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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

Endless faith in hopeless deeds

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: 9941 (cumulative)
    Present total word count: 90,500



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: An assault; an inferno; a botched plan; a new plan; a bullet on the bone.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with Greyson; took Saturday "off" and spent the day with my husband for our 10-year anniversary; did some necessary shopping; did some laundry; went to post office; I forget what else.

    Deadline Other: One big scene and a half left to go. I can do this.

    House Pet Other: Kittygram.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 81,126
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: 2535
    Present total word count: 80,559



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: A hard conversation; fleeing the scene; a warning.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with Greyson; did laundry; cleaned house (lightly - not a full scour); went to Walgreens for a prescription refill; went to the grocery store; answered a crap-ton of emails.

    Deadline Other: To be honest, I wrote most of that word count last night. Today, I went back and removed some of last night's progress, and only made a little bit more in its place. (I slept in too late, and got a late start - never did catch up. Didn't mean to, but I was very tired and I'm still a bit sick.) Now I'll try to get a little more done before I settle in for the evening.

    House Pet Other: We got some ice today. It melted and turned to rain almost immediately, but...



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 71,185

Call the police, there's a madman around

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: 4820
    Present total word count: 78,024



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Another fire - this one, tragic; a pre-dawn panic; a heroic act, all for naught; just imagine the insurance premiums in this poor little town.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with Greyson; got myself some lunch; paid some bills; answered some emails; not much else, to be honest.

    Deadline Other: Today's word count is pretty swank - but it includes about a thousand words from last night. Holy crap you guys, I might actually make the deadline for this draft. Maybe. It won't be a great draft, but it'll be a whole draft - and that's what subsequent drafts are for: fixing the shitty first drafts. Draft draft draft. Weeeeee....

    Personal Other: I feel less like hell than I have previously, but still a little bit like hell.

    House Pet Other: This magnificent beast is only 8-1/2 months old. Not too shabby for a scraggly one-pound foundling retrieved from the hood of a car, eh?



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 68,650
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: 3276
    Present total word count: 73,204



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Another ambulance; another police visit; a little disagreement that wasn't a fight, but felt like a fight; a quiet consultation.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with Greyson; went out and voted; took the little old lady cat in for fluids and got a tutorial on that so we can soon do these things at home; rescheduled a doctor's appointment; went to lunch with the husband.

    Personal Other: I had a referral to an ENT, but the appointment was for Thursday - and I am frankly too eyeballs deep in everything to take a couple of hours out of my day to make that happen just now. (Office is about 20 miles away.) The nice receptionist let me put the appointment off until the end of this month, thank God.

    Cat Other: Beware the bed monster.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 63,830
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: 2759
    Present total word count: 69,928



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: A tour of the town; an invitation that should have probably been declined; a church service that went south. Hard.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with Greyson; successfully corralled and returned a loose boxer I found playing in traffic (eventually); hosted a playdate with Greyson's, bestie Luna; went to lunch and ran errands with a friend; cleaned house; I don't even remember what all else.

    Personal Other: Still kind of sick. Still kind of gross. Sorry.

    Dog Other: My dog, everyone.



    Not My Dog Other: Zeke took off for an adventure when his mom removed his collar - so she could change its batteries. (For an electric fence.) She came and got him after a couple of hours, when the neighborhood email list successfully put us in touch. In the meantime, he played with Greyson and napped on my feet. He's a great guy, that Zeke.



    Cat Other: One of my cats, everyone.




    Number of fiction words so far this year: 60,554
Here's today's 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: 2672
    Present total word count: 67,169



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Lunch and some shared concerns; a very weird reception; sinister portents all around.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; tidied the house; went to lunch; tried not to take a nap; mostly succeeded.

    Personal Other: Still feel like crap, and sometimes my right ear is so clogged up I can hardly hear out of it, but the antibiotics are on the case. I assume. They're messing with my stomach like crazy, so they'd BETTER be making themselves useful otherwise.

    Dog Other: My dog, everyone.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 57,795

Give me time to realize my crime

Here's today's 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: 1226
    Present total word count: 64,497



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: A quick welcome and a hotel reservation.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; wrote three quick reply letters, printed them out and got them ready to mail (long story); dealt with some escrow paperwork (adulting!); cleaned the whole entire house (high-fives self!); blurbed a book that was almost overdue; got myself some lunch because I couldn't stand the thought of cooking.

    Personal Other: Antibiotics are hell on my stomach. Don't want to eat, but need to eat or else it's even worse. Yuck.

    Cat Other: Little old lady cat let me sleep last night, thank God. I woke up this morning with her and Quinnie both lounging on top of me - Spain on one arm, Quinn across my legs. I wondered why I was so hot...

    Bonus Cat Other: You know it's coming up on springtime proper when the purple finches argue over where to build their nests. Hooray for cat-TV season.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 55,123
Here's today's 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 1, 2016
    New words written: 2678
    Present total word count: 63,271



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: We meet at last! (No, we meet at first!)

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dog; went to post office; took a panicky break to try and help catch Luna, Greyson's best friend - who got loose from her harness and went on an adventure; hosted a dog playdate when the wanderlusty little lady was finally corralled; took my meds like a good girl.

    Personal Other: I feel less like crap than yesterday, and it's only day 2 of the antibiotics. Hooray.

    Cat Other: Little old lady cat only got up three times last night. Not ideal, but it beats the 8-10 times per night we receive - when she's really on a tear.

    Dog Other: Greyson and Luna were super happy to see each other. The weather here has been really wet and miserable for the last couple of weeks, so they had a lot of pent up wrasslin' energy to work out of their systems. All of this wiggly, joyful dog energy sometimes makes them tricky to photograph. But sometimes, I get lucky.



    Number of fiction words so far this year: 53,897