To send a wagon for thy minstrel

So, it’s been a while since we’ve chatted.  My excuse is — page proofs arrived for the mass market edition of Accepting the Lance (to be published on October 27), and needed to be proofread.  No sooner than had we sent them back, then the copy edits for Trader’s Leap (to be published on December 1) landed, and that’s what I’m occupying myself with at the moment.

In-between All That, Steve and I have had several, err, creative meetings — to dignify a process that involves a lot of hand-waving, staring out of windows, pitching random scenes and sentences, and refilling the wine glasses — regarding the next book under contract.

Those of you who have been following along will perhaps recall that The Original Plan had Steve as lead on the next book, while I had needed surgery on my left foot, and held myself ready to consult, taking up the duties of Staff once I was fit, and also working on a side book.  I may not have said that outloud, about the side book, but that was part of The Original Plan.

It is here that we insert:  The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men gang aft agley.

We started well enough.  Then, in January, there was a funky mammogram, which meant biopsies of both breasts, only one of which had been invaded by cancer; followed by a mastectomy in mid-March, and a course of radiation therapy, which ended in mid-June, when I started taking a prescribed aromatase inhibitor, which produced crippling side effects. We’re now in the phase of letting that med leave my system before we try another one.

Otherwise, I’m pretty much recovered, absent the fact that I’m having some memory and cognitive issues, which I’m told will improve, in good time.

And then of course, there are the on-going shared threats to health, liberty, and life that we are all dealing with.

During all of this, Steve was Front, whose expanded duties included driving me to radiation therapy — a 266 mile round trip — every weekday, making sure we were fed, laundered, and up-to-date.

The book languished.  We missed one deadline, and were on track to missing the second, extended, deadline.

Thus, the creative meeting.  Which led to the realization that we needed to start again.

We spoke to Madame the Agent, who spoke to Madame the Publisher.  Between us all, we worked out a new delivery date, in 2021.  So, this is your Distant Early Warning: There will likely not be a new Liaden book published in 2021.  A Miracle may occur — it would not be the first time that Madame the Publisher has pulled a rabbit out of her hat, but that’s not the way the smart money ought to bet.

Today’s blog title is brought to you by Hildegard von Blingen, covering Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know.”  Here’s your link.

The Journey to Normal

So, there’s this Thing that happens when you start to get better after having been, oh, pretty sick from the flu, say.  You start to feel better, and you say, “Hey!  I’m better!”  and then a couple weeks later, you look back at that point and say to yourself, “Oh, boy, who was I kidding?  But, hey!  I’m really better now!”  And a couple weeks further along, you look back at that point, and shake your head, because, man, you didn’t know what better even was — and so on until you stop thinking about it and eventually, you’re back to 100 percent, or whatever passes for 100 percent in your country, and life goes on.

That’s kind of where I am, now. I’m definitely better than I was four weeks ago, on my radiation graduation day, and really better than three weeks ago, and noticeably better than even two weeks ago, but — still not 100 percent.  Maybe 80 percent.  Maybe not that much.

One of the most frustrating parts of this continuing journey is the hitting a Wall of exhaustion, when, just five minutes earlier, I was feeling just fine.  Really, it’s like 80 to zero in two heartbeats, and suddenly I’m tearing up because I can’t remember how to hard boil eggs.  Disconcerting.  My particular Wall seems to manifest in the afternoon, anywhere from ten minutes to three hours after the midday meal, so, naturally I’ve been trying to cram all the Stuff I feel I need to do in the hours before the midday meal. Which may or may not be exacerbating the situation, but we play with the tiles we’ve drawn.

In any case, I am not back to a place where I can write fiction yet (argh), but I can do other writing related things, like read page proofs, which is what I’ve been doing, slowly, with the proofs for the mass market edition of Accepting the Lance, which has been its own small journey into surrealism.

It’s not that I don’t remember the story — not exactly that.  I do remember the — the hanger points, which is to say, the scenes that had to be there in order for the story to continue in a forwarder direction.  What I don’t remember are things like Val Con having lunch with his daughter, or the Miri’s meeting with the snow removal crew, or any other of a bunch of the small scenes that give the story depth and Truth.

So, I’m about 87 pages short of a complete read of the proofs, and hope to finish them tomorrow.  Then, I’ll see what other trouble I can get into — in a good way, as the journey toward normal continues.

Everybody be safe.

Whole New World, Part Eleven

Friday, I visited with the Survivalist, and I am, as I said elsewhere, much encouraged in the path going forward.

We discussed many things; she listened my concerns in re the side effects of the  medication that will be my constant companion for the five, or maybe ten, years.  We talked about the fact that Everyone Is Different, that some people have Very Bad Side Effects, some have No Side Effects, and some have small, easily managed side effects.  The plan is to pay attention and if anything arises which I find unacceptable, I’m to call, and the medication will be tweaked.

There is a recommended adjustment of diet — not, as it turns out, so very much a departure from the Usual Proceedings, though we eat more meat and less fish than suggested.  I’ve made an arrangement with Sun Basket (one of the meal delivery services that offers meals based on the Mediterranean Diet) for every other week, so that we can both get started on the new program, and properly use up the supplies in-house.

Eventually, I will need to lose 7-10 pounds, which has been my life for the last 10 years or so.  In theory, the new plant-based diet will help with that.

Also, I need to increase my in-home exercise program, gradually, as the ray-gun wounds heal more fully.  This was offered as a suggestion, but was already on my list, going forward, so the doctor and I were in happy agreement.

All that really remains on my plate is to finish healing.  I do need to keep reminding myself that healing after multiple strong insults to the physical plant takes time.  It’s my tendency to associate feelings of exhaustion and dullness as depression, and at the moment, that may not be true.  Resting when I feel tired, instead of Pushing Through, is a newish thing, and I have to resist the feeling that I’m somehow cheating when I do.

Otherwise — Life Goes On.  In which event I am extremely lucky.  That being so, I believe I will now close this series of essays.  I hope that some of the information might have been helpful, and I thank everyone who kept with me during the whole adventure and cheered me on.

You guys are awesome.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Whole New World, Part Ten

When last we saw Our Humble Narrator, she had finished her last ray gun therapy session, collected her diploma, rang the bell with a will (eliciting applause, catcalls, and shouts of “congratulations” from those foregathered), and was driven home by her partner, by way of Bucksport, Searsport, Belfast, and China, arriving in Good Time at Gifford’s, where milkshakes were taken on, and so to home, where said narrator finished drinking her milkshake and had a nap.

Begin TMI
The Official Word is that I will now “rest;” never an easy state for me, this time made a little more difficult by the burns, which are still coming into their fullness, and, yeah, they hurt.  I am, according to Dr. Ray Gun, not to “baby” the burns, to continue with the range-of-motion exercises, and also continue to apply the recommended creams.  I may take analgesics as I feel the need for them.

I am lower on energy than at any point since this particular adventure began, my memory is not reliable, and I have acquired a deplorable tendency to weep, which is, I suppose, better than throwing knives, or breaking dishes, but much less spiritually fulfilling.  I expect that the the reality of what’s happened is finally catching up with me, now that I may “rest,” and have no need to focus on holding it together for the trip to the Cancer Center, the ray gun treatment, and the drive home.

I have an appointment at the Cancer Center next Friday, with the Survivalism Doctor, which, despite my persistent mental picture, is not about taking off our shirts, strapping on our hunting knives, and descending, sans bug repellent, into the marshland surrounding the hospital to bring down and skin a deer.  I will be speaking with this doctor about my concerns regarding the drugs they propose to put me on for the rest of my life, so that will be fun.

So, anyway, Patience and Waiting Are, as I try to find the balance between “resting” and being horrified that I’ve gotten nothing, not one thing, done — which is not a problem today, as I’ve written this blog post.

Everybody stay healthy.  Everybody stay safe.

Catching up on Stuff

Stream of Consciousness Warning

1  For those playing along at home, I have had sixteen ray gun therapy sessions, with only nine more to go.  My skin in the treatment area has begun to burn, which I know by looking at it.  Surgery left me mostly numb in that region, which is a blessing.  There are one or two small areas that are not numb, though they don’t hurt nearly as much as a visual inspection suggests that they should.  Yes, I am using the prescribed emollient; and Steve has taken over chauffeuring duties to and from the Cancer Center.

For fans of the Hummer Bar:  we are open, and have seen custom, which is gratifying, and amuses me, at least.  The cats don’t seem so interested in hummingbirds.  Squirrels, now. . .

3  For those who may not have seen the news — Uncle Hugo’s and its sister store, Uncle Edgars, in Minneapolis, have burned to the ground, victims of Friday night’s civil unrest.  All hands are safe and accounted for, but the stores and all contents are gone.  This is a horrifying loss to the community.  Don Blyly, the owner, is in the process of — well, processing the situation, consulting his lawyer, and doing those things that one must in the aftermath of catastrophe.  He has not set up any Go-Fund-Me accounts, he has not put out a call for books to help him restock.  He’s still thinking, taking advice, and weighing options.  If you see any calls for contributions of cash or stock, please do not respond; several drives have been started by concerned persons, but they are not in any way official.  When Don needs our help, he will tell us.

4  On Monday June 1 — that’s tomorrow — morning at 9 am Eastern, the first chapter of The Wrong Lance will — or at least, should — appear at Patreon, for Patrons Only, and also at Splinter Universe, for all who care to look for it.

4a  For those who missed the announcement and the ground-rules in re The Wrong Lance, you may find those here.  The Introduction, posted last Monday, is here.

5  Trooper just stole a face mask off my desk. He was very clever about it, sneaking in under the lip of the standing desk, and lifting his snout centimeter by centimeter, until he was in a position to snatch! the ear-loop, fling himself to the floor, and take up position on his favorite sun rug, looking oh-so-very pleased with himself.  I have recovered the mask, and will wash it later.  In the meantime, I am, need I say, in Trooper’s Black Book.

Here endeth my stream of consciousness.

Everybody stay safe.

Whole New World, Part Nine

So, yesterday was. . .not a lot of fun.  In particular my back hurt, and otherwise I felt as if I had been Hulk-smashed to the decking and left there.  Lots of Command Chair time with the cats.  Let me say here that Sprite takes her Duty to the Command Chair very seriously, indeed.  She was Entirely Asleep in the jetpak in my office, but when she heard me hit the chair, she staggered into the living room, her eyes still half-closed, and looking more asleep than awake, jumped into my lap, got curled around on my stomach, stretched out one paw to lay over my hand, and started to purr.

Anyhow, I’m figuring that the back situation is being exacerbated by the necessity to Maintain A Position on a metal table for 15-25 minutes M-F, and the plan is to be pro-active next week, by taking an Aleve before I get in the car and drive.  The muscle relaxants are too much; I can’t drive if I take them, so here’s hoping Aleve does the job.

Today, I am Much Improved, have started a load of laundry and will in the fullness of time, make some rice for weekday breakfast, and dry-mop the floors, for a bit of gentle aerobic exercise.  I may also take a tour of the backyard, which has greened up nicely — speaking of exercise.

And — that’s sort of that.  Only 18 more ray gun sessions left.  Not that I’m counting. . .

Saturday ketchup

The Big News around here is that I have completed seven — SEVEN! — sessions of Ray Gun Therapy.  Only 18 more to go.

I had hoped to get some work done this weekend, and may actually get there yet, but first — the Command Chair, because, despite having gone to bed early and gotten up late — I could use a nap.  Trooper is promoting this heavily, having pushed into my lap as I was typing this short correspondence, and banging my chin repeatedly with the top of his head.

In more interesting news, I recorded three chapters from Mouse and Dragon that constitute one of my favorite scenes in the Liaden Universe® and they are being posted on Patreon, first for patrons, then, when the next chapter posts, the previous one is made available for All the World.

This means that Chapter Thirty is free for you — yes, you! — to listen to, right now, right here

Chapter Thirty-Two will be posted for patrons on May 18, whereupon Chapter Thirty-One will become public.

As reported earlier, I DARE t-shirts are being mailed, so — watch the skies!

I’ve been working, very slowly, on an Archers Beach story.  Steve is working on the next Liaden novel, the deadline for which has been put back to mid-summer.

I do think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  I hope y’all are keeping safe and healthy.

I DARE Liaden Tshirts available for preorder NOW!

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, working in partnership with Offworld Designs, offers for preorder, starting right now, a new edition of the classic Liaden Universe® tshirt.

For those who want to order NOW, here’s your link.

Continuing, for those who want the Rest of the Story…

The short sleeved shirts are offered in unisex (men) and women’s styles, in your choice of black shirt with pink message, or pink shirt with black message.  In addition, in reply to popular demand, we are also offering a long-sleeve black tee with pink message.

The first Liaden Universe® tshirts were offered to fans by the authors in 1997.  Since then, there have been several runs of tshirts, each with a different slogan.  The tshirt previous to this one — DRAGON IN EXILE — was licensed in 2015, by Offworld Designs.

There is a Story behind this new tshirt, which I posted on Facebook barely three days ago, and which is reproduced below.

So, I was getting dressed this morning, and, since today’s adventures encompass me going to the pharmacy to pick up my new drugs and old, I said to myself, said I, “Self, you need something to coordinate with your face mask. How about! an I DARE tshirt?”

I went to the tshirt drawer, but of course I don’t have an I DARE tshirt, I have a DRAGON IN EXILE shirt — which is, don’t get me wrong, an EXCELLENT shirt. But I really wanted and I DARE shirt, and I figure to want an I DARE shirt for several weeks in the future.

And then I thought — it should be pink.

Um. I looked at that for a long while, trying to figure out where it had come from, and as I was doing that I was putting on my rings and my stylish new silicon bracelet that says NO IV/BP/NEEDLES THIS ARM, which is ALSO pink, for everyday wear, though I do have a black one, for formal occasions.

SO, for those of you who are with me so far, and before I pitch it to the long-suffering folks at Offworld Designs, here is The Question.


The answer to the above question was a resounding YES! and here we are.

Here’s the link to preorder your shirt-or-shirts.