Considering two ideas for an anthology

Poll: If I were going to edit (and crowdfund) an anthology in the next few years, would you be more interested in it being about :

a) futurist visions of motherhood

b) South Asian climate change / ecological futurisms


(I am very interested in both projects, and waffling mightily.)

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Planning 2020 with a big wall calendar

Jed was visiting this weekend, just a quick few days. Not long enough, but we’ll take what we can get. The scheduling gets a little complex, and we rarely can manage as much time as we’d like.

We’re trying something new which may help — I just got this big wall calendar, so that we can see all of 2020 at a glance. In the past, we’ve tried to do it all with shared Google calendars, which are helpful, but I can’t seem to see the whole board that way. So up on the wall it goes. And then we spent at least an hour, the three of us, sitting and trying to figure out how we can:

a) do a reasonable amount of book tour for Feast (me)

b) go to various SF cons for the SLF and for our own writing / editing (me and Jed, mostly, though I may bring the kids and possibly Kevin to WisCon this year)

c) see each other at least once a month, ideally (me and Jed)

d) go to math conferences and have research time (Kevin)

e) do a writing retreat for at least a week (me, tentatively going to a friend’s place in Hawaii in June, and hopefully severely limiting internet / socializing / etc., so I can make serious progress on a book draft — if it goes well, I’m hoping to do two weeks in 2021, either in Hawaii or Sri Lanka)

f) get the kids to / from their weekend soccer games all through the spring (me and Kev)

g) teach two weeks of writing summer camp for kids AND sign the kids up for the same place (but likely different actual camp) (me and kids)

h) not leave Kev parenting solo for more than one weekend a month (me)

i) visit relatives (me and Kev and kids)

j) allow enough travel time for international trips that we’re not a disaster doing the work we’re going to do, and also able to recover before we need to be working at home (me: Amsterdam / New Zealand, Jed: New Zealand, Kevin: Paris)

k) work all this around our teaching schedules (me and Kevin)

And there are probably some other elements I’m not thinking of! We managed to calendar through to August, and then gave up, as there are too many unknowns after that.

I have to do some more work to fit in some book tour cities that aren’t tied to specific dates yet (Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, D.C., Toronto) — it’ll require looking to see when people are available, what conventions I might want to try to match up with. But there was definite progress made!

The calendar portion was followed by the budgeting portion, to make sure we can actually afford all this travel. Probably, barely. Amsterdam depends on getting some extra funding, so I’m going to hustle on that next, try to set up some funded appearances, etc.

One sad consequence — it was clear that the spring was a little too packed, so I’m not going to make it to the Nebulas in Los Angeles in May. Sorry, LisetteIngridMargaret! I’m still hoping to make it to LA at another time this year for book tour, so I’ll contact you separately soon, to see when might work.

I think I love the big calendar. I also love my guys. 

(Please ignore the chaos behind Jed; I’m in the midst of an office reorg, and all the not-yet-organized stuff is piled up there…)



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SLF’s first Chicago chapter open meeting: February 16

Quick note that the SLF’s first Chicago chapter open meeting (all welcome) will be February 16 in Oak Park, refreshments provided. We’re still finalizing time details, but comment here or e-mail Chapter co-head Chris Bauer ( if you’d like to be notified when that’s determined! We’ll be talking about regular meetings, critique groups and workshops, the reading series, a summer 2020 lit. festival (July 26th weekend), and more!


NOTE: The SLF’s winter membership drive is running now, with a goal of adding 25 new members. We’d love to have you join us — for $2 / month, come help us support developing great speculative literature and envisioning new, diverse futures!

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Framing mental health differently

You know, per my previous post, I want to like these graphics, made for mental health awareness month, but they rub me a bit the wrong way, I think because of the disorder / illness / suffering framing.

I think this is something of an issue with medicine generally, and comes in part from how it’s (abysmally) funded in the U.S., so that things need to be defined as ‘abnormal / disorder / illness’ in order to be covered by health insurance. (See also the essay I wrote about ‘normal’ breasts and my difficult conversations with well-meaning doctors during cancer treatment re: reconstruction. It’s all of a piece.)

You can’t work on these things with a professional unless you’ve convinced someone within the financial structures that you are sufficiently far from the norm that it constitutes a serious disorder. And that just feels like exactly the wrong approach.

Obviously, there are serious mental health disorders. I don’t mean to minimze that.

But if you’re seeing 30-50% of the population in a certain place, then you just have to accept that that’s part of the normal human condition, and that there should be normal, non-stigmatized structural approaches to addressing this regularly, constantly, as needed, with everyone.

I don’t know what would look like, exactly. But I was thinking this morning about how ‘solar punk’ is evolving as a sub-genre talking about future visions of climate health in a positive manner (rather than just having us write miserable dystopias), offering strategies and possibilities for a more climate-stable world (universe).

I’d love to see people writing science fiction that was… ‘healthpunk’? I dunno, that sounds goofy.

But stories where oh, you’re at the water cooler in the office, and someone says, “Oh, hey, I won’t be at the meeting this afternoon, because my therapist rescheduled our weekly meeting,” and everyone else was like, “No problem, Bob, and hey, how’s that anxiety doing these days? Sally in Purchasing says that the company-reimbursed yoga retreat was super helpful to her.” And none of this is the point of the story, it’s just in the background and totally normalized. (Also, written better so it’s funny and charming and sweet!)

We shouldn’t have to be pushed to the point of crisis before we get better support for our daily lives.

We should start imagining a better way.

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It’s a sheer joy seeing Jean-Luc on screen again

Just watched the first episode of Picard; I liked it quite a bit, but keep in mind that my heart belongs to Star Trek, so it is hard for me to think critically about it.

And Jean-Luc just makes me smile; it’s a sheer joy seeing him on screen again. And I rather adore his fuzzy white eyebrows. Someday, Kevin will have eyebrows just like those, and I will love them just as much. 🙂

I hadn’t realized Michael Chabon was executive producing — I have a lot of trust in him. (There’s a job I’d abandon many things for…)

I did pause it partway through to read a plot summary of Nemesis, because I’d mostly forgotten it, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I’d actually re-watched it first, even though it is not my favorite of the Star Trek movies. So there’s a recommendation for you!

Watching this episode sparked multiple ideas for my SF novel too. I’m going to start watching the Expanse soon too (I started it once, got sidetracked a few episodes in, so planning to just start over). I’m still drowning a bit in backlogged to-do items, but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel, and writing some science fiction at the other end of it….

[no spoilers, please]


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Weekend reading for Deep Dish

Hey, Chicago SF/F folks. The SLF’s next Deep Dish reading is on Saturday March 14th — we’re trying a weekend reading! We have most of our line-up, including featured reader Sue Burke, but have room for 1-2 more featured readers — these are typically authors who have a book coming out soon, or have had one come out in the last year.

If this is you, and you’d like to read with us that day (or on a future date), please get in touch with series co-host Chris Bauer, Thanks!

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A last minute grant application

That feeling when your little baby nonprofit is applying for its first grant, and you meant to get everything done in good time, but were waylaid by a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cold, not to mention alarums and excursions at the children’s school necessitating many serious conversations and a whole lot of extra driving, and then your spouse is felled by the selfsame cold, and so you call to ask on the day of the deadline whether a wee little extension might be possible, and are informed sadly, no, it is not, that the grant very much does have to absolutely be in by 11:45 p.m. today, so sorry, and today is a day with rolling deadlines and urgent appointments and you do have a day job (and the students are e-mailing asking about FRIDAY’S assignment, and don’t they understand that it is only TUESDAY now, and we have a WHOLE CLASS between now and Friday), so you finally get to working on the grant in your first free minutes of the day, at 10 p.m. at night, thinking well, this won’t take very long, because you’re mostly just checking over other peoples’ good work, but it turns out that you don’t have access to the file (and yes, this is one reason why I often curse Google & its shared docs), but thank all the gods and little fishes that the owner of the file is awake, and has put her munchkins to bed, and is back on the computer checking if you need anything else and can give you access, and then between the two of you, you manage to find all the little things that need to be fixed (it turned out that the attachments she uploaded previously didn’t get saved in the application, so she had to upload them all again), and at 11:41, you read the message from her that it’s done, it’s in, you can both go to bed (and get up at 7 a.m. with the kiddos up and out the door to school)…



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Naming things is HARD

We are having serious naming difficulties for this comic. So we want a name that exemplifies the comic and is available as a URL (that is ideally easy to say, remember, and type).

The basic setting of the comic is Adventure Town — a village of retired adventurers, who are sort of like a tourist trap? They live on the crossroads between various dangerous realms, and adventurers are always coming through, seeking their fortune, and the villagers are happy to feed them, put them up for the night, sell them gear and maps that are guaranteed to lead them to the very best treasure, or your money back (assuming you survive). The overall tone is light and sardonic.

The problem is that Adventure Town is a) too close to Adventure Time as a name, and a) not available anyway. Adventure Village isn’t great either. And apparently Margaret and I just suck at naming, as we haven’t come up with ANYTHING decent, never mind the URL issues. Brainstorming help???


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On being less avoidant

I’ve started working on the writing thing that I’ve been avoidant about for weeks and weeks and I don’t know why I was avoidant OR why I’ve finally started. (Maybe I just ran out of plausible ways to procrastinate?)

It seemed much bigger than it actually was, PER USUAL. But even if it were actually as big as it seemed, I could have written it, oh, TWENTY TIMES in the time I’ve spent avoiding it.

Also, today I finally called that therapist I’ve been meaning to call (FOR MONTHS) and told her I thought I maybe could use some help working through strategies for being less avoidant. Onward to scheduling an actual appointment with her.

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