April 2023!

April 7, 2023

(Reminder that this is mirrored on my Patreon page.)

So, how’s the weather where you’re at? Spring? Winter? Both at once? Yeah…

News in my world: I just spent three weeks in New Zealand. This was a bucket-list trip, one I was supposed to take in 2020 but didn’t, because 2020 was the year of NO. I finally decided to do it now, because if I kept waiting for the right time it would never happen. I ran myself ragged like I usually do when I travel and had a great time. I got to ride a horse in the area where bits of Lord of the Rings were filmed, go kayaking, and see mountains that are like the Alps and Rockies all smooshed together. And so many new birds! A thing I learned: Kiwi are part of the same family of birds as emu, ostriches, cassowary—you know, all flightless birds that can kill you with their feet. Turns out Kiwi can too – if you’re really small. Here’s a video of one beating the crap out of a possum. Who knew??? Now I want a monster movie full of giant kiwi. 

(It makes me wonder mightily about another flightless New Zealand bird, the Moa, right? Extinct, alas. But probably good in a fight.)  

This month’s lesson: No formal lesson. Instead, let’s have a check-in session, because that’s what I’ve been doing in my own brain. What are you working on? What successes are you celebrating? What problems are you grappling with? Want to talk about it? Venting can help! I’ve got some venting of my own, so come join me!

Promotion: I’m going to have a lot in a bit. I’m planning a Kickstarter campaign to publish my next short story collection, and my first graphic novel is coming out this summer. Stay tuned, you bet your ass I’ll be posting about them.

Movies on airplanes: Gosh, in-flight entertainment has gotten fancy! Hundreds of movies at the touch of a button! I rewatched the new Dune film, because I just wanted something big and pretty that would put me to sleep. I had a slightly better reaction to it than I did the first time, when I was rather underwhelmed.

On the way back I watched The Fablemans, Spielberg’s latest, reportedly semi-autobiographical film about a kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s who wants to make movies. Y’all, this wrecked me, which wasn’t comfortable because I was in the middle seat on a thirteen-hour trans-Pacific flight, openly crying while trying not to but oh well. I have a bunch of quibbles with the film:  it’s too long, a lot of the characterizations of Sam’s family are broadly painted at best and caricatures at worst (his sisters are almost literally props). But where the film really shines are the scenes where Sam slowly learns that he can use movies to manipulate reality, to control people’s emotions, to affect their perceptions. This film has a really powerful thread about art and meaning that got to me.

Digging into that a bit: A couple of people in Sam’s life tell him, “You’re special because you’re an artist.” And that’s an easy platitude, right? Really, though, we (yeah, I’m talking about me here) aren’t any more or less special than anyone else. On the other hand, artists pretty much have to believe they’re special if they want to get their work out there. We have to believe that what we’re saying and making is worth hearing and seeing. It’s a big leap, believing that.

And…we artists have figured out how to manipulate reality. We can control peoples’ emotions. I don’t know if it makes us special but it makes us different, and it isolates us. A big part of the film is Sam realizing that this power is both positive and negative, and what is he going to do with that?

Then there’s the very last scene in which Sam meets legendary director John Ford, played by David Lynch, and holy shit that’s where I just lost it, right there on the plane. Because that scene doesn’t go the way I thought it would, it’s completely surreal and wonderful and I don’t want to say anything else about it lest I spoil it. (I will tell you the lesson I took from the scene: Don’t overthink it, kid. Seriously.)

For all its faults The Fablemans has landed on my list of top-five Spielberg films. I’ll have to watch it again, to see for sure. (What are the others? In order: Empire of the Sun, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I don’t know what 4 is, it keeps changing, but it’s probably tied with The Fablemans.)

Books: Over the last year and a half I’ve been reading a lot of what might be classified as self-help books, books on creativity, and similar. I have a lot of thoughts about this category that I haven’t quite organized, mostly having to do with how on the whole these seem to be directed at upper-middle class, white-collar, Americans. Makes sense, it’s a category for people with time and money to spend on self help, right? Anyway. The one book so far that I’ve been telling everyone about, the one that has explained the most to me, is Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s not your imagination, group projects really do suck, and yet we keep getting assigned them anyway.

So here we are, in April. Let’s do the things!


Reminder: the new Cormac and Amelia novella, CHARMED WATERS, is out tomorrow!

I’ve been traveling again. Jumping in with both feet, and it’s been strange. Like, 85% normal and the last 15% is masks and atrocious bureaucratic hoops and paranoia. I’m really out of practice at this under the best circumstances. But I’m also glad to be doing it, not because it’s getting back to normal, but because it’s an attempt to approach the world on the terms of this new normal.

My next trip is going to be to Washington D.C. for Worldcon. Which is not usually in December, mind you, but is an attempt at scheduling around everything. Hey, you remember back last spring when we thought everything was going to settle down by now? Yeah, good times.

And a quick TV update. Only Murders in the Building was fun, a bit of a contemporary comedy intersecting with the obsession over true crime stories. Mostly it was really lovely seeing Steve Martin do his thing in something new.

Foundation. Oof. Y’all, I really wanted to like this. It’s awfully pretty. It’s been so long since I read the books I don’t really care about how good of an adaptation it is, I just wanted the show to be intriguing and interesting…and watchable. It is none of these. Disjointed, repetitive, and mostly going for sensationalism rather than a coherent story. I made it through episode 5, then bailed, and I’m sorry for that.

Next up: Hawkeye and the live-action Cowboy Bebop.

ICFA cancelled

March 12, 2020

Just an update — Reports are coming in that ICFA is cancelled, so I’ve gone ahead and cancelled all my travel plans for next week. I’m disappointed — I even had a couple of Florida birding spots picked out. But this also feels like the responsible thing to do. The reports coming out of Italy have me spooked.

Flatten that curve…


I’m back!

August 26, 2019

I arrived back from Ireland late last night and have not gotten nearly enough sleep. Am now confronted with all the things I need to do and pulling together everything at home I’ve been neglecting and going through all the emails and so on. And I have no food. So clever, eating all the food before the trip. Argh.

A couple of things before I log off to continue wallowing in the chaos:

On September 14th, I’ll be in Reno, Nevada, taking part in the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl, along with David Anthony Durham and other great authors. That’s coming up quick…

I have now been translated into Chinese:  my story “The Lady of Shalott” appeared in Chinese SF magazine Science Fiction World this month.

I saw so much in Ireland my brain is packed full and I’m still processing.

Worldcon in Dublin was good, but I feel like I didn’t get to see and do everything I could have. It was spread out and things got crowded. But I really enjoyed meeting a bunch of readers and fans and all my programming was packed with enthusiastic people. I read from a brand-new Kitty story, which I’m provisionally calling “Kitty Walks on By, Calls Your Name,” but I’m expecting the have to change it. We’ll see. It’s about Kitty going to her 10-year high school reunion. It’ll be out next year.

And now, back to the email mines…


Worldcon: Dublin

August 8, 2019

This time next week I’ll be in Dublin for Worldcon. I’ve got a whole list of things I want to do and see during and after the convention, but I have to clean the house first and finish up some work and make sure I have my passport in hand and. . . so yeah, I’m a little stressed right now. Soon, though, I’ll be away and enjoying myself.

Long time readers of the blog will remember the last time I was in Ireland, in 2014 for Eurocon, when Newgrange completely blew my mind and I started obsessing endlessly about what must have been going on there 5000 years ago, the civilization that would have been required to build the thousands of tombs and forts and circles that date to that period, of which very little evidence remains. I wrote a story inspired by that trip:  “Sun, Stone, Spear.”  I also decided that I really wanted to go back to Ireland and see as many of megalithic structures and regions as I could.

After the convention, I’ll be doing just that. I’m excited and daunted and we’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, the programming schedule for Worldcon is available.  I’ll be on a handful of panels, I have a reading and autograph session, and I’ll be doing a kaffeeklatch. Maybe I’ll see you there!


Christmastime is here…

December 24, 2018

I’ve been on vacation for the last two weeks, and arrived home bemused to realize that Christmas is, like, here. Fortunately, I appear to be carrying some of that vacation calm with me. Hey, if it hasn’t been done by now, it’s not going to be. And that’s okay.

I read three books, gave up on a fourth halfway through, plotted two short stories, listed a dozen lifers on my bird list, my favorite of which is probably the ruby-topaz hummingbird. (Seriously, is that not one of the most beautiful birds you’ve ever seen?) Logged four dives. Bonaire is now one of my favorite diving locations. The biodiversity was incredible on all the ABC islands I visited.

And now, it’s time to pack up and head to the family and do the holiday thing.

A couple of things went live while I was gone:

The Island of Beasts, my Regency-era story about exiled werewolves, is up on Nightmare.

My reviews of First Man and The House with a Clock in Its Walls are up on Lightspeed.

Speaking of which I am SO BEHIND on movie watching right now. Hoping to get to Aquaman soon. Maybe. I hope.

Happy Holidays, all.



September 6, 2017

I found building-sized murals all over Reykjavik. This one in particular appealed to me:

more Iceland

August 28, 2017

For half my Iceland trip, I rented a car and got out into the country a bit. So the thing about Iceland that becomes pretty clear after just a few hours of driving around:  It’s entirely volcanic.  In fact, and weirdly, the geology of Iceland is a lot like the geology of Hawaii. It’s just that one is tropical and one is sub-arctic, and it’s so cool seeing how those differences in climate play out. Instead of being covered with lush jungle, the lava fields in Iceland are covered in scrubby moss and birch. (Well, the windward side of the Big Island is scrubby new lava fields, much like Iceland.)  But there are still waterfalls everywhere you look, and basalt cliffs falling into the ocean, and entire mountain ranges that could go off at any moment.

It’s very cool.

At one point I said the immortal words, “Hey, I’m not in a hurry, let’s take the back way!”  I probably shouldn’t have done that, but I’m really glad I did.

Coming around a curve, I looked out the window and saw this:

I think I actually said out loud, “Oh my God a shield volcano.”  Like, an actual classic shield volcano just sitting out there. I pulled over to the side of the road to get a picture, I was so excited. I checked later and learned this is Mt Skjaldbreiður, and it produced the lava fields that make up Þingvellir National Park.

Mt. Snaefells, of Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth fame, is also a shield volcano.

mt snaefells

So. Much. Geology, y’all.


sitrep: the return!

August 18, 2017

Turns out last weekend was a pretty good time to be out of the country.

So, I’m back. I spent a day riding an Icelandic horse, I bought a lot of Icelandic yarn, I experienced a Finnish sauna, I ate a bunch of cod in one country and then a bunch of salmon in another, added maybe a dozen birds to my life list including the Atlantic puffin.  I took the fast ferry between Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia — so that’s three new countries checked off on one trip! I learned what Finland did during World War II, which it turns out is very complicated. I caught up with a lot of friends, went to the Hugo Losers Party at Steam Helsinki, a steampunk bar. And yes, I lost a Hugo, and had a great time.

Modern communication being what it is and wifi being everywhere, I kept up with the news pretty well, though I might have wished to be a little more cut off.  Strange days indeed, so while I’m still plowing through emails and doing laundry and sorting out the gifts I brought back for people and planning an eclipse viewing roadtrip (yes, I’m gonna do it!), I leave you with this:

Ten Ways To Fight Hate, from the Southern Poverty Law Center.



Worldcon Helsinki!

August 9, 2017

Worldcon Helsinki starts today!

Let’s do this thing! Adventure ho!