Temporal Slip

I was convinced for most of yesterday that although the day was definitely named Monday, it was Tuesday in all else. Which should surprise nobody, pandemic time being what it is, but it means it was near noon when I realized, “no, the plumbers aren’t coming today, it’s a federal holiday and FURTHERMORE not the day they scheduled,” so…yeah.

That rhythmic thudding you heard? That was the sound of me banging my head on my desk. It’s highly therapeutic, though painful.

I had all sorts of work planned, but nothing happened. Sitting and staring at paying projects is not producing any appreciable wordcount. (The book keeps refusing to write itself, so rude.) The fanfic proceeds better, but I don’t want even that now. I’m pretty sure I’m just in the incubation period for a spate of furious activity once the dam breaks, and this is just a necessary frustration before the iceberg calves.

But it’s so goddamn annoying. And with all the other stress, my nerves are on their very last fibre.

I am hopeful today’s plumber visit will be the very last. They’re very nice fellows and I like them, but strangers visiting in the midst of a pandemic is bad for all of us. If this work could possibly be put off I would–but at the same time, our country is being held hostage by antimaskers and antivaxxers, so this isn’t going to be finished anytime soon. We’re on the third year of this bullshit, so the things I’ve put off “until it’s safer” have now grown several heads and become critically pressing.

“Safer.” What a word. I am beginning to expect that will never happen, and it disturbs me mightily. It’s also becoming harder and harder to keep the pandemic out of my fiction, though publishing lead times means that things I wrote well before are beginning to see the end of the pipeline now.

The lag is fascinating and I’m sure historians will have great fun dissecting it. Enduring it as an artist is much less amusing. Not quite prepared to put this massive trauma into fiction yet, thanks, especially as I am extremely uncertain our household will survive either its primary OR its knock-on effects. And isn’t that a lovely thought for a Tuesday morning?

At least we still have absurdity. The world is mad, might as well laugh in bleak wonder at its manifestations. Fiction has to “make sense,” while Real Life is unendingly fuckered-up and divorced from any such requirement.

Anyway, I’d best walk the dogs. The trio of local crows depending on Boxnoggin for amusement tend to fly away around ten-thirty, having other business in the neighbourhood, and they (plus Boxnoggin) will probably be sad if they don’t get their daily interaction.

See? Absurdity. It’s all absurdity, all the time. Might as well laugh, because screaming takes too much energy and I’m bloody exhausted.

See you around.

Busy January

Selene

Monday is upon us again. Boxnoggin is having difficulty settling even though we’ve had nothing but the usual daily routine; I think he senses the plumbers are due out today–again, for the fourth time–to get the pipes under the sink right. I long to be able to put everything back in its home and further long to free up the very large bowl that’s been catching the drips.

In the plumbers’ defense, the leak has moved–as soon as one thing is replaced, the thing adjacent decides to start being troublesome. Which is a function and feature of many a complex system, let alone a simple one. So it’s not their fault, they are fabulous fellows, and at the same time I really would like this Finished, Thank You.

Miss B could not care less; to her, this is just another day and all she’s concerned about is keeping herself firmly in my vicinity. I cannot be allowed to roam anywhere, even inside the house, without her close supervision. Heaven knows what trouble I might get into, after all. Especially in these benighted times.

I should get her a soft plush toy to exercise all her maternal and supervisory urges on, but Boxnoggin would likely disembowel it. None of us can handle that particular bullshit right now.

The Dark Watcher sale is over, but I decided the last half of January needed something nice too so Selene is on sale for $2.99 across ebook formats until the end of the month. I’ll probably take February off, since the HOOD omnibus also drops the 25th of this month. The paper edition seems to already be out, thank goodness; for Kindle readers, the omnibus won’t be listed on Amazon but you can get a .mobi edition from Gumroad.

So January is very busy, and I’m going to take February off of sales and the like. Come March I should have some more good news.

I am trying to pull myself, hand over hand, out of the abyss. It’s difficult, to say the least, with successive daily retraumatizations. The rate of daily bad-news bludgeoning has slowed down since Papaya Pol Pot no longer has access to the nuclear button and the news cycle has in consequence somewhat slowed, but the massive institutional failure on every level is difficult to live with. There’s no chance to mourn or even catch one’s breath. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

There’s coffee to finish, some breakfast to choke down, the dogs to walk–Miss B is already restlessly eager for that part of the daily ritual–and getting the workspace cleared for the re-advent of the plumbers. (I just want that last thing sorted with, for gods’ sake. Four visits, while natural when dealing with plumbing issues, still seems a bit excessive.) In between all that, wordcount has to be made. Hell’s Acre needs some attention, since I think I’ve finally figured out what Avery’s plan is; the second Sons of Ymre also needs another pass at that damn first chapter to weed out repetitions and up the tension.

If I just put my head down and work, maybe I can get through the day without worry-induced nausea or panic attacks. Maybe.

We’ll see how it works out.

Not That Broken

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Today we have both the plumbers and the appliance repair people scheduled to come by–one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It would have been just the appliance repair people to look at the dishwasher, but apparently fixing the leak under the sink last week created a new leak under the sink.

2022 continues to keep giving.

Everyone will be masking and I’ll sanitize what I can between the visits. The dogs will be Very Upset at being placed in Durance Vile–i.e., one in my office and the other in a bedroom, both with highly cushioned resting places they will not use because they will be busy screaming, “MOTHER! HOW DARE!” through the door.

It will be very Man in the Iron Mask around here. Or like the scenes in Ruyi’s Royal Love when a schemer is dragged to the Bureau of Punishment.

Last night the kids were washing dishes and the handle of one of our red cappuccino mugs decided to separate from its bowl. The Prince rolled a critical dex save and caught the bowl on its way down between his hip and the counter, gauging the force perfectly so nothing else broke. From the expostulations I thought something else had gone wrong with the plumbing, so I hurried into the kitchen and found both children (I should call them something else, they’re both of age to vote and smoke by now, and fifty percent of them can legally drink) laughing like loons.

“It’s broken, yeah,” the Prince gasped through his merriment, “but not that broken.”

Which is sort of the running theme around here. Broken, yeah, but not that broken. We’ll make do, route around the damage until we can’t anymore. Perhaps things will be better before it reaches the “can’t anymore” point.

I also have the ball in Hell’s Acre to write, as well as figuring out whether or not the ambulance in the beginning of the second Sons of Ymre book is staffed by regular people or…otherwise. I think it’s the former but I can’t be sure until I actually get there, so it will be exploratory writing, feeling my way in the dark until I reach a flash that illuminates the room. I’m glad to be head-down in stories again; I am having very little luck with the world outside.

The inner ones are always better.

Of course, Avery’s being cagey about what precisely his plan is other than burning down a few buildings. He has to have a deeper gambit; it’s not like him to stop at a wee bit of arson. He has to be hoping to find something elsewhere (since he got all dolled up like a gentleman for the evening) and may or may not be expecting…

…but that would be telling. I’m sure he suspects there’s a spy or two even among his Rooks, so I’ve got to go very carefully and see what on earth he has planned. It’s not yet time for me to gently remind him who’s in charge of this entire rollercoaster; I figure I’ll let him run a bit before I apply the leash.

So to speak. The imaginary people inside my head are a real carnival of fun, kind of like ordinary outside ones.

I will be glad to see the back of today, no matter what happens. I can’t believe it’s only a week and change into January, it already feels like this year has been a century long. Pandemic time is as weird as publishing time, and that’s saying something.

Let’s all get through today however we can. And keep our baseball bats handy.

Over and out.

Victory, Price, Laughter

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I should have known that every victory on the first Monday of 2022 would exact a price. It was going so well, too! I finally got repair for the dishwasher and the kitchen sink scheduled, not to mention some actual work on Hell’s Acre and Sons of Ymre #2. I went to bed feeling reasonably content, even if things are not exactly ideal.

Alas, Past Me was apparently an unforgivable optimist. But maybe I’ll feel better about her habit of being hopeful after coffee. I suppose writing while uncaffeinated, as I am currently doing, means a touch of growl seeping into my voice.

The upshot of all this is that there’s errands today. Hopefully I can get them done with a minimum of fuss and retreat homeward, giving ground very slowly and making the year work for every inch it gains. The stage after the loss of sunny optimism is grim determination, teeth sunk into the hide of the monster and my claws working deeper and deeper, seeking a vital hit.

On the bright side, the heroine in Sons #2 is talking. She’s far different than the heroine in #1, which is only to be expected, and I think she’s just exactly what’s needed. But I made a mistake in the very first scene, and it’s such a deep and integral one I have to go back, rip out three-quarters of what I did yesterday, and rework it.

Of course, I’ll probably find out after reworking that said heroine won’t talk unless I have it the way it was originally written, which means I’ll need to throw out most of what I planned for the book itself and restructure from the ground up simply because a single character simply won’t cooperate.

I am not quite complaining about this, mind you. Realizing a mistake earlier rather than later is a gift. Plus, it’s far better than being so stressed the words refuse to come out at all, which has only happened two-three times in my entire life and is so awful I never, ever, ever want to endure it again. I’m trying to find the funny side–I’m arguing with the voices inside my head while my entire career is telling lies (which, let it be noted, manage to show a certain truth if I’ve done my job right) for a living.

Put that way, it is indeed kind of funny. So is the prospect of each individual errand I have to run today. They’re all hilarious if I look at them the right way.

Gods grant me the strength to hold up each one and turn it to the light in order to catch that funny side, however small and bleak. No doubt I’ll feel much better after a morning run, too. Yesterday was my first day back on the pavement in about a week (what with holidays, disasters, and Bad Weather making it Literally Unsafe To Step Outside) and the endorphin hit was most welcome, indeed. Plus it’s been over two weeks since our booster shots, so every single person in the house is as protected as possible.

There’s going to be something funny in all this. There has to be, and by every god that ever was, I will find it. If I must go down nibbled to death by a tidal wave of papercuts, I will go down laughing. Sure, it might be screamy breathless merriment, but merriment nonetheless.

Laughter is one of the 100% reliable ways to banish demons, after all. And now it’s time to finish this coffee, get the caffeine worked into my muscles, and walk the dogs, who could not care less about the rest of the world as long as they get their kibble, snuggles, and other assorted daily rituals.

If you hear a faint, screeching laugh upon the wind, beloveds, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Let the Tuesday games begin.

Kind Optimism

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Welcome to Monday, everyone! Whew.

Late last week (literally at closing time on Friday) I finished the revisions on The Black God’s Heart, and scheduled them to go back to the editor this very morning. I also got the first draft of a really exciting project to a separate editor, which means three full-size manuscripts went out the door.

No wonder I’m feeling a bit woozy. That’s a lot of parturition in a short while.

Never fear, though, I’m not at all at loose ends. There’s groceries to acquire for the next few weeks, and I can now crawl back into Hell’s Acre and get the charity ball sorted, not to mention a few other things. I’ve been aching to get back into New Rome, especially as Avery Black needs to be in far more trouble than he currently is.

There’s even more good news–everyone chez Saintcrow has their Covid booster appointment scheduled and confirmed, with bonus flu shot. I have rarely had the latter before and am not looking forward to possible side effects, but it’s far, far better than suffering (or passing along, gods forbid) either the plague or influenza. My only problem is that every single place offering boosters seems to be actively making it as difficult as possible to schedule, though I am attempting to take the route of kind optimism and telling myself it’s probably because so many people are now getting their shots. I’d rather have it be that than any malevolence, or even incompetence.

I’m not allowed to work today. Thankfully (for some value of thankful, I suppose?) I have a mountain of administrivia to work through, between year-end stuff and things I didn’t get done because I was pushing to get Black God’s out by deadline. The relief of crossing the latter off my master to-do list was intense, let me tell you.

And that’s about all the news that’s fit to print. The dogs are very eager for walkies; things like deadlines and paperwork mean less than nothing to them. I admire their focus on the truly important things, like breakfast and strolling around the block, not to mention skritches, snuggles, and treats.

We’re almost through another year. I plan on entering 2022 cautiously, using a very long stick to open the door. I will not make eye contact in case the new year considers it a sign of aggression, and will be speaking very softly to it, attempting to soothe. I think that’s best, don’t you?

I suppose I’d best get started. The paperwork won’t do itself, more’s the pity.

See you around.

Insomnia, Incubation, Illumination

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Monday has rolled around again, with a great deal of cold winter rain. Which is quite pleasing, both to me and the thirsty cedars. Summer was dreadful for us all.

I was lying in bed last night, drifting towards slumber–or, more precisely, staying very still and quiet hoping insomnia wouldn’t notice me–when all of a sudden, I was jolted by the solution to a particular plot problem in Hell’s Acre.

More specifically, I had reached a blockage during a dinner (not a dinner party, but it might as well have been) and had to throw up my hands, leaving the entire damn thing for the Muse to work on under the floorboards while I did something, anything else. The fact that I’m beating my head against revisions for The Black God’s Heart doesn’t help.

Said revisions (there are Problems, fortunately I am in the business of Solutions) are threatening to kick my ass, so I had to throw up my hands and call in reinforcements. I am always very chary of such a maneuver; growing up, asking for help was a sure way to get the stuffing kicked out of one. It’s taken a lot for me to begin to quietly, carefully, in certain very circumscribed ways–and always as a last resort–ask for assistance from selected individuals.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that said carefully selected individuals are flat-out thrilled to be asked, and furthermore, it is possible to get said help without paying an extortionate, painful price for it. Growing up has been good for that much, at least.

The sudden bursts or jolts of insight that occur after one has reached an impasse in a particular work are of a different character, though, and they rely on the same incubation-illumination dynamic as the rest of creativity. So there I was, in the dark, minding my own business, when I realized that the point of the whole dinner wasn’t solely what I originally thought but instead a means of additionally bringing in the complication among Avery Black’s Rooks.

It only took weeks of agonizing before the Muse finally dropped that little aside, lighting up the whole back half of the serial’s first season from another angle, so of course I had to make a goddamn note of it, because if one doesn’t write that sort of thing down it might flee into the cracks between sleep and waking, never to return.

I had to run the risk of insomnia finding me if I moved, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, you know. And this morning there was the note, scrawled haphazardly in the dark. Now, of course, it’s safely put in the manuscript margin, inside brackets, and I feel a lot better about things.

So it was a weekend full of (a little) rest and (a lot of) retrenchment, reading giant gulps of Nabokov and getting a truly stunning amount of revisions and housework out of the way. Of course said revisions aren’t even half done and this upcoming week is full of at least twelve-hour working days to catch up from the bloody vapor-lock…

…but that’s the way it goes, and I am lucky to have as much, I know. So here I am, eyeing the next glut of work and the bloody to-do list, and the dogs are lobbying for their walk. They have forgotten entirely the fact that it was pouring when they went out for pre-breakfast bladder-unloading, and will be discomfited all over again when we embark. At least, Boxnoggin will, for he despises the rain. B, of course, is an all-weather pooch, though I’m sure her joints ache a bit nowadays. She is an elderly statesdog, and no mistake.

Welcome to the week, beloveds. Keep your hands and arms inside the carriage, and don’t make eye contact with Tuesday. We have all we can handle right now, and the ride has commenced.

Over and out.

Constants and Striving

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Today’s the last day my folk-horror novel Harmony is $3.99 across ebook platforms! Next month there will be another sale (at least, so I hope) of a self-published Lili book; but for today, you can get Val’s story for a song. (And if you’ve read the book, that particular turn of phrase might give you a small shiver.)

It’s a lovely grey, cloudy morning, and I’ve a vast amount of work to attempt today. At least an hour on Hell’s Acre–I need to reread a bit to pick up the thread(s), since the book is telling me it might want to be one long season instead of the two planned–and then some more revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I am in full-fledged writerly revolt on one or two points, and bracing myself to do a bit of battle.

But that’s usual in this part of the process, on both counts. Misbehaving zero drafts and well-meaning editorial interference are constants, yea until the end of time they shall be with us, amen.

Some last-minute proofreader queries for The Bloody Throne arrived today, too. I thought I was done with this book, but it just doesn’t want to let go.

Lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a two-year-old won’t get the work done, though it’s immensely satisfying to contemplate. Dogs need walking, coffee needs swilling, my corpse needs a good run–after taking last week off my speed has increased a bit, but the rest of me is distinctly unhappy even with short jogs.

The body will adapt, and even be grateful for the rest and the renewed exercise. The endorphins yesterday almost took the top of my head off, and it was a welcome relief from the sense of spiders crawling under my skin.

I got a moderate amount of work done yesterday, and am not supposed to push since I’m still technically in recovery. It will be difficult not to scream “DO ALL THE THINGS!” and then wake up tomorrow with a did-all-the-things hangover. The crushing realization that Doing All the Things just means there are New Things To Do Tomorrow has not managed to fully sink into the consciousness of my inner child; I still, on some level, think there’s an end to striving.

I mean, technically there is–I will rest in my grave-urn, unless something extraordinary interferes–but I’m not resigned to it yet…

yet, of course, being the operative word. Maybe just a few minutes of lying on my office floor kicking and screaming like a toddler are in order, just to get it out of the way. I’m sure the dogs will love that.

Well, the coffee’s gone and I have the new baseball bat to hand. Perhaps I should formally embark upon Tuesday.

See you around.