Imperfect Strategy

A clear chilly Tuesday–not quite cold, but getting there–has dawned. I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee, a George Strait song playing inside my head, and decided I had to use Ronnie Milsap to clear things out. Milsap reliably works if I have a country-themed earworm, and has ever since I was a kid.

I don’t even know. I’m wired weird, but we all suspected as much.

Our state does mail-in ballots, and everyone in the house is of voting age and registered. We all went through the paper voter guide last week, went to our different rooms to fill in little boxes, and I took the sealed envelopes to the local ballot box since I don’t trust USPS with deJoy still in charge. (Why has that man not been booted out? Why?) There were pickup trucks parked nearby, and I watched each one carefully, ready to get the fuck out of there if right-wing goons appeared.

It was a sobering experience.

Now we wait–always my very favorite thing! I hate not being able to do anything while danger creeps nearer. I have little to zero hope, of course. Every time I’ve dared to hope over the past six-seven years, I get kicked right in the teeth. I’m done with that.

So, today will be spent trying to keep myself occupied with work. The new cover for Spring’s Arcana, the page proofs–seventy-five of them knocked off yesterday, only 293 to go–and wordcount for the NaNo novel, correspondence, other things to keep my fingers busy and my heart from hurting. It’s an imperfect strategy, since my heart will ache no matter what I find to keep myself busy with, and working will be like swimming against a riptide. Still, I’ve got to try.

The alternative is even grimmer.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my dears. We’re all reeling after years of historical-grade shocks. The wonder is that we’re all still trying to work, sparking and hissing with static, desperately transmitting and receiving despite All This. I think we all deserve a cuppa and a pat on the back, not to mention a nap. And possibly a whole box of cookies.

Que sera, sera, and all that. At least we’ve got each other, and a few stories to tell around whatever small, wan fire we’re clustering for warmth. It’s my job to tell the tales, no matter what else is going on. And it’s also my job to walk Boxnoggin, who could not care less about human politics. He’s got other concerns, and would very much like me to do something about them.

Needs must, when the devil drives–or when the dog needs a ramble. Off I go, my beloveds.

See you around.

Downhill to the Last Nerve

I dislike corporations treating me as a dirty little impediment while profiting from my work almost as much as I dislike ebook thieves clogging my inbox with demands to “write faster”, and this week has been full to the gills with both, as well as various other fun things. Burning everything down and walking into the sea has rarely seemed so attractive, and the gods know I’ve been only a few short steps away from that strategy, especially since Afterwar was published.

I don’t mind hard work. I do mind being taken advantage of, and I definitely mind outright theft of said hard work. I mind cruelty, and pathological entitlement. And, though it may be entirely too sensitive of me, I also mind pettifogging bullshitters who have never written a novel attempting to tell me how to do so, or making silly demands which clearly show they haven’t bothered to actually read a text, just let their eyes sort of halfass skim over it while busily muttering to themselves about what they think it contains, or what they want it to contain so they can feel justified verbally shitting on me.

As you can guess, this week–which started out on a lovely holiday–has somewhat gone downhill. I’m on my absolute last nerve, and after three years of abandonment by public health authorities during a pandemic, several more years of rising, vile, violent fascism, and hitting deadlines all the way through as well as releasing extra books…well, perhaps it’s not entirely out of the question that a girl might snap under these conditions.

Worst of all is the sense that nobody (even among those paid to do so) is listening to my polite requests for aid. Screaming might get some help, but I refuse to be so undignified. And yes, I know we’re all worn down to the bone right now. I could understand if the response was, “hang on a second, let me get a hand free,” or even “I’m sorry, I don’t have the resources,” but instead it’s been “you’re always so strong, why would you need help now? Just shut up.”

One learns a lot under these conditions, not only about oneself but also about other people. The individuals (and businesses) treating me awfully right now are ones who will almost certainly attempt to extort something from me in the future, and will be shocked–shocked, I say–when I do not respond in the way they expect. “But you were always so nice!”

You were swimming in the sheltered waters of my patience then, not a lagoon of someone’s weakness. That is what’s called a critical distinction, and sooner or later will bite you on the ass. My trust thermocline is almost reached.

Time to finish the dregs of morning espresso, grab some toast, and get Boxnoggin walked. I suspect I’ll even be able to get a run in today, which will be welcome indeed. I’ve put off a few weighty decisions because I want make them under conditions of relative zen after I’ve pounded away a great deal of stress chemicals and irritation on pavement.

Happy Thursday, everyone. If you’re down to your Last Bloody, Vibrating, Frayed-to-Nothing Nerve too, I hope you take a little comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Franky, I’m surprised more of us haven’t gone absolutely bananas and cleaned some house. I’m actually rather comforted, in an odd way, by just how truly patient most humans are proving at this particular historical juncture.

I’d’ve expected us to snap (and bring out the guillotines) long before now. Can’t decide if I’m happy to be wrong, though…

Slog, Vicarious Grace

Hauling myself out of bed today feels like a mistake, but the revisions must be done. I’m tired of going through moderation queues, yet the alternative is missing the reasonable comments from perfectly nice people. Being overwhelmed by work is uncomfortable, but vastly preferable to having none at all.

In short, there’s just no winning today. At least the house is quiet and the coffee is good. Once the caffeine sinks in I’ll feel loads better, and once the rains start again I’ll be all right. Everyone gets tired; the trick is to keep breathing and swimming for shore even when the agony hits.

I suppose my current doldrums are also a function of enduring three years of pandemic with no end in sight, not to mention screaming myself hoarse about the rise of fascist dickwads and being ignored on both counts. I suppose I would have to be much more worried if I didn’t feel like the low end of the pool under these conditions, but knowing that intellectually and finding any comfort in the knowledge are two very separate things.

At least there’s always the stories. Cold North is chugging along, and once I get this revision done I’ll be able to work on the serial, revise the second Sons of Ymre, and get the second Black Land’s Bane book seriously underway. The last will be late, but I’ve hit every deadline through the pandemic so far and I think after three goddamn years of this bullshit–plus the fact that I literally couldn’t start the second book until the first had been revised at least once–grants me a bit of grace. I loathe being behind, I dread and positively hate missing any kind of deadline, and yet if I was hearing this from another writer in my position I’d be telling them to take a deep breath and try to focus on what’s been accomplished even through enduring historical events and Interesting Times.

It’s just all so exhausting, and I woke up this morning even more tired than when I’d gone to bed. I’m pretty sure it’s just a wave, that the feelings and exhaustion will pass over and through me. When it’s gone I’ll turn the inner eye to see its path, and all that.

It would help if I could run. I’m stuck on easy, very slow 2km stumble-staggers while the wounded ankle is slowly strengthened and brought back to full function. The lack of endorphins from a good bruising session of hauling my corpse along at what passes for high speed probably feeds into the sense of despair. At least the multiple-mile rambles with Boxnoggin help somewhat, even if they are only at hobbling pace. By the end of walkies he’s in a grand mood, and so tired he’s well-behaved for the rest of the day.

Silver linings, and all that. Tuesday is looking like an uphill slog all the way, my beloveds. If you’re feeling the same, try to remember we’re (still) enduring a great deal, there has been no respite, and it’s perfectly reasonable, not to mention sane, to be a bit tired amidst All This.

Just keep holding the line. Some days, that’s all we can aim for. I suppose I’d best get started; the coffee is cooling and a certain square-headed canine has just pranced down the hall, anticipating that soon I’ll make a move toward toast. At least he’s having a grand time, and I can feel a bit of vicarious joy.

It’ll have to be enough.

Twitching in the Right Direction

The algorithm did indeed find my Dracula, HO! reading session, and that led to exactly what I dreaded. Having to clean shitty, entitled comments out of a moderation queue is one of my least favorite things in the whole wide world, and it honestly makes me want to stop with the teas and readings. I just don’t have the time to deal with moderating a whole lot of selfish pisshats spreading their selfish pissy comments all over. I’m going to see if it calms down, and will be streaming Dracula, YO! on Friday. I mean, I’ve done all the prep so I might as well.

If the shitty entitled behavior keeps going I might nuke the entire YouTube affair except for the saucy narrations. Or I might completely shut comments off for the main channel. I don’t want to do either, but I guess some people are just determined to ruin everything for the rest of us. And after three years of pandemic I have neither the hours nor the patience to engage in such a battle; I’d rather escalate to solving the problem in definitive fashion right out the gate.

Of course, that’s always been a component of my personality, but it’s grown far more marked of late. I’m sure reaching my mid-forties is part of that, and the situation since 2016 (and after 2020 in particular) has just been icing on the top of that particular cake.

Anyhoo. Let’s talk about something nicer. I was pleasantly surprised by revisions yesterday, having arrived at the first truly knotty problem and finding, to my relief, that all the work I’d done so far meant the knot was seriously eased. I did not have to slice it in half as I’d feared; part of the solution was cutting a few extraneous days spent knocking about the elven city. I’m sure plenty of Readers would like to know the history of every stone set in the roadway, but my editor will throttle me if I give it and besides, I can always keep those bits and use them for supplementary material.

I also deliberately provoked Hell’s Acre until the solution for another problem showed up ready for combat, at which point I bowed graciously and ushered said solution right into the story at high speed. So sure, the book’s probably angry at me, but at least it’s moving. It can be as mad as it wants as long as it twitches in the right direction.

We’ve had three lovely misty mornings in a row. By the time Boxnoggin and I return home from walkies, his undercarriage is damp and my hair dewed with fog-beads. I adore this weather. He is a bit disgruntled–he doesn’t like moisture, but at least he’s not getting overheated either. As soon as one discomfort is overcome another arises, and if that’s not a description of life I don’t know what is. It’s damn near a kenning.

Oh! I should tell you: The kids and I went to the local pop-up Spirit Halloween yesterday. One of the storefronts vacated during the pandemic must be a good deal for them; we were hoping the migratory orange-and-black would return. The dream is to almost completely decorate the house in that fashion, since this is the only time of year the wider world shares my aesthetic. I scored a new tea mug and a couple hanging plaques to match last year’s Welcome to Derry, We All Float Here and Beetlejuice signs. So now Camp Crystal Lake is honored in the foyer as well; maybe next year I’ll get a Haddonfield sign and/or an Overlook Hotel one. I have a Room 237 keychain, which pleases me to no end and hangs on the cork board in my office. (Right next to a Normandy quote from Bayerlein; I contain multitudes.)

I had to be somewhat restrained from getting a six-and-a-half foot automated monkey with cymbals. I had thoughts of bringing him home, naming him Steve, and perhaps using him to deter those who try to use our driveway as a turnaround, but the kids pointed out it was a lot of money for something that might get run over. I mutinously mumbled that getting run over would only make Steve more authentic, but allowed myself to be overruled since they were undoubtedly right.

Adulthood is full of delayed gratification. Maybe next year I’ll be able to justify a similar purchase.

In any case, it’s time to get some brekkie and usher a certain square-headed canine out the door. Thursday is for the subscription drop and telling everyone about October’s sales, so that’s on the list today. Might even do another saucy narration tonight–how is this my life, that reading Victorian erotica aloud is the fun keeping me afloat? Things have grown truly strange around the Chez of late.

…well, that’s incorrect. It’s always been strange around here, I’m just leaning into it more now. Excelsior, and all that.

See you around.

Dodgy Monday

Got up this morning to find Amazon is being dodgy about a particular book of mine (though not That Damn Werelion Book yet, it seems), so that’s irritating to deal with before coffee. However, the dog days are over, so the Demon’s Librarian sale is going ahead. Yes, there were technical difficulties last month–all mine, I am sad to report–but it’s all fixed now and the sale is proceeding apace.

It was a long weekend, mostly full of fatigue. I did get the proof pages for Duty (Ghost Squad #2) turned around and in, though I was struggling with a mild reaction to the latest bivalent vaccine. Nothing much–a slight fever, arm soreness, muscle aches, fatigue. Certainly it’s better than getting the plague proper, and my body tends to cook itself at the drop of a hat so a fever is nothing new. Still, it was unpleasant, and I didn’t get to recording the first story from The Pearl for my upcoming Victorian-erotica reading.

Ah well. I suppose I’ll get around to it later, in all my copious spare time.

This morning while I walk Boxnoggin I’ll have to plan out a certain scene in Hell’s Acre. I need to know how exactly Brother Jacob manages to convince the Widow Rudrill that he’s not a scoundrel intent upon compromising poor dear Miss Dove. (Who will be mightily amused by the whole thing, at least when she’s not worried about her “uncle.”) Then, this afternoon, it will be time for Cold North revisions. I’m excited to be finally working on this book again–everything in the last few months has conspired to keep me away from this series, but now I can finally devote most of my time to it. Which is good, because right after Boon 1 is revised I need to get Book 2 written, which will probably happen during NaNoWriMo.

So, Duty should be out in October–that was the hurry to get the proof pages turned around–and after that I’ll have a bit of a rest, working on new stuff while the release schedule calms down. There have been a lot of video meetings in the past few weeks while everything gets sorted, and I’d really like to just retreat into my cave and work for a while.

Oh, and I need to get another fraction of Varney the Vampyre reread, so I’m ready for the Reading with Lili session on Wednesday. We’ll be talking about why Varney is important in the Western vampire canon, how it set the tone for much of what came afterward, and just how gloriously purple the prose is.

I love throbbing purple prose. But then, you knew that about me.

Before all that, Boxnoggin needs his walk while I ponder the problems of Brother Jacob, and then my weary corpse needs a somewhat gentle run to shake the last of the vaccine reaction out. And I hope Amazon isn’t going to keep being silly, though I’m sure my vocal criticism of their business practices means they are simply aching for a chance to do so. Ah well.

It’s a Monday, and my arm still hurts a bit. Which will add all sorts of fun to the daily shamble, I’m sure. I hope your beginning-of-the-week is peaceful, my friends–or that together, we can wallop it into being so.

Once more into the weekly breach…

Promised Better

Chop wood, carry water.

Yesterday was awful, from the meta (news cycle) to the micro (personal). Even space werewolves didn’t help; I finally threw up my hands and retreated to bed and unconsciousness.

It did me a load of good, even if I did wake up with a Sheryl Crow song playing at top volume inside my head. I made the mistake of looking at the news again, and now I’m at my desk, with coffee, and despairing. Pretty sure the space werewolves aren’t going to be able to help today, either. Crawling back between the covers and attempting some kind of escape sounds amazing, but I don’t have the luxury of stopping. There are things to do today, and work has to go on despite how I feel.

I wouldn’t be so upset if I hadn’t spent literal decades warning everyone I could, but you know that. I feel like a broken record, even more than usual.

So I’ve fed the dog, made coffee, cued up Tuesday Night Music Club, and thanked the stars we’re not suffering a heat wave at the moment. When I’m done with this post I’ll try to eat something, then walk Boxnoggin–he’s not yet attempting to nose me out the door, probably because I’m not even halfway through my caffeine yet and he knows better than to try any bullshit until I’ve at least gotten a few more molecules of go-juice into my bloodstream–and run, then clean up and start the day’s work.

Chop wood, carry water. It could be worse, Sheryl Crow sings. I could have missed my calling. At least there’s the writing. July is right around the corner, and that means I’ll have to shelve the silly space werewolves in favor of the second Tolkien Werewolves book, and use any leftover time to keep chipping at the second Sons of Ymre. I’m sure as soon as I get a good head of steam on any project some kind of edits will land, and then I’ll have to deal with that. Publishing is a giant frustrating merry-go-round of festina lente at the best of times, and this is certainly nowhere near the best.

I was promised a better apocalypse, dammit. I was promised a meteor, winged battle, a giant dragon and a Whore of Babylon. I was promised something more dramatic and satisfying than a bunch of rich, petty, hate-filled bigots killing the rest of us despite decades’ worth of warning, with a still-raging pandemic on top. I’d demand a refund, but of whom? I did everything I could, we’re still fucked, story of my life.

So here we are on the last day of June. I keep working while the ship sinks, waiting for the inevitable. I don’t know what else to say, my beloveds. It’s all I can do to keep breathing.

Chop wood. Carry water.

Keep writing.

Blooming, Despite This

A finicky flower.

I was watering houseplants the other day, and remarked that all the African violets are blooming. My daughter looked up from her Switch, and observed that of course the plant I have most of is the finicky type that needs special pots and trimming when they get too lanky and and and. I rejoined a little defensively that they are actually quite easy to take care of, and anyway I can’t leave plants on a clearance or “distressed” rack because they just scream and cry to be taken home and nursed…

…and both of us broke down laughing, because I am a sucker and I know it.

I am allowing myself only a little bit more doomscrolling while I finish my coffee (yes, I saw the news before any caffeine, no, it was not pleasant) and then I may have to just…turn the wireless router off. I simply cannot even right now. I wrote a whole fucking book about this and nobody listened. I feel sick, and hopeless, and afraid.

…yeah, I just can’t. I just cannot.

See you later.