I said I’d go before us, and show the way back home

New Year’s resolutions are for shit, and this one is no exception: I will become a more regular blogger in 2017. I’m not saying every damn day or anything, but I didn’t mean to let this go for so long. There’s no good reason, except that things got crazy and I got distracted and this wasn’t a priority. I’d like to make it a priority again. It helps me focus. Kind of. For lack of a better way of putting it.

Let’s see…what’s been up since November 22nd, the last time I posted here?

Pet news is a mixed bag. The ElderCat’s kidney numbers are declining, and her fluid schedule has been upped to twice a week. I don’t honestly know how much longer we can expect her to be with us, but we will keep her here, and keep her happy, as long as she’s interested in remaining. For now, she is feisty and funny, and in command of the entire household – even though she’s lost almost two pounds in the last four months. At present, she is literally half the size she was when we first adopted her in February of 2002. (Back then she was described as being “several” years old, so her precise age is unknown.)

Over Christmas, we took the dogs to my dad’s place in Kentucky and left the cats at home, to be house-sat by my cousin and her boyfriend – as well as our friends/neighbors around the corner. The cats were fine, but the dogs…had issues. Rather, Lucy had issues.

It was all too much for her, being taken to a different place with Big Dogs in Residence…and she got turfy. She got resource-guardy. She got Very Rude, and we ended up having to relegate her to “dog jail” when we couldn’t keep one solid eye on her. She simply couldn’t be trusted. (Dog jail was a 2-story sunroom with all the amenities. She wasn’t exactly locked into Alcatraz.) When we got home, we signed her up for behavior/training classes at a local place that has a good reputation for dealing with these kinds of issues. She had her first class today, and she did very well.

When all is said and done, Lucy will have four weeks of general behavior training, and then four weeks that address her nervous aggression. Actually, we’re hoping that the general training will take the edge off it – and we might just go on to the advance course. The trainer thinks it’s possible. Training will give her some confidence.

Fingers crossed.

Greyson continues to do well, but then, he always does. He’s an easy dog – laid back and lazy, with no interest in oh, say, stealing a bowl full of beef stroganoff and shattering that bowl for funsies and eating some of the contents while slinging the rest around your husband’s office. Or taking a big dump in your office. Hypothetically.

He’s just cool like that.

Quinnie is also doing great. She still gets along well with both dogs – mostly playing with Lucy, mostly cuddling with Greyson. Once in a blue moon, she gets the little old lady cat to play with her a little. But more often than not, she’s napping in an outrageously posh fashion that interrupts my ability to make up the bed in the morning. All in all, it’s a pretty good life.

* * *

I got a new piercing. I had one cartilage hole on my left ear that’s been bugging me for twenty years – it kept trying to close up, and sometimes got infected (even after all this time). Yes, it was done in a mall with a gun, because I used to not know any better. Now I do.

Rather than get it re-done properly, I’ve decided to let it go – and I got the right side pierced instead.

A friend recommended Monarch Body Piercing, and I’m very glad she did. If you’re in the Chattanooga area, trust me – it’s worth the drive to Hixson to have Kelly do the job. She was a total pro, and entirely pleasant. Go check out her shop!

* * *

In writing news, I wrote another 53,000 words on – and finally finished a (truly terrible) Draft Zero of – The Toll, bringing my 2016 fiction word count to approximately 156,500 words. Not my best effort, but not my worst, either. I hope to to better in 2017, but I have a lot of production stuff in the queue – so maybe I won’t be able to.

Rewrites for The Agony House are breathing down my neck, and likewise so is cleanup for a good Draft One of The Toll (which is already decidedly late). After that…perhaps by March?…I’ll start working on something new. I’m not sure what yet.

Or, hell. Maybe I’ll just give up and take a break.

* * *

In publishing news, I only had one novel released in 2016 (The Family Plot) – plus a couple of short stories: “The Knoxville Girl” – in Out of Tune II from JournalStone, and “The Mermaid Aquarium” – in Scary Out There from Simon and Schuster.

2017 is going to be a whole lot busier on the publishing end of things. Depending on how publishing schedules do or do no shake out, I should have at least two books appear on shelves – Brimstone in April (Ace), and The Agony House sometime in the fall (Scholastic). Perhaps three, but I’d be a little surprised to see The Toll squeak in under the wire at this point. Still, you never know.

I’ll also have several other projects hitting the streets – a contribution to the next Wild Cards project (Mississippi Roll, slated for December – via Tor) called “Death on the Water,” as well as another collaborative project with Christopher Golden and others called Indigo (slated for June, from St. Martin’s Press). Throw in another short project (“Good Night Prison Kings”, in Dark Cities from Titan in May)… and that’s a pretty decent showing to come.

* * *

Right. Well. I’ve spent over an hour sitting down to write this, so I’ll just wrap it up. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you’ll tune in again. Stick with me. There’s more to come.

Tearin’ up the gravel, watch you unravel – now it’s a party

Okay, so…progress over the last couple of days has been crap, but in my defense there’s a very good reason: I tripped over a concrete step in my backyard while bringing in the dogs, and busted up my foot. Like, sprained the shit out of it and dislocated a couple of toes…that kind of busted up. I lost half a day when it happened, trying to convince myself that it didn’t hurt that bad and it would be fine – while simultaneously texting pictures of my increasingly gross foot to my dad and stepmom (a CRNA and RN, respectively) trying to get them to tell me I didn’t need X-rays. Then I lost half of yesterday surrendering to the fact that I did, in fact, need X-rays.

Anyway, it’s not technically broken. But it’s eaten up a great deal of my attention in the last 48 hours, as these things are wont to do.

Ergo, here’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 Toll
    Deadline: January 1, 2016
    New words written: 1254
    Present total word count: 26,793



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Successfully dragged self out of bed at an ungodly hour after a night of too much drinking, so as to meet a cop and a K9 unit and keep looking for the missing wife.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [Today] No neighborhood jaunts with dogs – husband is on jaunt detail for at least the next week; no yoga, either, because I can’t place any real weight on the ball of my left foot or any of its toes; made a quick, limpy trip to the grocery store for milk; answered some business emails and so forth; tried to get back into the groove again.

    General Other: My foot hurts and everything is terrible.

    Pet Other: Quinnie-face is my everything.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 99,363


In closing, as per usual – please feel free leave reviews for any spooky books you might have hypothetically read recently. Amazon, Goodreads, you know. Wherever.

The Family Plot at Amazon.com
The Family Plot at Goodreads
The Family Plot at B&N

Legend of the fall took the year like a bandit

Things have been quiet here, I know. The truth is, I couldn’t write a word for awhile – not since well before election night. I was paralyzed with anxiety for a week or more before it, and I’ve been blocked with stunned horror ever since. Now there’s nothing to be done except fight like hell for damage control, and the fight will be uphill, both ways.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Today, finally, I was able to get some writing done. I don’t know when this book will ever be finished, but it’ll wrap up when it wraps up. Maybe it’ll even be on time. Or rather, late…but drafted in time for New Year’s. I feel like I’m not being fair to this story, to let it straggle so badly. I am very fond of this book, and its characters, and the gothic southern weirdness of it. I’m not dragging my feet because I don’t care, or it’s not compelling, or I can’t be bothered to noodle on it… I just haven’t had the focus to give it the attention it deserves.

But I think I’ve got it now. I think I’ve re-located the thread I’d been pulling.
Anyway. here goes nothing.

Here’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 Toll
    Deadline: January 1, 2016
    New words written: 2109
    Present total word count: 25,539



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Awkward conversation with a barfly who may or may not be delusional; followed the light to a dollhouse, and hid there until the danger passed. More or less.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [Today] Neighborhood jaunt with dogs; a 16-minute yoga routine that I’m trying to make a habit again; went to lunch; did some housework.

    Pet Other: I don’t know what day of No Dog Crime our little Lucy is on…but it’s probably about the same as I last reported: a couple of weeks. (She did pee on a rug last time my husband was out of town, but that was a bit ago.) All in all, good progress. Here she is in the backseat of the car, on the way to the groomer – and not the gallows, I swear to God.

    In related news, Lucy and Quinnie are still good buddies.
    Ditto Greyson and Quinnie, but you could have guessed that.

    Bonus Pet Other: Lucy still loves sticks.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 98,109


In closing, once again – please feel free leave reviews for any spooky books you might have read recently. Amazon, Goodreads, you know. Wherever. The feedback on The Family Plot has been great, and I am tremendously grateful for all the support! But the algorithms must be fed.

The Family Plot at Amazon.com
The Family Plot at Goodreads
The Family Plot at B&N