It has been a bad winter for pets.
Angus the little orange cat passed away yesterday. He’d been dropping weight faster than I liked, which we thought was a dental problem, but a week ago he started stumbling. It rapidly became clear that he had terrible vertigo, he began falling even with sitting, and his pupils were different sizes, which is a pretty clear sign of neurological problems. Our options were down to spending an exorbitant amount of money on CAT scans just to confirm what the vet was already sure of–tumor on the inner ear, clearly growing very fast.
There’s very little treatment at that point. Even if we could spend an insane sum on brain surgery on a senior cat, even if it was miraculously successful, the inner ear was already damaged and he would spend the rest of his life thinking he was falling over. Since I would not wish my worst enemy to die of vertigo, we put him to sleep yesterday afternoon.
It was a shockingly fast decline and I’m still rather stunned. He was the sweetest little cat in the world, he wanted nothing more than to be on the bed, preferably tucked up against a human. He liked to sleep with his head on other cats’ butts, to their general dismay.
I know this is the price of admission for having pets, and I never doubt that I will do it again and again and again, but god, we only lost Brandon last month. Twice in a row like this is hard. We are as skilled as people can be in making these choices, but I’d really like to not exercise that skill for awhile.
Well. Ben (or at least, Ben’s butt) was the great love of Angus’s life, and I hope they are together again in whatever afterlife awaits cats. And no one else in the house is allowed to die until 2016 at the earliest.
So there’s a Kickstarter for a nifty little book put together by the group of artists going to Botswana, being organized by the awesome Foxfeather, and you can see it all here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/17
We’ve just added a couple of tiers, including the chance to be a saint on the Hidden Almanac and two Tuckerization slots to have a minor character in a T. Kingfisher novel. (Obviously those slots may take a while on fulfillment…) Check it out!
Even if you don’t want my tiers, there are some just absurdly talented artists involved and you’d want the book just for their art…
ETA: And apparently people really want me to kill characters named after themselves, because those slots sold in ten minutes. Um. Whoa.
ETA: …and the saints are sold. Ooookay. That was wild! Thank you, everyone! Now I know what to offer next time somebody wants a charity auction…
So now that we have agreed and accepted the offer, I can tell you guys all about it–Seventh Bride got picked up by 47North, Amazon’s spec-fic imprint, and they’ll be publishing an expanded version, mostly likely this November!
Basically, what happened was that Bride was doing really well–4K copies–and one of the editors there was looking for a book that was sorta like a book they’d just published, and happened across it, and then she loved it and wrote to make me an offer. And since I am incapable of dealing with this sort of thing, I turned to my agent and went “AAAAUGHGHH HELP!” and she took it and repped it and got me more money and dealt with all the fiddly bits that I would have been lost with, which is why we have agents and why they more than earn the chunk they take and it doesn’t matter how this brave new world of publishing falls out, I will keep my agent until she takes out a restraining order against me.
As far as you, the reader is concerned, what’s going to happen is that come November-ish, it will be unavailable anywhere but Amazon, as an expanded version with a new cover on it. And it will have a trade paperback edition, and probably an audiobook edition and possibly even some other exciting stuff. (The copy you have, if you have bought it already, will not go away. I checked specifically on that, because that would have been a deal-breaker for me. Apparently 47North aims for–one quotes–“seamless transition” on this.)
I’ll be honest, this is both very weird and a great relief. I’ve always felt like Dragonbreath was a weird fluke that could never be duplicated and either Hamster Princess would tank or someday my beloved editor at Dial would retire and I would never sell another middle-grade book.
So that someone just stumbled over a T. Kingfisher book and said “Let’s make this happen!” made me feel like I suddenly exhaled–it’s not a one-off, I can actually do this, if everything collapses, I can rebuild a career from the ashes, etc.
…and, of course, it’s also weird, because once again, my career is progressing based on the thing happening that never happens.
A lot of people who self-publish express a desire to get picked up by a trade publisher if things do well, and other people clutch their heads and say “Please, no, don’t do that. This book isn’t your audition tape. Concentrate on making a really fantastic self-published book, not on a dress rehearsal for trade. Focus your business on doing self-pub WELL, not on a vague hope for a statistically unlikely event.”
And this is very good advice, and I would give it to anyone and it never actually occurred to me that I would find myself in that statistically unlikely event. Lightning struck me and the shark I was riding.
But here we are.
RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.
I mulled this one over at great length, honestly. A lot more so than I have previous deals. I contacted authors with the house. I talked at length to my agent. This was actual…like…business decision stuff. And it was doing well as a self-pub, so I had to think about it in a way that I am not good at thinking about things.
I am a great flounderer from place to place. This felt like I floundered someplace very unexpected.
Still, I’m going for it. Without getting into details, by going with a trade publisher (any trade publisher!) I am taking a paycut on royalties on Bride…but there’s an advance, and more importantly, it’ll put the terrifying Amazon marketing machinery behind the book, and however mixed my feelings are about it, I still sell 95% of my copies on Kindle. So it could get a HUGE bump. T. Kingfisher is a complete unknown, and if 47North moves this book, even if I never publish another thing through them, the OTHER books I write as T. Kingfisher–including, incidentally, the retelling of Beauty & the Beast that will be out this May–will totally benefit from it.
And it may do amazing. And if it does, they can come back and talk to me about Beast.
And an audiobook and a print book do not suck, even if they won’t get in most physical stores (for reasons I completely understand!)
At the end of the day, though, what basically decided me was–I wanted to be a hybrid author. I went with a pen-name because that was my experiment with self-pub. So here’s the great hybrid experiment doubling back on itself, and we’ll see what happens. I wrote this book to see where they’d go, and I did not expect it to go where it did, but sometimes you just grab on and go for the ride.
So that’s what’s happening. And I totally do not know what’s going to happen next, but I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes!
ETA: I feel a vague urge to apologize to someone for having done this all backwards. I think I did self-pub wrong, somehow…
I should really try to remember that I am capable of breaking myself.
I am, sad to say, a creature of intense routine. I don’t mind traveling and doing Other Stuff, but then I want to come home and have everything be exactly like it should be and do normal things that don’t change for a stretch of time. I thrive on novelty, provided it occurs when I want it to and that I don’t have to do it all the time.
Between Kevin traveling, Brandon passing, a week trip (a good trip!) two bouts of illness and dog auditions, I’ve managed to pretty much knock myself out of my home routine, though, (some of which was my fault and some of which was just life) and now I am wandering around in an anxious haze, going “This is not my beautiful house…this is not my beautiful beagle…”
I suppose if we were getting technical, it’s something like a mild transient dissociative episode in response to stress. Which basically just means that everything’s a little off. The house seems weird and small and lit wrong. I know where everything IS, it’s not like I don’t live there, but it seems like I’m about a half-step back from where I ought to be, and, most unsettling, days are passing too quickly and I am in imminent danger of lose track of my schedule.
This isn’t that unusual–about thirty percent of the population reports that this happens to them now and again, so I’m not running off to a psychiatrist or try to get a CAT scan for the brain tumor that I could convince myself it lurking–but it’s not all that fun. I know it’s a stress response. I just need to get back in the routine for a week or two and things will gradually smooth back into normal and the world will cease to be weird and out of order. (I am not actually that far behind, truth be told–I have like one project that I need to finish, but everything else is on track. Except for weeding the garden. The weeding is dismal. I am mostly hoping that our bitter cold snap this weekend will take care of some of it for me.)
(Actually, if the garden wasn’t all dead brown leaves and chickweed, I’d probably feel better, come to that. Winter’s always off.)
Anyway, Kevin says that I am not acting weird, and he’d be the first one to notice. I am a more anxious person than I generally let on, but the occasional spike won’t kill me.
Now, I’m older and wiser than I used to be (har) and so I will actually try to DO the correct thing instead of going “An emotionally healthy person could deal with this! ONWARD!” It’s sort of the mental equivalent of feeling my back twinge–if I keep going, I’m gonna throw my brain out, but presumably if I am sensible and take it easy, it will settle. (Have thrown brain out once or twice. Ends badly every time.)
So I am going to stick to my Normal Schedule Of Normal Things That I Do Normally and hope I relax a bit. Woo! Normalcy.
I used to think it was overrated, but the older I get, the more I think there’s something to be said for it…
So we’ve been trying to find a new dog for the last week or two, since Gir needs a friend. It’s…not gone well.
Our first try was a lovely dog who came home and promptly went for a cat, full lunge and snarl. Back to the foster family he went.
Our second try is a marvelous Staffordshire and I loved her immediately and she needs a great home. She made it three days. Unfortunately, she thinks cats are small dogs. She wanted to play with the small orange dog (Angus) so badly. She brought him toys, she pranced alongside him, she was trying so hard…and then he got in a windowsill and she trapped him back there, and when she got a face full of claws, she lunged forward in what was probably meant to be a play-bite. I got her by the collar, Angus went over her head, across the table, and up the stairs, and that was the end of that. Play-bites from 60lb dogs to trapped cats can be fatal, so she’s going back to the foster carer tonight. (Angus is fine, I’m just glad he moved in time. It was one of those things that could very easily have been Not At All Fine.)
(And the descriptions always say that they have been around cats. I swear, I’m checking for “good with cats” on every description. I think sometimes people are so eager to find homes, they fudge a bit with “I think the one family had one outdoor cat, so he must be fine.”)
This is killing me, guys. I was always shit at dating, and dogs are generally infinitely more Good than humans, so it’s worse. I always fall in love immediately, and when it doesn’t work out, I panic that I am dooming them to a life of being unwanted and then I cry for an hour. Kevin, who is in the running for “human who is almost as Good as a dog” is very understanding, but I hate this so much.
So, um, if anybody local wants a female Staffordshire, 2.5 year old, crate-trained, an absolute dream on a leash, drop a line, I’ll forward the info. Just…not great with cats.
Went to Foolscap in Redmond, which was an awesome little con, delighted to meet fans and friends and new friends and hopefully new fans. It was great! They’re doing a lot of good stuff and I hope they keep on doing it. (Preferred pronoun ribbons. Simple, straightforward, everybody had them. Awesome.)
And then I went birdwatching.
In Eastern Washington.
Sometimes it looked like this:
Mostly it looked like this.
There was a lot of careening around on icy roads, fishtailing in snow, looking for birds. But we found them! Ten lifers for me–Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Rough-Legged Hawk, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Clark’s Nutcracker, Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch, Northern Pygmy Owl (so tiny! so grumpy!) Pine Grosbeak, Townsend’s Solitaire, and a truly spectacular Long-Eared Owl.
This owl has been hanging around Seattle and is surrounded by bird paparazzi because he seriously does not seem to care that there are humans twelve feet away clicking shutters frantically. This owl slept the way I sleep–deeply and apocalyptically. He was magnificent.
The whole theme of the trip seemed to be “Very few birds, but amazing looks at the ones we saw.” We got the Pygmy Owl on a wire directly over the road, the Sharp-Tailed Grouse roosting in a tree by the road like an oversized mourning dove(!!) and Horned Larks landing on the road in front of the car to pick salt off it. It was pretty wild.
Everybody out of the way! California Quail coming through!
Hi, I was told the auditions for the Bev Doolittle paintings were being held here?
Also I have a new camera and was trying it out a lot. This is not a bird. Just in case anyone was wondering.
Brandon the border collie passed away Saturday morning. He was a very good dog.
He declined very swiftly, which is usually a blessing with dogs–Monday he was stiff, as he usually was, and by Wednesday he couldn’t stand up without help. His back had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer feel his hind legs, and then it was a matter of keeping him comfortable until Kevin got home from traveling and could be with him at the end.
He was twelve years old and a giant for a border, well outside breed standard, so this was pretty much a ripe old age.
It is the nature of herding dogs to divide the world into People and Sheep. Kevin was People. I was…well…the most senior of the Sheep. (I suspect Brandon was silently judging Kevin for carrying on with a Sheep, but such is the devotion of dogs that he allowed this baffling choice to go on.) I was mostly allowed to go about my business as long as Kevin was home, but when Kevin went on a trip, Brandon had to use his best judgment and felt that I needed to stick to a strict schedule and be in the bedroom by 9 pm at the latest. Deviation would be met with long, disappointed looks, and then he would shove his nose under my elbow and flip it up while I was trying to work and walk very close behind my knees if I got up to use the bathroom.
We miss him very badly. I wouldn’t even mind being herded again.
Kevin had him since he was a tiny fuzzy puppy, so this is hardest for him. We are the sort of people who measure out our lives in pets, so we are as used to this as it’s possible to be. It doesn’t get easier, but it does get familiar, so there’s that, at least.
May he herd all the things in heaven.
Author’s Note: Told with permission. Nay, with encouragement. And it probably needs a trigger warning for horrible…medical…um…good god, I don’t even know.
So I have been having the week that will not die. Kevin had food poisoning, then I put him on a plane, then I had mega food poisoning, then I laid around for a day or two recuperating and by the time I could stay upright without lunging for the bathroom, Brandon the border collie was ill and I had to maneuver an elderly 75lb dog with bad hips into a car, a feat made (just barely) possible by all that mulch I throw around, and then I got home with Brandon and maneuvered him into the house to discover that the beagle had a limp, which meant I spent all day at the vet today.*
But this pales. Pales, I say! In comparison to what happened some days ago.
I received a text from my mother.
It said—I have it before me now—
“Still blizzards and extreme windchill and today my uterus fell out.”
No, go back and re-read it.
It is worth noting that this tells you a lot about my mother, and also about the weather in Upper Peninsula Michigan, which is so dire that it gets mentioned first. (Or maybe that’s just my mother. The windchill would need to be measured in Kelvin before I mentioned that first.)
My reply was…well…honestly, I gotta say, there’s only so many things you can say to this statement.
MOM: Also have been walking around with another infection for months
ME: GO BACK TO THE UTERUS
MOM: Yep. It’s still attached, but now I know what it looks like.
ME: …please tell me you’re messing with me and this is not a thing that happens.
MOM: Went to the doctor who was somewhat shocked. Says I need surgery.
ME: OH SWEET JESUS
ME: Get the surgery! I will pay for it! Oh god!
MOM: It does actually happen. If you google it you will be totally grossed out.**
ME: Excuse me, I have to go get a total hysterectomy right now.
Mom informed me that she was going to pick up my kid brother, and suddenly a thought occurred to me. It was a bad thought. It was a bad thought that became what is, possibly, the most unfortunate string of words I have ever had to type together in one place.
ME: MOM WHERE IS YOUR UTERUS NOW
ME: OH GOD WHY DID I JUST HAVE TO TYPE THAT PHRASE OH GOD OH GOD
MOM: I shoved it back it. It seems to be staying put for now.
MOM: It’s really much more inconvenient than painful.
There is another gap here, where I seem to recall wandering the kitchen making mewling noises like a baby raccoon that has fallen out of a tree and then perhaps been forced to read the collected works of the Nihilist philosophers
Eventually I rallied.
ME: I really want to be supportive right now, but I also need to drink until I do not remember this conversation, so I am conflicted.
At this point, I sought the comfort of several female friends, who largely reacted by going into the shower and sobbing and scrubbing themselves with steel wool, but my buddy Otter looked it up for me in between rocking and sobbing and determined that yes, this is actually a thing that happens.
(I am so sorry, readers, to inform you of this. Truly. But also glad that I am not suffering this knowledge alone.)
It is also–har har–hereditary.
Childbirth is the major contributing factor, thankfully, so I am probably in the clear. (Otter suggests I also avoid coughing for the rest of my natural life, and probably sneezing if I can help it.)
MOM: Also, if you are of Northern European descent, that makes it more likely.
ME: Excuse me while my cervix builds a moat and puts bars on the windows.
MOM: Thank you for making me laugh! Although I don’t want to laugh too hard…
MOM: Nooo, too much laughing NOOOOO!
ME: Go watch Dr. Zhivago or something! Don’t laugh!
ME: AAAUGH OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD
MOM: Just kidding. Well, about that bit, not about the rest of it.
Yes, dear reader, that bit was my mother trolling me. Very successfully, might I add.
Anyway. If you don’t want to google “uterine prolapse” (and Jesus, why would you?) it happens. It just sort of…falls forward and outward. There are a couple of methods of fixing it, most involving hysterectomy and a few involving silicone inserts. My mother goes in for surgery when her insurance okays things.
She is also in no pain, thinks it’s funny–now–and adds that uteruses are astonishingly small. And was happy to have me blog about it. So. Um. Picture the “More You Know” rainbow going behind this post.
It’s been a rough week, I won’t lie, but this is arguably the single most wildly bizarre thing in it.
2015. Off to a helluva start. For everybody in the family.
*Official diagnosis: The beagle was so upset that Brandon got to ride in the car and he didn’t that he tore around having hysterics, popped his patella out, and then popped it back in. He got his car ride, and also a nail trim and painkillers. Brandon got lots and lots of painkillers. I? Did not get painkillers. I got Pepto-Bismol. The universe is deeply flawed.
**She is not lying.