Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nothing to see here, folks.

I am just hammering away at revisions on The Crook and Flail, and really liking how the book is turning out. I like it so much that Lavender got a little high with Hatshepsut.

I'm sure I'll be back soon with some kind of weepy/pretentious journal entry or something similar.  For now, I am busy writing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flogging the revisions, some short stories, and also I hate the sound of chewing.

I have been trying so hard to get the next historical novel revised and published by the end of October, but it's just not going to happen.  Depression has been a real problem for the past several weeks, and it has interfered with my writing tremendously, as have all the a-holes at the library who have no manners.  You see, I've found that if I expect myself to write while I'm at home I never write anything at all.  I find all kinds of excuses to avoid writing, such as doing laundry, starting new and exciting crafts, or taking a nap.  And while laundry, sleep, and making spooky ghosts out of cheesecloth and starch are all very important, so is my writing.  So when it's time to write, I really need to remove myself to someplace else to get the work done.

My place of choice is the public library.  The one in my town is usually excellent and quiet and it's open seven days a week (albeit with short hours on the weekends) so I can plan to write every day, no matter what my work schedule is like.  I'm transitioning to a new, better-paying day job next week and I will probably not be able to make much use of the library then.  We're looking into some options to keep me writing.  Renting some tiny, shoebox-sized office space might work out.  The books are selling well enough that we could probably justify the expense, although not so well yet that we can just take office-space rental for granted without having to really justify it.  I'd be more comfortable waiting on that until the money isn't an issue.

So I'll probably have to figure out a means of making the library work, or hit a library for a few hours on the way home that's closer to the new job.  I am hoping that I can continue to use this one -- it's USUALLY so peaceful, except on days like today when people sit right next to me chewing gum with their mouths open and I have to get up and frantically search for a more secluded seat that also has a place to plug in my laptop, where I can hide in my personal bubble and not listen to nausea-inducing sounds of smacking and chewing.  Seriously, adults have no reason to chew with their mouths open.  Especially not in a public place.  This is the kind of totally unacceptable behavior, indicative of willful social cluelessness and/or apathy, that ends marriages.  In fact if it were socially acceptable for me to kick the noisy gum-chewer in the face, I would have done that instead of scarpering to my corner.

Anyway, how about some short fiction?  Kindle, Nook.  The Kindle version of Finnegan's Pig should be up soon; I am in the process of convincing Amazon that publishing rights for that story reverted to me back in 2010.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Friendly Atheist does what it says on the tin.

I recently approached Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist with a few ideas for how I might get Baptism for the Dead to appear on his blog.  (He's got quite a wide audience, in case you are a non-believer who lives under a rock.)  I didn't really expect much of a response, since bloggers and other media personalities are still largely in the "so what; not impressed" phase when dealing with self-published authors.  But dang, Hemant was just so friendly.  I guess that should not surprise me.  He suggested posting an excerpt, and by Jingo, there it is.

Thank you, Hemant, and welcome and hello to new readers of my own humble blog, who found it via the link at The Friendly Atheist.  I hope you stick around; I hope you enjoy Baptism for the Dead.


In our kayaks we crept around the edges of Lake Ballinger, counting and identifying species.  The day was cold -- "The day is cold," Dan said aloud, composing the nature-writing report he would later create, the reason we were there.  "The day is chilly.  The day is chill.  No.  The day is cold."

The day was cold.  Fall at last, after our short, fitful, insistent summer.  The day was dim and cold and the sky low and gray, a mist of earthbound cloud sighing and sagging to the shore, falling among the blooms of the asters and dampening their electric purple color.  October was still on my mind, the beginning of the end of the year.

I cut my paddles deep into the black water and pulled and exed them above my head in a blur, and felt the droplets of lake water fall on my face like rain, but no matter how hard I paddled, wherever I looked at the water it moved in an even reticulation of silver and black, and gave me the illusion of sitting absolutely still.  I made myself dizzy, watching the water hold me immobile, and then glancing up at the shoreline to see alders and the spent stands of sweet flag speeding by, dead brown leaves above a quiet core of hopeful green stem.  I would speed away and reach out and brace my knee against the rib of the boat, and stab my paddle deep into the unmoving water, and, fighting my boat's keel, turn in a ponderous circle back toward Dan, paddle back into the range of his words.  "...alder grows thick on the shoreline.  Alder grows in profusion on the shoreline."  Paddle away again, stillness and motion, turn.  "...leaves of lilies, golden with the change of season."  "That's good," I told him, and paddled away again, and turned.

Finally I grew tired and simply sat on the surface of the lake, out where all was silent.  The cold surface rippled here and there, gases from the decaying layer rising in slow bubbles.  The gentle movement seemed to me the visual equivalent of a room full of soft voices, faceless speakers murmuring, mouth to ear, to loved ones, words inaudible to me, but the fact of words all around me.

There was a tickle in my sleeve.  I laid my paddles across my lap and probed into the sleeve, and drew out a caddisfly, long-bodied, delicate, its veined wings half-folded.  I laid it on my spray skirt, where its threads of legs folded before its head, a posture of absolute exhaustion, like a man fainting into sleep at the supper table, head on folded forearms.  Its body was silvery-blue, cold blue, and the powder bloom along its length put me in mind of blueberries, and then all at once I remembered Mel's mother, the cake she made that summer, an American flag with strawberries and whipped cream for stripes, a field of blueberries for the stars.  She had loved rough collies, and her home was beautiful and warm, and now she was gone, and so was my friendship with Mel.  I thought perhaps her voice was one of those speaking on the surface of the lake, rippling it, leaning her mouth to her daughter's ear, and I could feel the warmth of her words even if I could not hear the sound of them.

I picked the caddisfly up gently, held it on my fingertip until it composed itself, righted its wings, and flew away.

Last night I dreamed of the curved ribs of boats, of Paul's body holding mine against the boat's wood, of the water speaking against the hull.  I dreamed that Mel drifted in distracted thought past a doorway, and I saw her go from left to right, looking away, carrying a baby girl in her arms.  I dreamed of wings over water.  The day was cold.  The leaves of the lilies had turned golden with the change of season.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


With you away, I have plenty of time to think.  About time, about the nature of love, what little I understand of that nature.  Fully half my lifetime has elapsed since then, but I still stick sometimes in the mire of sixteen, an awful place where I came to understand that I would never be good enough, that sooner or later I would always be passed over for a more appealing girl, prettier, quieter, not so terrifyingly tall.  A girl more conventionally feminine, not driven by applause, not wielding with relish her ferocious word-power.  Even though I know that this was half my lifetime ago, even though I know that boys back then were boys, and men are different, I am still braced.

I remember how it was at first, when we had afternoons when we let all our plans go in favor of spending our time staring into each other's eyes, or simply touching one another's skin -- I will never tire of the shape of your shoulders, or the feel of your woolly knees.  There will never be a morning when I will see you dressing, see the light fall upon your knees, and I will not want to rub my lips against them just to feel the soft hairs brush my mouth.  And yet we don't do these things anymore.

I wonder if it's better now, the deeper familiarity, the confidence in mutual presence.  Sometimes I fear that, in the natural progression of love, in its firming-up, we have lost something precious.  I remember watching you pack in that hotel room -- I was so tired, and yet I couldn't sleep, because my eyes refused to close; I had to watch you.  I physically had to; I could look nowhere else but at your solemn movements, your hands folding the shirts you had recently stenciled with your blood type, your broad mouth in a quiet, pale line.  I remember thinking, This is only a chemical in my brain.  This is a chemical reaction stimulated by all the sex.  I am on a fantastic drug -- hormones, just hormones.  But I still couldn't look anywhere but at you.

I fear the loss of that chemical reaction. I didn't ever want to come down from the high.  But on nights when you are away, even in the hazy margins of sleep I realize how often at night you clutch me to you, even now, when we both have found more productive ways to spend our afternoons, how often you tangle your warm legs with mine, breathe onto my shoulder a warm coin of breath that heats and recedes with the rhythm of your sleep.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Delicious, delicious pie. And looking back. At pie.

Not looking back at pie; looking back at what I wrote about self-publishing 15 months ago.

But you guys, I made the most epic pie yesterday.  I bought eight pounds of concord grapes for making jelly, and with the leftovers I made a pie.  I did not expect this pie to change how I looked at all other pies forever -- to change, in fact, how I looked at life.  And then I made this pork loin roast that was to die for, and I didn't follow a recipe.  It involved gorgeous halved pears, roasted right alongside the pork, atop a bed of red onion wedges, oh god, oh god.  The fat on the top of the roast formed, with the sea salt and cracked pepper and rosemary I sprinkled there, a crunchy crust, and when you took a bite of pear with a bite of pork the experience was transcendent.

I think I am actually getting really good at cooking.

Don't worry; I don't intend to turn this into a food blog or anything like that, but this particular blog does double as my personal journal (as evidenced by all the eye-rollingly sappy things I write here about my dude) so maybe once in a while I might have to share some of my culinary conquests with you.  I promise to make them all very writerly*.  It will be as if James Joyce started a food blog.

Over at Lavender's blog, I looked back at my opinions and expectations re: self-publishing The Sekhmet Bed, and I declare myself a hardcore indie from now on.  Viva la 70% royalty rate!

It's long, so don't bother to read it.

Now I am going to go have a big fat slice of that concord grape pie for breakfast.  How bitterly I regret my jelly; I should have made eight pounds of pie filling and frozen it so I could have this again.  Maybe the fruit stand still has some concords left.  WHY must they be so fleeting a fruit?

*not an actual promise.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I slipped into bed just after 2:00 a.m., weary from the day's traumas, the deaths, the constant need for my black humor, the buoy that keeps our terrible little boat on its course.  The sheets were warm, as always, and sweet-smelling from your body.  Mostly asleep, you said, Hey, babe.  How was work?

Awful, I said.  And September is over.  It's gone.  I never even realized it was going.  Where did it go?

You didn't know what to say to that.  You mumbled something into your pillow.

Life is going by too fast, I said.

The door to another apartment opened, the teacher downstairs letting her cat in or out.  The change in air pressure rocked our blinds, clattered them gently against the window pane, a lonely, fast sound.

Don't worry, you said.

I'm not worried.  I'm just disappointed.  My life is just passing by me.  Our life.  I want to live forever.

Babe, you said.  You can't.

I pulled the quilt up to my chin and shivered.  I couldn't tell you, asleep as you were, that what I wanted was forever with you, forever getting into this bed and feeling your welcoming heat, forever knowing I would always be able to draw the scent of your skin out of your side, that it would always be replenished.  There will come a day when one of us leaves the other, I know it.  It will probably be you who leaves first.  Statistically.  Scientifically.  Damn my skeptical mind.  Fuck my inability to suspend disbelief, to even imagine an eternity with you.  What good is it, to be so rational?  October settling all over me.  Sweater weather.  The tail end of a too-brief year, petering out into a dark winter, the way my life will stumble to a close one day, too soon, years without you.  But not, I hope, decades.

Well, I want to.  I want us to live forever, you and me.  I want to remember everything.

You rolled over in the blue darkness to gather me into your arms, smiling at my small, unimportant wretchedness.  The color blue flashed off your teeth, off those big beautiful teeth you hate so much but which are the happiest sight in the world to me.  I made a concession to inevitability: I'm just going to remember one amazing thing every day, I said.  I'm not going to let a single day go by without making some good memory, somewhere.

Okay, you said.  That's a good plan.  Now go to sleep.

I'm not good at this yet.  I've tried for four days, but the thing that's stayed with me is that exact shade of blue shining in your big, unlovely, perfect mouth.  It's hard for any single moment in my ordinary life to compete with something so distinct and beautiful.