Archive for November 17th, 2008

11/16/08: Month go voom

Well, it’s been about two weeks since my last substantive entry, and, as is usually the case, when I’m not blogging, I’m also not writing. I did write a few hundred words on a short story last Tuesday at the coffee shop, but I don’t really feel like it’s going anywhere and I haven’t been motivated to continue it. I’ve been kind of mopy, downright depressed in fact on a couple of days, and beating myself up for being a failed one-shot-wonder has-been hack.

Today I reminded myself that I completed and submitted a novel — only my second — at the end of October. Perhaps this is post-novel ennui. In any case, I deserve a couple of weeks off, dammit.

It’s not like I’ve been idle in those two weeks, either. We went to Calgary for the World Fantasy Convention, which was very enjoyable. Good people, good conversations, good dinners. Calgary felt exactly like a cross between Dallas and Minneapolis: oil companies, friendly humble people, an emphasis on beef in the cuisine, and skywalks. I didn’t make any big deals during the con, but I did talk with some editors and I had a good time hanging out with my writing peers.

Something about the geology of Alberta is conducive to fossils: in addition to the oil and coal industries, it is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the finest paleontology museums anywhere. We rented a car on Thursday before the convention and took off for a day trip there with Ellen Klages, who made an excellent traveling companion. The Tyrrell features a very impressive collection of fossils, including no fewer than three T. Rexes, a whole herd of Ceratopsidae (e.g. Triceratops), two Plesiosaurs, and numerous other complete skeletons, as well as an excellent exhibit on the deeply weird creatures of the Burgess Shale (which is nearby in British Columbia).

One of the highlights of the museum was the quirky, informative videos starring this guy who seemed vaguely familiar (perhaps he was a member of Second City) and kept falling victim to amusing natural disasters. There was also one skeleton in the first major hall that looked to me exactly like the Utahraptor in panel 4 of Dinosaur Comics, but not one person to whom I noted this resemblance had ever even heard of the webcomic. Philistines.

The little town of Drumheller, where the museum is located, knows a good thing when it sees it and has gone completely dinosaur-mad. Every possible thing in town that could be decorated with dinosaurs is, and there are fossil stores galore (had to pass up the $40,000 Triceratops skull, alas, even though that’s only about $32,000 in US dollars). There were also a few cavemen in the decor, but I’ll try not to hold that against the good people of Drumheller.

Coming back from the convention we were surprised to find that our seats for the flight to Vancouver (row 13, seats A and B) were at the very front of the plane, facing backwards. Not only did they not recline; not only was there no tray table, no window, no underseat storage, and no overhead storage; not only did we have to play footsie with the people in the next row, but we spent the whole flight feeling like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE PLANE WAS LOOKING AT US! Exceptionally weird.

Upon return from the con I found two acceptances in my mailbox: one from Esther Friesner, for a humorous YA werewolf story in anthology Strip Mauled, and one from Cecilia Tan, for a gender-bending humorous erotica short-short in anthology Up for Grabs. Yay! Also a rejection from Asimov’s, to keep me humble. That story really wants to go to Strange Horizons next, but they are currently on hiatus, so I decided to hang onto it until January. The annoying thing is that if I’d been home when the rejection letter arrived I would have gotten the story to SH just before they closed for the year.

Also in the mailbox: the November Locus, with Gary K. Wolfe’s lengthy review of Space Magic. “An interesting portrait of a new writer who’s either impressively versatile, or still in the process of trying to define himself, or maybe just dealing with attention deficit issues.” I’d tell you what I think about this, but… ooh, look! A leaf!

The weekend after WFC was Wordstock, “Portland’s Festival of the Book.” This is the fourth or fifth year of the festival, but the first time I’ve participated as an author instad of just an attendee. Jay Lake and I had 25-30 people for our joint reading, and I had an absolute blast. They treat the authors really, really well.

The day before yesterday I did something I’ve been meaning to do since I retired, a little over a year ago: I went out and bought a new digital flatscreen TV (not enormous, only 26″) and a TiVo. I had some difficulty getting the TiVo to play nice with my WiFi network, but now it’s up and running. I’m impressed with the UI, as expected, though it’s a little on the busy and flashy side. And I was surprised to find that the new TV, hooked up to the same old analog cable, picks up nearly 60 additional digital channels, some in impressive HD. Too bad the TiVo HD can’t see them (at least, not without additional hardware which I haven’t yet sprung for). I have not yet found anywhere a comprehensive list of those channels, which include both the expected digital versions of Portland’s over-the-air channels and dozens of unidentified others.

Today’s newspaper included a couple of sentences from my letter to President Obama, which I’d cc’d to the paper. Unfortunately they were misattributed to one “David Levin,” but I’ll take what I can get.

This coming weekend is OryCon. Our friend Lise from New York will be staying with us for a couple of days before and after the con (the bathroom remodel was completed in time, huzzah!) and my programming schedule looks like this:


  • 1:00-2:00pm: First Novels: the road to the editor’s desk in Eugene with Mary Rosenblum, J.C. Hendee, and Mike Shepherd-Moscoe
  • 4:00-5:00pm: Social Networking sites: the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly in Salon G with Petrea Mitchell, John Hedtke, and Phyllis Irene Radford
  • 7:00-8:00pm: Opening Ceremonies in Salon E with Ginjer Buchanan, Harry Turtledove, Jeff Fennel, and Cecilia Eng
  • 10:00-11:00pm: Erotica readings in Eugene with Edward Morris and Theresa Reed


  • 10:00-11:00am: Ask Dr. Genius: Ad-Lib Answers to Audience Questions in Salmon with Alan Olsen, Rick Lindsley, Louise Owen, and Jim Kling
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: Writers’ Workshop with Mary Rosenblum (not open to the public)
  • 12:30-1:00pm: Reading in Salem
  • 2:00-3:00pm: Discovering new planets — what are they like? Can we even tell? in Medford with Melinda Hutson, G. David Nordley, and Marilyn Holt
  • 4:30-6:00pm: Sue Petrey Auction in Mt. Hood with Tom Whitmore


  • 11:00am-12:00pm: A look back at 30 years of OryCon history in Eugene with Patty Wells, Debbie Cross, and Paul Wrigley

Hope to see some of you there!