?

Log in

The Family Plot - all week, baby!

The book is out! In ebook, audiobook, and hardback via your preferred retailers around town or online. So far, reviews are smokin', and as a matter of authorly duty, I'm going to do a quickie roundup here. Ahem.


  • Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog - "A ghost story lives or dies on its creep factor, and Priest absolutely nails it, spinning a Southern Gothic tale of family secrets and avenging spirits with just enough humor sprinkled throughout to break the tension before racheting the suspense back up to heart-pounding levels...."

  • Pop Culture Beast - "The Family Plot, like all well crafted ghost stories, slowly creeps up on you. Somewhere in your peripheral vision, it unsettlingly teases, dropping chilling clues. Then, in the dark, it pounces...."

  • No More Grumpy Bookseller - "I have to say this particular element - the fact that they all believe in the possibility of ghosts and that they even refer to ghost hunting shows and such as proof that nothing bad will happen was extra fun...."

  • The Arched Doorway - "I don’t usually get scared while reading books, I’ve never had any issues reading Stephen King books for example, but when I stopped reading The Family Plot for the night I decided to watch some late night cartoons before I went to sleep. It really didn’t help, I still woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night...."

  • Perpetual Reboot - ..." just the right note of HGTV spiced up with a little Southern Gothic mystery and charm."


Okay, that's enough horn-tooting. If you want to read a little sneak peak, you can click over to the Tor/Forge blog and read the first chapter.

And thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has retweeted, cross-posted, reviewed, and shared the love. You are all awesome! I appreciate it more than I can tell you. Seriously, those reviews and recommendations matter.

* * *


In other news, Lucy continues to settle in to her new life as a family dog, and not a pound pupper/foster momma/shelter resident. She's 100% healthy now, no more infections - and she's filling out a bit. Can't see her ribs anymore, and her coat is just lovely.

She and Greyson have bonded in the most adorable fashion; she lures him into playtime half a dozen times a day, they hang out and share toys together in their downtime, and they often nap side-by-side or nose-to-nose.



Meanwhile, the ElderCat has quite thoroughly accepted the newcomer, and Quinn has begun to bring Lucy her stuffed mousies in an invitation to play.





Lucy also gets on famously with other dogs - in particular, she's fond of our friend's 4-month-old puppy, Sophie. She had many puppies of her own, and nursed a number of orphans...and she still loves to gently play with little ones.





We aren't quite at 100% with the housebreaking yet, but we're almost there. Once in awhile, if we leave her home alone (alone...I mean, with Greyson and the cats) she gets anxious and goes to find a rug to pee on. We don't intend to crate her every time we leave the house, so we're just cleaning up the pee and bringing home treats, toys, and the like. Eventually she'll get the idea that yes, sometimes we leave. But we always come back, and everything is fine. There's no need to fret about it.

She is a very smart girl. She'll get the hang of it, and if she doesn't, well. It's only a little bit of pee, every now and again. We will survive.

* * *


Right. So. That's all for now, and thanks so much for reading. I'll be back with more book news and pet pictures soon.

:)

The Family Plot has arrived!

The Family Plot is upon us! IN HONOR OF THIS OCCASION or probably just by way of coincidence and generally awesome timing...please click over to Books, Bones, & Buffy and while you're there you can ENTER TO WIN a copy of this book for your very own! (Also, there is a kick-ass review that I totally want you to read. Seriously, go on. It's amaaaaaazing.)

Next! Here at the Qwillery you can find ANOTHER giveaway and review.

Likewise! Here at Dark Faerie Tales you can find YET ANOTHER giveaway and review.

FREE COPIES UP FOR GRABS ALL UP IN THIS INTERNET.


Meanwhile, here in meatspace ...

TONIGHT, 9/20 - 7:00 p.m. - At the Hamilton Place Barnes & Noble (Chattanooga, natch), I'll be signing a fresh spanky batch of books for you, yours, and whoever the heck else comes by. The Family Plot will be Officially Out and the nice B&N folks will have a fat stash on hand; but of course, I'll sign absolutely anything else (that I wrote) which you happen to bring or buy.

Same rules apply on THURSDAY, 9/22 - from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Star Line Books (downtown, across from the Choo-Choo). I'll add this, too: You do not have to buy your books at the venues, but I would strongly encourage you to buy something. Booksellers go to a lot of trouble to host these events, and it is very good form to show them that you appreciate the effort!

So that's where you can find me this week, and I need to hurry up and post this - because I still have work to do today. But in closing, if you'd like to summon The Family Plot to your door via clicks and postage, then I would like to help:
Thanks so much for reading, everyone.
You are awesome!
Hahahaha well it's been another month, almost, and I'm only just now getting around to posting again. I feel like I say this a lot, but "In my defense"... it's been a crazy month. Between wrapping up my Wild Cards project, setting up interviews/filling out interviews/lining up the launch for The Family Plot, adopting a sick dog, and the week-long mayhem of DragonCon...we've really had our hands full over here.

Wait. Lemme explain.
Um, okay. In that order (because why not):

1. I have finished up a novella for one of the upcoming Wild Cards projects, and GRRM is happy with it, and it only took one massive rewrite and a small clean-up pass. I'm relieved and chuffed and proud, and when the release details and final line-up are public information, you can safely bet that I'll post all of that information here.

2. The Family Plot officially drops on the 20th of this month, so it's been all ghost stories, all the time over at Chez Cherie. Fortunately, with (more than a little) wrangling from Wonder-Editor Liz and the good folks at The Missing Volume, we were able to sneak an early box to DragonCon - so if you were there, you might have gotten an advance copy like this nice fellow did. Go you! I hope you will be kind enough to post and cross-post reviews to all the usual places. It's terribly helpful to authors, I swear, and we appreciate it more than we can ever adequately express.

Speaking of, early reviews for The Family Plot have been very good. As previously noted, Publishers Weekly gave it a fancy red starred review and added the shiny red box to the print edition, so they must have really, really liked it.

Other people are digging it, too. Booklist likewise gave it a starred review, declaring (in part) that it's "Highly recommended for fans of contemporary ghost stories."

Here, let me give you a short secondary link roundup:
3. We adopted another dog. You know this, if you follow me on Twitter. There have been....many dog pictures. It's kind of a long story, but to sum up: We'd been idly in the market for a second dog for awhile now, sort of waiting for the right pooch to fall into our laps. Then two weeks ago, we went to Petsmart for cat supplies during an adopt-a-thon. My husband lost his shit over this sweet little lady, and she came home with us.



Her name is Lucy. We were told that she was about 3 years old, fully vetted and spayed, housebroken, crate-trained, good with cats, and good with all other dogs/people, too. And hey, some of that was true.

I'm not mad at the rescue; they pulled Lucy with 9(?) newborn puppies (her second litter) from a kill shelter before they could be put down in all in a batch. This rescue operates on a shoestring, and they're doing the best work they can. I am not complaining about them. I absolutely appreciate that their mission is an underfunded and overwhelming one.

However...this rescue was, shall we say, not 100% correct on all those points.

My vet thinks Lucy might not be much more than a year old, perhaps a year and a half - if she did in fact have two litters. Lucy was tested for heartworms and spayed, and that's it. Never dewormed, given shots, etc. She was not housebroken. She was not crate-trained, though it's apparent that she's familiar with crates and - generally speaking - doesn't mind them.

She was also quite sick. She had a UTI and a bowel infection that made housebreaking her tricky as hell. We couldn't in good conscience crate a dog who legit had to pee/explode with poop every twenty minutes - even at night. That's just mean. So the housebreaking has been an exercise in patience and puppy pads and vinegar spray and enzyme cleaners and throwing away a very nice rug that simply could not be salvaged. And so forth.

That said, she really is good with everything and everybody - and her cat manners are superb. The ElderCat accepted her more or less immediately(!!!) except for a brief stand-off re: whether or not cat food was an acceptable snack for dogs. Quinnie was more dubious, but has warmed up fast. Greyson is a little jelly sometimes, but overall seems quite happy to have a baby sister.



She's definitely jacked up his activity level, which is good because he's become a total fatty. They love to play chase and wrestle, and sometimes play tug with a toy. They're good together on walks, and the neighborhood kids have already figured out that our yard is a two-for when it comes to dog kisses at the gate.



Before anyone asks, Lucy's puppies were weaned, spayed/neutered, and put up for adoption. I think they're all gone off to new homes now. (At least, I know most of them are.) As the story went, someone bought Lucy as a puppy thinking (for whatever dumbass reason) that she was a purebred husky - and tried to breed her (too young) and sell her (not pure) puppies. By the second litter, her original owner realized they'd been taken for a ride ... and surrendered her with the babies because they "didn't need that many dogs."

I don't know what the hell is wrong with people.

Anyway, Lucy is feeling much better now, after almost 2 weeks of antibiotics and other assorted meds. She hasn't had any daytime accidents since Tuesday, but she's been surprising us with some magnificent gift of excrement or mayhem every single morning since her arrival ... except for last night, when we finally felt she was well enough to handle a crating. She took it like a champ and even let us sleep in until 8:30 (beating the hell out of her usual 5:30-6:00 a.m.). This means it's been a full day (and change) since there's been any inappropriate pottying in the house! ::throws confetti::

Did I mention mayhem above? Somewhere in that paragraph? Yes, I think so.

That's because Lucy is - in no uncertain terms - very, very smart. Much smarter than Greyson. Much more ambitious. Far less food-secure. Considerably more mischievous. When she thinks no one's looking, she likes to bounce on the couch and fling the cushions around the room. When we put the cat food out of her reach, she waits until we're gone and counter-surfs. One night she dragged out a full bin of kibble at 3:00 a.m., hauled it into the foyer, dumped it all out, and helped herself.

She is a character (and sometimes a challenge), but we wouldn't have her any other way :)

Look, I don't want to break anybody's heart, but she's got a real tough life here.



Right, so. That's Lucy.

4. I went to DragonCon, three days after we adopted Lucy. So my husband was left behind for a week with three rounds of meds at different times every day, plus a geriatric cat who needs medicine every night, and Greyson and Quinnie, to boot. He did good! At least, when I got back home everyone was still alive, and that's the important bit.

In a nutshell, DragonCon was magnificent, as always. There were SO MANY PICTURES. I can't even. But what I can do is excerpt a few of my favorites. (For many more, see the media tab at my Twitter Account and scroll around. Also check out Kevin Hearne's feed and Fran Wilde's, too because I bet/know they also have jillions...)

Fran Wilde and I may have done some drinking.


We also have killer kind-of-matchy tattoos.


With all-around amazing human being Kevin Hearne.


With Tiffany Trent! Who I hadn't seen in ages!


With Delilah S. Dawson, who was definitely not possessed or anything.


With Leanna Renee Hieber, having Serious Opinions re: the Penny Dreadful finale.


One more with Kevin, and the inimitable Myke Cole.


With Lynn and Caleb Beatty, my roomies for Friday/Saturday/Sunday.


Look, Kevin is awesome, okay? And so is Micheal J. Martinez, too.


And Eugene Meyers! Who I also hadn't seen in ages!


With the always-handsome and awesome Tony Ballard-Smoot!


And one last shot of me with Derek Tatum, the horror track director who I've known about 20 years :)



Now, for item #5. Okay, so there's no item #5 in my initial thesis statement at the top ... but that's only because I forgot. You see, I came back from DragonCon with the most ferocious con-crud of my life. The doc said he'd write down "pneumonia of the face-holes" if there was any such thing, if that gives you any idea.

On the upshot, it doesn't appear to be strep throat. On the downside, I've had cases of strep throat before that weren't this bad. But I have antibiotics and STEROIDS now and the STEROIDS kicked in this morning, so I've been a busy (if hoarse and drippy) lady today. To wit: I've done the dishes, made the beds (been sleeping in my office to prevent spousal contamination), walked/fed/medicated the dogs, watered the yard, paid some bills, filled out an interview, sent some emails, and spent about 90 minutes typing up this blog post.

Steroids are GREAT. This is the most work I've gotten done in a day since I left DragonCon.

At any rate, thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient with me. I'll post again soon, because I have a couple of local events for The Family Plot's release, but I don't want to post them right now - lest they get lost in the shuffle. Besides, this has gone on long enough, don't you think?

I do. Let's wrap this up with a critter picture.
:)

A couple of years ago, a neighbor called me over to the fence. He'd seen workmen start excavation in our back yard, where we were restoring a set of failed retaining walls and adding a patio.

"You're new here," he noted. "So you might not know the rules." Rules? Yes, rules. "It's like this: When you start digging back there, you're gonna find things...mostly little things. Buttons and buckles, old glass. Bullets, probably. You keep that. That's for you." He looked around to make sure no one else was in easy earshot, and added, "But if you find human remains, you put that shit back where you found it - and you don't say a goddamn word."

Wait. Let me back up.

Four years ago, my husband and I bought a Victorian house in a historic district at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

During the Civil War, this land saw plenty of fighting as the armies went back and forth, arguing over the mountain. After the war, it was subdivided into lots and sold off to fugitives from a yellow fever epidemic in downtown Chattanooga, a few miles away. (They escaped it with, shall we say, limited success.) In 1885 the neighborhood incorporated into its own town, and in 1920 it was annexed by the city.

A lot of people have lived here and died here, is what I'm saying. I'm also saying that if these blocks aren't haunted, there's probably no such thing as ghosts. But that's another post, for another time.

At any rate, I knew my neighbor was trying to get a rise of out of me - but I'm harder to worry than that. I went ahead and asked him if Surprise! human remains turned up with any regularity. He pointed back up the hill. "It happens often enough. And you see that road up there? Just beyond that, the property belongs to the National Park Service. You do not want them thinking you've got dead soldiers hanging out on your lot. They might come dig 'em up."

Can they do that, I asked? He said yes. I had my doubts, but I didn't argue.

I won't leave you hanging. We did not find any human remains when we dug up the old retaining walls. Of course, if we did...I probably wouldn't mention it here. So you'll have to take my word for it, even though I'm telling you that you maybe shouldn't.

Sorry.

Our neighborhood is a hoot, in no uncertain terms. I picked up a few books about it, and made friends with a few neighbors, and chatted up a few of the old-timers who love dogs. (Greyson is the main reason I ever got to know anybody around here.) Along the way, I picked up a few stories.

Like, stories even Faulkner would call Weird South.

One of these bits of oddball lore stuck in my head, so I did a little research. I found documentation re: some of the details here and there (but not all of them), and a couple of the original players are still in the area (but not all of them, either). So here's my disclaimer before I fill you in: This is partly how I heard it happened, and partly how I bet it happened. I only guarantee that maybe 20-30% of the following is completely true.

But some of it is.
Got it? Okay.

Sometime in the 1980s, a dude bought a run-down house that needed a whole lot of work. This house was set back on the mountain, so he went to the city and asked for a permit to put in a driveway - in order to bring heavy equipment up to the property, so he could restore it.

The city said "nope."
There was a cemetery in the way.

Dude was confused and upset. He knew of no such cemetery! It didn't exist! The city insisted otherwise, and showed him paperwork saying there was a private cemetery on the land. It had been open since at least the 1950s.

He ran back to the house, grabbed a weed-whacker, and sure enough - soon turned up a good number of tombstones beside and behind the house...all of them fallen over, half-buried, and completely overgrown. And much older than the 1950s. So he called up the house's previous owner (or rather, the representative) and threw a fit about this revelation. The explanation he got was a real corker: Contrary to all appearances, what he'd found was not, in fact, a cemetery.

The house in question had been built by a fellow who'd owned a large monument company back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. This company had specialized in statuary, plaques, and...tombstones. One Halloween in the 1920s, apparently this guy grabbed a bunch of unclaimed stones from the family business, set them up along the house, and threw a big party. But tombstones are heavy, right? He never got around to putting them back.

The whole neighborhood knew about it for a long time. Everyone laughed about it. Nobody cared. Nobody thought it was a real cemetery. But decades passed, the stones fell over, and newer residents had no idea they'd ever been there in the first place.*

Relieved but still kind of confused, the new owner went to the city and explained the situation. But he couldn't prove there were no bodies present without digging up the "graves," which he wasn't allowed to do, because it was a legally open cemetery...and round and round and round he went.

Eventually, he got the family's representative to go downtown and legally close the cemetery (which wasn't a cemetery), making it legal for him to collect and discard the tombstones and/or get the permits to put in a driveway. So that's what he did.

And then, on the second day of work, he turned up the first set of human remains.

I KNOW, RIGHT? So many questions!
Writer brain went into overdrive!

Before long, this idea collided with another one during a marathon of Salvage Dawgs on the DIY Network.

One of the salvage guys said something - I don't remember what - about a cool old building they were breaking down, and I had the thought, "I bet they have some good ghost stories." I mean, renovation/remodeling work supposedly stirs up the spirits, right? Surely a good demo/tear-down would do likewise...?

Mind you, I know just enough about old houses to be dangerous - and most of what I know comes from the restoration side, not the salvage side. But I did some due diligence homework, held my breath, and got started on a draft of a southern gothic haunted house story about a small family salvage company taking a week to break down a big ol' estate on the side of Lookout Mountain...and poltergeists ensue.

When I was about 2/3 of the way through this draft, I may have hypothetically been drinking and watching Salvage Dawgs again. (My husband was out of town. I was bored. I love old stuff. Don't judge.) At the end of the episode, there was a little blurb about checking out their website and sending them email and I was like AW SHIT, MAN. I CAN TOTALLY DO THAT.

So upon my phone, I looked up their website and sent what - in retrospect - was probably a wildly rambling message that was equal parts earnest and tipsy, asking if I could pester somebody there with a few VERY SPECIFIC questions about the salvage business for a book I was working on and I PROMISED that I would not ask anything stupid like, "How do I start my own salvage company?"

Then I hit "send."

Lo and behold, I logged on the next morning to find an email from the general manager of Black Dog Salvage. Not only did he not make fun of me or point and laugh, but he offered his phone number and told me to give him a call. I waited until lunch, when I had perfected my ten-second pitch, and I dialed him up - then talked his ear off for about an hour.

So Grant Holmes, if you're reading this - thank you again for being so indulgent, patient, and an all-around class act. Also, please forgive me for not sticking precisely to the letter of (some of) your feedback. For the sake of narrative convenience, sometimes spooky contrivance must prevail. Rest assured, dear readers, if you find any improbable factual errors in The Family Plot, they are not Grant's fault. They're all mine.


Right. So.

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that The Family Plot comes out next month - on September 20th! (You might actually be able to find it early at DragonCon, but don't quote me on that just yet. It's not in the bag.)

HOWEVER. You can enter this Goodreads raffle to win a copy, and you can click over to Tor.com where you can read an excerpt. Yes, we're ramping up to the big release. It's all The Family Plot, all the time. I do hope you'll pardon me, but this is my job and here's my hustle.

If you'd like to preorder The Family Plot, then I would like to help:
Thanks so much for reading, everyone - and stay tuned! There will be more pet pictures soon, I promise. And also some more hustle, but like I said. A girl's gotta eat.

:)



* It would seem that a non-local census worker in the 1950s had made note of the cemetery and entered it into the public record, not knowing of its party-time origins.
Well, I'm back. It's been a crazypants month over here, and blogging got lost in the shuffle - but that's just how it goes. Quite a lot has happened, though! I had some lovely overnight guests who were headed west from the Carolinas; enjoyed a visit from an old friend (who prefers to remain nameless); finished up my part in a group project (also a secret for now); I wrapped up a major rewrite on The Agony House; watched all of Stranger Things and loved it; voted in the TN primaries; fell in love with the lady Ghostbusters; licensed some official murdery jewelry; bought some hilarious and relevant merch; kind of died at the season finale of 12 Monkeys; spent a week fighting a medical billing error that got sent to collections; did so much yardwork you would not freaking believe; kicked around with a hell of a guy who was passing through; gave an owl a new hairdo; got a new fence; got a replacement gate for the new fence; and probably a bunch more stuff that I'm totally forgetting.

It's been a long month.

And now...I'm back to working on my rewrites for the next Wild Cards project (due at the end of this month), and then I will probably get back to work on The Toll (due November 1), and meanwhile I will continue to work on production for The Agony House. And do DragonCon. All while trying to promote a new book.

SPEAKING OF A NEW BOOK.



You guys, The Family Plot come out NEXT MONTH. And because LIFE IS GOOD it has garnered a starred Publishers Weekly review! ::Kermit flails::

TO WIT:
    When Dahlia Dutton’s father sends her and a small crew to salvage a house near Lookout Mountain, Tenn., she finds that what you don’t know can hurt you in Priest’s spectacular modern haunted-house story. Dahlia is no stranger to ghosts, whether she’s being emotionally haunted by a failed marriage or by the metaphorical spirits that linger in old buildings. The concept of home salvage disturbing ghosts is brilliant, and while common elements of haunted house stories are certainly present (a mysterious owner with family secrets, locked rooms, unnatural storms, etc.), Priest (Boneshaker) handles them with tremendous skill, putting the pieces together to keep the reader guessing and more than a little scared. The characters are given a compelling reason to stay (the family business will fail if this job falls through) and their interpersonal dynamics humanize them, making them more than just cannon fodder as the hauntings increase in severity. Priest has written an excellent modern house story from start to finish.


The early Goodreads reviews are smashing, too - though there are a few complaints with the ARC's flap copy. It's drawn from an early proposal, and though it kind of contains spoilers, most of those spoilers are wrong. (For the draft evolved and deviated from the original pitch.) So...yeah. Just ignore that! Think of the PW review instead! I've been describing it as "the DIY Network meets Ted Raimi," so if that works better for you, feel free to come at it from that angle.

SPEAKING OF GOODREADS. If you are the sort of person to participate on that fine site, you can ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY BY CLICKING THIS-HERE LINK! So get clicking! Throw your name in the hat!

* * *


In other news, as (briefly) mentioned above - our fence finally got finished. It took about twice as long as we hoped, and when it was finished, the gate crapped out on us within about a week. It was just too heavy; the entrance to the yard is fully five feet wide, and the hinges were stretching and bowing (even though the fence guy added an extra set). So we had to order a custom black aluminum number. It took a couple of weeks, but now it's installed and looking great.

The whole fence line looks marvelous, if I do say so myself - for I added half a dozen rose bushes and a coral bark Japanese maple. In the rain. Because it's too damn hot here to do any work in the yard when the sun is either up, or out.



On the left: That used to be a privet hedge covering a twisted chain link fence. (Some of those roses were present already; I cut them back before the fence work.) The privet was about 9 feet high and six feet wide. It was awful. On the right: That's what it looks like now, from the back door. SO MUCH BETTER.

* * *


All pets are doing well. So well, in fact, that the other day we achieved a milestone - deliberate, voluntary cuddling on the part of the cats.



I, for one, was stunned. And delighted. But mostly stunned. The "ladies" get along pretty well - they hang out a lot, and take turns on the bed, and even play a game of whappity-paws every once in awhile. But this is the first straight-up snuggle that we've seen.

* * *


Greyson gets his share of Quinnie cuddles, too. It's adorable, but not so surprising. She likes to follow him around and use his feet for a pillow.



Greyson also had a number of playdates with his best friend Luna. Their playdates all end the same way: two happy, tired dogs...covered in each other's drool.



* * *


And on that note, I believe I'll wrap up this post and call it a night. Thanks so much for reading, everybody - and I will try to be a little better about my updates, from here on out. Pinky swears!
I swear I am not dead. I've just been busy, as I believe I warned in the last post or two. Several big deadlines have jammed up against each other, due to the vagaries of publishing schedules, unexpected changes, and my own tendency to overcommit myself against my better judgment. I am - in no uncertain terms - eyeballs deep. This will change, but not for another few weeks at soonest.

At present, I'm trying to pull together a rewrite for my Wild Cards story (it needs a new direction), attempting to wrap up the also somewhat extensive Brimstone rewrites (due at the end of this month), figure out when and how I'm going to manage my contribution to an altogether different mosaic project, and then move on to the first round of Agony House rewrites (due end of July). Following that, I need to finish a draft of The Toll by November.

I thought about compiling a list of all the fiddly things I've otherwise successfully juggled in the last few weeks, but decided against it. Lists are boring, and making one won't make me feel any more accomplished or less overwhelmed.

The only way out, is through.

* * *

Compounding my difficulties with excessive obligation ... I'm getting a new fence. This new fence will begin to happen early next week (probably) and it's going to be a really crazypants undertaking. Let me explain: Our back yard is enclosed by a 4-foot chain link fence, parts of which are at least 30 years old. These parts have two tress growing through them, in addition to decades of English Ivy, Persian Ivy, birdfoot ivy, morning glory vines, and a massive hedge of dying privets that's about 7 feet tall and maybe thirty or forty feet long.

All of this. Growing THROUGH the fence.

One of the trees is going to have to come down; the other we can save, and we plan to. (The losing tree is a hackberry - basically a garbage tree that's menacing our neighbors and we need to do something about it anyway. Two birds/one stone/etc.)

The fence contractor is a guy who's done work in our neighborhood before, and he knows about the tricky terrain/difficulties; bless him, he's taking out the hackberry and extracting/removing/carrying away all the chain link + attending privets - that part was written into the quote - but there are some things we need to take care of before he arrives. For example, we have a row of roses and a massive red quince that need to be drastically cut back to make room for the work. I have to take care of that stuff, and I have to do that some time this week.

In my copious free time.

The fence will take about a week, between the excavation/tree removal/other crap on this jacked-up lot ... but when it's done, we'll have the proper wood six-foot semi-privacy fence that we've been hoping to make happen for the last few years. It's just going to be a hell of a week.

* * *


You locals might've seen me on TV a couple of weeks ago, when I did the ABC affiliate's show "This 'N That" as part of Barnes & Noble's B-Fest for young readers. It was a good time. I had a good hair day. Later, I did a signing with Meredith Russo, and that was good, too.







Big ups to Kelly, the gent in two of those photos with me. He's the B&N media guy who kicked ass all day; and big ups to the girl who showed up in the Princess X tee shirt and a pair of red Chucks that she wanted me to sign. It made my afternoon!

* * *

Heads up - the awesome folks at Badali Jewelry are working up some killer bling based on my Lizzie Borden books (Maplecroft and Chapelwood). I got the prototypes in the mail the other day, and I am merrily wearing them all over the place.



I'll let you know when they're available for sale.

* * *


The household menagerie remains excessively fluffy and adorable, as predicted. Greyson and KittenZilla are still BFFs, the ElderCat is still fussy but tolerant, and everybody is hanging near the AC vents because it's been pretty hot here, lately.





And that's a nice note to end on, isn't it?
Let's do that, then - because I've run out of steam.

Thanks for reading, everyone.
Finally got to Draft Zero of that novella project, now renamed "The Ghost in Room 13" - which is a little corny, but appropriate. The novella itself is dirty and funny, and I only found out literally the hour I typed "the end" that a complication in the world-setting may compel me to rewrite the last third.

But I don't know that for certain yet, so I'm pretending it's just not so because for now, I need to get back to Brimstone. It needs a full and thorough rewrite this month, and it's due back on the editor's desk on the first of July. In a perfect universe I'd have more than four weeks (without two other projects yelling for my attention at the same time) but que sera.

All aboard the deadline train...
:: train whistle ::
:: toot toot ::

But 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: "The Ghost in Room 13"
    Deadline: July 1, 2016
    New words written: 8311
    Present total word count: 14,178



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Draft Zero! Mystery revealed! Comedy occurs!

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [Just today] Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; cleaned whole entire house after assembling new vacuum; took out the trash, including old vacuum - which finally succumbed to the excessive fluff of three very furry pets; went grocery shopping; got lunch; went to the bank.

    Other: Look! (Below, at the bottom of this post.) I've passed 100,000 words for the year! Hooray! Alas, that word count probably won't climb any higher anytime soon; it's all rewrites, all the time, until August at soonest. I think?

    Pet Other: 'Tis the season when the dog and the house leopard share their favorite AC vent all day lomg, just chilling their fuzz.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 107,985
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