Category Archives: True Stories

Anecdotes from my past and present.

Three great things about this week

Posted on June 19, 2015 by

imageSusan Palwick has begun a practice (inspired I believe by Terry Windling) of posting the three best things about her day on Facebook. I don’t think I could do this every day, especially not this week, but here are three lovely things about some random weeklike period before my cold germs set in.

One: Kelly came home with sushi last night so I wouldn’t cook, and dinner was therefore not only consumed but cleaned up by five o’clock. We immediately hopped up and hauled our butts to the Art Gallery of Ontario, even though it was closing at half past, and spent twenty glorious minutes getting acquainted with Silke Otto-Knapp, who paints eerie monochrome and low-contrast watercolor images on canvas. Haunting stuff–check it out! They booted us out when they closed;  we snuffled around the store and came home. We’d had a full day and a sublime artistic experience, and there were still had four hours of evening left to us.

When we moved to Toronto, we were in search of many things, including the shortest possible commuting time, for Kelly, from her job. This, in a nutshell, would be why.

Two: A call to boycott my publisher, Tor Books, for spurious political reasons has spawned a simultaneous buy-cott. The Twitter hashtag #TheTorYouKnow is filled with recommendations for great books by many terrific writers. If you want to support Tor or its authors and are flat broke, you can! Some of the Best from 2014 is available in the Kindle store for free. It’s got my story The Color of Paradox in it, along with so many other great things.

As you’ve probably noticed, I fucking love it when people turn their backs on any kind of hatred, conflict or wankage and instead channel their attention, positive energy and in this case cold hard cash in a concrete and helpful direction. I’m betting and hoping that after this particular surge of activity subsides, we’ll all  expand the conversation, so we can talk about great non-Tor authors and publishers who also deserve our clicks, tweets, eyeballs, rave reviews and money. This hashtag, and this buycott, are necessarily about the thing going on today. The wider conversation… well, it encompasses more of us, and I don’t think anyone has forgotten that.

Three: I like to think I’m an optimist, but I’m perilously cautious. I didn’t believe marriage equality would happen in my lifetime… until about three minutes before it was obvious I ought to start planning a legal wedding. Every time the world gets better, in some ephemeral or quantifiable way, part of me is a little surprised. Hoping for the best while keeping expectations low is self-protective, I know. Anyway, the first episode of Sense8 surprised me. There are things about Nomi Marks and her relationship with Amanita that reflect my queer life in ways I’ve never seen on TV. I never expected to see Pride and the gay community, as I’ve experienced it on the flicker box. Blow me down, folks.

Feel free to share if anything rocked your week.

Domestic Blintz

Posted on June 16, 2015 by

CD705BB0-1279-4611-A3E6-503A5977A6B9Being a round-up of things that have happened lately, none of them deserving their own blog entry and hopefully numbering more good items than not:

Awesome: you all know that Kelly has a novella up at, right? An artfully luminous historical fantasy called “Waters of Versailles?” You didn’t know? Oh, hey, I strongly urge you to go read it there for free. For bonus hugs next time we see you, post a comment on the Tor site!

Good: Boots, boots, the musical fruit! A little boon this month means we have the dosh to see Kinky Boots live this Saturday at yet another of the theaters that is a ten-minute walk from our front frickin’ door. Why did we move to Toronto? Not just this. But also: yeah!

Humph! After six months of very careful rehab, I was seeing some very nice healing in the soft tissue injury on the top of my left foot. Then I made a sincere attempt to turn my ankle last weekend. All the usual rehab remedies and yoga modifications will continue for the foreseeable.  It’s not quite as bad as last time, thankfully.

Also, I have a cold. (I bundle this into the thing about the ankle so that I only have to remind you guys once that I’m one of those who really doesn’t want unsolicited medical advice.)

Good! 23 sleeps until Readercon. OMG OMG, OMG! Our last true vacation began 285 sleeps ago. Yes, I have an app that counts these things. Peter Straub will be there. Eeeeee!!!! Boston, I cannot wait to be in you!

Good: I make really great burritos.* I made them for friends on the weekend, and they agree. The lurkers support me in their tummies, so there!

Pretty Good: The new Avengers movie holds together better the second time through. I’m not saying it isn’t still problematic, clunky, and in need of a good tune-up, but it’s more watchable on the next go-round. (Your mileage may vary, but I would argue that the opposite is true of Guardians of the Galaxy.)

Neutral: Our building air conditioner needs a bit of a rebuild and the parts didn’t come in March when they were supposed to, so we are going to be without global AC for approximately ten days. After pretending for a little while that denial would get us through, in an apartment that regularly cracks 90° in the afternoon in April (we get a lot of late-day sun through our glorious, beautiful windows) we went out and got a movable AC unit. It just seems smarter than not sleeping for a week and eventually running the cats to the veterinarian for heatstroke.

We will try to recoup some of the cost by throwing it at Craigslist and Kijiji when the building HVAC is back in service. If you are in Toronto and want a next-to-new AC unit at a steep discount, drop us a line.

Smugness: Speaking of my apartment, I drafted this post last night in the building hot tub.

A little sad: My grandmother Joan’s birthday is today. Gone two years now, still very much missed.

Damn, I want to end up on an up note! I love my pajamas! I love my hair! I love my whole house! I love my wife and my cats and daytime decongestants! I got my OAC Works-in-Progress grant app in on time! The smash-hit comedy Hannibal is finally back on the air! Funniest thing on TV, folks–get your yuks right here!

Okay, this is ridiculous, and if I use any more exclamation marks today, someone’s going to start charging. Back to bed.



*My  highly inauthentic family recipe draws upon the finest traditions of 2nd-generation Italian immigrants living in Reno, Nevada.

A few more #SFFLove Valentines, now with free ebooks

Posted on June 15, 2015 by

Conspiracy Keanu is into peace and love.

Conspiracy Keanu is into peace and love.

The weekend past was full of lovely tweets and lots of people appreciating each other back and forth on social media, and I’d like to think it lifted a few spirits. I found it interesting to learn so many new things about why my various peers and acquaintances and colleagues and friends are, quite simply, great human beings. A lot of awesome got lauded.

Author Rebecca Simkin has written a marvelous round-up of things and people she loves within the SFF community, including Julie Czerneda and ChiZine Pubications. And now ChiZine is getting in on the joy by offering a free ebook to anyone who spreads the love. Here’s what they say:

ChiZine will send a free ebook of your choice to anyone else who spreads the love and talks about stuff in the SF, F & H worlds that they think rocks. Post on your blog and post on our FB page. ‘Cause our slogan is “EMBRACE the odd.” We’re all about love & hugs, yo. And sometimes Aztec sacrifice and ripping hearts out of chests and monsters under the bed and giant spider gods and messed up religious cops and robot god battles and epic space opera with mutants and fish-kitten mutants in boxes…but mostly love and hugs.

(I know not everyone’s on Facebook. Do take it up with ChiZine. They’re lovely folks and I’m betting something can be worked out.)

In the meantime, look at what they’re saying: write a blog post about something fantastic in the SF community, something that warms your heart, steels your spirit, lifts your soul… and there’s a free book in it for you! Money can’t buy you love, but for the moment, love can buy you fiction. How cool is that?

SFF Love-in spreads and gets a hashtag from @JulietteWade – #SFFLove

Posted on June 12, 2015 by

3891536336_0d52c64a4c.jpgHurrah! Setsu Uzume and Jamie Mason both took up the challenge of yesterday’s post about fantastic people in the SF/F/H community. And over on Facebook, Juliette Wade very sensibly pointed out that this love thing needs a hashtag.

Setsu and Jamie, you are entitled to claim a pink-hearted copy of Child of a Hidden Sea. And one lucky remaining player can claim the third. (After that, if this thing seems to have legs, maybe there’s some chance of soliciting prizebribes from other participants.) But bribes aside, thank you. Just reading your lovely words to Nick Mamatas and Marguerite Reed and Maryann Mohanraj and Eric Flint and so many more–the pure unadulterated affection of it gave my soul a toasty glow.

In other delightful news, another hashtag, #FemmeSFF, spawned some terrific Tweets yesterday about female writers, editors, and other amazing women in publishing. I salute whoever came up with that scheme. Bigtime. May your blessings fall thick on the ground and always in the most advantageous tax bracket.

As I write these words it’s 6:30 p.m. on Thursday night. Kelly is off to Barrie, reading with some of the other awesome writers in New Canadian Noir. I have been writing final critiques for Novel Writing III, to the tune of 11,000 words of “Here’s what I like, and here’s what you can do better.” I dictate critiques; as I’m having my entire head frozen tomorrow so my dentist can patch one of my teeth, I figured the better part of valor was to finish today. But I’m punchy. I need to walk away from the computer and do something else. I’ve heard NPR has an awesome true crime podcast. Let’s see, shall we?

This thread is definitely a to be continued proposition… in the meantime, love to you all and good night!

Sober-dialing my peeps, because the hootch makes my head hurt

Posted on June 11, 2015 by

Who farted?

Who farted?

So… I figure maybe you’ve noticed there’s shit going down in the SF community.

(I feel this statement will be true whether this blog article finds you this week, or next week, or in October, or the weekend of World Fantasy, or on my mother’s birthday. If you want links, ask me. I generally know what’s up.)

Shit, as we know, comes from assholes. But let’s save the sphincter talk for another day. This, my dear friends, is about Us.

We SF/F/H writers are a diverse, talented, beautiful, savvy, well-informed brainalicious hive of stunningly–omg so stunningly–hardworking artists. We labor to churn out novels and stories and poems and jokes and reviews and how-to-write essays for our newest worker bee friends. We donate money we barely have to Kickstart fantastic projects because holy shit, we have to read that book! We Patreonize other stuff. We help each other when we need our DNA sequenced, our roofs patched, our cats vetted, our teeth pulled. We communicate, and we do it better than 90% of everyone. And when justified snarking is called for, in service of truth, justice and the ongoing fight against malignant retrograde thuggery, some of us snark so well! So hilariously and passionately that even though it brings the rest of us flocking ringside to fights we’d rather not witness, the sheer virtuosity of the LOLs make those essays a weird pleasure to read… even as they call down people whose staggering hypocrisy gives us all the runs.

Battles, I feel, aren’t just about the barbwire and the trenches. They’re not just lobbing the poop shells back at the other guys. I appreciate the shell-lobbers. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Another thing fights are about is morale. And I saw some cries of despair on the Internet this week that made me think that ours may be starting to stink.

I’d like to think there’s an alternate universe somewhere where Chuck Wendig got to spend a morsel of his time and wit and considerable talent this week on a hilarious, profane, cunningly crafted essay about how Saladin Ahmed’s first book should be read aloud at Boy Scout campouts. And in that alternate universe, the thing gets crazy-wide play and thousands of shares. I think we owe it to ourselves to, some fine year, take turns emulating John Scalzi’s Thanksgiving Advent project until it’s a total fucking meme. I want to live in a world where our hilarious giants of the blogosphere don’t have to spent quite so much time looking up the stats and quotes that prove some tiresome dude’s specious homophobic allegations about this person or that one are not only wrong, but ridiculously, mind-bogglingly, allergic-to-logic much? wrong. I want someone to make me laugh until the tears run while saying something unexpected and improbable about how awesome the last SFWA business meeting was and they can’t wait for the next one.

There’s a deep-set cynical part of me that absolutely hates any kind of talk that smacks of what (my interior monologue always wants to assure me) is namby-pamby peace and love positive thinking malarkey. I am not really a here’s my other cheek, go ahead and smack it if you wanna kind of woman. Definitely not why can’t we all just get along? guy. But people, we are a cool fucking community and love–unlike mortgages or even Netflix–is free. I think we could do worse, in terms of upping our game, than writing each other some overt unabashed public goddamn love letters. To claim back a little of the time and energy and attention that’s being devoured, vampirically and with malice, from our pool of creative energy. To shower it on the laudable, the brilliant, the fer the love of YouPickTheDeity deserving. To be about us, if only to remind ourselves that whatever else happens, we’re creatures too fine to let ourselves get sucked down to the bitter hater marrow.

So: Hey, man, I love you guys. Like, ummm… Happy fiftieth, all of SFWA! I OMG hearts and ponies love so much about you. For starters, not a week goes by that I don’t send some student of mine to Writer Beware to keep their ass from getting handed to them by scammers.

I love Susan Palwick for spinning her own wool and praying with sick people when she’s not writing books I love. I love Nicola Griffith and Kelly Eskridge for their lifelong crazy love of music and the Eighties Dance they’ve lobbied for at the upcoming Readercon… when they’re not writing books I love. I love Peter Watts for being hilarious and brainy and questioning every idea I have so closely that every magic system I come up with sounds–after he interrogates it–like it could be quantum physics if only he was writing my stuff instead of me. I love Nalo Hopkinson for making weird lovely dolls and dresses and nurturing new talent. Sarah Chorn, I love the conversation about disability in SF that you’ve brought into the party. I love David Gerrold for trudging the mucky path to the upcoming Hugo Ceremony with dignity and commonsense and even flashes of humor. Thank you, David! I love Pat Cadigan for soliciting hand-crocheted are-you-kidding-me snake hats while she’s doing chemo. I love Michael Bishop for being a superlatively humane human being. I love the writers who created and run the Book View Cafe and Kristine Smith for sharing recipes that make me drool and Gemma Files for knowing every goddamned thing about movies ever. My sippy cup runneth over. I could go on and on and on. We blow my mind.

After each of the above call-outs, please do add the phrase, “… and also being a kick-ass writer.” Because every one of these things–every one of these people and their fiction too–deserves it own standalone essay. I could do a whole separate list just about the books and characters I want to thank so many of you for creating. And another separate list about the amazing editors and publishers who publish our words and make us look even smarter than we are and hire kick-ass illustrators to dress them for the party. There could be a whole other other list for Locus and Clarion and Turkey City and the Science Fiction Museum … well, you get the idea, right?

I will mail a copy of my most recent hardcover, signed in pink Sharpie with a big goddamned heart on it and my sincerest thanks, to the first three people to write one of these love letters. (And to then tell me about it, and send me their address). Maybe you don’t want my recent hardcover; maybe you’d rather have one of my killer story critiques or an ship or island on Stormwrack named after your dog, or an only-available-in-Canada copy of the Bond anthology coming out in November. Maybe you’d rather whatever it was got signed in teal Sharpie. All your Sharpie colors are belong to me. We can talk, is what I’m saying.

I am offering this blatant open challenge cum bribe to you all: now and then, let’s use our time and talent to create and something, here in our lovely shared fictional palace, that splatters the Internet with that same happy we’re all getting from the baby sloth videos we’re turning to, in desperation, after a hard day on the Facebooknets has plunged us into a pit of misanthropy. Let’s give each other the hit of dopamine now and then. We probably won’t use up the Internet’s supply of kitten pics anytime soon, but why take chances?

Fighting the shitzkrieg is non-negotiable. Frontline fighters, I salute and love you! But if we can’t all occasionally jitterbug madly, with a bottle of hootch and the best band we can scrape together on any given moment’s notice… well, I fear that way lies a lot more rubble and far less magical city.