Because I know some of y’all worry when the blog doesn’t update regularly. . .
I will not be updating this blog — or any blog, actually — for. . .a while.
The reasons for this are several. One is that, of course, we’re deep in the end game for Accepting the Lance, which is due, no excuses, by the end of January. By itself, as you and I both know from experience, this would be enough to limit updates. I’m lead on Lance, and being the end of several story arcs, as it is, it’s being, ahem, a little difficult to bring in.
In addition to this, a small mountain of family crises has landed in my lap. As it turns out certain obligations fall to the last surviving child of a parent — and that would be me. You will remember that my sister died earlier this month, very suddenly, leaving things with regard to our father’s care. . .a little awry, but recoverable, or so I imagine her thoughts went, had she recovered. She did not, and in the aftermath of her departure, documents which really ought to have been kept. . .weren’t.
I have therefore inherited said small mountain, which includes people demanding payments, and other people denying me access to accounts, until I can prove X,Y,Z. Needless to say, the folks who want their money are a lot less particular about what I can prove than the folks who are holding the checks.
To sum up: I am simultaneously embarked on two life-devouring projects, which means “extras,” like updating this blog, will have to go on hold.
Steve will be updating Welcome to Liad with writing, professional, and appearance news (yes, we do still plan — very much — on attending Boskone in February). He also plans to resume the story hours on Patreon. He has begun writing the next Liaden book, which he tells me will be a Jethri book, the sequel to Trade Secret.
. . .and here ends my tale.
Everybody stay safe, right? And may the incoming year bring joy and success to us all.
Yesterday, was Trooper’s ninth birthday. Here he is at Opening Ceremonies, ignoring the camera:
I am remiss in reporting here that I ordered in a steam mop. Today I used it for the first time, on the ceramic tile in the entryway, the kitchen floor, and the floor of the master bathroom. I can report that it does the job, and it’s easy. The whole contraption weighs less than the bucket of water I needed to tote around to clean the floors with a regular wet mop, so I’m sold. Will try it a little later on the wood floors, but I don’t foresee any problems.
This particular unit has a core unit that detaches, so you can steam-clean, say, the bath tub! Really looking forward to trying that out.
We have had deliveries, including the Dr. Who Barbie, Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming, a case of paper, my new Linux desktop, Steve’s new Linux laptop, and cable-wrap, because Sprite keeps getting tangled in the computer wires on her way to the side of the desk where the adding machine lives, because she loves to sleep with her head on the adding machine keyboard. Yes, I know, but she’s a cat; we don’t question, we adjust. Monkeys are good at adjusting.
We have received in the mail our countersigned contracts for our stories in Release the Virgins! Steve’s story is “Command Decision,” mine is “The Vestals of Midnight.” The publisher lets us know that …Virgins will be available from the the Usual Suspects in early January.
We’ve been working. Accepting the Lance is due on Madame the Editor’s desk at Baen by the end of January, if not sooner, and there are still a number of bridges to be built. Steve read through the entire manuscript to date yesterday, and today we’re talking Story Stuff. For those who are curious, here’s what the manuscript looks like.
Yes, yes, there will be another Liaden Universe® novel. Actually, there will be. . . *looks at projects list*. . .six. Six more Liaden Universe® novels.
Accepting the Lance is due to be turned in to Baen in January. It is in the publishing schedule for the end of 2019.
After Lance is submitted, Steve and I will be taking a couple months “off,” as the saying goes, and then starting the next book. Which will be a Liaden Universe® novel. No, we don’t know what it will be about. No, we are not out of ideas for Liaden Universe® novels. Thank you.
Work on Lance continues to go in a forwarder direction. I am reading the manuscript now; should finish today. Looks like I have some bridge-building in my immediate future, which wasn’t entirely unexpected.
In Real Life news, for those who follow along, on the day before Thanksgiving my sister went in to the hospital with what looked like a stroke. Despite tests, medical science could not find what had caused this episode, so she was sent home.
She was readmitted to the hospital less than a week later with a “massive infection,” was given every antibiotic known to science, and daily dialysis. She went into cardiac arrest late on December 7 and died in the early hours of December 8.
I am behind on answering email. I will, I promise, get to yours soon, but there are things in queue ahead.
I think that gets us caught up. All of you who celebrate winter holidays — be joyous. We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory give a nod to Yule; and a modest nod at that, since we’re usually on deadline for a book in December. This year, we achieved wreathes — one for the front door, one for the dining room, and a modest string of lights for each. Serendipitously, a friend sent us a turtle ornament, so now we have a Great A’Tuin Wreath. Which pleases me.
Today, we work. Tonight, we journey into Downtown Waterville, to see Hot Tuna in concert. Steve bought these tickets, what? a year ago? So this is our Official Gift to Ourselves for the 38th Anniversary of Having Done the Legal.
Tonight’s event will be enlivened, if that’s the word I want, by the Parade of Lights, which will close off Main Street at 5 pm. The parade starts (it says here) at 6 pm. The doors to the Opera House (on Main Street) open at 7pm, and the show starts at 8 pm.
I have a feeling that Timing Will Be, if not Everything, Than Verrrry Close Indeed.
I see here that one is not allowed to bring bags of any sort into the Opera House; we are advised to bring wallets only. I therefore advise the paparazzi that my fashion choice this evening is cargo pants (and a bulky sweater with another sweater under it, on account it’s gonna be COLD tonight).
It’s snowing today, as it did on Friday. Apparently, we’re going to have an early and persistent winter. Well. Our very first winter in Maine, when we were living in Skowhegan, it snowed every night — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, every day — and I just figured that it always snowed in the winter, in Maine. In the years between, we’ve had some winters where we got very little snow, but a lot of cold, a couple of warm winters, a recent winter that dropped ten feet of snow over the course of the season, averaging a few inches every couple days, and a biggish fall once a week. Very seasonal. Sigh.
Here at the new house, we can hide the car in the garage, and we have engaged a guy to plow the driveway on a temporary basis, to see if we’re both satisfied with the arrangement. The front steps are gong to have to be solved. I may need the War Engineer to come by and see if he can put a peak over the steps, so that we can at least open the front door from inside, during heavy snowfalls.
Winter has also illuminated an unanticipated problem with city living. We are in a hybrid situation with regard to mail delivery. Which is to say, we do not have what I think of as a City Mailbox, that hangs on the house near the front door, nor do we have a mail slot in the front door.
What we have instead, is curb-side delivery, like we had out in the country. Which is fine, the curb’s not that far away, after all, except. . .
Mail is routinely delivered between 4 and 5 pm. It gets dark in the winter-time at 4:30ish. We live on a busy road, and while there is a streetlight across the street from our drive, there’s no sidewalk. Therefore, in order to approach the mailbox, in the winter, when there will be a pile of snow between our driveway and mailbox, we will have to walk out into the road, in the dark.
This seems. . .suboptimal.
So, we’re thinking about moving all of our mail delivery to the post office box, and switching the Informed Delivery Service to that address, so we know when we have to drive out.
I will say that I never considered mail delivery when I was thinking about the potential challenges of returning to city life after a quarter-century in the country.
In another aspect of City Living, I’m actually enjoying going to the gym. It changes your outlook, when the gym’s a five minute drive, instead of half-an-hour.
From the writing edge of life, Accepting the Lance is moving along; it’s going to be a long book, I fear, so y’all need to prepare yourselves for that.
I think that’s everything, except for this — a video that Steve and I made for you — yes, you! — to thank you for everything you do.
Today dawned bright and blue and sunny after a subjective quarter-century of rain, which Trooper celebrated by running up and down the house shouting, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” and jumping over any cat who got in his path.
He’s resting in a sun-puddle now, along with the rest of the feline household.
We humans, having breakfasted and taken on caffeine, are perhaps less wise. I, obviously, am updating my blog; Steve is building bookshelves. Yes, yes, you knew we’d figure out that we needed more bookshelves, despite the wealth of shelves built into the living room.
In fact, one of four we purchased has already gone into service as the Cookbook Bookshelf, sitting under the clock at the intersection of the living room and dining room. The ginormous kitchen at the Old Digs had room for its own bookshelf; there is no such “extra” space in the current galley kitchen.
Two of the remaining bookshelves will replace one of the two bookshelves that my father built for my sixteenth birthday. They were long and low, meant to fit under the eaves, and they were never meant to travel nearly so far, nor so long, as they have done. The shelf that came to rest in my office is. . .’way too unsteady, given that its duty-list includes not only holding books but standing steady when a coon cat (or two) leaps to the top.
So! two nice folding bookshelves, to match the bookshelves that used to be under the windows in my office at the Old Digs will be replacing the old, unsteady bookshelf, which will find renewed purpose in the basement, where it will have a nice concrete wall to lean against.
Last week’s Writers’ Day Off was, of course, Friday, when we put on our Author Clothes and went downtown to the Children’s Book Cellar, to talk, and read, and sign books. We had a nice turnout of about 10 people on what was a rainy, cold, occasionally thunder-y evening — included in the crowd were two women who’d driven up from Mount Holyoke (no mean feat in good weather) to attend.
As advertised, we talked: about how we met, our first writing projects, how writing for newspapers ties in with what we do now, a bunch of other stuff, spinning off into the side-alleys and rejoining the main road down there — as one does.
We also read — switching off — the opening five pages and several other sections of Agent of Change, including the parts where Miri meets Val Con, and the part where Miri meets Edger.
We had fun; and I hope that was true for everyone who attended.
A note for those who ordered signed books: We await the delivery of a case of books, which had not arrived by Friday night. When that case arrives, we will sign and personalize books, and they will be cast onto the back of the wind. Or the Postal System, whichever bids low.
This week’s Writers’ Day Off will be Tuesday. The first item on the agenda is to vote, after which we will have breakfast out, and consider what else the weather will allow us to do on the thirty-eighth anniversary of Doing the Legal.
In writing news, I have deconstructed the manuscript into major narrative lines, in order to see the natural breaks more clearly. This is service of weaving those lines together smoothly. And also, yanno, finishing each line appropriately. I’m not sure if we’ll have cascading dénouements or just go for one big BANG! across all storylines. And they say writing a novel isn’t technical.
So, I think that’s it. After I hit send, I’ll be removing the books from the old bookshelf, and shifting it elsewhere so the new bookshelves can be placed. This will give the backbrain plenty of time — ahem! — to consider Weighty Matters of Fiction.
BOOK SIGNING: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be signing the anniversary edition of Agent of Change, and whatever else comes to hand, at Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville, Maine 04901, on! Friday, November 2, from 7:30-9 pm. Alert readers will note that this is also Fountain Pen Day. Coincidence? I think not!
POST CARDS: If anyone is going to a convention, or is local to a bookstore that is amenable to taking promotional items (ask first, of course), or a reading group, or. . .and would like to distribute postcards and/or bookmarks for the new edition of Agent of Change, and for the Carousel books, please drop me a note at sharonleeATkorvalDOTcom, including your name and address, and how many postcards you would like. I will be delighted to mail them to you.
PUBLICATION SCHEDULE: Agent of Change, 30th Anniversary Edition mass market paperback, cover art by Sam Kennedy, published by Baen Books, available October 30, 2018.
“Command Decision,” a brand-new Liaden Universe® story, by Steve Miller and “The Vestals of Midnight,” a brand-new Archers Beach story, by Sharon Lee will be published in Release the Virgins, edited by Michael Ventrella, available in November.
“Dark Secrets,” a brand-new Liaden Universe® story by Lee and Miller will be published in Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, available in January 2019.
A Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four, coming from Baen in Summer 2019. This reprints eight shorter works: 2 novellas, 4 novelettes, 2 short stories from 2016-2018. Titles included are: “Street Cred,” “Due Diligence,” “Friend of a Friend,” “Cutting Corners,” “Block Party,” “Degrees of Separation,” “Excerpts from Two Lives,” “Revolutionists.”
DEADLINES: Accepting the Lance, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the last book in the Five Book Dash, the twenty-second Liaden Universe® novel, is scheduled to be turned in to Baen in January 2019. Please note that this is a turn-in date.
CONVENTIONS: As of this moment in time, Steve and I are planning to attend Boskone 56, February 17-19, 2019.
A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER: Do you know where your copy of the classic Halloween countdown novel by Roger Zelazny is? Steve and I have ours, and we’re ready to start reading on September 30.
So, today, we expect a crew of sturdy lads sometime this afternoon, to deliver the new bed. We hadn’t quite intended to buy a new bed — no, that’s inaccurate. We had intended to buy a new bed, eventually, but our intent on Thursday was to do some reconnaissance in that direction. Wherefore we visited Northern Mattress, where we investigated floor models, collected catalog pages, and the salesman’s card.
When we returned to the car, Steve said, “You want to go across the river and look at Fortin’s?”
So, we went across the river, to Fortin’s, where we were greeted by Douglas, the salesman who had sold us our new couch a year or so ago. We explained the problem — the problem being that our bed was a waterbed platform with a queen mattress in the box. We’d replaced the mattress a few years ago, but the bed itself had been solid enough, at the time, since it had been sitting in one place for 26 or so years. Unfortunately, the move was especially hard on the old, press-board frame, which had been deconstructed and re-constructed by non-experts three times in the course of four weeks, and was very much the worse for its ill-treatment. Douglas said, “You want a platform bed,” and took us to the back of the store, where such items are on display.
Among the necessary features of any new bed had to be a headboard wide enough for the cats to use as a highway to the bookcase aerie in the bedroom. This has been an Approved Cat Route for at least 26 years, which is to say all of Scrabble’s lifetime (Scrabble being 16). Scrabble being the Power User of the aerie, we didn’t want to cut her off.
Douglas showed us the Perfect Bed, made right in Newport, Maine, in fact, assured us that he could order it with a bookcase headboard, which would be plenty wide enough for Cat Traffic — but it would take about 10 weeks to arrive, because — handmade in Newport.
While Steve and I were discussing this, Douglas went back to the warehouse, as one does, and returned with a look of wide-eyed amaze on his face.
“I have the bed,” he said. “And it has a bookcase headboard.”
“When can it be delivered?” asked Steve.
“Saturday afternoon OK with you guys?”
So! This afternoon we’ll be taking delivery of a new bed and cat highway.
Didn’t see that coming.
In other news, we have one more Major Contracting Event on the schedule. We had been going to put off installing heat pumps (yes, that’s plural; because the house is U-shaped, each wing needs its own pump) until next year, since we’d already gambled with the tax money in order to make the move into this house happen, and though our luck had been in, I am by nature risk-averse, and I’d done enough gambling for one year.
Then Mr. Trump announced Trade War, and we realized that waiting til next year would see tariffs and ill-will increasing the cost of items imported from Japan, which would likely put the project out of reach.
We therefore went looking for help, and it turns out that there is a useful consumer program in Maine that has somehow to date escaped cancellation by our governor. It is the Efficiency Maine Loan program, which gives long-term, low-interest loans on things like heat pump installations, and also has a rebate program for installation of energy efficient systems.
Heat pump installations are therefore set for next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
We’re also expecting the Window Guy to sweep by at some point to fix the stuck windows in the hallway to Steve’s office. It will be Good if they can be made to close. It would be Optimum, if they can be made to open and close on demand.
So, that’s the next phase of Real Life Adventures.
For those who are here for news of books, and the production of words — yes, writing has been going forth. For those expecting a new book in January — no, sorry; we are scheduled to turn the book in to Madame the Editor in January. What happens to it then is wholly up to her.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a writer at work rarely has anything newsworthy to report.
However! I did want to let y’all know that the new entry way bench arrived this morning, and it looks like it has always been there. Still haven’t solved the rug situation, but we’ll get there. . .
Other than that, I did commit fountain pen the other day, bringing my hoard to six pens — three Pilot Metropolitan cartridge pens, which get very little use at the moment, but which have the distinction of having Shown Me The Way. The three in use daily are TWSBI demonstrators — two ECOs and (the new) one GO. Ink colors, for those who want Deep Details are Noodler’s Wampum, Diamine Sherwood Green, and Diamine Ancient Copper.
Fans of the cats will wish to know that they’re enjoying the new place, and that the work of locating Appropriate Cat Spots is ongoing. Management is in receipt of a request that we use the sofa in the living room more often, maybe watch a movie or something, huh? Something where a cat can get a serious snuggle going.
In other news, writing has been going forth, slower than I would like, but that’s always the way. Life in the city continues to be amusing and occasionally surprising. I continue to like the new digs very much; it’s amazing how quickly we got rooted; In a way, I feel like we’ve been living here for years.
So, the new house is open-ish, where the old house had been a series of closed rooms off of a central hallway. In the old house, during the winter, you would walk into the kitchen, onto the nice vinyl floor, take off your boots and put on the nice warm slippers you may have actually remembered to leave against your return by the kitchen table. It was a biggish kitchen, and there was room enough to accommodate these necessary seasonal arrangements.
One enters the new house into a teensy-tiny space with white ceramic tile on the floor, closet directly in front of you, galley kitchen to the right, living room to the left. You might, I suppose, stand there on the cold slippery tiles and dispose of your boots, balancing on one leg at a time and trying not to put your sock-foot into an icy puddle. . .but then there’s the problem of where to put the derned things, the living room having a wood floor. Boot tray, I guess, except…
The living room in this, the new house, is quite spacious, and we’re only using about the inner two-thirds of it. The front third, frankly, is a mess. It’s the first thing you see when you come into the house, and it’s kind of become a holding area for cat pillows, and things that have to be moved out to the garage, and a table that I thought would be useful as a reading table, so Steve and I could wean ourselves from sitting at the kitchen table all night, but it turns out that idea doesn’t really work. . .
Anyhow, I was looking at all that yesterday, trying to figure out how to make it more seemly (and, yes, thinking in terms of more! book shelves! as one does) when I remembered these facts:
Winter is coming.
We will need somewhere to put on, take off, and store boots.
So, the use for the front third of the living room has been identified. A mudroom storage bench can go into the space under the windows, so we can sit down to put boots on and off. Boot trays are easy. The wooden floor. . . well.
It would be best, if we could just extend the foyer tile into that section, but that’s not happening before winter, or possibly at all. So, next best is a waterproof rug.
Well. Things to shop for. I needed that.
In other news, “The Vestals of Midnight,” an Archers Beach story by Sharon Lee, has been turned in to editor Michael Ventrella for the Release the Virgins! anthology. I think that’s the last of the short stories I was committed to writing off my plate. Not that there won’t be other short stories, but there are presently none spoken for, with, like, a deadline attached.
This means that I can put all of my attention on Accepting the Lance — except for the shopping, that is.
Hope everyone is having a pleasant start to the week.