Finding my feet in 2019

Good heavens, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I had all these PLANS for my late winter/spring of ’19, didn’t I? Ah, well. It’s a funny industry, and I sometimes have trouble saying “no” to projects, even when I’m well aware that I ought to. SPEAKING OF. The secret project mentioned in my last (now surely long forgotten) post was handed in early this month, and later this week I should get my notes for revisions. Then next month, it’s more secret project grinding and yes, one day this should probably be announced. April, I’ve been told. We shall see.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m free of this one and back to the thing I tried to start, but then put down; also some rewrites on my wacky little mystery project that still needs to make the submission rounds; and furthermore some fleshing out on Cinderwich because I’ve finally come to peace with the idea that it needs to be a full length novel, drat it all; and I’m noodling with some thoughts for another Wild Cards project, but that one’s on the back burner for now (by necessity).

And to think, I had plans to take a break this year and maybe just work on, like, one thing.


On the home front, things continue as things are wont to do. In sad news, we lost our beloved eldercat early in the new year. She was quite ancient and dearly loved. We found her one morning atop her favorite heating vent, having settled in for a nap and never awakened. (That we all should be so lucky.) We had her cremated, and her tiny urn is on the mantle with her collar and tags wrapped around it – because we’re sentimental, that’s why. She lived with us for nearly twenty years, and she was an adult when she arrived in our home. You’re allowed to be sentimental when you’ve had a really great roommate for that long.

Shortly thereafter, we lost the fish, too – so we are now a tank-less household. I could’ve restocked that tank, but it felt like too much effort after we lost the little old lady. Now it’s in the garage.

In the wake of the eldercat’s passing, Quinnie has decided to become The Cat, rather than the smallest and least respected dog – so it’s been a social adjustment, but it’s gone smoothly for the most part. Lucy is learning to pay the House Yeti a little of the respect that she used to show the little old lady cat, and Greyson doesn’t really seem to have noticed that anything’s different.

Of course, Greyson is also trying to eat his own tail at the moment, so I won’t hold him up as a bastion of wisdom or anything. He has a little cyst toward the end of his tail – far enough down that he can still reach it with the cone, ugh. It’s no big deal, but he won’t leave it alone. The vet and I are in the process of deciding whether to remove it or just try to keep it wrapped up until he forgets to gnaw on it.

As for Lucy, she’s doing quite well. Why, just yesterday she horrified me by either finding or catching a large black coot. (A water bird about the size of a duck.) There’s always the chance that it died on the property for some reason and she found it; we aren’t terribly far from a lake, so it’s not like it’s a total freaking mystery as to how the poor thing got here – but Lucy can’t possibly have caught it out of the air (she’s rather fat, tbh) and it didn’t hit a window, that’s for damn sure. That bird was big enough to take out an airplane engine, and there are no signs of cracks, breaks, or splats.

Anyway. Yesterday was gross and bad. Let us speak no more of it.

In other news, I’m still working on the house in my copious downtime. I’m down to three sets of ugly light fixtures to be removed and three lovely new fixtures with which to replace them. They’re going to be a BEAR to install, courtesy of some ridiculous ceilings. But I have a ladder and when I have the motivation, I’ll put the last of these ugly 1990s cheap-ass builder grade rusted-out lights to the curb. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not.

Tomorrow I’ve got a guy coming over to take something off my hands via NextDoor, and I’ve got a couple of new things coming in. I also have picked out some vinyl flooring for my bathroom, and if I like it, we’ll do the kitchen, too. I will get this house looking like civilized adults live here and care about our surroundings if it freaking kills me.

And oh yeah – publishing news. My southern gothic project The Toll will be dropping in July instead of this coming fall. I know, right? Cool and a tad scary – because I’ve been eyeballs deep and it’s not that I’ve forgotten about it, but it was easier to worry about when it was still happening all the way out in November.

But no. July. It got a starred review from Publishers Weekly and everything. You can read that starred review here, if you like.

They called it “Moody and mysterious…[a] gothic tale [that] touches the heart even as it wraps chilly fingers around the spine.” I’ve been calling it a low-brow southern gothic meet-cute between Welcome to Night Vale and William Faulkner, so … your mileage may vary.

If you’re the generous, lovely, pre-ordering type – please feel free to click whichever of the following is most relevant to your interests:

Preorder The Toll at [trade paperback or Kindle]
Preorder The Toll at Barnes & Noble [trade paperback or Nook]
Preorder The Toll from an independent retailer near you

At any rate, thanks so much for reading, and as always – I’ll try to do a better job of updating this thing once in awhile. I promise.

Never mind for now

Things are strange over here, so I’m going to put down the thing I mentioned in my last post. Not forever, but for now. I still dig the project and I have it more or less mapped out – but this isn’t the time for a variety of reasons, not least of all the fact that I’ve had something potentially time-sensitive and time-consuming land on my plate. It’s not set in stone yet, but if it all comes together it’s going to eat my life for a couple of months and there won’t be room for anything else from a creative standpoint.

Anyway, my agent is working on it. We shall see what happens. No, I won’t tell you what it is yet (or maybe even ever! you never know…).

Besides, I don’t know. I was on fire for the story for a few weeks, but I’m losing steam – which usually means that I’m coming at it from the wrong angle. Maybe I should’ve actually taken the break I promised myself, rather than jumping into something new right away.

At present, I have five projects hanging about on my agent’s desk and on the desks of a few editors here and there; there’s no way to know which of these – if any of them – will find a home and need my attention for awhile in 2019, but maybe that’s enough just for now. Come the New Year, I’ll reevaluate and maybe sit down with my agent for a “What next?” conversation. For now, I think it’s time to recharge.

Be well, everyone. I’ll be around, but I need to declare at least a semi internet hiatus through the holidays. Follow me on Twitter for your daily recommended dose of adorable animal pictures, if you like. Otherwise, I’ll see you next year!

One taught me love, one taught me patience

It’s been a minute, yeah. I know. I’ve been busy and things have been happening, you know how it goes. 2018 has been a messy year for me, honestly – messier even than 2017, which featured a massive cross-country move with my husband and four animals. I’m glad that it’s winding down.

I only had a couple of things hit the street from a publishing standpoint this year: The Agony House and a single short story, Mother Jones and the Nasty Eclipse from Apex Magazine. So it feels like I have not-so-much to show for it, and that kind of sucks – but that’s not to say that I’ve been sitting on my hands, over here.

At present I have one partial* sitting with my YA editor at Scholastic, one full YA project being shopped around elsewhere, two partials sitting on my Tor editor’s desk, and a full mystery project on my agent’s desk. Maybe none of those projects will land. Maybe all of them will. You just never know. (Speaking of, yes – I finished my draft of Far-Fetched. That’s the mystery project, and it topped out at 95,291 words. I’ll add that to my total of fiction words composed this year, at the bottom of this post.)

And yes, I’ve started working on something new. I’m frankly excited about it; it’s an idea I’ve been camping on for the last year or two, and it finally gelled to the point that I could get a draft underway. This will be a tricky one, and I only hope I have the chops to pull it off…but I’ll go nuts if I don’t try.

I’m not yet sure how long it’ll run, but my gut says it won’t be more than maybe 90k. Eh. I’ve been wrong before. Maybe it’ll go bananas and run over 150k, that’ll show me.

At any rate, here’s progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a large old school that was boarded up after a shooting 22 years ago, told from the POV of two survivors, their now-teenage children, and their own parents – with Bonus! memories both faulty and true, intergenerational violence and grace alike, and thirty-one ghosts who know something the police never figured out. One part The Haunting of Hill House, one part The Frighteners, and one part Bowling for Columbine…so…wish me luck.

    Project: Kill Me Now
    Deadline: none
    New words written: 2554
    Present total word count: 2554

    Things accomplished in real life: (In the last couple of days) Put up the Christmas tree and wrapped presents; cleaned house including a crap-ton of laundry; walked the dogs; gave the eldercat her fluids; went to post office; went to Walgreens; went to grocery store; vacuumed four times because the dogs and the pine needles and ugh.

    Things accomplished in fiction: Finished a draft of the first chapter, and I actually like it.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 122,680

* For non-writing/publishing folks, a “partial” is sample content and a proposal for a full project, generally speaking. My partials are usually in the 100-150 page range plus outline/proposal/etc.