Thursday, December 26, 2013

Written on Christmas Eve:

At six months old, we figured Wesley was still small enough to watch us assemble his Christmas present and then put it under the tree. He mostly slept while we snapped the brightly colored plastic pieces together, but when we put his new "bike" under the tree next to his sister's new green bicycle, it was the most beautiful object he'd ever seen. We let him play with it a little, and he was delighted that it was so big and yet -- because of its wheels -- he could move it around, shoving it backward and forward. He was so excited, he nearly started to crawl for the first time.

Now, at three in the morning, he's looking at me, swaddled in bed, as if to say, "Why would I sleep? I have a new bike downstairs."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Elaine has trouble sleeping, she comes downstairs to ask for a dream.  Her dad or I then tell her a brief sketch of a story, a starting place for something to dream about.  Once I told her that she had a basket of puppies, and each of the puppies had an amazing skill -- one played beautiful music on the piano while another one whipped up a delicious meal.  Lately, though, all of the dreams feature a set of characters that her dad introduced:  the space moose.

The space moose came down in a giant spaceship, each of them wearing a helmet large enough to cover its entire head, including antlers.  Every night, the space moose, Elaine, and her closest companion Hobbes go on grand adventures together.  They took a road trip to a glittering, diamond city, and at the top of the tallest building all the birds flying around could talk to them.  Another time, the space moose made Elaine her own giant helmet with antlers in it, and they all played a game much like Calvin Ball.  And once the space moose asked Elaine to help them build an ice cream sundae as big as a planet.

Tonight, Elaine's dad told her that the space moose plan to take her to a space restaurant where you can order anything, even a sock-and-ice-cream sandwich, followed by a trip to the space zoo.

I asked Elaine what she planned to order at the space restaurant.

After some thought, she said, "A jacket-and-computer lasagna.  And a tuna-sock-and-fork sandwich for Hobbes."

I asked what animal she was most excited to see at the space zoo.

Without hesitation, she said something with a lot of 's' sounds in it.  When I asked what that creature looked like, she said that she didn't know.

"Then, you'd better hurry off to bed," I said, "so that you can find out."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Elaine has been reading Calvin and Hobbes, a rich source of inspiration.  While we were in California, she built her own duplicator which filled up most of the hallway.  This afternoon, she set up a box outside labelled "Great Ideas, 200 cents, 4 Sale."

I've read Calvin and Hobbes, too.  So, before engaging in the haggling process, I first asked:  "The great idea isn't 'Buy another great idea!,' right?"

Elaine agreed that it was not.

I offered 25 cents.

She agreed and told me my new, freshly purchased, great idea:

"Go outside sometime and look for as many things in your favorite color as you can find."

My favorite color is green.  I looked around and saw a lawn, several trees, a shrub, and a whole bunch of other plants in my favorite color. They weren't very hard to find.  Nonetheless, I said, "Maybe we'll go on a walk sometime and do that."

Elaine explained that her favorite color is blue, so she can always look up at the sky and find at least one thing in her favorite color.  Her favorite color changes a lot -- it used to be magenta.  Before that, it was "all the colors of the rainbow."  This month, it's blue.  And, today, the sky is indeed a beautiful blue.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tomorrow I leave for Rainfurrest!  As usual, they're keeping me busy.  I'm doing ten panels over the four days.  If you want to find me, here's my schedule:

Childrens, Young Adult, and Adult Writing
Thursday, 3pm

Writing Exercises and Tools
Thursday, 9pm

Furry Characters in a Non-Furry Setting
Friday, 10am

Writing for Beginners (2)
Saturday, 9am 
A Reading and Q&A with Mary Lowd
Saturday, 11am

Comedy, Tragedy, Action, Romance
Saturday, 2pm

Fiction vs. Fan-Fiction
Saturday, 8pm

There's a Line... and You've Crossed It
Sunday, 9am 
The Mystical Magical Marvelous Magnificent Mary Sue!
Sunday, 10am

Collaboration in Writing
Sunday, 3pm

I should have some excellent co-panelists.  I'm particularly looking forward to doing a panel with Phil Geusz for the first time and my fellow Wordo, Garrett Marco, who was invaluable when I was editing Otters In Space 2.  It looks like a really strong writing track this year.

Friday, May 24, 2013

We caught Elaine drawing a window in purple crayon on the outside of one of our house's actual windows.  Her class had read "Harold and the Purple Crayon" earlier in the day, and she'd gotten a bit carried away, reenacting the book.  After a stern discussion of what we do and do not draw on with crayons, we sent Elaine back outside with windex and a rag to clean the window.

Moments later, Elaine popped her bead back in the door and asked, "Can I clean the other windows?"

About half an hour later, Elaine came back inside and asked Daniel, "How much money do you have?"  She wanted to be paid for her work, and she figured it would help to know how much her dad could afford to pay her.

After some negotiation, she settled for fifty cents.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sentimentality is the difference between a stupid stick that your five-year-old stuck in the trunk of your car and a precious stick that you need to make space for in the trunk of your car because you're packing up stuff from your old room and you've been saving it since you were five years old.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On the walk to school today, Elaine told me about the time her class sang "Are You Sleeping?"  She told the teacher that there was another song called "Ugachucka" that sounded the same, and the teacher, who was apparently a little quicker than me, said that it was the same song in a different language.  At this point, I realized Elaine meant "Frere Jacques."  I corrected her pronunciation and told her it was in French.

Elaine agreed and told me that she'd informed her class it was "from an old Star Trek episode."

Friday, April 12, 2013

There are a lot more pants jokes in my house now that Elaine is old enough to giggle maniacally at them.  And she's not the one making them.

Daniel:  "What kind of ice cream would you like?  Vanilla, mint chip, chocolate moose tracks, mustard, or pants?"

Elaine:  "All three kinds."

Daniel:  "All right -- vanilla, mustard, and pants."

Elaine:  "Vanilla, mint chip, and chocolate moose tracks!"

Daniel:  "Chocolate moose pants?"

There was also discussion of making mustard ice cream in the blender and using Parmesan cheese in place of sprinkles.  Not to mention more references to pants.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A little song that Elaine was singing on her way to school today:

"Wonders and daisies,
"Wonders and flowers,
"Wonders in the whole wide world.

"I'm wondering about you daisy,
"I really am."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"How do you tell a recursive joke?"

When I went to tuck Elaine into bed tonight, I was greeted with a big smile and the line, "Do you know how to tell a recessive joke?"  Although it's been ten years, and the wording was garbled, I recognized that someone had been teaching the child old jokes from college.  So, Elaine and I did a few rounds of the following together:

Person 1:  "How do you tell a recursive joke?"
Person 2:  "I don't know; how do you tell a recursive joke?"
Person 1:  "Well, first you tell a recursive joke."
Person 2:  "How do you tell a recursive joke?"
Person 1:  "I don't know; how do you tell a recursive joke?"
Person 2:  "Well, first you tell a recursive joke."

Elaine says that she's going to teach it to all of the kids at recess tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last year in the spring, my writing group was low on manuscripts to critique.  So, we used the extra time to read through all the short stories nominated that year for the Nebula and Hugo.  We followed our usual process for critiquing, but instead of focusing on ways to improve the stories, we tried to address three questions:

One, what works in this story?  Two, why would an editor choose to buy it?  And, three, why would people feel it was worthy of being nominated for an award?

Overall, it was a fascinating and instructive process.  I learned a lot more about writing great stories by hearing the entire table critique all those award nominees than I would have by simply reading them myself.  Even more exciting, I saw changes in the stories being brought to the table after that.  It felt like the process stepped up our whole game as writers and a critique group.

The Nebula nominees have been announced for this year, and, time allowing, I think that we'll be reading through and discussing the short stories again.  So, I'm going to put the links here:

Robot” by Helena Bell (Clarkesworld 9/12)
Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 4/12)
Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess (Asimov’s 3/12)
Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed 7/12)
The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/12)
Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”by Cat Rambo (Near + Far)

Just collecting the links, I found myself hooked strongly enough by "Nanny's Day" that I read the whole story right away without planning on it.  That doesn't happen very often for me -- I think the last time was a Daily Science Fiction story by Nina Kiriki Hoffman called "Boy Seeds."  In this case, as in that one, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  It should be interesting to discuss it in my group when we get to it.

On a side note, the idea of reading through all the Nebula nominated shorts is particularly exciting this year, because this is the first time I'm a full member of SFWA, eligible to vote on the Nebulas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When I went to tuck Elaine into bed tonight, she was reading one of the picture books from the little bookcase of kids' books we keep in the hall outside her room.  She kept reading to herself as I tucked her in.  She kept reading as I turned out the light.  "Hey!  I wasn't finished!" she exclaimed from the dark.  I explained that she was free to wake up and keep reading in the morning, but, right then, she needed her sleep.  She thought about that and seemed to accept it, which wasn't surprising, as I've heard her reading aloud to herself every morning this week.  As I turned to leave, Elaine exclaimed, "Reading is my favorite thing to do now!"  I told her that I'd take her to the library soon, and she looked really excited.

Elaine can read.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Furry Stories in 2012

The Ursa Major Awards season is upon us, and I have several stories that are eligible for nomination.  Most of them were originally published online and are easy to access there.  Two of them, though, were originally published in print anthologies.  So, for a limited time, I'm making those two stories available as free e-books.

St. Kalwain and the Lady Uta originally published in ROAR 4

One Night in Nocturnia originally published in Tails of a Clockwork World

Magtwilla and the Mouse

Hot Chocolate for the Unicorn

The Most Complicated Avatar

Shreddy and the Christmas Ghost

Looking back at all those stories that came out last year...  it's really kind of hard to believe.  It was an amazing year.  At any rate, whether you feel like nominating any of these stories or not, I hope that you enjoy some of them, and -- if you have an interest in furry fiction -- then I hope that you'll take a minute to nominate any stories from last year that you do feel are worthy.  The Ursa Majors are a people's award, and that works best when the people participate.