Damp and Dry

Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

Busy January

Selene

Monday is upon us again. Boxnoggin is having difficulty settling even though we’ve had nothing but the usual daily routine; I think he senses the plumbers are due out today–again, for the fourth time–to get the pipes under the sink right. I long to be able to put everything back in its home and further long to free up the very large bowl that’s been catching the drips.

In the plumbers’ defense, the leak has moved–as soon as one thing is replaced, the thing adjacent decides to start being troublesome. Which is a function and feature of many a complex system, let alone a simple one. So it’s not their fault, they are fabulous fellows, and at the same time I really would like this Finished, Thank You.

Miss B could not care less; to her, this is just another day and all she’s concerned about is keeping herself firmly in my vicinity. I cannot be allowed to roam anywhere, even inside the house, without her close supervision. Heaven knows what trouble I might get into, after all. Especially in these benighted times.

I should get her a soft plush toy to exercise all her maternal and supervisory urges on, but Boxnoggin would likely disembowel it. None of us can handle that particular bullshit right now.

The Dark Watcher sale is over, but I decided the last half of January needed something nice too so Selene is on sale for $2.99 across ebook formats until the end of the month. I’ll probably take February off, since the HOOD omnibus also drops the 25th of this month. The paper edition seems to already be out, thank goodness; for Kindle readers, the omnibus won’t be listed on Amazon but you can get a .mobi edition from Gumroad.

So January is very busy, and I’m going to take February off of sales and the like. Come March I should have some more good news.

I am trying to pull myself, hand over hand, out of the abyss. It’s difficult, to say the least, with successive daily retraumatizations. The rate of daily bad-news bludgeoning has slowed down since Papaya Pol Pot no longer has access to the nuclear button and the news cycle has in consequence somewhat slowed, but the massive institutional failure on every level is difficult to live with. There’s no chance to mourn or even catch one’s breath. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

There’s coffee to finish, some breakfast to choke down, the dogs to walk–Miss B is already restlessly eager for that part of the daily ritual–and getting the workspace cleared for the re-advent of the plumbers. (I just want that last thing sorted with, for gods’ sake. Four visits, while natural when dealing with plumbing issues, still seems a bit excessive.) In between all that, wordcount has to be made. Hell’s Acre needs some attention, since I think I’ve finally figured out what Avery’s plan is; the second Sons of Ymre also needs another pass at that damn first chapter to weed out repetitions and up the tension.

If I just put my head down and work, maybe I can get through the day without worry-induced nausea or panic attacks. Maybe.

We’ll see how it works out.

Monday’s Scorecard

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haha, no

So the plumbers were out again yesterday. The problem appeared to be fixed. I walked the dogs, took a shower, made lunch, letting the fix sit and think about things.

Maybe that was my mistake.

Because as soon as I washed dishes after lunch I found the problem was, indeed, not fixed. I gather this happens a lot with plumbing, but dear gods and garters, I was unamused.

To put it mildly.

At least the appliance repairman who came out to deal with the dishwasher (an entirely separate problem) proved effective (so far). He listened carefully to my description of dishwasher events, nodding thoughtfully, and said, “I think I know what’s going on, based on that.”

I learned that my dishwasher isn’t plugged in but hard-wired through the floor, and in any case I wouldn’t have needed to take it out to look behind it in order to fix the damn thing. The problem appeared to be some shifting as the door was opened and closed, moving some padding, which put pressure on some wires, and is actually quite a common complaint. “Happens a lot, especially with these new types. Let me just run a few more tests to make sure there’s not another problem hanging out in there…”

Then, when he had run all the tests, he peered at the top of the frame and said, “The installers didn’t…huh.”

“The last guy to own this house was a Do-It-Yourselfer,” I offered, a bit faintly. I couldn’t believe things were going so well, and was braced for disaster. “They didn’t put those screws in because of the countertop, you see how it…”

“Oh yeah, I see,” he said, in a tone half wonder, half confirmed-suspicion. “Seen this before too. Let me just…”

He dug in a capacious assortment of screws, washers, nails, and other tiny bits (all neatly organized in a plastic container), found what he wanted, and badda-boom, had the metal tabs at the top screwed into the underside of the counter, with zero fuss. “Now it won’t tip, and that stuff below might not work loose again. But just in case…” He picked up his phone and started tapping. “I’m gonna add notes to your file, so if the problem isn’t just those wires getting pinched we can replace the whole circuit board under there. Sometimes the wire nuts heat up and things get iffy. Don’t you worry, ma’am. It’s going to be all right.”

Have you ever wanted to burst into tears when a stranger says that? Dearly beloveds, I longed to dissolve into sobs. However, I swallowed them, put on a professional face, and made the fellow some coffee, because as he said, “I love caffeine. Love it. Best thing that ever happened to the world.”

I sent off Jake the Appliance Repair Gumshoe with a quad-shot of espresso, cut with some heavy cream. He was most grateful, and gave me a cheery thumb’s-up before pulling out of the driveway, leaving me to my own devices with a (hopefully) fully repaired dishwasher, at least.

So the score for Monday was: Plumbers 0/2, third game next week; Appliance Repairman undefeated (so far); Yours Truly, don’t ask, I’m trying not to scream.

I know these are first-world problems and others are dealing with far, far more. There’s a load of numbing, crushing in guilt in this being the damn straw that breaks the camel’s back and sends me raving into the desert night. I am trying like hell to find the funny side of this, of anything, because once I start laughing it’ll be all right.

To that end I watched Deadpool again last night, and the cartoon-y violence was 100% what I needed. I feel bad for that being the thing that helped, in however small a dose, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

The dishwasher seems to be holding up. Each time I press the start button it’s with a whispered prayer. It drains below the leaky portion of the below-sink pipes, too, so that’s a tiny victory. Of course we have buckets to catch the drips, but that’s hardly the point.

Anyway, I’m still fighting. I’m trying to find the funny side in all this, or indeed in anything. At least I can escape a little today, burying myself in work since there will be no strangers visiting. Getting ready for polite social interaction is a burden I can well do without at this point. Just let me burrow into my hole.

So I’m off to get some brekkie and walk the dogs. No matter what else is going on, they need their walkies, dammit, and the rain means we probably won’t see anyone else as we amble. That will be nice.

Hang in there, everyone. Sooner or later things will get better. They have to. I’m not prepared to accept any other outcome.

Over and out.

Not That Broken

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Today we have both the plumbers and the appliance repair people scheduled to come by–one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It would have been just the appliance repair people to look at the dishwasher, but apparently fixing the leak under the sink last week created a new leak under the sink.

2022 continues to keep giving.

Everyone will be masking and I’ll sanitize what I can between the visits. The dogs will be Very Upset at being placed in Durance Vile–i.e., one in my office and the other in a bedroom, both with highly cushioned resting places they will not use because they will be busy screaming, “MOTHER! HOW DARE!” through the door.

It will be very Man in the Iron Mask around here. Or like the scenes in Ruyi’s Royal Love when a schemer is dragged to the Bureau of Punishment.

Last night the kids were washing dishes and the handle of one of our red cappuccino mugs decided to separate from its bowl. The Prince rolled a critical dex save and caught the bowl on its way down between his hip and the counter, gauging the force perfectly so nothing else broke. From the expostulations I thought something else had gone wrong with the plumbing, so I hurried into the kitchen and found both children (I should call them something else, they’re both of age to vote and smoke by now, and fifty percent of them can legally drink) laughing like loons.

“It’s broken, yeah,” the Prince gasped through his merriment, “but not that broken.”

Which is sort of the running theme around here. Broken, yeah, but not that broken. We’ll make do, route around the damage until we can’t anymore. Perhaps things will be better before it reaches the “can’t anymore” point.

I also have the ball in Hell’s Acre to write, as well as figuring out whether or not the ambulance in the beginning of the second Sons of Ymre book is staffed by regular people or…otherwise. I think it’s the former but I can’t be sure until I actually get there, so it will be exploratory writing, feeling my way in the dark until I reach a flash that illuminates the room. I’m glad to be head-down in stories again; I am having very little luck with the world outside.

The inner ones are always better.

Of course, Avery’s being cagey about what precisely his plan is other than burning down a few buildings. He has to have a deeper gambit; it’s not like him to stop at a wee bit of arson. He has to be hoping to find something elsewhere (since he got all dolled up like a gentleman for the evening) and may or may not be expecting…

…but that would be telling. I’m sure he suspects there’s a spy or two even among his Rooks, so I’ve got to go very carefully and see what on earth he has planned. It’s not yet time for me to gently remind him who’s in charge of this entire rollercoaster; I figure I’ll let him run a bit before I apply the leash.

So to speak. The imaginary people inside my head are a real carnival of fun, kind of like ordinary outside ones.

I will be glad to see the back of today, no matter what happens. I can’t believe it’s only a week and change into January, it already feels like this year has been a century long. Pandemic time is as weird as publishing time, and that’s saying something.

Let’s all get through today however we can. And keep our baseball bats handy.

Over and out.

Victory, Price, Laughter

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I should have known that every victory on the first Monday of 2022 would exact a price. It was going so well, too! I finally got repair for the dishwasher and the kitchen sink scheduled, not to mention some actual work on Hell’s Acre and Sons of Ymre #2. I went to bed feeling reasonably content, even if things are not exactly ideal.

Alas, Past Me was apparently an unforgivable optimist. But maybe I’ll feel better about her habit of being hopeful after coffee. I suppose writing while uncaffeinated, as I am currently doing, means a touch of growl seeping into my voice.

The upshot of all this is that there’s errands today. Hopefully I can get them done with a minimum of fuss and retreat homeward, giving ground very slowly and making the year work for every inch it gains. The stage after the loss of sunny optimism is grim determination, teeth sunk into the hide of the monster and my claws working deeper and deeper, seeking a vital hit.

On the bright side, the heroine in Sons #2 is talking. She’s far different than the heroine in #1, which is only to be expected, and I think she’s just exactly what’s needed. But I made a mistake in the very first scene, and it’s such a deep and integral one I have to go back, rip out three-quarters of what I did yesterday, and rework it.

Of course, I’ll probably find out after reworking that said heroine won’t talk unless I have it the way it was originally written, which means I’ll need to throw out most of what I planned for the book itself and restructure from the ground up simply because a single character simply won’t cooperate.

I am not quite complaining about this, mind you. Realizing a mistake earlier rather than later is a gift. Plus, it’s far better than being so stressed the words refuse to come out at all, which has only happened two-three times in my entire life and is so awful I never, ever, ever want to endure it again. I’m trying to find the funny side–I’m arguing with the voices inside my head while my entire career is telling lies (which, let it be noted, manage to show a certain truth if I’ve done my job right) for a living.

Put that way, it is indeed kind of funny. So is the prospect of each individual errand I have to run today. They’re all hilarious if I look at them the right way.

Gods grant me the strength to hold up each one and turn it to the light in order to catch that funny side, however small and bleak. No doubt I’ll feel much better after a morning run, too. Yesterday was my first day back on the pavement in about a week (what with holidays, disasters, and Bad Weather making it Literally Unsafe To Step Outside) and the endorphin hit was most welcome, indeed. Plus it’s been over two weeks since our booster shots, so every single person in the house is as protected as possible.

There’s going to be something funny in all this. There has to be, and by every god that ever was, I will find it. If I must go down nibbled to death by a tidal wave of papercuts, I will go down laughing. Sure, it might be screamy breathless merriment, but merriment nonetheless.

Laughter is one of the 100% reliable ways to banish demons, after all. And now it’s time to finish this coffee, get the caffeine worked into my muscles, and walk the dogs, who could not care less about the rest of the world as long as they get their kibble, snuggles, and other assorted daily rituals.

If you hear a faint, screeching laugh upon the wind, beloveds, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Let the Tuesday games begin.

Accused of Sympathy

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I, uh, may have fallen into a slight hole yesterday and dumped out 9k on Ghost Squad #2. Should really choose a title for this one; so far, it’s just “Klemp’s book.”

I suppose I could title it Duty but that might lock me into D-words for the rest of the series, and I’m not sure I want to go that route. It’s a pleasant problem to have–I honestly never meant Damage to have a sequel, but the editor loved the Squad and wanted their stories, so here we are.

Klemperer’s an interesting character. He’s the Squad’s jokester, always with a wisecrack handy. What nobody realizes (except perhaps Dez) is that the humor covers a deep well of rage, and he uses it to keep himself leashed as well as to get intel. I’m at the point in the book where things have gone very wrong, they’re about to get even worse, and this guy is still cracking jokes left, right, and center.

Most of them don’t get into the book, but I end up giggling while I type anyway.

My wrists are a bit hashed, and I have at least a third of the book still to go. It’s going to be a little longer than my romances usually run in zero draft, mostly because the setup had to be just right so when my heroine’s temper finally snapped it would touch off the right set of tangled consequences.

I might be accused of having sympathy for said heroine, but not really liking her until said temper actually did snap. You can tell a lot about a person–even a fictional one–by how they act when they have finally been pushed past bearing.

Not only that, but I need to get a fellow Ghost Squad member into the mix as soon as possible, which will require yet another ratcheting-up of tension so Klemp makes the decision to call a buddy. That will be today’s work; despite appearances, I have plenty more tension planned for these characters. The heroine thinks it’s as bad as it could get, Klemp knows a little better, but neither of them are prepared for what I’m about to subject them to.

For lo, I am a cruel and vengeful writer-goddess.

I’m not sure, but I might finish a zero draft this week. If that happens I might even have time to get the revisions on a separate duology done before the end of the month, like I originally planned and had a minor breakdown when I realized I might not be able to.

I loathe not being at full productivity. I don’t care if it is a pandemic, I want to work, goddammit.

All of this means my hands and wrists are suffering a bit. Lots of stretching, ibuprofen, and ice in my future, I guess. I’m itching to get back to the work, but I have to walk the dogs and run my own weary corpse before I can get down to it. That’s not entirely bad–I can plan out several details during both, my mind working furiously while my body’s doing something else.

I suppose I’d best get started; the dogs are anxious. The could not care less about the book, all they know is that as soon as I finish my coffee, it’s time for toast, tying Mum’s shoes, and engaging on the daily ramble. They’re furry little anchors to the real world, and I love them for it, even if I am all but vibrating with the desire to get back to the story.

See you around, my beloveds. I hope your Tuesday is as pleasant as I anticipate mine to become.

Covers and Schedules, Oh My

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Oh look, The Bloody Throne has a cover! Whew. I’m still waiting for the author’s copies, which will mean the series is all the way done instead of just mostly done, but it’s very nice to reach each semi-final milestone.

Winter–such as it is in the Pacific Northwest–has arrived. The first line of real, lovely storms moved in, dumping rain and stripping plenty of leaves. The clinging remainders are brightly colored, as a rule; there are bits of wet flame everywhere. The dogs are extremely glad for the heated mattress topper1 on my bed; Miss B’s old bones and Boxnoggin’s slick coat mean they both enjoy the heat on “their” side.

Yes, they have a whole side of the bed. In the first place, I’m a sucker. In the second place, they’ll alert me of hijinks and intruders, and that’s part of their job.

They work hard, the fuzzy little brats.

I spent the weekend with kitchen chemistry. My candymaking is improving by leaps and bounds, mostly due to having the proper tools. It’s been a real journey of, “Oh, this is why they recommend using one of these! Who knew?”

I did not work on the NaNoWriMo book more than lightly. Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book, for those playing along at home) is moving right along. It’s about time for the first real danger, which I think will be cut brake lines.

I just have to figure out what in hell the cutter of said brake lines is bloody well thinking. They’re utterly convinced of the rightness of this course of action, while I’m mystified. They’ll tell me in a bit, I’m sure, I just have to trust the Muse knows what the hell she’s doing when she insists on something like this.

Never been wrong yet, but there’s always a first time.

I also have to reserve a significant amount of time today for revisions on The Black God’s Heart. I’m getting to the point where I distrust both projects, revising or in the process of creation, which is normal at their respective parts of the process but hardly comfortable, especially when I’m staring at the NaNo book and muttering, “why the fuck did I think I could do this, who the fuck do I think I am, everyone is going to hate this book, YOU MIGHT AS WELL STOP WRITING NOW, LILI.”

Plus ça change, and all that. Plus there’s the pressure of other deadlines looming. My ability to distinguish between “deadline RIGHT NOW” and “deadline a little later” is all caddywumpus, despite all the scheduling software I use to keep on track. (I like Cushion.) I thought I could also work on Jake’s book (Sons of Ymre #2) at the same time, but instead of being able to juggle four projects at once I’m down to two slots during the day when I can give my full attention to things.

I’m torn between “lo, how the mighty have fallen” and “this goddamn pandemic, we could have been past this by now if YOU PEOPLE2 would just cooperate.” Neither are particularly comfortable.

At least there’s some rain. Most mornings are nice and grey, just the way I like them. Boxnoggin is definitely not pleased by that, but he loves the occasional blaze in the fireplace, cuddles on the couch, and (of course) the heated mattress topper, which sometimes I turn on during the day for his napping pleasure.

There are good things in this season, even for a summer dog.

My scheduling app informs me that it’s time to swill the rest of this coffee and get the canines walked. We’re a bit early this morning, because there’s a lot to do. I suppose I should get started.

Let’s hope our respective Mondays behave, my dearests. If not, I’ve got that ashwood Louisville Slugger ready.

It’s nice to have a plan.