Free Shenanigans

Imagine the possibilities…

Me: “You want this? I’ll drag it home if you do.”
Daughter: “What on earth would we do with it?”
Me: “Train grapevines over? Or the hop vine? Hang the bones of our enemies inside? Teach Boxnoggin to climb?”
Daughter: “OMG imagine if he learned to climb. The shenanigans.”
Me: “He’s all shenanigan anyway.”
Daughter: “I think we can let this one pass.”
Me: “Just as well. I’d have to carry it like a hat, Box can’t drag it.”
Daughter: “…walk away, Mum. Just walk away.”

I love how she doesn’t quibble at hanging the bones of our enemies inside, Blair Witch windchime style, but teaching the dog to climb is a Step Too Far. Of course, if it’s still there this morning I may have to nab it anyway, because that will be a sign it’s meant to come home with me, right? RIGHT?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Concrete Soul, Amid Roses

Just hanging out, watering the roses.

This week saw a field trip to a local lilac garden, and by chance (or by good planning) we went on the only dry, sunny day. I ended up mostly taking pictures of camellias, since the lilacs were just starting their bloom; as we were leaving I spotted this lovely lady amid roses and rhodies recovering from winter, and had to run back to grab a snap.

I love fountains, and garden statuary. (Just call me a Renaissance girl.) I couldn’t talk to her–there were other people around, and they tend to look askance at some weirdo mumbling to concrete even if it does possess a soul–but I did tip her a cheeky wink, and I think I made her day. I wonder if there are fish in her pond? Probably not, since it’s close to a river and cranes or herons (not to mention the corvids) would consider that small pool easy dredging for a snack.

I’m 160-ish pages away from the end of the proofs, and once I finish them I go straight into revising Book 2 of the trilogy. I’m seeing patterns and structure I had no idea were happening earlier, as I do each time at this point in writing a multiple-book-arc, and can only shake my head at the bloody Muse and her tricks. It’s a strange thing, feeling one’s mind is not quite one’s own. Sometimes it’s fun, but there’s always an edge of “what the hell is going on inside this skull I’m carrying around?”

Today will be busy, between proofs and livestreaming and oh yes, getting the subscription drop out, not to mention Friday Night Writes. I suppose I’d best down this coffee and get started.

See you next week, my beloveds.

Rattledark Morning

I unplugged yesterday and went to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens. (Though I mostly took pictures of camellias.) It’s early yet–things won’t reach full blooming for a week, week and a half–but the weather was perfect and the crowd was light. I got to touch a monkey puzzle tree, too. Did you know their trunks are all cracked, and red sap lingers in the crevices? Like blood. And their branches twist wonderfully. I’ve never been able to get close to one before, so it was pleasant to make this one’s acquaintance.

Yesterday’s lilac-viewing weather has shifted somewhat. Spring is the season of unsettled clouds, and I woke to thunder shaking the house. I could feel the vibrations through my bed, and later against my soles while standing in the kitchen making coffee. Boxnoggin is very unhappy with this; skybooms are definitely not his favorite things. Gentle pats and coaxing are all I can give him, as well as a safe place to hide. For my part, I’m humming Eddie Rabbitt.

Today it’s back to proof pages, then I dive right back into revising the second book in an epic fantasy trilogy. Once that’s done, there’s a full revise on Hell’s Acre, and then I can move to prepping for the next serial. I still haven’t decided if Avery and Gemma’s adventures will see wider publication; the decision will have to wait until I’ve had a chance to go through, revise the whole corpus (two seasons’ worth of story!) and sent the first season to my agent for her opinion.

Delayed gratification. It’s what publishing is all about.

If you attended the Fountain Books launch event for Spring’s Arcana, you’ll know I made an announcement about the next serial. If you didn’t, I’ll make another announcement in a while…but I will also tease with this.

…I am terrible, I know. I’m very excited. But I don’t want to do a huge fanfare too soon. Waiting for the schedule is such a pain, though since I’ve gotten through one big wicket lately I’m eager to move through a few more. My own impatience is the hardest to bear.

It’s grown quite dark though the rumbles of thunder have faded somewhat, and the birds have all taken shelter. They sense the change in barometric pressure, naturally. I should get some breakfast. Walking poor Boxnoggin will have to wait. He was quite put out that I was gone yesterday–there were only two humans in the house to serve his every whim–and now there’s unsettled weather interfering with his walkies. How will he ever endure?

I suppose I’ll have to do some proofing while waiting for it to pass. There are worse things on a Thursday morn.

See you around.

Soundtrack Monday: Carnival

It’s time for another Soundtrack Monday! I’m getting increasingly nervous over the release of Spring’s Arcana, which is entirely normal. Publishing is such a delayed-gratification game, one has plenty of time for one’s nerves to get frayed to transparency just…waiting.

Anyway, I was thinking about Nat Drozdova this morning. The soundtrack for the books is pretty long, as such things go–don’t worry, come release day I’ll post it so you can listen. But I thought there’s no harm in giving a little taste before then, is there?

Natalie Merchant’s beautiful, lyrical Carnival is a very Young Drozdova song. Her trip across the continent is full of wonderful, terrible, awe-inspiring things; the rhythm also echoes that of car tires on American highways. Everyone she meets has some kind of agenda, even the mortals; she herself feels so disconnected and alien she often simply watches, wondering at the show.

I’ve felt like this myself more than once. As if life is merely a pageant, and I am the scribe meant to witness before distilling. Of course, I’m no divinity…

…but there’s always tomorrow. Honestly, sometimes mortality seems a better bargain than having to bear the burden of personal history. But that’s a whole ‘nother book series.


Civic Duty, Done

Sunday we had snow, though it didn’t stick, and the temperature plunged after dark. Which meant yesterday I was driving before dawn, on black ice and through freezing fog, downtown to the courthouse.

Yes, my friends, jury duty again.

This makes the fourth time, though only the third in this county. I know there are thousands of eligible people who haven’t even been called once, but they keep interrupting my working time with this nonsense. Not that I mind doing my civic duty–I went in the first two times with good grace, somewhat proud to participate even though I’m the last person prosecution or defense wants on a jury.

It’s not that I can’t be impartial. It’s just that my family history (law enforcement kin), added to my viewing/reading habits (I do read and watch a lot of true crime) and career (writer with a distinct interest in gruesome forensic pathology, not to mention I once thought I’d study to be a paralegal) makes me a bad bet for either side’s purposes. I never get past voir dire, and probably never will–they want the quiet folk who can be swayed by various courtroom strategies.

Anyway, yesterday was no exception and I was sent home after the jury was finally empaneled. A whole working day lost, momentum frittered away because I’d had to plan for perhaps a week’s worth of disruption. I couldn’t even get back to revisions because all my bandwidth had been eaten up, so I was reduced to staring at a documentary until I could heave my poor corpse to bed. And there were very few masks to be seen–less than ten percent of all the people called for duty, and one lone mask among the courtroom staff) which means if I get sick, I know exactly where it happened. Plus, the trial itself was a criminal one, and just plain heartbreaking to hear even the basic dimension of.

Hyperempathy is great for my work, but a distinct drawback otherwise. Hearing the charges made me wince.

On the other hand, it was great material. Watching how people reacted, how they sorted themselves according to social expectations, watching the attorneys perform, and practicing my powers of observation are all wonderful for the work. For example, the prosecutor was left-handed, wearing a tailored three-piece and glossy wingtips–and also a pair of blue-and-green striped socks that had to be “lucky”. The defense attorney was married, loved their spouse very much, and did not like their client but was giving their all. The cross-section of the jury was fascinating, and watching from a corner of the room while people grouped themselves and cooperated was alternately comforting and terrifying.

I suppose I’ve watched too many history documentaries to be entirely comfortable when I see people patiently trooping along in a line while an “authority” exhorts them. And locating the impulse in myself to be polite, play along, follow the crowd was sobering indeed. The writer in me was furiously taking notes; it’s a machine that never turns off. Everything goes into the hopper to be churned by the writing brain.

You’d think they would want me far away from court for that reason alone.

I am thinking about going back to paralegal studies, though. Growing up I was “supposed” to be a doctor to fulfill one of my childhood abuser’s frustrated desires, but was always magnanimously told being a lawyer was “acceptable” too. I have no desire to argue in a courtroom or deal with people all day long, which is why I hole up in my office and deal with imaginary people for the bulk of my time. Still, the studying is interesting, the architecture of the law is fascinating, the skills needed are right up my alley, and it might be a day job if I ever get too tired of publishing. It would mean going back to an office, which as an introvert I’d absolutely hate…but still, it’s always nice to have plans and options.

The urge will most likely pass by the time I get my morning run out of the way. Boxnoggin was unhappy at the break in routine and very upset that someone else had to take him for walkies yesterday. He calmed down once it was clear dinner was going to arrive on time, and today is displaying only a lingering uncertainty, which will fade once he’s in his harness and it’s clear the world is continuing upon its accepted course.

I’d best get moving towards the toaster now. Losing a day and momentum is bad enough, I’m going to have to restart revisions and shift my week’s schedule around again. Small price to pay, but my nose is suspiciously stuffy and my entire body aches. It could just be the stress, and a run will purge those chemicals, fill me with endorphins, and set me right in a trice. That’s the hope, at least.

Time to get to it.

Back to Business

The sun is a bit above the horizon, but it’s still dim under the firs. The cedars along the back fence are limned with gold, though, and the coffee tastes pretty divine. I’ve got book pages to add to the site (Spring’s Arcana is up for preorder, my goodness) and there’s next month’s release to plan for as well as October’s–at least, if I get these CEs turned around there’ll be an October release. Just in time for spooky season!

The advent of autumn is bringing bit of renewed energy. The nights are reasonable sleeping temperature again, and hopefully we won’t have many more gasping-hot days before the rains arrive and I can be truly productive. I love water falling from the sky, it’s partly why I live on this slice of the globe. I mean, there’s also the lack of venomous bite-y things, but that’s a smaller consideration. Generally the bite-y things and I observe an armed truce; they leave me alone, I return the favor wholesale and with relish.

Boxnoggin has had a rather rough weekend, and is sulking on my bed. Oh, he got all his usual treats and walkies and pets, but I’ve had to leave the past few mornings to look after a friend’s menagerie while they were out of town and Lord van der Sploot did not like that, no sir, not one bit. Now that we’re back to the regular schedule he’ll settle in and cheer up, but he’s extremely unhappy with any disruption in routine as only a toddler can be. He got a treat and pets each time I returned, but I think he smelled other animals on me (not my fault, cats are affectionate and chickens are, well, chickens) and wished I’d take him along to make acquaintance.

The thought of the chaos such a maneuver would cause is hilarious, sure. Especially with the turkey. (Yes, there was a turkey. No, it did not attempt murder this time.) But also, it makes me tired.

It’s going to be a busy week. I’d like to get the Moby Dick reading on Twitch at least half done, the CEs of the second Ghost Squad book need to be turned around, and there’s wordcount to get in on the serial and the second Sons of Ymre before I have to add revising Cold North to the mix. Plus there’s website updates to do and I’d really like to at least do a trial reading of some Victorian erotica.

Still not sure if I’m going to put that last item on an OnlyFans, or a dedicated YouTube channel. I mean, I have this paperback of The Pearl lying about, and it’ll be great training to see if I can keep a straight face all the way through. I won’t be dressing up, however–it’ll probably be strictly audio, with perhaps a static image or two as the visual component. There’s a certain amount of fun to be had in reading high-grade historical smut in a low, even tone while wearing schlubby sweats.

I suppose I should see if Filmoria will work for that sort of thing. Hrm. The world apparently wants me to learn some kind of video editing, though I hate it. We’ll see.

I’m happiest while writing, second happiest while revising and the like, and just generally content when I’ve too much work to handle. Consequently, September’s going to be a banner month–but I have to get through the last few days of August to get there, and they promise to be jam-packed.

The sun has reached a gap in the cedars, and the coffee has cooled. Boxnoggin has decided sulking won’t get him anything and is shaking his collar, preparatory to trotting down the hall to check on me. I’m in running togs, which is a good sign as far as he’s concerned, but he’s very unsure whether or not the garage door is going to open and Mum disappear for a few hours. He would very much prefer not, thank you very much; a run is one thing but leaving in the car quite another. He’ll be all right once it’s clear we’re back to business as usual, though I’m sure he’ll miss the extra treats.

Let us gird ourselves for Monday, my beloveds. It’s a deadly day, but we outnumber it and I’ve got the baseball bat handy. Upward and inward, excelsior, and all that.

The Wild Trolley

Shh, don’t scare it.

I managed to snap this picture of the wary shopping cart in its natural habitat, not the concrete or linoleum floored farms their flocks now inhabit. Those who escape are usually intelligent, largely nocturnal, and tend to hide in out-of-the-way places, evading capture by dint of sheer cunning and anxiety. It’s hard to get close enough for a snap, let alone catch one for home domestication, so I had to sneak up, very quietly, and scarce dared breathe.

And then, success! I got the shot. I let out a sigh of wonder, probably alerting the poor thing to my presence. It doesn’t understand I have no desire to tame or return it, I just wanted a photo to prove what I’d witnessed.

Anyway. The trolley has long vanished. I hope it is still grazing lawns, hiding while it must, and just generally enjoying freedom as any creature likes to.

Have a marvelous weekend, my beloveds.