Archive for the ‘Liaden Universe®’ Category

Eye Candy: This Just In

An Alert Reader has discovered these amazing sketches, of interest to those who may be awaiting Alliance of Equals, the nineteenth novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, which is scheduled to be published July-ish 2016.

Alliance of Equals, sketch one by David Mattingly

Alliance of Equals, sketch two by David Mattingly


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In which it is Monday, but not quite the beginning of the work week

So we here in the US have an end-of-summer holiday which we call Labor Day, a day devoted to drinking beer, eating grilled food, ritually mowing the lawn, and in general striving to forget that tomorrow, Tuesday, will be the end of a nice three-day-weekend, that summer is, indeed, over, and the next work holiday is Thanksgiving Day.  Unless one works retail, of course.

Steve and I took a strange, fragmented little vacation at Old Orchard Beach — we went down together for a night, so we could both see the Thursday fireworks; I went home on Friday, returning on Monday, when Steve went home, returning on Thursday so we could both see the Thursday fireworks, and then removing the whole encampment back to Central Maine on Friday.  I read a lot, walked a lot, and in general vegged out.  It was great.

Real work will recommence on the morrow, with such things on the roster as a visit to the vampyres (to determine if the new dosage of my thyroid meds has done the trick); a call to the town to determine its interests and necessities in the matter of siting generators — and, depending on what we learn there, subsequent phone calls to various contractor-type persons.  We will also be taking up the writing reins again — at the moment, we have two short stories and a novel on our plates — and will be winding the week down with a small natal day celebration.

While we were away, Madame the Agent let us know that Dragon in Exile, the eighteenth novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is Number 6 on the Locus Bestselling Hardcover List for June 2015 (reported in the September issue).  Number 1 is Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson, and the funny thing about that is that Neal was in Boston doing a tour in support of his book the day before we were in Boston, doing a tour in support of our book.

Small world.


While I was on vacation, Eset decided to Protect Me from posting to my own blog.  I am therefore reproducing here an account of one of my walks, which I would have posted here, but which instead went to Facebook (because Eset thinks Facebook is Totally Safe?).  Anyhow, here’s that entry, for those of you who don’t Facebook, and for me, so that I actually have some hope of finding it again.

September 2, 2015, reporting from New Temp Headquarters, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

So, this morning’s walk. . .

I left New Temp Headquarters and walked up East Grand to Old Orchard Street, took the left at 1st Street and walked through Veteran’s Square Memorial Garden, up Heath Street to see if the A-Z Market (in the Old Orchard Beach timeline) had ever really come back after their “temporary” closing, three years ago. The answer to that is…sorta. There’s a kind of lunch counter/video rental/wine shop in a much, much smaller space than the old IGA occupied. Happily, in Archers Beach, Ahzie’s IGA is doing fine.

Curiosity satisfied, I continued up Heath Street to Portland Avenue, to Walnut Street, took a left on Leavitt Street and walked to the end, to see how far I could walk along the old road to the ustabe Kite Track. Answer — about 500 feet before the trenvay who cares for that land noticed me and obscured the path with bushes and leaves. I can take a hint, so I turned around and headed back the way I’d come. Just before I hit the asphalt of Leavitt Street, an acorn flew out from one of the surrounding trees and struck the path at my feet. I know a gift when I see one, too. I murmured, “thank you,” put the acorn in my pocket and moved on.

Leavitt to Walnut, Walnut to Grande, and so again to New Temp Headquarters, 4,671 steps, or 1.7 miles on the odometer.

I do believe I’ll have that third cup of coffee.


Labor Day or no Labor Day, today is the beginning of Week Four in the Do It Like A Delm Challenge!  You can view the challengers — and the winners! — for the previous three weeks here (the drop-down link in the menu is your friend).

Want to join in the fun?  Of course you do!  Rules to enter the challenge may be found here.


Sprite being Quietly Pleased that we're home.

Sprite being Quietly Pleased that we’re home.


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Liaden Universe® Challenge!

Now that there’s new Liaden Universe® gear, not to mention two! new! books! out loose in the world causing who knows what havoc and consternation, Steve and I said, What the heck; let’s have a contest.

We are therefore announcing the DO IT LIKE A DELM contest. Here’s what you have to do to play:

Take a picture (a selfie, or ask a friend to help you out) of yourself, wearing your cool! new! Liaden gear, in. . .a bookstore. . .at WorldCon. . .in a hang-glider. . .at the top of Mount Washington. . .swimming with dolphins. . .at a family picnic — you see where we’re going with this, right? Right.

What’s that you say? You don’t have any cool! new! Liaden gear?

We got you covered.

You may also play by taking a picture of you and one of the two! new! books just out from Baen — those being Dragon in Exile, and Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3 — in exciting situations similar but certainly not limited to those listed above.


If you are one of the few and the proud who still own your original green-and-gold Plan B tshirt, or the second-run navy-and-white I Dare tshirt — take a picture of yourself wearing this historic gear, and you will have a Bonus Point added to your entry.


Yes, entry!

You didn’t think we just wanted you to take photos to post to your Facebook Wall, did you?

Heck no! After you take that picture, we want you to send it to us! We’ll post it on, and every Sunday,  starting August 23, we will choose a winner from all entries.

Cool, huh?

OK, here’s the rules in 1-2-3 format.

1. Take a picture of yourself in your new or historic Liaden gear doing something interesting. ALTERNATIVELY, take a picture of yourself with one of the two new Liaden books doing something really interesting — but not dangerous! No, really. This isn’t worth getting killed.

2. Send that picture to, be sure to include an email address that you check regularly with your entry.

3. Multiple entries are allowed, but! No more than one picture per day may be submitted.

4. All submissions may be posted to a gallery on

5. On Sunday we will choose a winner, and the winning picture will be posted on in Isolated Glory.

6. In addition to Glory, the winner will receive a coupon for one free Baen ebook of their choice.

7. Contest starts Monday August 17 at 1:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, and ends at noon EDT on Saturday, October 3, 2015.  Pictures received before Monday August 17 will not be admitted to the contest.  The last winner will be posted on on Sunday, October 4.

Want to play, but don’t have a shirt? Order one here: Offworld Designs

Want to play, but don’t have a book? Look to the Uncle. Uncle Hugo, that is.

To get y’all in the mood, here are a couple of sample shots:

Steve, doin' it like a delm

Steve, doin’ it like a delm.  A delm slightly in his cups, perhaps, but a delm, nonetheless.

Sharon doing it like a delm.

Sharon doin’ it like a delm.  Those kids just can’t keep outta trouble on the streets, can they?


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Tree-and-Dragon Denim and Polo Shirts, too!

Boy, the folks at Offworld Designs are cooking with gas today.

Now available for pre-order, the Whole Set:  t-shirt, polo shirt, denim shirt.

Here’s your link.

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Liaden T-shirts now available

The all-new Liaden Universe® t-shirt is now available from Offworld Designs, in sizes S-5X.

NOTE!  Because we insisted that the t-shirts be screen-printed the Old Fashioned Way, so that this run, too, has a chance of lasting better than a dozen years, a critical mass of orders must be reached before the company will do a shirt run.  You will not, therefore, receive your shirt at once! — but you should get it pretty quick.

Here’s your link.


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I’ve added a partial Liaden Universe® dictionary to  Here’s your link.

The time has probably come when what we Actually Need is a Liaden Universe® Concordance, but! until we can get someone to do that for us (see what I did there?), there is the Liaden Universe® Wiki, currently weighing in at 105 pages of Really Good Stuff, including the names of clans, the names of cats, the names of ships, and onward!

Here’s your link.


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Just the FAQs

People of the Internets, I need your help! has lost its FAQ.  We think it may have run off with the Highlander FAQ, but — whatever.

The problem before us, obviously, is producing another FAQ – which is where you come in!

What questions are Frequently Asked regarding the Liaden Universe®?  What questions would you like to see addressed?  What questions would be helpful to people trying to decide if this universe is worth their reading time?

All suggestions welcome!

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Mail Call, Link Salad, & Watch the Skies

There were gifts in today’s mail at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

First, there was a check for the munificent sum of $29.77 from the Treasurer of the State of Maine, said sum representing a check sent to my attention at the Post Office Box in Unity, Maine, which has been closed for at least 12 years.  Somehow the Unclaimed Property Division got hold of it, and contacted me via my State Representative. I filled out a form, returned it, and lo! Money in the mail.

I’d like to have a little more detail in the Story of This Check, but the above is apparently all the State thinks I can handle.

So, that’s looking like lunch out.  Or maybe a viewing of Cinderella at the local theater.  I don’t want to make a hasty decision, here…

Also in the mail, a sample pen for Tree and Dragon Trading (except on the pen it says “Tree Dragon Trading”), and an offer to imprint many, many more pens, all I have to do is say the word, and send a check.

It is a classy pen, though it’s a ballpoint; Shan would be pleased to have it in his breast pocket, if Shan had a breast pocket, which, of course, he doesn’t.

In Other Exciting News, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of the next Girl Genius graphic novel:  Girl Genius:  The Second Journey, Book One, has gone live.  Here’s your link.

Also, for those who share my interest in Heyer and in Austen, here’s Sherwood Smith talking in her usual cogent fashion about the differences between the two writers.  Here’s your link.

Also!  Monday will see the Prologue of Shan and Priscilla Ride Again go live on Splinter Universe!  Watch the Skies!

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Who’s that character? and! Hunting the elusive house

Several people have written to ask me this question; I am therefore posting the answer here in hopes that it will find others who are baffled by reading the sample chapters for Dragon in ExileWhich are here, free for the reading.

Rys Lin pen’Chala figures prominently in a novel entitled Necessity’s Child, published in February 2013 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  This novel is currently available from Baen, as a hardcover, a paperback, and an ebook.  It is also available as an audiobook, from Audible.

If you gave Necessity’s Child a miss because it was only a side book, you will, yes, have missed Rys entirely.

* * *

So, yesterday, we ventured forth in the snow to do a spot of house-hunting with our agent.  We went armed with three houses, one at the lower edge of our price range, one in the middle range, and one at the top of our range.

I had thought, going in, that the middle house would prove to be an acceptable compromise, despite it was an older house (most of the houses in this part of Maine are older houses; they built ’em to last, back in The Day).  As described, it had much of what we’re looking for in a house, including a sun porch, two offices, a bedroom, and two baths.

Sadly, it quickly became clear that the middle house was. . .not for us.  So much for my powers of precognition.

The lowest priced house had plenty of space, was wired for a generator, and had a backup heat source (belt-and-braces, a Maine tradition!).  No sun porch, but a ginormous back yard, and what are reputed to be “extensive gardens,” which we couldn’t see, because — snow.  It needs what our agent refers to as “updating”, but we could move in without, and then “update” around ourselves.  The trouble with that being freelance income.  We’re really, really trying to come up with a house that can run what it brung.  This may not be realistic of us, but, really, trying to buy a new house isn’t particularly realistic of us, either, so why not shoot for the moon?

The high-priced spread was. . .very nice, indeed:  Sunroom, dual furnace (oil/wood), fireplace with a stove insert, nice, workable kitchen, plenty of good cat windows, half-finished basement — everything goomeki.  Except — at the top of what we can theoretically afford.

So. . .the hunt continues.

Today, I need to write one more scene for the as-yet titleless story, so it can sit for a couple days before we do a cold read.  I should also pack some more boxes for the archive, so we can get rid of the pile at the end of the hall before Sprite declares it her summer fortress.

In other news, BN tells me that our copy of Tracker will arrive via UPS tomorrow.

In the meantime, the experimental $500 Patreon goal has, as of this morning, hit $1,166, via the kind subscriptions of 149 Liaden readers.  Thank you all.  (Here’s the link, if anyone would like to stare in wonder at that number.)

And, so — to work.

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Lee & Miller history lesson re “crowd funding”

Most of y’all know this story.  Generally, I’m putting it here for those who have heard a garbled version, or who are justifying something they want to do by convincing themselves that we did that thing, and so it’s OK for them to do it.

In general, I’m not comfortable with being a justification for the actions and decisions of anybody else.  I mean, jeez, if you wanna do something, do it, and see what happens.  Though, I don’t — I really don’t — think it’s a good idea to quit your day-job and ask your friends to support you while you “try this writing thing,” if you don’t already have publishing experience, and a reader base.


Once upon a time, ‘way back in the last half of the 20th century, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller were working day-jobs and writing on the side, as one does.  We had collaborated on, and sold to a magazine called Fantasy Book, two short stories about a not-very-bright, if well-meaning, accidental wizard by the name of Kinzel.  The editor was very encouraging about the stories, asking for more of this, please, so we wrote a third in the series, and sent it off, feeling like we had a sure sale.

Lesson the First:  There are no sure sales.

The story came back by return mail, with a form letter attached, that said (paraphrased): Fantasy Book has gone on hiatus, due to lack of funds.  Just as soon as we have funding, we’ll let all our writers know.

That was in 1985.  Fantasy Book is still on hiatus.

Well, that was a disappointment, to say the least.

Now, for those who were born since those Halcyon Days of Yore, I will just mention here that home computers, cell phones, tablets, and the like did not always exist.  In fact, desktop computers were just starting to become available to regular people, and, courtesy of our advance money for Agent of Change, purchased in 1985 by Del Rey Books (an imprint of Random House), we had a Kaypro so-called portable computer and a 9-pin printer.  The Kaypro computer had an internal 300-baud modem, and we were members of several Baltimore (we were living in Baltimore, Maryland at the time.  In fact, we were both born in Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1950s.  No, I never rode a dinosaur to school.) area computer bulletin boards (computer bulletin boards were pre-internet chat and (sometimes) group game systems).  We were on Midnight, KC’s Place, and. . .(memory fails:  Fallen Angel ran the place, that’s all I remember.  Lovely woman.  ‘Til Dawn, maybe it was called.). . .all of which were heavily messaged-based.  There was quite a tight-knit community of BBS users, and one night, Steve was “talking” about the Fantasy Book situation, and the fact that we had an orphaned third story in a “trilogy” and no other magazine was likely to take it, when one of his correspondents said, “Why not publish it yourself?”

“Takes money,” said Steve.

. . .and two days later, when we went to the post office to collect our mail, among the advertisers and the bills was an envelope containing two $20 bills, and a note that said, “Toward publishing your fantasy stories.”

Steve had the skills to do layout, having worked for several newspapers in several capacities.  He did the figuring — how many pages to publish not just the third, but all three Kinzel stories, got the quote from the printer, added in probable postage, asked Colleen Doran how much she would need to draw us a cover, and put the whole package before the BBS community:  This is how much it would cost to get this done, and everyone who donates — I forget.  $5? — to the project will get a copy of the finished chapbook.

Donations — I kid you not — poured in, we produced the book, friends from the community came over to our house to help us collate and saddlestitch it (we saved money by doing that part ourselves, rather than having the printer put the book together), we mailed them to subscribers, and!

That was our very first crowd-funded project.

Historic touchstone:  Agent of Change was published as a paperback original by Del Rey Books in February 1988; Conflict of Honors, was published as a Del Rey paperback original in July 1988; Carpe Diem was published as a paperback original in October 1989, as a Del Rey paperback original.  In 1991, I guess, Del Rey rejected the option book, and our editor there told us we were has-been writers.

We continued to write, though nobody bought our stuff, and we worked day-jobs to keep cats and house together.  I was a copy editor on night-side news at the local daily.  Steve was childrens librarian at the Oakland Public Library.  I was office manager for a wastewater service company; Steve did sales in a computer store.  I was executive director of SFWA.  Steve was internet librarian for a that went bust. You know the drill.

Around 1995,  SRM Publisher, Ltd. came into being, and?  Most of our 25 chapbooks, three trade paperbacks, and two hardcovers, were pre-funded by subscription — crowd-funded, if you will.

Then — we’re still in the 20th Century, now — Del Rey Books having dropped us, though, as I said, we continued to write — we got a call from Stephen Pagel, who was starting a publishing company called Meisha Merlin.  The idea behind the company was to reprint “underpublished” books — by which Stephe (that’s what he called himself, “Stephe,” and that’s how he spelled it; not a typo, OK?  A man can decide what he wants to be called and how it’s spelled) meant mostly 1970s and 1980s paperback originals that had been read to literal pieces and were now out of print, so people couldn’t replace their worn-out, much-loved books.

NOTE for those who were born into another time:  Ebooks existed at this time, but, since ereaders with nice resolution did not, nobody wanted to buy them.

So, Stephe at Meisha Merlin had heard good things about our three novels, and wanted to reprint them, if the rights were available.

Well, not only were the rights available, we had five more books (we’d continued to write, remember?) in series ready to go, and Stephe — for good or ill — purchased them on the spot.

Plan B, the fourth novel in the Liaden Universe® was published by Meisha Merlin in February 1999; our last book with Meisha Merlin — Crystal Dragon — was published in February 2006.  By that time, we were full-time writers, and earning more than the day-jobs had ever paid us.

Right around the time of Crystal Dragon’s publication, Meisha Merlin stopped paying us, and by the winter of 2006, we here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory were. . .in serious financial straits, barely afloat, despite the income that SRM was still bringing in.

Obviously, we needed to do Something, and in the end, we did three things.

1.  I went — as my colleagues there charmingly put it — “back to work” as a secretary in the History Department at Colby College.

2.  Steve and I put together the first five chapters of a Liaden book we called Fledgling, about a never-before-seen character, Theo Waitley, and announced to the interwebs that we would be posting the first chapter, free for anyone to read, on January 7?, 2007.  The next chapter would be posted when we had collected $300 in donations.  We further promised that anyone who donated $25 or more would receive a hard copy of the novel, if one were ever published.  (At that point, like the Kinzel stories, we figured we would publish the book ourselves.)

NOTE:  Kickstarter did not exist at this point.  In a sense, we pioneered the Kickstarter model in science fiction publishing.

3.  We asked our agent to send two active proposals for fantasy novels, to Baen Books, who had picked up the erights (which we owned) to the (then) 10 existing Liaden novels.

Number 1 above covered our health insurance, and brought in a modest amount of money, bi-weekly.

Fledgling did very well for us; and the following year we wrote the second Theo book, Saltation, in the same manner.

Baen purchased the two fantasy novels — Duainfey and Longeye.

In due time, Baen picked up the rights to publish both Theo books — and, the rights having finally been recovered from the smoking wreckage of Meisha Merlin — new Liaden titles, as well.

We are now full-time writers; I quit my day-job in the summer of 2011, because the loss of opportunities it caused outweighed the benefits it produced.  We will in May turn in our. . .twelfth novel to Baen books.  Our entire backlist is currently in print, as books, ebooks, and audiobooks.

. . .I think that’s it.  Who has questions?


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