And so it goes…

It’s been a while since we last talked, and rightly may you ask “What on earth has the woman been doing?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

I finished with the Trader’s Leap copy edits, and returned them to M’sieur the Editor, who has passed them on to the typesetter.  Which, yes, means that there is possibly an eArc in your Nearish Future.

The serialization of The Wrong Lance has finished.  It will remain on Splinter Universe and Patreon through September 11 — coincidentally, my birthday.  On September 12 all chapters and authors notes will be removed and compiled into a chapbook, Splinter Universe Presents:  The Wrong Lance, for those folks who have requested a souvenir.  Here’s the cover art:

We expect to release this concurrently with the mass market edition of Accepting the Lance, on October 22.

Oh, what else?  Ah!  I moderated a panel at reCONvene on August 15, marking my first time as a moderator and a panelist at a virtual convention.  I had fun!  My panelists — Steven Barnes, Jenn Brissett, Br Guy Consolmagno, and Adrian Tchaikovsky — were brilliant and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, which!

Happens to be a good thing, because Steve and I will be participating in AlbaCon in the Afternoon on Sunday, August 30 — which is coming right up!  Other attendees are the writing team of Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald.  Steve and I will be reading — a bit from Trader’s Leap and another bit from a recent chapbook to be named later.  More information will be forthcoming as we have it.

Other than those two events, we’re staying pretty quiet, and healing from the Compleat Disruption of Everything which has been the last 19 months of our lives.  We’ve been reading a lot, as you can see from the lists I’ve been posting; taking advantage of the local Farm Pick Up for fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and cheeses, taking long country rides and visiting some of the little parks with which Maine is liberally sprinkled.  We depend on InstaCart for our grocery shopping, and I’m kind of pleased at the fall-off in necessary doctor visits.

On that front, I have do still have one more medical appointment — this Wednesday — before taking up the new aromatase inhibitor (the first having, um, invoked Unwanted Side Effects), and Seeing What Happens.  In the meanwhile, I have two pounds more to lose to hit the first 10 pounds my oncologist wants me to lose.  This is a two-part process:  first hit and maintain at 178 pounds, then move on to maintaining 170.

Yes, I have changed my diet, and it wasn’t really a hardship, since the “plant based” diet isn’t so very much different from what we’d been doing, anyway.  Basically, it’s less bacon, more fish, and lots more veggies, but — I like veggies.

I’m also slowly getting back to something resembling exercise, though — I never thought I’d say this — I miss the gym.  There you have it, though, I do miss the gym — almost as much as I miss going to the ocean.

Fans of the cats will wish to know that Belle has been feeling a little poorly.  The cause appears to be her calcium levels, and she is now on a weekly, very low dose of Fosamax, of all things.  She’ll have another blood draw in three to four weeks to see if this therapy is succeeding.

. . .I think that catches us up.  I will try to do better about updates, now that life has settled somewhat, if not exactly returned to normal.  Mostly, we’ll be writing, reading and cat herding here in Central Maine — which, come to think of it, is our normal.

Here’s a picture of Steve and me at Swan Lake State Park, in Swanville Maine.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

So, let’s do a little catch-up.

1  Amazon is currently having a $.99 sale on the Kindle edition of Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29, published in May 2019.  If you have an interest, or think someone you know might have an interest, here’s the link.

Barnburner, a cozy Maine mystery by Sharon Lee, the first of two books featuring Jen Pierce, is now available as an ebook, paper book, and audiobook.  Here’s your link.

2a  Gunshy, the second Jen Pierce novel, will be along bye-n-bye, so watch the skies.

The Wrong Lance, that being the start of the novel which is NOT Accepting the Lance, is being posted, a chapter a week on Mondays.  There are 11 chapters, and Chapter Six posted this morning.  If you’d like to join the fun, you can start here.

4  I will be moderating a panel at reCONvene on August 15, time to be determined.  Panelists are: Steven Barnes, Jenn Brissett, Br Guy Consolmagno SJ, Adrian Tchaikovsky. We will be taking up the topic of Earth’s place in the future; what it may mean to be “from” Earth; and what Earth itself may look like, socially, and environmentally.  More information on reCONvene may be found here.

5  Today is Princess Jasmine Sprite’s eighth birthday.  Here’s a picture of her being patient when I interrupted her morning squirrel watch:

Today’s blog brought to you by Styx:  “Mr. Roboto.”  Here’s the link.

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.

And she is moving very slowly, rising up above the earth

So, here we are in 2020.  I’ve been warned not to date checks with just /20, because some Bad People could just add, oh “19” to that and steal my check.  I’m sure that’s good advice, but, really I hardly write checks anymore, and when I do, I always date them fully, to wit:  “January 4, 2020,” because old habits die hard, if they die at all.

In related news, many-to-all (depending on your news source) of the credit unions in Maine are off-line as the result of mysterious “connectivity problem.”  This is not as much fun as it may at first seem.

We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory are clinging to our last few precious Not-Sundays.  There’s writing to do and writing being done, as well as chores, of a sort, but it’s all being done in a soft bubble, almost a “deadline free zone,” which we all know there’s no such thing, but — it’s been pleasant to pretend for a week or two.

Deadlines and doctors appointments return Monday morning, quite early, so we’ll be getting back into the Daily Push realsoonnow.

My first-in task today is to clean the so-called Boy’s Bathroom, and to steam clean the kitchen floor.  After that, there’s the final sweep at the WIP.  After much banging my head against various metaphorical, logical, and fictional walls, I have figured out how to straighten the last kink in the last scene.  Go me.  The entire corrected manuscript ought, I think, be on its way to Madame by the end of the week, and then?  I won’t have anything to do.  [Cue laugh track]

Looking ahead, Steve and I will be attending Boskone in mid-February, and!  We will be Guests of Honor at NarniaCon, aka the Coat Check Con.  NarniaCon hosts a scavenger hunt within Boskone entire; this year’s hunt will be based on the game of Clue.

. . .and that’s where we stand at the moment, still inside the bubble, with the cats napping inside, and the sky grey with snow clouds, outside.

Today’s blog title brought to you by one of my hometown bands, Talking Heads:  And She Was.

Twixt and Tween

As reported elsewhere. . .

This morning, we await the arrival of the Command Chair, which will be delivered, so they say, between 8 am and noon.  I note that it was not delivered at 8 am.

This after, we have errands, and possibly a nap.

I have this morning filed for half an hour.  I figure half-an-hour a day for a couple weeks will see everything put away by the time I need to withdraw from the lists for 8 weeks.  Sprite came into the tech room to help; me (Sprite likes to file) — and I am just returned from another visit to the tech room, because she was shouting at me to come back here and file some more!  I had to tell her that I’m not going to file for eight hours straight; that I appreciate her help and hope to have her help again, tomorrow.

This is what you get when you have cats who want to be Involved in the Process.

So, anyway. . .somewhere in all this I need to print out the Nameless WIP and go through it line by line, as one does.  That’ll be fun.  Or not.  I’m past the point where I want to read this book ever again, but, yanno.  Part of the job.

Ocean and Ice

So!  Steve and I took a vacation.

I place all blame for this on the Cirque du Soleil, which, back in the waning winter, sent me notice that Crystal would be at the Cross Insurance Arena in our very own Portland, Maine, in August.  I, of course, immediately told asked Steve we were going if he and I could make a date for the show, and he agreed.

There remained the small difficulty of Portland being between 90 and 120 minutes from the New Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, and we kicked around the notion of taking a hotel room in Portland, which was not an. . .unattractive notion, Portland having more restaurants per square foot than any other city I’ve been in, plus, yanno, shopping.

However, it also, slowly, became obvious to us that Old Orchard Beach — which has the Atlantic Ocean, classic rock, an amusement park, ice cream, silly beach shops, the Atlantic Ocean — is only a fifteen minute drive from the Cross Arena in Portland, and so we cannily took a room at OOB, not for one night, but for four.

We drove down Tuesday for an afternoon check-in at a sorta newish place for us — The Waves (“sorta newish” because The Waves is the big sister property to the Sea View, where, back when my first Carousel* book released, I had rented a room block for the release party, so we knew management, but not the property).  Our room was second floor, ocean-side.  It was, in fact, 55 paces to the beach (according to Steve, who Measures Things). The porch overlooked everything — dunes, sea roses, surf, the Thursday night fireworks display.  I spent hours on the porch, breathing sea air, reading, playing with binoculars — just, yanno, doing nothing.  So very fine not to have to do anything.  For a few days, anyway.  By the time we were getting packed up, I was getting a little antsy with the whole “rest” thing.

I took my laptop, because — writer.  But I did not open my laptop.  I did not Facebook.  I did not Twitter.  I did not email.  I took no pictures.  I took no prisoners.  I think I told one guy, in response to a direct question, what it was I did for a living.  It was glorious.  I did, as above, sit on the porch and read; take naps; walk up and down the town and the beach; visited Googin Rock; ate every meal for four days out; also ‘way too much ice cream; played arcade games; talked to Steve about things that were not business or writing (well, OK, we did start to plot a short story, and — full disclosure — I started to play around with the idea for a new Carousel story, if I should manage to get time to write a new Carousel story).

Life at the ocean over our four-day stay was interesting.  We had a number of thunderstorms, including one that produced a horizontal rainbow about a foot off of the surface of the waves, which was really interesting.  Friday night’s storm caught us in the amusement park.  We retreated to the arcade before the heavy lightning and thunder hit, and had just taken up a position beside a row of games when — FLASH! BOOM! — and all the lights in the arcade went out.

There was time for a group intake of breath, and for one child to say, on a rising note “Mah-OHM?” — before the lights came back on and the young lady playing the Terminator machine across from us cussed because she’d lost her best score.

The park was closed for a little while until it was clear that the storm had moved on.  We walked among the rides, saying hello and good-bye, and retired to our room and the so-very-excellent porch.

Yesterday, we regretfully packed out, and drove home the long way, through Oxford, Paris, Milford, Mexico. . .stopping on the way through Waterville to pick up Chinese for lunch at home with the cats.

The cats, for those who are curious about how our cats “punish” us for abandoning them — the cats were all four waiting for us in the hall at the top of the stairs to the basement.  Trooper was a little forward of the ladies, and he greeted me first, to be sure I was who I said I was.  Then Belle stepped forward, then Scrabble, then Sprite.

The formalities attended to, they proceeded to beg for Chinese.

After lunch, we unpacked in a leisurely manner, and met for a glass of wine and to read out loud, in the living room, in the early evening.

We’re working our way through the Cat Who/Qwilleran cozies, the book we’re reading now is The Cat Who Went Into the Closet.

I sat down in my corner of the couch, and put the leg-rest out (the right and left seats of the couch recline).  We each had a glass of red wine to hand.  Belle came to sit on my lap; Sprite jumped up onto the Mencken table, where I had carelessly left the Scrabble set (in the box).

Everybody settled, Steve began to read.

Belle fell into a doze on my lap.  Steve leaned forward to pick up his wine, settled back, rustled the pages of the book, Sprite startled, kicked, knocked the Scrabble box off of the table to a crash landing on the floor, Sprite fled, Belle rocketed out of my lap, through Steve, knocking his arm up, so that he was showered in red wine.

There was a twenty-minute recess while clean-up happened, and Steve changed his clothes.

The book — a book club edition, with those thin, gritty pages, dried quickly enough for us to continue reading, Steve’s wine glass refilled.

We were lucky in the arc of wine:  Most of it went on Steve (granted, he doesn’t particularly think this was lucky); some landed on the stain-proofed, dark-brown-tweed sofa; a fair amount splashed one of the pillows, which I count a win, because I never liked those pillows and now I have an excuse to replace them.  A small amount of wine hit the floor, and was handily mopped up.  None touched what I like to call my Good Wool Rug.  The Scrabble set was in the box, the box was sealed with ribbon, thus no escaping tiles.

So, as catsasters go, it could have been much worse.  I have a bruise on my thigh where Belle took off, and Steve’s clothes may not be completely recoverable.  On the other hand, they were beach clothes, so a minor loss at worst.

Today, I’m clearly on the computer.  I’ve already ordered Earth Logic, Water Logic, and Air Logic (the follows to Fire Logic, which I finished reading at the ocean), and I’m shopping on Redbubble for some laptop stickers.  I also need to pull out information about a minor character appearing in . . .Lance, who will be the star of the story we need to write for Baen.com, and frowning at the notes I left for myself in re the WIP

Yes, and I’ve also opened my email; if I owe you an email — waiting is.

Lunch, I believe, will be leftover Chinese, and that will be the official end of the vacation.  It was terrific, and I’d do it again tomorrow, but — deadline.

And so it goes.

Speaking of deadlines, we still do have book deadlines in our future.  This is what our professional life looks like, as of right now:

Accepting the Lance finishes the contract we called here in-house The Five Book Dash.  It will be published in December.  Believe it or not, that’s Realsoonnow.

While we were working on The Five Book Dash, Baen offered us a contract for two additional Liaden books, the so-called Mask Books (because we had not made proposals, and knew nothing, other than we could write two more Liaden books, and thus Baen would be purchasing a couple of pigs in the poke, or — more elegantly — Liadens in masks.)

A little while after that, Baen offered another contract, for three Liaden books, the so-called Triple Threat.

We are, therefore, still under contract for five Liaden books.

The novel I am working on right now will fulfill the first half of the Mask contract.

Steve is working on a Jethri novel, which will fulfill the second half of the Mask contract.

That will leave the entire Triple Threat to be written.

So — yes there are Liaden books in your future.

No, there are no Carousel/Archers Beach books in your immediate future.

There are no Gem ser’Edreth books in your future.

There are no Jen Pierce mysteries in your future.

Everybody confused now?

Good.

Imma answering my email now.

__________
*Carousel novels by Sharon Lee:  Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, Carousel Seas
Carousel short stories by Sharon Lee:  Surfside, The Gift of Magic, Spell Bound

In which there is ketchup

So, we went to Boskone, and it was fun.

I had my doubts, as we drove out last Thursday morning, to catch the Downeaster to Boston.  It had snowed on the overnight, and the Amtrak lot at Brunswick is uncovered, as are most of the parking lots in Maine. Honestly, you’d think it never snowed here.

Still, it had snowed, and I had visions of us having to shovel out a parking space, if, in fact, the lot was open at all.

Now, this?  Is the upside of being a pessimist.  We get so many more nice surprises than optimists.  For instance — yes the lot was both full of snow and full of cars, but!  there were two spaces available, and a front-loader on the case clearing the snow.  The nice operator dug out one of the two available spots for us, leaving us fresh for a small tussle with the “automatic parking meter,”  which, given the snow and the temperature, and all, was a little less automatic than one might wish.  Eventually, however, Victory Was Ours, and we rolled our suitcases down to the actual train station, and boarded in good order.

We arrived in Boston to find that — surprise! — North Station was undergoing construction and the Taxi Feeding Grounds from which we have for many years claimed our ride across town was — unavailable.  In fact, there were no taxis to be seen.

Finally, we walked up Portland Street, to the Kimpton Onyx Hotel, which had done us a good turn once before, and asked the nice person on the front desk to call us a cab, which she very kindly did, and we were on our way.

Boskone was lovely.  We saw a lot of people we hadn’t seen in years, what with one thing and another; had a delightful Friends of Liad breakfast, and several stimulating panels.  We signed books; I lost my voice, and on Monday morning, in the teeth of a very pretty little snow that did very little violence to the Traffic of Boston, given that it was a holiday, we were returned to North Station, where a nice Transit Authority Person was able to give us succinct and accurate directions to Amtrak, and so to Brunswick, and thence to Waterville, where we were very glad to see the cats, and vice versa.

We had a celebratory Home Again pizza, as is our habit, and a good night’s sleep.  This morning, we slept in, and, now that my hair is dry, I will be going out to the grocery store.  After lunch, I will delve into The Taxes, and Steve will be hitting the galleys for Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four.

So, yanno:  Back to normal, until next Thursday, when Steve will be reporting to the Cardiac Unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center to have his generator replaced.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that today is Belle’s ninth birthday, which she is celebrating by sleeping in the sun, stretched full length on the cedar chest.

. . .and that?  Catches us all up.

Here, have a picture from the con.

Coon Cat Logic

Those of you who have been following along for a while, hereanthere, will possibly recall that I amuse myself from time to time telling stories about the cats, their behavior, their possible motives, and their Catly Powers. Mostly, this is whimsy, but occasionally the cats step up and prove that Real Life is stranger than whimsy.

As for instance, last night/very early today.

I have not, for various reasons been sleeping particularly well. The cats have really been throwing their weight behind the whole night-time comfort thing; it’s been rare, indeed, lately to wake out of a bad dream to find that I have less than two Coon cats holding me down. Often, all three are present.

This morning/last night, I had been asleep, and I was having a very. . .tense. . .dream, from which I was roused when Belle, who had been sleeping on my feet, strolled up to my pillow and began to knead and purr.

Now. . .in the Normal Way of Things, Belle is my go-to put-me-to-sleep expert. She just has Awesome Skillz, which I attribute to her former career as Mom Cat and on-call Aunt.

This morning, however, she stopped in mid-knead, ceased purring, spoke to me rather peevishly (“Oh, for goodness’ sake; how did you get in there, you stupid kitten?”), and jumped down. I sighed, regretfully, turned over the pillow, and was just wondering if maybe I should get up when — Belle returned. With Trooper.

Belle went back down to the bottom of the bed and settled on my feet. Trooper stared into my face for a minute, sighed, and threw himself against my chest, tucked his head firmly under my chin, wriggled until he had gotten my hand to rest on his belly, and started to produce the deep, athletic, whole-body rumblings for which he is particularly known.

. . .and I went back to sleep, with no more dreams (that I remember, anyway.)

So, that.

And now to work.

Everybody stay comfy.