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Here There Be Goblins

Date: 2017-01-02 16:12
Subject: 2016’s Year In Reading
Security: Public

As is my custom, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the books I read, and add them up at the new year, and publish the list here.

As is my more recent custom, I don’t tell you the names or authors of the books I read for work, as a number of them may not be published (or even announced) yet.

It’s fascinating to compare to prior years. In 2015, I read a total of 63 books, 25 of those for pleasure. In 2016, my total was 107, with 27 for pleasure. So, 38 jobs increasing to 80 in the space of one year: my getting-paid-to-read business is clearly booming! I knew I was busier than ever…it’s actually comforting to see numerical proof of that. (I never count as I go along; I prefer to know only when the year is finished.)

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list of books I read last year just because I wanted to:

Waters, Sarah, The Paying Guests
Byatt, A.S., The Children’s Book
Novik, Naomi, Uprooted
Beagle, Peter S., The Last Unicorn
Connolly, Tina, Seriously Wicked
Henderson, Randy, Finn Fancy Necromancy
Dickinson, Seth, The Traitor Baru Cormorant
Lawson, Jenny, Furiously Happy
Jemison, N.K., The Fifth Season
Bennett, Robert Jackson, City of Blades
Grossman, Lev, The Magician’s Land
Anders, Charlie Jane, All the Birds in the Sky
King, Stephen, Doctor Sleep
Addison, Katherine, The Goblin Emperor
Cooper, Brenda, Edge of Dark
Buckell, Tobias A., Crystal Rain
Palmer, Ada, Too Like the Lightning
Johansen, Erika, The Invasion of the Tearling (ARC)
Corey, James S.A., Leviathan Wakes
Levine, David, Arabella of Mars
Mostert, Natasha, Season of the Witch
Hendee, Barb & JC, The Dead Seekers (ARC)
Corey, James S.A., Caliban’s War
Corey, James S.A., Abbadon’s Gate
Corey, James S.A., Cibola Burn
Okorafor, Nnedi, Binti (novella)
Kadrey, Richard, Butcher Bird

Though now I realize I must clarify further: of the 27 above, 8 were for our book group (which kind of confuses me, as we meet every month), but the rest were chosen just by me. I’m in the middle of the fifth Expanse book now, so that’ll be my first pleasure book of 2017 (already have a work-book on the list).

What was your favorite thing YOU read last year?

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-11-06 18:40
Subject: Author Interview; Writing Progress; and Freelancing
Security: Public

One of the things I did last summer was publish a nonfiction anthology called The Usual Path to Publication–a collection of a bunch of writers’ personal stories about how they got published. It was super fun to do and I totally want to make this a series.
The Usual Path to Publication Cover_MEDIUM WEB

The Practice of Creativity blogger Michele Tracy Berger asked me to do an author interview recently, and it is now live! The link is here. Her questions were great–very insightful, made me think. Thank you, Michele Tracy!


I still don’t want to jinx things but holy cow, you guys, Queen & Tower is going well. I told Mark this morning that I have like four more scenes left to write, and a couple of existent scenes to tweak–and I’ve just written one of those new scenes. Soon I’ll be ready to print this baby out, go over it once more to make sure I didn’t somehow put scenes in backwards, and then it’s ready to hand off to…can you even call them beta readers at this point, when they are so long-suffering and have seen so many versions of the darn thing? Well, anyway, hand it off, at least. Move on to the next thing (at least until I get the feedback). SO EXCITED I AM SO EXCITED.


And busy! I’m busy, yes, but not swamped; I actually have room for another copy editing client or two. Our plan, now that Mark is done with Thimbleweed Park, is that I will be the primary breadwinner while he works on something super amazing that will not bear financial fruit right away…so, if you are looking for excellent, affordable proofreading or copy editing, hit me up.

Okay that is all the “asking of the universe” I can do at the moment. 🙂 You all know how hard that is to do, right?

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-11-02 19:08
Subject: I Remember Blogging
Security: Public

Wait, didn’t I used to keep a blog?

It’s been so long that, though I am going to attempt a recap of what’s happened since I last showed up here (March), I am certain to miss a million things. And I have no real excuses–just busy, crazy, life, etc etc, the usual. That is all.

I turned 50 on Monday. Which is making me look up from the fray. I am realizing I would like to try–try!–to come by here slightly more often. Funny photos on Facebook are all well and good, but I did once enjoy blogging, I seem to remember.

So…what’s been going on?

Life is good, and busy, and complicated, and busy. I published two books since I last posted: an edited collection of essays about publishing, and a collaborative cozy mystery under a pen name. (You can find them on the website, if you are so inclined. :-)) I’m ONCE AGAIN making great progress on Nightcraft, nearly having a final draft of Queen & Tower, though I feel kind of silly even mentioning it, ’cause I’ve said this so many times before. Even so, it’s giving me great pleasure, and I (once again) feel like I’ve finally gotten a handle on the story. I guess we’ll see.

My copy editing/proofreading business is booming. Yay for small presses and self-published writers! It’s so exciting to see publishing evolve, and read so many amazing books that would never have found a place in old-fashioned “traditional” publishing.

Mark’s six-month contract job for Thimbleweed Park turned, little by little, into a year and a half, which was very useful financially and very disruptive life-wise. One side effect was that I became a much better cook. One side effect of THAT is that we are both, er, rather more substantial than we used to be, and than we’d like to be. So we are currently trying to deal with that.

Our house and garden (and my office!) continue to be lovely, charming, and give us great pleasure–mostly, except when things break. Portland, however, is becoming more stressful all the time, as the entire world seems to be moving here, and it seems like they are all in such a hurry. I know I moved here myself six LONG years ago–or, hmm, six and a half, by now?–but wow, the difference, in just that time. Traffic, crowds, angsty people everywhere; construction galore; housing prices (rentals and real estate) skyrocketing…this is not the city I moved to. It’s a hard adjustment to make. We are thinking about options.

There is more to tell. Some close friends and relatives have died–some expectedly, some not. There have been emotional crises afflicting those close to us. There is politics. All beyond the scope of what I am prepared to go into right now…this is me putting my toe back into blogging, and seeing how it goes. These 500 or so words have taken me nearly over an hour to write; I’ve lost my comfortable, easy blogging rhythm, my voice. I did really enjoy keeping this journal, once upon a time; it was an important daily (or near-daily) ritual. Are those days gone forever, or can I find that time for small introspection (and reaching out) in my life again? Maybe I can. I’d dropped regular fiction writing for many months, in the flood of freelance work/cooking/gardening/social life, but I’ve managed to refocus and put that back on the table. (Hence my progress in Q&T!) So…as I said before…we shall see.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-03-15 16:48
Subject: Brief Notes
Security: Public

A few little things:

-We’re flying to San Francisco tomorrow for Mark to give a presentation at the GDC (Game Developers Conference). I will have a few free hours on Thursday afternoon, and plan to be hanging out at the Keystone on 4th Street, from around 2:00 till 5:00. Come hang out if you can!

-The following week is Norwescon. My Norwescon schedule:
Mark’s art will be in the art show, but we, like a few other pros we’ve talked to, did not get programming invites. And by the time we inquired, it was apparently too late. Oh well. Barcon it is.

Back to packing!

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-03-09 11:07
Subject: Announcement!
Security: Public

So last summer at the Cascade Writers Workshop, someone asked us to talk about “the usual path to publication”…which of course, there is no such thing. But it got us all to talking about ALL our paths, and pretty soon it became obvious that this would be a great book.

The Usual Path to Publication Cover_MEDIUM WEB
Or, well, it will be in June. But you can pre-order it now!

I’m so excited about this book, you guys. It was just great fun to see all these marvelous essays coming in, reading everyone’s tales of persistence and setbacks and triumphs and disappointments and, well, more persistence. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

I also sent my first newsletter this morning. Gettin’ real professional around here, let me tell you. Do YOU want to get my newsletter too? Sign up here!

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-02-20 13:30
Subject: Weekend Update(s)
Security: Public

Thing the First: We went to RadCon last weekend and it was very good. (I feel I should reassure you all of that, since I was so down on OryCon!) Our panels were interesting and well-attended (well, except for the one scheduled opposite the Masquerade; that one was still interesting, even if it was just us panelists talking with each other and our one audience member). My reading was well-attended–I read from the new secret project, which I will tell the world about soon! And 10 of the 13 prints we put up in the art show sold–two even went to auction, which is awesome.

Also, we stayed in “the Westie,” the overflow hotel, and loved it MUCH better than the Red Lion. Because we’re old. And we like to go to bed early, in a quiet place. And the breakfast was GREAT, and free.

So, yay RadCon!

Thing the Second: I’ve updated my website, check it out!! Yes, it feels a little weird to link to my website FROM my website, but many of you read this on LifeJournal, and this is for you. :-) Feedback welcome! I’ve put book-buying links much more prominently on the landing page, AND a form to fill out for subscribing to my mailing list.

Because Thing the Third: I’m starting a mailing list! I will have things to announce soon, including the secret project, and the other project which is less secret but that I haven’t really talked about yet. Sign up! I promise not to spam you overmuch. I will probably hardly send any more newsletters than I make blog posts, and you know that’s not very often.

The Rest of the Things All Together: Just a jumble of work, really. LOTS and LOTS of freelance work (which, I repeat forever, is awesome). And I’ve actually got four books on my plate–Queen & Tower (am gathering beta-reader feedback on that, ready to delve into final edits next week or so); the sequel to Our Lady (50K words drafted during NaNoWriMo, set aside to work on all the other things); and then the thing and the other thing that I will tell you about very soon.

Plus life: I’m holding the household together, because Mark is working like a maniac on Thimbleweed Park; and I’m doing actually surprisingly well at maintaining a daily yoga practice; and I’m not keeping in touch with friends and family like I should; and the garden isn’t taking any time because it’s winter, but that’s about to change, things are sprouting up all over…yay?
(photo from a week or two ago…more lovelies coming up all the time!)

And that’s about it from here. Okay, back to work.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-01-29 12:47
Subject: RadCon
Security: Public

We’re going to RadCon in a few weeks (February 11-14), and have just gotten our schedules.

Without further ado:

Fri Feb 12, 1:45 pm-2:45 pm: Keeping it Fun
Some days the page wins. With increasing deadlines, non-stop edits, and required marketing, is it possible to keep it professional and still love what you do? Pros will discuss strategies to avoid burnout, keep the muse fed and happy, stay playful and get the work done without losing the joy of writing in the first place.
Brad Wheeler, Eytan Kollin, Shannon Page, Siana Wineland

Sat Feb 13, 10:00 am-11:00 am: Evaluating Writing Critiques
So you’ve had a manuscript critiqued and you’re trying to decipher the feedback. Some people say one thing. Some people have quote rules. How do you tell the good advice from the bad? This panel will discuss how to keep the advice that benefits your writing while ignoring the bad.
Bruce Taylor, Elizabeth Guizzetti, Mark Ferrari, S. A. Bolich, Shannon Page, Tom Gondolfi

Sat Feb 13, 11:15 am-12:15 pm: I Am (Want To Be) A Writer, But I Need Some Questions Answered!
How do you self publish? Should you self publish? Do I need an agent? Why? Should I use a Pen Name? What if I do? I heard… but then I heard…? Bring your burning questions about being a writer, and we will do our best to salve them!
Maggie Bonham, David Boop, David Brown, Mark Ferrari, Sam Knight, Kaye Thornbrugh

Sat Feb 13, 1:00 pm-1:30 pm: Shannon Page reading
I am currently planning to read the first chapter or so of the NEW SEKRET PROJECT THING ooooo!

Sat Feb 13, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm: Resisting Rewrite-itis
Many promising manuscripts succumb to author anxiety that it’s “not good enough yet” or “I need to fix this one thing” that proceeds to unravel the entire book. How do you resist the urge to polish and polish the first few chapters without writing the rest, or stuffing it in the drawer until it’s perfect? Our pros provide tips on how to tell when your work is good enough and when to kick it out the door.
Doug Odell, S. A. Bolich, Scott James Magner, Shannon Page, Siana Wineland

Sat Feb 13, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm: The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given
The title says it all! Come listen to the panel and audience members as well share some of the best writing advice they were ever given. (And some of the worst as well…).
Seth Bennett, Bobbie Benton Hull, Mark Ferrari, Laurel Anne Hill, Josh Vogt

Sat Feb 13, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Mark Ferrari Art Demo
Art Show

Sat Feb 13, 6:45 pm-7:45 pm: Collaborations of Writers
Writing is an essentially solitary occupation. So how do writers collaborate? What are the approaches to writing together? What are the drawbacks? Can you do both (write alone and with a partner)? Do collaborators need an outline more than solo writers?
Bruce Taylor, David Brown, Esther Jones, Mark Ferrari, Shannon Page

Looks like a fun (and busy!) program. Mark will also be showing work in the art show. See you in the TriCities, I hope!

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2016-01-17 12:45
Subject: Body
Security: Public

I got a nosebleed yesterday morning. I didn’t know what it was, at first; I’m forty-nine years old, and this was my first one. Ever.

Fortunately, I was with Mark, who gets them with some frequency; he was able to tell me what to do (pinch your nostril shut gently; sit up straight or maybe even tilt your head back a little; don’t freak out; kleenex and patience are your friends).

My body’s been doing fascinating things lately. I have an honest-to-god age spot on my left hand (look! there it is! next to all those blue veins!). Age Spot
I’m not having hot flashes so much any more, but there is a span of time in the middle of most every night when I need to push away all the covers. I stopped coloring my hair a year or so ago; I actually like the grey that’s coming in.

My vision is getting worse. I’m still using drugstore “cheater” glasses, rather than going to an eye doctor (blah blah blah time money blah blah). At the beginning, I just used them for reading later in the day, when my eyes were tired; then for reading all day; now for the computer too. And card games. And cooking (particularly when using recipes, or sharp knives). Well, okay, I’m almost always using the glasses.

If I happen to have the glasses on and encounter a mirror, I see all sorts of things on my face I had no idea were there, or had forgotten about. Lines and spots and blemishes; hairs growing out of moles; irregular eyebrows. The sorts of things that would once really bother me. When I was a teenager, I noticed some tiny blood vessels on the bridge of my nose. For decades I covered them with makeup, convinced that they were hideous. Now? Without glasses on, they and all other “imperfections” vanish. If I can’t see them, no one else can either, right?

And did anyone ever really care? I rather doubt it.


During the period of the year from about my birthday (Halloween) through January 1, I traditionally eat greater quantities of food, particularly items with higher densities of fat and/or sugar and/or refined white starchy deliciousness. Perhaps I even drink more alcohol than usual. At the same time, what with all the travel and bad weather and everything, I let my exercise routines slacken. Or vanish entirely. I am given to understand that I am not entirely alone in these regards. Then the new year rolls around, all the holiday festivities fade away, and I rededicate myself to health and fitness.

In the past, this has involved stepping on the scale, and making all sorts of numbers-related decisions and plans and goal-settings. Resolutions, you might even say.

This year…I didn’t actually step on the scale. I know my middle has thickened, because pants that used to fit comfortably no longer do. That big black cotton dress that used to be too large on me is my new best friend. Heck, dresses in general are much more welcoming. And elastic-waist skirts.

Particularly when not wearing my glasses, I think I still look just fine. :-) But I want to feel better, to have more energy, to be strong again. I want my exercise regimen back, and for my digestion to work better, and I want to sleep better at night. So I’ve started making more soups, and adding vegetables to everything, and cutting way back on desserts (it helps that Trader Joe’s ran out of peppermint Joe Joes unusually early this year), and getting more lean protein in my diet. And I’ve rededicated myself to my Ashtanga yoga home practice. WOW, that is taking some doing; I had lost it pretty thoroughly. But now, only two or so weeks into the new year, I’m doing a recognizable version of all the poses in the Primary Series.

Except the jump-through parts of the vinyasas. Those are going to be a long time coming back, if they do at all. But you know what? I’m getting a fantastic workout as it is. It doesn’t have to be the exact practice I did in my early thirties to be a solid, satisfying, fulfilling practice.


That’s kind of how I’m seeing a lot of things these days. I am not the same person I was in my teens or twenties or thirties. Even the forties are about to move into my past. Things that used to be so important to me, like covering a nearly-invisible blemish on my face, or a yoga pose looking a certain very particular way, or wearing size six jeans, are now feeling just…eh, whatever. I am so much more excited about being strong enough to dig and prune in the garden for hours. I am much more interested in being alert and focused enough to juggle the writing of several novels and a shorter piece or two and editing a nonfiction anthology and keeping track of all this freelance work and and and…

Working at home certainly helps. What a clotheshorse I used to be! I still own far more pairs of shoes than anyone needs. But most days, to sit alone in my office out here in the back yard, I find yoga pants, sweats, or that wonderful roomy black cotton dress to be just right. I’ll often wear the same thing day after day. Why not?

It actually makes it more fun to dress up to go out, since I’m not doing it to go to work every day. I’m dressing up more for conventions and parties and the like than I ever did. It feels like costuming: a creative act, rather than a required uniform.

I think that’s the real difference, behind all of this jumble of disparate thoughts: I’m feeling so much more creative these days, and so much less interested in conforming to some shallow set of appearance-regulations, that some imaginary panel of arbiters is watching for and judging me on. I mean, I know that people judge. But…probably far fewer than Younger Me ever imagined, and as for the ones who do? They’re not the boss of me. I really don’t care what they think. I’ve got better things to do.


This sudden spate of blogging (two long posts! In less than a week!) has been brought to you by the fact that, though a big job is in the mail on its way here and another is coming soon thereafter, I have no actual freelance work in-house at the moment. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that was the case. I’m enjoying it tremendously.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

6 Comments | Post A Comment | | Link

Date: 2016-01-14 17:01
Subject: A Post About Money
Security: Public

It’s kind of taboo to talk about money. Especially for writers. John Scalzi’s recent deal is a refreshing exception; Jim Hines also shares a breakdown of his writing income every year, as do a few other writers. It’s great to get these glimpses into what’s really happening behind the vague “a good deal”, “five figures,” etc.

I’m going to tell you about my writing, and about money, and other stuff along the way. About what it costs to try to make a living in the creative arts. I’m sitting here looking at my Quicken printout for 2015, and some royalty statements, and my tax folder, and I’m pondering all of this.

I write because I love to. I write because I can’t not write. “I’m a writer,” I’ll tell you, if we’ve just met at a party and you ask me what I do. My writing brought in $3,010.03 last year. Not much, huh? And that’s actually high, for me; more often it’s only a few hundred dollars. Maybe it’s on an upswing? That would be nice. But I’m not banking on it.

The majority of our household income last year was earned by Mark, working on the Thimbleweed Park game. That too is an aberration for us; usually, most of our income is from my freelance proofreading and copy editing work, and one-off art commissions for him (mostly book covers). It was great to earn more money last year. Sadly, we don’t have any more savings than we did a year ago (i.e., almost zero). Where did it all go?

Lots of places. An increase in income meant an increase in income taxes, of course. It also meant paying for health care–we were so poor the previous year that we qualified for free health care. It was a crappy plan, but it was FREE, and we were thrilled to have it.

In 2015 we spent a lot more on property taxes than the previous year, because in 2014 I’d paid in installments, because I couldn’t afford to pay them all in one lump. This year, with Mark’s income, we not only could, we figured we ought to (this job of his ends in March); so in 2015 we paid five-thirds of the usual amount. I guess that’s going to help on the income taxes? Hope so.

We spent a lot of money going to conventions, to promote our writing and his art and my freelance business, to run dealer’s tables and to display in art shows, to stay in touch with the industry. Even at conventions where we don’t make much in the moment, we still make connections, which lead to work. Conventions are expensive, though; often, we stay with friends, or at Motel 6 rather than the con hotel, or at home if the con is local; even so, meals and travel and parking and all that, they add up. Plus art supplies–my goodness, you guys. Printing (in house or at a print shop) and mat board and special plastic bags and lucite and display clips and All The Things. Which of course are cheaper (per piece) if you buy them in great quantity.

We spent the first month of Mark’s Thimbleweed pay remaking our tool shed into my Tiny Office, so that I no longer had to occupy the dining room. Money well spent!! But spent, all the same; and it will be deducible over some years, because it’s a capital improvement.

Our groceries total was more than twice as high as our dining-out total; we both do like to cook, and eating out is expensive. We signed up for life insurance. We’re in the last few months of an auto loan. We bought some books, a little clothing, went to a few movies, bought little things for the house. I got a pedicure or two. Utilities cost a LOT: almost exactly the same as five-thirds of our annual property tax bill, as it happens.

We spent a few thousand dollars on the garden (not counting water, which goes under utilities, above). The garden is probably our biggest extravagance; but, oh, it gave us such joy. We ate almost every meal outside all summer long, on the deck. We entertained out there. We took pictures of flowers and posted them on Facebook. I regret nothing.


I’m looking at this royalty statement for the first year of publication of Our Lady of the Islands. In a sense, this is also the “final” royalty statement, because its publisher has ceased operations, and the publisher who supposedly bought the imprint has not actually produced any contracts. So the book is currently out of print, unavailable anywhere. Unless you’re local and you ask me, I have a few copies on the shelf here. (My co-author’s agent is working on trying to get the book back in print, somehow, somewhere. But these things take time.)

Our Lady got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and from Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly named it one of their Best Books of 2014, and it was short-listed for an Endeavour Award. I promoted it as best I could, scheduling a (self-funded) book tour in Oregon, Washington, and California, giving readings in as many bookstores as I could arrange for. Over its year or so of availability, it sold 814 copies, across ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats. It also was sold to Audible; they pay a lump sum, so I don’t know how many audio copies they sold. Most of the money I made off this book came from Audible. For the 814 copies, after the publisher’s expenses, Jay’s agent’s 15%, and then the 50-50 split with Jay’s estate, I made forty-nine cents a book.

I re-edited and republished Eel River in 2015 as well, through Book View Cafe. Audible bought that book too, and I only had to share out 5% to Book View, and none to an agent. That was by far my largest chunk of 2015 writing income. (Theme for this year’s writing income: Hooray For Audible!) Sadly, no copies of the ebook sold in its first quarter of release. None at all. It’s royalty-statement time again soon; I’m hoping there might have been a sale or two this time around. I did hand-sell a few copies at conventions, of the print books. But of course, I had to pay to get them designed and printed and shipped to me. At least my cover art was free. :-)


I’m working on a new writing project. This one has grabbed my brain, burning to get out; I dream about it at night, I think about it all the time, it won’t let me go. I am SO EXCITED about it. I squeeze writing time in whenever I can. I’m nearly 11,000 words in, as of today; it’s going to be a series of shorter novels, so this draft should come in around ~65,000 to ~75,000, I think.

I’ve been thinking hard about what to do with it, and I’ve decided to straight-out self-publish it. Just direct to Amazon. It’s a lighter story, fast-paced, fun; at least at the moment, the writing is coming out fast, and clean. (Ask me again later when I bog down in the middle…) :-) I used to think self-publishing was a bad idea; that it meant you weren’t ‘good enough’ to get published ‘for real’. Probably that used to be true. Now? Not so much. Many of my clients are very successful self-published writers–like, support-the-whole-family, travel-overseas successful. They work hard, they write a lot, they are comfortable with social media. They write, write, write, and write some more. Their stories are good, often very good. They’re also hiring editors and copy editors (me!) and cover designers and other professionals to help ensure they put out a quality product. They are becoming their own little publishing houses, in effect.

Between Mark and me, we have most of the skills to do that. And I know where to hire the rest. Well, most of the rest. I’m not sure where to find a copy editor. :-) But I’ll have to–one does not see one’s own errors.


I’ve spent a few days writing this lengthy essay (between work on the New Project, and other matters). I’ve been thinking about writing it for months now, or longer. I’d like to know how it is for other writers and other creative types, how you make it all work. I know many of you have day jobs, and write (or create) in the corners and pockets and little spaces around the job. I used to do that; making the leap to freelance only happened for me due to a series of life events–divorce, relocation, divorce settlement. It was the divorce settlement that made this possible at all. The income and the savings are all gone, but I did buy this house. If I had to make mortgage payments on top of everything else, I’d have had to find another day job long ago. So I feel very grateful about that.

I also, let’s be honest, feel pretty grateful about my life in general. I get to wake without an alarm in the morning, and go to the gym at 2pm if I want, and garden, and I get paid to read books. And even get paid a little to write them. The trade-off of this flexible schedule is that we really don’t have anything resembling weekends, or days off at all–there’s always more work to do. If your work is at home, you don’t get to leave it at the office at the end of the day. And I do worry about money…there’s always a sort of low-grade anxiety about, Will the freelance work dry up? Will I never make any more money writing? Have I been out of the ‘real job’ market so long that I could never get in again if I had to?

But those are quiet anxieties, underneath a whole lot of life satisfaction. So, I’m not complaining.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

6 Comments | Post A Comment | | Link

Date: 2016-01-11 17:45
Subject: Books Read, Last Year
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Officenest

Last year I read 63 books. Here are the 25 I read for “leisure” (as opposed to “somebody paid me to edit, copy edit, or proofread”), in order of when I finished them:

Brenchley, Chaz: Bitter Waters
Tarr, Judith: Devil’s Bargain
Sedia, Ekaterina: The House of Discarded Dreams*
O’Malley, Daniel: The Rook
Barnhardt, Wilton: Gospel
Connolly, Tina: Copperhead
Priest, Cherie: Maplecroft
Powers, Tim: Hide Me Among the Graves
Stephenson, Neal et al: The Mongoliad Book One
Leckie, Ann: Ancillary Sword
Martin, George R. R.: A Feast for Crows
Smale, Alan: Clash of Eagles
Stephenson, Neal: Seveneves
Liu, Cixin (Ken Liu tr.): The Three-Body Problem
VanderMeer, Jeff: Acceptance
Bennett, Robert Jackson: City of Stairs
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress in the Eye of Time
St. John Mandel, Emily: Station Eleven
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Eagles
Bear, Elizabeth: Karen Memory
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Owls
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Dragons
Bellet, Annie: Justice Calling
Leckie, Ann: Ancillary Mercy
Wecker, Helene: The Golem and the Jinni

*Note: did not finish this one.

My leisure-reading goes down every year, as my work-reading goes up. I have a hard time feeling unhappy about that, because reading is basically my favorite thing to do, AND NOW I GET PAID TO DO IT. I wish I could tell you about so many of the books I read for work last year; but the copy editor’s place is behind the scenes, quiet and invisible. Sometimes books are not yet announced. (Though if you ask me privately, I may be able to point you in directions to look…there’s some amazing stuff coming out this year!)

As for the books above: Eight of them were for my book group; the rest I chose myself.

Particular favorites were: the Cherryh books; Seveneves; City of Stairs; and The Golem and the Jinni. Though even naming a few favorites makes me want to reassure the rest of them: I loved you too! :-)

I almost never fail to finish a book, but I confess, the Sedia thwarted me. I had really loved a previous book of hers, but could not engage this one.


Looking at this list and thinking about reading…my life looks so different now than it used to, even just five or six years ago. I used to experience this thing called “weekends;” I can actually remember spending entire Sundays on the couch, reading. Now, I work at reading and writing all day, and hold the household together as best I can. Leisure reading is saved for bedtime, when–shockingly!–I’m often sleepy, and don’t get more than a few pages read.

My to-be-read pile is now an entire bookcase, plus a long shelf along a tabletop. And that bookcase is also piled high with books on top, outside the shelves. Our book group is reading Seveneves this month, which I’m so excited to discuss; I was hoping to reread it before the meeting, but hahaha, no. I’ll be lucky to get a chance to glance through it for a few minutes…


And one more thought. I have at least met twelve of the authors listed above; I count several of them friends, even dear ones (including my Best Person at my wedding!). I’m Facebook friends with several more of them. I remember a time when even catching a glimpse of a published author was an astonishing, unreal thing…

Yes, my life is different now. I like it.

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Date: 2015-12-31 14:50
Subject: Stats Delayed
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Officenest
I am too busy right now to write up a "2015 summary" post.

Which is actually a pretty good summary of the year. :-)
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Date: 2015-12-30 15:45
Subject: Best S
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Officenest
papersky sent me an S; it is the best S; it is now my new profile picture, replacing that old beach shot from (mumble mumble) years ago.

Lovely, lovely S, don't you think?
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Date: 2015-12-20 16:58
Subject: What Does "Finishing" Even Mean?
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Officenest
Tags:mark, oloti, queen and tower

I finished my rewrite of Queen & Tower last night and sent it off to first readers. Yay!

Wait, you say; haven’t I heard that before?

Yes. Yes you have. Why, it was just October when I said much the same thing.

But now! It is ever so much finished-er!

I don’t even know how many times I have finished rewriting this novel. It’s almost as impossible a question as “How many novels have you written?” Because even just this particular novel started life as a novel called 360, but that one was never finished; it was abandoned and the plot stolen for a novel called Nightcraft Sister, which WAS finished, clocking in at a mere 250,000 words; and a sequel was also finished, called Nightcraft Mother; and both of those novels were critted up one side and down the other and heavily rewritten, and cut down so that they were one reasonably sized novel, the first novel in the series, called Nightcraft Mother; and I even had an agent for that one for a while, but, you know; and then the whole thing was put aside while I did other things for years; and then my friend Jak was reopening his publishing house and said, Hey, let me read your witch novel; and he did, and liked it, but suggested some big changes, including reconceiving the series and changing the title to The Queen and The Tower; so I made those changes, but then Mark read it, and had further, bigger, other change suggestions; and then some other things got written (like Our Lady), and life got busy; and then I got into the deep rewrite/rework again, earlier this year; and then my friend Jak realized he needed to shut down his publishing house; but dammit, I’m going to finish this novel. And it is going to be FANTASTIC. Wherever it ultimately gets published.

(It’ll be an audio book, no matter what; Audible has already acquired the rights to it. So there’s that.)

This is the book of my heart, but even I admit that it’s time to finish it and move on to something else–even if that’s the sequel (which I’ve got some super cool ideas for). And then I’ve got another “something else” already frothing at the mouth to be written–you will be hearing about it soon, including details about the magnificent writer with whom I will be collaborating. SO EXCITING let me tell you. And I’ve got a nonfiction project I’m editing which is also MADE OF JOY.

If only there were more hours in a day!

But hey. I finished my rewrite!

And cleaned my office.
Desk After
Just ignore the spiderwebs. It’s clean, I tell you, clean.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-11-23 15:24
Subject: About OryCon
Security: Public

I just made a Facebook post that is SO LONG, it might as well be a blog post. So I thought I’d post it here too. :-) Without further ado:

TL:DR: That was a complicated weekend.

Long version: I’m seeing everyone’s OryCon posts, what a good time they had, how successful a con it was, how glad they were to see everyone, etc. And I’m so happy to hear that–honest, I am. I love cons too, and usually have a really great time, even if they are intensely over-social experiences from which I have to recover afterwards. :-)

It was a difficult con for me. And for Mark, too. While we did see a lot of people and had some good social (and business) connections, mostly we just both found ourselves wishing we hadn’t done it.

The biggest problem was the dealer’s table–well, the dealer’s room in general, I think. You know, the musty, unwelcoming space in the sub-basement, far off the beaten track from the rest of the con, where at least one of us had to sit all day, every day. A number of folks came by and visited us there, which was very kind. But, other than our programming, we were pretty much there all the time, missing all the usual bar-con and other casual social/business interaction that is my favorite part of a con.

Which would have been okay if we’d sold a lot. But, frankly, this con was a financial disaster for us. Our gross sales just about covered our meals and parking. Which doesn’t take into account the costs of the matting, backing board, bags, paper, ink, etc. of the products we sold, or the time spent putting it all together, or–crazy concept I know!–the time and effort the artist put into making the art. Or the three solid days we took off from actual, in-house paying work to go sit at that table. Or the several prints we donated to the very worthy charity auction the next booth was running, or the several other prints we donated as swag for the hard-working volunteers. Or the cost of the table and the registration to begin with. And then of course we bought a few things from other dealers, like you do. We would have been much, much better off financially just staying home and working all weekend. Our OryCon table did poorly last year, but not nearly as poorly as it did this year. We will certainly not be running a table at OryCon next year–if we attend at all.

I honestly don’t know if tables make sense for us at all any more. Mark used to make thousands of dollars a weekend, even at the small cons. Probably if we want to do this at all, we would need to look at bigger cons, comic-cons–but those cost thousands of dollars just to register for a table. I’m not at all sure we can take that risk.

So that was the biggest thing…but not all the things. Of course I was disappointed to not win the Endeavour, but that’s the way it goes, and that was really fine; I’ve been enjoying calling myself an Endeavour Loser, and I’m certainly going to put the plaque up in my office. :-) I was actually more disappointed that not a soul turned up at my reading. I passed many friends in the hall on my way there, and told them about it (and I had posted it here, and it was in the schedule)–but, yes, I know there are a lot of things going on at a con, and readings don’t generally get a lot of attendance.

And so I posted about the reading–and honestly, you guys! The outpouring of love, empathy, support, connection, sympathy–which is still coming in–I feel so, so lucky to have you people, my friends, reaching out like that. That made a HUGE difference for me, and I so, so appreciate that.

Yet it also only makes me wonder about cons in general. What are they for–for me, right now? Clearly not for reaching people with my work–or with Mark’s work, despite his very lovely, very generous award. And stuck in the musty sub-basement of the Marriott, this con at least was not even for reaching people for conversation and connection, beyond the few of you who made the journey down to see us. I get SO MUCH more connection online, as all your comments made so clear. Rushing out to Beaverton for Authorfest was not for connecting with anyone either, beyond my immediate table-mates; particularly since we had to rush back to Portland the moment it was over to break down the dealer’s table, then wait in the queue for hours for the privilege of bringing our car down the ramp for loading. (Which we did not do; Mark carried everything up through the hotel in those absurd elevators.)

I mean, I don’t know. We did have some good, useful, constructive, and fun conversations with folks. We both picked up some definite and some potential future work–good, interesting, exciting work. We got out there in the public eye (sort of) (I guess). Lots of people saw Mark’s new work, and praised it–and he did win that nice ribbon. :-) As a result of a couple of the conversations, a new project is ambushing my brain–which is super exciting and I must clear all my decks so I can work on it!

I’m not prepared to say OryCon was a total waste of time…but, I am sure happy it is done. And we will be doing a number of things differently next year, and questioning signing up for tables in general, for all the cons we go to.

What do you all think? Do you go to sci fi cons to buy art and books in the dealer’s room, or is that a thing of the past? We were not the only dealers to find the room slow and quiet; in fact, only a few of the dealers said they did well at all. Costuming/clothing sells well, as do toys. Other than that…would you all rather just buy your genre-related stuff online? Is the market just flooded? Is everyone poor?

Well, enough pondering. Back to work.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-10-05 10:35
Subject: Writing Writing Writing!
Security: Public

Yesterday I finished my second pass of the Great Queen & Tower Rewrite of 2015, getting all the way to the new ending I wrote on the last pass. I found myself thinking, Oh, yes, this is good! So that’s encouraging.

The third Great Rewrite Pass is already underway; that’s the pass where Mark reads a scene or two aloud to me, interrupting himself constantly to point out how terrible it is how to tweak it just a bit to make it even more spectacular. That pass is a little under halfway finished.

I’m about to begin another pass this morning–Pass Four? Pass Three-Prime? I have no idea at this point. This is the pass where I collapse the beginning sufficiently to get to the OH YES THIS SCENE, THIS ONE, IT IS AN AMAZING SCENE far sooner. And then continue on through the manuscript, adjusting all the things that will need fixing because of said collapse.

Oh and adding in all the tweaks based on the stuff we’re figuring out about the world, the characters, and all that, going forward.

When I am done with this, I will be ready to send it out to some “first” readers! (If we count Mark as Reader Zero.)

This book is SO different from the fluffy, overwritten 250,000-word manuscript that came out when I first sat down to write about a witch named Callie all those years ago. And yet the bones are still there. What the book is “about”–agency, independence, coming in to one’s own as a woman in this world, questions about love and connection–those are all still part of this story. But I hope it is on its way to becoming a lot more coherent now. (And, of course, entertaining, exciting, enjoyable–hey, one can hope!)

So that’s basically what I’ve been up to lately. Well, along with freelance work, gardening, house guests, and doing all the Domestic Engineer stuff while Mark works 70-80 hours a week on Thimbleweed Park… :-)
And it’s so nice to have a lovely place to write.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-08-15 13:05
Subject: Sasquan Ho!
Security: Public

We are packing and printing and making ready to travel to Spokane on Tuesday for WorldCon AKA Sasquan!

And we have programming. I’m going to put both Mark’s and mine on here, because he hasn’t blogged in three years. (See? There’s even more occasional bloggers than me.)

Note: we are NOT having a dealer’s table after all. But he is showing some lovely things in the art show, including something you haven’t seen before, and things you thought you’d never see again…. :-)

Our Program Items:

2:30 – Shannon reading, 303B (CC)

2:00 – Mark panel, “What Makes an Effective Cover Image?”, 302AB (CC)
4:00 – Mark kaffeeklatche, 202A-KK2 (CC)
7:00 – Chesley Awards/Art Reception

10:00 – Mark reading, 304 (CC)
11:00 – Mark panel, “Certainly Not For the Money: Why We Write Short Fiction,” Bays 111A (CC)
4:00 – Shannon kaffeeklatche, 202B-KK3 (CC)
Evening – Book View Cafe party

2:00 – Mark autographing session, Hall B (CC)
5:00 – Mark art demo, 401C

1:00 – Shannon panel, “Young Adults in Adult Fiction,” Bays 111C (CC)

Hope to see you all there!

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-08-02 19:24
Subject: Occasional
Security: Public

Hmm, I am so behind on blogging that every additional day that goes by without my having blogged gets me even further behind, and with more to write when I actually do blog, so the task becomes more daunting, so I don’t blog, and….you get the idea.

I guess the thing to do is to sit down and write when I feel moved to. Like now. And not worry about getting it all caught up. I mean, I won’t remember it all anyway, and you’ve probably all heard all my news on Facebook already anyway.

A question: how many of you reading here also are Facebook friends with me? And of those, how many look at Facebook with any regularity? :-) Because I do actually post things there with some frequency.

Dahling Dahlias
Like pictures of dahlias

It’s not that I don’t have the time or focus for longer-form writing (though, yes, life is busy, when is it not?). I think it may actually be because the Queen & Tower rewrite is going so well. I don’t manage to work on it every single day, but I work on it most days, for good chunks of time at a sitting–two hours or more. That’s what I am doing with the nice long uninterrupted spans of writing time, instead of blogging. And the small bits of in-between time, those are good for garden pictures, and food pictures, the other stuff that Facebook is for.

Anyway, that’s my working theory now. Another theory might be that nobody reads this blog, so why bother updating it? Comments disproving this theory would be welcome.

So! It’s been (it is still being) an eventful summer. I believe I made mention of our project to retrofit the toolshed into an office for me? Well, it’s done now, and OH MY GOD IT IS AMAZING YOU GUYS. I love it to pieces, just absolutely it is the best thing.
Office Before Clutter
A picture I took before I filled it up with my clutter

And let’s see, what else? A veritable deluge of house guests. Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of VERY hot weather. Lots of gardening (which means lots of watering–see VERY HOT WEATHER). Lots of writing. Mark is working very hard on Thimbleweed Park (the link currently points to a podcast interview with him, I haven’t listened to it yet!). He is also working hard on something that is very cool, and is secret, but is only going to be secret for another week, so I will tell you about it then. (Or maybe I will tell Facebook about it then and blog about it two months later. Heh.)

And we went to California and got to meet the new nephew!
Bouncing Baby Boy

Yes, I am sitting on a yoga ball bouncing him. Otherwise he cried. He LOVES to be bounced.

Oh and Our Lady of the Islands is a finalist for the Endeavour Award. That’s a thing I should probably tell you about. :-) My first award nomination. Now I need to buy a pretty dress. Right???

Last weekend we drove northward and were workshop leaders at Cascade Writers, which was awesome and amazing and fun and productive, even if the hotel did have the fakiest fake orchids EVER.
Fakest Orchid

Since my office furniture (and clutter) is no longer in the dining room, it meant we had to (got to) go out and buy new, actual dining-room-appropriate furniture. We’re not quite finished with this, but we’ve gotten the major pieces. Including a lovely cabinet with a leaded glass door that had two broken panes (so it’s at a glass shop right now, being repaired) and hideous painted-over paper on the shelves and back, which I recovered with lovely wallpaper just the other day:
DR Cabinet Before

DR Cabinet After

Pay no attention to the odd brownish streak down the middle; that’s an artifact of the camera and the light, I guess. It’s really quite beautiful. And I can’t wait for the door to be ready…

My next non-work, non-writing project is to put in a drip irrigation system to take care of ALL the pots in the garden. It currently takes about an hour and a half to do all the watering by hand. Which strikes us both as a bit excessive….especially when it happens every day, because it’s been a hundred million billion degrees.

So I got a tutorial from my dad when we were in California, and I’ve gone to Home Despot and bought hoses and connectors and all that, then realized I’m short a few things; but mostly this hasn’t gotten done yet because a) it’ll take a LOT longer than an hour and a half to do, so every day I think Eh, I’ll just water, and tackle that big thing some other day; and b) it’s been a hundred million billion degrees, and I don’t wanna work outside in that for hours on end….

Today was a little cooler. Next week is supposed to be a little cooler. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a drip system in, just in time for winter. :-)

So! That’s the general gist of things around here. And that’s certainly plenty of update for now, and anyway, this French 75 is nearly empty and it’s time to go make dinner.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-06-18 10:40
Subject: Lately
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Manor
Tags:freelance, garden, home, mark, money, queen and tower, tiny office

Oh, the website/email troubles and woes I had, let me tell you. Down for hours at a time, day after day. NOT GOOD. DOUBLE PLUS UNGOOD.

So my brilliant web designer has begun the process of moving me off of Bluehost and into having my website and email hosted by Google–less than half the price AND I can keep my same email address (because I own this domain), yay! The email is moved (and seems totally stable!), and the website will be moved soon. Whew.

Interestingly, I know of two other people, with email hosted by two separate other non-Google services, who have been having exactly the same troubles. If I were cynical, I might think that Don’t Be Evil is somehow behind it. Good thing I’m not cynical.

In other news…busy-ness has gone on around here! I had a glut of freelance work for so many months running, I don’t even know how many–I tried to look back on my spreadsheet and couldn’t find the last gap. Until now. I’ve been over a week with no proofreading/copy editing work. Which would be freaking me out, except for the fact that Mark suddenly has more work than he can handle, and it’s well paying work, which is a super nice change for him. :-)

So I am using the time to get caught up on All The Other Things. The rewrite of Queen & Tower is going very, very well. A lot of time has been spent in the garden (by both of us, as it happens, even though he really should be upstairs pushing pixels every day, all the time). Our wedding website domain is about to expire; I archived all the information I wanted to keep from there. I’ve taken care of a LOT of little chores and errands that got pushed aside, some for a very long time. I planned some upcoming travel. I’m getting caught up on my Per Aspera editing. We had several rounds of houseguests.

Oh and I am declaring my mirror project finished:
Mirror Project Done

That only took, what, four years? :-)

Next week, construction begins on my Tiny Office/She-Shed/[insert cute name of your choice here]. I already told Facebook about finding the perfect doors and windows at the ReBuilding Center for super cheap. The work should only take a week…and then I don’t have to work in the dining room any more! I’m so excited I cannot even tell you.

Then we get to shop for a breakfront/hutch thing to fill the space where this cluttered desk is. Good thing Mark is making money. :-)

I am sure there is more to report but that’s what I can think of for now….

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-06-04 09:12
Subject: Little Dog
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Manor
Tags:dog, family, mark, sick

So here is the post with the less-good things that have happened over the last while…the biggest being the departure of my parents’ Little Dog, who headed off to the Great Hearth in the Sky, after being their faithful companion for fourteen years.

His name actually was Elmo, but I always called him Little Dog here, because, well, he was a little dog. And the sweetest thing ever.

You may remember the adventures of traveling with him.

Elmo Earflappy

The rest of the not-so-good has been just the ridiculous flurry of sickness! In fact, I didn’t make this post yesterday because I was felled by a stomach flu/food poisoning thing. NASTY. I’m sipping tea now and contemplating solid food. Just a little.

But Mark and I just keep handing a cold back and forth, it seems. We are both very tired of this! He’s coughing now, again; he has a call in to his doctor. Fingers crossed that we can get over all these bugs soonest!

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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Date: 2015-06-02 22:15
Subject: Things Are Happening: The Good
Security: Public

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone this long between blog posts. Because: busy! Yes, I say that all the time. But this busy: it’s been kind of transcendently busy.

So here is an attempt at a catch-up post. Of Good Things Only. There are a few Less Good Things. Which belong in a separate post.

(Will I make that separate post tomorrow? Or in a month? Only the fates know!)

Big Good Thing The First: Mark, who has always been super, duper busy, is now–and has been for the last month or so–super, duper busy on several super, duper exciting projects that also pay a decent living wage. (I know! We’re astonished too. And delighted.) Until yesterday, all these new projects were Seekrit. But now, one has been announced!

When we first heard about the Thimbleweed Park project on Kickstarter, we immediately backed it. Mark has worked with Ron and Gary before, loves them both to pieces, and thought this was a fantastic idea. Turns out they were super, duper excited to bring Mark on board…and so that happened. He is now upstairs drawing fabulous pictures all the live-long day.

Big Good Thing The Second: It’s less exciting to tell, because I don’t talk much about my clients, because nobody wants to know how sausage is made and of course all writing emerges from every writer’s brain utterly flawless and in no need of copy editing or proofreading, but…my plate continues to be full, and I continue to also be astonished and delighted by the fact that I get paid to read books. (and maybe even make them a little better!)

Other Big Good Things, in No Particular Order:

-The weather has been delightful, leading us to steal probably too many hours from this glut of work to dabble in the garden.
Upper Deck PotsNFlowersSungolds Coming Along

-I’m getting a tiny office in a few weeks! (pics-in-progress to come, oh yes indeed.)

-My new nephew is home from the NICU and doing great.
Little Wizard

-I’m mastering new barbecue items practically daily.
BBQ Chicken
(chicken, for example.)

-I’m finding time to squeeze in work on Queen & Tower, and it’s going really well.

-Neal Stephenson came to Powell’s! I haven’t started Seveneves yet, but I am so excited to.

Chaz won a Lambda Award! And it’s such a good book. Well, all of Chaz’z books are Such Good. But this one! We have a poster of the cover art on our wall. You can totally judge this book by its cover.


I know there must be more wonderful things in the last month. But this is probably as much as anyone wants to read, and the fish are clearing their throats and looking significantly at their watches, so I should bring this to a close, and go feed them. And resolve, as ever, to be a more faithful blogger. Right. Exactly that.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

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my journal
January 2017