lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 7th, 2011 04:13 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are contests, prizes, Readers on Deadline, and demons. But don’t worry. We have the demons under control. Mostly…

“Do you ever take a day off?” a health professional asked me today. “Do you ever take a vacation?”

“Not often,” I replied. “I can’t go for very long without writing. It itches under my skin, the words have to get out. It’s physically uncomfortable.”

“But everyone needs some time off.”

“I guess. Sometimes I just look through and tighten what I did the day before. That means I only write about 200 fresh words, sometimes, but it’s tweaking and tightening everything else that scratches the itch.”

“Weekends too?”

“Weekends too. Except then I get up and wander away to spend time with the kids, then come back when they’re done.” I paused. She was looking at me in a most peculiar manner. “I’m not crazy, I just like my job.”

I’m the picture of health, actually, other than some anemia. My pulse is a nice even 60 per minute, my blood pressure is extraordinarily low because of the running, and I’m reasonably fit. The bloodwork says my liver is healthy, for which I give a great deal of credit to that glass of red wine with dinner. (You’ve got to stretch those cells out, keep ‘em flexible.) But all of a sudden she’s looking narrowly at me.

I’m not crazy. I just don’t take a lot of time off. My job is a vacation, for heaven’s sake. Each day I get to do the thing I was designed and built for. It lowers my stress to sit down and write.

I’m between books right now. Kind of. I have some revisions staring at me, but I am coyly refusing to return their gaze. (We’re in the let-the-edit-letter-rest section of revisions.) After the crunch of three books at once earlier in the year (who else was seriously questioning my sanity? OTHER than my writing partner, editor, and agent? Why, that would be ME. Anyway.) I deliberately built a little bit of time into my schedule to decompress. But am I lying about on some tropical beach? Hell no. Sand would get into my laptop.

I’m writing. A trunk novel about zombies, a cowboy, a schoolmarm, and a gold claim. Not to mention vampires and a pawnshop and chartermages. I am having a ball with it. Nobody will ever read it, of course, I don’t think it would ever sell…but I like it. I giggle with glee every time I open the document. I wriggle with joy at a neat turn of phrase. I outright chortle every time I throw another obstacle in the sheriff’s way.

This is a vacation, dammit. And the little dopamine glows I get from, say, a well-turned phrase or the wordcount reached for the day just reinforce it. I get a reward each time I sit down to write. Yeah, some times it’s like chipping hardened cheese out of wooden scrollwork, but there’s even some joy in that. In a job well done and polished at the end of the day.

Slight digression: I advocate daily writing because it builds discipline, not because I happen to get a glow from it. Some professionals can take a few weeks between books, or need to refill the well with time spent away, or days when they’re not dragging the words out into the ring and making them dance. (Isn’t that a lovely mental image.) That’s perfectly okay–one size does not fit all. And yet I advocate daily writing, and will continue to do so, because it’s very easy to mistake laziness or fear for the much more pleasant-sounding “needing some time off” or “vacation.” The professionals who take time off know that it’s hard to get back up onto the horse, and they have their own tips and tricks for doing so. YMMV.

“I hated writing in school,” she said, finally, taping the cotton ball over the bright tear of blood on my inner arm. “Your job sounds like my idea of torture.”

“Likewise.” I grinned. You’re sticking needles in me. I would be unhappy if I had to do that all day. “If I had to do what you do I’d go mad. Well, madder than I already am…”

“I don’t think they’ll commit you just yet,” she laughed.

But I got out of there quickly anyway. You never can tell.

And now, back to scratching the itch…

This Saturday I’m at the Author Faire at C2C books in Battle Ground! Also, check out the Hedgewitch Queen–my first e-only release, and $2.99 in the US for the entire month of December.

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

Yes, you read that right. Remember that book I was talking about–the alt-France epic fantasy thing? Well, my dears, I am pleased and proud to announce the release of The Hedgewitch Queen.

“If not for a muddy skirt, I would be dead like all the rest. Dead…or worse, perhaps.”

Vianne di Rocancheil has been largely content to play the gawky provincial. As lady in waiting at the Court of Arquitaine, she studies her books, watches for intrigue, and shepherds her foolhardy Princesse safely through the glittering whirl. Court is a sometimes-unpleasant waltz, especially for the unwary, but Vianne treads its measured steps well.

Unfortunately, the dance has changed. Treachery is afoot in gilded and velvet halls. A sorcerous conspiracy is unleashed, with blood, death, and warfare close behind. Her Princesse murdered and her own life in jeopardy, Vianne must flee, carrying the fate of her land with her— the Great Seal of Arquitaine, awake after its long sleep. Invasion threatens, civil war looms, and the conspiracy hunts for Vianne di Rocancheil, to kill or to use her against all she holds dear.

A life of dances, intrigues, and fashion has not prepared her for this. Nor has it prepared her for Tristan d’Arcenne, Captain of the King’s Guard and player in the most dangerous games conspiracy can devise. Yet to save her country and avenge her Princesse, Vianne will become what she must, say what she should, and do whatever is required.

A Queen can do no less.

You can read an excerpt here!

I am so excited. This is my very first ebook-first release. You know how I feel about ebooks, but I am in a position to take a bit of a chance here. Besides, I love and trust my editor. (Did you hear that, Miss DP? *cowers* Please don’t hurt me.) So this is a new thing, and during the month of December the book is priced at $2.99 in the US.

I am receiving two questions right now:

* “Will it be available in my country?” Hedgewitch is available in the US, UK, and Canada; check your favourite ebook retailer. I don’t know anything else; quite simply, I am not told.

* Will there be a paper version? I can only say (and I quote) “There are no plans for a paper release at this time.”

Unfortunately, those are the only answers I can give. The good news is that Book 2 of the series (it is a duology and only a duology, alas), The Bandit King, will be available digitally in June 2012.

I am pleased and proud as punch, dear Readers. I hope you enjoy Vianne’s adventures…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 1st, 2011 09:47 am)

Weren’t we just here, where I tell you how nervous release days make me? It seems like we were just here. *blinks*

I am proud and happy (as well as knocking knees with fear) to tell you that Reckoning, the fifth and final in the Strange Angels series, is officially released!

Nobody expected Dru Anderson to survive this long. Not Graves. Not Christophe. Not even Dru. She’s battled killer zombies, jealous djamphirs, and bloodthirsty suckers straight out of her worst nightmares. But now that Dru has bloomed into a full-fledged svetocha – rare, beautiful, and toxic to all vampires – the worst is yet to come.

Because getting out alive is going to cost more than she’s ever imagined. And in the end, is her survival really worth the sacrifice?

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, BooksAMillion, Powell’s, the Book Depository, and Amazon!

I am sad to be saying goodbye to Dru. From the first moment I saw her standing in her kitchen, staring at the back door while a zombie’s fleshless finger tapped against the glass, I’ve known that she would grow up and continue on. It’s very bittersweet, but I’m proud of her. She’s learned a lot along the way, and through it all she’s remained that same smart, driven, incredibly loyal girl. Growing up is never easy–it’s even less easy when there’s vampires looking to tear your head off and betrayal lurking around every corner.

But I think she’s done just fine, and I’m glad she has exactly the right ending.

Now I’m going to go be a puddle of frayed release-day nerves. See you around.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2011 01:15 pm)

That’s right, yesterday was the official launch of the fourth in the Strange Angels series, Defiance. I celebrated with Episode 2 of my podcast, Ragged Feathers. But that wasn’t nearly enough celebration, so today, I’m giving books away!

What you can win: There will be four (4) winners. I will be giving away three (3) signed copies of Defiance (note: if you’re outside the US, I will have to send books to you through BookDepository instead, sorry about that.) ONE lucky winner will get a set of all Strange Angels books so far–Strange Angels, Betrayals, Jealousy, Defiance–again, signed if you’re in the US, sent through BookDepository if you’re not.

What you do: In the comments of this post over at the Deadline Dames, you’ve got to tell me the best piece of trivia you ever found. I’m not talking about the most arcane, or the one you think will impress other people. I’m talking about that useless fact you found that made you deeply happy, made your socks roll up and down and your pants fly off. The winners will be picked with the help of Random.org; if the random spits out a comment number that has no trivia I’ll pick another. Remember, you must go to the Deadline Dames post to comment in order to win!

Ready? GO!

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 19th, 2011 08:02 am)

ETA: A new podcast episode about the Defiance release, a semi-coherent rant, and Reader shout-outs is now up! Hooray!

Now for the giveaway announcement. Tomorrow is my day to blog at the Deadline Dames. I’ll be giving away three copies of Defiance, signed if the winner lives in the US, shipped through the Book Depository if you’re outside. To win, you’ll need to leave a comment with the most interesting bit of trivia you know. So be thinking, until then.

***

That’s right–the fourth book in the Strange Angels series, Defiance, is officially released today!

Dru Anderson has always been a good listener. She listened to her dad, but had to gun him down herself when he turned zombie. She listened to the Order, but got nothing but lied to in return. She listened to Christophe, and lost the only friend she had left.

Time to buckle up, boys and girls. Dru Anderson is done listening. From here on out, she’ll face the King of the Vampires on her own terms. And if the Order has a problem with it, they can kiss their sweet little svetocha goodbye…

There’s a free excerpt here, and Defiance is available through Barnes & Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, the Book Depository, and Amazon.

If you want a signed copy, no problem! Just drop an email to the friendly folks at Cover to Cover Books. Of, you can tune in later on in the day to my giveaway. Stick around!

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 30th, 2011 07:48 am)

Well, Miss B.’s first night went about as well as could be expected. She was spayed and uprooted yesterday, so it took her a while to settle in, and there was some Intestinal Distress. That was to be expected, and was prepared for, but I suspect neither of us got much sleep. She’s still not wanting a lot of food, though she’ll take the treat that gets stuffed inside the little rubber chew toy.

I am happy to report that even under such stress as this, Miss B. is a sweet, loving, kind, and very smart dog. She doesn’t nip or bark; she gets excited and jumps a bit but quits immediately when given a firm “no.” She adores the kids, is cautious of the cats–I noticed in her initial paperwork that she came from a home with both cats and little ones, which was a factor in my agreeing to take her.

So. There will be a writing post up later today, but for now…I am sitting here, typing, with a calm dog next to my chair. It just does not get any better than this.

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

Today is the day! Miss B., our rescued, red tricolor miniature Australian shepherd, comes home late this afternoon. She will be kind of groggy, since she’ll be fresh from a spaying–and let me tell you, I am already angry at her former owners, who let her get to be three years old without spaying her. (It really is best. ANYWAY.) Everything is prepared–a nice canvas crate for her to retreat to, a couple of doggie beds in rooms we’ll spend a lot of time in, fresh bowls (one for water, one for food, one for the dishwasher) and food and treats, toys, a spare leash and two spare collars, bags for waste removal, toenail clippers and brush–when I went to the pet store yesterday, the clerk insisted on helping carry my purchases to the car. I guess it was a bit overwhelming.

Miss B. comes from the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, an excellent organization. They’ve been just wonderful! Funny story: my regular climbing partner volunteers there on a weekly basis, and after climbing yesterday I went to go see Miss B. and let her know I hadn’t forgotten about her. My climbing partner showed up during the visit too, and we had a nice chat. And then there was a tap at the window, and I look up–and there’s my across-the-street neighbors; they are contemplating a play partner for their current hound. Small, small world. Miss B. gave me an arch look, like “Do you know EVERYONE here, human?” Then she went back to giving kisses and being a guard dog.

I got a chance to get to know her a little better during my visit. She’s extraordinarily smart and inquisitive, very agile, and a very loving dog just aching for a job and a family. As soon as we got it settled I was the alpha she immediately started looking for things to do to help me. She adores giving kisses, loves leaning up against me or resting her head on my knee, and is very interested in what’s happening around the perimeter of her territory. Plus, she’s so adorable it just short-circuits me.

I will try to keep the updates to a minimum, since spamming the airwaves with “OMG NEW DOGGIE SQUEE” gets old after a while. And please understand if I don’t post many pictures. We are going to be very busy, but I’ll at least try to get a couple shots up.

Last night I went to a climbing clinic over at PRG with my bouldering partner. It was fierce. We both had a great time, and I am sore this morning. Dropped knees, high steps, flagging, severe overhangs…we did it all. My bouldering partner’s a very Zen climber–she’s methodical, and is grace personified on the wall. Me? I just throw myself at it and hope something sticks. I climb like the Tasmanian Devil dances. *wry grin* Sheer enthusiasm sometimes makes up for a lack of technique.

Anyway, today I have last-minute errands to run and checks to make sure the house is prepared for the Glorious Advent. The cats are all excited too–they know something is happening, and the two older ones are all, “WE HAVE SEEN THIS SORT OF THING BEFORE” while glaring at the youngest, who is mystified and kind of oblivious. (Miss B.’s former home had felines, so that’s good.) The kitties have several places to go to escape, should they need it, and the introductions are well-planned. I expect our oldest, crankiest cat to simply perch on something high up and announce his displeasure; our middle cat (sweet little tuxedo kitty, our lover, who got kicked in the head by Squirrel!Neo) will be upset until he figures out Miss B. is WARM and FURRY and NEEDS LOVE, at which point they will become bestest friends; and our youngest cat will hide under my daughter’s bed, like he does every day. He’s the kitty who will have the most difficult time adjusting, I think, because he only likes my daughter. She’s his human, and he is not interested in anything or anyone else unless it’s the food bowl. In any case, we’ll work through problems as they arise. It should be hilarious.

Since Miss B. is a herding dog, I expect her to try to herd the cats. Fun times will be had by all. Also, for those of you asking, I do not know how she responds to squirrels. I did try to explain to her yesterday about Squirrel!Neo (“He’s got a crooked tail, and he’s magic. Plus he knows kung fu. I AM NOT KIDDING.”) but she just gave me another arch look. “REALLY, HUMAN,” she seemed to comment, “I CAN HANDLE A RODENT OR TWO. THEY HAVE THOSE IN AUSTRALIA. BIG ONES. THAT KICK YOU IN THE HEAD.”

Oh, Lord. This is going to be fun…

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

It’s been fifteen years, and I think I’m about ready again. Well, I was willing a long time ago, but now I’m able.

That’s right. We’re getting a dog.

I went down to the shelter yesterday and we found a very sweet miniature Australian shepherd; a working dog. (They get a little antsy if they don’t have a Job, and I sympathize. And there’s plenty for her to do around here.) Venturing into the shelter is a particular type of hell for me–I want to take home every dog there and feed them and love them, but I can’t. I was even prepared not to find a dog who wanted me, but my luck was good–as it always is, with canines. She looked at me, I looked at her, and I swear she cocked her head and said “GO HOME NOW PLEASE?”

It was that simple. Just like always.

Unfortunately, I had to explain that she’d be staying there just a little bit longer to handle the spaying, but I don’t think she understood. In any case, I’ll be bringing her home very soon, and the upheaval will be glorious. I was surrounded by canines growing up, and it’s always been odd to not have a dog during my adult life. Now that I’m in a position where I can take care of one, huzzah! It will be good for me to have a hound around, it will keep me active, and oh, my God, I’ve missed having a dog so much.

I suspect the excitement (plus the tail end of a vicious flu bug) is what woke me up at 3am this morning. I gave in to the inevitable, got up and wrote for an hour before hitting the treadmill, and felt Very Virtuous. Still do, though I suspect I will need a nap before long. Before then, though, I’m on a roll. I have managed to introduce the assassin into the mix, and we’re about to have a lovely knife-throwing, and a little blood shed, and an oath or two sworn in good faith. All in all, it’s not a bad way to spend a morning.

I’m too excited to settle to much beyond writing and preparing the house for tomorrow. So, there it is. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Over and out!

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Ring the bells and pass the ammunition, I’m running again!

Seriously. I was out of bed like a shot at 5 this morning, into my running gear, and on the treadmill before you could say “ankle sprain BE CAREFUL.” Warm-up, cooldown, and a half-hour at a very slow and gentle pace. My ankle wasn’t happy, of course, but what part of one’s body IS happy when one’s running? It felt so good. I wanted to keep going and put in an hour, but I’m being a good girl. For now it’s half-hour runs, nice and slow, for the next two weeks while my ankle adjusts to the load. I feel calmer and more centered than I have in weeks.

Add to that the robins I can see pecking in my front yard, and it feels like spring is just around the corner. Of course, spring here in western Washington only differs from winter in that the rain is a few degrees warmer and the trees are leafing out. This year I’m ready for the renewal. Most of my life I’ve been like, “Eh, spring, whatever. Just another season to be miserable in.” Now, however, I am doing the Snoopy Happy Dance and almost wanting to be cheerful with absolute strangers.

Almost. I wouldn’t want to injure anything else.

If you missed it yesterday, my first attempt at a podcast is here. Twelve minutes of me rambling; answering a couple questions about combat scenes and other stuff. It’s a good first effort, I think; next time the levels will be better and I probably won’t sound as scared. I also won’t treat the microphone like it’s a rattlesnake that might strike at any moment. Stay tuned!

Now I’ve got to go stamp all over some flaming revisions. Good thing I’m wearing my boots. Catch you later, Readers.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 20th, 2010 11:57 am)

If you’ve sent me an interview request and haven’t heard from me, it’s because I’m snowed under. Deadline Hell proceedeth apace, and between that and Christmas, I haven’t been able to take a deep breath. I probably won’t until January 1. So, please be patient. If you’ve heard from me and sent me interview questions, and I haven’t returned them, please gently ping me through email. If you sent an interview request and don’t hear from me before the end of the year, please ping me–again, gently–through email. I do try to at least answer requests, even if I can’t spend the time on in-depth interviews.

I did manage to bash the proof pages into submission. They fought back, but my strength was greater–barely, but greater. Now it’s revisions on short stories and finishing the process of getting Angel Town into first-draft shape. I have to make sure the ends are tucked under and everything’s all squared. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to say goodbye to Jill. I don’t know if I’m ready, but…life moves on, whether one’s ready or not.

I’m in a somewhat philosophical mood today, mostly because I was on the treadmill this morning thinking about the past year. I did everything I set out to do, which is a good feeling. 2009 was utterly terrible, but 2010′s been a year I can feel good about. I went back over my checklist of goals-not-resolutions, and I was amazed that I’d pretty much done every one. (I haven’t had time to go back to Latin yet, but I’m working on it.) What was also amazing was how the tiny baby steps I’ve taken all through the year have let me arrive here, stunned by the fact that another year’s ending but pretty much okay.

Well, not pretty much okay. Pretty much fabulous.

So I’ll take the deadline hell and the agony of proofs and the days where I can’t even catch my breath. It’s better than 2009, which is probably my benchmark for “worst year of my adult life” so far. It didn’t quite reach the level of suck I endured while younger, but it tried pretty hard. (Gets an A for effort, that year does.) But it failed to put me down, and as Ellen Foster so memorably said, “I got my fire back in me now.”

It’s good to be back.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 25th, 2010 09:39 am)

It’s Thanksgiving, and I have so much to be thankful for. Last year at about this time I was bloody miserable. It’s nice to be past that.

Later today there will be cooking, and very excited little people helping with sugar cookies, and good smells, and all sorts of fun things. And tonight when I go to bed I’m going to be very, very grateful.

I hope your day turns out as well.

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Thanks for all the great congratulations and well-wishes during this release week! It’s been a wait, I know, but I am pleased and proud to say that Heaven’s Spite, the fifth Jill Kismet book, is now out in the wild.

When a new hellbreed comes calling, playing nice isn’t an option. Jill Kismet has no choice but to seek treacherous allies – Perry, the devil she knows, and Melisande Belisa, the cunning Sorrows temptress whose true loyalties are unknown.

Kismet knows Perry and Belisa are likely playing for the same thing–her soul. It’s just too bad, because she expects to beat them at their own game. Except their game is vengeance.

Nobody plays vengeance like Kismet. But if the revenge she seeks damns her, her enemies might get her soul after all…

Now available at Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon!

This was one of the most difficult Kismet books to write. I was coping with immense changes in my personal life, and the book itself is…difficult, in terms of what I had to put Jill through. I mean, I always knew this was coming, it’s the arc beginning in Night Shift and reaching through the final book, Angel Town, which I just finished the zero draft of recently. (It’s resting before revisions.) It’s also extraordinarily difficult to bring Jill’s story that much closer to closing. There is much more I would want to say through her, but it’s time to let her go.

But not for one more book. *grin*

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Heaven’s Spite. I’ll be doing a contest later in the week, so stay tuned!

ETA: I almost forgot! Yes, you can still buy signed and personalized copies through my local indie bookstore, even though they had a fire recently. Drop them an email–they even ship overseas!

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Today is just turning out well all over. The Little Prince is thrilled with his new rock climbing gear, my friends are happy little bandits, I saved an online sale for the bookstore by remembering where a specific book came from, and the big news…I can’t share the big news just yet, but it’s a weight off my mind and it means I get to do something completely new that I’m so excited about, I can’t even tell you.

The heat’s also broken today. It’s a comfortable almost-eight degrees instead of over-ninety-heading-for-a-hundred-and-my-God-humid. I still feel a bit logy and slow and swollen from the heat wave, but that will fix itself. Plus I’ve been climbing, and consistently reaching the top of even challenging 5.9s. The Prince attacks the rock wall like it’s personally insulted him, shimmying up like he’s part monkey. It’s awesome to see him figuring out where to put his hands and feet, and every time he gets down off the wall he’s wearing this huge grin.

There’s just all sorts of good things happening. Last weekend was bizarre, yes, and I’m still spinning a bit from it…but I am reminded, once again, that there are good things and if I’m patient, the good things outweigh the bad.

So. Tomorrow at 7pm I’ll be reading from Defiance at the Cedar Hill Crossing Powell’s. I’ve posted the event on Facebook and Goodreads if you want to spread the word; I’ll also be bringing a few signed books to raffle off, so that’s good. ALSO, there’s an Amazon preorder link for my upcoming Harlequin Nocturne, Taken. (Thanks to Tez Miller for the link!)

Now I’ve got to go run off some of this excitement. And, oh yeah, get some work done. If you hear someone shouting, “YAAAAY!” today, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 29th, 2010 10:47 am)

All right! It’s release day for Jealousy, the third in the Strange Angels series!

Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha–half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead–but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to–especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life. The only person who can save him is Dru.

The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to…

I am currently suffering the writer’s version of performance anxiety. I plan on hitting the rock wall today to combat it, plus there’s revisions on another book and fresh wordcount to get in. Work really is the cure for everything that ails me, at least lately.

But I don’t want to go without saying thank you to the people who helped make today’s release possible, from my writing partner to my agent and editor, to the great team at Razorbill, to my children and my sisters, to my friends CMH and SZ, and everyone who told me to just get on with it.

Most of all, dear Reader, thank you. I shall thank you in the way we both like best, by telling you a story. I hope you like Dru’s continuing adventures…

You can buy Jealousy at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound, and Amazon. Signed copies are available! There’s also a chance to win the whole series at the Strange Angels official website.

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

I don’t care how “less acidic” it’s supposed to be, I’m not drinking coffee that came through a civet’s rump.

Oh. Hi. Good morning. I had a fab weekend–for one thing, I visited the Ballard Farmer’s Market and ran across Adam Hurst quite by chance. I’ve been a fan of his for years now, ever since he played before a show at Cinetopia. He’s having a concert (that is being taped for OPB ArtBeat, go Adam!) on July 1 in Portland at the Old Church, and if you’re a fan of cello music, I highly recommend you go take a listen. If all else fails, he’s got several CDs available. I often listen to his stuff while writing Watcher books or while cooking; his first two albums also played quite a role in writing Japhrimel.

This weekend we also visited the Ballard Locks and got to see several sailboats go through to Lake Union. This led to a long involved science geekery conversation about how the locks work, the density of water, deep-ocean currents, fish spawning, and sodium chloride. Add in lunch at Lombardi’s and some Cupcake Royale, and it was a very happy, full, and tired Lili who embarked on the long drive home. The Little Prince and Princess were absolutely fascinated by the sailboats and couldn’t stop talking about it.

We had great weather (overcast but warm, which meant we didn’t get sunburnt while we were out scampering around) and a relaxing drive both ways. All in all, it was a rest-and-recharge weekend, and I actually got some work done too. Everyone won.

How’s your Monday, dear Reader?

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:34 am)

The Dame Smackdown is still ongoing! Remember, if I, ahem, “win”, I will be posting an excerpt of Jealousy or Heaven’s Spite. *tempty tempty*

This is going to be a post tangentially about my weight…so if you’re tired of hearing me talk about that, you’re probably better off stopping now. On the other hand, I will be tying it into writing, so it’s up to you.

I’ve (drumroll please) achieved the weight goal I set for myself lo these many months ago. (All the way back on Labor Day of 2008, I believe it was. Slow and steady…) I’ve lost between 70-80 pounds and overshot my goal of a size 14 by, let’s see, three or four sizes. Some of that was stress-related, yes. It’s been a stressful year or two. But most of it was acquiring healthier habits– watching what I ate and making exercise more of a priority. I found out halfway through that when I wasn’t miserable over crazymaking people, I didn’t want to eat to dull the misery. That revelation was accompanied by the fact that the steady work I’d been doing before then making exercise a priority actually started to pay off. Once I started seeing results, the whole world opened up, so to speak.

I’m choosing to be very proud of myself. It’s been a long, long road, but I’m glad I started, and I’m glad for everyone who supported me along the way, from my writing partner to my kids to my hairdresser friend C.

I’ve always been a big advocate of taking a brisk walk or blocking out a fight scene to shake things loose inside a story. Physical movement works very, very well for me when it comes to my creative process. The trouble was, for a very long time I hated working out–long, long story having to do with my aversion to anything resembling a team sport. I like to work alone, thank you. Now that I’ve arranged my life so that I can run on the treadmill every weekday morning, ALONE (I’m up to just over three miles again, every day), that time is some of the most productive I’ve ever had.

I’m not saying you have to run three miles or lose a good third of your bodyweight (ha ha) to have a sustainable creative career. I am saying that when you’re stuck working on a story, getting up and moving around for ten or fifteen minutes often unsticks the damn thing and gets the Muse off her couch and away from those damn bonbons. (Not so incidentally, this is another use for your trusty kitchen timer. Set it and move, and when you’re done, voila!)

We live a lot in our heads, we writers, and we tend to forget there’s a whole body carrying said head around. Getting up and getting the blood moving gives the Muse a fresh start on things. Never underestimate the power of ten jumping jacks, ten minutes shaking your booty to loud music, or a brisk ten-minute walk when characters aren’t behaving and the cursor starts blinking at you like Sauron’s Eye.

Just this morning I was brooding over a plot point, and fifteen minutes into my run–at about the first mile-mark–all of sudden the next third of the book opened up, complete with scenes and settings. It’s magic when it happens, and I spent the other two miles playing with it inside my head, fine-tuning. It was awesome. Of course, the cardio benefits aren’t bad either.

You don’t have to run flat-out. Another particular favorite of mine is putting on some music and dancing, awkwardly I’m sure, in my living room. Usually it’s a song from the “soundtrack” of the current book in progress, and it reliably shakes everything loose. I wouldn’t dance like a dork if it didn’t actually work 90% of the time.

Well, yeah, maybe I would. I’m funny that way. But I’m glad it works.

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 27th, 2010 01:22 pm)

Today has been productive. Errands run, a short story proofed, and the afternoon settling into a groove. When will I learn that trying to take days off makes me cranky and slightly depressed? I just don’t feel right unless I work. It may be a coping mechanism, but at least it’s a coping mechanism that benefits me and doesn’t suck.

The rain is coming through in sweeps today, and in between each brisk broom-flick of straight up-and-down falling water is a mini-sunbreak. It’s spring weather, and it washes every newly-sprung leaf and every azalea flower over and over. It’s the sort of day where the rain cleans the air too, and everything is crystalline when the sun breaks out. The entire world smells of green and growing.

Me? I’m inside listening to Joshua Bell playing Kreisler over and over. There’s a candle burning softly and the whole house is quiet except for the violin’s singing. Every window is full of the softstorm light of spring, and words are itching under my skin.

It’s good to be here. I hope your day is just as serene, dear Reader.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2010 11:38 am)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames

First: Do you think you could build a model Herkimer Battle Jitney? Jay Lake and I both have this thing for Mystery Men. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Friday again, and I got nothin’. My brain is broken, mostly because I’m in the last stretch of Dru 4, now provisionally titled Defiance. This is the point at which I actively resent pretty much anything that tears me away from writing–exercising, eating, loo breaks, bathing, anything. If not for the kids I would probably try to pull an epiphyte and live on air. Fortunately, feeding them is non-negotiable, and it makes me remember to eat. And occasionally bathe myself. *makes face*

Sometimes I think the fierce end-of-book concentration is the “jolt” that keeps me coming back to writing. Sometimes I think it’s starting a new book and having the New Shiny to play with. Sometimes I think it’s the slog in the middle, where the only thing that keeps me going is the craftsman’s pleasure of building sentences and fitting them together. Sometimes it’s rereading a scene and feeling that heart-in-mouth reaction, where I’ve swung for the fences and I know as soon as I hear the crack! that I’m not stopping until home plate.

Did I just bust out a sports metaphor there?

Anyway. Each part of writing is good, for me. Even proof pages and copyedits are good. Even getting the revision letters that make me scream like a little girl in a horror movie are good. They’re good because I’m doing the thing I really feel I was meant and made for. I’m making a living at the one thing that makes me unreasonably happy; my work is also my joy.

It took a lot of hard work to get here. A lot of rejection–and it takes a lot of rejection on a daily basis. On the other hand, I’m making a living. I don’t ever complain or kick too hard. In fact, most days I wake up and think about the day’s wordcount goal and deadlines looming and I think, How in the hell did I get this lucky?

Recently writing has sustained me through a broken heart and huge, stressful Life Changes. Writing has been my solace, my guide, my distraction, my security blanket, and my escape. If you’re lucky to have that one thing you love, it can be your boat through Hell.

Your thing, that thing you love, might not be writing. You’re the only person who has a chance of finding out what it is. Here’s what I want to say this bright, beautiful, raining Friday from the chair where I pull words out of the air and string them together:

Don’t stop. Even if it’s just five minutes a day, or just ten, do that thing you love. It’s cheaper than therapy and more fulfilling than junk food. It can save you from ulcers and restore your faith in whatever needs restoring. It can carry you through the shocks flesh is heir to and celebrate the good things that come along. Do it because it needs doing, and nobody can do it quite like you. There’s a reason it makes you feel That Good–because your way of doing it is unique, and the world needs it.

Do it because you’ve go to. Do it because you feel like you’ll burst or slowly die inside if you don’t. Do it because it feels great, do it because the world needs another chuckle or two, do it because it siphons off all the crazy that would otherwise come out at 3AM in the Circle K parking lot. Just take a couple minutes and do.

After all, our time here is so short. Way too short to not indulge a few minutes a day in the thing that makes us so unreasonably happy, the thing only we can do the way that we do. Let me encourage you, dear Reader. If you need permission, encouragement, absolution, or dispensation to spend a few minutes doing it today, consider that you have it.

Enjoy.

After all, it’s what I plan to do today. One could very easily do worse.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2010 11:58 am)

Spin me right round, baby right round

I’ve gone from being barely able to run for two whole minutes without gasping and feeling like I was being tortured…to running for almost an hour at double the pace relatively easily. I’m glad I’ve looked back at the original contract I made with myself to exercise, because it reminds me of how far I’ve come in baby steps. Breaking up a goal into bite-size chunks and methodically working through those chunks isn’t glamorous, but you do eventually get to a place where you look around ad realize, holy crap I’m doing X when before I could barely do Y! It’s a great feeling.

I won’t be signing up for any marathons soon. For right now it’s enough that I know I can do these things, and feel the effects in my much-smaller-now body.

Anyway, today is President’s Day and the kids are home from school. We’re heading out to OMSI with our friend H. and her son. Another great thing about fighting my way back from the abyss–I have energy to do cool things now! I am fun again! *rolls eyes at self* But really, that’s how I feel. Like I’ve plugged back into the socket that is my awesomeness.

Tomorrow night, my awesome fellow Razorbill author Suzanne Young is signing out at Cedar Hills Crossing. The Princess loved her book, The Naughty List, and Suzanne is a ton of fun. If you can, go out and show some love! I don’t know if I’ll get out there, but I’ll be there in spirit cheering her on.

Oh, and my Valentine’s Day date-with-myself has been moved to Tuesday. It just worked out better that way. I’m going to go see The Wolfman. Yeah, it might suck. My expectations are pretty low, I’m just going for the escape, the costumes, and Benecio Del Toro’s lips. (The man pouts like Mae West and I LOVE IT.) Plus I’m going to buy myself popcorn, because I am a Good Date.

I can also say that I’ve finished the latest round of revisions on Heaven’s Spite and am flipping back to Dru 4 and a short story. No rest for the wicked, and I’m getting to like it that way. So I must bid you a civil adieu. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Feb. 10th, 2010 08:56 am)

I rolled out of bed this morning feeling actually happy.

Not just like I could stand another day, not just getting up because I had to, not just like the only thing bringing me to consciousness was the alarm and the idea that soon there would be coffee replacing my blood pint by pint. No, this morning I got up and I didn’t feel like I had to force myself to paste on a chilling little half-smile in order to face the world.

I’m still wearing the half-smile. It’s facial armor, just like eyeliner. And oh my God am I happy for the coffee. As well as utterly weirded out by this sea change.

I don’t think I’ve ever rolled out of bed willingly. I’ve done it because I had to and because people were depending on me. Today I was actually a little excited to get up and see what was going to happen. I felt like things were OK-going-on-good and getting better.

This is such a huge step for me, I’m tempted to go back to bed and think it over. (Just kidding. I’m so funny.)

Anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to over-analyze or look for holes in this feeling. I’m going to take it as a base to build my day on. I’m cautiously optimistic that the happy will stay at least until lunch. If it stays longer, great. I intend to be a good hostess for this guest, so that we can become bestest friends. I like the idea of feeling happy more often than not.

My life has changed so much in the last six months. It’s incredible. And this is the first intimation I have that the change might stick and become permanent, that I’m not going to slide back down into the hole. There were days when it was enough not to drown. Now I’ve built myself back up from rubble and it’s enough to feel pretty OK when the alarm goes off.

I like this. I think I’ll keep it.

Of course, there’s still those revisions. They were kicking my ass yesterday, but I outwaited and outplayed them, managing to get another 2K of fresh plot thread woven in. From here it’s a gallop to the finish line, and I’m going to make it on time.

Here’s hoping your day has a little happiness too, dear Reader. Over and out.

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

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