Soundtrack Monday: She Cries Your Name

Welcome back to Soundtrack Monday! This week’s track is Beth Orton’s beautiful, driving She Cries Your Name, which I listened to over and over whenever I needed to get into Robin Ragged’s head. Robin grew up in a trailer park, and Orton’s voice reliably brought her into focus for me. (The soundtrack for the entire trilogy is here.)

The Bannon & Clare books weren’t doing as well as the publisher liked, so my editor (my very favorite editor ever, actually) asked what else I had. As I recall it we were mid-contract, and normally I would have insisted that we stick with the last three books planned in that series (the trilogy where Emma and Archibald go to their world’s versions of China, America, and India, respectively) but…I trusted her.

That trust is one of the most valuable things a writer has. So, I said, “…all right, I’ve got this other thing. It has to do with the fae.”

And my editor said, “Great. Gimme.”

So I began writing about Jeremy Gallow, who hated himself far more than he did anyone else, and Robin Ragged, whose kindness was always used against her. Alastair Crenn showed up later; I only had a faint intimation of his presence while writing the first book. Sometimes characters surprise you like that, and every time I had to write Crenn I had to listen to another song…

…but that’s another Soundtrack Monday post, my beloveds, and this one appears to be done. Enjoy!

Jumprope Tuesday

My body is taking vengeance for atmospheric conditions neither it nor I control. The heat’s broken–at least, the really terrible stuff has, there’s still the garden-variety summer terrible to deal with. But that’s fine, it cools off at night, and in a couple days I’ll have fully bounced back.

At least, that’s the hope. I’m keeping coffee down, which is a blessing and a half. Attempting to deal with all this sans caffeine is an unpleasant prospect at best.

Today’s the official day for That Damn Werelion Book‘s paperback release. Amazon’s still listing it as “preorder” even though the release date is August 2. Ah well, it wouldn’t be a book release without some giant headache. In my more charitable moments I ascribe it to a lot of moving parts having to be just right. In the less-charitable, well…the less said about that, the better.

I managed a reasonable amount of work yesterday, and have high hopes for today as well. It’s akin to watching a jumprope as it rises and descends, catching the rhythm, and jumping in. The next scene in Hell’s Acre wanted to be written dialogue-first, so now it’s a matter of stitching around what the characters say, adding action and description tags to make clear how they said it. In certain cases I want the emphasis clear, in others the reader must supply their own. With that done I can also start building on the groundwork for the heroine in the second Sons of Ymre to figure out things in the temple aren’t what they appear to be (and now Prince’s Thieves in the Temple is playing inside my head) and the “hero” needs a bit more grinding into the dirt before I’ve forgiven him.

He was a total jackass in the first book, after all.

Boxnoggin is very happy this morning. In the first place, the windows are open and he can trot from place to place, getting a good snootful of a dawn breeze. In the second, it wasn’t gasping-hot last night, so I wasn’t as restless as I’ve been and he got more than the briefest of snuggles this morning. His walkies won’t be a misery, either, which is all to the good.

I have the strangest feeling today is Monday since yesterday was so physically miserable as to blur into a smear. I don’t quite dislike Mondays–they get a bit of an unfair reputation, being the first day back after weekends and all that–but I really don’t want to suffer them twice a week. Once is plenty. I have to keep glancing at the top of my screen to verify that yes, it’s Tuesday. Perhaps it’s my brain cooking from the weather.

The sun has reached a gap in the cedars, filling my office with summer gold. The particular quality of light in different seasons has always fascinated me, as well as the difference between, say, a hazy light-blue summer sky (you can tell it’s going to be hot and there’s no rain in sight) to the aching, piercing deeper blue of autumn-on-the-knife-edge-of-winter. A pale thin gold of sunshine in winter is distinct from the heavier, richer light of certain fall afternoons, and the rain-washed blue of spring sky seen between heavy clouds is in a class all its own. There are things to love about each and every shade.

In fact, I’ve been gazing out the window so much, enjoying a cool morning breeze, that this has taken a bit longer to write than usual. My coffee is tepid now, and Boxnoggin is waiting patiently for me to make some toast since that’s the next step before walkies. I might even keep said toast down, as it’s not still sticky-hot and humid. The only way to find out is to finish this, bolt the last of said coffee, and get started on the day.

I just had to check again to make sure it’s Tuesday. I can’t decide if this bodes ill or means I have an extra day’s productivity stored up in my fingers, waiting to be unleashed.

Suppose I’d best go find out. Wish me luck, my friends, and I wish you a pleasant (and hopefully temperate) day in return.

Preorders and Vexation

It’s too bloody hot. Even Boxnoggin thinks so, and he’s from Texas. Of course, he’s been with us for four years now–we just passed the official anniversary–so by now he’s an honorary Pacific Northwester except for the hating rain bit, but I’m sure a lot of people who otherwise love it here dislike the rain.

It’s odd, but there it is.

We’re lucky in that we can close up the house, shaded by the firs, and turn on the heat pump’s AC function. It manages to keep things on the edge of livable, especially with opening the house in the very early morning to let some cool air in. The mercury just isn’t dipping enough at night to provide the relief we need, though. We should be back to more-reasonable weather by Monday.

Which seems a long way away.

I’m simply hunkering down, trying to ignore the draining lassitude, and taking deep breaths. An edit letter just recently landed, and we all know how those go. I’m in my week-of-processing-feels, and it may extend past seven days proper. I could go on a rant about the things people are getting wrong about this book, but it would serve no purpose. I have the week-plus rule for a good reason; it’s just hard to keep my mouth shut sometimes. When I calm down things will look better, or at least different. And I can’t be sure the bloody weather isn’t part of my ire.

All of this means that instead of three projects I’m now focusing on two, since the third needs to wait for revisions to be done before it can move forward. The silver lining is that Sons of Ymre 2 is going along great guns, 4k written yesterday alone. The heroine is finally at the temple, the hero is figuring out what the hell, and everything’s about to go haywire in the best mounting-tension way. I’m particularly pleased by the damage done to the hero; he deserves every inch of it, and is well on his way to redeeming himself. And I shook loose the next scene in Hell’s Acre, which had been resisting me until I finally threw up my hands and went walking down the hall in frustration.

Sometimes it just takes physical movement to jolt things free. Today’s run, if I don’t expire of heatstroke, will probably provide even more.

At least That Damn Werelion Book has preorder links up for the paperback, finally. (Amazon link here if B&N isn’t your cuppa.) Amazon won’t let indie authors put up preorder links for Kindle if you’re not selling through KDP; it’s one of the ways they attempt to lock us in for better shearing. Gumroad has turned off their preorder function, which is a huge bother because dammit, I needed that, and Payhip is working on theirs but doesn’t have it yet. Although Payhip does say one can do preorders with a placeholder file, as long as one uploads the proper file on release day. I’m still thinking about whether or not I want to work it that way.

You’d think these distribution platforms wanting to profit off a writer’s work would make preorders easier, but unfortunately greed (in the case of Amazon) and whatever-the-hell (in the case of others) seems to win out every time. Eventually things will shake out, I’m sure. But it’s irritating as all get-out.

And again, I can’t be sure how much of my vexation is my body’s sensitivity to heat. Ever since that one horrid episode in San Diego (I should’ve been hospitalized, but who can afford that in America? Not I, my friends…) I’ve been peculiarly vulnerable to temperatures above 80F. This is a misery. Other parts of the country–let alone the world–have it worse, though, so I am counting my (slightly sweat-soaked) blessings.

I suppose I should finish my coffee and get out the door for Boxnoggin’s walk while the temperature is still reasonable. The sooner Lord van der Sploot’s ramble is accomplished, the sooner I can hit the pavement for my own exercise and think about the conversation Lord Cassel is going to have with his pretty, vivacious, terrified, and treacherous (for good reason) wife. I had to cut away from a gangfight for this scene, and it will provide a good structural caesura before coming back. Then the book needs a deep breath before the plunge.

I have the next serial after Hell’s Acre decided upon, and I’m beginning to feel the itch to poke at it. It’s not time yet, but I can think about it, at least. Blocking out some of the combat scenes will help, though they’ll necessarily change when the actual writing happens. All in all, I’ve a lot of work to do.

Which is just the way I like it, no matter the weather. Stay frosty, my beloveds, and be gentle with yourselves.

See you around.

Up to Us, Drop by Drop

Well, it’s Monday again. My nerves are somewhat re-wrapped, due to a weekend’s worth of reading Anaïs Nin and just generally being a bump on a log otherwise. I have rarely in my life been this low-energy; normally, while I’m awake I’m working, and that’s that.

But several years of ongoing, relentless crisis will wear on anyone, I think. I keep saying “I am full of the world’s pain”; my empathy is battered daily, even when I don’t doomscroll. It’s at the point where I’m numb, which is a great relief from the tearing pain of loss but interferes with work. Having to press through the layers of emotional scar tissue keeping me sane at this point is…suboptimal.

Consequently I’ve retracted, a bruised anemone. I am, after all, only human, possessed of finite time and energy.

I’m on Volume 6 of Nin’s Diary, and while it’s been an awesome ride, I’m glad there’s only about a volume and a half left. (It was surprisingly hard to get my hot little hands on #7, but I triumphed.) Some of her homophobia is jarring, and the terminology of anti-bigotry has changed out of all recognition since her time as well. Her constant willingness to let others, like Henry Miller, take advantage of her also jolts me. I already didn’t like him (despite reading Henry & June several times since my early 20s and still enjoying it thoroughly) but now my distaste for him (not to mention some others) is at white-hot intensity. Naturally my dislike is a matter of seeing myself revealed; I am somewhat known for being a bit of a doormat if I like someone. For me, it’s a holdover from mu boundaries being repeatedly and regularly violated as a child; I had to learn, painstakingly and in therapy, how to enforce them and how to let toxic, abusive people go.

Thankfully, in my mid-forties, I have learned to take a little more care of myself, and have scrawled many an “ANAÏS HONEY NO” in the margins. Getting to this age as a woman is wonderful; learning to give zero fucks and protect one’s space is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s also why our society prizes malleable teenage girls so much and works so hard to make older women feel invisible and unwanted.

But there’s power in invisibility, my friends. Superpower.

One of the interesting things about reading Nin’s diaries is seeing how little publishing has changed. The things she bemoans in dealing with publishers are the things we’re struggling with now, just with jet fuel poured on the bonfire. Even some of the names are the same. They still treat writers as disposable serfs; I think Nin would have bemoaned several parts of the internet but absolutely loved the explosion of self-publishing made possible by its technological advance.

…I could write a whole article about that, but who has the time?

I was also able to settle and watch a movie or two, including 1956’s Forbidden Planet. Seeing a very young Leslie Nielsen was a trip and a half, and the misogyny in the movie was…not a treat, let’s put it that way. It is fully an heir to Shakespeare in woman-hating, especially as a retelling of The Tempest. On the bright side, it makes me want to rewrite the whole thing and do it right, which is a sign that I’m taking in creative nourishment. Filling the well, drop by drop.

Which is good, because I’m parched.

In any case, I should get my brekkie–so Boxnoggin will consume his; he is a very social eater–and take said Boxnoggin on his walkies so I can run. The rest of the day is for a top to bottom reread of Hell’s Acre; that has moved to first on my docket. I’m in the second season now, and as usual, by this point I have an idea of what the next serial will be but have to get this one sorted beforehand. I had such dreams for this serial, but the pandemic really made working on it into acid-test conditions. It’s sad; I wanted to do so much more.

In any case, there’s my marching orders. Oh, and happy Juneteenth Observed! It’s high time for this holiday to be given attention; it should be even bigger than Fourth of July. (And if you have a problem with me saying that, tough. It’s still true.)

Happy First Weekday, my beloveds; be gentle with yourselves and each other. The rest of the world will not, so it’s up to us.

Fog and Publishing

It’s a quiet, misty morning. Miss B made her feelings known early, and nosed me out of bed. Boxnoggin and I could have easily slept another few hours, but Miss B is an old lady and wanted her breakfast. So here we are. At least there’s coffee…

…and news just landed in my inbox that Draft2Digital is buying Smashwords. Of course I breathlessly raced to a few fellow writers to discuss, and the prevailing feeling seems to be “better than Amazon buying it just to turn it into a zombie cesspool of harassment like they did to Goodreads.” It looks like the erotica component of Smashwords, with their relatively new self-tagging system, will get greater distribution (for non-“taboo” stuff, i.e., the Very Bad, No One Will Touch This For Good Reason, What’s Wrong With You things) and to my mind that’s a good thing. The Smashwords store (in all its, ahem, glory) will probably remain for the “taboo” stuff, which is also a good thing.

The big consideration is this makes D2D even more of a viable alternative to KDP, and that is a distinct good. Amazon is the elephant in the room, and a nasty one at that. Competition may be unwelcome to Bezos, but for authors it’s a gat-damn boon. I’ve been waiting for a market correction to deal with Amazon for a long while, and while this isn’t it (D2D’s still far too small to truly challenge the behemoth) it’s at least a step closer.

For readers, this means greater variety; anytime we get alternatives to Amazon it’s a net good for consumers too. So I’m cautiously hopeful.

What excitement first thing in the morning, eh? I’m only three-quarters of the way through my coffee, even.

Yesterday’s Tea with Lili is up; in it, I talk about NFTs, the recent Gumroad thing, types of publishing, and self-care. Not in huge depth, since it’s only fifteen minutes. I’m liking the short format, though it’s not what Twitch recommends. Apparently one isn’t a real streamer unless one does it for hours per day, but I don’t have that kind of time. I’m still playing with schedule, format, and a couple audio issues, so we’ll see what happens.

Also, the cover reveal for Sons of Ymre is up over at Patreon, too. All subscribers got the cover reveal early–just one of the ways I say “thank you” to my beloveds.

I suppose I’d best get some brekkie, and get the dogs walked. I might even get to run before the vapor burns off, which will be nice despite the risk of seeing Pyramid Head through the drifting cloud. Of course, if I did see something like that, I’d already be running, so the reasonable reaction (running away) would be a no-brainer. Of course, if he was menacing another poor civilian, I’d probably have to Get Involved–a particular pastime of mine, attempting to aid underdogs.

I would probably die early and messily in a video game. Or who knows, maybe I’m an NPC. Now there’s a story idea, albeit one I don’t have time for at the moment.

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It’s starting out rather a doozy. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Boostered, and Well-Filling

The Princess, being a frontline worker, had her booster appointment on Tuesday; the Prince and I went along to ask if they were doing walk-ins as well. Fortunately, it was one of the few pharmacies in the area offering them, there was nobody else in the store, so all three of us got our booster and flu shot at once.

The relief is immense. So immense, in fact, I’m not sure how much of being absolutely wiped out yesterday (and frankly, almost totally wiped out today) is psychological, and how much is my immune system pitching a gigantic fit. Either way, it’s far, far better than suffering the plague or influenza, so here we are.

The kids both had mild arm soreness and a wee bit of fatigue. So far their side effects are very small, which I am unendingly grateful for. I am logy, still a bit feverish, and brain-fogged, but the fatigue has gone down a bit. I will say, whether it was the relief or the fever, I had hypersaturated, very odd dreams.

None of them were worthy to turn into a short story, let alone a book, so that’s a bit disappointing. But I shall persevere. Gods know I have enough material to keep me busy, even after shoving three books out the door and into the wild, wild world.

All my engines can turn to Hell’s Acre for a short time now, then I can give Ghost Squad #2 a bit of a shake and a towel-down before sending it off to beta readers. At the very least I have to get all of the brackets out.

Song that never ends, no rest for the weary or the wicked in our benighted world, and all that.

Before I forget, a huge shout-out to everyone who told me what movies, books, songs, and the like they’re using to refill their wells right now. You guys are a very eclectic bunch! (Feel free to add what you’re reading/watching/loving right now! I always love hearing about it.) I’m reading Burkert’s Homo Necans (because that is my idea of fun) and have been talked into watching the Wheel of Time series on Amazon.

I knew a few WoT fans in high school, and their behavior over the book(s) convinced me I wanted nothing to do with the entire thing. Later, I shelved them during my many stints as a bookstore worker, and the behavior of the male fans there just deepened my conviction. But, as one of my friends pointed out, misogynistic neckbeards are up in arms over the Amazon Prime adaptation being “diverse” and “woke”, so it’s probably worth a try.

I like the costuming (I am Team Suspenders, and some of the sweaters delight my inner knitter) and the CGI is great, not to mention Rosamund Pike and Daniel Henney. (The latter sparked one of my favorite characters in the Livi Talbot series.) So, all in all, it seems pretty awesome and I might give the books a try, though that Rand guy irritates the living DAYLIGHTS out of me already and I can’t wait for him to get stabbed by a giant trolloc or eyeless thing already. I’m only a couple episodes in, so we’ll see. I might even give the books a whirl, who knows?

So today is for gently getting back to work–only for a few hours, there’s no use in courting burnout–and getting subscription stuff out the door. Not to mention walking the dogs and prodding my poor bewildered corpse through something approaching a run. I haven’t had a run in days and it’s beginning to wear on my nerves.

I never, ever can get the hang of Thursdays, but one must suffer them all the same. Time to strap some shoes on, grab some toast, and get the dogs walked.

See you around, beloveds.

RELEASE DAY: Moon’s Knight

It’s a Tuesday, which generally means new books. And what do you know, this Tuesday it means a new Lili book.

The portal fantasy I wrote last year (during the very bleakest part of that lockdown) was originally going to stay on my hard drive, unread by anyone other than me. My beta readers, however, were going through rough patch (who wasn’t, at that moment) so I said, “All right, here. Have this portal fantasy. It’s not much, but–“

I couldn’t even finish the sentence. They figuratively snatched it out of my hands, read it, then all three promptly informed me that I had to publish it. I sent it to my agent, who cursed me for making her like a portal fantasy, and so, resisting all the way, I was brought to the sticking-post.

So…here it is, for your delectation as well, dear Reader.

Drunk and disoriented after her best friend’s funeral, Ginevra Bennet stumbles through a door in an ivy-covered wall…and finds herself in a dry wasteland under a dying crimson sun, the only possible shelter a giant stone castle.

If it’s a hallucination, it’s a deadly one; the Keep is full of beauty, luxury, courtly manners–and monsters. The inhabitants rejoice in her arrival, dress her in white, and call her a queen. Greenery returns to their gardens, and the prince of the realm, with his silver-ringed eyes, seems very interested in Gin indeed. It should be the answer to every lonely young woman’s dreams.

But nothing in Gin’s life has ever been what it’s seemed. Not her best friend, not her upbringing, and most especially not her nightmares. Drowning, violent death, a stone roof, and the hallucinatory prince have filled her nights, and Gin hopes she’s going mad–because the alternative is just too scary to contemplate.

Caught in a web of manners, intrigue, and betrayal, Gin has to depend on her sorely tested wits and uncertain sanity. There are Gates at the edge of the wasteland, and if she can escape the castle and its beautiful, terrifying inhabitants, she might just find a few answers and be able to get home.

Assuming, of course, home is where she really wants to be…

Available from Barnes & NobleAmazonKoboAppleGoogle Play, and direct; print edition also available here.

I was trying out a new print distribution service for the paper edition, figuring it was a great time to experiment. The experiment did not go well, so I’m making other plans. So yes, the paper edition is forthcoming–it was supposed to drop a full week before the ebook, but like I said, the experiment didn’t go well. (Translation: I will not be recommending that particular print distro to my publishing friends.) So I’m sort of scrambling to get the rest put together, and I’ll tell you when the paper edition goes live. [ETA: It’s live! You can find it here.]

I suppose today is a release day, though I intended to just quietly drop this book with no warning and no fanfare. Best-laid plans, and all that.

So, uh, I wrote a book. Here it is. You might like it, though I kept telling the beta readers, “It’s very slight. There’s not a lot of action. It…dammit, I’m still talking, why are you walking away and reading at the same time? THAT’S DANGEROUS!”

I suspect I am a trial to my poor beta readers as well as everyone else, most days. So I’ll just go stick my head in a bucket like usual on release days, and let the world do as it will. Maybe now this story will leave me alone.

Happy Tuesday!