Dec 30 2013

Quick post.


Yep.  It was chemo day.

First time, and I feel pretty good so far.  Tired, but not bad.

Still working on the many replies to all the supportive comments and emails…  you guys are great.    I’ll post a note when I’ve replied to all.

In other news:  Amazon still has not got back to me about allowing the early purchasers to get a corrected version of The Steerswoman, without that peculiar issue where  “replace” was replaced with “With”.   It’s only 25 occurrences in the entire book, but I tried to stress to Amazon that my readers needed the real version!   They say they are reviewing the issue.

Well, it’s the holidays and real people at Amazon have to make the decision, so it might be a bit.   If we get no action, I’ll consider alternate ways to make this right.

Hey, know what I did during chemo?  I wrote.

Take that, cancer!


Chemo & me.

Chemo & me.


Dec 28 2013

Catching up


Whew.  Lotta stuff crammed in one week.

First the holidays and ebook issues.  Then Thursday, I had some out-patient surgery to install this extremely convenient port through which they’ll feed all my chemo.   Some versions have permanent tubes sticking out of you, but mine is completely under the skin.  Which is nice.  To not have open pathways directly into your body just hanging around loose, you know.

Friday, I actually went to the Day-Job and worked a lot of hours, which sounds dumb, but a) the job is not physically strenuous; and b) I’ve missed a lot of oddly-timed days and half-days, creating some inconvenience to the department; and c) I wanted to make it clear that I don’t take advantage of the situation, and intend to only stay out when I really need to.   Thus gaining the cred for when I really must be out, possibly a lot, further down the line.

Result: Totally beat today.

I have received many, many kind and encouraging emails and comments, that I want to  reply to.  I can’t thank you all enough for the good wishes.  I’ll be catching up on that this weekend — I’ve had no time yet until now.  So, if you haven’t heard from me yet, this is why.

Oh, and at some point I really must go see The Desolation of Smaug!  Really.



Dec 24 2013

Fixed and live!


The corrections have been made, and the corrected version is now live on  Anyone who bought it after  9:27PM on December 24th has the version with the fixes.

I’ve asked Amazon to email everyone who bought the earlier version, and to activate their ability to download the corrections.   This has to be done on Amazon’s end.    Since I bought a copy for myself, I’ll know when those emails go out.

I’m beat!

Plus: in proper German tradition, we did our present exchange on Christmas Eve.  Sabine is now the proud possessor of the DVD’s for the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, and the third season will be delivered to her as soon as it’s released!

I received a device that carbonates your tap-water, so you can make your own sodas, which will help me out with the immense amounts of water they want me to drink when the chemo starts.

And also this:


No, not a copy of The Steerswoman -- the iPad it's on!

No, not a copy of The Steerswoman — the iPad it’s on!

I’m stunned!  This will help me a LOT when I’m stuck in chemo and want to write, since my actual laptop has all the bells and whistles and as a result weighs a ton.  The iPad will be much more portable.

Whew.   Whirlwind of publishing the book; being told of the errors (ack!); fixing the errors; upload, emailing Amazon to get them to send out the emails and stuff.  Plus: actual Christmas.

Okay, I’m done for the night.

Merry holiday of your choice occurring around this time of year!





Dec 24 2013

Wierdest damn thing.


So… that error.

Faithful reader Sean commented to let me know that the mysterious “With” had showed up again elsewhere.  As “Withd.”

After much investigation, I discovered that the problem was with the word “replace”.   The word “replace” had been globally replaced with the word “With”.   As in the middle of “fireplace.” Or “replaced”, or “replacements.”

Very odd..

So, I went to Scrivener’s conversion control screens and found that the Replacements screen had somehow cloned its own column headers into the column contents.   So that under Replace it had “Replace”, and under With it had “With.”  Since it executes these things on compile only my original document was perfectly clean!  It only showed up in the actual Kindle .mobi file.

Now, I had previously compiled the Kindle .mobi, and at that point I’d scrutinized it within an inch of its life, and no such error existed.  Thus, I already knew that it was clean, clean, clean —

So, I just added my brand new ISBN number to the front matter, and compiled one more time.

And that’s when it happened.  Unknown to me, every instance of “replace” got changed to “With.”  FiWith.  Withd.  Withment.

I think there was a Scrivener program update between my last scrutinization of output, and my final with-ISBN compile.  Might have happened then.

So… updates with corrections are now updating.

Insert sigh of both relief and frustration.

Amazon will be sending out an email to all owners of the book with instructions on how to get the updated version.  Also, I’ll let you know here.

Upside:  I made all the fire-places be fireplaces again.  Much better.



Dec 24 2013

Error! Error!


Yep, there’s an error in your copy of The Steerswoman ebook!

But it will be updated shortly!

Faithful reader Joanna (last name withheld, in case she doesn’t want it posted), noticed that the word “fireplace” does not appear anywhere in the ebook, but seems to have been been replaced with “fiWth”.

And she’s right!

My actual file in Scrivener has “fireplace”.  The compiled ebook has “fiWth”.

I recompiled.   Same thing happened!

I physically deleted “fireplace” and replaced it by hand with “fireplace” — this in case there were hidden control codes in the previous “fireplace,” possibly due to scanning errors from the OCR program.

Compiled again.


Typed in the word “fireplace” at a location in the book where there are no fireplaces mentioned for pages and pages.  Recompiled.



Replaced all every instance of “fireplace” with “fire-place.”  Recompiled.


I do believe that “fire-place” is an acceptable alternate spelling.   I’m gonna go with it.

Good news:  I can upload the corrected version to Kindle, and it should be fixed in 24 hours.

Other good news: those of you who purchased the version with the error can re-download the corrected version.  I’ll get you the details on that in a bit.  And I’ll let you know when the updated version is live.

I must say: big advantage over print versions.

Now: forget about these piddling details and have a Merry Christmas!

PS: If anybody notices any other peculiarities in the book — please let me know!  At your convenience, that is — don’t be texting at the dinner table on Christmas!






Dec 23 2013

Sometimes the wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you sideways.


I’m sorry to say that I have some very bad news. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to tell this just before Christmas, but for no clear reason, I feel that I ought to. Just to get it said and done, I suppose.

The bad news is this: I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now that I’ve dropped that stunner, I want to immediately reassure you: my prognosis is good.

The treatment of cancer has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and breast cancer in particular has been very well-studied. The type of cancer I have has targeted treatment available, and the track record on this is good.

Let me pause to stress that: Track record is good. They know what to do.

I have a lot of confidence in science. If you’ve read my books, you know that.

My doctors and I have decided on a course of treatment, and tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the nurse oncologist to finalize my schedule of chemotherapy, and my date for surgury and so on. So far, the plan is for aggressive chemo starting December 30th, surgery sometime in May, followed by a less difficult course of chemo through the end of 2014. If the chemo works really well, I might be able to do without radiation entirely! We’ll have to see how it pans out.

And oddly, at the moment, my spirits are actually pretty good. And this is because I went through a battery of advanced (and frankly geeky-techno-cool) tests (CAT scan, MRI, mammograms, ultrasounds, radioactive bone scan, heart test involving making my actual blood radioactive!) and the word is — no cancer elsewhere.

That’s great news! The day after I was told that, I had these waves of happiness wash over me periodically. I had to ask myself, Why am I happy? Hello, I have breast cancer!

Because it’s ONLY in my breast and nearby lymph nodes. This is treatable.

All this happened in the past two weeks, and it’s been a whirlwind. And during everything, my worst fear was that the cancer would be advanced, and untreatable — but that’s not the case.

This cancer is treatable, and the treatment is endurable.

It will be difficult, miserable, unpleasant in the extreme at times — but the chances are very high that it will work.

I’m also lucky that my sister Sabine will be with me through all this. There will be times when the treatment will leave me very ill, and it’s good to know that she’ll be here to help me out. I’m more grateful to her than I can possibly express.

I’ll get through it. And we’ll probably be at Worldcon in London, too. I’ll be past the worst of the treatments by then, and on a lighter course of chemo, every three weeks. We’ll just slip London into one of the gaps, there.

But between now and then, it’s going to get tough.

And some of you are aware that I was working on launching a Kickstarter campaign that would allow me to quit my day-job and write full time.

Unfortunately, yes, that had to go out the window. For the next year, at least. For two reasons:

1. My day-job provides my health insurance. And this stuff is going to be crazy expensive.

2.  I could not in good conscience ask people to pre-fund a year off to write when I might spend significant portions of that year too ill to do much of any use.

So, sticking with the day-job.  They do tell me that they’re willing to work around whatever schedule I need.  Which is nice of them.   Yep.   Sticking with the day job.

Man, that’s especially disappointing!  I was so looking forward to just walking out that door…

Well, that’s gloomy. What we need here is a little ray of sunshine.

Ooh! How about this:

 Steerswoman coverYes, this is the eBook. Yes. I said YES.

 You know I had been working on the eBooks, right?  Many people have complained about me not releasing them yet…

The reason I hadn’t released them was that I was planning on using them as rewards for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign.  (Like, for $10 you would have got an eBook of the new book when it was done, but for $25 you would get that PLUS immediately, the eBooks of all four previous books, no waiting involved!)

With Kickstarter out of the picture, the eBooks can begin to roll out!

And I really,  really, wanted at least one to be on sale by Christmas.  And, oh look!  There it is.

Because, you know.

I had assumed (with the Kickstarter) that I’d have until the end of January to finalize the covers and formatting, and all the attendant self-pub chores that you don’t realize until you’re in the Bowker ISBN registration website, trying to click on all the clicky things to get your official registration done.  And then on the the Kindle Pub site for more of the same.

But I really wanted it done by Christmas, sort of as a statement of confidence, if you will.  So, I took all the stuff I’d set aside for January and did it yesterday and today. For the first book in the series that is.  And only on Kindle so far.

I’d have loved to get them ALL on sale by Christmas, on all platforms… but it just wasn’t possible at this short notice.  Still,  having done one, I now know the ropes and the others will move out pretty quickly.

I have to say:  Thank you, thank you Scrivener for streamlining the conversions!

And, there it is.  I can’t believe I did all that in a day and a half.   It Was Fun.  But exhausting.

Oh, did I mention that the eBook version of The Steerswoman makes an excellent last-minute Christmas gift?   I feel I should mention that.

So, there you are.

Despite all expectation, I seem to be having a very merry Christmas.

I hope you have one, too.  You deserve it.  As do we all.


Dec 17 2013

Wait, what?


Joseph Gordon-Levitt? I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt! I’ve been following him ever since he was 13 on Third Rock from the Sun, all the way up to Inception and beyond.

Neil Gaiman? Love Neil Gaiman! Ever since I lived next door to a comic book store and stumbled upon the amazing Sandman series, and on to his stories and novels…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring in and directing the movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics?

Are you freakin’ serious?


Well. That just made my day.

Dec 15 2013

Always the last to join the pack…


After being told many times, by many sources, that I should be listening to the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale” I finally decided that I wanted something new, interesting and amusing to listen to, and thought to myself, Hey, what about that Night Vale thing people keep mentioning?

Well. Silly me. I should listen to all those people and sources. Because, see what I’ve been missing?

I spent my entire weekly housecleaning laughing like a loon, with my iPod loaded with Night Vale episodes, and a bluetooth earphone plugged in my ear. I didn’t want to turn on the vacuum cleaner, because I wouldn’t be able to hear over it, and I didn’t want to stop. So I did that part really fast. Then I did some extra housework, just so I could keep listening. Then I cleaned the snow off our cars and shoveled the entrance walk. Still listening.

I finally stopped in order to actually produce some art of my own, instead of merely consuming other people’s art.

If you don’t know about Welcome to Night Vale, you really ought to check it out. Don’t listen to just one episode — stay for the first three (and do them in order). They’re about 20 minutes each, and if you end up liking it you’ll have another glorious 33 episodes waiting for you. One of the advantages of getting to things late — you don’t have to wait 2 weeks for the next episode.

The easiest way to listen is on your computer at SoundCloud’s NightValeRadio page. Or follow the links on their main site to download from various other sources.

For the cautious who want some warning about what they’re getting into, let’s just say it’s a spooky comedy. Here’s their own description:

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
Turn on your radio and hide.

I did so love the episodes I’ve heard so far. I’m up to number 6: History Week.

Meanwhile: Snowstorm not as bad as predicted. Yet.

Also meanwhile: Hey, remember how I mentioned how much I enjoyed the audiobook version of Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman’s The Fall of the Kings ?  Well, it was just selected as one of the top ten best audiobooks, by AudioFile magazine. And so I remind you of it again.   Excellent book, lovely performances, not the least of which was by Ellen herself.  This is yet another wonderful thing to listen to on your iPod, iPad, tablet, mp3 player, music device, or actual computer!

Dec 12 2013

Rescued from the comments section


I wonder if people who don’t themselves comment, read the comments?


Anyway, this popped up in reply to my “Because Linguistics!” post of a couple of weeks ago,  when I talked about an article in All Things Linguistics, dealing with the “Because Noun” phenomenon.
My pal Brian felt moved to point out:

Brian Says:

We can improve:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
because ENGLISH!

Yeah, that’s a lot better.



To which I had to reply:

Were we each a Shakespeare, what wonders of wordsmithing
Would we then fling, undaunted, unparalleled. How we would vie
In the grace of our rhetoric. How we would sing,
Or declaim, or discourse.
Even our ranting would soar.

But we are what we are. When we try, and then fail,
as we sometimes must, we can at least hope,
From our common ground, from what we all know,
that the true understanding can still be approached
by that common address, by the known, by the shared.

We have breath, we have hands. Dreams old and new.
When we want it, history; when we recall, futures.

When our hope for contact outstrips our small skill,
Even then we persist, and attempt. Because Human.


(But, having done that, one of those lines looks awfully familiar.   I hope I didn’t inadvertently co-opt it from some better, wiser source!)

Dec 7 2013








(by Tully Hansen, Found via Ellen Kushner’s   Facebook post, which she reposted from Kashmiri Stec)