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.

One Pleasant Thing

My current mood is Rebecca Ferguson in Doctor Sleep, cooing “…hi there,” to an unsuspecting victim. Of course, I’m not a child-killing maniac, but every once in a while a little unapologetic menace is good for the soul.

At least, good for my soul.

It’s a sunny morning, and warm enough that I think the bees might be out. If so, I’m going to have to braid my hair so they don’t get caught. I love the little bastards and I don’t want them tangled up. Of course, if they’d just leave my hair alone we’d be good, but if it hasn’t happened in years I hold out no particular hope of it happening now.

I’ve been working on Sons of Ymre at a feverish pace. The story is… odd. It wants to kind of be a romance, but the monsters won’t let it, and I don’t think there’s a happy ending. Of course, HEAs are somewhat overrated–we all know my feelings on the story will have its proper ending, world without end, amen. Still, I’m pulling for both these people to at least be friendly when the whole thing reaches the finish line.

Whenever that will be. It’s at 65k now and just past apogee. All the pieces are in place and moving, the next few steps in the dance are all but inevitable, and all I have to do is follow the line.

I’ve told myself that I’ll work on it just until I get the publication prep for HOOD‘s Season Two finished and set aside, then I’ll turn my attention to the other projects screaming for my attention–like Season Three. I think Sons really wanted to be a two-book series, but I’d rather have it a larger single book to avoid the dreaded “the editor tells me a new reader might be confused, so here’s boring exposition” work. I tend to throw my readers in media res and let them swim, and nowhere is that tendency more pronounced than in series.

I respect my readers and their ability to pick up details in context. I also think that if you’re picking up the second or third in a series and haven’t read the others, you should expect a little bit of confusion and be ready to, again, pick things up in context or let them slide.

The desire to spoon-feed readers might be an outcropping of modern laziness, but I shall not bend to it. I don’t fucking truckle, dammit.

Anyway, some breakfast is probably a good idea, and getting out the door to walk the dogs. Both of them will like the sunshine; Boxnoggin got a run yesterday and is consequently powerfully mellow.

It’s a nice change.

I’ve taken to calling Lord van Der Sploot “Butterbutt.” When he came to us he had a lean and hungry look, but his shoulders have filled out considerably, his coat is glossy enough to put your eyes out, and he can no longer leap to the same altitude because he’s got so much more mass to get off the ground. People often gasp when they see him, and Miss B (she of “Fuzzbucket” name and fame) rolls her eyes when they do, shoving him aside to get pets and greetings first as is due her station as The Dog What Was Here Before Him, Thanks.

Anyway, Miss B is elderly and consequently a walk around the block is more than enough exercise. She doesn’t even mind that Boxnoggin Butterbutt gets to run alongside Mum for a few kilometers without her, which threatens to break my heart. When Miss B and I ran, we quickly fell into moving as a single unit, and she damn near read my mind when it came to turns.

Boxnoggin… does not. He thinks he’s in charge of picking routes, and gets anxious at the responsibility until I firmly remind him he is not in charge, not even close, and I shall be doing the deciding, thank you very much. Having to do that a few times per kilometer is wearying, but I’m pretty sure it’ll all click soon.

Anyway. In a few minutes, flanked by Fuzzbucket and Butterbutt, I shall be going around the block, waving away bees. It’s not a bad way to start a Thursday, and it will improve my mood immeasurably.

I hope your morning holds at least one pleasant thing, dear Reader. And now I bid you a civil adieu.

A Very Interesting Weekend

I have resurrected, bleary and blinking, from a weekend that was extremely… interesting. It got so strange I pulled out the cards during daylight, and that hasn’t happened in a while.

Anyway, I’m home again, and back in the saddle. There’s HOOD‘s Season Two to finish prepping for publication today, which means a blurb and finding a specific code. Last night I got the ISBNs sorted, so that’s good. It’s looking like the release will be mid-April, and now I can turn my attention to other things–once, of course, I get the listing, the blurb, and the rest sorted today.

Today also sees a new post over at Haggard Feathers! This one’s all about formatting, and only for paid subscribers. it should drop about 11am PST, so I’ll be warbling about it from the rooftops once it does.

There’s also the Free Agent February giveaway, still ongoing. I can’t wait to draw the winners near the end of the month and send these bad boys out.

I’m told we’re very near sorting out Finder’s Watcher, and there’s a revision pass on Damage I should get under my belt before moving on to finishing Sons of Ymre‘s zero, working on HOOD’s Season Three, and doing the preliminary work on The Bloody Throne. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get done with everything I need to this year, but then again, that’s usually the feeling in February. The shortest month of the year, but also the one where the needle drops into the groove and starts bringing the music up.

…some time passed since that last paragraph, since I flicked to the Sons of Ymre window open on my desktop and fell into the story again. It’s probably procrastination; gods know I don’t want to squeeze out 40k to finish the zero this week. I have other things to do, the Muse just isn’t listening.

She often ignores me.

Anyway, I’ll be fighting both that siren call and my own stomach’s rolling today. It was a very, very strange holiday weekend, and one I’m glad is over.

I was going to close with a wish that we could all kick Tuesday right in the pants, but I’m sensing the day is just as tired as we are. So instead, I’ll wish for all of us to have some rest. I think we’ve earned it, after the past few days. I wonder if Mercury is retrograde or something.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear ones. We’re hurtling at almost unimaginable speed through inimical space studded with meteors and other strange things, whirling on a speck of rock around a massive nuclear reactor.

We need all the help–and all the kindness–we can get.

Altered Deal

A cold morning. Not enough coffee. Dogs quiet after they rooted me out of bed with cold noses and the absolute unquenchable commitment to wriggling under the covers with me.

It’s not that I minded, there just wasn’t any room, so I had to get up and make some caffeine.

Today is for proofing HOOD‘s Season Two and wordcount on a couple other projects. I know I swore I’d just work on one thing at a time, and I am. I’ve just altered the meaning of “at a time” slightly; otherwise, I’d never get anything done.1

Mostly, it’s a crisis of confidence. My career is changing, and that means discomfort. I keep thinking nothing will ever get better, I’ll be struggling and scratching all my life, and it’s tiring. Why I expect it to be any different is beyond me; at the same time, there’s only so much well, I knew this when I started can do to ameliorate the feeling of what the hell?

There’s a lot of what the hell going on in my life right now.

My coffee is cooling rapidly, the dogs need a walk, I should plant a few things in the garden to get a jump on spring. The early cherry tree down the road keeps giggling every time I pass. Look, she says, you were so worried, but it’s fine. Leave the worry behind.

I wish I could. Would someone else pick it up if I did? Maybe the worry could carry itself, but if it could, what the hell is it doing on my back?

…yeah, I’m in a Mood. The cure is work, as usual; if I view the pain as labor pangs I can bite down and wonder what might be birthing. It could be that I’m having one of those strange plateaus before the work takes a leap forward, which would be welcome indeed.

Of course, some of this could be the fact that Sons of Ymre is 47k long and just embarking on its last half. There’s so much to be done, and I wonder if the story is top-heavy or just plain stupid. The crisis of confidence on a single story is metastasizing, spreading through everything else I need to get done on a daily basis.

So this is the part where I get stubborn. It might be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad story, but at least it will not be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, unfinished story. Small mercy, but one I’ll take. Ambition and the desire for security has never really moved me, but spiteful stubbornness? That’s the whipcrack I respond to, indeed.

I suppose if I get mad or spiteful I’d be able to buckle down more easily. But I’m so tired lately. Maybe I should blame time off; getting back to work seems an insurmountable chore once I halt. Objects in motion tending to stay in motion, and all that.

I’m even irritating myself with this. Time to gulp the last bit of caffeine, buckle the dogs into their harnesses, and get out the door. A brisk walk in the cold will hopefully give me better things to worry about.

I tell everyone else to just keep writing and trust the work. It’s that magical moment where I have to take my own damn advice or stop handing it out. It’s damn hard to trust the work when one doesn’t even trust oneself, but paradoxically easier than thinking one’s self might be trustworthy at all.

And now that I’ve confused myself mightily, I swear I’m getting out the door. Tuesday has managed to gain the initiative roll, but my armor class is high, I’ve shifted my charisma to dexterity, and I have a few daggers lying about.

The campaign ain’t over yet.

Doctor Sleep, Meet Siouxsie

I’ve completed a website redesign! How do you guys like the new look? Also, there’s a new giveaway; I should just do a dedicated giveaways page, shouldn’t I.

I spent a restless night, falling into the deep well of sleep late. Maybe it was watching Doctor Sleep that did it–I bounced off the book pretty hard, but the movie has some good visuals and I always like Ewan MacGregor. The biggest draws in the movie are Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose the Hat and Cliff Curtis’s Billy, both of whom are much better than the movie deserves. Especially Ferguson; without her the entire edifice collapses.

I could also have been too warm; after a couple nights hovering near freezing and days of raw high-30s (Fahrenheit, of course, America is Still Imperial) it’s a relatively balmy 50F and the dogs are eager for their morning walk.

And the dogs. Boxnoggin isn’t too bad, he picks a single spot and stays there, moving only glacially all night–always towards the back of my knees, the dog has a magnet for them, apparently. But Miss B is an elderly statesdog, and the bed gets too warm and too soft, so she hops down and pads for the tile floor of the loo regularly, then comes back and settles next to me when she’s chilled enough. I don’t mind, but every time she hops down I wake up, thinking she might need to visit the yard.

So I have coffee, and Siouxsie and the Banshees playing. It feels like my early twenties all over again–the good parts, when I could find CDs I liked at work instead of just playing radio roulette. When I began to realize I could live in places where my books wouldn’t be shredded, my journals stolen, my body battered.

I had terrible experiences after I left home, sure. But none of them were bad enough to drive me back, and none were as bad as home even on the worst days. So all in all, that was when I began to live.

Maybe it was the child endangerment in Doctor Sleep that disturbed me. It’s one of the few things I have trouble watching in any movie; I’ll fast-forward through scenes of mounting dread even if I know the child is fine. King’s IT is one of my formative books, despite being nothing but child endangerment, but somehow it’s easier for me to process while reading. Seeing it on a hyper-detailed screen instead of on the screen inside my head, where I can fuzz details and move characters to my heart’s content, might be the problem.

Anyway, today is for me to be gentle with myself and get some more work done. I want the first scene in HOODs Season Three done and dusted today, since so much in the later stream of the book depends on where I start the cataract. And I need a car accident in Sons of Ymre, not to mention more whispering insanity.

The good thing about the sudden warmth is that I’ll be able to get a few things done in the garden when I break from the scenery in my head. It would be nice to get the large beds down the hill weeded and some seeds scattered, since we’re past the danger of freezing. Or so my nose says, and Miss B agrees.

Her nose is much better, after all.

It’s also subscription day, which means around 2pm free fiction will be flying to inboxes–always pleasant. I wish you a happy and productive Thursday, friends. We’ve almost, almost made it through the week.

Still, “weeks” are largely a concept beyond the dogs. They are concerned with the daily, like the walk they want now and are prancing with impatience to get to. I suppose I’d best get started, then.

Over and out.

Perspective and Rescue

Good morning! I woke up with Hall & Oates singing about your kiss is on my list, and whichever one of you gave me that earworm, I will have my revenge.


Yesterday was super productive, mostly because I got a run in. I just work better when I can pound the pavement, for however short a period. Yesterday was also nerve-wracking–Haggard Feathers goes paid-subscription this month, so I was doing the last bit of prep for that. One free post per month, the rest will be paid-subscriber-only, and I’ll be doing an open thread every Thursday for paid subscribers to ask me about writing and publishing.

I figure I’ll try it for a year and see how it works out. I like Substack‘s terms way better than Medium’s, and the fact that the former makes a point of not “owning” my data/content and the latter makes a point in the opposite direction has a lot to do with my willingness to experiment.

I also spent some time procrastinating (after the productivity, of course) with Canva templates. Graphic design is so not my strong point, but I like playing.

Isn’t that nice? It’s something I say a lot–sooner or later, the muscle inside your head that sees good writing material gets hypertrophied (and there’s a great deal of hyperplasia, too, but that’s beside the point) and everything becomes material. Which is great when something hurts like hell–thinking this will be great material helps provide perspective and gives the pain meaning, which is a step in ameliorating it. It’s not so great when one is relentlessly questioning one’s own happiness, but I consider it a small price to pay.

Of course other people’s mileage may vary, but the warning still stands. Sooner or later, all things serve the work.

Anyway, I’ve more Sons of Ymre to get done today–one character is about to rescue another from a burning car–and I’ve got to get some characters in HOOD rescued in their little escape pod. Rescue seems to be the theme of the day, which might bode ill for the dogs’ walk. If all else fails they can drag me home, though.

Let’s hope it’s not necessary; I’ve got so much to do today.

I’d best get started then, hadn’t I.

Maintenance and Morning

So last night, while I was doing some site maintenance, a plugin choked and tossed about twenty old, old posts–from 2017–into the blog-subscription-queue. I’m so sorry about that, guys–I hate getting my inbox snowed under, and I can only imagine how much you guys do. I apologize; that plugin has been told to go sit in the corner and THINK about what it’s done, and that was the end of my Wednesday.

I decided, after that, it was time to go to bed.

This morning went from fog to a pink-striped, cotton-candy sky. I watched the sun rise while lying warm and safe in bed, Miss B snuggled against my side and Boxnoggin snoring in a furry lump, as he is wont to do. Both dogs were worn out after yesterday’s rainy fun and games. I found out that yes, I do still need breakfast on running days, and furthermore found out that Boxnoggin can practically drag me home if necessary. (He didn’t have to… but he could have, and it was a comfort.)

Now I’m up, and have a few toads to swallow before I can get back to Sons of Ymre. I think that’ll be the thing I finish next. I have an idea of what I want to do with the story, which hinges on the fact that the Sons can’t really trust their own perceptions in certain cases. Being under constant siege from the whispers of a mad god has a certain effect on one, and it’ll be a hat trick to delineate the mounting dread of a certain main character. Especially once their safe haven is broken into and it becomes a road-trip book.

Other than that, Damage is with a beta reader, I’m clearing my submissions queue by the end of February (which means nothing will be out on sub come April), there’s Season Two of HOOD to CE, proof, and format, the third installment of Hostage to Empire to write now that I have the structure of the book decided, a monthly price on my writing advice column to decide upon–I’m thinking $6/mo–not to mention Season Three of HOOD to get underway–and Guilder to frame for it.

I’m swamped.

You know I like the feeling of having too much work; it’s oodles better than not enough. Some exciting stuff I can’t talk about is coming down the pike, and I might, might be able to squeeze in writing a good chunk of The Highlands War (that’s a fresh new Kaia Steelflower book, natch) for upcoming serial purposes. Don’t get your hopes up yet, though–I’ve so much else to do, I might not be able to, and of course the people who write to me demanding (not encouraging, not telling me how much they like Kaia’s adventures but flat-out DEMANDING) more of that world are doing more harm than good.

I haven’t forgotten that one person who was extremely vocal about demanding other Steelflower books/chapters was the person putting them up on thieving torrenting sites. (Yes, I include a nag and specific typos in certain things, so I can pinpoint who’s listing my stuff on pirate/thievery sites.) So, outright demanding that I write more Kaia makes me want to dig in my heels and is extremely counterproductive.

Anyway, the dogs need a brisk walk to shake off morning fidgets, and I need it in order to shake off the logy feeling of not nearly enough caffeine. I might make myself another jolt if I still feel woolly-headed when we come back home.

Again, I’m super sorry about last night’s snafu, guys. I take being invited into your inbox very seriously, and accidents are embarrassing. You can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be deleting that plugin during the next scheduled maintenance session.

And tomorrow’s Friday. It can’t come soon enough…