Blog Without A Name

The day after the day that was

The book signing at Barnes and Noble was fun, though the copies of Mouse and Dragon and Saltation that had been ordered in special sold out before the party started.  That’s called your mixed blessing.  Steve had a copies of Saltation and Liaden Universe® Companion in the car, and brought them in for show-n-tell.  We did sign a mmp copy of Fledgling, a couple Dragon Variations, a Meisha Merlin era Plan B brought in by a reader who had come down from Bangor to see us, and a bazillion — or at least a dozen — Carousel Tides.

We saw some familiar faces — including a coworker from a job I’d had. . . 18 years ago?, who was pleased to find that we were still writing — and some folks we’d seen at previous signings.  We met some new people, which was cool, and were only called upon to demonstrate our knowledge of BN’s internal geography once, to direct a gentleman in need of a cat calendar to the proper portion of the store.

We were up at the front of the store, between the wrapping station and the Nook counter.  Based on the action on that side, there are gonna be some ebooks sold next year.

Just to prove we were there, two pictures:

Picture One, of the authors being Auctorial:

Authors being good
Authors, being good

And, Picture Two, of the authors being Distracted:

Did you see that?
Authors, being perhaps not so good

Today, I’ve been catching up bookkeeping, laundry, dishes, and whatnot.  “Write” is on the to-do list.  I do believe I’ll do some.

Everybody having a good weekend?

Friday mixed grill

Only fourteen more workdays until Winter Break.

I can do this.

Cool Things I Forgot to Mention:

Wednesday, I missed my turn when taking the Second Alternate Route to work, and took thereby the Third, which involves going first to China, and then coming back in several miles to Waterville.  Not optimum, though a pretty drive of itself, and a pretty day for it.

While I was mooching along the wrong road, heading in A Direction Oblique to Where I Needed to Be by Eight O’Clock, thinking about George, and being Not Nearly as Panicked As Was Proper, a pileated woodpecker flew across the road at windshield-on-a-Legacy-height barely two feet ahead of me, and attached itself to a big old maple tree.  I adore pileated woodpeckers — the battle cruisers of the woodpecker world — so that made the morning right there.

* * *

Today

Today, there were only six applications to input, which made my hands grateful.  Due to having stayed caught up, though, I did have a period of a couple hours where I had no work to do — I had emails and calls out to people, but could not go forward until I heard back from them.  So, I read a book.  The trouble is, I’m getting paranoid about reading when I ‘m in Wait Mode, since this apparently feeds into the perception that Rolanni Never Has Any Work To Do.

Sigh.  Maybe I should play chess on the internet; at least then I’d look busy.

* * *

Fans of Hexapuma:

Yep, we have a cat fountain, and Hex is its biggest fan.  We’re going to try the wet food and vitamins, and have another vet visit on the 13th to see how that’s working for him.  Giving subcutaneous fluids was mentioned as a therapy — I’d need a refresher in how to administer, but Patia required that intervention in her later years, and we handled it.  I’ll have to look into the kidney function cat food.  The problem, of course, being that we have two other cats and all of them are used to browsing.

I’m am sad because it looks pretty certain that Hex isn’t going to be with us for the years and years we had supposed that he would be (we tend to keep our cats around for a long time, here at the Cat Farm), but I’m trying to focus on the fact that we have him with us now.

* * *

Carousel Tides

There’s a review of Carousel Tides at SFRevu

Someone had mentioned the Open Promotion Thread at Whatever today — yes, I did participate.

For those who did not know about this — go here.  Lots and lots of good readin’ being recommended.

* * *

Couple Hours of Fame:

Don’t forget!  Lee and Miller will be signing atthe Barnes and Noble in the Augusta Marketplace tomorrow, Saturday, December 4, starting at 1 p.m.  Be there, or be somewhere else!

* * *

George:

Lots of thinking, but no actual Words on the Page for George today — which is just about right for this stage in the proceedings.

* * *

Cat Porn:

Mozart is asleep in my the his rocking chair.

He’s snoring.

* * *

G’night.

Anything-can-happen Day

Oh, let’s see. . .the day-job. The less said on that head, I think, the better. On to pleasanter things, like —

The arrival of a royalty check! Yes! Royalty check! Not, I’m sorry to say, for Duianfey, nor for Longeye, neither of which has earned out — but Fledgling has.

Honestly, that kid. . .

What else? Did the dishes, took out the trash, opened up George’s file, meaning to write “a page” — that’s about 250 words, for those who count.

Wound up with a little more than five pages, finishing up a scene and a chapter. Not too bad on the day.

Tomorrow, alas, it’s back to the day-job and the damned data entry. A colleague suggested that I take a picture of the fruits of my labors, to include in my self-evaluation at merit report time. I can take the picture, but I’m pretty sure that no one who is actually in a position to do something about merit raises is going to understand what the picture means in terms of pure, physical labor.

. . .I once — no, I’m wrong — I twice left jobs where the ex-boss had to hire two women to replace me.

You take your black humor where you find it.

Progress on The Book Presently Known as George:
3,528 words/100,000 OR 3.53% complete

What’cha doin’ Saturday?

We — that’s Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, in our Official Auctorial Personas — are going to be signing books at the Barnes and Noble in the Augusta, Maine, Marketplace, from 1 p.m. Until. Come on by and say “Hi!”, buy a book and get it signed. We do personalizations! And, as well all know, Books Make Wonderful Presents.

Can’t get to the BN Augusta location, but still want signed Lee and Miller, or Lee, books for yourself, friends or family? Not a problem!

Jeanne Peterson Kamfonik, Beggar’s Ride Studio and Gallery, 207.937.2673, or request on www.facebook.com/beggarsrideart — has signed Carousel Tides on hand and ready to go to good homes.

And!

Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar, 207.872.4543, kidsbookscellarATmyfairpointDOTnet (where AT and DOT replace The Usual) — has all Lee and Miller titles, plus Carousel Tides.

Both Jeanne and Ellen will ship to you folks who live Away, but you have to act fast if you want books in time for Christmas! …like now, for instance.

Books read in 2010

Get Real, Donald E. Westlake
The Messenger, Jan Burke
Rumpole Misbehaves, John Mortimer
Strange Bedpersons, Jennifer Crusie
Shinju, Laura Joh Rowland
A Matter of Class, Mary Balogh
Chill, Elizabeth Bear
The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff
Ghost Ship, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Merchanter’s Luck, C.J. Cherryh (reread)
Mr. Monster, Dan Wells
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells
Deceiver, C.J.Cherryh
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 (reread)

How we do it

Some folks have had questions about The Book Presently Known as George, also known as TBPKAG and, more familiarly, as George. Also, I am reminded that I promised to talk about our “process,” which I feel may not be as interesting as expected, but a promise is a promise.

Firstly, yes, George is the book I wanted to write, as opposed to the next book due. It helps to bear in mind here that I am an extremely flighty person with a brain that craves candy. Happily for you, I also possess a degree of low animal cunning and am therefore able, pretty often, to convince my candy-loving brain that the next writing project, whatever it is, will be sweet as no project has been before. Many writers deceive their brains this way; if they didn’t, nobody would ever write anything.

Unfortunately, my brain, addicted to sweets as it may be, isn’t a total schlub — and memory is on its side. My brain therefore remembers that Ghost Ship did not write easily. Remembering this, and as it has done many times in the past, it demanded something different, to sort of clean its palate. I wave my hands around, showing that, Something Different, I have it not.

At this juncture, the back brain, which plays both sides against the middle, can usually be counted upon to toss out something Completely Off the Wall which I then persuade the brain to view as new and exciting.

In this manner, Some Writing gets done, which is good, rather than No Writing getting done, which is bad.

Now, sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of writing what we want, when we want, no matter what our brains crave. There are contracts, for instance; and the House gets to say which of multiple books pitched it wants next. So it is with the contract just closed with Baen. We pitched three books: George, Dragon Ship, and Trade Secret. I hoped that we might be able to convince Toni to take George first; she wanted Dragon Ship, which makes a Great Deal of Sense in terms of preserving the momentum of the Ghost Ship sequence, and so the delivery dates were set.

…Some of you may recall a fluffy confection called Mouse and Dragon. That book was also a Sweet of a Different Flavor. We had just finished writing, in very short order and several simultaneously, four novels: Duainfey, Longeye, Fledgling, Saltation, and we were just about out of energy on all levels. Writing M&D was fun; it was everything we low authors tell our brains that writing a book should and will be. It served to renew our energy, and our faith in our craft; and gave us the courage to pitch Ghost Ship.

You’ll note that the new contract came with rather tight deadlines; there are reasons for that, having to do with keeping new stuff with “Lee and Miller” on it on the shelves — career building stuff, which is not always the same as writing stuff.

Steve and I talked about how we were going to handle a slightly increased pace of writing, noting that five books in 18 months was not supportable. This new contract will have us writing three books in 19 months. Should be doable, barring excessive amounts of Life.

In our scheme, Steve will be doing the first draft of Dragon Ship while I work on George. On July 1, when my day-job goes to the Summer Schedule, I’ll get the draft and do my various things, while Steve moves on to Trade Secret. My hope and plan is that George will be finished in first draft by the time Dragon Ship hits my desk, and that I may have time to squeeze in another Archers Beach novel. I’m not quite confident that I can pull that off. We’ll see.

…which kind of segues in to a discussion of our “process.”

There are two of us, which is a blessing. If there were one of us, and it was me, with three books due in 19 months, and the one my brain really wanted to do right now slated for second, I’d either try to placate my brain with some Utterly Trivial short stories before I kicked in to pay copy, or try to write the first and second books simultaneously — which I feel might not be entirely satisfactory for anyone. So, it is a blessing and a mitzvah that there are two of us.

In case there was any doubt.

Alert readers will have noted that the kinds of stories told within the Liaden Universe® vary wildly. We have action! We have adventure! We have romance! We have YA! We have milSF! We have comedy of manners! We have, well…space opera, really.

This diversity of story within a single fictional universe is a direct result of there being two of us.

Our “process” consists of one of us bumping into a story idea. We may live with it for a couple days, to see how it wears, or we may blurt it out the instant it occurs. Once the idea is out there on the creative table where we can both see it, we talk about it, role-play a few possible scenes, try out some dialog, and in general kick it around to see if (1) it’s viable as a story, and (2) we really want to do it, because life is too short to write books you don’t really want to do.

Once we’ve determined that the story is one we want to tell, we rough out — verbally; our “process” includes a great deal of role-playing at all stages — a storyline. At some point, one of us will begin typing. The day’s pages are typically given to the non-typing partner at the kitchen table before the last meal of the day. They are read; the meal and its aftermath usually taken up with discussion of future scenes and dialog.

Because there are two of us, and because we do, occasionally, disagree, the person who first brought the story idea to the table is what we call the “cop” for that book — essentially, the “cop” is the third vote; the tie-breaker, in case we can’t resolve a difference of vision in some other way.

Usually, we do manage to resolve differences in vision without resorting to the cop’s vote. We do this by deferring to the characters; their necessities and the events they have set in motion. This works 99% of the time. In the whole course of our writing partnership — 18 collaborative novels and counting — the third vote has been invoked. . .twice.

Once the first draft is done by whomever is doing that, it goes to the other partner, for reading, comment, adjustment. The manuscript then goes through one more, clean-up stage before it’s put on the bus to the publisher.

…and that’s it. Exciting, no?

Whatever day

Long weekends mess up my sense of what day is this, really. I’ve been thinking all day that it’s Sunday, but, no! It turns out that today? Is Saturday. It’s like being given a whole extra day, free of charge.

Whatever its name, today was slightly fragmented. I did finally finish the filing, except for the small mountain of galleys and turned-in manuscripts that I feel compelled to keep, but have no place to file. Well. There’s a file cabinet in the basement. I think there may be a spot of spelunking in my future.

I’ve started work on my next book*, which sadly has no title. For the purposes of discussion, this book shall, until such time as a Proper Title presents itself, be referred to as The Book Presently Known As George.

There’s been some discussion of taking in an early movie tomorrow. The local Flagship, in a un-looked-for fit of randomosity, is showing not one, but three! movies that we could view with interest: Burlesque, RED, and Harry Potter Part One of Two. All things being equal, I expect we’ll go with Potter.

Everybody having a fine and fun-filled weekend? What are y’all up to? Finished shopping? Tell all.

Progress on The Book Presently Known as George:
2,187 words/100,000 OR 2.19% complete

———
*Steve is in the hot seat for Dragon Ship

Books read in 2010

The Messenger, Jan Burke
Rumpole Misbehaves, John Mortimer
Strange Bedpersons, Jennifer Crusie
Shinju, Laura Joh Rowland
A Matter of Class, Mary Balogh
Chill, Elizabeth Bear
The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff
Ghost Ship, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Merchanter’s Luck, C.J. Cherryh (reread)
Mr. Monster, Dan Wells
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells
Deceiver, C.J.Cherryh
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 (reread)

Daughter of PSA: Holiday gift giving

As delightful as books are to receive, signed books are a special treat.

For those who want to add that extra touch of glitter to their gift of reading, signed books are available from the following wonderful vendors:

Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar, 207.872.4543, kidsbookscellarATmyfairpointDOTnet (where AT and DOT replace The Usual)  — Lee and Miller titles, and Carousel Tides.

Jeanne Peterson Kamfonik, Beggar’s Ride Studio and Gallery, 207.937.2673, or request on www.facebook.com/beggarsrideartCarousel Tides only.