You guys. Let me tell you what my brain is like.

I dreamed I was an intern in a museum. In my dream it was called “the Metropolitan” but I am very sure, having visited the Met once, that it was nothing like this shambling pile of secret passages and crammed-together dusty antiques. (Well, at least, not the parts I visited.) Anyway, that wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was the chili.

You see, there was a mummy-zombie thing roaming the back halls. The top front third of his head was gone and his teeth were stumps; there was just a hole and the hindbrain left, plus the ruined caverns of his sinuses. Which probably explained why he was shambling around with his hand-things in front of him, spindly fingers waving. He could smell the chili, but he couldn’t find it.

You see, it was the interns’ (I was one of a crew of six) job to find the mummy and feed him the chili so he would stop roaming, so he would settle down and wouldn’t upset the patrons with his fleshless self. The trouble was, we were new interns, and nobody had bothered to tell us. So we had to figure it out, which we did, but somehow the security guys were new too and hadn’t gotten the memo. So we had to save the poor mummy from the rent-a-cops in order to feed him his chili so he would quiet down. The problem was, we had to catch him first.

So I woke up, with a cat snoring in my ear and a dog snoring near my feet, and I thought it was the mummy. There was this moist breathing on my ear, and all I could think was, where’s the damn chili? Followed by, dammit, I can’t make this a book, there’s not enough tension structurally to build it. Maybe a short?

So, yeah. Here. Go read Chuck Wendig on why writers are bugfuck nuts. I’ll, um, just be locked up in my house. Alone.

Looking for the chili to feed to the museum mummy.


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So I’ve finally stopped hacking like Chekhov and popping Mucinex as if I’m Burroughs popping hash. Which is a relief, because if I added one more simile to that terrible chest cold, I’d've exploded from sheer reference.

Good morning! We made it into 2012. (Insert obligatory Ancient Mayan Prophecy joke here.) Once again I survived the holidays, a feat made easier by the avoidance of vast tracts of People Who Stress Me Out. Oh, and by the application of said vast tracts of time to hanging out with the kids and the dog. Best therapy around.

I suppose it’s time for the yearly list of Goals Instead Of Resolutions. I like “goals” much better; it sounds achievable and more active than “resolutions.” I can “resolve” just about anything, and escape actual implementation. (Committees and office work taught me that.) Goals, though, somewhat demand to be broken into small achievable bits, then hammered relentlessly until dead and tossed into the pile of “Done!”

This perhaps says a lot about my personality.

I have a very short list of goals for 2012. Here it is:

* Continue my habit of reading one poem per day
* Find a new historical era to research for fun
* Learn to say “It makes me tired,” and move on
* Make all my deadlines for contracted books
* Attend at least one Krav Maga class
* Keep running and climbing
* Get that zombie cowboy trunk novel into reasonable first-draft shape
* Work on the second Steelflower book (Shh! You didn’t hear this one…)
* Be as decent as I can every day, all day
* Accept that the cat will try to sleep on my hands while I am typing, and get over it

There it is. That’s it. I can’t figure out whether I’m being realistic or lazy. I like to think keeping the goals small and pretty-much-achievable saves me from a death-spiral of guilt and self-recrimination down the road. I mean, because adding another death spiral to my life has been done so many times. It’s getting boring.

And now it’s time for me to suit up and take Miss B for a run. She has been expressing, in several long-suffering sighs and small whines, her need for some damn action instead of just sitting around typing. Silly puppy.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 31st, 2011 06:06 pm)

So, 2011. You’re headed out, no time for a chat? That’s okay. *points at chair* Sit down, this won’t take long.

You think that’s a request? It’s not. Sit down.


You were better than 2010 by a long shot, but that’s not really a compliment, is it. 2010 sucked so hard for me, you were the year of recovery. So, measuring by that benchmark, pretty much anything you did would have been okay. I’m not denigrating your ability to suck less than the previous year, not by a long shot. No way. I’m just saying, that’s not doing you justice.

In the wider world, there were earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and insurrections. There were widespread protests, and they look like they’ll continue. I’d say it’s about damn time, and I only hope the Occupy movement gets bigger and more widespread. So, thanks for that. I guess. But the earthquakes etc.? Not so much. Well, you can’t help that, can you? Nope. You’re just the year, doing your job.

In my own tiny corner of the rock called Terra, well. You sucked way, way less than 2010, and I did a lot of healing. I started the year finally-divorced and ended up actually contemplating going out to coffee with a person or two. I also made my peace with the fact that I’m never going to hear an apology from certain people, and that’s just the way it is. I found out that surviving the years of survival is in some ways the hardest task, and that yes, time does heal broken things. That sort of knowledge is a spiral–you always keep coming back to it, in deeper and deeper layers. Like ogres.

I also found out I can eat lasagna again, under certain circumstances. That I can nod and smile when some of my former abusers say, “I miss you…” Well, of course you do. But you miss the idea of me more than the actual me. Which isn’t really missing me at all…so I can put aside the guilt I feel. It is not my fault you miss what you thought I was instead of what I actually am. Which is a human being with actual rights, thoughts, dignity, and my own reasons for keeping those secrets you’re so terrified I may tell. (Go ahead and be terrified. If it keeps you away from my door, so be it.)

But, 2011, you were all in all not so bad. You taught me how to be reasonably happy again, 2011. You weren’t optimal, but then again, I wasn’t at my best either. We’re about even. You did what you could, and so did I. I think we can call this one a success on both sides, even if neither of us ended up where we wanted to be. Thanks for the time and the opportunity. You were very patient when I was in a hurry, and pulled me along when I really wanted to be still and stagnate. All in all, we did pretty well together, considering. I finished a few books, I had some laughs. I put in another year of raising two of the most beautiful human beings on the planet, and they managed to teach me a lot inside your (completely arbitrary, but that’s another blog post) boundaries. So, thank you for that.

I see you fidgeting and eying the door. You’re tired, and rightly so. You’ve been a hell of a year. Feels like you’re just as eager to be gone as I am to see the new turn of the wheel. Still, we’ve got a few hours here in this corner of the world. Have a drink, and relax for a little bit. I make no demands on you–you can totes hurry out the door and slam it if you want. That’s okay. But it might be so much nicer if we just hang out here, you and I, just a writer and her year, and give each other a weary smile and say, “We made it.”

Yeah. We made it, both of us.

*lifts glass*

Good for us.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 21st, 2011 11:22 am)

Steel-toed boots. Eyeliner. A good-quality trenchcoat. A Zippo, just in case. A pocketknife, a handkerchief or two, electrical tape, and a tiny first-aid kit. These are the things no girl should be without. You can, I suppose, substitute duct tape, but a roll of that is kind of hard to stick in a pocket. Though I have. Once or twice. Just to be sure.

“You need chains,” the Selkie told me, and proceeded to equip me with such. They go in the back of the car, along with the two first-aid kits (softcover survival and hardcover medical), the gallon of distilled water (great for washing the floormats after Sir Pewksalot gets excited), some rolled-up towels, bungees (you can never have too many) and granola bars, the roll of toilet tissue and the extra plastic bags knotted up and stuffed into a milk crate. Antibacterial handi-wipes and extra ibuprofen in the center console, a Sharpie, a tiny tub of Carmex (even if it melts, it will be okay, unlike a tube) and a multi-tool that can break a car window and slice a seatbelt…just in case. Ice scraper. Extra dog leash.

In the garage: the axe handle, the heavy bag, canned supplies and water, extras and just-in-cases on shelves next to the decorations and the boxes of author’s copies. (Maybe I could chuck them at an intruder. That might work.) In the house: bokkan scattered about, the linen closet stocked with first-aid and cold medicine and light bulbs, cleaning supplies, and a weapons check every day. Going through each room and making sure that no matter where I am there is a weapon within easy reach. It doesn’t have to be anything someone else would think of as a weapon, just something I can use for self-defense. Even the souvenir rocks from road-trips can be chucked at a poor soul who won’t know what hit them until too late.

Baby wipes. Sleeping bags. Extra umbrella. Go bags by the front door, both for paranormals (haven’t had a client in years, but still keep it packed and ready) and for emergency/disaster. Important paperwork stashed. Extra pens. Scarves hanging on pegs, gloves in a bucket just in case, flashlights checked and batteries tested. Charcoal, tealights, another survival kit, spare sheets for God knows what, a stack of rag-towels for sopping up spills or ripping into bandages. A stack of old cloth diapers, because they are useful. Cat litter, not just for the cats but also for cleanup of who-knows.

I was told, all during my childhood, that I was flighty. That I’d never make it in the real world, because my head was in the clouds. Instead, I’m the one with a stick of gum, the aspirin in the bottom of the purse, the pocketknife, the GPS or the candle or the cigarette lighter. Motherhood taught me some of that, but my instinct, even while living rough, has been to prepare, as far as possible, for whatever.

I am either going to be in great shape when the zombie apocalypse hits…or on an episode of Hoarders. It’s anyone’s guess which.

The weird thing is, I still think of myself as stupid and flighty. I still have the knee-jerk “oh, I’m a mess, I’m never prepared,” even when I’m the one with the spit and baling wire. I am rarely caught-without in any major way, which is probably helped by the fact that I’ve lived in this house for a good decade now. Which is another thing–even after that long, I’m ready to move at any moment. Ready to pack and torch and flee if necessary. I always have been, but if it hasn’t been necessary for the past ten years, well.

My point (and I do have one) is that readiness is a process, and that I am rarely as helpless as I am afraid I might be. As life lessons go, it’s a good one. I just wish I could get it into my skull so I could relax. Well, at least fractionally. But until that happens, it’s the trenchcoat and a pocket check before I leave the house. It’s checking the go-bags every month and eying the linen closet weekly. It’s packing for just in case and hauling what I might need if disaster, either physical or otherwise, hits. It’s getting ready, being ready, as a state of mind.

What do you do to get ready, kids? I’m interested. I’m always looking for readiness tricks to shamelessly steal borrow. Yeah, borrow. That’s it.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 10th, 2011 11:27 am)

Let’s talk, dear Readers. Let’s talk about endings. (If you haven’t read Reckoning yet, I’ll do my best not to spoil you.)

Read the rest of this entry » )

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So I’ve been glassy-eyed with mild fever for a few days, aching all over, and with a nose not as full of snot as it could be. It took my writing partner saying, “Maybe it’s flu?” for me to figure out that perhaps, yes, some sort of virus. Great. Just wonderful.

What the hell? I hate being sick. I don’t have time. I have climbing to do, running to get out of the way six days a week, revisions packed tight for the next six months and oh yes, two books to write in the next six months too. (Well, six to ten months. STILL.) My immune system needs to get on the stick, for heaven’s sake.

Let’s see, what can I report? Copyedits for the first Bannon & Clare were finally bled dry and sent in a neat package back to the editor today. The Little Prince has expressed a desire to take karate classes. (This is going to be fun.) I am still addicted to Glitch. (Also fun.) It’s concert season for the Princess’s choir. (Oh God.) Plus, I am eying the upcoming holidays the way a mongoose eyes a cobra she’s not quite sure she’s big enough to bite to death. (I could write about why my childhood makes me view holidays as poisonous, but that would take more energy than I have today.) Oh, and one of those books I have to write? Deals with plague. OH, THE IRONY.

I know I should write the last half of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom. It’s just…release hath followed upon release, and I went on an Internet semi-fast for a little bit. Just didn’t have the bandwidth, plus, it is my firm belief that a writer should not respond to reviews, and if one cannot keep one’s mouth shut it is best and easiest just not to look. This is the same principle I avoid watching television on.

On the other hand, the smell of autumn and falling leaves does not disturb me nearly as much as it has in years past. The Moon last night smiled down at me as I jaunted out to the rubbish bin, and it struck me that at this time two years ago, I was just barely afloat; a year ago I was healing but still fragile. The faith that time will heal a wound or two is a fragile thing, and cold comfort at best, but it kept me going during the dark times. (Along with a healthy dose of tough love from my Chosen Family.) It is always a shock to look back and see how far one has come.

Now if I could just kick this virus in its snot-soaked, irritating little nads and send it crying away, I’d be all set.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 14th, 2011 12:31 pm)

Over at the Deadline Dames today I talk about what I do when I’m not writing. Also, I told you guys I was going to get another tattoo, I did.

Unfortunately, the other news around here is that the Little Prince brought home a summer cold, and it’s one of those stupid ones that lingers in the back of the throat, tasting like Pine-Sol. Just enough snot to be icky, but not enough to really justify staying in bed, and feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck.

Yeah. Like that.

So, I’m going to go pour more hot tea and cool water down my throat, load up on vitamin C, and get back in the game tomorrow. Or, if not back in the game, at least within kicking distance of the board.

See you then.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Aug. 22nd, 2011 09:53 am)

As in, I have neither. I mean, dignity was pretty much shot during my first C-section; if it hadn’t been, motherhood would have finished it off right quick. There was that one time an almost-psychotically-sleep-deprived me mistook a tube of Desitin for toothpaste, and didn’t notice until I’d brushed my top teeth.

Yeah. Anyway.

You would think dance would have taught me grace. Nope. I am capable of amazing feats of dexterity while avoiding fists or when moving too quickly to really think about it, but grace? Nope. Not me. I’ll settle for not hurting myself nine times out of ten.

Those tenths, however, usually end up being doozies.

So, last Friday I was out with my climbing partner S. She talked me into cocktails. Not just any cocktails. We were going to have dress-up-like-real-ladies cocktails. It was the inaugural event for The Dress–wait, did I tell you guys about the Dress? I found it in the J Peterman catalog. First dress I’ve bought in YEARS. It fit (well, anything with a side zipper has a different value of “fit” than my usual “if I have to contort to get into it, it doesn’t fit” rule) so I couldn’t send it back. It’s a very light pink. With polka dots. And a bow. ANYWAY. I wore heels.

That was probably my mistake.

We met for lunch and a little shopping, and there was a very nice little boutique…where I proceeded to trip on a step and fall full-length.

Now, I know how to fall, so I only got a bruised knee. S had never seen me fall without a rope, so she was a little perturbed. I reassured her I hadn’t broken anything, blamed the heels (“if I would have been in my BOOTS–” I said, and she gave me an eyeroll that could have won at the Olympics and a stern “Don’t start, Lili,”) and we continued. The funny thing? The cocktails came afterward.

Yes, I managed to fall flat on my face while stone-cold sober.

Cut to this morning. Miss B and I are out for our usual five miles. Some of the sidewalks we run on are fairly cracked, the trees shading them have managed to heave up blocks of cement inch by inch. I know where all the bad cracks and edges are. We’re in front of the church, on a piece of pavement I’ve passed over easily five hundred times by now…


Yep, flat on my face again. Skinned my right palm and my right knee, bumped my shoulder (I went loose and rolled sideways to shed momentum), my left thumb got a bit battered (I do NOT know how, don’t ask) and I found myself staring at concrete right in front of my nose.

Miss B, of course, thought this was a new game. One she was not quite prepared for, but gamely ready to give a go at. “Alpha’s thrown herself on the ground! Should I too? What’s my role? What are my motivations? HALP SHOW ME WHAT TO DO!”

“Oh, fuck,” I muttered, which cheered me up immensely. If I’m cussing, I’m okay. It’s only when I get really quiet and say something like “Oh my goodness” or, more frightening, “Oh, fudgesicles,” that I know I’m really hurt and shit’s about to get ugly.

Miss B pranced, getting the leash wound around her front leg. I pushed myself up and took stock. Just a bit of skin lost and a little bruising. Nothing broken, sprained, torn, or pulled. Good deal. I untangled the dog, chirruped and gave her a treat, and we were off again.

For another four and a half miles.

The good thing about a bad fall is that the adrenaline tranquilizes me for the rest of a five-mile run. I got through the four-mile mark before I began to feel winded in the least. Miss B kept waiting for me to play the game again. I suspect she had some idea of her role the next time I went tumbling. I further suspect that self-appointed role will make it incredibly difficult for me to gain my feet again.

Oh, well. I am philosophical about my lack of grace or dignity. If I can’t have either of them, I will at least settle for persistence. And not wearing heels. Unless absolutely forced to. At least they were the Capezio character shoes. I can run in those, and I can even fight, if need be…

…but that’s another blog post.

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This morning, five miles. Along the way there were several sprinklers (Miss B likes to avoid those, energetically, whenever possible), five dogs (four off-leash, when will they learn, it’s a leash LAW, not a guideline or suggestion, for the safety of the pets unlucky enough to have YOU as a goddamn owner), a multiplicity of squirrels we were going too quickly to chase (though Miss B tried, gamely), several bunnies (pets escaped and gone feral, long story, cute and fluffy until you see the TEETH), the hawk in the park crouched over something bloody before it took wing, carrying the unfortunate rag of bone and meat and breakfast, late-summer heatstressed leaves falling and crunching underfoot.

The season is turning. You can smell it–the mornings are crisper, without the asphalt-and-dust scent of high summer. It’s not harvest season yet, but everything’s preparing, and the nights are turning cooler. The sky is not the endless blue of summer. It is paling, still infinite, but it has the washed-and-dried-outside quality of late summer, after the worst heat but before the rains sweep in. Things are ripening, yawning, enjoying the slow afternoons.

I come home to a Little Prince who has grounded himself from the Wii for two days because his legs hurt–when he plays, he jumps up and down from sheer excitement, and he’s sore this morning. “I better take a break,” he informs me solemnly over his cereal, and I try not to smile as I nod and seriously agree, and compliment him for being so mature and responsible. And the Princess, buried under her covers until late, comes blinking out into the morning light and informs me a scene in the fanfic she’s working on has broken loose; as soon as she has breakfast she’s going to dive into it. Their days are long and timeless in summer. When school starts at the end of the month I’m going to miss them–they’ll miss me too, but they’re excited to go back to their friends.

The house is quiet. Miss B is tranquil–the first three miles are to calm her down, the last two are to wear her out. The sneezing cat doesn’t protest when I dose her with antibiotics, though it must taste nasty. She takes the eyedropper gracefully, and there are pets and praise for everyone afterward.

I open the fridge to get the cream for my morning coffee. Stuck, fluttering, on the fridge are cards someone sent me during the dark difficult time not so long ago. You’ll feel better soon, one says, and the other, Keep going. The world needs your light. For a moment, I am arrested by the thought that little by little, things did get better. I put my head down and just went one step at a time, and now I can look back and see the hole I climbed out of. The edges are raw, but not bleeding. I am on the other side. I never have to endure that particular hell again. (I like to make an entirely new set of fuckups each time, thank you very much.)

It’s a funny thing, to realize you don’t have to stare at your feet anymore. That the weight dragging all over you has lessened, that you can take a deep breath and look forward. That you have endured, and now you can begin to glance ahead. Shyly at first, carefully, in case there is a sudden tilt back toward the hole. Later, more confidently, settling the straps of your pack, your steps becoming long swinging strides instead of a spiritless trudge. There is light now, stray gleams strengthening through breaking clouds, the storm has spent itself. A little older, a little wiser around the eyes, scars to tell stories about instead of wounds to triage.

I begin to roll my eyes and see the funny parts now. I get my coffee, and I go back to work. There’s just one thing left, and that is to say…

…Thank you. Thank you very much.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Aug. 9th, 2011 10:30 am)

Why have I been so hard to find these days? Well, the new YA book I’m working on is eating my head. Plus, there’s two other books about to go into the pipe for revision. There’s the kids, of course. And the dog. (You don’t even want to know about the other strays.)

Plus, there’s the events I’m getting ready for.

I’ll be at SpoCon this upcoming weekend! You can find my schedule here. Plus, I’ll be signing at the Hastings in Spokane on Saturday, 3-6pm, along with Erik Scott de Bie and Moira Moore. (We have collectively promised not to get arrested.) Should be a ton of fun! I will, of course, be tweeting all I can. Because I’m Just That Way.

In short, if I seem to have dropped off the face of the earth, it’s because this is basically Hell Week for me. There’s getting ready for the convention, planning pet care and the drive out, wordcount every day, doctor’s appointments (don’t ask) and back-to-school stuff that all needs to happen before Thursday morning. The runrunrun of a con will probably be a relief.

See you in Spokane, or catch you on the flip side!

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So the new YA is gathering steam. I’ve reached the point of excavating the world instead of feeling my way around in the dark, and I can tell the long dark slump of picking at the book like it’s a scab is just around the corner.

I have, over the course of writing a few books, become pretty comfortable with how that process usually works for me. Familiarity, while not getting rid of the frustration factor OR the sheer amount of work necessary, does help one plan, and it does help one get through the more uncomfortable parts of writing a book with something resembling grace. (Or at least, you can stumble through without stubbing your toes too much.) Being able to say, “Oh, this is the slump part of the project, I can just keep chipping and eventually I’ll get to the dead heat phase,” is a lot easier than saying “OMFG this book is going to kill me WHY AM I DOING THIS?” Note, however, that one can say both at the same time, and the former does help to ameliorate some of the sheer ARGH of the latter.

For me, writing a book goes somewhat like this:

Read the rest of this entry » )

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 13th, 2011 06:56 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are giveaways. And advice. And pie. Check us out!
I was raised to (by and large) obey unquestioningly.

Jesus. Stop laughing. I’m serious.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 4th, 2011 11:27 am)

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Reader Kassandra A., who asked me:

Long shot here to get a response from you but still worth it for me to try. ;) I am going to attempt to start running. I am a 34 year old mother of two who tends to delve into my enormous TBR pile of books to escape the reality of life more times than is most likely healthy. *shrug* The way you have talked about your running routine has brought an already (although very dormant) existing interest in doing the same for myself to light. If you have insight into how I can get started (and keep going) I would love to hear your thoughts. (from email)

I got this email and thought, but why would you ask me? I’m not a professional or anything. Then I sat down and looked at my running journals. They’re year-long sort-of-diaries (I like this kind) where I can note mileage, my route, speed (if applicable) and notes about how a particular run felt. I’ve been running for almost three years now, keeping a log for about a year and a half. So, maybe I do have something to say, even though I’m not a professional.

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Too much to explain. Let me sum up.

* An interview with me, and a giveaway, over at CJ Redwine’s place. I am interviewed by a were-llama. Also, part 2 of the giveaway next week involves JEWELRY. Trust me, you want to be in on this.

* The Wall Street Journal went concern-trolling for pageviews again. Dame Jackie responds a lot more politely than I would have, Diane Duane hits it out of the park, the Guardian weighs in, and #YASaves hits trending. I thought of posting my own response to WSJ’s pearl-clutching idiocy, but in the end Jackie and Diane did it better than I ever could, and I don’t want to link and feed the troll more pageviews. So there it is.

* Kristen Lamb on training to be a career writer:

Athletes who compete in decathlons use a lot of different skills—speed, endurance, strength. They walk this fine balance of giving an event their all….without really giving it their all. They still must have energy left to effectively compete in the other events and outpace the competition.

We writers must learn to give it our all….without giving it our all. The better we get at balancing our duties, the more successful we will be in the long-run. Writers who fail to appreciate all this job entails won’t be around in a year or three. They are like a runner who sprints at the beginning of a marathon. They will fall by the side of the road, injured and broken.

So today when you have to squeeze in that 100 words on your break from work, think I’m training. When your kids hang off you as you write, picture that weighted sled. Play the soundtrack to Rocky if you must. (Kristen Lamb)

* Want to see me climb? We’re recording ourselves on routes so we can nitpick our performance. (By “we” I mean “me and ZenEllen, my bouldering partner.”) Here’s some from today: an inglorious failure at a bouldering route, then a second attempt where I stick the damn thing. I’ve been working this route for a few weeks now. You can also see some of my tats, and the Official Belt Of Urban Fantasy. (Long story. I had to buy one, after that.)

And now I’ve got to spend the first half of my writing day in alternate-Renaissance fantasy France, and the second half in contemporary paranormal YA. The braincramps are fun to watch–my face squinches up when I shift gears and go from one to the other. Good times, man. Good times.

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Just popping in for a quick reminder: Tuesday, May 31, I’ll be at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s for a signing/reading event with Devon Monk and Ilona Andrews, at 7pm. You still have time to preorder a signed copy of Defiance–and when you do, you will be entered in the drawing to win a chapter of Reckoning, the last of the Strange Angels series. This means you will get to read a chapter of Reckoning MONTHS before it’s published. Ilona and Devon are running giveways too–it’s our little gambit to break the Powell’s shipping department. (They love us there.) Plus, there will be goodies!

ETA: Powell’s does ship these signed copies outside the US, as far as I know. And the chapter can be sent outside the US, too. This is one of the few contests I have where I can ship outside the US. Just mentioning…

Now I just have to figure out what to read at the event. Hmmmmm.

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This is what the end of a zero draft looks like:

* Every piece of silverware in the house is either dirty or in the dishwasher, which I have not unloaded. The sink is piled high with dishes. Good thing tonight’s pizza night. Except we won’t have plates if I don’t deal with the kitchen.

* Three baskets of laundry are behind my writing chair. I don’t remember putting them there. I think the last time I did laundry was…Wednesday? No, it had to be before that. It was while I was writing the cave scene. In other words, who the f!ck knows?

* Just ate two slices of leftover cake. I NEEDED THEM. Now I feel slightly sick, but my brain is yelling MORE CAKE! I WORKED HARD, I NEED GLUCOSE! I am resisting valiantly. Plus there’s no cake left.

* Found myself bent over this morning, hairdryer in my hand, staring blankly at my toes while I forgot I was drying my hair. Thankfully, nothing was too scorched. Well, at least some of my hair covers the bad bits.

* There is a stabbing pain between my shoulderblades. Need to figure out the memory foam padding in the chair. Also, should stretch more. Yeah. Will get right on that.

* Was in bed before 8:20PM last night. Informed my darling children that I was tired, therefore THEY were turning in early too. They wisely did not quibble.

* Miss B. is shedding. Drifts of white undercoat everywhere. Even if I hoovered every day it would build up. I haven’t hoovered since last weekend. You’ll have to send in the Saint Bernard with the little cask of rum around his neck to find me in the White Wastes.

* My TBR pile looks like a tornado hit it, teetering dangerously on the small table next to the couch. The research books are scattered around, all open to different pages, dog-eared, underlined. The series bible is torn, coffee-stained, stepped on, and generally ragged.

* Only decided to go to post office and bank today once I figured out that due to automated tellers and the automated postage kiosk, I did not have to speak to a single living being.

* Forgot to put my shoes on twice this morning. Only realized it once I had taken a few steps outside. Okay, fine, half a block.

* Woke up this morning and was unsure if I had really finished the book or just dreamed it. Had to check. (This happens far more often than you’d think. I’ve never been wrong, but the idea that I MIGHT be makes me check each time. What? Neurotic? Me?)

* Bedroom is strewn with clothes, for the simple reason that I would be dressing and suddenly drop every article of clothing to run to the keyboard and vomit up another chunk of text. Then I would start shivering and try to figure out why I was cold, and realize I was just in a tank top and one sock. It’s a mercy I work from home, and that I have an alarm on my phone reminding me to be decent before everyone comes home from school.

* I had to ask my daughter what I’d made them for dinner last night. It was waffles. And bacon. Thank God. I’ve never forgotten to feed the children, but I worry.

* Realized yesterday that I could not remember showering at all for the past day or two. Leapt in the shower. Had the shampoo in my hand before I realized I had indeed tried to shower an hour and a half ago, but I had turned off the water and wandered out to get more of the book set down. At that point another chunk of text appeared, so I turned off the water and…yeah. Two hours later, wrapped in nothing but a towel, I wondered why my teeth were chattering.

* The inside of my skull feels like it’s been scraped clean by an enthusiastic Baskin-Robbins employee. With a really cold scoop.

I am proud to report, however, that the zero draft of the first Bannon & Clare book is finished, and buried on my hard drive to age a little bit before I polish it and turn it in. One down, two to go before the end of the year.

God help me.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Oh look, let’s get rid of federal funding for school libraries. Because we don’t want anyone other than the rich kids in private schools to be literate, right? It might give our middle and lower class kids ideas. Crazy ideas, like equality or the right to basic education or something.

You can hear me snarling, can’t you.

Speaking of kids, last night I was on Punch and Cake Duty for the Princess’s Honor Society shindig. Which basically meant I was In Charge of wrangling a dozen to fifteen kids, corralling them and keeping them contained with setup and preparation to feed over 60 people cake and punch. I have never been so glad of “that catering experience that almost killed me almost a decade and a half ago.” Seriously. Highlights of the occasion included:

* taking a butcher knife away from one kid and informing him that if there was going to be any stabbing, I was going to be the one doing it

* answering the “what will we do if the punch runs out” question about twenty times

* announcing we would NOT be spiking the punch with anthrax, booze, or spit, because we needed those items to take over the world after the upcoming Armageddon-Rapture-whatever-thingummy

* repeating “WE DO NOT RUN WITH THE CAKE TROLLEY, YOU BEASTLY LITTLE THING” at a volume high enough to penetrate a teenage boy’s skull

* showing a couple girls how to wipe a cake spatula clean. Seriously, they don’t teach this anymore? How can you be thirteen-fourteen and NOT KNOW?

* passing the teacher who nominated me for this duty and remarking, “There’s not enough booze in the world.” To which she replied, “Don’t I know it.”

* informing one particular gentleman that the cake table was not a pig trough, and he needed not to be standing in front of it shoveling multiple pieces into his gullet

* giving one teenage girl the gimlet eye and telling her she could have cake after the work was done, and if she gave me any more snot about it she could be on doorway greeting duty

* waving my arms and saying, “Then just make them look pretty for Mama, darlings.” Which is something I haven’t said since the last time I had a crew of big musclebound brutes doing yard work, years and years ago. Good times.

I could go on, but you get the picture. I got home and collapsed on the couch. The Princess loved it, and was pleased as punch (ha ha) that I was there to help out. “I’ve never seen those kids work so hard,” she told me. Apparently I’ve got a future in this sort of thing. A postapocalyptic sort of catering future, but a future nonetheless…

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You know, dry pants do help to civilize one.

This morning I ran several errands with Miss B. along. She still isn’t too sure about car rides, but one of the errands was a 2+ mile walk in the rain, and she was glad to get back into the car after that and spent the rest of the errands snoozing.I did not think of myself as the type of high-energy person who could wear out an Australian shepherd, but apparently, I am. My vision of myself as a sedentary, ambitionless lump is taking rather a hard knock or two.

However, breaking up the errands with that walk meant that for about an hour and a half I was wandering around soaked from mid-thigh down. My feet were okay–wool socks and combat boots, so my toesies were damp but not cold–but my jeans were absolutely dripping. I’m sure I left a trail of moss behind. I have to say, peeling out of wet clothes and into dry is one of the most sensual, civilizing experiences I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. It’s right up there with hot tea, good Thai food, a glass of Sangiovese, and the ability to press a button and hear Beethoven.


Anyway, it’s Friday. I’ve grown away from doing Friday writing posts. It’s not that I ran out of things to say. Far, far from. There just hasn’t been a lot of bandwidth available, what with three books due this year, another few books in revision and proofs and copyedits, gah, plus the constant chaos of two kids, now with extra dog.

*time passes*

I wrote all that this morning, then left for afternoon errands. Now I’m here trying to pick up the train of thought that derailed when I looked at the clock and thought oh, dammit, almost late! It was very White Rabbit of me. In any case, I have limited time now before the set of evening tasks rises up to gnaw at my ankles and demand my attention, so let’s get on with it.

To quote Stephen King: Let’s talk, you and I. Let’s talk about fear.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 2nd, 2011 08:01 pm)

Well, my first attempt at a podcast is up. The first bit of it was recorded in mono, the last quarter or so managed to make it to stereo. I’ve finally fixed the problem, and if this turns out to be something you guys like, why then, I’ll do more of them, and they will turn into something a little more finished. (Now that I’ve made a bunch of mistakes with it.)

Oh, you say you want the feed link? I see. Here it is, twelve whole minutes of me blathering away like a big blathering thing. I have horrid stage fright and was terrified during the entire recording process, but the editing was actually kind of fun. I can even see putting my Write Like You Mean It lectures on the Web this way; assuming, that is, that this stirs any interest.

I spent a lot of time today doing some patient advocacy, so I’m wiped out emotionally and physically. I do have good news, though–tomorrow, if my ankle holds up, I am allowed to take my first run in three weeks. I can’t wait. Attempting to just get by with walking has so not cut it. I need my endorphin rush! I am literally fiending for a run.

I wish I could come up with something witty to say, but revisions are eating my head and I can’t wait to finally crawl into bed tonight. So, off I go.

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I just got one of the Best Presents Ever: a stack of handwritten thank-you notes from my daughter’s English class. They were writing to thank me for coming in to talk to them about being a working writer. Among the highlights was one earnest piece of advice: “If the zombie apocalypse happens I’m going to Costco, you could live FOREVER there.” There was also an anonymous piece of (quite good, certainly memorable) short fiction involving wolves, and certain kid wrote that when I admitted I had trouble with spelling, she realized she could be a writer too. (Which made my Grinch heart swell three sizes.) The notes are absolutely adorable.

I broke down and cried. In a good way. *sniffle*

I also want to point you to Chuck Wendig’s The Writer’s Survival Guide. (Best part: the lava vagina.) He and Stephen Blackmoore talk a little in the comments about viewing writing as a craft; something I wholeheartedly endorse.

One of my writing students asked me recently if one ever gets over the fear of showing my writing to other people. I can’t answer for anyone else. All I can say is that I’ve found different ways of ameliorating the fear slightly so I can cope around it. The fear doesn’t go away, but my strategies for dealing with it are in a constant state of refinement. That’s about the best I can say.

Honestly? At the moment, I’m terrified.

I’m branching out, you see, writing something I’ve never tried before and hoping like hell that I don’t finish and send it to the editor and get a “Well, this is crap, can’t you do better?” in return. My anxiety, always high at this stage in a book’s creation, is given an exponential increase by the fact that I have literally never attempted this sort of book before. I don’t mind admitting this scares the hell out of me. The habit of sitting down and putting my hands on the keyboard is serving me well. The only cure for this anxiety is to just put my head down and go through.

Normally I’d be running to help cope with the strain. Chin-ups and crunches aren’t cutting it, neither is the walking I’m allowed to do until my ankle fully heals. Climbing helps, but only for a few hours. So I’m a spiky ball of restlessness most of the time, but I am not going to quit. I do not like turning away from what scares me. If the beast is coming for me, I want to face it head on, fists up, boots on. The only thing that is going to get this over with is finishing the damn book. In order to finish I need to pull my hood up, stick my hands in my pockets, and just keep slouching toward Bethlehem. (In a manner of speaking, that is.) The important thing is to keep swinging.

*sigh* It’s going to be a long spring…

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