In which the authors know the words to far too many classic rock songs

So, the melancholy truth found yesterday was that — though I was cleared for shoes, my beloved Dansko oxfords did not fit me.  Well.  The right foot fit just as always, but the reconstructed left foot — did not.  This was lowering, to say the least, and I was cast into Deep Despair until Steve came home from running errands with a pair of oversized fleece-lined men’s slippers that the surgeon’s preferred insoles fit, so I was able to lose the surgical shoe which was Just. So. Wonderful.

This morning, deciding that solving the shoe problem was Priority One, we took ourselves to Laney Wellehan in Augusta, where the manager and podiatry specialist took me in hand, and speedily found me a pair of Clark women’s pull ons, in wide, with a nice broad toe box. The manager also gave me tongue pads and heel pads for the right shoe, which is, as you’d imagine, a little large.

Shoes achieved, we went up the hill to Pier One, where I wandered about and stared at All The Stuff.  I have loved Pier One since a young girl, and Pier One in All its Potlatch Finery is not to be missed; it’s better than the Macy’s parade.  After about 45 minutes of wandering the store in amaze, my foot started to ache, so back we went to the car, and Steve took us for a drive out through Monmouth, up Mount Pisgah Road, through Wayne, Jay, Wilton, Farmington, Norridgewock, and so to home, and lunch, and catching up on work and correspondence.  During our ride, the predictive mileage meter went from predicting that we would need gas in 310 miles to needing gas in 380 miles.  The predictive mileage meter probably amuses me more than it should.

While we drove, we sang along with whatever was on Sirius Vinyl and/or Cassette.  Very probably we heard songs to which we did not know all the words, but there were far more to which we knew every word.  Yes, yes, I hear you, there in the back — if only we would use our power for good.

One thing became apparent as we traveled up and down the world, and that is — I’m going to have to have a refresher course in driving. Sitting in a stable chair for eight weeks has given me a Whole New, and not entirely useful, reading on how close other vehicles are, and our relative speeds.  Well.  Something to do.

…and that’s what we’ve been up to.  Hope your day was as pleasant.



Today is the day!  The day that Accepting the Lance, the 22nd novel in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is officially released*!

We here at the Confusion Factory are of course very excited, and grateful that Baen was able to get the book — submitted in January — out this year.

We do know that there are a number of you who purchased the eARC, and therefore are finding the Book Day festivities a little flat.  If you wish, you may celebrate by leaving a review for LANCE on the venue of your choice.

The authors are celebrating each in our own way.  First, by announcing Book Day as far and as wide as we may.  Secondly, Steve is celebrating by working on the next book detailing the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn, which is due on Madame’s desk in May 2020.  And, thirdly, I am celebrating by editing Trader’s Leap, scheduled for publication in November/December 2020.

The chickadees, titmice, nuthatchen, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals are celebrating by mobbing the bird feeders, because it’s snowing up a Real Storm here in Central Maine.

In other news, I am due at the surgeon’s office tomorrow at 2 pm, by which time the snow will have stopped and the driveway cleared.  This visit will determine if my time in the Command Chair is about to end or if it will be another four weeks until I see my shadow.

Fingers crossed.

*Yes, there is supposed to be an Audible edition.  No, I don’t know why it’s not available.  No, I don’t know when it will be available.  Authors are always the last to know these things.  Naturally, I deplore my ignorance, and the distress of those who had hoped to listen to the book today, but, really, the non-appearance of the Audible edition is not my fault.

Update the Fifth

Since our last episode, the proofs for the new Baen mass market edition of Carpe Diem landed here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  We turned in the correx for that yesterday, and then commenced in to reading Trader’s Leap, which we turned in on October 1, because our input is needed for sell copy.

Today, UPS tells us that they will be delivering nine cases of Accepting the Lance.  Steve and I will be signing and/or personalizing them as quick as we can, and putting them on the bus to Minneapolis, where Mr. Blyly at Uncle Hugo’s SF Bookstore will do the hard part — that being invoicing and mailing.

The local Festival of Trees will open at the end of the week, and the Plan at this moment is that Steve and me and the knee scooter will View the Trees on Friday.  This depends somewhat on the weather, which has been rainy/icy/snowy by turns.  Friday is supposed to be warm and sunny, so fingers crossed.

In between correcting proofs and reading Trader’s Leap for the first time, I have been working at making friends with my foot.

Yesterday was one month since I had surgery, so recuperation is at more or less the halfway point, and my foot — poor thing.  It is well and truly a Frankenstein Foot, and will not, as I understand it, ever be a Thing of Beauty, except insofar as a Fully Functioning Foot can be said to be Beautiful.  It doesn’t hurt — though it still looks as if it should hurt.  It’s been through a lot, really, and I’ve been taking time to talk to it, and massage it, and reassure it that it will be back at work realsoonnow, better than before!   The swelling’s going down — I can see the shadow of an ankle bone! — so I’m hinting at maybe buying it, and it’s partner, a new pair of shoes for Christmas.  Or even — let’s get crazy!  — boots.

. . .and that’s about all I have to report.

Everybody stay well.

What to expect hereabouts for the next while

Asyouknowbob, I will be having my left foot surgically repaired on Friday, October 18.  This has been in the works for some time.  Per the surgeon, I will be off my feet for eight to ten weeks following this event.

I have a Command Chair and a laptop, so theoretically, I should just be able to continue on with Facebook, and Twitter, and updating this blog.

Notice the use of the word “theoretically.”

I believe that, instead of leaping right! back! in! to the online action, I will be taking those eight to ten weeks off.

But, why? you say.

But don’t you love us? you say.

Well. . .

Frequent auditors of this blog will perhaps recall that my younger sister died last December, whereupon I was tapped to take up the affairs of our father, in hospice and dying of cancer, said affairs being in a great state of muddlement due to the unexpected death of my sister and its immediate aftermath.  My father died in March, whereupon two surprise! stepsisters arose, brandishing paperwork, and throwing my, ah…legitimacy…under a bus of their own connivance.  This — all of this — was disturbing.  Yes.  Disturbing.

Also in March, Steve had his I(mplantable) C(ardioverter) D(efribrillator), the machine that keeps his heart beating, replaced.  This, though sworn by the doctors to be routine, was also disturbing.

In, among, and during all of this, I was lead on a book — Accepting the Lance — which we submitted in February.  Because of how …Lance had gone together, another book — its mirror-twin, Trader’s Leap — was due on the publisher’s desk in September, and I was also the lead on it.  So, I have basically had my head in a novel constantly for the last 18 months, except when I was dealing with deaths, and major medical events, in my family.  Not to mention the stepsisters.

Now, though it’s fun, for definitions of fun, to write a novel, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s twice as much fun to write two novels back-to-back.  IMHO.  It’s helpful to rest your brain and your nervous system, occasionally, and while Steve and I did manage a couple days at the ocean, and a couple more at Lubec, those were stop-gaps.  I know that some people run on adrenaline; I had used to run on adrenaline.  Those days are not these days, and I am, frankly, exhausted.

Steve is lead on the next two books — the first of those is the direct sequel to Trade Secret.  It’s due sometime next year — I’m not sure we’ve worked out a date with the publisher, yet.

So, this seems like the best chance I’m going to have to rest, as rest is being enforced.

I may poke my head in occasionally; certainly, I’ll be updating my books-read list, but don’t expect to see me largely around hereabouts for the next while.  Rest and recuperation comes first, now, after having being last too long.

Thank you all for your support over the years that we’ve been together — and for your understanding.

See you on the flipside.


Sufficient unto the day are the submissions thereof

So, these things happened today:

  1.  Trader’s Leap, the twenty-third novel of the Liaden Universe® co-created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, has been turned in to Madame the Publisher at Baen.  . . .Leap weighs in at about 122,000 words and concerns itself with the doings aboard Dutiful Passage. The action in . . .Leap happens concurrently with the action in Accepting the Lance (due out in December)The action happens so concurrently, in fact, that for most of last year, . . .Lance and . . .Leap were thought by their fond authors to be one novel.  No publication date as yet.  If I were guessing, which you’d think I’d know better than by this point in my life, I’d say look for it in bookstores late in 2020.
  2. “A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom,” a short story commission by in support of the publication of Accepting the Lance, has also been turned in.  Look for it on the front page of in mid-November.  The story will be free for everyone to read.

I still have one more professional commitment to fulfill, which it would soothe me to have it turned in before I hit Foot Surgery Day on October 18.  It’s not technically due ’til the end of November, but, since the future is an Uncharted Country, I’d like to get it off the decks.

I also need clear the detritus of Having Written A Novel from my desk and its immediate surrounds, clear away the stack of administrivia that’s been waiting for attention, and make some more arrangements for my convalescence.  My greatest fear for the recuperation period is that I will succumb to depression brought on by boredom and inactivity.  I mean, you wouldn’t think I’d be bored, given that mountain of books over there that I call my TBR pile, but I’m pretty much used to getting up, getting around, and getting out.  Also, I’m Particularly Unskilled at Just Sit There and Rest™.

Well.  Practice makes perfect.

We have made some efforts to make the Command Chair interesting.  Steve has very kindly put a birdfeeder outside of the Command Window, which looks over the busy street at the front of the house.  The chair also faces the Big Screen, so I’ll be able to have waterfalls and fireplaces on view, not to mention — hey, let’s get crazy! — actual movies.  And, yanno, I do have a laptop, so I won’t be cut off from civilization entirely.

So, anyway, that’s what’s going on at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory on the first of October.

What’s going forward at your house?



Writers’ Weekend Off

So, this weekend, we took off to celebrate my birthday — belatedly.  We had planned this trip since we realized that Trader’s Leap wouldn’t be finished by my Actual Birthday, so on Friday, September 20, we took off for Lubec, Maine on the Bay of Fundy.

If you are unfamiliar Lubec, it is the easternmost town in the contiguous United States, situated across Lubec Narrows from Campobello Island, New Brunswick Canada.  Steve secured a third floor corner room in Cohill’s Inn, with windows looking over the Narrows, toward Mulholland Light on the Island, and more! windows! looking up the Bay toward Eastport.

In addition to being in just an awesome place, geographically, we were in Lighthouse Country.  Friday, after we checked into our room, we headed to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, got our Lighthouse Passports stamped and took a cool zillion pictures.  Here’s some:

We then retired to our room, but were drawn outside again to watch the tide (the Bay of Fundy is famous for its rapid, dangerous tides) come in and to take another cool zillion pictures, this time of cormorants and seals.

Here’s a couple seals:

Next day, we crossed the International Bridge to Campobello Island, and drove out to visit Harbour Head Light Station at the verymost other end of Compobello Island, and Mullholland Point Light, in Welshpool, New Brunswick, which was coincidentally situated directly across Lubec Narrows from our room.

Here’s Head Harbour Light Station:

And here’s Mulholland Point Light:

Here’s a picture of The Spark Plug, in Lubec Narrows.  You can’t visit The Spark Plug, but the docent at West Quoddy Light had a stamp, so we got to claim it.

Oh, and here’s a picture of Cohill’s Inn, our Lubec Headquarters, from Mulholland Point Light, across the Narrows in Canada.  Ours was the room on the third floor right, last window, and then two windows around the corner.

Today, we said a reluctant farewell to Lubec, and Proceeded homeward in a leisurely fashion, taking side trips to Cutler, to view the really pretty little New England Harbor, and the super sekrit submarine base.  We have no pictures of Cutler, for obvious reasons.

Our second side trip was to Roque Bluffs State Park.  Here’s a picture of the sign, and the Art:

We’re home now, obviously, and reluctantly.  It was 68F/20C this morning when we left Lubec (stopping for breakfast at the Shore Thing Diner). When we arrived home in the metropolis of Waterville, it was 82F/28C.  If I could move Lubec Narrows to our back yard. . .

So!  Tomorrow, it’s back to work, but, boy, didn’t we have a great weekend!

In which the Blue Scooter Arrives…Eventually

The Blue Scooter is in-house. Well. Garage.

Funny story about the scooter: It was supposed to have arrived between 3:45 and 7:45, only it didn’t. I was still waiting at 8:10, when a note popped into my mailbox from the Scooter Vendor, telling me that my package had been delivered to the garage at — wait for it — 4:45.

Given I was supposed to sign for the Scooter, this information surprised, but — UPS must’ve told the vendor, right? when the delivery was made? So, I scrambled outside to discover that!

There was no 34-poundish box in the garage.

The Other Side neighbor was walking down her drive, and it has occasionally happened that past deliveries for us have arrived on her kitchen steps, so I went across the lawn to talk to her, and — long story short — no scooter.

I then logged into MY UPS, which gives you the news straight from the TRUCK. And the TRUCK said — still out for delivery.

Oh. Great.

We waited some more and at 8:34, the TRUCK said — your package is in the garage.

Mind you, I have not signed for this thing, but — yes, the package was in the garage. Steve and I looked at each other, shrugged, and sealed up the garage for the night.

I mean – honestly!

We figure what happened was that, when the driver realized he was going to miss the delivery window UPS had guaranteed the vendor, he triggered the “delivery” button for the vendor. The vendor then sent me a message, stoopid vendor. If they had minded their own business, I wouldn’t have gotten all excited or had a chance to have a nice chat with the neighbor I see least.

Once the actual delivery was made, the Truck gave me the Factual Truth.

Anyhow. All’s well that ends well.

Or something like that.

Today, we have Assembled the Blue Scooter. Steve suggests it could reasonably be named Schrödinger, which is true. It could also easily bear Heisenberg. I will consider.

In the meantime, it’s bread-baking day, and also writing and all like that, so I’d better get going.

And, before I do get going: A shout-out to all the people who pitched in and got those quotes transcribed! You guys are AWESOME!

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, 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 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.