so I did a thing…

October 21, 2021

Sorry for the silence, I was off having an adventure.

You’ll have to take my word that that’s me on the right there. Photo courtesy of my friend’s Go-pro.

This was my first dive trip in almost three years, to the Bahamas, and it was just so wonderful being in the water again. All the skills came right back. I did 8 dives and saw some great stuff.

This was an organized shark feeding, and boy, the sharks were waiting for us. There were about 14? Hard to count, they kept moving around.

These are reef sharks (there were also a couple of nurse sharks, but they’re not in the picture). They don’t eat people, and I felt safe because they frankly weren’t interested in the people but in the tasty, tasty fish bites coming out of the bait box. Though we were warned not to stick our arms out because that’s the exact gesture the feeder makes when he offers them fish bites…

These animals are just so beautiful, I really loved getting to see them up close.

Autumn again

October 12, 2021

It’s that time of year, the annual Colorado ritual of bracing for the first real freeze and battening down the hatches.

It’s the time of year to review, reassess, look at the what the year has been so far, and look at what lies ahead. Fourth quarter is upon us. I’m okay. I’m trying to take things slow and not beat myself up, but time seems to be accelerating around me, inspiring just a bit of panic.

Breathe deep. It’s gonna be okay.

What I’m doing:

My niece’s Halloween costume went into the mail today, and that’s a big accomplishment. She picked something relatively simple this year, thank goodness. Pics when I have them.

A reminder that two new Cormac and Amelia novellas, FATAL STORM and CHARMED WATERS, will be out in a couple months. Click here to find preorder links. These will also be available on Apple Books and in audiobook versions.

And I feel like it’s about time for a new short story. Is it time for a new short story? Heck yeah! This week, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is publishing my story “The Burning Girl.” For those of you who were at the Alternate History panel at MileHi Con, this is the “Norman Conquest but with superheroes” story I was talking about. It’s a little more complicated than that. But, well, you’ll just have to read it…

And that’s what’s going on in my world.

Nomi Sunrider

October 5, 2021

I’ve survived MileHi Con! It was okay! Masks are not that bad! I had good conversations with people and that’s always the best part.

And now on to cosplay. To recap: I was a big fan of the Tales of the Jedi comics in the 90’s, mostly because of Nomi Sunrider, one of the first depictions of a woman Jedi, and she’s just amazing. Back then, I absolutely loved this image of her and thought it would make a great costume. But I didn’t have a clue how I would make it.

Flash forward to now, when I was looking through old comics and thought, well, I know exactly how to make that. 20+ years of costuming experience bubbled up, and that’s interesting, isn’t it? Experience and practice matter? Well.

I want to get some better pics at some point. Like, not in a hotel ballroom. Maybe out at Red Rocks because that would look COOL. Do a better job with my hair, too.

But for now, I am pleased.

MileHi Con this week!

September 28, 2021

MileHi Con is this week! This is going to be my first local/Colorado in-person event since…well, the last MileHi Con in 2019.

It’s gonna be weird. It’s going to be just fine, but, you know. I’m taking some extra care trying to get everything in order, and reminding myself it’s at a different hotel. Doing some mindful prep to make sure this goes well.

Also, remember my sudden realization that after 25 years I know exactly how to make this Nomi Sunrider cosplay?

I did it. She’s done, all ready to go, and I’ll be wearing her when I judge the masquerade on Saturday. I cannot wait to get some good pictures to show you.

Another thing about knowing how to do a costume like this is that it isn’t just my skills that have developed: I also have a whole bunch of friends and contacts who’ve also developed their skills. I reached out for help with a couple of pieces. My brother, the professional scenic designer and builder I might add, made a custom original lightsaber hilt for me, and it’s amazing. My friend Wendy, the professional jeweler and metalsmith, made a custom cloak clasp for me. Also amazing. (Check out her “Cake or Death” rune ring!)

Argh you guys I’m so lucky! And excited!

A few days ago I read some of my journal entries from January and February 2020, when covid was still something happening on the other side of the world, a news story third or fourth down on the roster. A bit surreal. I was doing my usual start of the year pep talks and goal setting. I started a big redecorating mission. That was gonna be the year, guys. Big things were happening, I could just feel it.

Welp, you know what they say about the light at the end of the tunnel being a train….

I still think I’ve been incredibly lucky, even with all the loss and derailed plans. And yet, my assessment of the last year and a half, and how well I have — or maybe haven’t — been doing keeps changing. Some days I think I’m fine, and some days I feel as full of rage as I ever have in my life, utterly broken with it. Some days I feel like I’m existing in the new normal and old normal simultaneously, and that’s just weird. Yay, I’m going to a convention next week! And I will be masked and won’t eat out or drink in the bar, and…yeah.

This past weekend I overhauled my kitchen to get rid of clutter, reclaim counter space, and make better use of shelves and storage, and that felt fantastic. Like something got unstuck, and maybe I need to get back to that big redecorating mission.

Which is a reminder, and one of those lessons I seem to need to learn over and over again: these things are a process. I’ve overhauled my kitchen but it’s going to be an ongoing process to keep it that way. It’s okay that my feelings about the last year or so keep changing. There’s really nothing static about nature. Just keep swimming.

What did I do this summer? I got two new Cormac and Amelia novellas ready to go, y’all! We’ve got ghosts and blizzards and folk singers and murder and cryptid hunters and mermaids in landlocked Colorado. Whew!

FATAL STORM is out in November, CHARMED WATERS in December. Kindle and Nook pre-order links are here:

Fatal Storm:

Kindle

Nook

Charmed Waters:

Kindle

Nook

operation enjoy fall

September 13, 2021

Did something a little different this Monday morning.

This is Union Reservoir, with Longs Peak on the horizon ahead of me.

It was a little windy and wavy for comfort, but it still felt GREAT being on the water. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been scuba diving? Too long.

But this is a nice way to get some sun and water until I can pull out my wetsuit again.

almost autumn

September 10, 2021

The talk in my neck of the woods is all about how, while it’s still really hot during the day, the mornings have turned cool, and the leaves are starting to go yellow. That first taste of autumn is here. Over the last few weeks of birding, I’ve noticed that the red-wing blackbirds and grackles are gone, migrated. So are the warblers. But the mergansers and buffleheads will probably be showing up soon.

I’m not an autumn fangirl like some people, but I think I’m looking forward to it this year. This summer was frantic and fraught. All those things we said we were going to cram into this summer because we missed out on them last year… and it was okay. It was all okay.

But this year, I think I’m looking forward to that shift, that transition, that happens when the temperature drops. It’s time to catch my breath.

My next event is MileHi Con, happening a bit early this year, October 1-3. This’ll be quite a bit different than Marcon for me, because it’s local, familiar, because I know so many people. But it’s at a new hotel, in the post-pandemic world, so it will also be different. I’m expecting some pretty profound culture shock.

I’ll bring a costume or two. That’ll make me feel better.

travel

September 7, 2021

This past weekend was my first time on an airplane and at a convention in two years — and it went fine! I had a lot of anxiety the day before — did I even remember how to travel? Did you know you can check in for flights online?! But the flights all went smoothly, and I even managed plane changes in the Atlanta airport with less than an hour for layovers each time. Absolutely the smoothest layovers I’ve ever had at that freaking airport. Car park and pickup also went fine. Managed regular meals. So yeah, I guess I still got it.

There’s a strangeness to all of this — yes, everybody wear masks and keep your distance, and now we’re going to pack you in shoulder-to-shoulder on the plane, and here’s beverage service and everyone will now remove their masks to drink! I keep telling myself it’s a numbers game — reducing risk, reducing odds. Out in public, we’re never going to be 100% safe. So if we want to do this out in public thing, we have to mitigate to some degree. But it’s not perfect. Vaccines increase the odds in our favor.

Of course it would help if our vaccination numbers were higher. I’m isolating at home for a bit to make sure I didn’t bring anything back with me.

Marcon in Ohio was a good convention to come back to. Masks required, everyone was friendly and helpful. Small and cozy, no crowds or lines. I got a chance to chat with folks and also hang out with Tobias Buckell, a writer friend of mine from way back, and meet artist Sara Felix. Signed a lot of books and bookplates.

I admit, I felt a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. Traveling still feels risky. But then I’ve been seeing pictures on social media of people going to packed stadiums and concerts where no one’s wearing masks and I suddenly feel a lot better about the risks I took. I’m not ready for big crowds yet, I don’t think.

For a lot of this year I’ve been doing that thing where I don’t want to watch new things, I want to watch old comfortable predictable things. But this weekend I blew through a bunch of stuff I’ve been meaning to watch for literally years. I’ve been avoiding them because I knew they would make me cry, and they did, but at least I can talk about them now.

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Okay, I know this isn’t a biopic. Well, it’s a fictional biopic. It’s still about music and musicians, anyway. Basically, this is a movie about how Gen X is hoping like hell that Gen Z saves our asses. This is a movie about how we very much believe they will.


Bohemian Rhapsody

Not totally satisfying. It’s quite disjointed, mostly made up of episodic vignettes about how Queen came up with their iconic songs, alongside Freddie Mercury’s trials and travails.  But the Live Aid recreation is just as phenomenal as everyone said it was. My favorite thing about that sequence is how much time the camera spends on the faces of the other band members, plainly showing their love for Freddie, but also their deep concern, and their wonder, which all contribute to this sense of something epic unfolding. I love ensembles, and this was a good scene for an ensemble.


Rocketman

The best of the bunch. It’s set up as an actual musical, which meant the film could be surreal as well as deeply emotional, and it felt like it had an arc. I adored how the background music riffed on “Yellow Brick Road” throughout, but when it came time to actually sing the lyrics, it was Bernie who sang the song, not Elton John.

Analysis

Both movies still kept to the rock star biopic formula:  extraordinary rock star plummets into drug and alcohol use and self loathing, alienating the people who really care about him while being manipulated by an evil mercenary lover, who must be repudiated before the star can reunite with his true self and friends. And/or he dies. (I’m so deeply glad I ended this series with Rocketman, where Elton is still alive and happy and successful. It’s ultimately an uplifting film, which these movies often aren’t.) What is it with rock stars and these stories that we’re so willing to watch over and over and over and over and over again? It’s some kind of twisted modern version of the Hero’s Journey. We love these movies because we love the people/characters they depict, but there’s a sameness to the story that I find frustrating.

Also: these two films are structured exactly the same.  Both films begin at the climactic moment. Just dipping in. Just a hint, a scene of the star marching to his destiny, full of his own aura. In Freddie’s case, to the Live Aid Concert, in Elton’s, to rehab. Then, the rewind. Going back to the start, so we can follow the path all the way out and then end up at the climactic moment in order, now with the context fully laid out.

This is so interesting to me. Different approaches in terms of presenting the content, but the structure is the same. I think Rocketman is more successful because it goes on to use rehab as a frame story in which to tell Elton’s history, which gives the movie a lot of cohesion.

Big Mood

Me spinning up Bohemian Rhapsody:  Ugh, I know I’m just going to sob my head off if they play “Somebody to Love.” (Film begins with that song) uuuuuuggghhhhhh.


Me spinning up Rocketman the following night:  Ugh, I know I’m just going sob my head off if they play “Yellow Brick Road.” (Film begins with instrumental riff of that song) GODDAMMIT