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)

Today, I'm going to be talking about depression. Which counts as fair warning: Those who have no interest in this topic may wish to move on, now.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I do indeed "have" depression.  I also "have" hypothyroidism, another chronic illness.  I'm lucky in that these are the sum of my health afflictions, given All, and in balance neither really gives me. . .much problem.

Except, yanno, when they do.

The most recent depressive incident. . .which started to cloud in sometime, oh, around mid-2015. . . It wasn't too bad at first -- this is a chronic illness, which I've had for my entire life.  After you've lived with something for upwards of half-a-century, you develop coping strategies and rating systems, among other tools for getting through the day.

Anyway, the clouds started forming in mid-2015.  I did those things I knew to do -- made sure I was getting enough (but not too much) sleep, and exercise, and interacting with people in Real Life, persisting at doing things that would normally give me pleasure. . .and, as sometimes happens, nothing much worked.  The clouds got blacker, and thicker.  I got duller, and forgetful, and even more inarticulate than usual.

Everything hurt, by which I mean it hurt to think, it hurt to have to cope with anything; personal interactions felt like a series of paper cuts -- not stab wounds, because frankly I couldn't work up enough energy to feel stabbed.  Life was a burden, and thinking was exhausting.

I drew hard on the cats, but even such cats as ours can only do so much, and belatedly I realized that white-knuckles, and waiting it out wasn't getting me anything but duller, darker, and more exhausted.  My writing was suffering, and everything else, too.  So, I went to the doctor, reviewed the situation, and received a prescription for antidepressants.

I don't like to take antidepressants, personally, so the 'script was low-dose, just enough to take the edge of the pain, and make it possible to write, and more or less get through the day.

Things were still dreadful, naturally -- the Black Dog had not left the room, he was just curled up on the rug, watching. Everything was still too hard, there was no joy, no humor, every one of my accomplishments was a failure in my mind.

And, all that changed, about a month ago.

No, it wasn't the drugs; the drugs were only to help me continue coping.  And it wasn't an Awesome Change in my General Situation.  Mark this, now, because it is key -- nothing had changed.

Except that the Black Dog had left the building, and I was no longer depressed.

My accomplishments were once again victories; the fact that I'm old is a victory, because I really never expected to make it out of my thirties; I'm married to my best friend; I have energy; my vocabulary has leveled up; I can say what I mean to say -- and I want to say it.

Like flipping on a light -- trite, but true.

Since the last dark episode was so very long, I'm hoping to be Black Dog-free for quite some time.  I do so much enjoy being able to think clearly, and not have to fight for every concept -- I can't even tell you.  I enjoy being able to have ideas for stories*.  I enjoy -- well.  Everything.

So, that's all; no life-changing insights here.  Except that it always does amaze me -- the change from dark to light, when it happens.  And the worst thing that depression does, among a dark legion of bad things -- is withhold the hope of light.

*The moment I knew I had to do something other than Just Wait It Out was the moment when Steve and I were, supposedly, brainstorming a story, and I looked at him, said, "I don't know, and I don't care!" -- and burst into tears.

rolanni: (what it's like)

Yesterday, there were dragons, and adventures, and

'nuff said.

Today. . .boy, is it a pretty day.  If I had a screen porch, today would be one of those days where I'd be out there with the newly-written section of the WIP, and my coffee and my red pen and just. . .work outside.

Lacking that, I will be retiring to the couch with coffee, WIP, &c, and going over the newest section, very probably with input from coon cats, all three of whom take editing very seriously indeed.

Regarding the WIP, last night, with the new scene entirely in place -- the WIP broke 40,000 words.  For the fourth time.  I think I've got it right, now.

This will be a writing weekend, and I'll be turning off the internet in a few minutes to prove it.  Next week, we've got a bit of long planned excitement to get through, including Scrabble's birthday, so I may be not very much in sight.

Before I go dark -- I know that there are a number of CE Murphy fans who read here.  She just yesterday published her newest book, as by Murphy Lawless, Raven Heart.  I trust you all know what to do.

And that's all I've got.

Well.  Except for a picture of Scrabble.

Scrabble makes eye contact with audience
rolanni: (Carousel Seas)

Today is Tuesday, which means!

Yesterday was Monday, and!

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  I need to do the hospital thingy tomorrow.  Best not to lose track of that.  Trooper -- remind me tomorrow that it's Wednesday, and I need to be away from the house for five or six hours.

Yeah, that's gonna work.

So, let's see. . .

As of this typing, there are 36! reader reviews on Amazon for Alliance of Equals, which is pretty impressive.  Only 164 more until we crack 200!

Though the micro-mini book tour was in support of Alliance of Equals, we/I were asked several times about the possibility of another (or, as one interlocutor had it, "the next") Carousel book.

At this point, the Carousel books are a trilogy.  Really.  There are a number of reasons for this, including lack of Author Time, and Failure to Become a Bestseller.

I wrote Carousel Tides (against Best Advice) while we were between contracts, 'way the heck back in 2006.  It was rejected By Nearly Everyone (foretold by Best Advice) through 2006 and 2007, purchased by Baen in 2008, saw print in 2010, and! began earning royalties in 2014.

Not only can I not go to Vegas on that, but -- more importantly -- I can't put cat food in the bowls.

Now, I'm fortunate (and grateful) that Baen kept Carousel Tides in print long enough for it to start earning.  Too many of my colleagues see the hard copy editions of their work yanked after two or three accounting periods for "lack of numbers," and never have the opportunity to earn out.

But, the fact remains that the Liaden books earn many, many times more than the Carousel books.  Make no mistake -- Clan Korval keeps the cats fed and the electricity on.

(This is yet another low, unworthy, venal fact that ought to have no place in the House of Art, and I apologize, but -- professional publishing is doomed to disappoint everyone who believes in the Purity of Art.)

Mind you, this has nothing to do with whether I'm "tired of" the Carousel premise/characters, or have run out of ideas.  Just between you and me, I'll probably be writing some more stories in the Carousel/Archers Beach/Six Worlds universe, because that's how I roll.  But the likelihood of another novel anytime soon -- or, really, at all -- isn't high.

I do know that Kate and Company have some very devoted fans -- thank you.  But -- we have as of this writing four* Liaden novels still under contract, and contracted work -- which is to say, the work that pays the bills -- must come first.

For those who never heard of the Carousel Trilogy by Sharon Lee (as there were at least as many people in the audience who hadn't as had), follows some news you can use:

Carousel Trilogy ebooks at
Carousel Tides
Carousel Sun
Carousel Seas

In addition, you may find the Carousel Trilogy in paper and ebook at all of the Usual Suspects.

Stories set in Archers Beach, free to read:
The Gift of Music
The night don't seem so lonely
The Wolf's Bride

*Stares at delivery schedule on the wall.  Right.  Four novels; not five.

Toadstool Books Milford July 9 2016

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.

Way Station

Thursday, June 30th, 2016 09:10 am
rolanni: (Alliance of Equals art by David Mattingl)

So! For those who may have missed the news, yesterday saw the arrival of a check and 13 boxes (250 books) of Alliance of Equals.

Here's the plan re:  Alliance of Equals.

Steve and I have already signed six boxes of books, and done all of the personalizations.  Today, three of those boxes (including all the personalizations and such autographed editions as fill the shipment out) will board a FedEx truck.  They should arrive in Minneapolis tomorrow, Saturday, latest, which will give the Uncle and his crew time to start getting them in the mail.

In the meantime, we here at the Confusion Factory will finish signing the other seven boxes after breakfast, call UPS and get them outta here this afternoon.  In a just and merciful universe, they will arrive in Minneapolis on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

This is not a perfect solution, but it's the best one we could come up with.  We again thank everyone for their patience. For more information regarding the need for patience, see this post.

No writing yesterday.  Very probably none today.

Tomorrow will be better, Mrs. Miller.

One size fits all June 22 2016

I need a sign. . .

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 10:53 am
rolanni: (Flying Monkey!)

Mail arrived; no check.  At this point, I'm expecting that it got on the bus to Massachusetts (Massachusetts being "MA" according to the Post Office and Maine being "ME"; many people unfamiliar with addressing envelopes Simply Assume that Maine is "MA") and will be returned as "addressee unknown" to the agency in ten days or a month.

The betting pool is still open on whether or not the books arrive today.

Let's see. . .

Answer to question from the Roll Call:  Yes, we will be visiting Annie's Bookstop in Worcester on Friday, July 8, at 7 pm.  I talked to Trisha last night; she's not sure what happened to the calendar listing, but states that It Shall Be Fixed.  In the meantime, she sent along this link.  Hope to see lots of you there!

Considering all the questions which have been asked in Roll Call, I have a Question of my own:  Is it easier to ask a question where you know it won't be seen by anyone except, in this case, me?

On the schedule today is a podcast interview, writing, and staring out the window.

Yesterday, I did not write, but opted to read and rest my fingers after paying the scariest of the bills on the desk.

They say partly cloudy today, here, with thunderstorms on the overnight.

. . .and that's all I've got.

Everybody stay cool.


Today's blog title is brought to you by Train, "Calling All Angels."  Here's your link.

rolanni: (Saving world)

No checks in today's mail, either.


*looks at pile of bills on desk*

This is going to be interesting.


Moving on -- Answers to questions from the Roll Call!

*Sword of Orion was written as a work for hire -- that means the publisher owns the copyright, the ideas, and the characters. The publisher went out of business after releasing the first books in about six series, one of which was the Sword of Orion series.  Therefore!  No more Sword of Orion stories.

*Er, no, I actually wouldn't move to Liad, if I could.  For one thing, as a non-Liaden, I would be beneath most people's notice, not to say contempt, except if I managed to insult somebody, which the odds are good that I'd do so within ten minutes of achieving the Port.  I'd rather go someplace where my life expectancy would be longer than ten minutes.

*The Gathering Edge will not be published until May 2017, that is correct.  In the larger scheme of things in publishing, that's really hardly any time at all.  No, I'm afraid we can't write much faster than we already do.


Today, I learned things.

I learned that orange sticks (aka "cuticle shapers") are now made out of plastic.  They used to be made out of orange wood, but apparently not anymore.

I learned that I can prop my tablet up on the little ledge built into the treadmill at the gym and read as I walk.  And! I don't have to worry about walking into a wall, when I do.

I learned that Microsoft thinks that a $1,000 tablet can "replace" my laptop, which costs 1/3 of that amount.  Research indicates that it does neither the dishes nor laundry, so I fail to see the advantage.

I also learned that my fingers -- my fingers, not my wrists, which is usually the case -- apparently took a beating yesterday, and if I'm a Schmott Guy, which really isn't the way to bet, I'll give them a break today.


Do I have any Hollywood historians here, or perhaps a Mae West aficionado?  I was wondering if she actually needed the stick she often had with her, or if it was only a fashion accessory.


Don't forget that Steve and I will be at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, New York on Tuesday, July 5 to celebrate Alliance of Equals' book day!  Be there or be somewhere else!


In other news, I wrote about 2,200 words yesterday, for a net gain to the manuscript of. . .33 words.  I think that we are now at an end of Backward Growth, and will be proceeding from here on in a forwarder direction.

You heard it here, first.


Progress on Book the Next
36,569/100,000 words OR 36.57% complete

"I believe it wished me to know that Theo might be in a pickle."

Miri snorted a half-laugh, and he smiled.

"Yes," he said.  "Precisely so."

Sprite overseeing the side woods June 23 2016

Today's blog title comes to you courtesy of Mr. John Parr, "St. Elmo's Fire/Man in Motion".  Here's your link.

rolanni: (Patience)

All righty, then!  Want to see all the Baen Books July releases in one, dynamic environment?

*snaps fingers*

Your wish has been granted.  Here's your link -- and remember to leave a comment, if you can, so the Baen Video Elves don't think their work is in vain.

Also!  Check out the Baen front page for two! stories! ("Wise Child," by Lee and Miller; "Dear Ammi," by Aimee Ogden) and a science article ("Strange Sex," by Dave Freer).  Remember to click the Facebook button (you have to be logged into Facebook for it to show up), and/or the Twitter button, to let the authors know you appreciate their work.

What else?

The crows are having an extremely raucous party in the back woods.  How raucous, you ask?  They woke Trooper up from his mid-morning nap in the window.

The mailman has come and gone.  No bills.  Which is fine.  I already have a handful of bills, right here on the desk.

No check, either.  See "handful of bills," above.

Did some re-writing, and re-visioning on Book the Next last night.  I think I even made minor gains in wordage.  However!  Today's work includes ripping out a scene I labored over for two days, trying to get it right, only to realize that the failure to get it right was a Clue that I'd gone off track.

I think that's all the news at the moment.  Hope everyone has a lovely Friday.

Progress on Book the Next
36,439/100,000 OR 36.44% complete

And yet, he told himself kindly, she had known you for a lunatic when she married you.

Nap buddies June 23 2016

rolanni: (Patience)

Nope, still no checks.

No books, either.

Preliminary numbers on the Roll Call, adjusting for those who have written private emails, or checked in from Goodreads, LiveJournal, or other venues where this blog mirrors -- and also adjusting for those people who are amusing themselves. . .

I presently have 500 answers.

My thanks to everyone who took this request seriously.  If you do read here and have not checked in, you still have time.  The post will remain at the top of this blog through June 30.

Set to be even hotter today than yesterday.  The cats are cat-footing about, trying to get all their important work done before the heat hammers down.  I will be shortly following their example.

More words added to the manuscript last night.  Rough drafty words, those, which have allowed me to think more deeply on the scene, and locate places where I can deepen characterization and the chemistry between the two characters.  This is why we are such "slow" writers.  We keep going back and layering stuff in.  I wish I, at least, could be a bright and breezy writer, who gets it right the first time, but...alas.  Thank you all for your patience.


Progress on Book the Next
35,492/100,000 OR 35.49% complete

Am I being managed?" he asked mildly.

Trooper upside down cat June 20 2016

Today's blog title brought to you by J. Wellington Wimpy.

rolanni: (moon & mountains)

Words are being added to the manuscript, more slowly than I would like, but. . .words being added instead of subtracted has to be a good thing, amirite?

Checks are still AWOL, which is. . .unfortunate.  Of the three still outstanding, we know the sums of two.  The third will be. . .a surprise.  I suspect not a pleasant one, but then I tend toward pessimism.

We are today awaiting the delivery of several boxes of hardcover books to sign.  Or not.

In short, this is one of those days when one thinks fondly of day-jobs and berates oneself for having opted for an artistic life that is, um, free of constraints.  This is nonsense, of course, and I strongly suspect that, had I remained at the last day-job, at least, I would have never written another word.  Still, there's something to be said for a Lack of Surprises.

Let's see, what else?

The cats are taking up position for the Afternoon Melting.  Belle felt that my desk chair would be perfect for her Melting.  She has been persuaded otherwise. Windows are open, the sunlight is sharp edged and hard, but there's a breeze, so that, at least.

The internet is full of outrage and stupidity -- but you knew that.

I have too many t-shirts.

Still not king.

. . .I think that about covers it.

Hope everyone has a pleasant day, and a Blessed Midsummer to those who celebrate.


Progress on Book the Next
34,465/100,000 OR 34.47% complete

Val Con turned up the collar of his jacket as he followed the narrow, overgrown path, circling tighter and tighter in toward the center of the garden, of the House. One might even say the center of the clan, save one did not wish to encourage an ego that was sufficiently well-grown.

Scrabble and Steve TWO June 14 2016

Today's blog title brought to you by Bruce Springsteen, "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?"  Here's your link.

(no subject)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 09:45 am
rolanni: (Alliance of Equals art by David Mattingl)

Hey, look!  Publishers Weekly has reviewed Alliance of Equals, to wit:

". . .this space opera continues to delight with genteel interactions between mild-spoken characters who are capable of great passions and swift actions, and its immense scope encompasses a well-realized and comfortable universe."

So, yay! good review!

Which leads nicely into this reminder to them as wish to have signed copies of the hard cover edition of Alliance (coming to a bookstore near you, in July).

Uncle Hugo's SF Bookstore is handling the pre-orders of personalized and/or signed books.  Here's what you need to know:

A. There is a deadline for pre-ordering personalized books (where “personalized” means the authors, in addition to their signatures, write something specifically requested by the person buying the book.  Fair warning:  If the authors feel, in their sole judgment, that the requested personalization is too long, or offendeth them in some other way, they will not -- that's not -- personalize the book, though they will sign it.  This is in the authors' sole judgment, and there is no appeal.  Thank you.).  Deadline for pre-ordering personalized books is June 1.

B.  If you do not want your book personalized, but you do want a signed copy, there is no deadline.  Typically, Uncle has us sign an extra few books to have in the store.  However!  It's best to pre-order to ensure that you will receive a signed book, as our signed editions have been known to sell out.

C. Here’s your link.

Here at the Confusion Factory, today encompasses vampires and an annual medical check-up, as well as a trip to the grocery store.  Also, having now written the story (still untitled, alas, and I don't think a Marx Bros. title if going to work for this one; may have to resort to Shakespeare.  Or Tiny Tim.), and taken Steve's input, I need to edit it, and bring it into shape to go to the editor.

A typical day, really.

Hope your day is relaxing and productive, wherever you may be.

Cats are my copilot May 4 2016

rolanni: (great horned owl)
I just realized that the story we *ought* to be telling, that most accurately reflects How We Succeed at Art, is *not* the story of the Special Child who uses the adversity of Tradition to snatch his gift, whole, from the hands of their elders, but the story of the Child who Trades Her Youth For A Gift.
It's funny, that the first story is thought to be uplifting, *true* and one that we therefore write and tell *often*, while the second story, which *IS* true, is, when it's told at all, is narrated as a Warning, and the Trader Child as a fool.
Of course, it could be that those two narratives are the same -- obverse and reverse.


Sleepy Belle Dec 6 2015

How to win at Patreon

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 06:14 pm
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

So, some background on this.  Earlier in the year, after having resisted suggestions that we do so for Some Time, Steve and I set up a Patreon account, and waited to see What Would Happen.  We were astonished and pleased at the willingness of people to sign up as Patrons of Liad, but we were surprised by another thing that went along with our account and our patrons.

Though the level of support was gratifying to us, personally, what we hadn't understood was that we -- Lee and Miller -- were among the higher-"paid" creators using Patreon.  We're certainly not in the same league as Jeph Jacques or Amanda Palmer, but, apparently, for writers -- and especially for writers who aren't giving our supporters any special goodies, except for the Warm, Fuzzy Feeling of helping us keep on keeping on -- we're doing pretty well, certainly far better than the hundreds (this is not hyperbole) of folks who have set up as writers at Patreon and have 0 supporters and $0 pledged.

Because we had basically come out of nowhere and had such a wonderful level of support, we were interviewed by John Mierau on behalf of Patreon, which was lovely, and! we began to get email from new and aspiring writers, who wanted to know how we/they can use Patreon to launch/bolster their careers and/or how they can grow their audience.

Now, the short answer to those questions is:  Beats the heck outta me.

I can -- and have -- told people How We Did It:  here and here.  But the Sad Truth is?  Steve and I have been doing this writing thing seriously for more than 45 years*.

Which means:  (1) our goals and needs are different from the goals and needs of someone at the beginning of their career, (2) the wisdoms we gained when we were young writers -- were all gathered BtI -- Before the Internet.  Most of the strategies for getting published then, don't work now**, (3) we already have an audience.

Of those three points, the third one is probably the most telling.

We, for instance, never saw Patreon as a way to find and/or grow our reader base.  Growth is good, and, according to my in-box, we've actually picked up some new readers from the Patreon page -- but that's more on the order of an Unintended Consequence.  We saw Patreon as giving our readers -- some of whom have been with us for twenty-five years -- a convenient way to support us, if they so desired.

All that said, here's this fellow here, who has a lot of Definite Ideas about how to succeed as a creator on Patreon.  Many of these ideas sound worthy, with one small caveat, which is this:

Succeeding as a creator on Patreon does not necessarily equate with succeeding at your art.

One danger I see of Patreon is that -- in an effort to connect with an audience, and increase pledges -- some creators promise crazy levels of special goodies, putting themselves in the position of having to use time set aside to create to make patron goodies.  That strategy may grow your audience, but it's not necessarily growing your art.

I do have some hopes that Patreon will eventually come to foster a cross-pollination process among its creators (something along the lines of "If you liked Lee-and-Miller, then you might like New Writer X") -- that would be one way, perhaps, that newer creators could benefit from the audiences of more established creators.

But, no, sorry; I have no strategies for using Patreon to launch a new writing career.  I think that the best way to launch a new writing career is to write, and publish*** -- lather, rinse, repeat, even though it's going to take a Really Long Time, and you may have to work a day-job while you're simultaneously nourishing and practicing your art, and even then you may be poor -- and build your audience that way.

But, then, I would.

*Counting from Steve's first paid publication in 1969.  If we count from my first publication, in 1978, that's only 35 years, or still longer than some (not all) of the people writing to us on these matters have been alive.

**One telling example:  Back when we were submitting Agent of Change, a lone -- or in our case, a pair -- of writers could, all by themselves, armed only with two large manila envelopes, and enough postage to carry their clean manuscript There and Back Again, submit to any publishing house on earth.  You did not need an agent to submit (most agents wouldn't talk to you unless you had a work under consideration).  Now, I think only Baen and DAW still take over the transom submissions.

***By which I don't mean "self-publish the first thing you finish," but rather "place your best writing in a venue that has professional standards, (an) editor(s), and will, preferably, pay you for your work."

Interlude Dec 9 2015

Mail call!

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 02:44 pm
rolanni: (Pilot Theo)

Hey, look what came in today's mail!

Warrior Women in the Mail Dec 1 2015

Cover art by Julie Dillon

The table of contents includes:

Tanith Lee
Mary Gentle
Carrie Vaughn
Ken Liu
Theodora Goss
Yoon Ha Lee
Tanya Huff
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Elizabeth Moon
Aliette de Bodard

. . .and others too numerous to list; 24 stories in all!

Now on sale (she mentions) at a bookseller near you.

rolanni: (tortoro)

That is correct.  Today is the second anniversary of Warrior Princess Jasmine Sprite's triumphant arrival at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  She immediately took to the basement, to begin her conquest of the denizens thereof, before ascending to the Administrative Level to take up the merciful and orderly governance of Her People, to whom she is known, fondly, and probably 'way too often, as Boopsie the Wise.

Here is one of the first photographs of Princess Sprite, after she had ascended to the light:

The new office clerk. Photo by Sharon Lee

In addition to the Royal Anniversary, this is a bread-baking day; in which I shall make my second attempt at Pullman Bread.  It is also a writing day, and the goal for the day is to break 50G on The Gathering Edge.

Tomorrow, work may or may not happen.  We expect the Propane Guys (finally!) to arrive at 8 a.m., ditch-witch in hand, to install the propane tanks for the generator, lay the lines (hence the ditch-witch) and hook them up.  In theory, this should not disrupt the schedule here at the Confusion Factory at all.  Note operative phrase, "in theory."

Once the propane hookup is done, we will call the electrician back in.  He will make the final adjustments on the electrical side, and! Bob's your uncle (or possibly not, but bear with me) -- we will have a whole house generator installed and ready to rumba before Thanksgiving Day.

Steve and I are very grateful to everyone who has made this project possible.  We're convinced it will make our continued residence in the country house much more comfortable.  Especially as Murphy's Law clearly states:  Install a generator and you will never lose power again.

Which leads me, not as tangentially as you might at first suppose, to the topic of Patreon.  We are funding the pay-off of the (ahem) Rather Substantial Costs associated with generator installation through donations made through the Lee and Miller Patreon account.  We hope to have the whole thing paid off in about 18 months.

Now!  Patreon is on a Quest to make their service More Useful and More Transparent, and in pursuit of this they have adjusted the way they're showing total donations and patrons on the left side of the main creator page. Those numbers used to reflect the total number of patrons, whether or not their credit cards were in denial, and also the Total Amount pledged.

What Patreon is trying out, on select creator pages -- and ours is one of those chosen as a test site -- is displaying the total number of patrons whose credit cards have not been declined, and! the amount of money the creator will actually receive at the end of the month -- which is Total Amount LESS fees and declined pledges.

I'd like to know what people think about this change from the patron side: Is this confusing? Enlightening? Disturbing? Something else?


And that?  Is what's been happening around the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  More or less bidness as usual as we settle into winter.

We are not planning to travel until mid-February, when we will be attending Boskone 53 -- February 19-21, 2016.  Writer Guest of Honor is Garth Nix; Artist GOH, Richard Anderson; Special Guests Arnie and Cathy Fenner; Featured Filkers Vixy & Tony; and NESFA Guest Bob Eggleton.  Looks like fun, and we're looking forward to seeing you there!

Here is a photograph of Princess Sprite among a few of her favorite objects, this morning:

Princess Sprite 2nd Anniversary Nov 15 2015
rolanni: (baby dragon from rainbowgraphics)

This is in the way of being a Public Service Announcement.

Alliance of Equals, the nineteenth novel in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's long-running space opera set in the  Liaden Universe®!

Alliance of Equals, I say, has a (hardcover) publication date of July 5, 2016.  Yes, that is nine months from now.  No, there's not really anything we can do to "pressure" (cue laugh track) the publisher into releasing the novel earlier.  No, we will not sell you our final manuscript (to be fair, no one has asked to buy the Alliance manuscript, yet, but we've had such "offers" in the past, and, in the spirit of forestalling any more. . .).

And honestly, even if there was a way to "pressure" the publisher into releasing the book early?  We wouldn't do it, because -- we'd like our book to get a calm editorial reading and a thorough edit -- and so would you.

Now, yes, Baen does often release eArcs of new novels ahead of the hardcover publication date, but they don't release the eArcs six months ahead.  And what if they did, and you got the book now?  Have you really thought this out?  Because if you got Alliance of Equals, now?  You'd be in the same pickle, only worse, for The Gathering Edge, which we're writing, now; and which is scheduled to be handed in on February 15, 2016.  Figure 11 months out for hardcover publication -- that's January 2017, at the earliest.  So, really, do you even want to go there?

Anyhow, we were given a general rule of thumb from the publisher, which is:  Expect the eArc (if any) to be released around the time you, the authors, receive your authors' proofs.  We receive our authors' proofs anywhere from two to three months ahead of the hardcover publication date, so, counting backward from July:  June. May. April. . . .with April being the soonest you might see an eArc and mid-May about the latest.

Now!  Baen does release sample chapters on the Baen website when a book becomes available for preorder.  I actually don't know when books typically go up for preorder; historically, Amazon has been the driver, and Amazon used to put books up for preorder as soon as they heard a whisper of even a tentative pub date from a publisher, never mind a final schedule.

Steve and I are in something of an odd geography in this whole situation of release dates and reader demand.  On the one hand, it's lovely that people are eager for our newest work.  Really, it is.  But, the wheels of publishing grind as they do.  Baen publishes authors other than Lee and Miller, who also deserve to have their books receive a calm editorial reading and a thorough edit. And even if we "quit trad publishing and go indie," as has been suggested by some avid fans -- we probably wouldn't write any faster.  In fact, I'm betting our production would slow down, because we'd have to do all the stuff that the staff at Baen does for us, in addition to writing the novels.

While I accept that there are folks out there who can write a strong, salable book in an afternoon, and writers who consistently write and see published four or six books a year with no reduction of quality -- Lee and Miller are not those authors.  We have never been those authors*.  A book a year is a comfortable writing pace for us; a pace that allows us to reflect, and to layer in the details and back-stories that readers have told us make the Liaden Universe® novels "special" and "very re-readable."  We value these things about our work, as you do, and we don't want to slight the characters, our readers, or ourselves.

So. . .thank you for reading our work; thank you for supporting our work; thank you for recommending our work to your friends and colleagues.  Thank you for treating the release of every new Liaden novel and story as a cause for celebration -- we feel that way, too.

But, we really are writing as fast as we can; the publisher is publishing as fast as they can.  We're all hostages to the constraints of linear time.
*Back in 2007, we were those writers, briefly.  We wrote six books in 18 months, while I was working a full-time job.  It was an insane, stressful time, when the only thing we did was write, eat cheese sandwiches at the computer, snatch three hours of sleep before going to the day-job -- and at the end of it, neither one of us had an ounce of creative energy left.  I have no idea how people work to that level, constantly -- all honor to them.  What we learned from that experience was -- we can write books fast, briefly, or we can write books at a more leisurely pace, for years to come.  We chose the latter.

Placeholder picture of Belle, for the Facebook peeps:
Stop taking my picture hooman cats are trying to sleep here Oct 13 2015

rolanni: (Saving world)

I see it's the fashion nowadays to promote yourself as an important voice in your field, even, um. . .well before you achieve that pinnacle.  While this isn't anything particularly new, I am just a wee bit tired of all the folks who seem to believe that the only way to success and glory is to preempt it, and to realize one's greatness out-loud, loudly, and often for all to hear.

Being a writer really does not convey Heavenly Status upon anyone.  You are not a superior person because you are a writer; you are not even a superior person if you are a "successful" writer, whatever that means this week.  Being a writer may mean that you're clever, or that you can write good sentences -- though not necessarily.  Mostly, though?  It means you have a weird job that pays the top few percent of practitioners really, really well; rewards another -- not necessarily the same, though there's occasionally some overlap -- small percentage with awards and accolades, and pretty much ignores the rest, by which I mean the Greatest Number of People Working.

Just like, oh -- Real Life.

I suppose it could be fair to say that, if you are a writer, you have a need to be noticed, and the internet does  make it easy to scream "me, Me, ME!"  -- and I'll be the first to admit that you need an ego made out of titanium in order to cope with much of what's just Standard Practice in the industry.  Certainly, in the spirit of Full Disclosure, the internet has done well by Lee & Miller, for values of "well" that do not include investing us with the Wisdom of the Ages.

Just occasionally, like today -- and yesterday, and the day before yesterday, too -- I wish that we would all of us at one time decide to turn off our computers, and our phones, and our tablets, rise up from the desk, take our kids, or our dogs, or our SOs -- leave the house, and walk up over the hill for a dandelion break.

It could do a world of good.

Today's blog post brought to you by The Spin Doctors, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."  Here's your link.

Pre-wrassle warm-up. Belle and Sprite.

Pre-wrassle warm-up. Belle and Sprite.


Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 08:29 pm
rolanni: (The Dragon in Exile)

A couple things have been happening around other things.  I shall sum up.

1.  A Gift of Magic, Writing Neep, Barnburner, and Gunshy have been epubbed and are now available ( in addition to previously existing Kindle and Nook editions) at Kobo, iBooks, Oyster, Scribd, and Tolino.  If you use any of these sites, those books ought to be available to you now.

1A.  Because D2D offers this service, I've been considering pubbing paperbacks of Barnburner and Gunshy through CreateSpace. Still thinking about it; what's holding me up at the moment is needing to find art in an appropriate size and dpi, as well as the realization that, given CreateSpace's costs, I'd have to charge $8.99 per book -- for books that each come in under 60,000 words -- in order to make anything for myself.

2.  100 copies (5 cartons) of A Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume III arrived at the Confusion Factory today via UPS.  Steve and I signed and personalized them this afternoon, and In Beautiful Theory, UPS will pick up the boxes tomorrow and carry them all the way to Minneapolis, where the Uncle lets us know that he has spent much of the day taping together the boxes that will protect them from the vagaries of the US and even International Mail, until the come to rest with you.

3.  Hearing loss is a strange and unsettling thing.  Apparently, I really depend on rhythm cues nowadays.  For women's voices in the higher ranges -- and especially voices that are musical, or accented in non-USian ways -- I'm really struggling for sense in the sentences in  phone conversations.  That's. . .frightening.  But what's dangerous is that -- for USian accents, I depend on the rhythm and on what I assume will/have been said, which is -- wow, oh wow, have I got to watch that.  Note to self:  Practice saying, "Would you please repeat that?"

4.  It was really hot today (by which I mean 89F/32C) and it's going to be hot for the next couple days.  For some reason, I'm not being as zen about this as I probably should.

5.  Tomorrow, need to get with Droi.

6.  There is no 6.

rolanni: (Surprise!)

This is me eating crow.

I have taken down my previous blog post regarding the proposed new copyright regulations, and I apologize for not digging deeper into this myself.  Rob Balder was kind enough to provide me with the following links to:

A summary discussion the Copyright Office's new proposals, including a call for questions, with a deadline of August 10

The actual report from the Copyright Office. Note: This is a pdf.

My apologies to the internets for dispensing misinformation.

September 2017

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