Every Permutation

So far this morning I’ve spent an hour in the car, walked the dogs, and swallowed a few correspondence toads. As a result, I’m somewhat at sixes and sevens, and longing for more coffee. I just can’t tell if more caffeine will help or hinder, given the amount of fog brewing in my head.

It’s a continual amazement to me that so many people will put off responding to one’s communications but expect one to drop everything and leap upon theirs. I’m getting better at shrugging and filing things for later reply, and it would be inaccurate to suggest I feel no pleasure in doing so. I’m also getting better at dead-eyeing entitled little brats (of any age) into behaving better while out in public.

The end of summer is always a strange flux time, especially when one has children in American public school. Three months off is just enough time to settle into much slower habits, and the scramble to organize and prepare in August makes me long for year-round schooling. It seems a much more humane way to do things, but of course, America won’t implement the humane way of things until we’ve tried every. other. possible. choice. and failed at each and every one.

I suppose that sounds ill-tempered, but I’m *mumblemumble* years old and have earned a little temper by surviving as long with a brain (and in a country) that wants to erase me.

In any case, yesterday’s grey skies and rain did good things all over. The trees are much happier; I could feel my soul expanding with every drop hitting the ground. Consequently, today is much better than I expected, even as I was rudely (and somewhat early) dragged from strange dreams.

Even my open window, full of cursing and hammering from numerous last-minute construction and renovation projects in the neighborhood (as well as a particularly musical storm of cursing at random intervals as a hammer strikes a thumb or some other disaster occurs) provies just enough backdrop noise to make things interesting. Yesterday’s scene in HOOD needs its guts torn out and rearranged, too–sometimes one can’t do a scene properly until one’s taken a trial run and found out what doesn’t work.

At least I don’t have to try every permutation. Once is enough.

The romance–Damage–is also coming along well, though I’m far enough along on the first third that a few days of tender care situating the entire thing just so is necessary before I can settle into the long middle doldrum. It will be nice to hit the end, especially since I know pretty exactly how the book wants to swing and stretch. It doesn’t even matter that it wants to be written piecemeal, because the signposts are so large and the structure so easily discerned.

In other words, I have my work for the day cut out indeed. Here’s hoping for more rain (though the weather app tells me such hope is in vain) and for whoever’s currently cursing a blue streak to get a bandage and some better luck. (It sounds like there was a slight mishap with a staple gun; I’d curse too.)

Over and out.

Busy Meatspace

The past few weeks have been hell on my daily writing time. If it’s not the stress it’s family events, and if it’s not family events it’s back-to-school arrangements, and if it’s not any of that it’s scrambling to catch up with stuff that fell by the wayside because of stress, family events, and back-to-school arrangements.

It’s enough to make me wish for a cave in the woods. A cave with an electrical outlet or two, of course, so I could work in peace.

Single mothers are superheroes. No co-parent to take the pressure off even for a moment, as well as a constricted choice of jobs (so as to be available for childcare) and seventy-odd cents on the dollar a man would make besides. It’s surprising that any woman would choose to reproduce under these circumstances, which is, of course, why birth control and abortion are consistently made unavailable.

The State, you see, needs warm bodies, and there’s only one way to make those.

I finished Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain last night; it was like finishing one of the large, hearty sanitarium meals he describes so lovingly. Poor Settembrini, and poor Joachim. And poor Ellen Brand, taken advantage of by that damn doctor. Hans I have less than no sympathy for, even though he’s the reader’s entry into the tale. It was a lovely meal nonetheless, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m sated and can push away from the table. I do like it better than Death in Venice; this book came along at just the right time.

I’ve still got an hour to spend in the car today, all told, and a good half-hour taking care of various things once I reach my destination. I’d best get started, especially if I want to get in wordcount. Subscription stuff needs to be sent out today, too–I could have taken the weekend to get a few weeks’ lead time set up, but instead I spent it taking care of life out here in meatspace.

The disconnect between how long it takes to write a book and how long it takes to read, let alone buy, one is huge. Related: I’ve noticed another spike in piracy lately, and there’s been a concomitant spike in people getting shitty with me in email about my request that people not steal my work.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like more Steelflower books in a reasonable time. (If you know someone who torrents, let them know they’re stopping you from getting more books from me.)

Anyway, the only thing I need now is breakfast to settle so I can run. I need the zen more than ever, from now until September.

Over and out.

Meat, Grit, Other Forms

Viral Agents

I’m contemplating going back into category romance for a while. I like writing them–the very narrow strictures mean one has to be extremely creative and I’m at my best when there are rules to subvert. I might even extend the Viral Agents series with Project Psyche.

Another thing I like about working categories is that Harlequin pays on time. There’s never been a problem with them meeting their end of the financial contract, unlike some other trad publishers I could name.

Mostly, though, I want to write a few things that please me. I’m exhausted by Afterwar and the cold reception my warnings received, as well as a few other things. If people don’t want the meaty, gritty stuff unfiltered, fine. I’ll put the meat and grit in other forms and serve it with a smile.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d love to tell a few stories that have unalloyed happy endings, too. They do exist, and right now they’re at the front of the line, having waited patiently for several years.

Often, I sense the stories that want to be told in a line out my office door. They shift slightly, cough politely, and wait their turn. The line’s fluid; some are beckoned out early and some move forward only to halt when an insoluble problem appears, some plow through all other waiting before them and run through me at high speed, leaving everyone gasping.

It’s like that scene in Ghost with the ghosts lining up to hop into Whoopi Goldberg.

Anyway, it’s a Thursday, there’s a run to accomplish, the dogs are frisky with wanting their own exercise, and I have coffee to absorb before anything else is even possible. HOOD‘s Season Two just passed 40k words yesterday, too. It’s going to be a long weekend, and one of the few bright spots is going to be time I can use for putting stories together inside my head while my body is otherwise occupied.

At least it’s a cloudy morning, so I won’t expire of heatstroke the moment I step out the door. Small mercies, my friends.

Onward to Romancelandia, my friends. Over and out.

A Night Creature

Gallow & Ragged

By all rights I should be fast asleep.

I am a night creature, despite having to impersonate a daywalker for nigh onto two and a half decades. Left to my druthers, I roll into bed between 2 and 5am, sleep until well past noon, watch the sun go down, then get to work in the productive, nurturing hours of darkness.

Unfortunately, my children were both morning people. Extreme morning people. And then, getting up to get them to school–and being on call in case something happened during the school day–meant being awake when my entire body cried out for sleep instead. In a couple years that consideration will be gone, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to shift to the clock my circadian wants.

I wonder if dogs can be night creatures? I know they’re crepuscular, but changing around Miss B’s schedule is not a happy occurrence. (Her tummy tends to protest any large change at all, from grief to a new bedtime.) I’m sure Boxnoggin would treat it as an adventure, as long as the markers were in the right place–roll out of bed, take dogs out, feed dogs, that is the Holy Trinity of Morning no matter when the first event occurs. While B requires that events be on time, Boxnoggin only requires that they follow the proper sequence, which is as neat an explanation of their two personalities as can ever be found.

It feels like I’ve been waiting all my life to obey the dictates of my own damn body. The pressure is creative fuel, true, and some part of me wonders if I’ll be able to work without it despite evidence that I in fact work better when I’m not fighting a ridiculous, arbitrary current.

I suppose, if I’m ever not the last line of defense and on duty during daylight hours, I’ll find out. Until then, I just exhaust myself during the hours of sunlight so I can force myself to sleep when my circadian is shrieking this is the time you were built for, get up and get started.

I’m not quite complaining. I’m just remarking.

Anyway, I’ve an assassination to plan and another project to spend some serious time on, so I’d best get started. Miss B has informed me it is time for walkies, and woe betide the human who falls behind.

Over and out.

Soundtrack Monday: Sleep

Selene

I’m getting back in the habit of sharing the music behind some of my books. I tend to listen all day, every day, and certain songs weave themselves into scenes and characters like kudzu through a fence. (I won’t be doing full soundtracks anymore, the ones I’m working on now can be found on Spotify.)

Today’s track is the Dandy Warhols’ Sleep, which is the track expressing (part of) how Nikolai feels about Selene. He’s not quite human anymore, having been alive a very long time; someday I might tell the story of how he dealt with the interregnum between Selene’s escape and her return to Saint City.

Anyway, if you want to know what was playing in my head while I wrote Selene sending her hated, absolutely necessary lover to what she thought was eternity, this is it.

An Actual Weekend

Steelflower in Snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking Shots

HOOD

It was an exciting weekend! Dog washing, camping (for kids, not for me; I don’t do non-indoor plumbing), putting in swag hooks without a 5/8ths drill bit–the list goes on and on. Also, the end of the month is fast approaching, which means HOOD’s Season One is about to go live.

Interested? You can download a free sample here–where you can also sign up for my newsletter if it pleases you, but you don’t have to. Of course, the subscribers who have been funding the series get the unedited and final season ebooks for free. You can also read a little bit more about the genesis of the serial.

A band of rain moved overhead earlier, which is all to the good–after the last few fire seasons, we need all the moisture we can get. The Princess and her camping buddies, returned to civilization, are making chocolate-chip pancakes while waiting for the bacon to finish cooking. All in all it’s a quiet summer morning.

I wonder what I’ll do when the Prince has finally graduated high school and there’s no more long summer hiatus. I’ll probably have a good long cry or two the first few times he has to skedaddle for work instead of lazing about, and the dogs will be extremely puzzled.

I had a long post planned today, but I’m aching to get out the door as soon as my coffee settles. I mean, I love caffeine, but spewing it through my nose as my body decides any shaking means an explosion is not the preferred method of absorption.

Even this early on a Monday I hear strange sounds from one of the neighbors’ houses, like billiard balls clicking. Maybe someone has a table and is practicing their shots. I don’t hear any voices, either bemoaning a bad break or celebrating a good one, so perhaps someone’s meditating through the movement.

It makes me long to get a stand for my heavy bag; instead of hearing the clicking I could be pounding away my frustrations one punch at a time. Ah well. To each their own.

Today I write Robin Hood taking over a small band of thieves, hackers, and enforcers. I might even write Maid Marian’s receiving of a few secret messages. Season Two is where we start finding out nobody is who we think they are.

Of course, in real life, nobody is who you think they are either. People surprise one all the damn time.

Meh. I think it’s possible my stomach might retain the coffee I’ve poured in it despite some hard jouncing and shuddering. Which means it’s time to throw my hair in a ponytail and get out the door.

I wish you a cool and pleasant Monday in the shade, my friends. Go easy on yourselves, it’s getting rough out there.