Manner of Doldrums

It’s a gloomy Pacific Northwest autumn morning, which suits me perfectly right down to the ground. The rain has been wonderful, the wind amusing; Boxnoggin loses his tiny little mind when invisible air-fingers are touching his hind end, and while I can’t blame him–it must be disconcerting–it doesn’t stop the whole thing from being hilarious. Miss B, of course, is unbothered by anything and everything except dinner being even a fraction of a minute late.

It’s the close of the witch’s year. We’re coming up on two years’ worth of pandemic, too, though the vaccine mandates seem to be making a bit of a dent. It’s about bloody time. If only we’d had adults (instead of fascist toddlers) in charge initially, we might have already been done with all this. My nerves are bare wires, despite all the attempts to re-wrap them.

But my favourite holiday is almost, almost here. Candy has been stored–we won’t hand it out, of course, trick or treaters will have to wait since the dogs go mad every time the doorbell rings and there’s the little matter of plague. Instead, it’ll go in a big bowl on the table, and we’ll have sugar for days.

Such are the tiny joys I’m looking forward to.

Work yesterday was interrupted by a series of minor catastrophes, so I got barely 700 words in and was quite vexed. I couldn’t even tell if they were good words, and by the end of my working day I was hangry enough to snarl. I did not, though it was a near thing, and I couldn’t go back after dinner for another session, alas.

Ah well. Today is another day, the dogs need another walk, and there’s another round of restless rain sweeping the roof. I’ll see if yesterday’s work was any good once the coffee soaks in, and I should shoehorn in a run for my weary corpse.

Everyone I know is in some manner of doldrums. Two years of All This, even with slight and fitful progress by getting semi-reasonable people back in charge–though they seem to be more interested in caving to authoritarian billionaires than doing the jobs the rest of us hired them for–is enough to dent anyone’s harmony.

I’m turning off the news today, and only glancing briefly at social stuff. I can’t take even one more goddamn thing, and I want some more lead work of Hell’s Acre before November hits and with it the drop-dead date for revisions on The Black God’s Heart, not to mention a couple other projects needing some serious attention before the end of the formal year. Oh, and Cotton Crossing is still $2.99 across ebook retailers until October 31. I’ve enjoyed running that promotion and may have to dream up a different one for November.

Miss B is napping near the door, ready for the slightest twitch on my part–it will, after all, mean walkies are closer to happening. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as excited for anything as her and Boxnoggin are for their daily ramble, but I can at least witness their joy. It’s one of the things getting me through, lately.

We’re all hanging in, all doing the best we can. Good for us–and I don’t mean that sarcastically, either. I’m truly and honestly amazed by the amount of resilience we’ve all displayed. Ideally we would never have had to call upon it…but it’s worthy of a bit of pat-on-the-back just the same.

Good job, everyone. Let’s keep going. The only way out is through, and all that…

Vivid, Chilly Fire

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Crap drifting from the sky? Must be elves.

A particular maple on the daily dog-walkies route turns into flame every year. This time around she’s incredibly vivid, almost incandescent. Standing underneath on a crisp autumn day, I almost forget the leashes wrapped around my waist and the dogs sniffing or finished with their business and eager to keep going.

The maple lays a red carpet along the sidewalk, too, but lately I’ve been peering through the branches. I’ve spent a long while looking down, careful of my footing; I figure it’s time for a change.

The kids and I joke whenever there’s a windy day–especially during autumn–and tree-bits are floating far and wide, “The elves are about again.” You know how every time there’s elves in movies, the air’s full of feathers or falling leaves or sparkles or something? Maybe it’s all the Tolkien I’ve read and my kids have watched. Neither of them can get through the books, but the films are something else.

I think that’s great; the more, the merrier.

Of course soon the branches will be bare, making patterns against the sky. Still, each time we pause under that maple, whether in summer’s green, autumn’s chilly fire, or winter’s nakedness, I try to look up.

Even if only for a moment.

COTTON CROSSING, On Sale!

Roadtrip Z

Since we’re in the middle of my very favorite month, Season One of Roadtrip Z, COTTON CROSSING, is $2.99 across ebook retailers—Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, and Kobo—until Halloween! (If you’re buying the book through my Gumroad store, use the code SPOOPY2021 at checkout to get a matching discount.)

Zombie stories are traditional this time of year, right? Might as well have a four-season epic through a snowy wasteland full of chewing, shuffling undead to celebrate.

Come November 1, prices will return to normal–but by then I’ll probably have something else to announce, so don’t worry.

Enjoy!

Small Rituals

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Blurry, but just right for catching in dog coats.

The season of harvest is upon us, my friends. Which can either be cheerful if chirped with bright optimism, or creepy if intoned with dirgelike seriousness.

These plants have been changing by small increments every time the dogs and I walk past, and we’ve reached the time of year when their seeds tangle even in Boxnoggin’s slick fur. Of course, they’re right where Boxnoggin and B like to stop for a bit of serious sniffing and possibly some liquid unloading, so I spend the next part of the walk picking wee bits out of their hair.

They enjoy the game, I think. Anytime Mum fusses over them is a good time.

Weather has finally become reasonable, pumpkins and spookytimes are everywhere, and I’m about to start accumulating bags of candy. No, we won’t be handing them out this year–the pandemic is still going on, and besides, the doorbell sends the dogs into paroxysms of rage I’m afraid might unmoor what little sanity they have left.

Indeed, no handing out candy this year. Which means the kids and I are going to have to eat it all. Silver linings, and all that.

Have a fabulous weekend, my beloveds. Look for the small things, the tiny rituals. And don’t forget the candy.

Red Leaf

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All at once, there’s a carpet of crimson below a tree on our morning walkies. Plenty of the others haven’t changed yet, but this one is a little eager–maybe because of heat damage, maybe they’re just ready for a winter’s nap. I suspect summer has been exhausting for them, too.

Happy Friday. We made it through another week. I wish you a little beauty today, my beloveds, and a peaceful weekend.

See you Monday.

RELEASE DAY: HOOD, Season Three

I have been an extraordinarily busy bee lately! HOOD‘s third and final season came to a close in May, but pandemic woes and hassles put off its wider debut. I meant to have this out in early August at the latest, but the world had other plans.


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HOOD: Season Three

Robb Locke’s trapped in a high-security Panoptikon and Sharud is under embargo, the military governeur Notheim’s fist is tightening around the throat of the entire system for his master Jun Planetagen, and all hope is lost. Somewhere at the edge of charted space, the true ruler of Anglene is drifting in a wrecked flagship.

If Marah Madán can reach Gran Parl Riccar before the oxygen runs out, she can not only save Robb but also the rest of Anglene. It’s going to take all her wit, all her resources, and a collection of spies, codejackers, rebels, and outright criminals, not to mention betraying her other childhood friend–Ged Gizabón, a dangerous adversary with secrets of his own.

Anglene is boiling, ready for yet another bloody civil war–and when it ends, Jun will be not only the Parl but the unquestioned dictator of the entire galaxy. Unless Marah and her ragtag alliance can stop him.

No hero ever stands alone…

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Amazon, and direct; print edition available here.


I loved writing my little Robin Hood…in SPACE! I especially loved the feedback from serial readers as we got to things I’d been planning and leaving Easter eggs for all through Seasons One and Two. Writing and finishing a final season under pandemic conditions was…not ideal, let’s say. But every time I thought “maybe I should just stop this, refund everyone’s subscription, and walk into the sea” someone wrote me saying that the last chapter had gotten them through something horrid, or that they were eager to know what happened next, or thanking me because they could look forward to weekly chapters of Robb and the gang’s death-defying stunts.

Like clockwork. That sort of thing makes a writer endure.

I wrote a little bit before about the literary influences of the serial, and there’s an Apple Music playlist. (I had to leave Spotify, my friends. Long story.) But if I absolutely have to be one hundred percent truthful, a lot of the serial’s genesis lay in a particular BBC series, and a particularly fine-nosed actor’s portrayal of Guy of Gisbourne.

Plus there were all the neckbeards writing me about how my faster-than-light communications (fittles, in the serial, for FTL), not to mention travel (starsteal), generation ships, and other stuff didn’t obey their particular neckbeard ideas about how sci-fi should be written. I was getting my ovaries all up in their space opera, and they didn’t like it–to complete the job of pissing them off, there’s a whole chapter stuffed full of Star Trek references, because if you’re going to come for me about sci-fi, assholes, you’d better come correct, and even your holy Asimov and Heinlein, not to mention Roddenberry, did a great deal of hand-waving. I shall not apologize for my own McGuffins.

The series is completely finished now; all three seasons are out in the wild, and there are plans for an omnibus edition. But for now, I’m going to take a breath and marvel at the fact that this particular season, written during lockdown and brought out under acid-test conditions, is finally having its book birthday.

A huge and hearty thank you is due to my beloved subscribers, without which this trilogy (not to mention Roadtrip Z) would not be. Said subscribers are currently funding Hell’s Acre, which I’m having a lot of fun with. The direct support, allowing me to tell longer, more complex stories which might not find a home in traditional publishing, is positively amazing. So, thank you, my friends, and I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve got planned next.

And as usual on a release day, here’s a link to my Discord server, where fans can discuss at leisure. (Said link will only be live for a medium-ish while, to dissuade bad actors.)

It’s been a long, strange ride. I’m not even feeling release-day exhilaration, just the regular nerves and a faint sort of harassed wonder that it’s whole and complete, especially under these conditions. I suppose I should go put my head in a bucket and do some deep breathing.

See you around, my friends.

Gilding the Web

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A delicate balance on each strand.

On mornings when the mist is just right, spiderwebs are decorated with tiny jewels.

There’s a low juniper hedge on our walkies route ideal for arachnids (no doubt it’s a huge buffet) and some mornings, the bling catches the early sun and turns gold. Other times, it’s silver gilding, and while the dogs sniff at the bottom of the hedge, eager for news and the passing report of small animals, I look at the webs and feel a great sense of calm.

I hope you find a tiny bit of beauty today, my beloveds. And I hope the long-legged ones get their fill, once the mist burns off.

Have a good weekend!