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Home Truths

I'm continuing the editing and Horse Camp sale, and the Patreon page for new fiction is ongoing--many thanks to those who have joined the adventure so far.

Those who know me well know that when I break down and offer a sale, it's because I've run out of options. The past few years have been increasingly difficult, and last year was brutal. This year has been, emotionally, much less awful--and I have my writing mojo back. But in all other ways it's been worse than any year before it.

Right now I do not know how I'm going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it's eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don't know what I'm going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I've been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars' worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they've fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I've been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I'm able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November's Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest.

Here's what the monthly "full ride" would be:

$200 Feeds and waters one horse for a month

$300 Feeds and waters the horse and contributes toward the farm (portion of mortgage and utilities)

$750 buys one load of hay, which lasts a little over three weeks

$100 buys a week's worth of grain and supplements

Email me at capriole at gmail dot com for details. Partial sponsorships are most welcome.

I welcome referrals for editing clients, bookings for horse camp, and writing gigs of various sorts including game dialogue and scripts. I do story commissions, too. Email for rates and details.

If you've read my books, there's one thing you can do that won't cost you anything: Post an honest review online, especially at Amazon. The more reviews a book gets, the likelier it is to trigger the algorithm that gets the book on recommendation and "If you liked this" lists, which means more chance of improving sales. Mentioning the books at conferences, recommending a favorite to friends, blogging about it--all these things help. I can tell when people are talking about my work; I see the spike in sales. And that's more feed money and bill money and money to pay the mortgage.

Please feel free to link and signal-boost at will. Last week's signal went everywhere and I was tremendously grateful, but the response has been in line with the rest of this year's efforts. I can only keep trying. And keep writing. And keep putting it out there.

When the Muse Attacks

Something strange has happened these past few days. First I realized that the past two years have basically blurred and mostly vanished in my mind, so that when my truck battery died, I was positive it was three years old. It was five, which is reallydamngood for a battery in Arizona. And I'd been sick for a month, so those days mostly blurred out as well, but I was able after the first week to work, which is good. And now I'm better, and that's a really good thing.

And this week my fiction brain has gone off the charts on generating new words. It hasn't done this in years and years. It's spinning out stories and space opera--shaped novel like one of those crazy Hubble galaxies with all the pieces flying off in streams that run clear off the human-perceptible spectrum.

And that is fabulous. But I must eat, and even more important the horses must eat, and writing income is s l o w. A good part of the fiction-genesis is probably fiscal panic, throwing back to when writingrealfast under contract meant payment, sometimes, a fraction faster. But there are no book contracts any more.

So! To pay the hay bill, and keep the horses in grain while the words continue to spin out of my brain, I believe it's time for various shapes and sizes of SALE. (I take personal checks within the US, and Paypal worldwide at capriole at that gmail thing.) Option 1 below is ongoing with no expiration. I'll run options 2 and 3 for a week to start, and maybe another week, we'll see.

ETA: I've added more options in a new post. Go and see!

1. I have a Patreon page. This is where the new fiction first appears, and if you've seen it before, I've revamped it and changed the rewards and perks to emphasize the fiction. Patreon is a great platform for writers and artists--we support each other, too, tossing a dollar or two or three in the pot and spreading the wealth around as much as we can.

2. I have openings for Mentoring and Editing Clients. Wide range of services from conventional editing to one-on-one classes to advice and input on the horse details in your ms. I'm offering a sale this week: 5 hours at $250, which is a $50 discount. Current mentees may participate, as always.

3. Camp Lipizzan is back! The house has been renovated since the last Camp, and all the old comforts are still here, most notably the hot and cold running Lipizzans. Summer is challenging but we're up for it if you are, and October through March are beautiful. Just for this sale, if you book at regular price, bring a friend and I'll give you $50 off the second Camp.

Questions? Leave a comment here or email me at capriole at that gmail thing. I'll be over here, writing writing writing. And oh, it's a wonderful thing.
We're about seven hours to closing the Kickstarter for the new space opera. If you've been wanting to come aboard, the doors are still open, but the passengers have mostly boarded and they're rolling up the ramp.

Update 13 (my lucky number) has an excerpt from the book. Backers are getting at least one bonus story, and maybe two. The backer who puts us up and over the next stretch goal gets to be a villain in the book. Come and see.

Taking Stock

First, the "What's She Up To?" section:

I'm running a Kickstarter for a new space opera through November 15th--that's another ten days. It's funded, yay, which means it's a happening thing, and we're into stretch goals. That's where the real fun is. More space opera! More space whales! And Ponies in Spaaaaace!

I also have a Patreon going, which right now is covering Ro's medications. He's still on two different eye meds four times a day, and Spot is celebrating age fourteen by developing a bunch of problems. So we're doing a virtual Camp Lipizzan for patrons. This is fun, and also useful. My favorite combination.

Also, if you're doing NaNo, Writing Horses is in the official NaNo book collection, the Storybundle with all the writing books you could ask for. That's on through December 31st.

So that's been keeping me busy, along with the usual action around the farm. Gabriella colicked badly the week before last, needed the vet two days running, but good drugs and good old mineral oil through the traditional tube combined with her tough-old-lady constitution to get her back up to speed. (Do Not tell her she's an old lady. When she's not dealing with possible feed toxicity or else a virus, she looks and acts like a ten-year-old.) She's returned to her imperious chowhound self, and makes me smile every day.

When there is time around the ongoing cascade of crises, I've been observing the days of the dead and the Celtic new year by trying to get my center back. It's been a seriously jangly year. HouseMageddon is over, and there are walls and floors and paint and fixtures and beautiful new rooms that I've finally had the mind-space to appreciate. It's all so clean and fresh, and vinyl tile is ever so much easier than carpet when one has animals. And, you know, working bathroom. And no holes in the walls or floors.

But oh, what a summer it was. Living in the two guest rooms, which are lovely rooms but quite crowded with two dogs and three cats, and half a house worth of Stuff in the library. I am a claustrophobe, and three months in what felt like an episode of "Hoarders" at one end and a construction zone at the other (complete with no walls and hole-riddled temporary floor) was...bracing. Yes. Bracing.

Still. We survived. It did not kill us. Therefore, we should be stronger. And the new parts of the house are so pretty. I knew I'd have a  new master bath plus new floors in bedroom and dining room--the water leak under the hot-water heater was epic--but with one thing and another (thank you, high-end carpet and built-in cabinets that we dispensed with in favor of vinyl tile and pre-made vanity and gorgeous Epic China Cabinet), we ended up with a new dining room, new floors everywhere but the library and the guest rooms, plus repairs to the outside of the house where last year's gas-line repair tore up the skirting. AND we came in under budget. Much as I kvetched about the contractors, they did their job and they got in all the things and even added bits that I hadn't thought they could manage.

While the contractors were working through the insurance settlement, I started renovating the kitchen. That's about a third done. Walls are painted, floors repaired, and plumbing and appliances likewise. Cabinets still need painting and repairs, pantry needs new shelves, plus odds and bits. I'm on hiatus--I'm renovated out--but will get back to it in the new year. It's much fresher already, and much prettier. And the oven actually, you know, works.

I am still fighting chronic fatigue attacks, and the horses are waiting for me to get back to doing more than feed and wrangle blankets. That will come. I am determined. It may take a while, and probably be January before it all comes together, but It. Will. Happen.

Drive-By Looky Here!

Look! I'm doing another SPAAAAAACE Opera Kickstarter!

More space whales this time. And more pirates. And more adventures.

August Dog and Pony Days Sale

I'm posting here so everybody gets to see. We're allllllmost done with HouseMageddon, aka the Full-House Restoration, aka Four Months of Construction Hell.

Ro-Pup meanwhile continues to see his eye vet every two weeks. His eye had seemed to clear up...until the day before his supposedly final vet visit, when it blew up all over again. Somewhat over a month later, he is down to three different meds a total of six times per day (from four/eight), and has developed glaucoma, which one of the meds appears to be helping. He has his own pharmacy card at Walgreens, and the pharmacist has come to know us rather well.

This, on top of having to repair a slew of household systems and appliances in order to make the renovations happen, has strained the budget to snapping. I do not know where Wednesday's vet-visit payment is coming from, and the next two weeks are going to be interesting. And that means...SALE!

I am considering a Patreon, but since I also will have to run a Kickstarter if I'm to write the much-requested sequel to the space opera, I'm concerned about donor fatigue. Also, it makes me kind of squirmy. Though a Camp Lipizzan diary and Virtual Camp might appeal to a different demographic than the space-opera fans.

As I said, I am pondering.

Meanwhile, in honor of Ro and the Whole-House Restoration, may I offer:

1. CAMP LIPIZZAN

Book and pay at least half by 9 pm PDT on Thursday the 20th, and get $25 off 3 days/2 nights or $50 off 5 days/4 nights ($350 or $450). Camps are available in October, and from January through March. Additional dates may be possible. Just ask.

Details of Camp are here.

2. MENTORING AND EDITING SERVICES

I'll have some openings for mentoring and editing beginning in September. Normal rate is $60 per hour. For the sale, I'm offering 5 hours for $250. Open to all: new, current, and former clients.

Details of the various services are here.

3. EBOOK SPECIALS

Available by direct request only. Choose from my catalogue at Book View Cafe. Prices work like this:

$2.99 --> $2.50
$3.99 --> $3.50
$4.99 --> $4.50
$6.99 --> $6.00

Yep. That last isn't a typo.

I'll further sweeten the deal for trilogies and series, all of which retail at $4.99. Two volumes for $8.00, three for $12.00.

Remember, this is by direct request only. Please specify format when ordering (epub or Kindle).

Send requests and Paypal payments to capriole at that gmail thing.

Signal boosting appreciated, and thank you all. I hope to see some of you at Camp!

Alive.

Still breathing. Still in HouseMageddon Hell (89% done, says Mr. Boss Contractor Man). Dog's eye still a problem dogdammit--he was perfectly fine until the day before his allegedly final vet visit, when he injured it all over again and went all the way back to square one, and we're all the way back to meds four times a day and vet every two weeks.

Am getting basically a new house. They're (vinyl) tiling all but the library and guest rooms. Kitchen, laundry room getting new subfloors as well as new (vinyl) tile. That's this week. Allegedly. If insurance coughs up the rest of the money. Master bath nearly done, I'm told. My living space gets smaller and smaller as I condense everything into the parts that will keep their carpeting. When (if)(no, WHEN!) it's done, I shall explode outward like a supernova of books, furniture, clothing, animals...

My best guess is that it will be done by Labor Day. Then Camp Lipizzan opens for the winter. Anybody who comes will find all kinds of shiny newness and Extreme Pretty (and an Epic China Cabinet that just begs for a disco ball). We're taking reservations. Email or we can talk in comments.

Meanwhile, a question for the hive mind. Patreon: threat or menace? It's been suggested I try it to help with the dog's bills, which are back to considerable, between the meds and the vet's across-the-board price increases. I'd need to figure out what people would like by way of perks, and whether it would be worthwhile to jump on a bandwagon already extensively jumped on. Then again, I support a few myself, for a tiny amount each, and they do add up--and the perks are lovely. So: would this be something I could venture into?

I'm in a sine wave of I Can't Even/I Shall Go On, as HouseMageddon and DogsEyePocalypse spin on and on and forever on. From fetal curl under the bed to Warrior One, back and forth. It's an adventure.

Beautiful, Beautiful Silence

The Equipment is gone. Nice Young Men came this morning and took it out. Then they missed with the breaker box and lo, there is power to the whole house again. And it is good.

Tomorrow Nice Young Men (having tracked down the adjuster in the wilds of New Mexico) will come and install a temporary floor, so that there will be a bottom to the southeast quadrant of the world, and cats will be less likely to fall through and escape.

The silence is wonderful. Beautiful. Restful. Five days of nonstop roaring has worn us all down.

This afternoon I spent some hours ascertaining that yes, the DSL router is properly dead, and being told by Tech Support to replace it, and researching potential replacements. Ebay supplied the latest model for a nice discount, with three-year warranty and expedited shipping. I have hopes that it will arrive this week. Please god. The hotspot works well, but this would be the week in which I'm receiving and sending multiple large book and image files, and will be receiving and sending yet more. I'll have to top up the hotspot tonight or tomorrow.

So that takes care of the question of whether to kill the landline. Uh, nope.

Planned errand run deferred another day. I am plotzed. I have to educate myself about flooring right good and quick, because I want to do something other than carpet in the renewed bathroom, and I need to know what I'm asking for, also prices relative to carpet, because that's what the insurance will cover. Home Depot will be part of the errand run. I want sturdy, attractive, and above all, easily cleanable in the presence of small domestic predators. The nice people in the orange logo will answer my questions, I'm sure.

And oh, god, I forgot upload my Rawnblog for tomorrow. EEEEEK!

Off I go.

Even Mutant Enemies Need a Hug

(Thanks for that, Joss.)

Oh, we are having so much fun here. It kills us how much fun we are having.

So the bathroom floor went squoosh, and part of the bedroom floor. So I knew there was a water leak. Then the propane tank emptied untimely. As I discovered last Monday after the company offices had closed for the day.

Tuesday the propane man came, checked all attachments, and noted that it was all shipshape and Bristol-fashion.

Except the water heater. Which was leaking propane, and which was sitting on a rather heroically rotted floor.

Heater was red-tagged and disconnected. Goodbye, hot water.

The plumber came on Wednesday, and decreed that the faulty propane valve was not fixable and the heater was a goner. This triggered a call to the reclamation company, which came and looked and went OY! And that triggered a call to the homeowners' insurance. And lo, there were adjusters, and there were inspectors, and there were oys and good god!s and yowches. But! my great fear, that none of it was covered, appeared to be assuaged. They would/will rebuild the gutted quadrant, including closet for the heater.

So Thursday the brawny young men came and started ripping. And sawing. And tearing. Bathroom, half of bedroom, most of dining room. Down to the studs.

I moved into the other end of the house. Which was its own drama. Guest toilet had overflowed last yoga day, and I had shut it off. Plumber decreed it dead. But! he was able to take the much newer unit from the gutted master bath and pop it into the guest bath. And that gave me a functional facility.

Friday the new water heater arrived--approved by the appliance insurance. Much bigger and nicer than the old one. But in order to install it to code, I had to pay a hefty chunk of nonexistent cash, because codes are stricter than they were ca. 1980, or even ca. 2000. Much.

Having had his palm crossed with promises, the plumber rigged the heater outside with an adorable vent for a hat, where it blinks to itself and provides Water Hot Such A Noble Thing while the renovations go on. I resist the urge to paint it blue and silver and call it "R2."

And the brawny young men ascertained meanwhile that my other paralyzing fear, of mold and rot (not covered), was also Not A Problem. Once the pulped flooring and soaked insulation were out and the walls and fixtures dismembered and sent flying out the window, all was clean, and the only rot was in the heater closet, where we had all seen it. Yog Bless our desert climate.

They had installed dehumidifiers on Thursday. Friday and Saturday, fans went in. And it was all contained in plastic, which at night would...breathe. Much fun while watching "When Ghosts Attack" because seriously, braindead.

Yesterday being Saturday, the last of the debris was cleared and the fans continued. And I was slowly starting to find a rhythm in it all. Sort of.

And then when I went to turn the lights on at horse-feeding time, no lights. Also no lights in the guest room. No power to most of the north half of the house, except, weirdly, for the library, where Camp workshops happen.

The other half of the house--where the one working cooler (the lines are part of the heater closet, so plumber could only hook up one) and all the major appliances were, was still suitably electrified. I ran extension cords for the couple of small things I needed (lights, tv) and decided to crawl into bed and forget it till morning.

Especially the part where the DSL modem, despite being on a surge protector in the powered half of the house, managed to fry itself. It powers up, connects, shuts off. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing from the help pages applies to this situation, and support does not do weekends.

Lucky for me one of my must-haves when I upped the ante to a real smartphone last year was the ability to serve as a hotspot. This morning I paid my $5 and got my month of service. So I'm OK till we get the router sorted out. I dare to hope the insurance will replace it.

This morning the nice young man came back to check the equipment. Now we are waiting for his superior to talk to the adjuster to get an electrician out to figure out why part of the house has no power. NYM checked all he could check, and was baffled. Ancient wiring is ancient. And idiosyncratic.

Meanwhile he rigged a power box for all the fans and such, which is its own triple-warded spell of protection. And I am without a clothes dryer because that's the industrial-strength outlet, but it's temporary and I don't need it for a few days.

I have not mentioned, have I, that there's a smallish hole in the kitchen floor? Where one of the brawny young men put a foot through? And another, entirely separate water leak that must be dealt with? Leak fixage is covered. Damage is not. Since I am well past Stress Max and into What The Ever-Living HELL, I am la-la-la-ing that one for the time being.

The aminals are handling it much better than I am. Some confusion, but mostly keeping chill.

I am trying to focus on the bright side. Ancient, barely functional bathroom with broken faucets and hole where the toilet installation did not go well last time around is gone. I get a new bathroom, and part of a new bedroom, and part of a new dining room. Electrical wiring will get at least inspected, and one hopes fixed. Forced renovations: just lie back and think of walk-in showers.

But oh, I am tired. So very tired.

There are pictures here; scroll down a bit:

https://www.facebook.com/dancinghorse

I've set them public so everyone can see them.

Once More, Unto the Ro, My Friends

And so we have been to Dr. EyeVet once again. Eye looks good, she said. Inside is normal, no inflammation.

But, there is still some redness around the eye, so he'll continue on his meds twice a day for another six weeks, then recheck.

He won't mind. He has it down. 8 a.m., 8 p.m. Bound into kitchen! SIT! Get treats! Get eyedrop! Get more treats! Best Day Ever!

Here's the dog himself, as of this morning, after a bracing hour and a half of helping in the barn. Best Morning Ever! He posed for this; he's quite gracious about being Available for his public.

Most Interesting Dog in the World.



I've been in CFS crash since last week, on the "can do horses and dogs and cats because I have to, otherwise sitting up is a challenge" level, so putting in considerable amounts of horizontal time. But that's to be expected, after months of Stress Max. Functioning past twitter length is therefore not happening for the most part (and writing a paragraph at a time is kind of slow but also kind of interesting).

At any rate, dog is distinctly on the mend, so that's good. Everything else will sort out when it sorts out.

FollowPup

Today was Ro's followup with Dr. EyeVet. His cornea has cleared up considerably and his eye looks like an eye again, which indicates that the meds are working. Vet still saw some inflammation in the iris, so we're medicating for another two weeks on a slow taper-off from the original aggressive dose, then she'll see him again. He has a dilated pupil, which may be permanent, but vet said this isn't uncommon in dogs; with a blue eye, you can see it all the more easily. Though I don't think he had it before. I suspect it may resolve when the inflammation goes away.

Both she and the tech noted that his behavior was completely different: he had much more energy. He's learned to sit still for a treat, so that his eyedrops are now a happy occasion (which is a real boon when it's four times a day); the tech was having a great time trying out his roster of tricks. Then he tried to go out back where the vets live, though he was glad enough to come with me out the front and charm the socks off the people there.

The trip home was adventurous. He was Perfect in Petco, trotting nicely beside the cart, and patient at the feed store, where we waited for them to unload two semis full of hay, ten bales of which came home with us. Then he watched me unload it. Watching is important, you know. Shepherding and all that.

(Semis unload via forklift, 30 100lb bales at a time; takes five minutes to do a full load, so ten minutes all together.)

Now he's sound asleep. It was a long day for a Working Dog(tm).

At any rate it looks as if we won't need that indiegogo; he seems to have cleared up without surgery. The next two weeks should see him back to normal.

I'll fall over early tonight, I think. It has been A Week. Monday morning ushered itself in with Bread Knife 1, Judy's Hand 0.  Got it taped back together, but typing has been a challenge. Better now, still a bit interesting.

Then the cooler guy showed up with the wrong parts to fix the wrong system, despite my repeated instructions to the dispatcher. Ascertained that the blown-out cooler needed a new pump, and the one with the cracked line needed new bearings, but he couldn't switch out the pump because they're two different sizes. And he'd been told he was fixing an A/C that needed refrigerant. I have never had an A/C in this house. He had no cooler parts with him. So no cooling during record heat (mid-90sF). The next opening was during Ro's vet appointment, so no. Allegedly there will be fixed coolers tomorrow morning. We shall see, she said darkly.

There's been such a run on cooler parts this week that getting them is a significant challenge. I hope I have enough tubing; I couldn't get any. All gone. ($30 at the hardware store; $200 if they supply it, grr.)

At least Ephiny had a good lesson yesterday. She was a demo pony for a planned rebuttal to the FEI on the rules change: poll to be no longer the highest point (neep alert, and shame on you, Carl Hester). She literally cannot go forward if her poll drops. Since she's mostly built like a modern dressage horse, but has the Lipizzan mind and drive train, this makes her a useful example.

There's more, but my hand just said it's had enough. So there we are.

Pupdate on Ice

We are back from the eye vet. Diagnosis: Not totally certain, but since all symptoms point to uveitis, that's what we're treating for. He has eyedrops (neosomethingdex) and will be getting aggressive treatment for a week. Then back to eye vet, whose secondary office is much closer than the one we went to today, and that will be a relief. Next Wednesday afternoon, different time, closer station.

So currently, no mention of surgery. Qualified yay.

Also yay: No sign of glaucoma. Pressure is normal. And probably not valley fever, with the sudden onset of symptoms.

Weight: 42.8lbs at the regular vet, 44lbs at the eye vet. Right after breakfast and all. Scale mildly concerns him, but the sit-and-treat trick works, well, a treat.

He was very well behaved, though the eye is extremely light-sensitive and the tests were hard for him. The worst he does when tackled and immobilized is lick the tech's brawny arm and make little growlywhimpery noises while wagging his tail in circles (it's like being whapped with a feather boa). "Is he always this happy?" several people asked me, several times.

At the end, a lady came in with a very fluffy chow mix. He barked a tiny bit, but sat when asked and calmed down. Yay! Dog aggression significantly reduced!

The teeny shih tzu at intake just make him want to say hi. So it's size- and body-language-related.

He is a people magnet. Everybody wants to get down on the floor and love on him. At open vein and pour out blood, er, money time, he put his paws on the reception desk and politely asked for a treat from the jar. Receptionist, enchanted, gave him two.

And now we are both home and horizontal. He's out cold. I'm about to be. Ex. Haus. Ted. I think the rest of today will be a wash.

Turn and Burn; or, Son of Pupdate

And now we are back from the vet, and hay is unloaded and horses are fed, and so are we. And tomorrow morning we do it all over again (minus the hay-hauling).

Ro saw his regular vet today. She couldn't find a scratch, but the whole cornea is inflamed. Could be valley fever in the eye, for which she did the test. I don't think so; it's clearly trauma. But it is a possibility. May also be a tiny cactus spine that needs more advanced equipment than she has. She could not find a corneal ulcer. The whole cornea has turned blue. The eye is light-sensitive so there's still sight in it.

The eye specialist down in Tucson can see him tomorrow morning. I'll have time to get the horses fed, then off we go. Turn and burn, as the truckers say.

As I said before, the ability to just calmly hand over the check card for whatever he needs is beyond price. If he needs surgery I will have to put up an indiegogo, but we'll bridge that troll when we get to it. For now, we're hoping it's something that can be treated with meds.

Ro and I are both pooped tonight. He's a wet noodle on his couch. I'm close to it, though there are still house things and dog and cat things and animal things left to do.

In other news, I believe I have found a farmsitter. She is not cheap, but she's barely half the price of Overpriced Only Other Option, and is extremely professional and has a horse-crazy teenaged daughter. Good things may come of this.

But first, we take care of the Ro-Pup. Who was a Star everywhere he went today. Vet and techs both praised his behavior highly, and kept saying how good he was. "And he's so pretty!" Only problem we had was his desire to curl up in Auntie Vet's lap when she was trying to get a look at his eye.

Now go thud. Tomorrow will be a long day.

Ro-Pupdate

The response to my Save the Pup's Eye Sale has been tremendous. I'm so grateful to everyone who has bought books, signed up for editing or mentoring, or just tossed some cash in the vet fund. Thanks to you all, I'll be able to take him to the vet and do whatever needs to be done. If it turns out he needs surgery and that runs up additional expenses, I'll set up an indiegogo, but for now, the sale (which will continue until the 1st, at least) is doing well enough to cover vet and, hopefully, meds and treatment.

He'll see the vet for an evaluation tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll go from there. He's in pretty good shape today, has more energy though still flops faster than usual, and his eye is not noticeably worse.

It has been years since I've been able to contemplate a vet appointment without having to shut off any options but basic exam and the least expensive meds. To be able to give my Heart Dog whatever he needs means more to me than I can say.

For those who have bought books: Enjoy. For those who have signed up for editing or mentoring: Happy writing! And many thanks, again, to all.

I'll keep you updated; should have something to add tomorrow night.

The Save Ro-Pup's Eye Sale

We are having a...difficult year here. And now there will be Vet Bills, because Ro-Pup appears to have destroyed his right eye.

Happened Monday when he took off (in friendly but headstrong fashion) after passing dog-walker. He came back with one eye pinched shut. I applied eyedrops, eye seemed to be improving, but when I was able to get a good look, it was not good. Pupil dilated. Cornea cloudy. There may be more going on: he's been low, and today he's acting lethargic and floppy. That may be his usual warm-afternoon sleepiness, but I don't like the subdued way he's been acting.

There are no funds for vet. At all. I just cleaned out the piggy bank to feed the horses for another four days.

So! It's virtual yard-sale time! Let's spread the tables out under the Party Tree, slap the price tags on, and open for business.

Ebooks: 1 for $5, 2 for $9, 3 for $12.50

Any ebooks sold on major sites this month will not pay out until the end of May, which is way too long for Ro to wait; it's not just the eye that worries me by this point, it's his whole demeanor.

But! I have Paypal, at capriole at that gmail thing, and I have ebooks, and they are DRM-free, which means you can load them on any device, and give them as gifts. If you buy multiple copies of one book, let me know in the notes on your Paypal payment; also let me know the email address to which I should send them, and the format desired (Kindle takes mobi; everything else will take epub).

Here's the list. Detailed blurbs and samples can be found on my Author Page at Book View Cafe. Books within series are in order of internal chronology.Boooookses!Collapse )

Mentoring and Editing Services

There's a summary of what I do here, along with the regular rate. Paypal as above, capriole at the gmail. For this sale, I'm offering two options:

1. The Quick Crit: $75

I will review 5-10 pages of your work. Can be anything--synopsis, plot musings, opening pages, query letter and pages, short section on which you're stuck. I can also answer your questions about how to write horses, up to 90 minutes (may add on to this as needed, at regular rate).

2. The Writing Mentor Is In: $250 (a $300 value)

Five hours of online teaching and mentoring, editing, copyediting, proofreading, plot R&D, even a very short class if so desired. Open to previous as well as new clients; for larger projects, the first five hours will be billed at the sale rate. I've had this shingle out since 2006; lots of repeat clients, and even a Nebula nominee.

Camp Lipizzan

A longtime favorite--Horse Camp for Writers. Now booking from October through March. May consider April through August (September is booked), but be prepared for Southern Arizona heat and, in July and August, monsoon. We're game if you are; just want to be sure you know what you're in for. The most popular option is four nights/five days, $500 includes room, board, and Lipizzans; riding or groundwork lessons additional.

So that's what's on the table. Anything else you think you'd like to see, just let me know. Ro-Pup and I both say Thankyouverymuch.

It's All or Nothing Around Here

This would be a great time to sign up for editing, writing mentoring, or Horse Camp for Writers (aka Camp Lipizzan). We've been busybusybusy, and now (For A Limited Time Only(tm)), there are some openings. And yes, we bank hours and book Camps for later in the year.

Also on the radar: my new! book! has a preorder button for the ebook form. It's space opera and it's intergenre and there's even a familiar face if you know some of my backlist (you will probably howl; you are meant to howl; and then I hope you will have a grand roaring time with it). It's called Forgotten Suns. Preorder goes live on May 5th. Here's the button at Amazon, and here (for the epub crowd) is the one at Kobo. There will be a trade paperback as well, if hardcopy is more your style. That comes out in late April.

I've been working on various projects. My novella for the December Kickstarter has hit the midpoint, and I am having So. Much. Fun. with it. It's contemporary and set in Tucson and has magical horses. I mean, it's autobiographical, right?

Also working on taking a few minutes each day to just be with the horses. Even if I lack the brain or body fu to do actual work with them, I aim for taking time, slowing down, breathing as much as I can. It being shedding season means a great excuse: they're massively itchy and demand that I groom them. There's a kind of peace in the process, and satisfaction as they present the itchiest portion and then sigh as it gets curried or bladed or Furminated. Then with some there's a moment to do some small bodywork or a step or two of groundwork. Keeping my hand in. Even if riding isn't happening.

Ro-Pup continues to enjoy his freedom. He has to be leashed on occasion, if there's a dog going by (no longer with the aggression, but he does want to go and say hi, which is not always welcome) or if the horses are getting excited, but mostly he's quick to come when called, and he's getting pretty clear on the rules. It's nice to have a real Farm Dog, and since he's a Shepherd by genetics and inclination, he's loving the sense of having a job.

Here's his current inclination:

RoFlop1214_sm

Poor thing. We've been working him to death.

Finding the Balance

2014 was a crap year in a whole lot of ways. The last couple of months were especially difficult. Everything was a struggle.

2015 seems to be setting off in a different direction. Very very busy. A lot of freelancing work--so that I'm gradually getting caught up on the bills from the end of last year. The fiction Muse is back, though she's been lolllygagging around that beach in Aruba the past couple of weeks while I've worked on some editing projects and a big nonfiction writing project. She'll get back to work this week Or Else.

So that's been good. I have myself back as a writer and a reader. But in the process of doing it, I lost the other side: the horses.

We had our bit of winter around the holidays, complete with snow and record cold on New Year's Day. We had lots and lots (and lots) of rain, which in the desert is a very good thing, but it turned the footing to mush and made the horses footsore. So no riding and very little groundwork happened after my last lesson, right before Solstice.

Once the weather improved and the footing likewise (it's still deep in places; we had that much rain), when I could have been riding, I was working instead. No energy left after caring for the horses to, you know, enjoy them. Lessons could have jump-started me but kept getting rained out or scheduled out.

Finally yesterday we were able to make a lesson happen. I had to remember where I'd put the riding gear, it had been so long. Longest I've gone without riding since grad school.

Ephiny was not on board. Capria actually volunteered, bless her heart, till I reminded her that she's retired and she's not carrying weight any more. She was a bit bummed. I think we may be doing groundwork or long-lining, if she feels she wants to get back in the game.

But not right then. I eyed Pooka, but with all the mares in heat, including Miss E, and not even a longe since last week, that was asking for trouble. When he's in that kind of mood, he can go rodeo. And I was not in shape to ride the rocket.

Anyway, Ephiny's the one who needs the work most, and between Ro deciding to get in touch with his inner border collie and Miss E being in standing heat, it took a while to catch her. Which is pretty much unheard of; she's usually in my face. Finally I said, "Hey. Do you want me to ride the hormones over there or can we have a lesson?" and she allowed as how she might consider the option.

That's Ephiny. She thinks things through.In which we have NEEP!Collapse )
So, back to it. Back to getting everything else lined up and working. On all sides of the personal balance sheet.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been part of a Storybundle. This is a very interesting crowdfunding concept, and one I like quite a lot. It brings together for a limited time a group of works under a common theme, and patrons can pay whatever they like. Of that payment, part goes to the organizing entity, part goes to charity, and the rest goes to the authors or artists. Patrons decide what proportion of their donation goes to each.

all_covers_fantasybundle_300

The bundle I’m in, which runs from January 21st through February 10th, consists of eight independently published fantasy ebooks by such authors as Bradley Beaulieu, Francesca Forrest, and M.C.A. Hogarth. The novels are varied in tone, style, and subject matter, but they’re all of excellent quality. They complement each other nicely.

I’ve been having a great time not only sharing the bundle with old friends and colleagues, but getting to know the new-to-me authors in the bundle. One of those is Scott Marlowe. I took the opportunity to ask him some questions about himself and his work. I hope you’ll enjoy his answers as much as I have.

This medievalist was delighted to see a fantasy series featuring an alchemically based magical system. How did you get started on this? What drew you to this particular angle?

The short answer is that I wanted to try something new, yet still hold onto all of the things I love about writing fantasy. I'm an engineer, so it seemed natural to pull some scientific elements into my world, while still retaining an overall fantasy feel. This means my "science" isn't science at all, really, but something that draws largely from my imagination. I may base it on real world scientific principles, but the similarities end there. For example, we all know electrical current travels through a wire. In my world, instead of wires there are tubules, and instead of electricity, a wide array of energy types, such as alchemical, elemental, emotional, magical, and others. Much like the fabled philosopher's stone of alchemy, which supposedly could transmute base metals such as lead into gold, there are certain individuals seeking the same thing, except they're searching for a way to alter the properties of one energy type to transform it into another. In my books, you'll see terms like the Principle of Confluence, which is a fictitious scientific principle that states when two similar energy sources are joined, they combine to form a single, more powerful energy source. But what happens when two disparate energy sources come together? That’s one of the questions I explore in The Five Elements.

As far as alchemy... Well, how could I not put alchemy into the mix? It adds in too much fun! I look at it as basically chemistry without boundaries. It brings with it arcane knowledge, mysticism, mythology, and a means to power or facilitate a wide variety of infernal devices. It’s something any scientist worth his or her salt in my world is going to have some knowledge about.

I see on your website http://www.scottmarlowe.com/ that you bill yourself as "Engineer" and "Technologist." Traditionally a person with that resume might head toward science fiction or technothrillers. Why fantasy?

I think I watched too many Ray Harryhausen movies (Sinbad, Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, etc.) when I was a kid and not enough 2001 Space Odyssey. Also, as a reader, I started with The Chronicles of Prydain and never really looked back, so it was natural for me to want to write fantasy. You know how some people are either left or right brain types? I guess I'm a bit of both, because I'm both an engineer and a writer. The story about that actually goes back to when I was about midway through college when I had a formative conversation with an English professor of mine about career direction. I was actually considering giving up the engineering pursuit in favor of a career in writing (what career exactly, I have no idea). He greatly swayed my decision when he said, "You know, Isaac Asimov is both a physicist and an author." I kept on with both the engineering program and writing in my spare time, and here I am today, still doing both.

Oh, very cool. So leading off from that--how does your technical background influence the worldbuilding and the writing of your books?

Worldbuilding becomes interesting when you have the potential to pull in aspects of theoretical physics into a fantasy world. I've been doing a lot of research on negative energy lately, for example. Negative energy is very strange. It's considered a form of exotic matter and isn't observable outside of a vacuum. So, in other words, you can't detect it inside our atmosphere, where positive energy is prevalent. But the opposite is true also: inside a vacuum, there's suddenly no positive energy, only negative energy. An interesting theory surrounding negative energy and black holes is that as a black hole absorbs more and more negative energy, it shrinks in mass, as opposed to growing until the entire universe is swallowed, which was an actual theory at one time. In effect, negative energy has the potential to nullify a black hole. The second book in my Alchemancer series is called The Nullification Engine. Related or not, I’m not saying.

In any case, this is how my mind works when worldbuilding. Take something that’s already pretty mysterious to begin with, then make it even more fantastic. It’s not much of a stretch fitting some of these things into the context of a fantasy world.

These are great answers. Now that I’ve gratified my curiosity, are there any questions you wish I’d asked you? What would you like to share with the world?

Here are a couple I did for another interview way back when, which still seem pertinent:

If you could write anyone's biography, whose would it be?

That's a tough one. There are many, many historical figures I would love to spend the time writing a biography about. However, if I had to choose, I'd go with Leonardo da Vinci. The man excelled at so many things, it would be fascinating to attempt to learn the origins of his brilliance.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The act of creating the "perfect" scene. I often have a pretty good idea in my head as to how I want a scene to play out, but to actually write it out and experience it through the characters is a lot of fun. I really enjoy worldbuilding, too. I learned a long time ago, though, that the writing comes first. Engaging in worldbuilding is a great way to generate ideas, but I only take it as far as I need to in order to carry the story. Anything beyond that and you’re no longer writing a story, but something else.

True words. Thank you for sharing them with us! We’ll be looking forward to reading more of your work, now we’ve had a taste of it in the Storybundle.

Hello, 2015!

The sunrise was unusually...white this morning.

Tucson last saw snow on New Year's around about 1960.

New Year Sunrise 01015

Happy 2015!

Year of Suck and Glory

I don't usually do year-end posts, but this year needs to be buried deep with a stake in its heart and rock salt over the--er, memorialized. Because parts of it were actively awful, but enough were good that I'm optimistic about the year ahead. And the parts that were bad maybe gave me either skills or intestinal fortitude to cope with bad stuff in the new year.

Both the bad and the good were tied up in this being a year of casting off the old and facing, often forcibly, the new. Nearly everything I tried that had been successful before fell short, sometimes a little, sometimes a whole lot. Mainstays of the old order just weren't there any more, or if they were, they just barely came through at all. Keeping the farm was at times a very difficult proposition.

Still is actually, but part of the problem was that I spent the first half of the year in a state of paralysis. Not knowing what to do or where to turn. Brain empty. Nothing coming to fill it.

Except one thing. After years of blockage, the writing genuinely came back. It was and is slow. It wasn't the easy gallop it had been before. The novel I worked on (and worked on and worked on) was much later than I had expected it to be, but it was also about half again as long, and then needed some fairly major revisions, which explains a good part of that. It's much better for those revisions, oh boy is it better. I have hopes for it. Which may fall short, but one has to gamble that they won't.

And that was the lesson of this difficult Change Year. That no matter what I might try to do or be, what I apparently am supposed to be is Writer Person. Writing new work, not just getting old work back into (e)print. That's what, however slow or interrupted, has not fallen short. It's what I keep being pushed toward, no matter what I do.

Of course, one has to find a way to make a living at it, because horses gotta eat, and one of the things that shed itself was the boarding business that paid most of their monthly hay bill. It needed to go; it was causing friction in the herd, and finally Pooka took a (literal) stand that injured his back. He's fine now, but point was taken. Herd wants to be its own self without outsiders.

So there was stress. And more sloughing off of the old. And more shiny! new! that isn't a sure thing yet and who knows if it will be. But if it's writing new stuff, I have a feeling it will be a surer path than anything else.

And that's where it sits on this last, windy, blustery, storm-coming-in day of 2014, that awful year with bright shiny bits in it. I've taken a brain break during the holidays, after a lovely Camp Lipizzan over the Solstice and a lovely family time over Christmas. Still in it actually, but turning the oversized starship of said brain out of resting mode and into writing mode. Because writing seems to be where it needs to be.

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I do do an ongoing conception of where things need to go, and that's toward fulfilling the Solstice Kickstarter by writing two (possibly three) short novels, and delving into the Sekrit Projekt, and contemplating a number of other TBA's having to do with writing new stuff. Along with more backlist because that's a nonspectacular but steady contributor to the bottom line, and some editing because likewise. And, beyond that, riding more and training more and giving myself permission to enjoy the horses rather than just struggle to keep them fed. Some of them are in the late twilight of their years; I want to enjoy the time they have. Some are heading into early twilight, so likewise. And the young ones are more than ready to step up and be the go-to riding and Camp horses.

People say, Well, you have too many, why not sell them. Because half of them are aged out of the market, a couple quite severely, and the other half are the future for me and for Camp Lipizzan. They're core staff. Can't do it without them. In a lot of ways, it's all about them, and most of what I do is for them. And I'm good with that. I need to let them give me joy--so maybe I have a resolution after all. Even if I don't Do resolutions.

So that's the year ahead, which one hopes will be a great improvement over the one just past. At least I go into it with a sense of where the path lies, and how I can make it work. That feels good.

I get to write! Yay! And ride! Yay! Yes! I can do this!