“SHIT!” I screamed, as I skidded around the corner into my kitchen from the garage. “NO NO NO! NOOOOO!”

The squirrel wasn’t listening. The dog, attached to the couch, was barking hysterically.

When we last saw Neo, he had voiced his battlecry and flung himself into my unprotected house. This was a fine way for the goddamn rodent to repay me for not leaving him in the road to die. Gratitude may be a virtue, but I really am beginning to think it’s one this little asshole doesn’t possess.

Several thoughts flash through one’s head when one has inadvertently let a demonic tree-rat into one’s house. Let me see if I can list them in some kind of coherent order.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2011 09:29 am)

Got the end of a kidnap attempt, a messy bloody death, a visit to Wilde the Sorcerer, and the tracing of a shipment of Prussian capacitors to write. This morning was interval training and a multiple-mile walk with Miss B. I think I tired her out. The only drawback is that I can’t nap like she does.

But I have a story to tell you first. Yes, Miss B met Neo the other day. As luck would have it, this was the first Squirrel-and-B interaction I had the pleasure of witnessing, and it just had to be the Terminator ninja death squirrel.

Picture this, a cloudy day, Miss B snoot-deep in backyard grass, Yours Truly leaning against the sunroom wall watching, yawning and holding an afternoon cuppa. It’s a tranquil scene.

From the clouds of blossoms on the plum tree, Neo sallied forth, crooked tail held high. Nobody had informed him of the Glorious Advent.

“Oh, Christ on a cracker NO–” I began. The last thing I wanted was my dog kicked in the head. That would get things off on the wrong foot. Plus, Tuxedo Kitty was never the same after his head trauma. I started forward, tea sloshing, Miss B turned to see what I was looking at…

..and froze, ears perked so far they almost started from her head, one paw lifted, barely even breathing.

How Neo missed an exponentially-bigger animal covered in russet fur staring at him as her haunches slowly sank in preparation, I’ll never know. He sauntered away from the tree, chittering a little as he encountered a small pile of grass clippings. Maybe he thought it was a fine place to bury a spring nut or two. Maybe he was so used to the calm in the back yard he literally didn’t notice. Maybe he was simply overconfident.

The preparation only took a few seconds, but it was long stretched-out nightmare time for me. You know those dreams where you’re running, but everything’s made of lead and you just can’t move fast enough? Yeah. Like that.

Still deadly silent, Miss B bolted.

“Watch out!” I yelled, hot tea slopping in my cup. “HE KICKS PEOPLE IN THE HEAD!”

Now, I was prepared for a short sharp flurry and a howling Miss B. She’s up on her rabies shots, though–it had been less than a week since her last jab.

I fully admit I underestimated my dog.

“HEEEEERD IT!” she bellowed in midstride, and was across the yard in an eyeblink.

“WHAT TH–EEEEEEEEE!” Neo started Making That Sound again. He bolted for the plum tree, but Miss B cut him off.

I watched my new mini Aussie herd the Terminator death ninja squirrel across my hard, harrying and nipping, turning on a dime, anticipating, and generally treating him like a flock of sheep. Now, squirrels are generally very nimble little critters, and Neo doubly so. But Miss B had her nose down, and she cut him off every. Single. Time. Grass flew. Neo stopped making That Noise. I suppose he thought he was running for his life and needed the oxygen. Back and forth they went–Miss B got him turned around near the fence, he feinted, she took the bait, he reversed–but so did she, with sweet natural grace, nipping at his crooked tail for good measure.

I stood there, mouth ajar, tea pouring out of my dangling cup. It was actually the boiling-hot tea splashing through my pants that restored me to some kind of sanity. “B—-!” I used her full name and my You Are My Child voice. She skidded to a stop, head up, eying me.

Neo darted for the shelter of the plum tree. Miss B quivered with anticipation. “No,” I said, “let the fuzzy little bastard rest. You’ve had your fun.”

She chuffed and trotted back to me, head high, her hindquarters wriggling with delight. “I HERDED IT! IT WAS A QUICK LITTLE BASTARD TOO! DID YOU SEE ME HERD IT? IS THAT MY NEW JOB?”

“Just be careful,” I told her, snorting for breath through the laughter. “That’s no ordinary squirrel. Plus he’s probably going to bring backup.”

Blossom-laden branches shook violently. Squirrel!Neo was invisible, but I could certainly hear him. “WHAT THE…WHAT WAS THAT? WHAT IS THAT? THE MONKEY’S TALKING TO IT! THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE YARD! FIRE! FLOOD! ANARCHY! IT NEARLY GOT ME!”

That did me in. I leaned against the house and fair wheezed with laughter. My stomach hurt and I had to blow my nose by the time I was done. Miss B, of course, kept one eye on me and one eye on the plum tree, waiting for Round Two.

This is gonna be good.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 4th, 2011 09:29 am)

My morning started with a banana and a three-mile run at the low end of my pre-injury pace. This was made easier by the fact that I have finally kicked the flu’s ass and sent it howling. Which meant I could breathe, always a plus.

Then it was time to wash the dried blood out of my hair. Now, starting a Monday morning with dry claret spattering one is de rigeur for my characters, not so much for me (anymore), so this may require a little explanation.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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

I know I shouldn’t have done it. My bouldering partner had just finished talking about how sometimes, one’s body tells one it’s just not going to work a certain route on that particular day, and one should listen. The risk of getting hurt is too high. I’d agreed, and I warmed up on some easier bouldering problems while she was practicing her knots. I knew I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, but I wanted to gut it out.

I moved to a particular route I’m working–it starts out with hand-matching on a nasty little pancake, then getting all the way over into the left hip, reaching up while tensing one’s abs and sticking a sort-of-pocket with the right hand, then going up and smearing while the sort-of-pocket turns into an undercling and one has to half-dyno to stick one’s fingers on a shoulderblade-shaped hold near the top. (Translation: it’s a real bitch, and it requires a lot of core strength, trust in one’s left foot on bare rock, and faith.) I got up to the dyno, knew I wasn’t going to make it, and climbed down. Then I did it again, and I sent it, reached the top hold and felt gratified.

My body warned me, though, with a tremor in my quads and my hands not really sticking like they should. Don’t do that again, my body said.

I didn’t listen.

I chalked up, ran my gaze over the route, and stubbornly tried it again. I thought momentum would help. I failed the dyno, my fingers slipped off the top hold, and I fell. Which would have been okay, because I went loose and there were plenty of pads…except my foot landed exactly wrong on the edge of a new crash mat, my ankle rolled, and I immediately knew I’d done something utterly stupid. I let out a sound that scared the bejesus out of my partner, who dropped her knot and came to check things out, and I could barely hear her over the ringing in my ears. It hurt like hell. How my ankle could have made me temporarily deaf I don’t know. Jeez.

Anyway, by the time I had my breath back my ankle was already beginning to swell, so I practiced knots a little and hobbled around. Nothing broken, just strained. Needless to say, there was no more climbing yesterday, which irritated me to no end, especially since it was my own damn fault. My partner made sure I was okay to drive, we called it a session, and I hobbled through a couple errands I couldn’t put off before going home to ice and ibuprofen all. damn. day.

This morning the ankle is swollen and bruised, and I’m moving pretty slowly. No running, dammit, but taking the weekend off won’t hurt me. It may even help; I’ll be really fresh on Monday.

I’ll be working on the next combat-scene post today in between other stuff I have to get accomplished, it might be tomorrow before I get it posted, so bear with me. But, as extra credit, you can take a look at my description above, and see if you can plot the arc of the story, as well as see where I revised to make the pacing quicker or slower. (Hint: look at sentence length.)

See you in a bit.

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I felt okay until about noon yesterday, when WHOMP! This damn virus descended on me. I’m producing all sorts of phlegm in varied rainbow colors. I’m sure I’m spreading the contagion over everything in my vicinity. I was tired and waspish yesterday, as my writing partner found out. (Sorry about that, kiddo.)

Anyway, there’s very little to report. I sent off a short story and am editing Something Sekrit. I do have Very Good News, but I can’t announce it until everything’s all wrapped. Plus, I still have to write about the squirrels, the gulls, and the CornPops war. I have to wait until I can breathe, because just thinking about it makes me laugh.

I did manage to get out and purchase a “squirrel-proof” birdfeeder. It has a sort of wire cage around the tube holding the seed, and when a squirrel gets on it the cage slides down, barring it from getting any noms. (Almost like this guy, but more decorative.) We’ll see how this works out. If all else fails, it should at least be hysterically funny. I kind of dread one of the little rodents getting a paw caught in it or something, though. Because let’s face it, these squirrels would be the ones to do so. Especially Neo. He’s having some bad luck lately.

ANYWAY, while I was purchasing this wondrous object, I also picked up twenty pounds of birdseed. (What? I like to be prepared. It was on SALE.) Then I turned around…and saw it.


Can you believe that? I’ll say it again.


People pay money for this.

I stood there in the Fred Meyer aisle for at least twenty long-ticking seconds, dumbstruck and staring. Three shelves of squirrel food. I cannot believe people feed these fuzzy little cat-kicking ninjas. There was a wide array, from corncobs to corncob-shaped hanging loaves of seeds and nuts, to sawdust-looking cornmeal things that are probably the Metamucil of the squirrel world. There was tons of it.

“No way,” I finally breathed.

At this point, I have to admit, I did think about buying some of the pressed seed loaves and hanging them up in the plum tree. Why? Aw, just for the lulz, maybe.

No, not for giggles. I’ll be honest. Jesus, don’t look at me like that.

AS A BRIBE, OKAY? As a kickback to the little fuzzy commandos so they won’t break my windows with peanuts or anything. But then I thought, you know, you start paying the squirrel mafia off and sooner or later they’ll start squeezing you for more.

“Oh hell no,” I muttered. Well, maybe not muttered. Maybe sort of said out loud. “No way. I’m not being held hostage by a bunch of rodents.”

I should mention that there was a lady in a red jacket at the other end of the aisle, looking at hummingbird feeders. She gave me a startled look and trundled her cart away maybe a little more quickly than was necessary.

I left the squirrel food where it was, shaking my head. All the way through the store I kept having one recurring vision–of nattily-dressed squirrel mobsters doing James Cagney sneers. “Eh, here, you see. We don’t like dat boid feedah. We like the ones that are real easy-like. But if ya wanna keep that one, sport, all you gotta do is hang up some Metamucil. We likes it, see?”

…yeah, I amuse myself all the time like this. It’s what makes me unfit for a great deal of normal life, I guess.

So. The new feeder is hanging up. The cats are agog, especially sweet dumb Tuxedo!Kitty, who crouches inside on the windowsill and keeps warbling his throaty little “ohpleaseohplease” song as the birds discover new munchables. No squirrel has attempted it yet. But I’m waiting. And as I sit here, looking out my window onto my front yard, I can see a couple bushy-tailed ninjas frolicking. They stop jumping around every once in a while to shoot me filthy looks through the window.

I have the sandal of DOOM right next to me. Let the games begin.

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When we last left our doughty heroine (that would be Yours Truly), she had just encountered a zombie squirrel and left her shovel behind in her haste to achieve shelter. It took a couple days before I was brave enough to go out and fetch the damn shovel, and when I did…things got interesting.

So I finished my morning run, took a shower, made sure I was caffeinated, checked the weather–cloudy, but no rain–and armed myself. With what, you might ask? Well, I had to have a hand free to grab the shovel. So it had to fit in one hand, and since I’d had such luck with a shoe during the last run-in, well…I took a Birkenstock sandal. I figured I could swing it by the strap like a flail or fling it.

Yes, I spent some time thinking about this. Shut up.

Anyway, I was in a nice warm jacket, my heart beating a little quickly, maybe, but all in all I felt reasonably prepared. I opened my sunroom door and stepped out into the morning…

…and almost onto a headless squirrel.

“JESUS CHRIST!” I screamed, and retreated hastily. The body was tucked up against the door, and I’d been so busy scanning for live squirrels I’d overlooked it. I stood there, my heart pounding, and stared through the glass.

Yep. It was a headless squirrel all right. Dead, or at least reasonably dead. Its little paws were pulled up, and since it was splayed on its back I could definitely tell it was a he. The edges of its, erm, neck, were all ragged. Something had chewed the head clean off.

After a few seconds I mastered myself and locked the sunroom door, then went out through the back garage door. First, though, I peered in all directions, and I watched where I stepped. I approached the sorry little headless corpse with all due caution.

Yes, I will admit it. I was afraid it would come back to life.

“Well, jeeeeeez,” I finally said, staring down. “Guess I’m gonna have to bury this one too.”

I edged across the yard, trying to look everywhere at once. This time I had sneakers on, which was a vast improvement. The shovel was wet and jammed up against the fence (I guess I’d really flung it, wow), and the open grave was forlorn, a rain-softened hole. I grabbed the shovel and immediately felt better about the situation. I was all the way across the yard again, looking at the corpse, when I realized I would need both hands to bury him.

This was a pickle. How was I going to keep my weapon while I buried this motherf!cker?

I ended up looping the strap of the sandal over my wrist, sort of an anti-squirrel quickdraw. I eased the shovel blade under the teensy body with an unsettling sensation of deja-vu, lifted it up, and wondered once again what the hell could have bitten the head off a squirrel.

Just then came a tiny mew! I almost jumped out of my skin, because I hadn’t noticed the cat in the rosemary bush. The bush is huge, and on the infrequent occasions my cats go outside in the rain they crouch underneath it, in a little bower. But this wasn’t one of my cats, oh no. My darlings had retreated inside once the rains started. No, this was a tiny fluffy gray thing that usually comes through the yard at about nine AM every morning, pausing at a particular clump of lemon balm, then sitting on a bench under the sunroom window for about five minutes before stopping at the rosemary and sauntering away under the fence. She’s the late cat–the early cat is a half-crazed half-Siamese who attacks the fence behind the apartments’ dumpster every morning. (I can’t make this shit up, I swear.) ANYWAY. Sweet little gray cat cocked her head and mewed again while I struggled to get my heartrate under control.

“You scared me!” I finally said, and I swear to God she grinned. She looked very, very proud. “Did you do this?”

She hopped out from under the rosemary, tail held high, and stropped my legs while I stood there with a dead squirrel on a shovel.

“Well, gee.” I searched for words. “Thanks. I’m, uh. Just gonna bury him now. Unless you want some, you know, some more.”

What the hell else could I say?

The sweet little gray kitty followed me across the damp grass. I eased the corpse into the grave and gingerly tossed a shovelful of wet dirt over it, then jumped back. I almost tripped over the cat, who gave me a WTF, monkey? look. “Don’t look at me like that,” I snapped. “You weren’t here the last time. I swear to God the last time–”

There was a flicker of motion, a flash of blue, and I choked back another scream. I figured I got another two days’ worth of cardio right there. But it was only Juliet!Jay, settling on the fence in the shelter of a tangle of blackberry vines, cocking her head and looking very interested in the proceedings.

You scared the shit out of me, too,” I told her grimly, and edged back toward the grave. I got another shovelful of dirt, and I think it was then that Juliet!Jay realized what was in the hole.

She started screaming. I started shoveling furiously. I wanted to get the goddamn thing buried before anything else happened. Juliet screeched and fluttered, and she finally took wing, zoomed past me, and disappeared over the house. I heard her screaming for a while, fading into the distance.

I looked at the cat, my jaw suspiciously loose and a fresh load of dirt on my shovel. The cat looked back at me.

I licked dry lips. “What do you suppose that was all about? I mean, this ain’t Neo, Neo’s got a crooked tail. Besides, if you killed him, I wouldn’t bury him. I’d f!cking cremate him, you know. He deserves to go to Valhalla, the little fuzzy bastard.”

Then I felt bad for standing at the Nameless Squirrel’s grave and cussing. I heard something else, too.

A faint, distinct cough.

I looked up. The guy on his apartment balcony stepped back in a hurry, a cloud of cigarette smoke trailing him.

Well, great. What could I say now? He’d seen me talking to a cat and burying a squirrel. There was no explanation I could give anyone for this. I finished filling in the grave, tamped it down as respectfully as I could, and cleared my throat a little. Dude was still up there smoking, I could smell it.

“Well, here lies the nameless, headless squirrel.” Maybe I said it a little louder than I had to. Just, well, you know, if I was going to be crazy, I was going to commit, you know? There is no point in doing shit like this halfway. “I, uh. I hope he wasn’t a zombie. Because you ate his brains. Or whatever made him headless did.” I looked down at the gray kitty, who sat with her ears perked far forward, watching this monkey ritual of burying good food with much interest. “May he rest in peace and not come back. And, uh, may his friends not come looking for you. You don’t want that, cat. Trust me. Dude’s friends know kung fu.”

I backed away, stepped down from the railroad ties, and the gray kitty did an honor guard on me all the way back to the garage door. I was still trying to look everywhere at once, shovel in one hand and sandal in the other. I could feel eyes on me.

Before I went in, I turned and took one last look at the grave. The guy on his balcony smoking was now obscured by the pussywillow tree, and I didn’t really want to see him anyway. I let out a breath.

The blackberry bushes behind the fence twitched, and for the thousandth time that morning, I jumped and gave a choked little girly scream.

Squirrel!Neo emerged from the vines, bracing himself on the fence. He looked a lot better than the last time I’d seen him. I shook the sandal, nervously, assuring myself of free play, and then realized I didn’t have a free hand to open the door with. Thankfully, I’d left it ajar, so I backed into the garage.

The last thing I saw was the gray kitty sauntering back toward the grave. Squirrel!Neo sat on the fence, watching her approach. You could almost see a tumbleweed skip across the yard between them.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I chickened out. I slammed the door, locked it, dropped the shovel, and ran pell-mell for the sunroom and a view of whatever was gonna go down.

By the time I got there, though, they’d both vanished. It took another day before I saw them again. And so far, the headless squirrel has stayed buried…

Well. Mostly.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 4th, 2010 04:22 pm)

So there I was. In the rain. Digging a grave.

OK, OK, let me back up. This was about a week or so ago, the day after Squirrel!Neo and Juliet!Jay had their little interaction and Mercutio!Jay entirely lost his shit. Anyway, for some reason I hadn’t had coffee with my oatmeal that morning, I was just going to deal with caffeination after I ran some ungodly number of miles. Just…remember that the series of events I am about to relate happened while I was completely uncaffeinated.

So. Kids were off to school, it was raining, I went out to put my freshly-charged IPod on the treadmill before I changed into my running togs. I yawned, glanced out into the back yard…and paused. And stared.

There was a dead squirrel in my back yard. He lay on his back, little paws curled up, soaking in the rain and covered with what looked like mud. I couldn’t tell at that distance. I just saw his white chest and his little spattered belly, and he was so, so still.

“Oh, Christ Jesus,” I actually breathed. “Neo!

I considered just doing my morning run and then dealing with the, ahem, crime scene. But then I thought of running six miles and staring at a dead rodent, and it just didn’t seem appetizing.

So I went to fetch a shovel.

This was the straight-edge shovel I bought when we needed to scrape moss off the roof ages ago. It’s practically new, and it’s a Serious Effing Shovel. Red and black and heavy-reinforced enough to be deadly in the right hands. You could seriously whap someone with this shovel and then use it to dig a grave in rocky soil. I believe in quality.

So there I was, in the rain, near where the compost pile used to be. I was half-soaked by the time I had a decent hole. I didn’t want the cats digging him up, or the possums, or anything. The little peanut-flinging cat-kicking bluejay-ambushing bastard was annoying, true. But he had also provided me with priceless amusement and (more importantly) several blog posts. I wanted him buried decently, at least.

I trudged across the wet, ankle-high grass (look, okay, I mowed this past week, all right? Don’t look at me like that.). My yard shoes were soaked, my socks were wet, the persistent rain was working its way through my hoodie, and my spectacles were already spattered with rain. But I was determined to Do The Right Thing. I approached the dead rodent with all due reverence, and gently worked the shovel underneath his supine form.

He was heavier than I thought he’d be. Dead weight, I thought, and I immediately felt bad, because I snickered. I tried to observe a proper gravitas as I carried him across the yard. My yard shoes are more like clogs, so I was shuffling through very wet grass and squelching a bit, which sort of defeated the gravitas. But I tried. I even kept my head up despite the rain smacking my spectacles. I figured a good show was the least I could give, right?

It took some doing to slide him gently into the hole.

I didn’t want to just fling him in, all right? I also didn’t want him to land all cockeyed and have me out there with the shovel trying to arrange him for his eternal rest. I am many things to many people, but a rodent undertaker is just not in my job description. He was sopping wet and covered with something that looked like mud and dried blood, and his fur was all rucked up already. His tail was a wet draggle. I just, I don’t know. I wanted him to be comfy in his little squirrel grave, all right? Don’t judge.

So I slid him gently off the shovel bed, and thank God he landed kindly. The bottom of the hole was very, very wet–I dig a good grave, thankyouverymuch. I believe in quality work. I took a nice big shovelful of wet, rocky dirt, steeled myself, and sprinkled it in the hole over the poor, wet, draggled little corpse.

I swear to God I heard thunder crackle. The next thing I knew, I was screaming “JESUS CHRIST!”

Because Squirrel!Neo? Had shot up into a crouch. His little black eyes snapped open, and he filled his teensy lungs. He began to produce a sound I can only describe as a squirrel’s imitation of Sam Kinison in a blender. It almost drowned out my scream.

This is the point at which I will kindly ask you to remember that I had not even had any coffee that morning.

So there I was. In the rain. The squirrel was screaming at me, I was screaming, I stumbled back and lost one of my clogs. My sock squelched in mud, and Squirrel!Neo hopped up to the edge of his grave and KEPT. MAKING. THAT SOUND. He moved quick, too, for a little bugger who had just been singing with the choir eternal. Once he’d gained the lip of his own grave, he actually bounded at me.

His eyes were on fire. His coat was shedding water and mud in rivers. I was out of my mind with fear.

I threw the shovel.

Yes, friends and neighbors, I threw a shovel half as tall as I am at a tiny revivified rodent. But that’s not the worst part. Oh, no. Are you ready for the worst?

I missed.

The shovel sailed over Neo’s head. It hit the corner between my and my neighbor’s fence with a clang that probably woke all the other dead wildlife in a mile radius. I should remind you that the squirrel was still making THAT NOISE and I hadn’t run out of air yet, so I was making a high-pitched squeal like a girl in a horror movie.

Hey, I’ll admit it. I’m not proud.

I kept backing up, wet sock flopping, spectacles now drenched, and Squirrel!Neo bounded forward twice more. Mud flew. Now, it was a scene of utmost tension, and I’m not sure I heard him right. But I think what he was saying went something like this:


At this point I’d run out of “Jesus Christ” and the horror-movie squeal, so I was cussing back. I tripped and went down–on my ass, thank you, and since I lost a lot of weight it hurt, and my teeth clicked together hard. Plus my pajamas–oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? I had not even changed out of my sleeping gear–now had mud and grass stain on them. And my spectacles were wet, goddammit.


Yeah, something like that. Squirrel!Neo bounded forward again. It was like the little bastard didn’t even need to breathe, because he was making THAT NOISE again, while he was cussing me out. I yelled something about zombie-f!cking-oatmeal-squirrels, grabbed my other shoe–my only remaining weapon other than my devastating ironic wit–and flung it at him.

This time, my dears, Li’l Lili Oakley didn’t miss. I nailed him with my yard shoe. He made an ulp! sound that would’ve been funny if I hadn’t immediately felt mortified. Yes. You read that right.

I felt guilty over hitting him with my shoe.

At least it stunned him into silence. He went ass over teakettle, fetched up on the edge of his own grave, stood up, shook himself like a golden retriever coming up out of the water, and dashed to my left. He made it to the juniper hedge and vanished.

Which left me in the rain, on my ass, shoeless, half-blind, calling down the wrath of God onto zombie Frankenstein ninja squirrels and their progeny yea unto the seventh generation. (Who knows? I’m a witch, it might stick.) I finally collected enough of my wits to stand up, shut my fool mouth, collect my shoes, and retreat inside to peel off my muddy clothes, wash my spectacles, and take my morning run. Oh yes, my dears. I ran six miles after that little episode, and I didn’t feel a single one of them because of all the adrenaline soaking through my nervous system.

But I sat down and had a cup of coffee first. My hands shook. I kept scanning the backyard nervously, and the rain intensified all that afternoon.

I left the goddamn shovel out there for a couple days, but I couldn’t leave it forever. The day I went out to get it, well.

Things got interesting.

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I was just ho-hum, tossing some carbohydrate largess to the avians, when the bombs started falling.

It was early in the morning, after my usual five-mile run, a couple of days after my fence had been fired. I had a largish store of crusts to crumble for the feathered friends, and I was waiting for the local murder to figure out I was scattering calories for them. They usually sound the alarm, but Mercutio!Jay is always the first and bravest, swooping down after the crows start making their distinctive “OMG FOOD!” calls.

Anyway, there I was, humming a little song, looking forward to going inside and getting a fresh hot cuppa. All of a sudden, there were little plopping sounds.

What the hell?

I looked up. The sounds continued, and I finally realized I was under attack. Pinecones were being hurled from the trees in my neighbor’s yard, and an angry chittering broke the morning hush. Not one of the cones hit me, though they came awful close. I stood there with three plastic breadbags in one hand and a fistful of almost-molding potato rolls in the other, staring at the pine trees.

“Neo,” I said, out loud, “your aim sucks.”

I should not have taunted the rodents.

Then Mercutio!Jay arrived, screeching his head off. A flash of blue, feathers flying, he streaked across the yard from the opposite direction. He was utterly heroic. As close as I can figure, he was yelling, “TO ARMS! TO ARMS! FAIR LADY, FEAR NOT! TO ARMS!”

Well, of course, the crows heard his racket, began making a racket of their own, and they swooped in too. That’s when things got interesting.

So there I am, sweat still drying on me in the middle of a ring of breadcrumbs, jaw agape, the pinecone barrage halting as the crows flailed into the pine trees. Mercutio!Jay was in a perfect ecstasy of rage, hopping from foot to foot in the pussywillow tree and screaming “GET IN THERE, FELLOWS! TALLYHO! SPANK THOSE RODENTS!”

I started laughing. I couldn’t help myself. The pine trees looked like they were caught in a high wind, thrashing and cawing and chittering issuing from the darkness still caught in their branches. Then the pinecones started up again, and I learned something valuable: they hadn’t been trying to hit me.

No, I was just the bait. Because a tiny pinecone hurled out of the tree and smacked Mercutio!Jay, who make a strangled ulp! that might have been funny if it hadn’t sounded like it hurt. I gasped, he went over in a flurry of feathers, and the next thing I know he’d zoomed past me, flapping furiously, still screaming. “GODDAMMIT WOMAN GET UNDER COVER! IT’S ARTILLERY! MURDER! FIRE! ANARCHY! HALP!”

I stumbled backward, still laughing breathlessly, and I again discovered they weren’t aiming at me. Because I tripped over Tuxedo Kitty, who was belly down in the dew-laden grass, watching all this. I hadn’t even noticed him creeping out behind me, and I almost went ass-over-teakettle. Tuxedo Kitty squawked as I almost-stepped on him, and he shot off to my left toward the fence. On the way he was peppered with no less than three pinecones.

Squirrels are crack shots, apparently. Bombing me had just been to get everyone’s attention. I don’t know whether to feel grateful or insulted.

So there I was, regaining my balance with a dance step Ginger Rogers might’ve envied, dropping the rest of the potato rolls and furiously waving the plastic bread bags to signal distress, the ship’s going down, someone do something, while the pine trees thrashed and the crows made an absolutely unholy noise and the squirrels gave their rallying cries.

Then he showed up, winging majestically across the yard in his Capulet blue. It was Romeo!Jay, Mercutio’s best friend, the strong silent type. (Well, as silent as a bluejay ever gets, but still.) He nipped smartly into the pine trees’ recesses, and the tumult reached a fresh pitch.

I was still backing up, trying to look everywhere at once, and Mercutio!Jay circled back to me. He didn’t seem to be any the worse for wear, but he harried me across the yard until I was reasonably safe by the sunroom door. Then he wheeled about and zoomed up into the pine trees.

The Battle of the Pine Boughs lasted about ten seconds after that. Abruptly, a battlefield silence fell. I found out I was actually hugging myself, and my tongue was dry because my mouth was open, I was out of breath from helpless laughter, and I was cold. I watched the pine trees nervously. Nobody is going to BELIEVE this, I thought. Seriously. Squirrel artillery. What next?

The jays appeared first, fluttering down and landing in the middle of the bread. “DUDE,” Mercutio was saying. “DUDE, DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YOU? YOU WERE ALL, POW, AND BARTHOLOMEW!CROW WAS ALL LIKE ZAP! AND THOSE SQUIRRELS, MAN. DID YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID?”

Romeo!Jay shrugged, pecking at the bread. Both of them ignored me.

The crows came down one by one, (Bartholomew the largest was first, as usual) and the usual feeding-scrum developed, with Mercutio yelling at the crows and them laughing at him and eating anyway. I felt for the doorhandle, slid the French door open, and stepped inside to welcome warmth, backward so I could keep an eye on the yard. There was no sign of poor Tuxedo Kitty, who I had almost flattened. (It was his own damn fault anyway.)

A tiny movement caught my eye as I was bracing the door closed with a dowel. (Just to be sure, you understand.) I straightened, quickly, my back giving a twinge and gooseflesh all over me.

There in the back corner, perched on the fence behind a screen of blackberry leaves, was Squirrel!Neo. His tail was twitching furiously, and his beady little eyes were fixed on the birds. His little mouth moved, and even at that distance and without much knowledge of squirreltongue, I figured out what he was saying with little trouble.

“You bastards,” he was mouthing. “You bastards. Just you wait.”

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Eighty-plus degrees. Terrible humidity. I cannot believe this is September, and it doesn’t matter anyway, since the book is eating my head. Sometimes the shift from recalcitrant huge book-thing I have to drag with my teeth to galloping bronco pulling me along in the dust as I frantically try to stay upright is extraordinarily abrupt.

So, I only have a few moments, and I should record this extraordinary thing in the annals of SquirrelTerror.

I did mow the lawn this weekend–no, that was not the extraordinary thing, jeez, I know I don’t do it as much as I should, but I’m busy, all right? (Defensiveness, another symptom of approaching deadline.) ANYWAY. I was waiting to see what Squirrel!Neo would think of this, but ever since I hacked the grass into something resembling a reasonable suburban lawn there was no sight of him.

Until this morning.

The quiet did terrible things to my nerves, so I was almost relieved this morning to see the fuzzy little jerk up in the pussywillow tree, clinging in a fork and surveying the shorn grass. He stayed there so long I almost felt guilty for mowing, I imagined him thinking about the nuts he must have hidden and how the grass probably wouldn’t provide a safe cover for them now. I even imagined him bemoaning a natural disaster that had descended on his little patch, stunned by the seeming capriciousness. What does a squirrel know of the weekend and the various exigencies of lawn care?

Yes. I felt sorry for the little bugger.

I shouldn’t have.

He perched in the pussywillow for a good half hour while I ran, and I was even getting to the point where I imagined him sending me little reproachful glances from his beady little rodent eyes as he slid back and forth, checking the sight lines and contingencies. He looked utterly hangdog. I even thought–I am completely serious–that when I was done with five miles I’d go out and scatter some bread for him.

That was when Mercutio!Jay showed up.

He glided in to land on his usual branch, silently–maybe he was uneasy, maybe he was thinking about something else–and with enviable power and authority, as befit the master of the backyard.

And Squirrel!Neo sprang.

Barely had Mercutio!Jay landed before Squirrel!Neo, the doughty warrior who had lain in wait for so long, hit Mercutio’s favorite branch like a ton of bricks. The branch whipped back and forth, Mercutio!Jay was thrown.

But Squirrel!Neo had committed a classic blunder. The first is never get into a land war in Asia, and we all know what the second is. Apparently, Squirrel!Neo had this great plan, except he forgot one tiny detail.

Bluejays can fly. Or, more precisely, Neo forgot that jays fly…

…and squirrels, so far, do not.

Mercutio!Jay started shrieking and flapping, and I swear I saw a flash of triumph on Squirrel!Neo’s fuzzy snout before he realized he was falling. He flurried desperately, and now we get to the extraordinary thing.

He scrabbled, sliding down a long thin whippy branch, and he almost made it. I gasped, Mercutio!Jay was still screaming as he settled back on his favorite perch (I am not sure, but I think he was yelling “JESUS CHRIST! WHAT THE F!CK, YOU KUNG-FU WISEASS? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”), and Squirrel!Neo clutched desperately…

…and fell. He hit a metal bench set under the fence, then did this amazing flip off the bench and landed on the lawn, braced on all fours. His tail switched once, twice, and I could hear the theme music swelling.

Mercutio!Jay hopped from foot to foot. I could swear he was doing the Carlton. His beak moved, and again, I am not up on my bluejaytongue, but I believe he was taunting little Neo.


Squirrel!Neo’s lips moved.

I could swear he said “Sonofabitch,” before he scampered for the plum tree and disappeared.

This does not bode well.

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I really should mow the grass.

I say this because the herbiage is now long enough to give Squirrel!Neo plenty of cover as he goes about his business in my back yard. This grants him, as a Ninja Squirrel, a certain latitude of action. Like the peanut he tried to break my sunroom window with this morning…

…this may require a little explanation, actually.

I was on the treadmill, powering my way through the third of five miles. I call it the break mile, because once I’ve finished it I might as well finish out the whole bloody hour, right? Since I’m over halfway. It’s just one of those little tricks I use to keep myself running. Anyway, I was on the treadmill, with a box of tissues. Because the cold still has me in a grip–well, not quite of iron, perhaps just of lead. Something a bit softer, but still metallic.

It had just begun to rain, and I could see the bread scattered earlier this morning for the bluejays and crows slowly getting sodden. If the birds don’t get it the possums will, and don’t talk to me about the possums. I am bribing them in the hopes that they will be allies when the squirrels try to hack my house. (I’m not saying this keeps me up at night, okay? I’m just saying prudence is a virtue.) Remember the bread, all right? Trust me, it’s important.

So along comes Squirrel!Neo. He’s head-down in the grass, tail twitching as he buries something a few feet from the window directly in front of me. I swear I can see every hair on the fuzzy little bastard’s rear. What happened next surprised us both.

I sneezed. I grabbed for a tissue, since it was a wet one. (Between the sweating and the sneezing, it was a very damp morning in there.) And something hit the window.

A peanut.

An actual peanut. I think someone in the neighborhood actually feeds these beasts.

That son of a bitch squirrel threw a peanut at me. He sat straight up, from the tuft of grass he’d fled to, apparently in terror, after chucking the peanut to save his miserable life.

It startled me, so I swore. Loudly. And Squirrel!Neo chittered. At least, I think he did, I had my earbuds in but I saw his little chest and mouth moving. I don’t know squirreltongue, but I believe I can translate what he was saying.


And you know, that actually upset me a little. Because I have done nothing to this squirrel other than laugh at the cats when he shows up. Maybe he thinks I’m laughing at him? I don’t know. But the injustice of the situation struck me quite strongly at the moment. So I did what anyone would have done.

I yelled back. (Those among you who are easily offended or have tender ears may wish to quit reading now, while you’re ahead.)


Now, I of course knew that a peanut, even flung by The One, would not break the window. And I didn’t give a good-glory-goddamn where he got that peanut from. But when I get to cursing, the most amazing things come out of my mouth, things that have only a tenuous connection to logic. I mean, I wish I could taunt like John Cleese, but this is the best I can do, so I commit, you know?

Squirrel!Neo fled to the tenuous purchase of a red wagon the kids left in the middle of the yard. As he did, I caught sight of something amazing falling from the arc of his beautiful jump.

Yes, friends and neighbors. I literally scared the shit out of Squirrel!Neo. He scampered off into the plum tree, probably feeling a few ounces lighter.

By this time I was torn between embarrassment, gratification, the urge to laugh like a hyena, the aching in my legs, the fact that I did not have enough breath for all the multitasking I was doing, and a coughing fit. I think I coughed and swore through the next three minutes, an amazing clot of phlegm working free inside my chest. (I will NOT tell you what happened to the clot. I have some couth.)

Another mile and a half passed by, and I had almost recovered when I saw the little fuzzy bastard again. He sauntered out, bold as you please, and started working on the soggy bread. (I told you to remember the bread.)

Well, of course, I watched him. It was a tense detente.

Squirrel!Neo was so busy stuffing his face, in fact, that he didn’t notice the bluejay. (I had originally cast this jay as Mercutio, I suppose that’s as good a name as any.) One of a pair who frequents my backyard and scares everyone else at the birdfeeder, this particular jay likes to hang out in the pussywillow tree and roundly curse everyone in sight, or the weather, or what have you. He’s also incredibly jealous of bread. He won’t eat it if he’s already full, but he’ll be damned if he’ll let anyone take a bit of it. The only exception are the crows, who just sort of laugh at him as he jumps up and down screeching.

Anyway. Mercutio!Jay was unamused by this turn of events. He did not do what he usually does, which is stand up there and yell.

No. Mercutio hopped off the branch, glided down, and proceeded to beat the living hell out of Squirrel!Neo all the way across the yard. Once he was sure he had the fuzzy bastard on the run, he started yelling. Again, I’m no good at bluejaytongue, but I shall endeavor to translate.


It’s a damn good thing I’d just finished my five miles. Because I barely had the wherewithal to hit the stop button. I stood there laughing so hard I cried, blowing my nose twice, coughing and sweating and sneezing. I actually got a vicious side-stitch from the whole deal, but here’s the best part.

Remember that peanut? The one Neo chucked at me? Well, after he chased the One across the yard, Mercutio!Jay flew back, still swearing at top volume, and picked up the peanut. That forced him to shut up. Still, he eyed me for a few seconds while in front of the window.

Then I swear to God, he winked and flew off.

And you know…he left the bread.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 16th, 2010 11:18 am)

Okay, so I now know why that one day was so quiet.

The squirrels were training their Neo.

Yesterday I was on the treadmill. It was the last five minutes of a five-mile run and, true to form, I had a side stitch and a serious case of wanting to be just about anywhere than where I was. I kept running, because, well, what the hell, it was the last five minutes and I knew I’d feel Victorious and Vindicated and all sorts of other words when I was done.

Then it happened. Well, not it, but the precondition for the utterly ridiculous I am about to relate occurred.

I saw a squirrel.

He was a big one, too, and he sauntered out into the middle of the yard in a few graceful, authoritative leaps. My earbuds were in, so I couldn’t tell if he was chittering. I do know he was scanning my yard like he expected an army to appear at any moment.

No army appeared. However…one of my cats did. The sweet, stupid tuxedo kitty, who I adore. Of all three, he’s most my cat. He thinks he’s a hunter, too, and sometimes leaves birds (and when we had the field out back, often mice) on my front step. Of course, he totally ruins the effect by being scared of them once he’s killed them–when I pick them up he runs and hides.

So anyway, he was going to get himself a squirrel snack. What I was thinking was, You idiot, that could have rabies! What came out, since I was running and couldn’t get any breath, was a version of “MMMmmmmrph AAAARGHNOOOOOOOO!”

That was when it happened, and I realized this was the Morpheus!Squirrel’s saviour. This was The One. (This probably makes my cats Agents.)

Anyway, the squirrel watched the cat bounding for him, and I could swear there was a moment of kung-fu pose before the cat leapt, all graceful authority, tail held out and claws most probably unsheathed. It was beautiful. It was flat-out gorgeous.

It was, however, doomed.

Neo!Squirrel jumped at the last second, did an amazing flip, and I swear to God he kicked my cat in the head.

No. Seriously. He kicked my cat in the head.

In the head.

My kitty landed in a heap, Squirrel!Neo chittered and zoomed away. He leapt five feet up, caught the trunk of the plum tree, and fricking vanished. Vanished. I hit the stop button–by this point, all five miles had been achieved and I was having visions of a dead cat to deal with–ripped my earbuds out, almost ran into the sunroom’s glass door, and got outside just in time to see my tuxedo kitty zoom under the fence, tail held low and ears back.

I don’t blame him. He was kicked in the head.

I stood there, sweating and cursing, and the phone rang inside the house. For a moment I seriously thought it was Squirrel!Neo calling with a declaration of war.

It was a telemarketer. Thank God. (And this is the only time you’ll probably hear me say THAT.)

My tuxedo kitty seems none the worse for wear, just a bit shaken and embarrassed. He came back in after lunch and spent a long time grooming himself and beating up on the other two cats. (To assure himself of his masculinity, I guess.) It was with no little trepidation that I climbed on the treadmill this morning.

Halfway through my run, Squirrel!Neo sauntered out into the yard. He spent a long time pretending to dig, but then he hopped up on one of the patio chairs and eyed me directly for a disconcertingly long time as I ran and tried to ignore him. Beady little eyes, big fluffy tail, and kung fu. Jesus.

I can’t wait to see what’s next. I just hope that fuzzy little bastard doesn’t think I’m after his girlfriend. And I also hope he can’t get his paws on any weapons

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 14th, 2010 02:45 pm)

Those of you on my Twitter feed may (or may not) have been amused by my Ninja!Squirrel reportage. Basically, this all started one morning while on the treadmill, sweating out a five-mile run, I saw a death-defying Terminator ninja squirrel.

I’m not kidding. The little rodent leapt (or was otherwise propelled) off a two-story roof, tumbled through tree branches, hit my back fence, somersaulted in midair, hit the ground, bounced (TWICE! Bounced TWICE, I tell you!) and lay there for a moment.

I was thinking it was a dead squirrel when the little fur-bearing Terminator hopped up on its back legs and glared at me. Of course, I was also (breathlessly) laughing at the time. While running, I might add. Developed a hell of a side stitch, too.

Ninja!Squirrel glared at me, I repeat, as if I had been the author of his downfall. His beady little eyes, I tell you, were alight with what I can only call hellfire.

Since that moment I have paid closer attention to the squirrels in my back yard. Of course, I can’t bloody tell if Ninja!Squirrel is among the ones who gleefully frolic while I run on the treadmill, providing me with distraction and Twitter-food. Those fuzzy little things all look the same to me. Seriously, I can’t distinguish one squirrel from another.

But things…have grown odd.

Yesterday, as I ran, I began to notice something strange. There appeared to be two groups of bushy-tailed Rodentia in my back yard, and they were at what appeared to be war or an extended squirrel dance number. There were leaps, chases, aerial maneuvers, and out-and-out clawings and bitings. The longer I ran, the more interested I became in trying to figure out just what the holy hell was happening–and this was while three bluejays and a crow were playing “chicken” over some scattered bread, while two of my cats watched from the sunroom window and made throaty little ohpleaseohPLEASE warbles at me.

Of course, my fancy got the better of me. I began to think up a squirrel Romeo and Juliet.

Two clan Rodentias, both alike in infamy,
in my fair backyard, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
where rodent blood makes rodent claws unclean…

I cast one of the jays as Mercutio, and the crow, of course, as the Prince. I was trying to figure out if one of the cats could conceivably be Tybalt or if that was Just Too Much and I would have to have Tybalt be, say, a weasel? Or something? When my run ended and I hopped off the treadmill for my chin-ups and the rest of my day.

Now comes the creepy part.

Same time this morning, I climbed on the treadmill. About ten minutes in I noticed a growing sense of unease that had nothing to do with how fast I was running or how unhappy my breakfast was with being shaken so. After fifteen I was perplexed, and after twenty I began to be actively unsettled.

There were robins in the back yard, and little birds I call chickadees since they’re striped. The jays were back, shrieking at everything that offended them. A trio from the local crow murder investigated hopefully for some bread, and several of the neighbors’ cats wound through on their appointed rounds, all studiously ignoring each other. So far, so good.

But no squirrels. Not a single blasted furry little tree-rat to be found. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

I wonder if SquirRomeo killed his lady love’s cousin last night. Or if Ninja!Squirrel has succeeded in enforcing his grip over the clans and is planning an assault on my garage. Or if they are hidden, as only ninjas can hide–I mean, duh, that’s why they’re ninjas–and the pirate squirrels haven’t hit the port yet.

I wonder, it would seem, entirely too much. And yet, I am anticipating tomorrow’s morning run with breathless excitement.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

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The Friday writing posts will return next week, on April 30th. Until then, you can find all my previous Friday posts here. Take heart–this will only be a brief hiatus.

Sometimes life just sits up and starts acting crazy, just when you thought you had everything strapped down and gagged…

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Yesterday my friend MakeMe took me to the mall. We ended up going down to the Hawthorne district in Portland too, to visit Chopsticks and the Gold Door. It was good to get out of the house, and even better to spend some time with a good friend. Unfortunately, I caught a cold somewhere in the crowds of Sunday browsers.

So this morning I’m logy. Enjoying the rain coming down outside, it’s starring the puddles over and over again. It makes me feel all nice and cozy, nevermind sniffles or the mud that’s sure to be tracked in.

I’ve finished reading Kage Baker’s Company novels (at least, I think Sons of Heaven is the last one) and a couple books of short stories in the Company universe. I think Baker really got her feet under her with Mendoza In Hollywood , and after reading the anthologies I’ve found the immortal I identify closest with is Lewis. Though I’d probably get stuck with Joseph’s job.

Anyway, I’ve moved on to Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study In Scarlet and finally managed to get past the slog in the early part of The Talented Mr. Ripley. I couldn’t watch the Ripley movie, it was just too slow for me.

So today is for light exercise, wordcount (I’ve reached the point where I have to read the beginning of the current book so I can pick up the threads and start tying them off) and a little bit of reading. And chicken soup with tons of garlic. Thank goodness I’m feeling more like cooking again.

But more about that tomorrow.

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The SF/F Book Club at the Beaverton Powell’s hosted me last night, and the event was a blast. I’ll post a full recap tomorrow, including the thing that made me cry with joy. Literally cry. It was magical.

Today thought, I have double the work in revisions to get done, and a swelling toe to baby. No, that wasn’t at the event. It was at home, as I was getting everyone to bed. My 7-year-old boobytrapped his door with a baby rocking chair made of solid wood. I walked right into it in the dark. Right through it, as a matter of fact, and I went down hard.

The light got turned on, and I had to put on a brave face because the poor kid looked ready to pass out. “Why did you put that there?” I asked him very calmly and quietly, tears streaming down my cheeks the second time that evening. I am no sissy–I gave birth twice–but goddamn, it hurt.

He shrugged, patting my shoulder frantically to make it better. “I could kiss it?” he offered, which is what I say. I told him that wasn’t necessary but he could kiss my cheek and coaxed him into calmness again–hard to do when one’s bleeding, but I managed–and got him bundled back into bed, then limped off to get a Band-Aid for the bleeding part. It took a good ten minutes to get him ready to go to sleep after that.

Motherhood. It’s always an adventure. This morning my foot seems reasonably okay, if scratched and scraped. The toe in question is still swollen though, and very tender. Running tomorrow is going to be a task. For today, though, I think I’m just going to gingerly limp along.

ETA: My Wondrous Reads guest blog, A Screen To Sink Your Fangs Into, is now up!

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 9th, 2009 12:31 pm)

I am one scene–count it, one–away from finishing the third Dru book into a reasonable first draft. If I put my head down and work today, I will have it done.

This is the point where momentum has taken on its own life, where I no longer have to worry about labor. Now the head’s out of the canal and I’m still pushing, still expelling the rest of the thing. As soon as I send it off to the editor I will have a day or so of ARGH while my brain-muscles quiver uselessly (I think that’s analogous to the placenta coming out,) then the rebound period.

Yes, I did just use a giving-birth metaphor. I’ve got kids, I figure I’m allowed.

One more scene, 2-3K, then tweaking the lead-in to the very last scene. Then I’m done, I write a self-deprecating email (heavily laced with anxiety and just plain nuttiness) to the editor, who no doubt thinks I’m daft already, and then…

…I never can think beyond the actual finishing of the book when I’m at this point. All my braincycles are taken up. I can barely even feed myself at this point, and forget cleaning or laundry. Screw it all, I’ve got a book to finish. After this I’ve got another book in light revision, short stories to tweak and send off, and…

…oh, God. Can’t think about that. Brain will splode. Clowns will eat me. AAAAAUGH.

See what I mean? I’ll be useless until I finish this. So I bid you a civil adieu.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 8th, 2009 12:43 pm)

Usually my front door is open, and friends know they can drop by anytime. But today…I’m keeping that sucker closed. I am Not At Home, even though I am at home.

What’s the problem, you might ask? No problem. Just that I need to take a rest. I need to work, to sink into the worlds inside my head and get them out onto the page without interruption. Until tomorrow morning, I’m not up for anything except a true crisis. You’re in a Mexican jail at 3AM and you have only a cell phone and my number? Okay, cool, my first visit is the American Embassy and then I’m on a plane to come get you, don’t worry. But other than that, please, let me be alone today. I need it very badly.

It’s a funny thing–I am probably the least social person I know. And yet I almost always have a full house–kids, friends, friends of kids…I need large chunks of solitude that I hardly ever get because I have the wee ones. Sometimes it gets to the point where I retreat to a bathroom, close the door, and just sit on the floor for a little bit enjoying the idea of being alone as far as I can with cats and a seven-year-old yowling at the door. “MUMMY! WE DON’T EXIST IF YOU’RE NOT LOOOOOKING! COME OUUUUUUT!”

I exaggerate. But not by much. I am perfectly happy for long stretches of time in my own company. Which I see a lot of people just aren’t. Takes all kinds, I know…but I sorely need a break today.

Bukowski wrote a lot about needing solitude the way other people needed oxygen or food. It’s not quite that bad for me…but I understand.

So, my dears, I am off to be alone today. Of course, the kids are all home, so I will probably be driven to barring the bathroom door at some point.

I wonder if I can run a cord for the laptop in there? I will sit in a dry bathtub and write this scene that has to go in…

ETA: I find it amazingly ironic that Wordsmith’s quote of the day runs thus: “Solitude has but one disadvantage; it is apt to give one too high an opinion of one’s self. In the world we are sure to be often reminded of every known or supposed defect we may have.” -Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)

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I’ve got a catfight, a run with werwulfen, and a midnight tango with vampires to write, so this is gonna be short.

You know what else kitchen timers are good for? Besides cooking and carving out little chunks of writing time? They’re good when one realizes one is perilously close to an Internet addiction. I’m giving myself an hour of Internet play with my coffee in the morning, then no more for the rest of the day. With a deadline moved up (long story, my fault, ACK!) and parenting to do, refreshing my f-list and Twittering a million times a day ain’t gonna get anything done. And I don’t really need to refresh I Can Has Cheezburger ten times per hour; I can just read it once a week, right? Right. *cries*

That sobbing you hear? That’s the sound of an addiction being murdered in its cradle. Gruesome, ain’t it?

In other news, if you want to buy a signed copy of Strange Angels, it’s easy and you can help out an indie bookstore at the same time. I volunteer frequently at Cover to Cover Books, and you can go to their site and drop them an email. They’ll let you know the price, you pay for the book and shipping, I’ll sign it and they’ll mail it to you. Shipping’s quite reasonable, considering such things, and I will be happy to personalize the book any way you like. Fans get signed books, an indie bookstore gets some dough, and I get to feel like I’m earning all that coffee I drink while I’m down there. (Hey, it’s not often I get to run an ACTUAL COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINE. It makes me feel…well, manly. Womanly. Whatever.)

Moving on! Reader (and editor) TS made a good point on my Friday post about a good book NOT being all you need:

All of these things are important, not just because of what Lili said above, but also because at the end of the day, it is very hard to be objective about your own work*. So what you might think of as a “good book” might not be for many different reasons. Maybe you’re not as good a writer as you think you are, maybe you didn’t kill your darlings, maybe it’s well-written but familiar or the voice is great but the characters need developing. But you’re just too close to the work to tell.

As Lili said, agents and editors are inundated regularly with everyone’s idea of a “good book” and most of those don’t work out. So those other points are really important and when we find a good book that works for us, you can bet we’ll be jumping to work for you. But if you don’t follow those rules, it won’t matter.

So, so true.

I’m roasting a chicken in the crock pot for dinner tonight, it’s beginning to smell good. And I’m about out of time for blogging. So, have a good Monday, chickadees. I’m gonna see if I can’t get this character in some more trouble…

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

Tragedy. The ball to my Marilyn piercing fell off somewhere during the night and I can’t find it. Despite tightening it every day I’ve lost it, and I had to take the post out. *sigh* Which means it will close up, since I can’t get down to pick up another ball until, jeez, sometime this weekend? If I’m lucky?

It’s awful; I no longer feel like a pretty pretty princess. Still, a piece of metal on my face isn’t THAT important. Mostly I just loved how it looked and how it made me feel.

I still have my nose ring, though. World without end, amen. It’ll take more than rough sleeping to dislodge that. And to tell the truth, it’ll be nice not working around the Marilyn for things like moisturizer etc. I just loved it, though. I’m sad.

But not TOO sad. Today is for fifty more pages of revision, and if I get that done and get all other obligations (hoovering and the dinner party) out of the way, I will reward myself with some of the shiny pretty new project. It’s not something I’m getting paid for, which means I have to get it done in the cracks and gullies, but it’s awesome and has a great first line. Maybe it will turn out to be something, maybe not. Either way I’m having fun.

And I can always get my Marilyn repierced if I feel like it. It’s not forever. I’ll just have to be a pretty pretty princess only on the inside for a while.

There are worse things.

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



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