My office, I have it back

My office had gotten into a terrible state, what with several stacks of file boxes that had been shoved into corners “temporarily” celebrating the second anniversary of their tenancy this tax season.  Steve helped me carry them all down to the basement, where they’re now happy among their kin.

After the boxes were dealt with, I filed, and I picked things up off the floor and put them away.  I realize now that I should have taken Before pictures, so the transformation can be more completely realized, but!  these may serve as a reminder to me, at least, that the place can t0o be neat.  Or at least, neater.

from the door
One view from the doorway

 

From the door TWO
A second view from the doorway

 

from the file cabinet
A view from the file cabinet corner

 

from the file cabinet TWO
Another view from the file cabinet corner

Annoyed Office Manager, with minions
Annoyed Office Manager, with minions

 

Having goofed off today in fine form for most of the day, I’ll now go to work, though I find myself somewhat at a standstill regarding the Exact Sorts of Fish that occupy the Gulf of Maine, and in specific, Saco Bay, and what they look like.  The internet has failed me in this.  I need to run errands tomorrow, so perhaps a stop at the library for a. . .fishiary?. . .is in order.

 

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He must have been an admiral, a sultan or a king

Things are still somewhat in disarray here at the Cat Farm.  Scrabble and Mozart are still insisting that The Kid has to be here somewhere, darnit, and they occasionally mount exploratory surveys.

Mozart yesterday went over the entire house, using the MomCat call, but damn — The Kid still didn’t turn up.  He then sought Steve out to Explain This At Length, and (possibly) to Demand Assistance.  Steve was, sadly, not able to bring much to this, except to offer scribbles.

Scrabble, ever methodical, periodically checks Socks’ favorite spots, and has three times now put his favorite toys into play, noisily — but that didn’t pull him out of his Silly Fluff sulks, either.  There are also Other Worrisome Developments, such as Socks’ bowl going missing.  She has duly noted this on the inventory.

The humans are at loose ends, somewhat, and not so sprightly as they might be.  Work, however, goes on; things arrive in the mail; and laundry must be done.

Things that have arrived in the mail include three! guidebooks for Angkor Wat, which are fascinating.  (No, I’m not going to Angkor Wat or Siem Reap or Cambodia or Viet Nam.  No, I don’t know why I had to have these books.  The backbrain at work, I suppose. I try not to question too closely in the belief that, eventually, All Will Become Clear.  It would be nice to occasionally get a memo, though.)  Anyhow — fascinating, with pictures! and teensytinyitsybitsy little print, and it is to swoon.  So, yanno, at least the backbrain’s happy.

Also in the mail — today, in fact — was a sympathy card from the vet’s office, with personal notes from all the staff, aka Socks’ Waterville Fan Club; and  Protector, the next Foreigner novel.

Speaking of guidebooks, I ought to get one for New York, so I can figure out how far things are from other things and how to move around the place.  Hmm.  Steve and I will be at Book Expo America (aka BEA) at the end of May, doing a book signing and some other stuff TBA.  In theory, we will have some unscheduled time to do, um, stuff.  Noting that the Sheer Amount of Stuff  in New York makes thinking about what one would like to do-or-see. . .somewhat overwhelming.

But!  What do I find, via the New Yorker, but that Kinky Boots, the Musical! is/will be at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (located at 45th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, it says, here, helpfully, no doubt). This is very exciting, and visions of theater tickets dance in my brain (to be immediately dashed by my lack of knowing almost everything I need to know in order to figure out if a night at the theater is even possible.  That guidebook is looking like a better and better idea…)

#

Of possible interest to those who follow the ups and downs of the publishing biz, and wonder why writers go crazy, is the whole Night Shade Books Nightmare.  Steve and I are not involved with Night Shade, we have no skin in the game, but a lot of our friends and colleagues are involved in this. . .horrifying situation.

Here’s a fairly temperate analysis, with history, written by a well-known SF/F agent.

Here’s another summary of the situation, by Tobias Buckell.

Here’s Phil Foglio’s take (Night Shade publishes the Girl Genius text novels (NOT the graphic novels)

Here’s the first i09 article regarding the situation.

And, here’s Mr. Lassen of Night Shade, in his own words.

Kameron Hurley, one of Night Shade’s authors, rings down the sky, and explains why she’s considering the “deal.”

Andy Zack, of the Zack Literary Agency, weighs in.

#

Progress on Carousel Seas

24,893/100,000 OR 24.89% Complete

“That’s an impressive bit of work the man does,” I said, slowly. “I wonder if it does any good, in the long run.”

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The Intermittent Hugo Course

First of all, if you missed the announcement yesterday:

The final ballot for the Hugo Awards, which will be voted on by the membership of LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, has been posted, here.  Congratulations to all the nominees!

Now, this is an interesting ballot for a buncha reasons.

First, the Hugo Administrators have been doing a dern good job of growing the number of readers involved in the nomination process.  This year 1,343 valid ballots were received by the committee, up from last year’s record of 1,101.  When I wrote the first Intermittent Hugo blog post, in 2007, 567 votes on the final ballot decided “Best Novel” for 2006.

In 2011, AussieCon managed to get a whopping 1,094 valid Hugo ballots — meaning that more than half of their membership voted.

So!  More participants.  Excellent.

What’s also interesting about this ballot is what’s been nominated.  Kim Stanley Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and John Scalzi aren’t exactly strangers to the Hugo nominee list, but Saladin Ahmed is a first-time novelist.

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is on this ballot no less than four times (five times, if you count the Podcast category, but I’m just dealing with fiction, here), with two entries in the Novelette category.

Out of 18 nominees, 8 are women (that’s counting only once for Mira/Seanan; had she in fact been two women rather than one with the energy of three, fully half of the fiction ballot would have been held by women).  There’s been some…complaint over the last few years over the lack of women represented in the Hugo ballots; perhaps this year is the beginning of a trend.

When I posted the link to the nominee list, and congratulations on my Facebook wall yesterday, a couple people wanted to know why Lee and Miller aren’t on the list*, and I said I’d explain that, so below is the explanation.

The Hugo Awards are a readers award, like the SFSite Readers Choice, but there are a few important differences:

1.  The SFSite Readers Choice is open to anyone within the sound of its webpage, and

2.  There is no monetary cost involved in voting.

Readers who nominate for and vote on the Hugo Awards must:

1.  Be either an Attending or Supporting member of the current WorldCon (the full rules are here)

…and…

2.  Right now, Attending Memberships are $200; Supporting Memberships are $60

So, what you have in the case of the Hugos is a closed pool of self-selected, convention-going readers/voters.  These readers/voters tend to read and vote for writers they know.  Growing the pool of readers/voters by making participation more attractive to people who don’t attend WorldCons is, I think, going to change — to widen — the nominations.  I think this year’s ballot shows the beginnings of that.

What any of this has to do with a lack of Lee-and-Miller on the ballot is. . .the core of our readership are not convention-going fans, and therefore they do not nominate for, or vote on, the Hugo Awards.

This is not to be taken as a complaint; I don’t feel especially ill-used.  It is what it is, and I’m not telling any tales out of school when I say that our fans are the envy of writers everywhere.

Steve and I aren’t shy about promoting our work, and we’ll continue to mention it when we have works that are eligible for this or that award, because, hey — it’s what writers do.

Thank you all for your ongoing interest in and support of our work.

__________

*This is, in a way, like asking a writer why their novel hasn’t been made into a movie.  “No interest,” is kinda hard to argue with.

 

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And she’d throw him bouquets on the stage

A slow day of catchup of things that were let slide because of catmergencies.  The laundry’s done.  Go, me.  I spent a little bit of time with Carousel Seas and managed to get some words down.  Socks has been intermittently about.  He’s still exhausted, poor guy.  Scrabble spent much of the day on the rocker, while Mozart helped me and Ox hold down the couch.

I am inordinately pleased to discover at this late date that Bruce Springsteen covered “The Man on the Flying Trapeze,” one of my grandmother’s favorite songs, and one which she sang with, err, GUSTO when we went to Sing-A-Longs in the Park.  (Are there still Sing-a-Longs in the Park?)  I was my grandmother’s chosen companion on these trips — possibly because I couldn’t sing a note, or because she believed that children should be exposed to the classics.  As a result, I know the words to a Very Odd mix of songs.

In the excitement of the Socks’ Homecoming Gala, I forgot to mention yesterday that…I bought more knives.  Cheesy Dollar Store knives, but they’ll spread the mustard.

Progress on Carousel Seas:

16,353/100,000 OR 16.35% complete

He shook his head. “Wasn’t a drop of harm in that girl, an’ her father could never say the same.”

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Got safety tubes, but I ain’t scared

Am I a bad person because, when I realized that we were out of clean table knives, my first thought wasn’t, “Gee, I’d better wash the dishes,” but “My god! We need to buy more knives!”

As advertised elsewhere, I had plenty of help in my office today.  Not only did Socks edit my notes and make some very valuable suggestions, albeit for some other novel in progress in another part of the globe, he encouraged exercise! by jumping up onto the printer, where he could reach the red origami crane that (used to) hang from the neck of my desk lamp.

The crane was moved, amid hilarity.  Socks jumped down from the printer and re-occupied the yellow pad, well-pleased with himself.

A note of caution to those who may go looking on Amazon for the free electronic copy of Agent of Change.  The free copy is still free.  However, another copy with the same cover is also now available for the price of $5.10.  To the best of my knowledge, this is not (that’s NOT) a legitimate copy of the novel (yes, the publisher has been informed) — do not be fooled, and do not give whoever has perpetuated this…unsavory event any of your money; do not buy this book — you don’t know where it’s been.

If you’d like to make sure you’re getting a correct copy of Agent of Change, you may still download it directly from the Baen Free Library, in all ebook formats known to man or Turtle.  Here’s the link.

Also?  Necessity’s Child still isn’t the sequel to Dragon Ship.  Thank you.

Progress on Carousel Seas

13,903/100,000 OR 13.9% complete

“The Gulf o’Maine, now,” Borgan said, still talking as low as if we were hunting tigers. The Gulf o’Maine’s one of the richest and peacefullest pieces of water in all this world. There’s a lot of angry ocean out there. A lot of angry ocean.”

 

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Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan, soy capitan

What with one thing and another, actual writing has been going a little — OK, a lot — slower than I’d like.  I did sit down with Mozart, the pad, and the pen and we figured out — with Mozart of course doing the heavy lifting; I want to stress that —  how to accommodate the second POV in a way that’s not too intrusive.  We think.  That meant I had to recast the first scene, which meant I lost some words.  Of course.  But the scene is better now, and the reveal will be the better for being done slowly, over time.  So, yanno — it’s all good.

Just not fast.

I think I forgot to mention here that sandals are now on sale at the Dexter shoe outlet in Waterville.  At the time I received this information, via the store’s marquee, it was snowing a bastid and we could barely see the car in front of us.

Also, of slightly more import — there’s a new luthier in Waterville, right next to/slightly under Somerset Violins.  I’m not clear on whether the new shop — Patkus Guitars — is related to Somerset Violins, or if the Railroad Square shops and work spaces are just a super-nice location for people who build stringed instruments.  I do like living in a place where I can say that there’s a new luthier in town, though.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping  for neither alarums or excursions of any flavor.  I really need to get some work done, here, Universe, ‘k?

Progress on Carousel Seas:

11,387/100,000 OR 11% complete

“You must be somethin’,” Frenchy said, and her voice actually was a little hushed, as if she’d just witnessed an event of no small moment.

“King Cat?” I asked, trying for flippant.

“Near enough. The fishing men call him Old Mister, and even they do what he says.”

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An overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome

Last evening, Steve and I went comet hunting — and we bagged one!  Speaking for myself, I’m always pleased when I can see anything through binoculars (Steve had brought the Big Telescope, but we decided not to get it out since the astronomical binoculars were sufficient unto the task).  The crescent moon was just brilliant — and I saw Jupiter, too, sitting right next to it.  Steve also saw three Jovian moons, but I’m not that good.

We finally left our vantage point on the ridge clearcut because we were freezing, and because the comet had traveled out of our line of sight, and came home to celebratory grilled cheese sammiches.

This morning was the morning that I was going to take my car to the Subaru Dealer in Augusta and spend (so said my pessimism, which is rarely wrong) thousands of dollars getting the ABS brakes fixed-or-replaced.

This mission was made somewhat more complex by the fact that the (brand! new! in August)  battery was stone cold dead and not even a click could be gotten out of it when I turned the key in the ignition.

I went back into the house, and called AAA, which promised a truck within the next 45 minutes, and then I called the garage, explained the whole business and asked if I was taking the car to Augusta or bringing it down to him.  He said to bring it to him and he’d figure out what was going on.

Which he did.

The (brand! new! in August) alternator was stone cold dead — and, no, we don’t know why.  However, the mechanic declared it defective and put another in, free of charge.  So, yay! I saved thousands of dollars, but still got to worry.

In other news, my credit card was (according to BOA) “compromised” via a “third party vendor,” and they sent me a new one (credit card, not third-party vendor, though come to think of it, I might need one of those, too…)  Which has the damn chip embedded. They didn’t even ask this time.

Carousel Seas, meanwhile, informs me that it must be a bifurcated narrative, instead of All Kate All the Time.  This troubles me, but the reasons given are compelling, and the book itself is adamant, so there we have it.

Now that I’ve accepted the inevitable, I need to rewrite a piece-already-written, and work out how the two threads will shadow each other.  Mozart will be pleased — this will require some serious couch time with pen and paper.

For those playing along at home — you thought we’d had the last snow of the year, didn’t you?  Yeah, so did I.  Fooled us both, they did.

We currently reside beneath a Winter Storm Warning, with 10-14 inches of heavy, wet snow expected to fall between early Tuesday morning and midnight.  Yes, Wednesday is the first day of Spring; what’s your point?

. . .I do believe that catches us up.

If you need more, I’ll be on the couch with Mozart.

 

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Today’s theme is! Errands, with a side of chores

Today, Mozart goes to the hairdresser for his summer do. It’s a little early, but Mozart had obviously planned for a Cold Maine Winter, Just Like Grandpa Used to Have. I think he fails to understand that Grandpa tended to exaggerate when he was into the nip.

Anyhow, here’s Mozart being prepared for winter:
Mozart is 15 March 1 2013

I’m sure he’ll be just as annoyed in the After shot.

So, first thing is hairdresser.  Then back to the house to cook and eat supper; the chicken already marinating because I am mighty!;  then out in the opposite direction to ransom the income taxes from the accountant.  Then back home, to check over the paperwork and doubtless to write checks to the IRS and the Treasurer of the State of Maine.  Possibly I’ll get some writing done, if no more chores or errands mount up while I’m slaying the ones already in-queue.

Speaking of checks — several kind people sent money via the Splinter Universe PayPal button, to help with the repair of my car.  Thank you so very much; I’m surprised, but grateful.

I did yesterday get to the library for a writing shift, after picking said car up from the garage, which was good.  I’m liking this  getting out to a new room; varying from the Same Old seems to be sharpening up the writer brain.  The writing goal is 2,000 words a day on Carousel Seas.  The plan is to get to the point where I can juggle one ball, and then add in another for later in the day.  This may or may not work, but if you don’t try, you never learn.

Or something.

And I see by the clock on the wall that it’s time to find a cat and insert him into a cat carrier.

See y’all later.

Progress on Carousel Seas:

6,004/100,000 words OR 6% completed

“Kate,” I said, bending over to pick up the Journal-Trib, “you lack vision.”

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I believe it may be Tuesday

I managed, for the first time since last Monday, to get out of the house for my morning writing shift.  Today, I sampled the Waterville Library, which may be up for some award for the Noisiest Library in the State of Maine.  Initially, I went upstairs to the Maine History Room, where I had been as alone as a writer could wish to be on a previous occasion.  Today, the History Room was empty, but there was an Intervention of some sort going on in the room directly across the hall, and both of the women involved sport Hearty Farm Girl lungs.

I really didn’t want to hear the personal business of the woman being counseled, so I went down one flight, to Non-fiction, and set up on a table by an air shaft/skylight.  This seemed ideal, except that the air shaft went right down into the librarians’ office, and they were having a gossipfest.

I finally wound up writing on one of the low pillowed window seats between Maps and Non-fiction.

The bitter irony here is that I knew I didn’t want to go to Winslow today, because they have a morning story hour, and Winslow is one, big, open concept library.  Waterville, I reasoned, would be quieter, because it’s split up among four floors.

Hah.

Note to self:  put earplugs into work bag.

Despite it all, I did get some work done — 2,174 by the time the dust settled during evening revisions.

My plan had been to hit a library again early tomorrow, but on the way home (cue sinister music) the muffler went kaplooie (or, more accurately, it went brumrumRUMrumrum).  I arrived home and asked Steve if he would follow me back into town, to the garage.  He said he would, but he had some things to take care of first, so while he was taking care of things, I decided to upgrade the LibreOffice on my desktop.

This is a relatively simple operation, but it became fraught, because of Chrome misnaming a file with a .torrent at the end, which, as you may imagine threw Windows into a screaming tizzy.  It wouldn’t let me install the file, the LibreOffice site does not make it easy to find 3.6.5 now that 4.0 has been released, and it was all just Much Harder than it needed to be.

Then someone was wrong on the internet.  Sigh.

So, Steve and I ate lunch, and motored out to the garage, dropped Binjali off, hit Staples for a laptop mouse to replace mine that had died months ago, but I just remembered it today at the library, and then picked up a couple of vanilla milkshakes, because it had suddenly become That Kind of Day.

We returned home to questions from the accountant in re our tax information; someone was still wrong on the internet; and I finally got my editing done.  I have notes for the next scene, so that’s ready for expansion tomorrow, which I will do, if I have to sit on the damn porch in the rain.

. . .Public Service Announcements Below

I’m not if this will work, but David Mattingly posted a video of Times Square on Saturday night.  Here’s the link which may or may not work

* * *

Also, Waterville and nearby Maine folk take note!  There will be a Steampunk Tea, sponsored by the Waterville Public Library and Cirque du Geek cordially invite you to attend a Steampunk Tea Party at Selah Tea Cafe on Maine Street in Waterville. The festivities will include a costume contest, Steampunk games, and more!

Join us for tea, cookies, and some Steampunk fun! Attending in costume is encouraged, but not required.

Another link that may or may not work, to Cirque du Geek’s facebook page

And here’s Selah Tea’s webpage

* * *
Last but not least, please give if you can:  Bangor Women’s Shelter Matching Fund

Progress on Carousel Seas:  4,003/100,000  OR 4% completed

By ways unseen, she came to the sea.

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Reflections on Food

I’m taking a little bit of ribbing over on Facebook about my initial reluctance to eat something referred to in the menu as “gyro meat.”  So far as I know, there is no gyrobeast from which this meat might be harvested. If the meat in question was simply spiced lamb, why not say “spiced lamb”?

So, a few minutes of soul-searching out of respect for the girl who watched, with fascinated horror, as the Pollack Johnny hot-dog-making machine at Lexington Market made hot dogs.  The same girl who, yes, still happily ate scrapple, even knowing what it was.

In any case, my gyro was perfectly tasty and I’m glad to add a new foodstuff to my repertoire.

Last year, through the kind offices of Mem Morman and Kent Bloom, I added beignets, which were also very tasty — and therefore amazed people who could scarcely believe that this was my first experience of the food.  Mem is also, I fear, responsible for my discovery of Greek food in general, back a couple years when we were GoHs at CoSine.

Anyhow, I got to thinking why I’m such a food illiterate.

Part of it — a good deal of it — has to do with having been born Rather A Long Time Ago to people who had been raised by people who had survived the (first) Great Depression, who were themselves very frugal, and unlikely to experiment with something so vital as food.  You bought what you knew you’d eat; otherwise, you might not like it, and food would be wasted.

It was Very, Very Bad to waste food.

When I reached adulthood, some of my friends were able to help me expand my food horizons, but when Steve and I moved in together, we were — not to put too fine a point on it — bitterly broke, occasionally rising to the point where money was only extremely tight.  We bought basics that we knew we would eat, because it would be Very Bad to waste food.

We (Steve’s family was similar to mine — trad blue collar, where the father worked the Real Job; and mom took care of the kids.  In his case, things were a little tighter still, because there were five kids — four of them boys.  My parents only had to feed two girls.)  But, yeah — we might have experienced varied and different foods by going out with groups at conventions, except, again, we were poor to the point of carrying our own cheese sandwiches with us, and eating out of our room.

Anyhow, it’s good that life is easier now, and that there are so many different things to sample.  Even if some of it isn’t immediately and intuitively understandable.

What delicious food(s) have you recently discovered?

* * *

Progress on Carousel Seas:  1,733/100,000 or 1.73% complete

This was the tricky part — well. And not burning down the carousel.

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