rolanni: (Default)
  1.  Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be Writer Guests of Honor at Confluence in Pittsburgh, PA, August 4-6.  Here's your link, and we hope to see you there.
  2. Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 is now available as an ebook from most of the usual suspects, and as a paper edition from Amazon onlyHere's your link to the Amazon catalog page.
  3. Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23 is also now available in paper from Amazon only.  Here's your link to the Amazon catalog page.
  4. This is as far as we're going down the path of "converting to paper editions," until we see what happens with these two books.
  5. The Gathering Edge -- y'all remember The Gathering Edge, right? -- currently has 143 reader reviews on Amazon, which is awesome, and we thank you for your time!  You know what would be Even More awesome, though?  If Edge could get as many reviews as Alliance of Equals -- 266.  Can we do it?
  6. In case you missed it yesterday, Steve and I were interviewed by the Maine Sunday Telegram.  Here's a link to that article.
  7. Spoiler discussion for Due Diligence here
  8. Thanks to whomever sent me the gadget for use in waiting rooms.


Here end your Monday morning adverts.  Everybody have a great week.

rolanni: (Red umbrella from rainbow graphics)

Those of you who purchase ebooks from Amazon need to be aware of the following:

a. The Kindle edition of omnibus The Crystal Variation, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, including the novels Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, and Balance of Trade -- has been taken off-sale by Amazon pending correction of "serious quality issues." These issues are "misspellings."  Amazon forwarded the list of 144 instances of misspelled words to Baen, which forwarded it to us.  More than a dozen of those "misspelled" words are "cermacrete."  We also have "ISBN" identified as a "misspelled" word. Also, cantra, kais, qwint, Iloheen, aetherium, autoshout -- you get the idea.  Steve and I have each made a pass down the list and have so far identified three Actual Misspelled Words, and one that I need to research, but believe to be a spacing problem.  The process from here goes like this:  We tell Baen which words are Actually Misspelled.  A Baen editor will fix those errors.  The Baen Ebook Team will then recompile the omnibus and shuffle it into its various formats, including forwarding a "clean copy" to Amazon.  Amazon will then, at some point, put the book back on sale.

If you would like to purchase an electronic copy of The Crystal Variation in the immediate future, your best choice of vendor would be Baen Ebooks, which offers the book for sale in All Formats Known to Man or Clutch.  Here's the link.

b.  Amazon has also stopped selling Courier Run, an echapbook containing two Liaden stories by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, for Serious Quality Issues.  In a Surprising Plot Twist, this title shows as being Live and On Sale from my publisher's dashboard.  KDP support is Researching the Issue and promises an answer by August 18 -- next Thursday.

If you would like to purchase this echapbook before next Thursday, please seek it elsewhere -- BN, Kobo, iBooks still offer it for sale.

c. Sleeping with the Enemy was also briefly off-sale at Amazon, but its honor has been redeemed and it is now on-sale in the Kindle store, as well as at the rest of the Usual Suspects.

d. Spell Bound, an echapbook collecting "Will-o'-the-wisp" and "The Wolf's Bride," two Archers Beach stories previously published on Splinter Universe, is now for sale at the Amazon Kindle store (after a brief tussle in which Amazon insisted that the content was available "freely on the web" and therefore I had no right to publish the compilation), and! at Kobo, and iBooks.  BN will presumably get around to publishing sometime soon.

A related note: Since these stories have been collected, they have been removed from Splinter Universe.

Today, it is rainy and cool at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  I plan a quiet, working day.  I realize that we are very fortunate in our weather.  All of you who labor under Dangerous Heat Advisories -- please be alert and take good care of yourselves.

Even more eye candy!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 09:58 am
rolanni: (Alliance of Equals art by David Mattingl)

A couple days ago, we were pleased to show you David Mattingly's painting that would become the cover for The Gathering Edge.

Today, we are pleased to share the comp cover, still smokin' hot from the Baen Art Department.

Layout 1

Also!  If viewing the art above has made you a little peckish, Cedar Sanderson has featured Daav yos'Phelium's Extra Special Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in today's Eat This While You Read That column.  Here's your link.

Also, also!  Alliance of Equals has 40 reader reviews on Amazon!  Only 160 to go!  You guys are doing great.

And! (given "also" a rest, you see)  Steve and I will be signing Alliance of Equals at Children's Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville, Maine (our local indie bookstore) on Saturday, July 16 (that's this Saturday!) at 2 p.m.  If you're in the area, come on by and say, "hi!"

The weatherbeans are calling for A Warm One, as Maine counts these things.  I, of course, will be at the nice, air conditioned, hospital doing the volunteer gig.  Steve and the cats will likely need to put the portable A/C unit in to play.  Ah, summer. . .And, as Mainers say earnestly to each other, under just these sorts of conditions: "At least it ain't snowin'."

Hope you have a good day, wherever you are.

Buy my book

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 06:16 pm
rolanni: (Alliance of Equals art by David Mattingl)

This post is brought to you by the phrase, "...but don't start here. . ." 

A discussion began on Facebook re: reader reviews, honesty, why books do -- or don't -- get published, and how writers earn money.  I reacted emotionally to the continued beat of, "It's a good book, but you can't start here," and I said I would try to explain why that was.  Follows the explanation.

For those who may be alarmed by some of the comments made below:  you are in no immediate danger of losing Liad.  We have five Liaden books under contract as I write this.

The discussion has run a little long, but I hope you'll stick with me.

Let's do this thing.


As most people reading here know, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee (that's me) have been mostly writing in a big, sprawling space opera universe that they built all by their onesies back in the mid-1980s (in the last century; when what portable phones there were weighed more than a beagle, and the overwhelming majority of civilians had landlines (we won't go into party lines, your head would explode); impact printers walked the earth, dispensing text from 9 to 24 pins; 300-baud was considered Quite the Thing, modem-wise; and you could smoke cigarettes anydamnwhere you pleased and be thought So Cool).

Lee and Miller's first book, establishing that sprawling space opera geography, which later became known as the Liaden Universe® -- was written in 1984 and published in 1988.  It was titled Agent of Change.  Yesterday, July 5, the 19th novel in the Liaden Universe® was released.  It is titled Alliance of Equals.

We repeatedly make the case that the Liaden Universe® novels are not a series, which is to say, they are not necessarily sequential, though some are, and form mini-series within the whole tapestry.  The books tend to follow the doings of a particular set of Liadens called Clan Korval, with a penchant for trouble.  Just to keep you on your toes -- sometimes we write about characters and situations that are not about Clan Korval.  For a complete explanation of our books and universe and how the books fit together, see this page.

In the 28 years since the first book was published, the Universe has gained many readers, and fans. This is Good and Wonderful.  We are grateful to the readers and fans of the Liaden Universe® who twice brought our career back from the dead, and allowed us to continue writing in our universe.

Now, back in the day, after we had died the first time, there were only three books in the Universe:  Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Carpe Diem.  Readers and fans encouraged other readers by telling them to start with Agent of Change and continue.  This was reasonable; the Whole Liaden Universe® at that time was contained in three +/- 100,000 word novels.  Any reader worth their salt could polish them off over a weekend.

Came our first resurrection, which saw the reprinting of the first three novels, and the publication of ten new novels.  Long-time readers, whose mass market paperbacks of the first three Liaden novels had long since been read to pieces, snatched  up the reprints and pushed them to their friends, who may have missed them the first time around.  The subsequent novels continued the pattern.

Then we died again, not for very long this time, and we continued to write in our big sprawly space opera universe.  As I said, the 19th novel just came out; there are three novels' worth of short stories published in three collections, and there may eventually be a fourth, since we can't seem to break ourselves of the habit of writing short stories.

Now -- leaping back in time to 1988, 1989. . .the reason that there was no fourth Liaden book in 1990, was that the first three books did not have numbers.  This means, nobody bought our books.  Which was -- according to those very numbers, which the publisher shared with us -- true by the standards of the mass market standards of the time.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we learned, after the internet finally arrived in Maine and those readers and fans of the first three books found us -- a lot more people -- a whole lot more people -- had read our books than had bought them.

How was this possible?  Well, the folks who had bought the books lent them to their friends, of course, just like anybody does, when they find a book they like a lot.

As one person told me, when we were still in our first, decade-long death:  "Everybody knew there would be more Liaden books, because they were so much fun!  We were really sad when there weren't any more."


Which brings us to the title of this post.

Buy my books.

There is a reason why authors say, "Buy my books," and not necessarily, "Read my books."  It's a low, unworthy, venal reason, that ought to have no place in the House of Art, but here it is --

Authors get paid when somebody buys their book.  It's a simple transaction:  You buy a book, we get our percent, and we go away.  Afterward, you can read that book a million times and we don't earn one cent more.  Unless, of course, you buy another copy of the book for some reason, or recommend it to a like-minded friend, who then buys their own copy.

But, wait!  There's more.

Publishers are not satisfied if readers buy one book out of 19.  Publishers are very zen creatures, living in the moment.  It's nice if the backlist sells, but that's free money, in a sense.  What they need to keep an eye on is how this book sells. And if it doesn't sell well, and is seen, perhaps, to be one of several in a row that have not sold well (where "well" is a moving target decided by the publisher), then. . . Understand, that the House guards the House's profit, as is only meet.  If a series does less-well enough, and it's no longer profitable for the House -- the House kills the series.

No, really; it does happen.  Be honest -- have you not, yourself, been enchanted by the first two books of a trilogy, and been seriously annoyed -- at the author -- when the third book is never published?  Sometimes, yes, this is the author's fault, but not always.  I would go so far as to say, not usually.

So, real harm is done -- not just to the authors, but to readers of particular series, or universes -- if the chorus upon every new book hitting the shelves is. . .but don't start here.

To bring this back to the personal -- Steve and I are not idiots.  We have written portal books into the Liaden Universe®; we layer backstory into every book -- both to remind existing readers of various details, and to clue new readers in.  It is possible for a new reader to read the 19th book (for instance), and follow the story.  Even, possibly, we hope, enjoy the story.  No, they will not know everything and everyone from all the rest of the previous stories, but I put it to you --

When you first read Agent of Change, or whichever Liaden book you did read first -- did you know every single bit of backstory?  All of Val Con's relatives?  The place of Korval in the trade culture of the universe?  Did that stop you from enjoying the story?  Or did you want to know more?

Now, I understand that people want to be truthful; they don't want to mislead other readers.  That's honorable, and I salute you.

Some readers will, indeed, be put off if they aren't given all the backstory at once.  I'm certain people stopped reading Agent of Change, 'way back last century because we didn't explain enough up front.  Why am I certain?  Because people have said as much to me, or around me.  And that's OK; we don't all like to read the same thing; we all have different comfort levels and different things that we want from our pleasure reading.

But, I think you're shortchanging the intelligence, resilience, and story-sense of a whole bunch of potential readers by actively discouraging them to try the Liaden Universe®, at whatever point they care to enter.  I think that they deserve the chance to try, and see what happens.

I will tell you that I -- we get to see the royalty statements, after all.  We get the checks, and we can look back and see what the check for last year's book was, and how many sold in the first period -- I have seen a worrisome (to me; I worry; it's my job). . .downturn in the first reported sales of Dragon in Exile, which is possibly the first Liaden novel to have a concerted. . .but don't start here! campaign brought against it by readers and reviewers.

Now, there are many other reasons for a book to experience low(er) sales.  We may have written a lousy book.  The title might have turned readers off.  The cover art might not have spoken to folks who would potentially enjoy the story.  The economy sucked and book-buying budgets went down the drain.  There are lots of reasons why some books do less-well than others.

But, the reality is: if people don't buy our books, if readers are discouraged from buying the new book -- we're dead again, as authors.

For those of you who remember landlines and party lines. . .The tradition we and the Liaden Universe® come from is that of Andre Norton, whose many novels took place in a full-realized universe.  Has anyone seen a review of an Andre Norton book that included. . .but don't start here?

Robert Heinlein came to the realization that a "universe" was a desirable thing very late in his career, and his attempts to cobble up his work into a cohesive universe was not, imho, very successful, but!  Do people write reviews of Heinlein novels that include. . .but don't start here?  (Leaving aside those folks who think you shouldn't read Heinlein at all.)

. . .I've been mulling over the reviews garnered by some of our colleagues.  Lois Bujold is probably doing the closest to what we're trying to do in the Liaden Universe®, in writing novels as they occur -- which is to say "out of order."  And I don't think I've ever seen a review of one of her books that said. . .but don't start here.  There are many, many, many authors writing multi-books series -- and remember, the Liaden Universe® is not a trad series -- and I don't see. . .but don't start here.

Steve and I are, I think, doing something unique in the field, and we've been doing it for 28 years.  It's hard to be unique in publishing, because unique is difficult to explain, and because unique doesn't fit into the cozy little sub-genres the bookstores invented to make business easy on themselves.  And, if you do something for 28 years, you tend to be trivialized by. . .people who Form Opinions based on Their Opinions.  Oh, that's Lee and Miller doing That Thing that they do. Bodice rippers in space.  Too bad they don't have any original ideas. . .

So. . .you who are readers of -- who are friends of -- Liad. . .by all means write reviews, and share your honest opinion of our work with other readers.  Especially share your opinion of the newest Liaden adventure, along with, perhaps, one of two of your personal favorites.  If you liked the book, say so.  If you didn't like the book, say so.

But, please, don't tell people not to read our newest book.

Thanks for listening.

rolanni: (Alliance of Equals art by David Mattingl)

So, we heard from Boskone that the NESFA* Book Club is currently reading Conflict of Honors and will be discussing it at the con (time and day will be listed in the final schedule posts).  They ask that we be present at the end of the discussion in order to answer questions.

Now, it's been a long time since I read Conflict of Honors (as opposed to, say, reading galleys of Conflict of Honors, which is a whole 'nother process), and while I sort of have it as a gestalt in my head, at this distance I'm certainly not clear on the simple basics of How The Story Goes.  Obviously, then, I need to reread.

I began this project yesterday afternoon, and because I'm a slow reader, I made it all the way to Shipyear 65/Tripday 130/Fouth Shift/18.00 Hours, in which Pilot Dyson wakes Priscilla up.

Narratively speaking, things are going well, so far.  Not so well for Priscilla, of course, and I wish I could have another go at Dagmar, who's a little too...too.  On the other hand, there's this --

Conflict of Honors was published when I was 36.  I stand before you today, 63.  Palindromes aside, it's worth noting that Conflict was the second novel we finished**, and it was originally thought to be a short story***, to give us a better handle on Val Con's brother Shan.  We wrote it while Agent of Change was under submission at Del Rey, and submitted it while Agent was under submission at Del Rey -- in September 1986.  It was accepted for publication in September 1987.

Agent of Change was published in February 1988; Conflict of Honors was published in June 1988, to hold the pocket left empty by the non-delivery of a contracted book by another author.  Because it was not published for Itself Alone, it kind of got short shrift, though Romantic Times picked it up and gave it a glowing review, SFR/RSF being thin on the ground at the time.  So thin, in fact, that we hadn't yet invented the names Science Fiction Romance or Romantic Science Fiction, and were still formulating what "this" was, why it appealed, and why we wanted more, please.

Agent, Conflict and Carpe Diem (published in November 1989), were all paperback originals.  Paperback originals were not. . .considered to be Timeless Classics.  They were considered to be cheap entertainment, to be read once, or maybe twice, and then given -- or thrown -- away.  The original Liaden "trilogy" has been republished now three times since the 1980s, and are, as I type this, available in print, as ebooks, and as audiobooks.

That's an astonishing amount of staying power, and I sometimes wish that we could have known, 'way back that the books would survive to be studied or scrutinized by readers 30 years down the timeline with values and experiences of which we wot not -- though what we might have done differently, I can't say.


In other news, it snowed yesterday -- not much, but still, it snowed.  The plowman arrived this morning -- early as we count the day, damn' near lunch-time as the plowguy figures.  Now that breakfast is done, and this blog post about ready to go up, I'll be donning coat and gloves and boots and widening the path from the driveway around the house to the generator, and digging our mailbox out of the pile of snow the across-the-street neighbor thoughtfully placed over it, to keep it from drying out.

After that, I believe I may make another pot of coffee and settle in to read.

Tomorrow, we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday which, among other things, means no mail, no bills, no checks.  Baji-naji, I suppose, or at least good enough for rock and roll.

MLK Day also means that schools are closed, and Pickleball is nudged up and shortened from  9am-noon to 8am-10am.  I am actually considering getting up in time to attend Pickleball tomorrow, assuming that I can keep dodging Steve's cold, so that I can try out my brand! new! paddle.

What're y'all doing that's fun or exciting?


*The New England Science Fiction Association, which sponsors Boskone.

**Actually, it is the third novel we completed.  We lately uncovered a draft of a Kinzel novel that was never published; the original lost at the publisher, and very likely a good thing.

***And is, in fact, a very short novel by today's standards. The Card says it was submitted at 82,000 words; the electronic copy from Baen says 86,345 -- but the front matter is included in that count.

Scrabble inna basket Jan 10 2016

rolanni: (Mozart Easter 2009)

Steve and I took Mozart to the vet this morning; he was crying for food, but when offered, rejected it, except for a few cat treats.  Since we've been giving him medicine to increase his appetite and pain medicine, it seemed like either the appetite increaser had stopped working, or the pain (if he's in pain, which we don't know; we only know that the pain medicine seems to make him rest easier) was trumping the hunger-pangs.

I, being the pessimist in the family, didn't expect to bring Mozart home with us today, and I'm very pleased to report that the vet had another plan of treatment, which includes increasing the pain meds, and stopping the appetite increaser.  While he was there, the vet also hydrated him and gave him a shot of something that will settle his stomach, in case that's an issue.

Five minutes.  If he could just talk to us for five minutes...

Right now, he's in his spot in my office next to the radiator, sleeping.

For those collecting all the cards, the diagnosis is kidney failure.  While Mozart's numbers are nowhere near as Scary as Socks' were when we lost him early last year, he is on a decline.  He'll also be sixteen years old on the first of March.  What we're doing here is palliative care; nobody expects to win; we're aiming at keeping him with us for as long as is feasible, without subjecting him to cruelty or pain.

* * *

A couple days ago, I reported that my editor at Baen had let slip that Carousel Seas, the last book in the Carousel trilogy would be coming out in Fall, rather than in January 2015.

In one of those rare cases of mutual misunderstanding, we both happen to be right.

Simon and Schuster, which of course distributes Baen Books, has but three seasons in its year.  Happily for them, they have no Winter.

For future reference, here are the Publishing Seasons:

Spring: February through May
Summer: June through September
Fall: October through January

So!  Carousel Seas will indeed be published in January 2015, or Fall, according to Simon and Schuster.

Everybody confused now?

rolanni: (Carousel Sun)

A couple of interesting articles were pointed out in Another Part of the Internet.  I'm posting them here to boost the signals, and because they are an interesting addition to the ongoing shouting match discussion about how women don't write SF/F, except when they're putting guy writers out of a job by doing it wrong.

Strange Horizons' 2012 SF Count

Lady Business 2012 Coverage of Women in SF/F Blogs

The break-out points from the NPR study of women in cinema, at I'm Working On It, including some interesting information from studies done at the Geena Davis Institute regarding how men perceive the number of women within a group.

The transcript of the NPR study of women in cinema

Anybody got any more?  Real Numbers relating to real publishing are what we're looking for, not Opinions.  The reason the shouting match discussion exists is that there are 'way too many Opinions, and 'way too few Real Numbers.


Empirical evidence that women have been writing SF/F for A Long Time.

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