So, the Authors have been extroverting. We bought Full Festival Passes for the Twenty-Second Maine International Film Festival, which included a t-shirt, naturally, the sponsorship of one movie, and access to all the rest of the films (10 days! 100 films! eek!), as well as a slew of special events, receptions, and parties.
The film we chose to sponsor is The Fate of Lee Khan, one of the five opening night films. I do not repent our choice. We had a great time with this film, picking out similarities to Star Wars, tracing the lines to Crouching Tiger…, and trying to keep track of the double-crosses. I think we ended up with a quadruple-cross, but somebody might want to view the film and check me on that.
We also attended a couple of the special events, including a Garden Party, with Brief Remarks, and are planning on attending the reception, concert, and World Movie Premier of The Gathering celebrating the work of Horace Tapscott.
In between all this, Life, and writing, has been going on. The Nameless WIP stands at about 81,000 words. If I get a Turn of Speed, I should be out of this scene today, in draft. Which will leave The Thrilling Conclusion to be written, and the subplots to be filled in.
Here have a couple of pictures of us at the Garden Party.
Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Ricky Nelson, “Garden Party.” Here’s your link.
It’s snowing today, as it did on Friday. Apparently, we’re going to have an early and persistent winter. Well. Our very first winter in Maine, when we were living in Skowhegan, it snowed every night — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, every day — and I just figured that it always snowed in the winter, in Maine. In the years between, we’ve had some winters where we got very little snow, but a lot of cold, a couple of warm winters, a recent winter that dropped ten feet of snow over the course of the season, averaging a few inches every couple days, and a biggish fall once a week. Very seasonal. Sigh.
Here at the new house, we can hide the car in the garage, and we have engaged a guy to plow the driveway on a temporary basis, to see if we’re both satisfied with the arrangement. The front steps are gong to have to be solved. I may need the War Engineer to come by and see if he can put a peak over the steps, so that we can at least open the front door from inside, during heavy snowfalls.
Winter has also illuminated an unanticipated problem with city living. We are in a hybrid situation with regard to mail delivery. Which is to say, we do not have what I think of as a City Mailbox, that hangs on the house near the front door, nor do we have a mail slot in the front door.
What we have instead, is curb-side delivery, like we had out in the country. Which is fine, the curb’s not that far away, after all, except. . .
Mail is routinely delivered between 4 and 5 pm. It gets dark in the winter-time at 4:30ish. We live on a busy road, and while there is a streetlight across the street from our drive, there’s no sidewalk. Therefore, in order to approach the mailbox, in the winter, when there will be a pile of snow between our driveway and mailbox, we will have to walk out into the road, in the dark.
This seems. . .suboptimal.
So, we’re thinking about moving all of our mail delivery to the post office box, and switching the Informed Delivery Service to that address, so we know when we have to drive out.
I will say that I never considered mail delivery when I was thinking about the potential challenges of returning to city life after a quarter-century in the country.
In another aspect of City Living, I’m actually enjoying going to the gym. It changes your outlook, when the gym’s a five minute drive, instead of half-an-hour.
From the writing edge of life, Accepting the Lance is moving along; it’s going to be a long book, I fear, so y’all need to prepare yourselves for that.
I think that’s everything, except for this — a video that Steve and I made for you — yes, you! — to thank you for everything you do.
Today is the semi-anniversary of Steve, me, the cats, and a large cast of characters taking up residence here in the city, at the new! headquarters of the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.
We are extremely fortunate to have found this house, and very fortunate indeed that the series of tightly-reasoned and risky moves that we brought to the board were not derailed by circumstance; that bureaucracy was able to flex with us, rather than against us; and that the Guy Who Knows A Guy Network decided that we Needed Them, and extended the patronage of its members.
We’re pretty much settled, here, though naturally still learning the quirks of a new house (and unlearning the quirks of a house we lived in for a quarter-century).
And, today, in celebration of a milestone — or at least a six-month-stone — There Will Be Pizza, but, mostly, we’ll be writing, and playing with cats, doing chores , and. . .just, yanno, doing what we do.
First up, a reminder: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be reading from and signing copies of the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition of Agent of Change at Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville, Maine 04901, on Friday, November 2, from 7:30-9 pm. Looking forward to seeing you — yes, you! — there.
If you are unable to attend the November 2 event, and you want a signed copy of the anniversary Agent of Change, with the awesome Sam Kennedy cover, you may send an email before November 2 to Ellen Richmond at kidsbookscellarATmyfairpointDOTnet, with “Lee and Miller” in the subject line. In the body of the letter let Ellen know how many books you want, your snail address, and any personalization request you may have. She will contact you for further necessary information.
So, we attended the Community Health Needs Assessment as our Floating Day Off, on Thursday. It was interesting, and even informative. I had been under the impression that the event was hosted by one of the area hospitals; in fact it is an on-going collaborative effort of about eight different hospitals, clinics and health associations. The meant that there were a lot of professionals present, which was fine; one of the problems identified by our table (all civilians, saving the facilitator and the note-taker) was a lack of access to care, including a lack of doctors, a lack of transportation to get to doctors, and a lack of those activities supportive of good health.
Unfortunately, the lack of access which was so obvious to the public eye was invisible to the professional eye, as we found when it came time to rank the most pressing needs in our community. The vote went along, dare I say, party lines, with the professionals pushing for programmatic solutions to things like the opoid crisis and self-harm. That was a little disappointing. Our facilitator thanked our table for our real-world perspective, but I’m not completely certain that she has any high-level ears available to her.
One of the things that seems obvious to me (warning) is that, if this is about COMMUNITY Health Needs, then the COMMUNITY needs to get involved. The city needs to get on-board with providing, say, a real bus service, so people can get to their appointments on time. The clinics need to coordinate; health and exercise classes in the city need to be expanded, supported, and advertised.
The whole community aspect was pointed up when the meeting was breaking up and one of our table’s participants handed the facilitator a card. She shook her head, and said, “The hospital does all its printing in house.” “That’s right,” came the answer, “and they put the guy who used to do their printing out of business.”
If we’re all in this together, we can’t solve our problems by working separately.
We haven’t quite settled on the upcoming week’s Floating Day Off; much depends on the outcome of phone calls that need to be made tomorrow. For today, I need to vacuum the house, and then get to work.
Oh! I keep meaning to show y’all this. . .The Carousel Corner in my bookshelf.
So, today, we expect a crew of sturdy lads sometime this afternoon, to deliver the new bed. We hadn’t quite intended to buy a new bed — no, that’s inaccurate. We had intended to buy a new bed, eventually, but our intent on Thursday was to do some reconnaissance in that direction. Wherefore we visited Northern Mattress, where we investigated floor models, collected catalog pages, and the salesman’s card.
When we returned to the car, Steve said, “You want to go across the river and look at Fortin’s?”
So, we went across the river, to Fortin’s, where we were greeted by Douglas, the salesman who had sold us our new couch a year or so ago. We explained the problem — the problem being that our bed was a waterbed platform with a queen mattress in the box. We’d replaced the mattress a few years ago, but the bed itself had been solid enough, at the time, since it had been sitting in one place for 26 or so years. Unfortunately, the move was especially hard on the old, press-board frame, which had been deconstructed and re-constructed by non-experts three times in the course of four weeks, and was very much the worse for its ill-treatment. Douglas said, “You want a platform bed,” and took us to the back of the store, where such items are on display.
Among the necessary features of any new bed had to be a headboard wide enough for the cats to use as a highway to the bookcase aerie in the bedroom. This has been an Approved Cat Route for at least 26 years, which is to say all of Scrabble’s lifetime (Scrabble being 16). Scrabble being the Power User of the aerie, we didn’t want to cut her off.
Douglas showed us the Perfect Bed, made right in Newport, Maine, in fact, assured us that he could order it with a bookcase headboard, which would be plenty wide enough for Cat Traffic — but it would take about 10 weeks to arrive, because — handmade in Newport.
While Steve and I were discussing this, Douglas went back to the warehouse, as one does, and returned with a look of wide-eyed amaze on his face.
“I have the bed,” he said. “And it has a bookcase headboard.”
“When can it be delivered?” asked Steve.
“Saturday afternoon OK with you guys?”
So! This afternoon we’ll be taking delivery of a new bed and cat highway.
Didn’t see that coming.
In other news, we have one more Major Contracting Event on the schedule. We had been going to put off installing heat pumps (yes, that’s plural; because the house is U-shaped, each wing needs its own pump) until next year, since we’d already gambled with the tax money in order to make the move into this house happen, and though our luck had been in, I am by nature risk-averse, and I’d done enough gambling for one year.
Then Mr. Trump announced Trade War, and we realized that waiting til next year would see tariffs and ill-will increasing the cost of items imported from Japan, which would likely put the project out of reach.
We therefore went looking for help, and it turns out that there is a useful consumer program in Maine that has somehow to date escaped cancellation by our governor. It is the Efficiency Maine Loan program, which gives long-term, low-interest loans on things like heat pump installations, and also has a rebate program for installation of energy efficient systems.
Heat pump installations are therefore set for next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
We’re also expecting the Window Guy to sweep by at some point to fix the stuck windows in the hallway to Steve’s office. It will be Good if they can be made to close. It would be Optimum, if they can be made to open and close on demand.
So, that’s the next phase of Real Life Adventures.
For those who are here for news of books, and the production of words — yes, writing has been going forth. For those expecting a new book in January — no, sorry; we are scheduled to turn the book in to Madame the Editor in January. What happens to it then is wholly up to her.
So, one of the very many details which combined to create the Perfect Moment for Lee and Miller to purchase a long-desired city house was the willingness of our lender to accept a down-payment in two parts. We were required to put 10% down when we closed, and, when we sold the country house, we could put however much more seemed good to us as a second down-payment, which would not only immediately reduce the principle, but also our monthly mortgage payment, without incurring any additional points or fees. Essentially, it’s a free re-finance, which you may invoke Exactly Once.
Avid readers of this blog will recall that we closed on the country house on Tuesday. The check representing our piece of the action cleared yesterday, and I contacted our mortgage lender to take advantage of the second down-payment.
Now, my mantra throughout this entire project has been “Sooner is better than later.”
I said this to our broker and she said, “Absolutely! Of course, there’s paperwork to be done, and recalculations to be made, and. . .”
Long and short of it, we will be meeting to take care of this business at the Very First Opportunity — that being next Friday. At 8:30 am, making it the first item of business on the day.
After my initial sigh of disappointment that Monday had apparently been off the board even before I called, I realized that this date? Is actually Perfect.
Not only is it a full moon in these parts, but, it is also the third monthiversary of our moving into the city house.
So, it’s actually all fallen into place neatly, and, as a bonus, we can still go see the Viking ship at Rockland on Monday.
And! Since I do want to see the Viking ship at Rockland on Monday, I need to take this gift of three whole days with, ahem, “nothing to do” to write like the wind.
I hope everybody has a terrific weekend, and I’ll see you on the flip-side.
For those who are curious, here’s a pic of some of the pottery we bought at Georgetown Pottery. The pattern is called hamada and cobalt.
In the spirit of getting bidness outta the way first: Someone — maybe on this blog? I’ve lost the note itself — asked me to “list” all of our work eligible for this year’s Dragon Awards. Herewith! the list:
Neogenesis, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Baen Books, January 2018 Category: Best SF Novel
The Dragon Awards are apparently open to anyone who wishes to participate. Here’s your link.
One of my on-board tasks is to proofread the manuscript for Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume Four, due at the publisher in August. I just finished proofing “Street Cred,” and damn! that’s a good story. I realize that it’s not cool to be pleased with your own work, but, hey, I’ve never been cool.
And, it really is a good story.
Let see, what else?
Ah. June 27th marked our second month in the New Location. Time flies and all like that. I’ve made my peace with the dishwasher, more or less; and while I still don’t quite comprehend the new dryer, progress is being made on that road.
One of the many things that amuses me about this house is that, yesterday, I walked a mile and a half. This was exclusively inside the house, going from my office at the top of the short arm of the U, around to the laundry room, in the middle of the long arm of the U (directly across from my office, as the crow flies, if crows could fly through windows), and back again.
Though the first mad flood has been stemmed, we still from time to time entertain contractors. Tree Guy says he’s going to take down the two dead pines “next week” but hasn’t called to set, y’know, an actual day. Also, it may have escaped his notice that Wednesday is the Fourth of July. Cleaning Guy, who was supposed to have come by yesterday morning, cancelled because a tree had fallen on his mother’s house and he was needed to help with the clean-up. So, we’re waiting for another call from him to reschedule. And the War Engineer is supposed to drop by on his own schedule to finish getting rid of the useless bits of the fence.
Work continues to go forward on Accepting the Lance. Mind you, it’s not going as quickly as I would wish, which was ever the case, but going forward is Good. I’m perhaps being over-gentle with it, given how suddenly and completely its predecessor died the True Death. We don’t want that to happen again; oh, no, we do not.
Reporting from the land of More Excitement Than You Can Possibly Stand, after I became unable to drink caffeinated coffee, I settled on Twining’s Irish Breakfast Tea as my caffeine delivery system. It has a nice mouth feel, and has the darkish taste of coffee. Sort of.
Steve recently got me a box of Twining’s Lapsang Souchong, and. . .man, that’s interesting. I don’t know that I’m going to make it my Only Tea, but I’m definitely going to keep a box around.
And that? Is all I’ve got. Going to be a busy weekend, what with writing and proofing and all. Also, by Maine standards, at least, a hot weekend, as I suppose is proper as we in the US run up to Independence Day, the quintessential summer holiday. Which reminds me that I have to find where Waterville stages its fireworks. . .
So, the new neighborhood continues to be amusing. Yesterday, on my way to the mailbox, I was stopped by a friendly woman, who turned out to be the wife of one of our candidates for House District 109. Of course, she wanted me to vote for her husband, and gave me the literature and the story, all very succinct and pleasant. At one point, she turned to survey the house, and her eye caught on the CAT magnet we have on the car, and she turned back with a smile. “Cat,” she said. “We’re definitely your candidate.” The conversation then turned to the neighborhood — she’d lived in the house next door for a couple years when she was a kid — and the state of downtown. We found, not surprisingly, several mutual acquaintances, and by the time her husband arrived, and I got to shake hands with him, and was released to gather the mail, and come back inside, where Steve said, “Who were they?” I handed him the literature, and said, “The guy I had already decided to vote for.”
Also yesterday, earlier in the day, I installed a bird bath, renewed the Hummer Bar, and then took a tour of the back yard, trying to figure out the various flowers, bushes and trees, and take inventory of which needed dead branches cut out, and what beds needed thinning — as one does. I am pleased to report that there are at least three rosebushes in the backyard, tucked away into surprising little nooks. They all appear to be domestic roses (as opposed to sea roses, for which I have a really unseemly passion), and I await news of their color and style.
My tour took me down past the shed, and ’round to the forest gate, which opens onto the trail/road maintained by the sewage district. I did not on this occasion venture further, though I’m told that, if I follow the sewage district’s greeny road, I will eventually come into the network of trails maintained by Thomas College. Also, if I like to fish, there are apparently several off-trails that go down to the rivers. Actually, the trails are there whether I like to fish or not, which I fear that I do not.
Eventually I wandered back into the house, sat down at my desk, and glanced out over the yard — just in time to see a fox dart out from the tangle-growth at the side of the yard. Running full speed, he slammed into a squirrel who had been rootling around in the grass, grabbed it and kept on running, down to the bottom of the yard, and out the forest gate.
Trooper, who had been lounging on the back of the desk, looking out the window, sat up with a Completely Astonished Look on his face — Good Ghod, there are predators in the yard! I think the expression on my face was its mirror. Who knew the city was so wild?
For those keeping score, this house has a Goblin Room, and a Forest Gate. Also, a yard fox. Yes, we’re living in an urban fantasy novel.
In other news, Real Work has been going forth. I finished the first draft of Nameless Space Opera story and passed it to Steve. Steve finished the first drafts of the whole-book introduction and the individual story intros for Constellation Four, and passed them to me.
Accepting the Lance broke 10,000 words last night, so that’s moving along at a rational pace.
This morning, Steve made us pancakes for breakfast, which we had with strawberries and maple syrup, mmmm. After I finish my second cup of tea, and this blog post, my morning will be about mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms, because I haven’t yet gotten my act together to find a cleaning service (the little voice in my head, the one that says, O, Rly? You can’t take care of your own house? Aren’t you SPESHSCUL. — is NOT helpful. Just sayin’.)
After chores, then to work, and so into the new week.
Everybody have fun, ‘k? And don’t forget to take some time to sit and look out the window.