Sugar and Toads

split infinitive The kids are home from school today, and this is the Monday I start the new habit of filing for ten minutes three times a week. Just filing paperwork, that’s all, from the gigantic stacks in my office. Because I am so very fond of putting things on a pile and thinking, yes, this is a good place for this to stay for A YEAR OR SO, sure!

I would like to say it’s the messiness of creativity, but it’s gone somewhat past that. When I’ve caught up with the filing there will be shredding to perform. I might even move my TBR pile–currently right behind my office chair–to a couple cleared shelves if I get really, truly ambitious. (No, I’m not holding my breath either.)

The sudden urge to clean and organize means I’ve hit a particular point in all three projects I’m working on. It’s past the “oooh, shiny!” but not quite in the “slog slog slog stabbity this book WILL NOT DIE” yet. I suspect the slog will be bearable this time, if only because of my time-honored habit of hitting a wall with one book and immediately shifting to another one to make the first jealous. (It works, I swear.)

So it is a rainy Monday on which I have to swallow a toad. I doubt I’ll do that first, though. Sweetening the amphibian with a bit of writing about a smartmouth genie and the spreadsheet-loving rationalist who just happens to own his “lamp” sounds like a much better deal. Plus there’s an entry into the Rift to write, and a werewolf attack in the third project. No shortage of sugar–or toads–this morning.

Over and out.

Empathy Drawback

psychoanalysed Rolled out of bed this morning feeling I could cheerfully hex the face off anyone I did not give birth to. The kids are now safely at school, and I (and my bad humor) are safely locked in the office, tapping at a keyboard. Of course, I have to go for a run later, but if I time it right (and since the clouds have returned) I may not have to interact with anyone. A mercy to all involved, I suspect.

It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s that I get so much overwhelming information from them, even strangers. Being hyperaware of tone, expression, body language, bracing myself against drowning in other people’s feelings or being constantly on guard in case they suddenly explode…it’s exhausting. Years of the habit of observation from being a writer have only sharpened childhood’s leftover vigilance, and a healthy dose (maybe an overdose) of empathy only adds to the problem. I spend a lot of energy in crowds or public places just keeping the wall between me and other people’s feelings strong enough to keep me from going under.

Sometimes I wish I could shut it off. The wish never lasts very long, because I’ve seen people devoid of empathy and I never want to risk that. I know there’s a middle way, but when I get tired, it’s hard to keep my balance. The anti-anxiety meds help, too.

Characters can be just as difficult, just as draining. I feel them just as strongly, even the villains. Getting so far inside their heads I understand each tic and tiny action takes a toll. I am not my characters, I just…feel them. Ache for them. Understand them, and try to translate that understanding.

The mornings when I wake up and feel like hexing, or clawing, or practicing my resting bitchface so strangers don’t try talking to me (it rarely works, they seem to find me irresistible, especially in grocery store queues) aren’t because I dislike people. They’re because I don’t have the time or energy to respond to an ambush of my empathy. The internet is a godsend, really, because I can limit interactions and hold the entire field at arm’s length. I don’t risk going under the waves of someone else’s feelings quite so much.

I should add that social media is only easier for me because of tools like the GGAutoblocker and a very tight curating of my FB friends. Muting, blocking, and being able to just not respond to certain things has managed to keep the regular harassment from being a Woman on the Internet (especially with Opinions) to a minimum, which is an outright boon for anyone with any sensitivity at all.

So I’m about to take myself and my face-hexing mood out for a run, and then settle into a long day of harnessing my weird brain chemistry to pull the writing plow. It makes me feel far less stabby and hex-y to realize this is probably the only job I’m fit for, and I’m definitely very lucky to be able to shut my office door and do it.

Over and out.

Old Bones

diningmonster Another day of the big yellow thing in the sky glaring at us all. Yesterday was oddly warm, so the kids and I went out back and did some general garden cleanup, planning, putting some more bulbs in, all that type of springlike stuff. It’s only February but the crocuses are up, the daffodils are already a hand’s-length tall, and the trees cannot be restrained from swelling their buds. I just keep wincing and telling them all, don’t get too comfortable, it’s only February, we could still get some ice, oh, my dears, do be careful.

The Princess trimmed her lavender, and Emphysema Joe thanked her kindly for it. Norbert the gargoyle has come through the winter somewhat physically cracked, but there is a new twinkle in his eye and his smile is much more pleased than it has been in recent years. “I’M GLAD YOU’RE LETTING ME STAY HERE, EVEN IF I’M A BIT OLDER,” he said yesterday, while I basked on one of the large rocks near the garden for a few minutes. “THAT’S THE TROUBLE THESE DAYS, YOU CAN’T FIND A PLACE FOR OLD BONES TO REST.”

“You can stay there until you’re shards and dust, my friend.” That was my promise, and he grinned even more widely. It’s a change to see him so happy, but maybe he’s just drunk on early spring. He’ll be cantankerous again in no time, I’m sure.

I’m a little worried the mason bees will hatch too early, as well. I have beans and winter peas in the ground and a few favas have decided to come up from last year, but I’m not sure they’ll be flowering in time. I suppose I should just hope for the best, as usual, and trust that they know what they’re doing.

The only fly in the ointment was the people up the street, who started lighting off fireworks during the big American football game. Screaming and booms, and Miss B startled almost out of her skin. I had to dose her with her anxiety meds, she didn’t stop trembling until they kicked in. It was awful. Fireworks are illegal around here except on the Fourth–and that may change soon, being illegal all year ’round. This, in my opinion, cannot happen soon enough. Not only is the noise physically stressful for both me and B, but the mess afterward that doesn’t get cleaned up, the accidents flooding the emergency rooms, the fires, dear God, just make it stop. I have never liked fireworks, ever. Watching them in a crowd just makes me want to hit the ground every time the artillery goes off and each year I am deathly afraid our roof will catch on fire, or one of the trees around our house.

Anyway. Time to head out into the yellow glare for a run. Miss B will be much easier after all the stress is run off, and I daresay I will be too.

Then it’s back to the projects on boil now, and catching up with some of the chores I played hooky on yesterday. As per usual, I probably need a weekend to recover from the weekend.

Over and out.

Wishing Hijinks

sixstringsamuraiicon This morning’s run was six kilometers, in the rain. Miss B about expired of satisfaction, since the rest of this week is tempo runs. She’s been aching to get all her fidgets worked out, and is currently sleepy-eyed and loose across the door to my office, enjoying well-earned exhaustion. A tired dog is a mannerly dog, after all.

I have revamped my Patreon tiers! If you’re interested, go on and take a look. The major new thing is recorded readings from some of my published works. If you’ve wondered what certain things sound like in my head, sign on up! I do reserve the right of choice, but I will entertain suggestions.

Right now I have three different projects on the boil. There’s a rather sweet (but a little bloody) romance about a smartmouth genie and the depressingly organized, rational, and very stick-in-the-mud woman (who loves spreadsheets, I believe she works in insurance) who just happened to get the ring he’s bound to. Secret societies and wishing hijinks abound!

Then there’s another, much darker story about a woman who makes amulets, and people who want them. This particular story had its genesis in a very vivid, unsettling dream I had not too long ago, and I’m pursuing it to see where it ends up. Purely for my own amusement, it will probably never see publication.

The third is, of course, the book I really want to work on, my homage to Stalker and Roadside Picnic. I am always curious about repercussions of large events at the local level, so I’m having to dig into this world one layer at a time, thinking out why certain things are certain ways. I am also staving off the inevitable request for a glossary with footnotes. I’m not sure anyone will buy this book, but if they do, dammit, I won’t have to make a glossary of neologisms. I have Personal Feelings about such things, and while they are strong I realize they are not exactly shared.

Odd Trundles has just risen from his midmorning nap and is sleepily blinking in my direction, smacking his lips to remind me it is almost lunchtime and hence, time for him to Do Some Business Outside before he settles in my office for his early afternoon, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon naps. It’s hard, living the Trundle life.

So, today is full of a barfight, two ambushes, and a little exposition. Not so much of the last, however–I really do love throwing the reader straight into the action and letting them swim, I love reading a book that assumes I can follow what the hell it’s talking about. But first, Trundles is right. A little lunch is in order.

Over and out.

Strange-Built Monkeys

stabbity A light frost last night, so I’m waiting for more warmth before I take Miss B out. The last thing I need is for either of us to trip and break a leg. Of course, the leg broken will likely be mine, since B is more agile, closer to the ground, and just generally more graceful than top-heavy ol’ me. She thinks monkeys are built strangely, but can’t deny the opposable thumbs and the ability to buy kibble more than make up for it, though.

On the bright side (there’s always one) the sunshine today will do good things for the garden. And tomorrow it’s back to rain, which is at least warmer during the night. The glass apples on my office windowsill are glowing. Of course, my office is a total and complete disaster, but at least the apples are cheerful. Creative mess, to be sure, and at the point I’m at–three different projects cooking at once–it helps to have a certain amount of disorder around. Wordcount comes more easily when I am not in a surgically clean environment.

With the dogs and kids around, there has never been anything close. It was worse when I was cleaning up after my ex-husband too, but that’s another story. *eyeroll* February means I need to start setting aside a few minutes every day for filing paperwork, as the end of the year has come and gone. That will cut down on the clutter, but never fear–it won’t make the damn mess any less creative.

Well. I’ve been coming back to this post multiple times over an hour and a half, and I only have 300ish words to show for it. That’s a signal I need to get out the door and run, so I can settle somewhat. My irritation level is cresting, and Miss B is a right nuisance when she knows I have my running clothes on but haven’t taken her out yet.

Over and out…

Everything is Funny

WhatsOperaDoc *sings off-key* Oh, Bwunhilda, you’re so wuvely…”

Every once in a while a day comes along where everything is hilarious, almost without exception. Child wakes up late for school and his bedhead is truly epic? Laughter. Dog trips me going down the stairs and I almost fall to my death? Giggles. Squirrel on the deck taunting said dog (I believe I saw an obscene gesture or two)? Chuckles. Cavy keeps yelling about how he’d rather listen to Lana del Rey than Rossini? Well, not quite hilarious, but certainly amusing. (At least del Rey keeps him quiet. He’s taken over poor passed-on Critic’s role.)

I do not want to leave the house today. We are low on bread flour, but I am cogitating upon using whole-wheat and vital gluten to add to the poolish. I only hope the math involved does not cause my head to explode. Although, really, if it does, I shall no doubt find that funny as well.

In other news, Kevin Hearne has been saying some very nice things about Roadside Magic. (Apparently it made him forget a manspreader next to him on a plane. HIGH COMPLIMENT INDEED.) There’s nothing quite like hearing another author “getting” what you were trying to do with a book. It’s like when my agent said, “Well, you’re more of a writer’s writer,” and I actually choked with surprise before beaming all the rest of the day.

Well. There’s wordcount to be done, vital gluten to measure, a poolish to whisper into bread, cavy nails to clip, all the laundry I didn’t get done yesterday because the kids were doing theirs (not complaining) and various other bits and bobs to do. First, though, a run, during which I’m sure B will try to kill me. (HIJINKS WILL ENSUE.) Let’s hope I’m rolling 20s on my avoid-ass-over-teakettles.

Over and out.

Release Day: ROADSIDE MAGIC

RoadsideMagiclg That’s right, chickadees–Gallow and Ragged are back, and the stakes just keep getting higher.

Robin Ragged has revenge to wreak and redemption to steal. As for Jeremiah Gallow, the poison in his wound is slowly killing him, while old friends turn traitor and long-lost enemies return to haunt him.

In the dive bars and trailer parks, the sidhe are hunting. War looms, and on a rooftop in the heart of the city, the most dangerous sidhe of all is given new life. He has only one thought, this new hunter: Where is the Ragged?

Now available at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

This book was hard to write. Robin’s grief was a stone in my own throat, and Alastair Crenn is the sort of character where you’re writing him and constantly saying “oh, honey, NO…” Jeremiah, of course, is full of so much self-loathing it’s difficult to be inside his head.

The entire series was triggered by a dream (the Boy Scout, my writing partner’s husband, sat up in the middle of the night and said the elves are dying) and opened up inside my head, full-blown, in the space of a few seconds when the Selkie told me about said dream. It’s an odd feeling, that–a sort of vertigo, the outside world a faded irritant while the space inside my skull turns becomes the only world I’m interested in. I’m sure other writers have that moment, where everything about a book/series opens up.

Anyway, I hope you like it, dear Readers. I’ve noticed some people saying the language is difficult–“faux-Shakespearean” is my favourite–as if that’s a bad thing. I love words, I love to roll around in them, I love to build rhythmic sentences. And really, the sidhe have been alive so long, of course they sound archaic. Even Spenser might be too modern for them. I am comforted by the sheer number of Readers who have written me to say they love the language, and that the sidhe’s double-edged meanings and layers of recondite insult and compliment are pleasing indeed. Thank you, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the second book’s adventures and betrayals.

Now I’m headed off to cower in a corner and nurse my release-day nerves, biting my nails and just generally being an anxiety-ridden nuisance to myself. As I do every time a book hits. You’d think it would become easier.

Over and out.