The plan going, insofar as there is a plan…

So, it’s been a scrambled couple weeks, what with doctor appointments, call-back doctor appointments, visits to the emergency room, and assorted Real Life Whatnot, which would not have been nearly as annoying, except that they took up the time left over from the various health thingies, leaving Very Limited Amounts of Time to do, yanno, work.

The spaces of time we did have lent themselves well to small projects, which is why Degrees of Separation is ready to be published, absent possible cover quotes from a colleague or two — oh, and sell copy.  Because of the above time constraints, I went with a pre-made cover this time (plug here for, which looks very well, indeed.

Today, I have done various chores, including cleaning the bathroom, and looked at the Calendar That Rules Us All.  January is already starting to fill up with Good Things, like Book Day (January 2) and book signing (January 13) and Chaotic Neutral things like taking Sprite to the vet’s for her annual checkup, but also with doctor’s appointments, which. . .Honest, our doctors are perfectly nice people, but I could do with seeing them a deal less.

However — and I hesitate to say this, lest I jinx it — it looks like I don’t have One Blessed Thing on the calendar until Book Day, January 2.

So!  The Plan is, after the Generator Guy is done doing the Generator’s Annual Exam, I will read the 60,000-ish words that now exist in the file labeled Fifth of Five, and (1) determine if it really is as awful as I think it is (note: occasionally, the current project is exactly that awful, but usually not. This is only the 60,000 word slump — that unique point in the narrative where the Critic in Your Head can point out that Everything You’ve Written on the WIP so far is Crap and that there’s not enough room left to finish the story.  It’s a Special Place, indeed.), and (2) come up with a Plan for moving forward.

And so that’s what’s going on here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  Business as usual, really

O, here’s the cover for Degrees. . .

And a snippet:

“No, no, having taken the decision to defend yourself–you did well. A man of peace, surprised at your lawful business, and, I make no doubt, exhausted from your labors this evening. Our friend, here, he had expected an easy strike, and now he will wake in the Watch House, with a headache, a fine to pay–and an account of himself to be made to his mistress that will, I expect, be very painful for him.”

In which we enter another countdown

Aren’t countdowns fun?  Let’s do another one!

Asyouknowbob, December 15 is Trooper’s birthday.  We here at the Cat Farm usually Celebrate this Occasion in the Traditional Manner with the Great Round of Sleeping in the Sun, and the Flying Mouse Competition high on the list of Festivities.

This year, in addition to All That,  we’re also throwing a Block Party.

“Block Party,” a Liaden Universe® story will be published to on Friday, December 15, around noonish, Eastern time, in honor of Trooper’s birthday, to ramp up for the publication of Neogenesis, and to celebrate our readers, who have been with us for many years.

So!  Countdown to “Block Party” and Trooper’s eighth birthday! Four-and-a-half days — and counting.

Today’s To-Do List is a bit challenging.  I quote:

1. Read “Revolutionists” and prepare comments, if any
2. Continue edits on “Degrees of Separation”
3. 1,000 (or more) on Fifth of Five
4. Train Dragon
5. Meditate
6. Clean something in this house

So, it looks like I’d better get to work — see y’all on the flip side.

Waiting for the Snowstorm

Before we get started today, Management has asked me to make four announcements. Here they are:

One!  If you have been planning on ordering a personalized copy of Liaden Universe® novel Neogenesis, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, you have until tomorrow, Sunday, December 10 to make your order.  Here’s your link.

Two! “Block Party,” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will go live on on Friday, December 15.  Mark your calendars.

Three!  You may now pre-order the ebook edition of Neogenesis from the Nook Store and the Kindle Store

Four!  You may now acquire from Baen ebooks the eARC of Star Destroyers, edited by Tony Daniel and Christopher Ruocchio, including all! new! stories by: David Drake, Michael Z. Williamson, Mark L. Van Name, Steve White, Jody Lynn Nye, Brendan DuBois, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Susan R. Matthews, Mike Kupari, J.R. Dunn, Robert Buettner, Christopher Ruocchio, Dave Bara, Joelle Presby, Gray Rinehart.  Here’s your link.

Adventures in Chemistry
We ran out of bread here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, so this morning’s first priority was baking.  Sadly, it seems this batch ain’t gonna rise.  Not enough moisture, I think; I added more than called for in order to get the ingredients to the “sticky ball” stage of the thing, but it might not have been enough.

We shall see.

Snow Party
In other news, the roofers have finished doing their thing.  The house now has an awesome metal roof, and, in celebration, Central Maine is throwing a snowstorm this afternoon through tomorrow morning.

Do we know how to party or what?

Work Going Forward
Steve and I have three projects underway at the moment.

One is, of course, Fifth of Five aka Monkey Business.

The second is a short story destined for Insurgency, an anthology coming from ZNB in 2018.

The third project is editing Degrees of Separation: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 27, an all-new, all-original novella (unless it hits the lower eaves of novel by the time the edits are done).  Degrees, it says here, is a story about Paris, about love, and about bread.  Our intention is to have it available as a widely-distributed echapbook,  and as a paper chapbook (though Amazon only) in mid to late January.

Now that the roofers are gone. . .
I can hang up my framed Letter of Nobility, certifying that Baroness Sharon Lee is a noble citizen of the sovereign micro-nation of Ladonia.  I had achieved my noble citizenship a few months back, to honor the memory of the late Dave Romm, himself a Baron of Ladonia, but had been behind in acquiring a proper frame.  Steve did this for me (you see how things work around here) and now the Letter may be put on display.

I think that catches us all up.

Speaking of catching up, here’s Scrabble, catching up on her comfy.


On running out of time

So, a new writer wrote to me on Goodreads, back, I dunno, a month or more ago, perfectly polite, asking how to emulate our success, because he wished, not unreasonably, to rise from selling dozens of books to hundreds, or even thousands. My reply was to give him the Short Forty Year History Of My Career, which I felt was fair, because That’s How We Did It, and he might not *actually* want to emulate our process, because, honestly, it was Pretty Damn Scary sometimes.

I mention this because apparently this fellow is the tip of an iceberg of young-in-age writers who are freaking out because they’re Running Out Of Time! To Publish All The Things! Win All the Awards! Achieve All the Fame AND All the Riches!

There are. . .oh, so Many Problems with this.  Allow me to sum up.

Beyond the fact that living in a State of Constant Freak-Out is No Good At All for your creative flow — a Very Small number of writers ever win any awards, much less the Really Important To Your Career Awards, whichever ones those happen to be this week.  It’s not because the game is fixed; it’s because there are Many Many MANY more writers than awards.  Do the math, and you’ll figure out that not everybody can have one.  Just like not everybody in your office can get Employee of the Year?  And, yes, that’s an apt simile.  Most of us just show up every day and do the job, year after year.  Writing as a job really suffers from the Perceived! Glamour! of the work in a way bookkeeping never will.

In much the same way, no one can Achieve All the Fame.  Steve and I have been showing up every day for forty years or so, and we still meet people at conventions or online, who say, But, Why Have I Never Heard Of You? To which the answer I most often give is, Damned If I Know.  The Real Answer, though, is, There Are A Lot of Books Out There, and A Lot of Authors.  Even if you just stick to one genre (hah!), nobody can keep up.

I’m not even going to address Achieving All The Riches.  If you see being a writer as an Instant Path to Riches — you’re in the wrong business, my child.

Now, the Running Out Of Time thing. . .Yes, it’s very true that no one knows how long their thread is.  We have the time we have, no longer.  Statistically, though, most of us in First World Countries have more than 30 years.  So, you’re not Running Out of Time at 24.  It may feel like it because at 24 you’re still running hot, but honest — statistically, you’ve got time.

People start writing and publishing at many ages.  At the extremes:  Some wait til they retire from the day-job; some start writing in high school.  It’s part of the sickness of our culture that we tend to value the 14-year-old over the 65-year-old debut novelist.

Being a writer is, on a certain level, about being unique, so when you start writing is unique to you.  There is no Have to Have Published To Acclaim by 24.5 Years or You’ll Never Make It Rule.  Really, there’s not.

There’s also no rule about when you Should Quit and Make Room for New Writers.  Ideally, you start writing when you have a story worth telling, and you stop writing the day you put your pen down and say, I’ve Said Everything I Wanted To Say.  That can be at the end of a short story, or at the end of three dozen novels.  That’s unique to you, too.

So, wrapping this up, because I need to go open a story file and get the heck to work for the day —

My name is Sharon Lee.  I published my first short story when I was 26 years old.  I published my first novel at 36.  I will see my thirtieth novel, Neogenesis, and my one hundred fourteenth short story, “Block Party,” published during my 65th year.

Not king yet.  Not done yet, either.

Well the first days are the hardest days; don’t you worry anymore

So, the Chromebook, which still lacks a name. . .

Polaris Office has stooped to renting itself monthly, and — just no.  I therefore downloaded and rejected about a dozen other word processors from the Play Store, and was starting to suspect that Google was trying to quash all of the competition and force the unhappy author into Google Drive.

My last try was AndrOpenOffice, which I was warned might not be optimized for my device, and indeed it was a slow load.  Once down, however, it seems to be working just fine.  I’ll give it a thorough test drive, and if it continues to perform well, will upgrade to the pro version.

The other thing I did was download Eset for Mobile, which I figured would install itself and get to work, as it has on both my tablet and my phone — and there I was surprised.  Eset and Chrome seem to have some serious differences.  Who knew?

In other news, I’ve been going great guns on the short story which is not Fifth of Five.  At this point, I’m hoping that the novel will Grow Jealous of my involvement with Another Narrative and start Throwing Out Lures.  It’s happened before…

This morning, I went with Steve to the cardiologist, where we received the sad news that the doctor he’s been seeing for a while, who we both liked, personally and professionally, will be leaving on December 31.  Next appointment — new doctor.

After the cardiologist, we went to breakfast at Governor’s, and then came home.  I cleaned the cats’ water fountain, wrote 1,000 words on that side story, ate lunch and zipped off to yoga.

I’m taking Gentle Yoga, which I took before, at a different location and with a different teacher, and I must say, the two courses could not be more different.  This instructor focuses on keeping track of what your body is telling you, and on breath.  The former instructor scarcely spoke of breath, save an occasional reminder to the class to remember to breathe, and not to stretch too far.

I am tending to find the present course’s pacing a little slow; on the other hand, I’ve worked up a sweat by the end of it, so maybe I’ll do fast later.

. . .and I think that’s everything I’ve got right now, as I try to not keep too close an eye on the elections. . .


Today’s blog post title brought to you by The Grateful Dead, “Uncle John’s Band,” which has been my constant earworm for the last two days.  Here’s your link.  You’re welcome.

If it’s raining, it must be Thursday

So, the Monday house hunt was kind of a bust.  The house I was pretty sure we were going to make an offer on revealed a Fatal Flaw; the second-most-likely house has now fallen under contract.  Of the remaining three houses on our carefully curated list, one needed a bulldozer, one needed a match, and one had lied in order to get a date.

There is one more house we had identified as possible, if not probable, and it’s on the calendar for our* inspection today.  . . .Actually, that’s a misleading statement.  There are several houses in the Waterville/Winslow megaplex that are (or say they are) one-floor, and/or have a master suite on the first floor. These houses are all priced in excess of $190,000 and — no.

*It may be that Steve will be performing this afternoon’s house inspection solo, as I have been and continue to be stupidly ill.  Tuesday I finally caved and went to the doctor, who sent me to the lab, and here I am, awaiting the results of cultures and whatnot, so that a treatment plan can be made.  Apparently, it’s hard to treat something if you don’t know what it is.

In Fountain Pen News, the Jaipur medium nip demonstrator pen and I have failed to reach An Accommodation, and it will be seeking a new position.  The Jaipur bold nib is a perfectly convenable pen, though the bold nib may be a Bit Much.  And the nameless little eyedropper pen that came with the two Jaipurs to keep them calm during shipping is undemanding, and quite pleasing to write with.  It’s currently filled with red ink because I was going to be doing some editing (see “stupidly ill” above), which, um, hasn’t quite happened yet.

Now, the pens I really REALLY like are the Pilot Metropolitans (I have two — purple leopard and white tiger.  A Theme!), but they take cartridges or a convertor, but the convertor that came with is, for this hopeful user, Impossible.  In a word, what I want are Pilot Metropolitans that I can fill with All The Colors of Ink!

So, last night, I ordered in my third Metropolitan (bronze lizard; we depart from the Theme) and a C-40 piston convertor, to be my Test Pen.  If all goes well, then I can order in a couple more convertors for the pens I already have and free myself from the tyranny of the plastic ink cartridge.

What with one thing and another (see “stupidly ill” above), progress has not been progressing on Fifth of Five.  Yesterday, I did sit in the comfy office chair with a pen and a pad of paper and wrote out some future scenes, so there’s at least some motion, even if it’s not exactly forward.

Oh!  I don’t believe I mentioned here that there is a new reading posted on Patreon, for subscribers only.  Here’s the link.

And, I think that’s all I’ve got, aside the news that it’s still raining.  The weatherbeans are claiming that we’ll get a couple day respite before the nor’easter hits, this weekend.

Rainy Monday

So, yesterday was a work day, and I worked.  Five hundred words on an as-yet nameless short piece destined for a chapbook; and about 2,000 words on Fifth of Five.

Today. . .isn’t looking good on the work front.  Our very efficient agent has lined up a tour of our list of possible houses, which is going to eat most-if-not-all of the afternoon.  This morning, I need to do the dishes I ignored yesterday because — working, and also clean the cat fountain, which as decided to stop fountaining.  I Suspect Cat Fur in the motor; it’s happened before.  Somewhere in there, too, I need to call the doctor because This Has Gone on Long Enough, and wedge in an evening appointment.  Or maybe early tomorrow.

So that.

On the topic of shorter works (by which I mean not novels), is there a story you — yes, you! — would like to read?  I anticipate that we will be writing several new stories/new chapbooks, and we’re open to suggestions.  Let me know in comments.

And now. . .I’d better get with the dishes.

Everybody stay dry.

Oh:  Fifth of Five +/-39,000 of a theoretical +/-100,000 words
Titleless short story 500 words of whoknows

Snippet:  In the port city of Solcintra, on a certain day in the third relumma of the year called Phantione, a boy was delivered to the delm of Clan Serat, who did not want him.

In which the day is Thursday and Thursday is the day

First, because I know y’all have been holding your breath — two! editors give “Block Party” a thumbs-up, so that will be published to on or about December 15, where you — yes, you! — may read it in all it’s glory, for free.

Second, I’ve spent the last two days under the weather — yes, I do wish the weather would pick on someone else, but there you have it.  Tuesday, I just threw in the towel, retired to the corner of the couch, dozed under a blanket of coon cats and read Wildfire at Midnight, possibly my least favorite Stewart, but next in publication order.  Yesterday, I started feeling well enough by evening to write about 2,000 words in a continuing direction in Fifth of Five, so that’s all good.  This morning, I’m definitely feeling more the thing; still, I’m lingering over coffee, keeping  a weather-eye out, before I go off to gym.

This morning, it is quite chilly, and I am wearing the fleece-lined-flannel shirt/jacket (it has sideseam pockets, which I suppose makes it a jacket, rather than a shirt), over the “If you can read this, I have your ring” tshirt.  Steve asked how the flannel shirt felt, and after I finished cooing about how soft and warm it was, wondered if I should buy another.  And, yanno; I’m seriously considering it.  Best. Shirt. Ever.  Even if it is orange.

I may have been remiss here in mentioning that the Narbonic Kickstarter has only 11 more days to go.  They have made their nut, and are into the stretch goals, but if you were a fan back in The Day, you know you want to check this out.

And that?  Is the news that’s fit to print.  I do believe I’ll go to gym.

Fifth of Five still weighing in the 35,000 range, what with this and that.


Bitter Truth?” she asked, feeling her eyebrows rise. “Who names a tea Bitter Truth?”

“Obviously, the White Wing Beverage Company does, though in earnest or in jest, I dare not speculate.”


How would I know; why should I care?

The Box from LL Bean arrived.  The slippers are already on my feet, and the fleece-lined flannel shirt?  Baby, this garment is never coming off of my body.

Today’s regular mail brought royalties — that’s statements and checks — for electronic sales made through  So, yay! money in the mail.

Yesterday, we turned in “Block Party,” the requested seasonal story in support of Neogenesis.  This one was something of a challenge, because the request was for “seasonal,” and one naturally doesn’t like to disappoint one’s editor.  However, neither Liadens nor Surebleakeans can possibly celebrate “Christmas;” nor were we persuaded that they would celebrate any of the other winter holidays native to our own Earth.  What that meant was that we had to figure out the “notes” for a seasonal story, and try to construct an in-world story that hit those notesNot really sure we did it right, but our editor promises a quick reading.

Today, it’s back to the salt mines Fifth of Five.  But first?  Lunch, and perhaps even a nap.

Everybody have a good day.

Today’s blog post brought to you by two bands:  The Zombies, who did the original in 1965; and Santana, who covered it in 1977:  “She’s Not There.”

Friday the Thirteenth

Excellent day; sunny and crisp.

I seem to have caught a cold; or a cold has caught me, so, in celebration, I’ve ordered in a pair of Mr. Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers and a flannel jacket-shirt lined with fleece, in orange plaid.  Because orange plaid was on sale, and brought the price down from Ruinous to Merely Outrageous.

What else?  I’ve meditated for two days in a row, been to the gym, and managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I did sleep in this morning, but it wasn’t my fault!  Three coon cats ganged up on me and held me under the covers.

I have been remiss in mentioning here that Pinbeam Books has committed The Tomorrow Log to paper.  Here’s your link.  I note that it is also and has since 2011 been constantly available as an ebook from all the Usual Suspects, though Amazon seems unwilling to associate the two editions in its catalog.

I’ve been slowly slipping back into Fifth of Five, which does indeed seem to be aspiring to the working title Monkey Business.  We shall see.  In the meanwhile, I’m glad Neogenesis gave me all that practice in writing in chunks, ’cause that’s how this one wants to be written, too.  Yes, yes, I said never again.  The author is always the last to know.

Today, in honor of the cold, and despite sleeping in, I have placed NAP on the to-do list, along with the other glamorous tasks that fall to a working writer, such as cleaning the cat fountain, straightening away at least some of this stuff, doing the dishes, oh, and actually working on the manuscript.

I’ll try to get back to reporting progress, though a total word count isn’t really going to be possible — see writing in chunks, above.

Yesterday, then, I added 850 new words to the WIP and cleaned up some really rugged sentences.  The manuscript, in, I hesitate to say total, weighs in at something more-or-less close to 35,000 words.  This counts. . .cohesive chunks.

Everybody confused now?  Good.  Have a snippet:

The little Healer was not a monster, though he had wielded necessity like a surgeon’s knife, terrifying in his virtue.