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Not that I'm going to crack 50k on this project - or even the 30k I expressed a wish for yesterday - but what the hell. Might as well go ahead and start a running blog least, until production on something else gets in the way. I'm sure I'll have to put this down before I get a full draft, but that's no excuse not to take a swing at it, right?

So until progress is interrupted....

Here's recent progress on my modern gothic about two lady academics investigating the case of a mystery woman who was murdered and stuffed in a tree forty years ago - with Bonus! lovely ghosts, sinister messages from beyond, creepy small town shenanigans, and a New Southern Weird* vibe (as inspired by a true story):

    Project: Cinderwich
    Deadline: None! Mwoohahahahaha etc.
    New words written: 1802
    Present total word count: 20,524

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Successfully located a tree that may or may not be (but probably is) the spot where a woman's body was stashed in the late 1970s. Argued with friend/mentor about it, and very nearly left her there.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunt with the dogs; cooked and then cleaned kitchen; answered some emails; did some research reading; cleaned/did a half-water-change on the fish tank.

    Other: I was poking around on my website, trying to find the progress bar I use in these posts...when I came across this picture of Greyson and Quinnie, and it is perfect. It needs to be shared again.

    Pet Other: I only just cleaned Fancy's tank a week or so ago, but he had some uneaten food that was getting gross in the gravel - and a plant that was dying in a slimy fashion. (Usually Fancy just gets a regular tiny amount of fish-food, but sometimes the current from the filter sucks it away from him, and he loses it in the weeds.) I read an article a few months ago about how fish get depressed if their environment isn't engaging, anyway - and although he's none too keen on the actual process of having the tank tidied, he seems to very much appreciate the result. He spends ages swimming around, checking everything out and blowing bubbles. #nodepressedfishin2017

    Number of fiction words so far this year: Approximately 85k, by my best count. (Spread across several projects, largely in production/editorial processes.) Frankly, not my strongest year. I'll try to do better in 2018.

* I made that "category" explain what the forthcoming project The Toll is meant to feel like. It suits this one, too.
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The great Settling In continues, and goes mostly well. There's still a lot we'd like to do to the new house, but we're out of money for the time being - and here comes Christmas, so...yeah. Presents only for immediate family this year, and no holiday cards. I simply will not have my shit together in time - but such is life.

Next year, eh?

So this year...from a professional standpoint, I haven't had much going on. Brimstone came out from Roc early on, and then [group project] Indigo landed in June. I had one short story published, "Good Night Prison Kings" in Dark Cities, and in a couple of weeks [December 5] a new Wild Cards project - Mississippi Roll - drops, including a piece by yours truly. I guess when I put it like that, it doesn't sound like such a slow year; but it sure feels like a slow year. I've been in 5th gear for ages. Third gear feels like park.

I took a feeble stab at playing with a project for funsies, to line up with Nanowrimo...but didn't get very far. Still, if I finish November with 30k words on my oddball feminist modern gothic inspired by a true crime story from the 1940s...I'll still chalk it up as a "win."

Otherwise, for 2018 I still have The Agony House forthcoming (YA from Scholastic, pub date TBD) - and it's officially out of my hands, and into the hands of an artist;* also The Toll (horror from Tor, pub date TBD) is likewise still grinding along. No short stories in the queue, I don't think. A lot less travel, too.

On a less business-y note, the last few months have been very sociable - and it's been great finding a groove back in the PNW again. Old friends and new are making the process easier. I should probably post a bunch of pictures here to prove that I have left the house, but you can find those on Instagram if that's your jam. Also a zillion pics of the cats and dogs. And the fish.

Oh yeah, we added a fish. His name is "Fancy" because the lid of his tub ID'd him as a "Fancy Half-Moon Betta" and I short-handed it...then made a dumb joke on Twitter about naming him after a character I like on Killjoys. Then the actor who plays the character saw it, gave it his thumbs up, and that's why I have a fish named Fancy. He's a lovely little fellow, in a lovely 5-gallon tank with a heater, some moss balls, real and fake plants, and a little filter to keep the whole set-up clean and fresh. I mix up the furnishings every few weeks, because I read an article about how fish can get depressed just like people - and now I'm freaked out about the prospect of having a sad fish.

I mean, I freak out if I think any of the other household pets are unhappy, too - don't get me wrong. I will never understand people who have animal companions, and just...don't give a damn if they're happy. I want mine to be happy. Even the damp ones.

Speaking of, the ElderCat continues to rule the roost, despite her advanced age. I do not know how much longer she will be with us; she's in renal failure, on fluids twice a week, and is roughly old enough to drink. But as long as she's her usual self - we've got her back. Likewise, the House Leopard is doing well. Her persistent diarrhea issues have cleared up, and she's thrilled by the fish tank - though it has a tempered glass lid and strong plastic clippies to keep her out.** And of course, Greyson and Lucy remain ridiculous. They are learning their way around the new neighborhood, and making friends left and right - as they always do, everywhere we go. Every walk is basically Dog Cuddle Patrol.

At any rate, apart from holiday shopping and a last push for Nanowrimo, there's not much to report. I just realized I hadn't updated here in awhile, and also, I am keen to procrastinate while simultaneously appearing somewhat productive.

Thanks for reading, as always - and happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, or don't.

* Like I Am Princess X, there is a comic book element threaded through the story.
** Once, I sat and watched her try to get inside the tank for about twenty minutes. She failed at every turn, and has since given up. But she does love to watch it.

cheriepriest: (Batgirl)
Well, we made it. We closed on our Seattle house literally the evening before we left the Chattanooga house - and it only happened then because a dedicated notary came out to our house after hours and helped us file all the paperwork. First thing the next morning, we hit the road.

It was a six-day drive back to the West Coast. We took two cars, and we each took two animals - I drove with Greyson in the back seat, and Quinnie in the front seat. (Both secured, yes.) My husband brought the eldercat and Lucy in a similar configuration. Using a AAA travel agent, we booked all our hotel rooms in advance - making sure that we could bring our furry family members along without any difficulty. All but two of those nights were screwed up by the aforementioned travel agent; but when all was said and done, nobody had to sleep in the car and everything was fine.

My husband and I each traveled with a small suitcase. For the animals, we packed the largest suitcase we own - and at first we could barely close it, for it contained pre-measured meals for all four of them, plus bowls, medicine (for all four), fluids kit (for the eldercat), cannibis oil treats for the canine nervous nellies, flea/tick preventatives, and five disposable litter boxes stacked together. And I guess now I know how to manage a good "bug-out bag" for the whole family, so there's that.

Eventually we arrived at a house I've named "Rockford Place" - a late mid-century modern with an angular seventies vibe and a massive fireplace surrounded by natural stone. There's also an enormous backyard that's mostly rocks and trees, terraformed into paths and a nice landing area.

Besides, I like James Garner. So yeah, it's called Rockford Place.

The house is really rather neat - lots of cool angles and funky architectural features (without going overboard, I mean.) But the bathrooms are an embarrassment, and when we got here, the kitchen was stocked with appliances that only halfway worked. We've decided to live with the bathrooms for now, but the kitchen...well. We scraped up the money to replace the appliances, which turned into a massive shit-show courtesy of but that's another story. Frankly, I'm so fed up with the experience that I'm not likely to relate it here. Suffice it to say, don't buy appliances from Home Depot's own employees (at a local store) told me the in-house joke is that online orders are "job security" because one way or another, they're fucked up literally 100% of the time.

Anyway, we do have working appliances now. Thank God.

We also have a new veterinarian, which is good because the eldercat ran out of fluids, Lucy came down with (what seemed like) a UTI, and Quinnie has had a couple bad bouts of diarrhea - one bad enough that I took her to the kitty ER. Still not sure what's wrong with her, but she's wrapping up another round of medication at present, and she seems to be 100% fine and dandy. Cats, man.

All four of the critters really seem to like the new house. The cats love the stairs, and the dogs love the yard - which is fenced all the way around to the front patio, so they can really get a good loop of "chase" going on. Both dog-fatties have even lost a little weight, which is good.

As a side note: If you're mostly following me (on any platform) because of the household animal population - or if you'd like to, going forward - you can catch me on Twitter or (more recently) Instagram. Twitter is sometimes LadyRage, but often pet pictures. Instagram is almost exclusively pet pictures. In case this matters.

Hm. What else?

I guess you might also be reading this because I write books. By way of What's Up Next, I can offer the following:
  • In December, a new installment in the Wild Cards franchise hits the streets - including a story from yours truly. The book is called Mississippi Roll, and my contribution is a somewhat wacky romp called "Death on the Water" that features my (now retired) Fort Freak cop Leo and his new wife, Wanda, on board a haunted riverboat. They share the stage with a trio of ghost hunters who, um, are entirely fictitious and not all mocking re: any given TV show that my husband and I might jokingly call "Brost hunters." Ahem.

  • Speaking of Wild Cards - I've just handed in a draft of my next piece, but I can't tell you about that yet. If all goes according to plan, it will be inserted into one of the old volumes, as part of a future re-release. But that's another year or two down the pike, I assume.

  • Production is finally getting underway on my next young adult project for Scholastic - a book called The Agony House. We don't have a pub date yet; things have been delayed on this one, largely because my original editor left the house for another job (which happens, such is life). But my new editor is on the case, and I should have more information on that for you before terribly long. The Agony House is not related to I Am Princess X, but it *does* feature a comic/illustrated element in a similar fashion. More details to come!

And that's all the writing news that's fit to type, for the moment. To be honest, writing updates are probably going to be few and far between for a bit, as I'm taking a little breathing room this year - breathing room that will give me time to get some work done on the house, and take on a day job, perhaps. I could use a steadier paycheck for a bit, and some room for my brain to cool off a bit.

I've been in fifth gear for the last few years, and I'm looking forward to just...doing production work on the Wild Cards projects, and The Agony House, and another adult horror project from Tor called The Toll (pub date TBD). So it's not like I'm quitting the industry and flouncing into darkness or anything. I'm just giving myself a break. Kind of.

More news as it develops.

Okay folks, that's all I can think of, at the moment - but I *will* try to update more regularly over here, now that we're more or less settled in. (We've been here about two months.) So as always, thanks for reading, and thanks for visiting this page. One way or another, I'll see you around...
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There's a long way to explain, and a short way to explain. I'll start with the latter: We have sold our house, and are making preparations to move back to Seattle.

To flesh the matter out a bit further, let us just say that it's been a while coming. The reasons are many and varied - but largely due to my husband's job, which has been flying him back and forth to/from the West Coast multiple times a great company expense and everyone's general exhaustion for the last couple of years. This, combined with a surprise offer on our home that we frankly could not refuse, plus a few other fiddly things that don't bear a dry retelling, have led us to conclude that we should make Seattle our home again.

We are in the process of purchasing a house out there, a little ways from the city but in a very good location (close to main arteries, nice quiet neighborhood, etc.). If everything goes according to plan, we will close on this new house on the 8th of next month.

Of course, things are not quite going to plan. There is a last-minute hiccup that has us sitting on pins and needles, because as of July 20th, we are officially homeless if this falls through. (Though in case of worst scenario, we will head to my dad's place in Kentucky until things are sorted out.) Never mind the fact that we must figure out how to pack up our existing household, and how to drive two 90-pound dogs and a couple of cats to the new digs. (No, we will not fly them. We have our reasons.)

Anyway, we're working on that, and I'm not asking for advice or suggestions.

The move will be difficult in any number of ways; but in the end, this is the right decision for us. Our Tennessee house has been purchased by a lovely woman with a deep appreciation for the historic neighborhood - and this little home, in particular. Honestly, she's exactly what the place needs next: someone with a lot of money who can finish the last big projects that we haven't been able to afford. I am proud of the work we've done on this house, and it's been a privilege to be part of its conservation - but it's time for us to move on.

Next up, something completely different: a killer mid-century modern that's been beautifully redone. It's a smidge smaller than our Tennessee home, but it has a two-car garage and some amazing outdoor spaces to make up the difference. (A bigass deck! And a massive fenced patio!)

I mean, that's what's next if everything works out. If not, Jesus. I don't even know. One way or another, we're out of our present digs by the middle of next month.

So if I've been distant and quiet on the internet, and if I'm frazzled and tired in person, well, now you know. This has been hanging over our heads for the last few months and the situation is coming to a head. It's taking everything I've got to keep from having a nervous breakdown, so kindly forgive me.

Right. Well. Thanks for reading, everyone. I'll try to keep the world updated on how things go. Tennessee, you've been good to me. Washington, here we come again...
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About a year or so ago, a good friend and all-around Great Guy Christopher Golden asked if I'd participate in an anthology he was working up - Dark Cities. At first, I hesitated. I was eyeballs deep in other work, and I don't often do short stories anymore. I've never felt that they were really my strong suit, and I produce them sparingly.

But he caught me at a moment. You see, shortly before his summons, a truly appalling family secret had come to blazing light - and I was trying to find a good way of processing it. I wanted to say something about it, but couldn't imagine what, or how, or what it would help if I did so. Maybe nothing. Probably nothing. But saying nothing was driving me crazy.

I won't spell out what happened, but if you read Dark Cities and find your way to my contribution there, you'll figure it out closely enough. I could write off the matter lightly by telling you to imagine that some portion of my family is made up of hillbillies from the "Florida Man" files of internet hilarity - so what can you do? - and that wouldn't be far from the truth; but the facts are frankly too awful to joke about, so I won't.

Instead, I'll say that I found myself genuinely grateful for the opportunity to write "Good Night Prison Kings." The horror of the form gave me room to discuss the horror of the facts, and Chris was cool enough to let me run with what's probably the darkest thing I've ever produced. (Or if not the darkest, certainly one of the most personal.)

At any rate, you can pick up Dark Cities now, online and wherever books are sold. I hope you'll take a chance on it. Let me know what you think, if you do.

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Still alive and kicking and eyeballs deep over here, but so it goes. Just wanted to come up for air long enough to smile and wave, and pass on a little bit of useful information! And maybe some pet pictures. I know what you really come here for.

First up! Brimstone is still chugging along, earning reviews and so forth - and if you've read it, writers such as myself are always greatly appreciative for reviews. Even quick reviews! Hasty, friendly reviews.

They're the single easiest thing you can do to help a writer today.

With that in mind, if you want to pick up and/or review Brimstone without leaving your keyboard:
If you're still on the fence about this one, recent chatter at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books had some very kind things to say about it. In brief, "It’s an evocative, sweet, empowering story despite the horror the protagonists face." (Or if you'd rather read the review in full, just click that link and go poking around.

* * *

In news unrelated to my most recent release...The Family Plot is gearing up for a paperback release AND it's been named as a Locus Award Finalist! That's right - my weird little southern gothic ghost story is up for Best Horror Novel - and I, for one, could not be more thrilled!

This was kind of a passion project for me - one of those things I'd always wanted to write, and hoped someone would take a chance on. I'm proud of the end result, and endlessly grateful to my editor Liz Gorinsky and all the other fine folks at Tor.

* * *

And in pet news, all's well. The eldercat is doing marvelously on her new schedule of fluids and mood stabilizers, and continues to keep the household in thrall. Here she is with her dog entourage, ruling the roost as always.

She also has decided that she likes the dog bed in the foyer, because the sun hits it very nicely in the mornings.

Quinnie continues to be enormous and silly, and prone to games of Whappity Paws around the curtains. She ropes the eldercat into a round every now and again, and even Lucy will play with her - given half a chance.

As for Greyson, he remains his adorable, gentle self. I caught him "guarding" a baby bird in the yard the other day, and thank God Lucy was indoors at the time - which is all I really have to say about that. (The little bird was returned to her parents, and all was well.)

Meanwhile, Lucy ate a squirrel.

But all in all, the household is fuzzy, happy, and healthy.
So consider yourself updated on the most important stuff :)

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By popular goes nothing.
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