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?


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

Just wanna bang on the drum all day

So, mostly, Steve and I have been working, which is, as we all agree, boring to tell, no matter how exciting to do.

Since you and I spoke last, we proofread the galleys for Accepting the Lance, which actually was more exciting than it strictly needed to be, and have been working, variously, on a short story, and the (yes, still title-less) novel.

Last Wednesday, we took a day off to celebrate Steve’s birthday.  We had breakfast in town at Selah Tea, then to Lake Wesserunsett to view the water lilies, dragonflies, and of course the lake.  After that, we took a ride out toward Bangor, paused at Searsport, and so to home, with a fresh-made pizza from Rita’s.  A low-key celebration, but a pleasant change from the same-old, same-old.

The cats have been taking all this sitting-in-one-place and staring at pages/screens in stride.  They of course have a tremendous work ethic; they can watch us at it all day.

For those who have been out of the loop, we here at the Confusion Factory have a tightly-scheduled few months coming up.  This is what it looks like from here:

We will be taking a couple of days OFF for some too-long-deferred downtime.

The yet-titleless novel will be turned in before October 18. This is a firm date because!

On October 18, I will be having an operation on my foot, which will require me, in addition, to stay off of both! feet — for at least eight weeks.  In celebration of this event, I have purchased an actual laptop, to replace the Chromebook (geek note:  laptop is a System76 DarterPro, call-name Fezzik), and also a command chair, which really is a very nice chair, except we’ll need to rearrange the entire living room to accommodate it, and I didn’t want the house to be full of furniture, and fill in your favorite grumpy comment here.  I expect there will also be a knee-scooter in my life, since crutches and cats and unsteady user seem like a recipe for disaster.

Conflict of Honors (sorry, no link; I cannot find the 2019 edition on Amazon) thirtieth anniversary edition will be published by Baen in November; Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers will be published in November, including brand-new Liaden story “Dark Secrets,” and stories by CJ Cherryh, Tanya Huff, Jack Campbell — and more!  Also in November, a new Liaden story for Baen.com in support of!

Accepting the Lance, the twenty-second Liaden Universe® novel, which will be published in December.

Uncle Hugo’s will be accepting pre-orders for signed copies of …Lance, beginning in September.  So, watch the skies.

. . .and that, I think, is all the news that’s fit — or unfit.

Here’s a picture of Steve at Searsport town pier on his birthday.

Today’s blog post brought to you by Todd Rundgren, “Bang the Drum All Day.”  Here’s your link.


So, I’m told that the Sharon Lee (writer) page on Wikipedia has been marked for death because the author does not meet “notability” requirements.  Steve Miller’s page appears to be in no danger, nor, due to the on-going efforts of interested and savvy fans, is the Liaden Universe® page.

I am also in receipt of a rumor, which is that some? many? most? Baen authors have recently been found not to meet “notability” requirements, and that Baen itself is reported to be a “vanity press.”

If someone with even a little bit more patience than I have, and Wiki-savvy, could at least look at Baen’s page and put the vanity press* thing to bed (if it’s actually there) I, and possibly others of Baen’s authors will be grateful.

Now, I need to go back to work.  Honestly, I envy those folks who have so much time on their hands.

Even more updatery

So, Steve has caught the Vile, Drippy Cold.  While I could have wished it would have skipped him, you really can’t fault the timing.  The coon cats are on medic duty in the living room; I am covering House, and getting back seriously to the manuscript.  I see many twelve hour days in my near future, if we’re going to turn this thing in on time, which!

I have foot surgery scheduled for October, with 6-8 weeks blocked out to heal.  While I don’t expect to goof off for an entire 6-8 weeks, I’m planning according to Worst Case Predictions, so any surprises will be pleasant.

Anyway, the book clearly needs to be done and handed in by the end of  September, latest, so that’s what will happen.

In other news, I ordered a tambour clock for the living room, so I can know what time it is when I’m in the living room and have failed to count the hours rung on the mechanical clock situated on the wall around the corner.  It is. . .not as large as I had anticipated (remembering my grandmother’s tambour clock — aka, the “mantle clock”), but, positioned properly, I can see it from the couch, and, because I can tell Analog Time, all I really need to see is the position of the hands.

To be fair, I did not pay Actual Mechanical Tambour Clock $$ for it.  While it is made out wood, it is battery operated, and it doesn’t chime (two competing chiming clocks would not do) and!  I didn’t have to buy another Stoopid Plastic Digital Clock that will die in two years.  I’ve purchased ‘way too many of those in my lifetime and I — just couldn’t do it again.

Today’s Game Plan, for those who are coaching at home — Steve resting (which is to say, not sitting at the computer.  A Very Savvy Doctor once explained to me that sitting at the computer, even doing “nothing” is not restingResting is resting.  As in so many things, she was correct.)

So, Steve resting.  Coon cats on duty.  Sharon with manuscript until it’s time to get lunch on the table.  More resting and working, after lunch, until it’s time for ice cream.  Resting and working until it’s time for supper, and being read to, and so to bed.

Yeah, it’s a tough schedule, but we’re going to do our best to keep up.

Everybody stay healthy.


So, what’s been going on, you say?

Well, first — I’ve been sick with a particularly implacable cold.  Two weeks in, and I’m finally starting to show signs of achieving wellness, which is?

Right. Steve’s cue to catch the same nasty little bugger.

Needless to say, not much — which is to say, not any — writing has been done, which is not good news for the various projects in process, but best not to break them by going in with half-a-brain.  We will hope, rather, that the back-brain has been working onward, and indeed, there are signs that this may be so.  I was just yesterday offered up a germ of a short story — which, in this case, actually is useful, since we’re under contract for a short story.

I’m going to drag all the various pieces of the novel onto the couch with me after lunch and try to see if I’m able to brain.  Wish me luck.

We do have a couple bits of actual writerly news to impart, for those who actually stop by for writerly news.

  1.  Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume IV, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published on June 4 by Baen Books, hit Number 17! on the Bookscan national bestseller list its first week out.  So!  Thank you all!
  2. Those who preordered signed and/or personalized copies of this same Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume IV from Uncle Hugo will be pleased to know that all copies have been shipped to you!
  3. For those of you who read Science Fiction Romance, there’s a new resource in town:  SFR Station, a catalog of science fiction romance.
  4. In case you’ve been out of town, two new Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbooks — numbers 28 and 29 — were recently published.  Fortune’s Favors, number 28, in April; and Shout of Honor, number 29, in May.  Available at your favorite ebook vendor, including Baen, BN, Kobo, Amazon.
  5. The chapbooks referenced in Number 4, above, are available in paper editions, from Amazon only.  I note this because we are participating in a Beta program at Draft2Digital, which may result the entire run of Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbooks being available in paper from multiple vendors.  Watch the skies.

I think that mostly catches us up.

Hope everyone’s doing well.


Book Day and Other Stories

Y’all know what today is, right?


Today is the Official Book Day for Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four, published by Baen Books.  For those who are new in the neighborhood, this is be the fourth volume of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s collected Liaden Universe® short works.  All stories in this volume has been previously published. The stories included are: Street Cred, Due Diligence, Friend of a Friend, Cutting Corners, Block Party, Degrees of Separation, Excerpts from Two Lives, Revolutionists.  The book also includes an Authors’ Foreward.

You may purchase Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from your favorite bookseller.  It is available in trade paper and as an ebook.  There is no audiobook edition.

For those who are familiar with the game, and who may be waiting for news of the books you preordered for signature — I have news.

The news is:  Four (out of a possible five) cases of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four are on a UPS truck and out for delivery.  They should arrive here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory today.  The fifth case has been detained in Chelmsford, Mass., for an address check.  The Theory is that it, too, will be delivered today, but I. . .am not sanguine.

In any case, as soon as we have books in-house, Steve and I will grab our signing pens and get busy.  Hopefully, we can have the majority of the books back on the road to Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis no later than Friday morning.

So, that.

I have been somewhat remiss in updating this blog.  To catch us up, quickly, we have been working — still with the proofing of Conflict of Honors — a little better than half-way done, now — words are being written on the still-titleless Next Novel, some of which are replacing words that had already been there, so the whole thing right now feels very much like I’m running the Red Queen’s Race (I say “I” because I am lead on this book).  In addition to Standing By on the current WIP, Steve is writing a short story, and also the third Jethri Gobelyn book (no title there, yet, either).

We’ve also been coping with Real Life, as everyone must — health stuff, family stuff, political stuff — y’all know what I’m talking about.

Steve and I did take part in a little hometown activism last weekend, which was Pride Weekend in our town.  Part of the festivities included a Drag Queen Story Hour hosted by local bookstore.  Some folks became offended by this, and organized a protest — which was fine* — and some other folks organized a counter-protest — a demonstration of love for our local bookstore, support of the story hour and for Pride Weekend.  Steve and I were there in support of the bookstore, and mostly, it was good.  Tiring, but good.  For those interested, here’s a link to the local newspaper’s coverage of the event.

And here’s a picture me getting ready to demonstrate.

. . .and I think that catches us up.

Everybody play nice.

*Forgot my footnote, to wit! WHAT WAS NOT FINE was that some of the outraged citizens took it upon themselves, pre-event, to harass and threaten the Drag Queen who was scheduled to do the reading to the point where she feared for her safety, and withdrew from the event.  Happily, Miss Ophelia was pleased to step in and read to a room that was shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s with some of the smaller folk sitting on shoulders.

REVISED News regarding Constellation Four preorders

REVISED NEWS you can use for folks who pre-ordered signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s!
The books sent out by the warehouse realized that they had been conditioned to do the will of Those Other Than Themselves, and went rogue.
As of this typing, the books have been re-acquired and brought back to a sense of proper unity and purpose.
However! They had strayed quite far from their mandated path before re-acquisition, and will therefore not raise the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory here in Maine until — next Wednesday.
Steve and I apologize for the delay, though as far as I can tell, there wasn’t anything we could have done to be certain it never occurred.

Update: Signed Constellation IVs from Uncle Hugo

News for those who pre-ordered signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s.

UPS tells us that five cases of this title will land on our doorstep tomorrow, Wednesday, May 29, sometime before 8 pm.

Steve and I will sign and/or personalize these books as quickly as we can without breaking a leg, or a wrist.

When we have finished signing the books, we will put them on a UPS truck to Minneapolis, so the Uncle can take care of the hard part of this transaction:  charging credit cards, and packing and shipping books.

We are at this point shooting for Friday as the day we will place the five cases of books on the UPS truck.  We would like that; it’s our goal.  But it may come about that the books will not leave us until Monday.  No later than Monday, though, we promise.

Here ends your news update.

Yet Another Writers’ Day Off

So!  Yesterday, Steve and I took off in the rain to see the Very First Waterville Showing of Aladdin.  I had such a good time.  Yes, I know there’s Controversy.  Yes, I’m aware that Will Smith is not Robin Williams*.  I still had a great time; I have no fault to find and, yeah, Imma order the DVD.  Also, Rajah the Tiger was terrific.

After the movie, we went into Waterville proper and had our first meal at the new Greek restaurant, Opa.  Steve had the crabcakes, which he pronounced very good; I had the lamb kokkinsto (pulled lamb in a red sauce seasoned with garlic and cinnamon on a bed of orzo), which was excellent.

Replete, we wandered down Main Street, stopping to talk with our friend Ellen at Children’s Book Cellar and review the plans for the Drag Queen Story Hour next Saturday, and sought her advice regarding the upcoming International Film Festival (held in Waterville annually).

Then, we wandered back up the street, got the car, hit the grocery story for weekend supplies and came home, where we hung pictures in the dining room.  Yes, yes; it’s taking us awhile to hang the pictures, but we’re getting there.

Today is gloriously sunny, and the weatherbeans are calling for a high of 74F/23C.  I have all the windows open in my office.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my office?

Lest you think that the only thing we’re doing around here is taking day’s off, I report today’s to-do list, which includes!

  1.  One hour proofing Conflict of  Honors mass market anniversary edition.  Which is not as easy as you might think.  Our experience proofing Agent of Change for it’s anniversary edition revealed, um, Some Number of Errors which had come through from the time, long ago, when We gave the electronic files from Embiid to Arnold of Fond Memory, who then stripped out the existing coding, and recoded, automagically.  So!  We’re proofing Conflict against the Meisha Merlin and the Del Rey editions.  Which means I (1) read the chapter in the MM edition; (2) go through that chapter in the pages provided by Baen, correcting any errors, and (3) if there’s a conflict, the Del Rey edition is the tie-breaker.  Yeah, it’s taking some time.  But the corrections aren’t due until July, so we have time.
  2. Figure out where the pieces Steve has given me back actually go in the current novel WIP, and putting them there.
  3. Writing the next scene in said novel WIP.
  4. Deadhead the geranium.
  5. Try on corset to test The Look for next week’s story hour.

Also!  For those who missed the news, you may now purchase Fortune’s Favors:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28 AND Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 in ebook format from your favorite online vendors including Baen, Kobo, BN, Amazon; and in paper format from Amazon only.

. . . and I think that gets us all caught up again.

Everybody have a good weekend!

*I was 40 when the animated Disney Aladdin came out, so I did not fixate on Robin Williams as the One True Genie before whom all others must be inadequate.  Truth told, he was a little too too for me, but that was often my experience of Robin Williams.

Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock ‘n roll

This morning!  I get to hang around in my bathrobe for a bit, as a reward for having (finally, finally) finished the first draft of the untitled story, henceforth to be known to the world as “Fortune’s Favors.”  The story introduces some new characters, and looks in on some folks we’ve seen before.  I think you’ll like it.

This brand-new story, with an outtake from Neogenesis and …Lance (that’s the same outtake that didn’t ultimately fit in either book, and the story has flowed past it), and an Author’s Foreword (or, yanno, Backword) will appear in the chapbook:  Fortune’s Favors:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28.

What Happens Now, since Steve read the story hot off the printer last night, and noted a couple of things to be tweaked, is:

*Go over the story, line by line, tweaking tweaks, and adding in That Thing that got dropped in the heat of the moment

*Go over the outtake, line by line

*Write the Authors’ Note, pass it to Steve for edits, go over it line by line

*Build a cover

*Compile the entire book and get it up for sale with the Usual Suspects

So, depending on Real Life, you — yes, you! — may be able to purchase the first new Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbook in over a year, by mid-April.  Rest assured, we’ll tell you when it’s available.

Moving on to the rest of the to-do list, I have a couple of phone calls to make, including one to the dentist, which I’ve been putting off for mumble, and really shouldn’t put off anymore.  Also today, I need to hit the gym, because today is not the day to skip the gym.  When I get back, and after phone calls, I’ll draft the Authors’ Note, and maybe start shopping for a cover.

See you on the flipside.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by Messers Loggins and Messina.  Here’s your link.