Back to the Grind

Roadtrip Z

The last season of Roadtrip Z has ended. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Ginny, Lee, and the gang–heaven knows they have a great deal of work ahead of them–but it’ll be nice to get into a new story. Robin Hood in Space is about to hit the ground running, and I’m pretty thrilled about it.

I took a great deal of the holidays off, with very little access to social media. Cleaning out the internal pipes, so to speak. I only finished a single short story between Yule and New Year’s, but I think it’s a good one; the Hansel & Gretel Kung Fu vibe was fun to play with.

I did get my office cleaned and reorganized. There was a lot of dusting, and a lot of getting rid of old cords and plugs. The big cabinet of school supplies is also organized; it’s strange to have only one kid in school now. Of course, I tend to overbuy office supplies, so I won’t have to get pencils again until my grandkids are in school.

May that day be far away though. I’m not ready.

What I am ready for is more work. There’s the Roadtrip Z box set to finalize, HOOD‘s first season zero draft to gear up on, another short story (Alice in Wonderland with cyborgs and dici-plagues) to trace the skeleton of, and book two of the Five Winds to begin serious work on. I also want to play with the storm-god-and-witch story, subverting a few paranormal romance tropes.

I’m starting 2019 right where I like to be: with a whole lot of work in front of me and dogs snoring in my office. Of course I’m going to roust them and go for a run as soon as I finish the morning’s built-up correspondence, and Sir Boxnoggin for one will be thrilled. Running is one of the highlights of his day.

I hope you have something you love as much today too, dear Readers. I believe we shall kick 2019 in the pants, and am already stretching out.

Let’s do this.

Getting Through to New Year’s

Tomorrow is Yule proper, the longest night and the celebration of light returning–or at least, the hope of such. Today is the absolute earliest day I will allow Christmas music in the house; however, the Princess and Little Prince rarely want it. It saturates all public spaces; this is, by contrast, our refuge.

The dogs sense my tension. Boxnoggin is determined to fix whatever has my tail tied in a knot; Miss B dimly suspects this has happened before and is more sanguine. Come the morning of the 25th, when the cooking begins, both of them will be excited and anticipatory. I wonder what Boxnoggin’s other Christmases have been like. No doubt he’ll calm down once he’s stuffed full of ham, belly-scrubbings, and treats.

Growing up, this time of year was inevitably one of mounting unease culminating in explosion. I used to try to decide which was worse: several small fires or the menacingly quiet build-up to a terrifying conflagration. On the one hand, the several small rages and punishments kept me in a state of low-level terror until after New Year’s, on the other, the tension leading up to the huge explosion made me sick with anticipation and I eventually feared for my life during the inevitable culmination. Year after year it was a roulette.

The first time I spent a quiet Christmas just by myself was revelatory. Nobody was screaming, breaking plates or my toys; nobody was hissing that I didn’t deserve presents or that I was a selfish child for having been born; the day passed quietly without me sneaking away to hide under my bed or vomit hopelessly behind a locked bathroom door that could still be screwdriver-opened at any moment. I wasn’t dragged out to “participate”, I wasn’t glared at while I opened presents and tried to guess which ones would be taken away after extended family went home and the war I’d never signed up for returned.

It was wonderful.

When my children arrived, their obvious and visible joy in the holiday frightened me. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to live up to their expectations, I worried that they secretly felt as awful as I had during the whole thing and were suffering trying to hide it, I worried that I wasn’t providing enough gifts, enough “traditions”, enough of anything, especially on Christmases where the budget didn’t permit much in the way of presents. It’s kind of funny now–both kids tell me they’ve always loved the holiday and I’ve always made it special for them. They don’t really understand my unease, since it’s always been a time of joy for them, a time to roll around in evidence that their Mum indeed loves them fiercely, completely, utterly.

I still can’t decide which was worse, the ongoing small fires or the huge explosion. The latter generally cleared the air for a while, but the absolute unremitting fear for my life during it seems a high price to pay. On the other hand, the grinding tension of several small pokes, slaps, pinches, nasty comments, glares, tiny humiliations occurring in clusters before a relatively smaller eruption turned me into a big-eyed, quivering wreck, afraid to even breathe deeply.

There’s really nothing to recommend either.

The kids, of course, are oblivious, looking forward to tree-decorating and a glut of good food. Presents? Well, they have everything they want, really, but I was able to afford some small things this year, and it pleases me to think of their joy when the Glorious Morn rolls around.

Among my friends this year, I feel like I’m the strong one. I just want to get everyone through to New Year’s with a minimum of damage. I feel like I’m clinging grimly to a lifeboat’s sides, making sure everyone has their vests secured and rationing our shipboard biscuits while we wait for rescue, comforting who i can and soothing as far as I am able.

Sometimes I long for the brief period in my life where I could let this entire time of year pass without decoration or remark, safely curled up inside my shell. I only participate for others, and some years I wish I didn’t have to.

All the same, participating for the joy of others is exponentially better than the conflagration or the wilderness of small random fires. It’s even quite beautiful in its own way, and I’m happy to bring joy to the people I care for. It gives me a deep satisfaction that helps battle the residual stress, the way Christmas decorations or the collection of holiday smells make my stomach clench with pained panic. I often feel that being incapable of enjoying the damn holiday season detracts from the joy of people I love, and worry that it indeed makes me the selfish brat I was accused since birth of being.

For me, even the best Christmas isn’t as good as a regular day spent working. It’s a gauntlet to run through, something to endure, and I’m always deeply glad when it’s over.

I’m buckled in and buckled down, prepared to see it through. Let’s hope we all reach the New Year with the minimum of damage, my friends.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Rattlesnake Wind

That’s right, my darlings–finally, one of the books closest to my heart is out in the world and ready for your delectation. I always meant to go back to Wyoming, and I have; though perhaps not in the way anyone might have expected. Dez’s story is pretty brutal, and since she’s young, a lot of publishers wanted it as a YA–but only if they could take some of the blood and meat and gristle out of it.

You can guess my response to that.

It finally found a home with Fireside, the best place it could have landed. It’s one of the more marvelous feelings in the world to able to trust your editor and publisher, to know they’re behind you all the way.

So…I won’t say enjoy, because I’m not sure it’s an enjoyable book. It was necessary for me to write, and doubly necessary for me to send it out into the world unwatered, with colorless fumes smoking from its trembling surface. I offer it with both hands, my friends, and hope it finds you well.

Desiree Sarpe and her family–minus their domineering, abusive patriarch–have settled on the Wyoming plains, where the wind speaks, the grass whispers, and power comes in the strangest, most ordinary of forms. Unfortunately, the past and its terrors can’t be easily shaken, and Dez is about to find out how brutal, bloody, and costly magic really is…

Now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent retailers.

COVER REVEAL: Rattlesnake Wind

There are some books that live very close to the writer’s heart, and this is one of mine.

When I was much younger than today, we moved from Great Britain to Wyoming, and the culture shock was immense. The only thing to love about the place was the wind coming over vast sweeps of long grass and whispering secrets into my aching ears. When we left again, this time to move to the Pacific Northwest, I cried as quietly as I could in the car, telling the plains and the wind I’d be back.

It took many a year, but I finally returned. Not physically, but I’m not sure it matters.

Fireside was the only publisher willing to take a chance on this book, for a variety of reasons, and the only publisher I felt comfortable trusting its bloody beating heart to; this beautiful cover was made by Eleanor Chuah. I’m proud and honored to invite you into this book, my dear Readers, and I hope you enjoy it…

The first night we spent in that ancient mobile home, the wind mouthed its corners with a low whispering almost like words from another room.

Desiree Sarpe and her family–minus their domineering, abusive patriarch–have settled on the Wyoming plains, where the wind speaks, the grass whispers, and power comes in the strangest, most ordinary of forms. Unfortunately, the past and its terrors can’t be easily shaken, and Dez is about to find out how brutal, bloody, and costly magic really is…

Coming in December 2018; now available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent retailers.

Rush Resurrection

I resurrected in a rush this morning, since Sir Boxnoggin, He Who Chases Squirls, was trying to get under the covers with me and ended up punching me in the face. My yelp must have been puppylike, for it brought both dogs to try and lick anything of me they could reach. “DON’T WORRY, MUM, WE’LL SAVE YOU!”

After that, well, there was no more room for sleep, and my heart was pounding anyway, so…I rolled out of bed and into my running togs. The dogs both need some work to settle them so they stop stealing each others’ rawhides.

We never could have rawhide while Odd Trundles was around. The danger of it getting stuck in his poor compromised airway was too great. There was the time the Mad Tortie fished an old chunk of it out from under the couch, thinking she was Being Helpful, and that didn’t end well, let me tell you. It was one of the many times we almost lost that little fuzzy snuffler.

I was just thinking yesterday about how much I miss Trundles. He was a good dog. Smelly, yeasty, constantly in need of medical attention…but a lovely dog. Not a mean bone in his body.

Anyway, I’ve another 20K to add in revision for this damn epic fantasy. I’m hoping I can get the needed effects without making the book break 200K. I’m already sick of the story and there’s two more in the trilogy to write. I need a break, but I’m not going to get one. Plus there’s Atlanta Bound to format into ebooks, and the whole Roadtrip Z omnibus to put together to go on sale after the first of the year.

No rest for the weary or the wicked. Time to swallow the last bit of coffee, get the leashes buckled around my waist, and take the dogs for some work. Hopefully they won’t pull in different directions very often. But if they do, I’ll drop my center of gravity and keep going.

Funny, how that skill translates into other areas of one’s life.

I wish you safe running on this Monday, my friends. Just drop your navel a little and keep going.

It’s the only way through.

Ours Now

Yesterday was a very quiet day. We have a sick neighbor, so we made extra at each step and sent it next door. The Princess was settled on the loveseat with both dogs, but when she was called away to finish up some baking, Boxnoggin and B decided warm cushions were not to be left to waste.

They even got ham brought to their silly selves, like the spoiled brats they are. But really, look at those faces. Could you deny them anything?

Anyway, I hope your holiday was as low-stress and full of good food as ours. And I am thankful for you, my darling Readers. You’re all amazing.

Here’s to another year of stories. And especially dog stories.

Better than Monday

Things I’ve said already today:

  • “You dropped a sock. I’m hanging it on your doorknob.”
  • “Clearly this fellow’s only experience of sex comes from Clive Cussler novels.”
  • “What’s the right time to tell your date about your barbed penis?”
  • “I’d read that for charity, but I’d need a LOT of weed.”
  • “No, Mary Berry wouldn’t be disgusted. She’d just be disappointed.”

As you can tell, it’s been A Morning. Tuesday is already better than Monday, though. I seem to have processed most of my less-than-ideal feelings about yet another revision in record time, and today’s going to be full of working that book into the ground. I finally know how to fix the major thing the editor wanted addressed, and can do it in a way that provides depth as well as the simple answer.

Being edited initially feels like having someone yell from the audience while you’re juggling chainsaws. You’re already working at capacity and some asshole has advice. It’s not the editor’s fault, they’re working to make the book better just like you are. Still, it initially feels not only like a judgment (and a particularly harsh one, at that) but a personal affront.

Getting through that shitty-ass feeling and into the headspace where you can take the advice calmly is part of a professional writer’s toolkit of necessities. Schedule in enough time to stamp your feet and scream, or, like I do, print out an edit letter, curse vociferously, and throw the thing across the room.

It’s surprisingly therapeutic, and calms one down wonderfully.

So. I have largely recovered from the most Monday of Mondays, and am even feeling philosophical about Thursday. (Mostly.)

Time for a run, and then I pick up the edit letter again and get to work.

Over and out.