Saturday, July 24, 2010

Guests wont begin to arrive for another hour or two; there's been no cake; she hasn't seen the pinata yet; nothing special has happened at all. But, nevertheless, Elaine's been walking around in a contented daze all morning saying, "It's my birthday party!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elaine had her first tear-free day of preschool this morning. Daniel had no trouble dropping her off, and the teacher greeted me when I came to pick her up with the news that "Elaine had a fantastic day." Sure, Elaine tried to put a sobby quaver in her voice when she saw me and said, "You came back!", like she does every day. But her huge grin kind of spoiled the effect.

Meanwhile, Daniel and I have decided to start taking advantage of the time Elaine spends in preschool this summer to make a tour of nice restaurants for breakfast. We're not usually awake for breakfast. However, it's the one time of day -- while Elaine's in preschool -- that we can easily go to a nice restaurant. This morning I had eggs benedict with salmon. Delicious.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The world is changing like crazy, and I've been watching and waiting for my chance to jump in. It's scary... But, around last summer, I couldn't take it any more. Somehow, between reading all of Dinosaur Comics (backwards) and watching The Guild's music video, "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar," I couldn't stand working away at my fiction in silence. Sending it out into the void of magazines and editors who send back unsigned form letters or -- oh joy! -- a rejection letter signed with a real ballpoint pen.

Yeah, being a writer can be depressing. So, I invented SPACE HOUNDS! to stave off the dissatisfaction. I have no idea how many people read it (because my attempt at tracking those statistics was bugged, and I haven't figured out how to fix it). But! I can write it and then put it up where readers can see it, if they want to, immediately. And that feels nice. It makes the whole process feel a little less pointless.

However, I'm not really a comic writer. Sure, SPACE HOUNDS! is fun... But my heart always has been in my short stories and novels. And, the common knowledge among writers is that you should never, ever, ever put your fiction up on your website or self-publish in any sort of way. So, I was stuck.

Then, I found out about Peter Watts. I read Blindsight and loved it before discovering the story behind it: Blindsight was dead in the water, so Peter Watts posted it for free on the internet under a creative commons license.

The internet is changing things. But, I still wasn't ready to take that leap for myself. (Because, yes, I'm aware that my situation is completely different.) However, two weeks ago, I discovered the music of Owl City. Yet another success story via non-traditional, internety means. More importantly, though, it was a shot of optimism. Which is what I really needed.

So, the practical upshot? In an act of either manic optimism or desperate despair, I've published my novel Otters In Space: The Search for Cat Havana on Smashwords. I have no expectations. But... I do hope that any people out there who've been wishing they could read a work of hard science fiction starring talking cats, dogs, and otters will find it. I know it would have made me very happy when I was... well... any age. I would love this book at any age.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Five cats is an awesome number of cats to have.

I brought my half of the wild kittens home two days ago, and we've been keeping them shut in the downstairs bathroom. This way, we're able to introduce the three older cats to the two new cats gradually. Mostly, the older cats have been allowed only intermittent glimpses of the kittens. These glimpses make their eyes widen in a combination of disbelief, horror, and anger.

However, a bit ago, I brought the kittens out to play with the best cat toy ever. A stick, tied to a string, tied to some feathers. I have two of them. And, as the kittens darted about on the couch I'd sequestered them on, chasing and pouncing on the feathers, all three of my older cats appeared around the edges of the room. Imperceptibly, they moved closer, until these three adult cats -- too cool or too lazy to play with feathers themselves -- were all peering directly over the sides of the couch. Watching the kittens. Enthralled.

If you can't see how awesome that is... I probably can't convey it. And, weirdly, based on the average number of cats per household, I'm guessing that most people out there somehow fail to see just how extremely awesome it is to have five cats gathered around one couch, playing with feathers and calculating the complexity of their relationships with each other.

See, a hierarchy of three cats is a very complex thing. (Theresa loves Heidi, but Heidi interprets her love as torture. Kelly thinks Heidi's fear of Theresa's love means that Theresa is dominant and, therefore, beats up on her. But, Theresa interprets Kelly's attempts to prove dominance as a sort of friendship. And, in the end, because none of them have the same motives or priorities, they completely fail to create a simple order of dominance.)

And a five cat hierarchy promises to be even more complex and fascinating.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Something very strange has happened to me. I've fallen in love with the music of an artist who is younger than me... That may not seem so strange to most people, but I have never before loved music that didn't begin long, long before I was born. Whenever I've fallen in love with music before, the artist behind it has existed in a dual way -- as the talented twenty-year-old who has suddenly been discovered by the world, but also as the weathered sixty-year-old who is making a splash with his latest comeback album. Brian Wilson, the Monkees, Elton John, and even my latest love, They Might Be Giants. Each of them has a current self and a youthful self that is still available to be discovered by new fans, complete with decades of back albums.

But Owl City has only one self. There is no past to go back and discover... He's only starting out. I guess that means there's a lot to look forward to from him? For a science-fiction writer, I am strangely un-used to looking forward.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I entered some photos in a Pet Day Photo Contest a month or so back, and two of them won prizes. The results from the contest are posted here:

When I heard about the contest, I figured that with years and years of cat photos on my hard drive, I really ought to enter some. So, I dug through and picked out a few of my favorite shots of Heidi and Theresa. (One of those won "Cutest Picture.") However, then I thought that since I haven't really figured out a way to advertise Space Hounds! at all, maybe I should include a picture of Kelly in place of one of the really cute pictures of Heidi and Theresa. I haven't owned Kelly as long -- she's still under a year old -- so, I don't have as many excellent pictures of her yet. She has gotten a lot of camera time for her appearances on Space Hounds!, but those photos tend to be campier. I'm aiming for pictures that tell a good story with silly dialogue written over them -- not pictures that are beautiful in their own right.

Nonetheless, I picked out the best picture of Kelly in her spacesuit that I had, stripped off her line of dialogue ("Fortunately, I'm well versed in the fifth law of thermodynamics!"), and replaced it with a simple direction to the website (

Which all adds up to me being really surprised that it's the picture of Kelly a.k.a. Kelliah, wrestling with a macro-string on TJ Barker's spaceship, that won "Judge's Pick."