Plenty to get through today

Well, I didn’t get everything done I hoped to yesterday; in particular, I still have a few hours of work left on my story revision for George. But in my defense, my pantry is now gloriously organized….um, I feel like Virginia Woolf is glaring at me right now.

Discovered a great life hack, though — I ended up playing two remote games of Terraforming Mars with Jed last night, and it turns out that the lag between online turns is just long enough to do little tasks. So I ended up using the game as a way of getting myself to go through two big projects I’d been avoiding finishing — repotting and refreshing the rest of the indoor plants for winter (adding fresh soil, trimming dead bits, adding fertilizer), and reorganizing the pantry. The tedium was nicely eliminated because I was busy thinking about my next move while I cleared a shelf, etc. I will make Jed play TM with me for ALL my chores now. 

(Seriously, sweetie, if I finish the WC revision by 6-ish, I do want to get through as much as I can of the mudroom / basement project this evening before I leave town tomorrow morning, so if you’re up for another game or two this evening, let me know.)

The plan for today alternates meeting with people with writing, mostly, plus a few errands. Assistant Stephanie is back from a few weeks of vacation (HOORAY!!!), and we’ll be processing the book orders that came in over the holiday break. I also need to contact Mascot and make sure that my order for more books shipped to me went through, as I am basically out of hardcovers until they arrive, and I hate to keep people waiting. (Though I can also contact Jake’s Place Books and see if they have any consignment hardcovers left; I can maybe pick a couple up from them if I’m in dire need today.)

I have a few holiday items that didn’t work to return, so probably a brief midday break running around Oak Park, also dropping off a copy of Feast to Jill (sorry, meant to do it this weekend, but time got away from me; hope porch drop-off will work for you). Also some phone calls — mostly scheduling routine medical appointments. But mostly writing — oh, and a meeting with Karen and Carly for SLF development work, and a phone meeting with Irene for SLF publicity work.

That’s plenty to get through today, I think. Plus packing at some point, since I need to be at the airport at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Must confirm there’s two beds in the room, since I’ll be sharing with Sugi Ganeshananthan, yay, must pack her copy of the book (and some curry powder), must see if the hotel has a pool and if so, pack a swimsuit or two.

Will post a few photos first, from the weekend’s gaming, because the coffee hasn’t quite hit yet. But I swear, by 9, I’ll buckle down to actual work. I have to, because Stephanie will be arriving then. Having an assistant to work with is another effective hack for getting me to do my own work. Sort of like throwing regular potlucks to force me to at least semi-clean my house. 


A little peek at the Sunday of a writer

Here’s a little peek at the Sunday of a writer / non-profit arts administrator / small press publisher.. Woke up, had coffee, forgot to eat breakfast (oops), sat on couch and started processing e-mails & FB messages, ended up:

• starting to set up a monthly RPG for my “Jump Space” universe (good for SF writing, hopefully, as well as game design research)

• starting to set up a monthly cookbook club for local friends (obviously also good research for me as I promote the cookbook, work on the gluten-free sampler, etc. — might suggest a gluten-free cookbook for our first joint effort)

• spent about two hours working on SLF grants, publicizing the two newly-open grants (South Asian and Older Writers, though please note Working Class grant is also still currently open — applications encouraged to all!) and working on structural aspects both for getting more grant administrators / jurors (both badly needed) and doing a better job with our press releases and general publicity

Now I’m going to eat something (must remember to eat, Mary Anne!) and finish repotting a terrarium. Will post photos when I get a chance, which also goes to developing the gardening memoir that I hope to do down the road.

Will follow that up from noon – 2 with teaching D&D basics to a few people, which is an SLF thing too, as it’s part of the “Maram Makerspace – Gaming” ongoing activities.

And then the rest of the day is alternately working on my Wild Cards revision (slightly overdue, sorry, George), teaching the kids how to make lasagne (#sundaydinner), and continuing the big clean-up / re-org of the house. (The latter two with Kevin‘s help.)

For Wild Cards, I’m planning to start the revision work while walking on the treadmill (I use my laptop tied to a board over the arms), because I actually think better while walking, and also because I haven’t yet done any exercise today, and I really am trying to do some kind of daily exercise in this New Year, because not exercising was such a negative about fall of 2019. (I missed yesterday, which makes me cranky.)

For the house, we’ve been here 10 years (eep), and somehow, that’s translated into this being the year when everything gets revisited and reset somewhat (like the kids’ playroom transitioning into an art / lounge space; the basement beer-making area being reformed into a small business production space for the cookbook now that Kev’s given up beer making, etc.).

I’d really LOVE to get the house shift done before the semester starts on the 13th, but that’s perhaps optimistic of me, esp. if I keep getting sidetracked into things like hanging art, which is good, but perhaps less essential than actually hauling things around, assembling Metro shelving racks, etc. Well, we’ll see.

I’m going to try to focus a bit more on the latter type of activity this week, or rather, the days I’m here this week, as I’m going to be in Seattle Tues – Fri for SALA ( and MLA (on a panel about Sri Lankan literature with Sugi Ganeshananthan and other fabulous folk, woot). (Seattle peeps, maybe coffee? Ping me if you’d like to buy a book for hand-delivery…although I might be temporarily out of hardcovers until the next shipment arrives; have to count.)

I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done on the Seattle trip — some long plane flights, plus downtime in the hotel that I can treat like a little mini writing residency, when there aren’t panels I want to attend.

Two main things to work on with writing in January / February — revising and sending out some cooking essays (fingers crossed they get accepted for publication), opening up the big SF novel, re-reading the 50K drafted so far, and then launching into the next section.

Busy busy, loving my job(s). 


The SLF is in serious need of Grants Administrators and Jurors

Hey, folks. The SLF is in serious need of volunteers to help us with our SF/F literature grants. Specifically, we’d like to add:

• two assistant grants administrators (to help Malon Edwards, our primary grants administrator)
• a broader pool of jurors for our various grants (older writers, working class, travel, diversity, and South Asian)

No particular background qualifications necessary; we’d like to draw from a broad pool of people who love speculative lit. and want to help make it even better.

GRANTS ADMINISTRATORS would help with tracking the grant work through the course of year, helping to keep jurors on track with their reading, making sure press releases are sent out in a timely fashion, making sure juror honoraria and grant award money gets sent out, etc. With five grants, it’s not a huge time commitment, but we need people who are good at keeping to a calendar. If you’re familiar with Trello, even better, as we’re transitioning to using that to help keep track of our tasks at the SLF, but if not, we can easily teach you. This pays a tiny $250 honorarium for the year, and a lovely lapel pin in thanks.

JURORS would let us know which grants they’d be interested in reading for, any relevant background they have (i.e., a LGBT person who’d like to read for the diversity grants), and then they’d be added to a spreadsheet of possible jurors. We’d then contact you (or rather, the grants administrators would), when putting together the jury for a particular grant, and see if you’re available to serve. Service would mean reading some applications, discussing your picks with the rest of the jury, and making your recommendations within a reasonable timeframe (usually over two months). This pays an even tinier $25 honorarium, if you serve on a jury, and some lovely SLF bookmarks in thanks.

Please note that grants administrators cannot apply for our grants within three years of volunteering for the SLF, and jurors cannot apply for our grants within one year of serving on one of our juries. (Just being in the spreadsheet as a possible juror is fine, though.)

If you’re interested in serving with us, please write to Karen Murphy, our managing director, at, with the subject line: GRANT ADMINISTRATOR or GRANT JUROR. (If you’re interested in both, feel free to put both.) Please include a brief paragraph about yourself and your background in spec lit. (Avid reader, librarian or teacher, writer, etc.)

Thank you!

Announcing the A. C. Bose Grant

The SLF and DesiLit are pleased to announce a new co-sponsored grant, founded in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, known as the
A. C. Bose Grant beginning in 2019.

The A.C. Bose Grant will annually give $1000 to a South Asian / South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction. It supports adult fiction, but work that is also accessible to older children and teens will be given preference in the jury process. The donors hope that this grant will help develop work that will let young people imagine different worlds and possibilities.

The grant is founded in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose. A.C. Bose, a lover of books, and especially science fiction and fantasy, by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose, in fond memory and to honor the legacy of the worlds he opened up for them.

More information online:


Trying “Jump Space” universe as a role-playing game

Local peeps, I’m trying something a little outside my comfort zone — I’d like to try my “Jump Space” universe as a role-playing game, with the triple goals of:

• developing it as a game for possible Kickstarting in a year or three
• helping me with world building and generally staying present in my SF universe (rather than getting too distracted by making crafty things, etc.), as I try to finish a draft of a big epic novel (series?)
• having fun playing a RPG with friends

The tentative plan is to model it on something like Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s Dream Apart ( — a diceless, masterless game, so closer to collaborative storytelling than a game, in some sense.

If you’d like to join us, the first session is tentatively scheduled for Saturday 2/8 @ 2 p.m., with roughly monthly sessions to follow. Let me know if you’re interested.

(For those who aren’t local, if this goes well, I may try running one online at some point. And/or releasing materials for people to playtest at home…)

This counts as work, right?

Over the months of shipping out books, then the holidays, my office had gotten completely swamped with…stuff. A rough day was assuaged by a floor and desk cleaned out, lots of candles, and fresh flowering plants (all from Trader Joe’s). Cleaning accompanied by Miss Marple murder mysteries, which are also a good study in wickedness, which is something I’m not so skilled at writing, but need to learn. So this counts as work, right?

Tiffani Smith of Sanofka Arts

This was an artist I met in Columbus, Tiffani Smith of Sankofa Arts, who rents space for her studio in Scott Woods‘s shared art space, the Streetlight Guild. She kindly gave me permission to take some inspiration photos (for Maram Makerspace, perhaps, one day).

I love it when artists can come and work together; we were having a writing conference, and she was hammering away in her studio upstairs. Love it (and love that dinnerware and those pens!). The pieces on the wall are tremendously moving.

Please note bitter-sharp pricing on liquor!


Art! On the walls!

Okay, so this just makes me laugh. One goal of the rather intense holiday break clean-up efforts around here was to finally get all the art that’d been piling up in my office actually up on the walls.

I was amused when I realized this particular art piece, “Stay Wild,” would fit rather nicely in the garden-themed guest room, near the “Stay Awhile” sign over the mirror. I am not above the occasional bit of wordplay. 

I have another piece by the artist, “Jackalope,” which will probably go in the stairwell leading up to the kids’ rooms, which is full of art, mostly F/SF-ish. From Earthenwood Studio, art by Melanie Brooks:

(Much of her work is a little creepier than my tastes, but I like several pieces in the cryptozoology line.)

Art! On the walls! So exciting. Featuring a treasured print by Terri Windling (her “Sycamore Fairy”), a rather spooky piece I love from Lisa Snellings, and two pieces I bought for Anand’s forest-themed room on Etsy from an artist named Nakisha VanderHoeven. Anand decided on a space theme for his 10th birthday room re-do, so all the forest art was removed, and has wandered to different spots around the house. Since the guest room is garden-themed, I chose forest-y artwork for it.

Now we just need to finish cleaning the walls (the kids and Kevin have been hard at work with the Magic Eraser, because we’ve neglected our walls for oh, ten years, and the grubbiness was really starting to get to me), and then I can do what I really want to do, which is use stencils to add a little colorful detail here and there. Coming along nicely, though. 

How-to-write-a-cookbook class

You may remember that some time back, I tried a little cookbook writing class, which I think attendees found helpful. Look at them working so hard! (We were at Oak Park Works, a local co-working space, which worked beautifully for this.) This weekend, a friend asked if I’d be teaching cooking classes again (hi, Nikhil!), which reminded me that I should schedule some of those too, while I’m scheduling the rest of the Feast events for the spring. So this is a gauge interest post! Would you be interested in:

a) local cooking classes (would love notes on what particularly you’d like to learn, i.e., basic cooking techniques, a Sri Lankan meal with appetizer / entree / dessert, a simple recipe accompanied by mimosas, etc.)

b) local how-to-write-a-cookbook class (low cost, with the option of buying my cookbook and other books)

c) online how-to-write-a-cookbook class (would need to research a bit on what format is best to offer for this — is there a class program that would make it easier than doing it via GChat, etc?)

Please comment with interest / ideas / etc! Preferred days / times of week also welcome, i.e., Sat or Sun morning or afternoon, weekday evenings, etc.

Sripati, and garden, in snow

Sripati in snow. You know my cats are Puerto Rican immigrants, yes? This reminds me of my story, “Minal in Winter,” about a young woman who comes from Sri Lanka to attend college at the University of Chicago. Sripati seems happier in the snow than she was, though. 

A little winter reading for you!

A little snow makes plant structures really pop!

(Yes, I put on a coat and went outside just to take photos in snow. Yes, my fingers are very cold right now!)

A little messy, but that’s the winter garden, isn’t it?

Well, honestly, that’s my garden all the time.