It’s very warm for March, and you know what that means.
I will be heading out to run soon, and I’m sure they’re waiting to crawl into my hair, gonna attempt to nest in my mouth, just can’t stop thinking about putting their feelers in my nose–and all while I’m trying to run.
This is entirely separate from squirrels noticing that when I take Sir Boxnoggin out for walkies or running, he’s tied to my waist and can’t do much more than lunge. Oh yeah, they’ve figured that out, the little arboreal nuisances. Just the other day we came home and a particularly sleek, rotund fellow with a bottle-brush tail zoomed across the driveway, stopping once to flick said tail in Boxnoggin’s general direction. I could swear I heard a tiny guffaw.
That was the same day the Princess informed me that the damn squirrels had been doing reconnaissance up to the front door. “They’re watching us,” she says balefully, at different points through the day. “There was one in the apple tree outside the dining room window, too.”
That’s right, my friends–the fourth and final season of Roadtrip Z is now making its way in the world!
Nothing matters to the walking dead but finding live flesh to chew on, and nothing matters to Ginny Mills except getting back to her family. Nothing matters to Lee Quartine but keeping his small band of survivors–including Ginny–alive. Upstate New York is overrun, other survivors are more of a danger than a help, and the rumors have begun. There’s a place where organization and government still exists, a place where a cure for the zombie virus is underway.
The problem is, that place is Atlanta, and there’s a hell of a lot of road to cover to get there. Hopefully, Ginny’s family is safe. With a little luck, Lee can get them all south without anyone else dying.
But in the middle of a winter wasteland full of chewing, shuffling undead, hope–and luck–are in short supply…
Now available in ebook directly, through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and independent distributors. The paperback edition is here. The Kindle edition is available here, because–well, keep reading.
ETA: After six emails and four calls to KDP’s “customer service” line (where I get hung up on halfway through the option tree) there is still no move on Amazon’s part to fix their mistake. Despite having a full, complete, and final .mobi, they sent out a corrupted file to preorder customers. Of course they waited until release day to tell me, and I immediately uploaded another fresh, full, complete .mobi file. (This can be seen in the “look inside” portion of the Amazon detail page.)
One of the reviews on the detail page says that Amazon customer service sent her the full, correct file when she gave them her preorder number, so at least there’s that. But the detail page is still locked, and I don’t know if other preorder customers have gotten theirs. There is literally and absolutely nothing else I can do here; Amazon is simply refusing to do their job.
It’s been a heckuva ride; huge thanks to my subscribers on Gumroad and Patreon for being a part of it. I’m sad to say goodbye to Ginny, Juju, Lee, and the gang, and maybe someday I’ll do the story of Kasie Frank, Mandy, Carline, and Shura Halloran’s little group coming together and fighting their way to safety.
But that’s sometime in the future, if it arrives at all. In the meantime, the story rests at equilibrium, in a cafeteria. Thank you ALL for being a part of it.
Last night I felt like telling a story, so I told the tale of the Llort and the Fox Princess. I do have another llort tale, but it’s going to have to wait, since it’s a sad instead of an instructive one.
It felt good to get it out of my head, and it was nice to get immediate feedback. Maybe I’ll toss the llort stories into an anthology, if I ever get off my ass about putting one together. I think it would be cool to have a great many of my short stories gathered in one place, and of course I’ve got the rights. The problem is just doing the gathering and formatting. Maybe after I get the Roadtrip Z omnibus sorted out I’ll use a short story anthology as a weekend project.
The next serial, starting after January 1, is HOOD, and from now until the end of the year I’ll be working ahead on that. So far the plan is for three seasons of Robin Hood in Space, and I have the ending firmly in sight. I generally do; the fun is all in getting there.
i’m also poking at a couple of short stories. The Hansel & Gretel Kung Fu Cannibal story is coming along nicely, and the Alice in Wonderland–Resident Evil–Blade Runner mashup is bubbling in the back of my head, waiting for its time to shine. I need the first line of the latter; once I have that, the rest of the cut will follow.
Short stories are difficult. I have to know the angle of the cut before I even think about putting my hand to the hilt. I’d much rather have a novel’s space to roll around in, but it’s good to do things outside one’s comfort zone. And they’re fun, besides, bite-size pocket universes.
Anyway, it’s a Monday, the dogs want running, and since the world is on fire I might as well work.
The dogs want a run this morning. They won’t get one, mostly because my ankle is still tender. Maybe some walkies, if I can get enough coffee in me. As it is, I’m staring at the screen while sucking down as much caffeine as practicably possible, and wondering, as I perennially do after a release or a revision, why recovery takes so goddamn long.
Even when I force myself into a couple days of doing absolutely nothing that can be considered work (I’m only allowed two hundred fresh words on such a day) it STILL takes longer than I think, and I inevitably try to go back to work, have a spasm of productivity, and then sit, staring and blinking, for about three days.
You’d think I’d have this down by now, but I don’t.
The dogs, meanwhile, are ecstatic. I cook a lot while in recovery, which means the kitchen is full of dropped scraps and lovely smells. There is much snuggling and rolling about on the floor, much playing with toys, and much repeating of “you are a GOOD dog, yes you are!”
The spasm of productivity was getting Atlanta Bound all prepped for preorder and the final chapters of Roadtrip Z prepped and scheduled for patrons and subscribers. That takes a significant load off my diminished capabilities until after the first of the year, which is welcome. It’d be nice to get the box set (all four Roadtrip Z seasons, paper costs may mean that comes out only in e-format, which would be a shame) all settled and ready to be put in the preorder pipe in January, but that’s a pretty high bar, especially if I want to re-edit the whole thing.
Sir Boxnoggin is letting out a series of chesty barks at short intervals, summoning me to come peer out windows at neighbors who are doing yard work. If he glimpses movement, or hears a car door slam/tree branch fall, he is ALL OVER THE BORKING. Which means, of course, that Miss B has to be all over the borking as well. After that, there’s nothing for it, Mum has to get up and investigate and make much of Boxnoggin for alerting and Doin A Heckin Good Doggo Protec. Then Miss B has to horn in and get some snuggles and pets because she did a good heckin protec too.
Consequently, I can’t finish a damn thought. Time to wrap this up and get the dogs leashed for walkies. After they stuff a great many scents into their snouts, they’ll have to come home and process, which means napping. Which means some quiet while I figure out omnibus paper costs.
I haven’t been able to drink alcohol since the stomach flu, and good gods above, do I ever miss it. It’s not that I can’t function without, it’s just…man, getting to cocktail hour and pouring myself a measure to celebrate getting through the day and take the edge off my nerves was a welcome ritual. Now I’m doing things like stretching and drinking ice water, and it’s just not the same. Sure, I’m healthier and all that but I would love a little fuzzy soft-focus come 5PM.
I hadn’t realized how much that small ritual was a signal for me to relax and let the end of the day proceed, to look over the day’s work and fix egregious typos. It’s also nice to just let the story sink into the bottom of your brain and turn the entire problem of what comes next over to your subconscious. Those giant engines below the floorboards need something to do while I’m sleeping. Left to themselves they just come up with nightmares, and while those are sometimes instructive, they’re not terribly useful.
Sometimes I think one’s entire life is seeing how fast a primate can come up with new rituals in changing conditions.
Anyway, I took most of yesterday off since Tuesday ended with finishing the first revision of Atlanta Bound. That was a monster of a revision because I’d written the zero so lean and at such a furious pace, moving from handhold to handhold. Crossing that particular task off my list was extremely satisfying. Trying to unplug and chill Wednesday was…not as satisfying. The flywheel inside my head, still spinning from the Afterwar release and the revision of The Maiden’s Blade under a severe time crunch, ramped up again to get through another revise, and didn’t want to slow down or stop. The knowledge that I’m courting burnout if I don’t schedule in and force myself to take recovery time is a very thin rail to keep me plunging off the cliff, indeed. I itch under my skin if I don’t write, and I have about twenty-four hours before the discomfort becomes acute and I must write or begin scratching, snapping, and sparking.
So today I took my sweet time getting out the door for a run, and dawdled on the way back with Miss B, who was ecstatic to be rambling New Places. I have subscription stuff to send out, that will eat up about an hour.1 I’m allowed only a little bit of work today, but it’s going to be on Robin Hood in Space, which I’m tentatively titling HOOD.
Man, I can’t wait to start playing with the genre conventions of that particular tale.
There’s also a podcast interview scheduled for this evening2, so I wouldn’t be able to imbibe anyway. I miss the habit of relaxation and I joke a lot about writers having to fucking drink to put up with all the bullshit in publishing; maybe I should look into edibles instead because they’re legal in my state.3 Christ knows the bullshit isn’t going away anytime soon. Only the coping mechanisms change.
And now, having thoroughly depressed myself with that last observation, I’m off to do some formatting. Catch you later, alligators.
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.
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.
Late Friday evening, I compiled the first draft of The Maiden’s Blade into a Word doc, eyeballed it for formatting…and sent it off to editor and agent. Consequently, I spent the weekend twitching, desperate for something to slow down the flywheel inside my skull. The kids flat-out told me I wasn’t allowed to do anything resembling work; I gather I looked a wee bit haggard.
Well, you know, more haggard than usual.
So there was a lot of cleaning, especially in the kitchen. Since the dishwasher seems to be settling in all right (thank the gods) I decided it was time to do the regular spring cleaning. Even the kids got in on the act, mopping, shaking rugs, finding things to tidy all over the house. Come Sunday afternoon, we could all achieve our liquid forms in various parts of the house and settle to reading or video-gaming, which was quite pleasant. The tidiness won’t last, of course, daily living (not to mention dogs) takes care of that.
But it’s nice while it endures, and the fact that I didn’t have to do it all myself is golden.
The Little Prince is attempting a Narnia read-through. So far, he’s in the wilds of The Magician’s Nephew, and he can’t get over how creepy Uncle Andrew is. “All I want to know is where’s Polly, and this guy has cocoa powder in a box and won’t tell me!” he fumed at the dinner table last night, and I just kept telling him, wait until you get to the White Witch, my son.
We are also the (proud?) owners of a Cards Against Humanity set, and I’m contemplating inviting a few people over to play. I’m not social even at the best of times, and I hate competitive games1 but getting a bit tiddly2 and putting together several filthy MadLibs with people whose verbal agility and sense of humor are just as hyperactive as mine sounds like a great time.
And now that I’m not pushing to heave this bloody epic fantasy out of my head posthaste, I might even have some energy left over. (Maybe.)
The big project this week is finishing the top-to-bottom first revise of Atlanta Bound; then it’s on to revising a YA I wrote about getting enfolded by a cult. The latter needs its crisis to be drawn out a little more; it chose to come out in a tight first-person POV and by the end of it (120K words, I think?) I was tired, tired, tired. I’m pretty sure nobody will buy it, since my YAs feature kids who cuss and suffer things I did growing up, but eventually it might see the light of day elsewhere. The thing after that on my big to-do list is a revise of Steelflower in Snow, which is tentatively planned for an October release. There is one more Steelflower book after that, if the current ones do well. I don’t think I’ll write her eventual return to her homeland, I think maybe I’ll just let her adventures in the Highlands reach their natural conclusion and bid farewell to the series. Mostly because I’m tired of people yelling at me over them.
Odd Trundles is Extremely Put Out this morning, since he refused to leave the Fancy Office Dog Bed and as a result got splattered with saline. (Don’t ask. Just…don’t ask.) To add to his discomfiture, the Mad Tortie has decided she wants to play, but only wants to play according to her rules, which shift so quickly Odd can’t keep up. He keeps getting smacked on the nose–with no claws, the Mad Tortie is velvet-pawing him–and looking at me with this long-suffering but I’m doing what she wants, Mum, make her staaaaaaaaaaahp look.
In short, it’s Monday all over, for the bulldog as well as yours truly. When I head out for a run he’ll moan, groan, eventually settle for his morning nap, and be snoring gustily by the time I return.