Kelly and I have been in our home near the Art Gallery of Ontario for 275 days as of today, and while we’re counting things I’ll add that we got the cats 252 days ago. (Yes, I derive insane amounts of pleasure from the Days Until app.) Obviously we settled in quite quickly, especially as it was such a small move compared to the one in 2013.
Still, it takes awhile to sort out all the little bits and pieces, to make everything cozy and satisfying. We had trips and company and more trips; it took awhile to nail down a bunch of little annoyances, like patching a hole in the counter, fixing the floor and getting the closet door fixed. Actually, we obliged a recent guest to do that last thing for us. Thank you, Bill!
Something that has helped lately was Kelly’s having discovered Posterjack, an Ontario company that makes it ludicrously easy to get nice framed prints of some of our favorite photos.
Last week we hung three photos we took while rambling around Italy… how many days ago did we leave? Oh, a mere 1139! The first is an earthquake-damaged fresco in the Palazzo dei Normanni, otherwise known as the Sicilian parliament. The second is on display at Il Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. The third is a bit of street art, also from Naples, that Kelly shot while we were wandering around on New Year’s Day.
Speaking of Naples, Italy, and the Archeological Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum is getting Pompeii artifacts this June. Witness their glee!
They’re excited. I’m excited. Are you excited? One hundred and thirty-nine sleeps!
I am not someone who sets of a lot of New Year’s resolutions, but I do think of myself as having a sort of writer’s fiscal year, and I do set out goals in January. The biggies for this year are the actual work of getting A Daughter of No Nation ready for its November release, getting the third book in the trilogy (tentatively titled The Nature of A Pirate) well on its way, and finishing up or marketing some short fiction projects I finished last year. Finally, there’s a medium sized teaching-related project – basically, all of my virtual classroom materials for UCLA need sprucing up. The trio of critique posts, the first of which sang the praises of Die Hard was part of this last project.
This is plenty. It means 2015 will be a year of revision, research, and planning of future projects.
I’m sure to write some new stuff, especially since generally speaking I can’t help myself. But this isn’t likely to be one of those years where I write two new novels from scratch. (Though I do already have some stretch goals, and I find it hard to refuse anthology invitations from my friends, and I always enjoy doing NanowriMo when the conditions are right…)
What about all of you? Do you make artistic slash business plans at this time of year, for any or all of your endeavors?
This year’s reading. If I finished it, it was at least good. If it has an asterisk after it, it was great.
1. Echopraxia, by Peter Watts*
2. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
3. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Tim Folger and Siddhartha Mukherjee
4. All Heads Turn when the Hunt Goes By, John Farris
- Touchstone, by Laurie R. King
- The Madonna and the Starship, by James Morrow
- Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
- Horns: A Novel, by Joe Hill*
- The Door in the Mountain, by Caitlin Sweet*
- A Taste Fur Murder, by Dixie Lyle
- The Golden Princess: A Novel of the Change, by S.M. Stirling*
- The Secret Place, by Tana French*
- The Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman*
- Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake*
- Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Myer
16. N0S4A2, by Joe Hill
17. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of those who survived the Great American Dustbowl, by Timothy Egan*
18. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, edited by Tim Folger and Deborah Blum*
19. The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry*
20. Nobody’s Home, by Tim Powers
21. We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files (As of this morning, I’m two stories away from being finished with this.)*
Plus some, but not all, of the stories
“Hard Stars,” by Brendan DuBois
“Something going Around,” by Harry Turtledove
“Solstice Cakes,” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman,
“The Faery Handbag,” by Kelly Link
“Strange Attractors” by S.B. Divya
I got a couple of seasonal presents this week: Badass Book Reviews has listed Child of a Hidden Sea as one of their best 2014 fantasy novels in their annual round-up.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Arts Council has, on the excellent advice of ChiZine Publications, given me a grant to work on a horror novel currently titled See How They Run. ChiZine publishes books by so many authors I love–Caitlin Sweet, Gemma Files, David Nickle, Paul Di Filipo, Claude LaLumiere and Derryl Murphy–and by a plethora of other talented folks I hope to come to love as I get acquainted with their works.
I am, of course, delighted and grateful to both the OAC and ChiZine. My understanding of how the Writers Reserve program works is that it exists to allow small press publishers to direct funds to deserving authors. In other words, there’s no financial benefit for the publisher–they read the submissions, of which there must be many–for the good of the writing community.
My point? If you were going to buy a cool weird book this winter anyway, and you want to throw ChiZine some love, I can guarantee you won’t be sorry. I’m halfway through We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files, and it is a freaky good time. Or if you want to see a fictional rendering of Toronto’s recent citypolitik (and other subjects too), give Dave Nickle’s Knife Fight and other Struggles a try. Got teens? The Caitlin Sweet book, The Door in the Mountain, is a YA novel about Ariadne and the Minotaur, with prose so fine it will make you weep. Or, possibly, bleed.
What’s better during the holiday season than tucking in somewhere cozy with a fine book? Nothing, that’s what! I wish you all good reads, good food, and downtime in what’s left of 2014.
Something I did in October when I was in Vancouver was to tell everyone I know that I’d be at Caffe Calabria in the mornings, writing if I had the place to myself, and socializing if anyone cared to show. I met Barb there. Badger came, as did Emily from our old condo. I figured I’d see some of the cafe regulars, but it turned out there are a shocking number of them: I saw both Toms, for example, the alternate-energy physicist and the religious studies professor. An aspiring YA author, Jenny, was there both mornings. I caught Adita and Harry, the snowbirds whose daughter is a poet, on their last day in Canada. Oscar was there (what I know about Oscar is TMI for the Internet), and Yespat the engineer. I even exchanged friendly hellos with a trio of people I think of (not that this reflects well on me, but their voices carry and all they do is bitch bitch bitch some more) as the Friday Snark Club.
The sheer number of people I had a “Hey, how are ya?” relationship with and the delight that came with seeing them made me realize how many connections I’d built up just by going to work at dawn in the same place, 6-7 days a week, 2 hours a day. It drove home that I hadn’t even begun to do that particular kind of in-community root-growing here.
This lack of effort was no accident–in fact, I had it scheduled for November. I didn’t put much effort into a cafe hunt in May when we first moved to our new building. I knew there’d be guests coming and then travel and more guests and more travel, and the publicity push for Child of a Hidden Sea and then the film festival and more travel atop that. It was a thoroughly awesome summer and autumn, but I wasn’t keeping to the sort of schedule that makes it possible for me to settle into a routine.
Of course it was impossible I’d score another place quite as perfect as Calabria. It was 300 meters from my door, it opened at six in the morning, and Frank Murdocco’s eclectic curation of 20th century music is uniquely delightful, irreplaceable.
But! Now that October and all those trips are in the rearview, I’ve been going to a recently opened cafe called Portland Variety. The coffee is excellent, the atmosphere is right, the staff is lovely, tables are plentiful and the music leans to jazz (which is easier to tune out than pop, satellite radio’s litest hits or the go-to choice at Jimmy’s Cafe, the Doors.) I’m comfortable working here for hours on end, and there are starting to be other morning regulars. It’s not obscenely close to home, but the route back to the condo leads past the grocery, and that’s a significant plus.
It’s promising, in other words. I have high hopes that at last I’ve found this particular piece of my workaday puzzle.