Oh, Publishing…

HOOD

Just a reminder: you can still download the first few chapters of HOOD: Season One for absolutely free.1 So if you want to see if Robin Hood in Space is to your tastes, this is a good way to find out!

Mornings here have been nice and grey, the marine layer shielding us from the worst heat. Of course, that means the humidity’s been through the roof, but at least it hasn’t been hot and feeling like the inside of Mother Nature’s mouth.2 The dogs are puzzled, but I explained to Miss B that this is what summers used to be like back before climate change accelerated.

Boxnoggin, of course, is absolutely surprised by everything the moment he steps outside. Rain, insects, wind touching his rump–it’s all a cavalcade of new sensations every damn time. He’s like a goldfish swimming circuits past a castle decoration and thinking it’s a new one every time. (“Look, Benny, we’re on the Rhine!”)

Yesterday I sent a sample of Hell’s Acre to my agent. So if a publisher wants Assassin’s Creed crossed with Da Vinci Code in an alt-Victorian London, they’d better get on the stick. I’m so tired of trad publishing saying “write the entire series, then give us the first book and in six months we might condescend to look at it.”3 That makes one book pulled from submission (Incorruptible), one full book out (Reader’s Shadow), and two samples (Sons of Ymre and Hell’s Acre) out in the world. I haven’t had this few works on submission in ages; it feels almost like a vacation.

Of all of them, I’m most worried about Reader’s Shadow because the protagonists are teens. I don’t want to set a toe in YA publishing again; twice was enough and both Harmony and Rattlesnake Wind are doing well without having the “YA” imprimatur. Sure, I’d love it if those books could get to the teens who need them, but going through a bunch of people who want me to water them down so some Bible-belt evangelical doesn’t get their panties in a wad takes time and effort I’d rather spend on writing new books.

Anyway, I think for a little while I’m going to concentrate on the serial and samples. I’m tired of a lot of things in publishing, and glad that my career is at a stage where hybridization is a possibility. You’d think the publishing industry would understand that without writers they don’t have jobs or profits, but we’re treated like embarrassing afterthoughts and hated stepchildren. Which sucks because I like trad publishing; I like not having to deal with plenty of the minutiae of producing a reasonable printed product. I’m an easy audience, and trad seems set on driving me away.

In any case, none of that changes the fact that I’ve work to do. Today is slated for a chapter in HOOD‘s Season Two, a chapter in Sons of Ymre, and making baked pasta with yesterday’s homemade red sauce.

My dance card’s packed, and the dogs are very excited at the prospect of walkies. First, though, it’s time for a run. Hopefully by now the cereal and coffee are resigned to their fate and will not attempt a high-speed escape.

It’s the little things. Over and out!

Eleventh Hour

Afterwar

I recently read Dachau 29 April 1945–finished it yesterday, as a matter of fact. It’s a collection of interviews and letters by the American division who first entered Dachau in 1945–I don’t know if I can say they liberated the place, because who can ever be set free of such things?

I’ve sometimes wondered if all nation-states have periods of brutal (internal or external) conquest married to racism as a matter of course, and the only thing stopping such things is geographic luck (double luck for their neighbors, no doubt), lack of resources, or just simply not being old or cohesive enough as a country to allow the racism time and space to grow and bear its awful fruit.

When I was younger I likened it to teenage acting-out, but that analysis implies a lack of responsibility. I don’t think it’s an inevitable stage of development either, but the curse of reading history is seeing countries and people turn in spirals, deepening atrocities with each pass.

The concentration camps for immigrants are a hot current news item; also hot is a bunch of apologists saying “they’re not so bad” and “you can’t call them concentration camps.” To the former I can only say “yes, they are, your racism is showing,” to the former, I will simply say, “Yes, I can, because that’s exactly what they are. Oh, and your racism is showing.”

“But there are no ovens!” some fuckwit racist apologist will wail, to which I reply, “Not yet.” There are no mass graves yet–or are there? Frankly, we don’t know, and the way things are going, I believe we will be extraordinarily lucky if the cycle of genocide is interrupted before we get to walls of bodies tumbling into bulldozer-dug pits. And if we are that goddamn lucky somehow, some racist fuckwits will try to use that sheer dumb luck to say “oh, it wasn’t so bad, you’re exaggerating,” because they know the comfortable disbelief of the half-somnolent who aren’t directly affected (yet) is their best cover.

The most hideous thing about this is that it’s not a natural disaster. It’s not an earthquake or a typhoon, it’s not a forest fire or a flood. People are doing this. People with hands shaped just like yours and mine, people who go home at the end of the day to their families or just to their solitary lives. People are caging, brutalizing, raping, and beating other people. The abusers look like you or me, they kiss their children, they drive to work and think about traffic. They are neighbors and friends and bring potluck dishes to events, they put shoes on feet that look just like yours, my friend, and just like mine.

We’re doing this to ourselves. Sometimes I think humanity deserves to be wiped from the planet if this is how we’re going to behave. Oh, Terra will still revolve, and Nature will wipe all traces of us and our catastrophe away, and in a few billion years the vastness of the globe will be alive with bird and whale song, whispering with wind through trees maybe stunted by fallout and long-ago pollution but still alive and murmuring. The planet’s going to be just fine after we choke on our own blood as a species.

Occasionally, the prospect even comforts me.

I don’t hold out a lot of hope. I used to think people could change, but change is painful and many prefer to stay miserably oblivious, content to let the rich and the malignant destroy everyone else as long as there’s a chance the bootlickers and crumb-stealers will remain unmolested. Which is a fool’s game–sooner or later, even the bootlickers are kicked.

Yes, I read that book deliberately. When I saw it on the library shelf I thought let’s try, and if I can finish it and honestly not see where current events are going echoed in those pages, I’ll hang up my crystal ball and keep my mouth shut.

Well.

You see where I ended up. There is no way to look away or keep one’s mouth shut. It’s not quite the eleventh hour before the apocalypse–but really, do we need it to be the eleventh hour before we put a stop to the bullshit?

Do we?


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Khan’s Daytime

Sometimes, Khan doesn’t want to be tucked in for his daily rest. Instead, he half-naps outside the covers, keeping a watchful eye and enjoying the air. I don’t mind, for I know a bear is a wild thing at heart, but sometimes he mutters about needing to be on guard during the daytime, and I get concerned.

He tells me not to worry, for he is a bear of much strength and canniness, as evidenced by his many mighty feats during the Nightmare Skirmishes. He is a bear of much tenderness, too, and doesn’t wish me to be concerned. Perhaps he does just want some air, but there’s a warning glint in his dark eyes.

So on days he wishes to be outside the covers, I take extra care. I check the street an extra time before crossing, I reread thrice before I hit “send”, I drink plenty of water and try to be as gentle with myself as I am with my loved ones. And when I crawl into bed at the end of the day and Miss B hops up to settle herself for the night journey, I hug Khan and thank him.

What for? his eyes say, and I settle him in his usual spot.

“For caring,” I say, and open the book I’m currently reading.

It’s good to care, and to be cared for.

If I Can Just…

Woke up this morning with Thomas Newman’s To the Shock of Miss Louise playing at high volume inside my head. Promptly tripped twice making the bed, had to almost drag Odd Trundles out for his morning eliminatory round, barely got the dogs’ food bowls filled without spilling, accidentally stepped on Trundles while trying to make coffee–the dog will be underfoot, it is a bloody constant–and apologized profusely, got scorched by the coffee maker, dropped bits of hot breakfast in my décolletage, there’s not enough coffee in the WORLD, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

Tuesday is, in short, a fucking Monday. I’m pretty sure getting out the door for my run is going to be an odyssey and a half. If I get through today’s spadework without breaking an ankle I’ll call it a win. Especially since Miss B, a morning dog if ever there was one, is extremely bouncy today.

I only managed a few chapters in revision yesterday. Book launch plus finishing a first draft under a severe time crunch has scraped me dry and left me reeling. I thought taking the weekend completely off might help, but apparently that wasn’t enough. I itch to be back at work, and at the same time, find myself dry-firing. Which, you know, is great for aiming and teaching purposes, but it doesn’t get stuff crossed off my to-do list. If I can just get through this first revise on Atlanta Bound

Wait. Wait a second. Wasn’t I just saying “if I can just get this first draft of The Maiden’s Blade out the door, I can relax”?

I was, wasn’t I.

*headdesk*

Anyway, it’s 9am, time to get out for a run while it’s still relatively cool outside. Let’s all hope for no broken ankles, and maybe when I come home I’ll have a better idea for the day, one that doesn’t involve me driving myself past threadbare and into full-blown burnout. Maybe. Except it’s June, which means edits for Rattlesnake Wind are going to land and I’ve got those comic book scripts to get off the ground, too.

No rest for the weary wicked. Let’s kick Tuesday in the pants, my friends.

Over and out.

Poster Beware

Add one more reason for me to delete my Facebook and never look back: the proliferation of scammer feeding grounds packed with vulnerable people. Just take a look at this horseshit going down in FB-town, my friends:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise. Facebook does have tools to report groups that are abusive, but given the murky definition of patient brokering, Facebook’s legendary lack of transparency, and the fact that it already went to a lot of effort to promote the earlier incarnation of Affected by Addiction, which Mendoza himself admits was a deceptive marketing scheme, Facebook hardly seems like a good arbiter. (Cat Ferguson, for The Verge)

Now, if FB had some transparency, or some motive beyond profit, I might be willing to cut them some slack. But they don’t, and I’m not. Facebook exists to monetize your desperate loneliness for ad companies, and it’s a fishing ground for other scammers looking to do the same.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

A Basket of…

Sometimes, you come around a corner while out with your best friend, and you happen upon a basket of…well, of dicks. There’s no other way to put it, really–a basket of phalli just puts too nice a gloss on it.

And sometimes, you dig for your phone and mutter, “I have got to save this for posterity,” and your best friend responds, “Good God, why?” and you both double up with laughter.

Because really, if you can’t hurt yourself laughing over a basket of dicks with your best friend, well, what is life good for?

Raft

One of the worst things about anxiety–well, it’s all bad, but some things are more awful than others–is the persistent suspicion that you’re doing it to yourself.

This suspicion is not merely confined to strangers. Friends, loved ones, and even your own rat-tailed brain will hold that glimmer, far back and way down. Exquisitely sensitive to any breath of disapproval, your own brain chemistry will chase that glimmer into the swamp, and you’ll be a few feet deep and sinking fast in quicksand before you realize what the fuck’s going on, scratching the itches of why can’t you just be normal until your skin breaks.

Then the things living in the swamp–anxiety’s giant grey toothy brothers–will smell the blood.

It’s not your loved ones’ fault. It’s not even yours. It’s nobody’s fault, really, when you have brain chemistry that does its best to maim or kill you. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re bleeding in quicksand and carnivorous things are hunting you.

So you spread your weight carefully. You grab a rope, a vine, a stick, and start working for solid ground. You breathe deeply, you take your meds so the grey things are chained if not docile. Slow them down, and focus on one slow swim-stroke at a time. As soon as you make it out of the quicksand and your loved ones try to help you up, the internal bleeding sets in–the guilt about letting them help you, when you were the idiot who ran into quicksand in the first place. The swamp can turn into a sea at a moment’s notice, and it often does.

Deep breathing. Remind yourself that it’s okay to let other people care about–and care for–you. Check in with the people you know are worried. Wrap yourself in something soft, and keep taking your meds. Remind yourself, once again, that you’ve felt this bad before, and it passed like an ocean wave. When you get tired of swimming you can float for a while. The salt stings, and you’re tired, but there are things to cling to.

You’ve made it before. You will again.

Here. Share my raft. I know it’s small–it’s okay, we’ll make it work. Climb up. Or just cling to the side if you have to. I’m right here, I’ll hold on, and when you have the strength I’ll help you clamber up.

What? Me? Oh, yeah. I’ve been out here before too, lots of times. That’s right, I’ll steady you. The raft’s stronger than it looks…Huh? Oh, a little while ago I was drowning again, too. But then I saw you, and it’s kind of strange…yeah, there you go. It’s all right. We’ll pick up anyone else we can, and head for shore.

I was going to say, it’s kind of strange, isn’t it?

Helping someone else makes the raft bigger.