Highlands Thoughts

Steelflower

I’m considering doing an Indiegogo or a serial run for The Highlands War. It would be nice to get Kaia’s story to a natural resting place before I walk away from it for good.

Originally, there were only three books planned–Steelflower, then her adventures in the Highlands, then her return (with Darik) to G’maihallan. The rash of piracy–not to mention small publishers going under–put paid to that plan; the former is a curse and the latter a mixed blessing since it allowed me to stretch out and tell the story of Antai and the journey to the North in the proper fashion.

But I think the G’maihallan book(s) will never be written. Kaia’s return (less triumphant than fated, and full of the secrets of those she’s learned with such effort to trust) will have to stay in my head, unwritten. I know what happens, and it has to be enough.

It’s a constant struggle to go back to Kaia’s world now, because I flinch at the thought of the work being stolen again and again. People stealing these books in particular drains away the energy needed to complete more of them. And people arriving at my website searching for “torrent”, “free”, and “PDF” don’t help.

At the same time, it bothers me to leave the Highlands part of the series unwritten, because Redfist’s arc really needs its completion and Gavrin begins to come into his own. The bard is slowly becoming a hero in his own right, and it’s fun to see him in the background, learning from Kaia and her friends. He’s going to have an interesting life.

I just haven’t decided whether I’ll put together a fundraiser so I can take some time off and write the story, or if I’ll put together a short-term serial. The latter would require having at least the zero done so it can be scheduled. When I make the decision I’ll get to work.

Unfortunately, that might have to wait a couple months. I need to finish Damage and Season Two of HOOD is taking up all my emotional strength right now. Parl Jun’s costume party is beginning to take on a different character indeed, and we’re going to see just how far Giz will go to protect Marah.

And even that will have to wait for a run, for the dogs to be walked, for coffee to finish soaking in, and a battle with a turkey. Some days I–

–what? Oh, the turkey.

Uh, I’ll tell you later. Because it really deserves a post or two of its own.

Over and out, then. For now.

Busy Meatspace

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The past few weeks have been hell on my daily writing time. If it’s not the stress it’s family events, and if it’s not family events it’s back-to-school arrangements, and if it’s not any of that it’s scrambling to catch up with stuff that fell by the wayside because of stress, family events, and back-to-school arrangements.

It’s enough to make me wish for a cave in the woods. A cave with an electrical outlet or two, of course, so I could work in peace.

Single mothers are superheroes. No co-parent to take the pressure off even for a moment, as well as a constricted choice of jobs (so as to be available for childcare) and seventy-odd cents on the dollar a man would make besides. It’s surprising that any woman would choose to reproduce under these circumstances, which is, of course, why birth control and abortion are consistently made unavailable.

The State, you see, needs warm bodies, and there’s only one way to make those.

I finished Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain last night; it was like finishing one of the large, hearty sanitarium meals he describes so lovingly. Poor Settembrini, and poor Joachim. And poor Ellen Brand, taken advantage of by that damn doctor. Hans I have less than no sympathy for, even though he’s the reader’s entry into the tale. It was a lovely meal nonetheless, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m sated and can push away from the table. I do like it better than Death in Venice; this book came along at just the right time.

I’ve still got an hour to spend in the car today, all told, and a good half-hour taking care of various things once I reach my destination. I’d best get started, especially if I want to get in wordcount. Subscription stuff needs to be sent out today, too–I could have taken the weekend to get a few weeks’ lead time set up, but instead I spent it taking care of life out here in meatspace.

The disconnect between how long it takes to write a book and how long it takes to read, let alone buy, one is huge. Related: I’ve noticed another spike in piracy lately, and there’s been a concomitant spike in people getting shitty with me in email about my request that people not steal my work.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like more Steelflower books in a reasonable time. (If you know someone who torrents, let them know they’re stopping you from getting more books from me.)

Anyway, the only thing I need now is breakfast to settle so I can run. I need the zen more than ever, from now until September.

Over and out.

Endurance Novel

HOOD

5k on The Poison Prince yesterday, and I can see the shape of the end. All I have to do now is hang on long enough, and it will sort itself out. It’s 85k of epic fantasy, and will only get bigger through the publication process. For right now, though, it’s all mine, and all on me.

I did get to play ES Posthumus’s Kalki several times and write a particular chase scene I’ve had in my head since the series started. So that was pretty awesome. I had to stop before I was absolutely exhausted and done-in for the day, giving myself enough candle to burn today, and I resented every moment of having to feed myself and sleep when what I’d rather be doing is writing, but that’s a given when I get so close to the end of a project. Especially a HUGE one like this.

The third book is going to kick my ass, I can tell. But between then and now, I need to finish the zero of this one, and the zero fo HOOD‘s Season One too. After those two zeroes are in the can and marinating, I can take a look around and think about what I want to do next. Probably Dolls, though I want to write a high fantasy epic with dragonriders and do it right.

What I don’t want to do is write The Highlands War, which was next on the list. Most people have been exceedingly lovely about the format choices for Kaia’s stories, but there’s always the bad apples. It will happen if it’s meant to, I suppose.

I feel like I’ve always been writing Poison Prince, like there’s never been a day I’ve not been writing it, and like I will be writing it for-fucking-ever, world without end, amen. Every novel is an endurance race, this one’s just…longer. If I stay stubborn enough, I’ll eventually get there.

…it occurred to me I have Harmony and Incorruptible to revise, so maybe I’ll do that while the zeroes are marinating and push off the decision about a fresh new world to play in for a little while longer. Getting more work out and before the eyes of the ravenous public would certainly feel better than this hack-slash-cut at a book that refuses to die no matter how many times I stab.

Five more scenes at bare minimum, then I can be done with Poison Prince. I’ll love the book again, probably in revision when I come across bits I don’t remember writing. But for right now it’s just one more enemy to slay.

I’m ready. I think. I mean, I suppose.

*buckles on goggles*
*the goggles do nothing*

Get It Early

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The ebook version of the Roadtrip Z omnibus is almost out! You can get it early (tomorrow instead of the 9th) by buying direct on Gumroad if that’s your fancy, or preorder it through Barnes & Noble or Kobo. Amazon won’t let you list an ebook for preorder unless you use KDP, so sorry, Amazon folks–but if you need a .mobi, it comes with the .epub you purchase on Gumroad, so there’s that.

I’m considering a paper omnibus version of the first three Steelflower books too. I will not be putting Steelflower in Snow in ebook format in the foreseeable future. Every time I start thinking about it, some damn ebook pirate rears their nasty pimple-head, and I’m reminded of the feeling of utter violation those thefts force upon me.

It doesn’t help that when I mention there will not be an ebook release, I am immediately deluged by people calling me some variety of uppity because I don’t want my work stolen and and another variety of ableist because again, I don’t want my work stolen. And that just kills any desire I have to continue writing The Highlands War, too, especially since that’s a complex book requiring a lot of emotional energy.

Victory has a cost. Kaia knows that better than most, but Redfist has to learn, and it’ll take a lot of losing before he does. I know what happens, but writing it is a losing game if people are going to be so shitty to me about it. So there’s that.

In any case, it’s a Monday, the world smells like spring, and the bees are out looking for flowers. Some few of them circled my head yesterday as I was doing yard work, but they didn’t try to nest in my sloppy ponytail, thank goodness. The real test will be today’s run with Sir Boxnoggin. I’ll probably end up with a bee or two in my ears, and a few trying to crawl into my mouth besides.

It’s not like I grudge them the ride, but I really worry about inadvertently injuring one of the poor little fellows.

But before I can become a Totoro Catbus for bees, I have piano practice and the ritual shoe-tightening to perform, so I’d best get on that. I hope your Monday is gracious and kind, dear Reader.

If it’s not, I’ll hold it down and you kick it until it becomes amenable, all right? Or vice versa…

Sigh, Tuesday, Sigh

Steelflower in Snow

It’s Tuesday. I got out early for a run, but there was still someone with their damn dog unleashed. It’s like a sickness with these people, every time it’s bloody sunny they wander out without properly caring for their dogs. Asshats.

*clears throat* Good morning, all! The mass-market PB size of Steelflower in Snow is now live! (There’s a trade paperback edition of The Marked out now, too.) Note that these are the same books; they’re just different sizes for your convenience. Due to piracy, there is no ebook version of Steelflower in Snow planned. I’m also having trouble working on The Highlands War for the same reason. Why bother writing more Kaia books if people are just going to steal them?

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Also, The Complete Roadtrip Z is now on sale in paperback! It’s omnibus time!

If I focus really hard and let go of having to write The Poison Prince in anything approaching linear order, I might even get a zero draft done on time. Might. I know I could just miss the deadline, but I haven’t done that in over ten years and I don’t want to start now.

I just heaved another sigh, thinking about this. At least I have Jonathan Coulton’s new album to get me through the day, and a lunch meeting with a fellow writer. I’m generally the one saying “it’s not as bad as you think”; maybe I’ll get someone else saying it to me this time around.

…I’ve nothing very interesting to say. I’m on a Twitter fast for a week or so; I took the app off my phone and have the site blocked during normal working times. It’s nice not having the firehose of raw-sewage bad news on all the time; maybe it’ll let me work without feeling the world’s on fire and why on earth should I bother since we’re all going to die except the rich?

And even they will strange on blood when the rest of us are gone.

I suppose I’m in the mood to write dystopia again, but why? Nobody listens. (Bitter? Me? Well…yes, a little.)

Yeah, I suppose I’d best turn off the wireless and work before I have to leave for said lunch meeting. I need my fire back in me, and it’s not going to happen if I sit here and think about things going wrong.

Let us band together and kick Tuesday in the pants, my friends. It’s the only way out.

Going Gets Tough

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I’ve been blogging for a long while now. There are dry periods, where I have nothing much to say except for the minutiae of daily life–how the book-sausage gets made, what the dogs have done now, how publishing is changing. Oh, and the weather. Of course the weather is a constant concern.

I partly blame reading military history; weather is always the third general upon the field, and one who can’t be ignored. Today the rain has washed away everything except a few sheltered snow holdouts. The streets are awash, the roof kissed over and over by falling drops. The dogs aren’t going to like our outing, at least not when the initial oh boy we’re outside WITH MUM wears off.

That takes about ninety seconds in a downpour. They must love me a lot.

This morning I woke up with Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone yelling “Oh, man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!” Which meant I had to go listen to What a Fool Believes and then onto a Twitter rant about how much I love that damn movie and how it’s probably responsible for my current career.1

Now you know who to blame, I guess? When the going gets tough

Copyedits continue apace. I spent some serious time yesterday looking into Ingram Spark and mass-market paperback trim sizes. If I get the whole PDF cover template thing done, the first experiment is Steelflower in mass-market size.

It’s a great time to be self-publishing, IF one knows what one’s doing. If one doesn’t, the options available might boggle one into inaction or worse, signing away one’s rights without proper compensation. Or one might think that because of a crying fit brought on by frustration (I fucking hate PDF cover templates, let me sing you a whole song about how I hate them) the entire thing isn’t worth doing, and toss it all out the door.

Yes, I was tempted yesterday. But today’s a whole new day, I’ve got my spark back and the heat set to the wick. Today is for more copyedits, and when I can’t do that anymore because my head will explode if I look at one more comma placement question, I might put together a soundtrack for HOOD and poke a bit more at cover templates.

But for right now, it’s raining and the dogs need a walk. See you around, chickadees.

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Read ’em and weep. I always do.

RELEASE DAY: Steelflower in Snow

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Kaia Steelflower meant to spend her winter resting, but the high price upon the head of her barbarian companion Redfist has drawn her out of safety and through the northern passes to the Highlands.

Bandits, blood, and treachery, Kaia’s seen it all before. But something else lingers in the snowy wastes north of the mountain Rim. Ancient power has found a new host, plans have been laid for rebellion, and the giants of Skaialan do not take kindly to foreigners. Saving Rainak Redfist will demand all the skill, strength, and cunning the Steelflower can muster; saving herself–and her new princeling husband–might be impossible.

Winter in the Highlands is brutal, and it’s only just begun…

Now available in paperback! (Other sales channels will be listed on the Steelflower page when they propagate.)

Steelflower

I have another announcement to make. Now that Book 3 is out in paper, you can purchase book 2–Steelflower at Sea–in .epub.

Please do not email me with scolding or asking for other formats. Again, once the sales channels propagate, Steelflower at Sea should be available through Kindle, Nook, and the like, but for right now, buying direct from yours truly is the best way to get it.

I am at work on Book 4, tentatively titled The Highlands War. But it’s far down on the list and I won’t get to it for a while. In the meantime, enjoy Kaia’s adventures among the mad Northern giants. Many thanks to Skyla Dawn Cameron, without whom Kaia would never have made her return. Go buy a book or some cover art to thank her, hmmm?

I’m going to go do my usual release-day run and soak my head in a bucket to get rid of nerves. Or, at least, to try to get rid of nerves. Even a head-bucketing might not do the trick.

Over and out.