which there will be as soon as my stomach settles and the morning mug is drained.

Yesterday was unsatisfying, but then again, what did I expect of a Monday? I did get some work done, but multiple rounds of updates for the desktop meant plenty of perfectly good working time was spent doing things that weren’t writing. Sure, some administrivia and cleaning got handled, but what I wanted was to be creating. Just settling in my office chair, stretching my fingers, and slipping into other worlds is my preferred way to spend a rainy day. The more I work now, the easier November will be.

At least it is raining, the air is nice and clean, and I got a bit of a run in. I think part of the problem is being unable to really hit the pavement; I miss the endorphins. In any case, I hit a horrid mood halfway through the afternoon, and even cinnamon rolls didn’t help. Fortunately, dinner put paid to most of my nasty temper, and I could spend a little time afterward fiddling with a new video opener. I meant to do a bit of narrating too, but the smoke rasp is still lingering in my throat.

Today I get to run again. Not for long, and not quickly, but it will have to be enough. And Boxnoggin will get a long ramble to wear himself out with. While I’m occupied with both I can build the next few scenes in both Hell’s Acre and Fall of Waterstone so when I settle at my desk both will flow with a minimum of fuss. If all goes well and I treat my throat with gallons of tea today, I might even get the narration done. Of course that last is a completely self-chosen task, but I’d still like to get it handled. I think you guys’ll like what I’m planning.

Boxnoggin is draped across his office bed, not-quite-snoring. Of course, we just rolled out of my bed a little while ago, and he grumble-groused all through the visit to his grand outdoor loo. I think he’s put out that his morning nap schedule has been altered somewhat, and also very annoyed at the damp. Each winter it’s the same thing; he believes that naturally I am in charge of the weather and for some incomprehensible reason have decided to personally inflict rain on his poor delicate paws. “THIS NEVER HAPPENED IN TEXAS,” he moans, despite the fact that we all know it does, indeed, rain in the Lone Star State. (Sometimes quite heavily, too.)

He’ll adjust, but it’ll take a week or two of constant bitching. I can’t throw stones, I react in much the same way to the advent of summer. Between the two of us, nobody’s happy. Enduring relationships have been built on far less, and though I am a cruel goddess whose methods and means are inscrutable to his poor canine brain, I’m also the benevolent matron who dabs bacon grease in his bowl, brushes him, and provides treats on a daily basis. So he puts up with the rain, figuring I must have my reasons, and I put up with his bratty self during walkies, figuring the joy of his presence more than makes up for it. (And, to be fair, plenty of people see him strapped to my waist and decide to give us a wide berth, which is all to the good.)

The world is quiet. The east is greying. The coffee is cooling, and today I have to get Miss Dove home, plan the Rook’s next assassination attempt, and get a Viking elementalist into the throne hall of a particularly stiff-necked elvish king. Oh, and narrate a half-hour or so of something marvelous. All told, it’s nice work if you can get it, and hopefully most of the day will go to plan. I’m sure there will be a few misbehaving moments, but at least it’s not a Monday anymore.

Small mercies, and all that.

Ink Cedars and Work

Rain! Cold, glorious, beautiful, life-giving, drenching, forest-fire quenching, tapping, slithering, chilly on the nape RAIN! Can you tell I’m pleased? I’m able to go running today too, after long walkies in the wet with Boxnoggin, and that will bring me back to zen in a hot hurry.

I won’t be able to run very far or fast, since injury and weather conditions mean I haven’t hit the pavement in a while. Slow and steady is the name of the game; I’m just fine with that. And the sidewalks will be deserted–there’ll be a distinct dearth of men wanting to stop me and chat about whatever-the-hell when it’s perfectly clear I’m exercising and have no ding-dang time to service strangers’ emotional needs.

Ahem. Anyway.

Last week’s Reading with Lili was about Frankenstein and the UTTERLY BONKERS life Mary Shelley led; it’s now up on YouTube. Also, I did a bonus stream on (of all things) Twilight, and that’s up too. There are a small proportion of people who dislike the commentary and backstory (though most of my Readers, and now dear Viewers, are enthusiastic about both), so I’m considering doing just-straight-readings and putting them up, too. We’ll see if I can squeeze time into the schedule. The erotica readings hit a snag (not gonna talk about that) but I got a lot of useful experience turning text readings into videos, so we’ll see.

But that can only happen in whatever spare time I’ve got lying about. It’s back to work for Yours Truly, and with a vengeance since the revision on Cold North is (finally) firmly in the past and I have other things to focus on now. Hell’s Acre needs a great deal of attention before I lunge for the finish of Book 2, the second Tolkien Viking Werewolves is my NaNoWriMo book, and the second Sons of Ymre needs a massive revise before I can turn it in to my long-suffering editor. So I’ve got my marching orders, and now I can settle to an autumn’s worth of work. (There’s a lot of sales going on this month, too.)

It’s lovely. The cedars are inky shadows outside my office window; it’s damp and cold and the sun cannot manage to struggle past the cloud cover. I am positively chuffed. Best of all, there’s no more smoke in the air. Despite some lingering rasp in the throat, I’m feeling ever so much better. Practically fidgeting with impatience to get out the door, as a matter of fact.

Boxnoggin, while he is thrilled at the prospect of walkies, is still in his usual two-week adjustment period. Every fall he acts like he’s outright forgotten what rain is, and expects me to fix whatever’s leaking on his dainty paws, not to mention the rest of him. Poor fellow. He’ll get used to it, and even begin to like some aspects of winter–like attempting to drink from muddy, parasite-laden puddles, for example.

This dog, you guys. I don’t even know.

I’m just so thrilled we finally have decent, reasonable weather. The smoke wasn’t as bad as last year (or the year before, my gods, 2020 was awful), but it was bad enough. Now it’s washed away, the evacuation orders have been rescinded, and I’m not coughing like Doc Holliday in a Dodge City saloon. Small mercies, yes–but I’ll take ’em.

Happy Monday, my beloveds. It’s time to get to work.

Dodgy Monday

Got up this morning to find Amazon is being dodgy about a particular book of mine (though not That Damn Werelion Book yet, it seems), so that’s irritating to deal with before coffee. However, the dog days are over, so the Demon’s Librarian sale is going ahead. Yes, there were technical difficulties last month–all mine, I am sad to report–but it’s all fixed now and the sale is proceeding apace.

It was a long weekend, mostly full of fatigue. I did get the proof pages for Duty (Ghost Squad #2) turned around and in, though I was struggling with a mild reaction to the latest bivalent vaccine. Nothing much–a slight fever, arm soreness, muscle aches, fatigue. Certainly it’s better than getting the plague proper, and my body tends to cook itself at the drop of a hat so a fever is nothing new. Still, it was unpleasant, and I didn’t get to recording the first story from The Pearl for my upcoming Victorian-erotica reading.

Ah well. I suppose I’ll get around to it later, in all my copious spare time.

This morning while I walk Boxnoggin I’ll have to plan out a certain scene in Hell’s Acre. I need to know how exactly Brother Jacob manages to convince the Widow Rudrill that he’s not a scoundrel intent upon compromising poor dear Miss Dove. (Who will be mightily amused by the whole thing, at least when she’s not worried about her “uncle.”) Then, this afternoon, it will be time for Cold North revisions. I’m excited to be finally working on this book again–everything in the last few months has conspired to keep me away from this series, but now I can finally devote most of my time to it. Which is good, because right after Boon 1 is revised I need to get Book 2 written, which will probably happen during NaNoWriMo.

So, Duty should be out in October–that was the hurry to get the proof pages turned around–and after that I’ll have a bit of a rest, working on new stuff while the release schedule calms down. There have been a lot of video meetings in the past few weeks while everything gets sorted, and I’d really like to just retreat into my cave and work for a while.

Oh, and I need to get another fraction of Varney the Vampyre reread, so I’m ready for the Reading with Lili session on Wednesday. We’ll be talking about why Varney is important in the Western vampire canon, how it set the tone for much of what came afterward, and just how gloriously purple the prose is.

I love throbbing purple prose. But then, you knew that about me.

Before all that, Boxnoggin needs his walk while I ponder the problems of Brother Jacob, and then my weary corpse needs a somewhat gentle run to shake the last of the vaccine reaction out. And I hope Amazon isn’t going to keep being silly, though I’m sure my vocal criticism of their business practices means they are simply aching for a chance to do so. Ah well.

It’s a Monday, and my arm still hurts a bit. Which will add all sorts of fun to the daily shamble, I’m sure. I hope your beginning-of-the-week is peaceful, my friends–or that together, we can wallop it into being so.

Once more into the weekly breach…

Zero to Rings

Well, I finished the zero of Sons of Ymre #2 late Friday night, so the weekend was a bunch of piecework I’d put off until that was done. The zero is awful, full of holes and bracketed notes, but at least it’s not awful and unfinished. Future Me is going to hate me for leaving the amount of plot gaps, notes, and the like, but it couldn’t be helped.

Which means I can turn all my attention to the copyedits for Ghost Squad #2 now. Once that’s done it’ll be juggling new text on Hell’s Acre and revisions on Cold North, and once the latter is done I can move to the second in the Tolkien Viking werewolves trilogy. So all my spooky season work is cut out for me. By the time Samhain hits I should be caught up.

Should be. Gods willing, the creek don’t rise, and the news cycle stops chewing at my ankles.

Oh, and in a week, That Damn Werelion Book releases in e-format. I did have serious thoughts about not releasing it in ebook at all, due to massive ongoing piracy; I was argued out of it. But before that, there’s a new Reading with Lili to prep for–buckle up, bitches, because we’re reading Carmilla this Wednesday. I haven’t decided whether we’ll read the whole thing to kick off pumpkin-spice-and-skull season, or just enough of it to give you the experience. Either way, it’ll be fun. I also have plans to read a bit of Dracula to you right afterward, since Stoker was partly in conversation with le Fanu, and then maybe some Varney to finish the trifecta of Victorian Vampire Vichyssoise. (Because it’s cold as the grave, get it? GET IT?)

Look, I amuse myself mightily; some days, I’m the only one who will. At least the weather is cooperating. It does get warm in the late afternoon, but the wind kicks up in the evening and it cools enough that sleep isn’t an impossibility.

Oh! And I watched not only the Wind season of Seven Souls in the Skull Castle, which was great, but also the first two episodes of The Rings of Power this past weekend. My inner nerd was deeply delighted–I’m all in for Galadriel’s “you do not know who you are fucking with” 20s. She was born in Valinor and by the time the First Age ended she was an adult, but still young for an Elf (even if she was tutored by Melian in Doriath) and I can 100% see the scion of two high kings whose mother-name was “Nerwen” deciding that Finrod’s killer (who was indeed Sauron, as Gorthaur the Cruel who held the island of Tol Sirion during Morgoth’s time) needed a dose of the same medicine. Now, Finrod was part of the quest for the Silmarils, so in canon he wasn’t “hunting” Sauron but instead keeping that dumbass Beren alive–but for the purposes of storytelling I’m down with this because it means the television series about the Second Age doesn’t have to drag in Feanor and his bullshit more than glancingly. (I noticed the difference in how Elrond and Celebrimbor treated Feanor’s hammer, which was a nice touch.)

Still would like to see a whole series about That Bitch, Feanor, and His Stupid LEDs. But problems of interpretation would make it super difficult. Anyway, Galadriel choosing to spend her “clubbing 20s” out clubbing orcs is 110% on brand for the Man-maiden. And I love her actress, whose eyelid twitch when confronted with stupid men is a work of art.

I do have one quibble, though. When an attendant comes to tell Elrond that Galadriel’s returned, she says there’s a meeting Gil-galad won’t have him in. “Elf-lords only.” We’re supposed to believe that Gil-galad–let alone any elf-lord who survived the Wars of Wrath–would get snitty with Earandil the Mariner’s son, a descendant of Beren and Luthien through Elwing his mother, and kin to a Maiar (because Luthien’s mother was Melian herself)? That shit simply does not fly. Even if Elrond was young for an Elf (practically a baby compared to even Galadriel) he was still of that lineage, and nobody but nobody would dare suggest he wasn’t of the Eldar, and ELDAR ROYALTY at that. That’s the only thing that jolted me out of the story, frankly.

I loved the Harfoots’ pop-up village–if ever something Tolkien was meant for a Disney ride, that would be it–and I am firmly Team Poppy.

Plus, I’m calling it–the comet was Olorin’s grand entrance, because Curumo would never be caught dead in rags, much less dependent on the kindness of smaller beings. Plus, the dude can’t be Annatar, who would have shown up nice and handsome and in any case was still swanning around Middle-Earth with Orcs, not coming straight from Valinor. (I love the falling-star motif, since basically Manwe and Varda forced Curumo to accept Olorin as part of the deal.) Now, technically and canonically the Istari arrived at the Grey Havens near the beginning of the Second Age, but this is certainly more dramatic and brings in a nice sense of bookmarking–the ancestors of hobbits were kind to an Istari upon arrival, and he remembers that pity (because he was, after all, a disciple of Nienna) for his entire time on Middle-Earth during the Second Age. (There are some suggestions he was there during the First and we definitely know he was there in the Third, but the hints of him during the Silmarillion are just that–mere hints.)

If that preceding paragraph made no sense to you, it’s okay. You don’t have to know any of that shit to appreciate folks playing in Tolkien’s legendarium as he so desperately wanted them to during his lifetime, I promise. It’s great television and fans of the Jackson screen treatments will enjoy the show. Plus the bigots are super mad that it doesn’t prioritize their bigoted little selves, so that’s a powerful inducement to watching it over and over again.

Also, if anything happens to Arondil, we riot. Dude’s a cinnamon roll with a bow, and we all know how I love that dynamic. I am Team Go Bronwyn Go, too. Anyone who says their romance is uncanonical just hasn’t read deeply enough in the Unfinished Tales and other materials, so we can discount their opinion.

Boxnoggin is trotting up and down the hall, and I suppose I’d best get a run in today, too. Back to the word mines; I am told this round of copyedits is light but there still might be a problem or two in there. If I manage to get these turned around in reasonable fashion this week I might not be so behind at all, and that is a glorious thought. Unfortunately I have to hop to and get breakfast down the hatch before anything else is possible. It feels like a Monday since I took Labor Day mostly off.

At least I feel somewhat rested. That’s a lovely change…