Gang aft a-gley

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 07:57 pm
rolanni: (Default)

Ah, my dear friends, I have a terrible dilemma before me.  Both Olga and Natalia wish to be my wife; each has written several times to me of their passion. They are equally attractive; both are looking for love, but neither appears to be able to do laundry.

Well.  That's really not a dilemma at all, is it?

So, today was an odd day.  One of those days where Things Got Done, but they were Entirely the Wrong Things.  On the other hand, a day that includes a milkshake and an unexpected ride in the country can't be too far awry.

At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I did make it to gym and waked for miles.  My "gym book" this go is a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, and a buncha other awards, soon, I'm told to be  Major Motion Picture.  Again.

AWIT was published when I was 10 years old.  Despite this, I didn't read it (the first time) until I was an adult.  It was sitting on a table in EJ Korvette's in...damned if I remember -- Towson, probably.  Anyhow, remainder table, one among many of its own kind, and many others, not necessary of its kind.  I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to finish up doing something or another, and started to read AWIT, as the most interesting looking book on the table, and by the time he re-appeared, I'd tessered once already and wasn't about to miss the rest of the story.  It was a buck I never regretted spending.

I read AWIT a couple times since then, but not for 20 years or so -- found the sequels, but none of them held my interest beyond the first two pages. . .  So, yanno, life goes on; so many books, so little time; and all like that.

But AWIT is going to be coming out as a movie next year; this time, so the hype goes, done right, which means that lots of people who read it as kids, and who imprinted on it, are re-reading.  And some are being disappointed, and blogging about their disappointment (one more time from the choir: What an age we live in).  Now, by the time I'd read AWIT, I'd read. . .a buncha books, many of them science fiction/fantasy (Back when I started reading sf/f, you could easily read the monthly titles, and still have room left over for others kinds of books.  It just wasn't possible, if you were any shakes of a reader at all, to read only science fiction.).  I thought AWIT was a good enough book.  Certainly, the Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which have pleasantly improved my inner life.  Meg irritated me -- but Meg was supposed to irritate me.  Partly, after all, this was a story about Meg coming to terms with Meg, and if she could stand it, so could I.

I did have some reservations about the sudden appearance and utter acceptance of Calvin, especially the part where he liked Meg straight off.  Otherwise, he seemed like good enough kid.

Charles Wallace was being set up either as John the Baptist, or the new Christ figure, but I'd already read Perelandra, and Out of the Silent Planet and whassis -- That Hideous Strength.  Plus, I'd been raised Roman Catholic.  All of which meant I was pretty good at ignoring the God-stuff and following the story along.

So, anyhow.  I read it back then; liked it well enough.  Read it a couple times more and liked it on rereads.

This time, I'm still liking it.  Meg perhaps annoys me less, but, then I know how the story goes, more or less.  I find that I misplaced a couple things on the timeline, but no big surprises so far. . .The Happy Medium, surprisingly or not, irritates me more than Meg does this time.  Hmm.

One of the reviewers I read was saddened by the fact that AWIT didn't sing for them anymore, and blamed -- the 60s (given a 1962 pub date, and its long history of rejection, AWIT was probably written in the late 50s).  The 60s, said the reviewer are just too unbelievable to a person of modern sensibility, and the story therefore suffers from its setting.

I will go on record here as saying that the 60s setting doesn't detract from the story  at all, for this reviewer.  OTOH, I lived through the 60s.

So, that.

After gym, I ran the rest of the errands on my list -- sadly, neither CVS nor Agway had any of the bug repellents I had pinned my hopes upon, so I wound up ordering from the internet, rather than shopping locally.

Agway did provide me with a ginormous lacy yellow day lily, a hug pot of bee balm and a Jimmy hosta with white bells (the hosta on the other end of the property have blue/purple bells).  I have probably under-bought, but the wallet gets a vote, and this will at least start a Cat Garden Renaissance.

For those keeping score at home, I remain Utterly Delighted with my new fountain pen, which has scarcely been out of my hand since I bought it.  So delighted am I, that I have purchased another Pilot Metropolitan, this is the formal White Tiger color scheme, and blue ink, so I will have a fine signing pen at Confluence.

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

Everybody stay cool, or warm, as appropriate.

If it's Sunday...

Sunday, July 16th, 2017 12:26 pm
rolanni: (Default)

...Steve must've made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  Aaaaaah.  I do so love blueberry pancakes and so seldom have them.  Can't order them when we're having breakfast out, because I go right to sleep, after.  Too many carbs-and-sugars, and not enough coffee and protein in the universe to balance it out, and, since we're usually On The Road when we eat breakfast out...not a good combo.

So, anyway -- blueberry pancakes at home to start the day, then some on-line ordering -- I have committed to a so-called "beginner's" fountain pen, on the theory that it will be easier on my wrists, and more forgiving of the Obscenely Uneven Pressure which is my best effort at writing with a pen nowadays.

Why do I want a pen that's easy on the wrists?  Well. . .it's come to my attention that this book wants to be written first-draft-by-hand.  I can either sit at my desk and stare at the screen for hours at a time, sweating blood for five hundred grudging words, or!  I can sit in my nice chair over there in the reading corner, with a yellow pad and a pen and zip out 2,000 words in an hour.

Even I can understand a message that clear.  The various daily pens -- Sarsa gel-clicks, and a nice Levenger's rollerball -- are good in rotation, but I'm thinking one more would be a nice increase my range, so to speak, and so the Pilot Metropolitan Animal (oooh) will be with me on Tuesday.

In other news, I'm going to try to publish Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® No. 23 as a paper edition today, in between the Rest of It, and then -- we'll see what we see.  This is, as I've probably already mentioned, very much an experiment.

I am aware that we have fallen behind in updating our Patreon page.  There are Reasons, mostly having to do with that army of ducks I mentioned the other day, but I won't bore you with them, and in fact, the reasons don't matter, except insofar as they demonstrate that we're apparently trying to eat something very much bigger than our heads.  We hope to resume the readings, on a less-ambitious schedule, soon, and we thank you for your patience.

I think that's all the news from the Cat Farm today.  I hope everyone has a pleasant day.


rolanni: (Default)

So, it's been an odd couple of days, with all the simple things going awry, but, thank goodness, none of the big things.

This morning, we got to Charlie's Subaru before the crew did -- 15 minutes early for a 7:30 am appointment. Skylark, which has 4,600 miles on it, got his 6,000 miles/6 month oil change, tire rotation and systems checks.  All good, which was a relief, if not particularly a surprise, and we're on for driving to Pittsburgh, Niagara Falls, Binghamton, and points wherever else in a couple weeks' time.

After Charlie's got done with us, we went crosstown for breakfast at Lisa's, and then, reasoning that the coast was going to be a Total Zoo, set off up-country (which would be north, to you) on the Big Road, so as to (1) get me some practice driving the Big Roads (my default is the mid-road, if there is one), and (2) not go home immediately.  We stopped at the overlook and tried to say hello to Mount Katahdin, but it was being shy today, hiding under a mantle of clouds.

We continued north and got off at Benedicta (town motto, To Work is to Pray; population 314), drove through town to Sherman, where we found the ramp to the expressway going south, and took advantage of it.

A stop for lunch and home again, to wage war on the ants, and also to dust and vacuum the inside of the car.  Car wash is on the list, and we need more bug juice for the windshield cleaner.

While we were on the road the blue striped Russian sailor shirt arrived from Peterman, and it's gorgeous.  I'm torn between being sorry I waited so very long to buy it, and being delighted that, when I did buy it, it did prove to be splendid.

Speaking of clothes, I found my red hat, which was covered in cat fur (strange).  I have brushed it off, and it, too, is ready for a road trip.

I was going to work this evening, but that kind of got kicked sideways, so tomorrow is a no-internet, all work, all day, sorta day.

And I think that catches us up. Everybody have a terrific weekend.

Today's blog post brought to you by Bruce Springsteen, "4th of July, Asbury Park".  Here's your link.


rolanni: (Default)

So this is Rockin' Chair Day for those of us here in the US; the "regular day" sandwiched between a Sunday and a Major Holiday.  Rockin' Chair Day is difficult for those of us who as a rule work on most Sundays and Major Holidays, because we are Free From the Constraints of a Day-Job. (And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have most of the things they're calling "day-jobs" nowadays, since they mostly seem to embrace all of the working on Sundays and Major Holidays of the freelance life without the freedom to tell your boss what you think of them.  But I digress.)

So, anyway, here we are, on the one day with mail delivery out of three, and we're waiting for two checks. Spoiler: neither one arrived.  However, we did receive, by way of a pleasant surprise, our authors' copies of The Year's Best Military and Adventure SF, Volume 3.

In other news, Liaden Universe® short "Due Diligence" is completed in, um, fourth draft and has passed from being a long novelette (at 17,400 words) to a mid-weight novella (at 22,000 words)*.  It will now sit for a week to cool before the last pass.  If all goes well, it will be published as an eChapbook before Steve and I head out to Confluence at the end of July.

The story being off my case means I can return my whole attention to Fifth of Five, and --

What's that?  Why did I stop to write a short story (well, it was supposed to have been a short story) when I should have been writing a novel?

Short answer:  It was in the way.

Slightly longer answer: Sometimes writers forget how to write, and they need to take up a short -- note that I do not say easy -- project in order to relearn the skill.

The ants made a follow-up excursion into the kitchen this afternoon, but their hearts weren't really in it.  It was a short, victorious battle for our side.  We remain vigilant.

And I think that's it for the day.

If you celebrate Independence Day, enjoy!

The progression of works, according to SFWA is this:
Novel: 40,000 words +
Novella: 17,500 - 39,999 words
Novelette: 7,500 - 17,499 words
Short Story: less than 7,500 words

Today's blog post title brought to you by CW McCall, "Convoy."  Here's your link.

rolanni: (Default)

There was a coin show in Augusta (Maine) today.  I have an occasional interest in coins, so Steve and I made the plan to get up "early", go to Augusta, have breakfast at IHOP, go to the coin show, then come home.


We took Route 201 from Winslow to Augusta.  As we were motoring along, some little distance in front of us, on the left shoulder, a bald eagle spread it's mighty wings, lifted about three feet off the ground, and -- fell to the tarmac about two feet into the right lane.  He tried again, getting to the center line this time, and we could see that he had in his talons the limp body of woodchuck.

I had slowed considerably by this time, as one does, and the eagle, who had by this time attracted the interested attention of raven, tried it again.  This time he made it to the middle of the right-hand lane, about eight feet in front of the car, and there he made the Management Decision to leave breakfast where it was and come back when the damn nosy tourists had gone past.

I inched along, being careful not to run over breakfast, and slowly picked up speed.  A glance in the mirror showed breakfast still in the middle of the lane, and no sign of the eagle.  Happily, I suppose -- at least for the eagle, and possibly the raven -- it was early morning on Sunday, so there was a good chance of the eagle reclaiming his breakfast and hauling it to the trees on the right side of the road to eat in peace.

"Well," said Steve, "there's something you don't see everyday."

We eventually raised IHOP, where I ordered the spinach-mushroom-tomato-and-onion omelette, which turned out to be WAAAAAY bigger than my head, and, heeding the well-known warning, I ate about half, which was plenty enough, and set the rest aside.

Our waitress came by soon after, and, with a look of horror on her face, lowered her voice to ask, "Are you done?  Really?  Was it --" a furtive glance over her shoulder -- "Was it gross?"

I assured her that it had been delicious, just much too much for me to eat, which seemed to puzzle her.  She was further saddened by I refused a box, by reason of the fact that we were going to be some hours away from refrigeration.


I need to figure out a better breakfast, if we're going to eat often at IHOP, which appears to lack a senior menu.  Maybe ordering off the sides menu is the way to go. . .

Anyhow, breakfast eaten, we descended upon the coin show, where a vendor asked me what I collected.  I admitted to silver rounds, and he gave me a look of disdain.  "Silver rounds ain't collectin'; it's hoarding."  Live and learn.  I came away with a copy of the 2017 Red Book, which I bought from the club table, to support the effort, and -- despite my Mighty Vow that I would be buy nothing, I --

Let us backtrack a bit.

Those who have known me well -- and, let's face it, even fleetingly -- know that I admire with great admiration the Connecticut quarter.  The one with the tree on the reverse.  Friends started to save them for me out of their pocket change; one of the vendors in Old Orchard Beach saved them for me; scant acquaintances, upon learning of my partiality, would drag their change out of their pockets to see if they had any "Tree Quarters."

This all resulted in a rather embarrassing number of Connecticut quarters resident at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  I laughingly told Steve that I had cornered the market on Connecticut quarters in order to drive the price up.

I thought I was kidding, but one of the things I learned today is that (according to two vendors, at least) most state quarters in Good condition are "worth" 50 cents.

The Connecticut quarter?  Is "worth" 90 cents.

So there you have it.

Oh.  And my purchase in addition to the Red Book?  A proof 1999 S Connecticut quarter.

I honestly didn't think Steve was going to stop laughing.


After that, we stopped by Barnes and Noble, and then we went for a ride, coming home via Fairfield and the justly famous Belangers Drive-In, where we bought one haddock basket, one order of fried mushrooms, and brought it home to eat.  And it was plenty.  Then, we took a nap.

In all, a very satisfying day off.

How was your Sunday?

All Summer in a Day

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 10:21 am
rolanni: (Default)

Late Spring has arrived here at the Cat Farm, which is a little surprising, given that, last week this time it was snowing.  Monday had been sunny and 70F/21C, and the weatherbeans were calling for more of the same for Tuesday.

So, Steve and I played hookey.  We left early, stopped in Lewiston to have breakfast at Fran's, and hit Old Orchard Beach just at high tide.  We walked the beach a little, I picked up a few empty shells, and tossed one snail back into the surf (the door was still on, and I supposed it was still alive).  We left the beach eventually and walked uptown to the Amtrak station, and Memorial Park.  While Steve waited for a train to photograph, I wandered over to the garden, and admired the places where flowers would be, in another six weeks.

When we finished with OOB, we went into Saco to scope out a townhouse/condo.  It was about as big as the first place we lived together, and not, perhaps, possible with three Very Large, and one Not Small cat in the household.

After our tour of Saco, we headed up to Freeport, and Shopped LLBean before continuing up-state.  We stopped in Augusta to have lunch at Lisa's, and so to home.

Nice day, and good to visit places that were neither doctor's offices nor grocery stores.

I must say, too, that we chose our day well.  Yesterday, it was sullen and cloudy all day until it finally rained like heck for an hour or two.  Today, it's partly cloudy, but the high temp will only be around 54F/12C.  We're under an active flood warning for the Kennebec River until Friday midday, which is always exciting.  Flood stage for the Kennebec at Augusta is 12 feet/3.5 meters, and the 'beans are expecting it to crest at 14 feet/4 meters.  There are a several miles and many hills between us and the Kennebec, and we have no business in Augusta for the next few days.  The local streams and wetlands are somewhat overfull, but nothing at all dangerous to us.

Steve at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017

The Atlantic Ocean from the end of Brown Street at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017

Memorial Park gazebo and Old Orchard Beach Library April 11 2017
rolanni: (Phoenix from Little Shinies)

Yesterday, we finally, finally achieved the correct alignment of Good Weather, Clear Calendar, and Good Health, so Steve and I lit out for the coast in the still-new Subaru.

It was snowing very lightly as we headed down Route 201 toward Augusta, and we had Classic Rewind cranked on Sirius, which turned out to be brilliant, as we were able to sing along, loudly, with Blue Oyster Cult through "Godzilla."

In Augusta, we stopped to take on breakfast the IHOP, Which. Was. Packed.  I can testify that the German lemon crepes are to die for, in case, yanno, you're near an IHOP and in the mood for German lemon crepes.

After breakfast, we motored across the street to the BN, signed books and got the contact information for the new Events Manager (note to self: get card out of wallet).  Then, we hit the road in earnest, heading straight for Belfast.  It was, I will repeat, a fine day, partly cloudy, temps a thread about 40F/4C, but very windy on the water, even the nice enclosed water of Belfast Bay.  I stood out and breathed in as much salt air as I could before the wind pushed me back into the car, and off we went down Route 1 through Lincolnville, and Rockport, and Camden, and Rockland, Damariscotta, Nobleboro, Waldoboro. . .

In Waldoboro, we stopped at Spacestation Circle K to use the services, and take on coffee.  While we were there a young man came in, looked around and said to the clerk behind the counter, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, "Are they are the gloves you have?"

The clerk gave him a Look, and said, "Clamming gloves over there."  and pointed with her chin.

You know you live in Maine, I guess, when the gas station on the main road carries clamming gloves.

So, anyway, we turned off Route 1 to 27 and headed back to Augusta eventually, and as Fate would Have It, wound up at the IHOP again for a late lunch.  (I had the Senior Tilapia-on-a-bed-of-spinach-with-a-stoopy-white-bread-garlic-slice.  It was good.  Except for the white bread part, which could've used more garlic.)

We then wended our way home via Sidney and Oakland, stopping once more to take on pizza for dinner.  I read for a couple hours while Steve puttered and it was very nice and relaxing, and I. Regret. Nothing.  Nothing.

Today, of course, there's the rest of the laundry to finish, the dishes to wash, the cat bowl to clean, vacuuming to be done, and the prologue of Fifth of Five to write.

I suppose, therefore, that I'd better get busy.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Here's your link to "Godzilla," Blue Oyster Cult.  Sing LOUD.

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Alert readers will recall that Steve and I turned Neogenesis in to Madame the Publisher on January 28, thereby entering that magical and too-fleeting time known as, I Never Have to Write Again.

During that time, we went to Minneapolis as Writer Guests of Honor at MarsCon 2017, turned "Cutting Corners" in to; reworked "Dawn's Early Light," for All Hail Our Robot Conquerors!; fixed up an outtake from Neogenesis into short story "Street Cred" (now available as eChapbook Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23).  We also sold a reprint story, and have a big, crunchy interview to finish this week. I want to write one more short, for eChapbook Number 24, but I can't quite get a handle on it, and the window is getting narrower, as I start laying the groundwork (which involves a lot of staring at nothing, and flipping through the notes in the story file) for Fifth of Five.

In addition to Not Ever Writing Again, Life has continued to happen, including doctor appointments, and the coming home to roost of the bills from Steve's Marvelous Medical Adventure back in November. Bread has been baked, laundry washed, worn, and washed again; cats have been brushed; clocks -- most notably including the clock in the car, and the clock on the coffeemaker -- have been set one hour ahead.

We viewed two movies -- our first on the new television set -- "Arrival," and "The Fifth Element."  I find myself a little. . .put off by the picture, which lacks what I think of as "movie texture,"  and feels very much like "soap opera texture."  Well.  I guess I'll get used to it.

Today. . .today, includes some Life:  grocery shopping; a go at the gym, now that the knee's been cleared; and back home to do some laundry, which is getting done as can be this week; and getting down with the big, crunchy interview.

So!  That's what's been going on, here.  How's by you?

This is what my office looked like in the aftermath of Neogenesis.

Post-book non-news

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 10:16 am
rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Well, let's see. . .

I was going to get down to finishing the post-book office clean-up, the taxes, gearing up the files for 2017, and All The Other Stuff that I ignored during the last month of writing Neogenesis, but!

Monday, The Hanging Tree arrived in the mail, so I read it instead of doing any adulting.  Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment, in which several plans were made for health monitoring, including the borked knee.  I'm back to gym, but this time on the recumbent bike, which is apparently less stressful on knee-joints than the treadmill.  Hopefully, I'll be able to strengthen the knee enough that I'll actually be able to walk around Niagara Falls in August.  If it's not significantly better, there's a cortisone shot in my future, so here's hoping bike therapy works.

Yesterday, was Steve's first appointment at the rehab gym, where goal-setting and measurements and other cool things were done.  A three-day-a-week schedule has been put together, which will start next week and continue 'til we leave for MarsCon.  After we come back, re-evaluation will happen.

Today in the mundane world, I'll get back on putting my office back together, and all the other catch-up.  I'm sure there are people out there who manage to keep all of the chores done and the house clean while on deadline, but it's a trick I've never managed.

I think this catches us up. What're y'all doing that's fun?

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

In our last Thrilling Installment, it was Trooper's Birthday, known in some less enlightened parts of the world as December 15.

On Thursday, as per The Plan, we did indeed motor into Waterville to pick up the mail, and also to view Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I adored, despite not being able to hear much of the dialog*. This is possibly telling, but then, I don't expect much from movies except that they look pretty and hang together as a tale at least until the credits roll.

After the movie, we hit Governor's for breakfast (yes, breakfast; don't judge), and so to home.

Friday was a writing day.

Saturday, it snowed, thus becoming a writing day with interludes of snow removal.  In-between, I finished moving my files from the old computer to the new computer, and upgrading the OS on my Asus Android tablet from Lollipop to Marshmallow, which, because of Something Technical, had to be done manually.  This was a case of an operation sounding much scarier than it actually was.  The upgrade went beautifully, and now I have an up-to-date OS, just in time for Google to release the next in series.

Yesterday, also, Steve took point on hooking up my classy new 7-port USB hub and the new multi-size card reader, as both of these required climbing around under the desk, which I'm presently not up for because...

I borked my knee.  No, I don't know how I did it.  I tried ignoring it for a week, which worked about as well as you might think, and babying it with ice and elevation and all like that.  We've reached the point where I'm probably going to call the doctor, though part of me insists that if I don't hear words like "meniscus tear," all will be well.  More or less.

That brings us to what?  Today.  Sunday.

Yesterday, as reported it snowed, and the temps didn't get much higher than 15F/-9C.  Today! It's raining, and the high temp is predicted to be 44F/6C.  Right now, everything is encased in ice, which is my least-favorite winter scenario.

The Plan for the rest of the day is to retire to the comfy reclining chair with the laptop, and work from there.

I had briefly thought that we'd go see Arrival tomorrow before it leaves town, but I'm doubting that's going to be happening.

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

Everybody stay safe.


*I am informed that there are such things as "caption glasses" available at some theaters. Sadly, they are not available at the Waterville Flagship Cinemas.  They are available at the Regal Cinemas, in Augusta, but that makes a 50-mile round trip to see a movie.

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."

rolanni: (view from space by rainbow graphics)

So, most of you won't know -- or care -- that the World Science Fiction Society, which administers the Hugo Awards, decided at the business meetings in Seattle and KC (which all WorldCon members may attend, and may also vote on proposals) that they'd give a Hugo for Best Series (written) a whirl and see what happens.

For those who haven't already run away screaming, here's the nut of the definition, from the WFCS:

An eligible work for this special award is a multi-volume science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, which has appeared in at least three volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the calendar year 2016, at least one volume of which was published in 2016.

There's never been a Hugo for Best Series, which might strike some as odd, seeing as series is, and has always been, the backbone of science fiction and fantasy literature.  The thought, for many years, was that A Good Book Will Out, no matter if it was part of a series, or a standalone, and, indeed, many books which were parts of series have won the Novel Hugo (The most puzzling being the "second" book in the "Cyteen Trilogy" -- which really wasn't a trilogy, but a single novel broken into three when it was published in mass market.  But I digress.*).  In any case, the system kinda sorta worked most of the time, for most of the works involved.

Sort of like Ankh-Morpork under the Patrician's rule, really.

However, the idea of a Series Hugo had been kicked around for a number of years, and the Collected Wisdom of the Business Meetings decided to go for it, despite the very real difficulties in administering -- or even voting on -- such an award.

What difficulties, you may ask?

Well, the sheer volume of works written in series is one difficulty (remembering that series are the backbone of sf/f, despite the sudden numbers of people who are now shocked, shocked! to learn that there have ever been any series books published in SF/F before, oh, last week).  For instance, here's a list of the series which are eligible for award consideration for the 2016 Hugos.

Scary, right?  The amount of reading facing a conscientious voter is just. . .horrifying.  Nobody can read that much, even if you (as said conscientious voter) decide to "only" read the qualifying novel for each series, and allow it to be representative of the whole.

The series definition as given by the Society strongly favors trilogies.  Longer series, such as the Discworld, or, oh, the Liaden Universe® -- while employing repeating characters and a consistent setting, and which, in simple numbers, far exceed a paltry 240,000 words -- do not tell a single story, but many, many stories.  (To put that 240,000 words into perspective, Steve and I have published over 300,000 words of short stories just in the Liaden Universe®.)

This suggests a way to thin the herd, and make it (a little) easier for conscientious voters to actually read the field -- rename the Series Hugo the Trilogy Hugo, and keep all else the same.

Of course, that puts the rest of us -- and according to the File 770 list, there are many of us -- kind of back out into the Outer Darkness; and I can hear the screams and the gnashing of teeth from here.

Let me say here that I applaud the effort to acknowledge the form that has been (she repeats tiresomely) the backbone of our field.  And I appreciate the work and thought that the drafting committee obviously put into the project.

But I think that, in the search for a nice, simple, compact award, much nuance has been lost, and real world complexity ignored.

How do we produce an award for long works that's more reflective of the actual world of publishing?  Heck if I know.

One thing that I do think would help the Hugo Awards overall is One and Out.  This would allow room for more works to be considered, rather than allowing entropy to rule, as it has in the past.  I believe that there is a difficulty when the same publication can reliably win a Hugo Award for 30 years.  And there is strong evidence that the winners cannot be counted upon to recuse themselves.

This would, of course, take some of the fun out of the collection and display of multiple Hugo Nominee pins, but I'm sure another game will arise that will be just as much fun for the participants.

So. . .a rant without a solution for your Sunday morning.

Time for me to go to work.


*Faulty memory department.  Thanks to Melita66 for straightening me out.
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

So, Steve needed to be in Gardiner early this morning for Reasons, and I went with him.  For this outing, I for the first time, loaded All The Things into the Scott eJacket, including tablet, phone, camera, ID, money (forgot to try the water bottle pocket), pens.

The jacket worked pretty well, but I was surprised to find that my camera weighs more than my tablet.  Or, as Steve suggests, the tablet, being flat and thin, spreads its weight more cunningly than the little rock that is the camera.  In any case, the right side of the jacket was noticeably heavier than the left side, so I'll need to work on balancing my load, so to speak.

While we were in Gardiner, and after Steve's Mission was completed, we went over to Bridge Street and had a late breakfast at the justly famous A1 Diner, which has been serving at the same location -- not only on Bridge Street, but on the bridge -- for 70 years, this month.

After breakfast, we drove the long way to Rockland, and so to home.

Here's a picture of me at breakfast.  Photo by Steve Miller.



Saturday, September 24th, 2016 02:04 pm
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

So, y'all are probably anxious for news of the raisin bread.

The bread came out pretty well, though, next time I'm going to put in more raisins.  The recipe I had was light on raisins, and couldn't seem to be able to decide if it wanted to be cinnamon swirl or raisin bread.  Because the recipe made two loaves, I did the cinnamon filling for one, and just baked the other free-form, so to speak.  Both sorts baked and tasted just fine, except, like I said, they needed more raisins.

Where it went off the rails was at the icing stage.  The recipe for the icing told me to use two cups of confectioner's sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and "enough milk to make a thick paste."  I did not understand this to mean, "start with a half-teaspoon of milk, and if that's not enough, go for another half-teaspoon," so what I got was sugar glaze.  Which is fine.  But next time I'll know.

Many thanks to everyone who sent me a recipe, or a link to a recipe, for smearcase!  I'll be trying that some while down the road.

In other news, a kind friend gave me a Scott eVest jacket for a belated birthday present.  I'm still studying on how it works, but, wow, isn't it just like a pilot's jacket, with public pockets, and hidden pockets, and a special place for your license, and a pocket that holds a water bottle?  I'm impressed; and I'm going to get a lot of use out it, too.

Work on Book the Next goes forth, for those of you who are of a nervous disposition.  Also coon cats are being brushed and cuddled, though not as often as they would like.  Last night, the low temperature here at the Confusion Factory was 33F/0C, and the high temp today is set to top out at 61F/16C.

And that?  Catches us up.

Hope everybody has a lovely weekend.

# # #

"Glorious its deeds," Nelirikk added.

rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

Where was I?

Oh.  Wednesday -- volunteer gig at the hospital.  I did not entirely remember my lines -- or, at least, I remembered the lines I had been given several weeks ago, but they were no longer the lines that were required.  An interesting day therefore was had.

I arrived home to the happy news that my reading corner rug had arrived!

Have I mentioned here that I was renovating the corner of my office where my the cats' rocker had been located, and making it into a proper reading corner?  In fact, it's a project that has been going on for a number of months, as I haunted Marden's and estate sales and sale-sales.  I finally located the perfect chair at a doable price at the local furniture store's pre-Labor-Day sale*.  It was, naturally, the floor model, and it is a lovely chair indeed.  I'm very happy with my purchase**.

So, anyway, more window shopping and turning the Internet upside down, looking for the deals in its pockets finally turned up a (machine loomed) Turkey carpet at an incredible price, and that?  is what arrived on Wednesday.  I immediately unrolled it and set the unabridged dictionaries along the roll-edge to flatten, because this is exactly why god gave us unabridged dictionaries.

Yesterday -- Thursday -- the final piece arrived -- a full-spectrum reading lamp.  The corner is now complete -- and I may never leave.

Today! Because Central Maine persists in withholding raisin bread with white icing***, for which I've had a strong yen, ever since getting back from Maryland -- I will be making raisin bread with white icing.  *snaps fingers under universe's nose*

I'm also jonseing for smearcase (schmierkase in the proper German), but I'm pretty sure the universe is going to win that one.

All that said -- I have a question for y'all.

Miri and Liz appear together in the stories "Fighting Chance," and "Misfits;" they also appear in Agent of Change.  Are there any other stories with a strong Miri-and-Liz dynamic?

Here are some pictures of the renovated reading corner:

trooper-test-driving-new-rug-sept-22-2016 new-reading-corner-sept-22-2016


*No, I don't know why you'd have a big sale before Labor Day, but Maine is a different country.  GM used to do model changeover in August, which meant that all the dealerships had stunning sales on Last Year's Models, so perhaps there's something similar that goes on with furniture.

**The tags on the chair allowed it to be a La-Z-Boy from the so-called "Designer's Choice Collection." A friend on Facebook offers the further information that it is a "high-leg recliner" and is most likely the Woodmont model.  *hits Google*.

Uh.  Yeah, that's it.  I am, for the record, a Shopping Goddess.

***I asked the baker at the local supermarket if they ever had raisin bread with white icing, and she stared at me blankly before offering up the information that, at Easter, they make hot cross buns.  All of the pieces of my childhood are evaporating before my eyes.  I think this is how people die; when the last thing thins out into fog, so do we.

rolanni: (Red umbrella from rainbow graphics)

Yesterday was a half-holiday.  Steve made His Own Sort of Gourmet Mac-n-Cheese for our supper, then we -- with the coon cats, who were very interested, indeed -- viewed The Book of Life, and assorted short features.  We also finished reading aloud Feet of Clay, the. . .third? Night Watch novel.  Next up is Peter Pan.

Why Peter Pan, you ask?  Well, when we were down south, sitting vigil for Steve's step-father, I was at one point the only one in the room, aside Pete.  I figured he might miss all the noise and voices, being so very used to living in hubbub.  I'm not much of an extemporaneous chatterer, but I can certainly read out loud.  So I started reading Peter Pan, since I don't seem to have The Prince and the Pauper on my tablet at the moment.  Steve came in at some point, and when I would have stopped, asked me to go on.  Turns out, he doesn't remember reading Peter Pan, so we'll finish it up properly.

After Peter -- or, at least, starting on September 30 -- we will of course begin reading A Night in the Lonesome October one chapter a night 'til Halloween, as has been our custom for some years now.  After that, perhaps it will be time again for the Watch, and Jingo.

In possibly more relevant news, readers are already writing to me in various states from mild curiosity to barely-restrained panic, wondering why it is that they cannot yet! pre-order the electronic edition of The Gathering Edge from Amazon (and I assume the other on-line bookstores).  The fear is that ...Edge will only be available in hardcover, and be released in electronic at some later date, after Demand Has Built.  Or something.

Now, if y'all will cast your minds back, you will recall that Amazon has not, at least for the last four Liaden titles, opened pre-orders for the electronic edition this early.  Yes, I say early.  ...Edge is scheduled to be released in hardcover on May 2, 2017 -- more than eight months from now.  Regardless of what may be done for other titles by other authors, for Liaden titles -- and the Carousel titles, too -- Amazon opens pre-orders for electronic editions somewhere between one month and three days before the hardcover release date.

So, there's no need to panic, honest.

Related to this -- yes, work is going forward on Book the Next, still without a proper title, poor tyke.  Before our unfortunate break, I had said that I would post snippets, but not word count, because of the Very Odd Way in which this book is going together.  That is still in force.

So!  Today's blog post title is brought to you by Foul Ole Ron, from Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.  Because it amuses me.

# # #

"Don't you get attitudinal with me! Won't hurt you to show a little respect – and a lotta restraint! What if he'd been driving? Or flying? You might've killed him, is what -- and I ain't having it! Acazzi?"


Into the Light

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 01:54 pm
rolanni: (kitty!)

Today's theme has been light.

This morning, we -- by which I of course mean, Steve -- strung new twinkle lights around the kitchen, and there was much rejoicing.

We also purchased new lights:  An LED arc floor lamp for the living room, which is severely underlit;  a LED desk lamp with a charging port, and three lighting modes and God She knows whatall else, for Steve's office, this wonder replacing the WWII era dual fluorescent desk lamp he's been using since Forever; and an LED so-called full spectrum floor lamp for my office, replacing the three-way table lamp which has been my reading lamp since also Forever, and which does not accommodate the New Light Bulbs.  These delights should all reach us by next Tuesday, just in time for Autumn.

In other news, we're playing catch-up with all the things -- personal, and professional -- that were left hanging, while we were down south, and doing some serious recharging.  It's curiously draining, sitting vigil on a death, even if there are plenty of family in place to help. Tomorrow may include a visit to the ocean, and after that, it's back to work.

Today, I have some pr stuff to do; then I think I'm for the chair and a book, again.  Maybe I can work in a nap, too.

rolanni: (Marvin's not happy)

So, the phone, she is ded.  A new phone is promised, though what kind and exactly when it will arrive have sorta been left up in the air.  I have made a note on the Calendar that Rules All to Call the Verizon store on Tuesday (sigh), if they don't call me on Monday to provide Solid Information, and, ideally, a pick-up time.

On the Silver Lining front -- had things fallen otherwise, this would have happened just as we were getting ready to leap onto a train to Kansas City.

So, that.

I dropped my broken necklace off at the jewelry store, and talked briefly with the jeweler, who says that, instead of soldering the break, and since there's such a tiny segment of chain involved, she would remove the broken bit and feed the new end into the clamp end of the clasp.  It will either be ready on Monday, or in two weeks, because she was going on vacation, and couldn't be sure she'd get to it before she left.

Dollar Store only had short spike solar lights in stock.  On the plus side, they cost just $1 apiece.

Kmart stocked solar lights which were more like what I'd had in mind -- but they want $25 for one, single light, so that's a non-starter.  Research continues.

We lost power last night, in solidarity with downtown (so to speak) Winslow, Benton, and a couple other towns I don't recall right now -- at about 9:00 pm.  The generator performed its function, and we here at the Cat Farm continued about our business, basically unimpeded.  Thanks to everyone who helped us make the generator a reality!

As of this morning, Alliance of Equals has received 169 reader reviews at Amazon!  Only 31 more until we reach our 200-reviews goal!  You guys rock!

Also, by way of a Watch the Skies:  Yesterday, we signed a contract with an ebook distributor, in order to widen the reach of Pinbeam Books.  We'll let you know when the books are available from the new distributor.

And that? Is all I've got.  Today has got to be a work day, given the hours lost to the Dying of the Phone, so I'll be shutting the internet down, directly I publish this blog entry.

Everybody stay cool.

rolanni: (Flying Monkey!)

So!  Today was a Wasted Day.

Oh, it fired a warning shot over the bows first, but there was really nothing I could've done to alter course.

The warning shot:  I opened Firebird this morning, to find letters in-queue, but! they were all empty.  Further investigation revealed an Urgent! message from Eset Security, counseling me to upgrade (for free) Right Now.  So I did that.

Or, at least, I tried to do that.

Eset reported that the install had failed. Panicked, I rebooted the machine.  The installation completed on reboot, and my mail automagically appeared in fullness.


Went out to the kitchen to get my coffee and to unplug my cellphone, which had been charging on the overnight.  Turned it on and -- No Sim Card -- read the message running along the top of the screen.  Turned the phone off.  Turned it back on.  Same result.  Took it back to my office, jacked it into the computer, turned it on. . .

No Sim Card.

Now, before anybody tells that All I Have To Have Done was open up the phone and reseat the SIM card -- I have a Droid Turbo.  If there's any way to open the case, it requires a specialized tool unavailable to the residents of the confusion factory.

Which is why I want into town, seeking the Verizon store and that specialized tool.

I had to wait about fifteen minutes for a tech, so I went to the back of the store and opened the book I had grabbed off the table on my way out the door -- Carousel Tides, by Sharon Lee.  Never heard of her, but it's a pretty good book. Which turned out to be a blessing.  While I was reading, a woman wandered by, looking at phones, as one does. She had a small, intelligent dog on a leash.  Dog saw me and thrust forward, tail wagging.  I said, "Hi, Dog," extended a hand. . .

"Don't touch him!" the woman snapped.  "He's a service dog!"

I blinked.  "He's not wearing his vest," I said, mildly.

"It's too hot for his vest," she said.  "He's all business when he has it on, and he just wants to talk to everybody when he doesn't -- but don't touch him.  He's working."

So, then.  Dog, who looked, as I say, like a fine, intelligent fellow, knows the Rules. Too bad his Boss doesn't.

Back to the book, ignoring Dog and owner.  Eventually, my name is called.  The tech -- Josh -- allows as how the phone is still under warranty, and it ought to be an easy fix, if I'd just sit back down, he'd be back in five minutes.

He was back sooner than that, saying that whatever had done the SIM card had wiped the phone's serial number on the way out, and he couldn't do the fix.  He was therefore going to have to get me a replacement phone.

Except -- you see where this is going, right?  Right.  My phone is Too Old to be stocked in the store.  Josh goes online to the Verizon Warehouse, finds one, orders it, comes back to tell me that it'll be seven days before it arrives.  I allow as how that's not exactly convenient, but a phone on the way is better than no phone at all.  He goes back to confirm the order --

And finds a message from the warehouse inventory system that -- the phone is out of stock.

He then calls Motorola.  I overheard the part of the conversation that went, "No, I am not going to tell my customer that I'll give her fifty bucks on her phone toward a new one.  Her phone is under warranty.  If you can't send her a replacement phone, I'll just give her one of the new Droids we have in stock -- I'm sorry?  OK, let's try that."

Apparently, Motorola did a remote reset, which reawakened the SIM card and re-established the serial number.  No, I don't know how that worked.  All I know is that my phone was back on-line, and All We Had To Do -- cough -- was for me to sign into Google and re-acquire my Stuff.

Except. . .Google wouldn't let me in -- I was stuck in an endless loop of "enter email/enter password" -- my email and password worked on Josh's phone, but not on mine.

Long story short, Josh called Google, which isn't as easy as you might think, and finally got through to a tech named Cora, who explained that because the phone had been reset, there was a 24-hour lockdown period before I could sign into my Google account.  Josh asked if there was any way around that, and she gave him Motorola's number.

He called Motorola, and talked to. . .somebody.  Again cutting corners -- Motorola assumes that any device that has been wiped and re-animated has been stolen -- yes, even if they have just done that Their Very Own Selves -- and no -- there is no way around the 24-hour lockdown.

So, what I have sitting on the kitchen table is currently a brick, and I won't know until tomorrow at about 1:30 in the afternoon, if it really does function now.


This whole operation consumed FIVE HOURS of my day.  I'm glad I had a good book with me, as I said.  As it was, I blew off the rest of my errands, save a quick stop at the grocery store in the same shopping center as the phone store, to pick up a quiche for lunch, and came home, where Steve said, "I wondered where you were all this time, so I sent you a text. . ."

Here's hoping that your day was considerably better than mine.

Also!  As of this writing, one month after its release date, Alliance of Equals has 163! reader reviews on, only 37 shy of our goal of 200 reviews!  That's. . .awesome.  Thank you.

Today's blog title is brought to you by the Waybacks, "Mind Your Own Business."  Here's your link.

rolanni: (storm at sea by rainbow graphics)

So, yesterday, Steve and I drove down to Old Orchard Beach, and took a walk through the shallows before the ozone levels (seen as a pink haze prowling in from beyond Wood Island Light, eating the shoreline as it came) got too high.  The beach was super crowded with people having a good time, which was nice to see. Also, I got sunburned, so it was all good.

In the way of such things, once we were out of the house, we had very little inclination to speed back to the house, so we turned left instead of right, taking Routes 9 and 1 down to Wells, which was likewise crowded, and eventually turned right on a road wending northward.  We did stop at Borealis Breads in Wells to take on, well -- bread; and at the Bull and Claw to partake of really excellent fish 'n chips, before getting serious about the trip back home.

While we were at the ocean, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch came across the phones (we live in Maine; we have Weather here, not climate, so you've gotta kind of keep an eye on it).  We debated staying down ocean-side a few hours longer to watch the storm in, but eventually decided against, and continued the northward journey.

One of the things that struck me forcibly downcoast was the number of businesses advertising for help.  Not just seasonal businesses -- though there were plenty of them needing help -- but grocery stores, and pharmacies, hardware stores, year-round bakeries, and such.  It's tempting to move south, just for the work.  Mind you, none of those jobs would cover the rent in-or-near a resort town, and you'd spend more in gas than the job's worth, if you came in from any distance.

Ah, well.  Guess I'll stay right here.

We arrived home, alert to the need to leap up at any moment to Batten the Hatches -- the Waterville-Winslow megapolis also being on the watch for Severe Thunderstorms, and possible tornadoes (!)  We heard thunder; we saw (a lot) of lightning; the wind came up in a satisfactory manner, but --

The storm passed us by.  A glance at the interactive weather map showed that it had dumped rain half-a-mile away, but our house had, like, a little weather-repellent dome over it, and we were dry.

Half-an-hour later another cell passed over, announcing its presence by striking and exploding a tree somewhere in the Very Near Vicinity of the Cat Farm.  The wind screamed, rain came down in sheets. . .

Five minutes later, it was all done, gone, and on its way to Skowhegan, where it apparently did wreak some mischief.  And, yes, there was at least one tornado briefly on the ground, in Caribou, 'way up in The County.

Today, it is much cooler, and the air is clean.  We're enjoying it while we can.  Tomorrow, they same, Summer's Back.

# # #

To the Very Best of My Knowledge, Sleeping with the Enemy, Adventures in the Liaden Universe Number 22, has now been published to all of the usual subjects, including BN, Kobo, the iStore, and Amazon.

No, I am afraid we will not be producing a paper chapbook, like in the "old days."  These days are demonstrably, and perhaps sadly, not the "old days;" postage rates have gone crazy, our very reliable printer of many years has retired, and his son has merged the business with another out of Portland, and closed the shop up here.  Also, Steve is not able anymore to do the physical lifting and schlepping and whatnot, and I never could.  So -- no paper edition.  Possibly, the stories in Sleeping will be collected in a Liaden Constellation sometime in the next couple years.

Thank you for your understanding.

# # #

As I type, Alliance of Equals rejoices in 90! reader reviews on Amazon.  That's. . .terrific.  Only 110 more to reach our 200-review milestone.  You guys rock.

# # #

I don't know if I reported here that, earlier in the season, the Cat Garden was the victim of an error produced by one of our lawn guy's guys.  The error took out one whole corner of flowers, with the exception of some coneflowers, which have valiantly bloomed over the killing field in memory of better days.  I was out inspecting just a little while ago and, honestly?  It looks like next year -- or the year after, at most -- the whole garden will be taken over by the dragon flowers (snapdragons to you folks down south).

Which is good.  Hummingbirds and butterflies both like the dragon flowers, though they bloom late in the season, rather than early.  So, if the garden is not now According to Plan, at least it is staying true to its raison de'etre.

Though I do kinda miss the yarrow and (most of) the coneflowers.

Well.  I think that catches us all up.

Everybody stay cool.

Today's blog title is courtesy of John Masefield, "Sea Fever," known to children everywhere as, "I must go down to the sea again."  Here's your link.

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