When last we saw our Intrepid Heroes…

. . .they were fleeing Maine with a nor’easter nipping at their heels.

Since the Lakeshore Limited, aka Amtrak Train Number 49, leaves the Albany-Rensselaer train station at 7 pm, Steve and I decided to leave reasonably early (by which I mean, the sun was up by the time we were likewise), and take the Scenic Route.

This, we did, stopping in Keene, New Hampshire, for lunch, and wending our way gently through the warm and sunny day.  Shoppers in downtown Keene were wearing shorts and t-shirts, ignoring the predictions of Snowpocalypse for the morrow.

We arrived at the train station in time to wait two hours before boarding, and having dinner onboard (Steve had the chicken; I tried to have the butternut squash ravioli, but they were out.  Instead, they gave me (after due warning) mashed sweet potatoes formed with a melon ball and served under alfredo/spinach sauce.  It was. . .interesting.), returning to our room, and so to sleep.

Breakfast next morning was a “scrambled egg bowl,” and then we arrived at Chicago Union Station with a nine-hour layover before us, which we shall pass over lightly.

We boarded The City of New Orleans, aka Amtrak Train Number 59, at 8:30 pm, were served from the lunch menu (we each had a. . .muffaletta?), and so to our room, and sleep. . .

. . .until 6:30 am, when the car attendant woke us so that we could de-train at Memphis, where we were picked up by Sylvia Cox in her hat as Guest Liaison for MidSouthCon.

Sylvia was everything that was accommodating and good-natured, got us to an IHOP so we could grab breakfast, drove us up and down River Street, so we could observe the above-flood-stage Mississippi River at first hand, and so to the hotel, where there was no waiting to get into our room, despite it being Very Early in the Day.

We repaired to our room and unpacked, then it was time to meet Jane and Pat in the lobby.  Pat filled us in on the history of the Memphis neighborhoods Jane was driving us through, until we arrived at the Children’s Museum and!

The restored 1909 Dentzel Carousel which was for many years the centerpiece of Libertyland Amusement Park.

Here, have some carousel pictures:

 

After we finished with the carousel, we invaded the Children’s Museum, which was just. . .awesome.  So much interactive stuff — including an installation that taught you how to break into a safe; a real police car, and a FedEx jet.  Things to climb on, things to climb through, an air current raceway for balls and scarves, the ever-popular Legos, a grocery store, a discussion of the US Mint and how money is made. . .

Yeah, we spent some time there.  They ought to make these things adult-sized.

We departed the Children’s Museum, reluctantly, and — because there were flowers blooming in Memphis and Maine was by that point buried under a foot of new snow — Jane and Pat took us to a Botanical Garden to admire the pansies, the tulips and the early daffodils, as well as some flowering trees.

Eventually, we came back to rest at the Hilton, had lunch, a nap, and woke in time to get ready to share the pre-convention dinner of chicken spaghetti with con volunteers and those other Guests of Honor who had arrived.  We had a lovely chat with Ellen Datlow, Editor Guest of Honor, and a changing roster of volunteers, as people broke for supper and then went back to the important business of putting the con together.

Friday was the first day of the con.  We toured the Dealers Room, and the Art Show, talked with folks we met around and about, including Glennis of the Missing Volume, and the lady who was selling kaleidoscopes, and…and…and…

Then, it was time for our first professional obligation:  Signing on Pro Row.

At 7 pm, it was time for Opening Ceremonies.  Each of the Guests of Honor were escorted to their seats by Batman or Superman.  I was escorted by Superman, while Batman did the pretty for Steve.

Each of the Guests were introduced and given a gift box full of whimsical and useful goodies.  Mike Resnick, the Toastmaster, told us a couple stories, we heard a little history of the convention, and it was official!  MidSouthCon was On!

Next morning, first thing, was the Teddy Bear Tea.  Despite the early hour, it was well-attended by a variety of plushies, who socialized with each other while their human companions told the story of each one, and did some socializing of their own.  Steve and I enjoyed ourselves, as did Lemmy, Jingles, and Hassan the Assassin.

We then had the opportunity to talk to a ballroom full of attentive people about the history and times of the Liaden Universe®, attended the Baen Traveling Roadshow, and did a panel on characterization and social world building before it was time for the banquet and the presentation of the Darrell Awards.  All the guests were brought to the front to be re-introduced to the convention, and asked to say a few words.

After the banquet, it was the Epic Women in Epic Stories panel, ably moderated by Toni Weisskopf.

Sunday morning, we hosted a breakfast in the restaurant for eight folks who had signed up to observe us before we were caffeinated.  Topics ranged from cats, to writing, to the weather, to cats, and also — cats.

After, we read Select Portions of Agent of Change — in celebration of the Thirtieth Anniversary — to a small but appreciative audience and!

All too soon, it was Closing Ceremonies, and MidSouthCon was over for another year.  Except for the Dead Dog Party, where barbecue was had by all.

Because of how the trains run, we had most of Monday in Memphis.  We used our time wisely, playing tourist, visiting the Peabody Hotel in time to do a thorough tour before taking up a position on the mezzanine to see the ducks march out of their lobby fountain, down the red carpet and into the elevator that whisked them away to their rooftop penthouse.

After the ducks, it was a stroll down Beale Street, and a dinner, before moving on to the Memphis train station to wait for our ride.

MidSouthCon was a terrific con — everyone we met was friendly and helpful, and sincerely glad that we had come to celebrate with them.

I didn’t take any pictures at the convention, but here — have some more carousel pics:

Those of you who stayed with us this far will recall that, at the beginning of the story, we were fleeing a nor’easter.  We returned home in the aftermath of a second nor’easter, which dumped eighteen-plus inches of snow on the head of most of New England.  Happily, New England knows what to do about snow, and the roads had been plowed and cleared ahead of us.  Our own plowguy had been in to shove snow out of the driveway, and clear the steps.

Today, the snow is rolling off our new metal roof, and the plowguy came by with his front-loader to push the pile of plowed snow back, so he’ll have room to put the snow from the third March snowstorm, which is predicted for early next week.

And that?  Is all I’ve got at the moment.  Glad to have gone; glad to be home.

 

Lee and Miller’s MidSouthCon Schedule

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are Writer Guests of Honor at MidSouthCon, March 9-11

Here’s our schedule:

Friday 6:00 PM Pro Row
Pro Row
Meet your favorite MidSouthCon professional, maybe get their autograph or buy their works. Pro Row is located in the hallway outside of the Tennessee Ballrooms.

Friday 7:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Opening Ceremony
MidSouthCon 36 officially kicks off as we greet our Guests of Honor, and say hello to our members.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander, Mike Carlin, Keri Bean, Ellen Datlow, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Friday 9:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Meet the Guests II
Come meet and greet MidSouthCon 36’s Guests of Honor while enjoying some light refreshments.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Alan Alexander, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Saturday 9:00 AM 26th Floor
Teddy Bear Tea Party
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, authors of the Liaden Universe®, are hosting a Tea Party for fans and their traveling-companion stuffies. While your stuffies socialize on the couch, their people can point them out and discuss their history. Tea Party guests may also enjoy hot tea and breakfast cookies.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Saturday 11:00 AM Grand Ballroom
Thirty Years Of The Liaden Universe®
Our Literary GoH discuss the history of their Liaden Universe®.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Saturday 1:00 PM Grand Ballroom
The Baen Traveling RoadShow
Come join Toni Weisskopf and other Baen authors and editors as they tell us what’s new at Baen Books. There will be fun and prizes!
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Mike Resnick, Toni Weisskopf

Saturday 2:00 PM Ridgelake
Characterization And The Art Of Social World Building
Our panelists discuss creating riches believable societies in fantasy and science fiction setting.
Kimberly Richardson, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Alan Alexander

Saturday 5:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Banquet & Darrell Awards
Good food and the Darrell Award presentations. Tickets are $25.00 and available at registration.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander, Mike Carlin, Keri Bean, Ellen Datlow, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Saturday 8:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Epic Women In Epic Literature
Epic Science Fiction and Fantasy have seen some dynamic powerhouses of women-kind, such as: Kahlan, in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series; Cordelia, from the Vorkosigan sage; and Miri Robertson, from the Liaden Universe®. Come discuss the epic women of SF&F with our panelists.
Herika R Raymer, Susan Murrie Macdonald, J L Mulvihill, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Sunday 9:00 AM Rook’s Corner
Restaurant
Kaffeeklatsch I
Enjoy breakfast at a table with one of our Guests of honor. The signup sheets for the Sunday morning Kaffeeklatsches are located at the bottom of the escalators. Space is extremely limited so sign up early.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander

Sunday 12:00 PM Ridgelake
A Reading With The Creators of Liad
Join authors Sharon Lee and Steve Miller as they read some of their favorite passages from The Liaden Universe®. Within such an expansive world, they could take us anywhere in the galaxy.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Sunday 4:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Closing Ceremony

Speaking of bad news. . .

Steve and I are very sorry, indeed, to announce that we will NOT be attending the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II, to be held in Kansas City, August 17-21.

A direct casualty of this is the signing we were to do at the Bradley Fair Barnes and Noble, in Wichita, Kansas, on August 14.

We apologize to everyone who thought they’d have a chance to meet us, or to renew our acquaintance.  And we especially apologize for the lateness of the hour.  Up until this past Saturday, we were certain that we’d be attending.

So, here’s what we’d like you to do — go to the con, and have a terrific time.  Raise a glass of whatever it is you’re having, and share the toast with friends:  “To Plan B!” which is our own most-used salute.  Drop us a note, if you can, and tell us about the con. We’d like that.

So that’s the bad news.

Again, we apologize, but — necessity is.

 

 

In which it has been a day of parts

. . .too many parts, in fact, running in all directions at once.

Those who do not partake of the joys of Facebook may have missed the announcement that Sleeping with the Enemy, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, is now on sale (as an ebook only) at Amazon, Kobo, ibooks, Page Foundry, and Tolino.  We are told that it will be published RealSoonNow at BN/Noon, Scribd, and 24Symbols.

As I write this, Alliance of Equals has garnered 86! reader reviews on Amazon.  Only 114 short of 200!  You guys are going gang-busters!

. . .as we used to say.

Steve and I have declared tomorrow an electron-free day, so we will be scarce-to-invisible.  If you have an urgent matter to resolve, you can try emailing the cats, but, well — good luck with that.

# # #

Progress on Book the Next
40,459/100,000 OR 40.46% complete

“Ah, but any system is subject to manipulation. For instance, one who stands in a position of strength may decide that one whose position is. . .less strong has not paid fully enough, and demand additional consideration.” She paused, head to one side. “It is rarely said, I think, that one has paid too fully, but we must be alert to the possibility.”

Childrens Book Cellar Steve and Sharon photo by Ellen Richmond

Today, at the Cat Farm. . .

. . .it was hot.  All four cats were in my office, because Ceiling Fan, but — it was still hot.  More hot coming tomorrow.  Yay, summer.

We have a title for the upcoming chapbook.  Here it is:

Sleeping with the Enemy
Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22
© 2016 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

For those coming in late, this chapbook will contain two stories:  “Chimera,” which was published at Baen.com in May 2015 (I may have said April last night; we turned it in in April; it was published in May in support of Dragon in Exile, which was a June book.  Ta-da!), and “Friend of a Friend,” a brand-new story, also set on Surebleak.  The book will include an author’s foreword.

Distant early warning!  We will be increasing the price of this chapbook, and all/any future chapbooks, from $2.99 to $3.99.  Thank you for your understanding.

I had hoped to get Sleeping. . . uploaded at least to Amazon tonight, but — it ain’t gonna happen.  Possibly tomorrow night (more likely Sunday afternoon, though, because Book Signing tomorrow).  In any case — soon.

As of right now, Alliance of Equals has 61 reader reviews on Amazon.  Only 139 more until we hit the goal of 200!

As alluded to above, tomorrow, Steve and I will be signing book and talking trash at our local indie bookstore — Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville — at 2 pm.  Drop by and see us if you can!

And I think that’s all the news.

Everybody stay cool.

Scrabble holds the high ground July 14 2016

She let fly with an iron toe, and kicked him back to Buffalo

Let’s do the bragging first, and get that out of the way.

Last week, Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller hit Number 3 in the list of bestselling science fiction hardcovers, and! it was also Number 8 on the All Science Fiction list.

Thank you all very much.  This would not have happened without you!

Steve and I have been working on putting together a new Echapbook.  It is currently title-less, but will contain two novelettes, one old and one new.  The “old” story is “Chimera,” which was published to Baen.com in March 2015.  The “new” story is “Friend of a Friend.”  Both stories take place on Surebleak.  An author’s introduction will also be included.

Speaking of Echapbooks!  Over the next couple weeks, in my Abundant Spare Time(tm), I will be removing our Pinbeam Books chapbooks from the Smashwords store.  There may be a Small Period of Readjustment as I set up distribution through Draft2Digital, but eventually the books will be back in the iStore, Kobo, and everywhere else.  Amazon and BN listings will not be impacted.

Amazon reader reviews for Alliance of Equals as of this writing number 48!  Only 152 more needed to reach our goal of 200 reader reviews!  Go, Team Liad!

Also!  For those who pre-order ‘waaaaaaaaaay out from Amazon — The Gathering Edge, to be published in May 2017, is now available for pre-order.  We hope, but do not yet know (because, c’mon — eleven months out?) that the Uncle will once again conspire with us to offer signed and/or signed and personalized copies for pre-order sometime much closer to the publication date.

And, remember!  Steve and I will be talking books and signing them, too, at the Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville, this Saturday, July 16, at 2 pm. Hope to see you all there!

I was editing today, and I want to assure you that I had Expert assistance.

Cat editors hard at work July 14 2016###

An’ if he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, he’d do ’til something lethal came along.

Today’s blog title brought to you by Pete Seeger by way of Bruce Springsteen, “Erie Canal.”  Here’s your link.

 

Carousels and Calendars

Today is Tuesday, which means!

Yesterday was Monday, and!

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  I need to do the hospital thingy tomorrow.  Best not to lose track of that.  Trooper — remind me tomorrow that it’s Wednesday, and I need to be away from the house for five or six hours.

Yeah, that’s gonna work.

So, let’s see. . .

As of this typing, there are 36! reader reviews on Amazon for Alliance of Equals, which is pretty impressive.  Only 164 more until we crack 200!

Though the micro-mini book tour was in support of Alliance of Equals, we/I were asked several times about the possibility of another (or, as one interlocutor had it, “the next”) Carousel book.

At this point, the Carousel books are a trilogy.  Really.  There are a number of reasons for this, including lack of Author Time, and Failure to Become a Bestseller.

I wrote Carousel Tides (against Best Advice) while we were between contracts, ‘way the heck back in 2006.  It was rejected By Nearly Everyone (foretold by Best Advice) through 2006 and 2007, purchased by Baen in 2008, saw print in 2010, and! began earning royalties in 2014.

Not only can I not go to Vegas on that, but — more importantly — I can’t put cat food in the bowls.

Now, I’m fortunate (and grateful) that Baen kept Carousel Tides in print long enough for it to start earning.  Too many of my colleagues see the hard copy editions of their work yanked after two or three accounting periods for “lack of numbers,” and never have the opportunity to earn out.

But, the fact remains that the Liaden books earn many, many times more than the Carousel books.  Make no mistake — Clan Korval keeps the cats fed and the electricity on.

(This is yet another low, unworthy, venal fact that ought to have no place in the House of Art, and I apologize, but — professional publishing is doomed to disappoint everyone who believes in the Purity of Art.)

Mind you, this has nothing to do with whether I’m “tired of” the Carousel premise/characters, or have run out of ideas.  Just between you and me, I’ll probably be writing some more stories in the Carousel/Archers Beach/Six Worlds universe, because that’s how I roll.  But the likelihood of another novel anytime soon — or, really, at all — isn’t high.

I do know that Kate and Company have some very devoted fans — thank you.  But — we have as of this writing four* Liaden novels still under contract, and contracted work — which is to say, the work that pays the bills — must come first.

For those who never heard of the Carousel Trilogy by Sharon Lee (as there were at least as many people in the audience who hadn’t as had), follows some news you can use:

Carousel Trilogy ebooks at Baen.com:
Carousel Tides
Carousel Sun
Carousel Seas

In addition, you may find the Carousel Trilogy in paper and ebook at all of the Usual Suspects.

Stories set in Archers Beach, free to read:
The Gift of Music
The night don’t seem so lonely
Will-o’-the-wisp
The Wolf’s Bride

_________
*Stares at delivery schedule on the wall.  Right.  Four novels; not five.

Toadstool Books Milford July 9 2016

Catching up from the book tour

So, back from the micro-mini book tour!

It was lovely to see so many happy faces, to have a chance to chat, to read, and, of course, to sign books.

We want to thank Maria Perry, Patty Cryan, and Brian for hosting us.  You guys rock!

#

Frequent auditors of this journal will recall that I have long had a love affair with socks.

When packing for the overnight in Wocester, I forgot to pack socks, which I’ve never done before (my default being to pack too many socks); I briefly panicked; and Steve offered to lend his spare pair to the cause.  Fortunately, there was a strip mall right across the street from our hotel, where we paused to eat a very pleasant lunch at Jasmine, then proceeded to the end of the mall and the TJ Maxx.

Where I found socks!  Even, dare I say it, socks that coincided with my Sock Ethic.  One pair was black with white splotches; the other pair had block prints of purple, yellow, and blue-and-white stripe on the foot part, and skinny yellow, pink, red, blue, green strips running up the calf.  I purchased these with glee; the cashier agreed that they were very spiffy socks and!

When I got back to the hotel and actually looked at my receipt, I find that the socks were “men’s furnishings”.  Really?  The label says they are Happy Socks, created in Finland, so if anyone reading here is suffering from Sock Ennui, you might want to check them out.

#

Thanks to everyone who replied to the Buy My Book post in the various venues, and in email.  Many notes were supportive;  a few folks, naturally enough, want to argue, which is kind of too bad, and I wish them a long life.

Which brings up another topic.

You will perhaps recall that, back in March, Belle and I had a bet about eArc sales for Alliance of Equals.  I said we could sell more than 500; Belle took leave to doubt it.  On the other paw, Sprite was of the opinion that we could earn out our advance on eArc sales.

I am pleased to announce that I won both of those bets.  We hear that we sold more than three times that 500 copies Belle thought we couldn’t manage, but!  we didn’t earn out the advance.

It’s always gratifying to win a bet, of course, but both Belle and Sprite pay in kibble.

To those who bought eArcs — thank you so much!

Which brings up another idea — possibly half-baked.

I’m told that benefit accrues to titles on Amazon that gain certain numbers of reader reviews.  At the moment, the various levels escape me (maybe someone who has Google-fu and a couple minutes can find that information…).  The last couple Liaden books received 106, 88, and 163 reader reviews, respectively.  It would be Very Cool if Alliance could hit 200 reader reviews.  Note: These are honest reviews, not just one-liner, filler reviews, like “I really like this book.”

Do you think we can do it?  We beat Belle, after all, and she’s Pretty Shrewd.

#

For those who missed the news, Steve and I did an interview on the Baen Free Radio Hour.  It aired Friday.  Here’s your link.

#

Today, now that we’re home, I have accounts to do, and laundry to wash.  Steve and I need to go over the story notes I made before we headed off into the world.  And so on.

What did y’all do while we were away?

Many thanks to William Kilmer for the photograph from our signing at Annie’s Book Stop, Friday, July 9, 2016.

Steve Sharon Annie Book Stop July 9 2016

News you can use

A.  If it’s Friday, it must be Worcester.  Steve and I will be talking books, and signing them, too, at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, tonight! from 7-9 pm.  Come on by, if you’re in the area.

B.  Today, around noonish EDT, the Baen Free Radio Hour will feature, among its other goodies, an interview with us about Alliance of Equal.  Podcasts are posted to this page.

C.  Tomorrow, Saturday, Steve and I will be at Toadstool Books in Milford (there are three Toadstool bookstores in New Hampshire, so be sure you’re aiming for the right one), from 2-4 pm, speaking and reading on behalf of the Dutiful Passage.  Hope to see you there!

D.  Baen is giving away five copies of Alliance of Equals over at Goodreads.  Here’s your link.

Good luck and fair passage to everyone, and I’ll see you on the flip-side.

 

There and back again, Albany edition

So, Steve and I left the Cat Farm at slightly later than Omighod in the morning, and wended our way in the direction of Albany.  We discovered things.

For instance, we discovered that it was 91 degrees F/33C at Queechee Gorge, which was…quite a shock to the Maine-acclimated system.

We also discovered that, while you can take Route 4 all the way into Albany, you may not want to.

Also, World Famous Ruggles Mine is for sale — which was. . .a shock.  The world is changing, and not in a good way.

We pulled into our hotel a little later than projected, ate a late and hasty lunch, changed, and boogied down to Sand Creek Road and Flights of Fantasy, where we were greeted by Joe Berlant, Harmony the cat, and all the rest of the enthusiastic and efficient FoF staff.  We had a goodly crowd of Liaden enthusiasts gathered, and were about two pages into reading Chapter 8 of Alliance of Equals when!

The power went out.

May I just say that it was as hot — and perhaps even hotter — in Albany than it had been at Quechee Gorge.

Audience and staff leapt into action, producing enough light-giving instruments that we were able to finish reading the chapter.  After, we sat in the hot twilight and answered questions about our writing , our process, and All That Stuff, until Joe suggested that we sign books while the battery-powered assists still had a little sunshine to help light the room.

We did that, and the meeting adjourned, as it really was too hot to continue.

Today we drove home, over hill, over dale, and over the Green Mountains, choosing Route 9 this time, until we picked up 4 again, somewhere in the middle of New Hampshire.  I pulled the short straw, and drove the first morning shift, which meant I got the Green Mountains.  I can therefore report with confidence that gravity still works, and also that I am a fan of twisty mountain roads, climbing or falling.

It was every bit as hot today as it was yesterday; we fled promised temps in excess of 93F/34C in New York, arriving early afternoon at the Cat Farm, to find the temps a slightly more reasonable 88F/31C.  We may get a thunderstorm tonight, they (They) say; or possibly tomorrow. That would be nice.

If you missed us at Flights of Fantasy last night, you have three more chances to catch us on the Alliance of Equals tour.

Friday, July 8, we’ll be at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester MA, from 7-9 pm

Saturday, July 9, Toadstool Books in Milford NH will be hosting us, from 2-4 pm

Saturday, July 16, from 2-4 pm, we’ll be signing and talking at our local indie, Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville ME

Hope to see you — and you, too! — soon.

And, now, having returned, and crashed, and caught y’all up; it’s time to unpack, get something to eat — and crash again?  Yeah, that sounds good.

Everybody stay cool.