Dec 31 2015

On the edge of 2016


Well, it’s 2016 already in parts of the world (Hello to cousin Ute and the rest of our family in Germany!), but right here, at the moment, it’s still on its final approach.

2015 was a weird year.. but with any luck and enough hard work, 2016 could manage to be even stranger, and in ways that are both more enjoyable and much more useful.

Where I am.

Where I am.

Plans are still in the works, as I continue to navigate through the Mighty Chores of Officialdom (New health insurance kicks in tomorrow!), work through various analyses both literary and financial, and discover the pattern that emerges from all this shuffling of options.

Visual aids to planning.

Sometimes  you just gotta put it all up on the wall.

I wish for you and your loved ones, all joy and delight and as much excellent art as you can make or discover!

More later…

Dec 24 2015

Merriment for all!


Hoping that the seasonal holiday of your choice is going as well as ours!

In our house, we follow the German tradition of prezzies arriving under the tree on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day.







Plush pals in lieu of pets.  Someone has to be waiting eagerly!

My best to all you amazing people — and to all your own amazing people.

Dec 21 2015

Morning walk on retreat day…


Hiding out from all things Official.  Wandering and contemplating.

This is probably what the average back road looks link in Rowan's world.

This is probably what the average back road looks link in Rowan’s world.



I had the forest to myself.

But I had the forest to myself.


But plenty of woodpeckers!

Except for birds –plenty of woodpeckers!

Dec 20 2015

Yes, the dreaded chores of officaldom ate my week…


… but only because I was still fighting that dratted cold/flu thing.    Not at my sharpest, I’m afraid, and yet still had to do all those official-type things previously mentioned, plus one more that I had not even known about.

Apparently, on acquiring an off-site office for my writing, I became an Actual Business in the eyes of my town’s tax code.   And the other day I got a call from the Town Assessor’s office about property tax on the contents of my office.   I had not filed a thing I was supposed to file but never knew about, involving money that I should have paid them!   They were not angry, just concerned.

Much discussion, with two different people at the Assessor’s office.   They did not know quite what to make of me… I don’t manufacture anything, I have no clients, I’m not a service nor a consultant.  And yet, I have a location, and objects in it, used in the course of plying my trade.  It seems that I’m the only actual real author they ever had to deal with!   I guess all the other authors have offices in their home or in their attics.

I had sad visions of getting hit with a bill that would make it impossible for me to afford maintaining my beloved workspace… But not to fear.   After the complex detailed form was completed (carefully confirming that I did not have any horses or ponies, did not store farm equipment, did not have any manufacturing equipment, etc), it looks like my tax bill will be a whopping $35, or thereabouts.

I’m pretty sure I can handle that.

Eight pages of this.

Eight pages of this.

So, all is well.   Plus, I am now known at Town Hall, which is always a good idea.

And the cold is almost gone, just in time for Christmas.  And all my really important shopping is done.   Well, urgent shopping, anyway.  There are people I don’t see until well after the holidays, which means that I can snag prezzies at sale prices.  Heh.

News about people who are not me:


Jo Walton has revealed the cover of her next book, following on The Just City and The Philosopher Kings.   This will be coming out in June, which is a long away away, alas…

But if you want something Right! Now! , and you loved Ellen Kushner’s  Riverside (from Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings — her collaboration with Delia Sherman), do check out the Riverside-inspired stories being released in serial form by Serial Box.   You can have ebook versions or audio versions, and I’m going to get one set, but I haven’t decided which yet.  And I do believe that there are more on the way.  (Also, check out the cool hand-cut silhouette art that illustrates the “covers.”)

And sad news: the famous Emmy, co-star of Chad Orzel’s How to Teach (Quantum) Physics to Your Dog and How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog has passed away.  I’m sad I never got to meet her. In my mind,  she will live forever, trying to chase quantum bunnies around both sides of trees.


Dec 12 2015

And wishing you a merry, um.. pearlmageddon?


Yesterday, as I arrived at my office, I noticed they were putting up Christmassy-type lights in the windows of the second floor.    That’s nice, thought I.

The left half of the second floor is empty, after Kandu Beads had to move, due to the town getting all grumpy about their roadside sign.  They’re in a better location now, anyway.   But that leaves their space empty and dark.   So, I assumed that it was building management doing some holiday decorating.

But when I left for the night, I saw the result:

That's what it says...

That’s what it says…

Had a little conversation  about it with the guy who comes by most evenings to walk his dog.   He was as perplexed as I.

Those lower-case “d’s” disturbed me.     I felt there was some secret meaning to all this.

Possibilities were three:

  1. Someone can’t spell!  I blame the educational system.
  2. A new fringe doomsday cult, but with bling.
  3. A huge party/promotional event put on by a handmade jewelry company that allows you to personally select an actual oyster, which they will then open to find the pearl that you just bought for your custom jewelry.  With music.  BYOB.

Okay, I cheated: I googled it.

Apparently, the mayhem starts in a couple of hours.  I wish them all the best.

Other news:  Still sick with this horrible cough/congestion massive sore throat, and still livin’ on DayQuil and NyQuil.  If it’s not gone by next week, I’ll drop by the doctor’s office.

Also: dealing with the Dreaded Chores of Officialdom, as relates to losing one’s job and changing health coverage.

Got a little update note from my former co-worker, to the effect that the Old Employers are scrambling, trying to figure out on whom to dump all my former tasks. Heh.

And thanks again to you all, for your comments here and on Facebook, with encouragement and information!   I have much to mull over.



Dec 8 2015

And in the grand tradition of adding injury to insult, I’m down with a cold.


I hope it’s a cold, and not the flu.

Still, could be worse — I could be down with a cold and still be working the Day Job from the Black Lagoon.  So, I win again.

I spent all of yesterday sorting out what I needed to do to sign up for unemployment, and then signing up;  and most of today digging through Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act health insurance website.  I’ve got some options, and I’ll fill out the final form online tomorrow when my brain is not coughed into jelly. You gotta be sharp when dealing with  stuff like that.   One wrong move, and you’ve done something quite different from what you intended.   It’s so easy for wires to get crossed…

But I did break out the champagne, as planned:

The good stuff.

The good stuff.

Fortunately, my office is exactly two miles from home and I’m only drinking one glass, so  I should be fine driving.   Also fortunately, I have one of those caps you can put on an opened bottle of champagne to reseal it, so none of that stuff is going to waste!

My great thanks to everyone who posted comments of support, commiseration, and encouragement on the previous entry.  Eighteen of you here, and a few more on Facebook, and a few others on Twitter — it’s good to know you’re out there, cheering me up and on.

And everyone is asking about Patreon or Kickstarter, or other varieties of crowd-sourcing.   All info is welcome!  But I must say that both Patreon and Kickstarter are high on my list.

Here’s my immediate plan:

Take the rest of December to settle in, cool down, clear away the mess and attendant chores, gear up, get into focus, and also deal with the holidays.

Decisions are to be made in January; and action on those decisions, depending on the natural time-line of the decisions themselves.

(Excuse me.  Make that two glasses of champagne.)

Meanwhile, in other news:

After being fired on Friday, I headed up to Boston overnight with my sister, to catch the Boston Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker with pals I’ve known since  — well, since Disco.  Seriously: disco.

Dude on the left, with the mustache? Major former disco fiend. Major.

Dude in back on the left, with the mustache? Major former disco fiend.

This was a previously planned event.   Also, a nice Christmas present, thanks to Brian and Mary Ann and Sabine.   It was nice to just walk away from the Old Day Job and head up into a world of art and elegance:

Well-decorated and festive.

Well-decorated and festive.

The experience was so lovely, and the Boston Ballet really know their stuff.

But — alas, my cold is hitting me a bit hard suddenly!  (Or maybe it’s the champagne.)  So, I’m heading home.

More later.

Curtain going up.

Curtain going up.


Dec 4 2015

Remember when I said that I thought my day-job days might be numbered?


Turns out: they were, though not by me.

Yep.  I was fired!

Reason given: downsizing.  Actual reason: who knows?   But I did know that the company was letting some people go — since I’m the one who enters workers’ time-card info into our computer system, it’s hard for me to not notice when there are fewer people, and less hours.

And given that other departments were being cut, and our department consisted of two people plus our manager (and the manager sure wasn’t going to be fired),  that makes it a  50% chance that any cut in Accounting would be a cut of me, out of the picture.

Well, I’d rather it was me than my co-worker.   A job loss would hit her much harder than it hits me.   Plus: her job includes making collection calls, and if they fired her, I’d have to do those calls.   Which I would refuse to do. And I’d be fired!  So, just as well.   Still, one wonders how how Accounting will do with half the staff?

Fortunately: Not my problem!

And of course, you know that I’ve been wanting to get away from that place.  I’d have preferred to have some warning, instead of being told at 4:10 that today was my last day.   No 2-weeks notice, no severance pay, just my last paycheck including unused sick days, and — bye-bye.

Also, I think it’s — how shall I put it?  –  cheesy that my boss did not tell me personally.  She almost certainly knew all day, but nevertheless allowed me burble on and on about the upcoming Christmas party, and our plans for decorating the office, and how much I was interested in  how the company was going to fare under the changes in management — exactly as if nothing was amiss.  And then, she left at 4PM, allowing HR to do the deed.

As it turns out, our HR department consists of one person, who happens to be one of my top 3  favorite people at that company.

Sad task for her, but when she gave me the news, I basically laughed.

I mean, gotta laugh, right?

Come on, I’m just leaving sooner than I thought I would!  Big deal.

Sure, I would have liked to have more plans in place, to have it all lined up.

Still, I’m out.   As of NOW.

It hasn’t exactly hit me, yet, for real.  Know when it will hit me?

Right: Tuesday.   Because my work week was Tuesday through Friday, so Monday just will feel like my usual writing day at my writing office…

But Tuesday, when I would normally be back at That Place — that’s when my subconscious will sit up and say, Hey, wait a minute…

Fortunately, I have champagne in my office beverage fridge.

And it’s the good kind, too!

Dec 1 2015

That sale price is still up…


… and will be for one more week.

Why? Because each year John Scalzi graciously invites authors and artists of all sorts to use the comment thread of his blog, Whatever, to promote their own work.   Scalzi’s blog has a lot of readers.  Seriously, a lot.  It’s good of him, and great for his fellow creative artists.

What a guy!

So, Tuesday is the day for promoting non-traditionally published works, and it seemed to me that I could leave that sale price up for one more week, to tempt new readers who might be hearing of me for the first time.

Here’s what I posted:

I’m a bit surprised to find myself among the non-traditionally-published authors — and more surprised by what a great move it’s turned out to be.

When the original publisher of my novels allowed them to go out of print, I did the sensible thing: I got the rights back and republished them myself, as ebooks.

But it turns out that the Steerswoman Series (The Steerswoman, The Outskirter’s Secret, The Lost Steersman, and The Language of Power) is selling much better as ebooks than it ever did as paperbacks, and with a better rate of royalty, as well. I’m starting to wonder if my Day-job days are numbered…

Of course, great reviews helped:

From Hugo and Nebula winner Jo Walton: “If you haven’t read Kirstein’s Steerswoman books I envy you the chance to read them now for the first time…. I think they have a very good claim to be my favorite thing still being written. […] If you like science, and if you like watching someone work out mysteries, and if you like detailed weird alien worlds and human cultures, if really good prose appeals… you’re really in luck.”

Actual physicist Char Orzel (Eureka! and How to Teach Physics to Your Dog) said in Forbes online: “Maybe the best depiction of the process of science I’ve encountered in fiction is the Steerswoman series.”

In Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, Damien Broderick & Paul Di Filippo said: “[Kirstein] walks the tightrope between fantasy and science fiction with precision and grace… [her] compassion for even minor characters is evident on every page, and her prose is measured and alluring without being overworked.”

And noted online reviewer James Davis Nicoll: “These books are what SF should aspire to be; it is a shame they are not more widely known.”

Book One, The Steerswoman, is currently sale-priced at $.99, available everywhere ebooks are sold. Here’s the Amazon link.

By sheer luck, I hit the 10th slot in the comments.

Well. Let’s see what happens…


UPDATE:  Before today my sales were hovering between 10 and 20 units sold per day, occasionally dipping much lower (with  one inexplicable bounce way up, on November 17).

As of 1oPM, today’s count is 53  ebooks sold, 41 of which were The Steerswoman.

So, wow.  Thanks John!