Category Archives: True Stories

Anecdotes from my past and present.

Friday pleasantries…

Posted on June 26, 2015 by

(null)Uno: I have the pass proofs for A Daughter of No Nation! This means I am one careful read-through away from being able to call this book … well, it’s already a book. And it’s already done. Medium rare? Even more done?

On a related note, a few metrics have come in that make it clear to me that more than one of you bought Child of a Hidden Sea and Among the Silvering Herd last week when many lovely folks were pushing the idea of buying Tor books and authors  for all the reasons. I want to thank you all for supporting me, my fellow Tor authors, and my publisher.

Due: The most recent round of feedback from my UCLA Novel Writing III students was extra-wonderful. They had a good time, they learned much, they loved each other, and they said glowing things about me. The feeling was mutual–they were an exceptionally hardworking and dedicated group, and there were some great breakthroughs.

These comments come in the form of anonymous comments on a survey, with numerical ratings. I don’t see the answers until final grades are posted. There’s no kiss-up factor, and often where there is a critical comment, it’s about something I can address before teaching the same class the next time. But it was extra nice, in a week with germs and other challenges, to get a perfect score. The student happiness with the most recent course was also gratifying because I have been restructuring these courses all year–UCLA changed its classroom software–and what I think this means, at least in part, is that after wrangling with Canvas for three terms, I’ve found the best way to teach, me-styles, within this new course shell.

Tre: I have the world’s most ridiculous reason for being excited about Ant-Man. Which is that it’s being released on Kelly’s birthday. (I do also like Paul Rudd.) Clearly anything associated with Kelly’s birthday is already a brilliant thing, covered in sparkly, and best accompanied by some delicious Prosecco.

Also, I think one of our oldest friends is coming to town that weekend. Hmmm, I should write to her.

(This is an experiment – @KellyRobson)

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!