Blog Without A Name

Spoiler Thread for Neogenesis

Neogenesis, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the 21st novel in the Liaden Universe®, is available as an eArc, that is an electronic advanced reading copy at Baen.  eArc are basically the page proofs of the novel — they typically do have errors, and — this time, at least — y’all can have the extra fun of reading Neogenesis while Steve and I are proofing that same file to get it read for setting as a final book.

For those who have read the eArc and wish to discuss it with like-minded, and like-read people, I provide this space for spoilers.

For those of you who will be waiting for the hardcover to be published in January, or the mass market, sometime in 201819— if you do not want the story spoiled:  DO NOT READ THE RESPONSES TO THIS POST.

You have been warned.

 

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Hearphones update

So, we took the car in for the 10,000 mile check-up and tire rotation thingy, then went to IHOP for breakfast and a test drive of the hearphones.

The hearphones…are problematical on two fronts.

Front One:  I can’t keep the damned things charged.  Admittedly, this files under Operator Error, but I’m not usually an idiot about keeping the toys charged, so there’s some subtlety I’m missing.  And it doesn’t lessen Operator Aggravation to arrive at the Test Location and find that the ‘phones are, ahem, critically low on power.

Front Two:  Hearing my own voice in my ears is gonna drive me bugs.  And this may actually be a deal-breaker.  Steve urges me to give it another run, to see if I get used to it, which is fair, but at the moment what I’m doing is whispering in an attempt not to hear my own voice, which is…not really much better than sitting like a stump at a group dinner because I can’t hear what anyone else is saying.

The plaque (and check) which together comprise “Wise Child’s” Readers Choice award arrived yesterday.  The check we deposited in the bank today while we were out and about.  Here is a photograph of the plaque, being modeled by the delightful Mr. Miller.

So, my next order of business is to read another 50ish pages of the Neogenesis page proofs.  Lunch is on the schedule, and, very possibly, a nap, because we not only got up at stoopid o’clock to take the car in, but we got flu shots (the high-test flu shots reserved for those of us who are temporally elongated), too.

Everybody be good.

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In which the page proofs have landed and the hearphones are going to breakfast

For those following along at home:  The hearphone movie test was inconclusive.  I could, indeed, hear the dialog in Fantastic Beasts clearly while wearing the hearphones, but!  So could I without.  I am forced to conclude that the speakers on the new television set are superior to those in the local movie theater.

I have not yet done the Noisy Bar test drive.  I have a window of opportunity tomorrow, when I need to be in Augusta insanely early so the car can get its 10,000 mile inspection, fine-tuning, whatever.  Steve has bravely volunteered to go with me, and the plan (The Plan) is that, after the car is taken care of, we shall adjourn to IHOP, which is really pretty noisy, and I will do a test there.

One of the things that’s really freaky about the hearphones, besides hearing yourself talk through your ears, is that there’s a option for “silence” — which turns off your ears.  Or at least feels like it’s turned off your ears.  No input gets through.

In other news, the page proofs for Neogenesis, the twenty-first book in the Liaden Universe®; the eleventh Liaden book we’ve written for Baen — landed in my in-box yesterday.  Today, after breakfast, Sprite and I sat down with our red pen and our sticky tabs and went over the front matter and the first 48 pages, which takes us through the first section/chapter.

I will now go on to other things, including working on Fifth of Five, the sequel to Neogenesis and the last book in both the five-book arc beginning with Dragon in Exile, and the last book in the arc begun 29 years ago, in Agent of Change.

Twenty-nine years ago.

Well.  I guess I’ve earned those purple hairs.

Before anyone asks:  Nope, still don’t know when the eArc of Neogenesis will appear at a Baen.com near you.  The last word I had, from two “Baen insiders” (editors, actually, but “Baen insiders” sounds infinitely cooler than “editor”) was that the eArc would be available in September.  That is the sum of my knowledge on the subject (honest!).  If you need to know more, you need to write to Baen.

What else?  The fountain pen experiment continues to go well.  I have one pen (out of, er, four?  that escalated quickly) that I’m not really crazy about, but I am declaring success.

So, that seems to be all the news.  Everybody be well.

11.03%

48 / 435 pages

 

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The weekly ketchup

. . .bearing in mind, as always, that, in my accent, “ketchup” rhymes with “catch-up”.

So, let’s see. . .

I finished the story I was working on, in first draft; it’s resting at the moment, titleless, and with a page of notes.  I’ll get back to it, oh, early or mid-October; plenty of time for a mid-November hand-in.  I’m anticipating that the finished story will be about 10,000 words.  Including, yanno, the title.

On the mundane side of life, Steve came home from Maryland; I celebrated my 65th birthday quietly, and managed to miss yoga two weeks in a row because Reasons.  I shall endeavor to do better this week.

Fifth of Five is moving along. . .slowly.  Clean-up books are hard.

I’ve gotten in a couple more fountain pens — demonstrator pens, so called, which take ink in right from the bottle via a piston mechanism — and some fun colored ink:  Noodler’s Borealis Black; Noodler’s Wampum Purple; Diamine Ancient Copper; Diamine Sherwood Green.  The company I bought the demonstrators from, included a bonus eyedropper pen — no piston, you fill the barrel via an eyedropper.

One of my new pens has a bold nib, which I’m tentatively preferring over what has been my go-to, the medium-nib Pilot Metropolitan.  The ink flow seems smoother — granted, this may be the difference in the inks; the Metropolitan uses a cartridge.

While I was ordering things in, I also committed a new coloring book:  The Art of Cursive, which looks like a lot of fun.

Let’s see. . .my new glasses arrived, so, yay! new glasses!

On Thursday, Steve and I drove three hours one way to the Burlington Mall in — surprise! — Burlington, Massachusetts, there to sign books at the BN (which is technically across from the Mall), and also to test drive a pair of Bose Hearphones.  Frequent auditors of this journal will recall that I’m starting to lose my hearing, as one apparently does, especially if one spent a Large-ish Chunk of one’s life, earphones in, typing copy from a Dictaphone.  Anyway. . .hearing aids not required at this point, says the last person who evaluated my hearing, right before the insurance companies decided they weren’t in the ear bidness.  However! More than a few studies now have indicated that people who have uncorrected hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia; and! that for the best results from hearing aids, one ought to start using an assist before the loss is so significant as to be disabling.

Thus, the Hearphones, which Bose is very careful to say are not hearing aids; they merely assist in direction hearing, and in blocking out background noise.

I did a test drive at the store with the trainer.  He asked me what I would be using them for, and we briefly discussed the fact that writers spend a lot of their time in bars, and I can no longer hear my tablemates in that setting.  So we did that scenario first — he pulled up a recording of a 250-people restaurant, and had me adjust the gain on the Hearphones, until I could hear him speaking directly to me.  I could still hear the background noise, if I concentrated, but it was a whole lot easier just to listen to him.

One of the weird things is that you also hear yourself, sorta like using a microphone. . . which, actually, I guess you are.

The trainer then asked if there was anything else, and I said, yes — movies, television.  I can’t hear dialog any more.

So, he pulled up a clip of The Theory of Everything, where Eddie Redmayne is explaining Life, the Universe, and Everything to the nice young lady, and I heard every word, clean and clear.

When the clip ended, the trainer asked how that had worked for me, and my answer was, “I watched Fantastic Beasts and I did not understand one word that man said during the whole movie!  This — I got everything.”

So, I brought the Hearphones home.  They are not cheap, and they are getting a rigorous field testing, because they can be taken back to a Bose with no penalty within 30 days.  And the Extra Good News Is? We don’t have to drive 6 hours round trip to take them back, if that proves necessary.  They can be returned to the Bose store in Kittery (which doesn’t sell the item, sigh), a mere hour-and-a-half down the road.

Today’s test was to be Fantastic Beasts, but, when I put on the Hearphones, I was told that the charge was dangerously low; which is a little scary because I charged them yesterday. It’s certainly possible that I forgot to turn them off after my tutorial session yesterday, but a device with a two hour charge isn’t going to be as useful as it might be.

In any case, after the Hearphones are charged — Fantastic Beasts.  If we pass Mr. Redmayne, then Steve and I will take ourselves out to a noisy bar, and I’ll see if I can hear him through the din.

. . .I think that about catches us up — Oh.  No.  I am remiss in reporting that I purchased a blue Totoro at the BN.  Yes, I am weak.

Everybody have a good weekend.

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Text of Acceptance Speech

For those who were not, as we were not, present at the Baen Traveling Roadshow at DragonCon, reproduced below is our speech accepting the Readers Choice Award for “Wise Child.”  Jim Minz (pictured below) accepted on our behalf.  That means he got to reach the speech, which he did with his usual good humor.

Herewith, The Speech:

Wow!

Yes, you heard us.

Wow!

We probably ought to be a little more formal than that, so let’s try this:

To DragonCon attendees, science fiction fans, and readers everywhere: Hello! from the wilds of Central Maine.

We’re pleased to be here, at least metaphorically, at this particular Baen Traveling Roadshow, to stand as the proud parents of “Wise Child,” which readers have chosen – out of a very stiff field! — as the Best Military and Adventure SF of 2016.

We must admit to being startled – we have a history of being startled when we win awards! – when Jim Minz asked if we could be with you this afternoon, either electronically or in spirit, to accept this award for our novelette, the seventy-first Sharon Lee and Steve Miller collaboration.

Startled?

Well. . .yes.

We believe that the purpose of a story is to be an experience, a celebration, if you will, for readers – something that they’ll hopefully enjoy on reading, and recall, later, with pleasure.

Us. . .We make our living by writing stories, long and short and in-between. Our method is to write the best story we can write, this time; collect our fee – and move on to write another story for readers to experience and enjoy, sometime down the road.

Most short fiction is like that, for most writers: a kind of a fire-and-forget situation, if you will.

In this case, though we won’t forget that, when “Wise Child” hit the Baen.com website last year, we got a lot of positive feedback from readers via email and Facebook. Then, the story was chosen for inclusion in Volume Three of the Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF!

This particular “fire-and-forget” story not only hit the original target but had two secondary hits, as well.

So Thanks!

Thank you, DragonCon, for hosting the award presentation!

Thank you, Baen, for publishing and supporting the book, and the award!

Thank you, David Afsharirad – our editor – for selecting our story for publication!

. . .And. . .

Thank you, readers, for reading, and for voting, and for naming “Wise Child” as one of the best!

Here you see Jim Minz accepting and David Afsharirad showing off the plaque.

Photo by Christopher Ruocchio

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What in Ghu’s name has the woman been DOING?

Life is still happening; as ever, a two-edged knife.  In the midst of it all, I have been doing. . .Stuff

Among the various stuff is Writing Stuff, naturally enough.  I wrote a scene in which two characters I had despaired of getting together meet naturally and cleanly, and even for reasons Dictated By The Plot.  This probably pleases me much more than it should, but writers are odd creatures, with strange pleasures.

I have started the short story commissioned by Baen.com in support of Neogenesis, and have figured out how to accommodate an editorial suggestion, which also pleases me, since, frankly, I didn’t think there was any way in heck. . .  But, there, writers are odd creatures, with sideways minds that occasionally work for the common good.

I converted one more eChapbook to a paper edition — that would be Technical Details: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 21, including “Landed Alien” and author-favorite “Eleutherios”. Here’s your link.

My standing desk conversion arrived, with the sooperdooper floor mat.  I’ve been liking it in the standing position, but — alas! — my chair doesn’t rise high enough to make it perfectly comfortable to engage with while seated.  I shall seek out a cushion.

Also!  I have been remiss in reporting here that “Wise Child,” was chosen by readers — out of a VERY stiff field! — as the Best Military and Adventure SF of 2016.

The Readers Choice Award was presented at the Baen Traveling Roadshow at DragonCon over this past weekend, Jim Minz accepting for Lee and Miller.  Photographs were allegedly taken, and will be forthcoming.

The prize is a plaque and $500.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Tolly and Disian.  Steve and I are very proud authors, indeed.

And, now!

I need to do some chores and go to town before the thunderstorms start again.

Everybody stay safe.

 

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Books read in 2017

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)

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What Readers Want, Number Whoknows in a Continuing Series

Thinking about what readers what in books, as one does. . .

When we were at Confluence, I said on a panel (which panel, I no longer recall, but it was late in the con. Very possibly it was the last panel, at which, yanno, I’m liable to say anything…) that we were writing books that had to do, not only with Actions, but with the Consequences of Actions.

And a person in the audience said, But what if you don’t want to read about the consequences of actions? What if you only want to read about the actions, the excitement, the adventure?

And I said — last panel, remember — that, as far as I was concerned, it was perfectly fine to read Pure Action Books, there were a lot of them out there, many of them are fun, and far be it from me to tell anyone what they ought to read.

However, I could speak authoritatively in terms of writing, and, specifically, in terms of writing the Liaden Universe® (though this is also, and is possibly more, applicable in the Carousel/Archers Beach universe):  In our work, there are Consequences to Actions. Yes, people have to Act, and often messily, because, well, space opera. And also because the people who Act shape the future.

But!  The important takeaway here is this:

The universe Steve and I write in is a Universe of Moms; there are consequences to actions; and somebody has to clean up the mess.

I also said that what readers need to remember is that — speaking again for myself at the last panel of a convention — I am not writing for them.  I have never written for them.  I am writing for me.  It’s nice that other people like to read what I write, but I’m not writing for All of Them Out There.  I can’t write for Them, as any number of internet articles will tell you.  I don’t have the tools to write for Them.

So, that leaves me.  And you, if you find that I speak your language, or near enough.

And now it’s time for coffee.

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Books read in 2017

49.  Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (e)
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)

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