With all you thought you knew, coming undone

I swear I am not dead. I’ve just been busy, as I believe I warned in the last post or two. Several big deadlines have jammed up against each other, due to the vagaries of publishing schedules, unexpected changes, and my own tendency to overcommit myself against my better judgment. I am – in no uncertain terms – eyeballs deep. This will change, but not for another few weeks at soonest.

At present, I’m trying to pull together a rewrite for my Wild Cards story (it needs a new direction), attempting to wrap up the also somewhat extensive Brimstone rewrites (due at the end of this month), figure out when and how I’m going to manage my contribution to an altogether different mosaic project, and then move on to the first round of Agony House rewrites (due end of July). Following that, I need to finish a draft of The Toll by November.

I thought about compiling a list of all the fiddly things I’ve otherwise successfully juggled in the last few weeks, but decided against it. Lists are boring, and making one won’t make me feel any more accomplished or less overwhelmed.

The only way out, is through.

* * *

Compounding my difficulties with excessive obligation … I’m getting a new fence. This new fence will begin to happen early next week (probably) and it’s going to be a really crazypants undertaking. Let me explain: Our back yard is enclosed by a 4-foot chain link fence, parts of which are at least 30 years old. These parts have two tress growing through them, in addition to decades of English Ivy, Persian Ivy, birdfoot ivy, morning glory vines, and a massive hedge of dying privets that’s about 7 feet tall and maybe thirty or forty feet long.

All of this. Growing THROUGH the fence.

One of the trees is going to have to come down; the other we can save, and we plan to. (The losing tree is a hackberry – basically a garbage tree that’s menacing our neighbors and we need to do something about it anyway. Two birds/one stone/etc.)

The fence contractor is a guy who’s done work in our neighborhood before, and he knows about the tricky terrain/difficulties; bless him, he’s taking out the hackberry and extracting/removing/carrying away all the chain link + attending privets – that part was written into the quote – but there are some things we need to take care of before he arrives. For example, we have a row of roses and a massive red quince that need to be drastically cut back to make room for the work. I have to take care of that stuff, and I have to do that some time this week.

In my copious free time.

The fence will take about a week, between the excavation/tree removal/other crap on this jacked-up lot … but when it’s done, we’ll have the proper wood six-foot semi-privacy fence that we’ve been hoping to make happen for the last few years. It’s just going to be a hell of a week.

* * *

You locals might’ve seen me on TV a couple of weeks ago, when I did the ABC affiliate’s show “This ‘N That” as part of Barnes & Noble’s B-Fest for young readers. It was a good time. I had a good hair day. Later, I did a signing with Meredith Russo, and that was good, too.

Big ups to Kelly, the gent in two of those photos with me. He’s the B&N media guy who kicked ass all day; and big ups to the girl who showed up in the Princess X tee shirt and a pair of red Chucks that she wanted me to sign. It made my afternoon!

* * *

Heads up – the awesome folks at Badali Jewelry are working up some killer bling based on my Lizzie Borden books (Maplecroft and Chapelwood). I got the prototypes in the mail the other day, and I am merrily wearing them all over the place.

I’ll let you know when they’re available for sale.

* * *

The household menagerie remains excessively fluffy and adorable, as predicted. Greyson and KittenZilla are still BFFs, the ElderCat is still fussy but tolerant, and everybody is hanging near the AC vents because it’s been pretty hot here, lately.

And that’s a nice note to end on, isn’t it?
Let’s do that, then – because I’ve run out of steam.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling off a church

Finally got to Draft Zero of that novella project, now renamed “The Ghost in Room 13” – which is a little corny, but appropriate. The novella itself is dirty and funny, and I only found out literally the hour I typed “the end” that a complication in the world-setting may compel me to rewrite the last third.

But I don’t know that for certain yet, so I’m pretending it’s just not so because for now, I need to get back to Brimstone. It needs a full and thorough rewrite this month, and it’s due back on the editor’s desk on the first of July. In a perfect universe I’d have more than four weeks (without two other projects yelling for my attention at the same time) but que sera.

All aboard the deadline train…
:: train whistle ::
:: toot toot ::

But here’s recent progress on my wacky mystery romp that’s a little bit The Thin Man, with a splash of Haunted Honeymoon, and a dusting of Scared Stiff – featuring a pair of 60+ year old newlyweds who are playing Nick and Nora on a ghost-plagued riverboat:

    Project: “The Ghost in Room 13”
    Deadline: July 1, 2016
    New words written: 8311
    Present total word count: 14,178

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Draft Zero! Mystery revealed! Comedy occurs!

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [Just today] Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; cleaned whole entire house after assembling new vacuum; took out the trash, including old vacuum – which finally succumbed to the excessive fluff of three very furry pets; went grocery shopping; got lunch; went to the bank.

    Other: Look! (Below, at the bottom of this post.) I’ve passed 100,000 words for the year! Hooray! Alas, that word count probably won’t climb any higher anytime soon; it’s all rewrites, all the time, until August at soonest. I think?

    Pet Other: ‘Tis the season when the dog and the house leopard share their favorite AC vent all day lomg, just chilling their fuzz.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 107,985

People, people, whatever floats this joker’s boat

I am officially the world’s worst blogger, but what can I say? I’ve been busy, and regular updates have taken a back seat. On the upshot, I finally finished the pass proof edits for The Family Plot, I’m mostly done with a Draft Zero for “Black Water” (Wild Cards), and my front/back yards are actually in pretty good shape.

I also had my first short story published in ages – via Out of Tune II (Jonathan Maberry, editor). It’s based loosely on the old murder ballad “The Knoxville Girl,” (which is also the name of the story, natch) and it’s… kind of a departure for me, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out. Pick up that anthology, if you get a chance. I’m in some excellent company, and it’s a fantastic theme for a collection.

Meanwhile, I have big/fat editorial letters breathing down my neck for both Brimstone and The Agony House, both of which need some pretty in-depth rewrites (which is fine). But today I’m taking a tiny breather to do some yard detailing and drawer-sorting. And maybe a smidge more work on “Black Water.” I don’t know yet. I’m kind of wiped out.

In other news, Greyson developed a lump on his chest, and he had a vet appointment this morning to check it out. I was pretty sure it was just a little fatty lipoma and I was right. No big deal, but he’s definitely gotten fat. I’ll have to have a word with the mailman (only one piece of that enormous cookie for the dog, thanks), the UPS guy (the dog is not a slot machine into which you feed biscuits; half of one Milkbone will suffice), the neighbor kids, and so forth, and so on. El Chubbulente is going on a diet.

As for the cats – they are also doing well. Quinnie is up to 13 pounds, and she’s not quite 11 months old … so my theory that she’s a house leopard is holding up nicely. She’s a little tubby herself, but not too bad – and I can’t stop her from eating the eldercat’s prescription food, so oh well. And just the other day, the eldercat woke me up in the middle of the night by playing slap-hockey with a ping-pong ball, so she’s not that put out by it.

Anyway. I’m burning daylight, here – so it’s time to log off and get back to something productive. Thanks for reading, and my apologies for the general internet silence. I’m just navigating some deadlines, that’s all. I’ll be back around soon.