A Peevish Start

Well, it’s a Monday again. A brand-new week. Yes, I know weeks are imaginary constructs, but so is money and we need that to survive too.

I did a deep-dive Twitch stream on the Valentine series on Saturday; the hour-and-a-half of me talking about imaginary people (it turned into a Japhrimel discussion, since I get so many questions about him) will stay up for a few days.

I like knitting and talking, though I only got a few rows on that scarf done, being occupied gesturing with steel knitting needles instead of actually knitting for most of the stream. Normally I use bamboo, because it catches the yarn just as I prefer and makes the entire process easier, but I didn’t have a set of size-3s and the very thin, fine cashmere needed a much smaller needle than I usually work in.

At least it’s cooling off at night, so we can sleep in some comfort. Small mercies–the only kind we ever get, right?

It’s not that I’m in a pessimistic mood, I think? For one thing, I have coffee. Sweet, blessed caffeine is about to sink into my tissues and provide the strength to get through the day.

I can’t wait.

Today is for some administrivia, a chapter in Hell’s Acre (remember, you can read the first bit of the serial for free here), and getting seriously underway on Sons of Ymre revisions. The latter needs the majority of my attention for the foreseeable future, though what I’d really like to be doing is writing the second book of Cold North. The pressure on that book will mount the longer I stay away, though, so I can afford to let it boil a bit. I know exactly how the rest of the trilogy goes, which is both curse and blessing.

I also have Moon’s Knight–the portal fantasy I wrote at white heat last year–working its way through the publishing process with a placeholder cover while some other moving bits fall into place. One more proof pass and the actual-factual cover, and we’ll be good to go. Preorder links are slowly populating, so there’s that.

It’s nice to have a surfeit of work, though I’m disappointed about a few recent developments on the publishing front. That’s fine, it’s all part of the career, and it won’t kill me. I’ll just be peeved about it for a wee bit.

It’s a peevish kind of morning, and my choice of office jam (thrash metal) isn’t helping. I can already tell I’ll be harnessing the power of irritation to get through the day. It’s not a bad thing–any fuel will do on a Monday–but I will have to make very, very certain I don’t bite or claw without cause.

And the dogs are eager for walkies, so I must attempt some breakfast once the coffee has settled my stomach, then take them rambling. The marine layer providing nice, reasonably-cool mornings is a gift and a blessing; the damage from the latest heat dome is everywhere. It hurts a little to see crisped vegetation and dead leaves, knowing what’s responsible and that the train won’t halt anytime soon.

…maybe I am slightly pessimistic, but I can blame it on Monday and curl up in my dark cave of an office to treat ill temper with a dose of work. Time to switch out the music–I think some Massive Attack will soothe my savagery somewhat–and wander towards the fancy-dancy new toaster.

May your Monday go smoothly, beloveds. Stay cool out there.

Certainly a Goal

Spent the last few days listening to my computer read a book I’d written, following along in the text while looking for holes, typos, and inconsistencies. It’s a good way to proof. I also can’t get over the fact that I can write something and have a computer read it to me.

We live in the damn future. The only thing missing is the flying skateboards, and though everyone knows how much I love the concept, the technology would probably cause more problems than it ever dreamt of solving.

Of course the book is full of neologisms and strange character names, so each time one was mispronounced I was either amused or irritated to some degree. But that’s a small price to pay for the ease with which this type of proofing allows me to see typos and homonyms and and and. Spending my days staring at words on a screen means sometimes I read what I meant to write instead of what’s actually there, so one has to almost trick one’s brain with novelty or discomfort in order to find errors.

Anyway, now I’m hopeful that damn book will leave me alone for a while, since due to other moving parts, the rest of the production timeline is now entirely out of my hands. Of course the remaining pieces will all fall in a row at the most inconvenient moment, probably when I’m head-down in another thorny revision, but that’s the way it goes.

If a book ever passes smoothly through the production process with no hassles whatsoever, I’ll probably get nervous and pull the plug, sensing a disaster looming after release. Problems solved before mean fewer problems after, or something like that.

In any case, I have a second jolt of coffee to balance out the fatigue from today’s run. I know I’ll have more energy in the afternoon; morning exercise does that. I just have to get through the valley of my body whimpering why on earth did you do that to me, let’s go back to bed or at least have lunch. I also tossed a Caprese salad down the hatch, so that will give me some strength for post-meridian revisions.

How in the hell did it get to be Thursday? Oh, right–a Monday off and a few days living in an alternate universe will do that to you. I suppose I should stop poking at this blog post and get my legs under me.

So to speak. I keep saying I do have a backyard story to tell my best beloveds, but it’ll have to wait until next week or so. You’ll like it, though, it’s a real corker.

Onward, upward, excelsior, and all that. Friday can’t come soon enough–as long as I can get some damn work done today, that is.

All signs point to “well, that’s certainly a goal, but whether or not we can get there is an open question…”

Refuge in the Work

I did not wish to leave bed today. I want to stay snuggled, wringing the last few drops of happiness from my solitary road trip this weekend. Alas, there’s work to be done–not only the daily work of living, but also Cold North is possessing me and I really do have to get some other stuff shoehorned in around the book filling my brain or I’ll fall behind.

And that cannot be borne. There’s a mortgage to pay, after all.

There is a silver lining, though. It’s been a long while since I finished a piece of writing and was so excited I had to send it to the Selkie1 with the urgent request to “OMG LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS IS TELL ME I’M PRETTY”. Yesterday, there was a scene involving elves, massive reindeer, a snowstorm, and Viking werewolves, and I knew while writing that I had something special.

It made me realize just how long it’s been since I’ve been deeply excited at work, enough to blurt out in all-caps to said writing partner. It was very nice when she replied with the requested squee and a bonus “this is my favorite part”–incidentally, a bit I knew was good as soon as it left my fingers. It’s like a well done iaido strike, you just know before your hand even twitches for the hilt that it’s already happened, and it’s beautiful.

Even with the solo road trip, all the socializing lately has cut deeply into my energy level. Getting some precious alone time means I realize how hard I’ve been running my engine in the red, and for how long.

Of course, I take refuge from everything in work. Heartbreak? I write. Irritation? I write. Depression? I write. Worry? I write. Everything gets poured into stories. It might not be the best coping mechanism, but it’s mine–and it even pays the bills most of the time.

Of course, publishing being what it is, I also have to spend a nontrivial amount of energy nagging to get things done, but I suppose that happens in any industry. I often find myself staring at my inbox muttering “All you have to do is your damn job,” and not even at publishers–at anyone, frankly. I’m sure I can be just as frustrating. Irritation seems to make the business world go ’round.

But I’ve the rest of today for dog-walkies, running, and getting some Viking werewolves into a pitched battle with some high-powered Nazgul, as well as getting that damn combat scene done. It’s not that the scene is unfinished inside my head or needs more marinating, it’s that my after-dinner working time has been eaten by recovery and social engagements. Due to the boom of video meetings during lockdown, I’ve been more social in the past two years than I ever have in my entire life, and I need to prune some of that back even if the caretaker in me screams “but people neeeeeeeed you!”

Yesterday the music queue served up a chunk of Pink Floyd, which was fine since it’s after the summer solstice. I absolutely cannot listen to the Floyd in the dark half of the year; it does bad things to me. Consequently The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon are inextricably linked to summer inside my head, and it was super pleasant to realize not only did I have enough light to listen, but I also had enough emotional bandwidth.

The big thing will be not re-injuring myself because I feel temporarily good. It doesn’t help that I have to keep producing or the entire house might sink into the sea. Writers tend to die with their boots on, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to retire. On my good days I think that’s fine, because the stories are lined up around the block and there’s no way I’ll get to them all in my allotted span.

Of course, that could be my own particular attempt to bargain with mortality–you can’t take me, I have deadlines to meet and stories to write. Death won’t listen, but ’tis human to make the effort, so to speak.

And with that borderline-morbid thought, my friends, I bid you a civil adieu and get out the door for walkies. Both dogs are increasingly antsy, for they can tell I’ve finished my coffee and next comes the ritual Tying of the Shoes With Canine Assistance That Is, In Fact, No Assistance At All.

See you ’round.

Ridiculous Heat

The heat put paid to any real work yesterday, despite my best efforts and the air conditioning. Of course, I’ve been going without any real rest for a while, so the Muse just threw up her hands and brought everything to a screeching halt. On the bright side, now I know the next handhold to swing to in Cold North, and the next combat scene in Hell’s Acre is just about settled in my head. The only thing I have to get down is the entrance to the battlefield and the first few moves. The rest of the fight depends on the attacker getting to a certain point in the room, and the most efficient way of doing that will break his cover, which he needs until the very last moment. So he might have to amble, or let the opponents get a few shots in while they’re dragging him to meet their boss–which is precisely where he wants to be.

…they take only short time to read, but combat scenes often take a ruddy long time to write. Everything has to be just so.

On the bright side I can go down to the punching bag and work off some angst blocking out the close-quarters part of the fight. I have quite a few Tuckerizations courtesy of my lovely subscribers–sometimes I put out a call for character names, and mostly those walk-ons die in terribly gruesome ways.

So, yesterday was suboptimal but the heat seems to have broken, which means I can walk the dogs and get a nice reasonable run in, as well as leave my office window open a bit to cool it down–unless, of course, the weird alarm in the neighbor over the back fence’s yard keeps going off. I think he meant it as a squirrel deterrent, but it goes off at the least breath of wind and the thing is annoying.

I did finish that book on Rome and the Silk Road; I’ve moved on to a WWII memoir. I’m saving a scholarly Viking book for when a certain question involving Cold North is settled. At least I got some reading in during the heat, between lying on the floor as a puddle and making questionable food choices. (I regret nothing, though my digestion is a bit unhappy. NOTHING, I TELL YOU.)

I knew things were getting ridiculous yesterday when I realized it was 2pm already and I hadn’t even gotten a hundred words. That set off a death spiral where I was convinced, convinced my career was over and I’d never write again. It was a sign I needed some kind of break, so I carried said book to the floor and settled into reading and internal grousing, while the dogs did not pile onto me–it was too warm–but were extremely proximal, attempting to soothe.

They were paid for their care in French fries, and considered that quite acceptable indeed.

So, today I finish an elementalist and a shieldmaid having a heart-to-heart, then get an elf stabbed with a poisoned blade. And for good measure, I get a certain Hellion to the precise spot in a pub’s private room where he can commit maximum mayhem. Pretty sure he’s going to defenestrate someone–by request, actually, a soon-to-be-Tuckerized subscriber really wanted death by window ejection and I have no objection.

For I love my darling Readers and beloved subscribers, and if a little thing like tossing a character through a window will make them happy, who am I to deny it?

My mood has lifted considerably now that I’ve talked my way into defenestration. I suppose that’s the Thursday mood.

Over and out.

Not Quite Vacay

It’s raining, and I woke up with Rain’s Sad Tango playing in my head. Which isn’t bad on either count. I get to run while water is falling from the sky, and there’s also a catchy groove to do it to.

I meant to take this week as a vacation, at least from serial writing. Unfortunately life has other ideas. Cold North is still going great guns; the elementalist has left that world’s variation on Nargothrond and is heading for a hill topped with red foliage. (Turin Turambar fans are going to get a kick out of this part of the tale.) I’m also getting plenty of progress in on Hell’s Acre, which has a scaffolding somewhat resembling an outline–though anything approaching an outline gets thrown out about two-thirds of the way through any work.

I just can’t stick to directions when it comes to a story. It has to take its own organic shape, and though I can often predict said shape, the execution is always much different than the projection.

…I just took the first gulp of today’s coffee, and my gods is it ever welcome.

I’m having to switch back to tea in the afternoons, since sleeping is becoming difficult again. On the one hand, I could just get up and work when insomnia strikes. On the other, I’m getting older (surprise, surprise) and the very thought of pulling all-nighters the way I used to makes me even more tired. I might as well give my body all the help I can. Besides, tea is stuffed full of anti-depressive chemicals, and that’s always a bonus.

I’m also ready to open up my Discord server for a new round of members, so come on in, the water’s fine! The invite link will last for a week, unless we get an influx of bad actors. (Which sometimes happens, this being the internet and all.) Patreon and Gumroad folks get special access on the server, and I’m kicking around the idea of doing some voice chats with subscribers–an AMA or two sounds like a good time, especially with a cuppa. The server has a living room, a place to discuss the books of Yours Truly, a place to discuss other authors’ books, a hellhole where politics are discussed, and more.

I’m slowly working my way through coffee. It’s a nice quiet grey morning, and after listening to Sad Tango on repeat I figure I’ll shift to the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, look over the day’s work, and finish said java before taking the dogs on walkies. Boxnoggin will be extremely put out that it’s damp, but B will be just the same–she’s all-weather, all the time.

OH! I almost forgot. The Princess informed me yesterday that the Yankee Squirrel Flipper is doing its duty, and a squirrel has been flung at least once into the Venerable Fir. Sadly, I did not get to witness the occasion, but I have to admit to a bit of evil laughter, especially since the damn arboreal rodents have been digging up my seedling trays to bury their bloody peanuts.

Yes, someone in the neighborhood is still feeding them. I don’t even know.

That’s the news that’s fit to print, I suppose. There are rumbles in the distance, both concerning Cold North and Moon’s Knight, but nothing definitive yet. And come June 1, not only will Hell’s Acre be live, but I’ll have to shift engines to do revisions on Sons of Ymre, which should be out later this year (but will probably be retitled, so stay tuned).

My goodness, that’s a lot. I started this post thinking there was very little if any news, but apparently I was wrong. It’s a good thing I don’t mind being wrong. I even enjoy it, in some cases.

This vacation is turning out busier than many regular work weeks, but that’s my own fault…

…as usual. Onwards, upwards, and inwards to Thursday, beloveds.

Just Breathing, Blessing

It’s finally raining again, and I can run again. Between recovery from the massive, crashing relief of getting our second vaccine shot and certain other personal events, the weekend was a lost cause and Monday just about the same.

Fortunately, this morning I could run in the rain, always guaranteed to lift my spirits. The burst of endorphins and burning off of stress chemicals means some of my equilibrium has returned.

It’s a big week; subscribers get the unedited ebook of HOOD‘s Season Three (the edited one is still being proofread) and also a special surprise involving Hell’s Acre. When June begins, so will that new serial, and frankly I’m looking forward to it.

Other things are hanging fire. Publishing is always festina lente and everyone is congenitally behind and overworked. This could be solved by paying a reasonable number of people a living wage, including creators, but…well, there seems to be a great deal of resistance to that strategy in every industry, not just the one I work in.

I’ve also had a burst of frantic activity in non-work-related areas. For a very long while, I’ve been convinced I wouldn’t survive, and consequently some things have been of less importance than others. (Like, for example, weeding.) Now that competent adults are somewhat in charge and vaccination is available, I’m having to face my own continued existence in a different manner.

I’m technically on vacation this week–which only means I’m only writing what I care to, and I am unavailable for certain business inquiries–so I’ll probably be running a lot, weeding even more, and complaining about the Muse. Not to mention bitching that my recovery process seems to involve writing a lot of werewolf erotica I’ll never be able to publish.

Such are the drawbacks of this career, but they’re faint and fading indeed next to the satisfaction of being able to set my own schedule and behave largely as I please in my own office. Lying on the floor talking to myself and waving my arms while I arrange a combat scene inside my head might be frowned upon in other work environments, after all.

I don’t know how to even begin processing the last year and a half, let alone the complex bubbling stew of feelings swirling against my mental dams and canals once the second dose of vaccine was thrust into my willing flesh. Right now I’m just grateful my head isn’t being constantly shoved under the surface by the daily news cycle. Just breathing is a blessing at the moment.

It might irritate some people to hear me working through these feelings in public, but…well, this is my site, I say what I please here, and if being honest about the effects of truly historical events upon one’s mental health can help even one other person feel less lonely, I’ll consider it time well spent.

In other news, I’ve hung up the Yankee Squirrel Flipper once more, full of sunflower seeds. Boxnoggin has chased not one, not two, but three squirrels (or the same squirrel thrice) in the past few days, and I get the idea they’ve discovered how easy it is to taunt him. I get the further idea that to a squirrel, it’s a lot of fun.

This, I suspect, will not end well. But it’ll be hilarious, I’m sure, and I’m doubly sure it will involve me being shoeless and screaming.

The world could use a little more hilarity right now. I’d say “nature is healing” but I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m just going to await developments…

…and make sure I’m wearing shoes.

Outlandish Dread

I keep thinking Cold North is going to slow down, but apparently Viking werewolves don’t know how to “relax.” I mean, they’re under a centuries-long siege from basically-a-god, and even though the elementalist is telling them “I’m not the girl for you,” they still insist on thinking she’s the solution to the endless warfare.

It’s, uh, not going to end well. At least not for two and a half more books. Even then the ending’s going to be more “right” than “happy”, and I’m sure that will upset some people.

I have coffee sinking in, trying to make sense of everything. I’m listening to RJD2’s Ghostwriter on repeat, and I should really be doing some reformatting instead of sinking 80% of my working time into Cold North, which after all hasn’t even sold yet.

But…I can’t stop, and might as well strike while the iron is hot.

Yesterday was very social, with video meetings and mentoring. Consequently, this wee introvert is withdrawing into a cave for a few days to recharge–and Saturday is the second and final vaccine poke for both the Prince and my own sweet self. I’m scheduling a couple days of very low intensity work after that in case the side effects (physiological or otherwise) stage a comeback.

I’m sure the feeling of relief will be so deep as to completely wreck me. It did the first time around, naturally, and this wave will only be more intense. Maybe I’ll finish a zero draft in a blaze of inspiration, and finally get some of this book’s possession-grip loosened.

There’s also Hell’s Acre to work on, and the said reformatting, not to mention I should stick a third writing project in the queue just to keep myself producing at a reasonable rate. I normally have at least one romance going at a time, and the editor for Sons of Ymre wants Jake’s story. (I’m thinking it will involve a vet tech and Jake getting his ass bitten by not only regular animals but also chthonic horrors; if ever a character deserved it he does.)

But that decision’s for after the second jab. Until then I’ll be useless for anything but the Viking elementalist, werewolves, and elves banding together to reach a hidden city after one of the elvish strongholds in the North has undergone a sudden, dragon-assisted change of inhabitants and contours. If I’m focusing on their problems I’m not brooding over the million things that could go wrong before we get to the mass vaccination site in a few days’ time.

2020 taught me to twitch-worry at everything. I mean, I already did so before, but last year was like an Olympic masterclass. Absolutely nothing is too outlandish for me to dread.

And yet the dogs still need their walk, and someone’s running a leaf blower.

Yesterday it was some kind of grinding or cutting metal, from around 8am to about 4pm. It was coming from the direction of Mike’s Deck1 but there was no accompanying crashing or shouting, so I’m cautiously hopeful everything, er, went well. Of course, I can’t see anything, so it might be another house entirely.

The leaf blower is coming from an entirely different direction, and it’s just close enough to drag the noise over my nerves like a sawblade. Which means putting in earbuds, walking the dogs, and running my weary carcass will be not only good for said physical carcass but also my temper.

Said dogs are waiting patiently for me to stop staring at the glowing box and muttering imprecations upon leaf-moving devices yea unto the seventh generation, so I’d best get started.

Over and out.