RELEASE DAY: Pocalypse Road

That’s right, my hoopy froods! Season 3 of Roadtrip Z is now out in the world.

Winter has arrived, the walking dead are hungry, and Ginny and Lee’s small group of survivors is making its way towards New York. Other survivors, shaking off the daze of catastrophe, are moving as well. In a wasteland of snow and failing power, of course the zombies are dangerous…

…but it’s the other people you really have to watch out for.

Season 3: Pocalypse Road is now available direct, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at independent bookstores.

I had a lot of fun with this season. Things just had to keep going wrong, and more wrong, and more-more wrong, in the grand tradition of every zombie apocalypse tale. Be on the lookout for Tuckerized readers, callbacks to old zombie movies, how to haul ammo in a snowbound wasteland, and finally, finally, Lee Quartine getting a break or two, as well as the mystery of just what was in Colonel Grandon’s case from Season 1.

And now, since it’s a release day, I’m gonna go stick my head in a bucket and hope the anxiety dies down. Enjoy!

Book, Bandwidth

Season 3 of Roadtrip Z goes live tomorrow, which means I’m having release-day nerves all the way down. Maybe that was why my Sunday was full of staring and not getting much done.

Thankfully I get to run today.

*time passes*

My frustration with the home warranty company still dicking me around over the dishwasher replacement reached a certain level that usually leads to stomach irritation, so I tied my shoes and hit the pavement with Miss B. Who was quite pleased, thank you very much, and is now exhausted enough to be a Very Good Dog for the rest of the day. I mean, I know she’s always a Very Good Dog, but this will make her a Very Calm Dog as well. Or at least, as calm as an Australian shepherd can get.

She’s currently sprawled in the hallway, opening an eye whenever I pass. She would like, no doubt, to be snugged up against my office chair, but she suspects I have plans of moving about, and the hall remains the place she can keep track of me without hauling herself upright to supervise my peregrinations.

Today I have release day nerves and concomitant self-care to attend to, as well as seeing if I can get this lady-in-waiting kidnapped and a pair of unlikely rescuers. I have to get through several other scenes to do so, or I could just say “to hell with it” and write the kidnapping/rescue first, then go back and fill in the piercing, the confrontation in the market, the next arranged marriage, and a couple assassination attempts.

This is going to require some thought, and more coffee. I’m hoping the book’s architecture will let me work on it non-chronologically, but that may be borrowing trouble. We’re at almost 80K words for this damn story, it’s only book one, and there’s at least a third more of the whole thing to cram into writing time over the next couple months.

I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Plus, this is something I’ve never attempted before, and the anxiety over maybe fucking it up beyond repair is…mounting. Even sweating for multiple kilometers doesn’t erase that completely. The only way out is just doing the best I can and seeing if I can hit the updated draft deadline. On the bright side, a book usually takes over all my available bandwidth like this right before it spikes towards the finish line.

It’s just that instead of having only 10K words or so to get out of this monster, I have more like 30, and that’s if I’m lucky.

I keep meaning to reserve a little energy to work on Robin Hood in Space–the first season will probably be titled Hood, Home–but when I get to the end of working on Khir’s Honor for the day, I’m worn out. I’m not sure anything else can give in order to free up energy. Dog care, child care, running–those are non-negotiable hard points, and I’d really love to keep on with Latin and piano since the latter is one of the few times my brain doesn’t eat itself during the day, and Latin makes me happy. I have so much crammed into a day, and need to cram in even more.

Well, complaining about it won’t get it done. Time to set a timer and get the fingers to working through the setup for the kidnapping scene. I may have to throw it out later, but at least it’s progress.

Over and out.

Needing Recovery

It was a mildly eventful weekend.

I finished the zero of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. Since Season 3 is finishing (and is up for preorder, my how time flies), I’m busy with all things Ginny & Lee. Subscribers get the original, zero-draft, raw chapters, then an ebook of the first draft (likewise raw, but less raw) when the season ends, and the finished, edited, and prettified ebook before it goes on sale, so they get to see how the book changes during the process as well as two free ebooks.

Halfway through pushing to get the last chapter written, the Princess texted–some jerk had stolen her bike seat while she was at work. I ended up taking the one off my own bicycle to replace it, since her bike won’t fit in the car. It was infuriating–bike seats? What the fuck? Who does that? I hope whoever took it gets a suitable karmic vengeance delivered in an extremely timely fashion.

Anyway, a case of bookus interruptus, but once I got that emergency handled and sorted, I came back and found out the scene wasn’t going to end the way I thought anyway. So it was probably a blessing I got called away. It was definitely a blessing that I used the trip away to stop and pick up some milk and a bottle of wine. Not for consuming at the same time, of course.

Taking that first sip of cabernet after finishing a zero draft was immensely satisfying.

I took Sunday off, but only from work since Sunday is Chore Day. Housecleaning, more housecleaning, and as a bonus not only washing Odd Trundles, but giving Miss B one of her infrequent baths. She doesn’t need them often, because an Aussie’s coat is one of the wonders of the world–stuff just dries up and flakes off, and too much bathing can strip it of natural oils and cause problems–but she did need one, and suffered it only through her vast love for her hoomins.

She also tried to escape multiple times. Love only stretches so far.

Anyway, once she was scrubbed, rinsed, and dried as far as towels could make her, she got treats but spent the rest of the day mournfully reproaching me with big doggy sighs, stares, and not-so-subtle angling for more treats. Odd, since he gets a bath pretty much weekly, forgot about the occurrence almost as soon as he got the ritual treats afterward. But B? No, she was in a mood for the rest of the day, and is still a little miffed.

The idea behind taking a day off was to slow down the decompression sickness that shows up every time I finished a zero draft. I tend to work on multiple projects until one heats up and races for the finish, and bending all my resources towards that finish line means after I cross, the momentum is still there. I have to wait for the flywheel to wind down a bit before I can harness it to the other projects again. Bleed off the pressure, so to speak.

So I finished up yesterday by watching Met opera stagings. I have one of Netrebko singing Lucia di Lammermoor I want to watch, and maybe I’ll do that today. Recovery always takes longer than I think it will, even when I give myself a day completely “off.” (Which means only about 200 words in a single project, really.)

If there’s a single most frustrating thing about writing, it’s needing recovery. I want to work. I need to work. Scheduling in recovery time and sticking with it so I don’t work until collapse irritates me almost past bearing. Which surprises exactly no-one, I’m sure. But it’s necessary, dammit, and faster in the long run.

At least there will be some time for Latin today. The urge to read aloud, going back and forth with the translation on the opposite page, is almost like the fidgets that drive me out the door to run.

Over and out.

Crawling Along

I’m backing down from eight shots of espresso in the morning to four. So far, it’s not going well. I feel only half awake. I’m sure restless sleep has something to do with it, though, since Atlanta Bound is heating up and I had to drag myself away from the book last night. It wants to be done, but it keeps wriggling for a dark cave while I crawl after it, stabbing.

Graphic? Perhaps. Accurate? Completely. I need to weaken and bleed out the story to the point where I can finish it off in one last convulsive effort.

The entire corpus of Roadtrip Z is coming up on 200K words, and after Season 4 is finished, there will be a re-edited omnibus/box set. Which means I’m not going to be saying goodbye to Ginny and Lee all at once, but in stages. Which is nice, with a project this large and time-consuming. I’m already tossing around ideas for the serial I want to write after RZ is finished. Current contenders include Hell’s Acre and the Robin Hood in Space story. But we’ll have to see.

So Ginny, Lee, and the gang are almost to their final destination–in more ways than one. The zombies have grown desperate, and like most desperate creatures, much smarter and more ferocious. That’s the thing with a zombie story–the stakes must raise, and you’ve got to leave them room to do so. Fortunately, I’ve known from the beginning what the endgame is, as usual, and just had to throw enough obstacles in their way to make them really work for it. A couple beloved characters are going to have to die, too. And I’ve got to figure out what happens to Traveller-the-Hound.

So my work is cut out for me. Ideally, I’d like to get this zero out by the weekend so I can turn my attention to Hostage of Zhaon, which is currently languishing with an editor. I need feedback, and not getting it in a timely fashion is part of the great dance of publishing.

*time passes*

Typing that reminded me that nobody at the publisher knows what I’m thinking unless I tell them, so I wrote a quick email asking for an update. It costs nothing to ask where the process is at, and may be a gentle reminder that I am PATIENTLY WAITING, DAMMIT. (My agent would be laughing at me now, because she knows the exact dimensions of my professional patience.)

The house is quiet, a band of rain moved through earlier, and the wind is warmer than I expected, given the weather reports. I have to run, then open up Atlanta Bound and crawl along the story’s bloody trail, clutching a knife of words and hoping to at least slow the beast down so I can finish it off in a few days’ time.

Over and out.

Looking Up

Winter Sunrise
© Mark6138 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Odd Trundles complained that he wanted his walk, complained that I was not moving quickly enough to get to his walk, complained that he had to go down stairs to get to his walk, complained that it was raining during his walk, complained that his walk was too long, complained that he had to go up the stairs at the end of his walk, and is now complaining that his walk is over and he has a mouthful of chew toy.

It’s hard being a bulldog. Especially when there’s an Australian shepherd nipping at your hind end to quiet you down or boss you around, and the human won’t throw the chew toy the precise amount of distance you require.

The rain was unexpectedly warm, though. Plum trees are beginning to wear their fleece decorations, cherry trees waking up in droves instead of just the odd sentinel here and there. The ones who woke early are whispering with contentment, the newcomers singing a beat late but full-throat. The crocuses have their yellow hearts on display, jonquils and daffodils nodding cheerfully…and the hellebore, as usual, is watching this with a great deal of amusement.

I am finally possessed of a day where I don’t have to leave the house, and plan to spend it right here, occasionally stretching or looking out the window to see the remaining cedars dance on a wet spring wind. I’m sure Miss B wants a run, but she’ll have to make do with walkies. I have the fallout from an incredibly emotional scene in Roadtrip Z to write, and last night’s prince-and-general conversation over drinks to look through, tweak, and layer description into. Hostage is now 50K, and I’m only halfway through what I need it to be. Plus I should get started on revisions for Steelflower’s Song if I intend to release it later this year. And there’s the little matter of Jozzie & Sugar Belle to revise, as well as edits for Rattlesnake Wind coming down the pike at some point. In short, there is more work than even I know what to do with, and that is my preferred state.

Still, I am going to take a few minutes to enjoy some well-earned, nourishing solitude. And the fact that I don’t have to leave the house today.

Things are looking up.

Hapless Fruit

News! There’s news! Season 3 of Roadtrip ZPocalypse Road–is now up for preorder. (Yes, there will be a paperback version, too.) Also, I hived off my editing, cover copy, and formatting services to a separate site. 1

I’m kind of waiting for that email address to start receiving the email equivalent of cold calls. There’s been a rash of them lately, people wanting me to stick links to something or another in one of my blog posts. I’d almost be willing to do so if their content was reasonable…except for the informality of their address. I’m much more likely to consider a request kindly (or at all) if the stranger making the request doesn’t start their email with “Hey Lili!” Or “Hey Lillith”, or “Hi Lilly”, or some other version of the same. Strike one is acting like you know me; strikes two and three are misspelling my name. 2 Some days the offers on tap even amuse me, like the “anti-piracy service” that wants me to give them my phone number.

Mostly, it’s the hapless and transparent that amuse me. There’s a line between that and insulting my intelligence, and some days my drawing of the line is dependent upon my mood.

Consequently I’ve been having fun consigning things to my spam folders. True to form, I have a little song I often sing when I have the time and the inclination and a few things to heave into the spam pile. It’s basically just me repeating “You’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead to me,” to the tune of whatever music I heard last. (It gets really fun when I’ve been on an opera jag.) Since today is apparently all about Depeche Mode, you can well imagine.

Yesterday I also wrote 7K of a weird steampunk-y romance, but I don’t think it’ll go anywhere. I feel so bloody liberated at not having to keep forcing myself to write the one book that was prompting heaving and all sorts of internal damage, I’m just slopping over with creativity. Unfortunately, today I have a million things to do that do not involve wordcount. In between the grocer’s, baking, and paperwork, I’ll have to steal away for a few forbidden sentences.

That’s the most satisfying kind of writing, and sometimes I think I fill most of the day with trivia in order to make the writing feel like stolen fruit. Other times, I’m sure that it’s the trivia that provides grist, or that I simply amuse myself until my most creative time–from about 3pm to 10pm–rolls around. Interestingly enough, 3-4pm is the doldrums, that time during which i am most likely to feel that my life has no meaning and I might as well walk off a cliff, so I begin writing to force away the urge to find one.3 When I’m allowed to pursue the schedule my body wants–rising about noon, at work between 1-2pm, a long walk/run in the evening, more work and going to bed between 3-5am) the doldrums don’t occur, but my internal clock is at variance with the rest of the world, including children’s school hours and the dogs’ stomachs.

Adapt and make do.

Anyway, this has taken an hour, since I am distracted with lists of things to do today and dogs who need petting and cooing such a good girl, such a best boy. The coffee has soaked in, and it’s time to embark upon Monday.

Over and out.


Roaring lioness
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I took yesterday mostly off. It ended with knitting and watching the last half of L’Eclisse, which is a pleasant way to spend an evening. Good Lord but Alain Delon was pretty, back in the day. It makes me want to watch Le Samourai again.

I didn’t even have to make dinner–the Princess brought home a take-n-bake pizza. “It’s your day off,” she said. “Copyedits were hard.” (The pizza was delicious, too.)

This morning is strangely sunny, one of those weird weather spots. I can’t settle to a single thing, though, so I blame both the Godzilla ridge and Mercury being in retrograde. I know the latter doesn’t matter, but any excuse for this itchy feeling is welcome. I’m sure once I get out the door and halfway through a run, I’ll settle somewhat.

Both dogs have been particularly needy this morning. They didn’t care that I needed caffeine in order to prop my eyelids up; no, they wanted pets, and since I have two dogs, that took care of my full hand complement. Honestly, I stopped at two children for just this reason–never have more Truly Important Things than you can carry (or keep hold of) in a disaster. That, and I knew I couldn’t give more than two children high-quality parenting. Knowing one’s limits is a necessary art.

The next thing on my docket is a thorough, hard revise of Season 3 of Roadtrip Z. For those asking, there will be four seasons, and after the fourth is done and released there will be a compilation. I may just release the compilation in ebook, since it’s going to be a beast, size-wise, and I’m not sure the price point for putting it in print will be sustainable. As usual, Patreon folks get the ebooks for free, up to and including the compilation.

So that’s the big overarching thing I’ll be focusing on, as well as Beast of Wonder and the finishing touches on the NaNo book’s zero draft. Enough work to take me into the new year, indeed. It will feel good, I’m sure, once I get my run out of the way this morning and the fidgets worked out.

Onward to Tuesday, I guess.