Look for the shafts of light on the road

Okay, okay. So I’m bad at this. It’s been a busy couple of months, but I keep saying that, don’t I? Well, it keeps being true. This also keeps being true: I will try to do better, going forward. The only way out is through, and I’m through…a lot of the work that’s been clogging my life since the end of last year. Not all of it, but enough to take some breathing room for blogging.

Besides, Brimstone is coming out in like, three weeks. I should probably say a few things about that. Hell, I should probably say a few things about a lot of things, but we’ll see how much focus I can muster tonight. I’m pretty sick, so it might not be…all the focus in the world. (My husband came back from a business trip with the plague, and oh-so-kindly shared it. Oof.)

FIRST. As you may recall, Brimstone is my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a young medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a shell-shocked haberdasher who’s receiving love notes from hell…as inspired by a real place and a real set of bizarre (otherworldly?) incidents.

If you’d like to get a feel for what that looks like, Tor.Com has you covered with this-here excerpt! Chapters one and two, respectively! Click through for a taste, and then if you’re so inclined, you can always put a smile on an author’s face with a preorder.

In case this is the sort of information that might push you over that preordering edge – Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review (and you can click that link to read it. Go on. I’ll wait!) Likewise, Romantic Times and Booklist really liked it too. ::shuffles feet:: Just sayin’.


In un-Brimstone-related news…I’ve got just one quick link to share, re: The Family Plot! Just one. I promise. And it’s really cool. See, a very old friend of mine is a local musician…and when he heard that there was a murder ballad built into my book, well. Things Happened. Awesome things.

Namely, his band The Scarlet Love Conspiracy composed music for the murder ballad, and recorded it. (With my full and unqualified permission, natch.) So if you’ve read The Family Plot – or even if you haven’t, but you dig creepy old-fashioned music – you can click right here and select “The Family Plot” for a free listen.

As a side note, the song right above it – “Dog Party” – was inspired by these two nuts, lol :)

That’s Greyson and his friend Luna. Of course, these days the Dog Parties often include neighbor pup “Sophie” and Greyson’s “little sister” Lucy, who is a total freaking maniac.


In non-book news altogether, at the end of April (the 28-30th) you can catch me in Cincinnati, OH, for The International Steam Symposium. I don’t do many steampunk events anymore – not least of all, because it’s been several years since I last wrote any – but this should be a blast! A number of dear friends and kick-ass writers will be there, and I’m greatly looking forward to it. If you’re in the area, come out and join us!


So for now, I have to get back to work. I have two partials due to an editor next week, and another story that needs to be outlined and submitted for [redacted because it’s not official]…and I’m hoping to get all that taken care of before my Scholastic editor gets back to me for the next round of work on The Agony House and/or my Tor editor hits me with feedback for the next round of work on The Toll.

But so it goes, the plate-juggling affair which is the writer life. Wish me luck, thanks for reading, and I’ll post again soon – I promise. Even if it’s just a pet picture. We’re all on board for pet pictures, right?

Come out of the garden, baby – you’ll catch your death in the fog

Well, I’ve written about 4300 words today – filler stuff, Logic Spackle (so to speak) as I try to stitch back together this book that I’ve pulled apart. Some structural re-ordering needed to occur, and I can do it – but it’s tricky. It means leaving myself a million and one notes in Track Changes, trying to keep the continuity from going sideways.

It’s not the most exciting part of the process, but this is what’s on deck. I’ve got at least one more day of patchwork lined up, and after that…I can start smoothing it all together. I really think this is going to be a solid draft of a very fun book, if I can pull it off.

We’ll see, won’t we?

* * *

Training with Lucy continues apace. She is not too charmed with the structure, and doesn’t like the work yet; but we have to spend at least thirty minutes a day, reinforcing the trainer’s lessons. For now, they’re kind of boring – reinforcing basics like “sit” and “come.” She’s very smart and she understands just fine (trust me), but she doesn’t like being told what to do. Even if she wouldn’t mind doing it, otherwise.

Next week, the trainer says it’ll be more fun – learning some things that are more dog-interesting. I hope so, because right now I feel like I’m mostly just annoying the crap out of her.

* * *

Tomorrow I’m going to lunch with my cousin, and I might drive out to the big used book store to unload a bunch of stuff I’m not likely to read again. It’s always a little weird when I go there – I worked there nearly twenty years ago, and it ended badly. Let me put it this way: Toxic working environment x1000.

But it’s nice to sell redundant books and get money. I have three big bags, and my insider knowledge suggests it’ll be enough to cover lunch and then some. Hey, we’ve gotta do something to offset the cost of Dog School.

No, I never look for my own books there.

Speaking of, I found a box of I Am Princess X paperbacks in the garage. No idea what I’ll do with them. Maybe I’ll put them up for sale here – with signatures and whatnot. Maybe I’ll move them to the attic and forget about them for another six months. Hard to say. I’m very tired right now.

* * *

Quinnie is super IN to shoes.
Like, she won’t let you have them back.

She’s also been stealing my makeup, lately.
I don’t know why.

* * *

Anyway, that’s enough of me for tonight. I need a drink and some downtime.
Thanks for reading…

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.