Here Comes #NaNoWriMo 2021

It has been a long time since I’ve had anything in particular to say. As NaNoWriMo creeps closer, I feel like I need to change that.

The pandemic has been, to put it mildly, hard on me. At the beginning, I had to manage my disabled daughter’s crushing disappointment over canceling a trip she’d planned for about three years. Alongside that, we suddenly couldn’t go anywhere else either. She’s semi-verbal and didn’t understand any of this. Her frustration permeated our household for months.

I could not write then because of stress. My attention turned to escapism. For a while, I read a lot of books and watched random things on Netflix. Then I started playing video games again. I discovered Destiny 2 and it kept me going.

Somewhere in there, I wrote the first draft of book 5 of Harper Revolution. We released the second book of Stardrifters, which had been written prior to the March shutdown. And then…nothing. My brain, to put it in simple terms, went on strike. Harper 5 awaits significant edits that I cannot get myself to write. The next Darkside Seattle has about 2000 words. I’ve got about fifteen new dead-end chapter 1s. A whole crapton of fanfic exists from when I couldn’t make myself write anything else.

It’s been difficult to remember why I do this, and easy to feel like no one cares. Like nothing I’ve ever written or ever will write matters.

And then, this past August, my good friend, co-author, and business partner, Jeffrey Cook, passed away. We had plans. So many plans. A 31-book project, of which we’d written the first 2 and paid models for most of the cover shoots. A different 4 book project, of which we’d written the first. Sequels to Nova Ranger Academy. Another 20 novella project, the first of these also written. Yet another 7 book project. 10 more Stardrifters books.

Every time we worked a show, we added more to our list. We couldn’t help it. “What if…” was a dangerous question behind the table at a show or in the car on the way to one. He and I had an amazing work synergy. We covered each other’s weaknesses with effortless panache.

He was a rare creature, someone I could spend weeks trapped in a car, hotel rooms, and con booths without wanting to murder him. We did that every summer, and both of us looked forward to it.

We were work-married, a pair of creative lunatics running on cooperative wavelengths. The loss of that half of my professional self has been…gut-wrenching. Devastating. Frustrating. Grotesquely unfair.

Two months later, I don’t know what to do with all those plans and already-written pieces of them. I’ll have the thought that I could do one of those series, and then remember how much Jeff wanted to write book 3, or whatever. Maybe with some more time and space, I’ll be able to use pieces and parts for something.

This past weekend, the Clockwork Dragon minions and I worked our first show since his passing, and also my first show since the pandemic lockdown in March 2020. It was surreal. Gut-wrenching. Devastating. Frustrating. Grotesquely unfair.

I set aside my fancy, dragon-topped convention bowler hat, feeling wrong wearing it without Jeff also wearing his steampunk one.

But we got through it. I kind of remembered how to talk to strangers about books without sounding like a complete idiot.

Soon, my daughter and I will finally take that trip.

Erik and I are putting a lot of effort into getting The Greatest Sin back on track for annual releases.

NaNoWriMo is also on the horizon. This will be my 13th year participating and my 6th as a Municipal Liaison, and the first in a long time that I’ve begun without the rock-solid certainty that I’ll not only win but score at least a double (100k). Today, on the 25th of October, I came up with my first basic outline, which is much later than I normally know what I’m doing.

Life marches on.


  1. I met you and Jeffrey at Norwescon41, I think it was. As a writer new to the convention life, I was so in awe of the Clockwork Dragon table. I simply had to meet the duo responsible for such prolific and varied writing. Jeffrey was gentle and encouraging, a great listener, a true mensch. I eagerly bought your book, “Working the Table”, and have found much wisdom there. I’m shocked and sorry to hear of his passing, selfishly disappointed that I will not get to see him again and know him better. And I am so very, very sad for you and your tremendous loss.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.