Jan 19 2018

I’d say it was exciting, but it was merely bemusing…


Just pottering along, minding my own beeswax, and suddenly: the building’s fire alarm went off!

It was Quite Loud.

Mind you, it was 9:30 PM, about, and I was completely alone in a three-storey building…

Stuck my head in the hall: no smell of smoke, no sign of trouble.

Looked out the window: no sight of smoke, no sign of anything.

Shrugged, put on my shoes and my good glasses, bundled up (20 degrees F, -6.6 C).  Detached my laptop from the big monitor, grabbed my bag and keys, and ambled downstairs  —  with my hands over my ears, so my eardrums wouldn’t burst from the noise.

Well, this is interesting, I says to myself, as I wait by my car.

And… here come the fire engines.

And… there they go, down the street, passing me by entirely.

So… okay.

After I while, I could hear the sirens getting closer again, and I realized that they had gone to the other side of the entire warehouse/office complex, on the far side of my building.  Faced with the prospect of walking completely around the entire complex to find out what was going on, I thought; shrugged again; re-entered my building (alarm still screeching); and exited straight out the back door.

Out there: two fire engines, two auxillary SUV’s and several perplexed guys sort of milling around in full fire-gear, trying to figure out where buildings 1 and 38 were.  In fact, Building 1 is mine, and 38 is the adjacent.  We share a fire-escape.  The buildings are only labeled on the front.  Thus, their confusion.

Alas, I could not let them in the building: the door had closed behind me, and I only had keys to the front door.

So, we all got in the trucks and rolled through the whole complex, past the tractor-trailers, past the massive piles of discarded wooding packing skids,  out to the street, back in by the other entrance, and to the front doors of 1 and 38.

Those two lighted windows on the top floor? That’s my office.

What I really wanted to do was hang around and look over the firemen’s shoulders as they dealt with everything, asking all sorts of questions, and generally getting the way.  But such participation on my part was not actually welcome.  So I observed from a respectful distance, stomping around in the cold, while the firemen checked things out.

Upshot: the sprinkler system in Building 38 froze and broke and then triggered, setting off the alarm in that building and mine.


Broken sprinkler drenches the place!

Much relief all around, as there was no actual fire.

The owner of the complex showed up, reset the alarm, and they discussed things as I wandered back up to my office.

Made tea.

End of semi-adventure.

In other news: still workin’ on my stuff.  Occasionally coughing.



Jan 15 2018

That flu thing…


Pretty sure it was the flu, after all.  Just after my last post it ramped up again, just to assert its dominance, I suppose.

But it seems to be gone now, and I’ve been back at the proofing and cover-fixing for The Lost Steersman…

Yep. That many.

Rather a lot had to be fixed… there was an issue with ellipses (“…”) where moving the text from Scrivener into Word for upload to Createspace caused them to be converted into three dots with spaces between (“. . .”).  According to some sources, that’s the way to do it (Little, Brown, and Chicago Manual of Style), and according to others (various semi-official internet sources) you can do it either way.  But the problem arose when the Createspace automatic layout software decided that the dots did not have to hang together, and if they occurred near the end of the line, one or two of ’em might end up on a whole new line.  Ugh.

So I decided No Splits, Dudes!   And I had to go in and change all the  dots-with-spaces into dots-without.   I’m glad I did it.

And then decided to reverse my previous trad-publisher’s inexplicable war against all hyphenated words.   Hyphenated words have their place.

And then I found a place, previously overlooked by me, where the trad-publisher’s copyeditor apparently did not understand a sentence.  So, they simply re-wrote it to what they figured I must have meant– unaware that it was a British-ism.  (“He was a moment understanding” is not the same as “He had a moment of understanding.”)

And then, the other errors, of which there were plenty.  Copy-and-paste from Scrivener generates a lot of mess.  I’ll try the export function next time instead.

So, as of now Createspace has the whole shebang for The Lost Steersman, and they’re reviewing it to make sure there are no problems on their end.  Then they’ll give me the okay.  After which I will order a new physical copy, just to make absolutely certain — because there are some things that just don’t show until you see it printed.  Like the previous color problems.

And that was my week: Coughing, proofing, writing (once I felt better),  some music.  My sister, meanwhile, has been basking in the Florida sun.  Here, it’s 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius).

I can take breather for a couple of days…


Jan 8 2018

Well, it’s good I did that New Year’s Day thing…


… Because right after that I came down with something.

Possibly the flu, despite having had a flu shot.   The virus is always evolving, and the shots can’t be perfect.  Possibly just a massive cold.

Anyway, I basically hunkered down and lived on Dayquil and Nyquil (or their generic equivalents) for a few days.   Eventually I dragged myself back to the office.  I figured that I could be sick there just as comfortably as at home — I have a rocking chair, a comfy blankie, a very efficient space heater, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.  Also, all the tea and honey I could ever use.

The bonus was that if I felt good for any periods of time, however brief, I could put them to good use.

Which I did.

The latest iteration.

My thanks to all who pointed out problems with the previous iterations.  You all were right, every one of you.   So, feel free to embiggen and scrutinize this one!

Meanwhile, still proofing the physical copy of the previous iteration.  I have discovered that I’m much better at proofing text on paper than I am proofing Createspace’s online proof copy.  Which involves staring furiously at a GREAT BIG GLOWY SCREEN for hours on end.

Also going ahead on the cover for The Language of Power.

And taking Dayquil.

My latest thing to soothe me to sleep: Starship Sleeping Quarters.  It’s white noise with a deep bass beneath it.   The screen is slightly amusing, but rather bright.  I generally turn it away so it doesn’t shine through my eyelids.   But I do like the sound.

Also, TV binge-watched while I was good for nothing else:

Travelers, second season (Netflix): Excellent.  I did have to re-watch the first season in order to remember why I liked these characters, but once I did that, I was swept up again.

Humans, second season (Amazon):  Also very good.  It seemed to come to an interesting point that could be an end-point, so I do wonder if the series is completed.

The anthology series Black Mirror, fourth season: The opening episode has generated a lot of buzz in the SF/F world  — and it does not disappoint!   Really well done.   Also, I note that the second episode was directed by Jodie Foster, whose work I admire.  I’m not bingeing these…

I’m also looking forward to Halt and Catch Fire, and I see that The Good Place has returned for a new season.

Don’t worry, I’m actually reading things, too. Especially as my brain comes back on line between cold-med doses.

Must go now.  More later.




Jan 1 2018

What you do on New Year’s Day…


I don’t know where I first heard it, but there’s a saying — or tradition, or possibly superstition — to the effect that what you do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the rest of the year.

Which is why I came to my office today, to read and write and work on my covers, and possibly practice some singing and guitar.  Also, to not skip my walking.

So, here I am, doing, intermittently, all those things.  It’s lovely.

New Year’s Day 2018

I hope your New Year’s Day has also been lovely, and that the new year will be a whole lot better than last year, because: Damn, that was unpleasant.   But let’s not dwell on it.

Meanwhile, randomly, here’s a video of sundogs in Sweden.  I’m a fan of sundogs, and these are the best I’ve seen!



Dec 29 2017

Okay, let’s try this again, only more slowly.


Well.  I did get the proof copy  of The Lost Steersman back from Createspace.

Alas: acceptable to them, but unacceptable to me.

Too dark.

There’s nothing like holding the actual physical copy in your hands.  The color is different.  The green, when seen on a glowing screen, looks light and bright; but turned into pigment on paper, it is far too dark.

Also, there were some random flecks of green around the moth that were not visible when the green was very pale, but became horrible when the green was dark and visible.  Plus, one of the commenters (Hi, Christian!) thought that the lettering on my name looked a bit rough-edged on the jpg version… and it turned out true on the book itself.

So, I have to back up and redo the front cover.

And while I’m at it, one more proofing — a careful proofing — of the text.  I’ve already (dammit) found previously-unrecognized typos.

I attribute this to rushing things, trying to get everything in place before Christmas.  Also, I had to prep for a presentation at the same time, which turned out harder than I expected…

Basically, it was too much crammed into too short a period of time. So: take a breath, settle down, proceed at a stately pace.

I’m now figuring on around the middle of January for The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power to be done, and on sale.

Also: as I mentioned in the comment stream, the paperback of The Steerswoman is in a slightly smaller format (8.5×5.25) than the others (9×6).  I had wanted the smaller size for all of them, because it sat in one’s hand better.  It was an artistic decision.  But as it turns out, the other books are actually much longer than the first.  I had not realized the impact of this…

Production costs are figured by number of pages.  I had to move to the bigger size, or they’d cost too much to make, and the purchase price would just be too high.

But now I’m all dissatisfied that the books won’t be uniform. So…

I’ll go back and redo The Steerswoman.

Darn, did I just tell you not to buy Book One until I’ve got all four released?  Well, yes.  Yes, I did.

Assuming, that is,  that having all four books be consistent in size, and sit neatly in a row on your shelf matters to you… then, yeah.  Hold off.  I tell you this as a friend!

As apology, when the newly-formatted version of The Steerswoman comes out, I’ll set the price lower for a  while.

Okay, enough blogging. Must get some sleep, in order to be conscious and alert to… redo the front cover, and proof the text again, and resubmit, and order another proof, and do Book 3, and redo Book 1.

Yep.  Stuff to do.



Dec 25 2017

Hoping your Christmas was merry…


… or the seasonal holiday of your choice, in the mood appropriate to it.

Personally, I like the idea of Solstice as a good thing to celebrate, being based in actual  scientific fact! But the weight of tradition is against me. It’s just nice to have a holiday where you get together with family and friends, and express your appreciation.


Merry whichever, y’all.



Dec 20 2017

Cover for the Paperback of The Lost Steersman


What do you think, too much green? (You may embiggen.)

Well.  It’s now in the hands of Createspace, waiting for them to tell me whether or not it’s acceptable.  The issue will probably be alignment, with this book being more than a hundred pages longer than The Outskirter’s Secret.  They give you a template sized to the size of your book, but many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, as they say.  If there’s a problem, I’ll have to adjust, resubmit, wait for review again.

I’m almost certain I got all the typos.  Almost.  Because, damn, there’s always one or two that just slip through…

Already on the task of creating the paperback for The Language of Power.  But there’s certainly no way I’ll finish that before Christmas.  In fact, the time needed for the vetting process and final proofing on The Lost Steersman makes it not likely that even that will be on sale in time to arrive before the holiday.  It’s possible, but not certain.  Rats.

On the other hand, having done three now, I do have a better sense of the range of time needed.  Good to know for the future.

You know, the more I look at this cover, the more I like it…






Dec 19 2017

In Brief


Yeah, still no time for a decent blog post.  I’m still working on the release of the paperback version of The Lost Steersman, which, as it turns out, is even longer than The Outskirter’s Secret and has required many more iterations of proofing.   Having finally got the innards to my satisfaction, I’m on the last legs of the cover, and swore I won’t stop tonight until at least my first try at it is uploaded to Creatspace, for them to review and reject or accept.  If so, I’ll be done with this one in a day or so.

But other news in brief: I visited Action Boxborough Regional High School, and had a lovely time talking to some of their students.  I want to talk about this more in detail later, but I can’t let a whole week go by without saying how glad I was of the opportunity,  and how much I enjoyed it.  Sure, a couple of the students were sighing and glancing at the clock (yeah, there are some in every crowd), but the rest  were engaged, and engaging.  They had cogent questions!  They were thoughtful and enthusiastic.   I was charmed — and inspired.  There’s something about connecting with smart  young people that renews one’s faith in art, ideas, and literature.  There’s hope for the future, folks.

Plus: swag!

ABRHS branded hat and umbrella.


Dec 12 2017

No time to blog!


I’m in a major time-crunch this week, and have zero time to blog.

Here’s a thing:


Dec 7 2017

Outskirter Paperback is live!


I hit the switch a couple of days ago, but there was a delay on their end, as they suddenly required me to prove, absolutely prove that I really had the rights to this book.   Which I was able to do to their satisfaction.  So all is well.

No typos left. In theory. Probably.

Typically, Amazon.ca in Canada is lagging,  and if you buy it through them, you’ll really be buying from someone who bought from a supplier in the States, and who will charge you about double the actual cost.  Alas, Canada, I have no control over this.  It might be as much as a month before the real price comes through.  I suggest that you buy it from Amazon.com, ship it to a pal in the States, and then visit them for the holidays!  You know you owe them a visit.

While sloping around Amazon, checking on the status of the listing, I stumbled upon this:

Nah. Really.

There is no universe in which it makes sense for a copy of the first edition of The Outskirter’s Secret to cost $691.   Even less so $860.   Even autographed.  It’s got to be a cover for some illicit activity, like a kilo of cocaine or something.  Those in the know will know what they’re buying, wink-wink.

Okay, I’m getting punchy now.  Must go back to working on the cover and maps for the paperback of The Lost Steersman.  It’s really quite a long book, I’m discovering.