In which we continue to move forwarder on several fronts

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.

I believe this catches us up again.

I hope everyone has a splendid weekend.

Chariot on the Herschell/Looff carousel at the Heritage Museum



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.

. . .and I think that’s all I’ve got.

Here’s a picture of the new bench:

Winter is coming

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.


Writer at Work

So, I’ve been writing Accepting the Lance in chunks —
((AGAIN? moans the kid in the back.))
I heard that.
So. I’ve been writing Accepting the Lance in chunks — yes, again, and no, I don’t know why. I used to be a straight-on writer. I guess my brain decided that was too easy, anymore.
And, as is, I think, typical of writing a thing in chunks — one chunk over There with Character A; another chunk over Here with Character B; yet another chunk ‘waaaaaaaaay over There with Character C; and another chunk with Who The Heck IS that Guy — you get the feeling that you’re running the Red Queen’s Race, that you’re getting nowhere, and not particularly fast, either.
So, it’s a Gratifying Moment when your Author Sense tingles in that special way that means It’s Time to Compile, and you realize that you do have 150 pages — which is to say, 1/3 of a novel +/- — all lined up nice and neat (always excepting That Guy — Who the Heck IS That Guy, Anyway?), and you Have Too been working.
Now, I get to read the compiled draft to find out what hooks the back-brain set, and feel out the shape of the Rest of the Story.

In Which the Author is a Ball o’Fire

Welp. I was gonna hit the ground running this morning, but — not so much.
I did brush Sprite, who has been avoiding me, and Belle, who hasn’t, but who still needed a stern brush-out, and Scrabble, who is a brush-hog this week. Trooper reminded me that I had brushed him yesterday and he’s fine, thanks.
I wrote some letters, and ate breakfast, and bought books. I was going to be cutting back on buying books. Sigh. For them what’s interested, there’s a Margery Sharp four-book electronic collection on sale for $2.99; also Trouble in Triplicate (can’t go wrong with Rex Stout on the ereader), $2.99. Also got interested in Margaret Gellhorn, and bought a (paper) biography (Gellhorn: A 20th Century Life, Caroline Moorehead); and a (paper) collection of Gellhorn’s own work (Travels With Myself and Another).
And that should do me for a bit in the book department.
*glares at self*
*self puts hands in pockets and wanders away, whistling*
So, now. I have four handwritten pages which represent the start of the next chapter of Accepting the Lance to transcribe and fill-out; and the outline of my story for Release the Virgins to stare at. Can’t quite start firming things until I know the name the person I’m Tuckerizing wants me to use. . .
I expect tomorrow might be a bit scattered, so I guess I’d best get to work.
No.  Really.

Weekend Ketchup

Where was I?


Planted the rosebush (Blanc Double De Coubert Rugosa; call-name Colbert) on the afternoon of Friday the 13th.  It was supposed to have been first thing in the morning, but there were a Truly Stupid number of telephone calls to cope with.

After playing in the dirt, and showering, and sharing a leisurely lunch with Steve, I returned to entering corrections to the manuscript of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four, and Steve took up reading the manuscript of Accepting the Lance (insofar as there is a manuscript, &c &c).

Yesterday, I had some errands to run in town.  Note to self:  No More Grocery Shopping on Saturday, especially in summer.  Ghod, what a zoo.  Also, you’d think cold cuts were nectar straight from the heavens.  Six deep at the deli section.  I am not making this up.

Also yesterday, I washed my hat, which seems to have come through the experience in perfect shape.  For values of shape including a wide-brimmed cotton hat specifically made to be rolled up and stuffed into a backpack.

Today, I need to do a Blankie Run; restock the Hummer Bar; get some business paperwork in order; enter the last 57 pages of correx into Constellation Four. . .and then it’s back to Accepting the Lance. After Constellation Four leaves for Baen this evening, I’ll only have two writing projects on my plate — Lance, and a short story for Release the Virgins.  It’ll be almost like a vacation. . .

And I’m guessing it’s now time to get on with that work.  I have four cats in my office, and they clearly expect something to get going pretty soon. . .

Hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend.


Third before Fourth

So, let’s see.

Steve made pancakes for breakfast; we got out the trash and the recycling; I refreshed the Hummer Bar, and the water in the bird bath; Steve cut down the swinging tire, and added it to the Stuff behind the shed.  I called the lawyer’s office; washed pots and pans, unloaded the dishwasher and started filling it back up again. Also, I read my comics and as much of the news as I could stand.

Weatherbeans are calling for a high of 91F/33C today; currently 84F-feels-like-90F (29C-feels-like-32C).  Windows are open, and all available fans are ON.  Trooper has discovered that the ceramic tile in the “entry hall” (actually it’s a little smaller than your traditional sidewalk hopscotch pattern) is cool(er), and has established a Spot between the front door and the wall.  I need to be careful not to push the door wide open and smush him I believe the other cats may be down in the basement, which is not a bad idea.

*Glances at to-do list*

I think it might be time to go to work.


So, the new neighborhood continues to be amusing.  Yesterday, on my way to the mailbox, I was stopped by a friendly woman, who turned out to be the wife of one of our candidates for House District 109.  Of course, she wanted me to vote for her husband, and gave me the literature and the story, all very succinct and pleasant.  At one point, she turned to survey the house, and her eye caught on the CAT magnet we have on the car, and she turned back with a smile.  “Cat,” she said.  “We’re definitely your candidate.”  The conversation then turned to the neighborhood — she’d lived in the house next door for a couple years when she was a kid — and the state of downtown.  We found, not surprisingly, several mutual acquaintances, and by the time her husband arrived, and I got to shake hands with him, and was released to gather the mail, and come back inside, where Steve said, “Who were they?”  I handed him the literature, and said, “The guy I had already decided to vote for.”

Also yesterday, earlier in the day, I installed a bird bath, renewed the Hummer Bar, and then took a tour of the back yard, trying to figure out the various flowers, bushes and trees, and take inventory of which needed dead branches cut out, and what beds needed thinning — as one does.  I am pleased to report that there are at least three rosebushes in the backyard, tucked away into surprising little nooks.  They all appear to be domestic roses (as opposed to sea roses, for which I have a really unseemly passion), and I await news of their color and style.

My tour took me down past the shed, and ’round to the forest gate, which opens onto the trail/road maintained by the sewage district.  I did not on this occasion venture further, though I’m told that, if I follow the sewage district’s greeny road, I will eventually come into the network of trails maintained by Thomas College.  Also, if I like to fish, there are apparently several off-trails that go down to the rivers.  Actually, the trails are there whether I like to fish or not, which I fear that I do not.

Eventually I wandered back into the house, sat down at my desk, and glanced out over the yard — just in time to see a fox dart out from the tangle-growth at the side of the yard.  Running full speed, he slammed into a squirrel who had been rootling around in the grass, grabbed it and kept on running, down to the bottom of the yard, and out the forest gate.

Trooper, who had been lounging on the back of the desk, looking out the window, sat up with a Completely Astonished Look on his face — Good Ghod, there are predators in the yard! I think the expression on my face was its mirror.  Who knew the city was so wild?

For those keeping score, this house has a Goblin Room, and a Forest Gate.  Also, a yard fox.  Yes, we’re living in an urban fantasy novel.

In other news, Real Work has been going forth.  I finished the first draft of Nameless Space Opera story and passed it to Steve.  Steve finished the first drafts of the whole-book introduction and the individual story intros for Constellation Four, and passed them to me.

Accepting the Lance broke 10,000 words last night, so that’s moving along at a rational pace.

This morning, Steve made us pancakes for breakfast, which we had with strawberries and maple syrup, mmmm.  After I finish my second cup of tea, and this blog post, my morning will be about mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms, because I haven’t yet gotten my act together to find a cleaning service (the little voice in my head, the one that says, O, Rly?  You can’t take care of your own house?  Aren’t you SPESHSCUL. — is NOT helpful.  Just sayin’.)

After chores, then to work, and so into the new week.

Everybody have fun, ‘k?  And don’t forget to take some time to sit and look out the window.

Storied Housing

The new house continues to provide adventures, challenges, puzzlements, and moments of delight.

In the puzzlement category, we’ve very nearly unpacked all the kitchen/dining room/pantry boxes (we need to hold off on the bowls/glassware, because they will go into a cabinet which is slated for Power Tools and Moderate Reconstruction.  The rest of the stuff, though, has been sorted, and!  we have yet to turn up the good silicon spatulas (which I was very much missing this morning as I scrambled my eggs for breakfast), and also the Very Best Wooden Spoons, which, with the spatulas, used to live on the countertop next to the stove in the Old Kitchen, conveniently placed in a large ginger-jar-ish vase.  The vase was unpacked weeks ago, but the rest are still missing in action.

The hummingbird feeder has attracted several clients, who spend more time running each other outta the bar than they do actually drinking.  I’m guessing that’s how they stay so svelte.  In any case, they’re a source of enjoyment for the cats, and for me.

Last night, while Steve and I were having supper, there came from the living room a grinding sort of noise.  The cats were not pleased.  I wasn’t pleased either, once it had been determined that the noise was coming from behind the wall.  Possibly a squirrel has gotten in to the attic.  Probably, I will call Someone tomorrow to remove him.  I mean, yes, we do make Considerably Less Noise, and provide Much Less To-ing and Fro-ing, but that doesn’t mean the place is up for cohabitation.  There’s a very nice yard out back for squirrels and such-like, and they may set up housekeeping there with my blessing.

In writing news, I last night finished the first draft of the story commissioned for Infinite Stars Two, and have passed it on to Steve, for his sins, while I turn the fullness of my attention to Accepting the Lance.

What else?  Ah, I had made an appointment at the local spa and Friday had my first massage.  It was good.  By which I mean, wow! that hurt!  and boy! that feels good!  A couple of times I heard the knots let go, and — here’s the really weird part — I felt taller when I left.  I’ve always thought to going to the spa and getting a massage as a self-indulgence I could neither afford nor required.  May have to rethink that.

I think that mostly catches us up.  Me, I’ve got to refill the hummingbird feeder, balance the checkbook, and get to work.

Everybody have an excellent day.

Second Breakfast

First breakfast was Cheerios and half a banana, around 8 am.  Second breakfast is six Ritz cracker with cream cheese, and my second cup of tea.

I have News of sorts, for those of you who have been Patiently Bearing with All The Boring House Stuff, and waiting for us to get back to the Important Stuff.

We here at the Confusion Factory have a number of projects currently on our plates, and while they have deadlines as far-flung as August and January, those are delivery deadlines.  Internal deadlines are another thing entirely, because, while Everything May Happen At Once, it has to be handled One Thing At A Time.

So!  We have the following projects in hand:

May 26:  Finish proofing the Anniversary Edition of Agent of Change.  August delivery

May 31: Sharon finishes first draft of as-yet-untitled space opera story for Infinite Stars 2 and passes to Steve.  August delivery

June 1:  Sharon begins Actual Writing of Accepting the Lance.  January 2019 delivery

June 1:  Sharon begins proofing Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume 4.  Steve begins writing mini-intros for each story.  Collaborate on volume intro.  August delivery

July 1:  Sharon begins writing story for Release the Virgins.  Steve begins writing story for Release the Virgins.  August delivery?

You will deduce from this list that we are in a position of needing to Beat Feet and keep on beating.

On top of this — those who are bored with House Stuff may avert your eyes — we still do need to get the Old Digs ready for sale, and finish settling into the New Digs.

We will therefore be Somewhat Scarce on the Information Superhighway.  Email may languish.  We will try to surface occasionally to fill y’all in, but work, by which I of course mean, Feeding the Cats, comes first.

Stay safe.  Keep busy.  Be kind.  Take out the trash.  Call your mother.  Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you.  And, always, always. . .

Watch the skies.