So anyway, I’m currently at *checks Scrivener* 8,737 words of a projected 80,000 on Swan, and things are going as smoothly as possible seeing that I also have a day job that cuts into my writing time. But our bills are also steadily dropping (I actually paid off my car in December! Whee!) so I’ll suck it up and shove writing time into whatever available crevices I can find.
That came out weird. Never mind.
I also have what I’m pretty sure is going to be the final cover — still need to make some tweaks here and there, but I absolutely love that Belle Epoque dress and the way the model’s turned head artfully exposes the bite marks of a certain Tudor vampire, ahem. I know it doesn’t scream paranormal romance, but I can already tell this book is going to straddle the boundary between PNR and UF so what the heck, I may as well go with a cover that flirts with both genres.
In other news, the lurgy that I came down with two days after Christmas and two days before Sister and BIL were due to arrive (which made cleaning the house SO much fun, and great accolades have been awarded to Ramón who stepped up to the plate like a champ and did all of the heavy lifting so that I could rest as much as possible) appears to be finally, FINALLY on the way out. After, I must say, producing the most amazing neon yellow mucus I have ever seen. I honestly had no idea my body could make something that color. I’m still coughing intermittently but that seems to be related more to my usual allergy-induced sinus drainage than any actual infection. Nonetheless, I’m going to monitor that bit because a lot of people seem to be getting hit by pneumonia this winter and I really want to avoid it if at all possible.
Happy holidays, and enjoy this unedited snippet from my current WIP, Victorian paranormal romance Shadow of the Swan. Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least I’m writing something.
“Tell me that I’m imagining things. Tell me that there’s nothing between us, that everything I feel is some sort of foolish dream kindled by my own imagination.”
He opened his mouth, intending to assure her that what she felt was one-sided and fleeting. What came out was, “No, you’re not imagining things.”
She nodded. “Good. I’d hate to think that I was that self-deluded.”
If you are, my treasure, then I’m equally deluded. “But we can’t act on it,” he added heavily.
“I know. The queen has decreed that I marry Richard Bolton, and you—” She gave him a sidelong glance. “Can you marry? Legally, I mean?”
“You mean, will I burst into flame if I set foot inside a church?” He squinted up at the weak December sunlight. “Another myth. I can go into a church, hold a crucifix, be splashed by holy water without harm.”
“You’re not answering my question.”
Damn her perspicacity. “I can marry, yes. Many vampires wed, for various reasons. But it carries certain complications when we marry a human.”
“An immortal being marrying a mortal one. It must seem like a human marrying a butterfly.”
“Not quite that unequal, I assure you. But it’s painful to know that you’re guaranteed to outlive the one you love.” Memories of Anne crept forward, sweetly harrowing. “At least humans know that they will both age and die at some point, ideally to be reunited in the afterlife. Vampires cannot indulge in that comfort.”
“Do vampires usually marry each other, then?”
He wondered if she truly wanted to know, or whether it was a ploy to delay their return. “Sometimes, or other creatures with extended lifelines. But those unions can also be problematic. The married couples I know often spend large periods of time apart.”
Louisa was silent for a moment. Then, to his surprise she said, “Yes, I can see how an eternity together might begin to pall after some time. Still, they do reunite eventually, don’t they?”
“The ones I know do, yes.”
“Well, then.” They continued around the curve of the pond, the December breeze chilly as it riffled the water’s surface. “Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Another of her solemn glances. “Although that doesn’t bode well for us, does it?”
Once again, she cut to the heart of the matter. “I’m afraid not.”
She let out a soft sigh. “At least we’ve had these few days together. That’s something.”
Relief that she hadn’t asked to be turned warred with an urge to snarl. Moments walking side by side or talking weren’t nearly enough; all they did was whet his appetite for her. “It is nothing,” he ground out. “I have spent nearly five hundred years working to protect the monarchy. I have witnessed momentous events, seen fools and wise men ascend the throne, and have done whatever was required of me to make sure that this green land and its people remained safe. And in all that time I have never been tempted to shirk my duties, until now.”
She stopped and stared at him, eyes huge with wonderment. “I don’t know what to say to that,” she whispered.
“You needn’t say anything. You shall marry and, with Bolton’s help, produce the next generation of Britain’s leaders. Meanwhile, I shall continue in my position at the Ministry. My consolation is that my duties will now include protecting you and your children.”
One hand rose, fluttering to a rest at the base of her throat. “I—I wish—”
He stepped closer, acutely aware of her scent on the crisp air, the warmth that emanated from her body. “As do I. But it’s not to be, my lady.”
He would never forget how she looked in the swiftly fading daylight, how he would have given up his immortality without a second thought, if he could only take her in his arms and kiss her. Finally, she nodded in resignation. “We’d best get back. Pandora will be wondering where we are.”
You can see the subtle reference to Where’d You Go, Bernadette in the title. Because I’m clever that way.
I think I need to apologize to everyone who follows me, reads my books, and has supported me over the years for 2019. My output, or lack thereof, has been a big issue all year, and I’ve pretty much spent my time re-releasing books for which the rights have been returned to me.
So, why no new books this year? Well, it’s complicated, and some of it is personal, but the upshot of it is, I spent the first half of the year stressing over Ramón’s impending unemployment, and the second half of the year scrambling to cover bills while he looked for a new job and then getting a contract job of my own.
Let’s talk about the stress first. No matter what La Bohème or RENT would like you to believe, stress does not help your average creative type. In fact, it tends to shut us right the hell down. And knowing that 1) Ramón’s contract would end right on my birthday, and 2) he’s now of an age where the contract jobs–actually, the jobs full stop–are becoming thinner and thinner) made buckling down to work kinda difficult.
I mean, I tried. I got started on Uncertainty Principle, and King of Blades, and Shifter Woods: Claw, kept picking at the holiday romcom novella, and wrote down notes for a sorta-sequel to To My Muse. But bills kept piling up, and trying to juggle them and keep a roof over our heads and the J Crew fed with R’s impending unemployment staring us in the face made it difficult to focus. It didn’t help that I could make more money right away by creating jewelry, so I focused on that for much of the year.
And then in May, Ramón admitted that he was worried about the job situation, and as much as he hated it would I mind looking for a job? Not being a selfish asshole I said of course, brushed off my resume, and started hunting around on Linkedin and Indeed. It took a couple of months and one false start, but by mid-July I had signed a contract with my current employer to do specialized tech writing for them on a client-by-client basis.
When my birthday came, Ramón handed in his card and laptop, signed up for unemployment, and started job hunting with a vengeance. In the meantime I started work at the end of August, juggled our finances even faster because I wasn’t making as much as he had been, and prayed that he would find a job soon. As it turned out he didn’t find anything until October and didn’t start until mid-November, which made August through November … interesting. Yeah, let’s call it interesting.
But. My beloved is now gainfully employed for a year, with a company that is known for extending its contracts, and he’s building a good rep with his contract company so even if the client doesn’t extend his contract he should be able to find something else fairly quickly. In this year, while he pays the daily bills I plan on taking any contract jobs that come my way with an eye towards clearing off all of our outstanding bills (two have already been cleared and in the first half of next year I work on zeroing out our credit cards) and finally getting my bad knee replaced. Once that’s done, I’m going to sock away as much money as humanly possible in case his current contract isn’t extended or he can’t find another job soon afterwards. Because man, being broke over the holidays sucks ass.
That being said, having money again relieves a lot of stress, so I do intend to put out at least three titles in 2020 (for one thing, I have to take some time off after the knee surgery, so what better time to write?) And I want to thank everyone who has hung in there with me and waited for things to settle down to the point where I could get back to the keyboard and do what I do best. I adore you all to bits, and I really hope that you’ll enjoy what will be coming out from me next year.
In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a happy and safe December, and watch Ryan Reynolds’s new Aviation Gin commercial because that shit is hilarious.
Hey all. I’m sorry about the radio silence these past few, well, months — I’ve been tackling a lot of contract tech writing since the end of August, and what with that and my laptop dying I’ve just been too tired to post much of anything here or elsewhere.
A writing update: I am still working on One Sweet Christmas and hope to get it out sometime in the next two weeks. I plan on using NaNoWriMo to finish King of Blades, and I should have the re-release of Breaker Zone ready to go by mid December. I suspect this will be known as the Year of Re-Releases for me, but hey, at least I’m getting them turned around and back out for purchase.
A fitness update: ha. Ha ha ha. But I did do 30 minutes on the treadmill yesterday (it helps that my sister called and distracted me for 23 of them) and I’ll try to do the same tonight. But this up-and-down weather North Texas has had for the last six weeks or so has been hitting my sinuses like a spiked baseball bat, and even with all the neti potting in the world they’re still gunked up and sore.
I promise, 2020 will be better when it comes to new stuff from me — this has been one hell of a tough, stressful year for everyone in Casa Cameron (as it has been in many households around the world), and despite rumors to the contrary difficult conditions do not make it easier for you to create good art. Kind of the opposite, in fact. But I have high hopes that things will get better very soon, and when that happens I’ll have the energy to churn out the long books again.
A little over a month or so ago, my laptop started karking up. There were at least three different periods where it was dead to the world for a week, until Ramón worked his magic and got it started again. After the third computer death, we decided that it was time to invest in a new MacBook, as the old one’s model had graphics card problems that were indeed shutting the whole damn thing down and it was only a matter of time before it died the True Death.
Ramón went back to our source for refurbed MacBooks and found this lovely mid-2012 model with no graphics card glitches and a 14% increase in speed over my existing model. As he is currently a gentleman of leisure searching for employment and I am performing contract instructional design on a somewhat uncertain schedule, having to splash out on a replacement laptop was not fun but I figure I’ll bust my ass to sell enough jewelry to cover the cost this month (and I have some spectacular new pieces on the bench that will be coming soon).
I told him to buy it, and it arrived today. He spent the afternoon testing the new chassis to make sure everything was working properly, then transferred over the brain. I have literally spent the evening updating EVERYTHING (including a new version of Scrivener, whee!), testing the graphics capability (DOUBLE WHEE), and generally getting everything ready for some frenzied writing in order to get my adorable holiday romance novella One Sweet Christmas (blurb: Take an unemployed PA stranded in a Colorado mountain town after her car breaks down, add a widowed baker with a young daughter and a sneaky father-in-law who’s also the town mechanic, toss in an emergency wedding cake for a social media princess, and top with some Christmas magic for one sweetly sexy holiday romance! Or as my editor put it, “It’s Kristin Bell and Robert Downey Junior bantering over cake pans”) done and out by mid-October.
That also means that Let’s Get Healthy will restart as well, beginning with a post later on tonight. I may not need to get on the treadmill tomorrow if my plan works out and I can lure Ramón to the Texas State Fair for a few hours. Granted, the benefits of walking around will probably be cancelled out by a Fletcher’s Corny Dog and whatever new fried treats they’re featuring this year, but hey, it’s good to get out in the fresh air once in a while.
Minutes on treadmill: 30
Resignation level: beyond reasonable belief
Okay, here’s the story. For the past eight days I was not only working ten hours a day, I was also making twelve mermaid doll bodies for a con that happened over the weekend (when I volunteered to run a “Decorate Your Own Mermaid Doll” demo I wasn’t aware that I’d be working a contract gig at the same time). I was literally finishing the day job, then shifting three feet over to my sewing machine and cranking out doll bodies.
Did I walk during that time? I tried to. I think I managed maybe ten, fifteen minutes a day, when I wasn’t doing an exhausted faceplant or having weird anxiety dreams about programming triggers in Storyline. I know I should have been doing the full thirty minutes. It just didn’t work out that way. I didn’t get much sleep last week as it was.
On the plus side, I don’t seem to have gained any weight, which is nice. Then again, I also wasn’t eating much during that time. I also wasn’t doing much of anything beyond working, sewing, feeding the cats, and grabbing a few hours of sleep before getting up to do it all again, which means I’ve lost some gains on mobility and endurance. Boo.
But it is Monday, things are back to normal, and that means yours truly was back on Chuck grinding out the time (and I have the sweaty hair to prove it). Even better, I have some new story ideas that came to me while I was sewing, and I’ll be inputting those into Uncertainty Principle and King of Blades, as well as the holiday novella that I WILL have done by the middle of October, come hell or high water.
Okay, I didn’t stop this, honest — my laptop died and access to my blog was damn near impossible using my tablet so there it is.
In the last week I’ve had good days and bad days with regards to walking (didn’t do any on the 10th because I felt like crap), my actual period started on Wednesday and is progressing normally (which means I’ve bloated up like a sick camel), and today I spent fifteen minutes on the treadmill and 2-3 hours cleaning the upstairs bathroom that used to be Ramón’s baliwick but will be used by me as well from this point onwards because I’m working in my office and don’t want to keep going to the master bathroom when I have to pee.
And yes, it took that long. No, it’s not because the room was absolutely disgusting — he does tend to clean up after himself. But the light of my life is also a ginormous pack rat who tends to store stuff wherever he can find a flat surface, so much of the cleaning was me sorting through piles of printouts stacked haphazardly on the counter and trying to figure out where the hell a given item 1) was and 2) where it was actually supposed to reside.
But the bathroom is clean now, and it will stay clean from this point onward. It’s also the one with the non-functional tub (we replaced the drain earlier in the year and managed to crack the drain pipe in the process), so if all things go well on the job front the nasty old tub will be yanked sometime in November and replaced with a beautiful tiled shower stall. You’d better believe I’m collecting pictures of stalls and dreaming of subway tile and a lovely glass door.
Which reminds me, I have to clean the downstairs bathroom tomorrow. Oh, the glamorous life of a writer…
Time on Treadmill: 10 minutes.
Pain level: Looking longingly at the ibuprofen but I don’t desperately need it
Yeah, I know — it looks like I’m going backwards. I’m still not sleeping all that great so I did ten minutes on the treadmill, then swept the dining room, kitchen, and library (cat hair gets everywhere) to get some more movement in because the thought of getting back on the treadmill made me want to cry. I think I’ll be back to normal by tomorrow, however, because tomorrow is Saturday and that means I can sleep as long as I like. So even if I do get a couple of pain flareups during the night I don’t have to get up at Oh Dark Thirty for work.
The ironic thing? There’s nothing in my contract that says I have to maintain business hours — I could work at night if I wanted to. But it’s easier to be up at 8 AM so that you can field any phone calls coming in from clients, so that’s what I do.
In more creative news, I plan on bingeing on jewelry and writing this weekend, since my dear friend Cinco sent me yet more sterling silver flatware handed down by her great-grandmother, just waiting to be turned into jewelry (I already have a design in mind for one spoon handle), plus matching earrings for that vintage 1920s art deco pendant, and a cool sterling silver piece set with malachite that I unfortunately killed by putting it in the pickle jar (live and learn. I also now have a LOT of copper-concentrated pickle that I need to evaporate before I can send the crystals off to the Hazardous Waste center. When I’m not doing that, I’ll be working on Shifter Woods: Growl and King of Blades, whee!
Time on Treadmill: 20 minutes.
Pain level: Not quite at “I want to cut my leg off” levels anymore, but not fun
To be bluntly honest, I didn’t sleep last night, so I feel moderately horrible today. Every time I tried to move (and I toss and turn a lot), the leg would start screaming and wake me up so most of the night was spent dozing fitfully between moments of, “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK?”
Gentle, slow walking helps and that’s why I managed to get twenty minutes done today, but by the end of the day my leg was hurting so badly that I couldn’t even bend down to slip on my gymshoes. That’s when I decided to heed my age and call it a night. That being said, the pain level is definitely improving, even if it’s still not fun, so I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday.
Writing … yeah, no.
Time on Treadmill: 30 minutes.
Pain level: Oh fuck
Okay. I have a home office, but I use a Mac as my desktop and my current contract requires a PC so I’ve been using a PC laptop in the dining room. Which has wooden chairs, which I’ve just spent two days sitting on for a total of twenty hours. Yes, I took breaks and got on the treadmill, but by the time I’d wrapped up the work day the back of my left thigh was throbbing like a rotten tooth.
I know exactly what this is — I’ve done it before during marathon quilting sessions. I basically compressed the muscle and nerves back there. See the middle muscle in the triple bunches shown at left? It feels like someone has jammed a knife in there and is wiggling it back and forth. Bending/lifting the leg (as in going up and down stairs) or squatting to sit down hurts even more.
No, this isn’t deep vein thrombosis. I’m fully hydrated, I’m not showing any other signs, and I’ve had this before. Unfortunately, the only thing that will fix it is to not sit in the dining room anymore and tincture of time. I’m taking ibu, but it’s only dulling the top layer of pain. Looks like I’ll be working in the living room from my chair there for the rest of the week, and then I have got to sort out a work place in my office.