Books Read in 2010

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Half Magic, Edward Eager

Unknown, Rachel Caine

The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Bone Crossed, Patricia Briggs

‘Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

Here’s your problem, right here

The background to today’s adventure is that I have a day-job as a secretary in a private college. Dorm damage is something of a hot topic among the students of said college, since the cost of repairing any damage done to a dorm is shared equally among the residents of that dorm, whether or not they had anything to do with the breakage. This is, I gather, supposed to teach people to “police themselves.”

For the last couple weeks, as graduation — and the semester damage invoices loom — there has been an increasingly frantic discussion on the student list about damage, the people who do it, why people do it, and how people go about “policing themselves.” These are useful questions, and following this afternoon, I am in the position to provide some insights.

I work inside a library building. Normally, it’s a quiet place. There are occasional loud noises and the acoustics of the stairwell are really interesting, so that some conversations kind of waft up three flights and directly into my office, but, hey, it’s an old building and I like the stairwell, which is kind of Escher-esque. You can stand on the landing of the third floor and have a (loud) discussion with someone standing on the ground floor, aka The Street.

So, my office, around about 2:30. It’s quiet on my hall, with a slight buzz of voices rising from The Street, where many students are studying for exams.

Suddenly! A metallic bang rang out!

Followed by more bangs, and laughter, and even more bangs. This goes on for a couple minutes before I decide to see what the devil’s going on and walk down two flights of stairs to the point where I can overlook the vending machines.

As I’m walking down the stairs — two flights, now, and I’m walking briskly, but not running — I see students coming out of the library, looking over the rail to the vending area, obviously curious about the noise, and move on. There is from time to time still some laughter at the banging, which is continuing at a goodly pace.

I arrive at last at the proper landing, and look down into the vending area, where one young man is whaling the hell out of vending machine, while another young man is calmly purchasing a drink from the machine beside it.

Since I’m obviously the only adult in range, I lean over the rail and ask a leading question: “What the hotel are you doin’?”

The boy — I’m supposed to refer to students as “students” “men” “women,” but in this case I’m making an exception for truth in reporting — the boy who’s whaling on the machine looks up at me.

“What?”

Since I now have his attention, I decide to cut to the chase.

“Leave,” I tell him.

He blinks and pulls the sound plugs out of his ears.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m serious. Leave.”

“No — wait, just listen. I swiped my card twice and the machine deducted the money and my Doritos are still stuck in there!”

“Leave,” I said.

“You’re really serious.” Said with a look of utter disbelief that I could find his explanation anything but reasonable and his actions objectionable in any way.

“Yes, I am really serious. Leave.”

At which point the guy who had been buying the drink, and who had remained by that machine, muttered, “She said leave, man,” and so the boy did that.

I went back up to my office and fumed.

But I promised an insight, and here it is: The way to police yourselves is not to laugh when some fool is breaking something. The way to police yourselves is not to walk away, because it’s somebody else’s problem. The way to police yourselves is to do something, to speak up. If you’re little and they’re big, or you’re sober and they’re drunk, take a friend or three to help your present your case. Call Security for ghod’s sake! But don’t do nothing.

That’s it. No, that’s not it. One more thing — If that vending machine is broken, every person sitting in The Street, laughing, or pretending not to notice, has earned a piece of the repair bill.

The incredible shrinking book

When last seen, sometime in mid-April, Ghost Ship stood at just seven words over 40 grand — or 40 percent completed, assuming that the projected finished word count of 100,000 is more or less on-mark.

This evening, we see before us a much reduced, but I believe stronger, manuscript, weighing in at 20,064 words — 20 percent completed.

I have printed out this New! IhopetoGHODimproved! manuscript. Tomorrow, immediately after breakfast, I will read it. Then I will Stare Into Space(tm) for awhile. It would be nice if Monday held off a day or two, so I could really get the stare mojo working, but we all know how likely that is.

In any case, after I have Stared Sufficient Unto the Task, I’ll begin writing again.

And this, my children, is the Glamorous Creative Life of an Author. Is it not grand?

In which Rolanni realizes that she can’t read

Yesterday, I had an email from someone who wished me to give them the One True Reading Order for the Liaden Universe® novels.  Usually, I don’t answer emails like this, because it never ends well, but I was thinking that maybe I ought to be a Better Person and answer my email instead of letting it pile up until it gets oppressive.

So I answered my email, explaining that, no, I really couldn’t give them the One True Reading Order by reason of the fact that there isn’t one, and suggested a couple of starting points.  You can see the gist of what I said over here.

My reward was a grumpy note indicating that my correspondent wished to read the books in the order that would avoid spoilers and maintain the rush of reading for discovery as opposed to the chore of reading to fill in the gaps.

Now. . .I don’t mind, myself, personally, reading to “fill in the gaps.”  In fact, if I’m to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I have ever experienced the rush of “reading for discovery.”  Some books are more engaging than others, sure, and I certainly like some novels better than others.  And there is absolutely a difference between a first read and a re-read.  But I make no such fine distinctions, when I’m reading fiction, between the sensation of “gap filling” and “discovery.”

Obviously, I lack the ability to savor nuance, which is possessed by other readers.  For some reason, this depresses me, perhaps only because I was slightly depressed anyway.  But, I don’t think I’ll be answering my email for a while.

Round the house news includes the fact that earlier in the week Mozart conspired to help Steve fracture his toe.  And they say cats don’t Care.

On the plus side of the injury, Deceiver arrived yesterday, and Steve got first dibs, since he has to sit in the comfy chair and ice his foot.  He’s getting to be Quite the Expert in icing-the-foot.

My aged and much-beloved boombox (radio, CD, and a cassette player!) died the True Death, leaving me without a cassette player, which, yes, is a problem.  A minor problem, in the scheme of things, but, still…

Also, yes, I know that both this website and the Carousel Tides site are suddenly and without warning Thoroughly Borked for Mac users using Safari.  I’m sorry about that.  No, I don’t know what happened, and, no, I don’t know how to fix it.

I did do something vaguely useful today on the writing side, and tomorrow I intend to sit down at this computer and rip the guts out of the manuscript in process, which’ll be, yanno, fun.

For those who Ebay, remember that there’s an auction going on until Sunday.  Go ahead, indulge yourself.

Hope everybody has a relaxing and uplifting weekend.

Romance Readers: A Favor, Please

I know that some of you who read here are members of various romance lists and/or regularly participate in the various romance forums around the web.  Might I ask you, if you can do so without violating the standards of politeness of your particular list or forum, to mention that Mouse and Dragon will be coming out on June 1?

Scout’s Progress was very well received by the romance community (winner of the Prism award for best Futuristic Romance for its year (Local Custom placed second for the same year) and RomanticTimes Reviewers Choice for Best Science Fiction Book of 2002) and I would like to make sure that those readers who enjoyed that book know that there’s now a sequel.

(And of course, for those who haven’t read Local Custom or Scout’s Progress — they’re reprinted in The Dragon Variation, also to be published in June).

Baen has a very generous free sample of Mouse and Dragon here, so those who are on the fence can see if the story suits.

Thank you for your help; I do very much appreciate it.

I went to the animal fair

…or, rather, the pottery sale at the day-job.  The Colby Pottery Club members do such beautiful work.  I managed to get away today with only a mug and a sandwich plate, because you can never have too many pretty pottery mugs and, face it, if you’re having coffee, eventually you’re gonna want a sandwich.

Green pottery mug and blue-green pottery plate

My, they’re pretty.  I especially like that the mug is a little thinner, and thereby lighter than it might otherwise be.  Steve had bought a stunning mug at the winter sale, but it weighs so much that I can barely pick it up empty on a bad hand day.

*is happy*

Suddenly, it’s busy

Well, it looks like May is going to be some busier than originally anticipated, and it was already busier than April, what with the trip to Oasis at the end of it.

But!  It turns out that Steve and I have a speaking gig on Monday, May 10 — that’s next Monday — to talk about science fiction in general, our books in particular and writing as a career, run away!

The next Tuesday, while Steve does his duty as a Trustee of the Winslow Public Library, I’ll be at the Fairfield Library, talking about how a novel goes from Crazy Idea to an Actual, I-can-hold-it-in-my-hand Book.

The Tuesday after that, Steve will pick me up from work at the end of the day and we’ll get on the way to Florida, while the cats have their good friend Mary over to keep them company.

Mouse and Dragon and The Dragon Variation will hit the street while we’re in Florida, unless they ship early, which is certainly possible.  Unless, yanno, they sell out before they leave the warehouse.  Work on that for me, willya?

Just a week after we come back from Florida, we’ll be leaving Maine again, this time for Duckon.

Somewhere between Orlando and Naperville is the Staff Retreat at the day-job, then summer hours go into force.  Not, may I just say, a Moment Too Soon.

Oh, and yeah — we’re supposed to be writing a novel.

Oh!  And Saltation will someday arrive in Maine, so that we can sign, seal and ship them.  That’ll take care of  the latter part of June, I guess.

July seems to be pretty calm at the moment.  August. . .

I’ve got ReConStruction on the calendar, but finances may not support it.  We’ll know better when we get back from Illinois.

August 15, the day-job goes back to full-time, and a week or two after that the professors arrive, Insanity happens, and I won’t be able to hear myself think.

Shuffles through calendar.  A movie deal in July?  Yeah, that’ll fit the schedule. . .

Sick Day

Not much to report today.  Mostly, I slept.  The result of all this effort being that I feel somewhat better — better being defined as “I can breathe, there does not at the moment seem to be a hot poker jammed into my temple, and I have no fever.”

If this situation stabilizes, I will be able to go to the day-job tomorrow, assuming that, if I was contagious, I’m not now.

In other news, for those who may be interested,  I’ve updated the Carousel Tides site with two new geographies.