Summer, Overwhelmed

The Summer Queen is in her full array, and last night was almost too warm for sleeping. Poor Odd Trundles doesn’t like it when it’s warm, and his breathing kept me awake for a long while. I mean, his breathing is always audible, because of his poor compromised airways, but last night it was particularly stentorian. I’m sure it informed my dreams, which included astronauts, pregnancy, and murder. (Sort of a cross between that ST:TNG episode where Troi gets knocked up by a tiny shimmering alien and that Charlize Theron movie, The Astronaut’s Wife.) Poor Trundles, summer means all his crevices need to be greased daily and his preferred napping spot is on cold hardwood or tile instead of comfy carpet.

Also, revisions for Rattlesnake Wind have landed, so I’m in the “running around like a headless chicken” phase. I have to revise both Rattlesnake and Harmony, when I’d rather be writing HOOD. Late mornings always make me feel overwhelmed, and that goes double for revisions. I should also leave the house to fetch kibble for the four-legged carnivores I live with, and perhaps for the two-legged omnivores as well.

But first I have to run, which will be just fabulous in the sticky humidity. All signs point to an exceedingly uncomfortable day. I should just get on with it instead of sitting and staring blankly at my desktop screen.

Oh, hey! There’s an interview with me over on Unreliable Narrators today. The Princess listened to it and thought it was aces, so perhaps I didn’t sound as uninteresting and silly as I often feel while being recorded.

I don’t mind summer, but this one is turning out to be particularly…moist. And now it’s time to hit the pavement before it gets any worse outside. Thankfully, most of today’s run-route is shaded, and it’s a tempo run, so it will be over quickly.

Stay frosty out there, my friends.

*disappears in a cloud of steam*

Poster Beware

Add one more reason for me to delete my Facebook and never look back: the proliferation of scammer feeding grounds packed with vulnerable people. Just take a look at this horseshit going down in FB-town, my friends:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise. Facebook does have tools to report groups that are abusive, but given the murky definition of patient brokering, Facebook’s legendary lack of transparency, and the fact that it already went to a lot of effort to promote the earlier incarnation of Affected by Addiction, which Mendoza himself admits was a deceptive marketing scheme, Facebook hardly seems like a good arbiter. (Cat Ferguson, for The Verge)

Now, if FB had some transparency, or some motive beyond profit, I might be willing to cut them some slack. But they don’t, and I’m not. Facebook exists to monetize your desperate loneliness for ad companies, and it’s a fishing ground for other scammers looking to do the same.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

Monday’s Sun

Sunshine through trees in field
© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Mid-80s yesterday, and the dogs were happy to bask and even happier to go inside and spread out on the cool tiles of the dining room. I managed a great deal of gardening–never again will I allow stinking geranium to spread unchecked. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be good luck to carry, but there’s only so much of that smell I can take. Plus, it was choking what peas managed to ward off the slugs, and providing a lovely sunshade for said slugs and their snail cousins. Which would be fine if the slugs would eat the damn weeds and leave the damn peas alone, but that’s too much to hope for.

Anyway, I’ve a mild tan on my shoulders and I’m sure my body has no idea what to do with all the vitamin D it’s bathing in. We have reached the sunscreen half of the year, when I lather on layers of the stuff.1 Miss B had her daily brushing out on the deck, which means her coat picked up pollen and various other things as she rolled around in ecstasy. She really likes being brushed, and contorts herself in a variety of ways during the experience. Odd, of course, can’t roll onto his back without difficulty breathing, and he’s sensitive so brushing is kept to a minimum so as not to irritate his skin or make him tetchy.

A tetchy bulldog is a terrible thing. The groaning is long and involved, and the mournful looks are so heartbreaking, in fact, that one must laugh or be considered completely soulless.

Anyway, I finished my chores early yesterday and settled in to read Alexander Werth’s magisterial2 Russia at War. You can tell it was published in the early 60s; Eastern Front scholarship (and the opening of confidential archives after the Soviet Union dissolved) has advanced a long way since. Still, it’s an epic work, even if Werth was rather too inclined to believe the “official” Soviet versions of things. Part of it was that he didn’t know any better, since the archives were still closed; part of it is, no doubt, his fellow-feeling for the ally he was embedded with during the earthshaking events of WWII. He tends to ascribe to Stalin rather more charity and clarity than that fellow actually possessed, and I have Volume II of Kotkin’s new biography of the Iron Tsar on the docket next as somewhat of a corrective.

I’d have preferred for Gareth Jones to survive and write the definitive work, especially since Jones went walkabout in Ukraine during the Holodomor and did the only real reporting on that disaster.3 While reading Werth’s asides on Ukrainian nationalism, the swallowing of the “official” Soviet line (and its giveaway term, “Banderite” as a pejorative) is glaring. I’m glad I read Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine before attempting Werth. History is a puzzle, the pieces painstaking assembled and constantly reframed.

As a result of spilling onto the couch and reading for a few hours, I don’t have my usual feeling of “I need a weekend to recover from the weekend’s frantic activity.” It’s a nice change, but now I need to roll around in a few more layers of sunscreen and hit the pavement before the temperature climbs. Really, anything above seventy is Too Sweaty for my adapted-to-the-PNW-mushroom self. I’m already longing for more rain, and it’s only May.

Off to the races, then.

RELEASE DAY: Afterwar

That’s right, my dears! The book I’ve been agonizing over for multiple years is now out in the world.


They say the war’s over when the surrender is signed. It’s a lie.

America’s bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it’s supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann’s Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there’s no such thing as a home to return to.

Swann and his crew of partisans work for the Federal Army now, hunting through the wreckage for war criminals and kamp officials. Their next quarry is carrying something explosive, something that can level the nascent Federal government and turn the entire continent into a hellscape- well, more than it already is.

Across America, working against time and chaos, Swann’s Riders are back in the fight. And Lara, whose secrets may well end up consuming her too, has a vengeance of her own to deliver…


I finished the zero draft of Afterwar in March 2017. The book itself was brutal to write, for obvious reasons. Then, things started going wrong. Orphaned twice1 and delayed at every production step, last-minute proofing hassles, payment snafus…I joked to Kevin Sonney that if the printers didn’t catch fire and sink into a swamp, I would be surprised. There was just that much bad luck during the publication process. Every once in a while a book gets a perfect storm of Shit Happens, I guess I was due for one anyway, and the fact that it came on the heels of finishing what was probably the most emotionally difficult story I’ve ever written was just icing on a terrifying anxiety-laden cake.

Every book deserves acknowledgements, and I don’t usually do them on release day, but this is a somewhat special case. I want to take a moment and thank Devi Pillai and Miriam Kriss, who believed I could do something bigger and were there to encourage and help me when I (frequently) doubted, Lindsey Hall, who had to deal with me at my very-most-frazzled, Mel Sterling for support above and beyond even the call of Best Friend Duty, Lauren Panepinto for not strangling me when I became difficult and for a great cover, the Deadline Dames and the MurderFriends for a constant mutter of support, cat gifs, and zaniness, Sarah Guan for taking the book through the home stretch and soothing a Very Tired Writer, and my children, who I wrote this for. I should also add thanks to the many service members, in various branches of the armed forces, who answered my bizarre questions with patience and good humor, especially Jeff Davis.

I’m very tired, having spent a restless night, and the release day anxiety is particularly bad. I can barely believe the book made it out into the world, and am at once relieved and scared almost witless. Waiting for another shoe to drop, as it were. So I’m going to go and spend this day the way I spend other release days–shaking, soaking my head in a bucket, and writing. (One of those options may not be quite feasible; I doubt I have a bucket clean enough after the recent stomach flu.)

Come back on Thursday, and I’ll tell you some more about Afterwar. In the meantime, I have a Fanchat Discord you can join; just be sure to mark your spoilers.

Over and out.

May Day Appliance Wizard

Season 4 of ROADTRIP Z just started, so if you want to get in on it, now’s the time. This is the very last season, and after it ends (probably sometime in October) I’ll be doing another serial. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’ll be Robin Hood in Space, otherwise known as HOOD. (I have this thing for capitalizing serial titles, I guess.) I just have to figure out if that one’s a long standalone or broken up into seasons, too.

Good morning! It’s Beltane, which is lovely. It’s also (supposedly) the day we finally get the new dishwasher (still sitting in our garage) installed and can stop calling service people and the home warranty folks. After a bumpy start, the latter have been more than kind. The only problem is having to call them each time because I hate the phone…

*time passes*

Well, just as I was typing that, the doorbell rang, the dogs went nuts, and it was the installer. Several hours early, in fact. And despite one small snag (the water hose wasn’t long enough, so he popped out and grabbed a new one) everything went smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that the NEW DISHWASHER is currently WASHING. I mean, there wasn’t much to put in there for its inaugural load, but dammit, I made do. I FOUND things to put in there.

A big shout out to: Trevonte, Renee, Samantha, and Kinetha at AHS for their patience and kindness, another big shout-out to the original installers who had a helluva day before they got to us, yet another to Mr Gates of Gates Plumbing who was kind, professional, and thoroughly courteous, and to finish it off, thank you, Tri-County, for coming through bigtime.

I’ve got to say the last installer–the Tri-County fellow–was a wizard. The dogs calmed down while he worked, he hummed to the dishwasher while installing, and he had the nicest, sleepiest, most genuinely pleased smile I’ve seen in a while. The May Day Appliance Wizard, I’ll call him, and dear gods above but this was a pleasant way to start a brand-new month. April was horrid, but the luck has changed now.

It takes a village to get a damn dishwasher in. The thing is running now, and I can’t hear it. The old one used to be audible even outside the front door. I’ve had to walk down the hall and check that it’s still running each paragraph.

*checks again* Yep, still running. Man, it’s nice to have that back.

Now I’m going to go for a run. No rest for the wicked, and my joy will probably float me for a few blocks until my heart, lungs, and legs figure out I’m making them work again.

Over and out.

Life, Slightest Provocation

So today is that most blessed of days. That’s right, my friends, it’s NEW DISHWASHER DAY.

At least, if the installers don’t get caught in traffic or an accident, and if new dishwasher will fit in the space we’ve got–it should, of course, but “should” in appliance replacement is just another word for “ha, you thought you’d actually get this done without a fight?” I suspect we haven’t reached the end of the little gifts the Do-It-Yourself-er who owned the house before us left. I can hope, at least.

All of which means the kitchen needs attending, the rubbish and recycle bins moved and the choke point past the fridge measured–there’s another way into the kitchen, but I think the way past the fridge might work and it’s way shorter–and several cabinets to clean out and stack the contents of on the counters so the installers can get at everything they need. If I’m really ambitious I might even make them biscotti, because I am just. that. excited.

There’s a morning run to get in and the initial revise on another chapter of Atlanta Bound, both before noon. Working on a serial means working ahead, because life can and will happen at the slightest provocation, and one needs a cushion.

Life has been happening to a rather startling degree around here. I’m fine and the kids are great, but people we care about are having Extremely Rough Things happen. It’s gotten to where I wince every time my email notification goes off, since I’m sure it’s more bad news. There’s a special kind of hell called “not being able to help”, there are some things even my stubbornness can’t fix. If I could, I would fling myself on the problems and stab them until they stopped moving, but…they aren’t that sort of problems.

*sigh*

Intellectually I know that offering support and being a safe place for friends to dump their feelings–no matter what those feelings are–is valuable, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough. I mean, I was raised to feel like nothing I did was ever going to be good enough anyway, but…yeah.

I have my own support network in place so I can support the people who need it right now, and I’ve severely retracted a lot of socializing in order to have the emotional energy to support and to write. It’s all I can do. As far as I’m concerned, the entire shitty current month can go die in a fire. Just when I think we’ve hit the worst news yet, more happens along.

My regular sunny optimism (ha!) has taken somewhat of a beating. At least if the new dishwasher ends up installed (and working, let’s not forget working) a rather startling vista of free time will show up. We’ve been washing up by hand for months now, and while it’s just fine, I am looking forward to the convenience of loading a machine and pressing a button.

Mod cons, my friends. Mod cons.

And of course there’s wordcount in Maiden’s Blade to get in today. I revised the length requirement for that project in Scrivener and promptly choked when the daily goal skyrocketed. I know I’ll meet it, but it was still a vertiginous moment. Before publication, chop wood, carry water, write; after publication, chop wood, carry water, write.

Time to get out the door. I hope your April is going better than mine, dear Readers, and I hope every bit of news we all get today is good.

*wanders away, muttering about dishwasher specifications*

New Roo, Mum

When you open a package from your Australian friend–who was there and drinking the night the whole nutless-kangaroo-shifter-story thing happened–and you find this fellow breaking into your fucking Kinder Eggs, and you say “who the fuck are YOU?” and he wipes his snout with his paw and says, “er, um, your new roo, mum,” and you DM your Australian friend hysterical with disbelieving laughter…

…yeah. Like that. Exactly like that.

(Yes, that’s a kangaroo scrotum holding a corkscrew, which is how this whole thing started. But that’s another story…)