Damp Sledgehammer Monday

Rain! Marvelous, glorious rain all yesterday. I do have to dump out the basins and catchers under the seedling pots, and even though today is already quite busy I should get some of said seedlings in the ground to take advantage of all the nice skywater.

It’s almost enough to make me tranquil. Except revisions have landed, there’s a million chores I didn’t get to yesterday, and school administrators are doubling down on their bullshit instead of simply doing the necessary thing and moving on.

The fact that I just knew they were going to continue with the bullshit when they were called on it makes it even more irritating.

Anyway, there’s the rain to listen to, the dogs to walk, a run in lovely warm summer damp to accomplish, and revisions on the third and final Hostage to Empire book to begin. If I get those final edits out the door this week I might be able to knock off the Sons of Ymre edits next week and be ahead of the game–except for I also need to be producing on Hell’s Acre that entire time. I’m ahead, of course, but not as comfortably as I like to be in a serial. At least the combat scene isn’t giving me trouble.

A scene that takes a writer weeks to craft might be read in a few moments, and sometimes people think it detracts from the value of the writer’s labor. Far from, my friends, far from.

What I really want to be doing is lunging for the end of Cold North. Sol the elementalist and her merry band of companions are in a bad fix indeed; though I know how they get out I am not entirely sure a few of them will make it alive. I suspect, of course, and I’m pulling for them…and yet. It’s hard on a writer’s nerves, not knowing which of the characters will meet a bad fate in the text.

I mean, there are intimations, and occasionally I absolutely know when a character is doomed, but most of the time it’s a surprise even to me. An uncomfortable one, to say the least.

Miss B is very ready for walkies, and is nudging at my knee. Time to get out the door and embarked upon a Monday which has started very Monday indeed and looks fair to continue.

It’s enough to make me grab the goggles and reach for a sledgehammer. I’m ready to tango.

Not Quite Vacay

It’s raining, and I woke up with Rain’s Sad Tango playing in my head. Which isn’t bad on either count. I get to run while water is falling from the sky, and there’s also a catchy groove to do it to.

I meant to take this week as a vacation, at least from serial writing. Unfortunately life has other ideas. Cold North is still going great guns; the elementalist has left that world’s variation on Nargothrond and is heading for a hill topped with red foliage. (Turin Turambar fans are going to get a kick out of this part of the tale.) I’m also getting plenty of progress in on Hell’s Acre, which has a scaffolding somewhat resembling an outline–though anything approaching an outline gets thrown out about two-thirds of the way through any work.

I just can’t stick to directions when it comes to a story. It has to take its own organic shape, and though I can often predict said shape, the execution is always much different than the projection.

…I just took the first gulp of today’s coffee, and my gods is it ever welcome.

I’m having to switch back to tea in the afternoons, since sleeping is becoming difficult again. On the one hand, I could just get up and work when insomnia strikes. On the other, I’m getting older (surprise, surprise) and the very thought of pulling all-nighters the way I used to makes me even more tired. I might as well give my body all the help I can. Besides, tea is stuffed full of anti-depressive chemicals, and that’s always a bonus.

I’m also ready to open up my Discord server for a new round of members, so come on in, the water’s fine! The invite link will last for a week, unless we get an influx of bad actors. (Which sometimes happens, this being the internet and all.) Patreon and Gumroad folks get special access on the server, and I’m kicking around the idea of doing some voice chats with subscribers–an AMA or two sounds like a good time, especially with a cuppa. The server has a living room, a place to discuss the books of Yours Truly, a place to discuss other authors’ books, a hellhole where politics are discussed, and more.

I’m slowly working my way through coffee. It’s a nice quiet grey morning, and after listening to Sad Tango on repeat I figure I’ll shift to the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, look over the day’s work, and finish said java before taking the dogs on walkies. Boxnoggin will be extremely put out that it’s damp, but B will be just the same–she’s all-weather, all the time.

OH! I almost forgot. The Princess informed me yesterday that the Yankee Squirrel Flipper is doing its duty, and a squirrel has been flung at least once into the Venerable Fir. Sadly, I did not get to witness the occasion, but I have to admit to a bit of evil laughter, especially since the damn arboreal rodents have been digging up my seedling trays to bury their bloody peanuts.

Yes, someone in the neighborhood is still feeding them. I don’t even know.

That’s the news that’s fit to print, I suppose. There are rumbles in the distance, both concerning Cold North and Moon’s Knight, but nothing definitive yet. And come June 1, not only will Hell’s Acre be live, but I’ll have to shift engines to do revisions on Sons of Ymre, which should be out later this year (but will probably be retitled, so stay tuned).

My goodness, that’s a lot. I started this post thinking there was very little if any news, but apparently I was wrong. It’s a good thing I don’t mind being wrong. I even enjoy it, in some cases.

This vacation is turning out busier than many regular work weeks, but that’s my own fault…

…as usual. Onwards, upwards, and inwards to Thursday, beloveds.

Not Quite Planned

Rain last night and a sunny morning; I can almost feel the grass stretching, not to mention the grapevines, the hop vine, and the salvia. I’m sure the foxglove out front is pretty happy too, and the blueberries appear to have taken transplanting well. I also woke up with Janet Jackson’s Black Cat in my head at high volume, so of course I had to listen to it and dance a bit before brekkie.

Yesterday was a complete, total, utter Monday. At least it lived up to its name; one has to admire the thoroughness with which some days set out to become annoyances. Oh, I have to admit Monday wasn’t bad; I got basic wordcount on both Hell’s Acre and Cold North.

But that wordcount was mostly me ripping out and redoing the architecture on a foundational scene so that things I plan for later in the serial have a proper footing. So I wrote about 1.2k, but deleted a good 800+ words, so it was fiddly, finicky work that felt like running in place. And of course after a couple of 4k+ days on Cold North, the characters are exhausted and I barely got 600 words out of them.

At least the latter were good words, and I know more about a certain character now. I think he’s got a thing for the heroine, but she’s oblivious and in any case they have plenty of problems, including escaping an elvish cave-city. The Valkyrie in the story is having a bit of a day, too. Fortunately she has a spear, and with a spear all her problems become things to be stabbed.

Funny how that works.

I don’t quite have today planned out yet. All I know is that the dogs need walking and I must run. Yesterday I burned off a lot of anxiety by hauling my carcass along at what passes for high speed–I am not anything approaching swift, mind you, but I can keep a steady pace just about forever. As long as the zombies aren’t sprinters I should do just fine. Then I think I’ll go through some more Hell’s Acre to make sure all the foundation-stones are in place before edging into new territory, and get everyone in Cold North ready to leave the damn city.

I do have revisions on Sons of Ymre to turn around in the next few months, but right now I’m going to work on fresh wordage rather than editing. I’ve spent the majority of my time recently in revision, and while I don’t really mind–it’s where a lot of magic happens–I still prefer the heat of creation.

Both dogs are slumped in a rare sunbeam coming through my office window; mornings are often cloudy and the cedars along the back fence generally block any direct glare this time of day. It’s rare for them to be able to bask, and they’re enjoying every moment of it. Still, the instant I shift to take my empty coffee cup into the kitchen and lace up my shoes, they’ll be beside themselves with glee and anticipation.

I have only a few more minutes of quiet left before that, and I plan to use them breathing deeply. See you around, beloveds.

Retrenchment

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I should continue blogging. It’s not that I want to stop–I enjoy it, which is a good enough reason for continuing. And it’s not quite a journal or diary, because those are separate and private. I suppose it’s always been a way of shouting into the void, even during the ol’ LJ days.

Man. Livejournal. That takes me back.

Every once in a while I look to see if I want to keep doing it. I used to have more post ideas–there were Soundtrack Mondays and Friday Writing posts, for example. But then 2020 hit, and kept hitting.

And kept hitting, and kept hitting. And kicked for good measure.

I know everything changes. Still, I miss telling backyard stories. (There was a squirrel on the deck while we were having dinner just the other day, and the quick movement when all three of us involuntarily checked for footwear was hilarious.) Norbert the Gargoyle is in a new home–I never did tell you guys how that turned out–and the gnomes, from Emphysema Joe on down, are their usual cranky selves. We have a new crop of squirrels, though–the old ones have either changed their territories or moved on.

Brief is the life of a garden squirrel.

In short, there’s a lot going on, but getting it all down is the difficult part. There’s been so much else to talk about. Plague, war, fascist coup–all of it’s exhausting.

There’s no ringing conclusion or grand decision today. I’m just…looking at things. And I don’t think I want to make any hard and fast resolutions until there’s been at least a short period of calm. The news cycle hasn’t been pummeling me like it did last year, for which I am devoutly grateful, and yet the hole we were cast into is just so deep, getting out is an epic in and of itself.

Speaking of which, how am I writing two epics at once? There’s Hell’s Acre (which premieres in June) and Cold North, both massive undertakings. But then, I’m not really myself if I’m not juggling slightly1 more than I think I can manage. I’ve edits coming down the pike too–a final look at The Bloody Throne, revision on the second half of The Black God’s Heart, and today I hear from an editor about Sons of Ymre.

Publishing is such a delayed-gratification game. It’s unreal. By the time a book hits shelves, I’m already two years farther down the road. Also, Moon’s Knight is resting with a certain other editor now, and if they don’t take it, I’ll be looking for a cover. Because dammit, my beta readers deserve to see that book out in the wild, sooner or later.

The amount of work I managed to get done last year is somewhat shocking. I didn’t think I’d done anything at all. Looking back and realizing “no, Lili, you kept working frantically because the alternative was sinking in quicksand” is…well, not quite uncomfortable, but not pleasant either.

I suppose it’s a measure of hope that I keep going, both with the books and with blogging. I’ve always hoped that seeing the life of a working writer a little closer–though not intimately, I save that for other spaces–might help other writers feel a little less alone. This kind of career is both achingly lonely (when there’s nothing but you and the blank page) and shockingly crowded (when one deals with agent, editors, marketing, production staff, and all the other quality-control staff). The dichotomy can drive one mad.

I mean, if one isn’t already mad just contemplating this kind of work. It does tend to rattle one’s bolts.

Case in point: When I started this post, I was thinking solely about whether or not I wanted to continue blogging. I’ve ended up amazed at the amount of work I did last year under some harsh conditions, and am bracing myself for another glut of revisions to fall on my head.

So it goes, I guess. And through it all, the dogs need walking and I need caffeine–the withdrawal headaches are no fun at all. So I bid you a fond adieu, beloved Reader.

But only for a short while. I think I’ll keep blogging after all.

Over and out.

Mad March Scheduling

Well. It’s March, it’s a Monday. There is a pea-soup fog; even the cedars across the back yard are hazy and indistinct. I meant to get up early and start my spring-forward on the right foot, but… the dogs were heavy, I was dreaming about a glass labyrinth, and the enormity of a few professional steps I’ve taken lately has come crashing down.

I have to write an agent query letter. I have never had to write an agent query letter, so this should be fun. (Yes, there are a lot of things in publishing I don’t know about. Always learning is the name of the game.)

This week, Serial Time and Nest Egg subscribers get the unedited ebook of HOOD‘s Season Two, and next week they get the edited one–well before it goes on sale anywhere, I might add, though I do need to update the buy links on the book page. I’m hard at work on Season Three, where all the characters come together–the double-crosses are revealed, Ged Gizabón commits murder, Robb Locke commits even more, Parl Jun makes his bid for absolute power, Marah decides to hell with deportment and responsibility because all of Anglene needs to be saved, Bookman Trick finds out he’s not a coward after all, and Alladal finally gets a few things she wants.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And then there’s breaking an embargo, a deadly speeder chase, not one but two jailbreaks, and a whole lot else planned.

I mean, I knew writing Robin Hood IN SPACE was going to be fun, but I didn’t know it would be this fun. I’m eyeing what I have to pull off and rubbing my hands together with glee.

There’s also a podcast I want to listen to, which doesn’t happen often. I should have cued it up yesterday while I was doing housework, but I was busily dancing to the book soundtrack for The Calling Knife. (That’s what the trunk novel is calling itself now.)

So the work schedule looks like: HOOD‘s Season Three, The Bloody Throne (third and final Hostage book), The Black God’s Heart (which is American Gods meets John Wick meets Conan the Destroyer), and The Highlands War (which is the last Steelflower book for a while; I probably won’t write her and D’ri’s return to G’maihallan). And there’s revisions on Finder’s Watcher to get done, as well as line edits on The Poison Prince–that’s book two of Hostage to Empire. Plus Sons of Ymre and Damage both need another draft, since both are somewhere between zero and first draft status.

I also need to write that damn query letter, and it would be super great if I could also make The Calling Knife leave me alone for a little while. Basically I’m running in circles screaming with my hair afire, but you know I prefer too much work to too little, indeed. And some gardening this month wouldn’t be amiss either.

Right now, though, I should focus on finishing my coffee and getting the dogs walked. The rest of it will happen in due time. Breaking tasks into bite-size pieces is the name of adulthood’s game, and I’ve had all the rest I’m allowed–or want.

Plus, I’ve got this machete handy. Monday had better behave, and March had better straighten up.

*wanders away muttering, slurping at coffee*

Ruthless Day

I am ruthless today, my friends. Or at least, I feel that way. My tongue is sharpened on both sides and I have absolutely no patience or time for “polite” obscurantism.

It could be a symptom of finishing a zero. I’m still not recovered, though I took a whole day off.

I know. A whole day, and I am still not fit for anything but staring at some bullshit before verbally skewering it. That, or crawling back into bed with a sippy cup of warm broth (or better, coffee) and consigning the entire world to whatever it chooses to do without me.

What I’ll probably end up doing is walking the dogs, puttering through a bit of housework, and poking at a story that pleases me and only me. Like Wangsty Dracula, maybe, or the gunslinger.

…oh, that’s right, yesterday was my midweek break from blogging! So you might not know I finished the zero draft of Sons of Ymre. It’s much more romance-y than I wanted it to be; I was going more for horror. But at the same time, Erik is very much a verray parfit gentil knight; one would have to be to fight such monsters. At least, that’s one way. I could have made him a right bastard, but I was tired of writing those.

For a change.

Anyway, I finished in a blaze of work, irritable because I’d forgotten to eat and resenting that I had to do such a mundane thing as feed my meatsack. I get into that mood every so often, where anything (except the kids) that takes me away from the writing–sleeping, eating, exercise, anything–drives me to vexation. I swear I’d get irritable at having to breathe if it wasn’t a semi-autonomous function.

Remember that theory that humans had acres and acres of brain they weren’t using, and if we could somehow unlock it we’d become superpeople? It’s far more likely all that acreage is used for breathing, making the heart beat, and screening out the pain of digestion. I mean, think about it–your digestive tract is some of the most richly enervated bits of the body, indeed rivaling the brain. And think about what one puts it through daily.

If you shuddered at the notion, you’re not alone–and sorry about that; these are things I think about, especially between books.

I plan on getting back into the swing soon with HOOD‘s Season Three and The Bloody Throne1. My attempt to work simply and solely on one project at a time is going to founder on the rocks of Actually Making A Damn Living In This Fucked-Up Industry, I can just tell. Fortunately I’m happiest when I’m switching between a few things, since I can use one project to make the other one envious and get them both to cooperate.

So much of adulthood (not to mention a creative career) is learning how to game yourself.

With that said, I should probably haul my carcass up and walk the dogs. They’re bright and bouncy this morning, having slept much better than Your Ob’t Narrator. Boxnoggin in particular spent a luxurious night spread over the bottom two-thirds of the bed, and I wondered why I woke with a crick in my back, neck, and both legs.

Dogs, man. Big furry toddlers, except with (mostly) more control over bodily functions.

Anyway, I’m trying to keep all my sharp edges to myself today, and I suspect I’ll fail miserably before the day is out. I just have no patience for bullshit right now. I’ll be back to my usual (relatively) sweet and (my God, you have no idea) restrained temper. I suspect if people know how often I want to run amok, they’d either scream and flee or solemnly, internally swear not to piss that bitch off.

Either would work. And now, away I go.


Oh, hey! It’s the last day for the Free Agent February giveaway, so enter while you can! And it’s also Subscription Day–Crow’s Nest, Nest Egg, and Serial Time subscribers get fresh fiction in their inboxes around 2pm PST, not to mention Haggard Feathers folks get the Open Thread.

Unexpected Directions

I had a run scheduled for today, but both Boxnoggin and I spent a restless night and are somewhat bleary; there’s also a fog advisory on. I suspect he’d like a nice hard run to work the fidgets out and get everything into its place, but I am not made of such stern stuff on this particular Tuesday. Especially with the way most people drive in the neighborhoods around here.

Not with a zero burning my fingers. I have everything but the final eyeballing of the e-proof of HOOD‘s Season Two done, and I really thought I’d also be done with Sons of Ymre by now. But then it went and turned into two books instead of one, and I’m scrambling. I do have about a week to get it either done or so thoroughly stabbed I can split my focus between it and another project (despite not wanting to work on more than one at a time this year, alas) with very little ado.

Bloody novels, always taking unexpected directions.

I had a fit of absolutely murderous irritation last night before I realized I was both hungry and in the throes of the last fifth of a zero draft. the last screaming push for the finish is generally when my temper, never too smooth, frays to the point that the kids roll their eyes and suggest simple dishes for dinner, or even just toast and eggs. It’s quite a relief that they’re both old enough to cook for themselves if I’m late, or if what’s on offer doesn’t please them.

Anyway, I was hangry enough to snarl at my desktop, and it occurred to me I could bring the book to a simple close by just killing everyone in it, in various terrible ways. I decided to wait for food and morning before actually deciding, and I’m glad I did. While satisfying, that would have been wasted work.

Not going to lie, though, it would be incredibly satisfying.

As it is, I have La traviata playing softly, the morning’s caffeine standing ready, and the whole day to make serious progress on stabbing Sons. There is a bit of industry news I want to highlight in Haggard Feathers, but that can wait for an hour or so while I eyeball the day’s work and take the dogs on a walk to get everything settled inside our respective skins. Right now Dame Sutherland is singing Sempre libera and absolutely flowing through the notes like cream. Her voice really is that velvety, that smooth. Wow.

Maybe Tuesday won’t need the machete after all. But I’ll keep it handy just in case.


Hey, the Free Agent February giveaway is still going on for a couple days! You can enter here–and enter daily too, if that moves you.