First, the distractions:
Leda’s pups, I think three weeks old in this picture. The one most visible is Girl 1, the puppy I am most likely to keep from this litter. I am so ready for a puppy, and man, I am short of girls.
Below, the little ones again — here, they have moved from the living room playpen/crate to the actual puppy room. At three weeks, they need more space, more interesting things to do and explore. That will help them develop mentally and physically. Therefore the move. That cardboard box behind them is a den — if you squint you can see the opening. Very tiny puppies sometimes like a den to retreat into if they hear or see something scary. Or if they get cold, they may go into the den. As a plus, going AWAY from the den to do their business is a puppy instinct that should be kicking on just about now, and providing a den plus plenty of space helps that instinct come in properly and therefore assists in housetraining.
Here, the tiny ones are meeting Aunt Naamah. She is one hundred percent reliable. She won’t hurt them on purpose AND she won’t hurt them accidentally. Morgan is like this too. Just absolutely super with tiny puppies. You can’t always count on that, so it’s great to have adult dogs who are perfectly reliable with puppies.
Below, Uncle Conner meets Morgan’s Blenheim puppy. Actually I guess he’s Great-Uncle Conner, but gosh, that makes him sound old and he’s only six. Nevertheless, he’s Naamah’s father, so yep, Great-Uncle. Look how cute he is! He wants the puppy to chase him. This Blen puppy is SUPER confident. He’s not very fazed at all by Conner barking and bouncing at him. Little Blen boy would be … I hate to say this … but he would be a FANTASTIC show dog. Have I mentioned that I’m extremely tempted to keep him? In theory I have one puppy available for a pet home, but if I keep this little guy, I don’t, and wow, I am SO tempted. He has a lovely broad head at this age and his bite is correct so far. Honestly too early to evaluate structure, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be excellent.
Trundling toward me outside. Honestly, what a great puppy! I think he is going to be a bit independent and something of a handful. The Tri boy back there isn’t heading toward me right that second, but in fact I think he is very person-oriented. He doesn’t so far want to explore. He wants to follow a person. He’s always moving toward a person, very seldom heading out and away. That’s a nice personality as long as he’s not shy. Which he isn’t, he’s quite bold for his age, it’s just the Blen puppy makes every other puppy in the world seem at least a little hesitant. The first move toward independence is supposed to develop about seven weeks, but I think it already has in the Blen puppy.
Wouldn’t Anara Quintessential be a great name for a show dog?
While on the subject of show dogs, check this out!
This is a boy from Morgan’s previous litter, full brother to Morgan’s current pair of boys — his name is Gimli and here he, right after winning his first major in the show ring this past weekend! Go, Gimli! Good job, Camille! His real name is Owain Lord Of Moria At Your Service, and I am pretty sure he will eventually be a “well-balanced dog” — that is, with a title at both ends. (Champion goes in the front, performance titles at the back of the name, hence the jokes about “well-balanced dogs.”)
One more dog pic from this weekend:
Morgan and Naamah are not sure what they think of Rover, my brand-new robot vacuum cleaner. I have thought about a robot vacuum cleaner for years, for obvious reasons. My primary vacuum cleaner jammed, again, and I can’t get it unjammed, again. My secondary vacuum cleaner is still functional, but I’m tired of taking my primary vacuum cleaner to the shop in town and paying for them to fix it. So this seemed like a good time to try a robot vacuum cleaner, especially since the prices have come down quite a bit since the first time I though about getting one.
So far I’m pretty optimistic about Rover. I have been following him around watching as he swooshes up leaf bits and the first oak flowers — man, I hate those things — and (this is probably not a surprise) dog hair.
The dogs are not super sure they like Rover, but I am cautiously optimistic that I am going to LOVE Rover.
Rover is filling up his teensy little dust compartment quite briskly. However, the real issue is that the entire downstairs is carpeted and, when placed downstairs, Rover is also picking up enough old ground-in dog hair to jam his roller. I actually think this is great! Who knew Rover would have powerful enough suction to do that? Also, it made me figure out how to take out and clean the roller, which fortunately is not at all difficult. (I hate hate hate having to figure out new technological appliances, so I am always really happy when an engineer somewhere makes something super easy).
I have a small scissors that is perfect for the task of cutting the pet hair so I can pull it out of the roller, and already Rover is jamming up MUCH more slowly. He has gotten stuck just once, not sure why since it looked to me like he should be able to back and turn and get out of that situation, but at the moment, I’m only running Rover when I’m home to keep an eye on him. I’m docking him downstairs, though that is not the primary living area, because I do not want the delicate power cord exposed to little puppy teeth. I’m fine with running Rover upstairs only at night, or only when I’m there to supervise, whatever turns out to be most useful.
Oh! I’m also finally able to leave the mothers unsupervised upstairs at night and go down to sleep in a real bed instead of on the couch! The couch is not bad — good thing since I slept there for the past five weeks — but I am still happy about being able to go back downstairs to the bedroom. Big milestone for puppies. Three weeks and they’re no longer subject to chilling, too big to get accidentally squashed by their mother, mobile enough to move around if they need to, AND the puppy playpen/crate thing in the living room gives Leda enough room to move away from the puppies when she wants to, but keeps her close enough they can move toward her and nurse when they actually need to. So much better than last year, when I had to wake up at least once per night and order Leda to lie down and let her puppies nurse.
Meanwhile! What ELSE is going on, you may well be asking.
A) I’ve integrated yet another proofreader’s “finds” into TASMAKAT and uploaded the new! improved! manuscript to KDP. That was Hanneke, and sure enough, she found a bunch no one else had found. We are NOWHERE NEAR my predicted 180 typos, however. This is either an extraordinarily clean manuscript, or else proofreaders are all too absorbed by the story to notice typos. Possibly both!
You know how I warned you not to start chapter 40 at bedtime because you would not be able to stop at the end of the chapter? I am happy to report that proofreaders are uniformly telling me this is one hundred percent true. I am immensely pleased to make readers stay up till 2:30 AM, but seriously, let me reiterate, do not start chapter 40 at bedtime.
B) The audiobook narrator for TARASHANA finally completed the narration, MANY ECSTATIC CHEERS FROM ME
It took much much longer to complete than I had anticipated or hoped, but it is fantastic.
I instantly hit the go button from my side … well, I had somehow lost the audiobook cover, but as soon as the artist re-sent that to me, I instantly hit the “Approve” button. So, after a hopefully short review period, TARASHANA will suddenly become available in audio format. You ought to see it available at a good price if you already own the Kindle version. I hope you do! I have certainly listened to it several times and it’s great. I hear everyone’s voices in this narrator’s voice now.
This means I ought to be moving ahead with audio editions for SUELEN and TANO as soon as possible.
PRO TIP: If you are self-publishing, do not do a royalty share arrangement with the FIRST book in a series. You cannot control the price if you do that and therefore you cannot run promotions of any kind. You do get control back after, I believe, seven years, which is actually not that long! However, I will soon be asking ACX if there is any way I can pay the audiobook narrator for the first book a fee and reclaim rights to the audiobook immediately. That way I would be able to run price promotions via, I don’t know, isn’t there something called Chirp? I’m sure there are ways to do audio promotions these days. There is no real rush, as promotion is more worthwhile when all the books in the series are available in audio format.
C) I’m making progress on the story about returning Hokino’s knife, the story that is meant to be included in the World Companion. It is not going to be 15,000 words long, ha ha ha no. It’s that long right now and we are not near the end. Instead, a middle section unexpectedly appeared, which is making the story significantly longer than I expected. Will that middle section remain in the final version? Well, I hope so, given I have written most of it. Anyway, I am now aiming to bring that story in at 30,000 words, which is approximately 100 pages. I still maintain that there’s no way this is going to expand into an actual novel. No. Way.
If any other questions occur to you that you would like to see in the “interview” section of the World Companion, or indeed if anything at occurs to you that you would like to see in the World Companion, please let me know. You can check out previous suggestions in the comments here if you like.
D) FINE, I have approached an illustrator about making a map, maybe two maps. These will be world maps, probably focused on the parts of the winter country and summer country that we’ve seen in the most detail.
If any of you happen to draw and would like to produce illustrations, I would be very happy to consider whatever you draw and I would of course pay you for artwork that gets included. I do not really want illustrations of main characters, however, as I honestly prefer to let the reader imagine characters as they wish.
This is also going to force me to double-check where tribes’ territories lie relative to inGara’s territory (I needed to do that anyway), and where counties, towns, and villages are relative to each other, and mountain ranges and stuff, in the summer lands (yes, that too needed to be done anyway). I will just mention that this is really tedious and annoying.
I hope it’s easy to include drawings and maps and things in an ebook. Google tells me that you can just add images to the Word file in the ordinary way and KDP will take it from there. Why do I suspect that it may be more difficult than that in practice?
E) Did I mention I got a clean paper copy of NO FOREIGN SKY? Well, my mother is proofreading it now. She says it is heavy going, but as long as she just looks for typos she is okay. I’m pretty sure this is not going to be the book of mine she puts at the top of her personal favorites, though. (She puts the Death’s Lady trilogy at the top.)
F) Did I mention I included the first chapter of INVICTUS as a teaser at the back of NO FOREIGN SKY? Doing that caused me to re-read the first chapter, tweaking it to match the cover art that is already finished and finalized. And THAT pulled me back into INVICTUS. It’s been just about exactly a year since I finished the draft, and I guess that has been long enough, because it’s quite seductive, pulling me away from the story about returning Hokino’s knife. I’m letting this happen, working on the new story in the morning when it’s easiest for me to do new writing; then switching to INVICTUS in the afternoon when I don’t have the right kind of mental energy to work on anything new.
So, lots of progress in various semi-random directions over the previous week! I expect this week will bring more of the same, plus lots (LOTS) more distraction from the ever-more-distracting puppies! But with luck I will not have to spend time vacuuming, even if I do need to clean the pet hair out of Rover’s roller every day for the next week before the little guy gets caught up and is able to concentrate on cleaning up those dratted oak flowers.