A (Not So) Restful New Year

Welcome to the new year, everyone. I took (gasp!) some time off, though it was more to catch up than to rest. Because of course it was not restful at all. What with the ice storm over Christmas (we celebrate Yule around the solstice, using the 25th more as an excuse to sleep in and have a nice dinner) and the 50mph winds knocking over one of the cedars along the back fence to ring in the New Year, it was the very opposite of relaxing. Then there’s the CEs hanging fire and the epic fantasy nearly killed by editorial neglect and the worry over a short story and and and…

Yeah. What is this “restful” people speak of? I’m glad to be back at work; maybe now I’ll get a ding-dang chance to breathe.

…lest I sound like I’m complaining, there was a lot of good food and the kids had a great time. And the big cedar coming down missed the house by a whisker; some friends came over with chainsaws and got it chopped into firewood chunks too, so we’re lucky on both counts. Also, Boxnoggin has a whole box of plush toys to dismember at leisure, so he is thrilled to the gills–when he’s not being nervy because things have chaaaaanged, and all change is baaaaaad, Mum! Pretty soon he’ll see all this as the new normal, just in time for things to shift again. Poor fellow, at least he’s got walkies to look forward to.

Speaking of things to look forward to, one of my publishers is running a Goodreads giveaway! One hundred lucky readers will win a paper ARC of Spring’s Arcana, the first in the upcoming Dead God’s Heart duology, which releases in May 2023. Just click on the graphic to the right and you’ll be whisked right to it, thanks to the magic of the internet.

This is the first time I’ve been able to announce a giveaway like this. I think a YA publisher did one for Strange Angels back in the day, but I didn’t know about that until it was over. My, how time flies.

I spent all of yesterday tending the firepit and burning non-firewood-shaped bits of the cedar that came down. Despite washing off the instant I got back inside, I can still smell smoke; it gets everywhere. Nevertheless, the fire was extremely therapeutic. I could even toss a few other things in, saying goodbye to them and cutting ties in the most dramatic way possible. Laughing and muttering “fire, fire,” in my best Beavis voice was also intensely fun. I mean, I was always more of a Daria, but sometimes one just has to do a good Beavis voice.

…and now we all know exactly how Gen X I am, which is very.

With that, I should get myself together and get some breakfast forced down. There’s a biography of Robespierre to read while I consume it, then it’s time for Boxnoggin’s holy walkies. The wind is up again today, though nowhere near as badly as it was the night the cedar came down, so he’ll spend the entire walk being very put out at cold, invisible fingers touching his fur. And he’ll keep giving me filthy looks; since I am the goddess who rules his days, I am therefore responsible for everything including the weather. I wish I had even a fraction of the power this dog attributes to me.

On the other hand, maybe I don’t. It sounds a hideous burden, frankly. I’m glad to just be a struggling hack.

Happy Monday, my beloveds, and happy new year. We’ve survived into another one, which is cause for celebration. (Or something…) May it bring us peace, joy, and plenty of snacks.


The Marked

It’s about time for another sale, don’t you think? This month, The Marked is $2.99USD across ebook retailers! Since I’ve switched to Payhip you don’t need a coupon code if you buy there, and you’ll also get both .epub and .mobi editions there, for Reader convenience.

The genesis of this book was an intense, recurring nightmare I had when the kids were young–really young, just toddlers. I suppose every parent has a version or two of this particular fear; of course, I decided to exorcise mine with fiction. It grew in the telling, of course; Preston Marlock came almost out of nowhere and the idea of “living” tattoos had been kicking around in my head for quite a while. The latter is fascinating enough that I might return to it.

Jude’s grief was difficult to soak in. Once the book was finished, though, the nightmare became an every-few-years event instead of an almost-weekly one, which was a ginormous relief.

I still mean to write the second book, featuring the shadowy secret society and a great deal more of Marlock’s trauma. Unfortunately, like so much else, it has to wait until there’s enough money, enough time, and (very important) a clear spot on the writing schedule to invest. In the meantime, the characters are at a resting point, however tenuous…

Ebook discounted at Payhip, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Amazon until March 1.

Dry Run

The marine layer has returned in the mornings, keeping them cool and grey enough to suit me. I selfishly can’t wait for the rains to come in; I’m just not productive enough during the dry season.

Of course, the rains mean it’ll be worse for protestors and people will be driven inside, possibly catching the plague. So I can wait a while longer. Besides, with all this going on, I’m pretty sure productivity is a thing of the past.

This morning’s earworm is Portugal. The Man’s Feel it Still, which has a kicky groove. And the August Zombie Audio Giveaway is still going, so head on over and enter. Boxnoggin is lobbying hard for morning walkies; I wish I could get him nearly as interested in eating his brekkie or staying in his spot on runs. It would be nice to feel somewhat safer while running again.

I spent the weekend doing housework, attempting to re-wrap some of the insulation on my nerves, and poking at alien romance. I might not be able to put surprise!tentacles in this one, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it in another. I’m still not sure this one’s going to turn into anything more than a short attempt–a sort of dry run, if you will.

And I’m giggling into my sleeve because I’m twelve inside. But I can’t work on alien romance until next weekend, because the week belongs to a certain epic fantasy I need to reread some bits of before I start lunging for what should be an attempt to finish a zero soon. It will be messy and full of holes, but what zero isn’t? Epic fantasies don’t really take shape until the second draft, anyway. One more reason why they’re so difficult and draining to attempt.

Write an epic fantasy, I said. It’ll be fun, I said.

I’d be tired even if there wasn’t pandemic and fascist coup dragging at us all. I suppose next comes the moment when I realize the world is strapped onto this rollercoaster and there’s no way to hop off, and after that I’ll be calm. Or calm-ish.

The Prince’s school starts again this week. Fortunately the district chose to go with distance learning; I would not have sent my child into the Petri dish to die, thank you very much. I’d keep him out and let him do his GED before that, for God’s sake. He doesn’t mind distance learning at all; both my kids liked school well enough except for the other kids whose parents didn’t bother to teach them to behave reasonably. Distance learning suits us all, right down to the ground.

I know I’m lucky to live in a relatively sane little bubble, but even here I can see evidence of that thirty percent of racist authoritarians in the population. We’re as well as can be expected; I ache for all the parents who don’t have the luck and resources to do as we’re doing.

I ache for everyone right now, frankly, except for the greedy bastards whose blind grasping sociopathy means almost two hundred thousand deaths and counting as well as the approaching dictatorship.

Anyway, I need to get the barbarian horde to overrun a certain army and almost kill a prince, then get it to the gates of a city and have another prince sent to bring help. (I can hear the Thor and Loki “Get Help” comedy routine in my head now, thanks.) A couple more characters have to die before I can let the barbarians storm the gates. The book is resisting, or maybe I just didn’t see its shape clearly enough earlier.

Ah well. Bit by bit, mouthful by mouthful, the whale gets eaten. Complaining about it does no good after a certain point, I’ve just got to keep chewing.

It’s a quiet grey morning outside, and I hope against hope that Monday will remain this peaceful. I haven’t looked at the news yet; I’m somewhat afraid to. News or not, though, the dogs want to walk and I suppose I should take care of that. After all, they expect it, and I am made of meat so it’s probably best not to argue too hard.

Not at the moment, at least. A single day without argument would be a nice change.

Over and out.

Cockroach of Hope, Plus Giveaway

Hello, Monday. We won’t hurt each other, will we?

I might have recovered from breakdown, portal fantasy, and release day all in quick succession. Might. At least I have coffee, though it’s too hot to drink just yet. And I’m not allowed to work on the next unsellable book–honestly, the Muse is pissing me off at this point–until I at least have the last season of HOOD‘s zero in the can.

I know exactly what I need to write, at least. So there’s that. Mornings for HOOD, afternoons for Bloody Throne, and evenings after dinner for The Black God’s Heart. It’ll be a fine schedule and will get me to deadlines intact if I can keep it.

Ay, as Hamlet would groan. There’s the rub.

I suppose if I don’t look at the news I might even be able to do it. The march of cruelty, stupidity, and fascism seems overwhelming in scope and durability. All I want is to go back to writing squirrel stories and violent kissing books, dammit.

In any case, at least one beta reader has informed me that the portal fantasy doesn’t suck. Which is nice, even though it won’t sell. Pretty sure the aliens-arrive-and-boy-is-everyone-pissed romance won’t either, but that one isn’t having thoughts of usurping my regular working time. It will have to be content with weekends and stolen bits around the edges, at least until HOOD‘s zero is in the can. You never know, the aliens story might have enough legs (ha ha) to end up as a serial.

I do need to spend some time thinking about what story will go into the serial slot after HOOD reaches its end. I like to have a few months’ worth of chapters saved up so subscribers don’t miss a single Thursday of fiction-y goodness. Because life happens, and apparently, so does *gestures* all this.

I also have an announcement! The August Zombie Audio Giveaway is now live! Three lucky winners will receive free Audiobook.com codes for Cotton Crossing, first in the ROADTRIP Z series. Multiple daily entries are allowed, too. Newsletter as well as Patreon/Gumroad subscribers got first crack at the giveaway, of course. So if a free audiobook is your jam, just hop on over and enter.

Maybe Monday isn’t that bad after all. Of course, it’s not even 8am yet, so it’s far too early to tell. I have hope, even though I’d rather not because it’s so painful when slowly crushed by endless 2020 bullshit. But though fragile, that motherfucker is hard to kill.

Like, say, cockroaches. I’m trying to be a tiny little cockroach of hope.

And with that simply stunning (I’m sure) mental image, I shall bid you a civil adieu for your own Monday, dear Reader. May we all get through today without hurting each other.

It’s all I’m hoping for, right now.

Proof Positive, For Me

Woke up with a few story ideas running around my head, which hasn’t happened for about a week and a half. For most of that time I was absorbed in finishing a (messy, oh so messy) zero draft of Moon’s Knight.

I don’t know why my mini nervous breakdown needed me to shred my hands producing around 10k words of a portal fantasy every day for over a week, but that’s what it demanded so that’s what I did. Now the story’s finished and I’m on a much more even keel. (Well, as even as my keel ever gets.) My hands hurt, but ice, stretching, and ibuprofen will take care of that; I feel oddly clear, like a just-washed window.

I suppose I needed to prove to myself I could still finish something. It feels like 2020 has lasted decades and I haven’t “finished” a single thing. Irrational, yes–but when the Muse gets an idea in her head, it’s almost impossible to dislodge. She is rather stubborn.

Anyway, the proof positive that I can, indeed, finish a whole-ass 100k portal fantasy (that will never be published, I’m pretty sure) has managed to paper over some bare nerves, and I’m ready to lunge through the last half of HOOD‘s Season Three, catch up with The Bloody Throne, and keep The Black God’s Heart at a low burn by poking at it after dinner and around the edges of the other two projects. It will do me no end of good to be working on actual paid projects instead of being possessed by something I know is necessary for my mental and emotional well-being but not quite salable.

Maybe I just needed something simply and solely for me, however janky, farfetched, or outlandish. It’s been a while since I wrote something purely for my own enjoyment, managing to turn off the inner critic for a substantial period of time. Or maybe the Muse just threw that into my pit because she needed a rest from the other three projects. Who knows?

Tomorrow there’s a new release; later today my newsletter and subscriber fiction drops go out with links to a brand-new giveaway. (Subscribers–either newsletter or Patreon/Gumroad–get first crack at giveaways; don’t worry, I’ll post the link here and on social media after the weekend.) I recovered from finishing the zero by prepping all that yesterday, so I should be good for a full day’s work.

One of the things I’ve learned after decades in this job is when to just simply let things arrange themselves. When taking a break will actually make me more productive in the long term, when to follow that tiny internal voice whispering this is what you need now, trust me. I used to think working myself into the ground was the only way to get anything done. Now that I’ve been around a while, I know a little better–or I’ve simply accumulated a large enough body of work to be able to rest once in a while while the gravity of that body slings me through orbit without needing much fuel.

…now there’s a metaphor.

Off I go to update a series page, since Finder releases tomorrow. I’m already feeling the anticipation and dread of release day. It’s a good thing my nerves are re-wrapped, at least a little.

See you around, beloveds.


Well, isn’t this a banner Tuesday?

I’m pleased and proud–as punch, as Lee would say–to announce that Roadtrip Z is now in audio! Narrated by the amazing Erin deWard, the adventures of Ginny, Lee, Juju, and the gang are now available in a silken voice, ready to slip into your ear-holes. Cotton Crossing and In the Ruins are both available now; Pocalypse Road and Atlanta Bound are forthcoming.

I don’t often go back to previous work, but last night I got down the omnibus. Paging through it, I just had to smile; Lee is just so Lee and Ginny is so damn Ginny, and Juju’s the absolute best. Of course I couldn’t tell a zombie story without a dog and a road trip, either.

I do have some free audiobook codes, and if I can scrape together the energy newsletter subscribers and other patrons will get a chance to win a few.

But that’s not all the news I have for you today, my beloveds. Oh, no indeed.

You guys have seen bits of Finder’s Watcher here and there; my subscribers have, of course, seen more. I am also pleased and proud to report that the latest Watchers book (my goodness, we’re up to six now) has a cover, and will release on August 21, 2020.

He’s not the only one watching her…

For years Jorie Camden has been quietly helping her police friends pursue cold cases, and she’s paid the price over and over again, her talent for Finding stretched to the limit. Now something different is stalking the streets, taking children—something old, and foul, and Dark. The cops won’t admit there’s a problem, so what can a Lightbringer do but solve the mystery on her own?

Caleb is a Watcher of Circle Lightfall, and his mission is simple: protect the witch he’s assigned to—the witch who just happens to be able to touch him without causing agonizing pain. It’s his one shot at redemption, and it’ll take every weapon he has, plus his willingness to play dirty. Even if his witch seems to be chasing something no one can see.

Yet something Dark is indeed in their city. And now that it’s aware of pursuit, it has plans for Jorie and her talent—plans not even Caleb might be able to stop…

The preorder links are coming up as I type this (Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Google, and Apple) and there will be a paperback release too. As soon as I have the links for the latter I’ll update the series page.

It’s been a long, difficult time getting this book to print; I couldn’t be happier that we’ve finally done it. Now, of course, I need to be thinking about the next one… but that’s for another day.

I woke up pretty down about the state of the world, but there are good things happening right now too. I have to keep telling stories or I’ll drown; hopefully, said stories will provide other people with a little relief.

And as usual, there’s dogs to walk and maybe a run to get in, though the latter might take a back seat to a nap. I don’t feel rested at all, and there’s miles yet to go today.

I suppose I’d best get started, then.

Ruthless Day

I am ruthless today, my friends. Or at least, I feel that way. My tongue is sharpened on both sides and I have absolutely no patience or time for “polite” obscurantism.

It could be a symptom of finishing a zero. I’m still not recovered, though I took a whole day off.

I know. A whole day, and I am still not fit for anything but staring at some bullshit before verbally skewering it. That, or crawling back into bed with a sippy cup of warm broth (or better, coffee) and consigning the entire world to whatever it chooses to do without me.

What I’ll probably end up doing is walking the dogs, puttering through a bit of housework, and poking at a story that pleases me and only me. Like Wangsty Dracula, maybe, or the gunslinger.

…oh, that’s right, yesterday was my midweek break from blogging! So you might not know I finished the zero draft of Sons of Ymre. It’s much more romance-y than I wanted it to be; I was going more for horror. But at the same time, Erik is very much a verray parfit gentil knight; one would have to be to fight such monsters. At least, that’s one way. I could have made him a right bastard, but I was tired of writing those.

For a change.

Anyway, I finished in a blaze of work, irritable because I’d forgotten to eat and resenting that I had to do such a mundane thing as feed my meatsack. I get into that mood every so often, where anything (except the kids) that takes me away from the writing–sleeping, eating, exercise, anything–drives me to vexation. I swear I’d get irritable at having to breathe if it wasn’t a semi-autonomous function.

Remember that theory that humans had acres and acres of brain they weren’t using, and if we could somehow unlock it we’d become superpeople? It’s far more likely all that acreage is used for breathing, making the heart beat, and screening out the pain of digestion. I mean, think about it–your digestive tract is some of the most richly enervated bits of the body, indeed rivaling the brain. And think about what one puts it through daily.

If you shuddered at the notion, you’re not alone–and sorry about that; these are things I think about, especially between books.

I plan on getting back into the swing soon with HOOD‘s Season Three and The Bloody Throne1. My attempt to work simply and solely on one project at a time is going to founder on the rocks of Actually Making A Damn Living In This Fucked-Up Industry, I can just tell. Fortunately I’m happiest when I’m switching between a few things, since I can use one project to make the other one envious and get them both to cooperate.

So much of adulthood (not to mention a creative career) is learning how to game yourself.

With that said, I should probably haul my carcass up and walk the dogs. They’re bright and bouncy this morning, having slept much better than Your Ob’t Narrator. Boxnoggin in particular spent a luxurious night spread over the bottom two-thirds of the bed, and I wondered why I woke with a crick in my back, neck, and both legs.

Dogs, man. Big furry toddlers, except with (mostly) more control over bodily functions.

Anyway, I’m trying to keep all my sharp edges to myself today, and I suspect I’ll fail miserably before the day is out. I just have no patience for bullshit right now. I’ll be back to my usual (relatively) sweet and (my God, you have no idea) restrained temper. I suspect if people know how often I want to run amok, they’d either scream and flee or solemnly, internally swear not to piss that bitch off.

Either would work. And now, away I go.

Oh, hey! It’s the last day for the Free Agent February giveaway, so enter while you can! And it’s also Subscription Day–Crow’s Nest, Nest Egg, and Serial Time subscribers get fresh fiction in their inboxes around 2pm PST, not to mention Haggard Feathers folks get the Open Thread.