Saturday check-in

So, it was a busy week here in Central Maine.

On Monday, I went to my first ever book club meeting.  There are three of us, and all — including the leader — book club virgins.  We’re reading Comfort is an Old Barn a collection of columns by local reporter/columnist Amy Calder.  I worked with Amy many years ago now at the Morning Sentinel.  Steve and I went to her book talk at the Waterville Library back in December, and bought her book, but I hadn’t yet dipped into it, so this was a good opportunity.  Our group of three is relaxed enough to agree that we’ll make it up as we go along, and our next meeting is set for Monday after next.

Also on Monday, I opened up Steve’s file for Double Vision, which he had been reformatting for ebook publication just before he died.  It was very close to complete, so I finished up the little bit that remained, compiled the file and downloaded it to my tablet for a quality check.

Tuesday morning was a session with the grief counselor, which more or less puts a period to Tuesdays.  I spent the day getting Steve’s papers into traveling boxes, and getting Double Vision uploaded to various distributors.  It is now available for pre-order from the vendor of your choice.  It will be available for immediate download on June 1 from those vendors, and also from the Baen site.

Wednesday, I filled some more boxes with Steve’s papers, running out of papers at the same time I ran out of boxes.  I love it when a plan comes together.

On Wednesday, it was Revealed that I need a new roof, which was . . . not particularly pleasant news.

Wednesday also saw the Grand Arrival of 200 copies of Ribbon Dance, to be signed and sent on to Uncle Hugo’s SF Bookstore in Minneapolis.  If you would like a signed copy, you may reserve one here.

I finished signing the books and resealing the boxes Thursday night, and UPS will be picking them up on Monday.

As an aside — signing those books obviously wasn’t the hardest thing I’d ever had to do, but it was . . . not easy.  The arrival of books to sign used to be reason for a party for Steve and me.  This time — not so much.  No promises one way or another, but this may be the last time I do this.  Not only because of the heartbreak angle, but — tossing around 30 pound boxes of books isn’t getting any easier.  I’m 71, after all, and getting old sucks.

Where was I?  Ah –Thursday.  Thursday, I called the insurance company in re the necessity of replacing the roof.  An adjuster will be with me on Monday.  In the meantime, I have an estimate for replacement, which is — yeah.  It’s a big roof.

On Friday, I affixed labels to boxes of books and also to boxes containing Steve’s papers, then I spent the rest of the day with the WIPnovel, on which I am behind because — well.  Oh, and the curtain rod across the window in Steve’s hallway finally failed, dumping the curtains onto the floor, but doing no more serious damage.  I have a tension rod on order, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I hope to get the window decently covered then.

Friday night, I posted Ryk Spoor’s Guest Column on the Liaden Universe and Ribbon Dance here.

Today, I have a couple things to do, including updating this blog, but I intend to spend most of the day with the WIP — and tomorrow, too.  I am also waiting for FedEx Ground to stop by and take on Steve’s papers, the first part of their journey to the Cushing Memorial Library, in Texas.

And that catches us all the way up.

Below we see the Crack Box Inspection Team of Trooper and Firefly, inspecting boxes.

Saturday check-in

So, in-between remembering to promote our work, and taking care of the cats, and writing less than I would like but more than one colleague has assured me is possible, I’ve been putting Steve’s papers into boxes for eventual shipment to the archive at Texas A&M.

This means that I’ve been reading old letters, and poetry, and notes about what’s for supper; submission letters and rejections.  And there’s this whole long … thread, let’s call it, around a story called “The One About Dancing,” which I remember in concept, but not in any detail.   It seems that it started as a Notion that Steve had that stalled.  I then had Notion and it got kickstarted, and we tried to sell the hell outta that story.  We sent it to Amazing, we sent it to Owlflight, then at last to Spectrum SF.

Paul ____ at Spectrum . . . wasn’t particularly encouraging.  He wanted extensive edits, which Steve was game to take on.  My name was on the story for a while, as co-author, but I removed it after Steve starting working with Paul on revisions.  He was doing the bulk of the work there, because I probably had a day-job, and I didn’t feel that I was contributing enough to the emerging work to be listed as a coauthor.

So, anyway, Paul finally declared the revised Tanj (the name of the main character was Jobber Tanj, and we referred to the story as “Tanj”), and I quote  “Wow!”  His last letter is about the concept art, and a request for a follow-up Tanj story.

Then . . . nothing.

I assume Spectrum went out of business.  I don’t remember, honestly.  Nineteen-eighty-two was a long time ago.  I did a quick ‘n dirty websearch, and can’t find any info.  It’s as if it never  existed, except that I Have This File.

Aside the Mystery of the Disappearing Market, what struck me about the Tanj thread is how . . . friendly and helpful the editors — Elinor, Millea, Paul — were.  Even the rejection letters for other stories were cordial and tried to pinpoint what didn’t work.  Even given that sometimes what didn’t work was what we considered to be the Point of the story, that was . . . extraordinarily generous.

So, there’s that.

In other news, it looks as if Maine has entered True Spring, with the daytime highs regularly hitting the high 50s/low 60s (F) and the nighttime lows staying above freezing.

A couple of folks have asked if I’ll be at BaltiCon, and the answer, sadly, is no.  I really don’t expect to be attending any cons for the foreseeable.  I miss you all, but — no.  Or at the very least — not yet.

And I think that more-or-less catches us all up.

Oh, wait.  Here’s a picture of Firefly in her space capsule, which conveyed her to her annual wellness appointment with the vet yesterday.  She was declared to be both gorgeous and healthy.

Smol Updatery

The WIPnovel broke 50,000 words last night, by a slim margin of 4 words.

This is, by the Letter of the Contract, Half A Book (not to be confused with Half a Bee).  For those coming in late, the Contract stipulates “a Liaden novel, of at least 100,000 words.”  In Reality, the three most recent novels — Fair Trade, Salvage Right, and Ribbon Dance — have all been in the +/-130,000 range.  So!  We’ll see what happens with WIPnovel.

I wish to note for the record, if there is one, that it is not raining today — it is sunny and warming — and that there’s a blue jay in the back yard swearing his fool head off.

 

Sixty

At the risk of repeating myself — it’s raining.  To be fair, this is the first time that it’s rained in, oh, four or five days, and I find it exceedingly unfair that I was once again held hostage by back pain, and so missed being out in the beautiful weather.  Today, of course, my back feels fine.

As a result of on-going back problems, writing has slowed.  I did get some actual work done yesterday, and am hoping for the same today — and even tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the bouts of bad-backness have been messing with The Schedule, and The Schedule is kind of crucial to getting things done around here.  Say what you will about hobgoblins and tiny minds, Habit is a Force and, properly managed, even a Force for Good, in which Good equals keeping on keeping on.  So, will be trying to get back on Schedule, this weekend, as well.

Regarding those few fine days, I present to you — flowers!  from Maine.  The little blue ones are, appropriately enough, called glory-of-the-snow (reminding us that April snow in Maine isn’t all that unusual); and the tall soldier is my very first daffodil.

Forty-two

So, it’s raining, as it has been for the last few days.  For a couple of those days, I had back spasms and was therefore zoned out on muscle relaxants and pain killers, which you’d think would make some things easier, but — didn’t.

I’m finding the wind and the rain unsettling, which is something of an about-face.  I used to love wild weather.  Well.  Perhaps that’s something for young people, who may not be overly worried about trees, or wires, coming down.

I was born during a hurricane, as my father told me, so maybe I had a predisposition, or even a kinship.  I used to race the wind — at first running; later in my car.  I grew up in Baltimore, which was a thunderstorm-rich area.  I loved the smell of ozone, and would stand outside to watch the lightning crackle across the sky.

The weather in Central Maine doesn’t tend toward violent thunderstorms.  We get your nor’easters — wind and snow; wind and rain; your occasional sou’easter.  Hurricanes, ayuh, we get those, too.  And I find that I’m not a wind-junkie anymore, and that makes me sad.

In other news, I’m writing, slowly, and trying to stay on-topic.  It’s so very weird, not to print out the pages and leave them on the dining room table for Steve to read.  Instead, I print out what I wrote every evening, so I can read it over my  breakfast — that works, pretty much.  The worst part is when, mid-writing, I’ll ask myself, “And why are we doing this, exactly?” — it kind of derails the process.

Still, work is going forward, and I’ll take progress.

Below, proof of coon cats being on the case.


 

 

Keeping on keeping on

So!  What on earth has the woman been doing?

Sorting through photographs, and Steve’s papers, and making some decisions thereby.  Fanac.org was kind enough to take the box of fanzines I gathered, and will be digitizing and putting them on the site as time and volunteers allow.

Steve’s papers include some correspondence with interesting people in the field, and a file drawer of handwritten, unpublished poetry.  Steve had been a traveling poet before I knew him, and he wrote poems like you and I doodle.  By contrast, his fiction is — surprisingly sparse, mostly seeming to be many iterations of the same five or six stories, along with a couple that I dimly recall seeing, that had apparently been pitched in a box in frustration after gathering too many rejections.

The majority of what he left, though, are photographs.  Steve was very rarely without a camera, and thus I am left with many (unsorted) glimpses of cats, daily life, cats, moments from the Liaden Universe® World Tour, time spent with the Friends of Liad, cats, and, err, me, along with pictures of us, and pictures of Steve, because he insisted that I have a camera, too, that being one of the markers of a civilized person to him, though I was never as prolific on film as he was.  Oh, and pictures of cats.

Because of a combination of things — the sparseness of his papers, the convention badges and program books that I had no idea what to do with, the proliferation of personal letters, cards, and photographs, gave me the idea of making what I first conceived of as “a scrapbook,” but which will probably be three, or four, scrapbooks by the time I’m done.  I’m thinking that there will be narrative, written by me, because the pictures are jogging my memory — never robust — and of course Steve left no notes of his own.

I have already sorted some of the photos into the existing album, which is what opened my eyes to the fact that a single album, with dividers, was Just Not Going to Do the Job, and I spent what was probably a stupidly long time looking at how many pictures there are of me, and questioning their part in this project.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that, yes, the pictures of me are part of the narrative; after all, the photographer considered the pictures worth taking.

In addition to the above, I’ve been writing — not as quickly as I’d like, but that’s usually the case — and going to gym, and mostly keeping up with daily life, in this vastly changed environment.  The coon cats are keeping a very close eye on me, which I can hardly blame them for, considering the number of A-List players we’re lost lately.

One thing I haven’t done is an InfoDump, and I really ought to.  Some people will have missed the news about Steve, and there’s the Ribbon Dance eARC to promote, and the upcoming Salvage Right mass market because Life Does Go On, and books are in a very literal sense, my life.

Well.  Maybe this weekend for the InfoDump.

I think that catches us up for right now.

Thank you all for your patience, and for your support down many years through many stories.

 

 

 

In which poetry will out

So, I’m not known for my poetry — and justly so.  However, the Late Universal Upheaval has put into my hands two of my very few poems, on paper that is so fragile I fear that they’ll be dust the next time somebody looks into the file.

I therefore transcribe them below, for Posterity.

#

As near as I can tell, these were both written in 1978.  The second has a title; the first does not.  Both are ©Sharon Lee.

A Voice is singing in the Dark
In half a thousand shades
Weaving colors that defy the Night
And will not let it in.

A Singer sings within the Night
Aloud, but quite alone
Building rainbow walls against the Dark
’til rescued by the Dawn.

#

RECOGNITION

Hello.
I know you
Of old.
Very Old . . .
The face you wore was different
And your voice sang greener notes
But I knew you then
As I know you now
And shall know you ever on.

Hello.
I do know you
Very well indeed.
Your favorite color?
Or taste in books?
The music that shades your days?
Mysteries that lack meaning,
Shadowed by what we see
For I know you.
Yes, I know you
Very well indeed.

It’s a wonderful night for a Ribbon Dance

First things being first — I am under the impression that the Ribbon Dance eARC will drop Sometime Today.  Here’s your link to the Baen eARC page.

For those joining us after the break, an eARC is a Baen Tradition, in which electronic A(dvance)R(eading)C(opies) are offered to those readers who Simply Cannot Wait for the release of the hardcover/ebook, three months down the road.  eARCs may contain errors that do not appear in the finished book.  In the case of Ribbon Dance, such errors will be on the level of typos and broken sentences — which is to say, not story-altering.

In other news, tomorrow will be the fourth anniversary of my mastectomy.  Also!  Gifford’s ice cream stand, which is a scant half mile from the Cat Farm, will reopen for the season tomorrow.  No, these things are not related, saving that I may go out for ice cream tomorrow afternoon, in support of local business.

My brother-in-law and nephew came up from mid-Coast for a couple days and helped me get a lot accomplished, including pulling a bunch of boxes out of Steve’s closet, which went in there 6 years ago and were never heard from again, cleaning out the Goblin Room and the Winter Room, clearing the garage, and even doing some needed yard work.  It would have taken me months to do what they did in two days.

I’m left with details in terms of papers and photographs and the … things that one accumulates just by having lived a busy life.

I will say that, having seen Steve’s brother in action — I knew Steve had been getting tired, but not how tired he actually was.  I couldn’t have done anything about it, and I know that, but it still leaves me feeling like I let the side down.

Well.

Monday, I’ll be starting what I hope to be a long-term exercise class at the Community Center, which meets at 8:15 M/W/F.  I have apparently acquired the vice of early rising, so this ought to be perfectly doable, and provide the dual benefits of exercise, and human interaction.

I think that gets us caught up for the moment.

Oh, wait.

Here, have some pictures of coon cats.

Sprite atop the file cabinet
Trooper in my co-pilot’s chair
Firefly at the top of the living room cat tree

And when the stars threw down their spears

It’s a funny thing, how life goes on.  Until it doesn’t, of course, but we’re very good as a species about ignoring that.

So — life.  Much changed, but still moving, still demanding attention, response, thought, and action.

My short-term goal is to find all of Steve’s papers — which is not as easy as you might think — and get them into boxes to send to the archive at Northern Illinois University.  My brother-in-law and nephew are coming up from mid-Coast in a few days to help me, literally, with the heavy lifting, and a Dumpster has been engaged to receive such things as no longer have utility.

My longer-term goals are to finish the sequel to Ribbon Dance — the deadline having been moved from September to November — and start work on the book after that.

In-between all that, there’s the Ordinary:  Litter pans do not clean themselves, after all (well, OK; apparently some litter pans clean themselves); bills still need to be paid; meals eaten; dishes washed; cats scrubbled, groomed, and played with.  Credit where it’s earned:  the coon cats are keeping me to a Tight Schedule, demanding tools down at precisely 7:11 pm, so that Happy Hour may commence (Happy Hour starting with a shared can of gooshy food, after which we — by which I mean, three cats and a woman — make a pile on the sofa for an hour, until it’s time for me to get my meal.)

In the planning stages are a return to the gym (I had cancelled my membership, because the cash, it was not flowing), which is in the Community Center, where  there are people.  I’m also going to have to look around me for a book, lunch, or sewing club.  I score pretty high as an Introvert, not to mention a tendency toward Black Knighthood, but even I need some human contact.

Under Ordinary:  I believe that the eARC of Ribbon Dance is due to drop on March 15 — so, yanno, Watch the Skies.

I do want to mention that people had asked for a place to write about Steve and how he touched their lives.  I’ve set up a page here for that purpose.  If you choose to contribute, please understand that you are not required to be Solemn.  Steve loved to laugh, and was rarely solemn himself.

And I think that catches us up.  Everybody stay safe.

Today’s blog title brought to you by William Blake, The Tiger.*

_________
*Steve was born in a Year of the Tiger

Sunday in the new world

I want to thank everyone who sent condolences on Steve’s passing, and also everyone who sent donations in lieu of flowers.  I can’t possibly thank you all individually, but know that I’m grateful.

On the Theme of not being able to answer every question individually, I’m going to answer a bunch of them here, and then post links to this post everywhere.  I think this should catch most people.

So!  The first question —  Will I be continuing the Liaden series?
Yes, it is my intention to continue writing in the Liaden Universe®, at least to the point of finishing out the remaining three books contracted with Baen.  There will be some changes in how things go forward, which are inevitable, given Circumstances.  Trade Lanes is off the table, at least for now.  It is possible that it will never be written, but — I’m new at this, so let’s just not say “never” and instead say “we’ll see.”

I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book following Ribbon Dance, and have Extensive Notes for the book after that.  The sequel is due at Baen in September.  The deadline may have to be renegotiated; I don’t know that yet — see “new at this,” above — and I’ll have to talk with Madames the Agent and the Publisher.

Question the Second:  How am I doing?
I have no idea.  I have moments of relative peace — work is going to be a refuge, I can already see that — moments of immobilizing terror, and breathtaking pain.  I’m assuming these things are standard, but I’ve never lost my best friend, spouse, and creative partner before.

The cats have been a comfort, piling on whenever I land in a place and stay still long enough.

Local friends have also been keeping an eye on me, to the extent that I allow it; it’s hard to ask for help, and I’m not Steve, who loved people and made connections the way the rest of us breathe.  I’m a more … private person, a fact that it will do us all good to remember, going forward.  If I’m testy, sarcastic, or clueless — recall that I’ve always been that way, and that Steve always did the heavy interpersonal lifting.

Question the Third:  What am I doing?
Cleaning off Steve’s desk — he was a pile maker — in the hope that I’ll find all the account numbers and passwords and whatnot that I’ll need in order to do all the Stuff that attends a death, starting — well.  Tomorrow.  I did do this once, a couple years ago, long distance, when my father died.  At least this time, I know the broad outline of the Things To Be dealt with.

Referencing work as a refuge, I’ll be — today or tomorrow — converting my reading nook to a dedicated writing space, since my desktop is bearing the weight of the Stuff-coping.  A quiet space and a quiet computer will help me think.

Other than that, I’m trying to breathe, and not succumb to the Black Dog.  As a friend who knows me well wrote in her condolence card, “Be Strong.  The cats need you.”

Question the Fourth:  How can I help?
By being patient, of course, and realizing that this is a House in mourning, therefore instant answers will not be available.

Kind people have been sending gift cards, which I greatly appreciate, and which, I suspect, will come in extremely handy while the Accountant’s Guild clarifies my financial situation, going forward.

If you would like to donate a gift card  “in lieu of flowers” as many people have said, an Amazon gift card to rolanniATgmailDOTcom will be greatly appreciated, as will Hannaford gift cards, or Petco gift cards.

If you prefer to donate cash online, there’s the Patreon page, PayPalME, or you may buy me a Ko-Fi (which is PayPal by another process).

If you want to send a card, the best address is:
Sharon Lee
PO Box 1586
Waterville ME 04903

. . . I think that’s the full list of repeating queries.  Again, thank you all for your support and your love, down so very many years.  Group hug.

Here’s a picture of the reading-soon-to-be writing nook.  Coon cat provided for scale: