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.”


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.”

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.


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.”

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.


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.

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.

In which the author fails to outline

So, last night, after work, I broke out a new! yellow pad, drew a black pen and a red pen from stores and retired to the sofa to consider Carousel Seas, Socks sitting as consultant.  Since I’ve now heard from two beta readers to the effect that Carousel Sun makes sense, I feel reasonably confident in moving on with the story.

Now, usually, I work outline-free.  Which is to say, I’ll sketch in some notes, some bits of dialog, some questions that the narrative ought to address,  but that’s pretty much it.  At some point, I’ll feel like I have Enough Stuff to start typing. I type for the first, oh, third of the book, then I read what I have and see what the threads are, and consider where they’re going.  From that point on, I’ll make chapter-going-forward (or scene-going-forward) notes and so on until the thrilling conclusion.  This method is somewhat uncertain, and can become a little hair-raising in the face of serious auctorial illness or a severe bout of depression, but in general it Works for Me.  And, no, it’s probably not how grown-up writers do it.

Having said all that, I will confess that I have worked from an outline once or twice — for values of having produced an outline, which I then threw away when the story took a left turn.  After all, I’m usually under contract for a novel, not an outline, so the outline is, IMNSHO, disposable*.  From these early experiences, I learned that outlines (for me) are pretty much useless.  That scene-sketching, writing bits of dialogue, and being open to SFoG (Sudden Flashes of Genius) is much more useful to what we’ll dignify as My Process.

The trouble with all of this being that, due to mostly having day-jobs during my formative years as a writer, I’ve been pretty much a Night Writer.  Brain turns on at 5:00 p.m. and we’re off to the races.  Early in the day, I’ll edit what I wrote yesterday, and maybe noodle out some notes, but the actual work happens late in the day.  This needs to change, at least somewhat, due to Reasons, and it occurred to me that it might make the transition to Day Writer easier if I had a road map to assist my daylight-shocked brain.

And I sat there on the couch, with my pen poised over the nice, new yellow pad, with Socks, remember, consulting. . .and wrote down the questions left over from the previous book; other things I think need to be addressed, going forward…and flipped the page, thinking, “Outline.  It’s not hard.” . . .and got nowhere and, finally, gave up, because, yanno, how can I outline something that hasn’t happened yet?


This would seem to be a bigger conceptual change than I had thought.

So, writers who read here — outline or no outline?  And!  If outline, how do you outline something that hasn’t happened yet?


*I was at Boskone on a panel with a writer who swore that he produced 130-page outlines.  Which, full disclosure, seems nuts to me.  He then went on to explain that he’d gotten to the point in the current project where he realized that the outline had misled him, and was in the position of having to tear out 9,000 words — or possibly start the book over; it was Sunday afternoon, I was tired, and he was heated — and the deadline was looming.  Which only serves to reinforce my own feelings regarding outlines:  They’re only going to betray you in the end…

And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again…

Yeah, been listening to folk music again.  It’ll pass.

We’ve been busy here on a very near-end deadline — lots of sticky-tabs involved.  Tomorrow, I have an early doctor’s appointment, and errands in town.  Then, I really ought to get with plotting (for values of “plotting” that includes staring moodily out the window, but does not include creating a 130-page outline) Carousel Seas.

Over on Facebook, this image surfaced:

This is a piece of artwork, somewhere. It came to me with no attribution
This is a piece of artwork, somewhere. It came to me with no attribution The ever-resourceful Pedanther allows me to know that the piece above is entitled “The Long Awaited,” by Patricia Piccinini (


…but it reminded me of a story I read, ‘waaaay back in the Dark Ages, which I believe was by Daphne du Maurier.  Of course, I can’t recall the title.  And of course the fact that I can’t remember the title is making me crazy.  So, I’m throwing this out to y’all, you well-read bunch, you.

The plot of the story as I remember it is:  a woman becomes acquainted with an extremely disagreeable family — mother, sister, and boy in wheelchair. The boy in the wheelchair is beautiful, but there seems to be no one home. The mother mistreats — or at least is not very kind to him. Perhaps the whole cast of characters is vacationing at the seaside. Our viewpoint is infatuated with the boy because of his beauty and wishes to stand between him and his mother’s spite. At some point, it occurs to her that he seems less… lethargic… around water and she takes him down to the sea, whence he escapes his wheelchair.

…that’s all I’ve got.

Anybody recognize this story?

Hope everybody who was in the path of stormy weather over the last couple of days is warm and dry.


Oh! The snow, the beautiful snow, Filling the sky and the earth below

It snowed, did I say?  I have no idea how much actually fell here at the Cat Farm — this due to high winds that blew everything every-which-way.  The weatherbeans were calling 18-24 inches (46-61 centimeters).  I can’t argue with that.  It was certainly more than enough for my shoveling needs. Happily, however much it was, it was Light! and Fluffy!

Around about 1:00, the plowman cometh — actually, the plowman’s little boy, who I first saw only one or two winters ago, riding shotgun in his dad’s truck, hood pulled up ’round his face, snow matting the fur, and a Four Sol grin on his face at the magic of it all.  Today, he was driving the truck; sitting shotgun was a kid with a fur-trimmed hood spangled with snow pulled tight around a very serious face. . .

It seems — again, with the wind, it’s hard to tell — but it seems as if the snow’s over, for this storm.  I’ll have some cleanup shoveling to do tomorrow, on the steps and the deck.  Everything ought to be back to normal, in terms of transportation, mail, and stores being open for business, on Monday.

For those playing along at home, I have three — possibly four — more scenes to finish for Carousel Sun.  I had hoped to finish those today, but that was before I took a four-hour nap.  Tomorrow, then.

Looking forward to next week, there are various things I need to do in service of the Real World before we hand the house and the cats over to Mary and head down south, to Boskone.  Looking forward to seeing folks at the con, and celebrating the Liaden Universe® Silver Anniversary, and the release of Necessity’s Child!

Hope everyone is warm, and dry.