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Let me run with you tonight

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: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1617
    Present total word count: 14,420



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Left home in the rain, but it wasn't so bad; got a Coke; skipped pizza; made for the bar even though they won't serve us. And things were weird.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; more powering through copyedits for Chapelwood; very little else, as I REALLY want to get these copyedits out of the way, ASAP.

    Other: Copyedits are a necessary evil and copyeditors are wonderful, but by the time I see a manuscript's copyedits...I've probably gone over the material 3-5 times already and I'm just so damn sick of looking at it, you know?

    Unrelated Other: There is no unrelated other. There is only copyeditmonster.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 42,712

If I stay too long in trouble town

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: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1527
    Present total word count: 12,803



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Another leg in the new beginning; said good-bye to the godmothers (temporarily) and set off down the road, where things got weird.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; went to post office; went to bank; grabbed some lunch; worked on copyedits for Chapelwood.

    Other: YOU GUYS. Wonder Editor Liz TOTALLY signed off on the name change! So huzzah for that, eh? GOING FORWARD this project shall be called: The Toll. I love that little word. You sure do get a lot of mileage out of it, you know? It's perfect for a book that begins (more or less) with a man crossing a bridge and leaving something behind...

    Redundant Other: So I'm eyeballs deep in the Chapelwood copyedits, even as I'm trying to crawl forward with progress on The Toll. Not an ideal situation, but hey - life ain't ideal. Most of the time. I'll get it all done, don't worry. I always do. Right? Right??!

    Unrelated Other: A friend-of-a-friend could use a hand. Long story short, her barn got totaled by an asshat with a tractor (on accident, but still), and she can't swing the $1k insurance deductible. Meanwhile, momma-and-baby goats, horses, geese, ducks, and chickens are presently homeless...and in danger. If you can throw a few pence in the pot, it'd be muchly appreciated, I know.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 41,095

I am Superman and I know what's happening

Another week, another blog post. I hate that it's been so rare, as of late - but there are only so many hours in the day, you know? Mostly it's just been Writer Business (with very little writing, I confess), but I did get out of the house on Saturday - when the husband and I got all dressed up, and headed down to Atlanta to see the Night Vale live show at the ASO.



It was marvelous! And if you ever get a chance to catch a live show yourself, you should absolutely take the opportunity and GO.

Of course, with us being away from the house all day, Greyson would've had a hard time of it ... except that his Auntie Vanessa and the Cooj came over to keep him company. With Auntie V on scritch duty, everything turned out all right.



You can see how broken up he was, in our absence.

* * * * *


In other news, I did not win the Philip K. Dick Award this past weekend.



But I do offer my deepest thanks to the gruesome twosome at Seattle Geekly [Shannon pictured above, making a sadface on my behalf] and my most hearty congratulations to Meg Elison - who did take home the title.

* * * * *


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 Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 2470 (multi-day total)
    Present total word count: 11,276



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: A new beginning. No, seriously...I needed to pick a different place to begin the story. I'm pretty happy with it, actually.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; aforementioned trip to Atlanta; cleaned house; went to grocery store; went to liquor store; went to Walgreens; worked on the yard some more.

    Other: I think I want to re-do the title on this again. Its first title was Hell and Half of Georgia, which was kind of a mouthful (and my editor gave me a bit of side-eye about it), so we swapped it to The Seventh Bridge ... but I think it's best-suited to something even shorter: The Toll. Yes? No? I think it's perfect, but we'll see what Liz says...

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 39,568

* * *


Return of the majestic Arboreal Lapdog. He seems to like it up there.
(We've turned it into a neighborhood joke: "Turn left at the shih-tzu in a tree...")

Proof of Life, News, and Whatnot

Well, I did warn you that updates were likely to be few and far between for a couple of weeks. But I've been busy! Very busy! For one thing, I spent several days down in Dahlonega, Georgia, with such fine peeps as Kevin Hearne, Delilah Dawson, and Molly Harper. Shenanigans occurred. So did cake.



For that matter, also there were skillets full of brownies.
Don't ask.



Many thanks to everyone who came out to join and/or support and/or heckle us - with extra-special thanks to the inimitable Carol Malcolm, and the marvelous folks at Fox Tale Books - where you can presently order signed books from goobers like yours truly and/or pretty much anyone you see on this-here list. Just sayin'.

* * *


Other than the lit fest, I've mostly been eyeballs deep in Writer Business (but no actual writing) and yardwork. The weather has been just PERFECT and I wanted to get a jump on all the grunt-work before things heat up in another month or two; and thus far, I've successfully cleaned/swept/cleared brush by the wheelbarrow-full, and pruned/weeded/raked All The Things. I've also made a couple of runs to the local awesome lawn/garden shop, and spent a few bucks on some annuals for the container garden and/or the flower boxes out front (all 30 feet of them, yes), plus my traditional hanging flower baskets and a few perennials to fill in some dead spots left by winter. I may have splurged on some awesome irises that are so deliciously dark purple, they look like black velvet. Hypothetically.

Now that all of these new beauties are installed, I've also re-seeded some of the rougher/more naked/dog-ravaged patches of the lawn and soaked the whole thing down like crazy. There's more left to do, of course. There's always more. But this year, I'm better prepared than ever before. Knock on wood.

* * *


In other news, come Saturday the husband I are headed down to Atlanta to catch the Night Vale show on tour. I, for one, cannot freaking WAIT. I'm a latecomer to the podcast, but I'm a convert now ... and that's the important bit. Greyson and the kitty shall be lovingly critter-sat by our friend Vanessa - who will bring the Cooj over and camp out in our absence - so EVERYbody will have a grand time. Except the kitty, who will probably just sleep through the whole thing.

Did I mention we kept the Cooj for a few days? Well, we did. He and Greyson got some real good woofing done.



* * *


AND FINALLY. Because I save the biggest news for last ... I Am Princess X has scored a starred review from Publishers Weekly! This makes three starred reviews: Booklist, School Library Journal, and now PW. NO PRESSURE, RIGHT?

I also did two interviews on the subject of this book already this week, so things are really ramping up. My YA debut! In two months! I will try to keep from freaking out over here, okay?

Blue lights outta sight

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 Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1963
    Present total word count: 8806



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Finally sucked it up and called the cops; got some run-around; gave some run-around; got a ride back to town, because the car's been impounded.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; rescued a neighbor's lap-dog from tree; got my bangs trimmed; nabbed lunch; exchanged some important emails; got back down to inbox zero.

    Other: YARDWORK TIME. Today, all I managed was weeding about halfway around my back yard. It is a JUNGLE BACK THERE, people. I spent almost two hours yanking weeds, pruning things back, and relocating ground-cover. Long story.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 37,098

* * *

Today got off to a weird start; while walking Greyson this morning, I straight-up rescued a shih-tzu from a tree. No shit. His name is Eddie, and he's a known Houdini - in fact, he made it up to the tree because of the measures his people are taking to keep him in the yard. They'd covered up his usual escape route with a big sheet of plywood...which the little stinker scaled.

He scaled it all the way to the top, and then when he ran out of plywood, he just kept on going - onto the tree that grew alongside the fence. At which point, he was stuck. Right around eye-level. Whimpering for help. Not exactly what you expect to find on a morning walk, but hey - I got him down, and put him back into his yard.

(Note: First, I laughed at him, and took a couple of pictures. Ahem.)




Did he stay in his yard? God knows. But he never goes far when he does get out, so I'm assuming the best.
I'm still alive - and I survived the Meacham workshop/conference/whatever-it-is just fine. I met many groovy writers, some fabulous students, and a whole lot of other miscellaneous folks of outstanding character - and I got fed. A LOT. Because that's what happens at southern events.

SPEAKING OF. This coming weekend, I'll be in Dahlonega, Georgia, for the literary festival. So will many other terrific people. If you're in the area, you really should check it out.

* * * * *


At any rate. Spring has sprung and the yard is waking up. I'm trying to get a jump on it, even while I try to keep up with my deadlines and out-of-town travels - and so far, I'm actually doing pretty good. Today I accomplished the following: performed further maintenance weeding around HedgeHenge; weeded beneath HollyHenge; weeded the nook beside the back gate; thinned the front hedges and cleaned out dead stuff; hauled everything to the brush pile; did some light edging/trimming around the front of the house; weeded around the old roses out front and pruned them back a bit; and pulled weeds out of the stone retaining wall.

I also went to the bank and grabbed lunch; went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription; and had a quick visit with some nice folks I met at the Meachams (providing signed books for a lovely lady's birthday).

* * * * *


I guess when I put it that way, it looks like I got an awful lot done for a Monday. Heck - come to think of it, I ALSO finished up a draft of that short story I was working on ... adding 2238 words to my count, for a total of 35,135 words so far this year. I'd like to be proud of that figure, but it's frankly insufficient - and going forward, I really need to buckle down like crazy.

* * * * *


Greyson's friend Briley came over for a play-date. It was adorable - and since it was such a beautiful day, I had the windows open. Briley tried to befriend the kitty through the screen and it went ... not as well as he would've liked.

And now we meet in an abandoned studio

Many thanks on all the congrats and kind words re: yesterday's announcement - you guys are the best! As established, I am chuffed beyond words, myself. (Note: This is a temporary condition.)

So this year's schedule is filling up, and stuff is happening, and things are going on. There will be further news in the next few weeks - and likewise, there will be brief stretches of radio silence. For you see, deadlines aside, I have two literary conferences coming up, back-to-back.

Here. Let me provide you with some details.

FIRST UP: Starting tomorrow, I'll be tied up with the Meacham Writer's Workshop here in Chattanooga. If you are local, and if you are interested - you can catch me at a reading on Friday at noon, on the UTC campus, in the Signal Mountain Room of the University Center. There's no charge to show up and get an earful; these readings are free and open to the public.

NEXT UP: Next weekend, I'll be rejoining the fine folks at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. I will be in excellent company! Click the link and check out the guest list; this is a marvelous event, and if you're anywhere in the region, you should come out and support it.

Otherwise, for the next month or so I'll be working toward these deadlines - and working on the yard, because 'tis the season. (Almost. Might as well get a jump on things before it gets too hot and the bugs come out.) Anyway, please be a little patient with me, when it comes to blogging and so forth. I promise, I'll try to keep from going too quiet, for too long ... even if I only come up for air to produce a litany of What I Pruned, Where I Weeded, and How Many Words I Banged Out Today.

[:: pinky swears ::]

Look out for BRIMSTONE in 2017

Upon reflection, the title of this post sounds pretty apocalyptic - but you know what? I'm cool with that, because the announcement is APOCALYPTICALLY AWESOME ... in my perhaps-less-than-unbiased opinion. Are you ready? Here goes:

You remember how a couple of months ago I was noodling with a project? This project was a subtropical (art)deco mystery about a friendly 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. Its working title was Cassadaga.

With a little re-tooling, that project has been reborn as Brimstone - and you guys, my marvelous editor at Roc has called dibbs! That's right - early in 2017 Brimstone will be published by the same team responsible for Maplecroft!

[:: tee shirt cannon ::]
[:: confetti gun ::]
[:: glitter pompoms ::]

So to answer the obvious question - no, this is not a continuation of the Lizzie Borden stories. This is an altogether different tale; Brimstone is a stand-alone piece about two strangers with a foe in common - the ghost of a vengeful Inquisitor who still has a taste for burning witches. Consider it one part Penny Dreadful and one part American Horror Story, with a splash of tragic romance and a fabulous retro setting.

IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME. APOCALYPTICALLY AWESOME. And I am thoroughly psyched to have another project in the queue with the fine folks at Roc!

So you may be asking yourself - why such a late production date? Well, I'll tell you: This year, I still have three books coming out [I Am Princess X, Chapelwood, and The Family Plot], plus another one to write for Tor [The Seventh Bridge]. Besides that, I may hypothetically have another project or two on the horizon this year, so I need to leave a little breathing room in my schedule. Therefore, my deadline on this one doesn't land until March of 2016.

I can only type so fast, you know?

BUT THERE YOU HAVE IT. Another book in the queue! And it's dark and creepy and fun, and I'm thrilled silly that my editor Anne was game to give it a go! Thanks so much to her, and to my fabulous agent, and to all of you readers out there. We do it all for you :)

As sure as night is dark and day is light

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 Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1296
    Present total word count: 6843



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Talked to self a lot; debated calling the cops; tried to stay cool; went driving around looking for missing wife and/or missing bridge.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; ran to Walgreens; went to the post office; went to lunch; went back and forth re: several things via email; got the inbox down to *almost* zero.

    Other: I realize that's a non-spectacular word count, but in my defense - I'm also working on a short story that's due next month (for an anthology - not sure it's public info yet, so I'll keep the details to myself). To that end, I've also written 1884 words on top of that count above. Therefore, I will update the year's total (below) accordingly.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 32,915

* * *


Cat update: The kitty had her Little Old Lady Cat Checkup + booster shots yesterday, and she was about as outraged as you might expect - but the news was mostly good. Her blood levels are generally fine, her teeth (all original!) look great, and she's gained back half a pound - which is fantastic, considering she lost a pound last year.

The only iffy bit is her kidney function. In short, she's starting to show early signs of kidney decline, but those signs are very early indeed. For now, all it means is a change in kibble - a change which has been WILDLY well received. The special veterinary diet stuff vanished from her bowl as soon as I added it.

So. Three cheers for THAT.

This little dream might fade away

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 Seventh Bridge
    Deadline: January 15, 2016
    New words written: 1551
    Present total word count: 5547



    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Got tunnel vision; didn't exactly crash; didn't exactly land; didn't exactly stop; woke up alone.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [since yesterday] Neighborhood jaunt with dog; lunch with my cousin; ice cream with my cousin; shopping with my cousin; yet more laundry because it never ends; went to post office; grabbed lunch today; had an hour-long phone call with my marvelous agent, but can't talk about that just yet.

    Other: I will have good news to report, I promise! One of these days! But today is not that day; today is a day of trying to get this story back on track - and this evening will go to yet more writing and/or revising of another project or two, depending. You see, I have good reason to suspect that the shit is about to hit the fan...so I need to get a jump on things while I still have the luxury of doing so. If one can call that a "luxury."

    Bonus! Awesome Other: OKAY YOU GUYS GUESS WHAT - I Am Princess X [June, from Scholastic] has nabbed a starred Booklist review! [:: throws confetti ::] [:: the crowd goes wild ::] I can't link to it from here so everyone can see it, but I did grab an excerpt for my "Reviews" page if you're curious.

    Bonus! Bonus: It looks like the School Library Journal liked it too, though I don't yet have an official version of that review to excerpt :)

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 29,735

* * *


This is my cousin's cat, Frederick - and I love him, for he is fluffy and ridiculous.