Pets keep us healthy

So, this morning, Trooper and Belle were scheduled to have their annual checkups and distemper shots.

Usually, we take them to the vet singly, and the Cat of the Hour will sit in the lap of the one of us in the passenger seat (wearing harness and leash), and look out the window.  This saves Trooper and Sprite, at least, from being drippy, hysterical messes by the time they arrive at the vet’s, since both of them hateHateHATE being in the cat carrier. Belle is much more laid back about the cat carrier.

But, it fell out today that we had to take both, mostly because Trooper was a month late, his doctor appointment having taken second place to the various other doctor appointments with which March was overfilled.

The Plan, inasmuch as we had A Plan, was to put both Trooper and Belle in the bathroom — an enclosed area with no really inaccessible-to-humans hiding places — then bring the boxes to them*.  As it happened, when the time came to board cats, both Trooper and Belle were in the bedroom, so that became the holding area.

Belle was asleep in her blanket fort under the end of the bed, so I picked up Trooper, carried him down to the living room, and put him in the cat carrier (this sounds easier than it was, but with two of us, we did get him tucked in quick).  Steve closed and “locked” the door, and! Quick as the cat can lick her paw, Trooper’s catcher’s mitt paw flashed through the mesh door, wrapped around the sliders that secure the locking bolts, yanked them — the door popped open and he was gone, running down the hall to my office.  (My office = safest room in house in Coon Cat Logic.)

Figuring he’d stay, and not wanting to panic Belle into taking refuge in a less-accessible space, I rousted her from her blanket fort, carried her down the hall, slipped her easily into the other box, Steve closed the door, and Belle sighed, and curled up on the blanket.

Then, I went to get Trooper while Steve carried Belle out to the car.

Back in the box went Trooper.  Again, the paw flashed out, but this time the locking bolts were firmly seated, and that old trick didn’t work.

Steve picked up the box, with 18 pounds of coon cat in it, and?

The box fell apart.

Trooper ran for my office.  I got the harness and leash out of the closet, put them on the cat with no trouble at all, and Trooper got to sit on Steve’s lap on the way to the vet.

. . .for some reason, I’m exhausted.

And how was your morning?

*Trooper was going in a cat carrier, because we weren’t sure he would accept Steve’s lap.  He does not, as a rule, seek Steve out, or sit on his lap, and all his previous “rides” have been on my lap.


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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.


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December 15

Today is of course, Trooper’s seventh birthday.  As you can see, the celebrations are already underway.  We took on ice cream and cake yesterday, and will today toast the birthday appropriately.  Trooper has already opened and tried out his present — a brand new laser pointer.

In other news, Steve is into the Meds and Blood Work Waltz, so — new meds last week, blood work yesterday, med adjustment this week, blood work next week.  Hopefully, satisfactory levels will be achieved sooner, rather than later.

Tomorrow, we plan to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is still — astonishingly — playing at the Waterville Flagship. The necessity of planning errands around daylight is, shall we say, not yet intuitive.  I need to remember that, “Steve will drive us home in the dark,” is not in play at the moment.  And that the number of available daylight hours is still shrinking.

So, anyway, we’ll catch the 12:50 show in Waterville, and have twilight to drive home in.  It’s a plan.

Looking at long-range weather, Winter is blowing in from Canada.  We’re looking at dangerous wind chills today and tomorrow.  Saturday will bring us 3-5 inches of snow and Sunday — will turn warm in the daytime. . .

. . .and rain.

Whereupon the temps will plummet to 6F/-14C.

I am so very glad we have a generator.  Thank you again! to everyone who helped us make that happen.

. . .and now, I must to work.  At some point, this book has got to be done, amirite?




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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.


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Neckties, Contracts, High Mountains!

Audible lets us know that!

There’s a free excerpt available of the audiobook edition of Alliance of EqualsHere’s your link.  Enjoy — and tell your friends!

I had planned to go to the ocean today, but that wasn’t possible, because Reasons.  Steve and I did go cat-shopping (as opposed to shopping for cats), because one of the sisal-bound (you notice I say “one of”) scratchers has gone to that great sisal forest in the sky. So, naturally we need to replace it.

We knew what we wanted, we had found what we wanted on the web last night, but — we wanted to take a look at it before committing.  According to the web, the item was available at PetSmart, so off to Augusta we went, to discover that —

You see where this is going, right?

Right.  Plenty of devices made for the grooming of cat claws, but of the perfect scratcher there was no sign.

Since we were in Augusta, where there are two pet supply emporiums, we went down to the other one, but — no luck.

So, after stopping for lunch, we came home and ordered the dern thing off of the internet, anyway.

Neogenesis. . .stands at about 85,000ish words.  Maybe.  You know what I’m going to wind up doing, and so do I, and I might as well just make my bow, and Do It, instead of wasting energy trying to do it the other, more comfortable, way.  But — old habits.  Anyway.  Back to writing scenes with an eye toward building bridges after I’ve written enough to know where everybody is, and when.

Next book — one character who sits in a room and pets his cat for 100,000 words.

Oh, no. . .wait.

About today’s blog title:  AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” has long occupied a Special Place in my Heart, which pretty much proves that I am Not a Nice Person.  And the rendition that I know best includes, at the end of the third stanza, where our narrator is listing the services offered, he says:

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high mountains!
Done dirt cheap

Google Lyrics renders “high mountains” as “high voltage,” which just isn’t the same.  And what does Google know, anyway?

So, I have used that line as I know it, for the blog title. And now?  I’m going to send you to Joan Jett’s cover, which she ends at the bottom of the third stanza.  Here’s your link.


“Indeed not!” Bechimo sounded scandalized. “It is the captain’s place to order for ship and crew.”


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Time isn’t holding up; time isn’t after us

So, I’m trying something…newish with Neogenesis.  What I’m trying — it isn’t actually new, but it is stretching —  codifying — something I naturally do in storytelling, mostly because of how I tend to think.  Anyone who has tried to hold a conversation with me will know that I skip from here to there to over there, and back again, all the threads related, however tenuously, and interspersed with mini-stories.  I’m told it’s exhausting.


For this book, I’m trying to take control of that tendency to bounce around and use it, consciously, as a solid structure.  And, it’s kinda kicking my butt.  I tell myself that at least it will be an unusual book.  Unusual’s good, amirite?

In other news, annual medical exams have been take care of, car maintenance has been taken care of .  Steve and I have voted.  Sadly, this has not kept any political ads, or phone calls out of our sphere.  There really ought to be a filter you can apply to your phone and your computer once you’ve done your civic duty, so you don’t have to be bombarded anymore.  Somebody get to work on that, will you?

Today, I really ought to vacuum, and make the bed, too; but everybody’s sleeping so nicely. . .and it’s not like I don’t have anything else to keep me occupied.

Maybe later.

Oh.  And today’s blog title is, of course, courtesy of Talking Heads; Once in a Lifetime.  Here’s your link.


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Life with cats

Faithful auditors of this blog will recall that Steve and I keep cats.  This is a long-standing habit.  When we moved in together, back in nineteen-aught-seventy-eight, Steve had a cat — the regal and intelligent plush-gray-and-white Arwen, who always seemed to be wearing an invisible tiara — and I had a cat — the brash, street-smart, orange-and-white Archie, who always seemed to have a pack of invisible cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his invisible t-shirt.

We have never since, in the 38 years we’ve been together, had less than two cats, and once had as many as five.  Usually, we try to keep an inventory of four, finding that the ability to mount two shifts benefits all.

In a word, I like cats.

This does not mean that I understand cats.

Take Thursday night, for instance.  I had been working in my office much of the day.  Sprite was curled in the red basket on my desk; Belle had for many hours been giving it her All from atop the file cabinet (what a worker that girl is!).  Trooper had been elsewhere, taking some time to himself, which we all need to do, occasionally.

So, anyway.  I was working, assisted ably, as described.  Darkness fell outside, and Trooper came into my office from wherever he’d been, voiced the chirp I think of as, “I’m here,” and proceeded to jump to the top of the printer. As he does.  The printer is behind me as I face the computer. Trooper and Sprite will often use it as an observation point from which to survey the pine trees and the birds who live in the pine trees.  Sometimes, they sit up there for hours.

Which is what I expected Trooper to do.  However, Trooper is an athlete, and he had previously discovered that he could leap from the top of the printer to the top of the file cabinet, and settle in on the comfy fleece blanket.

Recall that this had been Belle’s position for some hours at this point.  In fact, she is perfectly visible, being a rather large cat herself, from the vantage of the printer.

Despite this, Trooper makes the leap.

Belle screams, and flings backward, feet up, out, and armed.

Trooper skids off the blanket onto the secondary file cabinet, where there is, yes, a pile of filing, waiting to be done.

Papers fly.

Trooper yells.  Belle keeps screaming.  The writer, who had been writing, and thus not really Paying Attention, is utterly taken by surprise, leaps to her feet, and adds her bit to the music.

Trooper flies off the top of the file cabinet, and tears off down the hall.

Belle leaps from the file cabinet to the bookcase, still screaming, and runs after him.

Sprite blinks up from the red basket and kind of mooches to the edge of the desk, peering sleepily out the office door, and down the hall.

The writer, who has by now realized that all of the filing is behind the file cabinets, leans her head on her arm and starts cussing, while Steve, who has heard all of this commotion without context,  comes in to find out what happened.

In the meantime, Trooper and Belle are in the hallway, wearing Very Big Eyes.  In a surprise turnabout, it is Sprite who some minutes later returns to the office, and takes the lazy route to the top of the file cabinet, sniffing carefully the entire time.  She finally leaves by the same route, and apparently reports to Belle and Trooper that the Monsters are no longer in residence.

Eventually, they return, and take up positions on the new rug, to bathe.

The writer saves her work, closes the file, and calls it a night.

This morning, I spent some time clearing out the bookcase next to the secondary file cabinet, so I could pull it out of the way, so I could move the secondary file cabinet out of the way (it’s empty, mostly), and pull the filing out from behind the big file cabinet.

On that head, at least, my work here is done.

Morning after a hard night Belle Apr 8 2016

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Mixed bag, with fame, and toydrake

As advertised, Steve and I are reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny one chapter a night, starting on September 30, and ending on Halloween (some folks have reported being able to download this as an ebook; I can’t find it myself, so if anyone can give a tip to those still looking, it would be appreciated).

So far, on our journey, we’ve met Snuff, our narrator; Jack; the graveyard dog; Greymalk; Cheeter; Needle — and heard news of Nightwind; Morris and McCab; the Great Detective and his companion; Crazy Jill; the Mad Monk Rastoff; Quicklime; the Count; and the kindly Druid.  And let us not forget that curious  paw print in the yard…

Mysteries are starting to pile up, and there turns up a curious question — Are you an opener?  or a closer?#

# # #

Yesterday, the coon cats and I spent many hours on the sofa, mapping out the Rest of the Story.  We decided to cut out one narrative line for lack of space, and package it as a short story; and I think have a working strategy for getting everyone at the corner of Elm and 10th Street at the same hour on the date appointed.  I have pointed the Auctorial Finger of Doom at several characters.  We’ll see how well I do this time.

The whole stream of consciousness doc has gone to Steve for review.  There is a brainstorming session in our very near future.

# # #

Let’s see, what else?

Steve and I have been making an effort to bring more light into the house — this is in literal, rather than the metaphorical, sense.  To that end, we have acquired an LED arc lamp to illuminate the living room.  Steve has replaced his ancient (WWII vintage) desk lamp with a jazzy new LED lamp; I have a reading lamp in my upgraded reading corner, and we have placed a torche-thingy in the bedroom, which we’ve angle at the ceiling, and which illuminates the whole room.

What a difference a few lamps makes.

On that theme, my desk lamp (with full spectrum light tubes) blew out on Saturday.  I’ve ordered in a replacement bulb, which will be here, it says here, on Friday.  And not a moment too soon.

We still need to do something better about illuminating the bathroom and the kitchen.  I’m thinking we should look into LED bulbs to replace the big globe- lights-onna-bar that were fashionable a while back, since we’re working with what we’ve got as much as possible. The kitchen. . .

The kitchen will require Creative Thinking.

# # #

So, it’s Wednesday, and I’m for the volunteer gig in a little while.  While I’m gone, you can read the Spotlight interview from Locus, here (please note that this is a pdf file):    lee-miller-locus-oct-2016

I hope everybody has a pleasant day.


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The Action in the Amazon Continues

Those following along at home will recall that, last week, it was discovered by an Alert Reader that Amazon had taken The Crystal Variation, an omnibus of novels Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, and Balance of Trade, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published by Baen Books off sale.  We alerted Baen.  Baen’s Speaker To Amazon found that Amazon had identified 144 “spelling errors.”  Until those “spelling errors” were corrected the book could not be sold.

Baen forwarded the list to us, and we identified — wait for it — THREE incidences of Actual Misspelled Words (the rest were made-up scifi words, and most of them were “cermacrete”), four instances of missing commas (which Amazon had not pinpointed as errors), and one instance of two words that were smushed together.

Yeah, that’s it.  Amazon pulled our omnibus, without notice, for containing three spelling errors across a 1200-page book.

The Crystal Variation is now back on sale at Amazon, thanks to speedy work on Baen’s part, for getting those errors fixed, and the book re-up-loaded in record time.

So, that.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Amazon had likewise taken Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18,  by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published by Pinbeam Books (aka Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) off-sale, without warning, for four spelling errors and two bad line breaks. These errors were represented as having been reported by a reader who found them “distracting.”

Yesterday, I fixed the two misspellings, recompiled the book and re-uploaded it to Amazon.

This morning, I have in my mailbox a communication from Amazon, stating that copyright is important to them, and that I must, in five days, provide proof that I have the right to publish Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18.  The acceptable proofs are:

Acceptable documentation includes:

- A contract or statement from the author or publisher verifying you retain publishing rights
- An e-mail from the address listed on the official author or agent’s website
- For authors using a pseudonym, copyright registration or statement of pseudonym use
If you publish books for which you do not hold the publishing rights, your account may be terminated.

So, a letter has been written to Amazon, explaining the situation to them for at least the second, and possibly the third, time since we’ve been doing business — in the five years during which we’ve been doing business — together.  Though “together” may not exactly be the word I want, here.

As of this writing, I believe that Amazon will sell you a copy of Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18.  There is a Quality Issues Reported Hazard Triangle just below the title.  The drop-down for that reads:

Customers reported Quality Issues with this eBook.  This eBook has
The publisher has been notified to correct these issues.

. . .so I’m guessing it’s not the amended file they’re selling.

# # #

In less-fraught news, Steve and I took yesterday off to travel into Waterville to attend the Very First Screening of “Kubo and the Two Strings.”  This is a very beautiful movie (we saw the 2-D version); the animation was amazing. The story itself is short on plot, though the writers/directors have an Absolute Mastery of Emotional Manipulation.  I recommend it for the animation alone, and for the overall sweetness of tone.  I came away from the movie feeling (briefly) peaceful and content.  So — C+.

# # #

For those who have been following the New Box Project.  I offer the following short photo essay:

Trooper still prefers the red basket:

Trooper still prefers the old Aug 18 2016

Sprite is thinking about the new box:

Sprite tries the new box Aug 18 2016

. . .which has already received the Belle Seal of Approval:

The Belle Seal of Approval Aug 18 2016

Observant readers will note that the floofy towel has been removed from the New Box. The floofy towel was Not a Proper Use.  So I was told.

# # #

Today, I work.  And probably do the laundry, because the life of a writer is unremittingly glamorous.

Everybody have a good weekend!

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In which Rolanni is up before breakfast

As I write this, Alliance of Equals has 195 reader reviews on Amazon; a slim five reviews from 200.  Can we make the goal?  Heck, can we crack the goal?  Only you can make a difference.

So, yesterday, I removed the (pieces of the) wicker manuscript cat basket from the desk to the trash can.  A couple hours later, Trooper Discovered that it was missing.  He did not, however, call in another coon cat to act as witness.  I assumed that he was giving the basket an opportunity to return on its own.

His patience was rewarded later in the day, when Steve arrived home from errand-running with a Very Classy shallow wooden box and/or serving tray.  I placed it on my desk in the place where the wicker basket had been, and placed a towel in it.

Here’s the Box, awaiting a tenant:

Fancy New Box Aug 15 2016

The Box sat, bereft, for a couple of hours, while Trooper helped me write from his Usual Position:

Trooper on the case Aug 15 2016

After I had finished work for the day, he walked across the desk, as is his habit, and discovered the New Box.

There commenced about six minutes of Intense Study, before a Theory was formed:

Trooper finds the box Aug 15 2016I anticipate more Inspection and Theorizing today before a Final Verdict is returned.  Color me Cautiously Optimistic.


Progress on Book the Next is going to be difficult to quantify by word count for the next while.  Word count is a blunt instrument at best, but it does give people who are not down here among the commas and the semicolons some feeling of Progress.

Right now, as a result of the Structure Wars, there is more novel written than appears in the master file.  Those words will eventually come home to momma, but for now, they’re rusticating over there in a waiting file.  For my own peace of mind, I don’t want to count them until they’re woven in.

All of which boils down to: No word counts for you, for the foreseeable future.

I will be posting snippets, however, just to let you know that Work Is Going Forward.

Here’s a snippet now:

“One usually pursues the weather in such moments,” he commented.  “However, it has been so much the same lately, there is scarcely anything to be said.”

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