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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In which busy writers are busy

Woke up early because the power went out (and came back on before the generator could engage).  Guess everybody was running their A/C and fans against yesterday’s heat wave.

Steve made omelettes for breakfast, after which we moved on to working on the chapbook until it was time to head out to Children’s Book Cellar and our signing.

Driving in, we realized that the event could very easily go until 4:00 and we had neglected to eat lunch, which was — as nearly everything can be made to be — an excuse to stop at Dairy Queen on the way in to Waterville, in order to purchase milkshakes to sustain us in our Time of Fame.

This involved some unanticipated delay, since there appeared to be a hazing going on at the College Avenue Dairy Queen, which left one newbie on duty at a very busy counter, while four of his colleagues lounged in the back room.

Still, milkshakes were achieved, and we arrived Exactly on Time at Children’s Book Cellar, to find a Mighty Crowd awaiting us, including Carolyn Smith and her husband, from Stoneham, Massachusetts, and our own James Hetley, down from Bangor, as well as some local folk.  We had a blast, and hoping our audience had the same.  Thanks to everyone who came to see us, and for Ellen Richmond and the Children’s Book Cellar for hosting us!

After our event, we hit the grocery store, returned home, and got with the ebook one! more! time!

On that front, I am pleased to report that Sleeping with the Enemy is now “publishing” at Amazon, and BN.  Expect to see the title on sale somewhere in the next 24 to 48 hours.

EDITED TO ADD:  The book is on sale NOW at Amazon.  Here’s your link.

Draft2Digital will be uploading the book to its vendors (Kobo, iBooks, Inktera, Scribd, 24Symbols, and Tolino) on its usual schedule.  Remember!  You will not be able to purchase this title through Smashwords.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the manuscript.  Monday may possibly be an Ocean Day.  We shall see.

In the meanwhile, it’s still hot, though not so much as yesterday.  We hold out some hope of rain tomorrow, which will be, so they (They) say, cooler than today.  Monday, however, we’re right back into the frying pan, and looking to stay there awhile.

As of this writing, there are 77 reader reviews of Alliance of Equals on Amazon!  Go, you guys!  Only 123 ’til we hit 200!

Speaking of Alliance — if you’ve read the book and want to talk about it, there is a spoiler thread here.  Please do feel free to make use of it.

And now?  I believe I see the cabana boy in the distance, bearing a bottle and a corkscrew.

Everybody stay happy.

Sleeping cover

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Why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings

Yesterday, the weather was. . .amazingly beautiful, and, as my right hand was more or less useless (I had a migraine in my wrist; my fingers were stiff — but not to worry, it’s all good now), and otherwise my day would have consisted of Sulking Around the House, I asked Steve to take me for a ride.  Which he willingly did.

Realizing that it was, after all, the Saturday of a three-day weekend, and a particularly raucous three-day-weekend at that, we drove in the direction opposite the ocean, toward Fairfield, Skowhegan by way of the Eaton Mountain Road, which I, personally, haven’t been on since we moved away from Skowhegan, and boy, couldn’t you see just forever.  Athens, Canaan, the Ridge Road to Madison to look at the mountains (stop laughing; we call them mountains) Anson, Starks (where Steve stopped to take a picture of Chicken Street for some friends), Industry, Farmington, Farmington Falls, New Sharon, Mercer, Norridgewock, back to Skowhegan, and thence home.  Pretty day, pretty ride with windows down and the wind in our hair.   Aaaaah.

Access was sort-of yesterday’s theme.  Early in the day, my Plan had been to re-read Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner (which, if you haven’t read it, go now and do so.  Yes, now.  I’ll be here when you get back), and while you’re at it, get The Privilege of the Sword, same author.  There’s a third to make the set — The Fall of Kings, which I haven’t read, myself — but I’m getting ahead of my story.

So, the Plan — to re-read Swordspoint, followed by Privilege, as I realized that I’d never read them back-to-back, though I’ve read each many times — and I really needed to read something that was well-written, well-plotted, and characterized to an inch.

I therefore dug out my 1989 Tor paperback of Swordspoint, opened it up. . .

. . .and couldn’t read the type.  No, not even with my glasses off, my preferred mode of reading, since I’ve been nearsighted all my life.

That was a shock, to say the least.  Never mind that my copy is over-inked 8-pt type on yellowing paperback paper.  I’d read this damn’ book — this exact damn’ book. . .often.

But apparently, I wasn’t going to read it again.

Well, long story short, I had credit at BN, and was very soon in possession of electronic copies of Swordspoint, Privilege, and Fall, which simultaneously killed the credit, and made me very happy.

My search for a device to help me turn pages has so far not been as successful as locating readable copies of favorite books.  (I have lots of paper logs to flip through at the volunteer gig, and my fingers aren’t so fine-tuned anymore, so it sometimes takes me A While, and people are in a hurry, and well…)  I was thinking on the order of a stick (as in, Give A Monkey A…) with a slightly grabby tip, but I’m not finding anything like, so I may have hallucinated this particular  device.  However!  Rubber fingers still exist and will do the job just fine.  (Note to self:  buy rubber fingers next time at Staples.)

The search for the hallucinated device, however, did turn up this lovely article about the difference between paper knives and letter openers.

Because — hands, headache, see above — I did very little writing last night, though I did sit with the manuscript for an hour, and layered in some details in the scene I wrote on Friday.

Today, We Do Plotting (yes,  yes, it is About Time; do I tell you how to write?), around the laundry (Steve has already seen to cleaning the rugs).  It’s another gorgeous day, so I will conspire with Trooper to sit in a open window, and we will take in the sun and the breeze while Work goes forth.

We hear, by the way, Through the Grapevine, that Amazon is shipping Alliance of Equals, as of yesterday. Also, several BNs across the country have the book available for in-store pickup.

Today’s breakfast was leftover risotto-and-carrots; lunch will be quiche and salad.  Dinner — prolly a late-night sammich.  Yes, it’s Wild and Crazy; but it’s July 4th, all weekend long!  If you can’t cut loose and boogie now, when can you?

I hope everyone’s having a delightful weekend, with or without a holiday.

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Progress on Book the Next
38,671/100,000 OR 38.7% complete

“That,” he said austerely, “is between brothers.”

Midday at the Oasis Trooper May 23 2016

Today’s blog title is brought to you by Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”  Here’s your link.

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If it’s June 25. . .

. . .it must be the Belleversary!

Yes, as unbelievable as it may seem, one year ago today, we brought Kelimcoons Belle of the Ball to the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  She retired graciously to the chamber prepared for her, to rest from the rigors of her journey.  She had a mouthful of food, a visit to the necessary, and a brief bath before strolling out to Greet Her People, and conduct a survey of her new kingdom.

We were, of course, planning a Festivity to commemorate the day, complete with dancing and fireworks, but Belle has asked for a more restrained and dignified celebration. Therefore, we all plan on having a nap today, in honor of herself.  Belle is, as always, leading the way.

In other news!

I wrote yesterday.  Quite a lot, actually, for values of Quite a Lot that include 2,140 new words in Book the Next. After I ripped out the scene that didn’t work, we had a net gain to the manuscript of!  76 words.

It was rather an exciting day, as writers count these things.  I had a Good Idea, then!  I had a Better Idea; the story is back on track with no violence done the characters, their relationship, and! without invoking the Gods of Plot.  Which is good.  I really don’t like invoking the Gods of Plot.  Which reminds me to sweep the altar, which has gotten dusty.

In addition to the celebration of Belle’s arrival among us, today’s schedule includes deploying the vacuum cleaner, doing the dishes, and — getting back to work on the WiP.  No, no, the excitement never does stop; but we’re used to it.

For those keeping score at home, there were no checks in the mail today, and a bill arrived by email.

No questions to answer today, though people continue to find the Roll Call and check in.  Thank you!

. . .and I think that’s catches us all up.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in the middle of Maine, perfect for all kinds of Summery Activities.  Hope it’s the same, where you are.

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Progress on Book the Next
35,765/100,000 OR 35.77% complete

Not truth. Something more primal than mere truth. Something from deep in the core of him, incontrovertible, beyond any argument or logic.

Belleversary June 25 2016 One

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So you want to be a writer, Part Who’s Keeping Count

In a startling reversal, we have had news of a check!

It was cut yesterday, and will be on the bus to Maine this afternoon.

The reported amount of the check, sadly, reinforces my natural tendency toward pessimism, bearing in mind that, through the offices of our good uncle, Sam, we are currently constrained to put half of all receipts into the tax account.

[Sigh. The neighbor is shooting at his vegetables again.  It’s a hobby, I suppose.  And at least it’s at a decent hour in the afternoon, rather than 7am.  Apparently vegetables are particularly unruly at 7am.]

Steve and I had a brainstorming session a couple nights ago, and came up with A Conceit, the implementation of which will mean, I very much fear, that the Work in Progress will shrink Yet Again.  I’m tempted to title it The Incredible Shrinking Novel, and have done, but perhaps something. . .more convenable will occur.  In the meanwhile, among the working notes I have here is, “save Festina for later.”

One of the things I love about my job is the necessity of occasionally leaving myself notes like, “save Festina for later.”

What else?

Someone inside the roll call asked for my opinion of The House of Shattered Wings, which I recently read.  I usually don’t give my opinion of the books I read, because I overwhelmingly read science fiction and fantasy, and. . .I know a Whole Lot of science fiction and fantasy writers, as colleagues and friends.  I’m not being paid to review things anymore, and I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings over what is, after all, merely a question of personal taste.

I will say that, if you are looking for Gothick Urban Fantasy, complete with fallen angels, and immortals banished from the court of The August Personage of Jade, set in post-World War Paris, The House of Shattered Wings is your book.

Yesterday, for a brief period in the afternoon, we had Weather, in the shape of An Awesome Thunderstorm accompanied by a prodigious down-pouring of rain. Today, it is intermittently sunny, humid, and warm, and cloudy, humid, and warm.  Sprite is asleep in the red basket on my desk; Belle is asleep in my her rocker.  Scrabble sleeps with the heffalumps, and Trooper is on hammock duty in the front room.

In a few minutes, Steve and I will meet for ice cream, and then I’ll commence in tearing apart the first section of the WiP, remembering to save Festina for later.

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Progress on Book the Next
35,686/100,000 OR 35.69% complete

“Truly, sir, if I stood in your place, I would be extremely cross. The tree has been less than apt, and wounded an ally, besides. Indeed, I find it possible to be cross in your stead, and I mean to deliver it a ringing scold, when next we meet.”

Take your daughter to work day June 20 2016

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. . .for a hamburger today

Nope, still no checks.

No books, either.

Preliminary numbers on the Roll Call, adjusting for those who have written private emails, or checked in from Goodreads, LiveJournal, or other venues where this blog mirrors — and also adjusting for those people who are amusing themselves. . .

I presently have 500 answers.

My thanks to everyone who took this request seriously.  If you do read here and have not checked in, you still have time.  The post will remain at the top of this blog through June 30.

Set to be even hotter today than yesterday.  The cats are cat-footing about, trying to get all their important work done before the heat hammers down.  I will be shortly following their example.

More words added to the manuscript last night.  Rough drafty words, those, which have allowed me to think more deeply on the scene, and locate places where I can deepen characterization and the chemistry between the two characters.  This is why we are such “slow” writers.  We keep going back and layering stuff in.  I wish I, at least, could be a bright and breezy writer, who gets it right the first time, but…alas.  Thank you all for your patience.

#

Progress on Book the Next
35,492/100,000 OR 35.49% complete

Am I being managed?” he asked mildly.

Trooper upside down cat June 20 2016

Today’s blog title brought to you by J. Wellington Wimpy.

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