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I am officially the world's worst blogger, but what can I say? I've been busy, and regular updates have taken a back seat. On the upshot, I finally finished the pass proof edits for The Family Plot, I'm mostly done with a Draft Zero for "Black Water" (Wild Cards), and my front/back yards are actually in pretty good shape.

I also had my first short story published in ages - via Out of Tune II (Jonathan Maberry, editor). It's based loosely on the old murder ballad "The Knoxville Girl," (which is also the name of the story, natch) and it's... kind of a departure for me, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out. Pick up that anthology, if you get a chance. I'm in some excellent company, and it's a fantastic theme for a collection.

Meanwhile, I have big/fat editorial letters breathing down my neck for both Brimstone and The Agony House, both of which need some pretty in-depth rewrites (which is fine). But today I'm taking a tiny breather to do some yard detailing and drawer-sorting. And maybe a smidge more work on "Black Water." I don't know yet. I'm kind of wiped out.

In other news, Greyson developed a lump on his chest, and he had a vet appointment this morning to check it out. I was pretty sure it was just a little fatty lipoma and I was right. No big deal, but he's definitely gotten fat. I'll have to have a word with the mailman (only one piece of that enormous cookie for the dog, thanks), the UPS guy (the dog is not a slot machine into which you feed biscuits; half of one Milkbone will suffice), the neighbor kids, and so forth, and so on. El Chubbulente is going on a diet.

As for the cats - they are also doing well. Quinnie is up to 13 pounds, and she's not quite 11 months old ... so my theory that she's a house leopard is holding up nicely. She's a little tubby herself, but not too bad - and I can't stop her from eating the eldercat's prescription food, so oh well. And just the other day, the eldercat woke me up in the middle of the night by playing slap-hockey with a ping-pong ball, so she's not that put out by it.

Anyway. I'm burning daylight, here - so it's time to log off and get back to something productive. Thanks for reading, and my apologies for the general internet silence. I'm just navigating some deadlines, that's all. I'll be back around soon.

I've seen the future and it works

Here's recent progress on my wacky mystery romp that's a little bit The Thin Man, with a splash of Haunted Honeymoon, and a dusting of Scared Stiff - featuring a pair of 60+ year old newlyweds who are playing Nick and Nora on a ghost-plagued riverboat:

    Project: "Black Water" (working title)
    Deadline: July 1, 2016
    New words written: 1657
    Present total word count: 5867



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Did some investigating; asked some questions; took a nooner after breakfast.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; a little bit of yardwork today; lots of cleanup re: yesterday's content; answered a bunch of emails; went to lunch.

    Yardwork Other: Behold some of my irises. No, I don't know what kind they are. I forget. I sort of grab-bagged a bunch of different bulbs when they were on sale at the nursery awhile back.



    Pet Other: I got curious yesterday and weighed this little monster: She's exactly 13 pounds. Some of that size is pure chub, yes - because she helps herself to the eldercat's prescription food, and there's nothing we can do about that. (Can't put it anyplace where old kitty can reach it, but young kitty cannot - and it *has* to be available to the old kitty.) Anyway, she's fat and glorious.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 99,674
Here's recent progress on my wacky mystery romp that's a little bit The Thin Man, with a splash of Haunted Honeymoon, and a dusting of Scared Stiff - featuring a pair of 60+ year old newlyweds who are playing Nick and Nora on a ghost-plagued riverboat:

    Project: "Black Water" (working title)
    Deadline: July 1, 2016
    New words written: 3003
    Present total word count: 4210



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Got breakfast with a new "friend" who is super-enthusiastic and very annoying to Leo, personally; explained via chit-chat and bloody Marys the basic facts of the mystery.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS, BABY; dragged out my refrigerator manual and did some repairs (long story); cleaned the house; did laundry; did some yard work; hauled out a bunch of trash.

    Other: I still had another six years on those student loans, but a better-than-expected royalty check for I Am Princess X made the pay-off possible. MY EDUCATION IS FINALLY MINE. It's about damn time. And now I am broke again, but I am broke for a very good and grown-up reason.

    Pet Other: Crittergram. It has been suggested that - in this exceedingly dignified shot - Greyson is blowing up Quinnie like a balloon.



    (No, I don't know what Quinnie weighs right now. I do know that the dog weighs 90 pounds. Yes, she is a house-leopard. No, she is not finished growing yet - she's only 10 months old. God help us. Hey, remember when she weighed one pound, and fit in the palm of my hand?)

    Bonus Pet Other: Quinnie saw a squirrel.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 98,017
Well, it's been almost exactly a month since I posted any word metrics. I don't have much of an excuse - or rather, I have only the same old excuses as always - but that's just how it goes. I've had a lot of balls up in the air, including the production edits for The Family Plot, some travel (Kentucky, if you'll recall), and some medical stuff (which is now as sorted as it's going to get). I also dedicated some time to house stuff and yard stuff. You know how it goes.

Stuff.

I also tried to give myself a little break, for all the good it did me. I've burned myself out pretty badly, but I can't afford to do anything like a vacation; I still have two books to rewrite and send through production, one novel to finish for Tor this fall, and a novelette for one of the upcoming WILD CARDS books.

That last one's due in July, so until rewrites for the two books land, that's what's on my plate. Gotta triage this shit.

Jesus, it's already May.

* * *


Because people will inevitably ask - I do not have cancer of the nose-holes or anything. It turns out, I have a mild congenital defect that messes with the way my sinuses drain ... and I also have a little bit of leftover damage from some surgery on the back of my mouth (20+ years ago). Through a convoluted conflagration of these events, an extra-bad allergy season is causing one of my sinuses to collect fluid - making it prone to the kind of infections that mess with the pressure in my right ear.

I don't want any new surgery any time soon, but there's not much else to be done about it. The most recent catastrophic infection has almost completely cleared up, so I'm on a new round of antihistamines and decongestants. It's not perfect, but it's okay.

At least it's not cancer of the nose-holes.

* * *


The other day, I looked out the den window to see Greyson merrily snapping at some random flying things ... and discovered that we had a swarm of bees the size of a human head hanging out in the hedges. I got the dog inside, did some googling, and found out that there's a whole slew of folks you can call - folks who will be more than happy to come out and collect such a swarm.

"Nat the Bee Guy" called me back within a minute or two (I chose him for his nom de plume, yes); and within half an hour, he showed up with a bee box (or whatever they're called) and standard bee-dude gear ... but he was pleased to note that he wouldn't need it. He declared the swarm calm and healthy, and didn't bother with any of the sting-preventatives.

Nat has a small family farm north of the city. He keeps bees and fruit trees (among other things), and hey - free swarms are the best swarms! Or so I am told. I couldn't believe he'd come out and take them away for free. He couldn't believe that I was just giving him this awesome swarm of honeybees for free.

So everybody was happy. Especially the bees.



He left the box until just after dark, when all the bees were happily humming inside. Then he took it home to his farm. Good-bye, little bees! Live long and prosper.



And thanks a million to Nat the Bee Guy! You have someone like Nat somewhere near you, I bet - so please don't take a can of bug spray to a swarm, just because it's chilling in an inconvenient location. I spent ten seconds googling "chattanooga bee removal" and boom. Nat the Bee Guy, and about a dozen other folks who would be eager to collect and pamper any unwanted bees.

Just sayin'.

* * *


So here's today's progress on my wacky mystery romp that's a little bit The Thin Man, with a splash of Haunted Honeymoon, and a dusting of Scared Stiff - featuring a pair of 60+ year old newlyweds who are playing Nick and Nora on a ghost-plagued riverboat:

    Project: "Black Water" (working title)
    Deadline: July 1, 2016
    New words written: 1207
    Present total word count: 1207



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Was unceremoniously awakened with threats of burglars and demands for guns, then apologies from fervent ghost hunters with oddball beepy equipment and a very earnest sales pitch.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Missed the neighborhood jaunt with the dog this morning because I had a followup doctor appointment; came home and got to work, finishing up a loose outline for this one.

    Other: I don't usually outline very much, but this is a mystery and a comedy in a very tight space - and I need to keep myself from wandering off course. I've set the target word count at 13,500 because I was given a range of "12,000-15,000 words." So I'm splitting the difference, but anything in that ballpark will be fine.

    Dog Other: Greysongram. (Plus Luna!) I don't know why he sometimes sits like a loaf cat. For dog reasons, I guess.



    Cat Other: The ladies are still doing well.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 95,014

I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

Right, so...it's been a bit since I posted, but I did warn you that it might go that way. In brief, as soon as I left town for ConGlomeration the edits for The Family Plot landed in my inbox - so that's been eating up most of my attention since my return. Well, that, and unpacking/housekeeping/laundry/catching up on all the crap that's piled up while I was out of town for nearly a week.

You know how it goes.

ConGlomeration was an easy event for me, because I got to stop at my dad and stepmom's place both on the way there - and on the way back. Bookend highlights include party-time with the 'rents and their Great Danes; highlights of the event itself included party-time with the Apex Magazine crew - notably editor (and old friend) Jason Sizemore, and author Maurice Broaddus, who is everything awesome that I always imagined he'd be - and then some ... plus party-time with new friends Jenna Busch and her sister, Christy.

We um...we may have closed down the bar a couple of times.
Look, these things happen.

In other news, here are a couple of dogs who very badly need to have that leftover gravy poured over their kibble, thanks. If you could be so kind.




On the way home, I caught up on my missing Night Vale episodes and tried to keep my car from exploding - for the "service engine light" and some real funky noises started up as I was leaving the hotel. So to speak. I limped it back to Dad's place and we ran the codes at Auto Zone; it looks like I've got a bad ignition coil (maybe) and some spark plug problems (probably) ... but with a little fiddling, I made it home unscathed. Still the car needs servicing - not that I have the time to spare for it. (And my husband has even less time than I do. One way or another, though. We'll get around to it.)

Anyway, everything in Tennessee was just as I'd left it.




Hm...what else?

Oh yeah, I also went and got that CT scan of my head, so we can maybe find out what the deal is with my sinuses and ears. Long story short, I have a lifetime of allergy and sinus problems, and for the last couple of months my right ear (and sometimes my left, too) is refusing to pop for days at a time. I run around sounding (to myself, when I talk) like I'm underwater - and it's been driving me crazy. The cause could be any number of things, but a CT scan will narrow those causes down.

I don't have the results yet, but I've got a followup scheduled with the ENT for early next month. So I guess I'll get a better idea of what's going on at that time. I hope.

I don't have any pictures of my sinuses to share, and that's just as well. Here. Have a shot of Greyson instead.



In other news, I will try to wrap up these edits before tomorrow night, and slide them onto my editor's desk first thing Monday morning - and then I will get to work on my next project (a piece for one of the upcoming Wild Cards books). I still have that project, and the YA rewrites, and a finished draft of The Toll to cough up before autumn rolls around, and summer is never as long as you think it is ... so I'd better get back to work.

So in closing ... thanks for reading, everyone.
P.S: Dog party.

Updates, Predictions, and Whatnot

So spring has sprung, and I've been largely off the internet for a week or so. I needed a break after the death march of the Brimstone draft, and I've been playing catch-up on other writing and/or writing business miscellany...and beginning the seasonal yard work. I hired a little help to get things underway, and now the place is looking pretty keen: everything is mowed and trimmed; perennials have been tended to, and are growing in nicely; and annuals have been added in the usual pots and positions.

I swear, the yard went from dead-of-winter to full-on-spring in just a few days. It's gorgeous, and I'm thrilled - and I'll be even more thrilled in another few weeks(?) or so, when we finally get to install a new fence. Or so I cross my fingers.

At present, we have a four-foot ribbon of chain link that's decades old, warped like crazy, and growing through one tree/two shrubs/one privet hedge/the remains of another privet hedge, long deceased. God, I wish I was kidding.



We overpaid on our taxes two years in a row and this year, we're cashing in - thus the high hopes for six feet of wood in a semi-privacy perimeter. It won't be cheap and it won't be easy, but maybe we can finally swing it.

We intend to save one imperiled mulberry tree, but we need to take down an overgrown hackberry that's menacing our neighbors and throwing black fungus/dust all over one corner of our yard. And the privets. Those have got to go. (Probably with the fence they've grown through - all in one weird bundle of wood, leaves, and twisted chain link.) So I say all that to say this: It will be a far more involved process than a mere fence-building. It's more like removing an art installation that's been sitting in a jungle for fifty years. Then building a fence.

I really do hope we can pull it off.

* * *


Hmm...what else, since last I posted?

Well, let's see - I went and saw an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist because I've been having some trouble with my sinuses. It was a frustrating, tedious visit ... but I could use the CAT scan, so I stuck it out for the sake of the referral. No word from them on the CAT appointment yet, but I assume word is coming.

Or maybe not. I didn't leave that office with a great deal of faith in it, TBH.

* * *


I also went to lunch with my aunt and cousin, who were passing through town. After noshing, we went out for pedis. I chose a disco sparkle orange, then changed my mind a couple of days later. Now they're grape-jelly purple.



Let the record reflect, I kept my promise to only post this picture - in which my aunt does not look like a serial killer ... like she does in the other picture I took. Which I am absolutely not sharing here.

* * *


Dog party.



* * *


In other news, posting will continue to be light for a little bit - as I'm heading up to Kentucky on Wednesday. That's right, I'm leaving the husband behind to care for the "kids" and driving up for ConGlomeration, in Louisville. (I'm stopping at my dad/stepmom's place on the way there, and on the way back. Thus the Wednesday departure.)

I'm really looking forward to it! My very first sci-fi convention EVER was RiverCon in Louisville, back in ... 1999, maybe? 2000? It's been awhile. (And that event closed down a number of years ago, I believe.) So besides the convenient parental stopover, I'm wound up for the sheer nostalgia of it all.

But I won't be on the internet much, except (no doubt) to post to Twitter as I'm able. So until I get back home next Monday, feel free to join me over there. Or don't! Whatever makes you happy. I'm cool either way.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back on the wordcount hobbyhorse next week...
Here's today's progress on my rural gothic monster story about small-town secrets, old family lies, accidental legend-tripping, and a missing newlywed in the Okefenokee swamp - where you can drive SR 177 from west to east and cross six bridges...or take it from east to west, and you might hit seven. (But you’d better hope not.)

    Project: The Toll
    Deadline: November 1, 2016
    New words written: 1611
    Present total word count: 20,612



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Checked into a hotel; followed the music to the bar; showed a picture around; got a really weird vibe.

    Other: Took yesterday "off" to clean the house and run some errands. This is all I've gotten done today - and I might do more this afternoon/evening, but it's the end of a chapter, so... yeah.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; yesterday's aforementioned house cleaning; laundry; grabbed lunch; sent some important emails; waited impatiently on another important email; not much else.

    Dog Other: Earlier this week, it was allegedly "National Dog Day." I had no idea that was a thing, but here's our beloved shelter mutt, dogging for all he's worth.



    Cat Other: Quinnie is now nine months old and roughly the size of a leopard. A squeaky, demanding, fluffy-toed leopard.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 93,807

I bought you drinks, I brought you flowers

Here's today's progress on my rural gothic monster story about small-town secrets, old family lies, accidental legend-tripping, and a missing newlywed in the Okefenokee swamp - where you can drive SR 177 from west to east and cross six bridges...or take it from east to west, and you might hit seven. (But you’d better hope not.)

    Project: The Toll
    Deadline: November 1, 2016
    New words written: 1490
    Present total word count: 19,001



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Reread everything yet again - now that I've swapped sections around, so I could get a feel for the new order - and began composing new material in earnest. It's always a gear-grind when I shift from one project to another (especially when the projects are so very different as my last one, and this one), so it's typically slow-going at the start. Still, 1500 words is better than nothing, and I've finally gotten this one back underway.

    Other: Of course, at literally any moment a higher-priority project may land in my lap - and I'll have to put this down again. But I've got some momentum from the big Brimstone push, and I may as well take advantage of it.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to liquor store to restock sadly depleted cabinet; went to Walgreens to pick up prescription; picked up milk; went to lunch.

    Dog Other: Yesterday, Greyson and Luna had a play-date. It was adorable, as always.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 92,196
As it turns out...I made that Brimstone deadline the other day, but then a million little things swept into its wake - thus the general radio silence for the last week or so. But I was very productive, and knocked it all out in a timely fashion. I even squeezed in a few days of yard work, getting everything cleaned up from winter and ready for spring.

Greyson "helped."



Right.
So.

While I wait for production/editorial news for The Agony House and The Family Plot to come down the pike, I've dug out The Toll ... for the first time in almost a year. No shit, last time I posted about it was April 9, 2015. Well, this one got pushed back, and other things filled that gap, etc. etc. etc. But now the draft is due in November, and since I'm in "hurry up and wait" mode on everything else...I thought I'd take a look at it, and do some noodling.

Because every bit of progress I can squirrel away during these "downtime" weeks is progress I won't have to marathon later this fall. That's why.

With that in mind: Here's recent progress on my rural gothic monster story about small-town secrets, old family lies, accidental legend-tripping, and a missing newlywed in the Okefenokee swamp - where you can drive SR 177 from west to east and cross six bridges...or take it from east to west, and you might hit seven. (But you’d better hope not.)

    Project: The Toll
    Deadline: November 1, 2016
    New words written: 529 (a result of rejiggering/cleaning up)
    Present total word count: 17,511



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Changed up the order of the existing chapters, splitting one of them into two bits - and adjusting some of the pacing. But I think I'm ready to start work on this thing again in earnest.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; lunches with husband; trips to the post office; trips to the bank; trips to Walgreens and grocery stores; and so forth; and so on.

    Other: Quinnie also "helps." But not with yard work.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 90,706
Here's recent progress on my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a young medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a shell-shocked haberdasher who's receiving love notes from hell ... as inspired by a real place and a real set of bizarre (otherworldly?) incidents:

    Project: Brimstone
    Deadline: March 15, 2016
    New words written: 9051
    Present total word count: 99,551 [Draft Zero



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Big spooky climax; wind-down; some fiddling.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with Greyson; took eldercat to vet; performed the IV fluids on the cat in question in the presence of a professional, and now I know we can do it at home; went and got my hair trimmed up ahead of my trip to Dahlonega this weekend; answered a crap-ton of emails.

    Deadline Other: Yes, the draft is a little shorter than I expected - but it's WHOLE. I'll let it sit over the weekend, clean it up Monday and Tuesday, and send it off Tuesday night. When rewrites come around it'll probably plump up somewhat.

    Bonus Other: If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you'll see that I've written over 90,000 words since January 1. That's not quite a record for me, but that's a lot for me to handle in 9 weeks. I kind of want to sleep for a month, but HAHAHAHAHAHA that is not going to happen. So. Yeah.

    Next Up Other: I have a number of things coming down the pike - some are production things (edits/etc. on The Family Plot, rewrite things (The Agony House - beginning any day now), proposal things (something on deck I can't talk about yet, but will eat a lot of time), group projects in process of which I'm not supposed to speak yet, a short story that will require some research but is very important to me, and oh yeah, I have to finish writing The Toll before November. So don't worry. I'll stay busy. I have no choice.

    Dog Other: Playdate with Luna!



    Cat Other: Remember when this? Now this.





    Number of fiction words so far this year: 90,177