Let the record show…

…that I did work today, which is notable, and now it is noted.

The work consisted of digging three holes, which isn’t as easy as you might think, those of you who unaccountably do not live on two acres of glacial moraine, or at the very least two acres of shale thinly covered with what we’ll call soil.

Why, you ask, was I moved to do work on a fine Maine morning when I ought to have been, um, writing?

Well, I’m glad you asked that question. Alert readers will recall that several days ago I acquired, in defiance of both the Lawn Guy’s Assistant, and the neighbor’s road-crossing, if not actually free-ranging chickens, plants for the Cat Garden, which has, through the direct intervention of said Forces of Nature more or less become a Weed Garden.

It had been hot and humid the last few days, not at all the sort of weather to encourage a sedentary and overweight author of more than middle years to go outside and dig holes in the garden.   So, I left the plants, in their pots, in approximately the locations I had chosen for their eventual homes.  I watered them each day, but they were looking sort of droopy and sad by this morning, so it was just very fortunate that today was gorgeously blue, and breezy, and dry, and of a temperature that someone who lives in Maine would find reasonable for July.

So! Three holes.  Not exactly in the locations previously chosen — did I mention we live on shale?  Also there are trees, and trees have roots.  Lots of roots.  No, really; look it up.

In between the rocks and roots, then — three holes.

One hole for the Cherry Pops Bee Balm which replaces the Murdered Bee Balm of yesteryear.  Bee balm attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and, well, bees.  This particular sort claims to be deer and mildew resistant.

One hole for the Wishing Well Plantain Lily, aka Hosta Wishing Well.  This plant attracts hummingbirds and has a mounding habit, so I envision a Mountain of Hosta in my future.

The third and final hole — actually the first dug — was for the White Frost Hemerocallis — aka a day lily with a curly yellow trumpet not only bigger than my head, but damn’ near bigger than Trooper.  It is two feet high.  Who can say no to a two-foot-high day lily that has flowers the size of a coon cat?  It’s big enough to be sentient.  Indeed, I have some hope that it will be writing next year’s book.

I will also mention here that I have received and have been testing various bug repellents.  It is in my mind to go with the least application that is still effective.  To that end, I began today with the bug repellent bracelet, fully expecting that I would need to come inside and upgrade.

In this, I was disappointed.  I did hear one rather insistent buzz, but closer inspection revealed the author to be a hummingbird, who was apparently under the impression that he was paying me for these plantings, and I could pick the pace up a bit, if I didn’t mind.  Or, given hummingbirds, even if I did mind.

So, having now made the record complete, I believe I’ll. . .

. . .do some work.


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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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Monday morning round-up

We’ve had something of a busy few days here at the Confusion Factory.

Last week, Steve graduated from cardio-gym and is now on the Third Phase, which is going to the cardio-gym early on Monday and Wednesdays and doing what he’s been doing, with the same personnel on-staff, but without the various measurements at the beginning, middle, and end of the session.  This means a change of schedule, including rising Much Earlier in the Day than I, personally, care to do, but that’s life.  I’ll be going to gym around Steve’s schedule — Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early hours, with refinement of the afternoon and evening hours as we go forward.  Since I have for all of my life been an evening/night writer, this may entail afternoon naps, which ought to please the cats.

In writing news, the page proofs for the Alliance of Equals mass market edition landed late last week, and have been added to the mix of Tasks to Be Done.  Also!  The first in a series of Lee-and-Miller Read Lee-and-Miller podcasts has been moved from Patreon to Splinter Universe LIVE.  You can listen to Steve read “A Night at the Opera” at this link.

We’ll be posting more of these to SULIVE, as they age off of our Patreon page, so remember to check back.

We are also, in light of the. . .substantial number of emails we’ve gotten from people who either want paper chapbooks, or the Excitement of the Annual Yule Chapbook, or want a return to Olden Times. . .

We cannot any of us return to Olden Times, so that’s right out.

But we can, perhaps, accommodate the wish for paper chapbooks, and even, maybe, for the Annual Yule Chapbook.

So, we’re running an experiment.  Amazon has a. . .program where those who have published ebooks with them may convert those ebooks into paper books.  This is an expensive process, as Amazon takes 40% off the top of cover price, and then charges printing costs from the author/publisher’s 60% royalty.  It’s also somewhat time-consuming, as is working with any template program that is based on Assumptions.  However!  With determination and enough wine, it can be done, as I proved this weekend by converting both Barnburner and Gunshy to paper books and putting them on sale.  The reason we chose these titles to experiment on first is that they convert into 5X8 paperbacks, which is an easy convert (part of the test was to see how “easy” easy was).  Based on my time and effort expended this weekend, we anticipate that converting to chapbook will be somewhat more time-consuming, though still doable.

We will, eventually, convert an actual Liaden chapbook, but that experiment has to wait in line behind work with a deadline attached.

For those interested, here’s the link to Barnburner.  (Which Amazon has decided to discount, so it will be interesting to see how that affects our royalty rates from them.)

Here’s the link to Gunshy.

The downside to this, besides the expense, is that these books would only be available through Amazon, which is whimsical at the best of times and downright malicious at the worst.

So, there’s that.

For those who have been asking anxiously about progress on Fifth of Five. . .progress progresses, more slowly than I had anticipated, but picking steam up as the new meds kick in.

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

Everybody do your best to enjoy Monday, OK?

Let the coon cats lead the way.

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The bread also rises

In this case, too much.

Having finally achieved mastery of my form in the Pullman Class, I decided, naturally, to vary.  I thought that it would do no harm, and possibly significant good, if I were to make the honey-oatmeal-wheat bread that I’m partial to, and bake it in the Pullman Pan, thus creating Square Sandwich Bread.

So, I did that.  The recipe for the honey-oat bread normally makes two one-pound loaves; the Pullman Pan accommodates one really big loaf.  Things went pretty much as I expected that they would to the point where I put the bread into the oven.

With a Pullman Pan, you cover the bread for the first 25ish minutes of cooking, to keep the bread square, taking the lid off in the last 10 minutes in order to brown the top of the loaf.

When I opened the oven to take the lid off, I noticed that the bread dough had overflowed and there were curlicues of bread on the oven rack.  Not good.  I took the pan out in order to remove the lid — and it took Steve holding the pan and me pulling on the lid to finally get it off.  The bread crust, of course, was torn.

Back the pan went into the oven for the final 10 minute browning, came out,  thumped appropriately hollow, and went onto the cooling rack.

. . .and, as it began to cool, it began to. . .sag.

Experienced bread makers will know what this means.

Yeah, not done in the middle.

So, as an experiment, for Science!, we have a success, in that we tried.  Obviously, if I wish to continue on this course, Tweaking will be required.

For the moment, then, since we’re writing a book and all like that, the honey-oat will go back to being baked in its two regular bread pans, whence it emerges tasty and, more importantly, cooked through.  And I will continue to bake Pullman Bread for Steve, so that sandwiches can happen.


Writing has been going forth, with about 14,000 more-or-less usable words written in the last four days, which is, Ladies and Beans, what can happen when the calendar is clear and you turn off Facebook and Twitter.

It also helps if you know where this bit goes, because it’s one of the foundation shticks that convinced you to write this book in the first place.  Run while the route goes downhill, and all like that.

For those who dote upon numbers, Neogenesis — by which I mean the melded Part One, and the still-under-construction Part Two — now clocks in at plus-or-minus 82,400.  Which would be more exciting news if we were looking at a 100,000 word book, but at a projected length of 130/140,000 isn’t, so much.

Given the structure, I briefly flirted with SFWA’s lower limit for novels and an adding machine, but I’m not sure I can make it all come out even.  And 160,000 words is a LOT of words.


Today, for the first time in a couple weeks, I go back to the gym, and hope not to collapse into a hacking heap on the treadmill.  After, there are errands, while I’m in town and all, and then home, for the midday meal, and so to work.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut, which is Long Overdue, and then things are pretty much clear on the calendar/writing front until November 6, which, in addition to being the Death of Daylight Savings Time, is our wedding anniversary.  Not sure what we’ll do about that.  Possibly put off the celebration until Tuesday (since we Early Voted), and run away from the news, upcountry.

End of the week is Comic Con, which will be fun for All the Usual Reasons, and also because I’ve Completely Missed ever being in the state of Rhode Island before.

So that’s today’s episode in the Exciting Life of a Writer.

Hope y’all are doing well — and welcome to November.


“Surely, you’ll do better to appeal to Captain Waitley in this matter?”

“Possibly so, sir, but — there’s a. . .complication.”

“Of course there is.  There can be nothing other than complications, in Captain Waitley’s orbit.”


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I wish I had a chance here holding your hand

So, today, I took all of our titles on Smashwords off-sale.  They say it will take between one and three weeks for their various channels to catch up with this action.  In the meantime, all Lee-and-Miller, and Lee, self-pubbed titles remain available from BN and Amazon.

In the spirit of progress, I have converted three ebooks, so they’ll be ready to go up into the sales channels through Draft2Digital when Time has Become.

Other than that, I went to the gym, and the grocery store, and was grumpy because outstanding checks have yet to arrive.  Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about outstanding checks not arriving.  I am, too.

Today, it was hot; tomorrow is going to be hot, too, which will be good for the beach, but perhaps not for the residents of the Cat Farm, who were rather melty today, even with the windows open and a nice breeze running through.  Tomorrow, we may have to condition the air.  *sigh*

And! Today’s Off the Wall Question is:  Has anyone who reads here been to a performance by Hatsune Miku?  I’d like to hear about your experience and impressions.

Edited to Add:  I am remiss!  As of right now, Alliance of Equals has 98 reader reviews on Amazon!  Only 102 more to reach our goal of 200!  Thanks to everyone who has taken the time, and expended the energy!

. . .I fear that’s all I have today.

Hope y’all are having positively brilliant days, wherever you are.Belle and Trooper July 14 2016Today’s blog post is brought to you by Abney Park, “Breathe.”  Here’s your link.

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I can climb the highest mountain; I can cross the widest sea

No checks in today’s mail, either.


*looks at pile of bills on desk*

This is going to be interesting.


Moving on — Answers to questions from the Roll Call!

*Sword of Orion was written as a work for hire — that means the publisher owns the copyright, the ideas, and the characters. The publisher went out of business after releasing the first books in about six series, one of which was the Sword of Orion series.  Therefore!  No more Sword of Orion stories.

*Er, no, I actually wouldn’t move to Liad, if I could.  For one thing, as a non-Liaden, I would be beneath most people’s notice, not to say contempt, except if I managed to insult somebody, which the odds are good that I’d do so within ten minutes of achieving the Port.  I’d rather go someplace where my life expectancy would be longer than ten minutes.

*The Gathering Edge will not be published until May 2017, that is correct.  In the larger scheme of things in publishing, that’s really hardly any time at all.  No, I’m afraid we can’t write much faster than we already do.


Today, I learned things.

I learned that orange sticks (aka “cuticle shapers”) are now made out of plastic.  They used to be made out of orange wood, but apparently not anymore.

I learned that I can prop my tablet up on the little ledge built into the treadmill at the gym and read as I walk.  And! I don’t have to worry about walking into a wall, when I do.

I learned that Microsoft thinks that a $1,000 tablet can “replace” my laptop, which costs 1/3 of that amount.  Research indicates that it does neither the dishes nor laundry, so I fail to see the advantage.

I also learned that my fingers — my fingers, not my wrists, which is usually the case — apparently took a beating yesterday, and if I’m a Schmott Guy, which really isn’t the way to bet, I’ll give them a break today.


Do I have any Hollywood historians here, or perhaps a Mae West aficionado?  I was wondering if she actually needed the stick she often had with her, or if it was only a fashion accessory.


Don’t forget that Steve and I will be at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, New York on Tuesday, July 5 to celebrate Alliance of Equals’ book day!  Be there or be somewhere else!


In other news, I wrote about 2,200 words yesterday, for a net gain to the manuscript of. . .33 words.  I think that we are now at an end of Backward Growth, and will be proceeding from here on in a forwarder direction.

You heard it here, first.


Progress on Book the Next
36,569/100,000 words OR 36.57% complete

“I believe it wished me to know that Theo might be in a pickle.”

Miri snorted a half-laugh, and he smiled.

“Yes,” he said.  “Precisely so.”

Sprite overseeing the side woods June 23 2016

Today’s blog title comes to you courtesy of Mr. John Parr, “St. Elmo’s Fire/Man in Motion”.  Here’s your link.

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In which adulting is hard

So, yesterday was a dead loss, which I mostly spent huddled on the couch, regretting my birth.  Man, these are some fun meds.  The Crack Coon Cat Nursing Team sprang into action and, around about suppertime, I was feeling closer enough to the thing to actually finish my WorldCon survey, and edit the interview.

Lest you think they’re slackers, the CCCNT also took the night shift; at one point, I woke up to find Sprite draped across my stomach, Belle curled on my shoulder, and Trooper stretched out along the length of me. It must have been cozy, because I went right back to sleep.

This morning, we appear to have reached an accord, whole-body-wise, and! the swelling and redness have definitely diminished.  We’re not out of the woods yet (and still six days to go with the meds), but apparently we’ve found the path.

Obviously, there will be no pickleball for me, today.  I had held out some idea that I would go to the gym and putz about (gently) with the strength machines, but…I will err on the side of conservatism, stay home, catch up the work I should have done yesterday, and get on with today’s business, most of which can be done from the Comfy Chair.

I do need to call my boss at the hospital, explain the situation, and figure out how we want to handle my Wednesday shift.

. . .and I think that’s all the news from the Cat Farm for the near past.  Hope y’all have a good start to your week.

Hey! Whatcha doin?
Hey! Whatcha doin?
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Pharaoh’s army got drowned, O Mary, don’t you weep

Let’s see…

Yesterday, we caucused.  It was, IMHO, a disorganized mess run by people who didn’t think that Any Explanation of the process was necessary.  It got the job done, eventually, and thank ghod.  Our caucus gave the nod to Bernie Sanders, as, I learn this morning, did the majority of Maine caucuses.

One of the pieces of information that was shared during yesterday’s meeting was that reports from the South indicate that three times as many Republicans are voting (via primary and caucus) as are Democrats.  One wonders if this is a result of the gerrymandering Republicans have done over the last few years, along with the restrictions on voting times for populations which are known to vote Democrat, or, if, yanno, Democrats really are that complacent.

In Maine, we have reports of people standing in lines for three hours outside the caucus site in Portland, and of high turnouts in many towns.  Which is good, but New England can’t balance the entire South.

If your primary or caucus is still in the future, please vote.  Thanks.

This morning, I played pickleball and took my first injury:  a floor burn on my right knee, result of diving for a ball — and continuing in a floorward direction, after I had missed.

Stoopid gravity.

I was also, for one game, fourth in a team three women who “play the net,” a philosophy of pickleball of which I had been entirely unaware until this morning.

“Why are you standing all the way back there?” my partner wanted to know.  “Don’t you want to play the net?”

“No,” I said.  “I’m so long, I’ll get fouled in the net if I get right up on it like that.”

“The *experts* all play the net.  When you watch pickleball, you see that, don’t you?”

“Ah, no.  I don’t.  I don’t watch pickleball, except when I’m here. Many of my partners have had Strong Opinions about where I should stand, no one has suggested I should ‘play the net.’ And, honestly, I don’t aspire to be an Expert Pickleball Player.  I want to have fun and give good game.  Those are my goals.”

My next game, with a different partner and different opponents, we all played mid-court and long, which is what I’ve more or less become used to doing.

So!  I’m home now, having played five games of pickleball.  I need to ice my knee, I suppose, in the interests of Proactiveness, and then I need to sort some laundry before it overflows the hamper and consumes the bathroom.

Hope y’all are having a pleasant Monday.

Today’s blog title brought to you by Pete Seeger by way of Bruce Springsteen:  Oh, Mary, Don’t you Weep.  Here’s your link.

Troopers on the case Feb 28 2016



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In which there is weather

Well. . .nuts.

It snowed on the overnight — wet, gloppy snow, which then changed to driving sleet-and-rain, the so-beloved Wintery Mix.  We woke up, early, because Tai Chi class on Wednesday, to a driving rain.  The surface of the driveway was a kind of mud slurry, iced with brittle snow, and when the town plow went by, the blade was pushing a wave that would have been credible off of The Big Island.

Since I don’t believe in winter road surfing, I decided to give Tai Chi a miss and practice my small dance here at home.

However, today is also Hospital Day, so, after breakfast, when the rain stopped, I again surveyed the situation.

Long story short, the car is presently stuck in the mud.  This situation will rectify itself overnight, when it’s supposed to get cold again, but for right now…the writer is in.

The cats have declared a Snow Day and are lobbying hard for everybody to go back to bed.  Steve is currently under assault from Belle and Scrabble, who are practicing the deadly Synchronized Snoring.

Speaking of Belle, last night’s dream (she was sleeping on my stomach for a while), concerned a Big Jumble of people and furniture; if I had to guess, I’d say that we were living in shared housing of some kind, and our apartment/rooms were going to be painted, so we had to move all our stuff to a holding area.  In the process of doing that, and relocating our four cats, I discovered in our space, a plush white cat with grey cloud markings, black tips on her ears, and a little grey mustache perfectly placed under her pink nose.  She was very friendly, and obviously “knew” me.  I was confused, and texted Steve, “Do we have FIVE cats?”  Very vivid, especially the feeling that the cat knew me.


Here’s the quality of help I currently have to call on in my office:

Sprite on the job Mar 2 2016

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Well, now, where was I?

Kineo the Wonder Subaru, Saga of, The.


Monday afternoon, the wrecker (aka “tow truck”) dispatched from Charlie’s Collision Center picked up Kineo and transported him to Augusta.  Yesterday morning, Doug called to assure me that the frame was not bent, that the truck, being so much taller than the car actually worked in our favor.  Yes, the hood is bent in half, and a new radiator and A/C and headlights, and other this ‘n that’s are needed, but all is eminently fixable.  I expect new paint is in Kineo’s future, or possibly the all of the front end panels will be removed and replaced.  I don’t know how modular cars are nowadays.

Doug was going to order in various parts yesterday afternoon, and figured to have the repairs done in about two weeks.  Am still waiting for the insurance companies to come to some sort of accommodation in re a rental car.  If I don’t hear from one or t’other of them this afternoon, I will call first thing tomorrow morning.

So, the Kineo situation seems to be in hand, insofar as it can be in hand.

This morning I got up early and motored on out to Tai Chi, by myself, Steve still laboring under a really unruly cold.  Class has grown from four to ten, which is great.  Today, we did warm-ups and then learned Cloud Hands.  I say “learned”.  Let me be clear — I can do the hands part and I can do the feet part.  Putting them together — ain’t happening.

Well, that’s why it’s called “practice,” I guess.  Will try to work on the problem here at home.  At least I didn’t fall on my nose.  Not Falling on Nose being my benchmark for most things.

After Tai Chi, I went down the hall and picked up a game of pickleball.  It was a great game, despite I’m still learning.  At one point, one of the other team kicked the ball ‘waaaaaaaay high into the air — apparently this is her Sekrit Move.  And I dropped back and unfolded, as one does, raising the paddle over my head, and knocked it back at her.

“I didn’t think you were that tall!” she said.

Yeah, my partner and I lost, but only by one point!  Go, us!

Looking ahead, and assuming that our weather remains sunny and bright, while the mid-coast is being buried by the upcoming snowstorm, I’ll do pickleball Friday and Monday, then Tai Chi on Wednesday, then the volunteer gig starts at the hospital (there will not be any stories about the volunteer gig, because Privacy, but I know y’all were wondering if I was going through with it).  I’ll be able to play pickleball on Friday next week (again, weather permitting).

But wait, there’s more!

Since I now am a scheduled volunteer at the hospital, I qualify for “free” membership at the local gym, but! I have to go (to gym) six times a month.  So, I’m looking at pickleball: M/F; Tai Chi/volunteer gig: W; gym (mostly using the treadmill, I’m thinking): T/H.

And that?  Is a full week.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to stick to this schedule.

And, now, having laid out the pattern of my life for the Next While, it’s time to do the laundry.

Here’s a picture of Belle, on the sofa:

Belle as shmoo Jan 8 2016

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