Space Operatic (and other things)

As November draws to a close, I’m wondering what happened to June. Seriously. Life has moved at breakneck speed for the past half year. Here’s the short list:

  • Starting a new day job.
  • A vacation in Denver, including excursions into the Rockies and a drive to the summit of Mt. Evans.
  • Selling the house we called home for the past 24 years.
  • Downsizing to a new home, with the attendant divesting, investing, moving, and reorganizing.
  • Closing our publishing imprints One Voice Press and Serpent Cliff.
  • Creating a new imprint, Red Tales.
  • Trying to find time to write.

The last has been a challenge, given how crowded the days have been. I published rather less on Medium, made zero progress on Howard County Mystery #4, and completely failed to move Space Operatic to publication, as I’d promised in my last post back in March.

Yeah, March. I haven’t been posting here much, either.

The good news is, things are starting to free up just a little. My short story “Hot Ice” did well in the NYC Flash Fiction Challenge, placing fifth in my group of 30 entrants. I’ve kick-started HCM #4 (I’ll let you know the title once I figure it out myself), and here’s the big news:

Space Operatic will be released March, 2020.

This is, of course, God willing. Kathleen will tackle final editing, typesetting, and layout starting in January. The cover reveal will likely be end of January, beginning of February. You can read a possible cover blurb in my last post.

Space Operatic is a humorous science fiction tale featuring grand opera, corporate greed, rebellious miners, bloodthirsty mercenaries, and plenty of unforeseen consequences, all on the outer fringes of our solar system. Here’s a small sampling:

Liwanu eyeballed Pauli as a disappointed teacher might a daft student. “Space Operatic is here to raise morale, not make commercials.”

“They’re here to sell tickets,” Worthington snapped. “Where’s the facilities manager? What am I doing here, anyway?”

“You were invited.” The Culture Minister offered him a grim smile, as though she thoroughly enjoyed watching him writhe under torture. Which, he knew, she did.

“No kidding.”

“Didn’t raise his morale,” muttered Liwanu’s appointments secretary, a plump fellow with a face bearing an odd resemblance to a manatee’s. Liwanu smacked him on the arm, a rebuke he took with amazing aplomb. “Hey!”

Pauli drew himself up to his full height, which wasn’t impressive but probably made him feel vaguely assertive. “We could use them. That Macaroni fellow—”

“Maccarone,” Liwanu corrected.

“—would make a great spokesman.”

“At least Nabucco had an escape door,” Worthington grumped. He had no use for an opera company or the owner thereof, no matter how charismatic. What he really needed was one more body on the board of directors, a loyal sidekick who would unhesitatingly follow his lead, a yes-man too stupid or too desperate to question him. He wasn’t going to find such a stooge standing around here.

Liwanu looked out the window and up into the darkness. She pointed. A pinprick light had appeared in the sky: the transport beginning a cautious descent in the feeble gravity. It brightened with almost imperceptible leisure. “Forget Maccarone,” she told Pauli. “He’s a purist. Even if he needs the money, he’d be too stupid to take it.”

Watching the light grow, unsure that it actually was growing, Worthington pondered that and thought, Hmm.

[From Space Operatic, chapter 2, © 2019 by Dale E. Lehman ]

Please help me spread the word. Let’s make March fun!


See the right sidebar? Those are my new covers for the first three Howard County Mysteries. The new editions, published by Red Tales, are now on sale all over the place. You should be able to find them at your favorite online store. Brick-and-mortar stores can order them for you, too. If you don’t mind the original covers, you can still get them at clearance prices at Serpent Cliff.

So that’s one big job for 2019 crossed of my list. Next up: Space Operatic! If you’ve been following me, you’ll have heard me mention it here and there. We’re starting the book design now. The novel will be released sometime later this year (release date to be determined). To whet your appetite, here’s a possible blurb for the back cover:

Curse be damned!

Roberto Maccarone has taken his company, Space Operatic, to the fringes of the solar system in pursuit of artistic acclaim. But in the cold dark of the Oort Territories where the culture scene is lower than that found in most petri dishes, Lady Luck plays hard-to-get. Maccarone’s theater blows up, a power-mad businessman tricks him into spying on a gang of malcontent miners, and a horde of ruthless mercenaries descend, guns blazing. Really, now, how hard can it be to stage a performance?

Some say a curse has followed the company ever since that incident on Titan, but Maccarone will never lose faith, especially since he’s discovered that the most fabulous theater in the solar system lies just next door, cosmically speaking. If only he could play that theater, Maccarone’s success would be assured! But the keys are held in the icy grip of the local Culture Minister, and nothing–not Maccarone, not obscene amounts of money, not even that guy who juggles flaming kabobs while singing an ancient song about how great America was–can pry them loose. Will it be fame for Maccarone and his troupe? Or unemployment in Beelzebub’s outhouse?

Let me know what you think!

Written While You Watch

In July 2018, I undertook a small experiment and wrote a short story while readers “watched.”

Naturally it wasn’t quite like that. I wrote and published the story on, so nobody was actually looking over my shoulder. Instead, I inserted comments as I wrote, indicating some of my thought processes and points at which I took breaks. The result was “Zoe,” one of my most popular Medium stories to date, not bad for a first draft. Two weeks later, I published the final version, which contained substantial edits. You can read both versions here:

I like to think the story proved popular because it’s good, but a lot of writers found it valuable in another sense: they got to see some of my thought processes. The experiment proved so successful that I repeated it in more detail. The result was “The Test.”

“The Test” was presented in three versions, a first draft, a revised draft, and a final draft. The first draft included notes written while writing. The revised draft included notes about what I revised and why. The final draft was the completed story without commentary. If you’re interested in seeing how a story evolves, “The Test” provides a deeper look. You can read all versions here:

If you’re interested in the writing process, I hope you enjoy these experiments and find them valuable. And if not, I hope you enjoy the final versions. Thank you for reading!

The offiical website of author Dale E. Lehman