Wednesday Updatery

I do like Mr. Higgs’ dress blues.

In other news, the Dead River guy arrived two hours early for his 10 am appointment to do the annual cleaning and testing of the boiler. Happily, the office called ahead and woke us up, so we put pants on. I threw the cats into the back hallway, so that they didn’t go downstairs to help the boiler guy, whose work is located in the Goblin Room. Boiler guy has departed, leaving us with the happy news of work not covered under the annual contract which will need doing in warmer weather. This will apparently be a zoo, because of the Numerous Zones we have in this house, and the fact that all of the lines will have to be drained before the work is done. They will then need to be refilled, and air in the lines is apparently A Thing.

Today, I have some Administrative Stuff to do, along with prep for Steve’s visit to the Cardiac Center tomorrow. We’re wanted there at 6:30 am so…wow, yeah. Prep. I already have two paperbacks in my backpack, a portable battery in case the phone needs recharging on the fly, a notebook, pens, and a couple of oatmeal bars — so the essentials are covered, at least.

I have explained the upcoming schedule to each of the cats. Possibly, Scrabble believes me; the coon cats unanimously think I need a nap.

The story, as yet titleless, stands at just under 5,000 words; it should be right around 20,000 by the time everything plays out.  I will not be taking it with me to work on at the Cardiac Center, because that would be pointless.

Also, no, I have not looked yet at the half-a-book (which also need a title) which is due in September, nor yet have I read Accepting the Lance.  Next week things will become more regularized.  She said sternly.

I believe this brings everybody current.

Stay well, and happy.

Housekeeping Note: In Which This Site Will Be Twilit

Because I know some of y’all worry when the blog doesn’t update regularly. . .

I will not be updating this blog — or any blog, actually — for. . .a while.

The reasons for this are several.  One is that, of course, we’re deep in the end game for Accepting the Lance, which is due, no excuses, by the end of January.  By itself, as you and I both know from experience, this would be enough to limit updates.  I’m lead on Lance, and being the end of several story arcs, as it is, it’s being, ahem, a little difficult to bring in.

In addition to this, a small mountain of family crises has landed in my lap.  As it turns out certain obligations fall to the last surviving child of a parent — and that would be me.  You will remember that my sister died earlier this month, very suddenly, leaving things with regard to our father’s care. . .a little awry, but recoverable, or so I imagine her thoughts went, had she recovered.  She did not, and in the aftermath of her departure, documents which really ought to have been kept. . .weren’t.

I have therefore inherited said small mountain, which includes people demanding payments, and other people denying me access to accounts, until I can prove X,Y,Z.  Needless to say, the folks who want their money are a lot less particular about what I can prove than the folks who are holding the checks.

To sum up: I am simultaneously embarked on two life-devouring projects, which means “extras,” like updating this blog, will have to go on hold.

Steve will be updating Welcome to Liad with writing, professional, and appearance news (yes, we do still plan — very much — on attending Boskone in February).  He also plans to resume the story hours on Patreon.  He has begun writing the next Liaden book, which he tells me will be a Jethri book, the sequel to Trade Secret.

. . .and here ends my tale.

Everybody stay safe, right?  And may the incoming year bring joy and success to us all.

 

Catching up, Sunday Edition

Yesterday, was Trooper’s ninth birthday.  Here he is at Opening Ceremonies, ignoring the camera:

I am remiss in reporting here that I ordered in a steam mop.  Today I used it for the first time, on the ceramic tile in the entryway, the kitchen floor, and the floor of the master bathroom.  I can report that it does the job, and it’s easy.  The whole contraption weighs less than the bucket of water I needed to tote around to clean the floors with a regular wet mop, so I’m sold.  Will try it a little later on the wood floors, but I don’t foresee any problems.

This particular unit has a core unit that detaches, so you can steam-clean, say, the bath tub!  Really looking forward to trying that out.

We have had deliveries, including the Dr. Who Barbie, Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming, a case of paper, my new Linux desktop, Steve’s new Linux laptop, and cable-wrap, because Sprite keeps getting tangled in the computer wires on her way to the side of the desk where the adding machine lives, because she loves to sleep with her head on the adding machine keyboard.  Yes, I know, but she’s a cat; we don’t question, we adjust.  Monkeys are good at adjusting.

We have received in the mail our countersigned contracts for our stories in Release the Virgins!  Steve’s story is “Command Decision,” mine is “The Vestals of Midnight.”  The publisher lets us know that …Virgins will be available from the the Usual Suspects in early January.

What else?

We’ve been working.  Accepting the Lance is due on Madame the Editor’s desk at Baen by the end of January, if not sooner, and there are still a number of bridges to be built.  Steve read through the entire manuscript to date yesterday, and today we’re talking Story Stuff.  For those who are curious, here’s what the manuscript looks like.

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

Everybody be well.

Desmond takes a trolley to the jewellers store; buys a twenty carat golden ring

So, it’s been a Exciting! Few! Days! here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  Allow me to recap.

There were appointments with health care professionals in the beginning of the week for Steve; and in fact, he was at a doctor’s appointment on Thursday when I decided to vacuum the house, which surely needed it.  Got out the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum (successor to the venerable Dyson Cyclone, I think it was called, which was not up to the contributions of three Maine Coon cats), started to vacuum the kitchen rug and — thud.  The brush bar stopped moving.

Said a few choice words.  Unplugged the vacuum, went down the hall to the change bottle and got a nickle, a dime, and a quarter, and returned to the scene of the crime.

Now, the former Dyson could be completely disassembled in a matter of minutes using only a dime.  The new Dyson, I quickly learned, is Far More Sophisticated.  Instead of two big, gaumy plastic screws holding the brush assembly in place, there were four teensy, tiny, star screws.  I searched for and eventually found the many-headed Philips screw driver, located a head small enough to do the job, and got to work.  Three of the screws came out — I won’t say easily — butt he fourth was in it for the ages, and wouldn’t budge.  Steve came home about then, and he couldn’t budge it, either, so I repaired to the internet and got in touch with Dyson.

Several emails later, it was determined that, indeed, the machine needed to be repaired, and I should take it to the nearest UPS Store, where it would be boxed up and sent to Dyson at no cost to me.  I was given a Repair Order Number.

I had physical therapy on Friday morning, so added the transport of the Dyson to UPS to the errand list.

As it happened, Steve elected to come with me on Friday, and it was he who escorted the Dyson to the UPS Store.  The woman on the desk signed into the Dyson webpage, found the work order, took the machine, matched up the number in my email from Dyson, and — that was it.  Our refurbed machine ought to be back home in 7-10 days, and in the meantime, thank ghod, we still do have the Dyson Cyclone, else we’d be awash in cat fur.

So, that.

Today — continuing the theme of excitement — the mail included information for the 2018 National Carousel Association’s Convention.  Now, I have long wished to attend one of these conventions, which includes tours of private collections, visits to numerous carousels, and band organs, and whatnot, but — they’ve been in places like Kansas, and Michigan, and California.  And, also, inconveniently close to WorldCon.

This year’s convention?  Is in New England:  Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts.  The Convention Itself is from September 12 through September 16, but there’s a pre-convention warm-up on September 11, which includes four “extra” carousels, for a Grand Total of 15 carousels, 2 museums, and a private collection.

This is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and — yeah, I’m gonna try to figure out a way to do this thing.  Steve has allowed as how, though very cool, this is not something he thinks he wishes to partake of, so I’d be running solo.  On the other hand, I can drive, or take a Greyhound, to the Convention Headquarters in Connecticut.  There’s also a vendor room, but I’m not sure I want to schlepp the carousel books with me, on the off-chance three people will want to buy a set.

We’d only be back from WorldCon about a week by the time I’d have to head out again.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t be scheduled for panels, or, yanno — work — at the Carousel Convention, and — in theory, anyway — there wouldn’t be a short deadline breathing down our necks. . .

Yeah, I can do this.

I think.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by the Beatles, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.  Here’s your link.

So, about those chapbooks

Cultivar: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 25 and Heirs to Trouble, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 26 —  more information here — have been published to Apple, BN, Baen ebooks, Kobo.

They have not been published to Amazon, and, as this is the last day of Amazon’s demand period, Steve and I are not at all confident that they will ever be published to Amazon.  We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation, and will make an announcement if Amazon should at some later point discover in its heart that, indeed, it can publish these two titles.

We are not, however, optimistic.

The short form is that Amazon, having realized that the four stories contained in the two chapbooks listed above already exist in a collection published by Baen Books (A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3) — which we do not dispute; in fact, we state so in the sell copy — demanded that Steve and I “prove” we have the right to republish those stories.

They initially demanded a reversion letter, which does not exist, as the rights to the stories have not reverted; in fact, they were never sold.  We attempted to explain that we, the authors and copyright holders, had sold what is called “anthology rights” to Baen — they can only publish those stories in the form of A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3; they cannot repackage and republish particular stories out of the collection.  This is all handled in the contract between us and Baen.

This means that we, the authors and copyright holders, retained the rights to place individual stories with other publishers, for other collections, or to publish the stories ourselves.

We chose to publish the stories ourselves.  Which is our right, breaks no laws, and damages no one’s copyright, least of all ours, and  certainly does no damage to Amazon.

The last received demand — understand that we have been corresponding with someone who may only answer via scripted emails; this lends a certain surreal air to a situation already dripping in black comedy — however, the last email could be read — and we so read it — as a demand that we send a copy of our contract with Baen to Amazon.

Now, in the Normal World of Publishing (yes, yes, I know; but let it pass), if we were placing those four stories with another publisher for another anthology or collection, we would receive a contract from the new publisher, and one of the things that we would certify, by signing this new contract, is that we have the legal right to so place the stories.  If, after we sign the contract, it is found that we lied, or in some other way do not have the right to place the stories, the lawyers are loosed and everyone makes popcorn.

In no case does Publisher 2 demand that the authors provide them with a copy of their contract with Publisher 1.

Now, Amazon is in a strange situation; it cannot itself decide if it’s a publisher or a distributor, but in either case the demand for a copy of our contract with our publisher is out of line, and Steve and I will not comply.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you have all of your Adventures in the Liaden Universe® echapbooks in Kindle format, and you don’t wish to break the shelf, so to speak, you can go to Baen Ebooks and download Numbers 25 and 26 from them in Kindle format (there are instructions on how to do this on the site).

Baen also offers these titles in other formats, for those who diversify.

Or, you can, of course, purchase the titles from one of the distributors who do carry them — BN, Kobo, Apple. . .

For the paper-book folks. . . Given the on-going circumstances here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we can no longer do the production and mailing of paper chapbooks from the house.  It seems as if the best (or only) way to produce paper chapbooks is through Amazon’s paperback program.  There will simply not be paper copies of 25 and 26, unless we can locate another source for taking care of all the administrative work involved in producing paper chapbooks.  Steve and I are very sorry about this, but — see above.

Right now, the paper chapbooks available from Amazon are:

Liaden Universe®:  Due Diligence #24, Change Management #23, Sleeping with the Enemy #22, Technical Details #21, Moon’s Honor #20

Lee and Miller:  The Tomorrow Log

Sharon Lee:  Barnburner, Gunshy, The Gift of Magic, Spell Bound

We will, eventually, convert all of the electronic backlist to paper, but as this is being done between Life and Pay Copy, it will take some time.

 

 

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.

 

Gang aft a-gley

Ah, my dear friends, I have a terrible dilemma before me.  Both Olga and Natalia wish to be my wife; each has written several times to me of their passion. They are equally attractive; both are looking for love, but neither appears to be able to do laundry.

Well.  That’s really not a dilemma at all, is it?

So, today was an odd day.  One of those days where Things Got Done, but they were Entirely the Wrong Things.  On the other hand, a day that includes a milkshake and an unexpected ride in the country can’t be too far awry.

At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I did make it to gym and waked for miles.  My “gym book” this go is a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, and a buncha other awards, soon, I’m told to be  Major Motion Picture.  Again.

AWIT was published when I was 10 years old.  Despite this, I didn’t read it (the first time) until I was an adult.  It was sitting on a table in EJ Korvette’s in…damned if I remember — Towson, probably.  Anyhow, remainder table, one among many of its own kind, and many others, not necessary of its kind.  I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to finish up doing something or another, and started to read AWIT, as the most interesting looking book on the table, and by the time he re-appeared, I’d tessered once already and wasn’t about to miss the rest of the story.  It was a buck I never regretted spending.

I read AWIT a couple times since then, but not for 20 years or so — found the sequels, but none of them held my interest beyond the first two pages. . .  So, yanno, life goes on; so many books, so little time; and all like that.

But AWIT is going to be coming out as a movie next year; this time, so the hype goes, done right, which means that lots of people who read it as kids, and who imprinted on it, are re-reading.  And some are being disappointed, and blogging about their disappointment (one more time from the choir: What an age we live in).  Now, by the time I’d read AWIT, I’d read. . .a buncha books, many of them science fiction/fantasy (Back when I started reading sf/f, you could easily read the monthly titles, and still have room left over for others kinds of books.  It just wasn’t possible, if you were any shakes of a reader at all, to read only science fiction.).  I thought AWIT was a good enough book.  Certainly, the Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which have pleasantly improved my inner life.  Meg irritated me — but Meg was supposed to irritate me.  Partly, after all, this was a story about Meg coming to terms with Meg, and if she could stand it, so could I.

I did have some reservations about the sudden appearance and utter acceptance of Calvin, especially the part where he liked Meg straight off.  Otherwise, he seemed like good enough kid.

Charles Wallace was being set up either as John the Baptist, or the new Christ figure, but I’d already read Perelandra, and Out of the Silent Planet and whassis — That Hideous Strength.  Plus, I’d been raised Roman Catholic.  All of which meant I was pretty good at ignoring the God-stuff and following the story along.

So, anyhow.  I read it back then; liked it well enough.  Read it a couple times more and liked it on rereads.

This time, I’m still liking it.  Meg perhaps annoys me less, but, then I know how the story goes, more or less.  I find that I misplaced a couple things on the timeline, but no big surprises so far. . .The Happy Medium, surprisingly or not, irritates me more than Meg does this time.  Hmm.

One of the reviewers I read was saddened by the fact that AWIT didn’t sing for them anymore, and blamed — the 60s (given a 1962 pub date, and its long history of rejection, AWIT was probably written in the late 50s).  The 60s, said the reviewer are just too unbelievable to a person of modern sensibility, and the story therefore suffers from its setting.

I will go on record here as saying that the 60s setting doesn’t detract from the story  at all, for this reviewer.  OTOH, I lived through the 60s.

So, that.

After gym, I ran the rest of the errands on my list — sadly, neither CVS nor Agway had any of the bug repellents I had pinned my hopes upon, so I wound up ordering from the internet, rather than shopping locally.

Agway did provide me with a ginormous lacy yellow day lily, a hug pot of bee balm and a Jimmy hosta with white bells (the hosta on the other end of the property have blue/purple bells).  I have probably under-bought, but the wallet gets a vote, and this will at least start a Cat Garden Renaissance.

For those keeping score at home, I remain Utterly Delighted with my new fountain pen, which has scarcely been out of my hand since I bought it.  So delighted am I, that I have purchased another Pilot Metropolitan, this is the formal White Tiger color scheme, and blue ink, so I will have a fine signing pen at Confluence.

And that?  Really is all the news that’s fit to print.

Everybody stay cool, or warm, as appropriate.

Everything Upcoming!

We’ve had some queries about upcoming publications, and upcoming appearances, and, and — herewith an attempt to get them all in one place, for you, and for us.  Please note that the list is probably not complete; it’s only as complete as far as we know, as of Right Now.

Upcoming Appearances
May 1Ask Me Anything, Reddit, starting 12 noon
May 13: Meet ‘n Greet and book signing, Barnes and Noble, at 9 Market Place Drive, Augusta, Maine, from 1 – 3pm
August 4-6Confluence, in Pittsburgh, Lee and Miller will be writer Guests of Honor
March 9-11, 2018: MidSouthCon, in Memphis, Lee and Miller, writer Guests of Honor

Upcoming Interviews
April edition of The Intergalactic Medicine Show: Lee and Miller interview, reprint story, and! sample chapter

Upcoming Publications
April 15 +/-: “Cutting Corners,” Baen.com
May 2: The Gathering Edge, hardcover, ebook, audiobook, Baen & Audible
June 6: “Wise Child,” in Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Volume 3, Baen
August:  “Dawn’s Early Light,” in All Hail Our Robot Conquerors, Zombies Need Brains
December 15 +/-: Short Story, Baen.com
January 2, 2018Neogenesis
TBA: “Excerpts from Two Lives,” in Ships of the Line, Baen

The way life should be

Yesterday, we had precipitation.  There was some confusion amongst the Weatherbeans in their lofty towers of ice and sunshine regarding the form in which the precipitation would finally manifest.  The Weather Wheel spun from snow, to sleet, to freezing rain, ice pellets, and the ever-popular wintry mix, until the Weatherbeans in their wise frustration threw their hands in the air and said, “It is on the back of the wind.”

And so it was.

We here at the Cat Farm were blessed with snow.  Quite a lot of snow, very wet and heavy, since the temperatures never really got much below 31F/0C.  I had tried to do the Wise Thing and perform preliminary snow removal yesterday evening, before the skylight absolutely went.  This resulted in me sliding on the ice beneath the snow and falling flat on my face.  I therefore rethought the situation, with Steve’s pointed input, and decided to do snow removal this morning, when there was more traction between boot soles and ice.

Today, it’s quite pretty out, with sticky snow stuck to all the tree branches and Everything Else, and the sun beaming down from a blue and cloudless sky.

I have done two rounds of snow relocation, in prep for the plowguy.  The first round was Before Coffee, to clear the steps and make a path in the direction of the cars.  I came in to warm up — actually, to cool down; it gets hot when you shovel snow under the smiling sun — had a cup of chocolate coffee that Steve had ready for me, and an oatmeal cookie.

Round Two saw the cars cleared, for values of clear meaning that the driver can see out the front and back windows, after which I had Second Breakfast: coffee, cottage cheese, and leftover stuffing.  The breakfast of champions.

We are now on Plowguy Watch, and my jeans are in the dryer.

For those who may have never done snow relocation on a bright and sunny day in Maine, a few notes.

The snow was so white and reflective under the sun that the only way I could find and follow the paths I had made was to look for the blue inside the outline of my footprints.  I have a great fondness for blue snow, which I don’t think I ever saw before we came to Maine.

Also, the trees are, as stated above, bearing a significant burden of snow on each and all of their branches.  Yes, the smiling sun and the playful breeze are assisting in the removal of this burden, but it’s a tricky process.

While I was outside on Round Two, the neighbor across the road lost a branch from the tree closest to his house.  I heard a crrraaackkk and looked up in time to see the branch tumbling down in slo-mo, and a cloud of snow-dust dancing and twinkling against the perfect blue sky.

This is the time when we are at risk for losing power, because the lines are every bit as coated as the trees, and subject to the same forces.  And once again, we are grateful for the generator.

For the moment, my snow worship is done.  Sprite is already asleep in her basket on my desk, and I guess I’ll take her hint and get to work.

Everybody have a safe, pleasant day.

 

Wednesday To-Do List

  1. Do dishes
  2. Clean cat fountain
  3. Clean bathroom
  4. Print out section to be hand-edited
  5. Prep Number Ten Ox and load thumb drive with working files
  6. Pack
  7. Explain the schedule for the next few days to Trooper and Scrabble (also to Belle and Sprite, who will immediately forget all about it, and start to panic about elevensies on Thursday, whereupon Trooper or Scrabble will have to talk them down and Review)

Steve and I will be handing the Keys to the Cat Farm to the housesitter early tomorrow morning, after which we’ll be getting on the road to Providence, and the Rhode Island Comic Con.  Since this convention doesn’t have a literature track, we will not be doing any panels, or readings, but we will be at the Wordfire Press booth in the Dealer’s Room at Booth 124, signing books and creating mischief.

Everybody stay safe.

the-brown-chair-october-31-2016