The fabulous freaks are leaving town

Not that I’m going to crack 50k on this project – or even the 30k I expressed a wish for yesterday – but what the hell. Might as well go ahead and start a running blog count…at least, until production on something else gets in the way. I’m sure I’ll have to put this down before I get a full draft, but that’s no excuse not to take a swing at it, right?

So until progress is interrupted….

Here’s recent progress on my modern gothic about two lady academics investigating the case of a mystery woman who was murdered and stuffed in a tree forty years ago – with Bonus! lovely ghosts, sinister messages from beyond, creepy small town shenanigans, and a New Southern Weird* vibe (as inspired by a true story):

    Project: Cinderwich
    Deadline: None! Mwoohahahahaha etc.
    New words written: 1802
    Present total word count: 20,524

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Successfully located a tree that may or may not be (but probably is) the spot where a woman’s body was stashed in the late 1970s. Argued with friend/mentor about it, and very nearly left her there.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dogs; cooked and then cleaned kitchen; answered some emails; did some research reading; cleaned/did a half-water-change on the fish tank.

    Other: I was poking around on my website, trying to find the progress bar I use in these posts…when I came across this picture of Greyson and Quinnie, and it is perfect. It needs to be shared again.

    Pet Other: I only just cleaned Fancy’s tank a week or so ago, but he had some uneaten food that was getting gross in the gravel – and a plant that was dying in a slimy fashion. (Usually Fancy just gets a regular tiny amount of fish-food, but sometimes the current from the filter sucks it away from him, and he loses it in the weeds.) I read an article a few months ago about how fish get depressed if their environment isn’t engaging, anyway – and although he’s none too keen on the actual process of having the tank tidied, he seems to very much appreciate the result. He spends ages swimming around, checking everything out and blowing bubbles. #nodepressedfishin2017

    Number of fiction words so far this year: Approximately 85k, by my best count. (Spread across several projects, largely in production/editorial processes.) Frankly, not my strongest year. I’ll try to do better in 2018.

* I made that “category” up…to explain what the forthcoming project The Toll is meant to feel like. It suits this one, too.

Holiday Cheer and Other Assorted Whatnot

The great Settling In continues, and goes mostly well. There’s still a lot we’d like to do to the new house, but we’re out of money for the time being – and here comes Christmas, so…yeah. Presents only for immediate family this year, and no holiday cards. I simply will not have my shit together in time – but such is life.

Next year, eh?

So this year…from a professional standpoint, I haven’t had much going on. Brimstone came out from Roc early on, and then [group project] Indigo landed in June. I had one short story published, “Good Night Prison Kings” in Dark Cities, and in a couple of weeks [December 5] a new Wild Cards project – Mississippi Roll – drops, including a piece by yours truly. I guess when I put it like that, it doesn’t sound like such a slow year; but it sure feels like a slow year. I’ve been in 5th gear for ages. Third gear feels like park.

I took a feeble stab at playing with a project for funsies, to line up with Nanowrimo…but didn’t get very far. Still, if I finish November with 30k words on my oddball feminist modern gothic inspired by a true crime story from the 1940s…I’ll still chalk it up as a “win.”

Otherwise, for 2018 I still have The Agony House forthcoming (YA from Scholastic, pub date TBD) – and it’s officially out of my hands, and into the hands of an artist;* also The Toll (horror from Tor, pub date TBD) is likewise still grinding along. No short stories in the queue, I don’t think. A lot less travel, too.

On a less business-y note, the last few months have been very sociable – and it’s been great finding a groove back in the PNW again. Old friends and new are making the process easier. I should probably post a bunch of pictures here to prove that I have left the house, but you can find those on Instagram if that’s your jam. Also a zillion pics of the cats and dogs. And the fish.

Oh yeah, we added a fish. His name is “Fancy” because the lid of his tub ID’d him as a “Fancy Half-Moon Betta” and I short-handed it…then made a dumb joke on Twitter about naming him after a character I like on Killjoys. Then the actor who plays the character saw it, gave it his thumbs up, and that’s why I have a fish named Fancy. He’s a lovely little fellow, in a lovely 5-gallon tank with a heater, some moss balls, real and fake plants, and a little filter to keep the whole set-up clean and fresh. I mix up the furnishings every few weeks, because I read an article about how fish can get depressed just like people – and now I’m freaked out about the prospect of having a sad fish.

I mean, I freak out if I think any of the other household pets are unhappy, too – don’t get me wrong. I will never understand people who have animal companions, and just…don’t give a damn if they’re happy. I want mine to be happy. Even the damp ones.

Speaking of, the ElderCat continues to rule the roost, despite her advanced age. I do not know how much longer she will be with us; she’s in renal failure, on fluids twice a week, and is roughly old enough to drink. But as long as she’s her usual self – we’ve got her back. Likewise, the House Leopard is doing well. Her persistent diarrhea issues have cleared up, and she’s thrilled by the fish tank – though it has a tempered glass lid and strong plastic clippies to keep her out.** And of course, Greyson and Lucy remain ridiculous. They are learning their way around the new neighborhood, and making friends left and right – as they always do, everywhere we go. Every walk is basically Dog Cuddle Patrol.

At any rate, apart from holiday shopping and a last push for Nanowrimo, there’s not much to report. I just realized I hadn’t updated here in awhile, and also, I am keen to procrastinate while simultaneously appearing somewhat productive.

Thanks for reading, as always – and happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, or don’t.

* Like I Am Princess X, there is a comic book element threaded through the story.
** Once, I sat and watched her try to get inside the tank for about twenty minutes. She failed at every turn, and has since given up. But she does love to watch it.

The Emerald City and Me

Well, we made it. We closed on our Seattle house literally the evening before we left the Chattanooga house – and it only happened then because a dedicated notary came out to our place after hours and helped us file all the paperwork. First thing the next morning, we hit the road.

It was a six-day drive back to the West Coast. We took two cars, and we each took two animals – I drove with Greyson in the back seat, and Quinnie in the front seat. (Both secured, yes.) My husband brought the eldercat and Lucy in a similar configuration. Using a AAA travel agent, we booked all our hotel rooms in advance – making sure that we could bring our furry family members along without any difficulty. All but two of those nights were screwed up by the aforementioned travel agent; but when all was said and done, nobody had to sleep in the car and everything was fine.

My husband and I each traveled with a small suitcase. For the animals, we packed the largest suitcase we own – and at first we could barely close it, for it contained pre-measured meals for all four of them, plus bowls, medicine (for all four), fluids kit (for the eldercat), cannibis oil treats for the canine nervous nellies, flea/tick preventatives, and five disposable litter boxes stacked together. And I guess now I know how to manage a good “bug-out bag” for the whole family, so there’s that.

Eventually we arrived at a house I’ve named “Rockford Place” – a late mid-century modern with an angular seventies vibe and a massive fireplace surrounded by natural stone. There’s also an enormous backyard that’s mostly rocks and trees, terraformed into paths and a nice landing area.

Besides, I like James Garner. So yeah, it’s called Rockford Place.

The house is really rather neat – lots of cool angles and funky architectural features (without going overboard, I mean.) But the bathrooms are an embarrassment, and when we got here, the kitchen was stocked with appliances that only halfway worked. We’ve decided to live with the bathrooms for now, but the kitchen…well. We scraped up the money to replace the appliances, which turned into a massive shit-show courtesy of… but that’s another story. Frankly, I’m so fed up with the experience that I’m not likely to relate it here. Suffice it to say, don’t buy appliances from Home Depot’s own employees (at a local store) told me the in-house joke is that online orders are “job security” because one way or another, they’re fucked up literally 100% of the time.

Anyway, we do have working appliances now. Thank God.

We also have a new veterinarian, which is good because the eldercat ran out of fluids, Lucy came down with (what seemed like) a UTI, and Quinnie has had a couple bad bouts of diarrhea – one bad enough that I took her to the kitty ER. Still not sure what’s wrong with her, but she’s wrapping up another round of medication at present, and she seems to be 100% fine and dandy. Cats, man.

All four of the critters really seem to like the new house. The cats love the stairs, and the dogs love the yard – which is fenced all the way around to the front patio, so they can really get a good loop of “chase” going on. Both dog-fatties have even lost a little weight, which is good.

As a side note: If you’re mostly following me (on any platform) because of the household animal population – or if you’d like to, going forward – you can catch me on Twitter or (more recently) Instagram. Twitter is sometimes LadyRage, but often pet pictures. Instagram is almost exclusively pet pictures. In case this matters.

Hm. What else?

I guess you might also be reading this because I write books. By way of What’s Up Next, I can offer the following:

  • In December, a new installment in the Wild Cards franchise hits the streets – including a story from yours truly. The book is called Mississippi Roll, and my contribution is a somewhat wacky romp called “Death on the Water” that features my (now retired) Fort Freak cop Leo and his new wife, Wanda, on board a haunted riverboat. They share the stage with a trio of ghost hunters who, um, are entirely fictitious and not all mocking re: any given TV show that my husband and I might jokingly call “Brost hunters.” Ahem.

  • Speaking of Wild Cards – I’ve just handed in a draft of my next piece, but I can’t tell you about that yet. If all goes according to plan, it will be inserted into one of the old volumes, as part of a future re-release. But that’s another year or two down the pike, I assume.

  • Production is finally getting underway on my next young adult project for Scholastic – a book called The Agony House. We don’t have a pub date yet; things have been delayed on this one, largely because my original editor left the house for another job (which happens, such is life). But my new editor is on the case, and I should have more information on that for you before terribly long. The Agony House is not related to I Am Princess X, but it *does* feature a comic/illustrated element in a similar fashion. More details to come!

And that’s all the writing news that’s fit to type, for the moment. To be honest, writing updates are probably going to be few and far between for a bit, as I’m taking a little breathing room this year – breathing room that will give me time to get some work done on the house, and take on a day job, perhaps. I could use a steadier paycheck for a bit, and some room for my brain to cool off a bit.

I’ve been in fifth gear for the last few years, and I’m looking forward to just…doing production work on the Wild Cards projects, and The Agony House, and another adult horror project from Tor called The Toll (pub date TBD). So it’s not like I’m quitting the industry and flouncing into darkness or anything. I’m just giving myself a break. Kind of.

More news as it develops.

Okay folks, that’s all I can think of, at the moment – but I *will* try to update more regularly over here, now that we’re more or less settled in. (We’ve been here about two months.) So as always, thanks for reading, and thanks for visiting this page. One way or another, I’ll see you around…