Merry Christmas!...

...If that's your thing. We're safely in Kentucky at my Dad's house, where we're wrangling eleven people, five dogs, and two cats. A very grand time is being had by all, but I'll be damned if I could ever get everyone and everything into a single shot - so here's one of (left to right) Duke, Daisy, and Greyson...semi-patiently awaiting Christmas treats.





Hang around my Twitter feed for more.

Have a good one, folks.
And a Happy New Year, while you're at it.

Everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn

Posting will be scant for the coming week, as we're packing up the "kids" and heading up to my dad's place in Kentucky for the holiday. My poor dear unlucky cousin is a nurse, and she has to work - so she'll be house-sitting while we're gone, which always makes me feel better about leaving town. (Even if it makes me feel a little bad for her.)

Of course we can't leave Greyson and Spainy behind to keep her company; they love the Old Kentucky Home and everyone in it - including the two Great Danes and Mr. Peanut the Cat, of whom you may expect many pictures to appear over on my twitter feed ... if you're in to that kind of thing. So tonight and tomorrow will be eaten up with laundry and packing, and a trip to the groomer for Greyson (who is smelling kind of ripe right now).

We're heading out first thing Tuesday morning, after Greyson's walk. As usual, it'll be an adventure.

* * *

Last night was hard. An old friend of ours has been moved to hospice care - and we got together with a small group of people to go and see him. It was a bit of a reunion; there were folks present who we don't see often, or haven't seen in years, and we tried to keep everything as normal as possible for the patient (who mostly knew us, but sometimes didn't). We all gossiped about the coffeehouse, the folks we knew there, and our pets, and so forth, and so on.

After awhile he faded with exhaustion and morphine, so we all slipped away to let him rest. A few of the old guard ended up collecting at our house until midnight or so for beers and memories. It was good to see everyone, but I can't say it was easy.

* * *


The cat alternately shows improvement, and shows her stubborn side when it comes to yowling at night. Operation: KittySquish works more or less, except she's figured out that when I get up to come find her...she's gonna get stuffed under the covers for some forced cuddle-time. She is a cat, and she objects to this on cat-principle. So she's started hiding from me.

I got up to "rescue" her three times last night, and the third time she was simply nowhere to be found. She flat refused to be located and I gave up, but she didn't quit the serenade.

I don't know. When we get back to town after Christmas, we may have to have a chat with the vet after all, with regard to some anti-anxiety meds or knock-out drops. This has been going on for weeks (months?), and it's really wearing us down.

* * *


I freely admit that 2014 hasn't been so very kind - to us, or to a number of dear friends. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, that's what I would say to 2014. But here it goes, and here comes the longest night - so onward and upward to brighter things in 2015. Or so we do dearly hope.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and cheery solstice. Whatever you celebrate, may you celebrate it warmly, and in the company of those you love.

* * *


Here's recent progress on my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a friendly medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a WWI 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: Cassadaga
    Deadline: February 1, 2015
    New words written: 1746
    Present total word count: 5192



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Considered some very strange possibilities; introduced a very sweet young fortune teller from Georgia, who has recently moved to a spiritualist community in Florida.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [:: weekend edition ::] Neighborhood jaunt with dog; stuff around the house; some important emails; phone calls; trip to Walgreens; lunch with husband; the aforementioned trip to go visit Karl, who won't be with us much longer.

    Other: Slow progress, yes. I've been distracted. I also need to sit down and work out how this one's going to progress, in a general sense. I'm usually more of an architect than a gardener when it comes to writing - but some stories need more planning than others, and this is one of them.

    Other Other: I'll probably end up renaming this project. I don't have any good ideas yet, but I'm working on it.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 259,404



Kittygram


Here's the little monster just DARING me to make up the bed.


Here's today's progress on my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a friendly medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a WWI 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: Cassadaga
    Deadline: February 1, 2015
    New words written: 1735 (better; still meh)
    Present total word count: 3446



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Met the neighbors; accepted some gentle flattery; took a lantern outside to check out the damage from the most recent fire.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to the hardware store; went to the liquor store; went and got lunch; went to the grocery store (because I don't dare do that while I'm hungry); did a couple loads of laundry, but I still need to fold it all and put it away.

    Other: Once again, I started from the beginning and tweaked the starter content into submission. Beginnings are hard (for me, anyway), but they need to be right. So I realize it looks like progress is hella-slow-going, but it'll probably pick up from here ... at least until the holidays land in earnest, at which point all bets are off.

    Cat Other: We have a new tactic in the little old lady cat war, and I have dubbed it Operation: KittySquish. [Spoiler: No kitties are harmed in Operation: KittySquish - only temporarily inconvenienced.] Basically, when she started yowling her head off (around 3:00 a.m.) I tracked her down, picked her up, and stuffed her under the covers with me. Then I tucked her under my arm, looped my pinkie under her collar, and refused to let her leave. She struggled and fussed for a few minutes, then conked out and forgot about the whole thing. Given her cognitive state these days, I assume she was like, "Oh yeah, it's really awesome to sleep under the covers like this. Glad I thought of it." [:: cat snores ::]

    Bonus Other: It wasn't exactly an uninterrupted nighttime of slumber, but at this point ONLY one round of "WHERE THE HELL IS THE CAT?" played in the wee hours of the morning feels like a freaking vacation. And it's not like she holds Operation:KittySquish against me; she's been lounging in my lap all day as usual, no hard feelings. Let's hope this continues to work.

    Depressing Other: Elderly pets, man. [:: sigh ::]

    Happier Other: But dig that word count for the year, would you? (See next lines down.) I've still got a couple of weeks, Christmas notwithstanding ... I'll see how high I can push it, so I know what bar I'm trying to beat NEXT year.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 257,658



Kittygram


This-here is a cat who gives exactly zero craps how well you sleep through the night. It's a good thing she's so cute.


Gold and silver line my heart

Therefore, here's today's progress on my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a friendly medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a WWI 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: Cassadaga
    Deadline: February 1, 2015
    New words written: 800 (meh)
    Present total word count: 1707



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Kicked some well-meaning guests out of the house and got down to business.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to the salon for a color touch-up; got lunch; tried not to take a nap.

    Other: So it's a shitty count, but I had to go back and revise the original starter content to make it work better. And I was gone for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, AND I'm super-tired.

    Cat Other: The cat's had several bad nights in a row - by which I mean, she's required "rescuing" 4-6 times a night. (See previous post on the subject.) She goes through phases, you know? For a week, she won't get "lost" at all, and everything's fine; then she'll spend a few nights driving us bananas once every couple of hours. This week has been one such phase. I honestly couldn't tell you the last time the husband or I slept through the night. I hate to dope her up, as the vet suggested it was possible - but perhaps not advisable except as a last resort, given her age. But on days like this, I confess: I fantasize about slipping that cat a mickey the size of a marble.

    Bonus Other: I hope when I'm old and batty and obnoxious, someone is willing to put up with/take care of me like this. But I am not an adorable fluffy cat, so...I won't hold my breath.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 255,919



Puppygram


It hasn't been very cold lately, so Greyson's cat-friend Watson has been out in his yard - just waiting to greet us in the mornings.


Must be the season of the witch

So here's my plan for the first chunk of 2015: I have three solid pitches for new projects on deck, and I want to write a good bit (say, 20k words) of sample copy for each one ... before April 1st. Ambitious? Maybe. But totally doable, I'm pretty sure.

One by one, I'll send them off to my marvelous agent - so she can either make suggestions or get ready to shop them around. While she does that, I'll (a). work on my next book for Tor [the one that comes after The Family Plot], and (b). return to each of the samples in turn, to see about producing full drafts.

This is how the sausage gets made, folks.

Therefore, here's today's progress on my subtropical (art)deco mystery about a friendly medium in a historic spiritualist community teaming up with a WWI 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: Cassadaga
    Deadline: February 1, 2015
    New words written: 907
    Present total word count: 907



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: A small fire; a visit from a friend; a helpful suggestion; some appreciation for fine suits.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; another puppy playdate; changed a very difficult porch light bulb that was totally gross; made myself lunch; answered some emails.

    Other: It's barely a beginning, yes I know - but beginnings are hard. I may or may not have better progress to report tomorrow, as I have a hair appointment smack in the middle of the day. But such is life.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 255,119


Kittygram.


Happy Holidays!

Yeah, I'm a crappy blogger again - but you know how it goes. Between Christmas shopping and end-of-year deadlines and whatnot, I've been a tad scarce on the internet.

I think I'm just about ready to get another project off the ground, but it's not quite gelling yet...though I have ONE WHOLE PARAGRAPH to show for my efforts. It is to be hoped that I can do something more like a proper chapter of starter-content underway tomorrow, but I still have some logistics to sort out. Which is a long way of saying, "Sorry I haven't posted any shiny new word metrics as of late." I've been otherwise occupied with edits and writer business and normal-life-business and whatnot.

But I'll be back on the pony shortly.

That said, I wanted to go ahead and update over here before people started thinking I was dead or something, so here goes - first up, a ridiculous video of me and some of my writer friends...reading some of our most ridiculous one-star reviews for Pat Rothfus's Worldbuilders charity. Heh.

(P.S. - I'm um...not a Hugo winner. I was a Hugo *nominee.* But I'm flattered by the upgrade.)

And in other news, there's STILL PLENTY OF TIME for last-minute gifts like OH, SAY, BOOKS. Maybe one of my books - for that horror/historic fantasy fan on your list, eh? Perhaps Maplecroft? Or anything you see here?

Or (on a similarly self-interested note) if you want to make an author very, very happy for Christmas - take a moment and leave some friendly reviews at the usual places. We can't tell you how much we appreciate it.
Here's recent progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a salvage crew trapped in a doomed southern mansion - now with a crunchy murder ballad center and Bonus! clandestine cemetery where the stones don't match the bodies (and were never meant to). As inspired by a (semi)true local legend:

    Project: The Family Plot
    Deadline: January 15, 2015
    New words written: 6623
    Present total word count: 102,834 [final Draft Zero tally]



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: DRAFT ZERO! [:: ticker tape parade ::] [:: confetti blast ::] [:: tee shirt cannon ::]

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; grocery shopping; not much else - this ate the whole day.

    Other: Yes, it's shorter than projected - but 110k was an arbitrary number anyway, and revisions will probably plump it up a bit further. We shall see. Still, it's COMPLETE and I am HAPPY WITH IT and I can set it down until after Christmas - when I start cleaning it up so I can chuck it to my editor before January 15.

    Bonus Other: YOU GUYS. I've officially cracked a quarter million words for the year! Personal record, y'all! [:: dies and is dead ::]

    Final Other: Pardon me, but now I'm going to go take a nice hot shower and then have a nice stiff drink and just...not...you know. THINK about anything for a bit. [:: collapses ::] [:: dies some more ::] [:: remains dead again ::]

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 254,212

Fought with kitchen knives and skewers

Here's recent progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a salvage crew trapped in a doomed southern mansion - now with a crunchy murder ballad center and Bonus! clandestine cemetery where the stones don't match the bodies (and were never meant to). As inspired by a (semi)true local legend:

    Project: The Family Plot
    Deadline: January 15, 2015
    New words written: 2914
    Present total word count: 96,211



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: So much blood, you guys. SO MUCH BLOOD. Also, some ghosts are total bitches. Just sayin'.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; finished addressing Round Two of Christmas cards (I needed to collect some addresses; a few are still pending); went back to the post office; went to the bank; went to Walgreens to nab a prescription; confirmed for another convention next year (details to come); hosted an awesome dog play-date for an hour or so, because our yard has a fence, and "Briley's" yard doesn't...but these fuzzy boys wanted to FROLIC.

    Other: I think I can finish up a draft of this in ONE MORE ROUND. Maybe. The draft will be a little shorter than I'd planned, but it'll expand a bit in revisions; the story is just wrapping up a little differently than I expected, but not in a bad way. I'm really quite happy with it so far - but I'll be even happier when I have a full draft ready to roll. [:: crosses fingers ::]

    Other, Dog Edition: AWESOME DOG PLAYDATE.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 247,589


Seriously, the boys had a blast. And cookies. They also had cookies.


In a castle dark or a fortress strong

Here's recent progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a salvage crew trapped in a doomed southern mansion - now with a crunchy murder ballad center and Bonus! clandestine cemetery where the stones don't match the bodies (and were never meant to). As inspired by a (semi)true local legend:

    Project: The Family Plot
    Deadline: January 15, 2015
    New words written: 3123 (better)
    Present total word count: 93,297



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Lots and lots of blood. Only some of it belonging to our protagonist, but the book ain't over yet.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to the post office; did and sorted laundry; made lunch and cleaned up; worked on Christmas cards; that's about it.

    Other: I've had a bit of other work-stuff land in my inbox, but I can spread that out over the next few days - so I don't expect it to upend my metrics momentum. Knock on wood.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 244,675


Handsome-ass puppygram.


No sound to break no moment clear

Here's recent progress on my modern gothic ghost story about a salvage crew trapped in a doomed southern mansion - now with a crunchy murder ballad center and Bonus! clandestine cemetery where the stones don't match the bodies (and were never meant to). As inspired by a (semi)true local legend:

    Project: The Family Plot
    Deadline: January 15, 2015
    New words written: 1643
    Present total word count: 90,174



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Injuries and confusion; rain and the rumor of funnel clouds; got locked in, then got locked out.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; went to lunch with husband; Christmas shopping (two rounds of it); made a run to Target; wrapped everything that's actually arrived; blurbed a book; made appointment for the pooch to get another round in with the groomer before Christmas; more stuff I'm sure - but I don't remember.

    Other: It's been a busy few days, but most of it hasn't been the interesting kind of busy, I'm afraid. Mostly just errand-running and housework and shopping and all that stuff which goes down before the holidays. This coming week will probably be pretty dull from a blogging standpoint too - as I hope to wrap up a draft of this-here book by next weekend. Can I do it? Maybe. But it'll mean a week of precious little to report but word metrics.

    Other, Aspirational: I bet I can crack 250,000 words this year. Even if I don't, I think 2014 is a personal best from a word metrics standpoint. Yes, well. Onward and upward.

    Other, Cat Edition: The kitty is doing better from a yowling standpoint. Our most recent cat-hack: Propping open the master bathroom's two doors - so she can come and go between the bedroom and the rest of the house by her preferred route. This was the husband's suggestion, because sometimes she gets stuck in the bathroom and hollers until you let her out. Yes, she is a little dumb. Yes, it is a little silly. But it seems to be helping.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 241,552