The rocks might melt and the sea may burn

You guys…you guys. Hey, you guys. DON’T FORGET: The Humble Bundle is still live! Featuring yours truly along with a whole HOST of others – including such fine citizens as Joe Lansdale, Caitlin Kiernan, Robert McCammon, and Clive Barker. EBOOKS ON THE CHEAP. AWESOME CHARITY SUPPORTED. Everybody wins! Especially YOU, oh discerning fan of books in digital format!

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Here’s today’s progress on my rural gothic monster story about small-town secrets, old family lies, accidental legend-tripping, and a missing newlywed in the Okefenokee swamp – where you can drive SR 177 from west to east and cross six bridges…or take it from east to west, and you might hit seven. (But you’d better hope not.)


    Project: The Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1403
    Present total word count: 2515



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Bickering, bitching, and idle threats – interrupted by a peculiar one-lane bridge.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; not much else – as I got a late start today.

    Other: I spent much of yesterday quite sick, from God knows what. Felt almost like the flu, but not quite … and it might’ve been as simple as the fact that I barely slept the night before, courtesy of a bad allergy attack. I don’t know. I ate a little, settled in early, took a couple of Benedryl … and slept in until almost 10:00. It feels lazy of me, but I really, really needed it. Today I feel much better.

    Other, Redux: So… Hell and Half of Georgia. Got a lot of thumbs-up feedback on that sadly now-discarded title. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll ask my editor about it again later on. As I mentioned, the deadline isn’t until January of next year – so there’s no great rush.

    TV-Related Other: I HATE Tuesday night TV, because I have to choose between Face Off/Agent Carter, and Person Of Interest/Justified. Yes, we record the “losers” and watch them later, but I hate having to do that. Can’t we spread out some of the good TV across the rest of the week? What about Thursday? Except for Archer, Thursday’s kind of a wasteland, these days…?

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 26,703


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Allegedly we’re getting more snow this afternoon/evening – maybe as much as 3-6 inches – but I’m not holding my breath. More often than not if we DO get snow, it sneaks up on us, un-predicted. As a point of note, right now the radar says the storm system is sitting right on top of us … and we’ve got jack squat to show for it. Not even rain.

Of course, the skies are welcome to prove me wrong. Not because I’m a huge fan of snow or anything … but because THIS GUY loves the hell out of it.

[Edited to add: Literally the moment I posted this entry, we got our first flurries. That’ll show me, eh?]

I’ll be a big noise with all the big boys

As I’ve complained many a time before, starting a new project is hard. Working on a new project is great! But actually getting one underway … UGH. Such a shift in gears. Such a tactical decision that can go wrong in so many ways, and will probably have to be thrown out eventually, so it’s probably a total waste of time. Or not, but there’s no telling. Not yet.

Yeah, that.

But today I sat down with all my notes and all my Force Of Will and I managed to get a new thing underway! [:: throws confetti ::] [:: waves pompoms ::] It’s another book for Tor, slated for next year – so I actually have plenty of time on this one, but I wanted to get a jump on it. I have half a dozen other Things What Might Pan Out floating around out there, and if any given ONE manages to happen … this will be a busier year than I’d expected.

Which is fine, really. I’d rather be busy. These days I’ve even learned how to be strategically busy, and part of that strategy is KEEP SWIMMING LITTLE FISHIE and also GET STARTED NOW – because if I get interrupted by something else, at least I have some content/progress to return to. Like I said, I hate beginnings. Diving into something that’s already in process is much, much easier. For me, personally. Your mileage may vary.

SO I SAY ALL THAT TO SAY THIS:

Here’s today’s progress on my rural gothic monster story about small-town secrets, old family lies, accidental legend-tripping, and a missing newlywed in the Okefenokee swamp – where you can drive SR 177 from west to east and cross six bridges…or take it from east to west, and you might hit seven. (But you’d better hope not.)


    Project: The Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1112
    Present total word count: 1112



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Started chapter one with a pair of ill-suited newlyweds who maybe should’ve broken up instead of getting married, but they had their reasons.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to Petsmart and stocked up on pet things; went to lunch with husband; called the cat’s vet to get her (dwindling) supply of kitty Valium renewed; got my inbox down to zero.

    Other: This project was originally called Hell and Half of Georgia – which I still think is a great title, but not everybody agrees with me. Apparently. [:: sulks a bit ::]

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 25,300


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BY THE WAY, FOLKS. I know I’ve been nattering on quite a bit about Jacaranda and its Big Fat Release and the awesome Humble Bundle of which it is a part…but yeah, no. I’m not going to shut up just quite yet. I can’t! Because look what landed on my doorstep today, courtesy of one moaning and groaning UPS guy who totally did NOT wipe out on the old brick steps leading to the porch, thank God.

So go and get yourself a shiny hardcover copy of your very own while that’s still an option. (Hint: It won’t be, for very much longer.) Or, check out the Humble Bundle and pick it up digitally (along with a bunch of other really amazing books).

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BONUS DOG. Today we had a hawk flying around the neighborhood, which is something that Greyson takes SUPER personally – ever since one nabbed a mockingbird out of our yard and ate it RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. (From a tree limb, at a safe distance. But RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. The INSULT of it all, I tell you.)

Come spring, the back yard will be well and truly hopping with fledgling mockingbirds, robins, cardinals, finches, et. al., but for now it’s mostly just the mockingbirds and robins. NO MATTER TO THIS DOG. Anything in his yard is UNDER HIS PROTECTION.

By which I mean, he will pace around the yard and bark at the sky like an old man yelling at clouds – and then camp out on the patio and keep watch. It’s both charming and hilarious. And probably reassuring, if you’re one of the birds who more or less lives in our yard.

When your bulldog barks and your canary sings

It’s been a few days since I last posted, but there hasn’t been much to report. The weather has been godawful, with highs in the teens and/or rain/snow/sleet/slush … so we’ve been more or less housebound until today. But I’d be lying if I said I’d gotten much work done.

Mostly, I did some odds-and-ends spring cleaning – stuff like emptying and sorting both of my closets, and bagging up stuff to donate. Also, I culled a couple of boxes of books and will drag them off to sell them when the weather lets up; did a whole bunch of laundry (bedding, sweaters, all the not-every-week stuff); got my inbox down to zero; made an appointment to get our taxes done; and sorted out the last of our receipts to make that appointment go more smoothly.

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Speaking of taxes, a friend of mine posted this article about filing while freelancing. It’s got some good info in it, but I think it over-complicates part of it a tad – especially for those of us whose income may vary wildly from quarter to quarter.

So in addition to the advice above, here’s a little simplifying trick I’ve been using for the last few years – and it seems to (a). keep Uncle Sam happy, and (b). keep me out of trouble:


  • Start a second checking account. Take 30% of EVERY CHECK YOU GET – no exceptions – and stick it into this secondary checking account. Pretend this money does not exist until quarterly taxes roll around.

  • Pay Uncle Sam from that account. When quarterly taxes come due, send the IRS a check for whatever has accumulated in there over the previous 3 months.

This “hack” (if you will) has saved me a LOT grief over the last few years. I’m not writing big fat checks from my usual checking account (shared with husband), I always make my 90% of taxes (against actual income – see article above) – and usually, after all relevant deductions and so forth, I’ve overpaid a little bit. So I get a refund! Refunds are better than the alternative, let me tell ya.

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In other news, DON’T FORGET – Humble Bundle is LIVE and I’m in it! So are a whole bunch of other people, including (but not limited to) such diverse authors as Harlan Ellison, Kelley Armstrong, Connie Willis, Joe Lansdale, KJ Parker, and Tim Powers. And, as someone pointed out via Twitter – for some of these titles, this may be your ONLY OPPORTUNITY to pick them up digitally if you’re outside the United States.

So. Click here to take a look at what’s available. All the usual HB rules apply – pay what you want, no DRM, divvy up your payment however you like between authors/publishers/charity. A HUNDRED BUCKS WORTH OF BOOKS for whatever you find stuck between the sofa cushions, basically.

THIS IS A WIN-WIN, PEOPLE.
Win-win.

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Apparently I never did post here about the cat’s lab results, in the wake of her “what the hell is going on with this little old lady cat” bloodwork. In short, everything came up fine and dandy, which is both good and bad. Good, because yay, she is healthy for an elderly feline. Bad, because it means she’s just getting old and weird – and there’s no magic pill for that.

At present, we’ve got her on one of the aforementioned pheromone collars and a regimen of kitty Valium before bedtime. These things worked great for the first week, then everything kind of leveled off to a level which might best be described as Acceptable If Not Fantastic.

Most nights, she wakes up 2-3 times and howls her head off … but only for maybe thirty seconds, and then she calms down and goes back to sleep without anyone “rescuing” her. Ideal? No. Vast improvement? Yes. We can live with it.

Since the weather’s been so cold and awful, she’s been spending most days camped out in my bathroom – where I leave the heated tiles turned on 24/7 for her creature comforts. Of course, she threw a sulking fit at me when I took away the bath-mat for laundering; but that’s what she gets for puking on it.

“What am I supposed to do with THIS?
Lie on the naked warm tiles like some kind of ANIMAL?”

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As for Greyson, he’s a snow-dog at heart – and I’m glad he got a few days of the white stuff to frolicking purposes. Hell, I even took him out for a rare after-dark walk the other night, when the snow was fresh and dry. It was 25 degrees but every kid in the neighborhood was out, and so were half of the dogs. It was a very social evening, and it made for a very happy Greyson.

He’s an excellent pooch.
He deserved it.

And he’s the only reason I’m even remotely sad that last night’s rainstorm washed it all away.

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