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Kate’s progress: April

Not a lot to report this month, which is good.

Kate just had another MRI and it continues stable, so we have cranked the steroids down another notch. She is now taking 2mg/1mg on alternate days, down from 8mg a day all last year. With luck we will eventually be able to get her off of the steroids and their nasty side effects completely. There is still some aphasia, and memory and cognitive issues, but they vary a lot depending on time of day, energy level, and who she’s talking to, so it’s hard to say whether they are improving or staying the same. I think there’s some improvement, but it’s slow.

Her strength and balance continue to improve; she is now getting around using only a cane, and hasn’t used the walker in over a month. She is now rated as an “independent community ambulator” by the physical therapist and has gone on a few walks by herself. Things are going well enough that she is now only seeing the PT every other week, and the naturopath every other month. As for me, I’m now on a “call me if you need to see me” schedule with my psychologist.

We haven’t had any travel in the last month, but we did see some live theatre (I particularly enjoyed “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” and the lumberjack circus “Timber!”). May will be a busy month, though: we are going to Chicago next week for the Nebula Awards weekend and Book Expo America, then to Madison two weeks after that for Wiscon, followed by a few days in Milwaukee with my dad.

Thanks to Melissa, Teresa, Joyce, Geri, Will, Patty & Sean, John, Shannon, Chip & John, Karen, Robin & Dave, Bo & Don, Marti, Sara, and everyone else who came by for a walk or a visit or shared a meal.

Me on Grimm again

Back in January, I got a call to be an extra on Grimm and, for a wonder, I was able to make it. I worked all day — and when I say “worked” I mean mostly sitting around waiting for stuff to happen — and when the episode, “The Believer,” finally aired two weeks ago I was in about one second of footage. But it was a critical second.

PREACHER: Do you feel the love in your hearts?
CROWD: Yes!

David Believer 1

PREACHER: Well, I don’t.

David Believer 2

The job of extras is to make a scene feel real. In this case it was a huge group — over 100 people — and I did my tiny part of contributing to that energy, that noise, and that “feeling” of a tent revival, even if I personally didn’t appear on camera very much, so I am satisfied with my work. I had a good time, I got paid for it, and I would do it again.

“Damage” is a Sturgeon nominee!

Sturgeon 1975 Marc Zicree 766x600I’m very pleased to announce that my short story “Damage” is a nominee for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award!

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/04/2016-sturgeon-award-finalists/

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

The award will be presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet as part of MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held August 17-21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kate’s progress: February-March

Things have continued to improve, slowly but noticeably, in the two months since I last wrote. Kate continues on 3mg of steroids and is gaining strength and balance; she is using the walker only part of the time now, and is working with a physical therapist once a week to continue to improve her strength, endurance, and stability. Also weekly: chair yoga and a scheduled walk with a neighbor (a weekly PT session via Skype is on hold due to the other party’s own health issues). She’s also been trying to do her home PT and go for walks every day. If you are in town and able to come over and walk with her, either regularly or one-off, it would be greatly appreciated.

The other steroid symptoms are improving as well: puffiness, tremor, and diabetes are all somewhat better, though she’s still taking insulin once daily and bruises easily. She does have a bit of aphasia, memory problems, and cognitive issues but they are all much better than six months ago. Speaking of which, she had her six-month follow-up appointment from the root canal she had after her fall in August. Everything looks okay, though there’s some discoloration of the tooth and sensitivity to cold.

Kate had another MRI in February and the scan looked very good, continuing to improve from the previous one. There’s no such thing as remission with this type of cancer, but the oncologist is pleased with her progress. The naturopath is also satisfied with how well she’s doing, and we’ve dropped back from monthly meetings with him to once every two months.

In general Kate is much more proactive, energetic, and “present” than before. She’s been cooking, knitting (some), picking out new plants for the garden, and considering new exterior colors for the house (I can’t believe it’s been 22 years since we painted). The weather has been lovely, which makes it easier for her to get out of the house.

In February we saw ten films in the Portland International Film Festival (my faves: “The Wave,” “Liza the Fox-Fairy,” and “April and the Extraordinary World”) and quite a bit of live theatre: “Great Expectations,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Stupid F*cking Bird,” and “We Are Proud to Present…” plus a Springsteen concert.

As for me, I’m doing well. My short story “Damage” is a nominee for the Nebula Award, and is catching a lot of buzz for the Hugo; we will see in a few weeks what the Hugo ballot looks like this year. I am still plugging away on Arabella volume 2, but hope to have a finished draft very soon. I don’t yet have book tour dates, but will be appearing at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle next Friday and the Nebula Awards weekend and Wiscon in May. No reviews of Arabella have appeared yet, but review copies have gone out and there’s already a certain amount of buzz.

Thank you to Shannon & Mark, Bo & Don, Arashi, Camille, Mara, Geri, Ulrika, Kate & Glenn, Fran, Sara, Simone, Janna, Melissa, Moria, Kris, Kurt & Lorna, John, Merillee, Ariel, Cynthia, Allan, Marc & Patty, and everyone else who helped out, came for a visit, or shared a meal.

If you are in town, please feel free to stop by for a visit, or just call and say hi.

“Discards” at tor.com, and other writing news

DiscardsI have been remiss in posting my recent writing news here. Hence, this catch-up post!

  • My new Wild Cards novelette “Discards” has just been published at tor.com! You can read it here.
  • My superhero story “Into the Nth Dimension,” originally published in Human for a Day, has been podcast at GlitterShip — narrated by me!. The full text is also available on the web to read for free. You can read or listen here.
  • I will be appearing at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle next Friday, April 8 (one day only). I’ll be on the panel “Aliens and Airships and Authors, Oh My!”, followed by an autograph session. At other times you can most likely find me at the WordFire Press booth.
  • I’ve sold an essay, “How to Sell a Novel in Only Fifteen Years,” to the nonfiction anthology The Usual Path to Publication. It comes out in June and you can pre-order it here.
  • I’ve sold Polish rights to my Nebula-nominated story “Damage” to Nowa Fantastyka.

Whew! I’ll try to be more attentive to this blog in the future.

“Damage” is a Nebula nominee!

I am proud to announce that my short story “Damage” is a nominee for the Nebula Award!

http://www.sfwa.org/2016/02/2015-nebula-awards-nominees-announced/

The Nebula Awards recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the United States as selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, membership in which is open to professional science fiction and fantasy authors. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.

The 50th annual Nebula Awards will be presented in Chicago at the Palmer House Hotel. Comedian John Hodgman will emcee the ceremony on the evening of May 14.

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Eligible works

If you are a SFWA member, today is the deadline to nominate for the Nebula Awards. If you are a member of the current Worldcon (MidAmeriCon II), the previous Worldcon (Sasquan), or the next Worldcon (Worldcon 75 in Helsinki), you can nominate for the Hugo Awards through March 31. I’ve just been reminded that I have been remiss in posting my eligible works for awards this year.

As you may know, I’ve been busy working on the sequel to Arabella of Mars and haven’t been writing many short stories lately. Nonetheless, I published three new short stories in 2015:

Of these, I am most proud of “Damage” — in fact, I think it’s the best short story I’ve written in years. If you read it and agree that it’s award-worthy, I hope you’ll consider giving it a place on your award nominating ballots.

Kate’s Progress: January

Kate has actually done really well this month. After last month’s Avastin treatments and positive MRI, we reduced her steroids (which caused many nasty side effects including weakness, bruising, and diabetes) from 8mg per day to 6mg, then 4mg, and now 3mg. She’s doing fine on that dosage, and is showing considerable improvements in the side effects: her face and feet are less swollen, her blood sugar is much better (almost never over 200, usually below 130), and she seems less weak and wobbly.

The improvements are slow and subtle. I sometimes wonder if they’re really there, and Kate can’t perceive them at all. But her doctors, who see her only once a month, say that she’s more alert and “present” and that she’s smiling and laughing. So things are really looking up.

Another bit of good news: she was having some problems with her vision (no, really, good news… wait for it…) so we went to the eye doctor, who determined that her retinas are okay but her glasses prescription (which we just updated six months ago) is changing back toward what it was before the brain surgery. So she needs new glasses, but the implication is that decreased brain swelling is reducing the pressure on the optic nerve, allowing her eyeballs to begin to return to the shape they had before. She will probably need new glasses again in six months at this rate, but it’s a small price to pay.

Mind you, she is still using a walker and she does still have some aphasia, memory lapses, and cognitive problems. But all of these issues are slowly improving, we are continuing to reduce the steroids, and we plan to resume physical therapy soon so she can start putting back the muscle the steroids have stolen from her. She’s already started doing chair yoga, and walking and doing home-based PT as much as possible. It’s going to be a long process but the outlook is good.

We visited New York City last week, where I met with my agent and editor (neither of whom I had met in person before) and many other publishing professionals including the buyer for Barnes & Noble. Kate didn’t really have the energy to do any touristing, but we hung out with a few of our NYC friends and saw the play King Charles III, which was brilliant. In the last month we have also enjoyed Lily Tomlin’s one-woman show, the NT Live production of Jane Eyre, the cast album of Hamilton, and the TV show The Expanse, and I spent a day working as an extra on Grimm (watch for me in episode 516, “The Believer”). I’m still plugging away on Arabella book 2, and hope to have a draft done by the end of this month.

Thank you to Sue & Rich, Alex & Isobel, Shannon, Anne, Catherine, Janna, Bo & Don, Geri, Simone, Melissa, Mark, Patrick & Teresa, Lise, and everyone else who helped out, came for a visit, or shared a meal.

Our plan for February is for Kate to get as much exercise as possible. If you are in town and could come by some time to go for a walk with her, especially if we could make it a regular thing once a week or so, that would be awesome. Apart from that, any time you can come by for a visit you’d be welcome.

Onward!

Kate’s Progress: December

Things are going pretty well around here. Kate took two doses of Avastin, and the following MRI showed that the radiation necrosis has almost completely vanished; also, the space where the tumor was removed has involuted (closed up) somewhat. This is very good news, but the aphasia is slightly worse. The doctor doesn’t know for sure why this is so, but my guess is that the changes in her brain, although positive, are nonetheless disruptions and the brain needs to re-learn how to work in the new configuration. The really good news is that there is still no sign of any residual or recurring cancer, though it could still return in the future.

With the positive MRI we have tried reducing Kate’s steroid dose from two pills a day to one and a half. So far this dose seems to be working pretty well, but we haven’t yet seen any positive effects from the reduction (such as a decrease in blood sugar, or less swelling of the feet). These will probably take weeks to appear. We will meet with the oncologist next week and discuss additional doses of Avastin and/or a further decrease in the steroids.

Apart from that, Kate is basically stable. She’s still managing her blood sugar pretty well, getting around with the walker, and in a generally good mood. She’s still quite weak and wobbly, and has some memory issues as well as mild aphasia, but the naturopath (who sees her once a month, so he is in a better position to observe her progress than I am) says she is continuing to improve both mentally and emotionally.

I’m doing pretty well myself. The antidepressants have turned my emotional rollercoaster into a slightly bumpy road, and I’m generally keeping up with all the stuff that has to get done. I have been asking for help, and getting it, and also learning to accept that some of the things that don’t happen didn’t really have to. I have received my Advance Reading Copies of “Arabella of Mars” and will be distributing them to reviewers, booksellers, and such in January. I am continuing to plug away at the sequel; the draft stands at 76,742 words out of a planned 90,000 and I’ve hit what I would call “the end of the middle.”

Apart from medical news, the last month has been quite lively. We attended OryCon in downtown Portland, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat at the home of our friends Paul and Debbie, attended a touring production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” hosted several house guests, and had a relaxing Christmas Day at home with Kate’s sister and her family.

Thanks to Mary Kay, Ulrika, Janna, Mark & Shannon, Mark, Robin, Paul & Debbie, Arashi, Nancy, Jacob & Teresa, Mary, Sara, Dave, Felicity, Mara, Ruth, Barb & J.C., Michelle, Allan, Marc & Patty, Sue & Rich, Alex & Isobel, Katy & Eli, Ron & Janet, and everyone else who helped out, came for a visit, or shared a meal.

2015 has been a very difficult year, and there’s no getting around that. But we are also very lucky — we have friends and relatives who love and support us, enough money, good insurance, excellent medical care, and few other obligations. We really appreciate all of you and look forward to spending more time with you in 2016.