The Horror, the Horror

I’ve been without a laptop since Sunday. I thought, “This will be good for me.” NO, NO IT WASN’T.

But now it’s September which is my favorite month because it feels like a new year (I’ve spent a lot of time in schools) and the weather is amazing and I have Big Plans. Among other things:

• I keep thinking I’m going to put Nita aside and then I think again. At the moment, my qualms are two: this is no time for a old white woman to write about immimgration and this is really no time for anybody to write about a cute cop who shoots people.

• I have to do something with Lily. I don’t know what, since I never had a plot, she’s all over the place, but I either have to pat her on the head and say, “You were fun, kid,” and send her off to the archives, or figure out something useful to do with her. Probably not a book because I have enough of them started.

• I need a new blog project. Bob and I are done with HWSWA at the end of Sept. and I have no idea if he wants to do anything after that and neither do I, but I know I like the idea of having to produce something to a schedule every week. Like do another series binge, maybe. Nah. Rats. I don’t know.

• I need to throw out most of what’s in this house. It’s the only way.

• I need to figure out what’s making me dizzy. It goes away at night but today I got a real shock when the dizzy turned to vertigo. It has to be labyrinthitis, but you’re not supposed to get that twice. Maybe I’m just Special.

I did manage to get most of the recycling out today, so there’s that. And my laptop is recharged again, thank god. But mostly I’m feeling untethered. I must do something productive. Any request? I’m open here.

62 thoughts on “The Horror, the Horror

  1. My vote is to stick with Nita. I think it’s always time for anyone to write about immigration.

    However, the cute cop shooting people — I think this is not the moment.

    I was surprised to find myself unable to rewatch the Taming of the Shrew in the Shakespeare Retold version with Shirley Henderson and Rufus Sewell. Not funny anymore and it was one of my faves.

  2. I dunno – if you have qualms about Nita then you have qualms about Nita, and you can try to really put her book down for a space of time and see that sticks, or if you have a sudden epiphany and know what to do with it all.

    Do you need a new co-author? to revisit some older unfinished things? to start something completely new? to simply rest on your laurels as you continue to empty your house and regain your equilibrium? Everything is possible, at the same time everything is a dumpster fire, so swing for the fences?

  3. Are you able to get an online appointment with your doctor about the dizzy spells?

    Do you miss podcasting at all? Maybe you could do a Leverage or Person of Interest rewatch podcast.

    1. I’ve never done a podcast that I can recall. I don’t think my voice is particularly good.
      Oh, wait, was that Popcorn Dialogues? That was all Lani, I just talked some.

  4. Have you investigated BPPV, benign (though it damn well doesn’t feel like it) paroxysmal positional vertigo? I get it in any position but YMMV. Inner ear infections can also cause nasty vertigo.

    Yeah, as much as I adore Button, this is not her time.

    What about Lavender?

  5. I loved Surprise Lily, and loved the idea of it even more once Dorothy emerged from the background. I would be very happy if you tabled Nita until the issues jell sufficiently for you, and turned your writing time to things that are fun for you to think about and generate drafts from — otherwise, you’re always second-guessing yourself, critiquing, editing, and overall, it doesn’t sound like a Good Life for Jenny Crusie, to me.

    Your fellow Ohioan Lois M. Bujold seems to be having a fine old time self-publishing or e-publishing novellas. Do you think you might enjoy those, or short stories? You would find rejoicing all over the globe if you were to write short stories about the people we’ve loved in other Crusie novels, for example.

    But I think you’ll find support from all your fans whatever you do.

    1. Bujold is so smart.

      Hmmm. I have the Paradise Park chapters that are like novellas/short stories. There’s a thought. Although the Monday Street sequel is definitely a novel. I kind of like that.

      I also like the idea of starting the second Liz novel because she’s stuck trying to learn how to write a romance novel in that one.

    2. I find with my attention span these days that novellas are a good length. I used to find them annoyingly short. Now I seek them out. This is a good idea.

  6. Well, you can work on Nita, but maybe just not work on getting Nita published any time within the next few years. Then again, those issues won’t be any better if you wait years, so maybe…. not.

    I think you’re going to end up doing whatever The Girls want to do, really. Whatever that is. It doesn’t seem like you end up working on stuff where they aren’t saying things?

  7. What about the book re Alice? Thought I remembered you wanting to do a follow-up to Maybe This Time featuring Alice.

    Think there was something quite special about the MTT book (although I also remember it having a different early title? something re quote over bed maybe? if so, whatever happened to that?). I’ve read most of your books, but something about this story feels especially rich. I like the earlier setting, too. Also the characters had a lot of depth, and it may be fun to dive back into their world for you and for readers. Not to mention the focus on the value of connection which I think rings particularly true now for a lot of folks:)

  8. Used to be called Always Kiss Me Goodnight because I thought that was creepy.

    Alice’s book is called Haunting Alice. There was a novella I started called Spooky Alice. and she’s in You Again at fifteen, except I’ve manage to lose all of those scenes.

    Yeah, August didn’t work for me.

  9. Maybe I’m odd one out, but I say publish Nita. You can find commentary on any side of any current political situation in any story. I don’t think we as a society should stop writing about a topic because of current social or political situations. It strikes me the same as saying we shouldn’t have published romances during the Me Too movement because some stories wouldn’t fit the political climate, or appeal to everyone 100%.

    Absolutely respect your right to not publish, right now or ever if that’s your decision. This also isn’t a political commentary leaning in any direction on any topic. Apolitically, I say publish. I see value in your work, even if there were to be something I dont like in it.


    1. It’s funny you should bring up romance and #MeToo. I ghostwrite romance for clients, so I don’t get to chose the premise, but I can choose the details. So when I get assigned boss-employee romances these days, I’m very careful to make sure that the person with less power in the relationship makes the first move. I make sure to establish that the employee doesn’t need this particular job (they have another job waiting in two months, they get other offers all the time, etc.) I make sure the consent is explicit when we finally get around to the sex. I make sure the power is balanced within the relationship. There’s other stuff too, but the gist is, I pay attention to how I write this topic because it’s in the news. But I also pay attention to how I write it because I have friends who have been sexually assaulted by someone with more power than them, and if they want to read romance I want them to be able to enjoy it as much as someone who hasn’t had to survive sexual assault.

      I absolutely agree with you that we shouldn’t stop writing stories that touch on serious real world issues. But I do think it’s important as writers to be more conscientious when we’re writing stories that potentially have real world consequences. It’s also how we keep improving the genres we love.

      1. The only thing I hate more than boss/employee romances are professor/student romances. Those make me INSANE with rage.

    2. I agree with Nicole – I would try to publish Nita and completely agree that you don’t stop reading on a topic in fiction because of current headlines. Some 80s romances are cringe worthy when read with the lens of the #Metoo movement, but I still read the ones that are good books, good stories. I read for escapism, not for social commentary. A good book is a good book. I never saw Nita as immigration related anyway, when you are talking immigrating from hell it loses its connection with immigrating from a real country for me. As far as the shooting in it, fiction rarely triggers me, when it does, it is always rape in romance that is used simply for shock effect and authors or reviews typically mention it so I just skip those. Nothing in Nita is written for shock effect, its all part of the story, the mystery. I really love Nita and hope to see it someday. Monday Street novellas is a great idea too. I’d just love to be able to sit down with a new Crusie honestly – any new Crusie.

      1. Aw, thank you.
        Actually, I’d love to sit down with a new Crusie, too.
        Maybe I’ll put my Nita concerns in an Argh post and we can hash them out. And I’m think seriously about finishing the first story in the Paradise Park book and slapping it up here to see what people think. Hmmm.

      2. See, Nicole, you’re not the odd one out. 🙂 I agree that we need multiple voices—especially women’s voices, regardless of color and age. Jenny, I think it’s important to remember that you’re a storyteller—and a hugely talented and caring one—and we always need more of those. And I have faith that you’ll be able to tweak Button’s arc to make it work.

        (In my head I had more eloquent arguments, but they really boil down to “yes, please, another Crusie!”)

    3. I think you’re right. The key is if the shooting stuff seems to trivialize the real problems with guns and law in this country. ARGH.

      1. Well, they are making yet another Rich White Guy Beats Up Suspects movie (aka Batman).

        It’s like romances: readers don’t need all books to fix all the world’s problems. You don’t have people shot by cops just for being alive, and in fact what I remember of Nita shows them seriously opposed to that. I think it’ll be okay.

  10. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I do have vast experience with dizzy and vertigo, especially when I am dehydrated or when the muscles in my shoulders/neck get extra tight and throw everything off balance. Those positional exercises–especially when done with the aid of a professional–are very helpful. Avoiding sudden eye movements and keeping my head at just-the-right-angle have help ed too. I used to love to be spun until I was crazy dizzy as a kid but, as an adult, not so much.


    As for what to work on next while Nita simmers, all of the things you’ve mentioned sound wonderful and are likely to be good distractions while the political craziness swirls. Which one feels like it would be the most fun for you?

    1. Another vote for positional exercises. I was skeptical (blame my post-concussion brain), but over time they made a big difference.

    2. It’s September. I want to do ALL THE THINGS (thank you, Allie Brosh).
      I’ll be back to normal in October. It’s September that makes me act like I’m on uppers.

      1. Oh, yes, September syndrome! turning over the calendar to this month is magic in a way that turning to January is not.
        Where is the juice for you? We can make suggestions, weigh in, [and thanks for asking] but your books sound to me as if you enjoyed writing them, and whatever will do that for you now is needful. We are in the U.S. in such deep doo-doo that it won’t change for quite some time, regardless of the election outcome, though that could make it worse. So write/publish what makes you happy or content or smile or something along that continuum. That said, I’d love to read about Alice again, and the novellas you’ve written with friends, like the Christmas stories, are a good option to revisit. Best wishes for a September of better health.

      2. September in the Southern Hemisphere is sooo different. Basically it feels as if, once the ember months start, we’re racing downhill to Christmas and the long holidays. So everything from now on feels like an ending.

  11. I am the kind of reader that does not look for true meaning.

    Until you told me that Nita was about immigration, I never picked up on that. I was just reading for adventure and excitement with a soupçon of romance (I skip the the sex scenes because they interfere with the action for me). Also I like sci-fi and fantasy so I go for a slightly unreal world. At the moment I prefer a slightly unreal world. And while green demons may speak immigration to you to me, they speak green demons. And I have no problem with cute cops shooting people as long is it isn’t in the back, or when they are unarmed or in custody. So unless you make a big deal about it with lots of “significant” dialogue or musings, I am not going to notice it unless it interferes with the story line.

    However, I am one of those people who never realized that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe had a Christian theme. I just found it slightly overwritten and boring. So you can tell what my opinion is worth.

    And if you wanted to self publish Nita, I would buy it because I am looking for amusing, not socially significant.

    1. You know, it’s not really about immigration, but there’s a huge, obvious crashing theme underneath everything that essentially says, “Don’t demonize people because they come from somewhere else,” which in this case is demons from hell, and their color issue is that they’re green. It’s not something I want to address head on, but it permeates the whole book. I’m okay with that, it’s the shooting people that’s iffy since so much of our police force has been blowing people away, usually people of color. Not funny.

  12. I am part of the cadre of Publish Nita Now! Arghers. If there is any Arghument that will help you lean that way, consider it advanced. Publish! Publish! Publish!

    Or not. It is your book and your choice. But your policeman is not singling out black lives, so the matter is moot.

    Your laptop is Back In Commission. This is good. My laptop works fine, mostly. It’s Comcast that likes to ration the internet here. And my mini-computer? I decided to remove the 100 Tb SSD that wasn’t working, and poof! The WiFi started working again. I regard that confuser as my eBook and Solitaire machine, and for those uses it is an absolute marvel.

  13. I am on the Lily team. It doesn’t have to be a book. I love the meanderings. It’s the journey that is interesting. I don’t think you have to beat it into shape, I’d just like to know what happens.
    And more Dorothy would be awesome. I can’t help thinking there has to be something hidden in that dreadful basket.
    As for Nita, I understand your reservations. They seem very valid to me. If it is not right, it is not right.
    Good luck with the vertigo.

      1. Maybe she keeps adding to basket as she gets more pissed at bossman? She’d really like to pepperspray him, so in it goes, right next to the recorder.

        1. She’s sneakier then that. She’s more likely to screw up his messages, sabotage him than attack him.

  14. Yeah, I think it’s a bigger conversation about how we portray cops in fiction. When warrants and lawyers are portrayed as red tape our hero has to fight instead of important things that are there to prevent the abuse of power, or when threatening to rough an evil criminal up or turn off the cameras in the interrogation room is treated as an understandable tactic, etc. Basically I don’t think we should do police stories that don’t acknowledge the difference of power between cops and the communities they serve, and don’t acknowledge how badly wrong it can go when a cop is wrong about who the “bad guy” is in a given situation.

    This would be a giant re-write and would turn it into a different story I’m sure, but if you love the story but don’t want to do the cop thing, could you turn Nita into a P.I. instead? Button’s a demon hunter who’s officially a P.I. who’s renting office space across the hall from Nita. Nick doesn’t change. And Nita could still butt heads with the rest of the police force, but she can do it as an outsider.

    That said, I say that as someone who’s not the one writing it.

    1. The problem is, that shifts too much of the pressure.
      Both Nita and Button are dealing with entrenched power, Nita in the Witherspoon-dominated justice system and Button in her family’s centuries long tradition of demon slayers. They have power, which since they’re women in a patriarchal world is important, but they have to negotiate their way through tradition and assumption. A PI is by definition a loner, somebody working outside the system, and this book is about systems, on Earth and in Hell. So nope, can’t duck it that way.
      I’m just going to have to figure out a way to deal with, and I’m pretty sure that means tackling it head on. Argh.

  15. Must admit I’m not delighted about the idea of Button shooting people. I guess that’s a fundamental part of the story. Maybe whether it’s ok or not depends on how she and Nita handle it, like if it’s part of Button’s redemption arc rather than something that she and Nita accept as ok.

    1. It is part of her arc, and Nita condemns it from the beginning.
      BUT it’s also a part of who Button is, and she has to deal with that, plus she saves Nita’s life early on in the book by shooting a guy who’s come to kill her (in the shoulder and then between the eyes) and later she saves Max’s life by shooting the guy who’s going to shoot him, so it’s not a Guns Are Bad thing, but still, all her victims are demons, so she’s profiling (unconsciously, she doesn’t believe in demons). Since the demons only die here, they land back in hell and are still alive, that undercuts some of the impact but she’s still killing people, in protection mode or self-defense, but still killing people. And I can’t cut it, it’s a crucial part of the book.

      1. I guess I dont follow? I could just be acting obtuse (I do do that, and am also part of the missed immigration and had no idea Narnia was Christian crowd), but if she’s acting in defense against two individuals who were attacking them, how is this profiling? It’s been a long time since I read anything Nita, but if she reacting, how is it profiling? If she was targeting them because of something, profiling. But defending lives against an active do-harmer, I dont track as either profiling or bad or representative of the social clime. And does anyone hate demons in the story? Like, once I know you’re a demon, now I hate you and target you?

        1. There’s a white supremacist group on the island (Pure Island, which Nita says sounds like a water company) that poisoned doughnuts and later tries to burn Nita at the stake.

          She only shoots demons, she just doesn’t know they’re demons.

          1. Well, the White Supremacy bit sounds like your taking a stand against them, so not at all a bad thing. Presumably Nita and Button are actively working to take down or stop this organization- which is what we’d want from an ideal police force. And not because of anything but their actions, which are willfully destructive here.

            If she only shoots demons who deserve it for being true villains, dont think anyone can take that in the wrong direction. I’d say throw a human in the mix for her to shoot, but that would up the violence which sounds counter to the goal. Also, doesn’t Button foil with Max? Maybe not foil, but parallel? If she’s a demon hater who subconsciously profiles, why would she date/be attracted to one? I guess if you can analyze the scenes where Button faces criminal humans, and she doesnt act differently based on knowing they are humans, then I don’t see it as a problem.

            But that’s obviously getting into personal preferences.

            Maybe a scene where Button learns of demons and then assesses whether she should treat them as threats based on the fact of being demons? I’m over reaching, but I never found anything in what was posted of Nita that made me think it was negatively representing BLM and the current clime.

            I do agree with someone else’s post on assessing how the crime fighting happens – by circumventing the laws in place to provide checks and balances, or working within them. How often does Nita go outside the bounds of what she can legally do,

  16. Hope you get clear soon which direction feels really alive. Novellas sound promising – ebooks make different lengths viable.

    It does feel like the world is churning around us, and lots of things are suddenly upside down (or right way up), and right in front of our noses.

        1. She’s from a while back, so my memories are vague: sorry. She’s come back to her home town but didn’t want to be there; there was a looming wedding and a caravan and a sheriff. It was funny, and there was going to be romance plus a mystery, I think. Was it going to be a trilogy?? There was definitely a difficult mother.

  17. Blog request: How about a 12 days of Throwing Stuff Out? I will happily play along.

    Book request: I long for Stealing Nadine. But whatever the girls think you should finish…Novellas sound good, too!

    1. Oh, god, that would be great, but then I’d have to show how horrible my house is.
      Still, I could do the living room which is awful but which is going to become my office. Another twelve days of the office?
      That’s a pretty good idea, MJ. Thank you.

  18. If you write it, we will read it. And happily pay for it. I want to read all the things you have in process, so whatever you choose is fine (unhelpful, I know). Things you can do a novellas do seem like a particularly good idea. I still think about Liz. I do want more Lily. Love the idea of Alice and Ethan getting togehter (yes, continuing not to be helpful. I know)

    MJ I love the idea of 12 days of throwing out! I second it as a new blog project.

  19. I second JenniferNennifer on every count!

    I do have to say, and will probably get flack for it, but I am against censorship –especially self-censorship and the need to be politically correct. I vote for publishing Nita. I love her. I also vote for Lily. I love her too.

  20. Yes, it was Popcorn Dialogues I was remembering. I really enjoyed listening to it. Some really good talking all around.

    I think most people hate the sound of their recorded voices, as they sound so different from how we hear the sound when we speak out loud.

    : )

  21. I vote for publishing Nita too (the sooner the better, I’ve reread everything you’ve done at least three times since we got stuck at home in March!). I understand your concerns and am glad you have them, that’s why I think it will be fine, because you care.

    Re: vertigo – my mystery vertigo/random dizziness turned out to be from migraines, which I didn’t know I had. A combination of sudafed (think Advil Cold & Sinus, the 4-6 hour one) followed by migraine medicine makes it go away faster and may be worth exploring. Good luck!

  22. I think if the story’s grabbing you, write it. Why is the cop shooting people is more to the point than that he’s shooting people (in my opinion anyway).

  23. I haven’t read Nita. I was waiting for it to be a book so that I could do it all at once. I trust you to honor your craft. You and Ilona Andrews are the authors I trust most for steadfast main characters.

    I agree with short stories. Right now, they are my catnip. The world is fatiguing and short breaks keep me going.

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