Ocean and Ice

So!  Steve and I took a vacation.

I place all blame for this on the Cirque du Soleil, which, back in the waning winter, sent me notice that Crystal would be at the Cross Insurance Arena in our very own Portland, Maine, in August.  I, of course, immediately told asked Steve we were going if he and I could make a date for the show, and he agreed.

There remained the small difficulty of Portland being between 90 and 120 minutes from the New Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, and we kicked around the notion of taking a hotel room in Portland, which was not an. . .unattractive notion, Portland having more restaurants per square foot than any other city I’ve been in, plus, yanno, shopping.

However, it also, slowly, became obvious to us that Old Orchard Beach — which has the Atlantic Ocean, classic rock, an amusement park, ice cream, silly beach shops, the Atlantic Ocean — is only a fifteen minute drive from the Cross Arena in Portland, and so we cannily took a room at OOB, not for one night, but for four.

We drove down Tuesday for an afternoon check-in at a sorta newish place for us — The Waves (“sorta newish” because The Waves is the big sister property to the Sea View, where, back when my first Carousel* book released, I had rented a room block for the release party, so we knew management, but not the property).  Our room was second floor, ocean-side.  It was, in fact, 55 paces to the beach (according to Steve, who Measures Things). The porch overlooked everything — dunes, sea roses, surf, the Thursday night fireworks display.  I spent hours on the porch, breathing sea air, reading, playing with binoculars — just, yanno, doing nothing.  So very fine not to have to do anything.  For a few days, anyway.  By the time we were getting packed up, I was getting a little antsy with the whole “rest” thing.

I took my laptop, because — writer.  But I did not open my laptop.  I did not Facebook.  I did not Twitter.  I did not email.  I took no pictures.  I took no prisoners.  I think I told one guy, in response to a direct question, what it was I did for a living.  It was glorious.  I did, as above, sit on the porch and read; take naps; walk up and down the town and the beach; visited Googin Rock; ate every meal for four days out; also ‘way too much ice cream; played arcade games; talked to Steve about things that were not business or writing (well, OK, we did start to plot a short story, and — full disclosure — I started to play around with the idea for a new Carousel story, if I should manage to get time to write a new Carousel story).

Life at the ocean over our four-day stay was interesting.  We had a number of thunderstorms, including one that produced a horizontal rainbow about a foot off of the surface of the waves, which was really interesting.  Friday night’s storm caught us in the amusement park.  We retreated to the arcade before the heavy lightning and thunder hit, and had just taken up a position beside a row of games when — FLASH! BOOM! — and all the lights in the arcade went out.

There was time for a group intake of breath, and for one child to say, on a rising note “Mah-OHM?” — before the lights came back on and the young lady playing the Terminator machine across from us cussed because she’d lost her best score.

The park was closed for a little while until it was clear that the storm had moved on.  We walked among the rides, saying hello and good-bye, and retired to our room and the so-very-excellent porch.

Yesterday, we regretfully packed out, and drove home the long way, through Oxford, Paris, Milford, Mexico. . .stopping on the way through Waterville to pick up Chinese for lunch at home with the cats.

The cats, for those who are curious about how our cats “punish” us for abandoning them — the cats were all four waiting for us in the hall at the top of the stairs to the basement.  Trooper was a little forward of the ladies, and he greeted me first, to be sure I was who I said I was.  Then Belle stepped forward, then Scrabble, then Sprite.

The formalities attended to, they proceeded to beg for Chinese.

After lunch, we unpacked in a leisurely manner, and met for a glass of wine and to read out loud, in the living room, in the early evening.

We’re working our way through the Cat Who/Qwilleran cozies, the book we’re reading now is The Cat Who Went Into the Closet.

I sat down in my corner of the couch, and put the leg-rest out (the right and left seats of the couch recline).  We each had a glass of red wine to hand.  Belle came to sit on my lap; Sprite jumped up onto the Mencken table, where I had carelessly left the Scrabble set (in the box).

Everybody settled, Steve began to read.

Belle fell into a doze on my lap.  Steve leaned forward to pick up his wine, settled back, rustled the pages of the book, Sprite startled, kicked, knocked the Scrabble box off of the table to a crash landing on the floor, Sprite fled, Belle rocketed out of my lap, through Steve, knocking his arm up, so that he was showered in red wine.

There was a twenty-minute recess while clean-up happened, and Steve changed his clothes.

The book — a book club edition, with those thin, gritty pages, dried quickly enough for us to continue reading, Steve’s wine glass refilled.

We were lucky in the arc of wine:  Most of it went on Steve (granted, he doesn’t particularly think this was lucky); some landed on the stain-proofed, dark-brown-tweed sofa; a fair amount splashed one of the pillows, which I count a win, because I never liked those pillows and now I have an excuse to replace them.  A small amount of wine hit the floor, and was handily mopped up.  None touched what I like to call my Good Wool Rug.  The Scrabble set was in the box, the box was sealed with ribbon, thus no escaping tiles.

So, as catsasters go, it could have been much worse.  I have a bruise on my thigh where Belle took off, and Steve’s clothes may not be completely recoverable.  On the other hand, they were beach clothes, so a minor loss at worst.

Today, I’m clearly on the computer.  I’ve already ordered Earth Logic, Water Logic, and Air Logic (the follows to Fire Logic, which I finished reading at the ocean), and I’m shopping on Redbubble for some laptop stickers.  I also need to pull out information about a minor character appearing in . . .Lance, who will be the star of the story we need to write for Baen.com, and frowning at the notes I left for myself in re the WIP

Yes, and I’ve also opened my email; if I owe you an email — waiting is.

Lunch, I believe, will be leftover Chinese, and that will be the official end of the vacation.  It was terrific, and I’d do it again tomorrow, but — deadline.

And so it goes.

Speaking of deadlines, we still do have book deadlines in our future.  This is what our professional life looks like, as of right now:

Accepting the Lance finishes the contract we called here in-house The Five Book Dash.  It will be published in December.  Believe it or not, that’s Realsoonnow.

While we were working on The Five Book Dash, Baen offered us a contract for two additional Liaden books, the so-called Mask Books (because we had not made proposals, and knew nothing, other than we could write two more Liaden books, and thus Baen would be purchasing a couple of pigs in the poke, or — more elegantly — Liadens in masks.)

A little while after that, Baen offered another contract, for three Liaden books, the so-called Triple Threat.

We are, therefore, still under contract for five Liaden books.

The novel I am working on right now will fulfill the first half of the Mask contract.

Steve is working on a Jethri novel, which will fulfill the second half of the Mask contract.

That will leave the entire Triple Threat to be written.

So — yes there are Liaden books in your future.

No, there are no Carousel/Archers Beach books in your immediate future.

There are no Gem ser’Edreth books in your future.

There are no Jen Pierce mysteries in your future.

Everybody confused now?

Good.

Imma answering my email now.

__________
*Carousel novels by Sharon Lee:  Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, Carousel Seas
Carousel short stories by Sharon Lee:  Surfside, The Gift of Magic, Spell Bound

New Liaden Universe® story in upcoming anthology

“Dark Secrets,” a brand-new Liaden Universe® story will appear in Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers coming from Titan Books in November.  Contributing authors include:  C.J. Cherryh, Brenda Cooper, Tanya Huff, Susan R. Matthews, Seanan McGuire, Jack Campbell — and more!  Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Here’s a press release, revealing all the contributing authors.

Link to preorder from BN.

Link to preorder from Amazon.

Shout of Honor Release Day!

Today is the day!  For those who resisted the Lure of the Pre-Order, you may now purchase Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller from your favorite online vendors.

Below is a partial list of links:
Baen eBooks
Universal Link to online stores
Amazon

Paper edition available only from Amazon

Steve and I hope you enjoy this newest installment in our thirty-one year labor of love.

New Liaden Universe® Chapbook

Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 will be published on May 15.  Hey, that’s WEDNESDAY!

On Wednesday, you will find the ebook at Baen.com, Kobo, BN, Amazon, and other online vendors.  You will also find a paper edition, available from Amazon only, available for purchase, starting, I hope, on Wednesday, but, yanno, maybe sooner, maybe later.  But eventually.

If you are the impatient sort, you may preorder Shout. . . right now from your favorite online vendor and have it delivered to your ereader first thing Wednesday morning.

For preorders:  BN, Kobo, Amazon, Apple*

If you missed it, there is a substantial snippet at the bottom of this blog entry

________________________
*Unless we have mentioned another store in the text of the book somewhere, in which case, no, Apple will not be selling it and you’ll have to find another vendor.  Also, it looks like Apple is charging $4.99 for Shout. . .  Everybody else is charging retail:  $4.25

New Liaden Universe® Chapbook available for preorder

Shout of Honor:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 is now available for pre-order from Amazon, BN, Kobo, Apple Books. Eventually, it will be available at Baen.com, Tolino, Baker & Taylor, Scribd, Google Books, and all the others that I’m forgetting right now.

Publication date is May 15.

Things you should know about this book!

  1.  The chapbook contains one novella, “Shout of Honor,”  which is a brand new story, never before published.
  2. In order to offset the rising costs of production, fees, and cat food, Steve and I have taken the painful step of increasing the cover price of our Pinbeam Books ebooks, to $4.25, starting with this title.  The price of our backlist books will remain the same, going forward, Pinbeam Books eChapbooks will be priced at $4.25.
  3. As has become our custom, this title will also be for sale as a paper book from Amazon only.  We cannot place paper books on preorder, because Amazon, so that edition will go on sale, hopefully, on May 15.
  4. Except for Amazon and Baen.com, Pinbeam Books are distributed through Draft2Digital.  D2D has been distributing to library distributors, who have, as is their custom, been charging libraries in excess of three dollars over cover to add our books to their collections.  This meant that Pinbeam Books received a Very Respectable “royalty” from library sales, but the idea of making libraries pay so very much more than everybody else on the planet offended us.  Therefore, as of last night, we have adjusted the price the library distributors may charge libraries for our books to cover price.  We make less, the libraries can afford to buy more.

You may read a snippet from “Shout of Honor” below:

SHOUT OF HONOR: ADVENTURES IN THE LIADEN UNIVERSE® NUMBER 29
SHARON LEE AND STEVE MILLER
 

CHAPTER ONE

They came into Inago for news, and supplies, and other such items of interest that a way station might be expected to offer. Vepal had chosen this particular way station because it was in a more populated sector and enjoyed a level of traffic that the ports they usually chose did not.

Traffic, then, he had expected.

He had simply not expected so much traffic.

Nor that so much of it would be . . .martial . . .in nature.

Some might have leapt to the conclusion that Inago was under attack. Commander Vepal’s trained eye immediately discerned the lack of lines, the lack of order in committed approaches. Oh, there was station order, this ship to such berth on that heading – but nothing like military discipline, or thinking, here.

But if not an attack, then – what brought so many soldiers and fighting ships to Inago Prime, surely among the least warlike location in this section of space?

His board pinged receipt of a communication originating at the station. Not, according to the wrapper, from station admin – they were too far out, yet, for the station master’s attention. No, this message originated inside the station; sent from a private source.

Intrigued, Vepal opened the packet.

Perdition Enterprises is hiring soldiers, pilots, techs, and specialists for assignments starting immediately! All may apply – papers or paper-free; lone guns to entire units. Soldiers and specialists must have own kit. Working units will be retained intact, if possible. All contracts with Perdition Enterprises. PE provides transportation, target, mission goals, and timeline. Generous bonuses for early completion! NDA required. Come to Core Conference, station center, any hour, any day. Recruiters standing by.

The message began to repeat, and Vepal killed it.

“Are we looking for employment?” Pilot Erthax asked, and waited just a breath too long before adding, “Sir.”

Vepal considered him.

“I’ve been going over the mission’s funding. Temp Headquarters used to omit only one of our five stipends per Cycle. Of the last five due, we have received . . .three.

“This lack of funding decreases our efficiency and our scope,” Vepal went on, talking quietly, gaze on his screen. “It might be . . .to the benefit of the mission to find what this Perdition Enterprises considers reasonable recompense for the skills of a pilot. If there is a signing bonus, as well . . .”

Though he kept his eyes scrupulously on his screen, Vepal’s peripheral vision was good enough that he saw Erthax’s hard, dark face flush, and his mouth tighten.

“Yes,” he continued. “You make a good point, Pilot. We should definitely find what assignments are on offer, and of what duration. It seems to me that we have become soft in our small unit here. A stint in the field might be what is required.”

He was. . .not joking. Jokes were made between comrades. No, he was deliberately egging Erthax on, out of temper and dislike.

Which, he thought, with some chagrin, proved his point. They had become soft of discipline. He had become soft, for it was true that the troop was the reflection of command. And a commander who would taunt one of his own soldiers . . .ought to offer himself to the High Command for a field tour at reduced rank.

Which, interestingly enough, was what Perdition Enterprises offered.

Vepal frowned at his screen. It was outside of his authority to enlist in a military action, even if Perdition Enterprises included Yxtrang among those it found acceptable. Papers or paper-free, was it? Legitimate, licensed soldiers fighting beside pirates, renegades – and Yxtrang?

Still, there was opportunity here. The point of his mission was to discover, per the continuing orders from Headquarters, the proper entity for those of the Troop who had survived the collapse of the old universe to offer their allegiance, and their skills.

It seemed. . .unlikely that Perdition Enterprises was that entity, but it was not. . .entirely unlikely that they might have information about such an entity.

For almost the first time since he had re-discovered their continuing orders, lost for hundreds of Cycles, Vepal felt a stirring of hope, that this was not entirely the mission of a fool.

#

The answer to his request for an interview with a recruiter upon their arrival on Inago, was – an application.

A form letter asked that he complete the application and send it ahead so that an appointment with an appropriate recruiter could be made. There was also a brief and uninformative blurb, from which he learned that Perdition Enterprises was in the business of brokering military and quasi-military assignments. There was no information about those in command, the owners or directors. The planet upon which Perdition Enterprises was registered was – not Waymart. Not quite Waymart.

It was, however, registered, licensed, and approved by the Better Business Bureau of Gilstommer, which, as Vepal understood it, was to corporate entities precisely what Waymart was to ships.

So, the application.

He applied as “Vepal Small Troop,” listing their personnel as one senior officer with advanced piloting and command skills, one line pilot, and one line soldier, detailing the skills shared among the troop, save those specific to Explorers. In a section headed “Other Assets,” he noted that the troop maintained its own vessel, lightly armed and armored, suitable for reconnaissance or courier. He admitted that their treasury was small, and added that each member carried a complete and well-maintained kit.

Put thus, they looked a sad case, indeed, and he hesitated overlong, wondering if he ought to expand their worth. It was his purpose to gain an interview to learn about these immediate assignments, and to put particular questions of his own.

In the end, however, he sent in the nearly-truthful application.

And, to his very great surprise, a communication from Perdition Enterprises met them at the dock, naming an hour not too far distant for Commander Vepal to meet with Recruiter pen’Chouka, in the Core Conference Center, Room 9A.

Vepal considered the name, which suggested that the recruiting agent was . . .Liaden. It was well to consider beforehand, how a Liaden might react, confronted with an Yxtrang, even a certified and guaranteed safe Yxtrang.

Still – Perdition Enterprises encouraged all to apply – papers or paper-free, eh? Surely Recruiting Agent pen’Chouka had seen worse than a well-behaved Yxtrang commander, respectfully reporting for his interview in dress uniform, with only small arm and grace blade on the belt; his honor-marks old and faded, and grey showing in his hair.

He had been instructed to appear unaccompanied before Recruiting Agent pen’Chouka, which Ochin would not like. The central belief of the Rifle’s life was that Commander Vepal ought always to be accompanied by an escort appropriate to his rank – an honor guard at least! – or by the escort available, which would be Ochin Rifle.

Spring is sprung; the grass is riz*

So, Steve and I have been out and about and in and around, we took a drive up into the Western Mountains on Saturday, I’ve been working steadily on the next novel (still lacking a title), Steve has finished up “Shout of Honor,” and now I’m moving on to making that into Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29, with a planned release date of May 15, while he reads the new beginning of said titleless book.

All of this is enough to keep us busy, but it makes dull blogging.

I can give you a little excitement today, so hold onto your hats.

Here’s the cover for the upcoming chapbook.

 

*Full verse:
Spring is sprung; the grass is riz
I wonder where the birdie is.
They say the bird is on the wing,
But that’s absurd.  The wing is on the bird.
–Spike Jones**

_____________________
**There’s some dispute about the author.  Some folks say Ogden Nash, but I had always heard it was Spike Jones, and that’s what I’m going with.

Shameless Self-Promotion

    1.  You may now pre-order signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s SF Bookstore.  Here’s your link.  For the purposes of this discussion “signed” means “the authors will write their names on the half-title.”  “Personalized” means “the authors will write their names on the half-title and a short inscription of your choice.”  Note:  The authors reserve the right to refuse a particular personalization if they should find it offensive for any reason.  The authors’ judgement in this may not be appealed.  Should the authors refuse a personalization, they will still — and only — sign their names.
    2. Fortune’s Favors: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28 is on sale as an ebook at Baen, BN, Apple, and a host of others.  Amazon reports that it has fixed its error concerning the “Start of Book,” and all new customers will download a book that will open to the first chapter.  If you were an early adopter, and therefore have a broken book, you may delete your book from your device, and re-download the repaired book to your device.
    3. Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 is in production, and will, in a well-run universe, be available for purchase on May 15.  Watch the skies.  . . .Honor is a brand-new novella which looks in on some briefly-seen characters.  It happens in-between Neogenesis and Accepting the Lance.

 

Fortune’s Favors Live Today!


Here are a few good links to help you along.

You may purchase ebooks from these fine vendors, among others:
Baen Books:  Here’s your link
Angus & Robertson:  Here’s your link
BN:  Here’s your link
Kobo:  Here’s your link
Apple:  Here’s your link
ScribdHere’s your link

You may purchase an ebook OR a paper copy from:
Amazon:  Here’s your link

Enjoy!

What YOU Can Do to Boost the Luck

All righty, then!
 
Now that the paper editions of Fortune’s Favors are landing, I’m going to do that Author Thing where I ask those who have (already!) read the book to please review it. Amazon will now accept reviews, and, assuming some kind person has made a page for it, so will Goodreads and LibraryThing. Or, if you have a blog where you talk about books — you know the drill.
 
Amazon’s early release of the paper edition is an Opportunity to really get the word out about the new book, and influence people who are on the fence to take a chance.
 
So! If you can, please do boost the signal for Fortune’s Favors: Adventures in the Liaden Universe(R) Number 28, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
 
Thanks!

Links and Snippet Fortune’s Favors

So! Amazon has let the paper edition of Fortune’s Favors out into the wild early.  If you order it today, you can have it in your hands, it says here, on Wednesday.

The electronic editions will be released on April 15; I cannot undo this, so Waiting Is.

Below is a revised list of buy-links and! for the very most patient among us, a snippet from the chapbook.

BUY LINKS for fortune’s favors

Available NOW: paper edition, from Amazon only:  here’s your link

If you want to preorder the ebook edition of Fortune’s Favors, the following vendors are alleged to be standing by for you:
Amazonhere’s your link
Angus & Robertson:  here’s your link
Applehere’s your link
BN/Nook:  here’s your link
Kobo:  here’s your link

snippet from fortune’s favors
©2019 Sharon Lee and Steve miller

It was to the gayn’Urlez Hell in lower Low Port that his feet finally brought him, over the objections of most of himself.

There were those who dismissed Low Port as a miserable pit of vicious humanity where lived predators and prey; the roles subject to reversal without notice.

Those contended that there was nothing of value in Low Port; that it was worth the life of any honorable person to even attempt to walk such streets.

They. . .were not wrong, those who lived in the comfort of Mid Port and the luxury of High; and who bothered to give Low Port half a thought down the course of a Standard Year.

They were not wrong.

But they lacked discrimination.

It was true that there were very many bad and dangerous streets inside the uneasy boundaries of Low Port, and then –

There were worse.

The gayn’Urlez Gaming Hell occupied the corner of two such thoroughfares, and the best that could be said of them is that they were. . .somewhat less unsafe than the Hell itself.

Mar Tyn eys’Ornstahl had made it a policy – insofar as he was able to make policy – not to enter gayn’Urlez, much less work there.

Today, his feet had trampled policy, and Mar Tyn only hoped that he would survive the experience.

So anxious was he for that outcome, in fact, that he took the extreme action of. . .arguing. . .with his feet.

On the very corner, directly across from the most dangerous Hell in Low Port, Mar Tyn – turned to the right.

His feet hesitated, then strode out promptly enough, even turning right at the next corner, with no prompting from him, toward the somewhat safer streets where he was at least known.

Another might have assumed victory, just there, but Mar Tyn had lived with his feet for many years. It thus came as no surprise when they failed to take his direction at the next corner, bearing left, rather than right, until they stopped once more across the street from Hell.

He sighed. That was how it was going to be, was it?

Best to get on with it, then.

#

The barkeep was a thick woman with cropped grey hair and a prosthetic eye. She gave him a glance as he approached and leaned her elbows on the bar.

“Got reg’lars on tonight,” she told him, pleasant enough. “Two days down there’s a bed open, if you want to reserve in advance. Reservation includes a drink tonight and a hour to study the layout. The House takes six.”

Mar Tyn smiled at her over the bar.

“I’m not a pleasure-worker,” he said, gently.

She frowned.

“What are you, then?”

“A Luck.”

. . .here endeth the snippet