Cheese Sense and Back to Work

The trees are all a-leaf. The honeysuckle is ablaze with blossom. Even the quince tree down the street is in full vigor, and I suspect there will be a bumper crop this year. The mason bees appear to have packed away their eggs for next year, and there’s a positive plague of mosquitoes–it is a very damp spring, the few 90F degree days we’ve had notwithstanding.

I worked half the weekend, spent Sunday doing house chores and reading Dimbleby on Barbarossa–the book needs finishing so I can dive full-bore into Elric–and took a half-holiday yesterday too. Which just means I didn’t blog or do a couple other marketing things, but I got wordcount (and more!) on both Sekrit Projekt and the third Ghost Squad book, which is Tax’s story. I’ve got him talking, though he’s somewhat cagey, and of course the heroine is going to be all sorts of fun.

As for the Sekrit Project, you’ll find out about that in June. I’m very excited, and cannot wait to have it public. I even re-crafted a scene I’ve been waiting to get to for eight years or so, which is a wonderful feeling.

In other news, I woke up with a BJ Thomas song in my head. For the longest time I thought it was a cover, because the first exposure I’d ever had to the tune was Alvin and the Chipmunks–I am not kidding. Urban Chipmunk was one of the few records I was allowed to listen to before I got my own radio. (And I just found out it’s available on CD, albeit used. Good heavens, my nostalgia fastens on weird things…)

Boxnoggin has been very pleased, because our grilling for the holiday yesterday also meant Cheetos. I have never met a dog who doesn’t like those cheesy corn wonders; there was literally nothing Odd Trundles wouldn’t do for one and very little Miss B wouldn’t either. Box is almost as food-driven as Odd and significantly less intelligent than Miss B, but he still perks right up when a particular kind of crisp-bag rustles.

Of course, he is by far the most dairy-hound of our dogs; his Cheese Sense is unparalleled. Sometimes one only has to think of, say, a bit of string cheese to get through the afternoon, and there will be a mad scrabble from another room as Lord van der Sploot senses there might be solidified cow-squeezings in the near future. Then he appears, trotting along with ears perked and cuteness ready to deploy.

Today it’s back to work. There’s an interview in the morning (possibly the last bit of promo for Spring’s Arcana, I know it’s necessary but it’s also nerve-wracking) and we’ll have some folks out to take down huge dangling fir limbs in the afternoon. Between all that I have to get wordcount in on each project, and there’s dinner to think of as well. I keep meaning to do a stream on the Valentine books–I have not forgotten–but it’s got to fit around all the other stuff needing to be done.

No rest for the weary or wicked, and it’s anyone’s guess which combination of the two I am on any given day. If I’m working I’m not worrying, or at least I don’t have the time to worry much. At least the Sekrit Projekt needs another written-long-ago scene revised, which lightens the load somewhat, and I can fill stuff in around yesterday’s snappy dialogue in the Ghost Squad book. If I just get those two things done, I’ll be happy.

The coffee is down to dregs and Boxnoggin would very much like his walkies, Mum, thanks. So it’s off I go, embarking upon Tuesday.

I wish us all luck.

Two Chainsaws Enough

I should’ve known a good working day would drag a not-so-good one in its wake. That’s just the way the cookie has crumbled since, oh, about 2016 or so. It was bad before, certainly…but I think back then I still had hope.

How young I was. How wisely foolish.

It’s a clear morning, alas. The sun is still hiding behind a rather large fir in the cul-de-sac behind us, a trick of the earth’s wobble this particular time of year. Walkies shouldn’t be too bad, just bright and perhaps a little exciting if we see any other canines out exercising their humans–that’s something funny, how many dogs walk their humans rather than the other way ’round. Heaven knows it took Bailey a significant number of months before she finally absorbed that the biped was in charge and her own duties were different.

Boxnoggin, of course, gets so distracted by every little thing that he can’t possibly be in charge, only contained, corralled, and gently chided for terrible behavior. He’s such an anxious dog, poor thing.

As for said work, I made a good start on the Sekrit Projekt–it’s been revealed to patrons and newsletter subscribers, so it’s not Sooper-Sekrit, and it’ll be announced publicly in June–and also got the right opening scene for Gamble, the third Ghost Squad book. I think I’m going to enjoy the wedding planner heroine’s scenes A Lot, she seems like a hoot. A big contrast to indeed to Tax’s buttoned-down, logical, I-think-I’m-so-rational vibe. And I think I have the timeline for the book pretty solid, with only a couple moving parts involved to give me grief.

It’s so nice to be writing again, instead of revisions, proofs, or what-have-you. Two hundred measly words, poking at a fanfic while exhausted at the end of the day, just doesn’t cut it. I need a higher dosage, and a few thousand on two separate projects is just perfect. I’d like to get back to juggling at least three projects at a time, but I think I need more recovery before that’s possible. And I’m glad to be shifting between epic fantasy (there’s a clue!) and contemporary again, getting both sides of a very pleasant coin.

In order to add another project, though, I’d need to rearrange my life so there’s far more self-care and far less dealing-with-other-things, which isn’t quite possible at the moment. Ah well, juggling two chainsaws is enough. And I’m hopeful for Hell’s Acre, season one of which is hanging out with my agent to see if something can be done in that direction. If not, it’ll be choose-an-editor time.

It’s good to have options.

I suppose I should finish the coffee, open my office window, and get Boxnoggin started on the Anticipatory Walkies Dance. It is a very silly dance, but he loves it and I am not going to pass up an opportunity to laugh until my sides hurt. Such things might not keep one young, but they certainly make life easier to endure. And I need to plan out the scars-in-the-sauna scene, where a couple characters are asking one very tired sellsword about past battles, so that it ends on precisely the right note. Today’s ramble will fix that in my head; I already have the next scene for Gamble, which will probably involve someone being menaced with a frying pan.

…I do love my job, after all.

Over and out.

Another Zero, Turning the Corner

Rolled out of bed Saturday morning, took Boxnoggin out for his morning loo break, got some coffee…then wrote 3k in a feverish push to finish Rook’s Rose, the second season of Hell’s Acre. At least, to finish the zero draft. Which means all the projects I was working on during the worst of lockdown are now…done. Not done-done, mind you, and I’m not sure this serial will see wider publication since it was written during the absolute nadir.

But the zeroes are out, and I can finally feel like I’m turning some kind of corner. At least emotionally.

Consequently I’ve been shambling around, mostly nonverbal and completely distracted. Going from copyedit hangover to finishing a zero draft (epic fantasy) to finishing a second zero draft (alt-historical) in quick succession may prove too much for even my endurance. I feel like I’ve been run over and the headache isn’t helping–oh, and by the way, if you’re wondering just what in the hell is a zero draft, I wrote about it here.

Now, there are fourteen (dear gods, count ’em) chapters until the serial will reach an end for subscribers, which is a couple months’ worth of weekly fiction drops. (Some will be multi-chapter extravaganzas.) So, while the zero is done, I’ll be polishing, pruning, making arrangements for editing (if I decide to let this duology out for wider publication), and also making arrangements for the next serial.

…yep, the Big Surprise I’ve been hinting about a lot concerns the new serial, and you guys are gonna love it. But first there’s these fourteen-or-so chapters to get through. Lockdown and pandemic meant there was a significant amount of time I was working just a chapter or two ahead of the drops, and that was stressful. I prefer to have a little more in the cannon than that, and I’m glad to have some padding–because in order to start the next serial I’m going to have to reread at least three other works to make sure I’ve got the throughlines all set up. Added to that a session of going back through Sons of Ymre #1 so I can revise #2 in that series properly, and there’s enough work to keep even me occupied. Plus I gotta start the third Ghost Squad book–Tax’s story, for those of you who like that series.

A medic and a wedding planner, in Vegas. That one’s gonna be fun.

Hm. The Dead God’s Heart is a duology, Sons of Ymre is one too. I had planned for Hell’s Acre to be a trilogy–there was a whole “Murder Princess Takes Over Street Gang” arc outlined, but it just didn’t work out that way. Mostly because of pandemic stress. I seem to be working in duology a lot these days, though Ghost Squad is a four-book series (with a possible fifth) and the Epic Fantasy I Can’t Talk About Yet is a trilogy. (Which I need to revise Book 2 and write Book 3 of, wonderful, my head aches even more just thinking about it.)

At least it’s raining. There’s an atmospheric river going on, and we all know my soul expands in that kind of damp. Listening to drops hitting the roof does me no end of good. I took the weekend for critical recovery, and I think today is going to be spent poking about and doing administrivia that fell by the wayside during the last few weeks’ worth of feverish activity. And maybe I should catch up on some Netflix, too. My writing partner has recommended a couple things to stuff in my aching skull, refilling the artistic well.

But for now I need breakfast, and Boxnoggin is antsy for morning walkies. He’ll hate the rain, I’ll love it, and we’ll be muddy when we get home. It’ll be great.

See you around.

Ivy Berries

I wish my phone would focus properly, dammit.

Ivy’s both blessing and bane in these parts. On the one hand, it’s a good quick ground cover and can help with erosion; on the other, it chokes one’s trees and turns the soil rather sterile. There’s a huge bank of it on one of our walking routes, and it’s generally alive with bees once the weather warms enough–so put that in the plus column, too. And it’s full of these berry-things. I’m no botanist, so they could be something else taking advantage of the ivy and I wouldn’t know it.

Anyway, watching them through the end of winter has been fascinating. Boxnoggin, on the other hand, knows only that the ivy is good for peeing on. His needs are simple, his observations few and direct. Such is the nature of Dog, just as mine is to mentally chew every circumstance for eternity.

Between us, we’ve got the whole range covered.

Tonight’s another Friday Night Writes. I may be finished with the zero draft of Rook’s Rose (the second and final season of Hell’s Acre) by then. One thing’s for sure, this book is gonna die. But I suppose I’d best get to it if I want any sliver of the weekend to use for recuperation.

See you next week!

New Iterations

Woke up with Public’s Make You Mine playing inside my head at jet-takeoff levels–I don’t know, guys, I just live here. Also, there’s a new sales post upplease check the dates on each, my beloveds.

4k on Hell’s Acre yesterday. I’m very proud of Gemma; my little murder princess character has met her latest challenge with quite a bit of sangfroid and also didn’t get her dress splattered with excessive gore, which was a consideration since she still has to check into a hotel and fetch her rapier. We’re in the very last stages of the game, and she’s locked onto her target to almost the exclusion of all else.

Avery, of course, is dealing with the Acre burning down. Today he’ll also get the news that he’s been betrayed, and further news that his witch is in the wind. I have had a particular scene in my head for so long now, literally years, and I get to write it soon. This zero is spiking toward completion and I couldn’t be happier. I need this duology done; it’ll be the last real project from lockdown and while I love it, I will also be happy to see it put to bed.

I did take the step of making a new, overarching to-do list for the first time in almost two years. I keep several lists, mostly on my electronic devices, but the big umbrella high-level one is a notecard taped in a specific spot on my desk. (Can’t stop, won’t stop using paper and pen.) I like to refresh it when I’ve worked through all but one big project, so I have a fighting chance of crossing something off and getting that dopamine hit shortly after I put a new iteration of the damn thing up again.

It’s the little successes, like the endorphins after a run or the dopamine hit of crossing out something on a list, that keep one going throughout the day. Adulthood is largely learning how to game those rewards and get enough to keep oneself going.

The other part is spiteful stubbornness in the face of disaster both slow-moving and quick, and I like to think that I excel at that particular part.

If I can turn in enough wordcount today my wrists will ache but I will also be within kissing distance of typing finis at the end of yet another zero draft. I don’t want to spend the weekend getting this all sorted, but by the gods I will if I have to, dammit. That will mean I’ve turned around an epic fantasy copyedit, the zero of another epic fantasy, and finished a two-season serial’s zero all in the space of two-three weeks, necessitating a small break for my weary bones.

Which I won’t want to take, since the next items on the docket are a Sons of Ymre #2 revise, a sort-of-outline for the next serial (cannot wait to announce that one, by the way, you guys are absolutely gonna diiiiiiie), and revisions on both the recently finished zeroes in order to get them in reasonable shape for editors. I’m still not sure if Hell’s Acre will see publication; once I get it revised, we’ll see. And after that it’s the turn of the next Ghost Squad book, which is Tax’s story.

He’s going to Vegas. Last time I wrote a story in Vegas I burned down a casino and that was only an incidental visit in the first third; I have high hopes for an entire book set there. Just think of the fictional damage I can do with a Ghost Squad member and a wedding planner in ol’ Sin City. (Cue evil chuckle.)

With all this going on, I’m almost not freaked out and nerve-wracked over the upcoming release of Spring’s Arcana. (Almost.) And good gods, I’m tired looking at the above paragraphs. All this effort just to stay mostly afloat. Not even really afloat, just mostly. It’s a good thing I like my job, and would continue to write even if I left publishing.

Which is (say it with me) a whole ‘nother blog post. But in the meantime, I’ve gotta get going. The book won’t burn itself down and the villain certainly won’t stab himself either, so it’s onward at full speed, all phasers set on kill and all torpedoes loaded.

Here we go…

Manhandling a Plot

Roadtrip Z
Still free, until April 9, 2023…

Welp, Amazon just killed Book Depository, as we all knew they would. The metastasis continues; it’d be nice if the signs of timeline healing I’ve been trying to focus on lately could also include some good new for publishing instead of ho-hum business as usual and fuck the writers, but apparently that’s entirely too much to ask for.

Plus ça change, and all that. Although there’s an arraignment today. Too late, not enough, and the criminal will be handled with kid gloves as he has been all his life, but still. Gotta take the small bits of hope where one can, even if one suspects one will be kicked in the teeth later. I can’t afford to spend time celebrating, and indeed this is such a lukewarm, dilatory response to high crimes and treason there’s not a whole lot to wave pom-poms over.

Anyway. Today is for a push to at least get near the end of a zero draft, even if I don’t knock it off completely. This heroine needs to find out a few things and there’s a fire in a certain district of New Rome to set; the “hero” (he’s not a nice guy, but then again, that’s part of his considerable charm) is going to have his hands full. Everything needs to be arranged just so, and the big thing I’m worried about right now is getting a traitor into a hired hack. I already know how the heroine’s going to respond, but I need this bullyboy to get his priorities straight and get in the goddamn mech. (He’s no Shinji, but it’s still funny.)

It’s raining steadily with very little chance of letup. Boxnoggin will be morose during walkies, but I’m looking forward to having sidewalks to myself for the run afterward. The trap-n-bass soundtrack does good things while I’m hauling my weary corpse along, especially if I need a slight break from manhandling a certain plot around. I’m in a peculiar state of hangover, both from copyedits and finishing the first zero draft of the year; my brain needs a rest from chewing itself.

I won’t get one; once I finish this particular zero too there’s no shortage of work looming to get other projects out the door. No rest for the weary or the wicked in this part of the world, my friends.

So. Today the heroine’s patroness gives her a few missing pieces to a puzzle, and if all goes well I’ll start a few (fictional) fires. That will set up the heroine vs. the traitor, and once the “hero” gets things sorted amid five-alarm flames and his wounded subordinate returns bearing news it’ll be time for the endgame, which may have to happen at a lunatic asylum since the villain’s house will be used for another scene.

…I’m going to have to think about that, though. It would be a shame to not use the asylum, since I got it set up earlier in the story. The Muse knows better than I do, I have to trust the story, yadda yadda bing-bong and all that. I should think our heroine won’t mind a chance to even the scales not just for herself but for everyone being held in that bloody awful place–but before solving that problem I have to write my way through a few others.

Suppose I’d best get started. Here’s hoping today will clear the (very low) expectations I’ve got in place.

Very Little Glamor

Roadtrip Z

Still dazed from finishing a hefty (well over 100k) epic fantasy zero draft. You’d think a half-weekend off would be enough time…and yet it always takes exponentially longer than one thinks to bounce back, especially if one attempts to start working during the nadir of recovery.

On a brighter note, Book One of Roadtrip Z is free on Kobo until April 9, so if you like competence, zombies, longing, and people coming together in the face of catastrophe, well, there you are.

I’m gonna try for a library trip this week, not to mention a push to get yet another zero draft done. Once Rook’s Rose is over that particular finish line, I think I’ll have brought every project from lockdown to successful completion. The dribs and drabs of stuff I wrote to let off psychological pressure don’t really count; I mean paying projects–or ones that turned out to be paying even though I had no intention of publishing, ha.

Then it’ll be time for the new serial, which I’m already planning. Not to mention revisions on Sons of Ymre 2, and then I can shift to writing the new serial, book 3 of the epic fantasy trilogy, and book three of Ghost Squad. I’m looking forward to that last one most, I think, because it’s Tax’s story. He’s going to Vegas for his buddy Boomer’s wedding, and of course he’s going to get into trouble. Because of course.

The latest Reading with Lili is up on YouTube–I got to nerd out a bit about Marguerite Duras. I may get back to the Great Chapters readings in a bit, if health and time permit. There was such a howl of protest when I didn’t put up the first “just reading Genji” stream that I have gone back to just throwing everything up onto YouTube for your delectation, but formatting and editing the Great Chapters stuff take a little bit more work and I’ve got all I can handle at the moment.

The weather app keeps screaming about wintry mix and possible snow, but it doesn’t smell like we’re going to have a bad event. Of course, last April we had the terrible barrage of heavy wet stuff that brought down a much of trash onto the roof, cracking it and necessitating all sorts of nonsense. I have hope we’ll escape that sort of thing this year. Heaven knows my nerves aren’t in a state to handle that shit, though I suppose nobody’s ever are.

Boxnoggin isn’t even lobbying for walkies, content to go back to bed after his morning loo break in the backyard. Where there is finally a back fence, though I’m still sad about the cedars being gone. Ah well, we take what we can get around here, I suppose.

And with that, I suppose it’s time to shamble breakfast-ward. I’ve been addicted to Japanese trap-and-bass tracks lately, and might try a playlist of those instead of my usual running music. We’ll see how it works out, but first I’ve to get the coffee absorbed and the dog rambled. Once I’m home and settled it’ll be time to dive back into the wilds of New Rome and embroil Miss Dove in even more trouble, especially since she’s a single breath away from meeting the Big Bad. Who isn’t much of a villain, but he’s all we’ve got in that story, and part of what I wanted to do with him is show just how petty real evil is.

There’s very little glamor in fighting monsters, despite what fiction tells us. Yet it’s still important work. I suppose I’ve been wrestling with the dichotomy my entire life, and it doesn’t look like that’s stopping anytime soon. Ah well–play to one’s strengths, I guess.

Onward to Monday.