Coal Seam Impression

Spent the weekend watching Turkish serials, which was the best use of my internet connection since finding streaming Kdrama. Now it’s Monday and I’m back at work, which is going exactly how you’d think it would, especially since the dogs are In a Mood. Their morning run was full of bad behavior, probably because I didn’t take them out Saturday and Sunday is our rest day. I always get to feeling like my skin is full of itchy ants whenever I take a rest day, and it’s ever so much more worse for them, I suppose.

It was nice to have the time off. I did get recognized in the wild by a librarian last week, and had a pleasant chat. And I am currently typing on a keyboard presented to me by the Princess, because I ended up dumping thirty-two ounces of lemon water over the old one and the spare just wasn’t optimal.

So there are good things this week, but it’s hard to get back in the groove. I looked at the news this morning and absolutely should not have. I never thought I was the type to develop an ulcer about world events, so congratulations, I guess?

I know you guys are going to ask, so my favorite set of clips from a Turkish serial this weekend was Black White Love. Holy cow, can Ibrahim Celikkol smoulder. The man does a great impression of a coal seam burning for years until oxygen hits an exposed surface and WHAM. Lord, there was my narrative crack all over

Why, yes, I was scribbling notes on the smoulder the entire time, why do you ask? I have a type, and it’s repressed bad boy. Nice to watch, certainly, but very bad to be involved with. That’s part of the glory of being in my forties: I can enjoy the vibe without getting caught in it.

I am mildly amused it took me this long to learn, but oh well.

I have to decide if I want to do a fantasy or a vampire hitman for my next gift book–oh, what’s a gift book, you ask? It’s a book I write for someone. For example, I know my agent likes my YA stuff, so I wrote Harmony1 for her; I was in a generous mood so I wrote Jozzie & Sugar Belle for my Evil Ladies.2 I like taking a character or a situation that a friend gives me, spinning it out in my own inimitable fashion, and presenting it wrapped up in a bow. It’s one of the weird ways I show affection, like being willing to bring a tarp and a shovel at a moment’s notice or fussing at you to eat.

Right now the vampire hitman is winning out. I think it would be fun to write him, once I finish figuring out exactly what makes him tick.

…I’m sure I had something interesting to say when I started out, but it’s gone by the wayside as I’ve had to get up and deal with dogs and laundry. Time to put the headphones on and plan the day’s work, and if I’m very good, I’ll reward myself with a vampire priest hitman chapter or two.

Man, I have the best job.

Grab your weapons, chickadees. Let’s take Monday by storm.

Reading Weekend

She Wolf & Cub

We had a huge (for us) dinner party Friday that edged towards Saturday morn, which, since I was fighting off the Little Prince’s cold (the one he thoughtfully brought home from school for us) and remain in the status of fighting off said cold, was perhaps not my best move, but what can one do?

Consequently, the rest of the weekend was spent cleaning, coughing, and reading, somewhat in that order. I finished Overy’s The Bombers and the Bombed, which was interesting but extremely difficult to read, then moved on to Lane Moore’s How to Be Alone, which in some places was full of things I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear someone articulate (especially in early chapters) and then…kind of not, but that’s a lot of memoirs. I moved on to An Iron Wind, which was…not what the cover made me think I was getting. I know that’s not the writer’s fault, either, but there was plenty else to side-eye in said writer’s assumptions.

There was one pretty incredible piece in the last, though, which was more than worth the rest of the book. Talking about the Warsaw ghetto, Fritzsche noted:

“Self-help could not ensure collective survival, because the German overlords had expropriated and stolen the resources of the community.

–Peter Fritzsche, An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler

Just that single sentence articulated the problem with Republicans’ constant “let charity or the market take care of poor people.” When corporate and rich overlords have expropriated and stolen the resources of the national community, or of marginalized communities (which are part of the national despite every attempt of cruelty-based conservatives to say otherwise), there’s nothing left for those communities to practice self-determination or self-help with. This gets overlooked in propaganda about the “lazy poor” all. the. damn. time.

Afterward, I bounced pretty hard off a first-person present-tense book that was a critical darling last year, and ended up with Murder By the Book: The Crime that Shocked Dickens’s London. It should hav more properly been “a” crime instead of “the” crime; Dickens’s London outright loved to be shocked. The more I read about Dickens, though, the more I realize just what an asshole he was. He basically hung Ainsworth out to dry after using his friendship to edge further into publishing, and let’s not even talk about what he did to his poor wife. Then again, this is the guy who fridged Nancy (and, let’s be real, 95% of all the women in his books, one way or another) and spent a great deal of his later life replaying Nancy’s death for paying customers. Dickens built his career on female bodies

Dude was gross.

Anyway, I needed the hours spent on the couch reading and making notes. It was good to get out of my own head and into other peoples’. And I always forget what a joy it is to spend a day reading. Like Laura in Sleeping With the Enemy (it’s not perfect but it is one of my favorite books), rediscovering days that are wide, and deep, and long as a child’s is enough to satisfy most hungers, and I can crawl out of the dream of a book several hours later, blinking and surprised.

I’m reasonably rested and somewhat reasonably renewed, which is good because I have to shift gears and work on both HOOD and the epic fantasy at once. I can feel the latter gathering for its slide to the end of the zero draft, and may that slide come swiftly.

At least with the dinner party done my social calendar is clear for weeks, which is just how I like it. Staying home and feverishly typing to pay the mortgage is my new vacation, just like my old vacations. I’m ready for a couple of my books to be done so I can move on to writing other things–as well as prepping Harmony for publication and doing a revise on Incorruptible. Never any shortage of work, and that’s how I like it, especially nowadays.

But first there are dogs to run and the day’s work to settle inside my head as I do so, and yoga to get out of the way near lunchtime, and and and. At least I can retreat from the sunshine our part of the world is afflicted with this season, crouch in my cave, and imagine whole worlds.

It’s not a bad life. Not at all.

A Whole Free Mood

It’s been a busy morning, my coffee has gone cold, and the diffuser in my office is burbling away with a little sandalwood and jasmine, mixing with petrichor coming in through my half-open window. The neighborhood is quiet, except for crow-calls and some squirrel chitterings. This morning I saw a giant black-feathered beast sitting next to an equally robust figure of an arboreal rat; they hurriedly separated when they discerned my surveillance.

I have a bad feeling about this.

I’ve also received a rash of “I have this idea, you take half a year to write it while living on air and then we’ll split the profits! Or I’ll–this is an even better deal–TAKE ALL THE PROFITS! Isn’t that great? Don’t you want to do that? Why don’t you want to do that? Where are you going? I HATE YOUR WORK ANYWAY.”

Yeah, it’s a whole mood, and it plays out the same way every. damn. time.

On a brighter note, the creative well demanded filling yesterday, so I spent some time watching the second Magic Mike movie, wrote 4k, then ended up missing bedtime because I watched Netflix’s Russian Doll start to finish in one gulp. The former was enjoyable, and I have Thoughts about the male gaze of the director focusing on male entertainers. The latter was…thought-provoking. I did not like the protagonist but I was rooting for her and for Alan, the character the story really belonged to.

That’s something I wish more narrative artists–writers in particular, but also directors–would take to heart more frequently. The protagonist is the watcher/reader’s main point of entry into the story. The story belongs, however, to the character who changes the most, and failing to recognize that is a large source of reader/viewer frustration and disappointment.

Deciding who your protagonist is and who the story actually belongs to will make the structure of the work much clearer, and will allow the storyteller–in whatever format–to push and pull said structure to get the effect they want. Along with a list of what every character in the thing desires–even the walk-ons–it’s a tool that often arrives after a great deal of trial and error, not to mention hard work. Lucky you, therefore, getting it for free!

…yeah, I’m a little salty this morning. Time to drag both dogs out for a run before the rains come in, though I never mind running under precipitation. It keeps the assholes with unleashed dogs inside, at least.

All right, Thursday. Let’s not hurt each other, okay? I’ll play gently if you will.

*puts on hockey mask*

But Soft, Coffee

I will not ever go out uncaffeinated again. Saturday was enough for me, thanks. Having to tear my dogs away from some neckbeard’s unleashed canines–because a certain type of heavyset white man thinks that leash laws are just advisories for someone of his exalted status–while lacking a base level of caffeine in my blood is not a good time.

Pre-coffee I’m irritated with everything. EVERYTHING, even the need to breathe, not to mention clothes, or even my very flesh itself. Not to mention anyone who tries speaking to me before I have elixir in my veins. The kids get a pass, of course, and the dogs make me laugh. But otherwise? STABBY McSTABBERSON, that’s me.

I did have a lovely weekend otherwise, what with a Sekrit Projekt and a mess of housework. There were books to finish reading, too, like Luce D’Eramo’s Deviation and a very old, very tiny hardback on the French Revolution. All in all, it was pleasant–except for the jackasses who won’t leash their dogs.

Anyway, I’m using the Sekrit Projekt as a carrot to get me through HOOD‘s Season One and the next big chunk of Epic Fantasy #2. If I can just get through the rest of the epic fantasies, I swear I won’t ever make this mistake again. *sigh*

In any case, the dogs are itching for a run, and since it’s a clouding-up Monday we hopefully won’t come across any entitled chucklefucks with legal comprehension problems.

Hopefully.

I should also mention that due to ongoing piracy, there will not be an ebook edition of Steelflower in Snow. Further Steelflower books will also have to wait for me to have the time and resources to write them. At this rate, the return to G’maihallan and the Dark Mountain saga will not ever be written; if I get through the Highlands War it’ll be a miracle. If you want to be mad at someone for depriving you of Kaia’s future adventures, be mad at e-pirates and torrent sites. I wish I could demand that any further work coming out through trad publishing be paper-only, too. If it’s not the pirates stealing from a writer it’s a publisher wanting you to do unpaid clerical work finding and submitting piracy URLs before they bestir themselves to act.

I’m beginning to hate ebooks, and I really shouldn’t. It’s not the format I hate, or the readers–definitely not the readers! It’s the goddamn thieves, and the asshats who make excuses for the thievery.

Well, that’s the last of my coffee. I can’t wait for spring rains to come in. At least when it’s pouring I can run alone with the canines. I have a scene with Little John and Alan-a-Dale to write today, as well as getting back into a “tell me about these assassins” moment between a general and an astrologer. I’m swamped.

Let us embark upon Monday, chickadees. It will get better the further in we get.

Or we’ll stab it.

Cold, Critical Gloss

I find myself muttering, “Christ I wish I still drank” more and more often these days. Breaking out in hives the morning after I indulge in any alcohol isn’t as much of a deterrent as it might be.

It’s a busy month. Birthdays, tax preparation, phone calls to be endured. At least I have a few recipes to work on and perfect. I’m considering leek and potato soup in the Instant Pot, but we’ll see. I also want to try focaccia with the method in SALT FAT ACID HEAT. Normally I’m not a fan of enriching bread with anything that’ll coat the starches and keep the gluten from firming up, but there’s always room in life for experimentation, right?

All the social and life obligations mean less time for writing. I’ve been working at white heat for a while but apparently, it hasn’t been enough. I wanted to have a zero of HOOD‘s Season One by this point, but it just hasn’t happened. Plus, The Poison Prince needs steady filling work, being the middle book in a trilogy. Everything needs to be balanced just-so, and being called away from the work at this point is frustrating in the extreme.

It’s also very chilly, which means the dogs don’t want to go outside unless they can use me as a windbreak. And each time we do so, my hair rises up in rebellion and does its best to strangle me. I suppose I should tie it down but then my nape and ears get cold. At least there are no bees nesting in my mop; they generally wait for warmer months.

I also have, by virtue of an excellent best friend, a tea bush–an actual tea bush–that was raised locally so is hardened to our peculiar conditions. I want to wait until it’s no longer so frigid to get it in the ground, maybe right next to the butterfly bush or in one of the southern garden boxes. Just imagine–one’s own tea leaves, hyperlocal and hand-dried.

I did get a few books knocked off this weekend on the reading instead of the writing end, including a kind of useful but startlingly stuck-up review of just-before-modern Japanese literature. I’ve been defeated by The Tale of Genji numerous times but with annotations, lit crit, and glosses, one day I might climb that mountain, and critical works are a good way to begin to figure out what to look for in books I don’t understand the milieu of. I want to value what I read properly, and that means I must search for understanding.

My TBR has a dent in it and I should shelve everything on the “this has been read but not yet put away” section of my office just to get some breathing room. Maybe I’ll just take March as more reading-friendly than working-friendly, throw up my hands, and call it good…

…but I wouldn’t bet on it. I am, I suppose, a stubborn pumpkin, and one who needs a run no matter how cold the wind.

See you around, my dears.

Going Gets Tough

I’ve been blogging for a long while now. There are dry periods, where I have nothing much to say except for the minutiae of daily life–how the book-sausage gets made, what the dogs have done now, how publishing is changing. Oh, and the weather. Of course the weather is a constant concern.

I partly blame reading military history; weather is always the third general upon the field, and one who can’t be ignored. Today the rain has washed away everything except a few sheltered snow holdouts. The streets are awash, the roof kissed over and over by falling drops. The dogs aren’t going to like our outing, at least not when the initial oh boy we’re outside WITH MUM wears off.

That takes about ninety seconds in a downpour. They must love me a lot.

This morning I woke up with Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone yelling “Oh, man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!” Which meant I had to go listen to What a Fool Believes and then onto a Twitter rant about how much I love that damn movie and how it’s probably responsible for my current career.1

Now you know who to blame, I guess? When the going gets tough

Copyedits continue apace. I spent some serious time yesterday looking into Ingram Spark and mass-market paperback trim sizes. If I get the whole PDF cover template thing done, the first experiment is Steelflower in mass-market size.

It’s a great time to be self-publishing, IF one knows what one’s doing. If one doesn’t, the options available might boggle one into inaction or worse, signing away one’s rights without proper compensation. Or one might think that because of a crying fit brought on by frustration (I fucking hate PDF cover templates, let me sing you a whole song about how I hate them) the entire thing isn’t worth doing, and toss it all out the door.

Yes, I was tempted yesterday. But today’s a whole new day, I’ve got my spark back and the heat set to the wick. Today is for more copyedits, and when I can’t do that anymore because my head will explode if I look at one more comma placement question, I might put together a soundtrack for HOOD and poke a bit more at cover templates.

But for right now, it’s raining and the dogs need a walk. See you around, chickadees.

Read ’em and weep. I always do.

Weekend Fyre Viewing

They’re saying snow, but so far there’s nothing but a restless, half-frozen rain going on. I’m hopeful we’ll avoid a layer of ice on everything; since we live near the mouth of the Columbia Gorge the wind often gives us a final fillip of freezing that makes tires refuse to grip and shoes refuse to stick.

This weekend I watched both the Netflix and Hulu documentaries about the Fyre Festival. The Netflix one was structured like a morality play and had access to footage shot for what was going to be an adulatory documentary (if the thing came off); the Hulu one was structured like a true-crime documentary and had an interview with McFarland, the grifter who put the whole show on (and, incidentally, spent the money). I do recommend seeing both, for different reasons. McFarland, in the Hulu documentary, has pupils the size of saucers and a complete lack of remorse; if you want to see what a con man looks like when he’s high off his gourd and visibly remembering what his lawyers have told him not to comment on, there it is.

All during both shows, I just kept hearing my grandfather’s voice inside my head, saying “y’all can’t cheat an honest man.” My ex-husband used to say something similar–that grifts work because of people who want something for nothing or something too good to be true. I won’t deny a bit of schadenfreude watching “influencers” with more money than sense end up in a waterless, Lord of the Flies-esque FEMA-tent village, but the locals who weren’t paid–and the people working hard on the Fyre app whose paychecks stopped coming regularly but who were seduced into keeping on through a sick system using their best qualities against them–didn’t deserve this bullshit, and the Netflix app goes in much more detail about the effects McFarland’s con had on them.

For those who did watch the documentaries, there’s a “where are they now” article.

One of the things that struck me watching both documentaries was how images of scantily clad women were used to sell “the dream.” More than once, a man on either documentary says “on a drug island surrounded by beautiful women? Who wouldn’t want that?” The models used for the now-famous promotional video had no idea they were part of a con and were presumably paid for their work; after the reality set in, plenty of people got shirty with the models and the “influencers” instead of with McFarland, who stayed out of prison much longer than anyone non-white or non-male could ever believe possible.

Another strange thing: at least once during each documentary, someone who was being interviewed got a call from McFarland, and answered it on screen. There are still people who pick up the phone when that fellow calls.

Just…wow. Being a rich white boy–or even looking like one–is a helluva drug.

I’m also surprised that, with our “justice” system the way it is, Ja Rule didn’t get into more trouble. He must have clearly and unequivocally been innocent of wrongdoing and had super high-powered lawyers, since the usual thing in these cases is to harass the bit players (especially if they’re people of color) endlessly and let the head of the pyramid scheme go with a slap on the wrist.

Anyway, I spent the weekend watching that while a houseful of teenage boys pillaged my kitchen, since the Little Prince wanted a Smash Bros. sleepover. I put on a Burrito Night to end all Burrito Nights and, once they were full to the gills with beans, rice, chicken, and tortilla, promptly banished them downstairs with mountains of crisps and sodas. A few odd smells and bursts of deep, loud laughter drifted up the stairs, but other than that, it was a reasonably quiet event, and I remember feeling quite grateful. After all, I’d been watching event planning go horribly, terribly wrong all weekend.

That was my weekend. I hope yours was peaceful, dear Reader, and remember: never trust a blinking con artist, especially one who calls you “bro” all the time.

Too good to be true inevitably is.