RELEASE DAY: Cotton Crossing

That’s right, my friends, the re-edited, shiny Season 1 of Roadtrip Z, my Patreon serial, is now available!

Cotton Crossing was a dead end, but not for Ginny Mills. She’s just marking time, getting experience in the county library system, before moving back to a decent urban environment. Then the phones stop working.

Lee Quartine knows there’s no way the pretty girl at the library will even look at him. Especially since he can’t open his mouth. He knows he’s a hick, but when the power starts going out and the woods are full of strange creatures, it’s good to have someone around who can build a fire. And kill.

Ginny, Lee, and their small band of survivors can’t stay put, and moving is dangerous. The infected are shambling in the hills and the concrete canyons of cities.

It’s gonna be a long trip…

Season 1: Cotton Crossing is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or direct!

We’re now deep in Season 2. Subscribe here to read, chapter by chapter, as the serial is written.

Labour Day Run

A 12km run while uncaffeinated is not quite my favorite thing. Still, I wanted to get my long run for the week out of the way, and what better time than Labour Day? Yeah, sure, the smoke from the wildfires has turned the sun orange, but that means I’ll run better in the shade. I’m not a Spartan, but the principle holds. I turned in a respectable 7:45min per km, too. It may not sound much, but my long-run pace has hovered near 8min for a while, and it’s nice to see it coming down with no change in perceived effort. I guess the tempo runs have been paying off.

Tempo runs are still awful and hateful, though.

I did get out the door early enough that the heat wasn’t awful yet. The problem is, if I caffeinate before a run, I have to wait for the life-giving elixir to settle before I go and shake myself like a champagne bottle in a music video. I dislike throwing up, I hate it when my stomach evicts breakfast while I’m running, and I absolutely cannot stand wasting coffee. There were a lot of people out getting their daily exercise before it gets truly unlivable, and plenty of dogs. Miss B would have enjoyed that, if I would ever let her do more than 5km with me. Six is the absolute limit. She’s still bouncy, but getting older means her endurance is dropping, poor thing. I am in constant fear of pushing her poor little doggie heart too hard.

But now I’m home, a cold shower has been had, and that first glorious sip of coffee has slid down my throat. Now I’m waiting for the real jolt to hit, but that first small taste is the most pleasant part of most mornings. The rest of the day is for working on the zero of Roadtrip Z‘s Season 3. I had to write an awful scene involving a bigot last week, and it was dreadfully hard. Now I have the skeleton and can trim and pack it, but the main challenge will be not looking away from how horrid people can be. It doesn’t even take a zombie apocalypse for most people; as long as they don’t perceive a social cost to being an asshole. That’s part of why calling out bigotry is so important.

Anyway, there’s a big zombie attack coming up, and Lee’s going to have to make some decisions. Plus, I might have to give the librarian a cricket bat for up-close zombie fighting. She’s not too keen on a Louisville Slugger, for some reason. I mean, you can fight off a zombie with a golf club if you have to, you use whatever tool is to hand in an apocalypse, but she really, really wants a cricket bat.

I don’t know about these people in my head. They seem a little strange.

Enjoy your Labour Day, everyone.

*wanders away to make more coffee*

Chewable Air

This morning’s 7km run was a beauty, except for one thing: the air quality. Apparently the haze that makes the light so deliciously golden is a way of getting all one’s minerals in one’s breath, so I ran most of the last half with deep drilling pain in both lungs. I’m sure I’ll be coughing up chunks of interesting colors later in the day. At least at home, with the windows closed and the ionizers going, it’s a little less thick.

And, strangely enough, the haze made each band of smell on my route more intense. Fabric softener, a few small nasty threads of bloating roadkill, honeysuckle, asphalt, jasmine, roses, passers-by and their cologne, dogs with their dry-oily notes, cut grass, warm earth. My sensory map of the neighborhood is undergoing constant revision, probably because the utility work is bringing up a bunch of weird smells from underground and every time I pass a work site I get a blast of diesel and sweat. You could probably plonk me down anywhere in a mile radius with a blindfold on and I’d know where I was by scent alone. You’d think all the crap in the air would deaden my nose, but it just makes my chest tighten up.

At least I have some post-lunch coffee to get me through the afternoon. I intend on getting the last half of Roadtrip Z’s Season 2 revised today, after I get the Patreon episodes scheduled. *cracks knuckles* After that my focus shifts to the zero of Season 3, where the dominos start falling and people–well, more people, at least–start dying. I have all the dominos arranged and I know what happens, with only a few gaps in my understanding for the series to surprise me.

Once the Season 3 zero is in the can, I’ll think about if I want to finish it as a serial. It would be nice to bring it full-circle, but we’ll see if people are still interested at that point.

So today is all about grinding, slow, picky, detail-oriented work. It’s for the best, what with the Little Prince starting school this week, I’m already in a take-care-of-details mode. Once he’s settled nicely in the school rhythm, I can have whole chunks of the day back for the fierce, one-pointed concentration necessary to keep all the moving parts in this story working together instead of zooming off in different directions.

Well, onward, I guess. Excelsior, and all that.

Little Odd Troubles

WHY YES, I AM IN A MOOD TODAY. How could you tell?

Part of it is the wind. When I lived in Wyoming, one expected it, but up here, a constant stream of rushing air is a little less tolerable. Normally I quite enjoy it, like the sound of rain, but last night Odd Trundles woke me up every. two. hours. with a combination of “SOMEFING HIT DE ROOF, IMMASCAIRT!” and “I THINK I NEED TO PEE. MOM? MOM, I THINK I NEED TO PEE.” Naturally, as soon as I struggled out of bed and shrugged into my robe, Odd decided he really didn’t want to leave his nice warm crate at all, even if Miss B, cranky after the second or third episode, got her snoot in there to try and drag him forth.

So yeah. I’m cranky as fuck-all too, today.

*time passes*

I love this weird, yeasty little dog, I really do. And proof of it is, even as sleep-deprived as I am, I still rush to comfort him when one of his legs stops working and he freaks out. Bulldogs have weird neurological and spinal things because they’re so corkscrewed. Occasionally, if Odd moves wrong, something goes haywire and one of his back legs either goes numb or won’t respond, and this scares the little fellow so much that without instant soothing, he has one of his seizures. Thankfully, I was right next to him, and if I don’t freak out he’ll stay calm. It takes a steady voice, gentle hands, and a little pressure in particular places to short-circuit the seizures, almost like an interpretive dance. Miss B, anxious to help, almost precipitated the seizure afresh by attempting to grab his leg and MAKE it work for him, so that was an interesting few minutes. Now he’s resting comfortably with a peanut-butter-smeared muscle relaxer to make sure he stays loosened up.

My heart is still pounding. If someone would have told me the things I’d do to keep a rescue bulldog functioning, I’m not sure I would have believed it. On the bright side, there’s generally a clear-cut fix for everything that ails him, and while I’m focusing on his little troubles I’m not thinking about the current on-fire state of the country. So there’s that.

I need some tea. It’s Thursday, so another chapter of Roadtrip Z is up at my Patreon; the first part is still available for free! When we reach the next Patreon goal I’m going to vlog a reading from Steelflower, pronunciations and all. There’s some other exciting news I can’t talk about just yet, but I’m working on three deadlines at once right now, so that gives you an inkling.

Off I go to brew more caffeine, just to keep myself upright until I can crawl back into bed tonight. Hopefully both Odd and I will be exhausted enough to sleep the whole way through.

Thursday, Like A Monday

It’s Thursday, but it feels like a Monday. In a good way, mind you. Because all the damn ice has melted off or washed away, which means I get to go running. Not only that, but Miss B gets to come with me, which means we’ll both work off a mountain of fidgets and irritability.

All I have to do is wait for my breakfast to settle. Then it’ll be time to tie my shoes and get the fuck outta the house. The big thing will be reminding myself to be careful and take it easy, since there may be some slippery patches–the mud is going to be incredible, if I have to veer off pavement. Sticking to a dry-ish route is going to take some ingenuity.

I couldn’t be happier. I am twitching while I type, all but desperate to get out the door and work off these nerves. It was so bad yesterday I had to consciously remind myself not to snap at anyone or anything interrupting my train of thought. Working when one is snappish can be good–the irritation can push you to better characterization and to fiercer work, not to mention attention to small details. Most of the time, though, it’s a handicap because EVERYTHING MAKES ONE WANT TO KILL. “Perpetually murderous” might be a good story, but it’s an inefficient method of goal achievement. It creates bodies and paperwork, both things that take up a great deal of working time.

I jest, but only halfway.

So, today I run all my fidgets out, and Miss B’s, too. Then it’s Afterwar, and some more Roadtrip Z, and maybe a bit on a super-sekrit project. And yes, today is the day another chapter of Roadtrip Z goes live! I am tremendously excited.

Now that my breakfast has settled a bit, it’s time to brush my teeth and tie the aforementioned shoes.

Over and out.

A Certain Symmetry

I know some of you will look at this picture and go, “pfft, that’s not even two feet of snow, what’s the problem?” The problem, chickadees, is that even six inches of snow is like six feet here, because the PNW gets this kind of weather so rarely we don’t really have the infrastructure to deal with it. That means roads go unplowed more likely than not, and things like banks, schools, and city government shut down. It further means cars get abandoned by the roadside, the power goes out for many many people, and commerce grinds mostly to a halt. The last time this happened was in 2008, just to give you an idea, and wasn’t that a mess. (Hint: Yes, yes it was.)

On the bright side, there are snowball fights, and the kids are having a ball sledding down the hill. And while I’m writing a zombie apocalypse in a winter storm, there’s a certain symmetry to being housebound under a blanket of cold white.

Soon it’ll warm back up and the rain will wash everything away, which will return us to flooding and moss. So it’s not all bad, but I’m beginning to get a little itchy, wanting to get out of the house for once. Treadmill running isn’t the same, and Miss B is on the verge of bored destruction–there are only so many laps she can do of the backyard to work off her energy. Odd Trundles, being built low, brushes his chest on the snow when he goes out to attend to Nature’s call, and when he gets back inside he looks at me very much as if I have created this white wasteland just to inconvenience his tender undercarriage.

Anyway, that’s the weather where I am. Today is Thursday, and that means another chapter or two of the serial for my lovely Patreon patrons. So stay tuned, that will be up soon, and I’ll get back to telling the story of who was shooting at Willard in a bit.

Over and out.

Eight-Ring Circus

Busy-bee morning, though it is freezing still outside and we won’t get above the temperature of ice for a few days. It was so cold this morning I rolled out of bed and into my running togs and the Jedi bathrobe, and I am pondering the advisability of wearing said bathrobe for a 5K. (I mean, that qualifies as training, right? You can’t ever know when you might have to flee dressed as a Jedi.)

These are the things I think about.

I’ve put up the book page for Roadtrip Z. The first couple chapters go up on Thursday, or before if I get my act together. (Hint: probably the former.) I am SO EXCITED about this, guys. I like doing serials, I like the challenge and the weekly check-in with readers. I also like the idea of doing something new (for me). Since last year was so awful with the Steelflower debacle making the mortgage chancy, I’m happy to be trying something new. Publishing is kind of like being a shark–you stop swimming, you suffocate.

(It’s not shark-infested waters. That’s their home. They LIVE there.)

The only bad thing is the usual nerves (nobody will like this, they’ll hate it, it will suck, they’ll hate me, THE SUN WILL GO OUT AND WE’LL ALL STARVE) are magnified, and on a weekly basis, too. But really, that anxiety is never going to go away. Best just to realize it’s normal, plan for it, and move on.

(And every once in a while sit on one’s bed and scream into a pillow. Ever tried that? It’s liberating.)

It’s a busy morning partly because of work, and partly because Odd Trundles has been attempting to, erm, well, either mate with the Mad Tortie or dominance-hump her. She has variously taken refuge near the office heater (he keeps knocking over), my bedroom (where he follows, barking), or my lap, which means he gets, ahem, excited over my ankle since it’s the closest he can get. (You ever tried to write a sex scene while a bulldog attempts sweet sweet nookie to your ankle? It’s…exotic.)

Now the Tortie, somewhat shell-shocked, is clinging to my shoulder as I type this, and Odd has retreated to his bed in my office, licking his paws and making longing noises. The Tortie’s tail makes it somewhat difficult to see the screen, so I’m going to go put her somewhere out of Odd’s reach and head out for my run.

(Maybe with the bathrobe. I haven’t decided yet.)

This concludes the peek inside the eight-ring circus that is my head, and the accompanying circus of Chez Saintcrow. Thank you, and have a nice day.

(Hope you kept all your fingers and toes inside the carriage…)