Today’s Passing Thought

A little poem about writing for a gray, cold December evening

I am resolved. I WILL make WIP progress today.
Despite the cat’s best efforts to drive me up a wall by howling at high volume any time I begin to concentrate.
Despite body aches & toothache & headache.
Even tho’ it’s night now & I spent the whole day playing with other things.
Gonna write.
Gonna.
Write.

After dinner.
I promise.

Hold me to it, people. Ask for evidence. Demand snippets. Whatever.

Accountability is a real motivator.

Okay. Well. Y’know, carry on.

Inside my head

  • It’s crock pot season! And slow-oven casserole season. And cookie-baking season. Happy, happy kitchen nesting time. There are more apples to process, too. I will need all the crunchy, dried bits of summer heaven and dollops of saucy heaven  I can get to brighten up meals in the dark, cold months ahead.
  • I HAVE EDITS BACK for Sharp Edge of Yesterday! This means I now have a doubled writing workload and two deadlines to chase, but somehow this makes me happier than happy. I know authors are supposed to agonize about edits, but I…don’t. In this case I agree without reservation about the things that need polishing. The how of some fixes will be tricky & take a lot of work. And I may leave flaws in. BUT. The end result will be a stronger story. So much stronger. I have much pondering to do first.
  • The latest in searches:
    • dead bolt types
    • adenovirus rhinovirus flu virus symptoms severity
    • corn a fruit, grain or vegetable (spoiler alert: yes to all)
  • I don’t like super-spicy foods, and I believe garbanzo beans are one of nature’s nastiest edibles. It’s a  So…of course chili flavored dry-roasted chickpeas are my favorite new discovery in snack foods. I would probably love the sea salt flavored ones too, but I haven’t found those in local stores yet.
  •  Media update!
    • The Commuter: Liam Neeson was in it, so I had to watch. I don’t regret watching, but, um. The plot was bent into a pretzel to work in the digital mobile world. Also it telegraphed everything. No, I didn’t “figure out the twists.” It’s just that the tropes were all binary choices that would be equally satisfying and familiar. Things could hinge on “old-friend betrayal” or “corrupt boss.” Other secondary characters might sacrifice themselves or be allies. Plus the central moral dilemma was never compelling. Brain candy
    •  American Gods. Yum. I had my doubts, given the dreamy source material, and it’s very much an adaptation, but I am adoring it. It feels true to the Gaiman book,  which is more than I expected. I love that book for (among other reasons) recognizing The House On The Rock as a portal to other realities.
  • Random cat pic: IMG_4845

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

  • It’s pistachio season! Sure, they’re available all the year ’round, but for reasons related to obsolete seasonal supply chains, I will forever associate them with fall & winter holidays. Ditto smokehouse almonds (Mmm, yummy.) There’s no explaining why I like those two tree nuts but LOATHE walnuts, pecans and most other seed-derived things, but there it is. I am not a logical being.
  • Peanuts don’t count as nuts, by the way. 1, they’re legumes. Fancy peas. 2, I eat them mostly as fuel-food/meal replacements or in the childhood-comfort-memory  form of peanut butter toast.  I don’t see them as treats.
  • The latest in searches:
    • seashell geometry
    • rag content paper manufacturing
    • verses this land is your land
    • Vietnam hands bridge
  • I love the undo feature in Gmail.  So much love. No more stomach-dropping moment of horror accompanying thoughts of “DID I REMEMBER THE THING?” or “DID THAT GO TO THE RIGHT PERSON?” an instant after clicking “send.” Just click undo, check & double-check one last time, and resend. No mess, no fuss, immediate relief. (If you never have thoughts like those in all-caps above, I envy you. Phone cameras and patient pet sitters have also made my life infinitely less stressful. Stove knobs and door locks are among my many travel nemeses. )
  • Due to vision issues, it’s MUCH easier for me to read on-screen, especially a small screen with good contrast and no glare. (thank you Kindle Paperwhite, for FINALLY coming through with that technology.)  Due to me being able to read much faster than I can earn $$ for books, I am a devoted library patron. As a writer I am a huge supporter of library access because many book lovers are not made of money.

    SO. Two things are torquing me off right now: 1) Tor Book’s misguided decision to freeze library purchases of ebooks within the first 3 months of release, and 2) my library’s increasing reluctance to purchase science fiction or fantasy in any/all formats…not to mention treating science fiction as a genre but not including fantasy in it. (that’s been a WTAF issue for me for two decades now.)

  • Let me tell you my saga of attempting–at my health care provider’s recommendation–to get a flu shot from sources offering “free flu shots*” (the asterisk means”free if covered by your health insurance.”) Nah. It’s too long and annoying a saga. I’ll roll with, “administering health care via a splintered system of competing profit centers is a major societal FAIL.” Future generations will think us as crazy for supporting it as we consider the Romans who used lead pots for boiling down grape juice. HARUMMPH.
  •  Random cat pic:img_8218
  • I evidently grump about the exhausting task of dealing with humanity every two weeks, give or take. It’s a remarkably consistent cycle–I have a couple of years of data. (thanks, creepy FB) This bears further study. Why that time frame? What’s the unknown variable? Enquiring minds are always curious about these things.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

  • I always forget how acidic apples are, because they taste so sweet. Then I try to unlock my phone right after processing a bunch of apples (where “a bunch” translates as a couple of pecks) The phone’s biometric sensor just laughs at me and says, “NOPE. Not today. Those fingertips have no recognizable fingerprints.”
  • The latest in random searches:
    •  complementary colors guide
    • tectonic geology united states
    • 19th century men’s hairstyles american
    • cumin related plant poisonous
  • Nothing drains my emotional energy like the many emails and other semi-official communications I’ve sent lately. I can interact with humanity. Or I can be quiet-minded and creative. Attempting both in a short time frame like a single day is as hard as pushing straight from top to bottom gear on an old 10-speed bike. It takes focus, timing, and a lot of effort, and there’s always a big risk of complete derailment.
  • Can’t throw in the towel on the whole writing gig now, I just ordered new business cards. (this tidbit is filed under “Staving off the grumpies brought on by two full months of zero sales or reads online.”)
    Yes, ZERO. *sigh* But I can’t give up because I have business cards & stickers, plus stories to tell, new characters to create and existing ones to cherish–all the stuff I think is terrifically exciting and awesome. Even if no one else does.
  • Spouseman insisted I buy a big cherry pie when the little one I usually get was out of stock at the pie place. Cherry pie makes an excellent breakfast food, with and without bacon. Just in case anyone was wondering. Plus now I have an extra pie plate.
  •   Random cat pic:IMG_4832
  • I saw a hawk yesterday. She looked raggedy and frazzled and annoyed as hell —  because she was being chased by sparrows. Yes, sparrows. A whole flock of angry little brown birds chased a hawk into hiding under a squirrel nest.  I was torn. I mean, I love raptors, but I had to root for the mob of brave, wee, cheeping fluffballs taking on a predator bigger than all of them combined.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

I promised a scenelet. Here it be.

A while back I asked if anyone wanted a sneak peek at Ghost Town, my new work in progress. Y’all said, “Yes,” so I of course did nothing for ages. Until now.

TL;DR version of context: She’s new on the job. He’s been dead over a century.  Together they solve crimes.

The longer spiel: Deena Davis fled her wee Illinois hometown as soon as she was old enough to enlist in the Army.  Now she’s back in Gridley as the newly-appointed police chief, just in time to catch Gridley’s first murder case in decades.

Her great-great-grandfather Fletcher was Gridley’s mayor during his lifetime. Since his death he’s been the mayor of the town’s ghostly population. He was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he has the ability to make himself seen by his descendants.

He is keen to help Deena solve this murder whether she wants it or not.

Also, Deena owns a retired military working dog named Bazel. (Because I wanted to write a dog, that’s why.) That’s why there’s a pic of a Malinois at the top of this post.

     Fletcher caught up to Deena while she was on her way to talk with the county clerk’s digital specialists. One minute she was checking the road behind her before changing lanes, the next, her rear view was blocked by the ghost’s smiling, whiskery face.

“Hello, granddaughter!”

Deena’s startled flinch nearly put them in the ditch before trained reflexes kicked in. The car rocked on its wheels, and gravel crunched under the right front tire, but she settled the swerve.

“Not funny!” she snapped as she regained control. “Don’t ever pop up like that when I’m driving, not ever.”

“When you’re—oh.” Fletcher took note of the scenery flashing by, and his face fell. “I didn’t think to check the physical plane ‘afore visiting. I’m right sorry, Deena. ”

His contrite expression looked sincere, but the man had been a politician. Deena wouldn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. “You’d better be sorry. This partnership will come to an abrupt and nasty end if I slam head-on into a semi.”

Bazel nosed irritably at the mayor, who was occupying much of the same space in the back seat as he was. Fletcher ignored the dog’s intrusion, his expression thoughtful in a dangerously familiar way. Deena had seen that look on her father’s face more than once when he got to yearning for grandkids.

She shouldn’t have mentioned dying. At least the ghost couldn’t set her up on blind dates. He could nag, though. Better cut that off before it starts. “And don’t even think about telling me I should settle down and start popping out kids.”

The ghost stroked his mustache and slid to the other seat to get away from the dog. “No idea what you’re on about,” he said cheerfully. “Ain’tcha going to ask why I’m here? Lemme tell you. I made inquiries last night, and I have news.”

“That’s grand,” Deena said with maximum insincerity. Just as she’d suspected, the mayor was going to hover over her and get in the way. The tires squeaked as she turned hard into the office parking lot. She found the building number and pulled into a spot nearby. “I have to interview a digitizing specialist. Learn anything relevant to that?”

“I don’t reckon so. Not even sure what that is.”

“Then wait here—or if you won’t do that, at least stay out of my sight and keep your mouth shut so I don’t look like a lunatic.”

“Hold on one goldarned second.” Fletcher did his instant-move thing to appear at Deena’s shoulder as she opened the rear door to retrieve Bazel. “Is that any way to talk to your partner? Listen here—”

“No, you listen.” Deena unlatched Bazel and looked down at the dog to avoid the talking to thin air issue. “I can’t drop everything any time you decide to show up. Maybe you have all the time in the world, but I don’t, and there is no box for ‘ghost evidence’ on the reports I have to file. This comes first.”

She looked up at the end. Fletcher met her angry gaze for long seconds. “You don’t have to be so hurtful,” he finally said.

She had been harsh. Much too harsh. She let out tension in a heavy sigh and rubbed her aching neck. Sun beat down on the pavement, and reflected heat rose up through her boots. Her ancestor looked cool and collected. Must be nice to not melt in the heat. “I’m sorry, Fletcher. You scared the daylights out of me. That gets my temper up. No disrespect. I do want to hear you out. Just—not now. Please.”

“Well, all righty. That’s a pretty explanation, and I might have a temper myself.” The ghost mayor regarded her Ford Interceptor with a thoughtful frown. “These carriages keep getting bigger and more complicated. How’s about you take me for a drive around town in it? I can give you all the news and show you the sights, and you can show me how fast it goes.”

“That’s—not a bad idea.” Nobody looked twice at drivers talking to themselves. Deena gave Bazel a quick ear scratch and straightened to see a figure at the office window duck out of view. Looked like her witness was getting nervous. “We’ll do that soon. Now go poof or whatever it is you do and let me get to work.”

“Poof?” Fletcher said. “Poof?”

She gestured extravagantly with both hands like a magician. “Poof!”

He was still sputtering when he disappeared, but he was smiling too.

Inside my head this week

  • Been watching this year’s baby squirrels indiscriminately sample EVERYTHING in my yard. It’s their first seasonal Stock Up For Winter Festival of Foods, and they are relentlessly optimistic. One has nibbled the same hot pepper five times today, as if she can’t quite believe that it will taste nasty every single time. One of her siblings (or cousins, who knows?) can smell the tasty food scraps in the organics can, but they’re too deep to reach. So she relieves her frustration by nibbling on the lid. (No, she isn’t trying to gnaw her way in. She peeks inside, twitches her tail, then closes the lid and bites it before running off to investigate my tomato plants. Again.)
  • The latest in weird searches:
    • Puppet glossary
    • instinctive versus instinctual
    • 19th century ball sports
    • mauve etymology
  • Gumbo Fiction Salon was a special edition this month: celebrating Mary Shelley & 200 years of Frankenstein. Spouseman took the day off, and my author friend Toni Johnson came downtown for this one too, so it was a Super-duper Big Author Adventure. We had food and fun, and at the open mic I read a bit more from my veterinarian short story that I will send off to a magazine someday.  Extra-big plus: Toni and I had a Work Day together and I actually got words made too. Major Win.
  • I passed 50,000 words in Ghost Town this week! Celebrate with me, I’m doing a happy chair-dance. It’s officially a novel, and well over halfway done.
  • I am getting tired of my elbows and forearms hurting. I know what’s wrong and am doing all the things to treat it, but tendonitis and nerve entrapment take MONTHS to heal at best with joints like mine. Also I keep accidentally re-aggravating the tendons and pinching the nerves, which slows down the healing process. Yes, yes, I know better. But have you ever tried going through a whole day not rotating your wrists? Not easy.
  •  It smells like autumn at last. Fallen leaves, drying herbs, petrichlor, and frost. Ahhhh, happy nose. It’s pretty for the eyes, too. The sky is never so blue as it is after a drenching autumn rainstorm passes, and the sunlight never more golden than when it filters through the just-turned leaves of a big gnarly locust tree.
    (I adore fall, can you tell?)
  • Books, stickers, and new business cards ordered in time to have them on-hand for for the laid-back local Windy Con next month. GOOD TIMES AHEAD. Right? Right? Hmm. Need to make a date with my seamstress to get my Fancy Coat taken in to fit properly. (Hi, Cheryl! Let’s get together this week, eh?)
  •  My idea of an exciting Sunday: brain-free viewing on the television, a peck of apples set up to peel & prep, hot cider in my mug, and fresh popcorn with LOTS of salt in a big bowl next to me.

 

That’s all the all there is for now.

Book needs blurb. Author needs hug.

Writing cover copy is a particular set of writing skills, but skills can be learned, right?   Practice makes perfect. No pressure. These are just the words that make or break a reader’s first impression of my book. IT’S FINE, REALLY.

<sobs>

Here’s my first stab at a blurb for The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, the next novel in my Rough Passages supers series. Thoughts, anyone?

Grace Trapani is fighting for her life. The Department of Public Safety wants her behind bars, her estranged husband wants to control her body and soul, and the power in her blood makes her a threat to her own family.

She left behind everything she knows to protect her daughters, but she can’t hide from the destructive forces growing inside her. Only a dedicated group of rebels within the Department can help her escape imprisonment and death.

I know it needs something. Salt? Garlic? A swift, sharp kick? Anyway.

Also, Grace’s last name is currently up for revision. It might end up being Horn or Reed, or maybe Keiffer?  NAMES ARE HARD TOO. Ideas welcome.

To end on a less-whiny note, pretty pictures! The top image is the full-wrap cover painting. Below is a detail on the front cover. It’s coming out pale on my monitor, not sure why. It’s gorgeous, really.

I LOVE THIS COVER THOSEoY Postcard