September 2022 Update

September 1, 2022

Update! State of the Me! (Reminder that I’m primarily on Patreon these days.)

It’s September! Cue the litany of “Wow this year is going so fast.” I’m actually looking forward to autumn. Summer has been kind of a slog. Too hot, and too much feeling like I’ve got one foot in the pandemic world and one foot testing out the new normal. Jumping back and forth between them. Nothing much happening despite all the fires I’ve been lighting. (Am I cooking something? Committing arson? Who knows!) That first hint of cool has started creeping into the air, and the summer birds have migrated – the blackbirds and grackles are gone, the warblers and swallows are mostly gone. I’m starting to look out for the waterbirds that spend their winter here in Colorado.

This month’s lesson:  Dealing with rejection. I know this is a huge deal for lots of aspiring writers. I learned to deal with it because I started out too young to know any better. I’ll tell you how I feel about it and suggest some concrete strategies for getting over it.

I spent last weekend at Bubonicon, Albuquerque New Mexico’s local science fiction convention. I’m so out of practice that I almost forgot to tell anyone I was going! Gotta start back with that publicity thing… Like the rest of the summer, it almost felt normal. (Almost… as one friend said, “We’ve all gone feral!” Yeah, and I maybe kind of like being feral?)  I had actual conversations with multiple people! I bought art in the art show! And I got a lifer bird while staying with a friend nearby:  a ladder backed woodpecker.

What I’m working on: Well. What am I working on? I have a short story I need to write for a workshop I’m going to in a couple of weeks. I’m still plowing ahead on the current novel. I’m almost at the point where I need to stop and go back from the beginning to fill in all the holes. And I just got notes back from my agent on the previous novel. Suddenly, my brain is full again and that feels good.

The Cormac and Amelia Case Files is happening. This is a compilation of all my Cormac and Amelia stories, and will have a print edition. I’ll post pre-order links when I have them. At some point I’ll talk about my experience with self publishing, why I went hybrid, and all that stuff. But this is going to be my big release this year. 

Reading:  I’ve been in a bit of a reading lull, but I did finish and can recommend Cosplay: A History, by Andrew Liptak. It leans heavily into Star Wars and the 501st because Andrew’s a member, but it also digs into earlier histories of costume and fandom – Victorian costume parties, historical re-enactment, and so on. People have liked dressing up as other people for a very long time!

Watching:  I’m still so far behind on my watching. I loved Prey, the latest in the Predator franchise. I’ve been a fan of Amber Midthunder since Legion (one of my favorite TV shows of the last ten years) and she’s wonderful here.  I watched The Sandman, and it was fine – but it’s not clear from the outset that it leans heavily into horror/dark fantasy and people need to know that. Looks beautiful. I read the graphic novel something like twenty years ago and don’t remember it well, so can’t speak to it as an adaptation. The one thing I tell people about the book:  It’s a product of its time, very 90’s post-punk. Same milieu that produced The Crow and Worlds of Darkness RPGs. And while I was exactly the right age for all that when it was coming out, it never spoke to me as strongly as it did a lot of other people my age. I was all over Wild Cards, Star Wars spin-offs, and The X-Files.

And…it’s back to work. Is it too early to be looking for the first snow?

SNOW!

January 3, 2022

We got our snow! 6-7 inches of it, along with frigid temperatures. I didn’t shovel the drive in December but I did it January 1, so close enough, and finally, finally it feels like winter. This is why the holidays never really felt like the holidays. I joke that I’m allowed to start playing holiday music when we get snow, and this year…no snow. The whole thing just felt off. (It would be different if I lived someplace like Florida and didn’t expect snow, but this is freaking Colorado.)

And now it’s winter. Whew. Didn’t really realize how much I was missing it until this weekend.

fire

December 31, 2021

Welp. 2021, the year of 100 T-Rexes, continues right up to the bloody end.

Yesterday, 100 mph winds drove a wildfire directly through the suburban corridor south of Boulder.

I’m fine. I live about 20 miles north of the fire, which was moving the other direction. I’ve gotten lots of messages asking if I’m okay, and the answer is yes. Although twenty years ago I lived in a house that’s about half a mile from the edge of the burn zone. That’s my old stomping grounds that burned.

A lot of people in my area aren’t okay today. If you’re able to help and want to, the Boulder County Wildfire Fund is accepting donations.

Stay safe out there. Hug your peeps.

I decided to not wait for the new year and am trying to be a little bit productive this week. Build up some momentum, right? I haven’t felt like myself for a few weeks now — traveling through the fall, Worldcon, then worries about omicron dropping on everything like a ton of bricks. Much of the socializing that normally happens this time of year hasn’t happened and it’s made me sad.

So, work it is. This month I sold a short story, submitted another one, am wrapping up a draft of a thing that’s kind of an experiment and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, and lined up the next couple of projects after that. Sometimes the hardest part of this gig is figuring out what to work on next.

We still haven’t had any appreciable snowfall in my part of Colorado. My friend in Crested Butte sent pictures of the three feet of snow they got last week. I’m a little miffed. In all my years in Colorado I’ve never gone all the way through December without needing to shovel the drive at least once.

I did get a lifer bird on this week’s bird walk:  a canvasback. Three of them, actually. This was a bird I thought I’d checked off already, but it turns out I haven’t. That was a nice end-of-year birding bonus!

Mostly I think I need to spend this week wrapping my brain around the fact that this time next week will be 2022. Happy New Year, friends! Brace for impact…

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.

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.

Adventure weekend!

June 8, 2021

I had a weekend full of good hikes and visiting, staying with a friend out in Crested Butte. I’m incredibly grateful for the means and ability to just hop in my car and go on trips like this. I try not to take it for granted.

Colorado is full of spots like this and I just love it:

(If it’s not clear, the text on the sign reads “Cottonwood Pass, Elevation 12,216 Feet, Continental Divide, Atlantic Ocean, San Isabel National Forest, Pacific Ocean, Gunnison National Forest.)

Really beautiful country. Still lots snow up there.

And then I drove home in time to see a tornado touch down maybe 25 miles from my house while I was on the freeway. So that was exciting.

This pic is close to the view I got. Unmistakable. Fascinating and also a little terrifying. It was evening rush hour and I wonder what would have happened if it had crossed the freeway…

Global Big Day 2021

May 12, 2021

Once again, I participated in the Global Big Day birding marathon. I like it because it gets me out and encourages me to challenge myself. (i.e. Get out in the field before 8 am. If I were a better birder I’d be out by 6 am, but I just enjoy that extra half hour of lying in a warm bed too much, it turns out. 8 am it is.)

This year’s results? Pretty good. I got a great lifer: a marsh wren.

42 species total. I can’t seem to break 50. I probably could have if I had made one more stop at a different set of ponds, but the weather was turning horrendous, with a big thunderstorm rolling in, and I just didn’t want to stay out in it to try to land six extra ducks.

Because that was the weird thing: there’s a whole list of duck species I reliably see at the locations where I went, and I saw NONE of them this year. This seems to happen a lot: I get close to 50, but then there’s a handful of common species I just sort of miss. And it’s a different handful every year. Like, one year I missed pigeons. Pigeons, dammit.

If you listed all the species I’ve seen on all my Big Days together, I’d be up to 70 or 80 I think. But no, the little beasties just don’t cooperate.

But that marsh wren was great. So was the colony of bank swallows I discovered when I went just a bit farther down this one trail, and the last bird of the day I logged: a warbling vireo.

And, best of all, it’s spring, and the migrating birds are returning, and this is a really good chance to get out and welcome them back.

spring!

May 3, 2021

It’s t-shirt weather today, and I’m LOVING it. This is doing a lot to improve my mood. Mind you, this is Colorado and we’re due for another bout of chilly rain and weather next week. But contrast is good for the soul, I suppose.

Another thing I love about this time of year is watching bird migration. The ospreys are back, reclaiming their nests and laying eggs. All winter, the local ponds hosted big flocks of mergansers and goldeneyes. As of last week, the mergansers are gone, but western grebes and teals have arrived to replace them. The wrens and warblers and orioles should be back soon, as well.

Next week is the Global Big Day, when birders all over the world go out to ID and count birds. I’m looking forward to it, though I haven’t quite figured out my plan yet. I’m going to stay local, but at the same time try to see some old favorite spots in a new light.