Third Question Answered

The question, please!

I know this is after your deadline, but the question didn’t appear in my attention sphere until yesterday. In some of the audio books, scenes shift mid-chapter without any indication. It’s as if the reader didn’t notice the scene change markers or didn’t find the need to include them in the story. It takes me a bit to sort out what happened and is confusing for the person encountering the story for the first time. I realize you can’t change what is already one. Is there anything that can be done about this for future audio books ?

Short answer:  Nope; not a thing we can do about audiobook production; that’s ‘way above our pay grade.

Long answer: But!  We think we figured out why this problem occurs, so at least you can know why this happens.

So far as we can figure it, this has to do with how the books are put together technically.  When we, the authors, turn in a book, we denote breaks within the same scene with the Venerable Single Hatch Mark, like this:


This is not a writer’s tool, it is a typesetting tool.  The hatch mark tells the typesetter that there’s a scene-break right here, and the typesetter, according to the traditions of her clan, removes the hatch mark and replaces it with two blank lines.  This is how scene breaks appear in finished paper novels.

Now, what happens is that the readers get the typeset edition of the book, not the author’s manuscript (this is a good thing; the typeset edition has also been copy edited, line edited, and in general made better than the manuscript, because authors do crazy things in manuscripts, I can’t even tell you).

But, wait, there’s more!  Not only do the readers get the typeset edition, they get an electronic version of the typeset edition.  Which they import into their Ipads, for ease of use (and absence of rustling pages) in the recording booth.

And what we think happens is that — between the conversions those double spaces denoting screen breaks — get lost.

So, yeah, you’re right; it’s just like the readers don’t see that there’s a new scene starting, because, well, the marker isn’t there for them to see.

Here ends the answer to the third question.


Previous Answers:
Second Questions Answered
The First Answer


Second Questions Answered

Actually, this is sort of a Theme Answer, since we have three questions about my reading habits from three different questioners.

The first question is!

Are there authors whose books you don’t read because they (the books that is) interfere with your own creative process?  And if so, why?

After a certain point in the process, which varies with each novel, and doesn’t much seem to apply to shorter works, I do stop reading science fiction.  This still leaves a wide field — romance, mystery, biography, fantasy, history.  Occasionally, I need to stop reading fiction, so its biographies and autobiographies, and histories for me.  I tend to hold off reading my non-fiction books, so I’ll have a bulwark against need, in case the Next Novel to be written is a Jealous Novel.

Mostly, this isn’t so much that a certain class of book interferes with the creative process, as much as it is that I’m a mimic.  I will at the least — all right, let’s be honest, no — provocation start writing in the style of the book I’m reading.  The Liaden books have their own voice; and it’s best, really, not to muddy the literary waters with someone else’s.

Second question!

How do you pick the books that you read? You have been reading enough years that even picking a book to reread leaves a lot of scope. But how do you choose a _new_ book to read? Do you choose books that somebody else has read and recommended to you?

Well, the same way anyone chooses a book, I’m thinking.  I hear about a title; it sounds interesting, I check it out on Amazon, because usually I’m at a computer and that’s easy, and also, if I wait until I’m at a bookstore, I’ll have forgotten the title.  I’ll read the sample.  Pretty often at that point I throw the book back because:  the voice displeases, or the set-up annoys, or I want everyone I’ve met thus far to die on the second page…the usual things.  Sometimes — rarely — I’ll buy the book immediately on the strength of the sample.  Most usually, I’ll tuck the book in my wish list, and go about my business.  If I find that I’m wondering What Happens Next a few hours or days later, I’ll go back and read the three-star reviews, and either buy the book or let it languish in the wish list.  It might catch me at some later point, but usually — not.

Or, yanno, I’ll be in a bookstore, see a book, read the first page, it clicks — and I buy it on the spot.  I bought Ancillary Justice right off the table while we were on a book tour, because one of the characters had been be a spaceship.  I have An Interest in people who used to be — or still are — spaceships.

Now, how to choose a book to read right now. . .Mood, surely; whether or not the book I’m working on won’t let me read a particular genre, or has ruled out fiction entirely; the book I just finished reading.  For instance, I just finished reading Spinning Silver, which is, among other things, a fantasy set in a kind-of Russia.  It happens that I have on my TBR shelf The Girl in the Tower, another Russian fantasy, which I hope to enjoy as much as I did the previous book in the series, but — I wasn’t in the mood for back-to-back Russian fantasies. I did eye Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants, but, as I mentioned above, I tend to horde my non-fiction against a Jealous WIP.  I considered Fire Logic, but reports indicate that it’s a pretty serious undertaking, and I’ve been feeling…a little down, which led me to the thought that I wanted something — light.  I considered re-reading The Warlock in Spite of Himself, realized I wanted something new-to-me, and — ta-da!  How Much for Just the Planet it my next book.

I can’t imagine this is much different than how anyone else chooses a book.  I mean, how do y’all pick what to read?

Third question!

You have read “The Black Wolves of Boston” and “8 Million Gods” by Wen Spencer, why not the “Elfhome” series?

Well, there’s a question packed with assumption.

I re-read both The Black Wolves of Boston and Eight Million Gods in 2018.  I remember that I wanted to re-read . . .Gods because I had just partially re-read another book in which the narrator wrote themselves into the story as it was unfolding, and I wanted to compare how Wen and Flann O’Brien handled that situation.  I re-read Black Wolves. . .  looks at Books Read in 2018 list and does calculations — ah, I remember.  I hadn’t been feeling well, and I wanted something well-written, and comforting, to keep me company.

As to why I “haven’t read” the Elfhome books. . .This is where looking at a single year’s list of Books Read kept by someone who has been reading for sixty-odd years, and assuming that’s the whole total of her reading experience — will get you in trouble.

I read Tinker when it was published, back in — what? — 2003?  And I read Wolf Who Rules when it was published, three or four years later.  I haven’t read any of the Elfhome books because, while I enjoyed my time in not-exactly-Pittsburgh, I don’t feel a need to spend any more time there.  This is nothing against the books, or Wen, or. . .anything, really — just my own reading preferences.

Here ends the answers to the second questions.

Questions Answered Here

So, there have been Questions.

Herewith Answers.

No, I don’t know when the eArc for Accepting the Lance will come out.  I really wish people would stop asking me this question, first thing after we’ve announced a manuscript has been turned in.  Or at all, really.  I usually know when an eARC has come out because a reader tells me.

No, it’s not likely that the publication date will be moved up from December.  Myself, I’m amazed that Baen is getting . . .Lance into print in 2019.

No, it is not a 200,000 +/- manuscript.  There’s a reason for that.  I’ll explain it later.  For right now, let’s just say that. . .

. . .yes, we are scheduled to deliver another book this year to Baen.  Its subject is the Dutiful Passage; and it does not yet have a title. About half of it is written, and, honestly?  I won’t even look at it until March.  No, I don’t know when this novel will be published, and don’t even start with me about the eArc.

Yes, Steve is writing a third book detailing the life and times of Jethri Gobelyn.  It, too, does not have a title.  Or a deadline.  We’re aiming for early 2020.

Yes, there is a brand! new! Liaden Universe® chapbook in your future.  Possibly, I will finish drafting it at Boskone.  I’m not particularly busy at Boskone, so that actually is a possibility.

No, the rest of my life has not, unfortunately, settled down.  My sister is still dead; my father is still in hospice dying of cancer, and I am still charged with making sense out of the dire mess of his paperwork, which also includes pushing and shoving and shouting at the universe until it forks over with Needful Things.  This is an exhausting procedure, as many of you know from your own experiences.  This is all, of course, in addition to catching up all the stuff I let slide while we were finishing the book, getting paperwork together for the accountant, and the rest of the things going on in our lives which include. . .

Boskone, as mentioned.  This is a good thing.  I’m looking forward to Boskone.  A couple weeks after we come home, Steve will be undergoing outpatient surgery to replace the “generator” that powers the I(mplanted) C(ardioverter) D(ebrillator) in his chest.  They tell us that this is a very simple procedure, requiring only a minor incision, the replacement of the battery, and some glue.  A couple weeks’ recuperation at home.  No biggie, they say.  Still worrisome as hell, if you ask me, and you did, so there you have it.

Yes, the cats are fine.  I have been overworking the coon cats, but they have risen nobly to the occasion.  Scrabble has even taken a couple shifts with me, to give the primary care workers some time to care for themselves.

I think this answers all of the current crop of questions.  Y’all stay well; thank you for care.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Many people across several venues want to know Things about the new digs, so rather than answer each of them individually (which, realistically, means that I won’t answer any of them — do you know how many books there are in this house?  That have to be packed?) — I’ll answer here.

First! The generator.  The generator may or may not move with us to the new place.  In theory, it increases the value of the house we’re moving from.  If the new buyers want the generator, we’ll work with them on that, and install a new generator at the new place.  If the new buyers don’t want the generator, then the people who installed it for us will move it to the new place, and we’ll get it hooked up.  Moving, as we are finding out, is Complicated, and there are things that have to be decided before things can be decided.

Second! Why now?  Um.  Because we found a house in an acceptable location that we can remotely afford to buy?  Also, because we happen to be at a point of synergy in regard to available funds, available brain power, energy, and emotional strength.  Now is just about the Most Perfect Time I can think of for this move, given the reasons why we’re moving.

Third!  Why are you putting Accepting the Lance aside in order to move? That’s not fair to readers!  Well. . .actually.  Fifth of Five curled up and died on us before we went to MidSouthCon (ref here).  Steve and I threw away 70,000 +/- of the Wrong Words, and we are in the process of re-visioning the narrative.  So, we haven’t put aside the book in order to concentrate on something else.  Happily for us, re-visioning is something that can easily be done while putting books in boxes.

Fourth!  Moving is hard; why not stay where you are?  Because where we are is no longer tenable, for us at this time.  It was a terrific place for 28ish years, and it’ll be a terrific place for some other young couple, sometime soon.  I’d also like to point out that writing is hard, and we keep doing that, so, clearly, we have rocks for brains.

. . .I think these are the most repeated questions.  Hope this information satisfies.  Thank you for all your support and concern.  We really are trying to go forward in a reasonable and rational manner.  Which is also hard.

Everybody have a good day.


In which the author has a question for — YOU!

This post is reflected, though slightly amended, from Facebook.

I have a question, O, Internets:

A little background, first. Many years ago, after we had sold our first three books, and been cut loose by our publisher — but hadn’t yet given up hope of finding a new publisher, and selling more books, it was said in some quarters that Miller and Lee were “writer’s writers” and as such would probably not be able to make a living, as writers. There’s some precedence for this, as writers read differently than even experienced readers, and tend to be delighted by V. Strange Things™, and in general Just Aren’t The Target Market.

There are a couple of cures for being a “writer’s writer.” One, of course, is to Take the Memo and quit writing. The other is to learn how to write to the market. We didn’t do either of those things, either because (1) we’re idiots (a theory that has some strong evidence supporting it), or (2) we knew that sometimes it takes longer than 2 years and/or 3 books to find a readership, and that, afforded enough time, we would find that readership.

So, here’s my question — actually TWO questions:

1. When did you — yes, YOU — start reading the Liaden Universe®, and!

2. Are you a writer?

I wish I had a chance here holding your hand

So, today, I took all of our titles on Smashwords off-sale.  They say it will take between one and three weeks for their various channels to catch up with this action.  In the meantime, all Lee-and-Miller, and Lee, self-pubbed titles remain available from BN and Amazon.

In the spirit of progress, I have converted three ebooks, so they’ll be ready to go up into the sales channels through Draft2Digital when Time has Become.

Other than that, I went to the gym, and the grocery store, and was grumpy because outstanding checks have yet to arrive.  Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about outstanding checks not arriving.  I am, too.

Today, it was hot; tomorrow is going to be hot, too, which will be good for the beach, but perhaps not for the residents of the Cat Farm, who were rather melty today, even with the windows open and a nice breeze running through.  Tomorrow, we may have to condition the air.  *sigh*

And! Today’s Off the Wall Question is:  Has anyone who reads here been to a performance by Hatsune Miku?  I’d like to hear about your experience and impressions.

Edited to Add:  I am remiss!  As of right now, Alliance of Equals has 98 reader reviews on Amazon!  Only 102 more to reach our goal of 200!  Thanks to everyone who has taken the time, and expended the energy!

. . .I fear that’s all I have today.

Hope y’all are having positively brilliant days, wherever you are.Belle and Trooper July 14 2016Today’s blog post is brought to you by Abney Park, “Breathe.”  Here’s your link.

And the number of the number is. . .

Five hundred and eighty people responded to the roll call during the month of June.

This counts those who read by RSS feed, and on the several places where this blog is mirrored.  Replies came in from Blog Without a Name, Eagles Over the Kennebec, Goodreads, Amazon, Baen’s Bar, and email.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.


One last answer to a roll call question:  Sad as it may be, I’m not certain myself whether Coyster is still around to be fed.  He would be quite an old cat by now.  However, assuming that the advances in life-extension that seem to afflict the human characters of the Liaden Universe® have been extended to companion animals — Kamele left the house in the care of her BFF, Ella ben Suzan.  Granted, Ella hadn’t cared much for Jen Sar, but I do think she takes her responsibilities seriously, so we can safely assume that No Cats Are Going Hungry.  No matter what they tell you.


Of boxes and books and signing pens:

Three boxes of signed-and-personalized books left the Confusion Factory by FedEx yesterday afternoon, and should be arriving at Uncle Hugo’s this (Friday) afternoon.  Let us all sing the praises of Eddie, the FedEx guy.

The other ten boxes of books are to travel via UPS.  We called them yesterday for a pick-up, but — because we live ‘Way Out In The Country — the soonest they could get together a safari to come into the bush was today.  The books will, therefore, arrive in Minneapolis Sometime Later next week,  We hope for Wednesday, but expect Thursday.

Two gel pens gave their lives to this project.  Mourn them as you find best.


No writing yesterday, except the signature kind.  Must do dishes, and Serious Work today, despite the blandishments of coon cats, who want me to go back to bed.


I let the purple wash out of my hair after BaltiCon, and for several weeks, no one has mentioned my hair.  I did not quite slip back into total invisibility, but, I did have to Talk Loud a couple times.

Last night, I started to re-purple, in honor of the upcoming book tour.


And that’s all the news that’s fit to print.

Everybody have a good Friday.

I need a sign. . .

Mail arrived; no check.  At this point, I’m expecting that it got on the bus to Massachusetts (Massachusetts being “MA” according to the Post Office and Maine being “ME”; many people unfamiliar with addressing envelopes Simply Assume that Maine is “MA”) and will be returned as “addressee unknown” to the agency in ten days or a month.

The betting pool is still open on whether or not the books arrive today.

Let’s see. . .

Answer to question from the Roll Call:  Yes, we will be visiting Annie’s Bookstop in Worcester on Friday, July 8, at 7 pm.  I talked to Trisha last night; she’s not sure what happened to the calendar listing, but states that It Shall Be Fixed.  In the meantime, she sent along this link.  Hope to see lots of you there!

Considering all the questions which have been asked in Roll Call, I have a Question of my own:  Is it easier to ask a question where you know it won’t be seen by anyone except, in this case, me?

On the schedule today is a podcast interview, writing, and staring out the window.

Yesterday, I did not write, but opted to read and rest my fingers after paying the scariest of the bills on the desk.

They say partly cloudy today, here, with thunderstorms on the overnight.

. . .and that’s all I’ve got.

Everybody stay cool.

catatwork2Today’s blog title is brought to you by Train, “Calling All Angels.”  Here’s your link.

I can climb the highest mountain; I can cross the widest sea

No checks in today’s mail, either.


*looks at pile of bills on desk*

This is going to be interesting.


Moving on — Answers to questions from the Roll Call!

*Sword of Orion was written as a work for hire — that means the publisher owns the copyright, the ideas, and the characters. The publisher went out of business after releasing the first books in about six series, one of which was the Sword of Orion series.  Therefore!  No more Sword of Orion stories.

*Er, no, I actually wouldn’t move to Liad, if I could.  For one thing, as a non-Liaden, I would be beneath most people’s notice, not to say contempt, except if I managed to insult somebody, which the odds are good that I’d do so within ten minutes of achieving the Port.  I’d rather go someplace where my life expectancy would be longer than ten minutes.

*The Gathering Edge will not be published until May 2017, that is correct.  In the larger scheme of things in publishing, that’s really hardly any time at all.  No, I’m afraid we can’t write much faster than we already do.


Today, I learned things.

I learned that orange sticks (aka “cuticle shapers”) are now made out of plastic.  They used to be made out of orange wood, but apparently not anymore.

I learned that I can prop my tablet up on the little ledge built into the treadmill at the gym and read as I walk.  And! I don’t have to worry about walking into a wall, when I do.

I learned that Microsoft thinks that a $1,000 tablet can “replace” my laptop, which costs 1/3 of that amount.  Research indicates that it does neither the dishes nor laundry, so I fail to see the advantage.

I also learned that my fingers — my fingers, not my wrists, which is usually the case — apparently took a beating yesterday, and if I’m a Schmott Guy, which really isn’t the way to bet, I’ll give them a break today.


Do I have any Hollywood historians here, or perhaps a Mae West aficionado?  I was wondering if she actually needed the stick she often had with her, or if it was only a fashion accessory.


Don’t forget that Steve and I will be at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, New York on Tuesday, July 5 to celebrate Alliance of Equals’ book day!  Be there or be somewhere else!


In other news, I wrote about 2,200 words yesterday, for a net gain to the manuscript of. . .33 words.  I think that we are now at an end of Backward Growth, and will be proceeding from here on in a forwarder direction.

You heard it here, first.


Progress on Book the Next
36,569/100,000 words OR 36.57% complete

“I believe it wished me to know that Theo might be in a pickle.”

Miri snorted a half-laugh, and he smiled.

“Yes,” he said.  “Precisely so.”

Sprite overseeing the side woods June 23 2016

Today’s blog title comes to you courtesy of Mr. John Parr, “St. Elmo’s Fire/Man in Motion”.  Here’s your link.

So you want to be a writer, Part Who’s Keeping Count

In a startling reversal, we have had news of a check!

It was cut yesterday, and will be on the bus to Maine this afternoon.

The reported amount of the check, sadly, reinforces my natural tendency toward pessimism, bearing in mind that, through the offices of our good uncle, Sam, we are currently constrained to put half of all receipts into the tax account.

[Sigh. The neighbor is shooting at his vegetables again.  It’s a hobby, I suppose.  And at least it’s at a decent hour in the afternoon, rather than 7am.  Apparently vegetables are particularly unruly at 7am.]

Steve and I had a brainstorming session a couple nights ago, and came up with A Conceit, the implementation of which will mean, I very much fear, that the Work in Progress will shrink Yet Again.  I’m tempted to title it The Incredible Shrinking Novel, and have done, but perhaps something. . .more convenable will occur.  In the meanwhile, among the working notes I have here is, “save Festina for later.”

One of the things I love about my job is the necessity of occasionally leaving myself notes like, “save Festina for later.”

What else?

Someone inside the roll call asked for my opinion of The House of Shattered Wings, which I recently read.  I usually don’t give my opinion of the books I read, because I overwhelmingly read science fiction and fantasy, and. . .I know a Whole Lot of science fiction and fantasy writers, as colleagues and friends.  I’m not being paid to review things anymore, and I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings over what is, after all, merely a question of personal taste.

I will say that, if you are looking for Gothick Urban Fantasy, complete with fallen angels, and immortals banished from the court of The August Personage of Jade, set in post-World War Paris, The House of Shattered Wings is your book.

Yesterday, for a brief period in the afternoon, we had Weather, in the shape of An Awesome Thunderstorm accompanied by a prodigious down-pouring of rain. Today, it is intermittently sunny, humid, and warm, and cloudy, humid, and warm.  Sprite is asleep in the red basket on my desk; Belle is asleep in my her rocker.  Scrabble sleeps with the heffalumps, and Trooper is on hammock duty in the front room.

In a few minutes, Steve and I will meet for ice cream, and then I’ll commence in tearing apart the first section of the WiP, remembering to save Festina for later.

Progress on Book the Next
35,686/100,000 OR 35.69% complete

“Truly, sir, if I stood in your place, I would be extremely cross. The tree has been less than apt, and wounded an ally, besides. Indeed, I find it possible to be cross in your stead, and I mean to deliver it a ringing scold, when next we meet.”

Take your daughter to work day June 20 2016