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Month: November 2010


We put the boy — now no longer a toddler, technically, but a pre-schooler — to bed last night. While attempting to wrestle him into his jammies, he sang/yelled:

“If you’re happy and you know it, punch, hit!

If you’re happy and you know it, kick, hit!”

All punctuated with punching and kicking. When he finished singing he said, “Do you like that song? Do you? Do you like it? You like that song?” in an extremely manic way.

It was like watching an outtake from a Quentin Tarantino movie. Like Pulp Fiction: Babies.

(Bedtime is still an epic struggle, but it’s getting better, in general.)


My awesome wife Heather Shaw recently sat down and powered through revisions on her middle grade science fiction novel of gene-hacking mayhem and adventure. She finished it off and sent it to a couple of agents last week. I’m so proud of her!


My original short-short stories “D is for De Gustibus” and “Luminous” will be at Podcastle in the future, along with audio versions of my stories “Hart and Boot” and “Terrible Ones”. Oh, how I love the ‘pods! Especially when they send me acceptances for four stories in a single e-mail. Got a rejection from Asimov’s this week, too, though, so the sweet is balanced by the sour and etc.

(Speaking of Podcastle, they recently did “Skatouioannis” by Nick Mamatas, one of my favorite of Nick’s stories. The title monster even had a brief cameo in one of my Marla novels, as an homage…)

The Way of the Wizard anthology is out, including my story “Mommy Issues of the Dead” (featuring a young Marla Mason) and lots of other awesome tales. Check it out.

Here’s the first review I’ve seen of Welcome to Bordertown, and pleasantly enough it says nice things about my contribution, “Our Stars, Our Selves”. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be part of that anthology.


My middle grade novel The Deep Woods has been revised and line-edited. I think it’s one of my strongest books yet. I’ll send it to my agent after Thanksgiving and hope she agrees. And that some publishers agree. And that readers agree. And so on.

All I have on my plate writing-wise at the moment is a few book reviews and a couple of stories (one a flash piece, one a Christmas story). Should be fun. I’m expecting to hear back about some longer projects in upcoming weeks, though, so life could potentially become more exciting soon.


Worked a 12+ hour day last week to finish up the December issue of A Certain Magazine. (We were on a short production schedule because of Thanksgiving.) Brutal, but at least it was followed by a three-day weekend. I read a bunch of comics, watched some TV, played with the kid, took walks, ate brunch, got fancy ice cream, etc. Wonderfully relaxing. And today… back to work. But I only have to work two days of the next seven, so it’s hardly a great trial.


Part 12 of The Nex is up. Not sure if anyone’s reading it; no one has commented in a couple of weeks, and no one has donated in many weeks. Maybe everyone who cared just bought the e-book version. I still like it, though, and am happy to have it out there.

The Death of Free Time

Life is full of interesting things. Lots of fun projects are bubbling around in my personal Possibilitysphere; I hope they all coalesce into actuality. (Vague enough for you? Well, I don’t want to scare the Possibilities away by speaking of them any more specifically.)

I took a whole night off from writing after finishing The Deep Woods. I aimlessly wandered through my house all evening and went to bed much earlier than usual. Dreadful. So last night I dove back into work, doing a 1,000 word story for a project that has attained actuality, but which I’m unprepared to discuss in detail yet. The story’s a mash-up of Dora the Explorer and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in about a thousand words. (As my friend Melissa pointed out, Dora is probably far better prepared for the jungle than poor Marlowe was.) Sometimes I just sit around and cackle to myself. I love my brain.

I also love my kid… though he’s doing unlovable stuff lately. The bedtime power struggle continues. Peacefully leading him back to bed when he gets up works, I guess, but very, very slowly. Last night we led him back to bed about 50 times — literally — before he finally fell asleep. Heather and I have lost entire evenings lately to kid bedtime drama, which sucks, since that’s our only real free time as a couple — and also my main writing time. (Remember: I have a full-time day job, so the books get written on nights and weekends.) I really hope he gets over this soon, but he’s firmly enmeshed in the Terrible Threes, so I don’t really expect things to get better in the near future. Sigh. He used to be such a good sleeper. Last night he went to bed at 10 and got up at 6 this morning. BRUTAL.

The Deep Woods

I managed to sneak in some writing time here and there yesterday, in among Toddler Story Hour and putting puzzles together and taking walks and doing other kid-centric activities. I finished my draft of The Deep Woods, my middle grade contemporary fantasy. It’s 44,000 words, and I wrote it in 18 days. (And I would have been done in an even two weeks if I hadn’t taken some days off from writing, mostly due to Halloween festivities and my kid’s birthday.)

Of course, it needs some revising — I already snipped out a minor subplot that seemed neat but ultimately went nowhere, and some of the scenes are little more than streams of unattributed dialogue — but I think it’s structurally sound. I hope to have it revised and in good shape by Thanksgiving.

I’m so glad I found time to squeeze in a fun exciting personal project in between contract jobs and tie-in work.

But, as always, now that I’ve finished writing a novel, I find myself wondering… what do I do with my evenings and weekends now? (Actually, the answer is simple: generate some paying work. Maybe some short stories…)

Xeno’s Paragraph

My novel The Deep Woods is nearing the end — I’ve written about 39,000 words since starting the project on October 23. My initial goal was to have a draft done by yesterday, but I took three days off last week when life intervened (I got busy cleaning and cooking for the kid’s birthday party, among other things), so I fell a bit behind. I could finish today, or possibly tomorrow. Though the end keeps receding even as I approach, which puts me in mind of Xeno’s Paradoxes of motion — except in this case, it’s Xeno’s Paragraph. I always have to write a few more paragraphs, and if that’s the case, how can I ever reach the end?


I sorta got the okay to announce the nature of the last project I was working on (the one I called the Snake book): I wrote it for Wizards of the Coast. They’d prefer I not say anything about the exact nature of the book — my editor hasn’t even read it yet — but if you know the sort of things they publish, you can probably make an educated guess. My 14-year-old self would be delighted; and my nearly 34-year-old self enjoyed it a lot too.


My son had a great birthday weekend. We had a party on Saturday with many of his friends, and cupcakes, and banana/chocolate chip muffins, and even some gluten-free vegan no-soy corn muffins I made for a couple of guests with dietary restrictions. The kids ran around, the adults chatted, and a good time was had by all. On Sunday we put together his big gift, a play kitchen with lots of cabinets that open — he aspires to be a tiny chef, so that delights him. On his actual birthday Monday we had to take him to preschool, but they celebrated for him there. When we picked him up he was wearing a paper crown and saying, matter-of-factly, “I king.” We gave him a couple of last presents, and a final celebratory cupcake, and made him the dinner of his choice: hot dogs. We think we’ll pool his birthday money and take him to pick out a tricycle, which he’s been wanting. Hard to believe he’s already three.

Mostly Treats

Trick-or-treating with the kid was great fun. We went to Piedmont Ave. on Saturday in the rain for daytime trick-or-treating and bouncehouse fun, and on Hallowe’en proper we went to Russell Street in Berkeley, which goes all-out for the holiday. Here’s a picture of River in his monkey costume with me. I’m a druid, or something. I dunno. I just threw on a cloak and made a wand with some fake foliage and the snapped-off handle of a toy golf club.


Last night I had a dream where I was talking to a fifty-something car salesman (though later he was a postal worker), who was complaining about how miserable he was: he hated his job, his house, his city, and his whole life. So I told him to change his life, if he didn’t like it — what was he waiting for? To get even older first? He was resistant, and sneered at me, and basically said, “I don’t see you changing your life.”

And in the dream I replied, “Why would I change my life? I get paid to write books, I have a great kid, a hot wife, I love my apartment and my neighborhood, and I even like my day job. My life is already where I want it to be.”

I woke up thinking, Well, yeah, okay. A message from my unconscious mind to quit my bitching? At the very least, it was a reminder that, despite the fact that I have some problems, most of the important things are exactly how I’d wish them to be. So I’m in a better mood this morning than I have been for ages.


I’m about 26,000 words into my new kid novel, which I’m calling The Deep Woods for now. More than halfway done! I just dealt a rather crushing blow to my characters, which they’ll spend the rest of the novel coping with. I should finish in a week or ten days. I’m having great fun.


Good luck to all you NaNoWriMoers. I’m not doing NaNo — as I mentioned, I’m halfway through a book, and after I finish that, I’ll probably be lazy for a week or two — but I wish you well. It’s fun to throw yourself into a project, isn’t it?


No toddler story hour at the library today, as the space has been taken over for election day polling, so I’ll have to entertain the boy some other way. The weather’s nice, so it’ll probably be a long morning of parks, parks, parks. Not such a bad life at all.