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

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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.

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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:

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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.”

 

 

 

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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
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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.

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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.

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What in Ghod’s Name has the Woman Been DOing, Short Form

In our last Thrilling Installment, it was Trooper’s Birthday, known in some less enlightened parts of the world as December 15.

On Thursday, as per The Plan, we did indeed motor into Waterville to pick up the mail, and also to view Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I adored, despite not being able to hear much of the dialog*. This is possibly telling, but then, I don’t expect much from movies except that they look pretty and hang together as a tale at least until the credits roll.

After the movie, we hit Governor’s for breakfast (yes, breakfast; don’t judge), and so to home.

Friday was a writing day.

Saturday, it snowed, thus becoming a writing day with interludes of snow removal.  In-between, I finished moving my files from the old computer to the new computer, and upgrading the OS on my Asus Android tablet from Lollipop to Marshmallow, which, because of Something Technical, had to be done manually.  This was a case of an operation sounding much scarier than it actually was.  The upgrade went beautifully, and now I have an up-to-date OS, just in time for Google to release the next in series.

Yesterday, also, Steve took point on hooking up my classy new 7-port USB hub and the new multi-size card reader, as both of these required climbing around under the desk, which I’m presently not up for because…

I borked my knee.  No, I don’t know how I did it.  I tried ignoring it for a week, which worked about as well as you might think, and babying it with ice and elevation and all like that.  We’ve reached the point where I’m probably going to call the doctor, though part of me insists that if I don’t hear words like “meniscus tear,” all will be well.  More or less.

That brings us to what?  Today.  Sunday.

Yesterday, as reported it snowed, and the temps didn’t get much higher than 15F/-9C.  Today! It’s raining, and the high temp is predicted to be 44F/6C.  Right now, everything is encased in ice, which is my least-favorite winter scenario.

The Plan for the rest of the day is to retire to the comfy reclining chair with the laptop, and work from there.

I had briefly thought that we’d go see Arrival tomorrow before it leaves town, but I’m doubting that’s going to be happening.

. . .and I think that catches us all up.

Everybody stay safe.

_________

*I am informed that there are such things as “caption glasses” available at some theaters. Sadly, they are not available at the Waterville Flagship Cinemas.  They are available at the Regal Cinemas, in Augusta, but that makes a 50-mile round trip to see a movie.

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I’ve got a girlfriend with bows in her hair, and nothing is better than that. . .is it?

As I write this, there are 132 reader reviews on Amazon for Alliance of Equals.  Only 68 more to hit our goal of 200!  You guys are awesome.

Also, I see that Dragon in Exile has picked up a few reviews, too, as a sort of overflow\proximity event. Thanks to everyone who took the time.

Here in Central Maine today, it was hot, for values of “hot” above 90F/33C.  Which is plenty hot enough.  I was on at the hospital, where the inside temp was nice and coolish; Steve turned on the A/C here at the house, and the cats have taken up strategic positions in puddles of coolth.

By virtue of arriving at the nice, cool hospital early today, I actually had ten minutes of peace and quiet in which I Realized several important things about the novel-in-progress.  It would perhaps have helped if I’d realized them earlier, but better late than never, I guess.

Maybe I need to go to the hospital at lunchtime every day, and just sit at a table for ten minutes, with my notebook open and pen in hand.  Or not.  It’s possible that the various thought fragmentation nodules have at least been quietened, if not completely silenced.  We very much hope that this is the case.

Later this week, we’re to meet with the photographer for to have our heads shot, and, while we’re at it, have some PR shots taken that will reflect the reality of this century, purple hair and all.

Tomorrow, there is nothing scheduled (except, yanno, taking the trash out).  I believe that is my cue to take the laptop and lay claim to the couch in the living room, with my notes and new insights.  So that?  Is what I will do.

Everybody stay cool.  Here, let Belle show you how:

Belle staying cool July 25 2016Today’s blog title is brought to you by Talking Heads, “Girlfriend is Better.” Here’s your link.

 

 

 

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Where the wind’s like a whetted knife

So, yesterday, Steve and I drove down to Old Orchard Beach, and took a walk through the shallows before the ozone levels (seen as a pink haze prowling in from beyond Wood Island Light, eating the shoreline as it came) got too high.  The beach was super crowded with people having a good time, which was nice to see. Also, I got sunburned, so it was all good.

In the way of such things, once we were out of the house, we had very little inclination to speed back to the house, so we turned left instead of right, taking Routes 9 and 1 down to Wells, which was likewise crowded, and eventually turned right on a road wending northward.  We did stop at Borealis Breads in Wells to take on, well — bread; and at the Bull and Claw to partake of really excellent fish ‘n chips, before getting serious about the trip back home.

While we were at the ocean, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch came across the phones (we live in Maine; we have Weather here, not climate, so you’ve gotta kind of keep an eye on it).  We debated staying down ocean-side a few hours longer to watch the storm in, but eventually decided against, and continued the northward journey.

One of the things that struck me forcibly downcoast was the number of businesses advertising for help.  Not just seasonal businesses — though there were plenty of them needing help — but grocery stores, and pharmacies, hardware stores, year-round bakeries, and such.  It’s tempting to move south, just for the work.  Mind you, none of those jobs would cover the rent in-or-near a resort town, and you’d spend more in gas than the job’s worth, if you came in from any distance.

Ah, well.  Guess I’ll stay right here.

We arrived home, alert to the need to leap up at any moment to Batten the Hatches — the Waterville-Winslow megapolis also being on the watch for Severe Thunderstorms, and possible tornadoes (!)  We heard thunder; we saw (a lot) of lightning; the wind came up in a satisfactory manner, but —

The storm passed us by.  A glance at the interactive weather map showed that it had dumped rain half-a-mile away, but our house had, like, a little weather-repellent dome over it, and we were dry.

Half-an-hour later another cell passed over, announcing its presence by striking and exploding a tree somewhere in the Very Near Vicinity of the Cat Farm.  The wind screamed, rain came down in sheets. . .

Five minutes later, it was all done, gone, and on its way to Skowhegan, where it apparently did wreak some mischief.  And, yes, there was at least one tornado briefly on the ground, in Caribou, ‘way up in The County.

Today, it is much cooler, and the air is clean.  We’re enjoying it while we can.  Tomorrow, they same, Summer’s Back.

# # #

To the Very Best of My Knowledge, Sleeping with the Enemy, Adventures in the Liaden Universe Number 22, has now been published to all of the usual subjects, including BN, Kobo, the iStore, and Amazon.

No, I am afraid we will not be producing a paper chapbook, like in the “old days.”  These days are demonstrably, and perhaps sadly, not the “old days;” postage rates have gone crazy, our very reliable printer of many years has retired, and his son has merged the business with another out of Portland, and closed the shop up here.  Also, Steve is not able anymore to do the physical lifting and schlepping and whatnot, and I never could.  So — no paper edition.  Possibly, the stories in Sleeping will be collected in a Liaden Constellation sometime in the next couple years.

Thank you for your understanding.

# # #

As I type, Alliance of Equals rejoices in 90! reader reviews on Amazon.  That’s. . .terrific.  Only 110 more to reach our 200-review milestone.  You guys rock.

# # #

I don’t know if I reported here that, earlier in the season, the Cat Garden was the victim of an error produced by one of our lawn guy’s guys.  The error took out one whole corner of flowers, with the exception of some coneflowers, which have valiantly bloomed over the killing field in memory of better days.  I was out inspecting just a little while ago and, honestly?  It looks like next year — or the year after, at most — the whole garden will be taken over by the dragon flowers (snapdragons to you folks down south).

Which is good.  Hummingbirds and butterflies both like the dragon flowers, though they bloom late in the season, rather than early.  So, if the garden is not now According to Plan, at least it is staying true to its raison de’etre.

Though I do kinda miss the yarrow and (most of) the coneflowers.

Well.  I think that catches us all up.

Everybody stay cool.

Today’s blog title is courtesy of John Masefield, “Sea Fever,” known to children everywhere as, “I must go down to the sea again.”  Here’s your link.

 

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