Burden, Borne

It’s that day! The Complete Roadtrip Z is now available in ebook directly, or from the distributor of your choice. That’s all four seasons of the serial in one handy (and very large) chunk. (The paperback edition is here.)

The genesis of the Roadtrip books is a long ongoing conversation with my writing partner about just who would survive the zombie apocalypse, and how such an apocalypse would be likely to spread, assuming it was viral. There are other considerations–a bacterial or occult zombie-making plague was ruled out early in the game, since Mel loved biology in school. (She and I have another ongoing conversation about mass conversion in shifters, but that’s neither here nor there.)

We talk sometimes about survival, and about how it’s going to be the people who are already used to scraping by that are going to make it during the initial catastrophe and the secondary wave of bad-luck deaths afterward. I’m sad to say that without Lee’s help, Ginny probably wouldn’t have–and without Ginny, Lee might never have made it out without the survivor part of him deciding to do some dreadful and perhaps unnecessary things. They needed each other badly.

There’s also Juju, who’s had the deck stacked against him all his life, and who’s pretty sure any new world from the toxic ashes from the old is going to be just as bad for him. I’m not sure he’s wrong, either, but at least he’s got people watching out for him now.

I didn’t know who would survive when I started writing. I knew where the survivors would end up, but not what that group would look like when it got there. Some people I badly wanted to survive made it; some people I really wanted to see make it didn’t. The kids could probably tell you about me staggering down the hall after a long day of writing, tears on my face as I begin making dinner.1

There was plenty of poring over atlases, checking tactical layouts, researching average meteorological conditions, and more than one emails to Mel saying “Ask the Boy Scout2 how he’d solve the problem of xyz, please?”

Lee, however, was based mostly on my maternal grandfather. He was an honorable man, and Lee is all the best of him rolled into one quiet package. Not that Papa was a silent fellow, unless he got serious. Most of the time he wanted to laugh through life, and he could make anyone laugh with him. He liked hunting, percolator coffee on Sunday mornings, and Wile E. Coyote. Even now, if I hear the meep-meep, I can hear him laughing. He had a stuffed Wile E. atop his gun cabinet, and he was the one family member I deeply regretted not being able to speak to.

I got to see him once before he passed, but he didn’t ask why I wouldn’t talk to them. Instead, he took me through a calendar of old military planes and told me about each one, especially those he worked on in Korea.

It was his way of telling me he still loved me, even though he didn’t understand.

Now that he’s gone, I hope he understands why I couldn’t answer what he wanted most to know, and forgives me. And I hope he gets a kick out of me putting a man he’d like into a book.

Ginny came from a different place. I wanted someone who would be at a distinct disadvantage during an apocalypse, someone comfortable with civilization and thinking it was permanent or even particularly “civilized.” One or two readers said Ginny was too stupid to live, but in each situation, she’s trying to respond as normally as possible. It wasn’t the best coping mechanism…but it was hers, and while Lee and Juju got everyone through physically intact, it’s to Ginny’s credit that they got to the end mostly emotionally intact. Sure, everyone involved will need oodles of therapy, but that’s to be expected when the world falls apart.

I was experimenting with serial format all the way through, and I must thank my Readers for their patience with said experiments. Thanks to those who allowed me to Tuckerise them, too–your characters are as sharply and finely drawn as I could make them, and if a few meet gruesome deaths, well, that’s to be expected in any book of mine, right?

I think it’s good that it ends where it does. (Of course I do, or I wouldn’t have ended it there.) I’m pretty sure my grandfather wouldn’t have read it–his taste was more Zane Grey, though he had a soft spot for Louis L’Amour, especially Last of the Breed–but I’m also pretty sure he’d be tickled pink to know a character was based on him. I ain’t interesting, he’d say, but his blue eyes would hold a little pleased twinkle.

Some of my work is offerings to the dead. Not so they stay down, but so I remember them by doing what I love most, and what is sometimes the only gift I can give.

So thank you to you all. I’m writing HOOD as a serial now, but Roadtrip Z will always hold a special place in my heart. I was able to play, to expand, to practice both bringing each episode to a good end as well as keeping the much larger (good Lord, it’s easily 200K words in final form) story and its various arcs clearly in mind. It was a helluva ride, and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now that it’s over.

I mean, I know what I’m going to do, of course. I’m going to write more.

But maybe, with the omnibus finally out in both paper and e-formats today, I’ll take a bit of a rest and think about how those I’ve lost are still with me. Not just because I write them, but because I carry them wherever I go. If it’s a burden, it’s one I bear proudly–and one I’ll keep writing underneath.

See you around, guys.

Cinnamon Roll Prospects

It’s one of those mornings. I’m barely vertical and even getting coffee down the hatch seems an impossible task. At least it smells like rain soon, and yesterday I had the great good fortune of getting my finger and toe claws into The Poison Prince. I even got my teeth into that fucking book, and shook it like Sir Boxnoggin with a squeaky toy.

Consequently, now I have a better scaffolding, and I feel like the book, while huge, is also manageable. If I keep biting, eventually I’ll bleed it into compliance. Most of the time, I settle into the story’s world with a thump, like the floor dropping a little during an earthquake. This time, the sensation is of my hands and feet aching and tense, my jaw clenched, while i see which direction the damn thing will veer in.

The Princess and her best friend are in the kitchen. I’m told there’s a prospect of cinnamon rolls soon, but I’d best get out to run before it happens. Maybe, now that I have all my spikes in Poison Prince, I can also juggle it with another work instead of letting it monopolize me. It would be great if I could just work on one book at a time, but the mortgage needs paying and the kids have this habit of eating.

Speaking of which, The Complete Roadtrip Z is available in ebook format through Gumroad now! It’s available for preorder but won’t be released on other distribution platforms until April 9, and Amazon might be later still because they won’t allow you to set an ebook for preorder unless you’re listing through KDP.

Of course, Amazon also lets plagiarists and scammers keep going, because they bring the ‘Zon cash. Which surprises exactly no-one. I’m still waiting for those assholes who came at me yelling when I pointed out “Amazon is not your friend” years ago to produce apologies. Something tells me I’ll wait forever.

I might as well write while I do, but not until I get this coffee finished. My stomach’s rolling like a heavy sea and I can’t wait to get out the door and shake all the fidgets away. I might even leave the last half of my coffee to do so.

Maybe. *eyes mug* Or maybe not. Over and out, dear ones.

Get It Early

The ebook version of the Roadtrip Z omnibus is almost out! You can get it early (tomorrow instead of the 9th) by buying direct on Gumroad if that’s your fancy, or preorder it through Barnes & Noble or Kobo. Amazon won’t let you list an ebook for preorder unless you use KDP, so sorry, Amazon folks–but if you need a .mobi, it comes with the .epub you purchase on Gumroad, so there’s that.

I’m considering a paper omnibus version of the first three Steelflower books too. I will not be putting Steelflower in Snow in ebook format in the foreseeable future. Every time I start thinking about it, some damn ebook pirate rears their nasty pimple-head, and I’m reminded of the feeling of utter violation those thefts force upon me.

It doesn’t help that when I mention there will not be an ebook release, I am immediately deluged by people calling me some variety of uppity because I don’t want my work stolen and and another variety of ableist because again, I don’t want my work stolen. And that just kills any desire I have to continue writing The Highlands War, too, especially since that’s a complex book requiring a lot of emotional energy.

Victory has a cost. Kaia knows that better than most, but Redfist has to learn, and it’ll take a lot of losing before he does. I know what happens, but writing it is a losing game if people are going to be so shitty to me about it. So there’s that.

In any case, it’s a Monday, the world smells like spring, and the bees are out looking for flowers. Some few of them circled my head yesterday as I was doing yard work, but they didn’t try to nest in my sloppy ponytail, thank goodness. The real test will be today’s run with Sir Boxnoggin. I’ll probably end up with a bee or two in my ears, and a few trying to crawl into my mouth besides.

It’s not like I grudge them the ride, but I really worry about inadvertently injuring one of the poor little fellows.

But before I can become a Totoro Catbus for bees, I have piano practice and the ritual shoe-tightening to perform, so I’d best get on that. I hope your Monday is gracious and kind, dear Reader.

If it’s not, I’ll hold it down and you kick it until it becomes amenable, all right? Or vice versa…

Finally Meme’d

It’s very warm for March, and you know what that means.

Bees.

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.”

This does not bode well at all.

In brighter news, I took a picture of the proof copy of the Roadtrip Z omnibus yesterday.

And some fine upstanding soul popped into my feed with this work of art:

I laughed until I couldn’t breathe and the dogs were licking excitedly at my face, my phone, and whatever else they could reach, wondering what the hell.

Finally, I’ve been meme’d. What a time to be alive, my friends. I don’t even mind that today’s run will be full of bees and the dogs will probably try to drag me after a laughing squirrel.

Over and out…

RELEASE DAY: Atlanta Bound

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.

The next serial is HOOD, and you can read all about it here. (You can also read the first episode for free over on my Patreon!)

And now I’m going to go put my head in a bucket, as is my wont on release days. See you in a little while…

Playing Wrap-Up

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.

Anyway, the fourth and final season of Roadtrip Z is now available for preorder and there will be an omnibus. There may even be an omnibus in paper.

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 WonderlandResident EvilBlade 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.

Over and out.

A Heckin Good Protec

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.

*sigh*

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.

Wish me luck.