Book Day and Other Stories

Y’all know what today is, right?


Today is the Official Book Day for Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four, published by Baen Books.  For those who are new in the neighborhood, this is be the fourth volume of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s collected Liaden Universe® short works.  All stories in this volume has been previously published. The stories included are: Street Cred, Due Diligence, Friend of a Friend, Cutting Corners, Block Party, Degrees of Separation, Excerpts from Two Lives, Revolutionists.  The book also includes an Authors’ Foreward.

You may purchase Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from your favorite bookseller.  It is available in trade paper and as an ebook.  There is no audiobook edition.

For those who are familiar with the game, and who may be waiting for news of the books you preordered for signature — I have news.

The news is:  Four (out of a possible five) cases of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four are on a UPS truck and out for delivery.  They should arrive here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory today.  The fifth case has been detained in Chelmsford, Mass., for an address check.  The Theory is that it, too, will be delivered today, but I. . .am not sanguine.

In any case, as soon as we have books in-house, Steve and I will grab our signing pens and get busy.  Hopefully, we can have the majority of the books back on the road to Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis no later than Friday morning.

So, that.

I have been somewhat remiss in updating this blog.  To catch us up, quickly, we have been working — still with the proofing of Conflict of Honors — a little better than half-way done, now — words are being written on the still-titleless Next Novel, some of which are replacing words that had already been there, so the whole thing right now feels very much like I’m running the Red Queen’s Race (I say “I” because I am lead on this book).  In addition to Standing By on the current WIP, Steve is writing a short story, and also the third Jethri Gobelyn book (no title there, yet, either).

We’ve also been coping with Real Life, as everyone must — health stuff, family stuff, political stuff — y’all know what I’m talking about.

Steve and I did take part in a little hometown activism last weekend, which was Pride Weekend in our town.  Part of the festivities included a Drag Queen Story Hour hosted by local bookstore.  Some folks became offended by this, and organized a protest — which was fine* — and some other folks organized a counter-protest — a demonstration of love for our local bookstore, support of the story hour and for Pride Weekend.  Steve and I were there in support of the bookstore, and mostly, it was good.  Tiring, but good.  For those interested, here’s a link to the local newspaper’s coverage of the event.

And here’s a picture me getting ready to demonstrate.

. . .and I think that catches us up.

Everybody play nice.

*Forgot my footnote, to wit! WHAT WAS NOT FINE was that some of the outraged citizens took it upon themselves, pre-event, to harass and threaten the Drag Queen who was scheduled to do the reading to the point where she feared for her safety, and withdrew from the event.  Happily, Miss Ophelia was pleased to step in and read to a room that was shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s with some of the smaller folk sitting on shoulders.

REVISED News regarding Constellation Four preorders

REVISED NEWS you can use for folks who pre-ordered signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s!
The books sent out by the warehouse realized that they had been conditioned to do the will of Those Other Than Themselves, and went rogue.
As of this typing, the books have been re-acquired and brought back to a sense of proper unity and purpose.
However! They had strayed quite far from their mandated path before re-acquisition, and will therefore not raise the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory here in Maine until — next Wednesday.
Steve and I apologize for the delay, though as far as I can tell, there wasn’t anything we could have done to be certain it never occurred.

Update: Signed Constellation IVs from Uncle Hugo

News for those who pre-ordered signed and/or personalized copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s.

UPS tells us that five cases of this title will land on our doorstep tomorrow, Wednesday, May 29, sometime before 8 pm.

Steve and I will sign and/or personalize these books as quickly as we can without breaking a leg, or a wrist.

When we have finished signing the books, we will put them on a UPS truck to Minneapolis, so the Uncle can take care of the hard part of this transaction:  charging credit cards, and packing and shipping books.

We are at this point shooting for Friday as the day we will place the five cases of books on the UPS truck.  We would like that; it’s our goal.  But it may come about that the books will not leave us until Monday.  No later than Monday, though, we promise.

Here ends your news update.

Yet Another Writers’ Day Off

So!  Yesterday, Steve and I took off in the rain to see the Very First Waterville Showing of Aladdin.  I had such a good time.  Yes, I know there’s Controversy.  Yes, I’m aware that Will Smith is not Robin Williams*.  I still had a great time; I have no fault to find and, yeah, Imma order the DVD.  Also, Rajah the Tiger was terrific.

After the movie, we went into Waterville proper and had our first meal at the new Greek restaurant, Opa.  Steve had the crabcakes, which he pronounced very good; I had the lamb kokkinsto (pulled lamb in a red sauce seasoned with garlic and cinnamon on a bed of orzo), which was excellent.

Replete, we wandered down Main Street, stopping to talk with our friend Ellen at Children’s Book Cellar and review the plans for the Drag Queen Story Hour next Saturday, and sought her advice regarding the upcoming International Film Festival (held in Waterville annually).

Then, we wandered back up the street, got the car, hit the grocery story for weekend supplies and came home, where we hung pictures in the dining room.  Yes, yes; it’s taking us awhile to hang the pictures, but we’re getting there.

Today is gloriously sunny, and the weatherbeans are calling for a high of 74F/23C.  I have all the windows open in my office.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my office?

Lest you think that the only thing we’re doing around here is taking day’s off, I report today’s to-do list, which includes!

  1.  One hour proofing Conflict of  Honors mass market anniversary edition.  Which is not as easy as you might think.  Our experience proofing Agent of Change for it’s anniversary edition revealed, um, Some Number of Errors which had come through from the time, long ago, when We gave the electronic files from Embiid to Arnold of Fond Memory, who then stripped out the existing coding, and recoded, automagically.  So!  We’re proofing Conflict against the Meisha Merlin and the Del Rey editions.  Which means I (1) read the chapter in the MM edition; (2) go through that chapter in the pages provided by Baen, correcting any errors, and (3) if there’s a conflict, the Del Rey edition is the tie-breaker.  Yeah, it’s taking some time.  But the corrections aren’t due until July, so we have time.
  2. Figure out where the pieces Steve has given me back actually go in the current novel WIP, and putting them there.
  3. Writing the next scene in said novel WIP.
  4. Deadhead the geranium.
  5. Try on corset to test The Look for next week’s story hour.

Also!  For those who missed the news, you may now purchase Fortune’s Favors:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28 AND Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 in ebook format from your favorite online vendors including Baen, Kobo, BN, Amazon; and in paper format from Amazon only.

. . . and I think that gets us all caught up again.

Everybody have a good weekend!

*I was 40 when the animated Disney Aladdin came out, so I did not fixate on Robin Williams as the One True Genie before whom all others must be inadequate.  Truth told, he was a little too too for me, but that was often my experience of Robin Williams.

Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock ‘n roll

This morning!  I get to hang around in my bathrobe for a bit, as a reward for having (finally, finally) finished the first draft of the untitled story, henceforth to be known to the world as “Fortune’s Favors.”  The story introduces some new characters, and looks in on some folks we’ve seen before.  I think you’ll like it.

This brand-new story, with an outtake from Neogenesis and …Lance (that’s the same outtake that didn’t ultimately fit in either book, and the story has flowed past it), and an Author’s Foreword (or, yanno, Backword) will appear in the chapbook:  Fortune’s Favors:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28.

What Happens Now, since Steve read the story hot off the printer last night, and noted a couple of things to be tweaked, is:

*Go over the story, line by line, tweaking tweaks, and adding in That Thing that got dropped in the heat of the moment

*Go over the outtake, line by line

*Write the Authors’ Note, pass it to Steve for edits, go over it line by line

*Build a cover

*Compile the entire book and get it up for sale with the Usual Suspects

So, depending on Real Life, you — yes, you! — may be able to purchase the first new Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbook in over a year, by mid-April.  Rest assured, we’ll tell you when it’s available.

Moving on to the rest of the to-do list, I have a couple of phone calls to make, including one to the dentist, which I’ve been putting off for mumble, and really shouldn’t put off anymore.  Also today, I need to hit the gym, because today is not the day to skip the gym.  When I get back, and after phone calls, I’ll draft the Authors’ Note, and maybe start shopping for a cover.

See you on the flipside.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by Messers Loggins and Messina.  Here’s your link.

Bread on the waters

So, here’s a thing.

Yesterday, I saw on Twitter a person I don’t know, but who had been retweeted by someone I do know, as is the custom on Twitter, complaining, bitterly, that authors who are on book tour should take a moment to think of those authors who would KILL to go on a book tour, but aren’t/can’t/won’t ever, before they start complaining about the Challenges of the Road. They, the writers on tour, need to understand how privileged they are, and how much it hurts the feelings of those authors who would KILL &c to see authors of book tours complaining about their good luck.

It was, in short, a call for someone who was having a particular experience, and reacting to it, to shut up already because they were somehow hurting people who were having a different experience.

Now, here’s the thing. Steve and I have been on (very minor) book tours, friends and colleagues have been on (rather major) book tours, and we can all tell you that it is not all fairy coaches, feasts, and acclaim.  There are good moments; meeting readers, and booksellers is always a treat, though traveling is a mixed blessing, especially since you usually only get to see the inside of bookstores, hotel rooms, escort cars, trains and/or planes.  Also, you’re far away from home; it’s unlikely you’re going to get any work done; it’s often a challenge to get a good meal; you won’t sleep well; and (in the case of some of our colleagues and friends) the focus of book tour planners is to hit as many venues as possible; the notion that the author might subscribe to human frailty isn’t always reflected in the itinerary.

In short, there’s a lot of material to talk about in re a book tour, should one happen to be undertaking such a thing. Most authors have a reader base, with whom they communicate, by blog, by Twitter, or Facebook, or Whatever.  And so we continue to communicate, it being just about the only thing we can do while touring.

Now, it seems to me that most writers on a book tour are talking to their readers and fans, and aren’t thinking about any one else, at all.  Perhaps this is wrong in them, but I’d say it’s human nature, really.

I also. . .think — honestly do think — that the writer whose feelings were damaged isn’t really thinking this thing through.

The writer on tour is giving valuable information about book tours. Before our first tour, we contacted friends and colleagues who had gone before and asked them what to expect, how to cope, what was normal; what was unacceptable; &c.

By reading the feed, or the blog, or the wall of a writer on tour, other writers are getting that information, live, as it happens.  This would seem to be a benefit, not only for the readers and fans of the writer on tour, but also for the whole community of writers, most especially those who aspire, some day, to be on tour.

So, that.

Tomorrow!  I will open the Sekrit Grab Bag of Questions and post my first answer.

If you have a question to ask — go here and do so.

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.

The Lee and Miller Boskone 56 Schedule

As mentioned elsewhere, Steve and I (that’s Steve Miller and Sharon Lee) will be attending Boskone 56  February 15 through 19, at the Westin Boston Waterfront.  This is what our Official Con Schedule looks like.  You’ll also likely see us in the art show, the dealers room, and in the hallways or the Big Living Room, reading (Sharon) or talking (Steve).


The Hopeful Future in Science Fiction
15 Feb 2019, Friday 2:00 – 2:50, Harbor II (Westin)
Science fiction can tend toward grim futuristic realism that is either technology-based or post-apocalyptic. Are these the futures we want to write for ourselves? Or read? In light of all the possibilities, where can we find the bright and shining moments? What current fiction gives us hope for the future? And how can we stay positive while still being realistic?
James Patrick Kelly (writer) (M), Muriel Stockdale, Gene Doucette, Fonda Lee, Steve Miller

The Long View (of a Writing Career)
15 Feb 2019, Friday 5:00 – 5:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
How do you keep the fiction and art fresh after 10, 20, 30-plus years in the business? A few streaks of gray here; a few wrinkles there … but we’re still here, contributing to SF/F literature and art and the fandom that embraces them. Our panelists take a look down memory lane at their careers — and how things have changed since they were young, eager creatives, struggling to find their place in the field. Stories will be told, advice will be shared, and a few laughs (and tears?) will be shed over the good times and bad that come with walking the long road of writing.
Ginjer Buchanan (M), Sharon Lee, Jeffrey A. Carver, Steve Miller, Allen M. Steele

Shared-Universe Worldbuilding
15 Feb 2019, Friday 6:00 – 6:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Authors can cooperate in a variety of ways: co-authoring, writing a sequel to another’s work, extending/finishing a series started by another, etc. Shared worlds are purpose-built for different authors to (more or less independently) set their own stories. How do you make a sandbox for multiple writers to play in? What are some pitfalls? What prevents the world from degenerating, or tying up its authors in knots while trying to maintain mutual consistency? Let’s look at successful shared universes, and what keeps them worlds ahead of the rest.
Steve Miller, Victoria Sandbrook (M), Lauren Roy, Barry Lee Dejasu, David Anthony Durham


Friends of Liad Breakfast with Steve Miller and Sharon Lee
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 8:30 – 9:30, Sauciety, Westin
This is a family event for fans of the Liaden Universe®, the Cat Farm Cats, or, yanno, whatever.  This is not a convention event; it’s a group of friends getting together to catch up over breakfast.  You are expected to pay for your own breakfast.  Sharon and Steve will be paying for their breakfasts, too.  Hope to see you there.

Autographing: Jonathan Hunt, Sharon Lee, Dan Moren, Steve Miller, Rebecca Roanhorse
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Galleria – Autographing (Westin)

The Great Escape
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 1:00 – 1:50, Burroughs (Westin)
How do you extricate your characters from sticky situations? Felix the Cat has his bag of tricks, Batman has his utility belt — but heavy-handed rabbit-pulling is passé these days. So what’s it take to orchestrate a believable, savvy escape? Or a whole series of them, when your plot keeps putting your protagonist in peril? Let’s consider some great SF/F/H escapes, and discuss how the writer pulled them off.
Sharon Lee, Brad Abraham, Brendan DuBois (M), Brenda W. Clough , Laurence Raphael Brothers

Economics in SF/F Worlds
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 2:00 – 2:50, Burroughs (Westin)
Whether you deal in coin, platinum, electronic credits, or chickens, all societies rest upon an agreed-upon economic foundation. However, fantastic fiction rarely features a reference to any body that establishes and monitors a financial system. How important is it to see a working (or failing) economy in an SF/F world? Can you realistically have a cashless society (Star Trek) or a civilization run by orcs (LOTR)? What are the economic drivers that keep these worlds turning? Fellowships that cross multiple borders to throw away precious metal objects so rarely pay well. How do our heroes and villains survive without visible incomes of any kind?
MR Richardson (M), Fonda Lee, Karl Schroeder, Steve Miller, Walter H. Hunt

The Middle Book Syndrome
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 4:00 – 4:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
The first book of your series was amazing: solid story; compelling characters; great reception by publisher, critics, and fans. Now, the hard part: living up to all the high expectations. Or maybe the first book had a less receptive reception, but you still need to produce that second volume? Plus there’s the rhythm problem — first book, thrilling beginnings; last book, satisfying conclusions; middle book, recaps and repetitions … How do you deal with the pressures of a multi-book contract and impatient fans?
Juliana Spink Mills, Fran Wilde (M), Kenneth Rogers Jr., Sarah Beth Durst , Sharon Lee

The (r)Evolution of Military SF
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 4:00 – 4:50, Burroughs (Westin)
The tools of war change: shouldn’t fiction about fighting also evolve? Even as weapons in the real world are approaching science fictional levels of lethality, the spirit of military SF hasn’t changed much since the age of swords. Let’s look at how technology, fiction, and the military intersect and interact.
Alan Brown, Vincent O’Neil (M), Paul Di Filippo, Steve Miller, Errick Nunnally

The Impact of Fandom
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 5:00 – 5:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Fandom is a many-splendored (and terrifying?) thing. As fandom accompanies SF/F into the mainstream, what’s its impact on the genre’s creators? Do fans actually save shows? Influence creative directions? Drive innovation? Or demand more of the same? What about when fans become creators themselves? Looking ahead, what more might we fans do for our beloved genre?
Janice Gelb (M), Dave Weingart, Jim Mann, Steve Miller, Brad Abraham


Kaffeeklatsch: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Galleria – Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)

Reading by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 1:00 – 1:25, Griffin (Westin)

Housekeeping Note: In Which This Site Will Be Twilit

Because I know some of y’all worry when the blog doesn’t update regularly. . .

I will not be updating this blog — or any blog, actually — for. . .a while.

The reasons for this are several.  One is that, of course, we’re deep in the end game for Accepting the Lance, which is due, no excuses, by the end of January.  By itself, as you and I both know from experience, this would be enough to limit updates.  I’m lead on Lance, and being the end of several story arcs, as it is, it’s being, ahem, a little difficult to bring in.

In addition to this, a small mountain of family crises has landed in my lap.  As it turns out certain obligations fall to the last surviving child of a parent — and that would be me.  You will remember that my sister died earlier this month, very suddenly, leaving things with regard to our father’s care. . .a little awry, but recoverable, or so I imagine her thoughts went, had she recovered.  She did not, and in the aftermath of her departure, documents which really ought to have been kept. . .weren’t.

I have therefore inherited said small mountain, which includes people demanding payments, and other people denying me access to accounts, until I can prove X,Y,Z.  Needless to say, the folks who want their money are a lot less particular about what I can prove than the folks who are holding the checks.

To sum up: I am simultaneously embarked on two life-devouring projects, which means “extras,” like updating this blog, will have to go on hold.

Steve will be updating Welcome to Liad with writing, professional, and appearance news (yes, we do still plan — very much — on attending Boskone in February).  He also plans to resume the story hours on Patreon.  He has begun writing the next Liaden book, which he tells me will be a Jethri book, the sequel to Trade Secret.

. . .and here ends my tale.

Everybody stay safe, right?  And may the incoming year bring joy and success to us all.


In which life is interesting


Yes, yes, there will be another Liaden Universe® novel.  Actually, there will be. . . *looks at projects list*. . .six.  Six more Liaden Universe® novels.


Accepting the Lance is due to be turned in to Baen in January.  It is in the publishing schedule for the end of 2019. 

After Lance is submitted, Steve and I will be taking a couple months “off,” as the saying goes, and then starting the next book.  Which will be a Liaden Universe® novel.  No, we don’t know what it will be about.  No, we are not out of ideas for Liaden Universe® novels.  Thank you.

Work on Lance continues to go in a forwarder direction.  I am reading the manuscript now; should finish today.  Looks like I have some bridge-building in my immediate future, which wasn’t entirely unexpected.

In Real Life news, for those who follow along, on the day before Thanksgiving my sister went in to the hospital with what looked like a stroke.  Despite tests, medical science could not find what had caused this episode, so she was sent home. 

She was readmitted to the hospital less than a week later with a “massive infection,” was given every antibiotic known to science, and daily dialysis. She went into cardiac arrest late on December 7 and died in the early hours of December 8. 

I am behind on answering email.  I will, I promise, get to yours soon, but there are things in queue ahead.

I think that gets us caught up.  All of you who celebrate winter holidays — be joyous.  We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory give a nod to Yule; and a modest nod at that, since we’re usually on deadline for a book in December.  This year, we achieved wreathes — one for the front door, one for the dining room, and a modest string of lights for each.  Serendipitously, a friend sent us a turtle ornament, so now we have a Great A’Tuin Wreath.  Which pleases me.