Notes from two weeks on sick leave

Still drifting lazily toward Total Wellness, and remaining somewhat weepy, which is annoying, since I associate that sort of thing with being Very Ill, and I was not, and certainly am not now, Very Ill.  Despite which, I can report that listening to the Simon and Garfunkel Channel on Pandora is Not Recommended.

What else?  After all my grumbling and grouching, and a marked failure to train Dragon Mobile (Dragon depends on the speaker saying the same word EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, and I never, ever say the same word the same way, speech being one of those hit-and-miss things for me at the best of times.  Poor Ophelia and I fought over Every. Word. It was dreadful; she did try, but I had to let her go.)

Having fired Ophelia, I went back to Hey Google! (which I like marginally better than OK Google.  On thinking about it, OK Google is actually hard for me to say, since I start too low on the OH part, and kind of strangle the last –gle.)  Hey Google is pretty forgiving — I can sing, I can be stern, I can be cheerful or tearful. . .I think I’ve only been misunderstood once and I’ve been using it a lot, mostly as a tea timer (best tea timer ever!), and to add things to the grocery list.  Deleting things from the grocery list is a bit more of a challenge, but we’ll get there.

Back on the topic of being ill — I lost a few pounds — all the way down to 188! — but have drifted back to the old baseline of 190, which I assume means I’m pretty much Over This Thing.  I would like to get to 184, at which point, according to the Wisdom of the BMI scales, I shall stop being “overweight.”  Mind you, I probably don’t want to lose those six pounds enough to stop eating bread and butter, or drinking my glass of wine in the evening, so the goal will very likely remain unconquered.  But it’s important, after all, to have goals; otherwise, you don’t have anything to hang on the walls.

Fifth of Five and I have reached an impasse, and I have issued the Ultimate Threat — Fine; if you don’t cooperate, I will not finish you, and the story will be frozen in place exactly where it is now!

So, we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself by putting together the tax paperwork.

It snowed and wintry-mixed on the overnight, and I went out before breakfast to cope with the deck and the stairs, and to get the car swept off and de-iced.  It occurred to me as I was clearing off the windscreen that today marks two weeks exactly since the last time I was out of the house.  Maybe I’ll plan a trip to the grocery store tomorrow, in celebration. . .

Hope everyone’s feeling healthy and hale.

Health Report

Thanks to everyone for your concern and advice.  I am on the mend (as is Steve, who’s two days ahead of me in this Health Adventure).  Yesterday, I had enough brain to work on the taxes for an hour, and this morning I can actually talk without setting off paroxysms of coughing.

I’m also well enough to start fretting about the week’s worth of Undone Stuff of all descriptions littering the landscape.  I do know better than to try to get them all caught up Now, and will continue upon the Conservative Course.  I feel brainly enough to do some Handwritten Note work on the novel, if not nearly sharp enough to get on with the actual manuscript.  This is definitely an improvement over not having enough functioning brain to read, so — yay!

The coon cats have been constantly on the case, though this has called for some reworking of the standard shifts.  We’re more frequently seeing two on/one off, with Scrabble doing fill-in as she’s able.  At the moment, I have Sprite with me here at the desk, Scrabble behind the tax box, Trooper on roaming, and Belle downstairs, taking her Quiet Shift.    Belle will come on again around noon, Sprite will go off-shift, and Trooper will get his quiet shift around 3.

And, that’s all the news.  Being sick is even more boring than working on a book.

Everybody stay safe.

So my fantasy becomes reality

Well, this is how it is.  I have a blog post I want to write about the error of confusing the artist with the work.  I’ve been putting it off for a few days now, and thought I’d do it today, but — press of work.  Which is to say, pay copy.  The blog post will have to wait a few more days.  Or weeks.

I also have about a dozen emails in the inbox that I ought to answer, but that’s not going to happen, either.  Or only in fits and starts.  (I’ve got something like 450 emails in my box; never did really recover on that front from being away at the end of September.  Possibly, I’ll just kill them all and start over.  It’s an attractive option, anyway.)

I do have a couple favors to ask of you before I slip back behind the curtain for a while.

  1.  If you’ve read Neogenesis, the twenty-first novel of the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, please consider leaving a reader review at Amazon, BN, Goodreads, or other places where readers hang out.
  2. If you want to talk about Neogenesis, there’s a spoiler thread — here.
  3. Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27 is now available as an ebook from Amazon, BN, Kobo, iBooks, &c.  It is also available as a paper book from Amazon only.  Some folks are just settling back into Real Life and have missed hearing this.
  4. If you’ve read Degrees, please consider leaving a reader review at Amazon, BN, Goodreads, or other places where readers hang out.
  5. If you’re a Patreon subscriber, there’s a new podcast posted:  Steve reading “Cutting Corners.”  Have a listen.
  6. Also, if you are not a Patreon subscriber, but would like to hear Steve read “A Day at the Races,” here’s your link.

And that is all I have for the moment.

Everybody be good.  Call your mom, walk your dog, tell your bestie you love them.

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Simon and Garfunkel, “Flowers Never Bend With the Rain Fall.”  Here’s your link.  Enjoy.

I’ll be over here in the corner with my assistants, working.

Book Day!

Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27! is officially released today.

You may purchase it at all of the usual ebook outlets.  Those who fancy paper, may purchase a paperback copy at Amazon.

A special thank you to the 730-ish folks who preordered, thereby assisting with our experiment.  For Science!

I spent the weekend going through Fifth of Five, moving scenes, removing scenes, rewriting scenes — which is not as easy as it sounds.  Still got a bit of that to finish up, and then we can see where we are.

Everybody stay warm.


Shameless Self-Promotion

Couple of events of note, for those who like to listen to content:

On Friday, Part One of a far-ranging interview with Steve Miller was featured on the Baen Free Radio Hour.  Here’s your link.

Over the weekend, Steve posted a new podcast on Patreon, for patrons only, in which he reads “Cutting Corners.”  Here’s your link.

Also!  “Block Party,” a Liaden Universe® story by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is still available to be read — for free! — at  Here’s that link.

“Degrees of Separation,” the prequel to “Block Party,” will be published as Degrees  of Separation:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27.  You may preoder the ebook now from Amazon , BN, iBooks, Kobo, and Tolino.

On January 15, you may also purchase the ebook edition from Baen.

Sometime RSN, you will either be able to pre-order or outright purchase the paper edition, from Amazon only.

Neogenesis, the 21st novel of the Liaden Universe® was published on January 2, and is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio editions.

If you read the novel and want to talk about it, there is a spoiler thread here.

Also! If you’ve read Neogenesis, please consider leaving a review at Amazon, Goodreads, or another site where readers read.  Thanks!

For those local(ish) to Waterville, Maine, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee will be signing books and talking trash at the Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, in Waterville, on Saturday, January 13, from 1-3:30 pm.  If you missed your shot at getting a personalized copy from Uncle Hugo, this is your Second Chance.  Call the store ((207) 872-4543) before our signing, or during it, and we will personalize a book for you.

Peripheral to this, Uncle Hugo does still have some signed copies of Neogenesis in stock.  Here’s the link.

In convention news:  Sadly, we will not be attending Boskone this year.  We will, however, be Author Guests of Honor at MidSouthCon, in March.

In writing news:  Yep, still working on Fifth of Five, which refuses all titles suggested to it, and shrugs off any attempt to title-shame it.  I told you it was being a tough book.

I think that catches us all up on the business side of things.

Everybody stay healthy.

Back to work

So, three days of work essentially lost, which means I’ve gotta Write Like a Sonofagun.  Which I’ve been doing.  I’m just back from lunch, and thought I’d catch y’all back up before I got to work again.

Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27 ebook edition is available for preorder at the following online vendors:  Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Tolino.

Degrees will publish on January 15.  On that date (on the US timeline), you will be able to buy an ebook edition from all of the vendors listed above, and from Baen eBooks.  The paper edition ought to be available on January 15, as well, but if not then, very soon after.

Degrees is the prequel to “Block Party,” which you may read, for free, on  Here’s your link.

Neogenesis, the 21st novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, was officially released as hardcover, ebook, and audiobook on January 2.  If you read the book, please consider putting a reader review up on Amazon, BN, or another review venue.

No, I do not have a publication date for Fifth of Five, but a good guess would be: between six and 14 months after Steve and I turn it in to Madame the Publisher, which!  We haven’t done yet.

A couple months ago, I had to stop drinking coffee.  This is of course a tragedy, but with the help of kind friends, I have been able to locate several teas which will deliver the miracle of caffeine into my system.  My morning drug of choice is Irish Breakfast Tea.  In the afternoon, I sometimes have a cup of vanilla chai, which is pleasant, but I also like green tea in the afternoon.

Early in the week, Steve brought me news of Zhena’s Teas — a must-see, as I’m sure you’ll agree.  I went online to look at them, and found the! perfect! green tea for my needs, which arrived today — and here’s a picture:

For those who follow the Cat Farm’s Snow Removal Protocols:  We had a “snow hurricane” on Thursday, which deposited about 17 inches of snow that I could not shovel (see back spasms), and which Steve could not shovel (see cardiomyopathy), and which the plowguy could not shovel (see three dozen customers needing to be plowed out and the limited number of hours in the day).

The plowguy, however, had a solution.  “I know a guy,” he said.  “I’ll get him down here.”

And so it is that, in addition to a lawnguy, and a plowguy, we now have a shovelguy.  Which is actually something of a relief.

It’s also good to know that the I-Know-A-Guy Network is still operational, at least in our part of Central Maine.

And that?  Catches us up for the day.  Back to work I go.

*Yes, I know I have not provided links for Apple and Tolino; that’s because I have heard news of availability from third parties, but have not been able to locate the books on those two services myself.  If someone will supply me with links, I’ll be happy to amend the post.

Thanks to Susan for providing the iBooks link!

Thanks, also, to Estara Swanberg for the Tolino link!

And to Marion, for the explanatory Tolino links.  Who knew?


On the last day of the year

So, there are the tasks that one does at Year-End — filing away the old year, opening the accounting for the new year.  To the best of my ability, these things have been done for the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  Which gives a nice feeling of accomplishment, without, yanno, actually having accomplished anything.

Peering forward into the first week of the new month and new year, I see that Tuesday is!

Book Day!

I, for one, am looking forward to receiving my copy of Emergence by CJ Cherryh, as I know many who read here are.

I am also looking forward to the release of the hardcover, ebook, and audio editions of Neogenesis by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  It’s a well-known fact that time runs oddly around writers, and so it simultaneously feels like it’s been a long time since we handed in Neogenesis and hardly any time at all.

Sometime next week — possibly Monday — I’ll be putting Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27 up for pre-order at various online outlets.  Official publication date is January 15.  I anticipate no problems with hung releases, as Degrees is an all-original, never-before-published, never-posted-ANYwhere-else-even-for-a-day, story.  It will also be available as a paper book from Amazon on January 15.

Let’s see…Steve and I will be doing a podcast interview for the Baen Free Radio Hour on Wednesday; those are always fun…

On Thursday, Sprite has an appointment with her vet, for the ever-popular annual check-up.  Unfortunately, it’s also supposed to snow 3-5/4-6 inches on Thursday, so we may have to swap that out.  Honestly, if it’s really bad, I may have to swap out my doctor’s appointment on Friday.  Winter in Maine, ayuh.

Looking backward for a moment, we have finished and turned in “Revolutionist” to the Razor’s Edge anthology to be published in August by Zombies Need Brains.  And I had an epiphany recording Fifth of Five, which, in the way of epiphanies everywhere, meant the manuscript got busted back under 60,000 words again.

Today, I will write, and do laundry, skritch cats, spend time with Steve.  Possibly, we will see the New Year in — we’re often up that late, just as a usual thing — but if we don’t, it will arrive just fine without us.

Everybody stay safe; see you in the new year.

Out of the blizzard, into the deep freeze

So, yesterday, Maine hosted a blizzard, our first of the season.  Here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we got about 11 inches of snow.  Temps didn’t get above 12F/-11C all day, so the snow was fluffy, but there were still 11 inches of it.  I managed to clear the steps and get the car dug out about 10 minutes before the plowguy showed up to clear the driveway, once again proving that Timing is Everything.

The rest of the day was fairly laid back.  Steve and I had planned to take a half-day and watch a movie, but the uncertainty introduced by the weather meant that, instead, we spent the morning baking — mince tarts, chocolate chip cookies, crab cakes (eventually) — and the afternoon working.

This morning, we slept late, in celebration of the certainty that we would not have an early visit from the plowguy, ate a leisurely breakfast, and went back to work.  I managed to trash my left hand during yesterday’s snow removal, which meant I took aspirin to get the pain down to a dull roar, which meant that I was a bit duller than I wanted to be on the manuscript correx.  On the other hand, I manged to rewrite a scene in order to, yanno, show, not tell, and fix a bunch of little this ‘n thats, so I’m not Utterly Unhappy with today’s production.

Tomorrow, I fear that one or both of us will need to Venture Out — this adventure  made somewhat parlous, as the high temperature on the day is supposed to be 10F/-12C, with a low tomorrow night of -12F/-24C, marking the start of ten days of single-digit highs in the daytime, and minus double-digits for nighttime lows.

And people ask us why we keep coon cats.

I don’t if I mentioned here that the cable company, in its infinite wisdom decided that we needed a new modem. It is easily twice as big as the modem it is replacing, and has many bright blue eyes glowing with no-doubt malicious plans to take over the world.  In any case, we decided to swap it in on Sunday evening — because what could possibly go wrong? — and were without access to the internet for 12! hours!  Steve figured out that we were one phone call short of an implementation yesterday morning, made the call and got us back online.

So, that.

Today’s mail brought us the income tax worksheets from our accountant, so when I get bored of writing, I’ll have something to keep me occupied. Accountants are thoughtful that way.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a pleasant holiday; and those who don’t celebrate had a pleasant Monday.

And now I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, curl up on the sofa with my book and a possible coon cat or two and ignore my hand.

Here’s a picture of Sprite, being adorable.


In which work goes forth and the snowstorm cometh

I have one more section of Fifth of Five to read, but, having read two-thirds of what’s there to read, I can say with confidence that it is Not Awful, it’s merely Not Done.

So, working on that.

It snowed Friday night, and Saturday it rained.  The plowguy called early to say that, unless we needed to go out, he was going to defer plowing until the rain stopped, so that he could remove crusty snow, leaving a walkable surface on the drive (as opposed to remove the snow, and letting the rain create a driveway skating rink).  I retired to my office to work, and went out this morning to remove crusty snow from the steps.

The only flaw in this plan was that the car was frozen shut, and no suasions of mine would budge any of the doors.  Steve mixed up an alcohol and warm water brew that did get past the ice seal, but it was a frustrating several minutes.  My last car had a remote starter.  May see if we can get an aftermarket remote installed in this car.

Going forward, the weatherbeans are calling for a snowstorm starting 2:00 am-ish, and continuing until early evening, leaving from 6-9 inches (locally up to 11 inches) of snow behind it.  The plowguy, when he came by this morning, wanted to know if we had to “get out” tomorrow.

No, I said; we’re working tomorrow.  He sighed and produced a sort-of grin.  Yeah, he said; me too.

So, that.

Partly as by-product of the on-going effort to write sell-copy for “Degrees of Separation,” I’ve been thinking about what “makes” a story.

Certainly, a story has a beginning, middle, and an end.

A story shows growth, or change.

A story illuminates action.

. . .all the stuff you learn in Writer School, sure.  But — what “makes” a story?  Certainly, I — and I am not alone in this — have received reader reviews, and reader letters, indicating that in Story A “nothing happens.”  What they mean by that varies widely, from “there were no gun fights in this story,” to “I had to read description and dialog,” to “we already KNEW how this was going to end, so writing down the middle was pointless,” to “I didn’t like this.”

So, what “makes” a story?

The answer, for me, is that the characters make the story — long story, short story, middling story.  People, what they do, why they do it, how they feel about it, are intensely interesting to me.  So, those are the kinds of stories that I tend to write.  This does not, note, preclude gun fights, or space battles, or car chases, but I maintain that a story without a car chase…can still be a story.


Peripherally on topic:  In case you missed it, “Block Party,” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available, free to read! starting on the front page (you need to scroll down past the new books section).  Share it with a friend.

Here’s a picture of the author, working at home, something I am now going to go do more of.

photo by Steve Miller


Gang agley

So, I did jinx my free time, a little.  Wednesday did not take the shape I had envisioned, and I devoted the remaining time to writing (attempting to write, more like) sell copy for “Degrees of Separation”

Thursday morning, having carried my second cup of tea to my office so I could start reading Fifth of Five, and stopping at my desk to check the mail queue — I changed my day-plans on the spot, because UPS was pleased to tell me that the 200 copies of Neogenesis ordered by Uncle Hugo, long delayed at the warehouse for reasons the warehouse chooses not to share, were abruptly arriving THIS AFTERNOON.

Which they did.

Our challenge at that point became getting the personalized/signed books to the Uncle by the middle of next week, so there would be sufficient time to pack them and put them in the mail before the January 2 pub-date.  Normally we would have taken the weekend to do the signing-and-personalizing, but! Monday is Christmas Day, and there is neither mail delivery nor FedEx pickups on Christmas Day.

That meant that all the books needed to be signed last night, and shipped out today, arriving in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Which we did; and the books got onto Fast Eddie’s FedEx truck barely a half-hour ago, bundled up in racoon coats; some of them waving Minneapolis! pennants.

This morning, I went to town to run the Last Errands BC (Before Christmas), and this afternoon, after lunch, I am, byerlady, reading this damn’ manuscript and getting on with doing Work.

In other news, with the outdoor thermometer reporting a brisk 14F-Feels Like-12F (aka -10C-feels-like-minus 11C) it is snowing in Beautiful Central Maine.  It’s a rather determined looking little snow, and the weatherbeans are calling 1-3 inches this afternoon, with an additional 1-3 inches to fall overnight.

So, among the weird habits I’m trying to adopt so as to make the next fall into the Slough of Despond less. . .all-consuming, is keeping a Grateful Book, as one friend styles it, or a White Stones Book, as I think of it.  The idea is that every evening, you write down one thing that you were grateful for during the day.

Last evening’s entry was the arrival of those 200 books and the necessity to sign them, and turn them around fast.  Why? you ask, when it disrupted your whole schedule?

Well, because very few writers get to the point of having a shipment of books to sign for their fans, arriving to disrupt best-laid plans.  It’s rare, and it’s a blessing.

And, thank you.