September 2009


The writing wasn’t going so well, so Ethel suggested the Beach.  Smart dog.

The pause that refreshes.

Last weekend, we took a brief excursion to Philadelphia.  We wanted to do something greener than our usual hop on a plane vacation, so we took our bikes to Philadelphia on the train.  Amtrak doesn’t make it as easy as it should to take your bike.  You have to be departing and arriving at a station and in a train that has baggage service, and you have to put them in boxes.  The boxes cost $15, and it’s another $5 to check them as baggage.  The boxes couldn’t be easier, however.  You turn the handlebars (or remove them), remove the pedals, and roll it into the box.  The train ride was enjoyable without having to remove one’s shoes or suffer other indignities.  Here I am in Philly loading up my bike for the return trip (sorry about the flash on the reflectors):

We arrived Friday evening and road all day Saturday and Sunday, leaving on Monday.  We rode 20 miles on Saturday and 30 on Sunday.  There are great bike paths along both sides of the river, as well as the gorgeous and wild Fairmount Park.  Philadelphia is another town that claims E. A. Poe as their own.  We haunted him while we were there, visiting a house he lived in when he was writing “The Black Cat.”  There is indeed a perfect place to wall up a corpse (and a cat).  We haunted his poster:

What’s to see from a Philadelphia bicycle trail?  Mostly, I was having too much fun to take many photos, but here’s one lovely view:

I was flattered to learn that “Healing Benjamin” in the August Realms of Fantasy has been placed on the Nebula Suggested Reading list under “Novelettes.”  For those unfamiliar with the term, that’s fiction 7500 to 17,500 words.  Shorter makes it a short story; longer, a novella (until it hits 40K and turns novel).  “Benjamin” weighs in at 8600 words.  He’s a big cat.  The story, inspired by a couple of beloved pets, has been getting quite a nice response, which pleases me no end.  Many thanks to 18-year-old Nyneve (cat) and 15-year-old Alice (dog) for all they taught me.  This one’s for you.

If you haven’t heard the sad news, Creatures ‘n Crooks in Carytown will be closing at the end of the month.  A big farewell event is planned.  I wouldn’t miss it, and neither should you.  This town is blessed with many fine booksellers like Ward at Chop Suey and Kelly at Fountain Books, but Lelia at CnC has a special place in my heart, and there’s not too many Republicans I’m not related to you can say that about.  Drop by and give her a big hug.  This is also one of your last chances to pet one of the best shop cats in Richmond—Hamilton.  There will be oodles of writers there mingling and being writerly, serious bargains on books, frivolity, refreshment, trained seals, and a working holo-deck.  Please come.  Saturday, 1-4 pm Creatures ‘n Crooks in Carytown Court (NE corner next to Subway).  Here’s a more complete story on the event.

Good friend Steve Krause sent me this link to Henry Jenkins’ comments on District 9, which I find very interesting and provocative.  It’s a two-part blog, so click on.  Be warned:  There are plot spoilers.  I agree with most all his points except that the protagonist should somehow display a more overt repentance for some of his deeds.  Personally, I think the transformation of the protagonist pushes plausibility about as far as one can, and blowing plausibility for message doesn’t really serve the message.  One of the reasons I find the ending so effective is that we don’t know what’s in the protagonist’s head in the last frame.  He’s, well, alien.

How the heck did that happen?  Last year at this time I was recovering from cancer surgery.  This year I’m working on not having any more heart attacks.  I’m more fit now than I’ve ever been in my life.  I hardly know myself.  I’m one lucky man.  It’s a wonderful life, thanks to Sarah, most adored wife, and Ethel the pup.

The fiction flows, my stories find good homes, and I even have a new agent, Michele Mortimer of Darhansoff & Verrill selling my wares.  Even first novel Wilderness won’t stay dead and is being re-released in February.

I loved my classes this year and wish I could teach more.  Kids these days!  Far as I can tell, they’re fantastic.

So I’ll take 62 more years—or whatever’s on offer.  Thanks to everybody who stops by here once in a while.  I’d offer you some cake and ice cream, but I’m not supposed to eat that stuff.
Here’s a picture of Ethel and Sarah planning our next outing.  I’m sure it will be a blast: