Books Read in 2019

15. The Warlock in Spite of Himself, Christopher Stasheff (re-read)
14. The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
13. Wild Ride, Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
12. Shadow of a Broken Man, George C. Chesbro (read aloud with Steve)
11. How Much for Just the Planet?, John M. Ford
10. Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
9.  Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik
8.  Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch
7.  The Luckiest Lady in London, Sherry Thomas
6.  Release the Virgins, Michael A. Ventrella, editor (read aloud with Steve)
5.  Becoming, Michelle Obama
4.  Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
3. the unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ryan North, Erica Henderson
2.  Alliance Rising, CJ Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (read out loud with Steve)
1.  A Shilling for Candles, Josephine Tey (read out loud with Steve)

Saturday Fortune’s Favors Update

UPDATE 12:51 pm EST, April 20: I just now redownloaded the Kindle edition of Fortune’s Favors from Amazon to my phone.  When tapped, it presented the cover, briefly, then flipped to CHAPTER ONE.  It could be that the fix is in.
All righty, then! Saturday Fortune’s Favors report:
1. Amazon did not get back to me (as promised) yesterday, with either (a) a fix or (b) news that the techs needed more time. Kindle editions of Fortune’s Favors downloaded from Amazon continue to open 25-ish% of the way into the book at “Interludes,” which is a section of the story that falls between the first and second chapters.
2. Reports from the field indicate that Kindle editions of Fortune’s Favors downloaded from, say, the Baen site, work properly, in that they open to the cover of the book.
3. Reports from the field indicate that all other electronic editions of Fortune’s Favor, save Kindle editions downloaded from Amazon, work just fine, and do not share the “Interludes” glitch.
4. The paper edition of Fortune’s Favors, available only from Amazon, is formatted correctly.

I’d like to thank everyone who has left a review of Fortune’s Favors at the venue of their choice. Please do feel free to share the news of the new book to, well, everybody!

The Philosophy of Books Read Lists

Frequent readers of this blog will have noted that I keep a running list of books I’ve read during the year (in case you’ve missed them, here’s the latest).

Now, what this is?  Is a record of the books I’ve read during the year.  It is not a recommendation list for readers of this blog.  It is a list of books that I’ve read.

I really, really, really didn’t think that this needed an explanation, but!  It appears that I was wrong.  So, I’m going to talk about the Philosophy of Books Read Lists as practiced on this blog since the late, great year of 2009.

So everyone is on the same page, this discussion is generated by an email I received, to wit:  “Sharon, I know it’s a bit more work, but it would be very useful if you could include links (to Amazon?) on your “Books Read” lists.”

Now, there’s a surprising amount of stuff packed into this suggestion.  Let’s unpack it.

One — the assumption that I am personally driven, or perhaps have a duty, to be useful to the Plain People of the Internet.  In case anyone was in doubt here — I really am not driven to be useful to random strangers.  Nor is it my duty to be useful to said random strangers.

Two — that including links (to Amazon?) would be Most Acceptable to the Plain People of the Internet.  Which, as anyone who has been hanging around the internet for two hours and forty-five minutes will derive — it isn’t.  The second I link only to Amazon, I will inundated with demands that I link to every other bookstore on earth, and that?  is A LOT more work than I signed up for.

Way back in time — 1997, or so — I used to maintain an Affiliate Account at Amazon — that’s the thing where you make targeted links and when people click on those links, you, the Affiliate, get a piece of the action.  I stopped doing the Affiliate thing back, oh, aways, when it became clear that Amazon’s idea of right and wrong. . .diverged from my own.  So, I know about Amazon Affiliate accounts and I choose not to participate.  And it’s not like people won’t buy from Amazon anyway, so my not providing a link, whether or not I get paid$, really makes no difference in the Scheme of Stuff Getting Bought.

Three — There is the assumption that it’s hard to find the books on my Books Read List.  In fact, there’s nothing easier.  Google is your friend.  All you have to do is cut ‘n paste the title/author into a query box and, hey presto! you will be served links to many, many vendors from whom you can purchase said title (with Amazon at the top of the list, naturally).  It will also provide you with links to Goodreads and to any reviews that book may have received.  Incredibly useful tool, Google.  And it makes things so easy.

So, there’s that.

However, while we’re on the subject of my Books Read lists. . .

Occasionally people ask me to review the books I’ve read, and the answer to that is?  No.

I used to review books professionally (by which I mean, I used to be paid to review books).  I quit that gig when I was hired to be executive director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

I never went back to reviewing professionally, because I know too many writers.  If I give a book a bad review, the chances are good that I’m going to Blight the Life of someone I know, and while I’m not by nature useful, I’m also not cruel — though I can be driven to sarcasm very easily.

I’ve had enough people drop me notes thanking me for having read their book (Google again. Ego searches are a wonderful thing, so they are not.), that I’m not going to risk the recriminations and angst that will go with a bad, or even a less-than-completely enthusiastic review.

Some folks have worried that I maybe don’t know how to link to my own books.  I hereby assure them that I do know how to do that.  To wit!

You may pre-order a signed and/or personalized copy of A Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s SF Bookstore! Here’s your link.  Also!  If you don’t want to cope with Amazon’s shenanigans, you may buy the ebook edition of Fortune’s Favors in multiple formats from Baen Books.  Here’s the link.

So, I think my skills there are adequate to demand.

All righty, then!  Let’s recap.

  1.  The Books Read list that I keep on my blog is a running list of books I’ve read during the year.  I put it here because this is my blog and I get to decide what content is “appropriate” to it.
  2.  The Books Read list is not a recommended reading list for people who read this blog.  If you see a title that looks interesting or an author you’ve never heard of, and you want to explore further — that is your decision.
  3.  As has been discussed elsewhere, frequently, I am not a nice person who lives to be agreeable to you.  My warning label is:  Sharp edges handle with care.  Remember that and our interactions will be so very much more pleasant.

I hope this is all clear and that there will be no more misunderstandings about the Books Read lists.

Thanks for listening, and now?  I’ve gotta get to gym.



Amazon answers

Those following along at home will recall that some Kindle users, after downloading Fortune’s Favors, found that the Kindle had helpfully opened the book to “Interludes,” which those readers quite reasonably understood to be the first chapter of the book, and so started reading.

In fact, “Interludes” is. . .a series of interludes that take place between Chapter One and Two*.  I could not replicate this error, either on my own Kindle app or on Amazon’s publishing tool on-site.  I therefore wrote to Amazon, asking them to fix the error which they had clearly generated.

I have this morning received Amazon’s reply, which I reproduce below in its entirety.

Hello Sharon,

I hope this email finds you well!

I checked the uploaded and converted content files of your eBook and can confirm that there is no issue with it. The content is opening on the cover of the book.

If any of the customers are facing any issue with their devices, then I would request you to inform them to contact our Kindle Customer Service team directly for assistance.

They can contact our Kindle Customer Service team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using the below links:


Further, if you can provide us with some screenshots of the page where the error is appearing, then we can reach out to our Technical team for investigation.

Thanks for your understanding and support.


Kindle Direct Publishing

The lesson we receive from this is!  Do not — DO NOT EVER — assume that your Kindle device has opened a book or a story to the correct first page.  ALWAYS page back to the front of the book, or the cover, then page forward, just like you would if you were reading a paper book.  You cannot trust your device to be working in your best interests in this.


*We are skipping lightly over the authors’ feelings regarding the fact that Amazon essentially served a broken story to those readers — an aspect of the case that we have no hope of making plain to Amazon, though, in my opinion, the worst wrong done in the whole muddle.

Fortune’s Favors Live Today!

Here are a few good links to help you along.

You may purchase ebooks from these fine vendors, among others:
Baen Books:  Here’s your link
Angus & Robertson:  Here’s your link
BN:  Here’s your link
Kobo:  Here’s your link
Apple:  Here’s your link
ScribdHere’s your link

You may purchase an ebook OR a paper copy from:
Amazon:  Here’s your link


Writers’ Day Off Weekend Edition

So!  We started our writers’ day off this week — well.  Last week. — by going into town to attend a multi-artist reception at the Framemakers in downtown Waterville.  The party was in full swing when we got there, including live music.  We caught up with a couple folks we’d known from my newspaper days, and got to know some new folks, and a good time was had by all.

Saturday, we got up at what passes for early, and motored on down to Standish, where we had breakfast at Percy’s Table — Steve had pancake, egg, and bacon, while I went with sweet potato hash (sweet potato, red potato, carrot, spinach, onion, sweet peppers), which was excellent (the decaf was good, too) — and one of the waitstaff geeked out entirely over my hair and jacket:  “You are so pretty!  You bring springtime inside to us!”

After breakfast, we wandered over to St. Joseph’s College, on the other side of Standish, and got lost for a couple hours among the rocks and minerals.  If you ever have the chance to go the Maine Mineralogical & Geological Society’s annual gem show, do that.  It’s a huge show; vendors from all over; informative and beautiful.  Steve and I both noticed that there seems to have been a breakthrough in geodes — there were enormous split and polished specimens on sale — one was as tall as my waist, which is fairly far from the ground.  Also, when I think of a geode, I think of a hollow rock filled with crystal.  Many of those on offer were filled with minerals that were not necessary crystal.  Interesting and tempting, though I note that neither one of us brought home a geode.

There was an. . .unsettling incident.  I had gone upstairs, to visit with the vendors who had been left in the upper darkness.  I was waiting to be admitted by the door dragon, and a tall guy (taller than I am — unusual in Maine, even now), fashionably shaved head, diamond stud in one ear, dark clothes — kind of came in beside me — and he stuck beside me, in my erratic drift from this table, to that table, back to that other table, until I made a willful effort to ditch him.

Later, Steve and I were in the lunch room, sitting together on the couch and having  a restorative Pepsi when there was a boom!, which was this guy being thrown against the window by a security guard.  Apparently, there were, um, items in the guy’s pockets, some of which had broken free when he pulled out his cellphone.  Followed an altercation, including the guy breaking away and making a run for it, getting tackled by the security guys, and what might have been Law Enforcement called in.  Exciting couple of minutes there.

Anyway, we finally hit overload and quit the gem show, heading for Old Orchard Beach, where we negotiated a short reservation for mid-August, and stopped for lunch at the Clambake.  Thence to Trader Joe’s since we were passing by, to take on wine, and some more sprouted tri-color rice, and cheese, and black-and-white cookies — and so to home.

We finished the day off with a couple glasses of a nice Malbec, and grilled cheese sandwiches made with cheese bread.  Yum.

So, there we are — Writers’ Day Off.  Today, is Writers Get To Work, and now that our business here is concluded, that’s what I’m going to do.

Here, have a picture of Steve and me, at breakfast.

Fourth Questions Answered

So!  After a short break to get some work done, and do promotion — we have arrived at a pair of Fourth Questions.  To wit!

Question Four Number One

There is a recollection that Lee and Miller once upon a time wrote one (or more) books under an NDA where they can not indicate which book(s) they wrote, presumably as they were ghost writing (or for a house name). If the NDA has timed out, wonder if you could let us know which book(s) you folk wrote. If not, you are, of course, welcome to toss this question into the bit bin.

No, we narrowly escaped from a NDA situation in which the folks wanting our services were, um. . .a little feral in their understanding of what a NDA was and how much of our lives and creativity they got to own after we signed on the dotted line.  We kind of wrote a story about that.  Coming soon.

What we DID do is sign on to do a couple of works-for-hire.  One was for a gaming company, way, waaaaaay back in time, right after we’d moved to Maine.  The other was Sword of Orion:  Book One of Beneath Strange Skies, published by Phobos Impact.  People occasionally write to us, wanting to know when the next in that series will be published, or asking us to make the existing volume available as an ebook, and the answer is!

It’s not our book.  Those few who own this volume will note, not only the authors’ dedication to Victor Appleton, but that the book is copyright 2005 by Phobos Books LLC.  That means we don’t own the story, or the characters.  Certainly, we can’t undertake to write the sequel of a book someone else owns.

So, there’s that.

Question Four Number two

Now that Baen has your manuscript, approximately how long before an e-arc will become available…  Not every author that I enjoy releases an e-arc of their works and I really appreciate your willingness to support my addiction to your universes… Additionally, do you get more from the entrance fee for an e-arc than for the final electronic product since the final product it’s usually discounted?

The timing of eArcs has been amply discussed elsewhere.  Short form:  eArcs, their appearance, or non-appearance, in fact, their very existence — falls within Baen’s honor.  Authors do not make eArcs available.  The publisher makes eArcs available according to their own customs, of which we wot, if not precisely not, at least very little.

Authors are paid a percentage of cover price. This percentage is set down in the contract.  I think we get fifty percent of cover for the eArc, and something in that range for the finished ebook (see author being too lazy to get up from her desk to walk into the tech room, wrestle with the file cabinet and pull the contracts).  Percentages for hardcover and mass market sales are less, but the theory is you make it up in volume.

Here endeth the answers to Questions the Fourth.

Previous Answers:
Third Question Answered
Second Questions Answered
The First Answer

Books read in 2019

13. Wild Ride, Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
12. Shadow of a Broken Man, George C. Chesbro (read aloud with Steve)
11. How Much for Just the Planet?, John M. Ford
10. Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
9.  Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik
8.  Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch
7.  The Luckiest Lady in London, Sherry Thomas
6.  Release the Virgins, Michael A. Ventrella, editor (read aloud with Steve)
5.  Becoming, Michelle Obama
4.  Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer (read aloud with Steve; re-read for me; first read for him)
3. the unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ryan North, Erica Henderson
2.  Alliance Rising, CJ Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (read out loud with Steve)
1.  A Shilling for Candles, Josephine Tey (read out loud with Steve)

What YOU Can Do to Boost the Luck

All righty, then!
Now that the paper editions of Fortune’s Favors are landing, I’m going to do that Author Thing where I ask those who have (already!) read the book to please review it. Amazon will now accept reviews, and, assuming some kind person has made a page for it, so will Goodreads and LibraryThing. Or, if you have a blog where you talk about books — you know the drill.
Amazon’s early release of the paper edition is an Opportunity to really get the word out about the new book, and influence people who are on the fence to take a chance.
So! If you can, please do boost the signal for Fortune’s Favors: Adventures in the Liaden Universe(R) Number 28, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

Links and Snippet Fortune’s Favors

So! Amazon has let the paper edition of Fortune’s Favors out into the wild early.  If you order it today, you can have it in your hands, it says here, on Wednesday.

The electronic editions will be released on April 15; I cannot undo this, so Waiting Is.

Below is a revised list of buy-links and! for the very most patient among us, a snippet from the chapbook.

BUY LINKS for fortune’s favors

Available NOW: paper edition, from Amazon only:  here’s your link

If you want to preorder the ebook edition of Fortune’s Favors, the following vendors are alleged to be standing by for you:
Amazonhere’s your link
Angus & Robertson:  here’s your link
Applehere’s your link
BN/Nook:  here’s your link
Kobo:  here’s your link

snippet from fortune’s favors
©2019 Sharon Lee and Steve miller

It was to the gayn’Urlez Hell in lower Low Port that his feet finally brought him, over the objections of most of himself.

There were those who dismissed Low Port as a miserable pit of vicious humanity where lived predators and prey; the roles subject to reversal without notice.

Those contended that there was nothing of value in Low Port; that it was worth the life of any honorable person to even attempt to walk such streets.

They. . .were not wrong, those who lived in the comfort of Mid Port and the luxury of High; and who bothered to give Low Port half a thought down the course of a Standard Year.

They were not wrong.

But they lacked discrimination.

It was true that there were very many bad and dangerous streets inside the uneasy boundaries of Low Port, and then –

There were worse.

The gayn’Urlez Gaming Hell occupied the corner of two such thoroughfares, and the best that could be said of them is that they were. . .somewhat less unsafe than the Hell itself.

Mar Tyn eys’Ornstahl had made it a policy – insofar as he was able to make policy – not to enter gayn’Urlez, much less work there.

Today, his feet had trampled policy, and Mar Tyn only hoped that he would survive the experience.

So anxious was he for that outcome, in fact, that he took the extreme action of. . .arguing. . .with his feet.

On the very corner, directly across from the most dangerous Hell in Low Port, Mar Tyn – turned to the right.

His feet hesitated, then strode out promptly enough, even turning right at the next corner, with no prompting from him, toward the somewhat safer streets where he was at least known.

Another might have assumed victory, just there, but Mar Tyn had lived with his feet for many years. It thus came as no surprise when they failed to take his direction at the next corner, bearing left, rather than right, until they stopped once more across the street from Hell.

He sighed. That was how it was going to be, was it?

Best to get on with it, then.


The barkeep was a thick woman with cropped grey hair and a prosthetic eye. She gave him a glance as he approached and leaned her elbows on the bar.

“Got reg’lars on tonight,” she told him, pleasant enough. “Two days down there’s a bed open, if you want to reserve in advance. Reservation includes a drink tonight and a hour to study the layout. The House takes six.”

Mar Tyn smiled at her over the bar.

“I’m not a pleasure-worker,” he said, gently.

She frowned.

“What are you, then?”

“A Luck.”

. . .here endeth the snippet