Gifts, Travel, and Writing Going Forth

David Mattingly, creator of the wonderful cover art for Liaden Universe® novels Saltation, Mouse and Dragon, and Ghost Ship sent us an animation of the Ghost Ship cover, which you can see here:  Ghost Ship

This kind gift inspired me to link to all of the artists who have created images for Liaden Universe® novels and stories over the years — check them out over in the sidebar.

* * *

Steve and I have only just now returned from the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, with a side trip to Minneapolis to sign (lots and lots) of books at Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore.

We have one more trip scheduled this year.  In just two weeks Steve and I, with Phil and Kaja Foglio, Abney Park, and many, many other Very Cool People will be Guests at The Great New England Steampunk Exposition in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  The Exposition begins on Friday, September 16, and runs through Sunday, September 18.

This promises to be a delightful and awesome experience, so do plan on attending!

Once we return from the Expo, we’ll be sticking very close to home until it’s time to make the trip to Chattanooga, in mid-January.

* * *

In between all this gallivanting around to WorldCons and Steampunk Expos, we have some writing to do.  Rather a lot of writing, as it happens.  Here’s a brief rundown of what’s on our plate:

Dragon Ship — Steve is lead writer on this project, which is the sequel to Ghost Ship

George — Sharon is lead writer on this project, which sorta takes place in a pocket of Ghost Ship. If I do it right, it will be another Portal Book into the Liaden Universe®, joining Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Balance of Trade, Local Custom, Fledgling.  An amusing, if not outright terrifying, note:  We had dinner with Madame the Editor at WorldCon, wherein she inquired after “George.”  The die may be cast.

“Guaranteed Delivery” — For the moment, Sharon is lead writer for the original fiction posted on Splinter Universe.  This will change as various deadlines approach and are surpassed.  This particular story, which I hope to post on September 12, concerns  the Ride the Luck courier service.

“The Space at Tinsori Light” — another story destined for Splinter Universe, featuring a yos’Phelium pilot from the Diaries.  Shooting for mid-October posting, though here we’re getting near the delivery deadline for Dragon Ship, and all things give way before a book deadline.

Trade Secret — the sequel to Balance of Trade.  Steve is lead writer on this project.

* * *

In other news, Liaden Universe® story “Intelligent Design” has aged off of the Baen front page and now joins other excellent stories by Patrick Lundrigan, Larry Correia, Travis S. Taylor, and Robert Buettner in the Baen Free Story 2011 Collection, available here.

“Kin Ties,” a Liaden Universe® story concerning a dead man, his wife, and the daughter of an old enemy, is available to be read at Splinter Universe.

. . .and I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.

Stay healthy and safe, everyone.

–Posted September 3, 2011  by Sharon Lee

Exciting Times for the Liaden Universe®

The Liaden Universe® didn’t start out as a Universe; it started out as one book. That book, a quirky little space opera called Agent of Change, was published by Del Rey as a paperback original, in February, 1988.

That would be, let’s see…

Twenty-five years ago, this February.

Holy bananas.

You’d think that having a Silver Anniversary to celebrate in 2013 would be excitement enough for any pair of authors — but you’d be wrong.

Not only is February 2013 the Silver Anniversary of the Liaden Universe®, the sixteenth novel in the Universe, Necessity’s Child will be released on February 5, in hardcover, signed hardcover, ebook, and audiobook!

Also?  Every single Liaden Universe® novel ever written is — at this very instant! — in print, as omnibus, hardcover, trade paper, mass market, ebook, and/or audiobook editions!

Having survived as writers for twenty-five years is an achievement by itself.  To have all of our novels in print during that twenty-fifth year is. . .amazing.  And humbling.

For those who are planning to attend Boskone, we’ll be hosting a dual Silver Anniversary/Book Launch party there.  We’re also mulling over some web celebrations, because really — you’re only in print twenty-five years once.


Lucky 2013 will also bring to you the first Liaden Universe® Constellation — a collection of seventeen short stories.  That will be available in trade paperback, and ebook editions, in July.  The second Constellation will be along in January 2014.

This year will also see the mass market release of Dragon Ship, already available in hardcover, signed hardcover, ebook, and audio.

While you’re reading, we’ll be writing, not just because that’s, yanno, what we do, but because we have a contract.

That should, actually, be…

A Contract.

A contract, with Baen Books, for five Liaden Universe® novels, which together will comprise the sequel to Dragon Ship.

* * *

To recap, here’s the 2013/2014 publication schedule as presently known:

January 15:  “Eleutherios,” short story, Baen front page
February 5: Necessity’s Child, hardcover, signed hardcover, ebook, audiobook
July 2: Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 1, tradepaper, ebook
August:  Essay in Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern, Benbella Press
August 27: Dragon Ship, mass market
November 5Trade Secrets, hardcover, ebook
January 5, 2014Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 2, tradepaper, ebook

. . .and here’s our delivery schedule

February 14Carousel Sun (contemporary fantasy by Sharon)
August 15Carousel Seas (contemporary fantasy by Sharon)
May 15, 2014:  First of Five Liaden Universe® novels
February 15, 2015:  Second of Five Liaden Universe® novels
November 15, 2015:  Third of Five Liaden Universe® novels
August 15, 2016:  Fourth of Five Liaden Universe® novels
May 15, 2017:  Fifth of Five Liaden Universe® novels

…please be aware that the above are turn-in dates; the publisher sets the publication dates and they are, therefore, A Mystery.  One thing that we can say definitively is that the publisher will not publish any of the above novels before they’ve been turned in.

So, there you have it:  2013!  And, err, beyond.

May we all continue to have reason to celebrate.

–Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Cat Farm and Confusion Factory
Central Maine
January 11, 2013

New free Liaden story at Splinter Universe and Boskone news

For January we’ve added a new story to the line-up over at Splinter Universe — you can find it there now. We plan to add a story each month as well as the occasional guest story as well. The new story, “The Rifle’s First Wife” is a novelette of just over 13000 words and will be online for a few months. If you’d like to support these expanded efforts, read the story, and find a donate link at the end.

Meanwhile, as things stand now Sharon will not be at Boskone the weekend between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, but Steve will. Look for a Friends of Liad Breakfast, probably Saturday February 15 in one of the hotel restaurants. Steve had a full slate of program items, a reading, signing and kaffeeklatsch on schedule.

Boskone schedule for Steve Miller and other updates

First … coming Friday …
Steve Miller at Boskone*
Friday February 14
  • Bleeding Hearts Fri 18:00 – 18:50, Harbor II
  • Good vs Evil: The Great Divide Fri 20:00 – 20:50, Burroughs

Saturday, February 15

  • Autographing with Steve Miller & Charles Stross Sat 11:00 – 11:50, Galleria-Autographing
  • Writers on Writing: Character Versus Characterization Sat 12:00 – 12:50, Lewis
  • Reading by Steve Miller Sat 13:00 – 13:25, Griffin
  • Kaffeeklatsche with Steve Miller Sat 14:00 – 14:50, Galleria-Kaffeeklatsch 1
  • The Long Series — How We Did It Sat 17:00 – 17:50, Harbor I
  • Boskone Book Release   Sat 19:30 – 21:00 — lots of books new and on the way, including some new Lee & Miller items

Sunday, February 16

  • Ezines, Fanzines, and Blogs, Oh My! Sun 11:00 – 11:50, Lewis
  • Reboots: New Chances for Old Stories? Sun 12:00 – 12:50, Burroughs

In other news, we’ve been doing a little work behind the scenes — and in the front room — over at our Splinter Universe story-and-stuff site.

Please take a look, and watch for changes. Support the site or individual stories, or both!

ALSO REMEMBER, Sharon Lee has a new contemporary fantasy book out in the Kate Archer series. That’s Carousel Sun — available from most online bookstores — but EXCLUSIVELY available signed by bookplate from Uncle Hugo’s excellent bookshop.

*Don’t know what Boskone is? Ask us about Science Fiction conventions!

New Liaden story, and where to find us and our stories, this summer

We’ve published a new Liaden Universe® story over at the Splinter Universe site — look for “Roving Gambler” along with other splinters and stories. We’ll be updating that site more regularly now — watch for some spoken word reprises of older (non-Liaden) Lee & Miller fiction starting soon.  You can help support these efforts — you’ll see donation buttons on the stories and in the margins there.

Coming up this summer, Lee & Miller will be attending DetCon 1 — this years NASFIC or North American Science Fiction Convention. That’ll be in July, and we expect to have an evening Liaden party, autograph, have Friends of Liad breakfast, and read from works in progress — as well as be on panels and wander the wonders of the convention. Our Splinter Universe site helps support our travel to meet fans around the US.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got questions or think you may have missed a story, there are two sites to check out. One is the Liaden Universe® Wiki, a fan organized and run site with all kinds of Liaden information. If you want to get answers to mysteries, or to help solve questions for others, that’s a great place to visit. The other place is Pinbeam Books, where there’s a list of the available Lee & Miller chapbook releases in ebook format. We don;t sell from that site — but it tells you what’s available and where to get it — Amazon, B&N/Nook, or Smashwords.


Lee and Miller’s PhilCon Principal Speaker Speech, in its entirety

Despite our best efforts, and despite that we practiced beforehand, to be sure that we wouldn’t run over our time — we ran over our time at PhilCon, and did not finish delivering our Writer Guest of Honor Speech.  Several people asked and/or suggested that we post it on the web, so that it could be read.

Without further ado, here is that speech, complete with stage directions:

Choices: The Creative Conundrum

Guest of Honor Speech

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

PhilCon 2014

November 21-23, 2014

Cherry Hill, New Jersey


Thank you (intro person’s name –) thank you for that welcome. We also need to thank program Czar Hugh Casey, Convention chair Gary Feldbaum, and FILL IN NAMES.

Thank you all for allowing us to stand here today where only a select few from our community have stood in seventy eight years – I ….


I thought you were doing this part.


Nope. We flipped the coin, and you took tails. Your choice was to go first. Says so on the sticky note.


Oh. Hmmm … OK. Right.


Hi, Again!

Seriously, thank you for bringing us all the way from the Pine Tree State on this fine fall weekend, thanks for choosing us to be your PrincIpal Speaker for the 78th edition of your fine event, and thanks for coming out when there are so many other places you could have been this weekend.

Which makes us wonder –

How many people here have ever had to make a choice?


Wow, look at this. . .


OK, all you risk-takers out there! Who has had a choice that they made produce ….unforeseen results?



Yeah, they’re tricky, those choices. . . Who has suddenly realized that choices made long ago — even simple, not-particularly-important-at-the-time choices — have shaped large swaths of their lives thereafter?



That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Choices, where they came from, and what they did for us, and to us.

For the purposes of this conversation, the very first choice Steve and I made — independently, for moderately different reasons, and many years apart. Both of us, in fact made the choice way back when we were in elementary school —

We both chose to be writers. We both even declared that choice to our own families.

It seems a small declaration, an innocent choice – and for some people, the repercussions of that first choice of vocation remain manageable, lifelong – and a matter of nostalgic regret.

. . .


We were not those people.



We’re going to cut a couple corners, here, in order to bring y’all up to speed. We may find those corners useful later – let’s remember they were there.


So we’d decided to be writers. Individually. Then, after some life happened for both of us, the next important choice in this discussion is that we also decided to move in together. Being around each other a lot meant that we got to share more ideas, and one night we came up with a good one: maybe we could open a used bookstore – a genreshop! Snd we did that, filling the shelves with duplicates from our personal libraries.

The choice to open a bookstore — that had repercussions, but they faded.

The determination that both of us had taken — to be writers — that didn’t fade.

We wrote a couple of short stories — individually, and together — and we got day-jobs, because — art or no art — cat, woman, and man must eat.

What we didn’t do? We didn’t take high-paying, fast-tracked jobs. That was on purpose. We needed time and opportunity to write. So we took retail jobs, and secretarial jobs, and when the boss started make sounds that sounded like “promotion to management” and/or “more hours,” we quickly found another job.

We wrote. We submitted. We got rejected. . .mostly. We honed our craft. We wrote, and submitted — and, occasionally, got accepted.

We wrote some more, shifted jobs. . .

And kept on writing.



Thirty years ago, right around this season, we began writing a novel. We knew going in that this was the first book in a series – a seven-book series, as we had planned it. Because we did plan it. It was a choice.

See, one day, back in the fall of 1984, Sharon handed Steve a piece of paper. On it was typed a single sentence. A – may I just add – laboriously constructed and approaching perfect sentence, the product of many hours of labor.

You laugh? Here is the sentence – judge for yourself:


The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.



Am I right?


AM I right?

Of course I am.

So! I brought this sublime sentence to Steve and I said, “I think I have a novel.”

And Steve, after deliberation, said,


“No. You don’t have a novel. I think you have a series.”


So, having nothing better to do with our time, we sat down at the kitchen table, pens, paper, and lubrication to hand, and we that night plotted out in big, bold strokes – seven novels.


But we did something else, too. We shared a vision, a deep and secret soul shattering – wait, not that deep, maybe. Still, there was sharing.

See. . .Sharon had already done a lot of the legwork on Val Con and Miri – the heroes of Agent of Change, that first book of seven. She’d been a solitary kid, and she’d spent the time when she wasn’t actively engaged in reading – in making up stories about two people from a future of her own devising. The names of those two people were – Val Con yos’Phelium, a scout, sometimes a spy, from the world of Liad; and Miri Robertson, a Terran with all the Attitude in Baltimore rolled into her compact frame. Miri was – daringly, for the 1960s – a soldier. And not just a soldier, but a mercenary soldier; competent and tough.


So, Steve spent most of that evening and several after bringing himself up to speed on Val Con and Miri and the Green People, and the space they occupied. He’d been a reporter; he knew how to ask leading questions, and I was pleased to talk about her friends, for the first time ever, out loud, with someone I trusted.

So, here was a choice – an amendment – or, say!, an expansion on the first independent choice, to be writers

We could write together. Yes! We would write together!

We had already dabbled our toes in those waters — we’d written several Kinzel short stories together by then, and a strange romantic little story called “Candlelight.”

But here — we were going to write a novel together.

Neither one of us had written anything longer than a novella, so this was going to be. . .

An Adventure.


I was the elder writer; not only a reporter, a book and music reviewer, but I’d had several short stories published in pro markets. Sharon had a few short stories published, and this universe in her head.

Do you know what adventures need? This is an important idea, and important choice. Do you know what adventures really need? Anybody?



Someone to share it with.

Val Con and Miri, now – they had adventures together. They were, in fact, partners, though, usually, at the beginnings of the stories that Sharon would tell herself about them, they didn’t know each other. Sometimes, they were actively trying to kill each other; sometimes, they were each ignorant of the existence of the other until they fell in together, and realized that each brought something of value to the task of survival. Miri and Val Con, you understand, were very dangerous people, in the way that space opera heroes often are. Men were chasing them. Women, too. Large, sentient Turtles wished to speak with them, at length. The intergalactic crime cartel – someday to become dignified as the Juntavas – wanted to talk to them. The galactic trade commission wished to be reassured regarding the whereabouts of several. . .late-arriving cargoes.


. . .and so on.

Now, just like in real life, fiction requires choices.

In fact, it can be argued that fiction requires not only more, but more diverse choices than mere Real Life ever gives us.

Of course, that’s because as writers, we’re gods. We make up everything, right? The world, the characters, their thoughts and emotions, and whether or not the shower runs hot or cold this morning.


Well. . .yeah. That’s how it is. . .sort of. Or at least, so I’ve been told.

. . .

How many people here remember the eighties? I’m talking about the NINETEEN EIGHTIES.


It was crazy, right?

The Baltimore Colts sneaking out at the dead of night to set up as the Indianapolis Colts? I don’t think I ever recovered from that one.


Ronald Regan is RE-ELECTED President of the United States, by a landslide.

“Thriller” spent THIRTY SEVEN WEEKS on the charts as Top Album. But! It was finally unseated.

. . .by the soundtrack for “Footloose.”

In 1984, for the FIRST TIME EVER, a woman was presented as a vice presidential candidate. That was, lest we forget, Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York, running against incumbent VP George H. W. Bush.

In 1984, those who cared to do so could smoke in public places. Restaurants and diners put ashtrays and matchbooks on every table. Anyone could take the matches away, for free.

In July of 1984, Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” and Scandal’s “The Warrior” appeared on Casey Kasem’s American Top Forty List. “When Doves Cry” was Number One. “The Warrior” was Number Forty. Probably that says something about. . .something.

Who remembers either of those songs?



In 1984, if you needed to make a call while you were away from home, you had to find a TELEPHONE BOOTH. In 1984, New York City raised the cost of a phone call made from a telephone booth to a QUARTER, having held firm at ten cents for nearly a decade.

In 1984, the top computer operating system was something called DOS THREE

. . .


Yeah. It was a strange time. The past is a different country.

There was a lot of talk about this thing called “equality” in 1984. We, as many people, were interested in what this “equal society” would look like.

So — in the spirit of What If? — we decided to make the Liaden Universe(R) an Equal Opportunity Universe. There was no “man’s work”; there was no “women’s work.” On Liad, the clan took care of the clan’s children; and each member of the clan was required to produce an heir of their body, who would be your apprentice in learning the work you performed for the clan, and who would eventually perform that work in your place.

Liadens practiced contract marriage in order to get these heirs, so no one’s potential was limited — or boosted, either — by a so-called “traditional marriage.”

Terrans — lacking the cultural stability generated by the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct — Terran worlds enjoyed wide diversity. Some were Safe Worlds, some were matriarchies; some were patriarchies; some were charter worlds dedicated to a certain philosophy or period of time; some were a mishmash of whatever seemed good at the time.


But in all of those societies — with the exception of those that were explicity patriarchal or matriarchal — everyone was equal. You wanted to be a soldier — fine, pass the tests and you’re in.

Pilot? Go for it.

Scout? Trader? Baker? Teacher? Pickpocket?

Everything’s wide open. The only requirement for a job – competence.

Now — leaping forward in time and space for a moment to talk about Unintended Consequences. . . in fact, let me say this about that. . .

Back in 2012, when Audible decided to publish every! single! Liaden Universe(R) novel! ever! written and make them available to the public in time for the hardcover publication of Dragon Ship, in September, we had a discussion with one of our four narrators, in which he mentioned the Amazing Fact that there were more females in “bit parts” — the taxi driver, the guard on the door, the bartender — in the Liaden books he narrated for us than in any of the other books he had ever narrated.

This was an interesting thing for us — and a good thing, for him, because it made him realize he needed to increase his inventory of female voices.

But — leaping back to 1984, and the choices therein made. . .

We also chose — well. Actually, they came with. So, let us rephrase.


We welcomed non-human aliens into our universe. This was, remember in 1984, before non-human aliens were FINGER QUOTESprovenEND FINGER QUOTES to be IMPORTANT VOICE Impossible, and therefore have no place in the serious business of science fiction.

We also welcomed psy characters — which is to say characters who could teleport, read minds, heal emotional trauma, see the future, and light a fire from across the room with their hands behind their backs.

Again! Recall that this was 1984, before such characters were excised from Serious Science Fiction and banished to Fantasy. Joseph Rhine, the founder of the Rhine Institute for Parapsychology — later renamed the Rhine Research Center — who had been making a case for extrasensory powers for all of OUR lives, had only just moved on to that great testing facility in the sky. The science fiction books we grew up reading — in the spirit of WHAT IF? — played with the possibilities of Mind Power being both real and potentially able to be harnessed into usefulness.

We’d seen psy, mutants, and mind-speak in Andre Norton, of course, and a great many more people met the concept through comics. The very first X-men comic appeared in 1963, introducing a whole cast of FINGERQUOTESmutantsEND FINGERQUOTES with extra-normal powers. Some dare call that fantasy …

So, yes, there were and are what are now held to be FANTASY ELEMENTS in the Liaden Universe(R).


. . .speaking of fantasy elements. . .

We also made the decision that, in the Liaden Universe(R), people would still desire, and find valuable, connections with other sentient peoples. They would seek comfort; they would fall in love.

And so that’s part of the Liaden Universe(R), too — yes, it was a push back at those science fiction books that WE grew up reading, where the hero proved his — it was almost always HE and HIS — his heroism by being solitary, and strong, and occasionally screwing some chick whose name he doesn’t necessarily recall, but who loves him, nonetheless, because who doesn’t love a hero?


. . .

We also made one more choice — No.

We made a promise — to ourselves, and to each other — and it was this:





So! Having made all these decisions, we sat down and wrote that novel, the first of seven, title AGENT OF CHANGE, and immediately skyrocketed to success, wealth, and fame —








Ah. Right.


We finished the novel, sent it to ACE, where the editor held it long enough for us to write ANOTHER WHOLE NOVEL, before rejecting it. There’s more story there and if you hang around with us long enough, you might hear it. By the way the editor who did that was Ginjer Buchanan – she just retired this year.

But Agent of Change was not a book to sit dejectedly in a pile of forlorn and inactive manuscripts. Nope, we gathered together a big costly pile of stamps, affixed them to the package, and we mailed it off it off to DAW — working down the alphabet, you see — which rejected it in the mailroom. We know this because the round-trip from Baltimore to NYC and back-again took three days.

And then? Why, we kept at it. We’d decided to be pros, hadn’t we?

So, by the next day’s mail, we sent it to Del Rey — where it was purchased, after awhile, but not too long awhile.


Del Rey also bought the book we wrote while waiting for ACE to get back to us, and a third book — and we were happily on our way to writing the next four books — Seven books in series, remember? — when —


Del Rey made a choice.


We’re cutting some more corners, here, because we tell this story a lot, and many of you have heard it before.

Long story short, Del Rey cut us loose after the third novel. They didn’t want any more Liaden novels; they said “the numbers” were bad. We wrote them one more novel — non-Liaden — per contract, which was rejected and we were Washed Up SF Writers. The editor at Del Rey was even kind enough to tell us that we didn’t really have a career to speak of, and wished us well in our new mundane life.


. . .and that pretty much sums up our next 7, 8, or 10 years, depending on if you talk to Steve, or to me, and how many glasses of wine either has had when you ask.

Now, this was clearly a Decision Point. This was the place where we could have thrown in the towel and said, “Screw this. Art is hard and the pay’s crap. I’m going to TAKE that managerial promotion the next time it’s offered, and get health insurance, and two weeks’ paid vacation, and I’ll never look back.”


To be fair, we did TRY that. Sort of.

It didn’t last very long; and it turned out that neither of us was very good at being normal. Oh. we could fake normal for a job interview and even the first few months of a job, but … it didn’t exactly stick, that normal.

And see, we’d made another set of choices in between the selling of the first three books and Del Rey’s rejection of the non-Liaden novel that finished our contract with them. We’d decided that in order to live the freelance life, we’d need to live to someplace less expensive and muhc quieter than Beautiful Big Town Baltimore, and so we’d moved to Maine. Skowhegan, Maine, in fact. There’s an Indian there.

So, what did we do during those 7, 8, or 10 years, besides work as reporters, correspondence instructors, photographers, librarians, office managers, and Speakers To Computers. . .?


Why, we wrote three more Liaden novels.


Sharon — who is clearly driven – also wrote two mystery novels.


And Steve, who demonstrably has no sense of proportion — started a small press publishing empire.


SRM Publisher came into being in 1995 in order to publish two Liaden Universe(R) short stories in chapbook form. This was actually something that could be prefaced with “Back by popular demand!” since fan appetite for new Liaden material, as discovered through computer BBS and later the burgeoning interwebs, was still out there. The chapbook in question — TWO TALES OF KORVAL — was to be a one-off, of a hundred copies. One look at printing costs made it two hundred copies, because due diligence and a background in printing showed us that it would cost all of $2.32 cents more, total – not each, but for the shebang! – for 200 copies rather than a hundred copies… and that would surely cover our fans.




Eventually, SRM Publisher came to publish many more Liaden and other Lee and Miller stories, as well as work from other authors, including Ru Emerson, Thomas A. Easton, Lawrence Schoen, David Harris, and Bud Webster.

When we made the choice to shut it down, in 2011, SRM had just published its seventeenth Liaden chapbook. Two Tales of Korval – well, in the long run, that single chapbook,in several iterations, made more money for us than the first three novels had ever made for us at Del Rey.


SRM was a good choice as a side project, as such things go — it paid our bills; it kept us in touch with our fans; and it created new fans for our work. It gave us a reason to take a table at conventions where we were under-utilized as guests, and it sometimes put us on the Locus Bestseller list, which was a real bonus.

Sharon, in the meantime, was hired by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as the first full-time executive director, and it looked like we were settling into being ALMOST normal, when, one rainy January evening in 1997. . .

The phone rang.


Another corner cut, here.


The caller was Stephen Pagel, part owner and acquiring editor of the Brand Spanking New Meisha Merlin Publishing. Stephe wanted to reprint our first three novels, the rights of which had reverted to us over those 7, 8 or 10 years.

He called them, CHARMING.

After some negotiation, we agreed to sell him the rights, and then mentioned that there were SEVEN books in total — the three he was acquiring, and four continuing books, three of which were written, one of which was vaporware.

Without missing a beat he said, “Oh, good. I’ll take them… let me send you a contract.”

Long story short, he bought all seven of them, four of them sight unseen. Meisha Merlin published Plan B in February 1988, and kept on publishing us at the rate of one book a year, until 2006, when. . .


Meisha Merlin crashed and burned.


Well, what do you know? The universe was offering us another Decision Point.


This time. . .it was a near thing.

Sharon went to work as a departmental secretary for the local Little Ivy college, for a steady paycheck and the all-important health insurance.

I — was in charge of writing and posting to the web every Monday before noon Eastern, a chapter of the Liaden novel we were writing live! and without a net!

The novel was called FLEDGLING, and it, more than anything, convinced us that, no, really, what we ought to be doing with our lives was. . .writing. And not only writing, but writing in this strange little universe that we created for ourselves and for our readers.


It was a good time, if you ignore all the crazy bits.


The fallout from Meisha Merlin fell out; we were taken on by Baen Books, to whom we had pitched two unwritten dark fantasies to be published under a pen name to be determined later. The books had names — Duainfey and Longeye. The pen names were to be chosen by dart-board divination.

Baen’s publisher offered to buy the fantasies – but they saved our dart-throwing hands since they’d take the novels only as long as they could use our real names. Times were slim, and so we said yes.


So! Adventures, right? Busy, right?

Let’s see.


Steve was working on FLEDGLING, doing the website work for Fledgling, and running SRM Publisher’s publishing, website, sales, and fulfillment, while I got up early every day, went to the day-job and came home to write Dark Fantasy, on short deadline, well into the night.

Work is good, right?

And eventually — more corner cutting! — our previous work was cleared from the confusion of the former publisher’s demise, and went into Baen’s hands.

Can anybody guess — Does anybody KNOW what that means?


It means that As Of This Moment, talking to you as we are, and have been for the last 35 minutes or so. . .

Every! Single! Liaden Universe(R)! Novel! EVER WRITTEN!

. . .is in print, in multiple formats.

Every single Liaden novel ever written — that’s SEVENTEEN novels — EIGHTEEN, this coming June, when Dragon in Exile comes out in hardcover, and ebook and audiobook.


Not too bad, for an afternoon’s work that ended up with a waste basket full of abandoned starts and a single line to be shared. Not too bad for a series that was abandoned by the publisher as an underfed trilogy when it was meant to be more. Not too bad, even, for a seven-book series.



OK, so we cut some corners on the way here to make sure the story we’re telling here and now would fit and would be in order – or at least in an order – and now we ought-maybe to put some of those corners back, because we choose to, and because those corners can illuminate the little choices that also add up.

One of the choices we made – we’ve shown bits and pieces of here already – was to be flexible as well as practical. That means we’ve written some work for hire – that would be work outside our own universes, work that sounded interesting. One of those projects was our first run-ins with NDAs. You know, the dreaded non-disclosure agreement. So, well, other than to say we got paid, we can’t tell you more about it, sorry.

Another work-for-hire project we took resulted in the book called Sword of Orion – and our names are on that book, which I guess is technically in print. We get asked for the sequel there – but since we don’t own the rights to that particular universe, that’s not going to happen. Both of those projects, by the way, met our “will we enjoy this?” test for work – we were glad we go to do them.

Oh yes – we also, along the way, sold the novel that Del Rey – remember Del Rey? – the novel that Del Rey said they didn’t want and was proof that we had no career as SF writers – we sold that one to Meisha Merlin. It eventually came out in hardback, tradepaper, and mass market. Not a Liaden book, but you may have read it anyway – that’s The Tomorrow Log.

So we did some finagling, making choices that kept us creative.



One thing that we didn’t do. . .We didn’t take the offer a major agent made to us.

That offer was simple – the agent offered to represent us as long-term clients if we’d just stop writing the “little space operas” we’d been writing, and work on big books.

That is to say, Big Important Blockbuster Books. The agent was so sure we could do it, the offer included the information that we’d be supplied with breaking topics, pre-titled plotlines, and even character sketches sure to put us on the bestseller list. So, all we’d have to do was make our agent our boss — our creative director, actually — and we’d be fine.

We looked it over, this offer. We talked it over. We thought it over, hard. After all, we knew people who’d chosen to take offers very like this one. And we knew that this offer might be the closest we’d ever come to the Rich And Famous Contract the Muppets got …

At the same time, we had these people we’d been working with. Some redhead named Miri. A guy named Val Con. A cat named Merlin. A dragon-loving tree… heck, there was this whole universe, a community as it were, depending on us. We didn’t want to let them down.

Too, there were these other folks we’d be working with – the readers and fans who’d supported the chapbooks, who’d read the novels and asked for more, people who’d read our work and searched for us when our books couldn’t be found – found us on FidoNet and Homenet and then on the wider interwebz… a community, in fact, who’d chosen to read and enjoy our work — and to support the kind of art we did, and that we do.


So. . .choices – like deciding as a child to be a writer, deciding as an adult to trust another person, and then choosing to share another person’s artistic vision, deciding – time after time – not to give up writing this time, and to stick with the program of writing things that are fun to write…



Thanks for having us here, and thank you for helping us make and keep making choices like these!



Who has questions?

Liaden Universe® InfoDump No. 110

It’s All About the Clothes — Liaden Tshirts and More!
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have teamed up with Outworld Designs to bring you — yes, you! — Liaden Universe® tshirts, polos, and denim shirts.  Here’s the link to the search page. Click on the thumbnail to see the whole shirt, and to pre-order the items of your choice.
Signed Copies of Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3
The deadline for pre-ordering personalized copies of this upcoming collection has passed, but!  you can still pre-order signed copies. Uncle Hugo’s also has signed copies of many other Lee-and Miller, and Lee, titles.  Here’s your link to pre-order and to browse other volumes.
RavenCon, Here We Come!
Miller and Lee will be Writer Guests of Honor at RavenCon, April 29-May 1, 2016, in Williamsburg, VA!  Here’s your link.Mark Your Calendars!
Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3 publication date:  August 4, 2015
Dragon in Exile, mass marked edition publication date: June 2016
Alliance of Equals, the 19th novel in the Liaden Universe® publication date: July 2016
The Gathering Edge, the 20th novel in the Liaden Universe® turn in date:  February 2016

Bestsellers Again!
Looking for signed copies of Dragon in Exile?
These fine book shops hosted Lee and Miller on the book tour that helped us hit the Bookscan Science Fiction Bestseller list for June 6 at #3 in hardback and #9 overall. They’ll probably still have a few signed copies of Dragon in Exile – stop by and tell them the authors sent you!

Pandemonium Books, 4 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA
Toadstool Bookstore, Colony Mill Marketplace, 222 West Street, Keene NH
Toadstool Bookstore, 586 Nashua Street, Milford NH
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, 65 James Street, Worcester MA
Northshire Books, 424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY
Flights of Fantasy, 381 Sand Creek Road, Albany NY

New and adjusted content on Welcome to Liad include:
A new FAQ
A partial Liaden dictionary
A list of 70! reasons why you — and all of your friends — should be reading the Liaden Universe® novels:
And Lee and Miller’s policy on fanfiction based on their work

Blogs and Other Webly Things of Note
Sharon Lee’s blog, Eagles over the Kennebec:
Sharon Lee’s “Professional” blog:
Splinter Universe Discussion List:

Lee and Miller Patreon Support Page:

Facebook Connections — please feel free to add us! — Steve Miller — Sharon Lee

Pinbeam Books: an online catalog, with vendor links, to all Lee-and-Miller eChapbooks
Splinter Universe: features outtakes, splinters, oddities from the Lee&Miller writing career, currently changes irregularly.
Welcome to Liad — The official homepage for Liaden Universe® news —
The Hyperspatial Boardwalk Shop: T-shirts, mugs, more! —

Liaden Interest Groups on Facebook
Clan Korval:
Friends of Liad:
Flaran chamenthi:
Steve’s on Twitter:
Sharon’s on Twitter, too:

Disclaimer Stuff
This InfoDump is a product of the Liaden Universe®, accept no imitations. You have received this message because you asked for it. If you wish to subscribe to the Liaden Universe® email list, to unsubscribe from the Liaden Universe® email list, or to change your delivery email address, go here:

Lee and Miller’s Confluence Schedules Revealed!

AsyouknowBob, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be Writer Guests of Honor at Confluence, in Pittsburgh, August 4, 5, 6.

Here’s your link to Steve’s schedule.

Here’s your link to Sharon’s schedule.

Here’s your link to the Master Schedule.

Here’s your link to the con’s front page.

You will notice that there is a Friends of Liad breakfast scheduled for Sunday at 8:30 am in the hotel restaurant.  Despite being scheduled, this is not a convention-funded event.  It is what we called in my youth Dutch Treat, with every attendee (including Steve and me) ordering, and paying for, their own breakfast and tip.  Steve and I try to host a FoL breakfast at every con we go to, whether we GoHs, panelists, or convention members.  The Friends of Liad breakfast is. . .Well, it’s most like an extended family getting together to share a meal, and news, and memories.

The Teddy Bear Tea, now, scheduled for 4:30 pm on Saturday, is a convention event.  We try to have a Teddy Bear Tea at every convention where we’re GoHs, ever since it came to our attention that many fans (including Steve and me) travel with plush friends.  Sadly, though, the plushies often don’t get out to the larger convention.  So, the Teddy Bear Tea is event for the plushies to come out and socialize, while their human friends chat, and sip tea, and perhaps share the histories of their plushies.  The Teddy Bear Tea is open to all plushies and their friends.

Can we get a show of hands?  Who’s coming to Confluence?

*raises hand*

Lee and Miller’s MidSouthCon Schedule

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are Writer Guests of Honor at MidSouthCon, March 9-11

Here’s our schedule:

Friday 6:00 PM Pro Row
Pro Row
Meet your favorite MidSouthCon professional, maybe get their autograph or buy their works. Pro Row is located in the hallway outside of the Tennessee Ballrooms.

Friday 7:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Opening Ceremony
MidSouthCon 36 officially kicks off as we greet our Guests of Honor, and say hello to our members.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander, Mike Carlin, Keri Bean, Ellen Datlow, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Friday 9:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Meet the Guests II
Come meet and greet MidSouthCon 36’s Guests of Honor while enjoying some light refreshments.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Alan Alexander, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Saturday 9:00 AM 26th Floor
Teddy Bear Tea Party
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, authors of the Liaden Universe®, are hosting a Tea Party for fans and their traveling-companion stuffies. While your stuffies socialize on the couch, their people can point them out and discuss their history. Tea Party guests may also enjoy hot tea and breakfast cookies.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Saturday 11:00 AM Grand Ballroom
Thirty Years Of The Liaden Universe®
Our Literary GoH discuss the history of their Liaden Universe®.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Saturday 1:00 PM Grand Ballroom
The Baen Traveling RoadShow
Come join Toni Weisskopf and other Baen authors and editors as they tell us what’s new at Baen Books. There will be fun and prizes!
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Mike Resnick, Toni Weisskopf

Saturday 2:00 PM Ridgelake
Characterization And The Art Of Social World Building
Our panelists discuss creating riches believable societies in fantasy and science fiction setting.
Kimberly Richardson, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Alan Alexander

Saturday 5:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Banquet & Darrell Awards
Good food and the Darrell Award presentations. Tickets are $25.00 and available at registration.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander, Mike Carlin, Keri Bean, Ellen Datlow, Bonnie Gordon, Xander Jeanneret, Mike Resnick

Saturday 8:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Epic Women In Epic Literature
Epic Science Fiction and Fantasy have seen some dynamic powerhouses of women-kind, such as: Kahlan, in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series; Cordelia, from the Vorkosigan sage; and Miri Robertson, from the Liaden Universe®. Come discuss the epic women of SF&F with our panelists.
Herika R Raymer, Susan Murrie Macdonald, J L Mulvihill, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Sunday 9:00 AM Rook’s Corner
Kaffeeklatsch I
Enjoy breakfast at a table with one of our Guests of honor. The signup sheets for the Sunday morning Kaffeeklatsches are located at the bottom of the escalators. Space is extremely limited so sign up early.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller, Peri Charlifu, Alan Alexander

Sunday 12:00 PM Ridgelake
A Reading With The Creators of Liad
Join authors Sharon Lee and Steve Miller as they read some of their favorite passages from The Liaden Universe®. Within such an expansive world, they could take us anywhere in the galaxy.
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Sunday 4:00 PM Grand Ballroom
Closing Ceremony