rolanni: (flittermouse)

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The "net" by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here's a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.


As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here's your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it's time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today's blog post title brought to you by -- of course! -- Meatloaf, "Bat out of Hell."  Here's your link.

The Power of Purr

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 10:25 am
rolanni: (Default)
Today, with the exception of needing to go to the doctor for a follow-up exam this afternoon, is a Work Day, and I will be shutting down the internets very soon.

I do want to mention, for the people who are here for the cats...the marvelous healing power of purrs.

At the ER Monday night, I was given a shot of high-test ibuprofen, and given a muscle-relaxant in pill form to take before I went to bed. In theory, this was to help me sleep through the night.

In fact, it helped me sleep for about four hours, when the pain woke me again and I lay in bed counting the hours until CVS opened and I -- well, actually, Steve -- could go into town and get the prescriptions filled. I twisted and turned and couldn't find any position that provided relief -- for an hour or so by the clock on the ceiling.

About 4 am, I decided that, if I started walking, I could be in Waterville when CVS opened, Belle jumped up to the foot of the bed, STOMPED up until she was next to me, sat down and HUFFED. It really was very clearly, "What on earth is the matter with you, stupid kitten?" -- and she started to purr.

"It won't work," I told her. Whereupon she blinked at me, threw herself against my chest (I was laying on my side) and brought up the Big, Deep, Rough purrs from 'way down at the bottom of the Purr Box. I closed my eyes, still convinced that it wasn't going to work. . .

And woke up at 9 am with my back hurting, but somewhat less.

The rest of Tuesday was spent with heating pad on/heating pad off, listening to Pandora and dozing. Trooper took day-shift, with Sprite filling in for necessary breaks. Yesterday, all was very nearly back to normal, though Trooper and Belle still hung close, and today, as previously suggested is a work day.

As I type, Belle is in the wooden basket on my desk, and Trooper is sitting next to the keyboard, purring and aiming head-butts at my chin.

Everybody have a good day.

Moving right along

Friday, July 14th, 2017 09:14 am
rolanni: (Default)

OK!  Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available from most on-line retailers, and is publishing to the rest.  It was, for a couple days, a Number One Amazon Bestseller, and has fallen today to Number Three.  It has also garnered a surprising number of reviews --  thanks to everyone who has taken the time!

Those who are just arriving at the party -- there's room for your review, too; if you are so moved.

Because there were So Very Many requests, Due Diligence will also, soon now, be available in paper, from Amazon.  The reason it will not be available REALsoonnow, is that I made an error and have to fix it, as soon as Amazon stops doing something else that Amazon is doing with the file.  O! Brave New World, that hath such golems in it!

In other news, there's a small army of ducks between me and the work I really need to be doing, here, and the coon cats are not really much into duck hunting.  Their advice is to curl up on the couch with a book and let the coon cats camouflage me as a Big Pile of Coon Cats.  This is, I note, often their advice.

And that?  Is all the news that's fit to print.

. . .I do believe that I need more coffee. . .


rolanni: (Default)

Well, no.  Not quite mid-July, but we'll get there.  We'll get there.

Yesterday, was ant-murdering day.  Maybe every third summer one of the ant colonies will get the bright idea to expand supply lines and send a foraging force into the kitchen, whereupon we enter battle, and prevail, eventually.  It would be tempting to believe that, this year, we really did vanquish the foragers in our first, decisive, victory, but that's not really the way these things have worked in the past.  What will happen is that they'll withdraw, regroup and try again.  So, we await the dropping of the other shoe.

In the meantime, and in-between it all, we've been making plans for our pilgrimage West at the end of July.  As I may have mentioned once or twice, Steve and I will be Writer Guests of Honor at Confluence, in Pittsburgh during the first weekend in August. This will be our last convention appearance of 2017, so if you live near Pittsburgh, this is your call to seize the day.  Hope to see you there!

After the con, we are committed to coming home the long way, so that I might, at my advanced age, for the first time see Niagara Falls, and also so we might seek out and be pleased by the various carousels which can -- and will! -- be found along our route.

Among other things, of course this means buying clothes.  I have therefore purchased, on sale, one! more! pair! of Dry-on-the-fly cargo pants perfect for summer wear and travel.  I have also purchased the Russian sailor's shirt from Peterman's, which I have looked at with longing for years.  I'm calling it an early birthday present from me to me.

For those who were looking for an update to our Patreon page this weekend -- I do apologize.  Life, and words that must be written, derailed my good intentions.  Soon, I promise. . .

Today, I'm doing laundry.  The temperature is warm enough to melt coon cats, though with enough of a breeze that we have opted for fans rather than bring the A/C online.

And, that's all I've got, except that I'd better get back to work if I want to finish writing this section today.

Why, look!  Here are two melted coon cats, right here!

Melted Belle

Melted Sprite

Almost forgot:  Today's blog post title brought to you by Johnnie Cash, "A Boy Named Sue."  Here's your link.

Mental Health Day

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 12:58 pm
rolanni: (Default)

People have been behaving badly on the internet.  What a surprise.

I'm reminded of a story I read once, true or not, who knows, which was to the effect that, when switchboards first became a Thing, the newly-organized phone company had initially hired boys as operators, because -- cheap labor.  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that something about having all that access acted on boys like catnip on cats; they began pranking callers, and just in general behaving badly.  Couldn't seem to help themselves, really, poor things.  So the phone companies fired the boy operators and hired women, because -- cheap labor.  And that worked out much better for all concerned.

Personally, I think there's a genetic disposition, a kind of allergy to electrons, so that when people with this allergy are exposed to this allergen, they behave as badly as possible.  Remove the electrons, and they revert to being perfectly innocuous and civilized members of society.


In other news, I've taken up meditation, as part of my project to avoid a Major Depressive Incident, such as I experienced last year.  As we all know, depression makes us stupid, and I'm still finding errors that I made during the last (really bad, by my standards; maybe one of the Biggest since records started to be kept, some 40 years ago) -- some serious, but none, thank ghod, fatal, though one was particularly scary.  So, anyway, despite a lifetime of crash-burn-rise-up-eventually-slighty-sooty, I'm now trying to alter the pattern, and to be proactive.  Which means, yes, meditation, and also ruthlessly slashing toxic -- and even perennially irritating -- people out of my life.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, expect to see me less.  I'll try to pick back up posting more regularly here (this blog is mirrored at Eagles Over the Kennebec).  I love you all, but -- survival is important to the appearance of more stories.

So, that.

Yesterday, Steve and I took a mental health day.  We went down to Old Orchard Beach, where it was foggy and windy(!) and too chilly to sit on the beach and read, which had been my Plan A.  We did a short beach walk, then went down to Wells, where it was also foggy and windy(!), and stood around on the public landing, watching the kites, and Steve took pictures with his new camera.

After, we crossed over to Sanford, and stopped for lunch at the Cockpit Cafe at the airport.  And there we saw George W. Bush arrive, and board the (Embraer Legacy twin-jet) plane that had been waiting for him.

On the way home from Sanford, we made one more ocean stop -- at Pine Point -- and then came home, where I continued the electron-free theme (not totally true, since I'm reading an ebook), until it was time for the evening meal, a glass of wine and a chapter read outloud from The Cat Who Saw Red (yeah, it's a re-read; we decided to do the Cat Who's in order to follow Qwilleran's arc).

This morning, I baked peasant olive bread while Steve went to cardio-gym, and also figured out the penultimate scene in the cheater story.

I may not have reported here that I bought myself a chair side table (a so-called C-table) for the reading corner.

Here are some pictures:

This first was taken when the table came home. At the time the photo was snapped, it had been in the house for less than five minutes:

This is what the table looks like, unadorned:

And here is Sprite, reasserting her claim:

rolanni: (Default)

We've had something of a busy few days here at the Confusion Factory.

Last week, Steve graduated from cardio-gym and is now on the Third Phase, which is going to the cardio-gym early on Monday and Wednesdays and doing what he's been doing, with the same personnel on-staff, but without the various measurements at the beginning, middle, and end of the session.  This means a change of schedule, including rising Much Earlier in the Day than I, personally, care to do, but that's life.  I'll be going to gym around Steve's schedule -- Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early hours, with refinement of the afternoon and evening hours as we go forward.  Since I have for all of my life been an evening/night writer, this may entail afternoon naps, which ought to please the cats.

In writing news, the page proofs for the Alliance of Equals mass market edition landed late last week, and have been added to the mix of Tasks to Be Done.  Also!  The first in a series of Lee-and-Miller Read Lee-and-Miller podcasts has been moved from Patreon to Splinter Universe LIVE.  You can listen to Steve read "A Night at the Opera" at this link.

We'll be posting more of these to SULIVE, as they age off of our Patreon page, so remember to check back.

We are also, in light of the. . .substantial number of emails we've gotten from people who either want paper chapbooks, or the Excitement of the Annual Yule Chapbook, or want a return to Olden Times. . .

We cannot any of us return to Olden Times, so that's right out.

But we can, perhaps, accommodate the wish for paper chapbooks, and even, maybe, for the Annual Yule Chapbook.

So, we're running an experiment.  Amazon has a. . .program where those who have published ebooks with them may convert those ebooks into paper books.  This is an expensive process, as Amazon takes 40% off the top of cover price, and then charges printing costs from the author/publisher's 60% royalty.  It's also somewhat time-consuming, as is working with any template program that is based on Assumptions.  However!  With determination and enough wine, it can be done, as I proved this weekend by converting both Barnburner and Gunshy to paper books and putting them on sale.  The reason we chose these titles to experiment on first is that they convert into 5X8 paperbacks, which is an easy convert (part of the test was to see how "easy" easy was).  Based on my time and effort expended this weekend, we anticipate that converting to chapbook will be somewhat more time-consuming, though still doable.

We will, eventually, convert an actual Liaden chapbook, but that experiment has to wait in line behind work with a deadline attached.

For those interested, here's the link to Barnburner.  (Which Amazon has decided to discount, so it will be interesting to see how that affects our royalty rates from them.)

Here's the link to Gunshy.

The downside to this, besides the expense, is that these books would only be available through Amazon, which is whimsical at the best of times and downright malicious at the worst.

So, there's that.

For those who have been asking anxiously about progress on Fifth of Five. . .progress progresses, more slowly than I had anticipated, but picking steam up as the new meds kick in.

. . .and I think that catches us all up.

Everybody do your best to enjoy Monday, OK?

Let the coon cats lead the way.

Ghost in the machine

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 08:47 am
rolanni: (Default)

So, the adding machine woke me up at 5 a.m. by running crazily -- kaCHUNGkaCHUNGkaCHUNG, lather, rinse, repeat, just like a cat was laying on the keyboard (or just playing with the sound.  Belle, in particular, likes to smack the + key just to set of a series of kaCHUNGS.  You can see her giggle when she does it, too.).

I got up -- not easy, because Trooper was pushed against my stomach, and had allowed his personal gravity to bond with the earth's core -- went into my office (conveniently located right across the hall from the bedroom), and did, in fact, find Belle -- asleep in Her Special Corner of my office (formerly Mozart's Special Corner of my office).  In the meantime, the adding machine was going off like a shotgun, even though it was turned off.

I pulled the plug, not at all sure that would fix the problem, but it seems to have done, and now I'm trying to decide:  short circuit? (it's quite an old adding machine, circa 1997); solar flare?  ghost trying to work out the monthly budget for ectoplasm*?

Got back to bed to find Trooper had vacated, and managed to go more or less back to sleep, so all's well.  More or less.

Now to go find breakfast.  I'm thinking a toasted English muffin with cream cheese and a side of fresh fruit.  With coffee.  Perhaps even a lot of coffee.

And so to work.

Everybody have a good Saturday.

*the WordPress on-board dictionary does not recognize ectoplasm as a word.  For shame, WordPress dictionary.

rolanni: (Default)

Asyouknowbob, we live in the country, surrounded by woods and fields and occasionally the Mice of the Field will send a Covert Operative into the basement to see if we've let our Security Contract lapse.  In fact, we haven't, and while the fate of the Covert Operative isn't necessarily foregone, it does appear that the Mice of the Field are usually in receipt of the message that, whatever is in that basement, It Got Charlie, too!

Last night there was apparently An Infiltration about the time we were winding down to go to bed.  Sprite heard the perimeter alarm go off, and rushed down to the basement, followed by Belle, with Trooper bringing up the rear.  When I looked down before lights-out, Trooper was sitting in back-up position at the foot of the stairs; his job to make sure that the Covert Operative did not make it upstairs.  Neither Belle nor Sprite was in evidence, and the basement was Vewy, Vewy Quiet.

I went to bed.

Now, usually in the course of these Operations, a cat will make a point of stopping by the bed at some point in the evening, just to check in and make sure we're dreaming right.  Last night there was no check-in.  Not one.  Which, when you're used to being walked on by cats when you sleep can be a little disorienting.

I woke up around five, took my Necessary Medications, noted the lack of cats on the upper levels, put on my robe, and opened the basement door.

Trooper immediately charged up the steps, and gave me multiple hugs around the legs, possibly encouraging me to stay abovestairs, but I was adamant, and down I went.

I was met by Sprite, who, prancing, led me to the sad remains of the Covert Operative.  Belle was nowhere in sight. 

I went upstairs to procure a coffin, so that we might show proper honor to a worthy opponent.  Belle appeared as I came back downstairs; she and Sprite and Trooper stood by solemnly while the late Operative was transferred to his empty butter cup.  Trooper and Sprite came upstairs with me, as an honor guard, while Belle stayed behind to continue her survey of the perimeter.

The Covert Operative was consigned to the gentle grasses, and I went back inside, now thoroughly awake, to find Steve up and about, also, having heard the kitchen door close.

So, we praised the cats, who came upstairs in shifts, drank coffee; and were just finishing breakfast when the school bus went by.

I see a nap in my very near future, but, for now, since I'm up and caffeinated and all, I should probably do some work.

rolanni: (Default)

The first goody supporting the new Patreon goal went up last night.  Here's the link.

I note that, as of this morning, we are a mere Usian $253 short of the new goal.

Thank you all so very much for your support.

Trooper and I were collaborating last night, which is why this notice is a little late:

Pets keep us healthy

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 10:21 am
rolanni: (kitty!)

So, this morning, Trooper and Belle were scheduled to have their annual checkups and distemper shots.

Usually, we take them to the vet singly, and the Cat of the Hour will sit in the lap of the one of us in the passenger seat (wearing harness and leash), and look out the window.  This saves Trooper and Sprite, at least, from being drippy, hysterical messes by the time they arrive at the vet's, since both of them hateHateHATE being in the cat carrier. Belle is much more laid back about the cat carrier.

But, it fell out today that we had to take both, mostly because Trooper was a month late, his doctor appointment having taken second place to the various other doctor appointments with which March was overfilled.

The Plan, inasmuch as we had A Plan, was to put both Trooper and Belle in the bathroom -- an enclosed area with no really inaccessible-to-humans hiding places -- then bring the boxes to them*.  As it happened, when the time came to board cats, both Trooper and Belle were in the bedroom, so that became the holding area.

Belle was asleep in her blanket fort under the end of the bed, so I picked up Trooper, carried him down to the living room, and put him in the cat carrier (this sounds easier than it was, but with two of us, we did get him tucked in quick).  Steve closed and "locked" the door, and! Quick as the cat can lick her paw, Trooper's catcher's mitt paw flashed through the mesh door, wrapped around the sliders that secure the locking bolts, yanked them -- the door popped open and he was gone, running down the hall to my office.  (My office = safest room in house in Coon Cat Logic.)

Figuring he'd stay, and not wanting to panic Belle into taking refuge in a less-accessible space, I rousted her from her blanket fort, carried her down the hall, slipped her easily into the other box, Steve closed the door, and Belle sighed, and curled up on the blanket.

Then, I went to get Trooper while Steve carried Belle out to the car.

Back in the box went Trooper.  Again, the paw flashed out, but this time the locking bolts were firmly seated, and that old trick didn't work.

Steve picked up the box, with 18 pounds of coon cat in it, and?

The box fell apart.

Trooper ran for my office.  I got the harness and leash out of the closet, put them on the cat with no trouble at all, and Trooper got to sit on Steve's lap on the way to the vet.

. . .for some reason, I'm exhausted.

And how was your morning?

*Trooper was going in a cat carrier, because we weren't sure he would accept Steve's lap.  He does not, as a rule, seek Steve out, or sit on his lap, and all his previous "rides" have been on my lap.


rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

This just in, from the April edition of LOCUS:

"SHARON LEE & STEVE MILLER sold three more novels in the Liaden series to Toni Weisskopf at Baen for six figures via Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency."

This is the deal we've mentioned as the Liaden Triple Threat.

To sum up for those keeping score at home:

There are TWO Liaden books scheduled for publication. They are:
The Gathering Edge, May 2, 2017
Neogenesis, January 2, 2018

We are under contract for SIX Liaden books. They are:
Fifth of Five, due January 2018
Liaden Mask ONE, due May 2018
Liaden Mask TWO, TBA
Triple Threat ONE, TBA
Triple Threat TWO, TBA
Triple Threat THREE, TBA

# # #

What follows is a quick review about How Freelancers Get Paid, in answer to some questions on Facebook, and also to (hopefully) forestall the (almost inevitable) Wealthy Author fantasies.

A "six-figure" deal sounds like a lot of money.  In fact, the way we count here at the Confusion Factory, it is a lot of money. However, it is neither: (1) extra money (people tell me this is a Thing; personally, I've never seen "extra" money in my life); or (2) a windfall.

What it is, is our paycheck -- and it's not going to come as One! Huge! Check! Lookitallthosezeroes!


No, how those six-figures are going to reach us?  Is in four payments.

The first payment will arrive sometime after we've signed the contract (we haven't actually gotten the contract, yet, though we've discussed the terms).  That "on-signing money" will be one-fourth of the total "six-figure" deal LESS our agent's 15% fee.  When that check reaches us, about a half of the total will be put aside for taxes.  The rest goes into the household budget, where it will be used to buy cat food, and pay the mortgage, and put gas in the car, and pay doctor's bills, and all the other things you spend money on.

When we turn in the first of the Triple Threats (which will be, conservatively, some time in 2020), and Madame the Publisher accepts it (this is called "D&A" or "delivery-and-acceptance" money), we will receive the second fourth of that "six-figure" deal, less 15%.  Half will be put aside for taxes, and the rest will go into the household budget.

Lather, rinse, &c

The avid student will note that this whole process seems to involve widely separated infusions of Lumps of Cash, during long periods of, err, no cash at all.  Or very uncertain cash.

Twice a year, more or less, we do receive royalties.  But you never know what your royalties may be, and, in fact, it is possible to have a period in which you have earned no royalties, which means buying cat food (our Number One priority for writing Liaden books) gets...tricky.

Writers have various methods by which they even out their cash-flow, in order that they can have monthly budgets just like normal people.  Sort of.  Some have day-jobs.  Some have a spouse with a day-job.  Some write short stories on the side, package them as ebooks and sell them on Amazon/Baen/BN/Kobo & whatever.  Some have Patreon accounts.  Some do a little of this, and a little of that, and somehow all the little trickles of income form a monthly stream that augments the Big Lumps, and keeps the monthly household on a steady course.

We here at the Lee-Miller/Scrabble-Trooper-Belle-Sprite household have a couple of income streams:

We publish eChapbooks; the 23rd Liaden chapbook, Change Management, was just published at the end of February.

We occasionally post out-takes, shorts, and podcasts to Splinter Universe, for which we gratefully accept donations.

This Very Blog has a button on the side-bar:  Buy Me A Coffee, which really ought to be Buy Us Cat Food, but you get the idea.

We have a Patreon account.

And some kind folks simply send us donations from time to time, or set up on-going Paypal payments, or whatever they feel that they wish to do.

You'll notice that several of these income streams are patron-based.  Which is to say, people decide that they'd like to keep the supply of cat food steady, or to be sure that we have plenty of life-giving fluid to support us in our efforts.  We appreciate -- we very much appreciate -- all of those donations, and you are, yes, doing Something Real for which we thank you, very much.

So!  The big lesson to take from all of this is!

YayYayYAY, we're under contract for six books!  We get to hang out with you guys for five or six more years -- is that terrific or what?

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Page proofs for The Gathering Edge hit the mailbox yesterday.  This means that, today, I will set up station here on the desk, with our submission copy up on the screen, and the proofs in paper, compare one against the other, and mark any errors on the paper copy.

At the very least, this is a tedious process, and I enter into it with a strong sense of trepidation.

Most of you who read here are aware that the arrival of page proofs in our mailbox means that the release of the Baen eArc is not far away.  We, personally, do not know the name of that happy hour, 'k? So it's no use asking us.  Usually, we find out that the eArc has gone live because an alert reader drops us a note, which we do appreciate. So, if you notice that the eARC is up for download, do let us know, and we'll help spread the word.

You will perhaps recall that, last year, Belle and I had a wager about how many Alliance of Equals eArcs we could sell.  At that point, Belle was of the opinion that we wouldn't sell more than 500 (which would have been about 150 more than the total eArc sales of Dragon in Exile).  Sprite, who last year was too young to wager, had it as her Strong Opinion that we would earn out our advance on eArc sales.

Neither was right, though Sprite came closer to the truth.  We exceeded Belle's high figure by a factor of twelve, indicating that a lot of Liadens were into eArcs last year, but we did not earn out the entire advance.

This year, Belle is taking the position that last year was a fluke, and that no one wants to read a Whole Book about a Tiresome Kitten, anyway.  Sprite, who this year can place a formal wager, has modified her position to Edge sales equaling sales of Alliance.

My position is that, with All the Uncertainty in the air, it could go either way.  People could hunker down, and hold their purses tight, hoping that the storm passes them by, or they could figure wotthehell; a short life but a merry one.

And now, it's time for coffee and the first shift of proofing.

Everybody stay safe.

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Yesterday, we had precipitation.  There was some confusion amongst the Weatherbeans in their lofty towers of ice and sunshine regarding the form in which the precipitation would finally manifest.  The Weather Wheel spun from snow, to sleet, to freezing rain, ice pellets, and the ever-popular wintry mix, until the Weatherbeans in their wise frustration threw their hands in the air and said, "It is on the back of the wind."

And so it was.

We here at the Cat Farm were blessed with snow.  Quite a lot of snow, very wet and heavy, since the temperatures never really got much below 31F/0C.  I had tried to do the Wise Thing and perform preliminary snow removal yesterday evening, before the skylight absolutely went.  This resulted in me sliding on the ice beneath the snow and falling flat on my face.  I therefore rethought the situation, with Steve's pointed input, and decided to do snow removal this morning, when there was more traction between boot soles and ice.

Today, it's quite pretty out, with sticky snow stuck to all the tree branches and Everything Else, and the sun beaming down from a blue and cloudless sky.

I have done two rounds of snow relocation, in prep for the plowguy.  The first round was Before Coffee, to clear the steps and make a path in the direction of the cars.  I came in to warm up -- actually, to cool down; it gets hot when you shovel snow under the smiling sun -- had a cup of chocolate coffee that Steve had ready for me, and an oatmeal cookie.

Round Two saw the cars cleared, for values of clear meaning that the driver can see out the front and back windows, after which I had Second Breakfast: coffee, cottage cheese, and leftover stuffing.  The breakfast of champions.

We are now on Plowguy Watch, and my jeans are in the dryer.

For those who may have never done snow relocation on a bright and sunny day in Maine, a few notes.

The snow was so white and reflective under the sun that the only way I could find and follow the paths I had made was to look for the blue inside the outline of my footprints.  I have a great fondness for blue snow, which I don't think I ever saw before we came to Maine.

Also, the trees are, as stated above, bearing a significant burden of snow on each and all of their branches.  Yes, the smiling sun and the playful breeze are assisting in the removal of this burden, but it's a tricky process.

While I was outside on Round Two, the neighbor across the road lost a branch from the tree closest to his house.  I heard a crrraaackkk and looked up in time to see the branch tumbling down in slo-mo, and a cloud of snow-dust dancing and twinkling against the perfect blue sky.

This is the time when we are at risk for losing power, because the lines are every bit as coated as the trees, and subject to the same forces.  And once again, we are grateful for the generator.

For the moment, my snow worship is done.  Sprite is already asleep in her basket on my desk, and I guess I'll take her hint and get to work.

Everybody have a safe, pleasant day.

December 15

Thursday, December 15th, 2016 11:25 am
rolanni: (Calvin & Hobbes happy dance)

Today is of course, Trooper's seventh birthday.  As you can see, the celebrations are already underway.  We took on ice cream and cake yesterday, and will today toast the birthday appropriately.  Trooper has already opened and tried out his present -- a brand new laser pointer.

In other news, Steve is into the Meds and Blood Work Waltz, so -- new meds last week, blood work yesterday, med adjustment this week, blood work next week.  Hopefully, satisfactory levels will be achieved sooner, rather than later.

Tomorrow, we plan to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is still -- astonishingly -- playing at the Waterville Flagship. The necessity of planning errands around daylight is, shall we say, not yet intuitive.  I need to remember that, "Steve will drive us home in the dark," is not in play at the moment.  And that the number of available daylight hours is still shrinking.

So, anyway, we'll catch the 12:50 show in Waterville, and have twilight to drive home in.  It's a plan.

Looking at long-range weather, Winter is blowing in from Canada.  We're looking at dangerous wind chills today and tomorrow.  Saturday will bring us 3-5 inches of snow and Sunday -- will turn warm in the daytime. . .

. . .and rain.

Whereupon the temps will plummet to 6F/-14C.

I am so very glad we have a generator.  Thank you again! to everyone who helped us make that happen.

. . .and now, I must to work.  At some point, this book has got to be done, amirite?

Wednesday To-Do List

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 10:25 am
rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

  1. Do dishes

  2. Clean cat fountain

  3. Clean bathroom

  4. Print out section to be hand-edited

  5. Prep Number Ten Ox and load thumb drive with working files

  6. Pack

  7. Explain the schedule for the next few days to Trooper and Scrabble (also to Belle and Sprite, who will immediately forget all about it, and start to panic about elevensies on Thursday, whereupon Trooper or Scrabble will have to talk them down and Review)

Steve and I will be handing the Keys to the Cat Farm to the housesitter early tomorrow morning, after which, we'll be getting on the road to Providence, and the Rhode Island Comic Con.  Since this convention doesn't have a literature track, we will not be doing any panels, or readings, but we will be at the Wordfire Press booth in the Dealer's Room at Booth 124, signing books and creating mischief.

Everybody stay safe.

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Audible lets us know that!

There's a free excerpt available of the audiobook edition of Alliance of EqualsHere's your link.  Enjoy -- and tell your friends!

I had planned to go to the ocean today, but that wasn't possible, because Reasons.  Steve and I did go cat-shopping (as opposed to shopping for cats), because one of the sisal-bound (you notice I say "one of") scratchers has gone to that great sisal forest in the sky. So, naturally we need to replace it.

We knew what we wanted, we had found what we wanted on the web last night, but -- we wanted to take a look at it before committing.  According to the web, the item was available at PetSmart, so off to Augusta we went, to discover that --

You see where this is going, right?

Right.  Plenty of devices made for the grooming of cat claws, but of the perfect scratcher there was no sign.

Since we were in Augusta, where there are two pet supply emporiums, we went down to the other one, but -- no luck.

So, after stopping for lunch, we came home and ordered the dern thing off of the internet, anyway.

Neogenesis. . .stands at about 85,000ish words.  Maybe.  You know what I'm going to wind up doing, and so do I, and I might as well just make my bow, and Do It, instead of wasting energy trying to do it the other, more comfortable, way.  But -- old habits.  Anyway.  Back to writing scenes with an eye toward building bridges after I've written enough to know where everybody is, and when.

Next book -- one character who sits in a room and pets his cat for 100,000 words.

Oh, no. . .wait.

About today's blog title:  AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" has long occupied a Special Place in my Heart, which pretty much proves that I am Not a Nice Person.  And the rendition that I know best includes, at the end of the third stanza, where our narrator is listing the services offered, he says:

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high mountains!
Done dirt cheap

Google Lyrics renders "high mountains" as "high voltage," which just isn't the same.  And what does Google know, anyway?

So, I have used that line as I know it, for the blog title. And now?  I'm going to send you to Joan Jett's cover, which she ends at the bottom of the third stanza.  Here's your link.


"Indeed not!" Bechimo sounded scandalized. "It is the captain's place to order for ship and crew."


Life with cats

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 02:26 pm
rolanni: (kitty!)

Faithful auditors of this blog will recall that Steve and I keep cats.  This is a long-standing habit.  When we moved in together, back in nineteen-aught-seventy-eight, Steve had a cat -- the regal and intelligent plush-gray-and-white Arwen, who always seemed to be wearing an invisible tiara -- and I had a cat -- the brash, street-smart, orange-and-white Archie, who always seemed to have a pack of invisible cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his invisible t-shirt.

We have never since, in the 38 years we've been together, had less than two cats, and once had as many as five.  Usually, we try to keep an inventory of four, finding that the ability to mount two shifts benefits all.

In a word, I like cats.

This does not mean that I understand cats.

Take Thursday night, for instance.  I had been working in my office much of the day.  Sprite was curled in the red basket on my desk; Belle had for many hours been giving it her All from atop the file cabinet (what a worker that girl is!).  Trooper had been elsewhere, taking some time to himself, which we all need to do, occasionally.

So, anyway.  I was working, assisted ably, as described.  Darkness fell outside, and Trooper came into my office from wherever he'd been, voiced the chirp I think of as, "I'm here," and proceeded to jump to the top of the printer. As he does.  The printer is behind me as I face the computer. Trooper and Sprite will often use it as an observation point from which to survey the pine trees and the birds who live in the pine trees.  Sometimes, they sit up there for hours.

Which is what I expected Trooper to do.  However, Trooper is an athlete, and he had previously discovered that he could leap from the top of the printer to the top of the file cabinet, and settle in on the comfy fleece blanket.

Recall that this had been Belle's position for some hours at this point.  In fact, she is perfectly visible, being a rather large cat herself, from the vantage of the printer.

Despite this, Trooper makes the leap.

Belle screams, and flings backward, feet up, out, and armed.

Trooper skids off the blanket onto the secondary file cabinet, where there is, yes, a pile of filing, waiting to be done.

Papers fly.

Trooper yells.  Belle keeps screaming.  The writer, who had been writing, and thus not really Paying Attention, is utterly taken by surprise, leaps to her feet, and adds her bit to the music.

Trooper flies off the top of the file cabinet, and tears off down the hall.

Belle leaps from the file cabinet to the bookcase, still screaming, and runs after him.

Sprite blinks up from the red basket and kind of mooches to the edge of the desk, peering sleepily out the office door, and down the hall.

The writer, who has by now realized that all of the filing is behind the file cabinets, leans her head on her arm and starts cussing, while Steve, who has heard all of this commotion without context,  comes in to find out what happened.

In the meantime, Trooper and Belle are in the hallway, wearing Very Big Eyes.  In a surprise turnabout, it is Sprite who some minutes later returns to the office, and takes the lazy route to the top of the file cabinet, sniffing carefully the entire time.  She finally leaves by the same route, and apparently reports to Belle and Trooper that the Monsters are no longer in residence.

Eventually, they return, and take up positions on the new rug, to bathe.

The writer saves her work, closes the file, and calls it a night.

This morning, I spent some time clearing out the bookcase next to the secondary file cabinet, so I could pull it out of the way, so I could move the secondary file cabinet out of the way (it's empty, mostly), and pull the filing out from behind the big file cabinet.

On that head, at least, my work here is done.

Morning after a hard night Belle Apr 8 2016
rolanni: (Caution: Writing Ahead)

So, I finished the unweaving and reweaving of the 67,000ish words of Neogeneis, which includes several thousand words of bridge-work, printed it out, and for the last couple days, the coon cats and I have been staked out on the couch, reading for continuity, sense, missing words/scenes, and inappropriate underlining (which become itals in the finished book).  We brought to this task, the Last Red Pen in the house, which was found to be dry, whereupon a blue pen was Pressed Into Service;  three stacks of sticky tabs:  yellow, purple, blue; a set of punctuation tabs; and the current working yellow pad.

The score thus far:  With 264 pages completed, and just 30 pages left to go, the yellow sticky tabs are no more; and a little better than half of the purple ones have been expended.  It's a toss-up if I'll have to tap the blue ones before the end of the story as it now stands.  Either way, sticky tabs and red pens are on the To Buy list.

The story hangs together as such, which is a relief -- there's really nothing more frustrating than a Better Idea that turns out, in practice, to not have been a good idea.

We usually set 100,000 words as the goal for a completed novel, which would mean that, at 67,000ish, BE (before edits), we'd be on the downslope, with only about 33,000 words left to write.

Given the rhythm of the piece already in hand, though, it really does seem as if we're only a little past half-done.  So, we're looking at a finished manuscript of 125/135,000 words, without "extras" such as lexicon or timeline.

Today, after I finish the last 30 pages, I will retire to my desktop, and start inputting the edits/correx/expansions.  Then, I can get to work on the scenes which are forced (duly noted on the yellow pad, and, err, other bits of scrap paper (hey! I don't bring the yellow pad to dinner with me; unfortunately, I do bring the story)).

And that's what's been going on around the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

In other news, after a brief remission, the cold has come back with a vengeance and an Attitude.  Ginger/lemon tea with honey will definitely be my beverage of choice, today.

I want to thank everyone who weighed in with recommendations re Niagara Falls.  I've done a little bit of research based on your data, and -- yeah, the Canadian side really does seem like the place to be.  We'll be there in early-mid August (if all goes well), which I guess is the middle of tourist season -- and will be a change for us.  Our wedding anniversary is the second most frequent reason for us to travel, and that's in November, after many Sights are closed for the season.  Being at a tourist attraction when everything is open will be exciting.

And now -- back to work.  The coon cats and I will be on the couch.

editorial-office-with-assistants-oct-14-2016 work-in-progress-oct-15-2016 trooper-inspecting-the-work-oct-15-2016
rolanni: (Carousel Sun)

As advertised, Steve and I are reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny one chapter a night, starting on September 30, and ending on Halloween (some folks have reported being able to download this as an ebook; I can't find it myself, so if anyone can give a tip to those still looking, it would be appreciated).

So far, on our journey, we've met Snuff, our narrator; Jack; the graveyard dog; Greymalk; Cheeter; Needle -- and heard news of Nightwind; Morris and McCab; the Great Detective and his companion; Crazy Jill; the Mad Monk Rastoff; Quicklime; the Count; and the kindly Druid.  And let us not forget that curious  paw print in the yard...

Mysteries are starting to pile up, and there turns up a curious question -- Are you an opener?  or a closer?#

# # #

Yesterday, the coon cats and I spent many hours on the sofa, mapping out the Rest of the Story.  We decided to cut out one narrative line for lack of space, and package it as a short story; and I think have a working strategy for getting everyone at the corner of Elm and 10th Street at the same hour on the date appointed.  I have pointed the Auctorial Finger of Doom at several characters.  We'll see how well I do this time.

The whole stream of consciousness doc has gone to Steve for review.  There is a brainstorming session in our very near future.

# # #

Let's see, what else?

Steve and I have been making an effort to bring more light into the house -- this is in literal, rather than the metaphorical, sense.  To that end, we have acquired an LED arc lamp to illuminate the living room.  Steve has replaced his ancient (WWII vintage) desk lamp with a jazzy new LED lamp; I have a reading lamp in my upgraded reading corner, and we have placed a torche-thingy in the bedroom, which we've angle at the ceiling, and which illuminates the whole room.

What a difference a few lamps makes.

On that theme, my desk lamp (with full spectrum light tubes) blew out on Saturday.  I've ordered in a replacement bulb, which will be here, it says here, on Friday.  And not a moment too soon.

We still need to do something better about illuminating the bathroom and the kitchen.  I'm thinking we should look into LED bulbs to replace the big globe- lights-onna-bar that were fashionable a while back, since we're working with what we've got as much as possible. The kitchen. . .

The kitchen will require Creative Thinking.

# # #

So, it's Wednesday, and I'm for the volunteer gig in a little while.  While I'm gone, you can read the Spotlight interview from Locus, here (please note that this is a pdf file):    lee-miller-locus-oct-2016

I hope everybody has a pleasant day.

rolanni: (Marvin's not happy)

Those following along at home will recall that, last week, it was discovered by an Alert Reader that Amazon had taken The Crystal Variation, an omnibus of novels Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, and Balance of Trade, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published by Baen Books off sale.  We alerted Baen.  Baen's Speaker To Amazon found that Amazon had identified 144 "spelling errors."  Until those "spelling errors" were corrected the book could not be sold.

Baen forwarded the list to us, and we identified -- wait for it -- THREE incidences of Actual Misspelled Words (the rest were made-up scifi words, and most of them were "cermacrete"), four instances of missing commas (which Amazon had not pinpointed as errors), and one instance of two words that were smushed together.

Yeah, that's it.  Amazon pulled our omnibus, without notice, for containing three spelling errors across a 1200-page book.

The Crystal Variation is now back on sale at Amazon, thanks to speedy work on Baen's part, for getting those errors fixed, and the book re-up-loaded in record time.

So, that.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Amazon had likewise taken Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18,  by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, published by Pinbeam Books (aka Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) off-sale, without warning, for four spelling errors and two bad line breaks. These errors were represented as having been reported by a reader who found them "distracting."

Yesterday, I fixed the two misspellings, recompiled the book and re-uploaded it to Amazon.

This morning, I have in my mailbox a communication from Amazon, stating that copyright is important to them, and that I must, in five days, provide proof that I have the right to publish Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18.  The acceptable proofs are:

Acceptable documentation includes:

- A contract or statement from the author or publisher verifying you
 retain publishing rights
- An e-mail from the address listed on the official author or
 agent’s website
- For authors using a pseudonym, copyright registration or statement
 of pseudonym use

If you publish books for which you do not hold the publishing rights,
your account may be terminated.

So, a letter has been written to Amazon, explaining the situation to them for at least the second, and possibly the third, time since we've been doing business -- in the five years during which we've been doing business -- together.  Though "together" may not exactly be the word I want, here.

As of this writing, I believe that Amazon will sell you a copy of Courier Run, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 18.  There is a Quality Issues Reported Hazard Triangle just below the title.  The drop-down for that reads:

Customers reported Quality Issues with this eBook.  This eBook has
The publisher has been notified to correct these issues.

. . .so I'm guessing it's not the amended file they're selling.

# # #

In less-fraught news, Steve and I took yesterday off to travel into Waterville to attend the Very First Screening of "Kubo and the Two Strings."  This is a very beautiful movie (we saw the 2-D version); the animation was amazing. The story itself is short on plot, though the writers/directors have an Absolute Mastery of Emotional Manipulation.  I recommend it for the animation alone, and for the overall sweetness of tone.  I came away from the movie feeling (briefly) peaceful and content.  So -- C+.

# # #

For those who have been following the New Box Project.  I offer the following short photo essay:

Trooper still prefers the red basket:

Trooper still prefers the old Aug 18 2016

Sprite is thinking about the new box:

Sprite tries the new box Aug 18 2016

. . .which has already received the Belle Seal of Approval:

The Belle Seal of Approval Aug 18 2016

Observant readers will note that the floofy towel has been removed from the New Box. The floofy towel was Not a Proper Use.  So I was told.

# # #

Today, I work.  And probably do the laundry, because the life of a writer is unremittingly glamorous.

Everybody have a good weekend!

September 2017

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