Friday Morning Newszine

A*.  As many of you know, Larry Smith, known variously as Larry!; Larry Smith, Bookseller; and “the guy in the corner of the dealers room with allllllll the books” — Larry Smith was in an auto accident on his way home from DragonCon; the van rolled, and needs Major Repairs, or perhaps a replacement.  Larry, and Joni Dashoff, who was also in the van, were very lucky, due to a combination of seatbelts and canny packing of books and display shelves.  Larry did have to spend some time in the hospital, but he was eventually released, and went home to inventory, and take, stock.

The news now is that, while — again, due to canny packing — the loss of stock was minimal, Larry — is back in the hospital.  Con-going fans are aware that this is Archon weekend, and Sally — Larry’s wife, and businessmate — was, last heard, seriously wondering if she should even try to get to the con.

So, what we have here is:  A van to repair or replace; unexpected hospital bills; loss of expected income.  Not a good roll, on anybody’s dice.

Immediately after the accident, Marcia Kelly Illingsworth set up a GoFundMe page for Larry and Sally and the poor, abused van.  Here’s your link.  If you can donate, that’s super.  If you can spread the word, that will help immensely.

Thanks for listening.

B.  We are approaching the end of the seventh and last! week of the Do It Like A Delm Challenge.  Entries must be received by midnight, Eastern Daylight Time (aka New York Time), on Saturday (tomorrow!) October 3.  The last winner will be chosen and posted on Monday morning, October 5.  The winning challenger will also receive a coupon for a free Baen ebook of their choice.  Full rules here.

If you’ve been thinking about entering your challenge pic, you are right down to the wire.  Summon your inner delm — or always wonder if you could have.

C.  Submissions are now open for The Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction series from Baen Books.  Full guidelines here.

D.  I was going to write something about Writers Fugue, and Process and All.  Maybe later.  Right now, I have to balance the checkbook.

E.  Y’all have a nice weekend.  If you’re in the storm path, stay safe.  Even if you’re not in the storm path, stay safe.

F.  Here’s a picture of Sprite, resting after her labors**:

Sprite, resting from her latest nap.
Sprite, recuperating from her latest nap.


*WordPress has decided to be helpful, and format every numbered list into a squinched-up, impossible to read, “standard” format.  Lists-by-letter don’t seem to be on its radar.  And, so. . .

**I often post pictures at the bottom of my blog posts to make the announcement of the post prettier for Facebook, which, left to its own devices, usually posts a GINORMOUS (and ugly) G+ graphic.  For those who dislike, or are tired of, photos of cats, spare a little empathy for the Facebook peeps, and avert your eyes.  Thank you.


In which progress progresses

So, yesterday. . .

I had some bagels from the bakery down on Bay Street.  Let me just say. . .Worst. Bagel. EVER.  Steve asked me what was wrong with it.  I said, “Christian bagel.”  Seriously, bagels shouldn’t crumb like bread.  Also? Ideally, they should taste like. . .bagels.

Anyhow, I gave Steve a ten dollar bill and asked him to please stop at Bagel Mania on his way home from getting his car’s oil changed and tires rotated to buy me some REAL bagels.

Ten bucks buys 15 bagels from Bagel Mania, most of which are now residing in the freezer, but of course I held some out for Immediate Consumption, and had one for breakfast this morning.  Mmmmm, bagel.

After the Great Bagel Influx, and lunch, we went down to the contractor’s office, credit card in hand, and put half down on the generator.  It has to be ordered in, so the installation date at this point is the ever-popular “couple of weeks.”  Part of today’s excitement will be to call the propane company and get ourselves on their radar.

Then we went for a Plot Drive, up and aroundish, through Athens, Harmony, Canaan, and suchlike.  Back home, I discovered Yet Another communication from the ACA, instructing me to immediately do something that it was impossible to do, even though meticulous following of their directions did not produce the described result (Honest to ghu, the ACA has gotten me to the point that I doubt my own sanity.  I had Steve come into my office to read and follow the instructions, and — they didn’t work for him, either.  What a relief.)

After that, we threw in the towel and watched Big Hero 6.  The coon cats are big Baymax fans, while Scrabble’s hero is GoGo.

Today started with a phone call to the ACA to be Perfectly Sure that the urgent email could be ignored.  Then, I called the local health insurance provider and had them go through my regular meds, and. . .today I will regretfully be moving my prescriptions to Hannaford, where the cost for all three will be $0, as opposed to $110.

I’m really ambivalent about this; I’ve been with CVS since we moved to Waterville — twenty years and counting — but money talks.

And I’m really ambivalent about that.

For those who may have an interest, the Seventh and Last Week of the Do It Like A Delm Challenge began yesterday!  We have three entrants so far, but we’re waiting to see yours!

Here’s a link to the rules.

Here’s a link to this week’s entries thus far.

Speaking of Doing It Like A Delm, Offworld Designs is (again) taking orders for Liaden Universe® t-shirts, polos, and long-sleeve denim.  In addition to looking positively delm-like on you, these shirts make fine presents.  I hear there’s a Big, Present-Giving Holiday coming up in a few months — and here’s the thing you need to pay attention to:  OffWorld Designs makes embroiders and screenprint these to order.  That means that they wait until they have a Big Pile of orders before doing the printing and embroidery.  So you want to order early (and often) if you want to be sure to have gifts for Christmas.

Here’s your link to Offworld Designs Liaden Universe® infopage.  NOTE:  you need to click the thumbnails for pricing and product details.

In Weather News, we here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory are at about a week of rain, starting this afternoon, so if I want to go into town, I’d better get moving.

Here, have a picture of Trooper waiting for the rain.

Trooper's not worried about no stinkin' rain.
Trooper’s not worried about no stinkin’ rain.


In which Rolanni ruminates while the laundry runs

As most of you know, Steve and I started a Patreon account back in the early part of the year (it’s here, if you’d like to take a look), and we’ve slowly been slipping a little into the community over there.  As mentioned elsewhere, we did an interview with John Mierau for Patreon, and on Friday, we participated in a “Hang Time” in which the CEO of Patreon, Jack Conte, Happiness Team member Taryn Arnold, and creator Shayla Maddox discussed innovations, plans, and the whole idea of patronage as a income stream for artists.

Regarding the patron model — Shayla mentioned that she had “lost friends” when she set up her Patreon account, because some felt that it was unseemly for a creator to “beg” for money.  Jack responded that, if the patronage model was good enough for Mozart, it was good enough for him, and launched into a riff regarding How It Had Been (a rich person would find an artist/creator, like what he was doing, and give him money to continue doing it), to how it is now (an artist/creator sells their work to a middleman, who then tidies it up, distributes it, and splits the take, with the artist/creator getting the lesser split, even though without the artist/creator the middleman would have nothing to distribute, and therefore no profit.  Which is kind of a Yeah, But. . .).

They also touched on the phenomenon of artists feeling that they always need to “give” in order to receive — we talked about this in our interview, too.  It was a fascinating discussion, and I’m glad we took the time to participate.

In line with that, Steve and I are thinking about something we might do, first for Patreon subscribers, and then into general circulation, so to be speak.  We need to figure out if We Have The Technology, and/or Can We Easily Acquire and Learn to Use The Technology.  Watch the skies.

In the Real World, and still on the general subject of Patreon, the contractor’s estimate for installing the generator has arrived.  It’s looking like right around $6,000 to purchase and install the generator itself, including the pad, and the wiring, and the switch, and etcetera.  Now that we have this in-hand, along with an estimated date of installation, we can call Dead River and find out how much it will cost to install the propane tanks, and fill them.

At This Point In Time, given the Total Craziness and Complete Uncertainty surrounding my health insurance costs and what will have to be “paid back” to the Federal Government with our 2015 taxes, we are putting 50% of all income received into the tax account.  Hopefully, this will prove to be an over-reaction, but we really, really don’t want to be caught short of tax money, given the depleted condition of the general treasury.

We do again want to thank everyone who pitched in to help get us through this (hopefully brief) period of financial disarray, and give us the freedom to move forward with the installation of the generator.  PayPal, Patreon, checks in the mail, cheerleading — it all helps immensely and is very much appreciated.

In other news — InstaGram tells me that there is a way for me to convert my WordPress blog into a “beautiful and compliant” epub or mobi file. While I’m willing to believe that of course any such conversion will be beautiful, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be compliant. Just a feeling. . .

In Exciting News, we have a winner for Week Six of the Do It Like A Delm Challenge — Elaine Walker!  See the winning photograph, with links to All the Challengers, from Week One forward, right here.

Tomorrow, Monday, September 28, starts the Final Challenge Week.  If you were thinking about enlisting in the Challenge — this is your last chance!

Also!  Wednesday is September 30.  Do you know where your copy of A Night In The Lonesome October is?

And, for the curious, a cameo shot of the Pink Robe:

The pink robe, modeled by Sharon Lee. Photo by Steve Miller
The pink robe, modeled by Sharon Lee. Photo by Steve Miller

We Have A Winner!

Bruce Glassford won a coupon for a free Baen ebook of his choice for his winning entry in the Week Five Do It Like a Delm Challenge!

You can see the winning entry here; and all of the entries here.

Challenge Week Six starts tomorrow, Monday, September 21.  Only two more weeks to enter and show the world that, whatever you do, and wherever you do it, you always do it like a delm!

Moonlight, you’re just a heartache in disguise

So, I have a cold.  I’m not happy about this.  I also have work to do, so best to get at it.

But!  Before I quite get there, I’d like to share some articles about “strong female protagonists,” and the notion of “likable (female) characters.”

A Plague of Strong Female Characters

Not Here to Make Friends

These articles are interesting to me, as a writer — and as a writer of characters often described as “likable.”  Which is somewhat baffling, considering the histories of many of our characters, at least on the Liaden side of things.  Among my/our other characters. . .Well. . .

Poor Becca Beauvelley gets all kinds of abuse for allowing herself to fall into the hands of an ancient and powerful magic-wielding villain from whom she has no hope of freeing herself.  She should, one gathers, have Done Something.

Jenn Pierce, a middle-class woman of the last century, who doesn’t know judo, or sword-fighting, or anything at all about guns — as most of us, I will argue, do not — has her lack of martial skill scorned, and is advised to get some basic training in weapons.  Her lack of skill in these matters is called “unbelievable.”

Kate Archer is described by one reader as “repulsive” and by another as “uncaring.”

And Val Con yos’Phelium, who really will kill you, if necessary. . .is seen as kind of a nice guy, a little shy. . .While the Uncle, whose probable sins I suggest that we dwell not long upon, is “fascinating.”

Anyhow, these are things that concern me nearly, as matters of craft and art, and it’s interesting to see how other people have thought about them.

Speaking of likable characters and reality. . .There’s an article in this week’s New Yorker about the defense lawyer who specializes in defending our most notorious criminals, most lately, she has been the lead defense attorney for Dzbokhar Tsarnaev.  Her idea, as far as I understand it, which may not be very far at all, is that — while Society has an obligation to rid itself of Monsters; it has the corresponding duty not to dispose of those who are. . .less than. . .Monsters merely because it would be convenient to do so.  To this end, she undertakes to show juries the humanity of her clients.  Here’s the link to that article.

* * *

Week Five of the Do It Like a Delm Challenge is well underway.  You view this week’s challengers here.

* * *

In other news, I received a package today from Amazon, and Sprite has found a use for the box.

Let no box be discarded. Sprite asserting her royal dominion. Photo by Sharon Lee
Let no box be discarded. Sprite asserting her royal dominion. Photo by Sharon Lee

Today’s blog title is brought to you by Juice Newton, “Queen of Hearts.”  Here’s your link.

The view of the future from a small rise in the present

So, here we are at the start of a new week!  Let’s see what’s on the roster.

  1.  This is Week Five of the Do It Like A Delm Challenge.  We have two challengers already, both taking the theme of knitting.  You may view them here.  Think you can do better?  Enter the list of challengers!  Rules are here.  Don’t want to enter, but really want some Cool Liaden Gear?  Here’s your link, and remember!  Liaden Universe® shirts make wonderful presents!
  2. Belle has developed a limp off of her right front leg.  We haven’t been able to find anything obvious — she just lies still and purrs when I probe; nothing seems to hurt.  So, anyway, a trip to the vet tomorrow, Just to Be Sure.
  3. The guy who replaced the chimney was just here, and confirmed that, yep, that spot up there on the roof does need caulking.  Which he couldn’t do today, because it had rained overnight, so! More contractors in our future.
  4. Speaking of contractors:  We hope to hear back from the various folks who need to be involved in Generator Installation today, and!
  5. Mike the Electrician will be by late in the week to install my new ceiling fan, a circumstance that fills me with a really embarrassing amount of anticipatory delight.
  6. The Rocky Horror Show (the play; the movie is The Rocky Horror Picture Show) will be playing at the Waterville Opera House in late October.  I tried to buy tickets online this morning, forgetting that the Opera House’s website never does work properly in re the online purchase of tickets, and I will therefore need to make a phone call.  Boo.  On the other hand, I’ve never seen Rocky Horror, and really ought to close this gap in my fannish resume.
  7. We have a Skype interview scheduled for next Monday, which means that this week?  I need to get a haircut.
  8. Besides all that, of course, we have work to do, stories and novels to write!  So, yanno — onward, upward, and sideways, as appropriate.

And that?  Is all I got.

Here, have a picture of Belle and Sprite to start your week off right:

Belle and Sprite. Apparently, Sprite has just been Interesting.
Belle and Sprite. Apparently, Sprite has just been Interesting.


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.


Don’t be afraid; it’s only Johnny Dhu

I shall sum up.

1. Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3 (in paper) is temporarily out of stock.  There are still books in the distribution stream, though Amazon is presently only offering it for sale through third-party vendors, and Baen has said that they will be reprinting.  In the meantime, if you need a book now, remember those third party vendors — especially Uncle Hugo’s, where there are still at least a dozen signed copies available.  Here’s your link.

2. On Monday, we put out a call for help in spreading the word regarding our effort to increase the monthly pledge level at our Patreon account to $2,000, so that we can get a generator in here before winter falls on our heads.  At this moment, we have $2,004.50 in monthly pledges.  You guys. . .You’re just awesome.

3. Pursuant to #2, above, we yesterday had Mike the Master Electrician in to scope out the place and make recommendations for generators.  This is going to be complicated, involving site prep, a visit from Central Maine Power, from the propane company, and Mike himself.  Still, barring a stupidly early winter, we ought to be able to get this thing done in good time.

4. We are into Week Two of the Do It Like a Delm Challenge — you may view the current entries here.  Remember!  Each week’s winner will be awarded a coupon good for a free Baen ebook of their choice.  Plus, yanno, we’d really like to see what y’all are up to.  Here are the contest rules.

5. Trying to get your friends and acquaintances “hooked” on the Liaden Universe®?  Of course, you are!  Remember that Agent of Change (the Very First Liaden book ever written) and Fledging (the book that starts the Theo arc) are free! from Amazon and from the Baen Free Library.

6. Belle and Trooper have been helping me write:

Two muses, no waiting. Photo by Sharon Lee

Today’s blog title brought to you by Gaelic Storm, “Beggerman.”  Here’s your link.

If it’s Monday, it must be a new week

Week Two of the Do It Like a Delm Challenge has commenced, with two entries right out of the gate.

Here’s your link to this week’s Gallery of Delms.

Here’s your link to last week’s Gallery.

And, of course, last week’s winning photo by Jennifer McGaffey.

In other news, we have revamped our Patreon page, with a goal.  You can see the new page here.

Now, I want to say a few things about this:  First, we are amazed by and appreciate the fact that so many people leapt up to pledge when we began this experiment, in April.  This is not a demand that everyone dig deeper for another few pennies throw into the plate.  Indeed, it’s not a demand at all; it’s an opportunity to assist, if you are so inclined, and are able.

What I would like to ask, though, is that you share this news with other people who might be inclined to become patrons.  I’m asking this because there seems to be no very good mechanism for people to find artists to fund from within the Patreon system.  So we’re looking for some outside help in getting the word out.

Also, if any Patreon veterans could point me to an internal networking system were potential patrons and artists can discover each other, that would be wonderful.

Thanks very much, for all you do.

I’m just back in from a run to town, whereupon I learned two things:  (1) Bangs trims at JC Penney is free; (2) There is not a gallon of white vinegar to be found in this town.  I’m guessing this a result of people canning the yield from their gardens, but geez, all the vinegar?

For those playing along at home — a report on the hair color.  It’s still purple.  I’ve washed it three times, and it fades a little each time, but it has not entirely washed out.  This is evidently the effect of layering in the color across multiple days.  I’m still pleased that it’s purple, and will add more color the next time I shampoo.

And that?

Is all I got.

Oh, no, wait.  I have a picture of Scrabble in the sun:

Scrabble sunbathing Aug 7 2016