Small News on Progress

Posted: September 26th, 2014 under Collections, E-books, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
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Got a call today from my agent’s office, that the cover copy person is working on cover copy (the enticing description of what’s inside) for the short fiction collection. The cover design itself is “somewhere” having “something” done (I don’t know where or what yet, so the quote marks are just a hint at that.) However, this is progress. Things are moving. No schedule yet and probably won’t be until the cover’s done and approved.

I am looking at the stories for the second collection, which will need more filling out, right now, since I took a dislike to one I’d done earlier this year, around the time my father died. I think it has some of the same problems as Divided Allegiance, written too soon after my mother died. I may rewrite it completely, without looking at the current version. And I’m thinking of tackling the legend of Camwyn Dragonmaster/Dragonfriend in a…different…way.

And I’m working more slowly on the new (non-Paks) book than I could wish, as the time with the spam attack really interfered and broke the flow. However I had a good chat about it with a friend yesterday, and have some new ideas. Cracolnya’s story can’t decide what to be, yet. It’s one of those that promises to be one length and then makes a bid for more, and then doesn’t deliver enough substance for the new length it demanded. I may cut it back to the shorter form and be done with it. Or not. It’s another that I did the most work on earlier in the summer, where it was mixed in with my father’s death and the eye surgery.

The spam overload here is, at least temporarily, in abeyance. I completely deleted (to an offline file) the comment that the bot was keying on, the one that was hammered with many thousands of messages a day, and Steve-the-genius at the hosting company changed the “auto-delete” delay for Akismet to one day instead of 15, which meant that a vast backlog went *poof* without my having to hand-delete it one 20-message page at a time. (By vast, I mean many thousands of 20-message pages, way over 100,000 messages, which I had whittled down about 40K of.) I still have an oversized amount of comments here, which I’ve taken a few days off from removing, in order to get some actual writing work (and other work) done, but I’ll get back to that. There’ve been some minor emergencies requiring extra trips out of town–nothing dire, just time-consuming.

The visual thing is worst when reading (affecting both on-screen and on-paper reading…if I get my head in exactly the right position relative to the page, and in the right light, it’s almost normal, but if not…it can be double vision, or something a little stranger. I’m told by my eye doctor, with whom I had the last post-surgery visit on Thursday, that the difference in visual acuity alone between the two eyes is part of the problem. (About three and a half diopters) He says even when the nearsighted eye is corrected, the distance between the lens that’s doing the convergence and the retina is so differnet (one in front of the eye, one in the eye) that it’s causing distortions my brain has to learn to put back into one seamless image. He says I’m doing very well, actually. But it does limit my working time at the computer; I can feel the eyestrain in the little muscles. It will get better, he says, but it may take several more months. The other problem, which I refer to as the missing pixels, is just there, and I’ll have to work around it. He thinks just ignoring it is the best approach.

Meanwhile, the same day I had the appointment, my bike turned up with a very flat tire, so I took it down to the city to the bike shop when I’d finished with the eye doctor. It was overdue for a tuneup anyway. It would be ideal to learn to be my own bike mechanic…if I had the time to do that. But as long as I have other errands in the city (which I did) taking the bike in and letting them work on it while I work on something else is a better use of my time.


  • Comment by Genko — September 27, 2014 @ 12:23 pm


    Glad to see you are back. Seems like maybe a lot of cyber-mischief going on out there. We had an attack of ransom-ware (where they upload your files and replace it with a message saying where you can pay to get them back). Fortunately, an alert person discovered this while it was still in process and shut everything down before they were finished. We were able to restore most things from backup, and have installed more aggressive malware protection. It’s a pain.

    Glad to hear that things are moving forward. I’ve always been amazed that you could keep track of all the things you do and still keep writing. Recently re-read the entire Vatta series, and enjoyed it. There’s something about being able to read the whole thing one after the other that is satisfying. On the other hand, anticipating the next installment has its own kind of pleasure.

    Sorry to hear about eyesight challenges, and glad to hear you are finding ways to work around it. They say that getting old is not for sissies, and in fact, I’m not sure that living itself is for sissies. We all keep keepin’ on.

  • Comment by Kaye M — September 27, 2014 @ 11:20 pm


    As a far-sighted 76-year-old fan of your writing, with a stage 4 cataract in just the left eye, who does a lot of reading and writing on the computer, I’ve been interested in your vision problems. With only a 1.75 diopter difference between my two eyes currently, I am having trouble with my brain trying to ignore the blurry left eye and focus with the right. I know I will have to have the surgery soon, and replace that lens with a clear plastic lens, and continue to let my new eyeglass Rx do all the correction. But it will be amazing if your brain can adjust, just as I hope mine will. I was just wondering whether your implanted lenses have any correction, or are they clear like mine will have to be?

  • Comment by Ellen McLean — September 28, 2014 @ 11:23 pm


    My last round of glasses had to rewire my brain and it did eliminate the double vision, but, my newly trained brain HATES getting in the shower. John installed me some handicapped bars and so I can get in and out without losing my balance. Glad you are making progress!

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — September 30, 2014 @ 9:48 am


    It’s always painful to be forcibly reminded of how much of vision is learned. My adventures with bifocals are a more moderate version of what you are experiencing now; my sympathies.

    Anyone can fix a flat bicycle tire; it’s just that for most folks it isn’t the most effective use of their time. Heinlein wrote that any proper human should be able to do a long list – he had a very, very long list – of things; that specialization was for insects. “Be able to do” isn’t the same thing as “do.” I can change my car’s oil; that doesn’t mean I don’t take it to the shop to have it done. Put your time into what you enjoy and what you are good at. Life is too short already.

  • Comment by Richard — October 2, 2014 @ 5:14 am


    Yes, WC. I found the tricky bit was getting a bicycle back wheel back on after changing the tire: correctly aligned with chain and gears re-attached. I decided that job really needs at least three hands – one to hold the frame, one to hold the wheel steady in the frame and one to work the spanner. And ideally a fourth for the brake blocks. Which is why I ended up either walking or driving.

  • Comment by GinnyW — October 4, 2014 @ 7:33 am


    A lot of repair jobs seem to need three hands. Or specialized equipment that holds everything in place so your hands can do the work. Perhaps that is the reason for children, grandchildren, or apprentices, they can provide the extra hands.

    I am hoping that I didn’t provide the comment that generated the spam.

  • Comment by mark leigh — October 5, 2014 @ 8:20 pm


    totally off topic plea for help. my grandaughter is trying to identify a spider. ms moon haven’t you mentioned an arthropod identification site?

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 5, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

    8 may be of help. Many common spiders are hard to figure out (the dullish grayish orb weavers, for instance) but it’s a good exercise to learn the basic divisions of arachnids. Good luck to her!

  • Comment by mark leigh — October 5, 2014 @ 9:04 pm


    thanks and even more thanks for gripping stories with fathomable characters. masterful job tying paksworlds together so well and as always like most fans restraining myself mightily from yelling write faster. i am in awe of those who can tell a good story.

  • Comment by patrick — October 16, 2014 @ 9:09 am


    Fixing a bike flat efficiently is helped by having the right tools. When I rode my bike to/from school (4+ miles each way), I had the good fortune to find a small bike shop owner who was happy to share some basic tips including two small tire removal widgets which were less pointed than screwdrivers and had notches to hook on spokes, reducing the risk of puncturing the tube and allowing hands free positioning.

    He also showed me how to ‘re-true’ the wheel by adjusting the spoke tension with another tiny widget. Really helpful after hitting a pothole throws your wheel off true.

    As for needing three hands, with proper positioning, I generally used my knee to steady the tire while adjusting and tightening other things.

    That training and the tools plus some practice made a huge difference in repair time and cost. It boosted my self-confidence at a time when I was living on a tight budget.

    Today my budget/time tradeoffs are different, but I’m glad I had the experience and would recommend it to anyone who intends to be a serious cyclist. When you are out riding 15 miles from a phone, it really helps to be able fix minor issues on the spot. Tools plus patch kit weigh only about 1 pound.

  • Comment by Kaye M — October 29, 2014 @ 7:29 pm


    Cataract surgery done–2 days ago. Now I know what you mean by re-wiring the brain. At this point, it is learning to choose which eye should be dominant for the job I need it to do, while wearing the old eyeglasses, or not. It’s actually doing pretty well, as long as I relax and let my inner computer work naturally.

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