Notes from two weeks on sick leave

Still drifting lazily toward Total Wellness, and remaining somewhat weepy, which is annoying, since I associate that sort of thing with being Very Ill, and I was not, and certainly am not now, Very Ill.  Despite which, I can report that listening to the Simon and Garfunkel Channel on Pandora is Not Recommended.

What else?  After all my grumbling and grouching, and a marked failure to train Dragon Mobile (Dragon depends on the speaker saying the same word EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, and I never, ever say the same word the same way, speech being one of those hit-and-miss things for me at the best of times.  Poor Ophelia and I fought over Every. Word. It was dreadful; she did try, but I had to let her go.)

Having fired Ophelia, I went back to Hey Google! (which I like marginally better than OK Google.  On thinking about it, OK Google is actually hard for me to say, since I start too low on the OH part, and kind of strangle the last –gle.)  Hey Google is pretty forgiving — I can sing, I can be stern, I can be cheerful or tearful. . .I think I’ve only been misunderstood once and I’ve been using it a lot, mostly as a tea timer (best tea timer ever!), and to add things to the grocery list.  Deleting things from the grocery list is a bit more of a challenge, but we’ll get there.

Back on the topic of being ill — I lost a few pounds — all the way down to 188! — but have drifted back to the old baseline of 190, which I assume means I’m pretty much Over This Thing.  I would like to get to 184, at which point, according to the Wisdom of the BMI scales, I shall stop being “overweight.”  Mind you, I probably don’t want to lose those six pounds enough to stop eating bread and butter, or drinking my glass of wine in the evening, so the goal will very likely remain unconquered.  But it’s important, after all, to have goals; otherwise, you don’t have anything to hang on the walls.

Fifth of Five and I have reached an impasse, and I have issued the Ultimate Threat — Fine; if you don’t cooperate, I will not finish you, and the story will be frozen in place exactly where it is now!

So, we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself by putting together the tax paperwork.

It snowed and wintry-mixed on the overnight, and I went out before breakfast to cope with the deck and the stairs, and to get the car swept off and de-iced.  It occurred to me as I was clearing off the windscreen that today marks two weeks exactly since the last time I was out of the house.  Maybe I’ll plan a trip to the grocery store tomorrow, in celebration. . .

Hope everyone’s feeling healthy and hale.

Preorder Links and? We have Weather

So, after an email exchange a couple nights ago, the Nook Team magically invested me with the ability to publish books for pre-order, with the result that you — yes, you! — can now preorder the electronic edition of Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27 from BN/Nook Books ,  from Amazon/Kindle, from Kobo, and (this is according to rumor, only) at Apple.

I made an attempt to get Amazon to help me put the paper book on pre-order, but! It turns out that it never occurred to them that someone might want to do Such An Outrageous Thing, so!  The idea is being remanded to the Team, and no paper pre-orders for this title.  I’ll do my best to make sure that it is available for sale on January 15.  Baen ebooks will have the book for sale in electronic edition on January 15, as well.

Speaking of links and Amazon. . .Several people have written, and posted here and there on-line that there Is! No! Kindle! Edition of Neogenesis available — they are variously made sad, bewildered, and angry by this, which is kind of a shame, because!

There is a Kindle edition of  Neogenesis Here’s your link. You will note that, while this page lists both the ebook and the Audible editions of the book there is no hardcover listed — but fear not!  This does not mean that there was no hardcover published, it only means that the hardcover sits in lonely splendor on its own catalog page. I hope this makes everybody happy — and, no, I don’t know why Amazon has not been able to merge both catalog pages.  ‘WAY above my pay scale.

Here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we are experiencing Weather,  In particular, a blizzard (or, if you prefer a bombogenesis, aka a “snow hurricane”), which is expected to dump 11 to 14 inches of snow before it decamps, early tomorrow morning.

Related to this, yesterday, I acquired back spasms as one does, especially if one had the experience of going head-first through the windshield of an automobile at the tender age of 23.  Yesterday was fairly well a waste; while I waited for it to be time to see the doctor at 4:45 pm.  Received blessed muscle relaxants and have been Taking Them As Directed since last evening.  Back still hurts, but has eased back to a 5 on the 1-10 pain scale.  For comparison, yesterday was a 12.

The plowguy — all hail the plowguy! — will be clearing our steps and porch and the so-called “front” steps, too, in addition to plowing the driveway, so that, at least, is taken care of.

I think this more or less catches us up, and it occurs to me that it might be prudent to go seek my heating pad again, though standing at my desk is a remarkably pain-free posture.

Everybody, stay happy.

Out of the blizzard, into the deep freeze

So, yesterday, Maine hosted a blizzard, our first of the season.  Here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we got about 11 inches of snow.  Temps didn’t get above 12F/-11C all day, so the snow was fluffy, but there were still 11 inches of it.  I managed to clear the steps and get the car dug out about 10 minutes before the plowguy showed up to clear the driveway, once again proving that Timing is Everything.

The rest of the day was fairly laid back.  Steve and I had planned to take a half-day and watch a movie, but the uncertainty introduced by the weather meant that, instead, we spent the morning baking — mince tarts, chocolate chip cookies, crab cakes (eventually) — and the afternoon working.

This morning, we slept late, in celebration of the certainty that we would not have an early visit from the plowguy, ate a leisurely breakfast, and went back to work.  I managed to trash my left hand during yesterday’s snow removal, which meant I took aspirin to get the pain down to a dull roar, which meant that I was a bit duller than I wanted to be on the manuscript correx.  On the other hand, I manged to rewrite a scene in order to, yanno, show, not tell, and fix a bunch of little this ‘n thats, so I’m not Utterly Unhappy with today’s production.

Tomorrow, I fear that one or both of us will need to Venture Out — this adventure  made somewhat parlous, as the high temperature on the day is supposed to be 10F/-12C, with a low tomorrow night of -12F/-24C, marking the start of ten days of single-digit highs in the daytime, and minus double-digits for nighttime lows.

And people ask us why we keep coon cats.

I don’t if I mentioned here that the cable company, in its infinite wisdom decided that we needed a new modem. It is easily twice as big as the modem it is replacing, and has many bright blue eyes glowing with no-doubt malicious plans to take over the world.  In any case, we decided to swap it in on Sunday evening — because what could possibly go wrong? — and were without access to the internet for 12! hours!  Steve figured out that we were one phone call short of an implementation yesterday morning, made the call and got us back online.

So, that.

Today’s mail brought us the income tax worksheets from our accountant, so when I get bored of writing, I’ll have something to keep me occupied. Accountants are thoughtful that way.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a pleasant holiday; and those who don’t celebrate had a pleasant Monday.

And now I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, curl up on the sofa with my book and a possible coon cat or two and ignore my hand.

Here’s a picture of Sprite, being adorable.

 

Out she comes as white as snow, rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

Baen Books is holding a contest to give away paper ARCS* of Neogenesis by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  To enter, you need to go to the Baen Books facebook page — here’s your link — and answer the question:  What is your favorite Liaden Universe® novel — and why?

It rained and snowed last night — just a bit.  Today,  we’re in the midst of another windstorm, and may expect downed trees, and power outages.  This sounds somewhat familiar, except today we’ll be doing it under a blue sky, and a high temperature of 35F/2C.  Tonight’s low will be 13F/-11C with a wind chill of -4F/-20C.

My plan for the day is to stay in and write.  OK, maybe I’ll clean the bathroom, too.

Everybody stay warm or cool, whichever is best in Your Particular Situation.

Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Gaelic Storm, “Tell Me Ma”.  Here’s your link.

*Advance Reading Copy

Friday the Thirteenth

Excellent day; sunny and crisp.

I seem to have caught a cold; or a cold has caught me, so, in celebration, I’ve ordered in a pair of Mr. Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers and a flannel jacket-shirt lined with fleece, in orange plaid.  Because orange plaid was on sale, and brought the price down from Ruinous to Merely Outrageous.

What else?  I’ve meditated for two days in a row, been to the gym, and managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I did sleep in this morning, but it wasn’t my fault!  Three coon cats ganged up on me and held me under the covers.

I have been remiss in mentioning here that Pinbeam Books has committed The Tomorrow Log to paper.  Here’s your link.  I note that it is also and has since 2011 been constantly available as an ebook from all the Usual Suspects, though Amazon seems unwilling to associate the two editions in its catalog.

I’ve been slowly slipping back into Fifth of Five, which does indeed seem to be aspiring to the working title Monkey Business.  We shall see.  In the meanwhile, I’m glad Neogenesis gave me all that practice in writing in chunks, ’cause that’s how this one wants to be written, too.  Yes, yes, I said never again.  The author is always the last to know.

Today, in honor of the cold, and despite sleeping in, I have placed NAP on the to-do list, along with the other glamorous tasks that fall to a working writer, such as cleaning the cat fountain, straightening away at least some of this stuff, doing the dishes, oh, and actually working on the manuscript.

I’ll try to get back to reporting progress, though a total word count isn’t really going to be possible — see writing in chunks, above.

Yesterday, then, I added 850 new words to the WIP and cleaned up some really rugged sentences.  The manuscript, in, I hesitate to say total, weighs in at something more-or-less close to 35,000 words.  This counts. . .cohesive chunks.

Everybody confused now?  Good.  Have a snippet:

The little Healer was not a monster, though he had wielded necessity like a surgeon’s knife, terrifying in his virtue.

Errands done; and so to work

Got up early to make the trek to Skowhegan and Steve’s eye doctor.  Matters have stabilized, on that front, so — yay! stabilization!

Came home via the post office — whereby hangs a tale, which I will now tell to you.

My Formal White Tiger pen was listed as Out for Delivery by the USPS on Saturday, but did not arrive.  It is not, I will note here, Completely Unusual for the Saturday delivery-person to fail deliver packages. She simply leaves them for the regular weekday guy, because — I have no idea.  Packages hard, I guess.

So, this morning, I looked back to the site to see if indeed my pen was listed as “out for delivery” with the guy who actually does his job, but found instead a note that delivery had been attempted on Saturday, late afternoon, but nobody was home, so a note was left.

Which was…pure, unadulterated mud. First, we were home all day Saturday.  Second, we got our mail ‘way early, as we tend to do on Saturday.  Three, nobody from the post office came by the house during the late afternoon.  Four, no note was left.  Five, it wouldn’t have mattered if there was anyone at home anyway, because the package didn’t require a signature.

I called the post office and explained the situation.  As it happened, the allegation that a note had been left meant that the package was not out for delivery, but was waiting at the post office, until I called with instructions.  Which I would have never known — because no note — if I hadn’t looked at the website and discovered this, um, deceit.

So, anyway, Deirdre, who was on the desk when I called, was as helpful as one woman could possibly be.  She listened to the problem, said she would go find the package now, if I would let her put me on hold.  It took her twelve minutes to find it, but find it she did, and, at my instruction put it at the front desk so when I came to pick it up, it would be easy for whoever was then on to find.

That part went according to plan.

So!  Eye doctor, post office, grocery store, and so to home, eagerly anticipating the meal Steve had started in the slow cooker before we left home, except!

There had been a minor power outage while we were gone.  Too short for the generator to take note of and kick in, but more than long enough to reboot the slow cooker, which started a count-down-to-cooking, which meant that?

Yes — you in the back?  Yes; thank you.  Exactly that.

Dinner wasn’t ready when we got home, starving.

Today’s dinner plans were therefore amended to hot dogs on French onion rolls, and leftover macaroni/veggie salad.  We’ll have today’s dinner tomorrow.

Speaking of the weather…today at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory it is 64F and raining.  The plants I put in yesterday are significantly perkier than they were at planting, so I’d say that timing was just about right.

As I mentioned in another venue, yesterday’s writing session produced! a True Epiphany (or as a friend says, with a bow in the direction of his spellchecker — an Apostrophe).  Epiphanies often require a lot of frogging, rearranging of scenes, re-assessing motivations, and just what seems to be a whole lot of backward motion when all instincts are screaming, “I have to make words, dammit!”

Experience teaches us that True Epiphanies almost always deliver a stronger, better story, if the writer is willing to bite her tongue and do the work.  Also, if the writer decides not to do the work?  The Epiphany has a way of forcing its point, later, when the amount of necessary frogging leaps from a few pages to a hundred, and sleepless nights and alcohol abuse enter the equation.

So, I’ve got some unwriting to do today — not much, happily, because we caught this in plenty too much time.  I may even get a start on rewriting.

And the roads, they roll.

Oh, and the new pen is gorgeous.  I’m really going to enjoy having it with me at Confluence.

Here, have a picture of both fountain pens, all snug in their traveling wallet:

I think of flying down into a sea of pens and feathers

So!  My new fountain pen arrived.  It’s gorgeous, and! it writes sooooo smooth on the gritty old yellow so-called “legal pad” paper which is my preferred paper.  The pen came with a converter, which I hadn’t realized, or I would’ve bought it a nice bottle of purple ink, instead of a box of black cartridges.  Maybe later.

What’s that, you say?   Picture?  How about a link, instead?

I went shopping after doing the gym thing this morning.  Since I had been putting this off for a while, I had rather a Lengthy List and only accomplished about half.  I fear that I am no longer the Lean Mean Shopping Machine of yore. . .In any case, I’ll try to finish up on Thursday.

One of the things I’ll need is!  Bug repellent.  Bugs find me very tasty (it’s like mosquitoes somehow know I have a lousy immune system) and I have it in my mind to be out in gardens and zoos and suchlike things, so bug repellent has moved to the top of the (remainder of) my list.  Can anyone recommend a good, not-hideously-poisonous-to-all-living-things-and-or-cancer-causing bug repellent that’s easy to apply and doesn’t smell bad? (not that I want the earth, or anything)

The other things I’ll need on Thursday are replacement plants for the Cat Garden, which, under the combined efforts of the neighbor’s chickens and the lawn guy’s assistant, has mostly become a Weed Garden.  The dragon flowers are still doing well, but the bee balm was ruthlessly cut off last year by the LGA, and did not, as I had. . .kind of hoped. . .come back.  The garden is now well under the limbs of the red maple, so I’m thinking some hosta (called Jimmy here at the Cat Farm, because I can never remember what the damned thing is called, and Steve said that The Murdered Teamster sounded more like a rock band than a plant), or maybe some more bee balm, if the LGA can be educated not to cut off their heads, or some other shade-loving plants.  And there’s one REALLY sunny corner where some day lilies might profit…

You see, I think, why I decided to Put Off Until Thursday what I did not finish today.

While I was shopping today, I must’ve seen about eight displays of those little three-sided spinner things, whatever they’re called.  Not having kids, or grand-kids, either, I hadn’t until recently realized that these were A Thing.  Back when I was a kid (and dinosaurs, &c), I used to have a continuous steel-link necklace that I used to spin while I was reading and/or studying, because — though I couldn’t’ve told you that at the time — it helped me concentrate.  My mother took it away from me, of course, because back then such things were Weird and Not Normal and therefore Not Done.

What an age we live in.

I also learned, just today, that I live in a teensy-tiny-vanishingly-small-economically-unsupportable bubble with, like six other people (and Steve, and the coon cats.  And probably even Scrabble, who does not suffer fools, in case that’s ever been in doubt) who believe in the social contract, the rule of law, repairing the infrastructure, and that a female Doctor Who is not the End of Civilization as we know it.  Who knew?

Anyway, home now to find that Steve had started the laundry, and is even now putting supper together.  After the meal, it’s — time to go to work, with a promise from the local weatherbeans of thunderstorms, maybe, this evening.

And on that note — y’all have a fine afternoon, ‘k?

Oh!  And here are Counting Crows, “Rain King.”

 

 

 

All Summer in a Day

Late Spring has arrived here at the Cat Farm, which is a little surprising, given that, last week this time it was snowing.  Monday had been sunny and 70F/21C, and the weatherbeans were calling for more of the same for Tuesday.

So, Steve and I played hookey.  We left early, stopped in Lewiston to have breakfast at Fran’s, and hit Old Orchard Beach just at high tide.  We walked the beach a little, I picked up a few empty shells, and tossed one snail back into the surf (the door was still on, and I supposed it was still alive).  We left the beach eventually and walked uptown to the Amtrak station, and Memorial Park.  While Steve waited for a train to photograph, I wandered over to the garden, and admired the places where flowers would be, in another six weeks.

When we finished with OOB, we went into Saco to scope out a townhouse/condo.  It was about as big as the first place we lived together, and not, perhaps, possible with three Very Large, and one Not Small cat in the household.

After our tour of Saco, we headed up to Freeport, and Shopped LLBean before continuing up-state.  We stopped in Augusta to have lunch at Lisa’s, and so to home.

Nice day, and good to visit places that were neither doctor’s offices nor grocery stores.

I must say, too, that we chose our day well.  Yesterday, it was sullen and cloudy all day until it finally rained like heck for an hour or two.  Today, it’s partly cloudy, but the high temp will only be around 54F/12C.  We’re under an active flood warning for the Kennebec River until Friday midday, which is always exciting.  Flood stage for the Kennebec at Augusta is 12 feet/3.5 meters, and the ‘beans are expecting it to crest at 14 feet/4 meters.  There are a several miles and many hills between us and the Kennebec, and we have no business in Augusta for the next few days.  The local streams and wetlands are somewhat overfull, but nothing at all dangerous to us.

Steve at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017
The Atlantic Ocean from the end of Brown Street at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017
Memorial Park gazebo and Old Orchard Beach Library April 11 2017

Writing from the month of the Staggering Behemoths

My thanks to everyone who put eyes on the Amazon situation.  Many noted that the links to Steve’s author page are missing/broken/go somewhere else — that will be my next Amazon-related project, whereupon I will once again ask for your assistance.  Thank you so very much being here, and being willing and able to assist us as we navigate the Silly Waters of Freelance.

This morning, lest I forget, there was a reprint contract in the mail.  Totally unexpected, but of course Delightful To Behold.

I am in the meantime, making a story from an outtake from Neogenesis.  The title is “Street Cred,” and it is destined for a new eChapbook, which I hope to have on-sale before we leave for MarsCon.  This morning, it weighs in at about 7,500 words, out of what I estimate to be about 10,000 words, finished.  With luck I can finish the draft this evening.

Today, Steve is wanted at the dentist, and I’ll do some errands in town while that work is being done.  Sunday is forecast to be sunny and warm; our goal at This Point in Time is to take a nice long drive on Sunday, partly in order to assuage cabin fever, and partly to see if I can do a nice long drive all in one go, in prep for driving to Albany, and getting on a train for Minneapolis.

Let’s see, what else?  Oh, our mailbox here at the house fell victim to Winter, the first time in many winters, so All Mail must presently be picked up at the post office in Waterville.  Today, I expect to pick up a sweatshirt, and a DVD, along with the usual handful of bills and sales flyers.  I’ve really been looking forward to the sweatshirt, and honestly didn’t expect the DVD to make it to us so quickly, which just goes to show that when you order something called “Arrival,” it’ll try to live up to its name.

. . .and I think that’s all I’ve got.

Everybody stay safe, and warm.

There’s so many things he just don’t understand

So, let’s see.  In our Last Thrilling Episode, the Writers were scrambling to get various projects done by deadlines/extended deadlines.

As of this morning, one of the overdue projects has been turned in; the other is in process.  The novel…is done in concept.  Which means that I have about thirty pages of dialog/rough story to expand and polish.  After all the cake has been iced, I’m guessing we’ll come in about 130,000/132,000 finished words.  And, yes, I have written many more words for this book than made the final cut.  Might be time for a Blooper Track.

In terms of Mechanics, the book has been proofed, spell-checked, grammar-checked and continuity-checked through page 555 (remember — these are manuscript pages, +/- 250 words/page in the Normal Way of things, and slightly less in This Way of doing things, because sub-chapters), and I’m actually feeling pretty good about it as a novel.

However, the next book will be about a person who sits in his chair and does nothing.  Fair warning.

I’ve been making a list of things To Do when the book is finished.  It looks something like this:

  1. Do income taxes
  2. Clean house
  3. Do Laundry
  4. Make blankie run
  5. Get haircut
  6. Prep for con
  7. Start next book

“Go to the Virgin Islands and sit around the pool drinking Adult Beverages” had been on the list, too, but the Coon Cat Consortium vetoed it.

. . .And I think that’s all I got, except to note that Today the Weather Ghods of Central Maine have given us a nor’easter/ice storm.  It’s a good thing I was planning to stay inside, anyway.

Y’all be careful out there.

Oh.  Today’s blog title brought to you by the Steve Miller Band, “Motherless Children.”  It’s been on continuous loop in my head for a couple days now, and I thought I’d share the gift.  Here’s your link.