Category Archives: Uncategorized

Terms of endearment (the kittens’ many nicknames)

image
CinCin
Fairy Cat
Clownface
Clownfish
Urchin
CheeChee Feathers, or sometimes Mrs. CheeChee Feathers.

Runt (though she weighs over 2 kilos now, CinCin was definitely the runt of her litter. She got weighed on Wednesday during her abortive spay attempt. We haven’t tried to weigh Lozo lately,  but he’s at least a third bigger. And feels like warm, muscular concrete.)

Speaking of whom…

Lozo
Lozo Bambino
Lozo Magnifico
Larry
‘Renzo
Munchkin
Michelin Man – because he’s muscular and taut as an overinflated tire.

Either/Or/Both:
Flip and Flop
Fric and Frac
Thing One and Thing Two
i Bambini

I know you all needed, desperately, to know this.

We also need to come up with an alto part for the Parry Gripp song “Weiner Dog,” because CinCin comes running whenever we play the video or sing it ourselves, and I think hearing it in two part harmony would blow her tiny little mind. She likes things with soprano notes, go figure.

VWF, now with more me!

Alyx portrait 2014 smallI am extremely excited to announce that I’ll be appearing at the Vancouver Writers Fest, which takes place on Granville Island October 21 to 26th. I’ll be appearing in two events: the first is called Serial Success and is intended for high school students.
But the other event is all ages, all the time and will probably sell out fast so if you want to see me, William Gibson and Sebastien de Castell, don’t wait, don’t waffle, and don’t wonder. Tickets go on sale September 8th.
Probables and impossibles
What’s the difference between fantasy and science fiction? Fantasy can’t happen. Science fiction is something that hasn’t happened, but could. Two fantasy writers and one science fiction writer talk about the worlds of the probable and the impossible that they’ve imagined onto the pages of their new novels. William Gibson’s The Peripheral is his latest invention in a long string of inventive novels that have earned him rave reviews and a worldwide following over three decades.  Working in the world of the impossible are fantasy writers A.M. Dellamonica and Sebastien de Castell. Travel to Dellamonica’s Stormwrack, an ocean- based world on the other side of the portal. Or duck the barbarians at the borders of de Castell’s Tristia. Good thing these worlds are impossible—and very entertaining.
On the 28th, I’ll be moving on to the U.S. where I’m signing Child of a Hidden Sea (and of course my other books, if you happen to  be collecting) at the University Bookstore at 990 102nd Ave NE in Bellevue, Washington.

LSQ Interview and a kitty operation

photo by Kelly Robson
photo by Kelly Robson

KC of Luna Station Quarterly has interviewed me about all of my books and about writing generally. If you haven’t looked at LSQ before, it’s worth checking out.

Chinchilla went for a certain operation last night; our vet kept her for fasting and prep, and will fix her today. Lorenzo was allowed, therefore, to actually sleep with us. (I figured that left all alone, he’d cry at the bedroom door all night). He behaved very well, and was gratifyingly snuggly. And apparently he’s sticking too close to Kelly, because I hear the unmistakable sound of a cat almost getting stepped on as I write this.

It’s stunning to think that these two have grown from near-adulthood from this:

More baby pics

The plan is to pick her up, stitched up and good to go (and possibly with a cone of shame on her head) this evening.

Oh, Tish! No new business!

gomez

The phrase “Project Gomez” has solidified within my mind as a catchphrase or mantra for not embarking on any new non-fiction or blogging projects until I’ve cleared away at least some of the things I’ve already agreed to.  Since I like to say yes to everything, this means I need to kick it into gear. Two things must be done for every new thing I agree to!

Luckily, Kelly and I have tasked ourselves to a whole lot of chilling out and self-care this weekend: writing, yoga, perhaps the occasional nap. This should mesh well with clearing away a little of the mental clutter.

It has, at times, been a challenging week. I’ve already told you all about the clusterfrack of petty annoyances that was my Monday. Tuesday the floor got fixed (win!) but in the process the floor dudes solved the mystery of why our front door jams… by jamming it so hard that, in the end, we had to break into the apartment. The door got broken in the process, so there will be unexpected expense. (Fail.)

Wednesday we found out that the audit of our 2013 moving expenses had gone reasonably well (win!) and I got soaked to the skin in a thoroughly exhilarating rainstorm (tie! Because I was cold, but it rained so hard I couldn’t see. Which was amazing! But, boy, I was wet all the way to the back of my belly-button!)

Wednesday was also a three-event circus of day–I went to see Caitlin Sweet answer questions about her writing process at the U of T (she has blogged about the experience here), and then bolted home because the cats had a play date with their fairy godmother, a.k.a. the woman in whose grandma’s yard our babies were born. To cap the day we got to go to Charlene Challenger’s book launch for The Voices In Between. ChaCha is a terrific writer, and a delightful person. The event was fun and her reading was super-fantastic.

Here’s a super-brief snippet of her awesome reading.

CHS Review @Quillandquire

imageYesterday was one of those days. The kind where the computer attempts to die and the kittens take a leak on your dirty clothes, and when you go downstairs to pitch the reeking laundry hamper, the dumpster full of compost belches unspeakable fluids all over you. Plus the building’s hot water is down for the day for necessary annual maintenance.

You remember this last bit after you’ve peeled your clothes and begun attempting to decontaminate.

Then, in the evening, you hit yourself in the front tooth with a salad bowl without any idea of how you actually achieved that.

I spent much of the day alternating between grading student exercises and deconstructing my office, so the floor repair could get done today. Having to fix the floor so soon after having put it in has been a bit of a morale dampener.  (Then again, so was having those boards crackle underfoot.) Having to put the house back in a state where it looks as though we’re only half moved in has also been less than joy-inducing.

But! Kelly fixed the computer, I kinda hated that hamper, there was  (after a disheartening interval) just enough hot water even though the “Hey, we’ve turned on the fire again!” announcement didn’t come until two hours after I got in the shower, we’ll feel better when our floor no longer crackles, I might rearrange my office, the tooth didn’t chip and yoga, as always, heals much.

My dear friend Fearless wrote to say she loved my book, and the Quill and Quire did too. Which means, on balance, the day was definitely a win.

 

Writers on Writing

Caitlin Sweet has tagged me and Kelly in the Writer Process Blog Tour, and posted her answers to the questions in that meme here. (She was tagged by Peter Watts, incidentally).

I will provide answers, but being tagged reminded me that 1) I’m trying to channel my inner Gomez Addams by finishing old business before jumping into new;

and 2) I’ve been working up a post about the things we writers post to the Internet about writing.

These essays tend to fall into a number of categories.

Write, Sell, Lather, Rinse, Repeat
– How to write more.
– How to write better.
– How to get your more better writing published.
– What traditional publishing is like.
– What self-publishing is like.
– Whether to go traditional, Indy, or hybrid.
– Stuff happening in publishing and how it benefits or harms writers.
– How to promote your work: how to sell it to people.

Writing lifestyle stuff
– To have a day job or not.
– To write in a cafe or not.
– Just plain finding the time.
– Also in this category is all the material about the emotional journey. That means things like coping with rejection, coping with success or failure, supportive versus unsupportive spouses (children, parents, gerbils, etc.), your first fan letter, good bad and ugly reviews, writers’ block. Anything you have feelings about.

Literary analysis
– My genre is like this, your genre is like that.
– This particular story is categorized as one thing, but is actually another.
– These genres are basically the same but are marketed to different people.
– Actual academic analysis of the work.

Our passions
– Books, shows, games, gadgets and other media that we think is cool. Sometimes we even talk about how well-written the stuff is.

History of writing
– How Leon de Tocqueville got it done and the Marquis de Sade’s editorial relationship with his… never mind.

Politics of writing
– Censorship.
– Sexism, Racism, ablism, and other issues: on the page, in the community, and within fandom.
– Writing that promotes a political agenda in some way.
– Writers who are politically active and whether/how/when/why that’s appropriate.

Health safety and wellness
– Writing desks short and tall.
– Food or exercise issues.
– Writing through illness.
– Technological assists.
– Why we should all have kittens.

What do you mean, the race of cats is cursed on Stormwrack?? We're unimpressed!

The reason I’m thinking about all of the above is that it makes me wonder I am wondering what we don’t talk about. Are there uncomfortable and difficult topics we should be addressing online? Would our readers and/or new writers be interested?

If so, what are those topics?

D.B. Jackson – My Shelves Runneth Over

Guesting today on the site is D.B. Jackson, also known as David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

I come from a family of readers, and so, perhaps not too surprisingly, I also come from a family of writers.  But the thing is, neither my father nor my mother was a writer; on the other hand all four of us kids have written professionally in some capacity, which is pretty remarkable.  The common denominator for all of us was books.  My parents’ house was filled with them; every shelf overflowed with paperbacks and hardcovers, novels and biographies. When I reached a certain age — maybe I was eight — my father set up my own set of bookshelves in my room, fixing brackets to the wall so that I could adjust the shelves as I needed. He had done the same thing for my three older siblings before me.  It was a rite of passage in our house.

My parents instilled in all of us a reverence for the written word. They didn’t spoil us; they limited gifts of candy or toys to our birthdays and Christmas.  But they were always willing to buy us books.  Always.  And the truth is, I’m much the same way with my kids.

I didn’t read a lot of fantasy or science fiction early on, though eventually, with the help of a camp counsellor, I stumbled upon my first novel in the genre that would dominate my adult life.  And I’ll get to that in a moment.  But the first reading influences I remember were pretty standard kid fare.  There were a series of books that I absolutely loved titled _____ Do the Strangest ThingsBirds Do the Strangest Things, Fish Do the Strangest Things, Insects Do the Strangest Things, etc.  They were essentially the written, kid-friendly equivalent of a David Attenborough nature special.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  I read every one of them, and then read them again.  And again.

Though I remain a dedicated nature enthusiast, I don’t write natural history, and so it would be easy to assume that these books had little influence on my writing career.  But I believe they had a much greater impact on me than one might imagine.  They fed a deeply rooted intellectual curiosity and taught me — as my parents hoped they would — that books held answers, not only to all the questions swirling around in my young brain, but also to those questions I hadn’t yet thought to ask.  I don’t think it’s too great a stretch to say that these books, and others like them, started me down the path to academia, which, in turn, steered me toward my writing career.

The other books that I remember gobbling up in my youth were the Hardy Boys mysteries written under the name Franklin W. Dixon.  These were the Grosset and Dunlap re-imaginings of the series published initially in 1959 and popular through the 1960s and 1970s (which is when I was reading them).  They weren’t great literature, they weren’t terribly challenging as kids’ reading went.  But they were enormously fun.  If Birds Do the Strangest Things, satisfied my burgeoning curiosity, these books fed my craving for adventure, danger, thrills — all the things my comfortable suburban childhood lacked.

And so, by the time I went off to sleep away camp for the summer as an eleven year-old, I was primed for a new kind of book that would be both engaging and exciting enough to allow me to move on from the Hardy Boys, which I was already starting to outgrow.  Enter The Hobbit.

I didn’t actually encounter the book that summer.  Instead, I tried out for a dramatized version of Tolkien’s novel.  I had already discovered early in the summer that I had a flair for drama (no one who knows me now will be at all surprised) and when the opportunity came to audition for this newest production, I took full advantage. Yes, I was cast as Bilbo Baggins.  It helped that I was short for my age . . .

I fell in love with the story, and more I was fascinated by the world revealed to me by the script.  Elves, dwarves, wizards, dragons — what was not to love.  It had never occurred to me that there were books like this waiting to be read; I certainly never dreamed that there were similar books written for adults that would allow me to pursue my new-found fascination with magical stories well past my childhood.  But when the summer was over, I found the novel version of The Hobbit and devoured it.  Then I read The Lord of the Rings, and after that Ursula LeGuin’s EarthSea Trilogy.  By then, I was hooked on fantasy, and I have been ever since.

But I think it bears repeating that I’m not an author because of Tolkien.  I wrote my first “book” when I was six; writing stories was always my favorite school activity.  My early experiences with fantasy didn’t set me on the road to a career as a fantasy author; the sheer act of reading had taken care of that long before.  The environment created by my parents and their exuberant love of all things book were the most formative forces in my childhood.

DBJacksonPubPhoto800It would be pretty easy to imagine my own kids rebelling against my love of reading, which my wife shares. “Dad’s an author? Great. Hand me the remote.” But early on they discovered the same thing I did:  Books are treasure boxes; they just beg to be opened. Their favorites have been the Magic Tree House and the Magic School Bus, Harry Potter and most recently the Hunger Games books. To be honest, I don’t care what titles they’re drawn to — as long as they’re reading, I’m happy. Sounds like something my Mom and Dad would have said.

David blogs, is active on Facebook and Goodreads, and Tweets. Give him some love here in comments or go forth and beard him in his lairs.

 

Cat Parenthood, day 45

photoAssuming their approximate birthdate at the beginning of April is correct, the babies are about twelve and a half weeks old now.

They’re getting noticeably into adolescence. Lorenzo is still bigger than Chinchilla, but she put on a recent growth spurt. Overnight, it seems, she grew the face and long legs of a teenager cat.

We are keeping them out of the bedroom at night. I’d like to get to a point where they might join us, but a good night’s rest is more precious than rubies. And right now they’re hitting the stroppy and disobedient phase of kittenhood, so there’s no way we want them cycloning around the bed in the wee hours.

I expect to be shouting “You’re not my supervisor!” on their behalf a lot in the next few months, by way of channeling their obvious response to our trying to introduce them to the laughable concepts of No, Bad Cat! and/or Geddown! I found Lorenzo sleeping on the dish-drying towel last night, having shoved all the glasses and other things aside to make room for his lanky body. CinCin dove through the hanging metal measuring cups this afternoon–clang, clang, dangle dangle!–and knocked the coffeemaker over on her way back to the floor. She’d probably been checking out what’s behind the microwave after a wander around the stove.

Even in naughtiness, they are adorable.

 

I had been keeping an eye on the various kabillions of photos I take of them, looking for something that might make the cut for Cats of Instagram, and when CinCin yawned in the face of the iPhone not long ago I got one that I knew was a great prospect. CoI put it up on Monday, and within 24 hours something like 60,000 people had liked it. Holy crap, eh? My baby’s a star!

Just now, to blow their little kitty minds, I put some ice cubes in their water fountain. They are staring at it in wonder and terror–you’d think it had grown tadpoles.