Rarely, Never Permanently

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I am TRYING to take some time off. Really and honestly I am. My brain is porridge, my fingers twitch while I’m thinking–trying to type as I go about my day, naturally, and I keep drifting away in the middle of conversations as overloaded neurons collapse under the weight of small talk.

And there’s a holiday this week, too. One final trip for last-minute stuff, then I will stay home until Monday because I am not dealing with any Black Friday nonsense. Not this year, Satan.

Well, technically, not any year. But you get the idea.

In any case, I’ve a whole list of essentials to grab today, and I’ll be setting up the weekly subscription drop. Before 2020 I was doing really well at having at least a month’s (sometimes more) lead time for serial and subscription chapters; lo, how the mighty have fallen. In my defense it took a worldwide pandemic and fascist coup(s) to dent my productivity; I suppose I can feel a teensy bit justified.

The zero draft is still ringing in my head. I’m in the part of recovery where I still doubt the book is any good, and the urge to just throw the whole thing in the bin, tell my editor I’m never writing again, and flee screaming into the night is at its peak. I don’t know where the urge to destroy a just-finished work comes from; I’ve rarely given into it and never permanently.

Though it’s been close a few times. Very, very close.

So it’s probably good I’ve a long to-do list today, starting from walking the dogs to getting through the grocer’s without having to tell some maskhole to quit breathing disease on everyone. There’s boosters to schedule and some pre-cooking to do for Thursday, and it looks like a rainy enough day that I can also settle on the couch and get some reading done.

I’ve been too exhausted to do much other than stare at a glowing screen instead of reading for a couple days, and it’s bothering me. I’ve got a book on Agrippina just dying for some attention.

Not looking forward to leaving the house today, but it’s gotta be done. I suppose I’d best get started, so I can get home earlier, get into some comfortable pants, and begin cooking.

Technically, I’m out of the office until Monday. We’ll see if I can refrain from working at all until then. Gonna be rough, but maybe all the ham on Thursday will help. (I never turkey if I can help it.) Miss B will be extremely pleased–one year, she managed to get half a pig-butt off the counter, and was trying to arrange things so I’d blame the late, lamented Odd Trundles for the whole affair…

But that’s another story. See you in a few days, my dears.

Attempting Recovery, Again

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I finished the zero draft of Ghost Squad #2 (Klemp’s book) this past weekend, and stick a fork in me, I’m done. My wrists are hashed, my brain is liquid–the last day’s push to get the book out settled at 10.7k wordcount, which is a bit excessive even for me–and my back aches, but at least the zero is done and I won’t have to write it ever again.

Revise it, sure. Take it through copyedits and proofs, yeah. But I won’t ever have to produce this particular zero ever again, and the thought makes me feel like singing.

Consequently I’m taking today off. Well, as much as I ever take a day off. Thursday looms large this week; there’s going to be a lot of food and I should start prepping now. Plus I didn’t get regular household chores done this past weekend because I was busy with Klemp and Beck’s story, not to mention setting up Book 3, which is Tax’s. (You guys are gonna love him.)

So today will be all about watching documentaries, cleaning, preparing for Thursday’s feast, and adding to the list of last-minute items needing to be acquired tomorrow. I won’t be leaving the house for a while after Tuesday’s planned trip, because Black Friday looms and I’m not about to deal with that ruckus during a pandemic, no sir.

I’d write more, but my hands ache. So I’ll simply bid you a civil adieu for the day, my beloveds, and go attempt recovery. It always takes three times as long as one thinks it will, and is dreadfully uncomfortable to boot. I had planned to get some damn revisions in this month too; I suppose there’s still time.

Just not today. In fact, once the dogs are walked, my sole overarching desire will be to go back to bed, and everything I attempt recovery-wise will only be marking time until I can crawl back into that warm safety.

See you around, beloveds.

Stop, Whoops

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This happened a while ago, but the picture’s too good to leave languishing. I call it “Whoops.” Looks like someone had an awful night.

I’m still in recovery. Having a book slide out so easily does not, unfortunately, mean the recovery process is shorter. If anything, it’s longer, because the flywheel takes more time to spin down. Or so it seems.

Be careful this weekend, my beloveds. There’s a heat wave on, and tempers are short this time of year. I’ll be hiding in the dark cave of my office, sucking on ice cubes or limeade, trying desperately not to develop heat prostration or a rash.

Ugh.

Another Zero Bites Some Dust

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Late on Tuesday–I think it was Tuesday, yes?–I finished the zero draft of Black Land’s Bane, first in the Cold North trilogy. That’s the Tolkien Viking werewolves, for those keeping score.

I thought it would sell before now. But oh well, at least it’s another zero in the bag. It will need a significant amount of working-in and embroidery; right now it’s very lean even at 103k words. There’s some serious epic chonk that needs to go into this bad boy, including expanding the Giant Spiders section.

If there’s anything this book needs, it’s more giant spiders. The Valkyrie shieldmaid Arneior steals most of, if not all, the scenes she’s in, and the emotional heart of the book is the relationship between the elementalist and said shieldmaid. Men come and go, after all, but a childhood friend with a spear and a temper is forever.

The cicadas are already starting in the treetops, which means it’s going to be very hot indeed. We don’t get the seventeen-year kind out here, but I can well imagine the din in other places. Regardless, the insects know about the coming heat ridge, and even the dogs are subdued.

Black Land’s Bane finished easily; I wasn’t even aware I was pushing for the end. I thought, huh, in two more scenes we’ll get to the natural terminus, then before I knew it I was there. It’s by far the easiest a zero’s ever finished itself, which makes me nervous.

I keep waiting for a shoe to drop, so to speak. And since I didn’t reach the end with screeching tires, all the energy of pushing through the book is ricocheting inside my entire body. It’s unpleasant, but I just have to let it settle. Next up comes revising Sons of Ymre, sending off the line edits on book three (the final volume!) of Hostage to Empire, and then turning my engines to writing two more romances and the zero of Hell’s Acre. I’ve even put some throwaway text on the beginning of Book 2 of Cold North, which opens with Solveig and Arneior imprisoned in an elvish citadel because of course it does, as Arneior would mutter, how could we have expected anything different?

I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad the elves didn’t decide to put them in an oubliette, but Labyrinth references might make the book even more of a hot mess.

*is thoughtful* Not that it’s a bad thing, mind. Maybe I should add more giant spiders and an oubliette, or even a Pit of Despair. After the extended Turin Turambar references and the Glorfindel anagram I’m sticking in, I’m not sure there’s really a good place to stop. MORE IS MORE, AFTER ALL.

Still, that’s for revision. Today is for preparation, bracing ourselves for the coming bad weather. All we can hope for is some part of the predicted heat ridge cracking earlier than expected. At least we’ve the downstairs, which stays cool even in the most torrid weather.

I’m devoutly hoping for no gender reveal parties kicking off border-jumping wildfires this year, too. It’s a small dream, but it’s cherished. I might be recovered enough from this zero draft to risk heat prostration; if I set my alarm early enough I can get out while it’s still relatively cool.

Not today, though. Today I try to get the flywheel inside my head to spin down. As easy as finishing the zero was, recovery is correspondingly harder. I knew there was a catch to a stroll over the finish line instead of a desperate scramble.

The dogs need walking, and I think I glimpsed Carl in the backyard. Maybe I should take the Sekrit Weapon (i.e., the Golf Club) along.

Further bulletins as events warrant…

Pleasant Waiting

I woke up from a barrage of weird Silmarillion dreams (I’m doing a reread) to find Looney Tunes playing inside my head at full volume–orchestral stingers, Bugs and Daffy singing tunes, a whole Coyote-and-Roadrunner cartoon’s background music playing on loop.

It’s interesting inside my skull. Especially right after I finish a book.

I’d thought that taking a day completely off–no work, no chores, nothing even resembling proper nutrition, even–would cut down on the recovery time from finishing what is, in essence, one very large book broken into a diptych. It doesn’t appear to have; I’m still nerve-scoured and twitching.

I did get some gardening done yesterday, though. Many of the seeds are old, so we might not have a good yield. But if even one sprouts, it’ll be more than we had before. I’m not even going to try tomatoes this year; they only bring grief and pain.

Instead it’s pumpkins, beans, and peas, blue hyssop, nasturtiums everywhere (I love the peppery little darlings) and sunflowers (we’ll see if the squirrels leave any of those to sprout), rudbeckia and a bag of seeds I’m not quite sure of. They may be California poppies; that’ll be nice.

We’re supposed to get some rain soon. I know better than to turn on the sprinklers in April. Another thing that only causes grief and pain.

It takes a while, but yes, I can be taught.

I probably was inspired to actually get outside by a couple documentaries on the Emerald Triangle. I watched Netflix’s Murder Mountain, then went straight into Hulu’s Sasquatch, which was surprisingly good. I suppose my inner hippie perked up; go figure, I watch stuff about weed harvesting while knitting and am tempted to braid my hair up and plant beans.

Growing into the hippie I always knew I was has some benefits. Even the rosebush I was pretty sure wouldn’t make it is showing signs of resurrecting. The roses have all summer to recover, and–drumroll please–both grapevines as well as all three blueberry bushes are alive and well too. The grape I moved to along the north fence is showing fresh leaves; I’ll have to trim it once the season’s over because otherwise it’ll try to take over the dogwood. But that’s fine.

Even the tiny oak seedling I replanted, pretty sure it wouldn’t make it, has fresh, hard red little buds on the branch-tips. Considering it’s from a stray squirrel-hidden acorn, it’s doing really well. I put a couple peas near its roots to maybe get some nitrogen into the soil.

All told, the garden’s doing better than I thought it would. It was therapeutic to get my hands in the dirt. Now all I do, as mentioned, is wait for rain and try to get out to do some weeding every once in a while. The kids are excited at the chance to help, since they’re both old enough and the Prince will have his last totally free summer on his hands in a month and a half.

He won’t want to spend it weeding, but we’ll have downed branches and stuff to burn, and that’s right up his alley. The ash makes a good addition to the compost pile, too.

I would go out and do more today, but the Looney Tunes music inside my head is sort of disconcerting. I mean, the last thing I want to do is step on a rake, and I feel like my brain is warning me there’s a stratospheric chance of hijinks if I test the patience of the gods. So maybe I’ll just try to get some work arranged. Not done, mind you–just arranged.

After all, there’s Hell’s Acre to get situated and Cold North to fully schedule, not to mention getting the master to-do list and the hoovering I didn’t get done this past weekend sorted. But every once in a while I’ll look out the window, waiting for rain.

It’s a pleasant kind of waiting when you know the forecast says “soon.”

Over and out.

The Diptych, Done

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I’m gonna need a few days to recover from the weekend. I spent said weekend in a fever of typing, and the zero draft of The Black God’s Heart Book 2 is now…done.

Whew.

It’s a difficult project, because it’s not really two books. It’s one monstrous book split into two parts, a diptych. I’m used to working in book-sized chunks, but I feel the way a fresco painter must have felt when finishing a giant cathedral piece. I mean, there will be revision, especially on Part II, but the main corpus is out of my head and lies, steaming gently, on a zinc table ready for slicing, arranging, padding, and painting.

To mix a metaphor.

So for the next few days I’m going to be all but useless. I did manage some Sunday chores yesterday, but the hoovering is going to have to bloody well wait. I’ll probably get it done tomorrow as an antidote to thinking; a big spate of physical cleaning is normal after I finish a zero draft.

The “real world”–the world outside my head–looks strangely flat this morning. It’s not being filtered through the story throbbing in my head. Black God’s Heart is hypersaturated, its palette either greens and bright gold light (in Nat’s POVs) or sepia with crimson highlights (very movie-300, in Dmitri’s). Now that the zero is gone, both of them have moved on and I’m left with just the regular world. Not only that, but the scents are gone too–which is kind of a blessing, given how some of the scenes played out.

Fortunately, the real world is always beautiful and vivid enough. It’s just a huge change to go from four or five-plus streams of sensory input (regular world, what’s under the regular world, and stories’ POVs) to the regular two (regular world and what lies under it). There’s a sort of ringing echo, a sense of empty space, like after Faure’s Requiem ends and the silence containing beauty is brimming with the memory.

Anyway, I’ve plans to recover from this, involving getting through the daily run and a whirlwind of cleaning. The recovery phase is always difficult. The persistent feeling that this was the last leftover gauntlet of 2020 to run–because I wrote most of this project last year–has been a millstone around my neck, and being suddenly free of that weight is a decompression sickness all its own.

Usually, the morning after a zero, I’m already aching to get to the next project. This is one of the few times I’m simply grateful for a chance to breathe before diving again. And with that, I’m going to finish my coffee and get the dogs walked.

They don’t care what I’ve finished or when; they only know that it’s morning, and that means walkies. Simple joys and rituals are their bailiwick, and I am pleased to have it so.

Over and out.

Free (Sock) Elf

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Earlier this week a package arrived, bearing this wonderful thing. A single sock.

You read that right. One singular hand-knitted sock.

It’s part of a pair knitted by a dear friend, but she thought it would be hysterical to send me one at a time. I promptly, of course, took to Twitter to shout “MISTRESS HAS GIVEN LILI A SOCK; LILI IS NOW A FREE ELF!” Which is exactly what she wanted.

I am a free fuckin’ elf, mofos.

I also finished the zero draft of HOOD‘s final season yesterday. Which means this morning I am cross-eyed, absorbing coffee, and wearing a pair of beautifully hand-knitted slipper socks. They aren’t really socks, of course; they’re a friend saying “I love you.” Like little hugs for my feet.

The feeling is more than reciprocated, and very welcome. I hope you have a little (or a lot) of it in your life as well, my beloveds.

Have a good weekend.