Well, we know where we’re going, but we don’t know where we’ve been

I just made a Project To-Do List

Well.  It’s good to be busy.

1  Finish collecting and collating the tyops.  End September 9

2  Proof The Wrong Lance ebook, collate it, and get it up for pre-order

2a  Take The Wrong Lance down from Patreon and Splinter Universe. September 12

3  Complete interview.  November 1

4  Write short story for DERELICT anthology.  December 1

5  Write short story to make the pair with “Galaxy Ballroom” for Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number, um…31? (eek!)  November 15

6  Decide if I’m Actually Going to Write another Archers Beach novel, or if I can scratch that itch by writing two novellas, instead.  Realsoonnow

7  Assist Steve as needed on the (two) Liaden books he’s lead on.  July 2021, July 2022

8  Plot and write the next Liaden book, but one.  Um.  July 2023?

The really annoying thing is?  I feel like I’m missing something.

Well.  It’ll come to me.

Today’s blog title brought to you by The Talking Heads: The Road to Nowhere

Desmond takes a trolley to the jewellers store; buys a twenty carat golden ring

So, it’s been a Exciting! Few! Days! here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  Allow me to recap.

There were appointments with health care professionals in the beginning of the week for Steve; and in fact, he was at a doctor’s appointment on Thursday when I decided to vacuum the house, which surely needed it.  Got out the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum (successor to the venerable Dyson Cyclone, I think it was called, which was not up to the contributions of three Maine Coon cats), started to vacuum the kitchen rug and — thud.  The brush bar stopped moving.

Said a few choice words.  Unplugged the vacuum, went down the hall to the change bottle and got a nickle, a dime, and a quarter, and returned to the scene of the crime.

Now, the former Dyson could be completely disassembled in a matter of minutes using only a dime.  The new Dyson, I quickly learned, is Far More Sophisticated.  Instead of two big, gaumy plastic screws holding the brush assembly in place, there were four teensy, tiny, star screws.  I searched for and eventually found the many-headed Philips screw driver, located a head small enough to do the job, and got to work.  Three of the screws came out — I won’t say easily — butt he fourth was in it for the ages, and wouldn’t budge.  Steve came home about then, and he couldn’t budge it, either, so I repaired to the internet and got in touch with Dyson.

Several emails later, it was determined that, indeed, the machine needed to be repaired, and I should take it to the nearest UPS Store, where it would be boxed up and sent to Dyson at no cost to me.  I was given a Repair Order Number.

I had physical therapy on Friday morning, so added the transport of the Dyson to UPS to the errand list.

As it happened, Steve elected to come with me on Friday, and it was he who escorted the Dyson to the UPS Store.  The woman on the desk signed into the Dyson webpage, found the work order, took the machine, matched up the number in my email from Dyson, and — that was it.  Our refurbed machine ought to be back home in 7-10 days, and in the meantime, thank ghod, we still do have the Dyson Cyclone, else we’d be awash in cat fur.

So, that.

Today — continuing the theme of excitement — the mail included information for the 2018 National Carousel Association’s Convention.  Now, I have long wished to attend one of these conventions, which includes tours of private collections, visits to numerous carousels, and band organs, and whatnot, but — they’ve been in places like Kansas, and Michigan, and California.  And, also, inconveniently close to WorldCon.

This year’s convention?  Is in New England:  Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts.  The Convention Itself is from September 12 through September 16, but there’s a pre-convention warm-up on September 11, which includes four “extra” carousels, for a Grand Total of 15 carousels, 2 museums, and a private collection.

This is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and — yeah, I’m gonna try to figure out a way to do this thing.  Steve has allowed as how, though very cool, this is not something he thinks he wishes to partake of, so I’d be running solo.  On the other hand, I can drive, or take a Greyhound, to the Convention Headquarters in Connecticut.  There’s also a vendor room, but I’m not sure I want to schlepp the carousel books with me, on the off-chance three people will want to buy a set.

We’d only be back from WorldCon about a week by the time I’d have to head out again.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t be scheduled for panels, or, yanno — work — at the Carousel Convention, and — in theory, anyway — there wouldn’t be a short deadline breathing down our necks. . .

Yeah, I can do this.

I think.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by the Beatles, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.  Here’s your link.

All Six Archers Beach Titles Available in Paper

It’s a little-known fact that, in addition to my work with Steve Miller in the Liaden Universe®, I am the author of the Archers Beach near-fantasy series.  This series consists of three novels: Carousel Tides, Carousel Seas, and Carousel Sun, which are set in the rundown beach town of Archers Beach, Maine.

In addition to those three novels, six short stories (in three chapbooks!) exist in the Archers Beach universe:  Emancipated Child, How Nathan Archer Came to be a Prince of the Land of the Flowers, The Gift of Music, The night don’t seem so lonely, Will-‘o-the-wisp, and The Wolf’s Bride.

Now, the reason I called you all together today is that!  You may now and at last purchase all six of the Archers Beach books — three novels; three chapbooks — in paper.

Here are your links:

Carousel Tides (Archers Beach #1)
Carousel Sun (Archers Beach #2)
Carousel Seas (Archers Beach #3)
Surfside (Archers Beach #4), including Emancipated Child and How Nathan Archer Came to be a Prince of the Land of the Flowers
The Gift of Magic (Archers Beach #5), including The Gift of Music and The night don’t seem so lonely
Spell Bound (Archers Beach #6), including Will-‘o-the-wisp, and The Wolf’s Bride

For those who like to sample before they buy, you may read the first nine chapters of Carousel Tides starting here.

First Chapter Friday: Carousel Tides

This is the book about the haunted carousel.  Except the carousel isn’t exactly haunted, and, though I adore carousels, especially old wooden carousels, what I really wanted to write about was a rock.

A rock and the town of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  That’s where the rock is — Googin Rock (or Googins Rock, according to some), a genuine, actual, historic rock* — Old Orchard Beach.

I adore both town and rock, though I’ll allow both to be an acquired taste, and I said for, oh, five years, maybe, that one day, I’d write about about both.

In 2007, someday arrived.  I wrote the book; sent it to our agent, who sent it ’round, and it was roundly rejected until, in 2009, it found a home with Baen, and was published right around Halloween, 2010.

If you like this taste of the Maine coast, you can continue the story in ebook format, from Baen ebooks and the Usual Suspects.  Carousel Tides is also available in trade paper — from the Usual Suspects — and as an audiobook, from Audible.

Full disclosure:  Carousel Tides is the first book in a trilogy.  Carousel Sun follows and the story concludes in Carousel Seas.


*5. Oct. 1675 – “Battle of Googins Rocks” Capt. Wincoll of Kittery and 11 militia men marching on the seashore to aid settlers at Pine Point are attacked by 150 Saco Indians. By hiding behind the rocks successfully drive the Indians off without the loss of a single man, even though the tide is rising.  (More info here)

Excerpt from Carousel Tides, © Sharon Lee 2010


Tuesday, April 18
High Tide 2:29 a.m.
Sunrise 5:54 a.m. EDT

I almost missed the left onto Route 5, which would’ve been embarrassing as hell. Luckily, I recognized the intersection before I was through it, snapping dry-mouthed out of a quarter-doze. Luckily, the Subaru answered quick to the wheel.

Luckily, there wasn’t anybody else fool enough to be driving this particular stretch of Maine highway at this particular ungodly hour of the morning-or-night. If there had, I’d’ve been toast.

Route 5 twisted, snakelike, between parallel rows of dark storefronts and shuttered motels. I pushed myself up straighter in the seat, biting my lip when the pain knifed through my chest, and tried to stay focused on the matter at hand. Not long now. Not long.

Going home, after all this time.

No matter how many words they use to say it, people only ever leave home for two reasons. Money, that’s one. Love—that’s the other.

The reasons people come home again . . . it could be there are more than two. Me, I was worried about my grandmother. Worried enough to risk a homecoming. Trust me—that’s some kind of worried.

Mind you, the crisis or calumny that Bonny Pepperidge—that would be Gran—couldn’t settle with her off hand while cooking breakfast wasn’t something that was likely to roll over and play dead for the likes of me. Still, there was the bothersome fact that the phone had rung empty the last six times I’d called—and it was just like Gran not to bother with an answering machine or to pick herself up a cell—and the downright terrifying reality of the foreclosure notice from Fun Country management.

Perfectly reasonable for Fun Country to contact me; my name’s right there on the lease as co-owner. But I’m only an Archer—a half-Pepperidge, and not the best half, either. It’s the Pepperidges who’ve owned and operated the merry-go-round at Archers Beach since right around the dawn of civilization, Maine time; and Gran who’s had the care and keeping of the thing since well before I’d been born. The size and shape of the disaster she’d allow to threaten the carousel was—almost unimaginable.

Unfortunately, I’ve got a vivid imagination; and Gran’s my last family, so far as I know. Given the combination of circumstances, I could no more have stayed away than flown to the moon.

Not to say that Gran didn’t have a lot of friends in town—as old or older than she was, some of whom didn’t look kindly on me. And of course, there was the family lawyer. But Henry’d been out of town when I called, according to the message on his answering machine, due back some days after Fun Country wanted their money.

Which is why I was here, driving uncertainly down Maine Route 5 at oh-my-God-o’clock in the morning, toward the home I’d forsaken, and trying not to think of what was likely to be waiting for me there.

The headlights picked out a deserted parking lot on the right. I pulled in next to the boarded up ice cream stand, “For Sale” sign hanging at a crazy angle from the storm shutters, slid the car into park, and fingered my cell phone free of its pocket on the outside of my backpack.

I hit speed dial and held the unit to my ear, listening to my grandmother’s phone ringing, ringing, ringing on the other end.

Sighing, I thumbed “end” and sat holding the phone in my hand, staring out into the dark. No doubt about it, I was going to have to go in—back to Archers Beach, which I hadn’t left on the best of terms. That would teach me to burn my bridges.

Or not.

I slid the phone back into its pocket, ratcheted the stick down to drive and pulled back onto 5. Soonest begun, soonest done, as the saying goes. And the devil take the hindermost.

Mist began to creep across the road as I went on. I kept my foot on the gas, and I won’t say I wasn’t holding my breath when the Subaru crossed the town line, which was a waste of perfectly good anxiety—nothing out of the ordinary happened, unless you count an increase of mist.

Breathing carefully, I turned off Route 5 and headed down into town.

The street lamps were out on Archer Avenue, and the Subaru’s headlights illuminated swirls of sea mist pirouetting before boarded-up storefronts. At the bottom of the long hill was the Atlantic Ocean, hidden by a full-fledged fog.

I rolled the window down, shivering in the sudden cold breeze, and took a deep breath of salt air. My eyes watered—which was the salt, or maybe the breeze—and slammed on the brakes as a dark form loped across the street directly in front—but no. It was only the mist, playing games.

I took my foot off the brake and let the car drift.

At the bottom of the hill, where Archer Avenue crosses Grand, I tapped the brakes again. It was five-ten by the clock on the Subaru’s dash; twenty minutes shy of Gran’s usual rising time, though I told myself I no longer expected to find her at home. That last phone call, made just outside the town line, had been pretty definitive. Even Gran isn’t stubborn enough to ignore her phone ringing at four-thirty in the morning.

I should, I thought, go straight on to the house, but habit decided me otherwise. Habit and the fact that I could hear Gran’s voice just as plain as if she sat in the passenger’s seat beside me—“Did you pay your respects to the sea?”

The fog played its game of hide and seek as I felt my way ’round Fountain Circle and pulled the Subaru head first into the center of the five municipal parking spots that face the ocean across a wide stretch of fine, pale sand. In Season there would be signs posted, warning drivers of a ten minute limit on parking, and a strictly enforced tow away policy.

In April, the signs were still in the Public Works garage, and you could park facing the ocean for weeks, and nobody’d notice. Or care, if they did.

I put the Subaru into park, turned off the engine, and sat, taking stock.

My head throbbed and my chest ached—nothing unusual, these days. Not to mention that I was standing on the chancy edge of being ’way too tired, which driving three days non-stop’ll do for you, even if you’re in the pink of health.

Damp breeze danced in the window, chilling my ungloved hands. Faintly, very faintly, I could hear the sound of the surf, slapping and sizzling against the sand.

Walk light on the land,” I whispered to myself, which was something I hadn’t done since I was a kid, new-come to the Beach and afraid of it all. “Walk light on the land and everything’ll be fine.”

Or not. And it wasn’t like I had a choice, anyway. Peril Number One, and counting.

I rolled up the window, popped the door, grabbed my cell, on the vanishingly small chance that I’d get a call; and went down to the water.

The tide was going out. I slogged through shifty dry sand to the firm wet stuff, the fog running cold fingers across my face; a blind thing trying to puzzle out my features. Turning up my collar, I pushed my hands deeper into my pockets, wishing I’d remembered how cold an early morning in April could be, here on the Maine seacoast.

Shivering and out of breath, I stopped at the water’s edge, the toes of my sneakers on the tide line. I shook my hair back out of my eyes, squared my shoulders, and waited for what the sea might bring me.

Wavelets struck the shore and fizzed. The breeze swung ’round, freshened, trying to push the fog back out to sea.

A wave smacked against the sand, sudden as a shotgun blast, and water splashed over my sneakers.

Swearing, I jumped back, and looked down.

Wet sand was all I saw; that, and a little rag of foam.

I bit my lip. What had I expected? It was my good fortune that I’d gotten nothing worse than wet shoes.

I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket and took a look at its face: five-thirty-five. The sea had taken its own sweet time getting back to me. Turning my back on the water, I squinted uphill, barely making out a blue smear that was the Subaru, waiting patiently where I’d put her. To my right, the Archers Beach Municipal Pier hove out of the fog like a ship out of stormy seas; to my left Fun Country sat like a broken dream, sea mist toying with the shrouded rides. The carousel was invisible, gray steel storm gates absorbed by the gray fog.

I lifted my soggy right foot and shook it; did the same for my left—and stood for a moment, weighing the cramped agony in my chest against the long slog back up to the parking lot. Up above the fog, a gull screamed an insult, and somehow that decided it. I turned right and started walking, keeping to the damp sand, but well out of the splash zone. Under the Pier I went, making for the townie side of town, and one particular old house facing the water across the dunes.

“ ’Mornin’.” The voice was deep, soft as the fog itself.

Gasping, I spun, wet sneakers skidding on wet sand. The owner of the voice stepped out of the fog and raised his hands—one empty, one holding a Styrofoam coffee cup—and stopped where he was, letting me get a good look at him.

Tall—’way taller than I am—broad and powerful-looking. His face was high-cheeked and brown; his black hair cropped, except for a thin braid that snaked across his shoulder, falling almost to his waist. His jeans were as soft as salt and weather could make them, and he wore a brown leather jacket open over a green work sweater. He looked to be maybe thirty, thirty-five. I didn’t recognize him—but, then, there wasn’t any reason why I should.

“ ’Morning,” I answered, on the general principle that it’s prudent to be polite to guys who’re bigger than I am. “Pleasant day for a walk.”

He laughed, deep in his chest, and lowered his hands. “Well, it’s not. But I was up anyway, hoping it would clear in time to go out.” He had a sip from his cup, and jerked his head at the fog-shrouded ocean. “No going out in this, and by the time she burns off, the tide’ll have turned.” He gave me nod. “I fish Mary Vois’ boat for her, since the sea took Hum, couple years back.” A pause for another sip from his cup. “Don’t believe I’ve seen you around before. Visiting?”

It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him that my business was none of his—and then I thought better of it, recalling small town manners that were rusty with disuse. He’d given me info, and now he was asking for info in return. Fair enough.

Visiting,” I agreed, trying to reckon how much I needed to put on the table to balance my social debt. I was ’way too tired for that kind of subtle calculation, though, and in a couple seconds I gave it up and just told him what passed for the truth. “I grew up in town, and my grandmother’s still here.”

Don’t say.” He sounded genuinely interested, which of course he would be. Parsing lineage is an ancient Maine pastime. “Who’s your gran, then?”

Should’ve seen that coming. I sighed lightly, but forked over. It wasn’t like it was a state secret, and if I spent more than two hours in town, he’d hear it from somebody else anyway. “Bonny Pepperidge. She runs the carousel.”

Sure she does!” He grinned. “You must be Kate.”

Yep, I’m Kate. And you are?”

Borgan.” He gave the name readily enough, and between it and the information that he fished Mary Vois’ boat, I had enough to pin him down for any townie I met. Just in case I should need to, which I really hoped I wouldn’t.

I could use a cup of coffee,” I said, which was nothing less than the truth. The fog had chilled me straight through while we’d played Twenty Questions, and I was shivering inside my denim jacket. “Anything open this early?”

Borgan held out the Styrofoam cup. “Bob’s.”

There wasn’t any reason why I should’ve been startled, but I was. Exhaustion, maybe. “Bob’s is still there?”

Was ten minutes ago.”

Well, I’m going in the right direction, then.” I cleared my throat and gave him a civil nod. “Morning.”

See you around,” he answered easily, and raised his cup to his lips.

Social obligation discharged, I put my face into the wind and began to walk. Happily, Gran’s house on Dube Street was only three blocks up from the Pier, and Bob’s Diner was conveniently located at the bottom of the street. I’d check the house first, I thought, and glanced over my shoulder.

All I saw behind me was the shadow of the Pier, black inside the fog.

Second Patreon Goody Now Live!

The second patron-only goody has been posted on Patreon.  That would be Sharon Lee reading “The Gift of Music,” by Sharon Lee.  The story is set in Archers Beach, the setting of the three Carousel books by Sharon Lee: Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, Carousel Seas.

I’ll take this opportunity to mention that we are a mere $164 shy of our goal of $2,500 per month.  If you would like to become a patron, here’s your link.

I would also like to thank everyone who has given us support, in all its various guises, over the many, many years we’ve been writing.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Now, here’s your link to the new goody.

And here’s a preview of what Belle and Sprite are going to be doing today:

Carousels and Calendars

Today is Tuesday, which means!

Yesterday was Monday, and!

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  I need to do the hospital thingy tomorrow.  Best not to lose track of that.  Trooper — remind me tomorrow that it’s Wednesday, and I need to be away from the house for five or six hours.

Yeah, that’s gonna work.

So, let’s see. . .

As of this typing, there are 36! reader reviews on Amazon for Alliance of Equals, which is pretty impressive.  Only 164 more until we crack 200!

Though the micro-mini book tour was in support of Alliance of Equals, we/I were asked several times about the possibility of another (or, as one interlocutor had it, “the next”) Carousel book.

At this point, the Carousel books are a trilogy.  Really.  There are a number of reasons for this, including lack of Author Time, and Failure to Become a Bestseller.

I wrote Carousel Tides (against Best Advice) while we were between contracts, ‘way the heck back in 2006.  It was rejected By Nearly Everyone (foretold by Best Advice) through 2006 and 2007, purchased by Baen in 2008, saw print in 2010, and! began earning royalties in 2014.

Not only can I not go to Vegas on that, but — more importantly — I can’t put cat food in the bowls.

Now, I’m fortunate (and grateful) that Baen kept Carousel Tides in print long enough for it to start earning.  Too many of my colleagues see the hard copy editions of their work yanked after two or three accounting periods for “lack of numbers,” and never have the opportunity to earn out.

But, the fact remains that the Liaden books earn many, many times more than the Carousel books.  Make no mistake — Clan Korval keeps the cats fed and the electricity on.

(This is yet another low, unworthy, venal fact that ought to have no place in the House of Art, and I apologize, but — professional publishing is doomed to disappoint everyone who believes in the Purity of Art.)

Mind you, this has nothing to do with whether I’m “tired of” the Carousel premise/characters, or have run out of ideas.  Just between you and me, I’ll probably be writing some more stories in the Carousel/Archers Beach/Six Worlds universe, because that’s how I roll.  But the likelihood of another novel anytime soon — or, really, at all — isn’t high.

I do know that Kate and Company have some very devoted fans — thank you.  But — we have as of this writing four* Liaden novels still under contract, and contracted work — which is to say, the work that pays the bills — must come first.

For those who never heard of the Carousel Trilogy by Sharon Lee (as there were at least as many people in the audience who hadn’t as had), follows some news you can use:

Carousel Trilogy ebooks at Baen.com:
Carousel Tides
Carousel Sun
Carousel Seas

In addition, you may find the Carousel Trilogy in paper and ebook at all of the Usual Suspects.

Stories set in Archers Beach, free to read:
The Gift of Music
The night don’t seem so lonely
The Wolf’s Bride

*Stares at delivery schedule on the wall.  Right.  Four novels; not five.

Toadstool Books Milford July 9 2016

Captain Jack was a young man, when he went to sea

Well, we were going to go to the ocean today, but — rain.  Also, exhausted.  Maybe Thursday.

In the meanwhile, I do believe that all the train tickets and motel rooms have been reserved for the Big Northern Kingdom Alliance of Equals Book Tour.  Details here.

Steve is in the Comfy Chair, reading The Gathering Edge, ably assisted by Belle.  I have Trooper and Scrabble assisting with travel arrangements in my office.  Warrior Princess Jasmine Sprite, Scourge of Field Mice, Suzerain of Toys, and Mistress of the String is, I believe, downstairs in her Princess Tower.

After lunch I’ll sit down with Book the Next (previously Fourth of Five), now that all of the various lines are sorted to my satisfaction.  There’s maybe 5,000-ish words that might belong in Five of Five, but I’m going to keep them, until I’m surer of directions.  In Theory, Next is due to Madame on August 15, which means I have most of June, and most of July before me.  August is pretty much cut up with traveling There and Back Again, with a WorldCon in the middle.  Well.  We’ll see how matters progress over the next four weeks.

And, apropos of nothing other than my magpie mind, I need to find a ribbon or a piece of leather cord.  At BaltiCon, a friend gave me a tile necklace that has a graphic of a dragon on one side, and, on the obverse, my favorite side, the Shakespeare quote, “Come not between the dragon and his wrath.”   However, it’s only strung on a piece of green bakery twine, which you just know is gonna break, and I won’t know it, and I’ll lose the tile.

adds ribbon to list

So! back to the word factory.

Progress on Book the Next
37431 / 100000 (37.43%)

“So he’s been downgraded from menace to joke?”

Today’s blog post comes from one of songs that was the inspiration for Carousel Seas, “Captain Jack and the Mermaid.”  Here’s your link.

Part of the water garden at McKelden Plaza, Light Street, Baltimore
Part of the water garden at McKelden Plaza, Light Street, Baltimore

In which it is Monday, but not quite the beginning of the work week

So we here in the US have an end-of-summer holiday which we call Labor Day, a day devoted to drinking beer, eating grilled food, ritually mowing the lawn, and in general striving to forget that tomorrow, Tuesday, will be the end of a nice three-day-weekend, that summer is, indeed, over, and the next work holiday is Thanksgiving Day.  Unless one works retail, of course.

Steve and I took a strange, fragmented little vacation at Old Orchard Beach — we went down together for a night, so we could both see the Thursday fireworks; I went home on Friday, returning on Monday, when Steve went home, returning on Thursday so we could both see the Thursday fireworks, and then removing the whole encampment back to Central Maine on Friday.  I read a lot, walked a lot, and in general vegged out.  It was great.

Real work will recommence on the morrow, with such things on the roster as a visit to the vampyres (to determine if the new dosage of my thyroid meds has done the trick); a call to the town to determine its interests and necessities in the matter of siting generators — and, depending on what we learn there, subsequent phone calls to various contractor-type persons.  We will also be taking up the writing reins again — at the moment, we have two short stories and a novel on our plates — and will be winding the week down with a small natal day celebration.

While we were away, Madame the Agent let us know that Dragon in Exile, the eighteenth novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is Number 6 on the Locus Bestselling Hardcover List for June 2015 (reported in the September issue).  Number 1 is Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson, and the funny thing about that is that Neal was in Boston doing a tour in support of his book the day before we were in Boston, doing a tour in support of our book.

Small world.


While I was on vacation, Eset decided to Protect Me from posting to my own blog.  I am therefore reproducing here an account of one of my walks, which I would have posted here, but which instead went to Facebook (because Eset thinks Facebook is Totally Safe?).  Anyhow, here’s that entry, for those of you who don’t Facebook, and for me, so that I actually have some hope of finding it again.

September 2, 2015, reporting from New Temp Headquarters, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

So, this morning’s walk. . .

I left New Temp Headquarters and walked up East Grand to Old Orchard Street, took the left at 1st Street and walked through Veteran’s Square Memorial Garden, up Heath Street to see if the A-Z Market (in the Old Orchard Beach timeline) had ever really come back after their “temporary” closing, three years ago. The answer to that is…sorta. There’s a kind of lunch counter/video rental/wine shop in a much, much smaller space than the old IGA occupied. Happily, in Archers Beach, Ahzie’s IGA is doing fine.

Curiosity satisfied, I continued up Heath Street to Portland Avenue, to Walnut Street, took a left on Leavitt Street and walked to the end, to see how far I could walk along the old road to the ustabe Kite Track. Answer — about 500 feet before the trenvay who cares for that land noticed me and obscured the path with bushes and leaves. I can take a hint, so I turned around and headed back the way I’d come. Just before I hit the asphalt of Leavitt Street, an acorn flew out from one of the surrounding trees and struck the path at my feet. I know a gift when I see one, too. I murmured, “thank you,” put the acorn in my pocket and moved on.

Leavitt to Walnut, Walnut to Grande, and so again to New Temp Headquarters, 4,671 steps, or 1.7 miles on the odometer.

I do believe I’ll have that third cup of coffee.


Labor Day or no Labor Day, today is the beginning of Week Four in the Do It Like A Delm Challenge!  You can view the challengers — and the winners! — for the previous three weeks here (the drop-down link in the menu is your friend).

Want to join in the fun?  Of course you do!  Rules to enter the challenge may be found here.


Sprite being Quietly Pleased that we're home.
Sprite being Quietly Pleased that we’re home.


The moonlight it was dancing on the waves, out on the sea

All righty, then.

This is a post about magic.

As some of you may know, I have long, on-going (unrequited) love affair with the Maine resort town Old Orchard Beach.  So great was my love that, against the advice of Practically Everybody, I wrote three books (Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, Carousel Seas) set in a just-slightly-different Maine resort town — Archers Beach.  The major differences between the two towns, besides some liberties taken with the coastal geography, and a very little smudging along the edges of history — one of the differences is that, in Archers Beach, magic works.

Sort of.


For some people.

And for others, who may not be, precisely, people.

The other difference is that, in Archers Beach, things are starting to turn around for the town, as the residents find renewed hope, and the energy to take up their destiny.

In Old Orchard Beach, over the years of our relationship, hope had been lost, and the residents had stopped believing in destiny.  I say this with love, and also with the understanding that love does not blind us to the loved one’s faults.

An example. . .One of the centerpieces of the Carousel books is — surprise! — a carousel.  An old, hand-carved wooden carousel populated, granted, by some Very Odd animals, but, yes a carousel.  A carousel, in fact, that had been modeled (in the author’s head) on the P(hiladelphia) T(obaggon) C(ompany) (#19, I do believe) that had been in place the very first time Steve and I visited Old Orchard Beach, many years ago.

The machine was in need of some upkeep, but old wooden carousels are expensive to keep up, and the sea air is kind to no machinery built by man.  But, it was running, the band organ was playing, and — oh, it was grand.

The next time Steve and I got down to Old Orchard Beach, maybe a decade after that first visit (stone broke, no gas money, you know the drill), we found a changed scene.  The PTC machine was gone, and in its place was a fiberglass carousel, not as old, obviously, and. . . not very well kept.  You could see the poles shudder when the flying animals went up and down; you could hear the cranks grate.  Worse, oh, far worse!  The band organ, which had been ragged, but working, had been left too long unprotected in the seaside environment.  It was mildewed, it was cracked, it was peeling. . .it was. . .heartbreaking.

Now, the carousel in Old Orchard Beach — the Chance Menagerie Carousel, is its name — is part of an amusement park.  And, well. . .let’s just say that, as went the carousel, so went the amusement park.  It was a sad, sad place, the last time I had been there at length, in 2012.  It needed — oh, paint! and maintenance, and. . .hope.

Now. . .back in 2010, right around Halloween, Jeanne Bartolomeo, who at that time owned an art gallery in Old Orchard Beach called Beggars Ride, kindly put together a launch party in the gallery, for Carousel Tides. One of the surprising number of people who attended that party came up to me, excited by the town and the book, which she had already read as an ebook, and said, “I want to see it!”

“See what?” I asked her.

“The carousel!  I’ve already been to Bob’s and the Pier, Tony Lee’s and I have to see the carousel!”

Oh.  I cleared my throat.

“I’m so very sorry,” I said.  “You can’t see it.  It’s. . .not there.”

She stared at me, and I could see the betrayal creep into her eyes.

You made it up?” she demanded, and I could see that she was hoping that I’d deny it, but. . .

“Yes,” I admitted.  “I did.  I made it up.”

In the same way, I made up the. . .revival of Archers Beach.

Or. . .not.

See, this year, Steve and I are doing a weird little split vacation at the ocean.  He and I were down at Old Orchard Beach together Thursday afternoon and evening; I came home to be with the cats, and Steve is doing a bachelor weekend at the ocean.  Monday, we’ll swap places; he’ll come down on Thursday, and Friday we’ll shift all of us back home.  The reason Thursday is important in this is that there are fireworks on the beach every Thursday night during Season, courtesy of the amusement park.

So, anyway, we went to see the fireworks Thursday night, and after that, we wandered ’round the corner to look at the carousel. . .

. . .which has been completely revamped.  The panels were new; the rounding boards were new; the mirrors shone!  The sweeps were lit, and not only that! The lifting poles no longer shuddered; the cranks moved with quiet authority, and!

The band organ.

The band organ had been. . .restored.

And it was playing music.

I burst into tears.  Honest to ghod.  It was. . .it was magic.  See for yourself.


band organ before 1


band organ after 1

Carousel Before:

Hippogriff before

Carousel After:

hippogriff afterWe walked through the whole park, and we noticed new paint, and bright new lights, and a feeling of hope amid the crowd.

When we came to the arcade, I said to Steve, “I want to visit Grandma.”  I always visit Grandma when I’m in Old Orchard Beach.  If I have a quarter, I’ll pay her to read my fortune.

Now, since Forever, Grandma has been shoved in a dark corner next to a service door in the arcade.  I walked right to the place, only to discover that!

She was gone.

I turned around, found Steve some distance behind, shaking his head and pointing.

They’d moved Grandma out into the main corridor.  They’d cleaned off her case, and they’d fixed the light.  Someone had.  I saw this because there seems to be an. . .addition to Grandma’s bracelet.  A charm with names on them.  Steve and I are in disagreement.  I say the charm is new; a marker from the people who paid for her restoration.  Steve says there was always a charm.  I don’t have a picture after, but here she is, last time I saw her:

grandma before

And so that’s it.

Who says there’s no magic, any more?


Today’s blog post title brought to you by Loreena McKennit, “Beneath A Phrygian Sky”.  Here’s your link.

In between the raindrops

So!  We now have a chimney.  Which is good.  Tomorrow, we will have a working chimney, which will be Even Better.

Trooper has been a Hero of the Revolution, making sure he’s with Steve or me, serving as back-up against the Noises and the Strangers.  Scrabble and Sprite have taken cover in various spots, and come out cautiously at quiet times, like when the crew takes lunch, or a rest break.  Sprite had been sequestered in the bedroom closet, but she vacated when we removed all the Stuff, so one of the guys could get up into the crawlspace/attic (the hatch for same being in the closet ceiling) to finish the joins up properly.

This has all happened despite the rain, which was amazingly heavy this morning when I went out to deposit the April royalty checks and the on-signing money.  The royalty statements always make for intriguing reading — I see that Necessity’s Child continues to be an unexpectedly strong seller and that, in general, ebooks tend toward providing half of our income on each book. I’m also. . .pleased to see that our biggest seller, from June – December 2014, was Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 2.

The real standout, though?

Carousel Tides, published in November 2010, has earned out.  Yes!  I got a royalty check!  *fist-pump*.  And Carousel Sun only has about $1,800 to earn out, so, who knows, I may see another check in the October royalty payment.

Moving back to the construction crew for a moment, and their projected finish date of tomorrow — Steve and I are scheduled to go down to New Hampshire to pick up Belle on — wait for it — Thursday.

Except there’s a big hole in the wall at the end of the hall.  By which I mean that there is no wall in the back of the hall, only a view of the new chimney.

We’ve been keeping the cats out of this Interesting Space by placing screens in front of the hole, but we haven’t been leaving them alone with it, either.  So, now the questions arise:  (1) should we get the sheetrock guy in on Thursday, which means I stay home and Steve drives south, or (2) should we try to get the sheetrock guy on Thursday, find out that he’s busy until the middle of next week (the likeliest scenario), and I stay home to keep the cats from experimenting with the Interesting Space while Steve drives south?

Perplexing questions, indeed.

But, hey!  We’ll have a chimney tomorrow, which means also that we’ll be able to turn the furnace on.  Hot water will happen!  Just…wow.

In the midst of chaos, and noise, and cat trauma, I have been. . .reading, mostly.  Almost through Kerry Greenwood’s Devil’s Food, the third? Corinna Chapman novel, and enjoying myself immensely.

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, for those interested in such things, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has just posted a lovely, thoughtful review of Local CustomHere’s your link.

Also!  Remember that Uncle Hugo’s is taking pre-orders for signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3.  Here’s your link for instructions, deadlines, and Table of Contents.

. . .and I think that’s all I got.