Ridiculous Heat

The heat put paid to any real work yesterday, despite my best efforts and the air conditioning. Of course, I’ve been going without any real rest for a while, so the Muse just threw up her hands and brought everything to a screeching halt. On the bright side, now I know the next handhold to swing to in Cold North, and the next combat scene in Hell’s Acre is just about settled in my head. The only thing I have to get down is the entrance to the battlefield and the first few moves. The rest of the fight depends on the attacker getting to a certain point in the room, and the most efficient way of doing that will break his cover, which he needs until the very last moment. So he might have to amble, or let the opponents get a few shots in while they’re dragging him to meet their boss–which is precisely where he wants to be.

…they take only short time to read, but combat scenes often take a ruddy long time to write. Everything has to be just so.

On the bright side I can go down to the punching bag and work off some angst blocking out the close-quarters part of the fight. I have quite a few Tuckerizations courtesy of my lovely subscribers–sometimes I put out a call for character names, and mostly those walk-ons die in terribly gruesome ways.

So, yesterday was suboptimal but the heat seems to have broken, which means I can walk the dogs and get a nice reasonable run in, as well as leave my office window open a bit to cool it down–unless, of course, the weird alarm in the neighbor over the back fence’s yard keeps going off. I think he meant it as a squirrel deterrent, but it goes off at the least breath of wind and the thing is annoying.

I did finish that book on Rome and the Silk Road; I’ve moved on to a WWII memoir. I’m saving a scholarly Viking book for when a certain question involving Cold North is settled. At least I got some reading in during the heat, between lying on the floor as a puddle and making questionable food choices. (I regret nothing, though my digestion is a bit unhappy. NOTHING, I TELL YOU.)

I knew things were getting ridiculous yesterday when I realized it was 2pm already and I hadn’t even gotten a hundred words. That set off a death spiral where I was convinced, convinced my career was over and I’d never write again. It was a sign I needed some kind of break, so I carried said book to the floor and settled into reading and internal grousing, while the dogs did not pile onto me–it was too warm–but were extremely proximal, attempting to soothe.

They were paid for their care in French fries, and considered that quite acceptable indeed.

So, today I finish an elementalist and a shieldmaid having a heart-to-heart, then get an elf stabbed with a poisoned blade. And for good measure, I get a certain Hellion to the precise spot in a pub’s private room where he can commit maximum mayhem. Pretty sure he’s going to defenestrate someone–by request, actually, a soon-to-be-Tuckerized subscriber really wanted death by window ejection and I have no objection.

For I love my darling Readers and beloved subscribers, and if a little thing like tossing a character through a window will make them happy, who am I to deny it?

My mood has lifted considerably now that I’ve talked my way into defenestration. I suppose that’s the Thursday mood.

Over and out.

Tuesday Tuckerizations

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They’re saying 95F today. I’ve already closed the house and turned the AC on. The ceiling fan in the stairwell is going too. Such as it is, we’ve got some remedy against the heat.

In plenty of the country, it wouldn’t be considered bad weather. But here, we are pale temperate mushrooms, and this dries us out. Even the moss in our crevices is cracking. (Hyperbole? Yes, but only a little.)

Of course it means I’ll be able to crouch in my darkened office and work today, since the holiday weekend is over. I managed double wordcount on Cold North yesterday, but only a pittance on Hell’s Acre. Which isn’t bad (just a reminder, you can read the first few chapters of the serial for free) and today I get to write a chapter where I Tuckerize some of my beloved subscribers. It will probably end in their eponymous characters’ gruesome deaths (Avery has a temper, and quite a bit of training in mayhem). I was kind of unprepared for how many people wanted to, erm, risk a violent end in the serial.

Sometimes the deaths are pretty neat–a certain character in Roadtrip Z got to be an end-of-movie hero, bit by a zombie and saving one last bullet in the chamber for himself. (Hullo, MM!) And since I’m writing a combat scene today I have a list of names to use now, and I think at least one is going to switch allegiances mid-fight.

In other news, I got a very nice letter from Reader B. L., who liked Steelflower very much and entreated me to continue the series. I do go back and look at The Highlands War from time to time. If I can open the file without stress nausea burning a hole in my gut I’ll put it on the writing docket.

Unfortunately, it remains one of my most-pirated series. The level of theft means I literally can’t afford to work on it, and the emotional cost is super high too.

But again, if I can get to the point where I can open the Highlands file without the stress nausea, I’ll consider it, because I really do need that arc finished. Originally it was to be a trilogy–the first book where everyone meets, the Skaialan book, and then Kaia and Darik’s return to G’maihallan–incidentally, that last book was to explain D’ri’s scar, and tie a bunch of other narrative threads pretty neatly.

Best-laid plans and all.

In any case, I’ve got to get the dogs walked and my own corpse through a run before the heat mounts to an unlivable degree, so I’m out the door as soon as the last bit of coffee is swilled. Happy Pride Month, everyone, and I hope your Tuesday goes smooth as silk.

If it doesn’t, we can get out the machetes and the RPGs, and teach it not to mess with us.

Over and out…

Not Quite Vacay

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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.

Outlandish Dread

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I keep thinking Cold North is going to slow down, but apparently Viking werewolves don’t know how to “relax.” I mean, they’re under a centuries-long siege from basically-a-god, and even though the elementalist is telling them “I’m not the girl for you,” they still insist on thinking she’s the solution to the endless warfare.

It’s, uh, not going to end well. At least not for two and a half more books. Even then the ending’s going to be more “right” than “happy”, and I’m sure that will upset some people.

I have coffee sinking in, trying to make sense of everything. I’m listening to RJD2’s Ghostwriter on repeat, and I should really be doing some reformatting instead of sinking 80% of my working time into Cold North, which after all hasn’t even sold yet.

But…I can’t stop, and might as well strike while the iron is hot.

Yesterday was very social, with video meetings and mentoring. Consequently, this wee introvert is withdrawing into a cave for a few days to recharge–and Saturday is the second and final vaccine poke for both the Prince and my own sweet self. I’m scheduling a couple days of very low intensity work after that in case the side effects (physiological or otherwise) stage a comeback.

I’m sure the feeling of relief will be so deep as to completely wreck me. It did the first time around, naturally, and this wave will only be more intense. Maybe I’ll finish a zero draft in a blaze of inspiration, and finally get some of this book’s possession-grip loosened.

There’s also Hell’s Acre to work on, and the said reformatting, not to mention I should stick a third writing project in the queue just to keep myself producing at a reasonable rate. I normally have at least one romance going at a time, and the editor for Sons of Ymre wants Jake’s story. (I’m thinking it will involve a vet tech and Jake getting his ass bitten by not only regular animals but also chthonic horrors; if ever a character deserved it he does.)

But that decision’s for after the second jab. Until then I’ll be useless for anything but the Viking elementalist, werewolves, and elves banding together to reach a hidden city after one of the elvish strongholds in the North has undergone a sudden, dragon-assisted change of inhabitants and contours. If I’m focusing on their problems I’m not brooding over the million things that could go wrong before we get to the mass vaccination site in a few days’ time.

2020 taught me to twitch-worry at everything. I mean, I already did so before, but last year was like an Olympic masterclass. Absolutely nothing is too outlandish for me to dread.

And yet the dogs still need their walk, and someone’s running a leaf blower.

Yesterday it was some kind of grinding or cutting metal, from around 8am to about 4pm. It was coming from the direction of Mike’s Deck1 but there was no accompanying crashing or shouting, so I’m cautiously hopeful everything, er, went well. Of course, I can’t see anything, so it might be another house entirely.

The leaf blower is coming from an entirely different direction, and it’s just close enough to drag the noise over my nerves like a sawblade. Which means putting in earbuds, walking the dogs, and running my weary carcass will be not only good for said physical carcass but also my temper.

Said dogs are waiting patiently for me to stop staring at the glowing box and muttering imprecations upon leaf-moving devices yea unto the seventh generation, so I’d best get started.

Over and out.

Season of Headaches

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Funny how a Large Company can ignore one for multiple years, but the instant one’s patience reaches an end and one starts asking, “Where do I send the invoice for my lost working time while dealing with this issue?”

…well, all of a sudden responses become very punctual indeed.

Especially after one highlights one’s hourly rate, as well as the fact that emails and messages are billed in quarter-hour increments and there are additional surcharges for repetition, not to mention aggravation.

Yes, I know this is tilting at windmills. Just call me quixotic.

There’s also been a rash of Reply Guys, mansplainers, Rando Calrissians, and Well Actuallys lately. I’m glad for Block Party on a daily basis anyway, but this just makes my appreciation hit new heights. Auto-muting randos is one of the great joys in life.

Fortunately, both projects currently taking the bulk of my writing time are growing organically. Hell’s Acre is climbing the trellis I had planned by leaps and bounds, acquiring muscle and nerve over bare bones. The protagonist is a bit cagey, of course–she didn’t want to tell me everything, suspecting (quite rightly) that I have plans of my own. But I have the benefit of patience.

Mostly.

As for Cold North, Sol and her shieldmaid just surprised me. Solveig clearly feels they’ll have no better chance to slip free of a very nasty fate, so she’s making her move. It won’t end the way she thinks it will, but it’ll be a lot of fun to watch, and honestly that’s the one thing keeping me going this morning.

Honestly, giggling behind my hand while thinking, “No, *character name*, this won’t end the way you think it will…” is one of the great joys in life. I wonder if the gods feel this way about us.

The dogs are patiently awaiting their walkies. I need to figure out how, exactly, a few things in either book will happen. My head’s a bit stuffy from the swiftly shifting barometric pressure–spring is the season of headaches, alas–and I can just tell any sunshine today will continue driving the inhabitants of this normally grey place quite mad indeed.

If I time it right, I might be able to run with some cloud cover. But I might as well put sunscreen on anyway; one never knows. I do have to think about the right way to do the next few scenes in Cold North, because an invisible hook for the rest of the story is hanging very close by and needs at least a few threads hung over it to get the entire thing to drape correctly. (60k+ in and we’re not quite halfway there…) And that kind of work is best done while moving, whether at an amble or a gallop.

I could do a whole post about the rhythm of walking or just plain moving jolting free plot points and the like, but that’s for another day. My coffee is still warm; I’d best finish it and move on.

Yet another day’s post: I hope that squirrel on the deck has decided to go elsewhere and stop tormenting Boxnoggin.

But I doubt it.

Over and out…

Monday, No Prisoners

It’s not even 10:30 in the morning and already I am DONE with TODAY, thank you very much.

It wouldn’t be so bad if PayPal wasn’t being so awful. I live for the day that company either becomes a public utility or we get a good challenger for its market share. Now, I honestly don’t blame the customer service department for being awful–they’re overworked and paid a mere pittance, and they’re doing the best they can. But the CEO and assorted higher-ups? I BLAME THEM, CERTAINLY.

Anyway. I shouldn’t be getting this irritated before coffee. It’s not good for anyone.

I find myself in a take-no-prisoners mood more and more lately. Probably a function of being over forty, and a further function of surviving since 2016. I’m reaching the stage of being the cranky old hermit on the mountaintop that young heroes visit to get the movie-ending Secret Ultimate Move. “Yeah, go do this, it’ll make you able to split rocks with your pinkie, now LEAVE ME ALONE, KID.”

Both dogs are staring intently at me, ready for walkies. I’m hopeful for some rain today, but it doesn’t seem possible according to the weather report. (And now I have a Sting song in my head.)

On the bright side, the clouds mean productivity, and that I might not have to water as much. The sprinklers aren’t on yet, because I know as soon as that’s done we’ll be inundated. I might as well just lug around the hose–which Boxnoggin is very excited over. If it gets much warmer he might be allowed to chase a high-powered jet of hosewater, his very favorite thing. He forgets he’s not a puppy and catches serious air; the dog is obsessed with H20 at high volume and speed.

Miss B, of course, decides to hide behind me every time I get the hose out, on the theory that’s the safest place. Which means I have to be careful while watering, in case I step back and trip over her, landing flat on my back.

It’s happened before. Then she stands over me with a puzzled look like, “Mum, what are you doing on the ground? That’s not quite proper.”

I’m in such a state I don’t even have the day’s work swirling inside my head. I need to figure out what Solveig and the Northerners come across when they leave the secret passage, and there’s a fun third-person omni POV to write in Hell’s Acre. But at least I have the music for the day–Sting and Dvorak, the latter played by Jacqueline du Pré.

Somehow, I’ll muddle through.

The “walkies nao” beams from the dogs are reaching epic proportions. I should probably attempt tying my shoes, slathering on some sunscreen, and getting out the door. Maybe it’ll even help my mood.

Happy Monday, beloveds. Get the baseball bat, I’ll grab the machete, and we’ll make today bend to our will.

Exeunt, trailed by an evil laugh…

The Pile and Piranesi

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Since some energy has freed up–i.e., the relief of everyone having at least the first vaccine shot means I’m not plunged in a whirlpool of worry every time someone in the house coughs–I’ve been getting more in the way of reading done. I had a stack of manga by my bed, which has been absorbed.1 Now the stack behind it can be approached.

Clarke’s Piranesi is at the top. I read it all in one gulp on a warm night earlier in the week, and am in the same position I was when I finished Kolyma Tales. In other words, I am envious of everyone who hasn’t read it yet, because it’s just so good. In fact, I’m reading it again, but more slowly. I don’t often do a twice-in-a-row–there’s been, I think, under ten books in my life I’ve even been tempted to–but I don’t want to leave it. I want to savor every single word all over again.

After that will come Price’s The Viking Way, which I promised myself I’d move to the top of the queue when I started earnest work on The Cold North. I can’t wait to get into it, but that will have to wait until I’m finished rolling around in Piranesi once more.

If this seems a rather small pile, don’t worry. It’s only the “next in queue” next to my bed. I have many more books to read. And isn’t that the definition of luxury? Many a book to read, and a bed to read them in.

Enjoy your weekend, beloveds. I’ll probably spend mine working, as usual, but I’ll certainly be taking some time to visit flooded hallways crowded with statues.