RELEASE DAY: HOOD, Season Three

I have been an extraordinarily busy bee lately! HOOD‘s third and final season came to a close in May, but pandemic woes and hassles put off its wider debut. I meant to have this out in early August at the latest, but the world had other plans.


HOOD: Season Three

Robb Locke’s trapped in a high-security Panoptikon and Sharud is under embargo, the military governeur Notheim’s fist is tightening around the throat of the entire system for his master Jun Planetagen, and all hope is lost. Somewhere at the edge of charted space, the true ruler of Anglene is drifting in a wrecked flagship.

If Marah Madán can reach Gran Parl Riccar before the oxygen runs out, she can not only save Robb but also the rest of Anglene. It’s going to take all her wit, all her resources, and a collection of spies, codejackers, rebels, and outright criminals, not to mention betraying her other childhood friend–Ged Gizabón, a dangerous adversary with secrets of his own.

Anglene is boiling, ready for yet another bloody civil war–and when it ends, Jun will be not only the Parl but the unquestioned dictator of the entire galaxy. Unless Marah and her ragtag alliance can stop him.

No hero ever stands alone…

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Amazon, and direct; print edition available here.


I loved writing my little Robin Hood…in SPACE! I especially loved the feedback from serial readers as we got to things I’d been planning and leaving Easter eggs for all through Seasons One and Two. Writing and finishing a final season under pandemic conditions was…not ideal, let’s say. But every time I thought “maybe I should just stop this, refund everyone’s subscription, and walk into the sea” someone wrote me saying that the last chapter had gotten them through something horrid, or that they were eager to know what happened next, or thanking me because they could look forward to weekly chapters of Robb and the gang’s death-defying stunts.

Like clockwork. That sort of thing makes a writer endure.

I wrote a little bit before about the literary influences of the serial, and there’s an Apple Music playlist. (I had to leave Spotify, my friends. Long story.) But if I absolutely have to be one hundred percent truthful, a lot of the serial’s genesis lay in a particular BBC series, and a particularly fine-nosed actor’s portrayal of Guy of Gisbourne.

Plus there were all the neckbeards writing me about how my faster-than-light communications (fittles, in the serial, for FTL), not to mention travel (starsteal), generation ships, and other stuff didn’t obey their particular neckbeard ideas about how sci-fi should be written. I was getting my ovaries all up in their space opera, and they didn’t like it–to complete the job of pissing them off, there’s a whole chapter stuffed full of Star Trek references, because if you’re going to come for me about sci-fi, assholes, you’d better come correct, and even your holy Asimov and Heinlein, not to mention Roddenberry, did a great deal of hand-waving. I shall not apologize for my own McGuffins.

The series is completely finished now; all three seasons are out in the wild, and there are plans for an omnibus edition. But for now, I’m going to take a breath and marvel at the fact that this particular season, written during lockdown and brought out under acid-test conditions, is finally having its book birthday.

A huge and hearty thank you is due to my beloved subscribers, without which this trilogy (not to mention Roadtrip Z) would not be. Said subscribers are currently funding Hell’s Acre, which I’m having a lot of fun with. The direct support, allowing me to tell longer, more complex stories which might not find a home in traditional publishing, is positively amazing. So, thank you, my friends, and I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve got planned next.

And as usual on a release day, here’s a link to my Discord server, where fans can discuss at leisure. (Said link will only be live for a medium-ish while, to dissuade bad actors.)

It’s been a long, strange ride. I’m not even feeling release-day exhilaration, just the regular nerves and a faint sort of harassed wonder that it’s whole and complete, especially under these conditions. I suppose I should go put my head in a bucket and do some deep breathing.

See you around, my friends.

Waiting for the Deluge

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The prospect of rain has me positively giddy.

At first they said “Wednesday” but now the fronts appear to be arriving Friday, and I’m sure that will change too as the day gets closer. But it’s September, the rain is on its way, and soon I’ll be able to run while water falls from the sky. Puddles and grey skies and relief from incessant glare and heat–oh, I’m ready. I’m so ready.

My favorite time is almost upon us. There is a Spirit Halloween pop-up very close by; it’s the one time a year I can get decorations matching my everyday aesthetic, and at a good price too. The only thing I miss is giving out candy, but between the dogs and the plague, well, that’s going to have to wait. Some years I would put a large bowl of candy and a “take one” sign out, and while the younger kids could absolutely be trusted several parents and teenagers apparently cannot.1

The “ruin it for everyone” crowd starts small, and close to home.

I’m very sure my irritation will also smooth out as soon as the first drops are well and truly fallen. I’m looking forward to the spike in productivity rain always brings me, too. I could use it; I’ve spent the last few weeks doing formatting, forcing a certain print distro to do their bloody job or communicate with something approaching professionalism2, proofing, CEs, spot-reading–all the stuff around writing that isn’t writing.

I have finally gotten through all that (except for the proof pass which will land next week, I think, and finishing up that book will be such a relief) and it’s time for me to settle into more actual writing instead of just stealing a few minutes here and there. Of course so much in life conspires to keep me from the keyboard, and I resent a great deal of it. Just leave me alone to write, I want to howl. Leave me alone with my thoughts and the thing I was meant to do.

I don’t often close my office door–for one thing, even though the kids are grown the old habit of being on call 24/7 for them does not go away–but I’m considering it. Not to shut out anyone in the house, though the dogs will probably play some version of Rum Tum Tugger3.

No, instead it will be a signal to shut the rest of the world out, including online. My empathy has been pummeled like a speed bag, and I need time to heal. Or something, I’ll just be glad when the drubbing stops. I need a breath, even just half a breath.

Maybe my furious productivity all year to keep from sinking was a bad strategy. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe I’m just tired and longing for rain. I won’t know until the first drops fall and I feel that huge, numinous relief.

Other people are hopeful in spring. I’m hopeful when the PNW turns grey and chilly, when sodden leaves clog gutters and storm drains, when the world smells like cold wet fir and mushrooms in moldering forest litter. Maybe this winter I’ll feel like baking again; I did practically no bread last year–why bake when there was no hope, or so little hope I had to reserve it for tiny spoonfuls?

…I didn’t mean to write most of this, but I think I’ll let it stand. There must be other people anticipating the advent of autumn with quiet, longing relief. Besides, there are the dogs to walk; Boxnoggin will not like the return of wet days but very much likes being toweled off when we return from soggy rambles, and also loves the office heater when I am forced to drag it out every fall.

I didn’t even have the spoons to put it away in spring. There are many little things I’ve looked at all year and just thought, “I have no energy for that, it’ll keep.”

Which turned out to be right, but every time I look at some of those small things I feel a definite draining sensation. Maybe this weekend I’ll forego the usual chores and just have a day of doing things I’ve put off. But that’s days and days from now, and I’ve writing to do.

Always, there’s writing to do. I can’t wait to get to it, so I bid you a very civil adieu, beloveds. I hope you have something pleasant to anticipate today, if not all week.

Days Off and Electronic Sobbing

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I stayed up relatively late last night finishing the bulk of the copyedits on The Bloody Throne (book 3 of Hostage to Empire, which is wending its way towards publication slowly but surely). I think it’s pretty much done except for one last brief pass to tuck in a few stray threads. It was written last year during lockdown (like a couple other things) and my body remembers the stress and strain. I was wondering why I felt so nauseous and unsettled reading some of the passages before I remembered when, precisely, it had been created.

The body knows, my friends. It always knows.

Fortunately this morning is cloudy and very cool. It’s the first time in weeks I don’t feel like I’m gasping for breath, and I’m not sweating while standing absolutely still. It’s GLORIOUS and I want more. The weather app says the heat will return tomorrow, but after that it might taper off a bit. A high of 75F is ever so much nicer than a high of 85F. I know people who live in warmer places will scoff at the PNW’s delicate mushrooms, but honestly, I live here for a number of reasons, not least the temperate clime.

We’re about a week from the ebook version of Moon’s Knight being officially out too; the print version should have been released today but isn’t propagating through channels just yet. Ah well, that’s the cost of testing new distribution methods. And honestly…I don’t think the book will do much. Of course, this is a constant refrain; part of pre-release nerves is the deep unshakable belief that one’s book will sink like a stone, with nary a ripple.

As soon as I finish the Bloody Throne copyedits for realsies and schedule their turn-in, I think I might attempt to take a day off. The kids are making noises about tying me to the couch again–jokes, I’m sure, but with a glint in their eyes I recognize from the mirror.

I get super nervous on “days off”, though. A day without writing causes an itch to begin under my skin, and the discomfort mounts until I literally, physically have to write in some fashion. Of course I usually solve this problem by working with something I deem unpublishable on “days off”, but a significant number of those projects have actually sold, so…I’m not sure what to do. I’m happiest while working, which is fortunate because if I ever stopped the entire casa might sink into a mire, House of Usher-style.

Past Me also put the entire Nibelungen cycle on the playlist at some point, so that’s thirteen hours of Wagner playing in the background. I don’t know whether this was a prescient choice or a penance. I know I can halt the queue and change it at any moment, but I’m curious how this will play out. I may have to alter it slightly and go on one last Pink Floyd binge before summer ends and I can’t listen to them again until the next summer solstice. The poor music algorithm doesn’t know what to suggest to me next, throwing up its digital hands and reduced to electronic sobbing.

One thing I’m going to try not to do today is look at the news. I feel incredibly guilty, since it’s long been an article of my faith that part of a writer’s job is never to look away from the hard bits of living. We’ll see if I succeed. The torment of falling down on my duty by not looking may well outweigh the damage of gazing at the fire.

In any case, the copyedits are almost done and dusted, and once they’re finished the only thing left on that trilogy will be proofs for the final book. It’s not a bad story, I think, but unfortunately a constellation of outside forces conspired to make it extremely stressful. Soon, good or bad, it will be over, and that will be a relief. On to fresh fields and pastures new, so to speak.

I hope you get a chance to breathe today, beloveds. It’s been a while since I could take a deep lungful, and it feels sinfully good. Be kind to yourselves, and excellent to each other.

Over and out.

The Jam Loosens

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I woke from a dream of cleaning a house I’ve never lived in, with music playing in my head. The former doesn’t happen that often, but the latter is pretty much a constant. I rolled over, got Boxnoggin’s wet nose stuck in my face (he was attempting to get me to wake up so we could go do fun things, Mum, come on!) and heard the plucky opening riff to the Muppets’ Happiness Hotel.

Pretty sure that means a good day, even if an unrelentingly weird one.

The weirdness has been off the charts lately. The only thing I can think to do is begin my fall nesting–a few of my friends already have, and with the current plague news, well, I’m going to need my tiny safe nook to be as cosy as possible.

Especially if we need to share space with friends or family suffering fallout.

In any case, I’ve a list of Autumn Preparation Things. Some of them are small and will fit around the bigger list of Work Things What Landed In The Past Few Days. It’s feast or famine in publishing, dry spell or monsoon. CEs (the third and final Hostage to Empire book is top of the list) and proofs (HOOD fans, the omnibus proof just landed, so very soon Season Three will be out and the omnibus will be available for preorder) and cover drafts (Moon’s Knight is that much closer to publication; once I get the final cover the trigger can be gently squeezed), not to mention revisions on the diptych of The Black God’s Heart.

Plus there’s Hell’s Acre to get daily wordcount in on, and the sequel to Damage to build. (And Guilder to frame for it. I’m positively swamped.)

In between all that is cleaning and arranging for fall–the most wonderful time of the year, frankly. I’m ready for it to cool off; the recent heatwave is no fun and doesn’t really break overnight. We have some air conditioning, so we’re a little better placed than most, but it’s still unrelentingly bad. And gods know we need some proper rain.

I’ve recovered some little bit of my harmony. The tetchiness and ill feeling have subsumed under the sheer amount of work; maybe I just need to be buried under Stuff To Do before my mood improves. Having safe spaces to vent some of my feelings at current events helps as well. Holding that sort of thing in, no matter how useful a skill, eventually curdles and turns one rancid.

I don’t like being angry. Sure, I’m often irritated, but outright anger isn’t usual for me. I can count the number of times I’ve been actually, for-real angry in my life on one hand and have fingers (plural) left over. Current affairs, however, are managing the feat splendidly, and I hate it.

Anyway. There will be a glut of news in the near future, my beloveds–preorder information for Moon’s Knight once that gets all sorted, Season Three of HOOD and the omnibus scheduled, maybe something good on the Tolkien Viking Werewolves front, so on and so forth. But today is all about copyedits with some Zoe Keating in the background to drown out the noise in my head, not to mention the dogs needing their morning walk. I won’t be able to run until the weather breaks; heat sensitivity is an awful thing.

I am cherishing the return of my usual equanimity, even if it means the Muppets will be playing inside my skull when I wake. All in all, it could be worse. Oh, and thank you all for telling me how you’re getting through this; your comments helped me see good things.

Onward and upward, excelsior and all that. The dogs have been very patient, but they need walkies before it gets too hot to breathe. Time to bolt the remains of my coffee and embark.

See you around.

Balance and Baths

The sunrise was a blood-drenched smear again today, and though the daystar has mounted a bit higher in the sky it’s still a hazy orange-ish coin. I’m just glad the burning isn’t down here hugging the valleys; I’ve breathed enough of wildfire smoke to last me a lifetime.

I know next summer (or even later this one) I’ll be forced to breathe more, but right now the lower air is clear, and I’m grateful for it.

I am, however, gritting my teeth and didn’t know why. I finally realized someone’s running a leaf blower (at 8am, my gods) and since I opened all the windows to take advantage of some relative coolness the sound has a clear shot across my nerves.

I’m not complaining–it’s a weekday, after all, and work waits for no-one. But still.

I could also be slightly tetchy because I finished the first-draft revise of Cold North yesterday. Hopefully the story will stop burning a hole in me for a little while, because other things need doing–a follow-up to Damage, working ahead on Hell’s Acre, and copyedits for the third and final Hostage to Empire are landing soon, precious, soon. Once I finish those CEs the last wicket to go through will be proofs, and then I can consider that series put to bed.

I’ve…learned a lot, writing it. Some of the lessons have even been pleasant.

I got some very good news yesterday; nothing is absolutely certain yet and when it is I’ll let you know. But all signs point to something exciting indeed, and I’m cautiously hopeful. I’ve grown to dislike hope over the last few years, since it only seems an invitation to being kicked in the teeth, but it’s like a cockroach–I can’t stop it from welling up and skittering around my inner halls.

Boxnoggin and B had a bath yesterday, and much amusement resulted. Boxnoggin, of course, has forgotten the entire ordeal; he is slick-coated and dries easily, not to mention his skin stages a rebellion if he’s washed too often. Brushing is fine, we just have to be careful with bathing.

B, on the other hand, is getting elderly. Her coat doesn’t shake things off like it used to, so she gets the tub a little more frequently. And she hates it with a passion, attempting escape as often as she thinks she can get away with. I suppose it doesn’t help that she needs three rinses for every bit of shampoo, poor thing. She is still relatively upset about the whole deal, and insulted at the fragrance. In her mind, she worked hard for an honest stink and then the monkeys went and washed all that effort down the drain. Poor thing.

They like the treats afterward, though. It’s also pleasant to wash my sheets and coverlet and not have them immediately full of dog-schmutz. (Schmutz, of course, being a highly technical term.)

I should probably try to take today off since I finished the revision, but Hell’s Acre needs attention and I want to start working on the Damage sequel too. Klemp needs his time in the sun. He’s a patient fellow, much given to cracking jokes, but he’s waited long enough.

All in all a tenuous balance has returned to my internals, and I’m grateful. I don’t like feeling irritable or ill-tempered. I prefer my harmony, and seek to retain it. Some things, though, damage even my calm, and there’s been a surfeit of them lately.

In any case, there’s breakfast to attempt, the dogs to walk, a long-ish run to accomplish, and various other bits and bobs to arrange for the afternoon’s work. My innards might rise in revolt and force me to take a break, but until they do it’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

Come on, Thursday. You and me. Let’s tango.

Blood, Sunrise, Constant

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There’s a high thin haze today, hopefully blunting some of the heat; this morning’s sunrise was blood-colored. I think there’s some wildfire smoke high up, leaping over us instead of descending to clog as it did last year–for which I am devoutly grateful, because the suffocating fire-reek was a hideous time. Our sprinklers are finally working again too (don’t ask) so the garden is in much better shape. Even the tomatoes are happy.

And why did I see the sunrise, you might ask? Because unlike me, the dogs are morning people. They simply couldn’t allow me to stay abed any longer, not when there were fun things to do and naps to take in other areas of the house. Also, last night got a bit too warm for comfortable sleeping since the house was closed up, and Miss B didn’t like that at all.

So I was poked and prodded from slumber, and hopefully I’ll be able to ingest enough caffeine to keep my temper sweet. Or sweet-ish, as the case may be.

I am not quite as snarling as I was last month, or even as peeved as I was yesterday.1 Another hard run this morning wrung a fair amount of sweat and stress chemicals free, so that’s good. The weather folk say Friday will bring a little rain, and that’s even better. I don’t feel quite right when the moss between my toes dries out; the Pacific Northwest is not supposed to be this arid.

Apparently mentioning werewolves yesterday made Cold North sit up and take notice, because that book informed me it was quite done marinating and would like a revision, please and thank you. I can’t find a trio of premade covers for the projected trilogy, but I keep looking–if a trad publisher won’t get interested in Tolkien Viking Werewolves2, I’ll just have to bring it out myself, which will stretch the timeline a bit but that’s life. One thing I will not do is let this story languish untold.

Some projects, I don’t mind if they stay trapped on my hard drive forever. Others want to go out into the world as a matter of course, and who am I to gainsay them?

It will mean a lot of thankless effort, and the first book’s insistence on revision now is already playing havoc with other scheduling. But a surplus of work is where I’m happiest, and if I put my head down and focus on the stories I won’t have to brood upon the state of the world, which is a large, deep mercy. I feel guilty for being unable to handle even looking at the news, but my resilience has reached a stumbling-block after the last four-five years.

I’ve had all I can stand, as Popeye says, and I can’t stands no more.

The roses have all recovered from their move, and most are even blooming. Even the ketchup-and-mustard seems quite happy in its new home. One of the blueberries appears to have given up the ghost, but I’m going to give it another winter to make absolutely certain before I decide what to do with its corpse. The terrible heat does seem to have made a dent in the slug and snail population, which means my hostas are doing much better than I had any right to expect, too.

These are the things I’m concentrating on, because I can’t bear to look beyond my garden gate at the moment. It feels like falling down on my responsibilities, but exactly nobody and nothing will be served by fretting myself dry about systemic failure driven by the greed of a few rich bastards and the foot-dragging cowardice of those elected to stop them.

And with that cheerful thought, I’m off to steep a cuppa (coffee might vibrate me right into another dimension, which might be a blessing but I HAVE DEADLINES) and return to the world of Solveig and her shieldmaid. It’s actually not a bad little story, which means I’m right in the phase I need to be with it. Don’t worry, I’ll start hating it around the copyedits stage.

At least that remains the same. Some things are stable and constant, even during *gestures wildly* all this.

Stay safe out there, beloveds. I’m trying to hope, though it’s difficult; whether I’m hopeless or not, though, the line still has to be held.

That stays constant too.

Rest Aggressively

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There’s so much to do, and yet the power to do any of it seems beyond me today.

This particular fatigue is definitely not from the vaccine, but it’s still deep and wide. The relief is so huge I think I need another twenty-four hours or so for things to settle. I’ll be doing as much work as I can today, but…that’s not going to be much at all.

I’ve been reduced to Barba Streisand’s Broadway album. That’s how ragged my nerves are, unreeling in sheer relief. I’m trying to aggressively rest, if there is such a thing–there are seedlings to start, and laurel volunteers to put along the back fence in case the fellow living over it gets another wild hare and tries to take out the rest of the cedars.

The dogs need walking, though Boxnoggin’s tummy is a little unsettled this fine morn. I suspect the weather change, as well as humans leaving the house not once but twice on Saturday, has made him briefly nervous. I thought he was excited to get out the door and see a squirrel or two this morning, but he was on a beeline to a particular place near the fence to vomit.

Get your excitement where you can, I guess. He’s absolutely fine, sometimes he just has a day where his tummy decides not to go with the program. By dinner he’ll be right as rain.

We were supposed to get rain, as a matter of fact, but everything is suspiciously dry. It may be time to turn the sprinklers on, but I know as soon as I do there will be a deluge. Fool me twice, and all that.

I’ll be starting mugwort and comfrey and moonflower datura seedlings, and probably a few other things. There’s a whole tray of nasturtiums, just waiting for the seeds to crack their tiny brown heads and release broad peppery green fans. The eensy grow light I bought is going to do so much work this summer; I might even get a second one for the violets proper.

I’m also looking at the next few years’ worth of work and feeling vaguely hopeful. Having to face the fact of my own survival is…odd. There’s been a few times in my life I’ve been genuinely surprised to find myself alive, and this year seems to be one of them. I was absolutely convinced the last administration’s malignant, aggressive incompetence was going to somehow snatch away the vaccine at the last minute. Now, home and safe, I’m looking at the damage and groaning slightly.

Cleanup is the worst part of any disaster. At least, for survivors.

It bothers me that we–the whole country, natch–haven’t had a reckoning, and probably won’t for a long while since *waves hands* all this is ongoing. The grief is going to be a real lulu, and that’s only the first step.

There are seeds to plant, dogs to walk (gently, at more of an amble than our usual brisk pace) and books to schedule. I’m hopeful to hear about Moon’s Knight soon, and if the answer is good, great! If the answer is not so good, well, I’ll need to pull together a cover from somewhere.

That won’t be bad. I’m surprisingly sanguine about the whole thing.

We’ve gone from bright sunshine to dark clouds while I’ve typed this; volatile spring weather, except it’s not dropping any real rain. Maybe I’ll just think really hard about the sprinklers, and that will fool the meteorological gods.

It’s worth a shot. Let’s see if it works…