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.


Mother told me, yes, she told me, I’d meet girls like you

So, of course Monday was Belle’s birthday.  Her eighth birthday, so you see that she is, indeed, a Cat of Substance.  Festivities were scheduled, and everyone made merry, but not too merry, as it would have been a terrible thing indeed to wake the Birthday Girl.

The new remote starter has been installed in the car, and has already been useful, so that.

And!  Steve and I have discovered that Fifth of Five is rather more broken than we had thought, which would be why it just lies there, like a unrisen lump of dough, no matter how much we poke at it.  And this means that — we need to start over.  This is not a step that we take lightly, and it’s certainly not the news I wanted to take to Madame, but sometimes, there are no fixes.  So, we’re taking a small breather, and wading in again.

In other news, Maine is melting.  It was 60 degrees today, on February 21, and the streets ran with mud.  Tomorrow, it will be cooler, and again on Friday, with the difference being that Friday, it will rain.

I think winter may be over.

Here’s a photo from Belle’s Birthday Festivities:

Today’s blog post title brought to you by Cheap Trick, “Surrender.”  Here’s your link.


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.