Oct 14 2017

October is crunch time


I’ve been mostly offline, trying to hit Book 5 as hard as possible for the month of October… Thus, mostly radio silence.

If you sent me an email and have had no reply, I’ll probably be catching up on Wednesday October 18th.

Here’s some quickie random news:

Amazon.ca (that’s Canada for those of you who don’t know your URL extensions) now has  the paperback of The Steerswoman at a newly non-exorbitant price.  Excellent!

My plan is to release the  paperback versions of the rest of the series around December 1.   Why no sooner?  Because there’s a lot of front-work and grunt-work involved in redesigning the covers to look good on a physical book, to sort out the map files, to set up the appearance of the insides of the books —  and to proofread, proofread, proofread.  I figure that a couple of weeks at the end of November should cover it.

Today my pal and fellow member of the Fabulous Genrettes, Laurie J. Marks, is hanging with me at my office, working on her next book as I’m working on mine.  I’ve got the desk, she’s got the rocking chair, and we’re both typing away.

Of course, we can’t actually see each others’ screens.   For all either of us knows, the other might be doing online crosswords, posting political screeds on Facebook, or composing limericks.

Or writing blog posts.

Oh, right: that would be me.

Shake-up at the billboard company that shares this floor of the building with me:  I came in on Wednesday, only to find the doors to their offices open, and the desks cleared of all computers and personal possessions!  They are gone — except for the actual owner of the company, who will be hanging on through the transition to the new owners.   Apparently the company was so successful that they became a target for takeover, which speaks well of the current guy’s  business skills.  He’s assured me that all the employees have found other work (some with the new company), and have landed on their feet.  Plus, he now has pots of money.

Upside for me: I no longer have to listen to Bob the Salesman’s conversations on the other side of our shared and very thin wall.  Seriously, that wall is so thin that words spoken in a normal tone of voice sound pretty much as if the other person was actually in the same room with you.

Former home of Bob the Salesman.

When I first took an office in this building, fully half the third floor was completely empty… which got me some lovely solitude!  And then, as the billboard business started doing so very well, they began hiring more salespeople.  And putting them in the other offices, one by one.  Eventually I was surrounded by the sales force.  They started having impromptu meetings in the hallway.

Fortunately, I mostly work in the evening and on weekends, by preference —  but there was a 3-hour overlap with the sales force, during the week.

And now: it’s very, very quiet.  So quiet.

Also: Our town seems to have acquired a few of those little free library boxes.

This one’s right outside the dog park.

I think these are a great idea!  And I’ll be adding a few books — naturally including my own, but also others that I’d like to share.

Later: Just got back from a bit of a walk with Laurie, down to the river and back again.  We’ve both been tearing our hair out on our respective projects, and needed some fresh air and a break.  We strolled down to the river and back again.


interesting patterns in the flow over the dam

Turns out it was exactly what was needed.


Then back to the office, and back to the grindstone.

This little guy was also hard at work. Can you spot him?

Sep 24 2017

Keeping up


Given that I don’t post here on my blog in any kind of a formalized schedule, how can you make sure you never miss a post?

Because, every now and then someone out in the offline world will mention to me that… well, that they sort of check on my blog every now and again to see if I’ve posted lately.  Whenever they happen to think of it… if they do happen to think of it.

To which my general reaction tends to be something along the lines of: “Dude! Why make it hard on yourself?”

It’s pretty easy to be automatically informed when there’s a new post here.  Several ways to do it, in fact, some more nerdly than others.

Simplest way?  Are you on Facebook?  I am, and whenever I write a post here, I immediately write a post on Facebook that has a link right back here.  Actually, that’s pretty much the only stuff I post on Facebook.  Just  a link to my latest blog post.   Look for “Rosemary Kirstein — writer.”  It’s  a “page”,  not a personal account, so it’s open to all, and if you hit “like” or “follow,” any new entries of mine will show up on your regular Facebook feed.  Then, just click the link to get here.  Easy!

(I do have another account, a personal one  that’s just for family and pals.  I have to do that, out of courtesy to my family and pals.  Otherwise, all their baby pictures, political griping, and complaints about their cousin’s alcohol intake might be promulgated out to total strangers every time I hit a “like” or “angry” button.  And that would be unkind.)

Next easiest?  Twitter.  When I post a new blog post, I tweet a link.  (And some sort of accompanying wisecrack.  Because it’s Twitter.  That’s what you do.)  I am @rkirstein.  I rarely tweet, other than the blog link — but I do retweet, so if it’s interesting to you to see what’s caught my eye, there’s that.    And by the way, if you scroll down on this very page, you can see a little widget in the second column that will show you, right here, whatever I’ve tweeted or retweeted recently.

Nerdier choice: A news aggregator. I use Feedly myself, to track the blogs that I like.  You can use it online in your browser, or download an app for your phone or tablet.  It’s free — and there are others that do the job just as well. 

There are other ways, as well, including “live” bookmarks in Firefox (and similar in whatever browser you’re using), well known to the more techno-nerdy among you, I’m sure.

So, there you go.

In other news: Progress made on Book 5.  Yes.  I don’t want to jinx it, but I seem to have successfully excised the loads o’ crap that intrenched themselves into the previous iterations.  The story is making sense.

Feeling very good about this right now.


Fresh air helps.


(PS: If you read my blog on your computer, and not a tablet or smartphone, remember to hover your mouse over any photograph; very often, there’s an extra message hidden in the “tool tips” hovertext.)

Sep 15 2017



Just so’s you know…


Cassini’s last orbit is happening today, when it will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere (to become a shooting star for any locals who might be on hand).

It’s going to keep its cameras going for as long as possible.

NASA TV has “live” coverage starting at 7AM  EDT.  “Live” meaning as it comes in.  Not as it actually happens, seeing that the time-lag for radio signals from Saturn is currently about 83 minutes.  But “live” as in: you can’t get the news any faster than this.

Here’s the timeline:


And here’s an especially glorious collection of 100 Cassini images, selected by the New York Times.

Our faithful robot pals… out there exploring for us.


Next best thing to being there.


Sep 14 2017

Yo, Canada. Also: I read poetry.


I’ve been having a bit of back-and-forth with Createspace and Amazon.ca, occasioned by my astonishment at finding that the Canadian price of the paperback of The Steerswoman on Amazon.ca was more than twice the price on Amazon.com!  Even allowing for the exchange rate!

As it turns out, the issue was that Amazon.ca is not yet itself selling the book — it’s just listing it for sale through Amazon.ca, but by third parties.   Other booksellers, that is; and these guys are buying it from sources in the US, importing it, and passing on all that extra cost to you, the purchaser.

But don’t worry; within a few days, Amazon.ca will itself be selling the book, and its price should drop to some reasonable amount.  I’ll be keeping my eye on it, and I’ll post a note here in my blog, when I see it happening.

In other news, still doing the hair-tearing part of writing…

In other other news: I’m reading Mary Oliver‘s collection of essays, Upstream.  I do not understand how this writer escaped my notice until so recently — she’s certainly been around long enough for me to have come across her.  And yet, somehow, I didn’t.


From the title essay:

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”

I stumble across things, writers that I wish I’d known about years ago…

From “Sleeping in the Forest”:

“All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.”


The more I read of her, the more I find this sort of clarity of perception as being — how shall I say it?  Very steerswomanly.  To be that aware, and that observative, and that curious and questing.

From “Worm Moon”:

“In March the earth remembers its own name
Everywhere, the plates of snow are cracking.
The rivers begin to sing. In the sky
the winter stars are sliding away; new stars
appear as, later, small blades of grain
will shine in the dark fields.

And the name of every place
is joyful.”

It was Terri Windling who directed me toward Mary Oliver, through her blog, “Myth and Moor.”  Terri’s blog is, by the way,  a wonderful resource for thoughts about art, and creativity.   I’ve got it on my blog feed, so that I never miss a post.

My exploration of Mary Oliver’s writing has just begun, and I’m taking it slowly — you need to read poetry slowly.   We’ll see what comes up as I read more…


Sep 4 2017

News about people who are not me


Geary Gravel’s Fading Worlds books are coming back into print, starting with A Key for the Nonesuch.

Aside from being a pal, Geary is a writer whose work I really enjoy (these two facts are possibly not unrelated).  His Fading Worlds books answer the question: What if a regular, normal person was dropped into an Edgar Rice Burroughs-ish adventure?

Well.  Howard Bell does rise to the occasion.

And I happen to know for a fact that the second book, Return of the Breakneck Boys, is also in the pipeline for republication Real Soon Now.  And that subsequent volumes of the series are in the works.  (True fact.  I have had the pleasure of reading bits of them.)

Why there’s the famous author right now, chuckling in a worldly-wise manner over his aperitif.

Looks like at the moment only the paperback version is out, but I know that an ebook is soon to come.

Which I shall instantly snatch up.

ETA: Here’s the paperback version on Amazon.com.

(Inexplicably, the paperback and Kindle versions aren’t linked to each other… if you go to one and click on “see all formats” it does not show you the other format!  But it does exist in both formats. )

Sep 4 2017

Why do I always leave blogging until the end of my work day?


You’d think I’d learn.

I sat down to blog, and then realized that my website needed some updating in the sidebar sections (specifically, links to the new paperback version of The Steerswoman).

And then a few other tweaks…

And then some fixes…

And now: time’s up! Must go home and actually sleep.

Here are some quick pics from the eclipse trip:

A very nice family hanging out right next to us in Bicentennial Park in Maryville, Tennessee


Panorama — click to embiggen.

No photos of totality, as I was too busy lookin’!  (It’s the one time it’s safe to look.)

Indian Echo Cavern in Harrisburg PA


Aug 28 2017

Now also available on Amazon!


The paperback version of The Steerswoman is now available on Amazon. 

It’s been available at CreateSpace’s own online store for a week or so  — but Amazon’s always been my best sales channel, so I’m hoping for a decent number of sales.

Some people still aren’t into ebooks, generally, bless ’em.  And why should they be denied access to Rowan’s world?  I do have plans to do the rest of the series as trade paperbacks, as well, and I’m currently aiming at December, as I have Many Things needing my attention at the moment.

I’m really pleased with the look and feel of the book.   This is fun.


In other news: back from the mighty eclipse trip, which involved two days driving there, two days driving back; two nights in motels; two nights visiting pals; four nights in Smoky Mountain National Park; days and days of driving to identify good eclipse-watching spots; and one day of sheer luck in hitting an unexpected excellent viewing spot.  More on that soon.

Shadow of a tree during the eclipse, where each gap between the leaves acts as a little pinhole projector.  Click to embiggen!


Aug 21 2017

Where I am


Eclipse on the way!

Maryville Tennessee.

Aug 18 2017

What’s been taking up my time, and what’s going to be taking up my time


What have I been doing lately, while not posting on my blog?

Well… I’ve been doing this:

Yep. Now available in paperback. Real matter that you can hold in your actual hand.

I’ve been hearing that a reasonable number of people wished that there were a paperback version of The Steerswoman, so I finally knuckled down to get that going.  I”ve used  CreateSpace, a service which many people have spoken of highly.  It seems pretty straightforward, even for people who are not tech-savvy — and for a nerdy former programmer like myself, it’s especially easy.

Conceptually, that is.  Much dog-work is involved, and much careful focus on detail.  But that’s what you get for being hands-on.

I actually enjoyed the process.  The main downside was that I had to get it done in a compressed amount of time.

Because of what’s taking my time at the moment: The Eclipse!   I was leaving in just a couple of days…

Thus, The time-crunch.  I thought I’d have plenty of time, but when I got my proof-copy, I discovered that I’d chosen a font size that was uncomfortably small — a fact not evident when previewing the layout online.  Once I had it in my hand, then I could tell.   Also, I lost my right-margin justification.

And then time was getting short.  So I pulled out all the stops, spent a couple of days working too many hours, guzzling too much coffee, while resizing the font, rechecking the formatting, re-proofreading everything, redoing the cover (because the spine was going to be wider).   And wrestling with the map.

And then waited for the new proof copy, so I could go through it all over again…

Never skip a chance to proof-read.  Never, never.  There’s always another typo.  Trust me.

I had to take the new proof with me… I actually finished that part at 11:30 last night, by flashlight, at a picnic table, in the campground.

But it’s done!  I gave it the official OKAY a few minutes ago in a coffee shop in Tennessee.

It’s already available in CreateSpace’s own online store.

It should be available on Amazon.com sometime next week.   I get a slightly better royalty from CreateSpace, but if Amazon is your go-to, I say go to!  Next week.

In other news: hey, eclipse!

Here’s an especially neat video from NASA/Goddard with a detailed representation of the path of the moon’s shadow, with they guy whod did the data visualization talking about how he did it:

So, having published my paperback (hooray!), I am now going to be mostly unavailable, due to camping out near where the eclipse is happening.

You should try to catch it if you can.  Read all the info on it for your area.

This is my third total eclipse, and I they are wonderful beyond description.

Must go now…

Aug 13 2017

Meanwhile, at Worldcon, where I am not…


Apparently they did the Hugo Awards ceremony last night.  Who knew?   I would have watched it via the internet, if I’d realized they were doing it so early in the convention weekend.   Well, I could still look at the video… but when you know who won, it kind of takes the drama out of it…

You don’t need me to tell you who won, right?  It’s posted everywhere!  Like, at Tor.Com.

Well, okay, here’s the short version:

Best Novel : The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)

Best Novella : Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

Best Novelette : “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)

Best Short Story : “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)

Best Related Work : Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016 by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Best Graphic Story : Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form : Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form : The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes,” written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)

Best Editor – Short Form :Ellen Datlow

Best Editor – Long Form :Liz Gorinsky

Best Professional Artist :Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine: “Lady Business,” edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan

Best Fancast : Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer : Abigail Nussbaum

Best Fan Artist : Elizabeth Leggett

Best Series : The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer : Ada Palmer

For more details, Tor.com really is my favorite site for keep up to date on SF/F biz doings.

Now, must hustle off — I’m jammed up with many tasks, some of which I’ll tell you about soon…