Winter in Coneflower

Aliens, I tell you.

I did no cooking yesterday (US Thanksgiving). Instead, the kids and I got take-n-bake pizzas on Wednesday, left ’em in the fridge overnight, and had an easy, early-ish dinner with no stress. It was lovely; it’s an entirely different holiday when I don’t have to cook. More like an occasion than a holiday proper, as the Prince pointed out.

The whole thing was pretty fabulous. There are better years and worse years for holiday stress, and this is shaping up to be…well, not one of the better ones. But being able to keep it extremely low-key was great, eleven out of ten, no notes, highly recommended.

Even morning walkies were also reasonably quiet, and I got to snap a picture of coneflowers going into winter. I’m sure something eats their alien seedheads, or hides in them somehow. It struck me, while attempting to line up the camera (I know it’s still blurry, Boxnoggin did not want to slow down), just how alien they look. Like the succulents flowering at the end of summer.

I enjoy watching life change as the seasons slip by. Biology is a helluva trip.

I even got a run in, so I was holding steady at thirty percent zen for the rest of the day. We’ll probably even get rain, which will make the weekend a delight. Not sure if I’m going to livestream today, though. I might take a week off even though I do desperately want to talk about Emer Martin’s Breakfast in Babylon.

Suppose I’d best get out the door with Boxnoggin before it gets too damp. His paws are so dainty.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves, please–and with each other. Who knows, by Monday the world might have changed again!

…sorry. I know that’s hardly a pleasant thought given the past few years. All the more reason to take a deep breath now.

Over and out.

COVER REVEAL: The Salt-Black Tree

“But Lili,” I hear you say. “You just did a cover reveal not too long ago.” And yes, you are absolutely correct–but the two books of The Dead God’s Heart will be out within months of each other, so the publisher’s getting ducks-in-a-row now. It will be nice, since readers won’t have to wait too long for the series to be “finished”, per se. Two whole years’ worth of work will pay off…next year.

That’s publishing, baby. Anyway, are you ready?


Isn’t it pretty?

Since the series features American divinities and one hell of a roadtrip, of course there are cars–Dima Konets’s low black sports car, Maria Drozdova’s old Léon-Bollée, a Cadillac driven by a certain Coyote, and more. I’m also pleased about the snake, which is kind of a vehicle all its own.

There’s a burst of furious activity happening behind the scenes right now–copyedits, page proofs, queries on said page proofs–so everything is in place for the release of Spring’s Arcana next May. Considering that I wrote these books during lockdown and other assorted pandemic foolishness, it’s feeling rather strange to see them inching towards their debut.

The wind is up, and I’ve much more to do today. I just had to share the loveliness, though. Happy Thursday, my friends. We’re almost through the week…

Halfway to New

The wind came through hard last night, cold skybreath combing the trees, leaves and needles and cones shaken free. A lot of stuff tapped the roof, but we were all warm and snug in our beds. Especially Boxnoggin, as I spent part of yesterday washing bedding and switching to flannel sheets. Which meant a fresh, dryer-fragrant comforter for him to sleep on, several blankets for warmth and cushioning, and the heated mattress topper, all toasting him from below. He was a happy, happy doge.

I wasn’t so bad myself. It was high time to switch to flannel and more blankets. Most of my trouble sleeping lately has been stress, but some was certainly the change in weather. Now I am roasty-toasted, and feel halfway to a new woman. (Only halfway, the rest is the same old bitter hag.)

Remember the cover reveal for Spring’s Arcana? Well, in a few days we’ll have another for Book 2 of the duology, The Salt-Black Tree. They both release within a few months of each other next year, so you won’t have long to wait between books. It’s very exciting; I haven’t had this kind of trad publisher support before. Maybe it’ll go well?

I can’t think about that or I’ll go mad with worry. Best to just put my head down and continue, one foot in front of the other.

I should’ve been working on different things yesterday. (I won’t list them; on that path lies madness.) Instead, I banged out 3.4k words on the Jolene, Jolene story. It needs a bit of polish and some trimming, then it’ll be off to the agent for her delectation. Depending on what she says it might make the rounds–if it doesn’t, I might just keep it to gloat over, a shiny treasure in my hoard. Don’t fret, though, subscribers will definitely get a taste.

It was pleasant to feel like I could still accomplish something, and to get the dopamine hit from finishing a piece. The crisis of confidence from…certain publishing industry hijinks, let’s say, hit me hard. Fortunately I have lost my patience and as a result become somewhat close to tranquil, and part of that process was apparently writing a short story based on a Dolly Parton song.

What can I say, I’m wired really weird.

Today will be split between the serial and the NaNo book. All the hard work resurrecting a dead series over the weekend is about to pay off. The nausea has gone down, and after I get a run in I’ll probably feel closer to zen than I have in a long time. Of course, before I get out the door I should do some of that trimming and polishing on the short story. It would be nice to send that off by the end of the day. I should collect and re-edit a bunch of my shorts, too, put them in an anthology–in all my COPIOUS spare time, ha. It would be nice to have them in one place.

Last week–and the weekend–were kind of awful. But there’s a silver lining, of course; there always is, even if it’s only a thin thread. I went through a whole-ass process at warp speed instead of letting a certain situation drag out for many more months, and now I can get back to work. That’s one grand thing about my mid-forties. I am no longer prepared to waste much, if any, time. If that makes me a bitch, fine. That’s what they call a woman who won’t let you take advantage of her anyway. Might as well wear it like a badge of honor.

The wind seems to have slackened. There will be plenty of downed stuff and wrack for Boxnoggin to get his nose into, and he’ll enjoy the sunshine. I’d prefer rain, though this is all right–the air doesn’t quite sparkle like champagne, but it does go down smoothly and I’ve the glow of a finished story to keep me warm.

Let us clamber into Tuesday, my beloveds, and see what the day holds.

COVER REVEAL: Spring’s Arcana

This week is going to be a rollercoaster, my beloveds–Twitter is melting down, the US midterm elections are tomorrow, wild weather, the ongoing revolution in Iran. I feel kind of weird talking about my own stuff with All This going on…but I must, and I have something very pretty for you indeed.


Cover by Allan Davey

That’s right! Spring’s Arcana–the Baba Yaga/John Wick/American Gods duology I was talking about last year, and earlier this year–has a cover now! Look at how beautiful, my beloveds. Want to hear a little more?


Spring’s Arcana

Nat Drozdova is desperate to save a life. Doctors can do little for her cancer-ridden mother, who insists there is only one cure―and that Nat must visit a skyscraper in Manhattan to get it.

Amid a snow-locked city, inside a sleek glass-walled office, Nat makes her plea and is whisked into a terrifying new world. For the skyscraper holds a hungry winter goddess who has the power to cure her mother…if Nat finds a stolen object of great power.

Now Nat must travel with a razor-wielding assassin across an American continent brimming with terror, wonder, and hungry divinities with every reason to consume a young woman. For her ailing mother is indeed suffering no ordinary illness, and Nat Drozdova is no ordinary girl. Blood calls to blood, magic to magic, and a daughter may indeed save what she loves…

…if it doesn’t consume her first.

This is the way to the Dead God’s Heart.

Available May 2023 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and independent bookstores


I’m really excited; this series has had somewhat of a bumpy ride to publication. Well, they all have bumpy rides, even in times of less historical uncertainty, but this one felt a little rougher than most. And Book 2 is right around the corner…

…but I can’t say anything about that yet.

Yet.

November Zombie Sale

In honor of enduring three years of this bullshit–and in honor of the recent spookytimes funfest–The Complete Roadtrip Z will be on sale in ebook for $8.99USD all through November! That’s all four seasons of the hit serial (funded by my beloved subscribers, whom I thank) for the price of one.

The Complete Roadtrip Z

Cotton Crossing was a dead end, but not for Ginny Mills. She’s just marking time, getting experience in the county library system, before moving back to a decent urban environment. Then the phones stop working.

Lee Quartine knows there’s no way the pretty girl at the library will even look at him. Especially since he can’t open his mouth. He knows he’s a hick, but when the power starts going out and the woods are full of strange creatures, it’s good to have someone around who can build a fire. And kill.

Ginny and Lee and their small band of survivors can’t stay put, and moving is dangerous. The infected are shambling in the hills and the concrete canyons of cities.

It’s gonna be a long trip…

Available direct, or through Kobo and these other fine ebook retailers.


Not only that, but my latest release is Duty, the second in the Ghost Squad series.

Duty

After nearly dying on his team’s last mission, Paul Klemperer is heading home for the first time since signing up for the Army. His hometown’s grown a little. The inhabitants are older. And life has moved on, but some things are still the same. Like the way he feels about the girl he left behind—who ended up marrying someone else.

Beck Sommers has a divorce in the works; if she can just hold on, she’ll be able to leave this godforsaken town. Unfortunately, her soon-to-be-ex-husband has other ideas. Her first love Paul has returned as well, making things even more complicated. And then there’s the corruption, the drugs…and murder.

Beck’s determined to fix what’s gone wrong, but she has no idea how deep the corruption goes. And Paul? Well, he’s a little behind on the local news, but one thing’s for sure—he’s not letting Beck get away this time.

First, though, he’ll have to keep her alive…

Now available from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, Kobo, and independent bookstores.

If you’re interested, the book’s soundtrack is here.


And if you’re in the mood for a VC Andrews homage, That Damn Werelion Book is now available too. November’s certainly a crackerjack of a month around here and there might be even more, so stay tuned…

Soundtrack Monday: Manju

It’s been a hot minute since we had a Soundtrack Monday around here, hasn’t it? Let’s fix that.

This week’s soundtrack callback is ES Posthumus’s Manju, which I played obsessively while writing the royal procession near the end of The Bandit King. You can almost see Vianne on her white horse, and the crowds. At 3:10, you can hear the Hedgewitch Queen cry, “Arquitaine! Behold your king!” as she neatly snaps her cousin into the traces and puts him to plow.

And at the end, you can hear the stunned realization that she’s vanished echoing in the cathedral. Poor Tristan, I think that was one of the worst moments for him, in a book packed with bad ones. Of course he deserved every single one, but still.

I still love those books, though they didn’t get the reception I hoped for. I still think about them from time to time; if I went back to that world, though, there would be a few deaths I don’t particularly want to write.

Sometimes it’s just best to leave things be. But we’ll always have Arcenne…

Boulders in Finery

A green velvet robe.

A week ago these rocks were covered in shaggy, drought-crackling grey. Now, they’re lush with soft growth. You can see traces of the dry time in brown patches, but the balance has tipped and now they are wearing their winter coats.

My soul has been expanding with the regular autumnal rains. (Finally, my gods.) All the smoke is washed out of the air, though I’m still coughing a bit. Boxnoggin is annoyed with the damp upon his delicate paws, but he’s all in favor of the longer rambles since I can finally breathe while we’re outside.

All in all, it’s beautiful–and my favorite holiday of all is coming up. There are a lot of less-than-ideal things going on right now, certainly. But at least there is moss on the boulders, rain in the air, spooky decorations everywhere, and the peace of knowing the season’s finally turned.

The witch’s year is almost done; we’ve survived another turning. We all deserve a pat on the back–and maybe a bit of our favorite candy.

Happy Halloween weekend, my beloveds. I hope you have a grand one.