Blog Without A Name

How I spent my holiday weekend, so far

Steve and I spent all day, from early to late Saturday and from early until now Sunday signing, packing and labeling subscriber copies of Saltation.  I can report with confidence at this moment that hundreds and hundreds of books will go into the mail on Tuesday.  That only leaves hundreds and hundreds left to process, but, hey, progress — and a huge shout-out and Thank you! to Amy Cryway, who packed books like a mad, packing thing.

In other news, The Leewit has a new skin:

Carousel Tides skin for The Leewit

…which looks Much Classier in person than it does in the photo.  Man, that is a cool cover!

Also!  Watch this space for Teh Shiney, promised earlier in the week, and brought to you with the connivance and assistance of long-time Friend of Liad Mike Barker, Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express, and Toni Weisskiopf of Baen Books.  Details follow this evening.  This has been your Distant Early Warning.

And now, Steve is making burgers, and there’s a class of sangria with my name on it by a comfy chair under a tree.

For those who celebrate the Fourth of July, have a comfortable and safe holiday!  For those who don’t celebrate, well — you be safe and comfortable, too; that’s not just for holidays you know.

I’ll be back later.

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Electric Books and Missing Subscribers

Remember!  You can (and, dare I say, should?) read Liaden Universe® novels and stories, as well as other works by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and by Sharon Lee on your ereader.  These electric books are available directly from Baen Webscriptions.

Yes, you can read Webscriptions ebooks on your Kindle, and on your Ipad.

Saltation subscribers, take note! There is a list of people who are in danger of not receiving their books here.  Please take a moment to check this list for your name, or the name of a friend or loved one.  If your name does appear on the list, instructions for mending that problem are at the top of the entry.

Steve and I are still signing books.  Once again — this is a lengthy process.  Please don’t write to me and ask if your book has been mailed — at this point, the answer is “no.”  Also, I don’t know when your book will be mailed.

If you wrote to Mr. Raun to ask if your name was in the database and received a negative answer from him, writing to me will not produce a positive answer.  We are using the same database.

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Sunday Going into Monday

Yesterday, Steve and I signed several hundred Saltations, then took advantage of a free movie pass to see Ondine at Railroad Square Cinema (home of the Maine International Film Festival!)  If you have a chance to see Ondine, do that.  I’m kind of a sucker for selkies, myself, but you don’t have to be a selkie freak to enjoy the movie.  Also — how refreshing to have a disabled child as a central character who’s a know-it-all and a bit of a bitch.  Anyhow, see this movie, even if you don’t have a free pass.

Today, I have a rather long to-do list, mixing up mundane items like clearing out the cabinet under the kitchen sink so Steve can replace the washer in the hot water faucet (at least, let’s hope it’s as simple as that),  doing the laundry and the dishes, mounting a compare-and-contrast with the Saltation databases, bringing together something Very Exciting that I’ll tell you about later.  Oh, and writing.

It’s raining here; Mozart has already read the morning comics and is having an early morning nap on the papers next to my keyboard.

See y’all later.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day

I hope you have all celebrated fruitfully; perhaps taking a moment or two to talk with your spouse, your children, friends, and co-workers about what SF/F means to you, and to mention a few favorite authors.  Some of you may have written to those favorite authors to thank them for touching your life.

And, of course, the ice cream and cake.

Steve and I celebrated by signing the first 300 subscriber copies of Saltation.  There were also lemon squares involved.

We are, as you may surmise, home from Duckon, where an exciting time was had by all.  Steve and I met lots of folks, and were thanked many, many times for having written the Liaden Universe®.  We were kept pretty busy, but did manage to take in the World Bird Sanctuary presentation — owl and bald eagle introductions; falcon and raven flights inside the ballroom!  One pretty lady passed so close to my head that her jesses brushed my cheek.

My photography skills are in no way up to catching hawks in flight, but here’s a  picture of Twig, one of the Education Team members, who was nice enough to sit still for me:

Twig is an Eastern Screech Owl

In addition to birds! in! flight! on Saturday night we attended a display of and concert by the Singing Tesla Coils, Dr. Zeuss officiating.  (Somebody who was there — what was the title of the second song?  It’s been on the tip of my brain for days and I can’t quite remember.)  Let me just say?  Impressive.  One little girl listened in stunned silence to the theme from 2001, then burst into tears and had to be led from the show grounds.  Neither reaction was inappropriate, in my book.

Now that we’re home, Steve and I will be getting on with the signing, boxing,  and mailing of subscriber Saltations.  Remember that this is a lengthy process.  We will shout to the skies when the books have all been mailed.

We also Seriously Need to write a book.

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Contract vs. Spec

One of the things I touched upon in my talk at the Fairfield Library last month was the difference between writing a book under contract and writing a book on spec.  I like to expand on that here.

In general, working writers — by which I mean those who intend that the fruits of their creativity will form as a significant part of their income stream, and who intend to labor in the fields of their creativity for A Long Time — working writers prefer to write under contract.

There are a couple of good and compelling reasons for this:

1.  A contract brings with it an advance (i.e. “advance against royalties”), aka Money Up Front, which is always welcome.

2.  A contract is a publisher’s commitment to publish.  It’s. . .comforting to know that your finished work will be available for readers to purchase.

Like anything else, there’s also some downside to writing under contract:

1.  You have a deadline by which your work must be turned in.

2.  Within reason, you’re obligated to write the book your editor bought.

When you write on spec (“speculation”), the advantages and disadvantages are reversed.

1.  You’re working for nothing and living on dreams.  You get neither up-front money or guarantee that your book will ever be published.

But!

2.  No deadline for delivery means you can take as long as you want or need; and you can polish every word like a pearl.  If the book flips on you in the middle, a stand-alone suddenly becomes a duology,  or a duology a single book — you can go with the flow.

Carousel Tides was written on spec, and for no other reason than I wanted to write it.  Writers get these notions in their heads, sometimes.  I took eighteen months to finish it — a longish time — and it was two-and-a-half or three years’ finding a publisher.  I was fortunate that Madame the Agent handled the submissions, because having an agent greatly speeds up response-time from publishers.

Most of the novel-length work Steve and I have done together, since, oh, 1998, has, fortunately, been written under contract.  I say — and mean — “fortunately” because of the way freelance income flows, if it flows at all.

Ideally, a freelance writer should have a backlist of work generating royalty payments, to support the advances received on new works, and to keep the cash flowing in years when there may not be a new book under contract.  This is why (among other reasons) that it’s a Bad Idea to quit your day-job with the publication of your first novel.  A one-book backlist isn’t enough to stake your mortgage payment on.  Not to mention cat food.

Now, you recall that I said writing on spec gives you freedom to go with the story wherever it takes you, a freedom that contract books do not, entirely, enjoy.

The challenge for a writer under contract is to write the best  book they possibly can, and still keep to deadline and the terms of the contract.  This is not a trivial challenge, and I am all admiration for those writers who manage the trick two, three, or even four times in a calendar year.

The argument exists, that contracts make for inferior books.  I’m not certain, myself, that this is inevitably — or even usually — the case.  While most writers’ first novel is, by necessity, written on spec, someone who wishes to be a working writer cannot afford to write only on spec.  Nor is there much evidence that writing on speculation produces a “better” novel than writing to contract.

In general, I think that contracts work better for readers, if only because books under contract have a great chance of being written and published.

What do you think?

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Lee and Miller’s Duckon Schedule

The newest iteration of the Master Schedule for Duckon 19 is up over thisaway.  There are also a bunch of really interesting Special Events listed

The Lee and Miller subset looks to be something like this:

Friday

7 PM: Opening Ceremonies

Saturday

10AM: Creating a large story arc – Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Noon: Fact and Features vs Fiction–The Fallacy of Exclusion – Steve Miller

2PM: A Philosphy of Character Building – Steve Miller

2PM: World Building: How The Elements Evolve – Sharon Lee

4PM: Reading — Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

5PM: Collaboration: Working as A Team — Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Sunday

8AM: Friends of Liad Breakfast in the hotel restaurant

10AM: Steve Miller Young Fan Programming – Build your own Spaceship/aircraft

2PM: Our Publishing Experience Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

3PM: Closing Ceremonies

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Musings, Various, With Bonus Brainstorming Question

…Or:  Five Things Make a Post

1.  I think I forgot to mention here that the mass market edition of Fledgling hit number 10 on the Locus Bestseller List for paperbacks sold in March 2010 and reported in the June edition.

2.  Yesterday — or maybe Thursday — a DVD of my talk at the Fairfield Public Library arrived in the PO Box, kindly sent on by Station Manager Laura Guite.  Steve and I viewed it — him, because he hadn’t been able to attend (the talk had originally been his gig, but he had a conflict with the meeting of the Board of Trustees for our own town’s library, so he suggested me), and me because I never get a chance to see myself give a presentation and I was curious.

It. . .wasn’t too bad.  I talk too fast, but I know that; otherwise, I looked calm and relaxed and friendly, and made my points like I knew what the heck I was talking about.  Thirty years ago, if you would’ve told me that I would willingly stand up in front of — not only a roomful of people, but a television! camera! — and Given a Talk, I would’ve fainted dead away.  I guess that’s one part of getting older that’s positive.  Yes, I do have this stuff cold, thank you.

3.  We have word from a bookseller friend that Mouse and Dragon is moving quite briskly of f the shelves of his store, which, he said, he had expected.  He also mentioned that The Dragon Variation is doing much better than he had anticipated, which is gratifying, but brings up a concern.

What can we do to get the word out to potential readers of the Liaden Universe® — you know, those folks who would love our work, if only they knew it existed — that The Dragon Variation is an excellent way to sample the Liaden Universe®, and, hopefully, start a long and beautiful journey with the members of Clan Korval and their friends?  Ideas?  Suggestions?

4.  The National Carousel Association sends word of its Annual Convention, the “Carousels of Discovery” tour, based in Spokane.

The convention includes trips to and rides on six operating carousels — a 1909 Looff Carousel (optional Tech Day with this carousel, as well, with mechanical and technical demos and operator training course, as well as an overview of the carousel’s restoration — I’d give, well, not my eye-teeth, ’cause you never know when they’ll come in handy, but something appropriately precious just to be able to attend this one session); a 1910 Dolle-Carmel-Borelli restoration now named The Three Rivers Carousel; a ride, with ice cream cones!, on the Great Northern Towne Center Carousel in Helena, Montana; a ride on the molded aluminum horses of the Boulder River Carousel, and a visit with the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel (a restoration, it says here, but nothing about the construction, or if, in fact, the restoration is complete), then a side trip to Silverwood to ride the 1954 Herschel carousel and tour the amusement park.

Sigh.  Sounds like a fun time, if you’re interested in vintage carousels and have an extra $650 plus transportation to and fro burning a hole in your pocket.

5.  Got some solid work done on Ghost Ship today, after a long spell of Not  Much.  Hoping for another tomorrow, and that the damn dam has finally broken.

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In Which Yr Hmbl Hostess Has Not Had Enough Caffeine

Bruce Sterling is trying to make a point over here.  Mind you, I’m not sure what his point is.  It sorta smacks of the old assurance from A Certain Male SF Writer that his female colleagues didn’t have to write fantasy!  They could, with only a little research, learn to write science fiction, too.

Lack of caffeine, right.

Anyhow, Mr. Sterling provides a list, lifted from a Must Read SF posting at The Galaxy Express, with the note that there is not a single male author appearing.  One of the authors listed is Steve Miller, who, last time I checked — quite recently, in fact — was male.  And an author.

When this was pointed out to Mr. Sterling, he amended his editorial to exclaim that there was a male author of half a book! on the list.

Since there were three books listed by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Mr. Sterling clearly can’t do arithmetic, either.

Back to the point of the thing.

If there is only a single male author of SFRomance on the list compiled by Galaxy Express, does that mean there are no men writing SFRomance?  I confess that I can’t think of a name — ref. lack of caffeine — but perhaps someone else can?

And!  If there are “no” men writing SFRomance, does that automatically make SFRomance an Inferior Form, as Mr. Sterling’s commentary seems to suggest?

Discuss.

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