No Spoilers, Please

If you’ve already finished reading Neogenesis, please take care not to spoil it for others who may not read so quickly, or who are waiting for the mass market edition (some people do), or who have simply put the book aside as a reward for finishing their coursework.  Or their novel.

There is a Spoiler Discussion for Neogenesis, so all is not lost.  Here’s your link.

NEOGENESIS Official Release Day

Today is the day that Neogenesis, the twenty-first novel in the Liaden Universe® created and curated by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is published in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook editions.  The novel is available at all major bookstores, brick and mortar, as well as on-line booksellers.

Go thou forth, buy, and, if it pleaseth you, read.

Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27

We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, operating under our Trade Name, Pinbeam Books, are conducting an experiment, because what is life if there is no challenge, no foray into Unknown Territory, no adrenaline?

What We Thought We Would Do is set up pre-orders for Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27, which will be officially released on January 15, on Amazon (ebook and paper), BN, and the rest of the Usual Players.  For those just getting back to work after the Holiday Season, Degrees. . . is the prequel to “Block Party,” which you can read, for free, until January 15, on Baen.com.  Here’s your link.

What We Actually Did was set up pre-orders for the Kindle edition on Amazon — here’s your link. Possibly, we have also set up pre-orders to Kobo, Apple, and those vendors to which Draft2Digital distributes.

What We Have Not Done is set up pre-orders for the paper book on Amazon, because That Is Disallowed.  Nor have we set up pre-orders at BN, because That Is ALSO Disallowed.

Baen will publish the ebook edition on January 15.

So, this will be interesting.  I will need to remember to go into BN and to Amazon on January 13 in order to release the “drafts” of the Nook edition and the paper edition for publication.  And there is the delightful possibility of the book showing up early at Other Vendors.

In fact, we may have Created Chaos, but that’s OK, because, after all — it’s for Science!

 

 

Books read in 2017

72. Girl Genius: The Incorruptible Library, Kaja & Phil Foglio
71. Mark of the Cat, Andre Norton
70. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve) (re-read)
69. An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard (e)
68. Incident at Badamyâ, Dorothy Gilman
67. Me: Stories of My Life, Katharine Hepburn
66. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman (e) re-read)
65. Making Money, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
64. Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
63. The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (e)
62. Zero Sum Game, SL Huang (e)
61. Kaleidoscope, Dorothy Gilman (e)
60. The Clairvoyant Countess, Dorothy Gilman (e)
59. A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny (read aloud w/Steve) (re-re-re-re-&c-read)
58. Thunder on the Right, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
57. Chuck Amuck, Chuck Jones
56. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia McKillip (re-read)
55. Wildfire at Midnight, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
54. Madam, Will You Talk?, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
53. Princess Holy Aura, Ryk E. Spoor (e)
52.  Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell
51. Shield of Winter, Nalini Singh (e)
50. Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (e)
49. The Cat Who Played Brahms, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
48. Where the Dead Lie, C.S. Harris
47. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
46. Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor (e)
45. Wildfire, Ilona Andrews (e)
44. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (e) (re-read)
43. The Rose and the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh
42. Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh (read aloud w/Steve)
41. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
40. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut MD (e)
39. The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny (e) (arc)
38. The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
37. The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M.H. Boroson (e)
36. Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
35. White Hot, Ilona Andrews (e)
34.  The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Tom Reiss (e)
33. Mouse and Dragon, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (e)
32. Caszandra, Andrea K. Host (e)
31. Lab Rat One, Andrea K. Host (e)
30. Stray, Andrea K. Host (e)
29. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
28. Apprentice in Death, J.D. Robb (e/l)
27. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
26. The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs (e)
25. Hanged for a Sheep, Frances and Richard Lockridge (e)
24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

On the last day of the year

So, there are the tasks that one does at Year-End — filing away the old year, opening the accounting for the new year.  To the best of my ability, these things have been done for the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  Which gives a nice feeling of accomplishment, without, yanno, actually having accomplished anything.

Peering forward into the first week of the new month and new year, I see that Tuesday is!

Book Day!

I, for one, am looking forward to receiving my copy of Emergence by CJ Cherryh, as I know many who read here are.

I am also looking forward to the release of the hardcover, ebook, and audio editions of Neogenesis by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  It’s a well-known fact that time runs oddly around writers, and so it simultaneously feels like it’s been a long time since we handed in Neogenesis and hardly any time at all.

Sometime next week — possibly Monday — I’ll be putting Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27 up for pre-order at various online outlets.  Official publication date is January 15.  I anticipate no problems with hung releases, as Degrees is an all-original, never-before-published, never-posted-ANYwhere-else-even-for-a-day, story.  It will also be available as a paper book from Amazon on January 15.

Let’s see…Steve and I will be doing a podcast interview for the Baen Free Radio Hour on Wednesday; those are always fun…

On Thursday, Sprite has an appointment with her vet, for the ever-popular annual check-up.  Unfortunately, it’s also supposed to snow 3-5/4-6 inches on Thursday, so we may have to swap that out.  Honestly, if it’s really bad, I may have to swap out my doctor’s appointment on Friday.  Winter in Maine, ayuh.

Looking backward for a moment, we have finished and turned in “Revolutionist” to the Razor’s Edge anthology to be published in August by Zombies Need Brains.  And I had an epiphany recording Fifth of Five, which, in the way of epiphanies everywhere, meant the manuscript got busted back under 60,000 words again.

Today, I will write, and do laundry, skritch cats, spend time with Steve.  Possibly, we will see the New Year in — we’re often up that late, just as a usual thing — but if we don’t, it will arrive just fine without us.

Everybody stay safe; see you in the new year.

In which we pursue poetry

So, one of my favorite poems is the little story of the late-working scholar and his cat.  In its native Irish, it goes like this:

Messe [ocus] Pangur bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindán;
bith a menma-sam fri seilgg.
mu menma céin im saincheirdd

…which I have been told comes into English like this:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at,
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

It’s a pleasant poem, an amusing conceit, and supports the long shared history of writers and cats.  For a long time, I thought those four lines were the whole of the poem, said to have been written in the margin of whole ‘nother manuscript.  Four lines seemed about right for margin doodling, and I never pursued it further.

It therefore was a pleasant surprise to learn just recently that there is more — seven additional verses, in fact — to this poem, which argues for really generous margins.

Here’s the whole thing, translated from the Irish by Robin Flower.  You’re welcome.

The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

Books read in 2017

71. Mark of the Cat, Andre Norton
70. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve) (re-read)
69. An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard (e)
68. Incident at Badamyâ, Dorothy Gilman
67. Me: Stories of My Life, Katharine Hepburn
66. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman (e) re-read)
65. Making Money, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
64. Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
63. The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (e)
62. Zero Sum Game, SL Huang (e)
61. Kaleidoscope, Dorothy Gilman (e)
60. The Clairvoyant Countess, Dorothy Gilman (e)
59. A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny (read aloud w/Steve) (re-re-re-re-&c-read)
58. Thunder on the Right, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
57. Chuck Amuck, Chuck Jones
56. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia McKillip (re-read)
55. Wildfire at Midnight, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
54. Madam, Will You Talk?, Mary Stewart (e) (re-read)
53. Princess Holy Aura, Ryk E. Spoor (e)
52.  Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell
51. Shield of Winter, Nalini Singh (e)
50. Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (e)
49. The Cat Who Played Brahms, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
48. Where the Dead Lie, C.S. Harris
47. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
46. Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor (e)
45. Wildfire, Ilona Andrews (e)
44. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (e) (re-read)
43. The Rose and the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh
42. Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh (read aloud w/Steve)
41. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
40. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut MD (e)
39. The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny (e) (arc)
38. The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
37. The Girl with Ghost Eyes, M.H. Boroson (e)
36. Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
35. White Hot, Ilona Andrews (e)
34.  The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Tom Reiss (e)
33. Mouse and Dragon, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (e)
32. Caszandra, Andrea K. Host (e)
31. Lab Rat One, Andrea K. Host (e)
30. Stray, Andrea K. Host (e)
29. The Cat Who Turned On and Off, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
28. Apprentice in Death, J.D. Robb (e/l)
27. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
26. The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs (e)
25. Hanged for a Sheep, Frances and Richard Lockridge (e)
24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

Out of the blizzard, into the deep freeze

So, yesterday, Maine hosted a blizzard, our first of the season.  Here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we got about 11 inches of snow.  Temps didn’t get above 12F/-11C all day, so the snow was fluffy, but there were still 11 inches of it.  I managed to clear the steps and get the car dug out about 10 minutes before the plowguy showed up to clear the driveway, once again proving that Timing is Everything.

The rest of the day was fairly laid back.  Steve and I had planned to take a half-day and watch a movie, but the uncertainty introduced by the weather meant that, instead, we spent the morning baking — mince tarts, chocolate chip cookies, crab cakes (eventually) — and the afternoon working.

This morning, we slept late, in celebration of the certainty that we would not have an early visit from the plowguy, ate a leisurely breakfast, and went back to work.  I managed to trash my left hand during yesterday’s snow removal, which meant I took aspirin to get the pain down to a dull roar, which meant that I was a bit duller than I wanted to be on the manuscript correx.  On the other hand, I manged to rewrite a scene in order to, yanno, show, not tell, and fix a bunch of little this ‘n thats, so I’m not Utterly Unhappy with today’s production.

Tomorrow, I fear that one or both of us will need to Venture Out — this adventure  made somewhat parlous, as the high temperature on the day is supposed to be 10F/-12C, with a low tomorrow night of -12F/-24C, marking the start of ten days of single-digit highs in the daytime, and minus double-digits for nighttime lows.

And people ask us why we keep coon cats.

I don’t if I mentioned here that the cable company, in its infinite wisdom decided that we needed a new modem. It is easily twice as big as the modem it is replacing, and has many bright blue eyes glowing with no-doubt malicious plans to take over the world.  In any case, we decided to swap it in on Sunday evening — because what could possibly go wrong? — and were without access to the internet for 12! hours!  Steve figured out that we were one phone call short of an implementation yesterday morning, made the call and got us back online.

So, that.

Today’s mail brought us the income tax worksheets from our accountant, so when I get bored of writing, I’ll have something to keep me occupied. Accountants are thoughtful that way.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a pleasant holiday; and those who don’t celebrate had a pleasant Monday.

And now I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, curl up on the sofa with my book and a possible coon cat or two and ignore my hand.

Here’s a picture of Sprite, being adorable.

 

In which work goes forth and the snowstorm cometh

I have one more section of Fifth of Five to read, but, having read two-thirds of what’s there to read, I can say with confidence that it is Not Awful, it’s merely Not Done.

So, working on that.

It snowed Friday night, and Saturday it rained.  The plowguy called early to say that, unless we needed to go out, he was going to defer plowing until the rain stopped, so that he could remove crusty snow, leaving a walkable surface on the drive (as opposed to remove the snow, and letting the rain create a driveway skating rink).  I retired to my office to work, and went out this morning to remove crusty snow from the steps.

The only flaw in this plan was that the car was frozen shut, and no suasions of mine would budge any of the doors.  Steve mixed up an alcohol and warm water brew that did get past the ice seal, but it was a frustrating several minutes.  My last car had a remote starter.  May see if we can get an aftermarket remote installed in this car.

Going forward, the weatherbeans are calling for a snowstorm starting 2:00 am-ish, and continuing until early evening, leaving from 6-9 inches (locally up to 11 inches) of snow behind it.  The plowguy, when he came by this morning, wanted to know if we had to “get out” tomorrow.

No, I said; we’re working tomorrow.  He sighed and produced a sort-of grin.  Yeah, he said; me too.

So, that.

Partly as by-product of the on-going effort to write sell-copy for “Degrees of Separation,” I’ve been thinking about what “makes” a story.

Certainly, a story has a beginning, middle, and an end.

A story shows growth, or change.

A story illuminates action.

. . .all the stuff you learn in Writer School, sure.  But — what “makes” a story?  Certainly, I — and I am not alone in this — have received reader reviews, and reader letters, indicating that in Story A “nothing happens.”  What they mean by that varies widely, from “there were no gun fights in this story,” to “I had to read description and dialog,” to “we already KNEW how this was going to end, so writing down the middle was pointless,” to “I didn’t like this.”

So, what “makes” a story?

The answer, for me, is that the characters make the story — long story, short story, middling story.  People, what they do, why they do it, how they feel about it, are intensely interesting to me.  So, those are the kinds of stories that I tend to write.  This does not, note, preclude gun fights, or space battles, or car chases, but I maintain that a story without a car chase…can still be a story.

Well.

Peripherally on topic:  In case you missed it, “Block Party,” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available, free to read! starting on the Baen.com front page (you need to scroll down past the new books section).  Share it with a friend.

Here’s a picture of the author, working at home, something I am now going to go do more of.

photo by Steve Miller