Better Than We Deserve

I feel somewhat like I’m wandering in zombie-infested woods with a crossbow, really–no sooner is one slain than another appears, and by the gods I’m hungry, tired, filthy, and irritated. Current events are bad for my state of mind, not to mention my health.

I really wanted to feel hopeful. I did! But instead, the historian in me is looking at my febrile country, and taking a deep breath.

It’s hard to work under these conditions. I lost a couple days’ worth of working time, poking along and adding a mere hundred words or so, here and there. Thank goodness for Viki; since DramaFever went under it’s my go-to for Kdrama. I’ve been watching Ghost Detective and Hwayugi, both are fine storytelling and I like the stars.

The dogs don’t understand why I’m so upset. After all, their dinner comes at exactly the same time, even if the humans have changed their own to an hour later. They still get walkies and pets and treats, they are still barred from going down the stairs to commune with the cats. (Or eat them, in Boxnoggin’s case.) The only thing they’re unhappy about is the weather, and only Boxnoggin is upset about that.

He may need a little jacket or two, if it gets colder.

When the panic attacks try to overwhelm the medication, the dogs sidle up and require pets and love. The distraction is often enough to calm me. Dogs, you know? Much better than we deserve.

I’m shutting off social media (except for Mastodon) for a little while, so I don’t have the firehose of bad news constantly pouring down my throat. I understand I am privileged to have that option, and I’ve got to work or we don’t eat.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Readers. I have very little else to say.

Over and out.

Let Me Be Wrong

Afterwar

I’ve talked before about how difficult and draining  Afterwar was to write, and how bumpy the road to publication was. The pain is still somewhat ongoing; I feel an ignored Cassandra, shouting into the wind. I fucking told you so,

*sigh* I was prepared for the book to be ignored, but I was not prepared for the feeling of…well, I feel like I did my best and it still wasn’t enough. It’s a common, creeping little feeling, lying in wait for any unsuspecting (or even suspecting) writer.

I just keep looking at current events and shaking my head. I saw this coming in 2015, I think, and the weight of seeing ahead, along with the weight of witnessing my country descend gleefully into totalitarian filth, wears on me daily. I can barely stand to look at the news. My heart aches.

Our midterm ballots arrived last week. The Princess and I (the Prince has not yet reached voting age) sat down at the dining room table, shielding our ballots, and passed the state voter’s guide back and forth, reading campaign statements and filling in little boxes. She’s hopeful.

I…don’t know.

History tells me what comes next. The camps and dehumanization are already here, and growing worse daily. The “Fuhrer worship” of that small-handed orange shithead grows, racists and nationalists cavort openly with their fascist buckles jangling, and our major journalism is supine. The police are full of rage, hatred, and military surplus; they are the Mango Mussolini’s private army now.

I know it’s always been bad. Even Eisenhower saw where the military-industrial complex and its pursuit of more profit by fear and murder would end. There’s been no shortage of warnings. America was a genocidal slave state from the start, and refusal to look at that plain fact lets exceptionalism, fascism, and murder grow like rank weeds in rich soil.

I just…I am in despair. I poured my heart and soul into a warning cry, and suspected it would be ignored. The small hope that it wouldn’t is thoroughly crushed.

So I continue writing. What else can I do?

I just finished a romance because after  Afterwar and the epic fantasy, I wanted something lighter. Now I’m struggling with guilt because how dare I write something I enjoy, knowing what I know?

The enjoyment is necessary. We’re not just fighting to halt evil, but also to preserve what is precious and joyful and good. Intellectually I know this.

I just have a hard time convincing my heart that it’s not a waste of time, that I’m not fiddling while Rome burns.1 I already feel like no matter what I do, it won’t be enough. Nobody will be saved, nothing will be preserved, the horrifying things will come to pass and all I’ve ever accomplished is dust in the wind.

I have to believe that it is the attempt itself that matters. I have to believe that daily decency, kindness, listening, boosting marginalized voices, and refusing to let the despair paralyze me matters.

Some days, though, heartsick and sore, I can’t bring myself to. Some days I have very little faith in anything other than humanity drowning itself and the planet in its own blood. Some days, like today, I am not even furious, just exhausted, terrified, and sure that nothing matters.

Please, dear gods, let me be wrong.

Please let me be wrong.

Know This Song

I finished the zero of Incorruptible on Friday, and consequently have spent the last two days trying to avoid working. I’ve thrown myself into housecleaning that didn’t get done with a release and a zero finishing at the same time, and it was still almost physically painful to not-write.

I watched a lot of documentaries. I obsessively played a lot of Summoners War. I took the dogs on very long rambles, which means I have an interesting blister and Sir Boxnoggin is all but dancing in place wanting a proper run but not as energetic as he would be if we’d simply stayed home.

I should be feeling rested. I should be ready to tackle a fresh round of work–Atlanta Bound needs a revision once I prep the last chapters for the serial, the full Roadtrip Z box set news a top-to-bottom revise once I finish that, and concurrently there’s the Robin Hood in Space and the portal fantasy to decide about. I’m also hearing rumbles that the epic fantasy might be coming back to me with an edit letter, so I’m not short of things to do. I’m not even short of the order to do them in.

What I am short of is patience and focus. Two days of aggressively not-working only made me short-tempered and silly. I know that I always need more downtime than I think, I know that the irritation is just a phase and I’ll try to work, run up against a wall, take another day off to watch movies and cry thinking my career is over, and finally wake up the day after that ready to work and wondering why I started sobbing for no reason.

I suppose it’s good to know my own decompression process, but it never gets any bloody easier. The only question is one of degree.

Maybe I’ll start work on Dolls instead. Watch some Wong Kar-wei movies, always a joy and delight. Play yet more Summoners War. Run twice a day instead of once. Go to the grocer’s.

Well, maybe not the last bit. Having to leave the house and be pleasant in public will be like pouring lemon juice on a mass of paper cuts. But in any case, I know this song, I’ve heard it before, and in a little while I’ll be all right again. At least finishing *mumblemumble* books and going through however-many releases means I know I’ll survive this. I have every other single time before.

The suspicion is still painful, but again, I know this song. I’ll hum along, and wait for it to end.

Over and out.

Synchronized Sleeping

What you can’t see to the left is Miss B’s own super-fancy office-bed. She and Sir Boxnoggin have reached the stage of acquaintance where they will bask in sunlight with their hindquarters touching, or synchronize their sleeping positions. By the time winter arrives fully, I’m sure they’ll be happy enough with each other to sleep in a pile of limbs and fur, especially since Miss B has the lovely long coat and Boxnoggin runs warm.

It’s a good thing, to have a buddy.

RELEASE DAY: Steelflower in Snow

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.

Fairy Ring

Apparently the fairies were dancing in the neighborhood lately. I’d harvest these…but better safe than sorry where the Good Folk are concerned.

Waited Half the Year

The rains have arrived again. False summer has fled, heat-stressed leaves have dropped and those who survived the drought have begun to turn. Miss B is sanguine–she remembers, however dimly, that water falling from the sky is a thing.

Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot, however, is agog. Things were not like this in Texas, he informs me, every time he has to step outside. I tried to remind him of a hurricane or two, but he informs me archly that what he remembers is dust and heat, not this damp bullshit.

Lord van der Sploot is not a big fan of change. I don’t blame him, he’s had more than his fair share. He needs a good long chunk of boring, nothing-ever-changes time, and we’re doing our best. It helps that feeding time, running time, and playing time is all the same, even if there is water where there shouldn’t be.

I took a forced rest this weekend, in order to gear up for the big push to get Steelflower in Snow out before the end of the month. I managed not to work except for a thousand words or so on Incorruptible, mostly because I don’t want to lose momentum. It was a chore to keep myself from working, but I did get all my Sunday cleaning chores done early. Other than that, I stuffed a lot of movies into my head, watched another couple episodes of Castle Rock–though I must say, the Queen episode brought everything nicely to a halt for me and I’m not sure I want to continue–and managed to read a good chunk of The American Slave Coast, which I’ve had to take in small pieces because it’s just so devastating.

Once I’m finished with that, I can reward myself with finishing Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart, the Middle English edition. Right now the main characters there are in Ruck’s secret fastness and I want them to stay there until I can return.

In order to get there, though, I’ve got to work. The siege portion of Steelflower needs some heavy revising to make it ready, and I should probably go looking for the glossary, too.

*sigh* No rest for the wicked, ay? There’s also a run in the rain to accomplish, while Sir Boxnoggin complains next to me. He’ll settle down once it’s clear we’re outside to work. I may even have to get him a little coat, since he’s shorthaired and runs warm. He’s glad to have a nice bright home to return to, full of comfy beds, pets at the drop of a hat, and regular mealtimes, and his gladness helps when I start dragging.

Other than that, I have my SAD light on just to stay ahead of the game. I’ve been more productive on rainy days than I was all bloody summer. And bonus, with the rains, not so many people will be out letting their dogs off leash or wanting to stop me while I run in order to exchange commonplaces about the bloody weather.

I’ve waited half the year for this, and dammit, I’m going to enjoy it.

Over and out.